Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Ghost Story of Sorts


Something woke me. I lay still on my bed listening. For a moment all I hear is my wife’s rhythmic breathing tempting me back to sleep. Just as my eyes begin to drift shut, I hear a sound from somewhere in the house.


        It’s a new house. Or, at least, it’s new to us. It’s in fact a very old house. Historic was how the realtor described it. Crumbling would be the adjective I would use, but my wife loves the place. I have never heard her say the word potential as many times as she did while we toured the house weeks ago. I’m not nearly as sold on it as she is, but it’s mostly her money, or her father’s money, really, so, it’s the place we’re calling home now.


        I want to go back to sleep. I don’t want to care what the sound is, but my mind can’t be stopped as it begins to explore the possible origins of the noise and I know I have to look into it.


It’s a strange sound, not the usual pipe rattle or mouse in the walls noise. It’s makes me think of some kind of animal's desolate howl, or maybe a distant train whistle.


I think it might be coming from the kitchen.  


        We don't leave any lights on in the house after we've gone to bed. We keep it dark, and the only light that faintly illuminates the house tonight comes from the moonlight streaming in through the windows. We haven’t had a chance to hang curtains yet.

The light from the moon isn’t much, but it’s enough that I don’t feel the need to turn on any lights as I make my way from the bedroom and down a hallway. I reach the stairs and carefully plod down them, making sure each foot is firmly on a step before moving the other foot.


As I reach the first floor, I become certain the noise is in fact coming from the kitchen. I begin to make my way forward when I stub my toes on an unpacked moving box. The living room is a minefield of them.


I keep my eyes on the floor as I move through the living room, trying not to trip over anything. It is because I’m concentrating on the ground that I don’t see them until I’m nearly upon them. Six people, standing in a circle, in the middle of the kitchen.


It’s too dark to see faces, and they seem to be wearing dark cloaks. I almost scream, but fear chokes the sound from my throat.

        I begin to slowly back away. I think maybe they haven’t noticed me. The strange sound is louder here and maybe it has masked the noise of my approach. Maybe I can get back to the bedroom and my cellphone and call the police before they spot me, I think. Then I trip.

I land on a box of dishware, plates shattering beneath me. I look up at the kitchen, certain that the people will be coming after me, but they are still standing in their strange circle, still as mannequins.


Suddenly the living room light turns on.


My wife is at the base of the stairs, finger still on the light switch, looking at me on the ground. I spare her a quick glance and begin to yell at her, to tell her to run, but am stopped short as my gaze returns to the kitchen.


There are no people there. There are six person-like shapes made up of my and my wife’s clothing stuffed with newspaper, like Halloween decorations.

My wife is tougher than I am by a long shot, and she doesn’t so much as make a sound. She walks over to where I’m standing, extends her hand and helps me to my feet. Together we stand just outside the kitchen, looking at scene within.

“I assume that you didn’t do this?” my wife says to me in more of a statement than question.

“Yeah,” I respond silently.

“What time is it?” she asks.

“What does it matter?” I respond.

She ignores my question and looks at a radio we had plugged in to play music while we unpacked. It reads 12:10 AM.

“What time did you go to bed?” she asks as she moves into the kitchen and begins to examine the figures.

“A little after 11:00,” I state after a moment’s thought.

“You didn’t hear anything while you were trying to fall asleep?” she again speaks the question as a statement.

“I did not,” I say as I begin to catch on to her line of thought. “So whoever did this had to have come in after I had fallen asleep, which would probably have been around 11:30 or later.”

She seems relieved that we're on the same page and she responds, “Which means they would have found our boxes of clothing, stuffed our clothes with newspaper…” here she stops speaking and begins to tear apart one of the figures. As she peels off the clothing, she uncovers wire, like coat hangers, providing the figures structure. She continues, “formed this wire into human shapes, and arranged six of them in a circle in our kitchen. All without making a sound, and all in roughly half an hour.”

            "Doesn't seem possible," I say.


“What the hell?” she finally says as if frustrated with the very thought of the situation.


“Agreed,” I say.


        She walks out of the kitchen and goes to the mudroom at the back of the house. I hear her try the backdoor, which is locked and doesn’t open. I head to the front door and try the handle, but it's also locked.

She emerges from the kitchen and into the living room and gives me a look as I stand next to the front door. I shake my head.


“Windows,” she says.


We each move around the house, checking all the windows and find that each of them are securely closed and locked. We come back together in the living room. We stand there in silence for a moment before I realize the sound from the kitchen has stopped at some point.

"Sounds gone," I observe.

"That's what woke me up," she says. "Then I saw you were gone."

"I came down to check it out..." I begin to explain and then am stopped short.

The noise is back, but this time it's coming from upstairs.

"Our bedroom," my wife says.

We look at each other and I can read her thoughts. She wants to go investigate. I do not. I do, however, want to keep her from going up there alone.

“Call the cops?” I suggest?


“My phones under my pillow on the bed. Yours?”


Bedroom.”


“We could go to a neighbors.”


“That would make great first impression," she says sarcastically.

“What do you want to do?”


“Let’s go check it out,” she says.


          We climb up the stairs.

 I turn the hallway light on at the top of the steps and we slowly make our way toward the bedroom. The noise is the same one that I heard earlier, a soft and hollow whistling.

 “I left that door open,” my wife says, motioning toward the bedroom door, which is now closed.

 I stand motionless outside the door for a moment, and then my wife moves around me and turns the door handle. She throws open the door quickly. The bedroom is dark.


 There is no ceiling light in the bedroom. We have only unpacked one lamp for the room and it’s next to the bed. The bedroom is faintly illuminated by the hallway light leaking into the room and moonlight streaming in through the windows. It's enough for us to make out something that chills me.


There are two dark shapes under the blankets of our bed.


My wife inches her way toward the lamp that is sitting on the ground next to the bed. She turns the light on and jumps back toward the doorway, from where I haven’t moved. The lamp light shows that the blanket is pulled over the figures in the bed.


From the foot of the bed, my wife grabs the blanket by a corner and tugs it off the bed in one quick motion. There, spooning, are two newspaper-stuffed figures, formed with wire, made from my wife and my clothing on the bed. 

There’s also a note.


My wife moves to the bed and reads the note aloud. “It says, ‘Welcome to your new house.’"


by Alone at Night's D.K.

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