Followill dating

The Last Sermon

2020.04.17 10:26 rhonnie14 The Last Sermon

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 10:25 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:15 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to welcometohell [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:15 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
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2020.04.17 04:14 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to stayawake [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:14 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to SignalHorrorFiction [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:13 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to Odd_directions [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:12 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to mrcreeps [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:11 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to JustNotRight [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:10 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to Horror_stories [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:10 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to foulweather [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:09 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to DarkTales [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:09 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to creepypasta [link] [comments]


2020.04.17 04:08 rhonnie14 Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
submitted by rhonnie14 to AllThingsScary [link] [comments]


2020.04.16 20:34 rhonnie14 Text PREMIERE: Pleasant View Church Is Back In Session

Senior year was lame. Alienation the theme for our group’s time here at Mitchell County High School.
Camilla, Georgia was a small town. And with it came ignorance and boredom. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theaters, no cool coffee shops. Even our Walmart was tiny. And considering we were all underage, none of us could take part in the local bars. The one thing adults did to stave off the depression.
I guess I should’ve been glad to have the weird friends I had. Not every hipster could be this lucky before college, much less in a dormant community like ours. Given my anorexic frame and blue highlights, I stuck out… Not necessarily in a bad way so much as being a traveling freakshow for Camilla’s conformity. But hey, at least my parents weren’t embarrassed. And I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was just me.
Considering my loud voice and even louder personality, I surprised myself when I started dating Eric Christensen. He had the looks and physique to be a jock. Tall, square-jawed, muscular. But he was different. Sensitive, articulate. Much to our macho coaches’ dismay, Eric rejected teams in favor of the movie club with me. Then again, Eric wasn’t all that interested in the sports he once excelled at. And he quit for good when his dad abandoned him the summer before middle school.
Countless times Eric told me how losing his father affected him. Left with just his mom, Eric never knew where his dad went. And most painful of all, he never knew why his father left. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that loneliness must’ve been. The uncertainty… How tough it was to lose a dad you thought loved you.
Playing both girlfriend and therapist, I did my best to support Eric. I loved him, after all. Regardless of the interracial dynamics in this little country town, my parents didn’t care Eric was black. Like me, what they cared about was him. Even after we decided to break up before senior year. A soft separation neither of us considered permanent… Both of us mature enough to realize staying high school sweethearts was the kiss of death.
Much to my relief, we stayed close. In the movie club, outside of school. We kept texting and Snapping. Eric even the producer for my YouTube channel. My real passion project. But most of all, nothing ever got awkward between us. Maybe we were too young to let superficial shit spoil our bond. Or maybe we just truly enjoyed one another’s company.
During the winter, both of us started dating other people. Me with Jake and Eric with Lauren. They were a year younger than us. Jake a cute slacker… His blue eyes much more alluring than his scruffy facial hair. We had AP Lang together… Only Jake never cared enough to do the work to match my A’s and high B’s. His natural intelligence hindered by a combination of laziness and weed. A perfect boyfriend for high school, I suppose…
Lauren was a bit preppier than us. Buf she had heart. Empathy. Qualities I wasn’t used to seeing in our classmates. Aside from the flawless skin and smile, she had an infectious personality. An adventurous spirit… Somehow, regardless of the Hollister gear, she fit right in.
Despite Eric and I’s past, the double dates didn’t elicit drama or despair. Such was the strength of our friendship. And hey, the four of us hated Camilla.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube for entertainment. By now, my channel Chrissy Creeps had over a thousand subscribers. Eric was by my side throughout the steady rise. He helped me pick the topics. The places to explore. And helped me exploit our favorite topic of all: Camilla’s dark past.
Our Southern city had its share of literal buried bodies. A racist stench still lingering into 2020. There were lynchings, cross burnings, and one of the most disgusting attacks on African-Americans in Georgia history: The Camilla Massacre of 1868. The day when a dozen black and Caucasian protestors were gunned down by Camilla locals. An insidious incident encapsulating the horrors of our area’s racism. And an incident still ignored by our little town.
On the channel, Eric and I explored these disturbing topics. A spotlight Camilla never endorsed. But our history lessons didn’t end there. Every weekend we’d visit also weird and infamous locations around Mitchell County. Including spots haunted by this racist past. Spots still believed to be haunted by the victims of the brutal bigotry.
However, one sight remained unseen: the Pleasant View Church. An old black church beyond the city limits. Sure, we’d driven by it a couple of a times. Even explored it in the daytime… but never at night.
The crumbling white specter was surrounded by woods. A thick forest extending all the way to Stanwyck, Georgia. There were no more congregations at Pleasant View. No lights. The tall cross nailed to the top of the building had long been crooked. Long ready to plunge to its death.
Leading up to the church was a narrow side road. One with no name. A road rarely traveled. The only way in and only way out.
Sure, no one went to Pleasant View for Sunday service anymore. But there were permanent residents: the restless spirits killed at its legendary hanging tree. The black church members executed by the town.
Up until the 1980s, there were suspicious murders galore here. Lynchings of African-Americans at the hands of Camilla, Georgia’s most vicious racists. And like an eerie monument, the large pine tree remained. Tucked away about twenty feet from the church… Preserved in a forest clearing. Preserved in blood.
The paranormal rumors had been here since I was a kid. Mama told me she went out to the church a few times in high school. That she’d heard noises coming from inside. And when she went out to the clearing, she’d see the pine’s branches move on their own. Of course, I wasn’t sure if hysteria or the pot had gotten the better of her… Not until she told me about the last time she went there.
About seven years ago, mama and daddy went out to the clearing once more. The nostalgia beckoning them as their date nights had grown stale. They went to the gory, glorious pine after midnight… Then immediately fear overwhelmed them. They saw a young black man hanging from the largest limb. His lifeless body battered by the brutal breeze.
Neither mom nor dad went close enough to investigate. Instead, they hauled ass the other way. Driving off in a burst of fright and adrenaline. At the house, they called the police. But no corpse was ever found. Pleasant View Church and its most famous tree were empty. The latest victim of Camilla, Georgia disappearing into the cold night.
Mom was convinced they’d seen a ghost. And considering how big her blue eyes got and how her chubby frame shivered as she told the story, I had to believe mom. Her account also was far from the only one in these parts.
People of all ethnicities had seen ghosts out there. Black, white, Hispanic. Granted, there weren’t many pictures or EVP recordings… nothing high quality, at least. But if any town were to be haunted by its past, Camilla had a debt with the dead the community would never be able to re-pay with cash. Only souls. And deep down, our little town knew the centuries of vicious racism was reason enough to keep away from the church. Even if they didn’t want to admit it. Much like The Camilla Massacre, no one here wanted to confront those horrors.
Needless to say, I didn’t tell mom about my channel’s latest “investigation.” She thought I’d be staying at Lauren’s Friday night. An innocent sleepover of YouTube playlists and stoned Walmart trips. Mom would’ve killed me if she knew I was about to visit the scene of her nightmares. The spot of Camilla’s many sins.
On Thursday, I talked to our group at lunch. At our designated table in the corner. Far from our annoying Bitchell County classmates. The Chrissy Creeps Corner as Eric called it. There I laid out the plan. We’d meet at Lauren’s house. Drink her dad’s beer, her mom’s wine. Then at eleven, we’d ride out to Pleasant View and film our latest masterpiece.
“That place is like seriously haunted, right?” Lauren asked. With a trembling hand, she pushed away her straight brown bangs. “Like we’re not fucking around.”
I smirked. “That’s the whole point!”
“Yeah, we look for haunted shit, Lauren,” Jake quipped.
Nervous, Lauren moved in closer toward Eric. “Yeah, but that one’s maybe too haunted. Everyone talks about it.”
“We’ll be safe,” I reassured her. Looking for support, I turned to Eric.
He was quiet. Less enthusiastic than usual. Less confident. Even with Lauren’s arm wrapped around his waist.
“Well, fuck it, I hope we get something!” Jake said. He tossed a balled-up napkin on top of the lousy lunch food. “There’s only so many times we can make jokes, man! We need real evidence! We can’t Ghost Adventure this shit all the time!”
We all laughed except Eric. He just flashed a weak smile.
“If we see ghosts, I’m getting the fuck out,” Lauren said.
“Fine with me,” Jake replied. He leaned back. “We’ll just have your pussyass on camera when this bitch gets viral.”
“Fuck you, Jake!” Lauren chuckled.
Amidst the chaotic cafetera, Eric and I made eye contact. He didn’t even bother hiding the dread. The unshakeable unease. I only turned away once Jake hugged me close. Then I had to fake a smile. Revel in our building excitement. Our channel’s building fame. Even if deep down, I was still worried about my best friend.
That afternoon, I met Eric at his mom’s house on North Butler Street. Naturally, he lived by an abandoned middle school and even more abandoned cemetery. The brick house a pretty sight in this sea of blue-collar homes.
His mom and I still got along. The same with his brother and sister. I always felt welcome in the Christensen house. Things were never awkward between us. Above all, the house had warmth. A glowing radiance beyond its middle-class means. The furniture colorful. The pantries always packed with sweets. The front porch usually the place to be.
Like a shrine, framed family photos lined up and down a shelf in the living room. Most of them from Eric’s childhood. Most of them featuring his handsome father. A tall, lanky man with Eric’s soulful eyes.
Now Eric and I sat on his bed. The bedroom door closed. But there were no romantic sparks. No tension with a friendship this strong. One that’d seen the highs and lows of both our love and separate lives.
A combination of Kendrick and Kings Of Leon played off Eric’s laptop. I gazed around his room. At the LeBron James posters. The sports trophy case of yore, the academic awards of now. Then there was the cherished picture by his laptop. The one showing a ten-year-old Eric smiling with his father. The last photo Eric had with him.
“You sure you’re cool with this?” Eric asked in an uncertain tone.
I faced him. Did my best to give a supportive smile. “Yeah, it’ll be amazing. I mean it’s the most famous haunted spot we got, man.”
“Yeah… I know you’re excited…”
Trying to comfort him, I moved in closer. “Why not? It’s the Holy Grail of Camilla!”
“Holy Grail…” Eric chuckled.
I stopped right beside him. Neither of us uncomfortable. “This is what we’ve been working toward, Eric.”
“Yeah, I get that. It’s just… It’s definitely got a history.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Concerned, I placed my hand on his.
Eric didn’t flinch. His same solemness remained.
“We’ve been doing this so long now.” I grinned. “I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”
Eric heistated. “Some things you have to be.” He pulled his hand away from me. Not from anger but anxiety.
Kings Of Leon’s “Revelry” played over the brief silence. I watched Eric, concerned. Like a traumatized soldier, he retreated further back on the bed. Against the wall. At war with only himself.
“But what is it about Pleasant View?” I asked. “I mean you were fine with White’s Bridge, the Baker County Courthouse.”
Eric still avoided eye contact. Still silent.
I waved toward a window. “Even the cemetery, you were cool with.” I grinned. “And that place’s scary as fuck…”
A brief smile crossed Eric’s face. “This is different, Chrissy.” He looked right at me. His smile gone. The uneasy gaze holding me captive. “You know how this town is. Pleasant View is the darkest side of it.”
The cryptic candidness caught me off-guard. “What do you mean?”
“The history.” Leaning in closer, Eric grabbed my arm. A tight, emotional grip. “This town, Chrissy. It’s not just the Massacre.”
I saw him holding back tears. A struggle even for someone as tough as Eric.
“What they did at that church…” Eric said through the frightened emotions. “My dad told me about it growing up. He told me about the lynchings, everything.” Breaking down, he wiped away his tears..
As “Revelry” faded into black, I wrapped an arm around Eric. Supported him as best I could. Amidst this flashback to a father he still missed. “It’s okay,” I said.
In the background, Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up” began playing. The hypnotic guitars and somber beat no medicine for our melancholy. Just a companion.
Eric looked toward me. “Dad said when he was five years old, him and his daddy went out there late. Only a few other people were there… But right before nighttime, a bunch of white people came out there. There were a bunch of drunks… but some were cops.”
Even from here, I could see Eric’s eyes grow bigger with fear. Feel his body tremble in my grasp. All as he wept to the terrifying reflection.
“The people at church warned my granddad to get out of there. They were all leaving, but him and my dad stayed.” Eric hesitated, battling the inner pain. The same state I was sure his father was in when he told Eric this disturbing memory. “They didn’t have a chance. They beat my granddaddy... Made daddy watch the whole time.”
Shivering , Eric looked down. He was shaken to the core. The gut-wrenching horror was so vivid to me… God knows how vivid it was to him.
“I’m sorry,” I said softly..
Eric shook his head. “They lynched him at the pine.” He looked at me. “They had my daddy stand there and watch… The whole fucking thing. All he could hear was his dad screaming. He just watched his body convulsing while everyone laughed. Then his dad’s screams became these slow gasps. He couldn’t breathe…” Eric ran a hand through his head. “My dad just was five when he saw his daddy died. He said it was like falling down fifty flights. Straight down with no escape. It was long, painful. ” The sobs grew stronger. But didn’t deter him. “They left him out there at that pine. They left a five-year-old out there to die! My daddy had nowhere to go the whole night. He stayed at my granddaddy’s feet. Heard his body swing all night. He could feel my granddaddy’s hands. How cold they were… And by the time, anyone got out there, the buzzards done got to his body.” Eric looked on at my horrified eyes. “He was too little to scare them away. They’d already eaten parts of his dad by then… And my daddy could only watch the whole time. He couldn’t do nothing.”
I just held Eric closer. All I could do.
Eric’s body went still but the tears continued. “I never got to meet my grandfather.” He showed a weak smile. “But I always wanted to. I always wanted to know what happened.” The recollection haunting him, Eric leaned back. “I finally asked dad why I never saw him…”
“Eric, I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
The morbid memories made Eric ignore me. He avoided all eye contact. As if he were delivering a soliloquy for his soul. “He told me everything. Dad just felt it was time I hear the truth about us. About our town.” Eric faced me. “Then a few weeks later, I never saw dad again.”
My heart sank. I squeezed Eric’s shoulder, doing my best to comfort him. “I can’t imagine, Eric. Fuck, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine…” He ran his hands along his arms. Struggled to talk through the reminiscing and regrets. “He always told me not to go to Pleasant View. Not ever.” He gave me a nostalgic grin. “Mom tells me the same. She still does.”
I gave him a soft laugh. “Mine does too.”
“I just never knew what happened. Why he left.” In a bitter swipe, Eric wiped away his remaining tears.
“Look, if you don’t want to go-”
Eric waved me off. “Naw. I need to.” He grabbed a hold of my hand.
All the feelings from our last few years came roaring back. The intensity. The passion. Never before had Eric spilled his soul to me. Never before had his touch felt so affectionate.
In that moment, under the bedroom’s bright lights and as Caleb Followill’s voice serenaded me, I felt that spark. The one that never fizzled all the way. The bond between Eric and I still strong.
“We need to face it,” Eric said. “We just need to face Camilla. Like you said with the Massacre. This whole fucking town needs to confront it.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
Playful, Eric held our enclosed hands up. A triumphant call to arms. “For Chrissy Creeps!”
Cracking up, I pulled away from him. “Oh God…”
“I’m serious. You’re right, Chrissy. This could be your break.”
Our break.” I locked eyes with my handsome best friend. Both of us silent. Both of us comforted by the music. Comforted by each other.
Eric leaned in a little closer.
A sharp vibration killed the mood. Startling us. With an embarrassed laugh, I checked my phone.
“Sorry…” I said.
Playing it off, Eric slid back. Always so smooth and sexy even in these awkward spots. “Naw, you’re fine.”
I glanced down at Jake’s latest text: Yo, you ready for ghosts :p
Smirking, I typed up a reply: Bring the camera and extra flashlights
“Sorry, it’s Jake,” I told Eric.
“You’re cool,” he replied.
“His timing sucks…”
“Always.”
We exchanged smiles. Sly smiles. All of a sudden, our admiring gazes decided to stop being so discreet.
“Looks like we’re all set…” I said, unable to hide a flirtatious tone.
“I see,” Eric said.
Then I moved in closer. Slow, seductive. Eric matching my every move.
Like a sliding shower curtain, the door swung open to scare the shit out of Eric and I. Again. We instantly fell back in our safe spots on the bed. Those unassuming spots.
“Goddammit…” Eric muttered.
Lauren stumbled inside. Her Hollister shirt and tight jeans unable to contain her excitement. Those round cheeks flashed dimples galore. Her smile of pearly whites well on display. “Guys, I’m so stoked for tomorrow!”
Annoyed, Eric stood up. “Aren’t we all…”
Lauren reached inside her pocket and pulled out a surprise. A dime bag of weed. Just what every group of ghost hunters needed. Certainly, Eric and I were impressed.
“Whoa…” Eric exclaimed.
Brandishing the pot with pride, Lauren waved it in front of us. “I scored this for tomorrow!”
Friday night came soon enough. The four of us had fun at Lauren’s. Pre-gaming for the show with beer and weed. Lauren was home alone, so we had a place to crash once we left Pleasant View… if we made it out of there alive. Grave Encounters on Amazon Prime helped us further get in the “spirit.”
Around eleven, we set sail in my white ghost of a SUV. Through the quiet Camilla streets and toward the edge of the city limits. Out into the country.
Along the way, we indulged in more drink and smoke. In the passenger seat, Jake waved the camera around in amateur fashion. He shined the spotlight on Lauren. Just when she put the joint to her lips.
Angry, Lauren gave him a hard hit on the shoulder. “Hey, don’t film me!”
Jake and I laughed.
“He’s not recording!” I reassured Lauren.
“He better not be!” she replied.
One glance at the rearview mirror showed Eric sitting beside her in total silence. Behind restless eyes, he kept staring out the window. Out into the night.
“You think we’ll see a ghost?” Jake asked. “Like your mom did?”
Lauren lauged.
I focused on the spotty pavement. This battered highway of broken souls. “Maybe…”
Soon, I pulled into a bumpy side road. One that gave way to a driveway conquered by weeds. I parked the SUV close to the church’s red front door.
Fuck it, we made it. All alone at Pleasant View Church. The sign was long gone. No reparations had been made on the small white building in decades. There was no plaque or marker to commemorate the historical site. Nothing to honor the victims of this town’s terror… Just like there’d been none for The Camilla Massacre at the Mitchell County Courthouse.
The four of us stepped into the March cold. The late wind harrowing and haunting. All of us held flashlights.
I jammed my car keys in my pocket. Pulled out the EVP recorder.
Behind me stood a nervous Lauren and an even more nervous Eric. Lauren’s trembling hand struggled to hold the infrared thermometer.
Wielding the camera, Jake got shots of the chilling scene. The desolation. The surrounding forest. There was no pleasant view here... Just the tall trees with skeletal arms for limbs. A faint path led us to the cemetery… and to the church’s most famous resident of all.
I saw no other buildings around. That side road was like a broken statue. Nothing but rubble and potholes.
“Jesus Christ, this is scary!” Lauren commented.
We looked toward the church. No one said a word. No one could… Not this up close and personal with Death.
Pleasant View Church looked to be a converted farmhouse. The building not tall save for the long wooden crucifix leaning off the roof… and marking us. The windows were boarded up. As was the front door. Not just wooden planks either but the type of sturdy wood used for coffins. Fallen caution tape further warned us to steer clear of this crumbling mausoleum.
Red paint coated the walls, spelling out Pleasant View Church. As if the building itself was bleeding from almost a century of terror and suppression.
The sight was scary. That much was certain… I saw Eric and Lauren holding on to one another. Their shivering now fused together. For once, I was glad the EVP and thermometer hadn’t gone off.
But I had to take control. For the sake of Chrissy Creeps.
I nudged Jake. “Get me!”
At my command, Jake pointed the camera at me. I stood there in the spotlight. The church right behind me. “We’re here now at Pleasant View Church. Joining me now is my usual crew tonight. Your host Chrissy.” I then guided Jake to Eric and Lauren. Lauren holding the joint behind her. Both their obvious fear captured well on film. “Eric and Lauren, our reliable assistants.” Grinning, I pointed at Jake. “And our amazing cameraman, my boyfriend Jake.”
Flashing a thumbs up across the screen, Jake let out an obnoxious, drunken whoop. He always savored all the screen time he could get.
Then I fixated my showrunner’s stare on the camcorder. “Now we’re here at the most infamous, haunted location in Camilla, Georgia.”
Lauren coughed from the weed. One glare from me shut her up.
I went back in Chrissy Creeps mode. “In a town still tormented by its racist past, a past that includes The Camilla Massacre of 1868 amongst many other lynchings and attacks, this church still sends chills down the spines of many local residents,” I continued in an eerie tone. “Many are warned never to come here. To never visit this ugly footnote in Camilla’s dark history. But for reasons even scarier than the past.”
With a theatrical flourish, I pointed toward the forest. “Reasons that are believed to still be there.”
Letting the dramatic moment sink in, I stole a glance at Eric. He was still rattled. Not even the pot and booze could alleviate his lingering dread. Not even his girlfriend could.
I faced the camera’s unflinching eye. “Join us as we make our way to the pine tree. The hanging tree still haunting the community to this day. The scene where many African-Americans were lynched in gruesome fashion... And whose spirits are still believed to be here.” Full of scary passion, I walked closer toward the camera. I could see unease even striking Jake. “Many witnesses from both here and out of town have claimed to have seen ghosts in the clearing. My own parents say they saw a body hanging in the pine tree. And many other people still believe those tormented souls roam that clearing. In search of vengeance for the injustices and tragedies they suffered.”
Breaking my horror host persona, I stepped back. “Okay, cut!”
Jake nodded. “Yo, that was fire!”
Lauren stepped toward me. “Do you know the way to get there?”
I looked off at the forest. The main trail so clear in the cold. Through the trees and into the darkness. “Yeah.” I pointed Lauren toward it. “Just straight down there.”
Smirking, Jake nodded toward the church. “No way we can go in there?”
I flashed him a glare. “Does it look like it, dumbass?”
“No…”
“That part’s not even haunted.” I confronted the blood red letters. The memorial of eerie memories. “There were no burnings or lynchings inside so I don’t think it’s haunted...” I faced my friends. “At least, from what I understand,” I teased.
“Yeah, let’s not...” Lauren quickly added. She took another drag. No chance at calming that fear. No matter how high she got.
Folding my arms to keep warm, I looked over at Eric. His gaze was glued to the woods. Specifically on that fateful path.
“Oh shit!” I heard Jake yell.
We all faced him. Jake’s excited eyes glued to his phone.
“What?” I asked.
He held his iPhone out toward us. The livestream screen looked familiar: there was me, all of us standing at the creepy church.
“We’ve got five-hundred people watching!” Jake said.
“What!” Lauren shouted in horror. She held her joint out toward him. “You’ve been streaming us this whole time!”
Beneath our collective glares, Jake staggered back, “Well yeah…”
“You asshole!” I shouted. I gave him a harsh shove. “Turn it off, we’re not supposed to be out here!”
“What-” Jake started.
“Turn off the livestream, asshole!” I yelled.
“Alright!”
“Yeah, Jake!” Lauren added.
Struggling with the camera and his own buzzed mind, Jake cut off the live broadcast. “Alright, I fixed it! I thought y’all wanted more viewers!”
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. Got in his face. This bitch taking control. “You know people can see that shit! They’d come out here and stop us!”
Quivering in my grip, Jake looked on at me. “Okay. I’m sorry, Chrissy-”
“This is Camilla!” I interrupted. “You know how these fuckers are.” I threw him back.
“I’m sorry,” Jake said. Gone was his smirk. Sincere, he looked between us. “I didn’t mean to piss y’all off. Honest.”
“She’s right,” Eric said. He grabbed Jake’s shoulder in a supportive squeeze. “Let’s just be careful.”
Jake nodded.
Holding up his flashlight, Eric faced me. “You ready?”
We made our way down the path. Myself in the lead, Jake right behind me. The wind didn’t die down. It never did.
Fighting the fear, I kept everyone steady on that narrow trail. The one patch of dirt amongst the abundance of shrubbery and tall weeds. Spooky silence surrounded us. There were no sounds. No signs of life.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lauren hand Eric the blunt. The tail end of it anyway. Anxious, Eric tossed it into the woods. His eyes still scanned the rural isolation. The isolated immersion.
Deeper in the woods, I stopped us by the cemetery. At a field of forgotten graves. There was one derelict tombstone after the other. Wooden crosses all scattered about.
I then stared on at the camera. “Behind me are the church’s many graves. Maybe some of them were victims of these horrific murders-”
Blaring to life, Lauren’s infrared thermometer shot straight down. We were in a startling cold spot.
“Oh fuck!” Lauren screamed.
I staggered toward her, Jake’s camera following me. “We may have something on the thermometer!” I said.
Lauren handed the thermometer off to Eric. The temperature staying at a steady fifty degrees... Its beeps low but audible. Totally unnerving.
“It’s coming from the cemetery!” I said. I looked off at the graves. “It has to!”
Eric grabbed my arm. “It’s the bodies buried out there!” he said. Lauren’s frightened gaze stayed on him. As did me and Jake’s. “Some of them were lynched!”
“How do you know?” I asked.
Nervous, Eric looked right at the camera. “Daddy told me.”
My EVP cut to life. Then came white noise and one cryptic voice. A male voice too consumed by static to understand.
Lauren jumped back. “Whoa, what the fuck’s that!”
Alarmed, I put the recorder closer to my ear. But still I didn’t understand the voice. The static was too much. “I don’t know…”
Eric’s concerned eyes looked on at me. All while that voice continued... That same tone.
“I think he’s saying the same thing,” I said.
Excitement crashing his unease, Jake filmed the EVP. “Shit, that’s crazy!”
I turned my gaze down the path. Down to the clearing. I faced the others. “Come on, let’s go.”
We got closer and closer. Up ahead, I saw the forest split straight into a void of low grass and no shrubbery. The stage occupied just by one tall pine.
“Shit, we’re really doing this…” I heard Lauren mutter.
But no one responded. No one but the recorder… The white noise leveled off as we got closer to the fateful destination. The voice all the more eerier. But still not completely clear.
I stopped us a few feet away from the clearing entrance. Now we were all shivering… Amidst the cold, I pointed at Jake. “Hey, let me introduce it!”
He pointed the camera at me. All while Eric and Lauren kept those frightened eyes on me.
“We’re right by the pine!” I held the roaring EVP up. “I’ve never seen this level of activity before! Not ever in Chrissy Creeps’ history!” I leaned in toward the EVP, struggling to decipher the repeated madness. “It sounds like they’re saying the same word!”
“Oh my God!” Lauren yelled.
Startled, Jake pointed the camera at her. “What!”
She held up the infrared thermometer. The numbers shot down. A steady drop until reaching forty degrees…
Back to being director, I pushed Jake. Made him put the camera on me.
“We’ve already got cold spots,” I began. I held up the EVP. The continual raspy voice. “We’ve caught voices! This is the most evidence we’ve had yet on Chrissy Creeps! Our most paranormal activity!”
I then led the way. “We’re almost to the pine tree! The site of so many murders and tragedies!”
We reached the clearing. Immediately, the EVP screamed to life. The sounds scrambled and scary.
Everyone came to a frightened stop. We still shivered but didn’t say a word.
The flashlights illuminated that violent natural wonder. The pine stood tall amidst the dirt and low grass. Preserved forever for further torture.
“Oh God!” Lauren screamed.
Like suffocating walls, the wild forest surrounded us. Keeping everyone here at that scary scene. Right in front of the hanging corpse.
The slender black man hung from the lowest long branch. He was a handsome man. His swaying body well off the ground. Well past dead. The heavy noose wrapped tight around the neck. His eyes closed. The clothes far too modern for Pleasant View’s terrifying timeline. Only rather than signs of abuse or torture, there was only contentment in his expression. No marks or bruises. He was at peace rather than pain. A suicide the man embraced.
I recognized the man from the pictures in Eric’s house. The one from the photo in Eric’s bedroom. There was the father who left him. He’d never gone too far physically… Instead, he was trapped in Camilla forever. Just like his father before him.
Lauren screamed. Jake staggered back. But I stood transfixed by the disturbing sight. And all the while, Eric didn’t move or flinch. He didn’t scream.
Not even when that EVP hit horrifying heights: “Eric!” the man’s voice cried.
I felt Jake grab my arm. Heard Lauren run for the church. Heard that EVP get even louder.
“Eric!” the mysterious deep voice yelled once more.
“Come on, let’s go!” Jake cried.
Turning, I looked toward Eric. He stood still in an emotional stupor. Tears falling from his eyes.
“Chrissy, come on!” Jake cried.
Further down the trail came Lauren’s yells. But Eric wasn’t moving. Instead, he was weeping. Right here in the clearing… a few feet away from his daddy’s corpse.
I pulled away from Jake and rushed toward Eric.
“Chrissy!” I heard Jake scream.
The wailing wind whipped against me. But didn’t slow me down. I grabbed Eric by the shoulders. My best friend nothing more than a silent statue… one with flowing tears.
“Eric,” I said.
But Eric didn’t move. His gaze stayed on the hanging tree. A catatonic state of almost ten years of heartbreak.
“Eric, listen, we need to go!” I continued.
Jake pulled me toward him. “Chrissy!” Full of fear, he pointed the camera at me. “We got the footage, let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“I’m not leaving without Eric!” I yelled.
“Look, Lauren’s probably calling the cops-”
Then fear silenced Jake. He looked on, nervous.
I turned to see Eric staggering toward his father. Eric carried to the tree by simultaneous sadness and nostalgia. He was compelled.
“Eric!” I cried.
But Eric continued the long walk. Still weeping. Still quiet.
Before I could rush toward him, Jake grabbed my arm. “I don’t know what the fuck’s going on, but we need to go, Chrissy!”
I shoved Jake back. “I’m not leaving him!”
The EVP erupted once more. “Eric!” cried that deep baritone. A voice so similar to Eric’s.
Desperate, Jake reached toward me. “Chrissy-”
I pushed his arm away and rushed toward Eric. Through the cold. The lingering dread. The horrific history.
Behind me, I could hear Jake hauling ass back to the SUV. But I didn’t turn around… I needed to help my best friend.
I made Eric face me. “Eric, please!” I shouted.
Fighting back the tears, Eric looked on at me. Trembling in my grasp.
“We need to go,” I said. “We can’t stay here. Not-”
“It’s dad,” Eric said. “It’s him…”
“I know, but we can’t stay here! Something’s not right!”
A smile spread across Eric’s face. One somehow comfortable in this creepy night. “He’s who your parents saw. I always knew he came back.”
“But Eric-”
Eric stood tall in the wind. His gaze glued to me. “Those stories. We can’t escape them, Chrissy. None of us can.”
White noise blared off my recorder once more. Then came that voice. “Eric…” his dad’s voice called.
Eric turned toward the pine tree till I pulled him back. “No, Eric, please! Your dad’s gone! You can’t bring him back!”
His tears fading, Eric grabbed my hands. A grip so tight and precise. “I don’t wanna bring him back,” he said. Eric leaned in closer toward my terrified face. “I wanna join him.”
Fear squeezed my soul. As did Eric’s sincerity. His descent into the Pleasant View grave. “No,” I struggled to say. “Eric-”
He interrupted me with a kiss. A tender embrace… And farewell.
I was too stunned to react. Too frightened. Instead, I just stared on at Eric’s attractive face. Our eyes collided in that one intense instance.
I wanted to say I love you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say a thing.
Resolved to the reunion, Eric broke away from me. He continued his march toward his dad. To a certain death.
“Eric!” I cried. Then my voice died in an instant.
Eric’s father now stood on the ground. A fresh noose now hung off that sadistic limb. The pine pleading for a new victim.
I went quiet. Scared into standing still.
Now in front of his dad, Eric turned and faced me. A smile was on Eric’s face. The first time I’d seen him this relaxed since childhood. Since his dad left this world behind.
His father grinned at me. In the darkness, he still looked handsome. A post-mortem prettiness I never knew possible. Eric had his eyes, of course. That much was for sure.
Struggling against my own sadness, I stepped toward them. “Eric-”
The EVP interrupted me. “Go!” yelled that deep voice. Eric’s father’s voice.
Shedding tears, I staggered back. Away from the tree, the clearing.
Eric and his dad looked on at me. Their confident stares latched on me. Each of them stood tall. Full of poise in the face of suicide.
I stepped on to the trail. Watching the father and son disappear further into the night. Into the pine tree’s eternal grave.
As I went further along the path, I stole one look back. The horror only increased. The hanging tree was empty. Gone was Eric and his father. The eager noose.
I ran straight toward the SUV. Greeted by a frantic Jake and Lauren.
“Let’s go!” Jake pleaded.
“You got the keys, right!” Lauren added.
Battling both the fear and wind, I confronted them. “We need to go back,” I struggled to say.
“What!” Lauren yelled.
Jake leaned in toward me. “Fuck no!” He pointed toward the camera. “We got the footage, the cops are on their way! We’ll get Eric, Chrissy! Let’s just get the Hell out of here-”
“The police won’t come,” I interrupted. Now I felt the cryptic calmness creep into me. The same confidence Eric had. I no longer shivered...
Jake and Lauren got even more scared.
“What…” Jake said.
“They never do,” I said. “Not here. Not this church. Not the very place they killed dozens of black people.”
Jake grabbed my shoulder. “Chrissy-”
I stepped away from him. My eyes like an unflinching camera. One spotlighting my frightened friends. “They just want to forget everything. They can’t even face the past. Their own crimes.”
The EVP shot to life once more. The white noise a chilling symphony. And then came the vocals. A different voice. One lower, more chill. More familiar.
“Chrissy,” Eric’s voice said through the static.
Terrified, the three of us looked at one another. We just stood there. Frozen in place.
“Chrissy, ” Eric continued. “Come here…”
Simultaneously confused and scared shitless, Jake faced me. “What does he mean?”
Deep down, I knew. But I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned toward Pleasant View Church. Or what was left of the once-pretty church.
Jake and Lauren followed my gaze. They didn’t say a word. But I could see them shivering. Could feel their growing fear.
Gone were the boards. The cobwebs. The sheer dilapidation. Even a tall marquee sign stood outside the glorious red doors. Pleasant View Church it proudly proclaimed.
Then there were the faces in the windows. All smiling African-Americans. All of them well-dressed. It was an attractive congregation, Eric and his dad amongst them,
From a window, Eric stared right at me. He wore a black suit and looked happier. More comfortable than ever before. Especially once his dad hugged him close.
Then I saw the older man behind them. All three of them shared those same big eyes. The older black man undoubtedly Eric’s grandfather.
“Shit, let’s go, Chrissy!” I heard Jake’s panicky voice yell.
Ignoring my friends, I took a step closer toward the church. Toward Eric and his family’s warm smiles.
“Come in, Chrissy,” said Eric’s voice through the white noise. And never had I heard him sound so happy.
Those red doors creaked all the way open. Pleasant View Church now back in session.
14
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2018.11.27 00:32 MarcelMarcellus A sobering confession.

The first Dallas Mavericks game I attended was in 2007, the playoff home opener against the Golden State Warriors, history will show that we lost that game & eventually the series. I was offered the tickets by a friend & obviously hopped on the chance to see them live for the first time. To date, this is the only home game I’ve attended at the AAC.
My fandom for the Mavericks began somewhere around 2003 after moving from Memphis (TN) to Denton (TX), the Mavericks were obviously a very easy team to root for in that era. There was no shortage of winning, even if they had yet to fully scale the mountainside & plant their flag firmly in rarest of basketball soil (hat tip to the truly wonderful, Mr. Followill).
In the Summer of 2010 I moved to Los Angeles to pursue work in (as if Memphis & Denton didn’t give it away) music. To be a Mavericks fan in Los Angeles & watch them sweep the defending champion Lakers out of the playoffs en route to a championship of their own, wow, I felt like I was on drugs.
Years have passed since, teams have changed, players have come & gone, but one thing has yet to change. I have never seen the Mavericks win a game in person. I don’t have an official tally, but I’ve made it a priority to see the Mavericks every time I could in Los Angeles, all of which that I’ve been in attendance for, they’ve lost. The one game I have missed recently, was around Christmas 2016, I was out of town & Harrison Barnes hit a walk off foul line jumper against the Clippers for the win.
I don’t necessarily believe in curses but having my inaugural game be in one of the most historic, painful playoff losses in league history makes me think twice about such. In a better universe Dirk Nowitzki & Jason Terry have three rings. I was in attendance against the Lakers last month. The addition of Luka did bring a much needed new energy to the team & it was frankly awesome to see all of the Mavericks jerseys at an away game. We. were. so. close. I have tickets for the Lakers’ game on Friday & a renewed since of hope that maybe, just maybe I’ll get to see that first win soon. Regardless, I will show up whenever I can to cheer us on. Cheers.

LetsGoMavs

TL;DR I’ve never seen the Mavs win in person.
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2017.11.01 16:53 ouguy2017 Week 10 Match-up Preview Thread: Baylor Bears @ Kansas Jayhawks (Game of the Century)

Baylor @ Kansas
When: Saturday, November, 4th, 11:00 AM
Where: Kansas Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
Watch: Fox Sports Network
Announcers: Mark Followill, Brian Baldinger
Odds: Baylor by 8 pts.
Total Points: 62.5
All-Time Series
Baylor and Kansas have met 16 times since 9/18/1971.
These teams last met 382 days ago on 10/15/2016.
Series Record: Baylor 12 - 0 - 4 Kansas
Current Win Streak 7 Baylor (2010-2016)
Team Largest MOV Longest Win Streak
Baylor 66-7 (2015) 7 (2010-2016)
Kansas 58-10 (2007) 1 (1971)
The Last 5 Meeting(s)
Winner Date Location Baylor Kansas Notes
Baylor 10/15/2016 Waco, TX 49 7
Baylor 10/10/2015 Lawrence, KS 66 7
Baylor 11/1/2014 Waco, TX 60 14
Baylor 10/26/2013 Lawrence, KS 59 14
Baylor 11/3/2012 Waco, TX 41 14
Series Comparison Data via Winsipedia
Through Week 9
Week Baylor 0-8(0-5) Result Kansas 1-7(0-5) Result
1 Liberty 4-4(1-2) L 45-48 Southeast Missouri State 2-6(2-3) W 38-16
2 UTSA 5-2(2-2) L 10-17 Central Michigan 4-4(2-2) L 27-45
3 Duke 4-5(1-5) L 20-34 Ohio 6-2(3-1) L 30-42
4 Oklahoma#9 7-1(4-1) L 41-49 West Virginia 5-3(3-2) L 34-56
5 Kansas State 4-4(2-3) L 20-33 BYE N/A
6 BYE N/A Texas Tech 4-4(1-4) L 19-65
7 Oklahoma State#11 7-1(4-1) L 16-59 Iowa State#15 6-2(4-1) L 0-45
8 West Virginia 5-3(3-2) L 36-38 TCU#10 7-1(4-1) L 0-43
9 Texas 4-4(3-2) L 7-38 Kansas State 4-4(2-3) L 20-30
All rankings reflect the current /cfb poll
Baylor Injury Report
Last updated: November 01, 2017
Player Status Type Notes
Rob Saulin Out Shoulder Saulin has a season-ending shoulder injury.
R.J. Sneed Out Leg Sneed is likely to miss the remainder of the season due to a broken leg.
Drew Galitz Out Knee Galitz has a torn ACL in his knee, ending his season.
Pooh Stricklin Out Foot Stricklin is expected to sit out the rest of the 2017 campaign due to a foot sprain.
Zach Smith Out Shoulder Smith will not suit up against Kansas on Saturday after suffering an AC joint injury in his shoulder.
Clay Johnston Out Foot Johnston is expected to sit out the remainder of the season due to a foot sprain.
K.J. Smith Out Shin Smith has been sidelined by shin splints and it is not known when he may be ready to play again.
Xavier Jones Out Foot Jones broke a bone in his foot and is expected to sit out the rest of the season.
Chris Platt Out Knee Platt is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a left knee injury.
Jordan Tolbert Out Shoulder Tolbert has been sidelined by a shoulder injury and it is unclear when he might return to action.
Abram Smith Out Knee Smith will be shut down for the entire 2017 season while he recovers from a torn ACL.
Jordan Feurbacher Out Hand Feurbacher has been sidelined with a foot injury and there is no clear timeline for his return.
Trestan Ebner Questionable Undisclosed Ebner left the last game for undisclosed reasons and his availability for Saturday's contest against Kansas is unclear.
Tony Nicholson Questionable Undisclosed Nicholson is bothered by an unspecified issue and his status is uncertain for Saturday's contest against Kansas.
John Lovett Questionable Undisclosed Lovett has an undisclosed injury, leaving his availability against Kansas on Saturday up in the air.
Harrison Hand Probable Undisclosed Hand is expected to suit up for Saturday's game against Kansas despite an unspecified injury.
Injury data lifted from: sports-reference.com
Kansas Injury Report
Last updated: November 01, 2017
Player Status Type Notes
Isi Holani Out Knee Holani will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Derrick Neal Out Personal Neal is on a personal leave of absence from the team and it is unclear when he will rejoin the lineup.
Denzel Feaster Out Undisclosed Feaster has been sidelined for undisclosed reasons and it is unclear when he will be ready to play again.
Kenyon Tabor Out Undisclosed Tabor will miss the entire 2017 season with an injury to an unlisted location.
Dru Prox Questionable Undisclosed Prox missed the last two games for undisclosed reasons and it is unknown if he will play Saturday against Baylor.
Dorance Armstrong Jr. Questionable Leg Armstrong Jr. has a leg injury and it is uncertain if he will play against Baylor on Saturday.
Injury data lifted from: sports-reference.com
What are your "Keys to the Game"?
Who do you think wins?
Do you think the favorite will cover the spread?
Which player(s) are you most interested to watch?
Let's talk football!
Like this format? Generate your own "Match-up Discussion Thread" with the Match-up Discussion Thread Generator. Please DM dupreesdiamond with any issues/suggestions regarding this template
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2017.10.10 17:42 ouguy2017 Week 7 Match-up Preview Thread: Kansas Jayhawks @ Iowa State Cyclones

Kansas Kansas 1-4 (0-2) @ Iowa State Iowa State 3-2 (1-1)

Details

Time 12:00PM Eastern - 11:00AM Central - 10:00AM Mountain - 9:00AM Pacific
Location Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames Iowa
Weather Pregame: Showers, chance of rain 80%, Temperature: 62. Winds:
Gametime: Showers, chance of rain 80%. Temperature: . Winds:
Watch Fox Sports Network
Announcers Mark Followill, Brian Baldinger
Odds Spread: Iowa State -20.5 - OveUnder: 68
Iowa State Resources Subreddit - Wiki
Kansas Resources Subreddit - Wiki
Series Record Kansas 50 - 40 - 6 Iowa State
*Weather provided by NWS
All-Time Series
Kansas and Iowa State have met 96 times since 10/15/1898.
These teams last met 332 days ago on 11/12/2016.
Series Record: Kansas 50 - 6 - 40 Iowa State
Current Win Streak 2 Iowa State (2015-2016)
Team Largest MOV Longest Win Streak
Kansas 43-0 (1952) 7 (1991-1997)
Iowa State 49-7 (2001) 5 (1985-1989)
The Last 5 Meeting(s)
Winner Date Location Kansas Iowa State Notes
Iowa State 11/12/2016 Lawrence, KS 24 31
Iowa State 10/3/2015 Ames, IA 13 38
Kansas 11/8/2014 Lawrence, KS 34 14
Iowa State 11/23/2013 Ames, IA 0 34
Iowa State 11/17/2012 Lawrence, KS 23 51
Series Comparison Data via Winsipedia

Through Week 6

Kansas Kansas 1-4 (0-2) Week Opponent Current Record Result
1 Southeast Missouri State Southeast Missouri State 1-4 (1-1) W 38-16
2 Central Michigan Central Michigan 3-3 (1-1) L 45-27
3 @ Ohio Ohio 4-2 (1-1) L 42-30
4 West Virginia West Virginia* 3-2 (1-1) L 56-34
5 BYE
6 Texas Tech Texas Tech* #24 4-1 (1-1) L 65-19
Iowa State Iowa State 3-2 (1-1) Week Opponent Current Record Result
1 Northern Iowa Northern Iowa 2-3 (1-1) W 42-24
2 Iowa Iowa 4-2 (1-2) L 44-41 OT
3 @ Akron Akron 3-3 (2-0) W 41-14
4 BYE
5 Texas Texas* 3-2 (2-0) L 7-17
6 @ Oklahoma Oklahoma* #13 4-1 (1-1) W 38-31
*represents conference games
Kansas Injury Report
Last updated: October 10, 2017
Player Status Type Notes
Kenyon Tabor Out Undisclosed Tabor will miss the entire 2017 season with an injury to an unlisted location.
Isi Holani Out Knee Holani will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Shaquille Richmond Questionable Undisclosed Richmond missed the last two games due to an undisclosed issue and his availability against Iowa State on Saturday is in question.
Hasan Defense Questionable Illness Defense is ailing from a bout of Mononucleosis and his status for Saturday's game against Iowa State is in question.
Denzel Feaster Questionable Undisclosed Feaster missed the last two games due to an undisclosed issue and his status is unknown against Iowa State on Saturday.
Injury data lifted from: sports-reference.com
Iowa State Injury Report
Last updated: October 10, 2017
Player Status Type Notes
Oge Udeogu Out Elbow Udeogu has been out of action with elbow injury and there is no timetable for recovery.
Kene Nwangwu Out Achilles Nwangwu suffered an Achilles injury and there is no timetable for return.
Jacob Park Out Undisclosed Park is taking a leave of absence due to an undisclosed personal health issue.
Devon Moore Out Knee Moore suffered a torn ACL and it is expected to cost him the entire 2017 season.
Injury data lifted from: sports-reference.com
What are your "Keys to the Game"?
Who do you think wins?
Do you think the favorite will cover the spread?
Which player(s) are you most interested to watch?
Let's talk football!
Like this format? Generate your own "Match-up Discussion Thread" with the Match-up Discussion Thread Generator. Please DM dupreesdiamond with any issues/suggestions regarding this template
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2011.01.31 14:47 smokincharliebrown Kings Of Leon Cancel Tour Dates as their Drummer Nathan Followill Has Surgery

submitted by smokincharliebrown to MusicNews [link] [comments]


Jared Followill Engaged To Model Martha Patterson! Teen Wolf Lydia/Derek/Jackson Meet the family of Caleb Followill, lead vocalist for Kings of Leon Kings of Leon - Going Nowhere (Filmed live in Nashville ... Meet Singles, Single Women, Dating, Romance tours, Singles Vacations, www.iLoveLatins.com Twilight Rob & Kristen Top 10 Fijian Beauty Relationships - Then vs. Now  CloeCouture .Hack//Dating Game (for bisexuals/everyone) Miley Cyrus & Jared Followill Couple Update

  1. Jared Followill Engaged To Model Martha Patterson!
  2. Teen Wolf Lydia/Derek/Jackson
  3. Meet the family of Caleb Followill, lead vocalist for Kings of Leon
  4. Kings of Leon - Going Nowhere (Filmed live in Nashville ...
  5. Meet Singles, Single Women, Dating, Romance tours, Singles Vacations, www.iLoveLatins.com
  6. Twilight Rob & Kristen
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Are Miley Cyrus and Jared Followill secretly dating? You won't want to miss the update on this maybe couple! Hey hey guys, I'm Joslyn Davis for ClevverTV at the Hollywood studios. Word on the ... Category Entertainment; Song Wasting Time (Eternal Summer) Artist Four Year Strong; Licensed to YouTube by UMG (on behalf of Motown); ASCAP, EMI Music Publishing, Kobalt Music Publishing ... Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Nathan Followill, Matthew Followill; Licensed to YouTube by SME (on behalf of RCA/Legacy); LatinAutor - Warner Chappell, PEDL, LatinAutor, Warner Chappell, UNIAO ... Caleb Followill, Matthew Followill, Jared Followill, Nathan Followill; ... You Know You're Dating a Dominican Woman When... - Duration: 6:15. Dating Beyond Borders Recommended for you. Stay safe. Stay home. We will see you as soon as we can. Visit Live Nation’s Global Relief Fund for live music crews to see how you can support touring and v... Singles, Single Women, Single Ladies, Single Girls, Latin Women, Latina, Latinas, Single Latinas, Dating, Dating Agency, Romance tours, Singles Vacations, Singles ... Lydia is dating Jackson, but is very attracted to Derek. They're having an affair, Derek wants her only for him, but Lydia loves Jackson. So he freaks out Jackson and tell him to dump her. Some of the best pics of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. :) Hope you enjoy! I OWN NO COPYRIGHT NO INFRINGMENT INTENDED Songs: Use Somebody Sex on Fire Both by Kings of Leon Comment rate and ... He is a singer in a popular band Kings of Leon. Caleb Followill was born in 1982 in a very religious family. Due to this fact he had very limited access to music and could use only radio to listen ... It's been a whirlwind romance for Followill and Patterson -- they started dating just this past January. Jared was previously linked to Ashley Greene and Miley Cyrus. Jared is the last member of ...