by L.E.Benedict & Tim Becker
It was a mid-October eve, back in 1939. The autumn storm raged late into the night. The lightning and thunder shook the rain and sleet from the midnight clouds as if all of winter were ready to unleash its full season’s fury that very night.
In the shelter of the rickety barn, one of the old farmer’s prized dairy cows was about to give birth. It was not to be an easy birth and Elmer VonKlienshmitt knew it. For more than six hours, Elmer had been assisting Mirabelle the cow with her labors to no avail. The calf was breach, and Mirabelle was torn inside. She was dying, and Elmer couldn’t seem to help her.
Feeling exhausted, Elmer went back to his simple old farm house to fetch more of the boiling water his wife had on the stove, and some of the coffee she always had ready for her hard-working husband. After changing his clothes, and drinking some of his coffee he collapsed in his over-stuffed chair. Sitting there, Elmer realized that in his haste to leave the barn he had left the oil lamp on the floor in Mirabelle’s stall. He jumped out of his chair, and burst out the back door in time to see the flames start to lick through the windows, by Mirabelle’s stall. Mirabelle, and her unborn calf were the first to die that tragic night.
Elmer yelled back over his shoulder, as he ran to the barn for his wife and teen-aged daughter to come help to get the rest of the animals out of the barn. The flames were spreading very fast. They didn’t have a lot of time to get the animals to safety.
By the time Elmer’s wife and daughter got to his side, the cries of the frightened animals began to change to the fevered pitch of burning torture. “It’s too late for the main herd.”, Elmer shouted over the roar of the flames. “We should still be able to get the calves out. Quickly, before it’s too late!” The three of them ran into the stalls where the calves were housed, away from the end of the barn where the fire had started. The heat had become overwhelming, and the flames were spreading overhead throughout the hay loft.
That’s when it happened. A sence of horror raced though his mind just as the roof began to fall in on their heads. The decision to try to rescue the calves would be one they would not live to regret. The rest of the roof engulfed Elmer and his family in the burning timber of that old rickety barn, as they huddled in each others arms awaiting their doom.
Meanwhile, a crowd of neighbors arrived with buckets and formed a line between the well and the barn in a futile attempt to put out the flames. As the roof collapsed, they all ran back several yards to avoid the terrible heat of the burning barn. The tortured screams ended abruptly as the roof collapsed. The neighbors stared in silent horror as the lives of Elmer, his family, and all of his livestock were snuffed out.
As the neighbors watched, the flames grew, and became even more like the flames of hell. Beings seemed to be moving in the flames where no life should have been able to survive. Like evil demons with pitch forks and strangely contorted bodies. They stirred the flames, whirling around in a sort of evil dance that was horrible to witness. In an ever tightening circle they moved, faster and faster, seeming to draw the fire from all around them into their loathsome circle. As the flames were drawn into the circle, ghostly images of the tortured livestock could be seen, and still the demons danced, around the ghastly flames.
Just as it seemed that all the surrounding flames had been gathered and compressed into a tight flaming ball, a horrible image of Elmer and his wife and child could be seen in that deamons’ circle, writhing and screaming in their torture, though not a sound could be heard. The ghostly image slowly faded, along with the circle of dancing demons. The ball of fire slowly shrank, and as it shrank it became as bright as the midday sun, though it was an evil sight to behold.
Suddenly, the fire ball exploded and knocked all the neighbors down on to their backs. The explosion tore the surrounding trees from the earth. From the depths of the explosion erupted a murder of crows, taking with them wisps of fire on their tales, as they spread by the thousands across the cornfield to the south and east of the barn.
In the early morning, Fire Marshall John Colburn, arrived to look over the scene. He had never seen such finely burnt ash in a fire of this kind, in his 26 year career. John and his assistants sifted though what little remained. But they could not find any human remains, nor any remains of the livestock that was in the barn. It had to be the hottest fire he had ever seen. The fire was a terrible accident, and the case was closed…at least for now.
For the next thirteen years the land and farm house stayed unoccupied. A young man, by the name of Delbert Benedict, came in to try his hand at dairy farming in the spring of 1952. He began construction of a new barn on the site of the old barn. It was going to be a bit bigger and, of course, more modern then the old barn. The new barn was to be filled with all the most up-to-date milking equipment. The foundation of the old barn was still there and could be used for the new barn, and that would save quite a bit of money.
From the first day of construction, there were strange things that happened. Carpenter’s tools and consruction materials turned up missing, later to be found away from the construction site. Walls that were initially square would be twisted into bizzar shapes by morning. Delbert found it was a constant battle to get the barn finished. At first the troubles were attributed to vandals, although nobody ever saw a trace of another person around the site.
At last the barn was completed, and the new livestock was moved into the barn. Little did Delbert know, that this was the very night the old barn burnt down so many years ago with the VonKlienshmitt family inside. The dairy cows were finally settled in for the night, and Delbert went to bed feeling pretty good about all that had been done that day. Delbert was fast asleep when the murder of crows flew over head that night.
In the morning, before breakfast Delbert went out to the barn to find that death had indeed come knocking at his door. Every head of cattle lay dead. Each of the expensive cows were twisted into bizzar heaps on the floor, as though they had been very frightened and were trying to escape from some vast terror. They looked as if they just dropped dead of fear in the middle of the attempt.
Fearing a fatal disease had infected his cattle, Delbert called the veterinarian to come and inspect the dead bodies. After many tests over the next several days, the vet had no idea as to what caused the death of all 100 head of cattle. “No disease should have been able to kill those cows over night, like that.”, he said. It seemed that these cows had been scared to death, but that was impossible. Just to be safe, the veterinarian ordered the bodies cremated, and the barn disinfected.
The cattle were insured, so Delbert bought another 100 head to make a new start. At first, everything seemed to be normal. The cows were healthy. Delbert had them repeatedly checked by the veterinarian. Every so often however, the milk that they produced would turn sour. When Delbert asked the veterinarian about this phenomenom, he was told that all the cattle were very nervous. He instructed Delbert to check for anything that might account for it, like stray dogs, wolves, or coyotes. Delbert kept a constant vigil, but no strange animals were ever found around the barn.
Delbert continued to keep up the great care of his herd but the milk would continue to be sour. He often had to dump load after load of it out. The cows were so jumpy and nervous that, at times, they would be a danger to him, and to themselves. One day, while discussing the situation with one of the older neighbors, he was told of the events of 13 years ago. It was said that the devil needed new demons, and the VonKlienshmitt family was chosen to bear the terror and pain of this calling. He told Delbert of the murder of crows that would always signal the night of the anniversary, and the death that always followed on their wings. Delbert thought it was so much nonsense, and left the old man to his tall tales.
For a year, Delbert dealt with the nervous cattle, and the repeated tanks of sour milk. For a year, he poured his heart into the care of his cattle, hoping that they would be okay, and that he would have a good dairy. As October neared, things just got worse. Now every tank of milk was soured, and the cows bawled all the time. Delbert had taken to spending the night in the barn as the cows seemed to be calmed somewhat when he did. He was in the barn, when the murder of crows flew over head that night, and this time he was wide awake. What he saw, he would not ever be able to explain to himself, nor to anyone else. It was just a nightmare after all, he thought, and there was no way he could logically explain what happen to his herd that night. He just couldn’t…
Delbert saw the flames lick the walls of the barn. He saw them spread from one end of the barn to the other. He watched in horror as each of his cows were engulfed in the ghostly flames and die in the silence of it’s own screams. Through all those flames, Delbert could see that not a thing burned, not even the cows. There was no heat to be felt. The fire was like a ghost, and did no real damage except for the mortal fear that caused the death of all those cows. As he watched, he could see a new shadow appear. It was the shadow, or rather ghost of a man. He was trying to get to the cows. He seemed to be crying at the death that was filling that barn. Two more ghosts joined him. That of a woman, and a teenage girl. They seemed to be trying to help the old man to save the cattle, but the flames were too intense. Soon the spectral family was overcome, and they all went to their knees, and waited in each others arms for their doom as the ghostly flames brought down the roof onto their heads. As suddenly as it started, it ended. The ghosts were gone. The flames where as if they had never been. The barn was perfectly intact, but all of Delbert’s cattle were dead, just like they were a year ago.
The next day, the cattle were taken out of the barn and cremated. The milking equipment was sold at auction, and Delbert never had livestock again. He started a vegetable farm, and has done that successfully ever since. The barn was left abandoned for the next 47 years.
Then one day, Tim Becker, and Richard Ginadek, and their wives heard of the story of that old barn. Despite the repeated warnings from the neighbors, and especially from Delbert of the super natural nature of the barn, and the awful history, they proceeded to open up the ultimate Haunted Barn And Hayride in the same building and land where so many terrible things have happened.
And so the saga continues and Fright Night On 50 is born. We’re dying to meet you, one and all.