Scary For Kids
Moon Palace

Moon Palace

Moon Palace is a scary story about a boy who is dared by his friends to explore a haunted house. It was inspired by one or two pages from Stephen King’s book “Salem’s Lot”.

Moon Palace

Brendan Clooney was ten years old when his parents moved to town and enrolled him in a new school. Being the new kid wasn’t easy and he had to start making friends all over again.

On a hill, overlooking the school playground, there was an old, dark house. Brendan often looked up at it and wondered who lived there. At lunch time, he would sometimes see the girls playing games in the yard with a skipping rope and chanting a curious little rhyme.

“Zachary Moon he likes kids,
Especially when they’re seven.
And if he gets his hands on you,
He’ll send you straight to heaven.”

When he eventually made friends with a group of boys in his class, one of the first things he asked them was, “Who lives in that big old house up there?”

“Nobody now,” said one boy. “That’s the old Moon Palace.”

Brendan remembered the chant he had heard. “You mean Zachary Moon?” he asked.

“Yeah,” replied the boy. “You know the story?”

Brendan shook his head.

“You don’t know?” asked another boy, aghast. “They didn’t tell you about Moon Palace?”

The boys all gathered around, eager to tell the story. In hushed tones, they narrated the whole sorry tale, glancing over their shoulders and making sure there were no teachers around to hear them.

Zachary Moon and his wife were a rich old couple who had owned the big old house on the hill a long time ago. They named it Moon Palace and hung a sign over the door. Nobody knew how they had made their money, but they lived like hermits, seldom emerging from their house. The only time anybody saw them was when they made the short journey into town to buy supplies.

One Summer’s day, the mailman was delivering some bills to Moon Palace, when he noticed that the garden had become overgrown. Looking through the mailbox, he saw a pile of unopened letters on the floor. He knocked on the front door, but got no answer. Something didn’t feel right, so he went inside to investigate.

In the kitchen, he found Zachary Moon hanging from the ceiling. His wife was sprawled on the floor in a pool of dried blood. The mailman immediately ran to the police station and told them what he had discovered. Two police officers accompanied him back to the house and were tasked with figuring out what exactly had happened.

In the basement, they found the dead body of a 7-year old boy. Nobody knew who he was at first, but then the mailman recognized him. He had seen his face on a poster. The boy had gone missing from the school almost two years before. Most people thought he had run away from home and even his parents had given up looking for him.

As far as the police could tell, Zachary Moon had probably kidnapped the young boy and kept him gagged and chained up in the cellar. When his wife found out, she must have threatened to go to the police, so Zachary blew her brains out with a shotgun and then hung himself from the rafters. It seemed as if the boy had wasted away in the cellar and died of starvation.

A few days later, they held a funeral for Zachary and his wife. Half the town showed up, not to pay their respects, but rather to spit on Zachary’s coffin as they lowered it into the grave. After that, nobody wanted to live in Moon Palace and the old place had lain vacant for years.

Brendan felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up when he thought of that 7-year old boy, cowering all alone in a pitch black cellar, waiting for a rescue that never came. Who could do such a thing to a child, he wondered.

That evening, his new friends brought him out to the woods to show him their tree house. They told him he could be a member of their gang, but first, he would have to pass the test.

“What’s the test?” he asked suspiciously.

Sly smiles spread across the faces of the other boys.

“You have to go into Moon Palace,” they said in unison. “And you have to stand in the kitchen for one whole minute.”

At first, Brendan refused to go, but he was afraid of losing their friendship and eventually agreed.

That night, they set out for the old house on the hill. Silhouetted against the night sky, the dark building seemed imposing and the fenceposts, in the moonlight, looked like bones.

The front door was locked and most of the windows were boarded up. Sneaking around to the back of the house, they found a small window that was open. The boys gave Brendan a leg up and helped him climb through.

Jumping down from the window sill, he landed on the dusty wooden floor. The house smelled of mildew and dry rot. It was full of junk and moldering rubbish. Stacks of old, yellowed newspapers lined the walls. His heart was thudding heavily in his chest as he looked around.

There was a table and chairs in the front room which was covered in spider webs. In the center, stood a candleabra and there was a box of matches beside it. Brendan picked it up, struck a match and lit the candles.

Shaking with fear, he crept cautiously down the hallway. He could hear the house creaking and settling around and the sound of insects or rodents scuttling away in the darkness, nesting in the walls or hibernating under the floorboards. Now, he could smell something else. Somethaing bad and rancid, like rotting meat.

The hallway was long and narrow and he kept thinking he heard footsteps behind him. He was afraid to turn around because of what he might see. Suddenly, a rat skittered across the floorboards and disappeared through a hole in the wall. The door at the end of the hallway was closed. He could see it getting closer and closer and his skin felt like gooseflesh.

All of the stories he had been told about Zachary Moon were swirling around his head. As he approached the kitchen, the room where Zachary had hung himself, he could almost hear the rhyme the girls had been chanting over and over.

“Zachary Moon he likes kids,
Especially when they’re seven.
And if he gets his hands on you,
He’ll send you straight to heaven.”

At the end of the hallway, Brendan gathered all of his courage, reached out with one hand and turned the knob on the kitchen door. With a shrill creak, the slowly opened.

There, in the darkness, hung the figure of a man.

He already knew who it was.

Terror left him frozen to the spot as it swung back and forth.

It was Zachary Moon.

The ghastly face was illuminated for a moment. The frayed hangman’s noose was wrapped tightly around the neck. The eyes were shut and the skin was all purple. A black, swollen tongue hung from his mouth.

As he stared in horror, Brendan heard a faint voice calling, “Help me! Help me!”

Then, the figure opened its eyes.

Brendan let out a terrified scream and ran as fast as he could, tossing the candleabra away.

When he reached the back window, he jumped straight through, catching his foot on the frame and falling head over heels on the wet grass outside. He scrambled to his feet and took off running. When the other boys saw his pale, haunted face, they took off running after him and didn’t stop until they reached Brendan’s house.

Running into the house, he found his parents sitting in the living room, watching television. In a shaking voice, he tired to tell them what he had seen, but they didn’t believe him. They attempted to calm him down and assured him that there was nothing in Moon Palace to be scared of.

Then, it suddenly occurred to Brendan…

The voice he had heard…

It was the voice of a child…

Grabbing his father by the arm, he said, “I think there’s someone trapped in that house.”

Finally, he managed to convince his parents to call the police. Two officers were dispatched from the police station and they reluctantly undertook a search of the Moon Palace. In the cellar, they got the shock of their lives when their flashlights came to a rest on the cowering figure of a little boy. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old. His hands and feet had been shackled and he was chained to a rusty pipe.

The boy was rescued and returned to his parents. He wasn’t able to tell the police who had abducted him. All he kept saying was, “His tongue was black, his tongue was black, his tongue was black…”

For months afterwards, Brendan slept with the light on in his bedroom. His dreams were haunted by the memory of opening that kitchen door and seeing the moldering corpse hanging there. In every nightmare, he would see the dangling figure suddenly opening its hideous puffed eyes. Then, he would turn and run back down the long, winding hallway, screaming in terror, until he came to the back window.

In every nightmare, he found the window locked and would suddenly wake up shivering and soaked in a cold sweat.

Years later, the kids at school were still telling each other the story about the Moon Palace, scaring themselves half to death and adding as many grisly embellishments as their minds could conjure up.

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