The Lost Son’s Voice
By Connor Kinch
The old manor was sold in January, to a rich businessman known as Thomas.
He was told that the manor was rumored to be haunted, haunted by the previous owner’s lost child, a young boy named Joan. His parents had woken up one beautiful Sunday morning, and called for Joan for breakfast, the rumor went. When they got no answer, they went to Joan’s room themselves, joking that their eight-year-old could sleep until noon if he had his way. They opened the door to his bedroom, only to see an empty bed where Joan was supposed to be. Ten days later, the house went up for sale, the reason listed as “we can hear his voice everywhere. It never stops.” All this Thomas was told. But he ignored it. In Thomas’s world, money was to be made, life was about business, and a good mansion was needed for any rich businessman. This was an old one, corroded and chipped, but it was cheap, and with some paint buckets and dusting supplies, it would look as good as new. He didn’t even bother to take a look at the house before buying it. He decided to visit it right away. The day was January the 14th.
Thomas could spot the manor even before he drove into the town of Hectaville. It towered over the cheerful village and surrounding countryside like a giant straight out of fairy tales, waiting to put his foot down on the unsuspecting small wooden houses. The sheer blackness of the great home surprised him - it was clear and crisp against the bright blue sky, almost like a patch of night. Must be a trick of the light, he thought, but he still shivered as he passed the Welcome to Hectaville! sign. As Thomas passed the homes on his way to his new mansion, people - especially children - came out of their houses and looked at the passing Jaguar, then cast a glance at the manor in the distance.
Surely not all of these people would be fool enough to believe the story - right? He tried to look ahead, but he still felt the stares burning into his skin. Now that he thought about it, the previous owners of the manor seemed relieved and scared at the same time when they settled the deal with him. Maybe they were thinking about the money? Creepy. Doubt formed in his mind, but he pushed it away quickly.
As Thomas pulled into the driveway of the once-great mansion, he was surprised by the actual size and state of it. The paint ripped and chiseled, the windows cracked and vines sneaking up one side of it, the whole house seemed to radiate a feeling of fear. Thomas had always been strictly non-superstitious, but he still felt uneasy as he walked up to the doors and opened them up, using the dusty key that worked for all the doors in the manor. Walking in, he turned on his flashlight and shined it around the entrance room. The wall decor seemed fancy enough, and so did the stairs. He liked it. As he shut the doors behind him, he heard an echo deep in the hallways. Freezing in place, he listened hard, but heard nothing else. The doors must’ve caused it.
As Thomas’s eyes adjusted to the darkness and he got used to the musty smell, he explored the mansion. It had three majestic floors, if you could see past the dust that had gathered for two years’ time. Everything seemed pretty neat and orderly. The beds were made. The hallway carpets were smooth and flat. The pictures were straight. The dishes were put away and the napkins were fine. And he had heard not a single creepy kid’s voice since he had walked through the entrance. Perfect. As Thomas strolled down the hall and opened the door to the last bedroom, his ears detected a child’s voice.
Thomas’s hand dropped the flashlight, and he flipped the light switch on the wall. Nothing happened. Thomas cursed, just remembering that he hadn’t called the electricity company yet for them to turn on the electricity for the manor. Still a little bit shaky, he picked up his flashlight, already dismissing what he heard as something in his mind. Shining his light around the bedroom, he noticed some curious items, caked with dust but still recognizable.
A mini soccer ball. Legos. Markers and paper. A basketball hoop attached to the wall. Playing cards littering the floor. Small shirts and pairs of pants folded up near the bed.
This was a child’s room.
Hands trembling, Thomas hastily backed out of the bedroom, closing the door and then resting against the wall, his heart beating fast and his breathing heavy. The story couldn’t be true. No way was it possible. That was just a child’s room. The voice he had heard was just inside his head.
But why, he thought, had he heard the boy’s voice when he walked into not any bedroom, but the child’s bedroom?
Is someone there?
When Thomas heard the voice again, he pushed himself off the wall and flashed his light along the hallway. If Joan’s ghost really was here, maybe he could find it and tell it to stop. Maybe move on, and tell his parents how he went missing.
Is someone there? Don’t be scared, please.
Thomas frantically turned his head from left to right, trying to locate the origin of the voice, but it seemed to come from everywhere at once. The doubt that the story was true wasn’t doubt anymore. Why hadn’t he believed Joan’s parents, when they told him their story of the manor? He needed to get out of here.
If someone’s there, please help me.
Thomas was already racing down the hallway when he heard Joan ask for help. Slowing down for a moment, he again tried to locate the source of the voice, his breathing now coming fast and hard. What was going on? Where was the voice coming from? Why was Joan asking for help? The questions crowded together in Thomas’s head as he sped down the stairs onto the second floor.
No! Help me, please! Don’t leave again!
How does he know I’m leaving? And again? Thomas was now running down the stairs at full speed, trying to escape Joan’s voice and the manor itself. Blood pounding in his ears as his feet left the staircase and slammed down on the wood of the first floor.
No! Come back! Don’t leave!
Rounding the corners in the hallway and throwing the carpet into rumples behind him, Thomas bolted into the entrance room and down the grand stairway, gripping the flashlight so tight his hands were white. He charged for the entrance doors.
Thomas rammed into the doors with his sweaty, clammy body and ran out into the cool, outside air, the musty scent of the old manor dissipating. Jumping into his Jaguar while not bothering to close the doors of the mansion, he sped away and through Hectaville, ignoring the frightened and yet knowing looks he was getting from the people in it. He did not stop driving until he arrived at his apartment building and did not stop running until he was safely inside his apartment.
For the next week and a half, Thomas hired detectives to search every inch of the manor for hidden speakers, hidden rooms, and a little child. He told them to wear noise-canceling headphones and forbid them from entering the child’s bedroom on the third floor. He was still having nightmares about Joan’s voice, and he would have them for months afterward. He made sure that all the detectives had given up on the search until he put the old mansion up for sale. On January the 24th, ten days after Thomas heard the lost child’s voice in the old manor, the manor was put up for sale, the reason listed as, “I heard the voice too. Joan’s still there. Believe it. But only buy this house with an intention to save him, please.”