Darken Not Your Heart

Here is a ghost story I wrote. Hope you enjoy it.

I couldn’t see a thing, but the illuminated face of the clock, in the ink-dark room. The bleak, Autumn wind moaned at first, then rose to a shrill. Branches raked their nails across the windows and a chill frosted the air. I’m normally a sober man, but the storm cast its gloom, and I felt the need for a brandy. My hands groped for the decanter on the buffet and I poured myself a drink. My hands shook as I raised my glass to my lips. The brandy tasted of sweet blackberries and plums. It warmed my throat as the liquid trickled down.

I considered myself lucky that I had found the inn, before the storm hit. Most places were booked with a convention in downtown Seattle. My friend, David apologized for the lack of room at his place. I had traveled from Utah, yet I was set aside for David’s in-laws. The brandy took its toil and soon my eyes drifted to sleep. The glass fell from my hand and woke me. I climbed inside my bed and pulled the covers over my head.

The first sensation of consciousness was an icy feeling rippling down my spine. I reached for my blankets, but they were gone. I scanned the floor and a movement grabbed my attention. Did my eyes deceive me? It looked like a woman’s leg. I sat up and screamed. A woman, with flaxen hair, gray eyes, a droopy lip, and skin paler than milk, stood over me with a carving knife in her hand.

“What do you want?” I asked.

Silence.  My heart pounded in my chest. She leaned closer. I rolled out of the way as she stabbed the bed over and over. Blood pooled in the spot where she had driven the knife. I crawled across the room. The door was locked! How did she get in? My fingers trembled as I released the lock. I flung open the door and raced down the hall.

I hammered on the office door, but no one answered. The management must live on the premises though, right? I rushed down the hall and struck every door. At the last room, an elderly man opened his door a crack. He put on his spectacles over his hooked nose and peered up at me.

“Sir, there is a strange woman in my room,” I said.

“Count your lucky stars, sonny. It’s a might cold out. I’m going back to bed.” The man started to close his door.

“Wait!” I stuck my foot in the door. “She has a knife.”

“Then call the police.”

“The power is out and I forgot to charge my phone. Please, can you come, if only to be a witness?” I begged.

The man pulled a red plaid jacket over his thermal shirt and grabbed a rifle that leaned against a wall. “In case.”

He walked behind me as I jogged back to my room. My door stood ajar. I pushed it further open. The old man shone his flashlight inside the room. I couldn’t believe it. The woman was gone and so was the blood stain. The man sniffed the glass on the floor.

“Perhaps you were seeing things, sonny. Get some sleep. Things will look better in the morning.” He left my side.

How could I sleep? The beat of the clock amplified in the room. I crawled under the covers.

The alarm startled me awake. Two in the morning. That’s odd. I hadn’t set the alarm. When had I fallen asleep? The door banged open and the woman, from earlier, stood in the doorway.

“I know you’ve been sleeping with that doe-eyed floozy! She won’t service your needs anymore.” The woman tore across the room.

I flipped off the bed in time. She stabbed the mattress several times. A large pool of blood appeared on the sheets again. The woman disappeared before my eyes. Am I hallucinating or did I just witness a ghost? Enough of this! I yanked the blanket off the bed and wrapped it over my shoulders. I stormed out of my room and headed to the lobby. A light from the kitchen caught my eye. I turned in that direction. An angel-faced young woman, with big eyes, set a tea kettle on the burner.

“Oh, did the power come back on?” I asked.

“I’ll have your tea ready in a jiffy, sir.” She bobbed a curtsy.

To my surprise, she crumbled to the floor and her apron soaked with blood. The ghostly woman appeared and yanked the bloody, carving knife from the cook’s side. She walked over to the stove and turned up the flame.

“No!” I screeched.

They both disappeared and the flame extinguished. I stalked over to the stove and felt it. It was stone cold. How was this possible? I strolled into the lobby and curled up in a leather recliner. I tucked the blanket around me and closed my eyes.

The grandfather clock bonged and I jumped. Would I ever get a good night’s sleep? It was four in the morning. I heard shuffling and peered behind me. A small figure hobbled down the hallway. She entered my room. Hadn’t I locked it? I hurried down the hallway. My door stood open. The ghostly woman leaned over my bed. The small figure of a woman plunged a fork into the ghostly woman’s neck. The woman fell backwards and the fork sunk deeper. The younger woman I recognized as the cook. She collapsed to the floor and blood surrounded the two women, before they disappeared from my sight. I ran out of the room and into the lobby.

At six o’clock, I woke to a tall man, in flannel pajamas, lighting his pipe. The aroma of cherry tobacco lingered in the lobby. The man picked up a newspaper and folded it under his arm. He strolled down the hall and into my room. I rushed down the hall and burst into my room, but it was empty. That’s it! I got dressed, then packed my suitcase. I trekked down the hall. The lights shone bright. A plump woman stood behind the front desk. She smiled at my approach. Something about her looked familiar.

“Did you have a nice stay, Mr. Jones?”

“No, I didn’t sleep well. Excuse me, but do I know you?”

“I don’t believe we’ve met. Perhaps you knew my mother? People say we look alike. You can judge for yourself. The painting over the mantel is of her.”

I gazed up at the painting. My suitcase fell from my hand. It was the young cook. Her large, walnut eyes and warm smile shone down on me. Did she just wink? I had to get out of here before I went bonkers. I tossed enough cash on the desk to cover the bill and rushed outside. Curiosity called me back.

“Did you forget something, sir?”

“What happened here?” I asked.

“I’m sorry if they kept you awake. Some people are more sensitive than others. I’ve never seen any ghost myself, but other guests complained. My mother ran the inn years ago. She charmed the guests with her smile and tasty desserts. Mr. Brooks had a sweet tooth. His wife had a stroke and was put on a strict diet.  She tried to keep her husband on the same diet, but Mr. Brooks visited my mother in the wee hours when she baked. He sampled her wares. His wife thought he was having an affair. She killed him and set the kitchen on fire. I remodeled with the insurance money. Will that be all?”

“Can you call me a cab?”  I sat in the lobby and waited for my ride. A horn beeped and I hastened outside. A rim of sunlight appeared behind the clouds. I smiled at the change of weather.  I hopped in the cab and gave the driver David’s address. I’d sleep on his floor, rather than spend another night at the inn. Oh, the story I had for him though!ghosts-gespenter-spooky-horror-40748.jpeg

 

 

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