Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! SMITH HOUSE, a ghostly tale by Amy Valentini


A Ghostly Tale
Amy Valentini

The cool night air carried an ominous vibe as the cautious victims approached the dark, cold, and unlit edifice of what some have said is haunted – Smith House. Even during the day, warmed by the brightest sun, Smith House carries a feeling of the something not of this world. No one ever seemed to enter or leave the rundown structure, at least not in daylight. Even the ivy had not wished to grow up the peeling paint of the dull gray clapboard in so many years that there was no one left alive who remembered it ever being green with life.

A couple members of the small group of adventurers nudged each other teasingly as the heavy clouds suddenly parted as if expecting them and moonlight spotlighted the decrepit old building. Large gables outlined in the light from the sky, glowered over them like heavy knitted eyebrows scowling as if to warn them away. The small assembly halted their forward progression through the gate with a unified gasp.

“I don’t think this is such a good idea. I want to go home,” one quiet voice announced beneath a large brimmed Fedora.

“Don’t be such a sissy, it’s only a house,” the tallest explorer of the group growled as he shoved the smaller Fedora clad fellow forward. “You can go first.”

A loud sound echoed across the distance from the gate to the dilapidated porch and everyone halted once more. Fedora explorer shook in his over sized boots and started to turn back but everyone grabbed him this time, huddling around him. No one spoke but when the sound rang out again, the youngest and sweetest of the group giggled.

“It’s a bell,” the little one exclaimed. “Look, there!”

The group glanced high along the silhouette of the structure to a narrow tower near the top. There in the light of the moon, they witnessed a bell reflecting a sparkle of moonlight as it swung back and forth ringing out a dull, deep resonating tone.

“But who’s ringing the bell?” The tall one asked in a sinister voice.

“I’m going home!” Fedora explorer called out as he pushed his way through the huddled group.

“No! You’re not, sissy boy, you’re leading the way.” The tall one grabbed Fedora explorer by the back of his denim jacket and dragged him forward toward the rickety old house.

The others followed close behind, a few of them muttering about how the tall one was treating Fedora but failed to intervene on his behalf. Fedora fought the grip of the tall adventurer but to no avail. When his feet landed squarely on the broken steps of Smith House, Fedora froze. His breath caught tight in his lungs, his eyes wide with the fear that the others wouldn't admit to.

“Go on! You agreed to do this if we allowed you to come along tonight,” the tall one argued in a threatening voice. “What are you waiting for?”

Fedora stared at the rough, scarred wood of the massive front door. The doorknocker was worn and rusted but he could still make out the monstrous face that peered back at him from the copper-colored bronze. His voice cracked and groaned as he managed his words.

“There’s no doorbell.”

“Use the knocker then,” the group hissed in unison.

Fedora explorer stepped forward with two slow steps until he stood before the door. He swore he could hear the wood breathing for his own breath was permanently trapped in his lungs. Slowly, he raised his hand but even fully extended, he was unable to reach the knocker. With a great exhalation, more of relief than disappointment, he stepped back and announced his dilemma.

“I can’t reach it.”

“For heaven’s sake, must I do everything,” the tall one exclaimed as he shoved Fedora aside and took his place before the door. He glanced over his shoulder at his fellow adventurers as if hoping one of them would rescue him and take his place, but none stepped forward. Fedora was the only other one to stand on the crumbling porch with him. He gave Fedora a weak grin that he hoped looked confident, but when the wind blew cold across his face, he knew it hadn’t.

Slowly, the tall one raised his hand toward the green-hued doorknocker. A unified inhalation echoed through the air like a crackle of lightning and caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand erect. He noticed his fingers shook as they drew closer to the monster’s face and when they closed around the ring that hung from its large bulbous nose, he felt his bladder weaken to the point that he drew his knees together. He, too, was beginning to think this adventure wasn’t such a good idea. No one had conquered Smith House, not in his lifetime anyway. No one seemed to be able to him what lie behind the closed walls and for the first time, he knew he wasn’t the one to find out.

The tall one was about to release the ring when the door handle rattled. He froze, his bladder let go just enough that his face flushed with heat at the thought of the stain that would show on the front of his trousers. Why ever had he thought he could do this?

The great scarred and angry looking door clicked open. The tall one slowly released his fingers but they took their time letting go and by the time he was loose, the door had opened enough that he could see a faint glow emanating from inside the seemingly dark cold house.

The tall one wanted to run. He needed to run. He wanted to run so much that in his mind, he was already clear down the lane and nearly home, but he couldn’t get his feet to move. Fedora stepped forward. He could see him just out of the corner of his eye approaching the door. What was he doing?

The tall one was just about to yell at him to stay back when a blue-veined arm, deathly pale in color in the moonlight, and boney like a skeleton reached through the door opening and grabbed his arm. The touch was cold and amazingly strong. The tall one screamed and promptly fainted.

“Trick or Treat!” The group of adventurers yelled in unison as they stepped over their fearless leader and quickly gathered their goodies from the old woman who smiled and cheerfully filled their sacks.

Fedora was the last to step up. He picked up his tall friend’s sack and asked the smiling woman with the laughter in her eyes if she would put some in his also. She laughed and nodded before filling both her hands with a plentiful bounty of treats and dropped them into the tall one’s sack. Fedora thanked her with a tip of his broad-brimmed hat and as he moved away, he kicked the tall one in the foot.

“Come on, sissy, or I’ll tell everyone you peed your pants.” Fedora explorer laughed happily as he dropped the tall one’s treasure onto his prone body and ran down the steps to join his friends as they continued their adventure further down the lane.

The lesson to be learned is, if you’re not ready to face your own fears don’t push others to do it first, for they just might jump out and say …


Happy Halloween Everyone!

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