The Blood in the Walls

The Blood in the Walls

One night, as they ate dinner together, Carolyn asked her parents why there were so many stains in the basement. They looked at each other, perplexed. Her mother, Jacquelyn said, “Honey, there are no stains in the basement. Your daddy and I work very hard to keep our house clean.”

Carolyn insisted, and said, “No, mommy, there are stains all over the floors and walls. It looks like someone took a big can of paint and splashed it everywhere.”

After dinner, Jacquelyn and Dan went downstairs to the basement to see what their daughter was talking about. The basement was finished with off-white paint on its concrete walls and had grey tiled floors. Dan had made it into a man cave with a couch, a TV, video games, movie posters, an old foosball table, and a small bar.

They looked around but saw nothing that resembled a stain anywhere and decided that it must be Carolyn’s overactive imagination. For the next several weeks, however, Carolyn continued to ask why there were stains in the basement and why her parents hadn’t cleaned them up yet. Jacquelyn and Dan became concerned, and one day they brought Carolyn down to the basement to have her show them where the stains were.

“They’re everywhere,” she said in her tiny voice as she walked around the room, pointing at the walls and floors. “Silly mommy and daddy, there are big stains all over the place. Can’t you see them?”

Jacquelyn scheduled an appointment with a child psychologist the next day. She felt silly for doing so, but she also believed that it was important to catch any potential signs of mental illness as soon as possible. If her daughter was hallucinating at such a young age, Jacquelyn wanted to catch it immediately before it became worse.

Jacquelyn sat nervously in the waiting room in the psychologist’s office. She had wanted to participate in the session with her daughter, but the psychologist, whose name was Jennifer, forbade it.

After a little more than an hour, the office door opened. Carolyn ran out, happily shouting “Mommy!” as she jumped into her mother’s arms. Then she said, “I’m hungry.”

“Just a minute, baby,” Jacquelyn said. “Mommy needs to talk to Jennifer.”

Jennifer walked out of her office a moment later and said, “Carolyn, do you want to play with some toys?”


“Wonderful, there are some toys over there that you can play with,” Jennifer said as she pointed to the children’s play area in the corner of the room.

Carolyn ran over to the play area, and Jacquelyn and Jennifer sat down at a small table nearby. Jennifer looked at Jacquelyn and said, “I have some really good news, and a little bad news. The really good news is that Carolyn’s completely mentally healthy. There’s no reason to believe that she’s hallucinating, nor do I detect anything that could be considered the precursor to a childhood mental illness. She’s fine.”

Jacquelyn breathed a sigh of relief and said, “What’s the bad news?”

“The bad news is that I believe she really is seeing something that you and your husband cannot. I suggest you take Carolyn to an eye doctor to determine if the issue has any physiological basis.

The weight of Jacquelyn’s worry returned, and she resolved to set an appointment with an eye doctor that same day.

The following week, Dan and Jacquelyn sat in their living room and discussed what the eye doctor, Dr. Roberts, had said about Carolyn.

Jacquelyn said, “Apparently, she has a condition called aphakia, which means her eye lenses are damaged.”

“Damaged?” Dan said with concern.

“Yes, Dr. Roberts said she suspects it’s a birth defect. It’s as if Carolyn’s eye lenses have barely developed at all. They’re unusually thin and are perforated by microscopic holes. However, she’s not in any pain, nor is she aware there’s even a problem. As she gets older, she’s likely to become far-sighted and will need glasses.”

“But, what does that have to do with her seeing stains that aren’t there, and in our basement specifically?”

“Dr. Roberts said that one of the effects of aphakia is it can allow someone to see ultraviolet radiation; colors beyond the normal visual spectrum. She said the famous artist Monet had aphakia and it allowed him to see impossible colors. This helped him pioneer the French Impressionist painting style.”

Dan stared at her dumbfounded and said, “So, Carolyn has an eye condition that means she’s going to become a famous painter?”

Jacquelyn scoffed and said, “If we’re lucky. But seriously, it means she sees real stains in the basement that we simply can’t perceive without an ultraviolet light source.”

“Like a black light?”


They sat in silence as they considered the implications. After a few moments, Dan said, “Don’t they use black lights to look for blood stains at crime scenes?”

Jacquelyn didn’t answer.

“Mommy!” Carloyn shouted from the doorway to the kitchen, startling them. “I’m hungry!”

Jacquelyn’s hands shook with anxiety as she tore open the package from the ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy laboratory. She pulled out a tri-folded letter as well as the small plastic bag of paint chips from her basement walls that she’d sent to the lab a few weeks ago. She then unfolded the letter and her eyes settled on one line of text in bold lettering:

We have determined that there are no foreign substances on the sample provided.

Blinking with confusion, Jacquelyn re-read the line several times, but it always meant the same thing: There was nothing on the paint sample.

Her brow furrowed as she wondered what it meant. “Maybe I picked sections of the wall that weren’t stained,” she thought. “But Carolyn said the entire wall was covered in stains. How could I have missed them all?”

Then, she picked up the plastic bag and went to her daughter’s room where she found Carolyn playing with her Barbie dolls.

“Carolyn, sweetie, I need you to do mommy a favor.”

“What is it, mommy?”

“I need you to look at these things mommy has and tell me if you see any stains on them.” Jacquelyn held the bag of paint chips out in front of her daughter.

Carolyn stopped playing with her dolls to look at the paint chips. After a moment she said, “No, mommy, there’s nothing on them.”

Jacquelyn stared at her, mouth agape. She’d collected the samples from all over the basement wall. There was no way she missed the huge stains that only her daughter was able to see.

Jacquelyn thought for a moment and then went into the kitchen to retrieve a sponge. She poured some dishwashing liquid onto it and ran it under lukewarm water from the sink. Then, she went downstairs and wiped the sponge over the bare concrete wall in the places where she’d chipped the paint away. After scrubbing for several minutes, she saw that the sponge was covered with a dark copper-colored substance. A putrid, metallic odor emanated from it.

Several weeks later, she received another package from the laboratory. This one contained the copper-stained sponge she’d sent inside a plastic bag and another letter with its corresponding test results. This time, the bolded sentence on the letter left no doubt:

We have determined that the substance on the sample provided is blood.

Jacquelyn sat in the library for hours as she pored through old microfilm newspaper articles in search of information about her house’s history. Finally, she came across several news stories that had pictures of her house from when it was surrounded by nothing but farmland and countryside, before the neighborhood had developed around it.

The first article was nearly 50 years old. It said, “A childless older couple named Ned and Irene Smith have been arrested for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of several homeless people in the area. The Smiths were arrested after the sheriff’s office received numerous complaints from the town’s homeless community about people going missing. In all, the police believe the Smiths are responsible for the deaths of at least 10 people. 

Sheriff Jimmy Combes said, ‘The Smiths would drive into town and look for solitary vagrants whom they’d then coax into trusting them, claiming to be part of a church’s outreach to the homeless. We believe their victims would be put at ease by Irene’s kind demeanor and Ned’s calmness, characteristics they both maintained throughout the entire investigation despite the horrible nature of the allegations against them. The Smiths would then take their victims back to their house and give them drugged food to make them pass out, rendering them helpless. When the victims would awake, the Smiths would torture and kill them in bloody rituals.”

The next article was from several weeks after the first. It said, “Local couple Ned and Irene Smith committed suicide in jail as they awaited trial for several brutal murders they allegedly committed in the basement of their home. Witnesses say they each spontaneously began to chant in arcane gibberish and then pulled their own eyes out. They continued to chant as blood poured out of their empty eye sockets until they bled to death. Their house’s ownership has defaulted to the city as they had no heirs or other family members.

Andy Rollins, a prisoner who’d been arrested for shoplifting earlier that day, said, ‘It was the craziest thing. Across from my cell there was this kindly older couple who looked like they’d never hurt anyone. They’d sat there in peaceful silence for hours until they each suddenly stood up and began shouting gibberish at the top of their lungs. Then, with a horrible snapping sound I’ll never forget, they both pulled their own eyes out. Blood spurted everywhere, all over the floors and walls. It was like a living horror movie.’”

The final article Jacquelyn found had been written less than a year ago. It said, “It has been nearly 50 years after the murders that took place in what has come to be known as ‘The House of Blood,’ and it was scheduled to be torn down later this year. However, at the last moment, the city’s zoning board declared it to be a historical site. The house was then renovated and sold to developers. 

City Councilwoman Jan Snargrove said, ‘We’re simply trying to preserve our local history. The house in question is a remnant of our past and shouldn’t be destroyed regardless of the tragic circumstances that took place there so long ago.’”

When she finished reading, Jacquelyn quietly shook with horror and rage. She felt angry, she felt tricked, and she felt taken advantage of. Most of all, she knew she had to get her family out of that house.

She stood up to leave, but then gasped at what she saw. Several library books moved out of the shelves by themselves and floated in the aisle in front of her, suspended by an unknown force. One shot toward her, and she screamed and ducked out of the way. Another sailed past her head and smashed into the microfilm machine, shattering its glass monitor. Jacquelyn shrieked as she covered her head and ran down the aisle. Several library patrons heard the commotion and stared awestruck as Jacquelyn sprinted to the exit with a look of abject terror on her face.

Carolyn sat on the edge of the bed in the hotel room as she listened to her parents argue.

“Jacquelyn, get ahold of yourself. What you’re saying makes no sense,” Dan said with frustration. “Books don’t just throw themselves at people.”

“You weren’t there, Dan. I swear I’m telling the truth. It’s like something was watching me. As soon as I learned what really happened at our house, it lashed out,” Jacquelyn said.

“Why didn’t you tell me that Carolyn saw blood on our walls with her ultra-vision, or whatever, before you went to the library?”

“I didn’t want to scare you. Besides, I wanted to learn more about what happened before we made any decisions.”

“What are we going to do now, Jacquelyn? We can’t stay in this hotel forever.”

“I don’t know, Dan. Let’s just wait here for a few days while we plan our next move.”

“Mommy? Daddy?” Carolyn said in a shaky voice. Jacquelyn and Dan looked over at her, and their eyes went wide with shock. Carolyn floated in mid-air nearly two feet off the bed, and her face bore an expression of fear and surprise.

The cabinet doors in the hotel room’s kitchenette then opened by themselves, and the glasses and dishes stored therein floated out. One of the glasses streaked across the room and shattered against the wall, barely missing Dan’s head. One of the plates did the same and almost hit Jacquelyn.

Dan yelled, “Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Jacquelyn grabbed Carolyn out of the air and Dan threw open the hotel room door. They rushed to their car and hopped in with Jacquelyn in the driver’s seat. She turned the ignition and peeled out of the hotel’s parking lot. The car’s tires squealed loudly as they sped off.

“Where are we going?” Dan asked, but Jacquelyn didn’t answer.

A few minutes later, she zoomed into their neighborhood and up to their house’s driveway. Then, she turned off the car and jumped out as Dan said, “Wait!”

Jacquelyn burst through the front door and ran down into the basement. She then stood in the center of the room and shouted, “What the hell do you want from us!?”

A chilling stillness filled the air, and Jacquelyn heard white noise come from an unknown source. Then, she heard the sounds of liquid splashing around as well as distant screams of agony.

Blood seeped through the paint on the wall in front of her and formed a word in letters that were nearly a foot tall. It said, “Obey.”

As she stared in panic, Jacquelyn put her hands up to her head and screamed.

“There’s one now, mommy,” Carolyn said as she and her parents drove around downtown in the early afternoon. Jacquelyn looked over to where she had indicated and saw a homeless man dig through a trash can. His clothes were torn and filthy, and his hand was wrapped in a dirty bandage. Dan was at the wheel of the car, and Jacquelyn said, “Stop here.”

Dan pulled up next to the homeless man with the car’s passenger side facing him. Jacquelyn then rolled down her window and said, “Excuse me, sir. Do you need a place to stay tonight?”

The homeless man jerked his head up and said nothing as he stared at her with confusion.

Jacquelyn continued, “My husband and I are with the church and our outreach is to the homeless. We’d like to take you home and make you dinner, if that would be alright.”

Suspicious, the man slowly approached the car and looked the family over. Dan nodded at him calmly as Jacquelyn gave him a kind smile. The man’s gaze settled on Carolyn, who smiled sweetly at him as well. He relaxed as he decided they meant no harm.

“Bless you folks,” he said. Then, he opened the car’s back door and got in.