by Paul Kane
The house I grew up in used to creak and moan in the night. I was used to it, but it kind of got under the skin of a couple kids that spent the night back then. We moved out of that old house ages ago, and I wonder if, despite the renovations by the new owners, if it still has that haunted air about it. For the protagonist in Creakers, Ray Johnson, returning to his old home in the wake of his mother's death, he soon learns the house still creaks--and with good reason.
Sifting through the relics of a deceased family member is unsettling in a way, as memories and buried moments are drudged up like silt in a pond. Ray doesn't want to go back to his childhood home, but he has to if he wants to get it ready for sale, and since he's in construction he wants to do it himself rather than pass the job off to one of his competitors. The house, however, seems to have something in store for him beyond boxed mementos and photo albums. Something happened in that house and Ray can't remember what, but the house does and it's all to ready to remind him, one tortuous night at a time.
I might have thought a story with as many uses of the word "creak" would have irritated me, but it didn't. I was too wrapped up in the horror of it all, especially one scene involving a sleeping bag that made my skin crawl off my bones as I read it. There are a few ways you can go with a haunted house story, from slapstick to psychological and everything in between. Creakers kind of reminded me of a movie I saw last year called Silent House, as the story relied much on creating the question of whether something really was inside the house or if it was all inside Ray's mind. The revelations towards the end followed through really well, in my opinion, and brought the story together the way it needed.
Ghost story fans are in for a treat, and Spectral Press loyalists should be left satisfied yet again.