It is absolutely beautiful here, even in the Winter months. I was rather amused when the driver turned onto an almost invisible dirt path off the main road. I hadn’t noticed it was there. It took me by surprise to see just how long the path was as it seemed to stretch for miles, but it was relaxing to see nothing but a canopy of leafless tree branches overhead, as dark as that may sound. Despite the cold, emptiness of the frozen woods, I found myself feeling tranquil at the sight of such peculiar beauty. Before I knew it, the surrounding woods had suddenly opened its embrace. The path cleared into a large, open field in which the Richards’ farmstead was visible in the distance. I was mesmerized instantly. The field was covered in a light white frost which glimmered in the morning sun. I could see several farmhands tending to their duties. The woods that tightly surrounded the vehicle as the driver brought us down the road now spread out and wrapped around the entire farm, creating some sort of barricade that hides it from the rest of the world. It is all truly amazing how it appears now in the Winter; I cannot imagine how it must look in the warm months of Summer. I would not say this is paradise by any means, but it is certainly a place that felt like home, and that is all I could have hoped for. Mr. Richards has given me the day to get familiar with their home and its residents. Later on, I shall be acquainted with my duties and then I will meet the children. Tomorrow will be my first real day, and I am truly excited.
January 22, 1922
Today was my first day performing my duties around the Richards farmstead. Since I’m not one of the farm hands, my work kept me within the confines of their home. Not that I’m complaining, I am no farmer by any means, nor would I want to be. Yesterday, Mr. Richards took me on a tour of his farmstead, and introduced me to all his employees. They were all very kind and appeared to be hard workers. I admire and appreciate their resolve and dedication. Aside from that, I also got to meet some of the more wild inhabitants. I’ve never had the opportunity to be up close and personal with animals such as these. The pigs and cows were rather bland, but horses always appear so majestic. Mrs. Richards also took the time to introduce me to her children. Timothy is seven and Charlotte is only three. They are both so adorable, what with their matching blonde hair and cute little smiles. Timothy was surprisingly caring of his baby sister; it was very sweet to watch him play with her. Though I don’t believe I’ll personally be spending much time with the children unless Mrs. Richards asks it of me, I will be happy to see their young faces each day. I love children, and these two seem to be the sweetest. Mostly, I’ll by tidying up the household. It is rather large, but that keeps it all the more interesting. I’ve never minded cleaning, especially not a home such as this. Mrs. Richards keeps such a lovely home, I had half a mind to ask her why she decided to hire me in the first place. When I was just getting into contact with the Richards, I was told the old maid had to leave to take care of an ill relative, but that was months ago. Clearly, Mrs. Richards has been able to do just as well a job as anyone that could be paid to do it. Still, I won’t be the one to judge, I’m thankful to have this employment. She has obviously worked hard to keep the house as nice as it is, and I’ll gladly be the one to make sure it stays that way. It is getting late, and I’m not quite used to this schedule just yet. It has started to snow, so I think I’ll enjoy the view of the farm from my window before I get to bed.
January 23, 1922
Something strange happened today. While I was dusting the windows, I noticed a commotion going on outside involving Mr. Richards and one of the farm hands. Gregor, I think his name is. They seemed to be in a rather heated argument. I believed I would do well to mind my own business, but when I saw the children watching from another window, I decided it might be best to interrupt before they were subjected to anymore undesirable behavior. I opened the door and walked over to them; they hadn’t noticed me until I was upon them asking if everything was alright. Mr. Richards seemed surprised to see me, but Gregor had engaged me immediately. He told me I’d be crazy to stay here, and that I should leave the farm like the last maid. When Gregor mentioned this, Mr. Richards seemed rather annoyed. I didn’t understand, so when I inquired about it, Mr. Richards was quick to try and shut down the subject, but Gregor caught on before he could do so and explained it to me. Apparently, the maid before me did not leave because of an ill relative like I was originally told, but rather because she feared the farm was haunted. I didn’t know how to respond to this information, but before I could say anything, Gregor grabbed my arm and brought me over to a certain area in the snow. Mr. Richards protested, but did not physically intervene. Then, Gregor pointed to the snow and told me to look. What he showed me was indeed eerie. Footprints that came all the way from the edge of the woods into the farm. Gregor looked at me petrified, but I didn’t completely understand his fear. He saw the puzzlement in my face and immediately, almost as if it should have been obvious, he explained his fears. “There are none leading back,” he tells me. “I’ve looked, and there are none.” I didn’t know what to make of such information. But I didn’t really have a chance to discuss it with him, either. He left the farm immediately after, and I don’t expect he’ll return. Mr. Richards, however, was honest with me. He explained why he had lied about the last maid. He didn’t want to put off possible replacements because of her own paranoia. That was something I understood, as I doubt many women would be as happy to work here if they were under the impression that it was haunted. I’m not sure I would have even taken the job myself had I known that, but I can’t say I’m a strong believer in such nonsense. A moment ago, I believe I heard footsteps in the attic. They were very brief and light, but noticeable. I can see now that I’m letting my own paranoia and imagination get the better of me. I think it’s time for bed.
January 25, 1922
A couple of days have passed since I last wrote. Not much has occurred since then. Yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. Richards both sat me down and apologized to me personally for not being honest about their previous maid. I assured them I took no offense and that I understood their reasoning, but they still seemed rather ashamed of it. I think they were also ashamed of the notion that they have a haunted home, but I told them that idea was silly. I truthfully felt bad for them. I knew they were very caring people, and I made sure that they knew that. Still, I could not help but feel like they were feeling guilty about having mislead me, so I tried to cheer them up with a few good laughs. It lightened the mood a bit, and they appeared appreciative of my understanding and lightheartedness. Gregor, as I expected, did not return to the farm, but it did not seem to effect the efficiency of running the farm for Mr. Richards. The animals still get fed. The pens still get cleaned. The eggs still get collected. It’s obvious that the farmstead can survive a spooked worker or two. As for the footprints in the snow, they’ve since faded with wind and more snow. No other farm hand seemed to care. They either didn’t notice, or thought the money was far more important than being worried of ghastly entities. Even so, Mr. Richards had some of his men scour the area as a precaution to be sure no one was lurking around the farm. He has mentioned to me that he has had trouble with stolen livestock in the past, but all such matters had always been resolved quickly. Despite being very closed off from the rest of the world, the people in this area are actually a part of a very tight knit community. If someone tries to sell a stolen animal to another farm, it’s not hard to determine if that animal initially belonged to someone else close-by. However, the men never found any intruders, nor did they find any missing livestock. It would appear that everything was normal, and that there was nothing to be afraid of. Unless, of course, there is a ghost. Whatever the case, a few strange occurrences here and there probably won’t hurt anyone.
January 26, 1922
Today was a very cold day. The snow continues to pile on little by little. I’ve noticed that some here are not as fond of it as I am, but I suppose they knew what they were getting themselves into. Personally, I love waking up and going right to my window. I don’t mind sitting in the frigid draft it lets in when I am able to see snow flakes falling for what seems like miles. It is truly beautiful. When I exited my room this morning, I found a newspaper in front of my door. It was a brand I did not recognize, from an area I did not know. Not only that, but it was also several days old. Regardless, I don’t know where it came from or who it belonged to, but it was not mine. I do not read newspapers. I decided to go see Mr. Richards about it, to see if maybe someone left it there by accident. When I asked him about it, he told me he thought it could be mine, because it was a paper he didn’t recognize from anyone else on the farm. Seeing as I would be the newest inhabitant of the farm, he left it at my doorstep thinking it belonged to me. I explained to him that it wasn’t mine, that I don’t even read newspapers, and that I wasn’t sure who it belonged to. He had a curious expression on his face that told me he was unsure of where this paper could have came from if not from me, but I don’t think either of us cared enough to take the subject any further, so he took the paper and threw it in the trash. Later on when I was busy doing laundry, Mrs. Richards came to me asking if I knew where the house keys might be. I told her that the last I saw them, they were hanging on the hook where they were always supposed to be, but I had to admit that I wasn’t exactly sure of the last time I actually did see them, as its something I never thought to take notice of. She was not angry, but there was obvious worry on her face. I believe she may be under the impression that one of the farmhands had taken them. She never did seem to trust them. Before I came to my room this evening, I asked her if she ever found them. She said she hadn’t, but was certain she had just misplaced them. “They’ll turn up eventually,” she told me. She’s probably right; we all misplace things in the most obvious of places. The creaking steps are back. I really should ask Mr. Richards about that. I’m starting to think one of the children tends to wander at night, though I haven’t a clue why they would venture into the attic.
January 27, 1922
I am so happy. I am so happy. This place is wonderful. I hope to stay here forever. I want to live here forever. I want to die here forever. I think I will. It is so beautiful. Good night.
January 28, 1922
Report of Officer Charles Dawson
When I and the other officers had first arrived at the scene of the crime, I had not believed anything had appeared amiss, but the farmhands who had alerted us were terrified. When I asked them where Mr. Richards was, he told me to go into the barn. At first, I did not understand. I slowly proceeded to the barn and noticed something peculiar about the farm, and that peculiarity was that everything was normal. The animals were well fed and taken care of, and there was smoke spewing from the home of the Richards family, where I assumed they must be. What was off, however, is why all of this appeared so normal. The farm looked like it had been kept in check as it usually is, yet here are the farmhands scared out of their wits. It was for that reason instinct told me to draw my firearm as I approached the barn. The other officers did the same as they saw my gesture. It would turn out that my weapon would prove to be unnecessary, or more appropriately it would prove to be too late. As I opened the barn door, I was greeted by a ghastly smell that I had never smelled before in this small town. Initially, I could not pinpoint the origin of the stench, but once we moved deeper into the barn, we discovered the source. A grizzly scene of death that I had never been unfortunate enough to witness in my career until now. One of the officers under me vomited immediately. Another walked out of the barn almost as soon as he walked in, crying. Others simply turned in disgust, but I stood there staring at the bodies. We saw blood and dread and death and a confusing set of yet unseen events that somehow lead to it. There were two bodies in the barn. I knew them personally. John Richards, the owner of this farm, was a good man and undeserving of this fate. May God rest his soul. I found him in a pile of hay lying face down with a hole-like wound in the back of his head. I found Margery a few feet away, lying in the dirt, with a similar wound. Judging from how we found them with wounds in the back of their heads, lying face first on the ground, I would assume that their murderer or murderers had forced them into the barn where they were then executed whilst on their knees. To see John and Margery like this? Words cannot describe. But then I remember the two had children, and an unyielding fear came over me. It was at this point I pulled two of my better composed men aside and instructed them to stay at my rear and be on their guard. Together we walked toward the family’s home, and I remember an insatiable wrath in me as I knew what I was going to find. We entered through the front door, I with my weapon hanging steady in the air. I don’t know if I actually believed the perpetrator would still be present, but I know that I wanted that to be so. I moved past the stairway and down the hall into the kitchen. There had been some crumbs left behind on a plate. I cannot say for certain if the suspect had stayed for a time after the crime or if he had interrupted the family in the middle of a meal. It should be noted, however, that there was just one plate. I had turned around from there and proceeded to check the rest of the rooms of the first floor, but found nothing out of place. There had been no sign, as far as I could tell, that anything had been taken from the home. In fact, there was some bit of money on a table that remained untouched. It would seem this was not a robbery, but rather the result of a monstrous activity with no real explanation. When I found myself back at the stairs, I and the other officers continued upward to find what I feared yet expected all along. Despite that, I was always at the ready to pull the trigger on my firearm. At the top of the stairs, we came upon an elongated hallway, with rooms located on each side and another set of stairs to the third floor at the end. I knew that the children’s room was at the end of the hall on the left-hand side by those stairs. I could see the door from where I stood; which remained closed. Every other door was opened. There was the master bedroom, which appeared to have been unused, and then there were the two guest bedrooms, one of which had looked as if it were recently used. This angered me, but I do not believe the other officers understood the sick and twisted sense of humor from the perpetrator that I saw in it. After determining that these first few rooms were safe, we moved forward toward the children’s room. When I reached the door, I stood there for a moment, considering whether or not it were wise to look inside. Unfortunately, as an officer of the law, I did not truly have the luxury of that choice, but as commanding officer at the crime scene, I could save my fellow officers from having to bear witness to what I knew I was going to see. I had them return back down the stairs, and once they had all vacated the area, I continued. I put my hand on the door knob, twisted it, and entered. I was in the room for five minutes, and I only got as far as two steps before I could not bring myself to move anymore. I cannot and will not record in this report what I saw, nor will I ever speak of it to anyone ever. It was a site that as few people as possible should have to see, let alone hear of, and it will haunt me for the rest of my days. When I was able to regain my composure, I backed out of the room and shut the door. I made sure the other officers were still out of site; if I became lucky enough to find this scum of God’s beautiful Earth, then I wanted to be the one to send him back to hell from where he came. But I would not get that chance. I proceeded up to the third floor. Here there were only two more rooms and ceiling door to the attic. The room on the right appeared to be used for storage, and the room on the left contained another gruesome sight that I admittedly did not expect to see. It was the maid’s room, and she was still present. She laid with her head down at her desk, but facing the doorway. I assume she was left like this intentionally. Her throat was cut, and she was covered in her own drying blood. . She had a horrific look on her face, as if she were staring past me and at me in the same moment, and her mouth hung open, contorted in a strange way, like she had been murdered in the middle of her screams. Her left arm was hanging off her desk, but her right was still posted on top of it. I approached the victim and saw that the right hand was placed on top of a book. Looking closer, I saw that this book was actually a diary. I reluctantly moved the hand to pick up the diary, and found something underneath. A blood written number thirty-four. I knew what it meant right away, so I turned to the page. The following is what was written on that page in the maid’s blood:
To whomever this may concern, I hope you like my work. I made sure I got every last one of them. I got them at night. First the parents, who I lead to the barn. They begged, they always beg. Next the kids, who thought they could hide from me but I was smarter. Then there was the maid. She was fun. Asleep when I found her. Before I finished with her, I took her on a tour around the farm to show her my work. Then I brought her back here and made her write her last entry. I thought that would be funny. Then she got boring, so I shut her up forever. She was loud anyway. Could barely get her to stop talking even after I cut her. Ha! They never saw me coming. I was here for a long time before anyone noticed, and when they noticed it was too late. I came in from the woods and stayed under the wooden floor of the barn. They searched the whole farm and never checked there. I think that’s funny. I stayed here for a time after I did my work. I like farms, reminds me of home and family. I love animals too, so I took care of them. I slept in one of the rooms below. Not bad, but I’ve had better. Not to mention that fucking noise. At first, I thought I had another play toy hiding up in the attic, but after searching it, I found nobody. There wasn’t a damn thing except a set of keys. So I left. It scared me, to be honest with you. I’m a God fearing man, and I know well enough that the sound of footsteps made by nobody is downright unholy. Damn near burnt the place down after that, but I realize that would take away the glory of my work. So here it is. Enjoy it. Don’t look for me, I’m long gone. And a word of advice, friend, don’t go into that attic. There’s someone up there even I couldn’t get to.
Regards, T. F.