So, you want to be a paranormal investigator? Don’t.


Originally published at NoSleep on May 13, 2022.

Tags: #horror #shortstory #nosleep

Took me a while to figure out where I wanted to post this but honestly, the way the internet works, I could post it anywhere and all you millennials and zoomers can find it. I don't know how and honestly, I don't think I really care. Sorry if I come across cranky but since Carl showed me this thread…subreddit, whatever you call it, I could not remain silent. If all of you are wanting to mess around with the supernatural, then you need to be warned.

If you haven't guessed already, I'm a boomer. Not your typical suburban boomer with his two-story house, two cars, and a pension. I am a veteran paranormal investigator though, among our circle, we like to call ourselves auditors. It's easier to explain to those who ask us our job and it's what we do. We audit the situation and deal with it if it proves to be something we handle.

Now, I want you to get it through your heads. This isn’t some TV show where there is a monster of the week and you just take care of it like that show with the brothers. This is a terrifying profession that barely pays and makes you see things that you will never forget. The real threats out there can’t be defeated with bits of iron and the sprinkling of salt. It takes research, planning, and so much luck that your odds of survival are always abysmal.

I’m not going to give you my entire resume, but my war buddy Carl and I have killed everything from werewolves and vampires to ghosts but what we faced last week has made me decide that my luck is running out. Listen up you snowflakes and understand what is truly out there.

I'm not going to name the town specifically as those good folks didn't invite the thing that's coming. It started out as a lot of my jobs do. Either through word of mouth, an advertisement or you stumble upon it. When you've been doing this job as long as I have, you learn to sense when something is amiss and not normal.

In this case, it was a real estate agent who was at a local burger joint that got my attention. I had ordered my usual heart-attack-inducing food with way too much cheese than should be legal and had just sat down to chow down when I heard him behind me in the neighboring booth. I had glanced at him when I was bringing my tray and he looked what you expected. Nondescript, in a suit, brown hair and eyes to match. He was young so my guess was that this was probably his first sale or something.

Sitting with him was a couple, two women who were gripping each other's hand as if one would let go, the other would vanish. Their hair was different unnatural colors, wore a lot of jewelry, and had piercings that would have gotten them fired if it was when I was young. Don't get me wrong, people can dress the way they want now, but it doesn't mean I got used to it. They ain’t harming anyone and after all, I had gone through, what did I care about a bunch of lesbians with colorful hair?

It was what the real estate agent said that got my attention.

“Look. I know how badly you want to sell this house and move but the last family was a bust. It…happened.”

There was an audible gasp from the girls and her voice dropped low though I could still hear it.


“Yeah,” The real estate agent said and then spent the next thirty seconds sucking on his fountain drink. When he was finally done, he spoke again.

“I didn’t believe you, ladies, which I apologize for but as soon as I opened up the basement to show them how nice you all had made it as a second living space, we heard it come up the stairs. Oh, god I can still hear it in my head.”

“What do we do?” the other girl said, her voice reminding me of cheerleaders for some odd reason.

“I don’t know, I’ve never dealt with anything like this. I asked around at the office but everyone just gave me a look like I was nuts. I didn’t press it.”

“I’m not going back to that house, Shannon,” the cheerleader sounding one said with a certainty that I recognized.

“We can’t just leave it. We don’t have the money to move. We need to sell that house and get rid of the mortgage.”

“This NEVER ends well. I’ve seen the movies,” the nervous one continued.

I looked down at my burger that was calling to me and sighed. I, unfortunately, had a sensitive conscious of the plight of ladies, even if they were lesbians.

Grabbing my tray, I stood, swung around, and plopped myself by the agent. I'm not a small man. I mean, I eat cheeseburgers all the time, but I'm almost seven feet and have the physique of a trucker. He shifted away from me towards the window more out of instinct or anything.

“What do you want,” the more mature woman said her eyes narrowing at me.

“I heard what you were saying,” I said finally taking a bite of my delicious sandwich. After I took a swig of the diet coke of the real estate agent, I set the burger down. “I think I can help you.”

“You have no idea what’s going on, let alone believe me,” the younger said, her gray eyes watching me carefully.

“Sounds like you got an infestation of some type. That’s my specialty. I’m an…auditor…of sorts.”

“You’re nuts,” the oldest said.

I made eye contact with her and forced her to hold it.

“Who else is going to believe you? I'm offering to take a look for free. If it turns out to be something along with the neighborhood of what I work on, I'll even give you a discount on the fee.”

“Fee?” The older one I heard was named Shannon said. “How dumb do you think I am?”

“How badly do you want to get that housing problem solved?”

That seemed to get her attention. She was silent studying me, which was something I was used to. So many people would eye me up and down to see if they can guess if I was a crank or a crazy who had escaped the local asylum.

I was crazy but that was because of the things I had dealt with before.

“Fine,” Shannon said. “If you want to see it. Come by the house later this afternoon.”

She quickly scribbled down the address and thrust it at me. I stood, nodded to the real estate agent, and made my way out to the truck. After making such an entrance, I couldn't well go back to munching on my burger. It's surprising how much mystery you must play up for all these civilians. Plus, I needed to give Carl a call.

Carl is my auditor buddy. He and I got in the business about the same time when we dealt with a White Lady ghost in our hometown. It was horrible but after that, he and I decided to keep at it under some misguided notion of helping people. Now, Carl copes with all sorts of bad habits. In the grand scheme of things, I'm happier than eating junk food and smoking are the only vices for what we've done.

Once in my rusting blue truck, I slammed the door to make sure it latched, ignored the iron smell from my previous job I hadn't cleaned up yet, and fished my phone out of the pile of papers.

Finally getting his number typed in, I waited until the eight rings when he finally picked up.

“What the hell is it, Frank!” he growled panting as if he was out of breath.

“Shut up and listen. You still in XXXXX?” which was a town about a four-hour drive from here.

“Yeah, sure,” I heard him say as the sound of fabric and creaking of springs could be heard. I heard him mutter telling someone to get dressed before he came back to me. “Why? What’s up?”

“I think I got one. Two lesbians have a haunted house they want to be cleared.”

“They hot?”

I ignored him as I continued. “Get in your truck and head on over here. I’m gonna do a day sweep and see what I can figure out. Then we going to go clear it.”

“We gonna get paid?”

“Yeah, sure. Dunno how much.”

“Then why are we doing this?”

“Cause there’s a haunting.” I reminded him adding a bit of an edge to my voice. I wanted to make sure he understand that the conversation of payment vs duty did not come up again.

“Fine, fine. I’ll be on my way.”

I’m not going to bore you with a list of the things I did to prepare. I have a kit in my car that I built out of experience, and I only needed a few extra things that I used up in taking care of the rokurokubi a state over. In short, once I had my gear on, my trusty utility belt that got me through two tours in Vietnam, and my pistol hidden underneath my baggy t-shirt, I found myself at the address given to me.

From the outside, there was nothing different than what you would have expected from a suburban house in this state. Single floor, nicely manicured lawn, and a nice hedge that marked the borders between this property and the neighbors. The only way I knew it was Shannon's house was the rainbow flag in the window. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, grabbed my satchel, and walked up to the door.

I tried to knock lightly but my meaty fist probably scared the poor gals inside. The door opened a creak and the little cheerleader one peeked out and saw me.


“Jones. Frank Jones.” I said wondering if the girl would get my James Bond reference. No recognition only what I recognized as fear. That was the first sign these girls were not making things up.

“Mister Jones,” came the older Shannon’s voice and then softly to the other girl. “Hannah, let him in.”

I stepped in and immediately felt out of place. The house was decorated with all sorts of knick nacks and looked like two girls living together. I had to slow my breathing and focus on what was actually making me feel weird. It was only a few seconds to realize it was not the interior of the house but something inside.

As Hannah closed the door behind me, I slowly moved my eyes through the parts of the house I could see. Looking for anything that seemed to be out of place. Have you ever had that feeling that something was right out of site but you could catch it from the corner of your eye? That's an extremely important skill to learn. I'm not sure of the science behind it but sometimes I could pick out something not wanting to be seen just by a flicker in the shadows. Dispatched a few ghosts that way.

The shadows in this house felt longer and deeper than what they should be at three in the afternoon. There was a faint odor in the house that at first thought might be weed but it had a different scent altogether.

“Any of you using weird candles or health foodstuff?” I asked pulling the thermometer off my hip in one hand and a little electromagnetic reader in the other. I made sure not to take my eyes off of anything ahead of me and slowly moved the items into view.

“No. We noticed that smell about two days ago,” Shannon said coming up behind me.

“I don’t give a shit if your doing drugs or anything,” I said to make sure. “You could be snorting whatever and burning whatever but I need to know. I can’t mistake something you’re doing for what it is.”

“We smoke weed,” Hannah volunteered from my other side. “to calm my nerves of course but I haven’t done any in the last day or two.”

“It’s not weed,” Shannon said.

That I agreed with. The smell was earthy but almost like a smell, you would pick up from a barn. I worked enough farms to pick up the decay of moldy hay and animal shit but this had another scent on it.

“You said the basement?”

“Yeah,” Hannah said stepping forward to lead the way.

“Hannah!” Shannon warned pulling her girlfriend back.

I moved ahead with my equipment in front of me. I didn’t bother to tell the girls that the temperature was fine but the electromagnetic reader was starting to dance in a way that I was not comfortable with.

We were still in the daytime so if this followed like the others, I had time to sort out what it was before there would be a danger.

“Have any of you seen anything or has it only been sound?” I asked trying to keep them focused on my voice. I didn’t need any panicking at this moment.

“Just sound,” Shannon said following slowly behind me. “Some sort of moan that changes into a strange croak. The smell gets stronger when there is sound.”

“I’ve seen something,” Hannah volunteered.

I did not have to look to know that Shannon was caught off guard.

“Where? Basement?”

“Our room,” Hannah said her voice quiet.

“When? Why didn’t you tell me?” Shannon demanded.

“I didn’t want to scare you. I thought it was the drugs.” Hannah pleaded.

I cut them off.

“What was it?”

“Well, it was when Shannon and I were having…..getting busy. When I…moved I saw out of the corner of my eye something standing in the shadow. It was tall, looked like it was wearing a ratty robe but when I blinked and tried to focus on it, it vanished.”

“When was this?”

“A week ago. I haven’t seen it since.”

“Let me guess,” I continued. “That’s when all the weird things really started.”

“Yeah,” Shannon answered though I could hear the admonishment in her voice.

By this point, I had reached the stairs to the basement and gently pushed the door open. I really hate how fucking loud those doors are when I'm hunting. The creaking made me wince but I kept my cool as nothing actually happened yet.

The light spilled down the stairs but it only illuminated the first two the rest was blackness. That strange, thick blackness that I knew shouldn't be there. I turned to look for the switch and as I reached for it, I saw it. Well, felt it and saw it out of the corner of my eye.

In the briefest span of my reaching over to flip the switch, I could make out four hooded figures just like Hannah had described standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up at us. Their faces were covered in shadow but their heads appeared strange and elongated in a way I didn’t recognize. My heart jumped as I thought to reach for my pistol but by the time the brain caught up with the fingers, the light was flipped on, and downstairs was bathed in light.

There was nothing down there. At the bottom of the steps was the start of a blue plush carpet that continued into a very modern basement with a large TV, mini-bar, and couches. Actually, a great place to entertain. I glanced at the two women but neither of them seemed to show any other response so my money was on that they didn't see the figures. I decided to leave it as such.

“Stay up here,” I said. “I don’t want you throwing off my readings.”

That was mostly a lie but I didn't want questions. Not yet. My mind was going fast running through every lore that I read, every encounter I had done, anything to give me an idea of what I was dealing with. Invisible hooded figures were not something I encountered before. And that was not a good thing.

I made my way down the steps and moved to the center of the room, back to the TV facing the minibar. Nothing looked out of place, the smell was not here. It looked like a normal average room. I slowly turned around with my devices held up and swore to myself that the needle on the electromagnetic reader was still jumping wildly about.


When the voice came behind me, I about jumped out of my skin. I whirled about and found Hannah standing behind me, curiosity on her face.

“I told you to wait upstairs!”

“Sorry. I wanted to see what was going on. Is the needle supposed to be doing that?”

I just stared in disbelief at her.

“I told you not to go down there,” Shannon called from the stairs. “I don't give a shit how many supernatural things interest you.”

Shit. She was one of them. The dabblers.

Hannah seemed to have gained some courage and looked at me for an answer.

“The needle is picking up frequencies in the room. Could be anything.”

“But?” she asked.

I sighed. I had learned that not answering the questions only caused more trouble in the end.

“The way it’s bouncing around is not normal or like anything I’ve seen naturally occurring.”


Or worse. I thought to myself.

“What do we do?” she asked leaning towards me.

“You do nothing,” I said with certainty. “This stuff is extremely dangerous and I’m not letting a civilian get involved.”

I turned away from the empty mini-bar to make a point for her to mind my business when I caught the reflection on the TV that was off. My blood went cold and I could feel the chills running up and down my spine and arms. I could make out five of those hooded figures watching me, unmoving by the mini-bar, their cloaked hoods hiding their faces. I controlled my breathing as best I could but it must have not been enough.

“What?” Hannah asked and I immediately turned to face her so she did not notice.

“I need you to leave,” I said. I decided that I had more time as whatever was happening hadn’t gone into full effect or it wasn’t interested in me. A glance at my watch told me it was already 4:30 which didn’t feel right. That also told me there was some weird time stuff happening in this room too. None of these signs were good.

“Let's go,” I said grabbing her arm and pulling her towards the stairs. All of a sudden, I felt this urge to move. To get out of the area. To run as fast as I could. The oppressive feeling started pushing on my lungs.

If you ever feel this, trust your instincts. I did not wait, I wrapped my arms around Hannah's waist, hefted her, and started up the stairs fast. Hannah squeaked and I heard an angry retort from Shannon at the top but I didn't care. My brain and body screamed that I needed to get out of there.

As my feet landed at the last step at the top, I felt a presence brush the heels of my shoes and a sound came rolling up the stairs. It was the creepiest and blood-chilling sound I have ever heard. It was as if a thousand voices were speaking and they made one sound. Something that sounded like “Crak-Kaw!”

Shannon went pale as Hannah screamed in my arms. I did not hesitate, I shoved Shannon towards the front door and she did not even hesitate. She made a run for it just like me and we both got outside. I threw looks over my shoulder while I carried the small one and saw nothing but I knew something was on our heels.

Once I crossed that threshold, the oppressive feeling faded, and I gasped as if I had not been able to breathe. I stood there, still holding Hannah in my arms and we all just stared back at the open door. Nothing stared back but I couldn't convince myself of that. My aching arms finally made me put the girl down who immediately made her way to the street where Shannon was waiting. I joined them by the truck.

“What the fuck was that!” Shannon demanded.

“I don't know,” I said grabbing my phone from the passenger seat and flipping it open. Carl had texted me and he was about two hours away. The sun had started to go down and I glanced at my watch. It was ten minutes after six.

“What the hell?” Hannah said seeing her own watch. “We weren’t in there that long.”

“Loss of time,” I said heading to the back of my pickup and pulling down the gate. I pulled open a few containers searching for some journals I kept in a secure chest. I typed the password, popped it open, and pulled out the ancient book.

“What are you doing now?” Hannah asked. Her interest is still too dangerous to feed.

“Waiting for my pal. You two should find a hotel for the night. If we don’t call you, don’t come to this house without the police.”

Shannon paled but nodded. I gave them my number and they soon quickly took off. I now needed to wait for Carl. I wasn't going back in there without backup. And in hindsight, that wouldn't really matter.

It was dark when Carl finally pulled up, loud country music blaring from his honda and a pile of cigar smoke following him out as he pulled his sorry ass from the vehicle. I was sitting on the edge of my truck and had gone over my fifth journal while taking notes of my thoughts. The door to the house still hung open but I wasn't risking crossing the property line until I had more information and another gun.

Even as much as Carl was irritating with his cigars, booze, and hookers, seeing that bald-headed idiot always brought a smile to my face. I hopped off the truck and we quickly shook hands.

“So, what you got?” he asked rolling the smoldering cigar in his mouth from one side to another, his gray mustache always at risk of catching fire. “A haunting?”

“Not sure,” I said handing him my notes. His eyes scanned them and then slowly his bushy eyebrows began to climb.

“Well, that ain’t no haunting,” was Carl’s declaration after handing the notebook back. “Seems like a gathering of some creepy dudes.”

“They’re not visible. I’ve only caught glimpses and reflections. I don’t think they’re human,” I said finally closing up my containers.

“Cult-like aren't they. Hooded robes and all. Symbols?”

“None that I saw,” I said.

This is also one of the hazards of the job. There is never enough information. Most of it was guesswork and luck.

“I saw something like this a few years back,” Carl said munching on the cigar. “Turned out to be a human cult trying to summon a demon.”


“This might be the same thing but instead of humans. They’re….others…trying to do the same thing and your lesbians just was in the wrong place and the wrong time.”

I wanted to believe that but my gut was not telling agreeing.


“I think we need to go stop by the local church and get us some holy water and cleansed salt. Might not be able to defeat them but we might be able to fuck up their ritual.”

The door slammed and both myself and Carl jumped.

“Well, they definitely didn’t like that. Means we gotta go get it.”

I agreed and after a quick call to Shannon to let her know our plan, we made our stops. Now, this part of the job is simple. It serves two purposes. It lets you get some weapons that have proven effective against the supernatural but it also gives you a false sense of security. I admit it. There are times that none of this stuff works but you don't care. You embrace that sense of security cause you're not going to walk back into someplace after what you experienced if you did not have some sort of defense.

While Carl got his “holy hand grenades” ready, I had loaded two extra magazines for my sig saur with silver bullets and another set of bullets dipped into a concoction we Auditors made up that is effective against non-spirit creatures. Herbs, salts, and other stuff that help get an edge when your opponent isn’t human.

We were on the drive back when my phone rang. I answered it and I heard the panicked voice of Shannon.

“Hannah is gone.”

That was all she had to say. Again, I said that I have done this before and I knew what that meant. The little fool was on her way to the house to see things herself. I told Carl to step on it and we made it back to the house in record time. We were lucky no cops were around cause we definitely would have attracted their attention.

When I jumped out of my truck with my hand on my weapon, I saw the door was open again. That was not a good sign.

“I'll take the back way,” Carl said tapping his ear and I turned on my headset. We weren't going to be dumb and lose contact when dealing with whatever it was. I was going in the front door and see if I could get to the little fool before she did something stupid.

As soon as I stepped into the house, I felt the oppressive feeling come over me again. My mind became muddled but I quickly began to mutter an old chant under my breath that, in the past, had helped clear my head. So far, that was working.

The house itself looked the same but in the darkness with only the moonlight coming through the windows and my own flashlight, I could make out much more. There were dark footprints pressed into the carpet. What stood out was the three toes and the wide gait of its walking. I drew my weapon ready to shoot anything that I saw.

My heart was pounding hard as the stench that I initially picked up seemed to permeate the air as I got closer to the basement. I knew it had to be in the basement. Opening a flask of the holy water I poured it quickly over my head feeling as if the darkness quickly receded around me.

Oh, god those steps. I had counted thirteen when I first had gone down but when I had stepped on the twentieth and still felt there was more to go, I knew I was in the thick of it. I could hear the low chanting of something in the distance and the glow of a red light slowly getting closer as I advanced.

I finally did reach the bottom and felt my boots stick to something on the floor. The iron tang was easily recognizable as blood. I stepped through the sticky mess, turned the corner, and saw it.

I cannot give describe the full horror of what I saw because this story would be banned and I don’t think human words could describe the horror and do it justice. What I could tell you is that in the center of the living room, back to the TV was Hannah. She was on her knees, topless but still wearing her shorts. Her skin appeared to have been cut hundreds of times and the dripping of blood could be heard echoing. Her eyes were wide open as she stared at the ceiling. I followed her gaze and saw painted on the ceiling and glowering were strange symbols, like pictures of an ancient book. They were giving the red glow. I looked back down at Hannah.

I had assumed she was already dead but she was now looking at me. Her face had not changed but I could see the look in her eyes. She wanted to be dead. Honest to god, I wished she had been dead.

I felt the things move towards me and instinctively went for the grenade. It popped and sent a cloud of smoke into the room filled with salt, ash of a good person, and other stuff. The creatures fell back as I charged forward to Hannah.

I had to get her out of there. I reached for the ropes that bound her and discovered there wasn’t anything. Something invisible was holding her in place.

“I’ll get you out of here,” I said trying to calm the terror in her eyes.

Hannah’s eyes rolled back and she became to convulse as if trying to throw something up. The sound that came out of her throat turned me cold.

“Cra-kaw! Cra-kaw!”

She repeated it over and over again while convulsing until it just became a gargle as if something was blocking her speech.

I shown my flashlight on her and saw her open mouth and the wide-eyed look of sheer panic and pain. There was a bulging in her throat and it was trying to move its way up.

Everything seemed to fall in place in my brain. This was a cult of some kind and this poor innocent girl was their prey. She was being sacrificed to some unknown creature. I knew what I had to do. Carl had said it himself. Disrupt the ritual.

With my gut reeling from everything, sweat pouring down my face, I pulled my bowie knife from its pack and saw the glint of the knife catch Hannah's attention.

She knew what I was going to do. There was no doubt in those haunting blue eyes what I was about to do. I don’t know how else to say it but those eyes begged for it. Begged me to do what I had to.

The smoke was failing now. I knew my time was running out so I turned the point towards her bare chest and leaned forward. I keep my knives extremely sharp so there was no way her flesh could have even resisted it. Honestly, it feels like when you cut cake. I felt the warm sticky liquid gush out onto my hands but I focused and focused hard on what I was doing.

The blade had pierced her and whatever was trying to come up. As tears fell down my cheeks I could see the gratefulness in her eyes as they slowly faded.

I stepped back leaving my knife where it was and looked at the horror in front of me. I had done it in time. Something with a beak and feathers had started to crawl out of her mouth when I pushed the blade in.

Both were dead.

That’s when I felt it. The sheer rage around me. The ritual was broken and they knew I had done it. Without looking back I tore for the steps releasing the last two of my grenades. The smoke billowed behind me as I came out and ran for the door. I about ran over Carl who was swearing at me.

“Dude! I’ve been trying to call you. I can’t get in. The doors sealed themselves.”

He broke off when he saw me covered in blood.

“Go. Now.” That was all I said and honestly, nothing else needed to be said. We jumped into the truck and tore on out of there.

The only mistake I made was looking back. That’s where I saw it. The tall, hooded figure whose head seemed to scrap the door jamb. It was still wearing its hood but I know what I saw protruding from it. A long, sharp beak.

I didn't call Shannon. This whole thing had gone to hell. Carl took his truck and left. I wiped my phone, crushed it, and threw it in the river. I left that town and drove through two states before I slowed down for a break. No cops were after me nor anything else. I knew that as the sun rose they would find her body with my knife. I doubted anything else would be there as it never was in these types of things. The police would hear the story and just assume some sadistic trucker tortured and murdered the girl and then left in the night.

So, that’s my story. I’m already heading to a cabin I bought years ago in Montana to live out what is left of my life. I’m either going to die of old age or that cult is going to find me. Either way, I’m done with this shit and pray that Carl gets his head out of his ass and does the same thing.

Listen. Many of you might judge me for what I've done or not believe me. That's okay. I don't need your pity or your judgment. I know you all look on us old people as the generation that fucked up your life and yes, my generation did but there is more out there than inflation, bigots, and rich white people stealing your money. The true monsters are ancient and hidden and they aren't content to feed from the shadows anymore.

I beg you all. If you have any hesitation about this career field, don’t do it. Just leave all the supernatural and paranormal alone and live your life.

For the rest of you who decided that you're still interested, you're as dumb as fuck but shouldn't start this alone. Carl set up an email address for youngsters like you to reach out to him. Email him at and reference this post.

He'll get you set, but your life is going to be short, and you'll wind up like that girl.

There are horrors out there and they know you’re coming.

— © Jonathan J. Snyder, All rights Reserved Like what you read and want to buy me a cup of coffee?