Every House Is Haunted

BOOK: Every House Is Haunted
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PRAISE FOR IAN ROGERS

“Rogers continues to engage and intrigue with his trademark cross-over of the supernatural mystery . . . [his] writing has a cinematic quality that is fully immersive.”

—Bloody Bookish

“Wry and stylishly bizarre, Rogers hits the mark dead on. . . . I hope he’s on the job for years to come.”

—Laird Barron,
author of
Occultation

“Ian Rogers’ stories are old-fashioned in the very best sense: classic thrillers in the spirit of Shirley Jackson and Richard Matheson.
Every House Is Haunted
is full of well-crafted, satisfying twists, a fine companion for any reader of literate horror.”

—Andrew Pyper,
author of
Lost Girls
,
The Killing Circle
and
The Guardians

EVERY
HOUSE
IS
HAUNTED
IAN ROGERS

ChiZine Publications

COPYRIGHT

Every House Is Haunted
© 2012 by Ian Rogers
Cover artwork © 2012 by Erik Mohr
Cover design and interior design/artwork © 2012 by Samantha Beiko

All rights reserved.

Published by ChiZine Publications

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

EPub Edition OCTOBER 2012 ISBN: 978-1-92746-919-4

All rights reserved under all applicable International Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen.

No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

CHIZINE PUBLICATIONS
Toronto, Canada
www.chizinepub.com
[email protected]

Edited by Helen Marshall
Copyedited and proofread by Sandra Kasturi

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.

Published with the generous assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.

For my mother, Judith Anne Rogers (1946-2001)

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

—Shirley Jackson,
The Haunting of Hill House

“For a minute I felt as insubstantial as a ghost. . . . The actual world was a house, with its roof falling in, dissolved so thin you could see the sunlight through it.”

—Ross Macdonald,
The Sinister Habit

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

T
HE
V
ESTIBULE

Aces

Autumnology

Cabin D

Winter Hammock

T
HE
L
IBRARY

A Night in the Library with the Gods

The Nanny

The Dark and the Young

The Currents

T
HE
A
TTIC

Leaves Brown

Wood

The House on Ashley Avenue

The Rifts Between Us

Vogo

T
HE
D
EN

The Cat

Deleted Scenes

The Tattletail

Charlotte’s Frequency

T
HE
C
ELLAR

Relaxed Best

Hunger

Inheritor

Twillingate

The Candle

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PUBLICATION HISTORY

ALSO AVAILABLE FROM CHIZINE PUBLICATIONS

INTRODUCTION

Five days after graduating from high school, I had a spinal fusion to help correct and keep my scoliosis from worsening. The surgeons used scraped bone from my hip and metal Harrington rods to fuse two-thirds of my vertebrae. I stayed in Boston Children’s Hospital for one week and then spent the rest of the summer before my freshman year of college house-bound while recovering. I was alone for most mornings and afternoons with both of my parents at work and my younger siblings hanging out with their friends.

So with all of that summer me-time looming, I figured I’d have a go at reading Stephen King’s
It
and its 1200 pages. Sitting in my pillow-padded rocking chair in the already sweltering living room, I read the first chapter—the monster in the sewer lures then kills the cute little brother who I imagined to be my little brother—and threw the book across the room. There was no way I was going to spend that summer alone in my house and terrified out of my gourd, so I quickly moved on to a book about Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition to Easter Island. I don’t remember any details from the Heyerdahl book. But I could recite to you that first chapter of King’s
It
if you’d like. And yeah, after Easter Island, I went right back to Derry, Maine.

I spent most of that recovery-summer shuffling slowly from room to room looking for something to do, not that I was in any physical condition for something to do. With
It
reverberating in my head, I also spent the summer avoiding our creepy, dark, old basement, which was where we kept our ordered-by-the-month supply of important groceries like cereal and cans of Hi-C. While the basement had always terrified me as a child, that summer every room in my house held potential horrors. That summer my house was haunted.

That said, I can’t pretend that I didn’t enjoy my imagination running away with me; it was the only kind of running I was capable of during my long recovery. That newly minted but physically damaged eighteen-year-old about to go off to college was in awe of possibility: afraid of what might happen yet exhilarated by what could happen.

Ian Rogers’ remarkable book is a time machine that carries me back to the summer when I was home alone and deliciously scared, to the summer when I unknowingly fell in love with horror stories, the very kind that Ian Rogers expertly writes. Ian’s stories are explorations of the cosmic, social, and personal
what-ifs
, of the terrible and wonderful awe of possibility.

In the stunning opening story, “Aces,” Toby is left to care for his irascible, charismatic, and potentially dangerous younger sister Soelle, who may or may not be a powerful witch. One of Ian’s many strengths is his ability to illustrate authentic interpersonal, or more specifically interfamilial, relationships within the context of the larger what-ifs of the story. Toby and Soelle’s sibling relationship is oddly warm, fraught with peril, and utterly compelling. The questions as to whether or not Soelle is responsible for the death of a classmate and for the disappearance of their parents serve as a perfect tone-and-theme-setter to
Every House Is Haunted
. Familial concerns come up again in the terrifying “Inheritor,” with Danny inheriting a long-abandoned childhood home from his estranged father; a home in which his sickly sister suffered terribly and died. Here the family dynamic is as corrupt and diseased as the haunted house.

In the wildly entertaining and slightly skewed (and I mean that in the best possible way) “Cabin D,” a fatigued and forlorn diner waitress serves a bizarrely dressed man his last meal(s) before he attempts to confront the haunted Cabin D. Ian observes, “But hauntings aren’t restricted to houses. There are also haunted apartments and haunted trailers, haunted farms and haunted restaurants, haunted churches and haunted schools. . . .” Or, as Joe and his young friends learn in the eerie and fitting conclusion to the collection, “Twillingate,” there are haunted lighthouses and haunted shorelines as surely as his characters, and by proxy us, will all be haunted by the questions of
who are you?
and
who are you going to be?

“The House on Ashley Avenue” is a clever riff on the haunted house story, with an amiable psychic group who eventually does battle with the formidable house but only after detailing the potential dangers ahead. The playful interaction between Charles and Sally ratchets up tension before the final and satisfying confrontation.

The juxtaposition of the chaotic supernatural with Ian’s grounded, empathetic characters is what gives his stories their heart. It’s a heart that beats fast in “The Rifts Between Us” where Stanton and other scientists attempt to explore the vast alien landscape of death. Or a heart that beats unbearably heavy, as it does in “The Candle.” Tom and Peggy, the weary middle-aged couple, are the source and power behind the story’s palpable dread. Their ennui, regret, and dissatisfaction of who they were, who they became, and who they could’ve been are the ghosts in their house. Those everyday anxieties of husbands and wives are given a further, creepily arachnid spin with “Charlotte’s Frequency.”

Two end of the world scenarios are outlined toward the end of the collection. The first, “Hunger,” is a quick and stinging jab from the point of view of a patient zero, one who narrates with a simple, cold detachment that is unnerving and unique to the other stories in this collection. If “Hunger” is the jab, then the following story, “Winter Hammock,” is the twelve-round bludgeoning. An epistolary account of the world’s strange end from a college drop-out who works at Radio Shack, “Winter Hammock” is H.P. Lovecraft meets Tex Avery meets George Saunders. It’s a smart, savage satire of pop culture and our apocalyptic/zombie/Cthulhu zeitgeist; our haunted zeitgeist.

BOOK: Every House Is Haunted
10.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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