Scene 16

It had been several days since the tense moments of the phantom howling had permeated their lives. The Jacksons began to relax and they soon fell into their old routines. Bernie even brought out his old Atari and played some games. Melody was writing, and Lonnie was catching up on her knitting.

Cuddlethwumps!” Melody said, suddenly.

“What'll what?” Bernie said, trying not to look away from the screen. He was currently in a heated skirmish in a game called “River Raid”.

“It's a word I just made up,” she said.

“That's, uh, nice, dear,” Bernie said, using his entire body to maneuver the controls.

“Aren't you going to ask me what it means?”

Bernie, whose plane had just now crashed into an oncoming bridge, sighed. “Let's see if I can figure it out. Cuddle – thumps?”

“Thwumps,” Melody corrected.

“Right right,” he said. “Makes sense. Let’s see. Something related to the physical abuse of a cute stuffed animal?”

“No, it's an exclamation,” she said. “It doesn't actually mean anything.”

“Man,” Bernie said. “You really ARE bored, aren't you.”

Melody slumped in her chair. She was bored. Normally she was self-entertaining. She almost always had a project she was working on or some sort of self-study she found enticing. But here she was, restless. She hoped that she wasn't turning into one of those adrenalin junkies needing the fix of the next big scare. She assured herself, however, that she was just being silly.

In the end, it seemed as though the howl of the hound was nothing more than vapor. A trick of the ear. Melody was even starting to believe that perhaps it really was that little dog with the cone over its head.

“Do you...?” Melody stopped as she was suddenly interrupted by a loud vocalization of some massive canine.

“There must be a full moon, tonight.” Bernie said, dropping the Atari Joystick at his feet.

“...When the moon rose brightly in the sky, the howling returned with a new and aggressive vigor.”

“Melody,” Bernie said. “Snap out of it.”

“I'm going over there,” she said, with nervous emphasis.

Bernie shook his head. “I really don't think that's a good idea. I'm afraid your mother and I forbid it.”

He looked around the living room for support, and came up short. “Isn't that right, Hon?”

Lonnie wasn't currently in the room, though she had been there but a moment before. Finally she burst through the swinging kitchen door carrying a rucksack and a portion of rope wrapped loosely over her shoulder.

“Okay,” she said. “Let's go solve a mystery.”

“Sorry, Mom,” Melody said, smirking. “We can't. Dad forbade it.”

Lonnie shook her head. “Don't be ridiculous, Bernie,” she said.

“It's not safe,” he said, dourly. For a moment he looked as though he were about to break out into tears. “I won't have my wife and daughter suffer the same fate as Malika.”

“Strength in numbers, Dad,” Melody told him. “Strength in numbers.”

“Yes,” Lonnie agreed. “You're coming, too. Whatever it is can't get all of us.”

Bernie grumbled under his breath and shook his head, but he knew there was no point in arguing. Either he took a stand and didn't go, letting the women in his life go off without him, or he went along with them to suffer the same fate. “You might have to carry me over there, though,” he said, annoyed.

Lonnie sighed and shook her head. “Go and get your little red wagon and we'll drag the big baby with us, Melody,” she said. “I'm headed over.”

Bernie began to cough, and then raised up his hands. “Okay,” he said. “Okay, I'm coming. I think I'd be safer going up against the Hound from Hell than riding in that rusty old wagon.”

The three walked surreptitiously across the street. As the moon was full, the neighborhood was almost bright.

Across the street came a muted growl, followed by a loud clank. As Lonnie approached the lot, she placed her hand up to her mouth.

“Oh my goodness,” she said.

Melody's senses suddenly became heightened at this reaction, even though she had yet to see what her mother had seen.

“What is it?”

Her mother didn't respond.

Melody skipped ahead, and suddenly wondered why she hadn't seen it from the street.

Ghostly transparent, and larger than life, was a two-story home.

“Holy Hannah’s houndog!” Bernie said, coming up behind them.

Melody didn't know exactly what to say. She wasn't one to swear, but the standard exclamation failed to cover how she wanted to react to this vision.

“Cuddlethwumps!” she tried. While this was close to providing the necessary scratch to the itch, the word also left her feeling unsatisfied. “BIZZLESNAPS!” she tried instead, and it felt better.

The house was reddish-brown and transparent on every level. Melody could make out the rough details on the wooden siding – the chipped paint, the splinters – but she could just as clearly see through the kitchen furnishings on the opposite side of the wall. In the same respect she could see through the antique icebox, the glass bottles of milk inside of it, the wallpaper behind that, and even the claw-footed bathtub in the next room.

“I just depends on how you focus your eyes.”

“Here,” Lonnie shouted excitedly. “Look here.”

Melody stepped close to her mother, and followed her gaze through a transparent double doors into the cellar. There was a large, round, iron dome on the floor of precisely the same dimensions as reported by Mr. Rogers metal detector.

“That's no septic tank,” Lonnie said, under her breath, eyes wide in their sockets.

Melody had to agree. “And it's not an oil tank, either.” Although at the moment, she wished it were.

A hooded figure stalked into the room below them and made its way over to the dome. Melody noted that the thing was almost floating across the floor from one end of the basement to the other. It was almost as though it were on a track.

Bernie wriggled his way between them, taking care not to touch the ghostly house in front of him.

“For the love of….Bernie. What…?” Lonnie nearly lost her balance.

“I can’t see,” he said.

“Dad,” Melody scowled. “The house is completely see-through. What are you having a problem with?”

“I know,” he said. “But where I was standing there was a big rock in the way, and I couldn’t see that guy in the basement.”

The floating figure reached down to a wheel, which more precisely resembled a pressure lock from a submarine portal, and began to turn it without difficulty.

The Jackson’s held their breath as they watched in pensive horror. The wheel produced a high-pitched metallic squeal.

“That's the sound,” Melody said softly to herself. “And I can guess what that distant clank is going to be.”

Who was this person? Melody thought. What was going on? Had something ritualistic occurred all of those years ago on Lafayette street? Something evil?

The thought was unimaginable. Of course she realized that humans in the past had perpetuated all kinds of horrible acts, she had never suspected something like this would have been going on in her own front yard.

Suddenly, Melody found that she was unable to move. Fear had worked its way throughout her entire body, paralyzing her. If the cloaked figure turned around at this point, she didn't think her nerves could take it. At the moment, what she wanted to do more than anything on Earth was to run away and hide under her bed.

The cloaked figure, thankfully, failed to look in their direction, even when Bernie gasped loudly as the lid was opened.

With the help of some sort of pulley system, the figure lifted the heavy door, exposing a brick-lined well leading to some unseen depths.

“It's a well to Hell,” Bernie said, his voice suddenly raspy. He then repeated the sentiment a few more times as if a chant to make the whole thing go away.

“Don't be daft,” Melody told her father out of the corner of her mouth. In her heart she knew there probably was no such place. There just couldn't be. If it existed at all, at least in the way that theologians might think of it, it had to be a construct of the mind-scape. A place of terrors populated only by dreamers. She refused to believe there was a physical land of eternal torture where all the bad people went.

“Although,” she said, aloud. “With our recent Bardo and HellHound outbreaks lately, that might explain a lot.”

Just the same, once the great, iron portal was lifted, she swore she could hear the distant screams of tormented souls.

“You hear that,” Bernie said, wide-eyed. He turned to look at the two of them. “We live across the street from a Hellmouth!” His eyes were red and practically shaking in his skull.

Lonnie unbelievably took a few steps toward the diaphanous double doors which at one time would have lead into the basement. However, before Melody or Bernie could reach out and stop her Lonnie found herself simply standing in the middle of the ghastly projection. There she stood, still on the flat, physical field, failing to tumble into the nethers of the as of yet unproven dwelling. She stood there a few moments seeming dumbstruck. Finally, Lonnie slapped her hand to her thigh and then turned and ran as fast as she could back towards their own house.

Melody and her father simply looked at each other, unsure what to do next.

“I guess the show's over?” Melody said, nervously.

Bernie appeared stunned. “I never expected your Mother to just take off and leave us.”

Suddenly, Lonnie returned with a cylindrical object in each hand. Closer examination revealed these to be spray paint cans. One white and the other orange.

“What’s going on?” Melody said.

Lonnie, however, didn't reply other than by her actions. She seemed wild-eyed and determined. She then began to spray lines all along the field, constantly looking around the transparent house as she did so.

“I think she's making a map,” Melody told her father.

“I get that,” he said. “But what I don't understand is why.”

Beneath them, the figure in the robes continued on, now waving his hands about and mumbling some incantation in a foreign tongue. Some steam or smoke began to rise out of the well.

“It's him I'm worried about,” Melody said. Was this cloaked person really there? she wondered. Or was it simply some ghostly impression on the environment?

Lonnie dropped both of the spent canisters of paint on the ground and took a few steps back. She then pulled a small camera out of her pocket, and snapped off a few shots: Some with the flash on, and some with the flash off. She continued to do this until the memory card was full. She then simply sat down on the grass as though all of the energy had been drained out of her.

Perhaps in no small part due to the presence of the Jacksons observations of it, the vision of the house slowly began to fade away. However, before it was completely gone, Melody, who never took her eyes off the man in the cowled robe, saw a black blob-like object emerge from the well beneath them. The form was mostly amorphous, but it seemed to have legs and the ability to move about on it's own.

Now alone in the darkness, they all heard that indeterminable sound again. A loud clank of the metal door coming down. In the distance, a mournful howl of some massive beast filled the air.

“I think that was an historic record of how the Hellhound came into our world,” Melody said, still unable to take her eyes away from the spot. The field, which was now just a field, albeit with crisscrossing lines which now formed a roughly painted blueprint of the house.

“Fine,” Bernie said. “I'll buy that. But why show us this?”


Bernie shrugged his shoulders. “Whoever,” he said. “Whoever shows these types of things to the people who are shown them.”

Melody shook her head. “I don't think it has anything to do with us,” she said. “I think it's just a process that was triggered by some source of energy. This ghost house is a remnant of something that happened in the past. Either it presents itself periodically, or something triggered it. Maybe Jimmy, maybe whatever triggered the woman in white. I think we need to find Chazz and her team of investigators.

“Regardless,” Lonnie said, sitting on the grass. “I think whatever this was is over now.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Hound from Hell

by BMB Johnson

Scene 16

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