Chapter 2: Welcome Home

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He jerked his head to the side like he'd heard something, but the team hadn't heard anything.

"Can we please leave?" Jenn asked, almost in tears. "This has obviously been a mistake."

Mr. Bache laughed. "Oh, you have no idea."

"If you want to call the cops," James said, "we'd totally understand." At this point, the police would be a welcomed sight. 

He shook his head. "No, no cops. They wouldn't understand. They think I'm crazy."

James took a step forward, causing the shotgun to swing around on him. "Can we just go? We're sorry we came and invaded your privacy, trespassed, whatever. It wasn't our intention. We came to help, or so we thought. We'd never—"

"Shut up," Mr. Bache said evenly. "None of you are going anywhere."

All hope was lost at the sound of those words.

"Please," Shannon begged. "Please just let us leave."

"At least the girls," James said. "Let them go."

He looked at all of them like he was pondering what to do with them. "No, I can't do that."

"Shit," Chad muttered under his breath, knowing they were in serious trouble.

"I need the pictures removed from your website and I need them removed now," Mr. Bache demanded. "If you try to call anyone, I will shoot you. You've been warned."

"What pictures?" James asked.

"How do you think I knew you were here? Pictures of my home appear on the internet and I get a call telling me someone is in my home."

"I did that," Chad admitted. "I made an album and have been posting them live as they were taken."

"Delete them now." Mr. Bache watched Chad carefully as he did as he was told. "Okay, I need you all to hand over your phones."

Shannon and Jenn were openly crying at this point.

"I have kids at home," Shannon said. "Jenn and I both do. Please, let us go."

"I said I can't do that!" he yelled for the first time, but then quickly composed himself as he gathered their phones. "Did you know I'm a direct decedent of Benjamin Franklin?" They shook their heads, having no idea what that had to do with anything. "This has put a lot of, shall I say, responsibility on me."

"Benjamin Franklin?" James repeated, thinking the cops were right to think he was crazy. "He's been dead for over two-hundred years."

"Of course he has." He smiled, making no sense at all, as threw his gun over his shoulder like he was ready to hunt. "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to tie you all up, now."

"What? No! Why?" Shannon and Jenn expressed their terror in unison.

They were ignored.

"You," he said, pointing at James, "follow me."

The all looked each other and at James like they'd never see him again, knowing that was a possibility.

Once they were out of site, Chad looked at Jenn and Shannon. "Run," he mouthed, pointing toward the door.

"If anyone tries to run," Mr. Bache called from the foyer, "they die."

This was it and they knew it. Once they were tied up, they wouldn't have another chance to escape.

Feeling the desperation, Jenn panicked. "I'm taking my chances."

Once she took off, so did Shannon.

"Shit," Chad said, quickly following them out the door.

The sound of a gunshot blasted through the foyer, deafening them all.

Jenn stopped running and fell to the floor. "Shannon!"

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Chad yelled. "You shot her!"

"I told you I would, so why are you acting so surprised?" Mr. Bache asked blankly.

"Shannon," Jenn cried, losing all hope that they were going to make it out of this alive. "Please, let us go."

He glared at her. "You could be one of them." He pointed his gun at her, causing her to flinch and shut her eyes. "How do I know you're not one of them?" he yelled.

"One of who?" James asked, causing him to spin around like he'd forgotten he was still standing behind him.

Mr. Bache stepped back, motioning for James to join the others on the floor. "The only thing this house it haunted by is its past. There are no ghosts here. No, they are real. They watch me, waiting for one slip-up. One moment of weakness." He shook his head. "I'm too smart for that and they know it. They know. Don't you?" he yelled to the walls.

James and Chad looked at each other, both thinking the same thing—the cops were right to think he was crazy.

"Who, exactly, do you think is here?" James asked.

"That's what I've been trying to figure out," Mr. Bache admitted. "My entire life I've tried. And my father, and his father, and his father. My ancestors have cursed our very name, all in the name of power." He laughed maniacally. "How do you think good ole Grandpa Franklin became president?"

Chad shook his head. "We have no idea what you're talking about. I mean... Benjamin Franklin? What does he have to do with anything?"

He quickly ran across the foyer, squatting down in Chad's face. "Oh, he has everything to do with this. He brought them here." He stood back up and slapped the wall beside him hard. "They reside right here... inside these walls!" He dropped his hand, trying to compose himself once again. "Have you ever heard of the Illuminati? The Hellfire Club?"

James shot a glance at Chad in disbelief before turning his attention back to the crazy man that stood in front of them. "You think the Illuminati are inside your walls?"

Mr. Bache smiled, but it wasn't a pleasant one. "How about I let you see for yourself?"

The next hour was spent tying each of them up in different rooms in the manor, all except for Shannon, who, like Deb and Traci, had mysteriously disappeared from the foyer.

"Where is she?" Jenn questioned.

"I'm sure she's with the others. They always get the weak and unsuspecting." He pointed toward the door. "I'm sure your friend would've been next if they hadn't already feasted on that woman and her daughter. But as with all living things, they get hungry after a while."

"Stop, just stop!" Jenn didn't want to hear anymore.

Mr. Bache continued to give each of them a history lesson on evil corruption, demonic power, and the monsters it caused, while he secured their ropes, placing their chairs in the center of the room. Each of them faced one of the many holes that eerily adorned the manor, where they were told they'd soon be enlightened.

"The holes," he said proudly. "I don't think they expected that one, me forcing my way in. The holes are like windows, you know. Not only can I now see in, but they can also see out."

"But how?" Chad probed. "How can these... people, or whatever, live inside a wall?"

"They don't live inside a wall," Mr. Bache explained. "This is just one stop out of many. It's all about lineage and those who were cursed by it. It's all about power and those who sought it, made deals to possess it, and are still paying for it. My ancestors possessed it and now I must pay for it." He laughed. "But I refused to pay any longer. My grandparents... mother... father...." He looked out the window and toward the lake. "I've paid enough."

"Then let us go," Chad argued. "Why keep us here like this? We've learned our lesson. Let us go and we won't tell anyone anything," he lied, knowing the cops would be the first place he went. "There are already three people missing. Don't add to it."

"You will be my proof," he said. "Proof that I'm not as crazy as they say." He smiled as he turned to walk away. "Wait patiently. They will come."

And he was gone.

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