The Shadows of H. H. Holmes

September 21, 2017
By toomuchCoffee_13 BRONZE, Columbus, Indiana
toomuchCoffee_13 BRONZE, Columbus, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

I am aware that we are taking a few steps back from today’s society, away from the wonderful gadgets and gizmos that intrigue the intellectual minds. But let me assure you that you will have a more depth and appreciative tone for the story i’m about to tell. I’m sure that plenty of you have only heard the name H.H. Holmes only once or none so ever in your life. Well i’m here to tell you something shocking. He was a man of pure evil , a man who had ripped away the young lives of men and women alike. Herman Webster Mudgett was one of the very first serial killers that had lived in Indiana once or more, and lit the way to heaven for many of those that had fallen into the dark grasp of his simple yet sinister hands. Let us start years ago to, say, the late 1800s. We are traveling back to a time where the reality of the fears and terrors of the human mind were existing and the tales of murder were brought into light.

We are now entering the late 1800s, just a few years after Holmes’ execution. We close in on a young man and his betrothed, soon-to-be wife. He was about in his late teens to his early 20s along with his blushing bride. The young man’s name was Edward Woods and the young woman’s was Alexxis Bundy. They haven’t heard much of Holmes, yet they were old enough to know of him. Edward and Alexxis were looking at a simple yet mysterious brown house. It was dull yet it had a certain appeal to it and both decided to spend at least one year in it the day after their honeymoon. Although many people advised them against it, they had firmly decided that they would. No one stopped them, because what use would it be to repeat the warnings if they choose not to listen. After all, no one would ever dare to ruin such a happy moment with such a terrifying truth.

“What do you suppose they know about the house,” Inquired an old man to his wife, who was knitting a small scarf for her grandson. They both were sitting on the front porch, watching the young couple.

She replied,” I don’t suppose they know much, but it would be wise not to mention it unless they ask.”

The old man looked a little surprised. “Why do you say that dear?”

“Because it wouldn’t feel right. They seem like a nice pair and they are going to be married soon. If they want to spend more than a night in that house, it’s their choice.” The Old woman kept knitting, yet she was a little uneasy.

“Preposterous! They’ll notice something is not quite right when they notice…”

“Shush,” His wife hissed,” you realize that they are just right across the street now, looking at the house right now, thinking god knows what!”

The old man sighed and shook his head. “Alright Mary, but when they inquire, we have to tell them the truth.”
“Yes Harold, I realize this, but for now we must wait.” With that said, they both continued to sit and watch.
While the old married couple was speaking, the young couple went inside it to explore. There isn’t much to tell about it except for the faintest smell of what appeared to be death, although no one has lived in it for a long time.

“Something must have found a way in and was laid to rest,” Young Alexxis stated as she explored around the house.

Edward replied,” Indeed. And the place looks like it’s been collecting dust.”

Alexxis nodded, dusting away at an empty cabinet. “Nothing like a little cleaning won’t do.” With that said, they planned to clean it up when they returned from their honeymoon.

A couple of weeks later after their honeymoon, they moved into the small, brown house and went to work. They dusted, swept, mopped, and cleaned the house. They cleaned every corner they could reach, and moved in every piece of furniture from the first set of chairs to the last of the knick knacks. That night they were so exhausted that they took baths, dressed quickly, and went to bed. It wasn’t long before Alexxis had woken up to the creaking of the floor boards. Frightened, she shook her husband’s shoulder to wake him up.

“Edward, I think I heard something in the hallway!” She whispered frantically. Edward, who was not fully awake yet, looked at her while sitting up.

“Love,  you haven’t slept long enough. It’s probably just your ears playing tricks on you,” Edward grumbled as he sat up to comfort his frightened wife. Alexxis was about to reply when they both were frightened by the slamming of a door along with a soft yet eerie, voice.

“D-did y-you hear that?” Asked Alexxis, who was trembling when it spoke softly again. Edward nodded while suddenly slipping out of bed. Alexxis began to protest but the sound of broken glass made her keep her silence. Edward slipped out of the room while Alexxis hid under the covers. All was quiet except for the rapid beating of her heart. She started worrying when Edward had been gone for the past, perhaps, 20 minutes. She decided to slip out of bed and look for him when she head footsteps and a voice, but it wasn’t Edwards.
“W-who’s there?” she choked out while she poked her head out of the bedroom door into the hallway. The voice came softly and replied eerily.

“Come walk with meeeeeeee!” Alexxis let out a small yelp and ran back into bed, hiding under the covers like a small child would if she were afraid of the dark.

“Alexxis, Alexxis!” She heard Edward cry as she peaked her head out.

“Alexxis, darling are you alright! I heard you and came running back!” Exclaimed Edward as he ran over to his wife and gathered her up into his arms, holding her closely. The night had passed and daylight was peaking through the window, covering the tired beings in a blanket of light.

The next few weeks happened in the same way, each night bringing the same fate. Each night deprived them of their beautiful dreams as well as their sanity, particularly Edward. Each day he seemed to gain the appearance of a walking corpse. Alexxis was worse but her fright kept her sane, yet she wanted to find out what on Earth was going on. Fast. She decided it was time to visit some neighbors who have been around. She visited the old man and his wife. When the old man opened the door, Alexxis told him about what had been happening. After she was done, the old man looked at her gravely and told her to come in. She indeed did. The house was tidy and full of old pictures. It showed pictures of the man, his wife and a couple of children, twin girls. The girls were small, their body frames frail with a milky white complexions, big round hazel eyes, beautiful blonde hair that was cut to shoulder length. The only way you could tell the twins apart was that one had a small scar above her eyebrow. The man had dark brown hair with soft yet stern brown eyes. His wife was very beautiful in her youth. She had blonde curled hair, bright crystal blue eyes, a slim frame and a pretty white smile. 

“I see that you have a very beautiful family,” Alexxis stated as she looked at the old man.

The old man replied mournfully,” I had a beautiful family once… Now it is just me and my wife Mary.”

“She is very beautiful, Mr.?”

“Call me Harold.”

“Alright. So what can you tell me about that house?” Harold gestured for her to sit in the brown, leather chair and Alexxis took the offer kindly. Harold then sat himself in the rocking chair across from her.
“So what seems to be the problem?” He asked while looking closely at Alexxis.

“I believe  the house to be haunted! Doors slamming, lights flickering, glass shattering, male sounding voices saying things like “Ask her” (or was it “Oscar”?) and “Come walk with meeeeeeee!” Honestly it is a nightmare! I fear Edward is close to losing his mind!” Alexxis exclaimed, fear and anger twisting together. Harold was silent for a few moments before he spoke again.

“My dear, have you ever heard of Dr. H.H.Holmes?”

“Yes but I don’t know much about him. Why is that?”

“Dr. H.H.Holmes, long story short, was the alias used by the psychopathic Herman Webster Mudgett, who may have tortured and killed as many as 200 people,” He continued, “ He didn’t go straight to murder at first. Holmes’s life of crime began with various frauds and scams. As a medical student at the University of Michigan, he stole corpses, which he used to make false insurance claims. Holmes may have used the bodies for experiments, as well.” Alexxis was horrified at the thought, but she struggled to keep her composure. She had to find out what was going on.

Seeing that she wasn’t as frightened, he continued. “He took over a Chicago pharmacy and built it into an elaborate maze of death traps to which he lured numerous victims during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. I do believe that many victims have been enticed at the very start. Forgive me for saying this but, not very many people seem to be the wisest when they are having fun.”

“Forgive me for interrupting but, how do you know so much of this man? Were you on the case, did you know him or is he a distant relative?” Alexxis asked, very eager to know why this has anything to do with the house. The old man was struck silent, the sadness in his eyes said it all as Alexxis regretted the words the emerged from her mouth. As the Harold sat there, his wife emerged from the kitchen. Her face was red with anger. It was obvious that she was listening in.

“How dare you ask such awful questions! You have no right to come into this house and ask such abominable questions when my husband has offered to help you!” She exclaimed furiously.

“I-i’m sorry ma’am. I-it’s just that I want to know what Holmes has to do with my problem,” Alexxis stuttered, frightened by the angry woman standing before her. The woman was about to start on her again but Harold waved a hand in disapproval.

“That will be quite enough Mary. For heaven’s sake, the lady can ask any questions she likes if it’s concerning her case.” Harold looked gravely at Mary.

“But Harold..”

“Enough.” Mary grumbled as she walked to the chair beside Harold and took a seat. Alexxis took this time to study them. Harold and Mary, in contrast to their pictures, looked like they aged about 30 years even through time and perhaps from grieving. Harold had silver hair and grey eyes, the spark that she once saw in the photo was gone. His frame had grown heavy and his eyes were sunken in. Mary was similar but she still had her small frame, but it was more frail and bony. Her hair, once a beautiful blonde was now white and tied back into a tight bun.

“The questions you asked are difficult to answer, but I must answer you. I was once a happy man with a happy wife and two beautiful children, Abigail and Maria. They went to an expo when they traveled with their husbands. They said they would write as often as they could while they were gone for a couple of days. That was the last time I’ve ever saw the four of them…” He continued,” It had been years until someone finally caught their killer and can you guess who it was”

Alexxis stated quietly,” Holmes..”

Harold nodded,” When it came out that my daughters and their husbands had been lured by Holmes. That was when I started learning everything I could about Holmes. Holmes had a three-story building constructed, creating an elaborate house of horrors. The upper floors contained his living quarters and many small rooms where he tortured and killed his victims. Some of these rooms had gas jets so he could asphyxiate his victims. There were also trapdoors and chutes so he could move the bodies to the basement where he could burn his victims’ remains in a kiln there or dispose of them in other ways. The more I researched, I suddenly learned a terrifying fact when I saw his face. He had lived here briefly.”

“Where at?”

When authorities got wise to Holmes, he fled, staying briefly in Irvington, then a quiet suburb of Indianapolis that then was home to butler University. The neighborhood played host to several grisly events. Basically he lived across the street from us, or to be precise, the house where you and your husband are living right now.”
“What! How can this be? What on Earth did he do in the house that can cause such frightening nights of restlessness and spirits!” Exclaimed Alexxis, deeply disturbed that she and her husband have been living under the roof of a serial killer’s home.

“There are a lot of unknowns about exactly what he was doing in (the house he rented in Irvington), because we don’t really know. But I can tell you one thing, go back to where you came from, grab your husband, and find another place to live. It is not safe to start a family when you lose you insanity.” With that said, Harold, Mary and Alexxis stood up.

“I can’t thank you enough for what you have told me. You have been very kind to me about this situation and I am forever grateful. I shall write to you when Edward and I find a different home.” Alexxis exclaimed as she bid them goodbye and ran as fast she could in her dress and petticoats. It wasn’t long before the Woods moved out and as promised, wrote a letter to Harold and Mary. The explained how they were living, how Edward’s health had improved, and how grateful they are to them for helping them out in such a predicament. They even went as far as to invite them over for dinner in at least a week. Mary grinned as she read the letter.

“They certainly are nice people. It’s just a shame that we have to make sure that they didn’t see us.” Harold, who was now sharpening his hunting knives, replied,“Indeed. I was so looking forward to seeing how their child would’ve turned out. Oh, well. Maybe the next neighbors won’t be as troubled by the spirit. After all, Holmes was a close friend of ours.”

“What’s more, he took care of our bratty children and their conceited husbands.” Mary laughed while packing up some spare clothes. They were going to have some “bloody” fun.

The author's comments:

I was choosing a research project for my english class last year and this caught my eye. I wanted to write something different from the other students so it kinda stuck.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Feb. 28 at 3:49 pm
toomuchCoffee_13 BRONZE, Columbus, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Thank you! I would definitely recommend Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Everything Everything.

on Sep. 26 2017 at 4:59 pm
yologene BRONZE, Alpharetta, Georgia
1 article 0 photos 6 comments
1st to comment! :) Loved your analysis/review on this. Any other books that you would recommend? Please post more!

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