By Alvin Schwartz
"The Haunted House" is the tenth story included in the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. A preacher goes to a haunted house where nobody has ever stayed the night because of the intense hauntings that have been happening. The preacher lights a fire, starts reading his Bible and waits. At midnight he hears a bang back by the cellar and hears footsteps but they go away. Then he hears them again and a dead twenty-year-old woman comes into the room...
One time a preacher went to see if he could put a haunt to rest at a house in his settlement. The house had been haunted for about ten years. Several people had tried to stay there all night, but they always would get scared out by the haunt.
So this preacher took his Bible and went to the house — went on in, built himself a good fire, and lit a lamp. Sat there reading the Bible. Then just before midnight he heard something start up in the cellar — walking back and forth, back and forth. Then it sounded like somebody was trying to scream and got choked off. Then there was a lot of thrashing around and struggling, and finally everything got quiet.
The old preacher took up his Bible again, but before he could start reading, he heard footsteps coming up the cellar stairs. He sat watching the door to the cellar, and the footsteps kept coming closer and closer. He saw the doorknob turn, and when the door began to open, he jumped up and hollered, "What do you want?"
The door shut back easy-like, and there wasn't a sound. The preacher was trembling a little, but he finally opened the Bible and read awhile. Then he got up and laid the book on the chair and went to mending the fire.
Then the haunt started walking again and — step! — step! — step! — up the cellar stairs. The old preacher sat watching the door, saw the doorknob turn and the door open. It looked like a young woman. He backed up and said, "Who are you? What do you want?"
The haunt sort of swayed like she didn't know what to do — then she just faded out. The old preacher waited, waited, and when he didn't hear any more noises, he went over and shut the door. He was sweating and trem- bling all over, but he was a brave man and he thought he'd be able to see it through. So he turned his chair to where he could watch, and he sat down and waited.
It wasn't long before he heard the haunt start up again, slowly — step! — step! — step! — step! — closer, and closer — step! — step! — and it was right at the door.
The preacher stood up and held his Bible out before him. Then the knob slowly turned, and the door opened wide. This time the preacher spoke quiet-like. He said, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost — who are you and what do you want?"
The haunt came right across the room, straight to him, and took hold of his coat. It was a young woman about twenty years old. Her hair was torn and tangled, and the flesh was dropping off her face so he could see the bones and part of her teeth. She had no eyeballs, but there was a sort of blue light way back in her eye sockets. And she had no nose to her face.
Then she started talking. It sounded like her voice was coming and going with the wind blowing it. She told how her lover had killed her for her money and buried her in the cellar. She said if the preacher would dig up her bones and bury her properly, she could rest.
Then she told him to take the end joint of the little finger from her left hand, and to lay it in the collection plate at the next church meeting — and he'd find out who had murdered her.
And she said, "If you come back here once more after that — you'll hear my voice at midnight, and I'll tell you where my money is hid, and you can give it to the church."
The haunt sobbed like she was tired, and she sunk down toward the floor and was gone. The preacher found her bones and buried them in the graveyard.
The next Sunday the preacher put the finger bone in the collection plate, and when a certain man happened to touch it, it stuck to his hand. The man jumped up and rubbed and scraped and tore at that bone, trying to get it off. Then he went to screaming, like he was going crazy. Well, he confessed to the murder, and they took him on to jail.
After the man was hung, the preacher went back to that house one midnight, and the haunt's voice told him to dig under the hearthrock. He did, and he found a big sack of money. And where that haunt had held on to his coat, the print of those bony fingers was burned right into the cloth. It never did come out.
Blog full of scary stories, true and fictional, from Reddit or professional writers. Reddit stories may be from NoSleep, Creepypasta, Let's Not Meet, and other horror subreddits.
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