A Spooky Letter From Dr. Edgar Euphonium

Dear Mark,

I hope this letter finds you well. Did you perchance attend the Homecoming festivities at the Old Alma Mater? Alas, I was indisposed due to the matters I will elucidate below. Nevertheless, go Smilin’ Sasquatch!

I fear my handwriting may be shaky, and at times illegible due to the events of the past week. But I felt I must tell someone what I have gone through, and thought you would be curious. Though the past few days have been quite bone-chilling, I shall pull out all the stops, as it were, to relate the story as accurately as possible.

About two weeks ago I received a call from Leslie Lamplighter, whose great-grandfather Lyle allegedly haunts the Lamplighter Estate. Sadly, Leslie’s father had recently passed, and as it turned out, he had left her the mansion in his will. Not wanting to live in a haunted house (understandably) and unable to sell it while haunted (also understandably), she had contacted me in the in the hopes that I could assist in convincing her great-grandfather’s spirit to leave. As you might recall, I had great success with an invention of mine called the Spirit-O-Phone, a large mobile telephone roughly the size of a brick set to paranormal frequencies with an infrared monocle attachment, allowing me to speak to and see ghosts. This, coupled with my natural powers of persuasion had led me to convincing the spirit of Ben Franklin to stop haunting a craft store bearing his name. Leslie practically begged me to attempt the same tactic on Lyle Lamplighter. Normally, I am not given to performing favors, especially involving my Spirit-O-Phone (which, frankly, gives me the shivers), but her earnestness and a brown paper bag full of Scotcheroos won me over.

Lamplighter House is a vast, foreboding estate, very much in the tradition of the haunted houses before it. Viny weeds punctuated with thorns across their skin choked the immense front yard of any grass or flowers, and what from a distance appeared to be a metallic lattice on the gate turned out to be dew-spotted cobwebs. I entered with trepidation, scientifically curious but otherwise petrified. The cracks in the sidewalk leading up to the dilapidated porch seemed to spell out words of warning in some ancient, forgotten language. The porch itself looked held together by a combination of sheer will and the negligence of gravity to do its job. Surprisingly, when I set foot on it, it held my weight (which is no small feat, given my love for sweets.) Looking up at the two-story monstrosity, I could see no sign of life, nor light coming from any of the half-dozen windows facing the front. Yet, when at last I summoned the courage to open the dark, knotty front door, the interior was filled with an otherworldly, blueish glow. I carefully crossed the threshold and sat my rucksack down, reassessing the contents. I had the obligatory Spirit-O-Phone, a Badminton racket for self-defense (the closest thing I had to a weapon), a journal and my beloved Scotcheroos. I decided not to procrastinate further, and removed the Spirit-O-Phone.

It was at that moment that a strong gust of wind rushed at me from down the main staircase ahead and to the right of me. I steadied myself in an effort not to be blown out the front door and staggered to the left, where the Main Room was located. This room was gigantic, with walls stretching many, many feet above me, and a chandelier the size (and oddly, shape) of a water buffalo affixed to the center of the ceiling. I powered up the Spirit-O-Phone and looked around me. The room was bare, save for a portrait hanging on the furthest wall, of Lyle Lamplighter himself. He was a grim fellow, standing in front of a nondescript background in a black three-piece suit, scowling. He was bald, and, though the portrait appeared to have been made in the late-eighteenth century, he was wearing dark sunglasses. He was holding a cane topped with a skull. Staring at the portrait, I began to feel uneasy, like I was experiencing vertigo. The room seemed to be moving, and to my horror, when I looked down, it was. The grain of the hardwood floor was ebbing and flowing like the tide, and at places whirling like rapids. I found myself transfixed by the movement, and before I knew what was happening, I fell forward into the floor. That’s right, into the floor. As I was sucked into the liquid floorboards, I lost consciousness, but was dimly aware of floating, as well as a sinking sensation.

I came to in the cellar, covered in dirt (I hope it was dirt.) I got up and dusted myself off, and began to assess my surroundings. There was a rickety stairwell to my left, and no sign of life or afterlife, so I made my way toward the stairs. As I stepped down, however, the stairs gave way instantaneously, and I was forced to run up the quickly disintegrating stairs, pushing myself through the door, which splintered under the faintest touch. I was now in the kitchen, whose black and white tile floor comforted me (little to no chance of liquefying.) However, just as I was summoning my courage, the refrigerator directly in front me opened with a bang, and what should I see within it but a dark, swirling vortex. Figuring this was where Lyle Lamplighter lived, I made my way slowly toward it, cursing myself for leaving my rucksack in the front entryway. Instinctively, I looked to my right and there, rummaging through my rucksack, was the ghost of Lyle Lamplighter, just as he appeared in his portrait, though probably only five-foot four in real afterlife. I shouted into my Spirit-O-Phone, “Lyle Lamplighter!” He turned quickly, surprised by my presence, and my ability to see him. “Please,” I continued, “end your reign of terror over this house! There is nothing left here for you! What is it that you seek? What is it that I can provide?” He began to slowly walk toward me. I felt a chill run down my spine as the entire house became as cold as an ice cream sandwich. He looked at me, forlorn, and as he grew nearer, I noticed he was holding something in his left hand. Then he got so close we were nearly touching and he whispered something to me as he held the object up for me to see. What he said, and what he showed me petrified me. And after he spoke this one word, he turned and entered the swirling vortex in the refrigerator, closing the door behind him. Immediately, the temperature in the room rose, and any evidence of supernatural activity vanished. Lyle Lamplighter was gone for good, having found what he had been hunting (and haunting) for all this time. And what was that, you ask? What was the object in his left hand, and the single word he whispered to me as he left this world?

The object was a brown paper bag.

The word was, “Scotcheroos.”

My beloved Scotcheroos! I had finally rid the Lamplighter House of its resident ghost, but at the cost of my beloved Scotcheroos! Sure, Leslie made me another batch, but it just wasn’t the same. She has also renovated the house and now it is a lovely home for her and her seventeen birds, who love to perch on the Water Buffalo Chandelier in the Main Room. Still, I lie awake nights, thinking about that rushing wind. Thinking about that hardwood floor sea. Thinking about those disintegrating stairs. Thinking about that swirling vortex in the refrigerator.

But mostly, thinking about those delicious Scotcheroos.

I remain,

Dr. Edgar Euphonium

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