It all started the day my grandmother died. She was 98 years old, but her age was no factor in her death, like we all assumed it was when we got the call. I had been sitting with my beautiful wife, Christine, and my three children, Anna, Sophie, and Joseph, who were all in their preteen or teenage years, Sophie being the youngest at eleven and Anna being the oldest at fifteen. It was a seemingly ordinary morning in Florida with the bright sun shining through the open windows and the birds chirping happily through our acre of land. Then the phone rang.
"Hello?" I answered.
"John, is that you?" I heard my sister Amanda ask sadly.
"Yeah, it's me. What's going on?'
"Grandma's dead, John, I found her this morning. It was just so awful," My sister explained between sobs.
I was quiet, unsure of what to say. The awkward silence settled over me and my family, their eyes resting on my face as if they were questioning me already.
"You there? Shit, I don't know what to do, just come by, please. Help me get her things together." Amanda begged.
"Alright. Be there in a few," I replied.
"Oh, and John? Don't bring Christine or the kids," she warned, hanging up the phone seconds after.
Her last request was said in a quite unnerving tone, leaving me worried about what I was about to see.
"What's going on, dear?" Christine asked, sounding concerned.
"Well, I'm afraid I've got some bad news. Grandma June has passed away."
Christine and Joseph sighed sadly as Sophie burst into tears.
"Shut up, Sophie, everyone dies. It was about time, too, she was so fucking old," Anna snapped disgustedly.
"Watch your language, young lady!" I yelled at her.
She rolled her eyes and sighed theatrically, storming off to her room, screaming "You're so damn uptight!" as she slammed the door loudly. Not wanting to deal with her, I said goodbye to my family and started driving toward my grandmother's house.
When I got there, Amanda was sitting on the porch, her face sickly green. A sharp smell reached my nose as I walked up the steps. When I opened the door, the view shocked me.
My grandmother's mangled corpse was strewn across the floor in grotesque pieces. Her legs were clawed, the skin hanging off of the flesh, the bones broken like someone had twisted them, small shards stuck in the bloody muscle. Her arms looked similar, except with an odd symbol, like a skull with a rattlesnake twisting through its eye sockets with the tail hanging out of the mouth. And her torso, oh god, I don't know if I can describe it without getting sick. The stomach looked as if it had been torn out by some creature with large, sharp claws. Her heart had been cut out and sewn to the outside of her ribcage, and the skin had been burned off of her back in the same pattern that had been carved into her arm. The head was sitting on the coffee table facing the large mirror in the living room. Her blank eyes caught my eyes in the mirror; her gaze seemed to follow me wherever I went. Her jaw had been torn out and left on the floor. Shocked, I tried to leave the room, but something caught my eye as I stepped over the deformed torso.
In the gaping hole in my grandmother's stomach, I found a letter folded into a neat square, unfolding it carefully, afraid of what may have been written on the paper. As I looked down at it, I saw the words "Read my diary if you dare." in my grandmother's handwriting, except the letters were a rusty red color. Blood.
I stepped back onto the porch, nervously handing the paper to Amanda silently. She read it aloud in a weak, quavering voice, and then started crying again. I walked back inside, headed toward her room.