A summer storm battered Templeton House, set on Butcher Harbor Peninsula. It was the only house that stood on the peninsula of this tiny North Eastern town. Rain pelted the glass windows and the weather worn roof as a gale shook the very foundation of the beach house. Inside, sixty year old Elizabeth Templeton stood in the living room in a crazed state, a carving knife in her trembling hand. Her striped house dress hung loosely on her tiny frame. She had a haunted look in her eyes. She waved the carving knife around as if to hold off some attacker. There was no one in the room with her, at least no one living that is.
“I asked you to stop this ruckus for just a while- STOP! Is that too much to ask?” Distress wrinkled her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks unchecked.
Voices of the unseen filled the room. Some were fearful for her, others egged her on. They wanted her to kill herself. Then she would join them in their tortured world, being trapped in this house of the damned forever. Each one of the hundreds of souls trapped in the house needed her in one way or another to help dispel the torment and anguish of their lives. Dead or alive she would listen to them.
“Do it,” a haggard old woman’s voice hissed.
“No, wait!” cried the soft pitch of a young boy. “Don’t listen to her," he pleaded. The boy needed Elizabeth. She took up for him and protected him against the angry mob of ghosts that occupied Templeton House. She was like a mother to him. He couldn't stand to lose her too.
“Haven’t I been here for you? All of you?” Elizabeth pleaded, her eyes wild with fear and pain. On any other day Elizabeth would have delighted in listening to their desperate stories. They had become her friends, her family. They were all she had left in her world since her husband passed on and her daughter fled the house of ghosts. But tonight, with the storm raging she needed a break. She was getting on in age and wasn’t able to meet the constant demand on her attention. They required too much from her these days. She just needed a break to recharge her frail body and mind.
The storm wasn't helping either. Each time the house was slammed by the insistent wind she was afraid it would crumble. While she knew she need not worry about the house, it was strong as ever, like her, she was afraid that it too might be weary on this treacherous night.
“Yes, join us,” cried many voices from all around the room, indeed from every room in the house, the voices came from the very walls of the house itself.
“Can’t you be still for just one night and give me a little peace?” Elizabeth cried out, moving the carving knife from side to side as if it could keep the voices at bay.
“No,” the room shuddered with the cry of many voices in many languages as yet another gale force wind battered the house.
Tears streamed down her face. She was tired. They were not about to give her the rest she needed. They were so needy- all of them. They were sucking the life out of her. Exhausted, Elizabeth held the carving knife to her throat in one last attempt to quiet the voices for just this one night.
“I’ll do it. I swear I will,” she threatened.
“Yes,” hissed the haggard old woman’s voice again, “Do it you weak bag of bones.”
“No please,” the little boy pleaded, “I’ll be quiet. I promise.”
“Do it!” the old woman hissed yet again. “Do it you filthy whore, useless bitch.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. The voices grew louder, fighting to be heard over one another.
“I can’t take this anymore.” She fell to her knees between the sofa and the coffee table. She sobbed into her trembling hands, still clutching the carving knife. The voices wouldn’t stop. She knew they couldn’t.
“Join us,” they whispered at once.
A shrill cry pierced the room as Elizabeth Templeton lost what little was left of her mind.
“STOP!” she screamed. Then she slit first her left wrist, and then her right. Tears mixed with the blood as it fell into her lap, discoloring her striped house dress. Cheers of joy and cries of anguish echoed around the room simultaneously. The house had won and lost its battle with the living. The ghosts cried out in desperation and despair.
Outside the endless waves beat upon the shore, while rain pelted the rugged exterior of the house, drowning out the voices inside. Only the flickering of the lights betrayed the secret the beach house held within its walls.
Tires crunched along the road as Deputy Raymond Dogg drove his police cruiser into the cul-de-sac at the end of the Peninsula Road. This was the only place the deputy could find peace during the busy summer months on Butcher Harbor. Summer season was in full bloom and the natives were restless due to the summer storm, which had trapped them inside their homes, rental cottages, town restaurants, and bars for several days. There would be a lot of calls tonight: bar fights, domestic violence, and the usual summertime fights over parking spaces.
The deputy glanced across the peninsula at the lights that dotted the beach and surrounding port. It was a sight he never tired of, even while the rain pelted his windows and the wind buffeted his cruiser. On the opposite side of him was the ocean, black and rolling. Fierce waves spewed sea water up onto the peninsula; heavy spray hit the cruiser even though he was parked twenty feet from the rocky edge.
The deputy turned his windshield wipers off, allowing the rain and sea water to wash across the windshield freely. He placed the cruiser in park and reached for his canvas cooler on the back seat floorboard. A thermos was on the seat next to him. He poured himself a cap full of his mother’s famous coffee; roasted with just a bit of her secret ingredient. Of course everyone knew it was just cinnamon, but no one that frequented her restaurant ever dare let on that they knew. Coffee breaks like this one were the highlight of the deputy’s night. The taste and the smell of the coffee brought back wonderful childhood memories of his dad sneaking him sips of coffee when his mom wasn’t looking. Enjoying the aroma of the spiced coffee, the deputy scanned the peninsula to his right. The only thing on the peninsula was the Templeton House, a quarter of a mile away. To add to the oddness of the dark, stormy night, the widow Templeton appeared to have every light in the house turned on. Perhaps she was using the light to ward off the loneliness of the storm.
He knew from previous breaks that Mrs. Templeton rarely kept more than one light on at night. He assumed it was because she was on a very tight budget. That could be the only reason anyone would be foolish enough to burn only one light in that particular house at night. Rumor had it that the house was haunted. Mrs. Templeton was said to be loony from all the ghosts she allegedly kept company with within those walls. Indeed, her daughter had left shortly after her husband had passed on. It seemed she couldn’t get out of that house fast enough.
Stories passed on from generation to generation told of a time when pirates inhabited Butcher Harbor. They supposedly built the house upon the craggy shore from parts of shipwrecked boats. Boats they themselves had scuttled. Then the pirates looted the shipwrecked boats, hauling the booty inland to their real hideout away from the shore, protected from the sea by the peninsula. The harbor was named for the blood bath they created out at sea and on land. It was said that a mob gathered and finally drove the pirates off, extinguishing the lights of the house, and saving countless seaman a brutal death. Tales of strange sights and sounds followed the house to this day. The list of the missing and the dead grew with each telling, yet for some unexplained reason, the house was always occupied.
Elizabeth Templeton's father had electricity ran out to the house. She could run the lights in her house as she saw fit. At night she usually used very little light. Tonight the brightly lit house helped to add eeriness to the dark, stormy night. Templeton House captivated Raymond as he stared at the two story beach house in the distance. He wondered what it must have been like to grow up in that house. Remembering the teasing Elizabeth’s daughter Claire had taken in school, he decided maybe he didn’t really want to know. He had put up with his own hazing with a name like Dogg. Now that he was a deputy, his friends, and not so good friends, loved to give him lip service about his name all the time. And when it came to names, the name- Butcher Harbor- was a thorn in the town's back side and they blamed anyone that dared to live in Templeton House for it.
He ate half his sandwich, saving the other half for his next coffee break later in the night. He drank the last sip of his coffee in his cup. After he placed the cap back on the thermos and the canvas cooler on the floor behind his passenger seat, the deputy turned the windshield wipers back on. He grinned as a huge gush of salt and rain water whooshed away. When the windshield cleared, he pulled the cruiser back onto the road.
“You have a good evening Mrs. Templeton," he said to himself as he passed the house on the way back into town. He gave a little salute to the brightly lit house as he passed by, before him awaited the chaos of the night. The deputy smiled. He loved his job.
As he drove toward town the deputy took one last glance at the Templeton house in his rear view mirror.
“What the hell!”
The wheels of the cruiser locked up nearly sending it off the road. Dogg fought to bring the cruiser back under his control.
“Harbor two to base,” he called in to the station.
“This is Base. What’s up Dogg?” the soothing woman's voice of the third-shift dispatcher teased.
“I’m not sure. The lights of the Templeton house are flickering on and off.”
“Maybe the ghosts are having a hurricane party of their own,” she said. Dogg thought he could hear a giggle in her voice. Chances were more likely that some drunken tourist were playing a prank on Mrs. Templeton.
“I’m going to check it out,” he said, throwing the cruiser into reverse. Of course there was always the possibility that the house itself, and not the townsfolk, was the cause of the trouble at Templeton house tonight. Dogg didn't believe in ghosts, but the rich history of the house, and the endless disappearances and deaths contributed to it made him leery. Just in case, he called back to base.
“If you don’t hear from me in ten minutes, send backup.”