Jeremy Simons

The September Featured Writer is Jeremy Simons

You can email Jeremy at: jsimons1986@yahoo.com

Jeremy Simons

by Jeremy Simons

It is just after midnight. The grayish, black clouds have long since covered the moon, concealing its ominous glow and preventing it from shining any light whatsoever. Only a few meaningless stars are out at this point. The night is nearly pitch black as Tommy stumbles around trying to get a better look at the lone house on Lifeless Lane. The small, dollar-store flashlight is clutched tightly in his palm, but proves to be no help at all. 

Tommy knows that the real name of the street, according to the Caldwell Parish Census Bureau, is Livingston Lane because that was the name of the original occupant. Now kids and adults alike only know it by Lifeless Lane. Some are completely unaware that it has another name. 

Lifeless Lane is a dead-end road out in the middle of nowhere. Only the Livingston house occupies this lonely street, and there has never been another. Since Daniel Livingston passed away in 1967, some say from a suicide, the house looms over the street, abandoned and alone. Of course the neighborhood kids are not quite convinced that the house is completely alone.

Today the house on Lifeless Lane remains secluded and uninhabited. A lot of the local teenagers like to go up there and hang out because they know that no one is going to come up there. The road is nearly a mile long and the house sits at the end. The road actually dead ends at the front porch, so the kids who believe the stories always stop halfway down the road just before the curve…just far enough out of sight of the main highway but not within view of the Livingston house.

On this night, Tommy Hart is one of a group of four teenagers partying on Lifeless Lane.  As tradition goes, nearly every time there is a group of kids up here, someone always gets dared to venture up to the house. Tommy is the lucky one tonight. 

His best friend in the world, Fred Cooper, dares him to go up to the house because he knows that Tommy doesn’t believe in the legend. He knows that this means Tommy has no reason not to go up there. 

Tommy is all for it in the beginning, until he realizes that Fred isn’t going with him…that he is supposed to go on his own. “Look,” Tommy says, “even without any ghosts, no one should go into that rickety old house alone. It’s not safe.”

His plan backfires, though. Fred doesn’t volunteer. Instead, Alicia, his own girlfriend, volunteers herself and no one objects. She did not seem to be scared at all which kind of perturbs Tommy even more. In fact, he feels a little angry towards her. She could have been his excuse.

He feels a strange fluttering in his stomach, but he can’t back out and save face, so he and Alicia leave the others and start up the road.  They have only the dollar-store flashlight, enough to make out what is right in front of them. It will have to do, though. After all, it is all they have.

Alicia still seems surprisingly unfazed. She is laughing and making all kinds of jokes about the house and tells what she is going to do if she sees the ghost. But as they round the second curve and the entire house comes into view, looming over the street, her entire demeanor changes. 

Tommy can tell she is getting nervous because her grip on his hand tightens considerably. Her breathing grows louder. She stops cracking jokes. She stops talking completely. Tommy hates to admit it, but he is a little relieved that he is not the only one scared anymore.

And yes, Tommy has to admit to himself that he is scared. His palms are sweating and his heart is pounding abruptly. His entire body is breaking out in gooseflesh.  He cannot even hold the flashlight straight, because he is shaking so badly.

“Are you ready, Baby?” Tommy asks, trying his best to make his voice steady as he stops to take a quick peek around at his surroundings. Somehow everything seems darker than is seemed right down the street. The sound other than the howling wind is a lone tree branch scraping a window on the house. Alicia seems to jump out of her shoes every time it screeches. 

Tommy tries again. “Alicia? Are you ready?”

“I’m not so sure about this anymore,” she replies. He can hear the fear in her voice and begins to feel sorry for her. It makes him feel brave and protective, and suddenly he is not so afraid.

“C’mon now,” he says softly as he pulls her in close and wraps his arms around her shoulders. “We’re already here. I’m telling you, there is nothing to worry about.” He tightens his grip around her. “Besides, I’m here to protect you.” 

He nearly laughs at the absurdity of that idea but maintains himself. A smile flashes across Alicia’s lips as he kisses her gently on the cheek. Mission accomplished. “C’mon, Baby. Let’s do this. The quicker we go in, the quicker this will all be over with,” he whispers.

She inhales a deep breath and lets it out slowly. She is still shivering, and Tommy is unsure whether it is from fear or cold. “Okay, Tommy. Just promise me something, please.”

“What?” he says cautiously. The tone of her voice is just as calm and cool as he has ever heard it, and it worries him. Does she really expect him to protect her?

“Just promise me that you won’t leave my side. I’m scared,” she says as she pries the flashlight from his hand.

He breathes in relief. For some reason, he likes the thought of her being vulnerable. “Don’t worry. I’ll be right here beside you throughout it all.”

Tommy leans in and kisses her passionately before she has time to object or ask another favor. He has known Alicia for quite some time now, long enough to know that his words have not comforted her in the slightest. He is hoping the kiss will. She seems temporarily distracted from the situation. This is good. 

The kiss is broken and he takes a long, worrisome look at the house. His stomach turns.  It was creepy enough when they first rounded the last curve, but now it seems like the closer they actually get to it, the creepier it gets; the scarier it gets.

He seriously contemplates turning around and going back to the car. So what if they think I’m a weenie? I’m grown. I can take the criticism. 

These thoughts last merely seconds before he decides that he cannot turn around. He remembers how cynical and harsh his friends truly are. He cannot look like a scaredy-cat in front his friends. They would never forget about it; never let him live it down. Worst of all, he could not look like a coward in front of Alicia. Sure, she would be all for going back to the others right now. But what will she think of him tomorrow? What will she tell all of her friends? The pressure is too much.

He makes his decision swiftly. He has to go through with it. In his eyes, he has no other choice.

“Let’s go, Baby.” The compassion in his voice is completely gone. It comes out more as a demand than anything, and at this point, he doesn’t even care if he has offended her. He takes the flashlight back without even asking permission first.

Walking together, hand in hand, they ease quietly and slowly up towards the house. Still feeling very uneasy about it all, Tommy thinks it best if they take a look around the outside first before attempting to go in. There is a small cyclone fence surrounding the outside of the house. They creep around the outside of the fence slowly and find nothing. In no time, they come back to the front gate where they started.

Tommy reaches out to open the gate and notices the padlock dangling there. Just underneath that is a NO TRESPASSING sign. They have no other choice but to hop the fence.

Alicia sees it differently. “We can’t get in, Tommy. Let’s just go.”

Go,” he mocks. “Are you crazy?”

“It’s locked. We can’t get in. We can just stand around here and wait a few minutes and then go back. We can just tell everybody we went into the house. They’ll never know the difference.” Her tone is just as sweet as ever.

Tommy knows what she is trying to do. He is not stupid by any means. She is just trying to simply turn on the charm and sweet talk him in to getting whatever she wants. It usually works. Oh, who is he kidding? It always works. He has to admit though that it really is not that bad of an idea. He wants to. God knows he wants to but he just cannot turn around. He refuses.

“You know we can’t turn back. I just ain’t like that, Alicia. I’ll help you over the fence, and then I’ll hop over,” Tommy says impatiently. He is positive she can tell he is frustrated, but for once, he does not care. He wants her to know. Then maybe she will quit trying to sucker him into turning back. “Or I’ll hop over, and you can wait here.”

He knows she wants to protest, but by the time she is preparing to speak, he already has his hands around her waist and is lifting her up. Once on the other side, she finally speaks. “I don’t like this at all, Tommy.” That is all she says. 

He ignores her. A few minutes later, he is over the fence as well. Before Alicia can even realize it, Tommy has already gotten her on to the front porch.

“Here we are!” Alicia says, her voice filled with sarcasm. Tommy wants so badly to pop some smartass remark right back at her but chooses not to. Instead, he flashes a fake smile as he jiggles the door knob.

“It’s locked, too,” Alice says, sounding I told you so.

He doesn’t respond. Instead, he kicks in the door, leaving no question as to whether or not it is locked. 

Tommy enters and stumbles around in the dark trying to get a better look at the lone house on Lifeless Lane. He realizes that Alicia is still on the outside porch. The small dollar-store brand flashlight that is clutched tightly in his palm is no help at all. There is not much furniture, but what there is, is old and mildewed and reeks something fierce. His stomach turns profusely, but he is able to somehow keep from throwing up. 

There are bits of shredded paper scattered all over what he presumes to be the living room floor. Some he deduces are shreds of old newspaper, very old from the looks of it.  Some appear to be bills of some sort.  Some look like checks. 

“This is a huge waste of time, Tommy,” Alicia calls from the outside porch. “Can we please just go now?”

“In a minute, Baby. I’m kinda interested now. I have to check out the rest of the house.”

“Why?” she asks. There is resentment in her voice. He hates to hear it, but he is truly intrigued by this house. The antique feel is amazing to him. It is almost as if something is drawing him further in, but of course, he ignores the feeling. 

“Come on inside. This is amazing. Don’t you feel it, Alicia?”

“Feel what?”

“I’m not sure.” By this time, he is almost ignoring her. The feeling is so strong. “I can’t really explain it, Babe. It’s just…I don’t know.” 

He glances back at her and slowly raises the flashlight, shining it in her face. She is standing in the doorway now, hands on her hips, a menacing scowl on her face. 

“Stop bein’ a scared whiner and come in. Let’s go look around,” he commands. Tommy notices almost immediately that Alicia has begun tearing up. He knows his attitude is probably what did it. He tries telling himself he doesn’t care, but he feels horrible anyways. “I’m sorry, Alicia.” 

He expects an argument. Worse, he thinks she might even use this as leverage to con him in to just leaving. However, she surprises him. She merely nods and begins toward the rickety staircase just inside the front door.

“Are you coming?” she dares as she ascends the first step. 

“Yeah,” he sputters out. He is shocked. “I’m coming,” he adds as he jogs over to her.

They calmly begin their journey up the stairs together. Each stair moans loudly as their weight hits them. Tommy fears that it is only a matter of time before one of them falls through to the basement. Then he wonders if there even is a basement. Probably concrete floors, he thinks. 

His heart is pounding fiercely at the thought of falling through and possibly crushing every bone in his body on the concrete floor beneath. It speeds up even more as they reach the top.

They leave the stairs onto a landing and venture first to their right. They cautiously enter the first door they see. Alicia opens it to what appears to be the master bedroom. 

A single bed rests directly in the center of the room. A busted old black-and-white television set occupies the top of the dresser. There are no drawers inside it. This room seems to be a bust. They do, however, find two doors in the room.

One leads into the closet. This surprises neither one of them. They rummage through it briefly but find nothing of intrigue. The other door leads into a bathroom. They find nothing in there, either. Alicia is rummaging through the mostly empty medicine cabinet as Tommy turns to exit the bathroom. As he is exiting the doorway, he hears something very peculiar.

It almost sounds like a man’s voice rumbling and echoing through the house, although the words are unclear.

Alicia jumps. “Stop fooling around! Stop playing tricks!” she screams at him. 

“I didn’t do anything! It was probably just the wind,” he tries to convince her.

“The wind don’t talk, Tommy!” she shouts. “Don’t act like I’m fucking stupid. It can’t talk.”

Tommy snickers out of nervousness. He can’t help but to do so. He knows it is probably only going to piss her off even more, but in all honesty, he knows it really did sound like a voice. “Maybe it’s just one of the guys trying to scare us, babe. Yeah, it’s Fred.”  His voice is nowhere near as casual as intended.  He is not even sure if he believes it.

“Hey Fred!” she calls. “We know it’s you!”

They both wait, and nothing happens. Tommy listens for footsteps, but hears nothing except the tree branches scraping against a window. The sound is creepy, like a soft chalk screech on a blackboard, over and over again.

He has a strange sense of déjà vu. It scares him more than anything because he cannot remember ever being in a situation like this. He feels the tugging at his arm. No doubt it is Alicia, but this feeling has gotten the best of him. 

He turns back towards the bathroom, expecting to see…to see what? He is unsure.  Maybe he will see one of their friends pointing and laughing. Or maybe he will see the real owner of that voice.  He is drawing a blank on the first name, but he knows the last is Livingston. 

Something catches his eye just inside the bathroom door. It is probably just some type of reflection in the old, dirty mirror, but he has to be sure. He starts towards the door. 

Alicia is screaming in his ear and jerking fiercely at his arm, but he ignores her. He evades her grip and sprints to the bathroom, leaving her in the bedroom. She is still screaming when he steps in front of the mirror. There is nothing there. Nothing in the tub. Nothing hiding behind the door.

The door slams shut, splitting the wood surrounding both the top and bottom hinges.  “This isn’t funny, Alicia!” he shouts through the door. 

No response. 

He shouts again. More fear has entered his voice. It is now he expects to hear her laughing but doesn’t. He hears only silence. 

“Alicia!” Tommy pulls blindly at the door because in the midst of all of this he has lost the flashlight. The door does not budge. He kicks and punches and pulls. With each blow, the wood surrounding the hinges splinter more. He doesn’t seem to notice. He continues kicking until finally the wood gives way, the hinges fly, and the door falls outward into the bedroom.

The bedroom is empty except for the bed, dresser, and television set that were there before. Alicia is gone.

“Alicia!” he screams at the top of his lungs.   

He hears her scream coming from somewhere downstairs. He sprints out of the bedroom, nearly falling over the threshold.

Standing on the landing, he once again stops dead cold. The bedroom doors have now somehow swapped sides. It’s crazy but true. He is sure he was on the right side of the hallway when they first came up. Now he is on the left. “What in the hell?” he stammers out. It isn’t possible. He knows this, but yet, somehow here it is. 

His concentration is shattered by another one of his girlfriend’s screams. “I’m coming, Baby!” 

He sprints back down the stairs. He ignores the new found light shining in to the living room as he runs straight back out of the front door. Everything is different now. It is daytime. Again, he knows this is impossible, but yet, here it is in the flesh. The trees and flowers are in full bloom which is also impossible because it is winter time. The gate is no longer locked. 

He runs all the way the back down the road yelling out to Alicia and ignoring the blinding pain in his sides and the shortness of breath. She never responds. He cannot find her anywhere. He also discovers that their friends are gone as well. He ran right past where they had been partying and didn’t even realize it. The car is also gone. 

Yet he hears her voice. “Tommy?” 

There is no doubt in his mind that this is Alicia. It echoes down the road. With each reverberation, he becomes even surer that it is definitely Alicia and not just someone playing around with him. The voice is so distant. It sounds as if she is still back at the house.

Despite the fact that everything is wrong, it should be night, he sprints back up the road all the way to the house. As the house comes back into view, daylight fades once again back to night. Everything is once again dark. What? He looks down at his watch: 2:34 AM. He is so confused. 

Then it dawns on him. He closes his eyes and pinches his arm. He has to be dreaming. He must have drank and smoked too much pot and passed out. All of this is just a dream.

The pinch hurt but doesn’t change anything. “Is this a dream?” he suddenly begins questioning himself. He reopens his eyes. Still dark. He notices a silhouette standing on the front porch. “Alicia?” he calls out. “Is that you, Baby?” He begins slowly easing towards the front porch.

“You promised me that you wouldn’t leave my side.” He knows that tone. It is no doubt Alicia, and by the sound of her voice, she is heartbroken. “You lied to me, Tommy,” she says as she turns back towards the front door. “I hate being lied to.” 

She then disappears into the house.

“Wait!” he hollers, near tears. “Don’t go back in there!”

Before he can make it back over the fence (since the gate is once again locked), a man appears on the porch between them. “You left her alone, Tommy,” the voice booms. 

He feels his eyes bulging in their sockets. His heart hitches and his mouth instantly becomes dry. It can’t be, it can’t be!

It has to be a transient. A drifter, a squatter. There is no such thing as ghosts. “You stay the hell away from her, you son of a bitch!” Tommy screams at the top of his lungs.  “I swear to God, I’ll kill you.” 

“You cannot kill that which is already dead,” the voice says as the man disappears into the darkness of the doorway.

Tommy hesitates. He could run to his friends to use their cell phone and summon the police. But that would give the man time to…to…what would he do to Alicia?

He makes up his mind and runs into the dark front door.

The man is nowhere in sight inside of the house, but Tommy can still hear the laughter booming through the halls. He doesn’t care about that, though. All he wants is Alicia. 

Tommy scurries through the doorway to another set of stairs going down. It is the basement. He is shocked to find Alicia standing at the bottom of the stairs, all alone, and her hand beckons him.

“C’mon down here, Baby,” she calls out to him in her sexiest, most innocent voice. 

He starts cautiously down the stairs. As he gets about halfway down to her, Alicia, right in front of his own eyes, changes into the man.

“Yes. C’mon, Baby,” the man says as the laughter begins bellowing out once more.

Screaming, Tommy turns to run back up the stairs. Just as the bathroom door had, the basement door slams shut right before he reaches it. Tommy hears locks clicking shut from the outside. 

Everything is dark, and he can only see dim silhouettes. The man has now somehow appeared in front of him at the top of the stairs.

“I warned you to leave this house, Tommy,” the man says as he begins inching towards Tommy. “I see you don’t follow directions very well.”

“Who are you?” Tommy asks, but part of him already knows.       

“This is my house,” the man says casually. “Stay away from my house.”

Tommy’s guess would have been right. But how? 

He tumbles backwards down the stairs. As he prepares himself to land on the concrete floor beneath, the floor opens up into a black hole. Tommy falls straight through the basement floor into a black abyss. His screams are muffled but the abyss is once more covered by the concrete of the basement floor.


Alicia makes her way down the deserted lane, back to where her friends are waiting. 

Fred races to her. “Where’s Tommy?”

All of her responses are incoherent except for one: “Stay away from my house.” 

No one knows what it could mean.

Jeremy Simons lives with his wife and three young daughters in Grayson, Louisiana. He writes in his spare time and is trying diligently to procure representation for his three completed novels.

Jeremy has had stories previously published with two zines, Carnage Conservatory and Aphelion.