The wood-paneled, green station wagon turned down the
long drive, delivering the Bradford family to their new house in Amityville,
"See! I think all of your attitudes about this move are going to
change now that you can see this house. And what a deal we got!"
Tom Bradford said. He smiled at his wife Abby. Sitting between them, young
Nicholas awoke from his nap and rubbed his eyes. Nicholas and the rest
of the Bradfords gaped at the impressive white colonial house in front
of them. It sat perched on the bay, surrounded by a large yard and majestic
trees. To Nicholas, the small attic windows looked like eyes.
"I could care less about seeing the house, Dad. I just think it's
really selfish of you to uproot us all just so you can write for some
Long Island rag," Elizabeth said. She pouted with her sisters Susan
and Mary in the back seat.
"I can't believe I'm finally going to be a senior and I'm 3,000 miles
from all of my friends,"
"Don't worry, Elizabeth. An outgoing girl like you won't have any
trouble making friends," Abby said.
"Shut up, Abby. As much as you flatter us, you'll still never be
our mom!" Elizabeth said. Abby cringed and looked out the window
at the bay.
"Yeah, Mom would have never okayed a move from Sacramento. She loved
it there," Nancy yelled from the rumble seat in the back of the station
wagon, where she and Joanie sat facing the road behind them and all of
"You kids be nice to Abby." Tom said, shifting into park in
front of the house.
"Oh, Tom, it's just lovely" Abby said, squeezing his hand.
"Nicholas, see that sailboat. That's ours--part of the deal your
old dad worked out," Tom said, pointing to a small boat docked on
the bay behind the house.
"Wow!" Nicholas yelled, climbing over Tom and out of the car.
He ran toward the boat.
Tommy Bradford's custom van pulled up just as Tommy's siblings were climbing
out of the station wagon. Inside the van, cute Tommy and his flannel-clad,
barrel-chested, big brother David stared at the house.
"It sure looks peaceful. I'm glad Dad's letting me live in the boat
house until I can find some contracting work out here," David said.
"I guess it might be cool. Being close to New York City should help
me make it as a rock star," Tommy said, "I just wish all those
people hadn't died there."
"Houses don't have memories, Tommy," David said, but he couldn't
get his mind off the story of the house either. A year ago, a young man
had murdered his parents and his four siblings and claimed that voices
in the house made him do it. Because of this tragedy, the Bradfords had
been able to get a good deal on the property. A practical man, Tom Bradford
paid no attention to ghost stories and superstitions.
"Looks like Tommy and David made it. Aren't you kids going to get
in there and pick out your rooms?" Tom said, removing some luggage
from the rack atop the station wagon. Still unenthused but spurred by
territoriality, the kids pushed and shoved past each other to get in the
house. Tom and Abby leaned against the wagon and each other. Although
tired from their journey, they were full of hope for the new life they
would begin in Amityville.
"Tom, I really feel good about this house and this move, about being
near New York City. It's so exciting."
"Me too, Abby. I can't wait to write my columns in my new office
by the bay."
"Who knows, maybe I can even become a Broadway star. I can sing a
"Don't get carried away, Abby. Leave the dramatics to Joanie."
Abby shrugged. As Tom unloaded the wagon, she hummed "Memory"
from CATS and ambled toward their new home.
THE FOURTH DAY
Tom felt more connected to nature in the new house. He
loved to stroll the grounds and work outside. On the fourth day in Amityville,
he decided to chop some wood. He split logs most of the morning.
"Tom, your sister Vivian is coming over to have lunch and see the
house, did you forget?" Abby said, startling him.
"What time is it?"
"Almost noon. You've been out here chopping wood for two hours."
"I guess I lost track of the time," Tom said, wiping the sweat
off his wide forehead.
"Must be the zen of chopping wood," Abby said, smiling.
"Or something," Tom said, going into the house to get cleaned
"Auntie V! Auntie V!" Nicholas yelled, running from the house.
Vivian emerged from a car, wearing a jaunty beret and a colorful caftan.
She ran to hug her youngest nephew.
"Auntie V, I want you to meet my new friend Jody," Nicholas
said, gesturing to thin air.
"Okay, sweetie, where is she?"
"Oh, of course she is. I'm very pleased to meet you, Jody,"
Vivian said, realizing that Nicholas was speaking of an imaginary pal.
Eccentric Vivian had always encouraged the kids' creative play, regardless
of her narrow-minded brother's wishes.
"Vivian, welcome to our new home. Tom's in the shower," Abby
said, escorting Vivian through the front door. Vivian paused and looked
worried. She looked at the chandelier in the dining room. It appeared
to be swaying. Feeling dizzy, Vivian grabbed her head and grimaced in
"Are you okay, Vivian?" Abby said, wondering if Vivian was getting
bad vibes about the house. Tom liked to tease Vivian about her new age
beliefs but Abby respected her faith and ideas.
"Oh, Abby, I think I have to go. I don't feel well."
"What are you talking about, Vivian? You just got here."
"No, I must leave." She ran toward the door and Abby blocked
"But Tom will be down in a minute and he's looking forward to giving
you a tour of the house. And I made your favorite--tuna casserole."
"I'm sorry, Abby, but I think I'm going to be sick." Vivian
sprinted out the door and into her car. The tires squealed as she pulled
out. Bewildered, Abby stared after her. The kids had criticized her homemaking
efforts before, but she'd never had this negative a reaction to her tuna
When she reached the end of the driveway, Vivian had to stop the car.
She vomited out the window. Something in the house had made her physically
ill and she was very afraid. She looked back at the house until the attic
eyes stared her down.
THE SEVENTH DAY
As the kids began to adjust to life in Amityville, their
bitterness faded. David found construction work in Manhattan. Susan sat
by the bullpen at a Mets game and got a date with a pitcher named Barnett
the Garnet. Excitedly, the younger kids headed off for the first day of
school. With the kids gone and Tom in the guesthouse he'd converted to
an office, Abby found herself alone in the house for the first time. Although
it was humid outside, Abby felt cold and she put on one of Tom's cardigans.
She tidied up the breakfast dishes and then went upstairs to make up the
kids' rooms. When she entered Joanie's and Nancy's room, she felt a stronger
chill and she hugged herself. She noticed a few flies on the window.
"That's strange," she said, moving to the window. Suddenly,
the door slammed shut behind her. More flies buzzed around the window.
Abby tried to open the door but it wouldn't budge. Flies now covered the
window and buzzed around her head.
"Tom! Help me!!" Abby yelled, but Tom was too far away to hear
her cries. The flies swarmed over her and she screamed.
"GET OUT!" An ominous voice filled the room. The door opened
and Abby fled, swatting and tearing at the flies in her hair. She ran
to the guesthouse and into Tom's arms.
"Tom! Hurry! Someone's...in the house...Flies!" Abby cried,
squeezing syllables out between sobs.
"Abby, you're hysterical," Tom said, running toward the house.
When he reached the room, there were no flies and the door was ajar.
"It must have been your imagination, Abby. There's no trace of flies
"I'm not crazy, Tom."
"Well, there's nothing here. What am I supposed to believe?"
"You're supposed to believe me. Maybe this has something to do with
those murders. I think someone or something doesn't like us being in the
"There's a dark presence here. Vivian felt it. I feel it and it scares
me. Don't be such a hard core rationalist."
"Well, thank you very much for your cosmic views. I won't listen
to this nonsense," Tom said, leaving the room.
"Tom," Abby called after him. She heard the door slam as he
returned to his office. She sat on the edge of the bed and sobbed.
Later that day, Abby went to look for Tom in his office. A licensed therapist,
Abby always wanted to talk things out. Tom wasn't there, and the sound
of the falling ax outside the guesthouse led her to conclude he was adding
to the woodpile. Before leaving, she glanced at a sheet of typing paper
that Tom had left in his typewriter. Abby looked to see the column topic
and was unnerved to see that Tom had typed "All Work and No Play
Makes Tom a Dull Boy" over and over. Rhythmically, the ax rose and
fell outside the office. Abby's head throbbed and she ran back to her
THE TWELFTH DAY
Strange things continued to happen. A tar-like substance
gushed out of the toilet one afternoon. Nicholas grew more attached to
his imaginary friend Jody. Two hundred dollars that Nancy had saved for
Mary Kay cosmetics disappeared from her dresser drawer. Tom had writer's
block, and he often found himself awakened by noises or a chill at exactly
3:15 A.M. This lack of sleep made him even more cranky than usual, but
he refused to believe Abby's theory that the house was haunted. That night,
Tom was roused by the barking and whining of Callie, a stray dog that
Nancy had convinced him to adopt.
"Dad! Get down here," Tommy yelled from the basement room he
shared with Nicholas and Jody.
"What is it, Tom?" Abby said, rolling over and looking at the
clock. The blood-red digital display revealed that it was 3:15 A.M.
"I don't know, but I really wish I could sleep through the night
in this house just once."
"Dad!" Nicholas yelled. The dog's barking continued. Tom threw
on his terry-cloth robe and lumbered down the stairs. When he reached
the basement, he saw Callie scratching at the wall with such intensity
that her paws were bloody.
"What's going on?" Tom said.
"I don't know. She won't stop crying and scratching at that wall.
Look what she did to my KISS poster!" Tommy said. Tom noticed that
the dog had shredded the bottom of Tommy's poster in his quest to dig
under the wall. Hunky Tommy sat on the edge of his bed, wearing only jogging
shorts, his skinny chest heaving.
"Jody says you should stay away from that wall, Dad," Nicholas
said. He stared over the edge of the covers he'd drawn up around his body.
"Jody doesn't exist, Nicholas. Stop acting like a baby," Tommy
"Callie, knock it off! Bad dog!" Tom yelled until he was red
in the face. Tommy recalled the last time he'd heard his dad yell like
this--he'd caught Tommy plagiarizing a term paper and grounded him for
weeks. But Tommy felt more scared of Tom now, even though he wasn't the
target of his father's wrath. There was something different about his
dad's eyes. Something darker.
"This is why I never let you kids have animals in the house before.
I should never break my own rules," Tom barked, dragging the dog
by the collar. "Get upstairs, Callie!"
Eventually, the frantic dog began to whimper and sniff at the wall. Everyone
went back to sleep, but Callie continued to attack the wall whenever she
managed to get into the basement.
THE SIXTEENTH DAY
Abby's prediction that Elizabeth would soon develop an
active social life at Amityville High proved correct. She was on the phone
constantly with new friends and several suitors. Elizabeth ignored her
dad's hollering and her siblings' pleas for equal time. It seemed that
nothing could force her to relinquish the phone. But one thing finally
did--the wrath of hell.
That night, while talking to her homecoming date, Elizabeth felt the phone
grow warm against her ear. She had incurred warm, red ears from prolonged
phone use many times, so she didn't pay much attention. Then a deep voice
yelled, "GET OUT!" and something about a burial ground that
she couldn't quite decipher. The voice reminded her of the voice she'd
heard when an ex-boyfriend played a Led Zeppelin record backwards. The
receiver became red hot, burning her hand. Elizabeth screamed and dropped
"What's the matter, Elizabeth?" Abby said, running from the
"The phone...it burned me!! There was a voice that said to get out!!
Abby soaked Elizabeth's scalded hand in cool water and wiped away her
tears. She brought Elizabeth to Tom, who was outside chopping wood once
again. Elizabeth told her dad what had happened.
"Don't you think we should move, Tom? How much more proof do you
need? There is something awful in this house!" Abby said.
"I love it here, Abby. We're not moving and that is final. Now if
you two would please excuse me, I have a column to write," Tom said.
"Oh good, Tom, because your editor called today and said you're five
days past deadline and if you don't get a column in by Thursday, you're
fired. You haven't written a thing since we moved here."
"I've been busy, Abby. Lay off," Tom growled. Elizabeth ran
back to the house, crying. Tom resumed his chopping.
Abby looked at the bags under Tom's hollow eyes and at his mussed hair.
Several long strands that he normally combed over his bald spot had fallen
and were plastered against his sweaty neck. Abby thought of the previous
weekend when they'd gone to the local bar and the bartender had told Tom
that the man who killed his family in the house had combed his hair over
his bald spot just like Tom did.
That night, Abby awoke screaming from a nightmare. She dreamed that Tom
was taking an ax to the children. She looked at Tom sleeping beside her
in pinstriped pajamas. She feared that he was becoming as evil as the
Messages piled up for days because Elizabeth refused to touch the phone
after the incident.
THE LAST NIGHT
A loud clap of thunder caused Abby to stir. She looked
at the clock and saw that it was 3:15 A.M. Tom was not in the bed beside
her. She thought of her nightmare and scrambled out of bed to find Tom.
He was standing in the hallway in front of Nancy's and Joanie's room.
He had the ax in his hand.
"Tom! No!" Abby ran toward him. He stared at her with eyes that
were not his. She knew she was looking the devil in the face. He swung
the ax at her and missed. Mary ran out of her room where she had been
up studying for an anatomy exam. She saw Abby on the ground and Tom with
the ax elevated.
"DAD!!" Suddenly, the evil spirit left Tom and he crumbled to
the ground. The ax fell from his hand and Mary kicked it away.
"I'm coming apart. Mother of God, I'm coming apart!!" Tom wailed.
Joanie and Nancy emerged from their room, crying.
"Do you see, Tom? We have to leave. We have to leave NOW," Abby
said. Tom looked at Abby, the wife he loved, the woman he had just tried
to chop up with an ax. He knew she was right.
"You go wake the rest of the kids. I'll go start the wagon. Kids,
get outside with Abby."
Blood began to drip from the walls and the storm intensified. As they
descended the stairs, the stairs splintered. Susan and Joanie screamed.
The house was consuming itself.
"All right, Bradfords, count off," Tom said, as they climbed
into the station wagon.
"One," said Abby, trembling.
"Two," said Tom, red-faced and terrified.
"Three," said David, still calm and brave.
"Four," said Mary, wishing she'd thought to grab her anatomy
"Five," said Joanie, who was sure this experience would make
her a natural for a role in a horror movie.
"Six," said Susan, wishing her boyfriend Barnett the Garnet
was there to protect her.
"Seven," said Nancy, as her mascara ran down her face.
"Eight," said Tommy, looking tired but cute.
"Nine," said Elizabeth, shaking.
"Ten," said Nicholas quietly, and Tom was grateful that he didn't
count off for Jody.
"O.K., we're going," Tom said, shifting into reverse.
"Wait, Dad! We got to get Callie," Nicholas said. Tom ignored
him and pulled down the driveway. A block from the house, he threw the
car into park and leaped from the driver's seat.
"Tom! No! She's just a stray" Abby said.
"So was your nephew Jeremy and when we took him in, we became responsible
for him. We let him become part of the family and we did the same for
Callie. I can't just leave her." Tom knew that going back for the
dog was the right thing to do. He trudged through the mud.
Inside the house, he called for the dog but there was no
response. Finally, he heard faint crying in the basement. He started to
go down the stairs, when a board broke. Tom fell through into a pit of
tar, the well to hell.
"Callie, pull me out, girl," a blackened Tom called to the dog.
Callie grabbed his sleeve in her teeth and pulled. Eventually, she hoisted
him up. He carried the dog up the remaining stairs, out the door, and
back to the car. They drove off into the storm.
THE BRADFORDS NEVER RECLAIMED THEIR HOUSE OR THEIR PERSONAL BELONGINGS,
NOT EVEN TOMMY'S GUITAR OR MARY'S ANATOMY TEXTBOOK. THEY MOVED BACK TO