House on Fire is a scary story about three friends who spend a night telling scary stories and encounter a legend that becomes frighteningly real.
Let me tell you about the night my life changed forever… the night when I thought I was going to die… the night I lost my sanity…
It was a warm spring night and I was 13 years old. My parents had gone on holiday for the weekend, leaving me home alone. I invited my two best friends, David and Arnold over to keep me company.
We were in my bedroom, listening to music. Arnold reached out and lowered the volume.
“Hey, why don’t we tell some scary stories?” he said. “I’m in the mood for a scare.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” David agreed. “Who’s going to go first?”
“Uh… I have one…” I volunteered. “But… uh… I don’t know if I should tell it…”
“Come on!” said David. “Let’s hear it!”
“OK,” I said. “It’s a pretty terrible story I heard once. It all happened many years ago. There was a man who had a 7-year old son. His wife had died giving birth to the boy. They lived way out in the countryside and there were no neighbors for miles. They didn’t even have a phone, because at the time, the lines didn’t stretch out that far.
One day, the father came home from work and he was horrified to find that his house was on fire. He immediately thought about his young son and he rushed inside, calling the boy’s name. When he heard his son answer, he realized the poor boy was trapped in his bedroom.
The father ran to the door and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. A beam had fallen from the bedroom ceiling and blocked the door. He banged and banged on the door with all his might, but it was too solid. He even rushed against it with his shoulder, trying to break it down, but it was no use. All the time, he could hear his son screaming. The boy was in a panic, screaming and crying out for help.
The man kept trying to batter down the door but no matter what he did, it held firm. He shouted in rage. He wailed in despair. He no longer thought about anything else, just the door and his son screaming on the other side.
His son burned to death in the house. The father died too. He never managed to open the door, and he stayed there to the end, desperately trying to break it down until he succumbed to the smoke and the flames…”
Arnold looked at me in disgust and said, “That’s not scary.”
“I have to admit, it’s pretty weak,” David agreed. “It’s more sad than scary.”
That’s when, I decided to tell them the last part of the story. I hadn’t planned on telling them that part, but I got carried away trying to impress them. It was so stupid to continue. I should never have told them.
“Wait, you don’t know the rest of the story,” I said. “Ever since then, the father’s ghost is still trying to open the door and save his son. And if you say… uh… well, I’d rather not say the exact words… but basically if you call him and tell him that everything is burning and ask him to come and help you, his ghost will appear at your door and take you away…”
David looked at me thoughtfully. “Have you ever tried it?” he asked.
“No,” I replied. “I’d be too scared to test it out.”
Arnold had a gleam of excitement in his eyes. “Hey! We should do it right now!” he said.
I tensed up. I had no desire to summon a ghost and I was already sorry I had said anything about the legend.
David smiled. “Yeah! Why not!” he said.
I was going to tell them that I didn’t want to do it, but they didn’t give me a chance.
Arnold put on a trembling voice, to imitate the little boy and screamed, “Daddy! Daddy! Help me! The flames are all around me! I’m scared!”
Then, he burst out laughing. I didn’t crack a smile, but him… he laughed. David watched him with amusement, saying nothing.
Arnold started screaming again, even louder this time.
“I’M BURNING, DADDY! I’M BURNING! HELP!”
“STOP IT, ARNOLD! IT’S NOT FUNNY!” I shouted.
I didn’t mean to, it just came out of me. I was really scared and I didn’t want to hear him anymore.
“What are you afraid of?” Arnold laughed. “Oh, come on. It’s just a stupid story… That’s all… Not even a good one.”
With a smirk, he continued.
“DADDY! PLEASE HELP ME! THE FIRE IS BURNING ME ALIVE! I’M…”
All of a sudden, there was a loud knock on my bedroom door.
Arnold stopped in mid-scream. We all froze. There was an eerie silence. We all looked at each other. None of us made a sound.
“BOOM!… BOOM!… BOOM!…”
We almost jumped out of our skin.
“…BOOM! …BOOM! …BOOM!”
“What’s that noise?” Arnold exclaimed.
“If this is a joke, it’s really not funny,” said David. His face was white as a sheet.
The banging on the door continued
Then we heard a man screaming. Those horrible cries will remain forever etched in my memory. I can still hear them now. It sounded like the cry of a dying animal. It was inhuman and infinitely sad.
The banging against the door and that horrible scream continued relentlessly.
I was terrified and tried to hide behind the wardrobe. Arnold grabbed a chair and stood poised to strike anyone who entered the room. David curled up against the wall, tears were streaming down his face.
“No! No!” he cried. “What is this? I’m scared!”
Immediately, the screaming outside the door grew stronger, even more harrowing, even more terrifying. The banging on the door grew louder. I thought it was going to fly off its hinges.
Then panic seemd to overcome David.
“I can’t take it anymore,” he wailed. “I’ve got to get out of here.”
With that, he ran to the window and opened it.
“No!” I cried. “Don’t…”
But before I had time to finish my sentence, he jumped out the window. I heard him fall. For a brief moment, everything was silent. Then, I heard him cry out in pain.
“AAAAHHHH! I FELL! I’M HURT! MY BACK! AAAAHHHH! I’M HURT!”
I ran to the window and looked out. David lay on the concrete downstairs, screaming in pain. The screaming coming from behind the door got even louder and more crazed. The banging increased.
I was going crazy. It was all a relentless nightmare and David’s screaming only added to the horror of the situation. Especially since Arnold and I were too scared to leave the room to help him.
Then I smelled something. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but now the air in the room was filled with an awful stench. It was suffocating. The smell of burning flesh. It was unbearable.
I turned away from the window and saw Arnold standing motionless in the middle of the room. His eyes were wide and he was staring at the door, as if in a trance. Then, he bent over and vomitted on the carpet.
The banging, the screaming, the shouting, the stench of burning flesh and the sight of Arnold spewing was all too much for me. I began to throw up as well.
I leaned back against the wall as David continued to howl outside and the furious knocking on the door continued. Then, I had an idea. Maybe David’s cries outside were attracting the man outside the door. I closed the window.
We sat on the floor with our hands over our ears, shaking in terror as the cataclysmic blows against the door continued unabated and the awful cries pierced our eardrums and the burning stench mixed with the smell of our vomit.
Gradually the screams died down, the smell subsided and the banging on the door grew weaker and weaker, until finally everything was silent. All we could hear were David’s muffled cries of pain, through the closed window.
Arnold looked at me and asked me in a low voice, “What do we do now?”
“Maybe we should call the police,” I said. “Or the fire department… Or… I don’t know… an ambulance to help David.”
“Where’s your phone?” he asked.
“Do you think it’s gone?”
“Well… It’s quiet…” I replied hesitantly.
“That’s right…” he said. “We’ll have to go down… Well, I’ll go… Anyway, it’s gone, right?”
“I guess so,” I said.
Arnold got up slowly and hesitantly walked to the door. He gently seized the handle and pushed the door open and peeked into the hallway. It was empty.
Then, with a smirk on his face, he turned to me and said, “It’s crazy, the door was open all the time. This stupid ghost…”
But he didn’t have time to finish his sentence.
In a flash, a hand came around the door and grabbed Arnold around the neck. He stood there petrified, without screaming, eyes wide in terror. The arm was blackened and charred. I could smell the burning flesh.
Before I had time to react, Arnold suddenly disappeared right before my eyes, dragged through the doorway and whisked down the hall at an impossible speed. The door slammed shut with a deafening clatter.
I got to my feet and ran to the door, but I didn’t dare to open it. I called Arnold’s name agin and again, but there was no response. I still couldn’t bring myself to open the door. I was afraid that the charred man was still there.
Nobody ever saw Arnold again after that night.
My parents took me to a psychiatrist. I never told her anything, or anyone else. Not even my parents. They would never have believed me anyway. David did the same. He spent a month in the hospital. He broke his back in the fall.
Even today, I still have a fear of opening doors. I’m terrified of what I might find on the other side.