"The Previous Owner" drabbles by Christopher

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The Same Dream

The Previous Owner #69

Jim Foster kept making entries every couple of days, always making excuses for why he couldn't go to the police. Then something was written in the book that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

He wrote on October 5, 1979:

"I had the strangest dream last night. A woman appeared to me in my dream, a short woman with red hair and pale skin. She told me the job wasn't finished. And she called me son. Only she wasn't my mother."

I felt sick. The same dream I had Foster also had..... 40 years ago!

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The Previous Owner #68

I returned to the book. There was a gap after Mark Finch's last entry. Then, in July of '79 the new owner of the house, Jim Foster, must've discovered the journal, for he began documenting his life in it.

The first entry by Foster read:

"I can't believe what I've stumbled upon. The previous owner of this house was a murderer. I've just viewed the films he made of his murders. I found this journal and the knife he used. I need to go to the police, but I don't want my wife and daughter to know what happened here."

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The Other Side

The Previous Owner #67

The entries became melancholy, almost regretful. It was as if he was realizing that he'd killed more than just Abigail. This went on for months. He was saying things like "I can't take it anymore" and "I just won't do it again."

The last entry was on July 15, 1979. He said he was going to go to the other side. He said where no one would find him, like Abigail. I wondered if that meant to the cave in the desert. I pondered if the "other side" meant death. Did he go out into the desert and commit suicide?

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The Previous Owner #66

I quickly started thumbing through the pages, discovering that they were almost all the same. The first part of the year Mark was seemingly okay. Around September the erotic dreams about his mother would return. Then she would appear to him and tell him the job wasn't finished. And although the locations where "Abigail" was supposed to be were always different, once the poor girl was back at the house the entry would be identical to the first. This went on until early 1979, which was the year Mark Finch vanished off the face of the Earth, according to Mo.

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Word For Word

The Previous Owner #65

The odd part was I remembered that second girl's film and things were quite different from the way the real Abigail was killed. She came in and looked around disapprovingly and said, "Let's get on with this. You're not going to film us, are you? Because that's extra. I've never had a freak like you."

And he killed her on the couch, not on the bed. But in Mark Finch's mind it played out exactly the same way he'd killed Abigail. At least that's how he wrote it in the journal, word for word the way he described Abigail's murder.

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The Previous Owner #64

There was only one more entry before the second murder.

It simply said:

"Mother came to me last night. She said the job wasn't finished."

Then the entries stopped until November 8, 1968. He documented how he went to Kenniville and found Abigail walking the streets. He said the slut had turned into a prostitute. He also said she didn't recognize him and told him she would go back with him to Weeping Springs for $100.00. He agreed and picked her up. The rest of the entry was a carbon copy of what he wrote about the real Abigail Lewis.

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Time Loop

The Previous Owner #63

The surprising thing was he was talking about Abigail Lewis as if he'd never killed her. He ranted about his mother's "recent" death and how Abigail was getting away with it. It was like he was stuck in a time loop.

He mentioned that Abigail had left town but he thought he knew where she was. He said Kenniville was 35 miles north. He said he thought that was where she was.

As November 7th got closer he wrote he was going to go to Kenniville and find the bitch, bring her back to Weeping Springs, and waste her good.

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On The Verge

The Previous Owner #62

There was a smattering of entries to the journal after Abigail Lewis' murder. They all seemed as if Mark Finch might actually be getting his life on track. He still never left the house, but he talked about hiring a broker over the phone to invest some of the money he had left of the settlement from his dad's death. That seemed to be his focus in the first half of 1968. Around September of that year the entries began getting chaotic again. The dreams about his mother returned.

He seemed like a man on the verge of falling apart.

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The Cave

The Previous Owner #61

I set the book down and rubbed my eyes, then picked it up and continued:

"There's a drop off in the cave. I let a rock go and waited to hear it hit the bottom. I'm judging it's about a thirty foot drop. I doubt anything but wild animals ever go in that cave."

He had drawn a crude map directly under that entry showing where the cave was. I didn't know if I was brave enough to try and find it. He and the subsequent owners of the house probably all used that cave to dispose of the bodies.

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The Previous Owner #60

At least what he wrote in the journal was lining up with the film he shot.

I kept reading:

"I pulled the knife and sent her to Hell. I feel a peace now that I haven't felt since Mother died. Maybe I can put this behind me now. They'll never find Abigail's body. I drove out to the middle of the desert and hid her in a cave. It was a place I discovered once when Dad took me out there. He was trying out a new hunting rifle by picking off coyotes, and I was just wandering around alone."

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The Previous Owner #59

I continued reading:

"Bitch still didn't recognize me when she got in the car. She didn't recognize my house either. We pulled up and she said she was very horny. I told her to go in and find the bedroom. She got out and staggered up to the front door. I got the camera from the back and turned it on. I recorded her as she went around the house looking for the bedroom. Then she found the bedroom and started stripping her clothes off like a WHORE! Then she laid back on the bed and spread her slutty legs."

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The Previous Owner #58

He wrote how he'd sent away through the mail for a home movie camera and that he was going to use it to document the meting out of justice for his mother.

There wasn't another entry until the day after the murder.

He wrote:

"Picked up Abigail last night. I was going to kidnap her, take her out into the desert, and waste her, I had the camera in the backseat. But she was so strung out on LSD she didn't even recognize me. She was outside the bowling alley. I asked if she wanted to go for a ride."

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The Previous Owner #57

It was the documentation of his dreams, though, that were the most fascinating. Some were normal dreams a young man would have who'd just lost his mother. Others were disturbing, explicit dreams that wouldn't be out of place in a Sigmund Freud lecture about the Oedipus Complex. I'm no Quaker, but the vivid descriptions he gave of his erotic dreams about his mother were extremely unsettling.

He started writing about a month before the first anniversary of his mother's death how his mother was appearing to him, not in dreams but in the real world.

She said she sought justice.

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The Previous Owner #56

I was quite pleased with the work I'd accomplished so I decided to turn in early and start reading the journal. I started at the beginning, rereading the first entry I'd read in the basement.

In the year that followed the death of Mark Finch's mother, I noticed his mental state was steadily deteriorating. By the time it got to the summer of '67 it seemed like Mark could no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality. The earlier entries documenting his displeasure over his mother's killer getting off scott free gave way to strange and sometimes violent, profanity-riddled rants.

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The Previous Owner #55

I was mulling over the thought of turning my current predicament into a screenplay. I'd been contemplating it ever since I found those snuff films, but now I was sure that's what I wanted to do.

I opened a new file and began typing. It poured out of me faster than I could type. By nightfall I had 30 pages. I was getting hungry so I broke out the chips, beef jerky and soda. I didn't feel like going to Mo's and having her repeatedly telling me to get out of the house.

It was starting to feel like home.

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Work To Do

The Previous Owner #54

The one thing that still puzzled me was why after a decade every owner that succeeded Mark Finch disappeared. I knew I was going to have to read the journal from front to back. But I'd have to do that later. If I didn't get back to writing the script, which is what I went there for in the first place, I wouldn't have it ready for production early next year. And it was already August.

I went back upstairs to the computer and read what I had so far. It was garbage.

I wondered if I needed new material.

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"...is that my fate?"

The Previous Owner #53

I closed the book and started shaking. Every occupant of this house after Mark Finch found his knife and journal and continued the murder of young blonde girls, avenging a mother they never had, that they'd never even seen. I wondered if they dreamed about her like I did. Was her spirit somehow compelling all the owners of this house to carry on her son's wicked legacy? Or was it the power of suggestion? Did they become as obsessed with finding out the answers to this mystery as I have?

And is that my fate? To be the next killer?

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The Legacy

The Previous Owner #52

I stopped there and started thumbing through the pages. It was sporadic. he didn't write every day, I guess only when things really started to bother him. What was weird was I jumped ahead and saw that Jim Foster, the one that Mo said bought the house after Mark Finch disappeared, started writing in the journal, from '79 to '88. Then in '89 a Max Keller started writing in it until '98. In '99 Samuel Ladd took over until 2008. In 2009 Lance Moore took over. His last entry was just after the anniversary of Betty Finch's death in 2018.

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"I'm not like everyone else."

The Previous Owner #51

I opened the book. It was handwritten. The first page was dated November 30, 1966. The first entry said:

"My mother died 23 days ago. I decided to gather my thoughts into a journal. I must admit I'm having a hard time dealing with this loss. I lost my dad 6 years ago and I still haven't gotten over that. But at least I had Mother. Now I have no one. I'm 18 and can take care of myself, but I still have no one else in the world. No one but Mother understood me. I'm not like everyone else."

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The Previous Owner #50

I removed each screw and then pulled the panel off. There wasn't any water in the tank, but there was a shoe box and a leather bound book. I pulled them both out and carried them to the stairs and sat back down. My heart raced as I opened the box. I recognized it immediately. It was the knife and sheath that I had seen in every one of the snuff films. I felt ill. I threw the box to the floor and turned my attention to the book. It had no writing on the outside nor on the spine.