Best Forgotten – by Chris B.


Stuck in Washington DC for the weekend between meetings, Lee Crane, Captain of the USRN Seaview was bored.  Finding nothing that really intrigued him in the city that morning he decided to go for a leisurely Sunday drive through the Virginia countryside.  It had started out as a beautiful sunny day when he left DC but the weather deteriorated rapidly making it hazardous to be out.  The rain was coming down in buckets and the sky was now black with thick rain clouds occasionally illuminated by wicked bolts of forked lightening and deafening thunder.  The wind buffeted his car roughly as he fought to keep it in the center of the seemingly long forgotten dirt road that was quickly turning to muck and mud.  Focusing tightly on the middle of the road he was startled by the sudden appearance of a large black tail deer darting out of the trees and into the road.  Cursing loudly he swerved to miss the deer and found himself in the ditch sunk up to his axles in water and mud.

Lee sat there for a few moments bringing his heart rate and breathing under control.  He was unhurt but he was now stuck.  He pulled out his cell phone but was unable to get a signal so there would mostly likely be no quick rescue.  There looked to be no end in sight for the rain storm and he really didn’t fancy spending the next several hours holed up in his car watching the water rise rapidly in the ditch.  Looking up the road he could just make out a driveway on the right leading up to an old house nearly hidden by the stand of trees.

Coming to a quick decision Lee grabbed his raincoat and backpack and carefully crawled out of the car into the rising water.  There was no sign of any traffic heading down the road in either direction so he abandoned his car and struck out for the house.  Walking in the road was almost as treacherous as driving it as he slipped and slid in deepening mud. 

As he reached the driveway he could just see what looked like an old manor house long since abandoned.  The house looked to be something out of the late1800’s. It was a three story structure with a large wraparound porch with stately columns supporting the roof; most of the windows were shuttered although some of those on the second story were hanging by only one hinge and banging roughly in the raging wind.   Steps leading up to the porch were warped and missing treads. The white paint was cracked and blistered and had peeled off over large sections of the structure giving the house a gray and weary look.

The road leading up to the house had quite obviously not been used in some time as grass now completely covered the surface and there was no indication that any vehicle had been down the path in quite a while.  The area around the house had also long since been reclaimed by the native grasses and shrubs.

Taking in the house Lee felt a slight shiver run down his spine.    There was an eerie aura about the place as though it was lying in wait for unsuspecting travelers to venture in. Shaking off the feeling and attributing it to the storm he slogged forward towards the house.  He reasoned it was still drier than being out in this deluge and he could hunker down until the storm passed then call for assistance.

Lee carefully mounted the front steps and approached the huge oak doors marking the entrance to the house.  Moving forward warily he grabbed the door knob and was somewhat surprised to find that it was unlocked.  He pushed the door open slowly and was greeted by the creak and groan of old hinges long unopened and encrusted with rust.  The entryway looked as though no one had passed over the threshold in decades; there was a thick coating of dust and other debris covering the floor but no signs of foot prints, animal or human.

On the odd chance that the place was inhabited Lee announced himself as he entered the house.  “Hello, is anyone here?”  His strained listening for any answer but was only met with silence from within the house.  “Guess nobody’s home,” he said to himself and shut the door behind him.

The structure had all the earmarks of the classic haunted house. There was a grand staircase leading up to the second floor.  The walls were covered in red overly ornate wallpaper popular in a bygone era. Cobwebs hung from the chandeliers and light fixtures lining the walls, furniture was covered with sheets and layers of dust, not appearing to have been disturbed since the owners left.  A musty and moldy smell permeated the atmosphere indicating the house had not breathed fresh air in quite some time.

Off the entryway was a large sitting room with a huge fireplace on the back wall.  Lee noticed there was a fair amount of wood stacked neatly next to the fireplace.  Chilled from the rain and the creepy nature of the house Lee decided that he’d see about lighting a fire to hopefully drive both off.  He pulled the damper lever open letting loose a cascade of old bird’s nests, leaves and twigs.  Lee got on his knees and looked up the chimney to make sure there were no obstructions that would prove problematic if he lit a fire.  Much to his pleasant surprise the shaft was clear and he set about building a fire.

The wood was extremely dry and the fire roared to life quickly filling the room with warmth and light cheering the atmosphere significantly.  Lee pulled the cover off of the large overstuffed chair next to the fireplace and sat down to warm himself up and dry out his shoes and clothes.  He sat there quietly transfixed by the flames when he thought he heard something coming from upstairs; a very light rapping sound.  He listened intently but it wasn’t repeated.  “Must have been the house settling or shifting in the storm,” he said aloud.

As the heat from the fire spread throughout the room Lee relaxed more as he warmed up.  He grabbed his pack and rooted around for a moment pulling out the sandwich and chips he’d purchased at a local deli before he headed out for his drive.  He got up and located a small end table under another sheet and placed it in front of his chair where he spread out his meal.  He sat back down and absentmindedly munched on his sandwich as he continued to watch the flames hypnotically sway and dance in the fireplace.

Then he heard it again.  “Rap, rap, rap.”  It definitely came from somewhere in the house.  It was a different sound from the banging shutters or the tree limbs raking across the house and windows.  The cadence of the sound was measured, not erratic like those made by the storm.  He sat motionlessly listening then realized he was holding breath and quietly let it out.  “Rap, rap, rap.”  Someone or more disturbingly some thing was in the house.

Thinking back on all the horror movies he had ever watched then throwing in what popped up on Seaview, soon had his imagination running wild with what “it” could possibly be.  Again, “Rap, rap, rap.”  It didn’t sound like a rat or squirrel or raccoon, it was too regular and kept the same tempo each time he heard it.  “If I were smart,” Lee thought to himself. ”I would just sit here by the fire and leave whatever it is to its own devices.  But am I going to be smart?”

“Rap, rap, rap.”  It was definitely upstairs and knew he was in the house.  It seemed to beckon him to come and find it, to come let it out.

Getting edgier by the moment Lee sat there contemplating the pros and cons of staying put there by the fire until the storm blew itself out or to work up the courage and find the source of the noise.  Finally coming to a decision he screwed his courage to the sticking place and started digging through his pack for his gun and a flashlight.  He had brought along one of the laser pistols from FS-1 which he had grabbed at the last moment just in case.  It looked like ‘just in case’ was calling him out.

Rising to his feet Lee made his way back to the entryway and looked up the stairs and listened.  “Rap, rap, rap.”  “Yeah, definitely upstairs,” he said as he slowly mounted the steps and started his climb up to the second floor.  As he got to the second floor landing he looked down the hall.  There were rooms located on both sides of the hallway all with the doors shut.  Weapon at the ready he stealthily made his way to the first room and quietly turned the knob.  It was unlocked and as he pushed the door open the hinges screamed like a mashed cat.  “So much for stealth,” Lee chuckled to himself and moved into the room to check it out.

It was a large bedroom with a four poster bed against the opposing wall.  There was an armoire, a dressing table and an antique rocking chair in one corner.  Lee moved to the chair and gently pushed it to see if by some chance it was the source of the sound.  The chair creaked softly as it rocked forward and back but no rap.  Next he moved to the armoire and checked the drawers and cabinet but they held nothing but dust.  He slowly lowered himself to his knees and peered under the bed looking for whatever was trying to get his attention, but still nothing.  Finding no logical source for the sound he left the room and moved to the next one across the hall.

“Rap, rap, rap….Rap, rap, rap.”

 “Oh god it knows I’m coming to look for it” Lee thought.  “This would be a real good time to go back downstairs and tend the fire Crane.”  But already set on his course of action Lee belayed that thought and moved on with his search.

The storm seemed to be building in intensity as the lightning and thunder raged at one another while the wind howled louder and the rain slammed harder still against the roof and walls.  Walking into the next room Lee screamed like a little girl when he unexpectedly caught sight of his reflection in a full length mirror as a flash of lightning suddenly illuminated the room.  “Geez, get a grip Crane,” he said as he tried to get his heart beat under control. ”It’s just your reflection; thank god Chip didn’t see that.”

Lee quickly checked out the room and continued his search down the corridor.  Four more rooms and still no source of the sound.

“RAP, RAP, RAP.”  It was getting impatient now whatever ‘it’ was.  Lee tightened his grip on his gun and moved to the last door at the end of the hall.  Opening it slowly he found another staircase leading to the attic.  “RAP, RAP, RAP.”  No doubt about it now it was up in the attic and it wanted Lee to know it.

Shining his flashlight up the staircase Lee could see rafters draped in cobwebs and odd items hanging from hooks and nails.  He’d come this far he might as well take the last fateful steps.  Slowly he ascended the stairs entering the attic.  It was a typical attic chocked full of items that had long since lost their useful purpose and now stood silent sentry to the passage of time.


It knew he was in the attic, it wanted his attention now.  Lee drew in a deep breath and began playing his light over the objects in the room.  There were cardboard boxes everywhere, old bikes, a dressmaker’s mannequin, stacks of books and magazines, toys, and clothing on a rack.  Still he had yet to spy the source of the noise.


As he moved through the maze of discarded objects his light finally touched the back wall of the attic.  There lurking in the shadows all alone sat a large teak trunk, with a large brass hasp locked shut with an immense old padlock to keep whatever was in there in.  Lee focused on the trunk and stood there watching it.


This was it, this was the source.  The huge trunk nearly jumped off the floor from the force of the blows inside.  Lee sidled closer to the trunk running his light over every square inch trying to figure out what might be inside.  As long as he didn’t open it he would probably be safe.  He moved even closer looking for any words of warning; any hint of what danger may lie within this massive chest.

He slowly reached out his hand and laid it on the top of the lid.  “RAP, RAP, RAP…RAP, RAP, RAP…RAP, RAP, RAP.”  He damn near jumped out of his skin as whatever was in there tried to get out.  He swallowed hard warring with himself on whether to open it or just walk away.  “Where’s all your bravery now, Crane.”  He thought to himself. “Keeping common sense company, thank you very much,” came the small voice in the back of his mind.


Curiosity finally got the best of him, he had to know.  He looked quickly around the room and found an old music stand that he could perch his flashlight on. Lee brought it back near the trunk and positioned it so that it fully illuminated the area. Next he looked around for something he could use to pick the lock; he spied an old wire coat hanger and unbent the hook end so he could use it on the lock.  He moved back to the trunk and inserted the wire into the keyhole and began moving it around until he heard a loud click and the lock fell open.

Lee slowly slid the lock out of the hasp and laid it down quietly on the floor then picked up his gun.  It had gotten deathly quiet now, as if everything was holding its breath.  The storm had blown itself out and all that Lee could hear was his own heartbeat and breathing with an occasional groan as the house resettled after the storm.  Ever so slowly he eased the hasp up; he gently placed the fingers of his left hand on the corner of the lid.  He froze for a moment, every fiber in his body was telling him to put the lock back and just walk away, but he’d come too far to stop now.  He closed his hand around the corner of the lid, gun steadily aimed at the trunk he lifted the lid up.

The shock and horror of what he found was incomprehensible.  Before ‘it’ could react he slammed the lid back down, closed the hasp and shoved the lock back in place.  He stumbled backwards tripping over the music stand knocking his light to the floor.  He scrabbled across the floor chasing the flashlight and finally getting a hold of it he bolted across the attic and down the stairs slamming the door shut as he ran.  He flew down the next flight of stairs and only stopped when he was in front of the fireplace.

His heart was beating like bass drum threatening to break out of his chest, he was breathing so hard he was nearly hyperventilating.  He stood there before the fireplace, hands braced against the mantle, eyes screwed shut shaking his head trying to get the vision of what he had just seen out of his mind.  It was horrific and should never be allowed to see the light of day.  It was without a doubt the ugliest Wrapping Paper he had ever seen.


The End.