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Die Laughing - Chapter Three
Published Jun 1, 2015


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The following morning, Carol left early to visit the library and try to dig up some history on the land under our home. I was fielding phone calls from potential clients and filing paperwork. Not the most glamorous aspect of running a funeral home, but somebody has to do it. Around 11 AM, someone knocked on the front door. Thinking it might be the mailman with a package that wouldn't fit in the mailbox, I was not prepared for the man standing on the porch. He was facing the steps, so I had a minute to study him. He was well dressed, with short dark brown hair and a really nice...
He cleared his throat and my eyes flew up to meet his. Caught gawking, I blushed.
"Can I help you?" I asked, after an awkward pause.
"I'm looking for Susan Ellmore or Carol Anne Reeves," he said.
"I'm Susan Ellmore," I answered, trying not to stare. His eyes were the most vivid green I'd ever seen.
He held out his hand for me to shake, saying "Great, have you got a few minutes to answer some questions? I'm a reporter for Valley Gazette and..."
I interrupted him, "Oh, for the business section? We'd love to see Hardwick mentioned!"
He shook his head. "No, I'm doing a piece on local haunted properties and heard about some of the strange occurrences here."
My eager smile faded somewhat. "What have you heard?" I asked.
"That there have been a number of unexplained noises in the last few weeks," he replied.
"That's all?" I asked, somewhat relieved.
He must have sensed my relief, however, because his eyes narrowed and he asked sharply, "There's more?"
I was torn. Reporters were terribly nosy on principle. I could answer a few questions now, try to downplay what Carol Anne and I suspected, and hope he was satisfied enough to let it rest. If I refused to answer anything at all, he'd probably keep coming back. And while they say any publicity is a good thing, even bad publicity, I wasn't sure I wanted the funeral home to be known as 'The Haunted Mortuary'.
I was still trying to decide how to handle the situation, when Carol Anne returned.
She smiled as she stepped up onto the front porch, her eyes asking "who is this and what's going on?"
"Carol! This is...Ah, I'm sorry," I said, "but I didn't catch your name?"
"Henry," he answered smoothly. "Henry Sloan."
"Carol, this is Henry Sloan, a reporter from the Valley Gazette. He is doing a piece on local haunted properties and wanted to..."
"Fantastic!" Carol exclaimed. "You won't believe what I found at the library. This place should be riddled with ghosts!"
I didn't know whether to laugh or to groan. Here I was weighing the pros and cons of admitting anything to a reporter and Carol just let fly.
Henry grinned. "Is that right?" he said, cutting me a smug look. He knew I had been ready to close the door in his face, but Carol was the answer to a prayer.
"You might as well come in," I said, resigned, and held the door open.
Carol, finally picking up on my tension, shot me a questioning look, but I just gave my head a tiny shake. Now was definitely not the time.
"I'll make some tea," Carol announced, as soon as we stepped into the parlor. I stared after her with a "don't leave me alone with him!" on the tip of my tongue. He had settled into one of the armchairs and I noticed again how well dressed he was. I didn't know much about reporters but didn't they dress like slobs, focused only on getting the next story?
"Are you really a reporter?" I blurted.
He smiled, reached into the pocket of his coat, and handed me one of his business cards.
The card read Henry Sloan, Valley Gazette, followed by a phone number.
"This doesn't actually say reporter," I pointed out.
"I do a bit of everything," he said. "I've been with the paper for a number of years, so now they allow me to have some creative freedom. Part of that means I get to choose what stories I report, rather than having them assigned by an editor."
I sighed softly, that made sense. Why did this guy make me so nervous?
Carol returned with the tea and a plate of cookies.
"So," she said brightly, "let me tell you what I learned!"
I was eager to hear about the history of the house, so I leaned back and nibbled on a cookie.
"In the late 1800s, this land was owned by the Church, and a small abbey was built here. It was maintained for over a century before the Church decided to combine a few smaller abbeys into one, and they sold the place. But, during that time, the more prosperous families in the area would use the abbey's graveyard as their own. When it was sold, however, the new owners either didn't know about the gravesites or didn't care, because they bulldozed everything and built a commune."
"A commune?" I said, surprised. I didn't think they'd been popular until the sixties.
"A commune?" I said, surprised. I didn't think they'd been popular until the sixties.
"Yes, this was during the Great Depression. The owner of the land offered to let families stay here so long as they did their share. And it was a noble idea, but there were complaints from the tenants about strange noises and unexplained lights, so people tended to leave. In the fifties, kids would dare each other to come spend the night in the old commune's barracks. Not many would take the dare, but there was one boy who did it and they say he was never the same after that night."
I couldn't help it, I laughed. "Did you actually find history books, or campfire tales?" I asked.
Carol grinned. "I swear, it was in the paper's archives."
I cut a glance at Henry. He was sitting back in the chair, looking bored. I noticed that he wasn't taking any notes but decided not to ask. Maybe he already knew all of this.
"Well," I said, "I know this house, as it stands now, was built in the seventies."
"Right," said Carol. "The land was sold again in the sixties, the commune's buildings were torn down, and this place was built. But, the family that moved in didn't stay for more than a few years. In the early eighties, they sold it to..." she paused for effect.
I rolled my eyes.
"A clown school!" she said, laughing.
I blinked. "A clown school?"
"I'm not kidding, a genuine school for learning the trade of being a clown, they owned this place until the mid-ninties."
I looked over at Henry. He was grinning.
"You're serious?" I asked. "We bought this place from a trust fund, though."
"Yes," answered Carol. "A trust that was set up when the school was still functioning. But, that's not the best part!"
I was almost afraid to ask. "What's the best part?"
"The reason the clown school went out of business..."
I waved my hand in a 'get on with it' motion.
"The students kept dying."
I opened my mouth, then closed it again. "What?"
"One by one, they kept dying off. One burned to death, one drowned, one was crushed by his murphy bed, one starved, another was electrocuted, one got hit by a meteor... it's like they made a list of every possible way to die and decided to try them all. Then people began to say the place was jinxed, and no new students would sign up. They went out of business. "
I sat back, looking at nothing in particular, thinking about the implications. Not only could our funeral home be haunted, but apparently it was haunted by clowns.

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#1ble.bleJun 3, 2015

Good work! Such an intresting plot, haunted by clowns! Great screen of clown school haha, funny and kinda scary of at the same time. I'm very curious what happens next! \:\) \:rah\:

#2jarletJun 28, 2015

Brilliant story ! eager to read next part..thanks for re-sharing \:\)

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