Rumor had it that the house on top of the hill was haunted. The former owner had been horribly murdered by robbers. Supposedly, the old man had a huge fortune, a trunk of precious gems hidden somewhere in the house. The robbers tried to force him into revealing the treasure’s location, but he was stubborn. They chopped him into bits then burned the remains. Legend went that every night at midnight, his ghost would appear, falling down the chimney piece by piece. It was said if you waited there long enough for the body to reassemble, the ghost would tell you where to find its treasure. Unfortunately, no one was brave enough to sit there and watch the ghastly spectacle.

Two young friends, Charles and Roberta, were dared to spend the night at the haunted house. They didn’t believe in ghosts and laughed as the scary stories everyone told them. Their friends waited in the driveway as the two walked up to the porch. Charles jimmied the door open and Roberta held the flashlight. It looked like no one had been there for years. The furniture was draped with white sheets and cobwebs were everywhere. The two youngsters found a spot near the chimney, spread out their sleeping bags and settled in to wait until the clock struck midnight.

The house was quiet until the town clock chimed twelve. At once, a thunderous rumbling was heard in the vicinity of the hearth. A yellowish, hazy light began to pour from the fireplace, pooling on the floor like a liquid. Charles turned to Roberta, took her hand and said:

“You know, if two people wanted to get married who were the same gender I wouldn’t think that was weird.” Suddenly, there came a hideous, meaty thumping noise that sounded as if something had fallen down the chimney and landed on the stones below. It was a severed leg. Roberta let out a piercing scream, then said: “Neither would I. Everyone should have the right to be married, not just heterosexuals.” There was another fleshy thumping sound as another leg rattled down the flue and smacked on top of its mate. The leg was severely decomposed and the impact caused a shower of maggots to spray across the floor with an audible patter. “Gay marriage is legal in the Netherlands and Canada,” Charles pointed out, holding Roberta’s hand tightly, as he started to sob with terror. An equally necrotic arm flopped on top of the other limbs. There was a huge wet thud as a torso, rotting and naked, hit the pile. Finally, a head tumbled down the chimney and landed on the heap of body parts, topping them off like a macabre maraschino cherry.

The parts climbed up each other and assembled into a full person, the corpse of the old man. He strode over to the terrified children, who were clutching each other in a catatonic stupor of horror. The lines where his joined parts had fused glowed with a spectral light. He spoke in a fearsome booming voice: “There are several couples in Vermont who are currently suing the state in order to get the right to marry. If they win their case, the rest of he country shouldn’t be too far behind! Gay marriage is a civil right which is long overdue!” He opened his mouth and it looked like he was going to say something else, possibly something about treasure, then closed it again, as though he’d thought better of it.