A dozen pair of eyes followed me as I approached the bench and took my seat.
“This isn’t a jury of my peers,” I thought, but it’s too late to do anything about it.
It was time to tell my story, and I knew there was no room for error. Every word, every gesture, every emotion would be scrutinized. I had just one chance to get it right.
I took a deep breath and began.
“I drove home from work on Thursday at my usual time on my usual route, in the late winter darkness.
“Originally, I was going to pick up my brother at his job on the way home, but he got out early, so he said he’d meet me at the house. I saw his red pickup truck on the street when I came around the corner.
“I pulled into the driveway and hit the button for the garage door, but nothing happened. That’s when I noticed the house was dark inside, too. Something must have made the electricity go off. I wondered why Jeff would be sitting inside in the dark, but then figured it was because it was too cold to sit outside.”
I took a drink of water, and stole a glance at my audience. They’re buying it! Maybe I’ll come out of this alive after all. I continued my story.
“Since I couldn’t go through the garage, I went to the front door. The reflection of the full moon off the snow acted like a spotlight, and I saw movement in the living room. I assumed it was Jeff, but when I came in, no one was there. I called to him, but he didn’t answer. Why would he go further into a dark house? And why wasn’t he answering? The house wasn’t that big.
“It was also very cold in the house – so cold I wondered if the electricity had been off all day and, with it, the furnace. Why wouldn’t Jeff just wait in his truck with the heat on? It made no sense.
“I went to the closet and got my flashlight. The narrow beam of light didn’t show much as it led me through the house. I felt a chill, but it wasn’t from the cold. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
“I turned the flashlight toward the kitchen and that’s when I saw it – a thin red line on the floor, looking like a design in the tile. But there was no design on my kitchen floor… IT WAS BLOOD!!!!!”
I paused, and from the corner of my eye saw more than one person jump slightly. It was hard not to smile before continuing.
“I wanted to run out of the house, but I needed to find Jeff. I had no choice but to go into the kitchen. As I got closer to the doorway, I saw it – a man’s outstretched body lying face down on the floor, as if swimming in a lake of blood.
“I was terrified, and afraid I’d be sick, but I had to see his face. As I reached to turn the body over … I FELT A HAND ON MY SHOULDER!!!!”
Instantly, a chorus of questions erupted from the boys:
“What happened next Mr. Sullivan?”
“Was it Jeff?”
“Who was dead?”
“Was it a zombie?”
I smiled and waited until they were done.
“Well, men, those are all good questions. Stow your gear from dinner and get the area policed, and then I’ll tell you the ending so you can all have ‘sweet dreams.’”
A small groan went through the group, but the scouts immediately got to work.
“Mr. Sullivan,” said Dylan. “You tell the best ghost stories of any troop leader we’ve ever had!”