Field Notes of Father Michael Carruthers
October 20, 1996
Today my work begins at the Greybriar House. The last time I was called to do something like this, it was 1949 and I was 22. Just a boy in so many ways. The McKinley House. Feels like another life, and yet every moment has been etched in my memory ever since. The fire… it wakes me up in the middle of lonely nights, reminding me of the evil etched into the wood grains of the very floors and walls. Fire was its only chance of absolution.
And yet, here, in this house, I feel an even greater presence.
October 21, 1996
Visions of the patients of the Donald Haynes Institute of Mental Health, plagued my sleep last night. A woman with ragged hair and wild eyes grabbed my feet and demanded to know why I was in her bed. I couldn’t go back to sleep. The house was eerily quiet.
At sunrise, I made breakfast and explored the grounds. A cemetery outside the back garden edges the looming tree line. Etched onto eroding tombstones is over a century of death and pain. I find myself wondering why God has forsaken these spirits.
When I came back to the house, the door was locked. I had to break a window to get inside, severely slicing my hand in the process. The house has my blood now. I can only imagine how it will use it.
October 22, 1996
Today I begin the cleanse.
I say the prayer of St. Michael, spraying holy water in each room. A whisper heats my ear. A burning smell wafts from the floorboards. Shadows dance in my periphery. The spirits are stirring.
I hear footsteps upstairs.
They found her.
Somewhere in my mind, they found the McKinley girl.
She was still inside the house.
I burned her.
They’re changing my words. They’re rewriting my notes.
I did not burn anyone. She died of natural causes.
The girl is d e a d
I b u r n e d h e r
B u r n
O U T
November 3, 1996
They found me covered in lighter fluid with blood all over my face and hands at the edge of the forest, but I thank my precious Lord they found me.
The nurses say I was out for a week. I dreamed only of fire.
And that poor girl’s face.
In the window.
In the house.
b u r n i n g
Image: Spooky house