An avid book nerd, Jennifer Branton loves to share her favorite book finds with her readers.
It was supposed to be a publicity stunt, a rich internet sensation gathering four of the best and brightest from the literary world, all writers of various types of horror fiction, live-streaming from a haunted house in Kansas in Scott Thomas' debut novel Kill Creek.
Each novelist selected specialized in their own type of unique horror fiction: T.C. Moore, an erotic novelist; Sam McGaver, struggling to find success with another novel and making ends meet teaching; Daniel Slaughter, a devout Christian with the hero overcoming any obstacle with the power of God; and Sebastian Cole, the granddaddy of modern horror.
The invitation was simply an overnight on Halloween in a house where local legend had stated four deaths had taken place on the property: the death of the original builder of the farmhouse and his girlfriend, a recently emancipated slave woman; both of whom were brutally slaughtered when their interracial relationship was found out and the woman was hung from the tree before the front porch.
Many years later, in the 1970s, two sisters had taken over the property as it sat for many years in disrepair, a rotting old ruin among the Kill Creek road. The property was the subject of rumor in the area; the house that everyone warned their children about and animals would not cross onto the property line.
It was a surprise when two women, the Finch sisters bought the property and renovated for Rebecca, who was wheelchair bound. The women were mysterious, never leaving the property and believed to be witches by children on the area.
After a few short years in the home, Rebecca had died mysteriously from an ailment associated with her being crippled and Rachael was found nearly a year later hanging from the same tree as the original owner of the farm.
The live-stream, though unnerving as there are strange noises, unexplained shadows, and a third floor where a bedroom was mysteriously bricked off; gains a large following and the authors part on civil terms with no plans to ever reunite. It is upon leaving the next morning that Daniel receives news that his daughter has been killed in a car crash, and all go back to their former lives.
Months later, editors and agents began to hunt down their respective clients as they are concerned about the progress of the newest release. Finding both the homes of Moore and McGarver in shambles, it is stumbled upon that for the last eight months since the events in that house that both writers have been severely rattled.
Sam, haunted by the ghost of his abusive mother that he later confesses to have killed in self defense as the woman was abusing his brother, Moore is seeing the phantom of an abusive boyfriend that gave her a permanent eye injury and set her up for her obsession with female dominance since the relationship had ended.
Something is forcing them to write, it is the only way to keep from being tormented by the voices and to get the icy hands of death off their living flesh. As the two writers reconnect, they realize they have been writing the same story since the event.
The story, though location and names have changed in some fashions is basically the same tale of a family that moves into the house on Kill Creek road and slowly something changes within them. People are complicate to murder, rape, and violence. Something is calling to them beyond that bricked off room.
In each authors version of the story they have their final page speaking about a character knocking out the mortar between the bricks with a tool, reaching into the blackness of the hole created and waiting to face what is on the other side.
Horrified, the two contact the other writers from the live-stream only to find out they have been puppeteered as well into writing the same awful story that the house wants it to tell.
All they can do now if go back to that house and give it the audience that it requests and either be its storytellers forever, or silence it once and for all.
The House on Kill Creek
The house on Kill Creek Road demands a voice, an audience, and sacrifice made. As the writers are determined to get into the bricked off room at any means, the ghoulish thing that haunts them in each substantial form is looking for weakness among them.
The house realizes that the weakest of heart is Daniel, whom after the loss of his teen daughter, Claire, has also lost his faith and his loyal flock of Christian horror fans. The ghoulish creature appears to him as Claire, offering to give her back to Daniel if only he will do the one thing it commands- kill the other writers. Broken and lost since his daughter's demise, Daniel feels he has nothing to lose if he can just say he has tried to get his child back. He feels like a character in his own novels that this is just his test that God has set for him to take on evil and overcome. In his head, Daniel knows that this is not his daughter and surely this must be a trick of Devil if such thing exists, but he falls into place and begins to hunt down the other writers attacking them with a hatchet as they are separated through the house.
Moore is attacked in a basement, seeing her assailant again in the guise of her abusive boyfriend, although she gets glimpses that it is Daniel. He tells her that he is sorry but this is the only way the house will give him back Claire.
Daniel attacks Sebastian and Sam just as they are able to infiltrate the room behind the brick wall, Sebastian taking the brunt of the attack to allow Sam time to escape. The ghoul still tormenting Sam as the burned corpse of his mother, he comes to a strange realization of scratches on the walls, dents to the boarded up windows, and bent up pieces of the wheelchair and starts to think maybe this room wasn't boarded up after Rebecca's death after all and it was in fact made to contain something.
Sam doesn't want to be a killer anymore and although he has the chance to kill Daniel to save the others from the house, he only knocks him out, which the tree then grabs up Daniel snaking a noose-like vine around his neck and hanging him in the same fashion as the women before him.
Sam, Sebastian, and Moore are recovered from the house and go on to tell the police that it was a spur of the moment decision to reunite a year after the live-stream to catch up at the house and find out what was behind that wall, even though the house was burnt to the ground as they fled. Sadly, the granddaddy of horror does not survive, oddly he is the only one that completed his manuscript of the story the house was forcing the group to write, stating In The End, The House Wins.
Flash forward another year, Moore and Sam have reunited to do another round of press, this time speaking about the 40th Anniversary of one of their friend Sebastian Cole's famous novels. Sam has not seen Moore in all this time and doesn't realize until her looks into her perfect eyes....
Sam thinks of something that he told his estranged wife that had recently come back to him after the events of the Kill Creek house...
The room was built to keep something in...the house made an offer that couldn't be refused and demanded sacrifice in repayment....the house wanted a voice...it's story told.
Sam had explained to his wife that it wasn't crippled Rebecca that had been caged in that room, it had been Rachael. The house had made an offer that couldn't be refused and gave Rebecca back the use of her legs at the cost of letting it consume her sister.
Sam looked into the perfect eyes of Moore when she was speaking on the NPR interview and it was all he could do to keep from screaming. When Sam had rescued Moore from the basement, had her eyes been perfect, instead of mismatched and scarred from her injury? Moore's perfect eyes stared back at Sam.
This wasn't Moore, the house just as Sebastian had written had won.
And there was no one that Sam could tell.
Thomas' debut novel,Kill Creek is a stunner. This remarkable page turned kept me captivated for an afternoon with no idea where the next page would lead. I hope to see much more come from this writer who's background is mostly in television as a content creator and producer.