There was this house in the town I grew up in, the kind of house that everyone in the neighborhood knew about. In fact, the entire city knew about this house. You could just mention the street and people would immediately start talking about that old house, even now years after vandals set fire to it. It must have been a decade or more since the house burnt to the ground and yet even to this day you'll hear people talking about it at the local diners and coffee shops. It was known as the Jackson House. I guess named after the man who had it built. We all knew it by a different name: The Piano House.
It wasn't uncommon for people to sneak in and have parties. It might have even been the same group who eventually set it ablaze. They use to spray paint and put all sorts of crazy things all over the walls, the kind of things that would scare off other people. Those of us who would sneak in during the day would read all the crazy stuff they would come up with and wonder if any of it was true. There would be things like “Caution: Devil Worshipers Here” and “Get out now while you still can!” And most of the time it was in red paint, which I guess was in order to scare away those who might believe it to be true.
My friends would always try to get me to go to that house and I would always seem to be tricked into going with them against my will. It's not that I was afraid of the house but rather I was afraid of those people who would take the time to spray paint such crazy things on the walls of a random old dump in such a small town. On our many trips to that old house we never ran into those people, thankfully. But the last time we ever went there, we ran into something far more scary and sinister.
It was a boring evening and I once again found myself tagging along to visit the Jackson house. My friends thought it was haunted, a lot of people thought it was haunted, but I never believed such things. As I said before, I was worried that we might meet up with the kind of rough sort that hang out in old abandoned places like that. It was still light out when we arrived and the three of us we're able to go in through the back side of the house. Normally, the doors were blocked off and we would have to sneak in through a window but this time the back door was wide open. I might have been the only one who was concerned at this, though, as my friends just wanted to see something scary or cool.
They had been here many times before, just as I had been, and yet never actually saw anything. I think I might have even mentioned that it was weird for the door to be open like that but we went inside anyway. Looking back on it, I should have been more forceful and convince the group that it wasn't safe in there. It would have spared us from the awful thing that would happen in the Jackson house that night.
I could not say for sure, but it seemed as though there was much more graffiti inside than I had remembered. It also seemed like it was a lot more aggressive and intimidating than it used to be. Things like “Get out while you still can!” and “You're going to pay, scum!” If it was just me, I probably would have listened to the advice and left, but I couldn't just leave my friends. The two of them wanted to go upstairs, but only after they saw the piano.
That was the one legend that seemed to be passed around more than any other. And it was also how it got its nickname of “Piano House”. The story goes that the previous owner retired and spent his time teaching the piano to local children but he had a much darker secret. He wasn't just teaching them to play piano, he was taking them to his cellar and doing vile, awful things to them. They say that when the rest of the neighbors on the street found out about it, they formed a lynch mob to take justice into their own hands. When they broke into his house, they found him in the basement with a child and beat him to death. He was still alive, and crawled his way back up the stairs, making it to the piano before finally collapsing dead. Ever since then, it has been rumored that when the moment is right, you will hear Mr. Jackson playing the piano one final time. Or maybe it's one of the kids, his students. Nobody really knows and I never heard anything any of the other times I was there. But this time was different.
After taking a few pictures of the piano, the three of us made our way upstairs. One of my friends mentioned that there seemed to be a lot more graffiti this time, just like I had noticed. We started to go around taking pictures of it as sort of a way to chronicle our trip. The three of us were in one of the bedrooms looking through some old torn up magazines when we heard it. At first it was just a few notes but it quickly built up into a full song. We were all stricken with fear and stunned silence. We could do nothing but look at each other in horror, waiting for the music to stop. None of us knew if it was people playing tricks on us or something much worse, but we weren't going to stick around much longer to find out.
We all had the exact same idea and darted out of the door and back down the stairs as fast as our legs would take us. In order to get back outside we had to pass by the main foyer. That's where the piano was. I took a quick glance as I ran by wondering if I would see some of the thugs who we're responsible for the angry graffiti or something even worse. But the only thing I saw was what looked like fresh red paint on the floor leading to the piano and a single hand-print on the keys in red. I don't remember much else other than nearly hitting my head on the door frame in our mad dash out of there.
None of us ever visited the Piano house again, in fact, most of us moved away from Jackson not long after that. And even if we wanted to, someone made sure that we couldn't when they set that fire and destroyed the place. But maybe it was for the best. Maybe now those kids can finally rest, if that story was true. I liked to think that it was and that they were at peace now.