The Most Haunted House in New York State
by Gregory Adams
forum: The Most Haunted House in New York State
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Most Haunted House in New York State


         The tour guide, a young, dark-haired woman in her early twenties, crossed the wide gallery, her low heels clicking off of the polished hardwood floor with cadence precise as a metronome. When she reached the archway that led to the grand staircase, she turned and waited for the tour to file into the room. It was a large group today, and the gallery was always the most popular room. After this room, she could expect several guests to drop off from the tour and head for the gift shop or even for the parking lot, their curiosity satisfied.

         She took a small square microphone from its hook on the wall and waited. When the group had settled into rows of standing, waiting faces, she flashed her best smile and began.

         "Welcome to Bauble House," she said, her voice amplified by several small speakers perfectly concealed throughout the room. "Bauble House is one of the oldest and best-preserved homes in the New York region. Our tour today begins in a room we call the gallery. This large, open space, located conveniently near the front entrance, kitchen and dining hall, is where the original owners of Bauble House would entertain visitors with chamber music concerts, poetry readings, or lively talk, warmed by a fire that would burn in the large fireplace to your left. In later years, subsequent owners used the room to display works of fine art, giving the room the nickname it is known by today."

         This was all she had to say, unless there were any questions. This being the gallery, there were always questions. The tour group stood in a single silence, waiting for someone to work up the nerve. The tour guide waited with them, the microphone still in her hand.

         "What about the ghosts?" someone asked at last.

         The tour guide refreshed her smile. "The gallery is said to be haunted by several ghosts, although the historical identities of many of the spirits are unknown. The ghostly sightings began in 1788, shortly after the main house was completed. The first ghost to be seen at Bauble house is described as a tall man in a long coat, and was nicknamed the Gray Man.

         "The Gray Man, a spirit said to resemble a tall, thin man with a severe countenance, was routinely seen by the servants of Bauble House. He is made entirely of shadows, and has burning red coals for eyes. The visitations soon became so common that many servants refused to enter the gallery due to the ghost's presence.

         "Upset by his servant's disobedience, the then-master of the house dragged a cook into the gallery and beat her with a cane. This violence seems to have stimulated the Gray Man, who appeared in a pillar of swirling black fire. The stone fireplace cracked open with a rumble that shook the house to its foundations, and the room was instantly flooded with the stench of sulfur and burning flesh. If you'll look closely, you can see a zigzag line where the chimney was re-plastered after being rent asunder by supernatural forces. Screams of inhuman agony poured from the hole where the hearth had been, and these screams were heard in Putnam County, several miles away.

         "The Gray Man glided towards the master of the house, and whispered into the man's ear. The servant could not hear the words the creature spoke, but they so unnerved the master of the house that he immediately took a loaded musket that had fallen from above the fireplace and shot himself in the mouth.

         "The servant ran from the house and to a neighbor's residence, some five miles away. Her injuries seemed to bear out her story, and her terror seemed too real to be a charade. In fact, the servant suffered from trauma for the rest of her life, convinced that the Gray Man was stalking her. She died mysteriously in an asylum years later.

         "When the neighbors rushed to investigate the servant's wild tale, they found the master's body stretched out on the floor. The corpse had been burned nearly to ash. A local physician stated that temperatures of over 2,000 degrees are needed to so completely immolate a human body, yet the man's remains were cool, and the rest of the house showed no sign of fire. The master's watch, chain and other jewelry were present on the body—the ring where the hand would be, the watch sunk into a depression near the abdomen of the human shape formed by the in the cooling black ashes—and were unaffected by the fire. These artifacts are on display on the second floor. The Gray Man is still seen occasionally by staff and visitors alike.

         "Another famous ghost of the gallery is The Bloody Nanny, thought to be the ghost of an Au-Pair who mysteriously disappeared from the house around 1800, along with her charges, three young children entrusted in her care. The Bloody Nanny, or 'Bloody Nan', as we call her, gets her nickname from the way the walls run with blood in her presence. Although Bloody Nan manifests more completely than the Gray Man, her features are unrecognizable due to the thick, half-congealed blood that pours from a long, jagged wound in her scalp. Several families claim to have left Bauble House due to Bloody Nan's habit of checking in on their children.

         "These families say that they are awoken by terrified screams, to find their children's beds and cribs awash in blood that sizzles and dries to a black scale when exposed to sunlight. There are photographs of this phenomenon on the second floor. The pictures are kept beneath a curtain to protect the squeamish, so please use your best judgment before viewing these disturbing mages. Bloody Nan is also associated with cries of anguish and despair that are sometimes heard emanating from a well in the back yard of Bauble House.

         "In 1822, future President of the United States Andrew Jackson spent the night in Bauble House, in the company of several associates who had served with him in the War of 1812. Mr. Jackson is said to have encountered another of the famous Bauble House ghosts, The Black Dog, during his stay with us. As the name suggests, the Black Dog is not described as a person at all, but rather appears as an unusually large hunting dog. Like the Gray Man, the Black Dog does not appear as a creature of matter, but rather as an absence of light, a black patch of nothingness marked by fiendish crimson lights that suggest some hateful, alien intelligence that burns with madness and hate.

         "Andrew Jackson was said to be sitting in the gallery when the Black Dog appeared, stepping from empty air and crossing the room with the quiet click of long nails upon the hardwood floor. The Black Dog bowed before Jackson, touching its muzzle to the ground as a loud, powerful voice crackled in the air above the Black Dog's head. The voice addressed Jackson, saying 'Greetings to you, angel of misery and agent of death, whose breast holds such burning fires of hatred as to shame the worst hatred of Hell itself.'

         "Jackson is said to have been so offended by this statement, that he drew his gun and fired at The Black Dog. The bullet dug up the floor near where the divan stands today, and you can still see the place where the boards were replaced. The President's companions, loyal men all, each stood and drew their own muskets, knives, or cavalry sabers, ready to do battle with the spectral creature.

         "What happened next is open to speculation, but neighbors say that Bauble House winked out of existence and was replaced by a ten thousand foot spire built of gore-smeared human skulls. The well in the side yard erupted in a fountain of mangled human corpses; some wailing a litany of tortured prayers while others shouted confessions of crimes too terrible to contemplate. The nearby Hudson River began to boil. A rain of frogs, bats, and squid, along with the corrupted fetuses of goats, pigs and lizards fell from the sky for a dozen miles in every direction. The phenomenon lasted but a moment, but many of the asylums and sanitariums in the region were filled to capacity for years afterwards with people driven insane by the experience.

         "Andrew Jackson never spoke of the event, but when he emerged from Bauble House the next morning, his hair had turned pure white from the shock, giving him the countenance we see today on the twenty-dollar bill. Andrew Jackson is also said to have encountered another spirit, the Bell Witch, on a visit to a Tennessee farm in 1819. The Black Dog is said to appear before national tragedies."

         The tour guide smiled, and took her thumb from the microphone switch. The tour group stood in a single silence, their expressions ranging from shock to a peculiar exhilaration. One older woman near the front of the group seemed very impatient, as if she had not come on the tour to hear of ghosts at all.

         "That's it for the gallery. If you will please move forward, we will continue to the second floor."

         The group had just begun to move, some towards the stairs, others turning back towards the main entrance (as the tour guide had expected), when a young man asked "What about the ghost of Millicent Magadalene, who, before her own mysterious death at age 12, suffered a blow to the head during a carriage accident and manifested psychokinetic powers and the ability to speak with the dead?"

         The effects began before the young man had even finished speaking. The gallery grew first dark, then cold, and then contracted, as if the tour group stood within one trembling lung of a monstrous animal. A woman screamed, and then collapsed. Simultaneously, every child younger than 15 began to cry. Outside, hail began to fall from a clear sky.

         The episode lasted an instant, and then passed as quickly as it had begun. Outside, the hail turned to a gentle rain, which soon ended. The woman who fainted recovered and was helped to her feet. The children continued to cry, as if already aware that for the next few weeks their dreams would be haunted by an inexpressible manifestation of hatred-like some rogue imagining that would kill them, were it not only a dream.

         "We don't speak that name, here," the tour guide said, her smile gone. She studied the young man for a moment, a curious expression on her face. She touched her cheek to indicate that he should do the same.

         The young man put his fingers to his face, and they came away wet. The blood vessels in his right eye had burst, and he was weeping bloody tears. The left eye was perfectly normal, while the right hazel pupil looked out from a runny crimson sphere. "There's a first aid station near the gift shop." The tour guide said.

         "Oh, here," the impatient old woman said, taking a crumpled hanky from her purse and handing it to the young man. She turned back to the tour guide. "When do we get to the colonial furniture?"

         "The colonial furniture collection is right upstairs," the tour guide said, her smile re-igniting as she spoke. "Those of you who are continuing on the tour, please follow me." She began to climb the stairs, glad to leave the sound of crying children behind her.


The End



copyright 2006 Gregory Adams.

Gregory Adams lives and writes in Roslindale, Massachusetts.