After several periods of soul-searching, hollow reassurances and crippling doubt, Mr. Craven calmed down. He convinced himself that the sinister red eyes eroding his sanity just belonged to burrowing wild animals. He didn’t even try to explain the whispering voices anymore. What logical explanation could he come up with for that, anyway? It was much easier to just shut that inexplicable detail out of his mind. He knew he would end up back at the institute if he didn’t confront his fears, head on. He grabbed the flashlight with renewed vigor and varying levels of lucidity. Armed with only rational thought as his metaphorical ‘sword and shield’, he removed the broken padlock.
He opened the crawlspace door and pointed the beam of light in the direction of the menacing eyes. There, a haunting sight awaited which caused all rational thought and sanity to abandon him forever. Far worse than the four red eyes, were two human skeletons shackled to concrete support pillars!
Deep within his bewitched mind, the whispering voices beckoned him. They commanding him to get the key dangling on a nearby hook, and unlock their chains. No matter how hard he tried, he could not break their hypnotic spell. “Free us” they chanted insistently. He was doing all he could to fight the urge to obey but his own hand betrayed him.
Mr. Craven took the rusty key from the nail and grasped it with trembling hands. His possessed body crawled toward the dark, freezing corner while his detached mind sought any solution to the terrifyingly crisis. Dr. Phelps had instructed him in several procedures to follow when he felt himself losing control. None of which had any effect on the supernatural situation he was currently embroiled in. His disobedient body was nearly to ‘them’; while his disengaged mind fantasized about being back at the trapdoor.
Within the whispered command dominating his mind to bring them the key, came an even more sinister order. No words could describe the consuming horror he felt when the implications sunk in. It drained away the last remaining bit of resistance he held.
Not only was he deliberately crawling toward unspeakable things chained under the house; his own hand was lowering the flashlight! With no further hesitation, he shut it off and was all alone with them, under the floor. The blinding darkness and stagnant cold took his crumbled sanity to even greater depths. In what seemed like an eternity, his eyes adjusted and could see everything. He was so close to the grinning specters that he could even see the keyhole on their wrist shackles. The very ones that he was reaching to unlock.
At that moment he remembered the old biblical verse: “If thine own hand offends thee, cut it off.” He surely would have done so at that moment if it was possible. Their heavy chains rattled impatiently as he struggled one last time to regain control. He knew it wouldn’t be much longer before his failing will gave out.
A foreign voice within his mind began to speak with stern authority. “Within thy hand lies the key, to unlock our chains and set us free.” With sinking hope he watched as the first shackle opened. The phantom voice rose louder… “So it shall be.”
Many years have passed since the man disappeared from his new home. Some have speculated about his frail mental state after so many years in the psychiatric hospital. None however, have provided any concrete proof to support the idea that freedom was too much for him. Despite the damning circumstances, Dr. Phelps stood by his mental assessment of Mr. Craven and decision to discharge him as a patient. He suggested to detectives that the missing man would turn up eventually, but he hasn’t been heard from since.
Several families have purchased the old house in the ensuing years. All of them intended to take advantage of the Federal Housing Administration’s benefits for young families. In every case however, they would not stay longer than a couple days. Without exception, they each claimed the house is haunted by rattling chains and a disembodied voice. According to sworn testimony, a frightening man is heard to scream, over and over: “Please don’t leave me down here!”