When you inherit an old house from a great Aunt you didn’t know existed (and who was said to go mad within its walls) there’s an expectation that you’ll get to experience some thrills, along with some chills, as you slowly begin to doubt your sanity and become another victim of the house. So imagine my surprise when I moved into this manor and experienced little to no terror, even though the house was built atop a burial ground for people who died while staging epic prank videos.

After her husband’s ghost visited her to tell her he was at peace, my long lost great aunt was killed by an electrical explosion while attempting to reanimate his corpse so she could convince him to do a few more crimes and make certain that he went to Hell. The groundskeeper who has been working there for thirty years informed me that her dying wish was he ensure that whoever inherited the house was worthy. Then he added, “Oh yeah, that reminds me, they say this house is haunted with, uh, ghosts and draculas and stuff. I wouldn’t blame you if you were so scared that you left forever.”

Yesterday, I woke up in the middle of the night to discover the house was filled with fog. It would have been scary had I not heard the groundskeeper dragging a smoke machine inside earlier, and loudly saying things like, “This goddamn smoke machine is so heavy.”

Then I caught him watching old episodes of Scooby-Doo and scribbling in a notebook. He was mumbling things like, “Oooh, that’s a good one to plagiarize.” When he tried to cut the eye holes out of the paintings on the walls to spy on me, he must have messed up their placements, gave up, and just cut the faces completely out so they look like those “your face here” things at the carnival. And the only thing scary about carnivals is the lack of respect the teens working there show me when I inform them I am a veteran (not a military veteran, but a veteran of putting up with their crap).

I thought maybe the problem was that the groundskeeper was overwhelmed with all the work he had to do for the haunting in addition to continuing his groundskeeping duties. So I offered to take them off his plate, but it hasn’t helped. The other day, I was trimming the shrubs and he asked to borrow my credit card. When I asked what for, he flat out told me, “I need to buy a ‘Creepy Halloween Sound Effects Vol. 2’ CD.”

After a long day of laying sod in the backyard, I came inside and the groundskeeper informed me he was leaving for the night and told me to check out the TV. He had put The Babadook on, which is truly his laziest attempt to scare me yet. By the time I had dinner and sat down, the movie was at the very end, which I guess was kind of scary, but I didn’t have the context for what happened earlier in the plot to be fully frightened.

I’ve been trying to make it easy on him by suggesting ways to scare me. “I’d really hate it if someone put some big plastic spiders in here. The ones in those cottony webs. Or maybe some blood oozing from the walls. The idea of how badly it would stain the carpeting is a nightmare in and of itself. Also, years ago, I took a friend on a midnight cruise on my boat (the S.S. SEAd of Chucky), and while I was driving, I kept trying to get a glimpse of the sexy mermaid painted on the side of my boat and I crashed, which resulted in my friend’s death. Then I covered the whole thing up. Maybe you could reference that and have it be a thing where his ghost is haunting me?”

But this guy clearly doesn’t listen. He’s too busy playing his Nintendo. Probably collecting gems, or solving puzzles, or playing one of those dad simulator video games where you play as the son and have to prove to your father that you have discipline and a strong work ethic so he doesn’t send you to military school, or whatever video games are like now.

There used to be a time that when a groundskeeper took pride in their fake hauntings. I didn’t plan on staying in this manor very long. I thought 4-6 weeks tops before I was too spooked out and had to return to my normal life as a wealthy New York City lawyer who simply does not have time for romance. It’s actually a pretty big bummer because my commute has increased to four and a half hours each way since I moved here. But unless this groundskeeper suddenly decides to start putting some serious effort in, I think I’ll just have to live here for the rest of my life without fear for my physical or mental safety. I pray to God that doesn’t happen.

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