Welcome Home

📅 Published on November 2, 2021

“Welcome Home”

Written by Heath Pfaff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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They were gone.  The call left me stunned, sick to my stomach.  How did people go missing in today’s world?  How did two perfectly capable adults vanish off the face of the earth in a place where everyone knew everything about the folks who lived around them?  You couldn’t drink a beer in your backyard without the lady at the grocery asking if you wanted to pick up another six-pack.  So how did my parents go missing?

The town hadn’t really changed in the twenty years I’d been away.  It was still just one street lined with old brick buildings full of businesses, and a small sprawl of houses peppered around them, all of it surrounded in corn and soy fields as far as the eye could see.  My destination was my parents’ house, a two-story home that was over two hundred years old, and yet as I pulled up to it with its new siding, updated windows and fascia, it looked just as nice as it ever had.  The color was almost exactly the same.  Mom had always liked green, and Dad had liked to see her smile, so green it was, with accents in a slightly darker shade of the same.  Even the picket fence, painted in red white and blue by Dad and I when I was a kid, still looked bright and new.

I’d expected to pull up and see the house wrecked, my parents’ car missing, police tape covering doors and windows, but instead, the scene was idyllic.  My parents had bought a newer car, but it was fine, sitting in the driveway as though nothing was amiss.  The large oak tree in the yard still had a swing hanging from a branch, and the little garden in the side yard was planted and growing.  The birds were singing in the trees, and the air smelled faintly of apples and cinnamon.

I looked next door to Mrs. Elsey’s place and smiled despite the situation.  Her apple pies were the physical manifestation of late summer in my childhood.  She’d always had a pie cooling near a window.  It was like bait to bring in the neighborhood kids so she could regale us with the old stories passed down through her family.  Probably if our parents knew about the freaky content of her stories they would have been a bit concerned about us spending so much time there, but Mrs. E was harmless, and her stories were good, spooky fun.

I took a deep breath and headed for the front door.  I still had my key, but I tried the handle before checking it.  As expected, it turned and I pushed the door open with ease.  We’d never locked up when I was a kid, and apparently that hadn’t changed.  A nagging part of me wondered if that’s why my parents were gone now.  Had someone broken in and kidnapped them, come upon them in the night and dragged them from their beds?  But why?  Why would anyone want to do that?  My parents were retired, but they weren’t wealthy.  They lived within their means, and they’d inherited the house, so mostly it was just upkeep and taxes.  Their car was newer, but it was a six-year-old station wagon, and not even from one of those expensive German brands.

They didn’t have anything that someone would want to steal.  I was the only surviving child, and I wasn’t rich either so it couldn’t be about money.  It was hard to suspect foul play because my parents didn’t have enemies, but if it wasn’t something nefarious, then where did they go?  I’d been told the police had talked to everyone in the vicinity and no one knew anything.  The last time they were seen was at Christy’s Diner in town, having fish fry together on Friday night like they usually did.  No one had noticed any strange behavior.  They talked about redecorating the house and doing some interior painting.  They made plans to have a barbecue with friends the following week, and then they paid their bill and left, chatting on the way out the door.  They got in their car and returned home, and that was it.

Mother missed a hair appointment the following morning.  Dad failed to show up to go fishing with his best friend, David, the day after that, and then people started getting concerned.  Several calls were made, and friends came to check on them, but no one answered the door.  Finally the police came down and did a search of the house and determined that nothing appeared amiss.  None of their things were missing.  All of their clothes and luggage were still there.  Their car was fine.  There were no indications of a struggle.  The strangest thing noted by the police was that they’d poured paint into those roller pans like they were going to paint the walls of one of the upstairs rooms, and then they’d never begun the process.  The rollers were dried into the filled paint pans.

I had to see for myself.  I started on the bottom floor and walked from room to room.  Everything was as it had always been.  Even the terrible wallpaper was still hanging around and reminding me that some parts of the place still needed updating.

After finishing my rounds downstairs, I headed upstairs to where the bedrooms were.  The first room on the right was my old room.  I opened the door to see that it was like a time capsule.  The race car wallpaper was even still covered in stupid drawings I’d done as a little kid. My parents hadn’t changed it since I’d left years and years before.  I’d told them it was fine to reclaim it and use it for whatever they wanted, but they’d insisted it was my space, and I could come and go as I wanted.  I knew this was them just making sure I understood that I was always welcome home, but I felt guilty that I still took up space in their lives.

I felt a streak of cold race down my face and reached up to wipe away a tear.  I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  The reality of this situation was finally starting to sink in.  They were gone.  They weren’t in this house anymore.  I could feel that emptiness.  This wasn’t a place where people lived.  Not now.

It had been a week after the police had first made the rounds here that they’d finally called me.  Now my parents had been gone for over a week, and some part of me knew that this was a bad sign.  Most missing people were found in the first 72 hours.

I closed my little fragment of personal history and walked down to the next door, running my hand over the wood reverently and wondering if I should open it at all.  This was my sister’s room.  Kelly.  She’d been abducted when I was one.  My parents didn’t like to talk about the incident.  Her room had always been shut, and I’d only ever been in there once or twice.  It was just a little girl’s room.  There was a toybox, a bed, pink curtains and pony pictures.  She had pink wallpaper with strawberries on it on most of the walls, except for the one behind her bed, where they’d taken it down to paint a mural of some children’s show she’d loved.  It hadn’t been finished.  The painter, Adam Franklin, had taken her and run.  She’d been ten when she went missing, and I couldn’t remember anything about her.  My parents tried to keep her alive for me by telling me stories about her, but she was just a shadow for me, a ghost that I’d heard about but never seen.

Again, this room was frozen in time.  It had never stricken me before how painfully heartbreaking this was.  All these years gone, and my parents had never been able to put the pain away, not entirely.  I couldn’t begin to imagine how hard losing her must have been to them.  I wondered what it would have been like to grow up with an older sister to watch over me.  I pulled the door closed, feeling the emotional pressure of this place like a weight on my shoulders that wanted to fold me to my knees.  This once happy place felt like a prison of memories.  I pulled the door shut.

The doorbell rang, and I was pulled away from the turmoil of the past.  I hadn’t been ready for that shrill interruption of my melancholy exploration, and it startled me a little, but it might have been for the best.  I took a few steadying breaths and cursed quietly, deciding I would ignore whoever it was, but then the doorbell rang again, this time twice in a row.

“Damn,” I swore lightly under my breath and started back downstairs.  Maybe a moment of company would help.  This was harder than I’d expected.  I got downstairs to the door just in time for another quick ring, and then I was opening up.

“I’m here!” I said, not wanting the bell to go off again, lest its siren split my nerves in two.

I recognized Mrs. Elsey immediately, even if the years had left her looking the worse for wear.  She had a cane now, and walked with a slight hunch.  “Jeffrey!”  She said, her expression brightening some, though her eyes looked tired and sad.  Had they always looked that way, or was this something new?  Children are good at not seeing pain in others.  Empathy is a hard skill to obtain.

“Mrs. E,” I said warmly, popping the screen door and gesturing inside.

She shook her head immediately. “Oh, no, Jeffrey, I mustn’t.”  She looked almost afraid.  “And you shouldn’t either.   Won’t you come over next door and have a piece of pie?  I have one just cooled now.”

I opened my mouth, about to tell her that I had things I needed to do, but she’d come all the way over here to see me, and it was obvious moving was hard for her, so instead I nodded. “Sure,” I said as I stepped out of the house and pulled the door shut behind me.  “I have really missed your pies.”

Mrs. Elsey smiled and started down the walkway and back towards her own place, a noticeable limp slowing her pace.  I wondered if I should offer an arm, but she seemed to be doing well on her own, and I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I simply kept pace at her side until we were inside her place and sitting around the same kitchen table I’d sat at hundreds of times as a child.  She laid out a pie and some glasses of milk, and then left a brick of sharp cheese with a slicer as she took a place opposite me at the table.

“It’s so good to see you back, Jeffrey.  I’m sorry that it’s for such dark reasons,” she said as I began to work on my pie. It was every bit as good as I remembered, cinnamon and sweet, with the tart apple backing that was complimented perfectly by the flaky crust and the tang of the sharp cheese.

I nodded, not entirely sure how to respond.  “I came back hoping to see something that maybe the police missed, to see if I could figure out where they might have gone, but so far it’s just an empty house.”

“Oh, sweet Jeffy, you were always a good boy, but you can’t help them.  No one can help them.”  Her eyes were glassy, like she might cry at any moment.

I had stopped with a fork halfway to my mouth.  I sat it down.  “I’m not sure what you mean…”  The sudden creeping unease had instantly spoiled my appetite.

“I told you, kids.  I told all of you.  It’s the takers.  They used to live in the woods here, but then our people came along and built houses where they once dwelled and hunted.  We broke their ground, and cut down their sacred trees and turned them into wood for our houses, so now they live inside with us, and when they get hungry they . . . “

Every hair on my body was standing up and I had to stop her before she went any further.  “Mrs. Elsey, those are old stories.  Just stories.  You told them to us to scare us when we were little.  None of it is true.  You’re just… confused.”

She was shaking her head firmly.  “No, Jeffy, they were never just stories.  They were warnings.  What did I tell you about them?  What were you supposed to do to make sure they couldn’t get you?”

I sighed and humored her.  “Don’t go in the cellar.  Don’t talk out loud when you’re alone.  Don’t dig in the dirt near the house.  Don’t pull down the wallpaper.  Don’t lie to your parents,” I repeated the lessons that we’d always been given.  “Oh, and don’t trade with strangers, or talk to people who come out of the woods.”  This was like a laundry list of “don’t-get-in-trouble” things that I’d always assumed were just to give us something to have “learned” from Mrs. E’s stories.

“I told them too, Jeffrey.  I’m sorry, but I tried to tell them.  Don’t tear the wallpaper!  Don’t take it down, but they wanted to paint.  I tried to convince them to paint over it, but…” She shrugged helplessly, and I wondered if poor Mrs. Elsey had lost her mind, or was starting to.

I sat silently and ate my pie, really just wanting to leave but now feeling awkwardly like I had to stay.  “It’s not your fault, Mrs. E.  Whatever happened, it’s not your responsibility,” I finally said, trying to find some way to comfort the woman.

“It is.  I sold that home to them.  I knew it was rotten, but I sold it anyway.”  She shook her head, tears starting to slide from her eyes.  “I had the chance to just burn it to the ground, but I was greedy.  I needed the money, and at first it seemed good.  Your parents were happy, and they had Kelly, and the years went by and I forgot that things were rotten here.  I forgot, and then that poor girl and Adam… I knew what had happened, but anyone I told just looked at me like I was crazy.  They wouldn’t believe the truth.”

She’d invented a whole intertwined story to explain the bad things that had happened here over the years.  Maybe she’d been out of her mind longer than I thought.  Was she harmless, or had she had something to do with my parents’ disappearance, or my sister’s?  Suddenly I was feeling a strong impulse to get out of that house.  I stood up and started carefully moving towards the door.

“I have to go, Mrs. E.  I have more work to do at the house.  It was good to see you again.”  I wasn’t sure that it was actually “good” to see her again, but it had been something.  I’d already decided I was going to call the police and tell them about this incident.  Even if she was just losing her mind, she needed someone to look in on her.

“Jeffrey, please don’t go back to that house,” she said, and tears were starting to fall freely from her eyes now.  “Don’t let them take you all. They will if you give them the chance.”

“I’ll be fine, Mrs. Elsey.  I’m not planning on being here long.  Now, if you’ll excuse me . . .”  I slipped out the door as fast as I could, crossing back over to my parents’ house and pulling the door shut behind me.  I quickly locked it, and then went to the back and did the same there.  I even walked around downstairs and made sure the windows were locked.  I wasn’t satisfied until I knew the house was secure, and then I sat down and dialed the local police office.

I explained the conversation I’d just had, and then I was put on hold, and eventually I was put on with the officer who had handled the in-town investigation.

“We already checked her out.”  He said.  “We should have warned you, I guess, but we didn’t think she’d try her crazy story out on you as well.  The monsters in the walls; it was an interesting interview.  Anyway, we did a thorough investigation of her house and couldn’t find any sign of foul play there.  She doesn’t get around that well, so we doubt she had anything to do with your parents.  If she gives you any more trouble, you can call us here and we’ll come talk to her, but she’s an old lady with no family to take care of her, so there isn’t too much we can do I’m afraid.  If it becomes bad enough, we can have her committed, but that’s not something we want to have to do.”

I nodded to myself.  I didn’t really want that either.  “I just wanted to make sure someone knew about her story.  It… freaked me out a little,” I laughed nervously.

“Bad things happen sometimes, but it’s never caused by monsters, at least not the kind that appear in fairy tales.  Humans have enough of their own monsters.  Try to get some rest, and let us know if you find anything that might help our investigation.  We’re still running with the leads we have.  The investigation is far from over.  We’ll find out what happened to your parents.”  He assured me, and then we ended the call.

His words were, in some ways, a relief to hear.  I’d let the neighbor lady really get to me, and hearing a more reasoned mind went a long way towards returning me to a place of calm.  “We’ll find out what happened to your parents.”  That didn’t fill me with any hope.  He wasn’t telling me that they’d find my parents, just that they would find what “happened” to them.

I leaned back on the couch where I was sitting.  It was getting late and I had to figure out what I was going to do for the night.  I hadn’t planned much beyond getting here, but I’d have to stay now.  There were things to take care of, things that I didn’t even know how to begin handling.  If my parents had passed away, there were steps I could follow, people I could contact, but with them missing I didn’t know where to begin.

Glass shattered behind me, a shocking explosion of momentary chaos that had me on my feet in a moment.  I turned and was looking into the open arch that led into the kitchen.  The last of the evening sun was coming through the window in the opposite direction, and it cast long shadows back into the dark part of the house.  I couldn’t see anything moving beyond the jagged edge of the light.

“Hello?” I called out, though I wasn’t sure exactly what answer I was expecting.  All I could think of was Mrs. Elsey’s last words to me before I left; “Don’t let them take you all.  They will if you give them the chance.

“No,” I said angrily to myself.  I shook my head.  I was letting myself get worked up over nothing.  I had plenty to be upset about, but I didn’t need to add monsters to that list.  I forced myself to go into the kitchen, flipping the light as I entered the room.

The warm splash of light that filled the room chased away the darkness, sending it scattering into the recesses behind appliances and in the corners.  There was glass on the floor that I immediately recognized as belonging to one of my parent’s favorite set of plates.  It must have been sitting unevenly on the counter and just fallen off.  Perhaps it was a mouse.  We sometimes had them while I was growing up.

Whatever had caused it, the room was empty, and now brightly lit it didn’t hold any more malice than the kitchen ever had.  I leaned down next to the table and began to pick up the glass, grabbing a small dustbin and hand broom from under the sink.  I was just finishing up the last of the glass when I looked up and noticed that the paisley printed paper on the wall I was facing had been torn away to expose bare wood-paneling beneath its surface.  It was strange to see, given that most interior walls were drywall hung on beams, or in the case of older homes like this one, just plaster walls.

I finished up the glass and went over to look more closely at the hole.  It had been roughly torn free, the jagged edge of the paper still hanging partially next to the removed portion.  There were actually four layers of paper.  The wood beneath was strange.  I’d seen lumber often enough to know what to expect, but this looked like it had been cut recently.  In my parent’s home, it should have been as dry as it was going to get.  It had been sitting here for two hundred years.  I crouched down and reached out a hand to touch the wood.

I drew my fingers back quickly.  Cold.  Damp.  Did that mean this was a new addition to the house?  Even then, why would it be cold?  Summer was fading, but it was still warm out.  I stood up uneasily, rubbing my fingers together as I turned back towards the sink, suddenly eager to wash my fingers clean of the feel of that unnatural paneling.

My eyes passed over her entirely at first, but then I recoiled in terror as they settled again on a figure standing at the opposite end of the kitchen.  I recognized the profile immediately, but that did little to calm the fright of finding someone standing where there had been no one a moment before.

“Mom?” I asked, my eyes glued to the back of the woman standing near the kitchen counter at the opposite end of the room.  Her back was to me, but she was wearing an old favorite sweater of hers, and her long black hair with its wisps of gray was unmistakable even from the back.  “Holy shit, Mom.  Everyone is trying to find you?  Where have you been?”  Now that the initial terror of finding her was over, I felt a trickle of relief.

Mom didn’t turn to me, though.  Her hands were working on something in front of her.  She didn’t speak, didn’t even move other than her hidden hands.

“Hey, is everything alright?” I asked, taking a step in her direction.  “Where is dad?  Where have you both been?  The cops are looking for you!  Everyone is.”

Her hands stopped moving, and I froze in place.  The relief of just a few moments before was slipping away from me.  She placed her spread hands on the counter in front of her as though leaning into it.  Her head lifted up, so she was looking straight at the wall in front of her, and then it tipped to the left and her long hair draped to the side.

I screamed.  I’d been scared before, but never as terrified as I was in that moment when her hair moved aside, and a set of empty eye sockets peered out at me from what I’d thought was the back of her skull.  It wasn’t though.  As the hair fell away I could see that her head was twisted around backwards, the skin of her neck bunched and twisted in an impossible, grotesque fashion.

I turned and ran as hard as I could.  I was going so fast that it was more like a haphazardly controlled fall more than anything else.  I didn’t know where I was headed really, just that it was somewhere outside of the house, or it would have been, had I not turned into the living room and seen my father standing in front of the door out.

He was flayed open below the sternum, spread wide as though opened for drying on a rack.  I could see his spine and the tops of his hip bones protruding through the meat of his flesh.  His eyes were rolled back in his head, and his mouth was open wide in a scream that I wished was silent.  However, as he seemed to sense me there the scream became a real thing, a terrible keening of suffering unlike anything I’d heard before.

I was halfway up the stairs in seconds, falling over myself to get as far away from what I’d just seen as I possibly could.  I gashed my knee on the last step before I cleared it in a bound that skipped three others, and then I tore off down the hall, passing the shut doors on the sides of me and heading for the open one at the end of the hall.  I passed inside and slammed it shut behind me.  My hands were shaking so hard I thought they might rattle my fingers free, and my heart was beating even faster.

I had reached a point of terror which precluded any rational thought.  If I had been thinking rationally, I might not have run into the open room at the end of the hall.  The room in the house that my parents had been repainting.  I was looking out into a deep darkness that felt like it was moving closer to me by the second.  In panic, I reached out and flipped the light switch by the door.

The lights came on and I wished they hadn’t.  They stood in front of a wall stripped of its paper, an open stretch of wood paneling like the one in the kitchen.  There were three of them, things of wood and bone.  I knew they were alive because they moved as living things do, but there were no other indications from their shape.  I had not seen living creatures assembled with such malicious indifference to function before.  I couldn’t find anything to latch onto in them.  They had no faces, no torsos, and calling their many moving fragments limbs didn’t make sense to me.  They shouldn’t have been able to move at all, but they did, closing the distance to me faster than I could have anticipated.

An impossible grip settled on my arm, and though I tried to shake it free, it seemed to care not at all.  Before long the others had me as well, and then they began to pull me apart.  The last sound I heard was my own screaming mixed with the popping of bone and sinew as I fell to pieces and they began to sup.

* * * * * *

Detective Jonathan Warren’s Private Case Supplement

The whereabouts of the Thompson family is still unknown, but given the findings at the house, I personally believe that this was perpetrated by the same man who abducted their daughter many years prior.  The case notes go more clearly over the individual pieces of evidence, but I can’t get the message in the kitchen out of my head.  “Welcome Home.” The forensic results clearly indicate that the bones used to make the message were from the remains of Kelly Thompson.  We never found Adam Franklin, and his whereabouts are still unknown.  I don’t think we’ll ever know why he would do this.

As an aside, I believe that the Thompson’s neighbor, Mrs. Elsey, should be taken into care.  She has no family, and she has been making repeated false reports to both the local police, and the state police.  The night of our investigation into Jeffrey Thompson’s disappearance she tried to douse the Thompson house in gas and set it on fire.  We have an officer watching her place now, but I fear she is a danger to herself and others. 

Rating: 9.50/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Heath Pfaff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Heath Pfaff

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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