1313 Caddell is a short story about a ghost living in an old rental property. Every Valentine's Day a spirit comes to haunt the old home. No one has ever stayed in the house after February 14th, and no one knows exactly what they see. Until now...
I lived in 1313 Caddell for seven months. It was a cute, little rental home and had been just enough space for me. It was a small, one bedroom, one bathroom home.
When entering the front door there was a tiny living room and an open kitchen behind it. Both had light wood flooring and white walls. Through the kitchen was a door that led to the bedroom.
My bedroom had shaggy tan carpet and gray walls. In the far left corner of my room was a white, wooden door that led to the bathroom. The bathroom had white tile floors and baby blue walls. There was a showerhead over the porcelain tub to the left. The toilet was next to it and had a small, square window with white blinds behind it. To the right of the toilet was a small vanity with a sink and a mirror.
I looked in that oval mirror every day when I got ready. I would pull my long, brown hair into a tight ponytail. I preferred to have my hair up to show off my thin face, and jawline. It was also just convenient to have it out of the way. I would always add pink powder to the rounds of my pale cheeks and line my thin lips with red-tinted gloss. I would smile at myself in that mirror and feel ready to take on the world.
1313 Caddell was not much, but it was perfect for just me and I preferred to live alone.
Or so I thought.
At first, I ignored the warnings. My friends in class at my new school, the University of Oklahoma, cringed when I told them where I lived. When I mentioned that I lived there by myself, many gasped.
“So you’re a transfer student?” one girl with a short, blonde, bob haircut asked me on the first day of French class. She wore a pink sweater and red, square cut glasses.
The two of us sat next to each other in wooden desks in a small, white cement room with white tile floors.
“Yeah,” I explained. “I spent my freshman year at the University of Kansas. It was fine, but I felt a need to be a little farther away from home.”
Which was true. I was from Kansas City, which was simply too close to the University of Kansas. My single mother would call every day asking if I would come home that weekend. I felt bad saying no, but I needed some space. I loved my mom and didn’t like that she was alone, but I needed time to grow on my own. I knew if I transferred to the University of Oklahoma I would have a better excuse to be more independent.
“Well that’s great,” the girl replied. “Welcome to OU! Where are you living?”
“I live in a little rental house at 1313 Caddell,” I answered.
I will never forget the look on her face. Her eyes bulged and her mouth slowly dropped open as if it were pulled down by an invisible string.
“You’re kidding,” she said.
“No,” I said. “Why?”
She was the first to tell me the legend of my cute, new home.
On February 14, 2003, a man named Caesar was murdered in my house. Caesar was in his forties and worked a hard nine-to-five job to pay for his wife’s medication. His wife had early onset Alzheimer's.
She would forget basic, daily tasks. She’d turn on the oven with the intention to bake something and wouldn’t remember she had done so until she smelled smoke. She struggled to make decisions and her memory was shot half the time. But Caesar loved her and he worked hard to keep her comfortable.
When his wife forgot about their marriage, Caesar would pull out their wedding photo album. He had it re-bound after his wife got sick. Every time he showed her the photos her memory would come back.
Caesar had a secretary at his job. Apparently she was quite lovely and caught his eye. Caesar never made any moves on the secretary, but that never mattered to Caesar’s mentally ill wife. When she heard through the grapevine on February 14, 2003 that there was a beautiful woman that Caesar enjoyed talking with at work, she grabbed the ax out of the garage.
When Caesar came home that night he couldn’t find his wife. Normally she sat perched in the reclining chair in the living room. She would gaze out the front window at him as he walked up the drive. That night she was not there.
He searched the whole house for her. He checked every crevice of the living room, kitchen, and bedroom. He opened cupboards, checked under tables, rummaged through closets, and still could not find his wife.
He checked around the bedroom. The bathroom door was wide open. Caesar’s wife always shut the bathroom door when she was in there, so he knew she probably wasn’t. However, he had ran out of options, so he poked his head into the bathroom.
“Everyone says he didn’t know what hit him until it was too late,” the blonde said and her lower lip quivered. “His wife chopped up his head with the old, rusty ax from the garage. Police found his body a few days later. His secretary, of course, was concerned. He hadn’t shown up to work.”
“Where was he found?” I asked.
“Caesar’s wife had left his bloodied, mangled body in the bathtub,” she informed me. “She also hid that wedding album he always showed her. A neighbor mentioned to the authorities that Caesar always used it to jog her memory. They thought it might be helpful for questioning Caesar’s wife. Police never found it.”
“That’s awful,” I said.
“Legend has it that every Valentine’s Day Caesar comes back out to haunt the house in which he was murdered,” she said. “Anyone who has ever stayed the night in 1313 Caddell on the night of February 14 has moved out of the house the next day. Most are never heard from again. No one knows exactly what they see, but it is certain they are traumatized for life.”
“Hmm,” I thought out loud as I chewed at the inside of my cheek.
“Just get a hotel room that night!” the blonde had suggested.
Many of my new friends offered solutions to my Valentine’s Day problem.
“Come stay with us,” a tall, redheaded boy with freckles who I knew from my creative writing class offered. “My roommates wouldn’t mind at all.”
“Hmm,” a skinny brunette girl in my tennis club said. “Maybe go camping that night!”
However, on the night of February 14, I didn’t feel like staying anywhere else.
I had just ended things with my boyfriend, Chad, back home. Chad was wonderful. He had short, brown hair and green eyes. He was tall and fit. Chad treated me spectacularly, but he was in Kansas and I was in Oklahoma. I came to Oklahoma for independence and he was just one more thing that kept me from obtaining that goal, so I let him go.
I also had an exam the next morning in my French class, so I needed to stay in and study. I was pretty sure if I had gone to stay in a hotel, I would’ve gotten too comfortable and would’ve slept the whole night. If I had gone to a friend’s house, I wouldn’t have been able to focus enough to actually study. Camping was never an option.
On the night of February 14, I grabbed a bag of snack mix, sat down at the small, black desk at the front left wall of my room, plugged in my computer, and studied the French vocabulary that covered my screen.
“Bonjour,” I read. “Comment allez vous?”
I repeated French phrases to the gray wall in front of me.
I shivered. I tried not to think about the stories my new friends had told me about that night, but they slowly crept in.
“One guy was dragged out into the street in the middle of the night!” the creative writing class boy had reported. “The neighbors heard him screaming so they looked out their windows and saw him covered in blood and writhing in the road.”
I shuddered at the memory of these stories.
Ghosts aren’t real, I reminded myself as I studied the screen in front of me. I had never experienced anything paranormal in my life. Why would I start to now? This house could not hurt me. It was my precious, little home that was so comfortable all year in this new place.
The moment I came to that realization was the moment I heard it.
The scratch of a fingernail against a window screen grabbed my attention. It sounded like it came from the bathroom.
I looked up from my computer screen and at the wall. I slowly turned my head to the right and peered at the bathroom door.
It was shut.
There was no way I could’ve have heard a scratch on a screen from my bathroom if the door was closed. The bathroom door was wood and the only screened window was the small window on the back wall of the bathroom above the toilet.
I shrugged and sighed. I realized it was probably my imagination and continued to study.
I thought back to a conversation I had with my mother over the phone earlier in the week.
“Everyone says I should stay somewhere else that night,” I explained to her.
“Well,” my mother said. “There may be another solution.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Ghosts typically haunt in realms where certain artifacts from their lives remain,” she said.
“What kind of artifacts?” I asked.
“I guess that depends on the ghost!” she said. “Maybe the murder weapon that killed them was hidden somewhere so they haunt that space. Or maybe they lived to protect something, a prized possession if you will, and they now haunt where it rests. If there truly is a ghost in your house, maybe there is an artifact that he is attached to.”
“Hmm,” I said. “A friend in my class did say something about a photo album.”
“What about it?” my mom asked.
“This guy’s wife had Alzheimer’s,” I explained. “The way he would remind her of their marriage was with this photo album of wedding pictures he put together. They say it is still hidden somewhere in the house.”
“Find that book,” my mom said. “If you can destroy his artifact he will leave.”
I never found the book, though. I searched in every cabinet, and rummaged through closets. I poked around the garage, and the shed in the backyard. It was nowhere to be seen.
I glanced back at my computer screen.
“Il fait beau,” I read.
That meant “the weather is nice,” a statement that was true of earlier that day. The skies were clear and the sun beamed down all over us. It was almost too good to be true for an Oklahoma day in February. It was too beautiful of a day to have a scary ending. The scratching noise was surely nothing.
I jumped in my seat. It was louder this time.
I closed my eyes. This isn’t happening, I told myself. You’re imagining things.
I reopened my eyes and read my French again.
BANG! I slammed my hand hard against the desk and stood up in frustration. I marched to the bathroom and grabbed the cold, metal knob. I turned it hard to the right and swung upon the door.
I turned on the lights and looked around. The bathroom was empty.
“Hmph,” I puffed and turned off the lights.
I turned around and walked back out of the bathroom. I had almost pushed the door shut again when—
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
“Ah!” I yelled and jumped where I stood.
The noise was both softer and closer that time.
I carefully pulled the door back open just enough for me to peer inside the room one more time.
Still no one was there, but the noise continued.
I flipped on the light again and stepped inside the bathroom to get one more good look around.
The door to the bathroom shut by itself behind me. My heart did backflips inside my chest. I raced back to the door and grabbed at the knob. I twisted and twisted and pushed and pushed, but the door wouldn’t budge.
I smacked my hand against the hardwood.
No, I thought, I’m stuck!
The light above my shower flickered. The tiny silver light fixture was all that illuminated the small room.
The light clicked off. I stood in the pitch dark.
The silence engulfed me. I hated the quiet almost as much as I hated the dark. The unsettling combination of the two felt like a match made in Hell.
I stumbled over to my sink. Under the sink was a cabinet where I kept a lighter. I had a candlestick by the sink.
I fumbled around in the cabinet until I could feel the lighter. My hand wrapped around its plastic, rectangular frame.
I grabbed it out and pulled back the lever. It produced a tiny flame that was just enough for me to find the candle on the cabinet. I lit the candlestick and set down the lighter.
I picked up the cylindrical, green candle. The wintery smell of balsam fir filled the air.
I moved the candle around the small bathroom. I was still alone. The shower curtain remained unwavering and the toilet seat was still closed. No one had been in the room.
Scratch, came from the small window behind my toilet. The time had come to find the source.
Please just be a tree, I begged. Or a squirrel, or a kid playing a prank, anything!
I walked slowly over to the toilet and faced the blinds that covered the little window. I guided the candle’s light on the string to draw them. I reached my other arm up and grasped the string in my left hand.
I yanked down hard on the string and the blinds popped up. A shriek escaped my mouth.
“Hello,” a deep, raspy man’s voice croaked.
I fell over the toilet landing hard on my back.
A forty-year-old man stared back at me and grinned from the window. He had tan, wrinkled skin and fluffy, gray-black hair. He smiled maliciously and looked me dead on with glowing black eyes.
I pushed myself back up to my feet and shoved down the blinds. I stood at the window with my candle stretched out in front of me.
“Go away!” I demanded. “Get out of here! I don’t believe in you! This isn’t happening!”
I thrashed my candle in defense. I turned and guided my light all around the room. The man was not there. Once again, everything in the bathroom remained how I left it.
The silence returned.
“Ha-ha-ha,” the deep man’s voice rang out all over the room.
I winced at the sound of his devilish voice.
“HA-HA-HA!” the man’s voice continued to exclaim all around me.
I turned around wildly searching for the source and swung my candle in every direction. Cold tears streamed down my heated face.
“Alex,” the man cooed, “why don’t you want to talk to me?”
He laughed again.
“What do you want?” I yelled into thin air. “Who are you and what do you want from me?”
He didn’t respond.
I’m not doing this. This isn’t happening.
I walked back to the door and grabbed the knob again. I twisted and pushed at it with all my strength. The stupid thing wouldn’t budge.
I smacked my hand against the door again, this time with as much force as I could muster. My arm ached with every swing and my hand throbbed at the impact.
“Help!” I screamed. “Someone get me out!”
I stopped hitting the door and took a few steps back. I ran forward and kicked the door with all my strength. The door still wouldn’t budge.
“No!” I banged on the door as loud as I could. “Someone please help me! Get me out of here!”
“Ah,” the man’s voice said, “the downside of living alone.” He chuckled.
I sank down next to the door. I sat on my butt and pulled my knees up to my chest.
No one came for me.
Why did I want to be independent so badly? Why on Earth did I opt to live alone?
The man’s voice stopped. The bathroom was eerily silent once again. The sink dripped.
Why was the sink dripping? I wondered.
My legs dropped down in front of me and I pushed myself back up and stood. I moved my candle around the bathroom. Nothing.
I slowly turned and walked toward the sink. The silver knob at the back was ever so slightly turned forward. It produced a thin drip every two seconds. I pushed it back to an off position. The drip stopped.
The oval-shaped mirror showed the shape of something strange in the dark.
I knew what my thin face looked like in this mirror. I had seen it every morning.
This did not look like my reflection.
I shivered and slowly lifted my candle. I guided the light toward the glass.
The man’s face peered back at me. His malicious smile was the same, but everything else was bloodied and distorted. Massive gashes in his face oozed blood and white bone peeked out. Black, inky blood dripped from his mouth. The top of his head was split in half. One side was scalped. Blood and brain chunks spilled out of it.
I shrieked and impulsively threw my fist into the mirror. The glass cracked and the image of the man disappeared.
I whirled around and expected the man to be behind me, but no one was there.
I racked my brain to remember what my friends had said the man who died here’s name was. Carter? Casper?
“His name was Caesar.” I remembered the bubbly blonde from French class explaining that to me. “His wife chopped him up with an axe because she was crazy! She thought he might leave her for a sexy secretary so she killed him!”
The man had been so dedicated to his wife he’d stayed with her through violent outbursts from Alzheimer’s. After my recent break-up, I figured I would probably never know love like that.
“Caesar.” My voice shook. “Caesar, let me out of here please.”
“Caesar,” I said. “I know you’re hurting. I know the woman you loved hurt you and I’m so sorry. But please, don’t take that hurt out on me. My boyfriend and I just called it quits! I know what it’s like to hurt over someone you love! We’re the same, Caesar. Please, let me out of this bathroom.”
“Ha!” Caesar’s voice exclaimed around the dark room. “We are not the same! You had the audacity to leave the boy who loved you. You ended things because it wasn’t convenient for you! That’s not love! Don’t you dare compare yourself to me! I gave everything for my wife all the way to the grave. Why do you think I’ve trapped you? Huh? You think this is just my normal Valentine’s Day haunt? No, no, no, Alex. You are special. Since you’re so heartless to the people who love you, I’m not just going to traumatize you tonight. I’m going to kill you!”
Caesar’s laugh bellowed all over the dark space. He wanted to kill me!
I shook in fear. My heart pounded at a thousand miles per hour. I looked back at the cracked mirror. Multiple vague outlines of my own reflection stared back at me. I moved the candle’s light toward the glass.
I looked pitiful. My normally pale cheeks were swollen and flushed. My eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Loose hairs stuck to my forehead with sweat.
Something glistened on the glass. Confused, I took a few steps closer to the mirror to get a better look. I lifted the candle up to the glass.
A drip of thick, red blood dropped out of the top left corner of the mirror that was cracked from where I hit it.
What? I thought. That’s not possible.
Another drop fell out of the middle crack in the mirror. The red smeared across my crooked reflection in the broken glass.
I continued to guide my light around the glass. I used my other hand to swipe a small sample of the blood onto my index finger. I examined the drop. It sat in a smudge on my fingertip. It certainly looked like blood.
I pressed the sample between my thumb and index finger. I lifted my finger to my nose and took a quick whiff. The metallic stench of blood filled my nostrils.
Shaken, I looked back at the mirror. Now whole, long spurts of blood pooled out of the mirror. The red liquid covered the whole glass.
I screamed and turned away from the horrific scene.
Caesar’s deep, dark laugh filled the room once again.
“Stop it!” I yelled up at the ceiling.
The source of the laughter moved to the shower.
I turned to the shower and threw back the white curtain. There, lying in the porcelain tub beneath the showerhead, was a bloody ax. Small chunks of what appeared to be remnants of human flesh clung around the blade. It pooled fresh blood onto my white tub.
“No!” I said.
The silver knob to the shower creaked. To my left, the knob turned. The shower sprang on, full blast. Instead of pouring out hot water all over the bloodied tub, deep red blood spewed from the showerhead. The ax disappeared into thin air once the blood hit it.
I jumped back and drew the shower curtain closed. I was already covered in little splashes of blood.
I backed up to the corner of the bathroom by the door. The bathroom filled with red-hot blood. The tub overflowed and liquid pooled over the top of the porcelain onto the floor. I moved my candle light over the bloody scene. Each crevice in my white tile filled with it, like gory tic-tac-toe boards. Before I knew it, the whole floor was covered in deep red.
The room was already almost filled past my ankles. I hopped up on the sink to keep myself as dry as possible.
“Caesar,” I said. “Please let me go. I’ve learned my lesson, now please make it stop!”
Deep huffs of laughter surrounded me in the dark room.
The pool of blood was almost halfway up to the sink.
Caesar plans to drown me in his blood, I thought. I knew I had to act fast or I would never see the light of day again.
I jumped off the sink and splashed into the red liquid. It soaked through my pants quickly and warmed my legs. I waded to the door. I punched at it with all my strength. I pulled my right arm back and swung it forward with great intensity repeatedly. The stupid thing wouldn’t budge.
Maybe I could hit through it if I used both hands.
But my candle was in my left hand and I needed the light from the fire.
I could burn through the door!
The blood was almost to my knees, but I figured I could burn a hole into the middle of the door just big enough for me to squeeze through.
I took the tiny torch in my left hand and stuck its flame to the white, wooden door. The light wood burned to black almost instantly. The paint was highly flammable, and it caught quickly.
The orange flames illuminated the entire room. The blood continued rising, but the fire had already poked through to the other side of the door. The small hole grew bigger and bigger as the flames expanded.
In fact, my plan worked almost too well. The flames grew enormously before my eyes. They reached the ceiling sooner than I anticipated. I put my shirtsleeve over my nose and mouth to keep from breathing in the smoke, but I worried I would burn myself getting through the fiery doorway.
I turned around and waded back toward the shower. I grabbed a towel from the towel rack and dipped it in the blood around me.
I headed back to the burning doorway. I held the towel out in front of me and pushed through the fiery hole where the door used to sit. The towel did its job and I was through.
My bedroom was on fire as well. The ceiling was halfway engulfed in flames. Horrified, I ran to the other side of the room to the door. Behind me, something cracked. I turned around just in time to see the ceiling fan collapse in flames onto my bed below. The bed burst into flames.
I ran from the room and into the kitchen. I ran past the kitchen to the front of my living room. The living room hadn’t quite caught fire, but the flames crept up on it quickly.
My wet, bloody feet slipped on the wood floor. I fell to my knees and my left foot got caught between two floorboards that shifted when I tripped. I pulled my foot out of the crevice.
That’s when it caught my eye.
The crack gaped open in the floorboards and a cream-colored rectangle poked out of it.
The photo album!
Caesar’s wedding album poked out of the crack in the floor. It must have been hidden for years.
My mother’s voice chimed in my memory.
“If you can destroy his artifact he will leave,” she said.
I scooped the album out of the crack and held it up to the light produced by flames that took over the kitchen. I stood to my feet.
Let’s finish this once and for all.
I swung my arm back and flung it forward toward the kitchen releasing the album. It soared into the flames. The fire barely winced as it engulfed the book.
The fire leaped over the threshold of the kitchen into the living room. I back away quickly and headed to the front door. I wrapped my hand around its silver knob and pulled. The door swung open. I lunged forward into the outside world.
The cold night air embraced my heat flushed face. Chills covered my body from the wind hitting the wet blood all over me.
I stumbled into the front yard. My yard was small. It had one row of monkey grass bushes, and the grass was brown for winter.
There were neighbors in front of all the houses nearby. The elderly couple from across the street watched me. They had minimal hair that had all turned gray and they wore round glasses. The man had on pinstriped pajamas and the woman had on a white bathrobe. The woman stood wide-eyed and had a phone pressed to her ear.
I turned away from them and looked back at my burning home. Flames swallowed the front of the house. All I could hear was the crunch and crackle of all my belongings crushing and cracking in the fire.
I knew I had destroyed it all with my own two hands. I should have been sad, but this burning house was not my loving home anymore. This was the sanctuary of an evil spirit who, thanks to the photo album, would now go down with it.