Friday, October 30, 2015

Story 106: The Haunting?

(Not based on a true story - just for Halloween)

            Oblivia was very excited to move into her late great-aunt’s dilapidated Victorian mansion.  Sure, it was a bit of a fixer-upper and needed to have such modern conveniences as central heating, central air, and central plumbing installed, but the house was all hers.  After 20+ years of sharing a three-room apartment with 10 people, she was willing to do some interior decorating in exchange for that glorious concept called personal space.
            She arrived by taxi on an overcast day that threatened rain without ever following through; she only brought an overnight bag so she could get a feel for the place before stuffing it full of useless furniture.  From the outside, she already could see the house’s non-existent paint, missing roof shingles, broken chimneys, and the other criteria required for condemnation.  She paid the taxi driver, who managed to throw her bag onto the house’s front steps without even leaving the driver’s seat before screeching the tires back to the main road, then turned to survey the property.  There were some blades of grass and a few dead plants, but she knew that she could get advice on landscaping from the three extremely close neighbors (one on either side and one behind the tiny backyard), all of whom were currently staring at her from their respective windows, through which she could hear their television sets as clear as bells.  She waved with both hands in friendly greeting at all of them until they slunk back to their boring lives behind their curtains; what caring people, she thought to herself.
            She climbed the fragile front steps, nearly losing a foot when one board broke, and unlocked the rusty front door with the ancient key that she had inherited.  The door ominously creaked open, so she took care of that issue immediately with some oil she carried for just such an occasion.  The electricity either had been disconnected or had never existed here in the first place (she could not remember which), so she had brought a bag of candles and matches along with a flashlight to assist.  Slowly turning in a circle while holding the flashlight, she took in the main hall with its dusty furniture, cobweb-ridden walls, moth-eaten drapes, rundown master staircase, and sounds of rattling chains, moans, groans, and screams.
            She gasped.  “This place – is – disgusting!” she exclaimed to no one in particular.  She feared the mold, mildew, and possible asbestos she was now breathing in, but she could not dwell too long on such thoughts, for this house literally screamed “Disaster!”
            After tossing her overnight bag onto the opera house organ, she explored the other rooms of the house.  The constantly creaking floorboards, the grandfather clock chiming 12 on every hour, and the little children choir that followed her wherever she went were all driving her up the wall with the noise pollution.  She now understood why Great-Aunt Eccentra had willed the house to her: she was the only one who could take on such a DIY project and actually like it.
            In the attic, Oblivia switched from flashlight to candlelight just because and she walked gingerly, since breaking through the floor here would result in a fall of five stories into the basement.  She saw an ancient trunk in a corner and approached it carefully, accompanied by her singing entourage.  The trunk had been locked, but oxidization had taken care of that nuisance and she opened it easily.  Inside was a massive amount of correspondence between her great-aunt and some guy named “Beloved,” to whom she had written daily for 16 years, it seemed.  The gist of the letters ran along the lines of “Why don’t you return my calls?” and “I don’t care that you already have a loving family,” and “You’re been dead the whole time I’ve been writing these, haven’t you” – in essence, the usual boring tripe.
            Oblivia made her way downstairs to the kitchen and managed to find some unspoiled canned goods that she could scarf down for dinner, in-between the utensils flying away from her and the drinking glasses being thrown against the wall.  The drafts in these places can be such a bother, she thought as she washed and dried the wayward dishes as fast as she could before they could be destroyed.
            That night, she made her way by candlelight again (her flashlight batteries had long since died and she had forgotten to bring replacements) to the master bedroom on the third floor, shunning the more conveniently placed guest bedroom on the second floor because she was the master now, and the servants’ bedrooms on the fourth floor were jail cell quality.  There was a fireplace in her bedroom, which she tried to light with her matches until the bats flew out; she opted for the extra quilts that were kept in the closet along with the glowing eyes and the growling darkness.  Much cozier after wiping the quilts and mattress down as much as possible, she curled up with her book and a bottle of room-temperature water.  Nodding off, the book slipped through her fingers and fell to the floor, where a scaly hand reached out to grab it and pulled it under the bed.  She jerked awake when a loud crash resounded throughout the house – grabbing her pepper spray and cell phone, she ran out of the room and down to the balcony above the main entrance hall.
            She had to blink a few times to focus her eyes: the main hall was filled with all types of ghosts, goblins, and bogeymen who seemed to be having a party.  She unobtrusively dialed 911, hoping they had not seen her.
            “Hello?  I’d like to report a break-in,” she whispered to the dispatcher.  “I think they’re drunk teenagers.”
            “What’s the address?”  Oblivia gave it.  “Oh, that’s the haunted house.  Yeah, you’d better get out of there.”
            “Haunted?  Oh no, these aren’t ghosts; these are very obviously deranged children.”
            “Want us to send the exorcist over?  It’s worked a few times in the past.”
            “No help whatsoever!”  Oblivia disconnected the call and ran to confront the gathering as she stood mid-staircase.
            “All right, you delinquents!”  Everyone stared at her.  “There’ll be no squatters here, so begone from my sight!”
            The ghouls collectively moaned as they shuffled off; she heard one mutter, “Eccentra was never that mean.”  Satisfied that all had gone, Oblivia returned to her bedroom.  She found her book on her bed with a note attached to the cover: “Loved the setting, hated the protagonist.  Three stars out of five.”  Shrugging in puzzlement, she tossed the book onto a chair, got into bed, and almost immediately fell asleep.
            She dreamt of her plans to extensively renovate the dank and dirty house – all these silly distractions such as the howling she now heard coming from the basement would simply need to be ignored.  She relished the challenge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Story 105: Room for One More

            (After the Driver enters her car at the end of the workday, she buckles her seat belt, starts the engine, and turns her head to reverse out of the parking spot.  That is when she sees it: a huge spider web, attached to the left rear window and left rear seat, in the middle of which rests a huge spider)
            Spider: Hi there.
            Driver: Oh… my….
            Spider: Don’t mind me; just chillin’, waiting for the nasty bugs to come my way.  You may proceed.
            Driver: Umm, OK, but you really can’t stay here once I get home.
            Spider: Why not?
            Driver: Because, for one thing, you’re freaking me out!
            Spider: Hey, this is an arrangement that can only benefit you.  Besides, you’re the one who left the window open a crack for just any old trespasser to come on in – you should thank your lucky stars that it was me.
            Driver: That’s another thing: I’m not going to leave the window open all night long, so you’re going to wind up suffocating.
            Spider: Probably not, but thanks for your concern.
            Driver: And another thing: no bugs are going to randomly fly through the doors or the narrow crack above the window for you to trap, so you’re going to starve to death!
            Spider: You may have a point there, but let’s test that theory and find out in the morning, shall we?
            Driver: Oh all right, but don’t leave me more of a mess than you already have.
            Spider: Make no promises.
            (The next morning, the Driver enters her car)
            Driver: Morning!  Still alive?
            Spider: Oh yes, thank you for leaving the window open; that was a big help.
            (The Driver adjusts her rear view mirror and screams: a bat is hanging upside-down from the ceiling of the car)
            Bat: (Waking up) Whoa, what happened?
            Driver: What is that doing in here?!
            Spider: Oh, hope you don’t mind, since the window was open he needed a place to hang out for a while.  Get it: “hang out”?
            Bat: Groovy.
            Driver: No, no, no, I need both of you out of here now!  (She starts to get out of the car)
            Spider: Hold a minute, please just chillax –
            Driver: I will not chillax!  I can’t drive with obstructed rear views!  And aren’t you two natural enemies anyway?
            Spider: Not necessarily.
            Bat: (Half-asleep) Yeah, little dude’s pretty cool.
            Driver: I don’t care.  I’m getting the broom.  (She starts to leave again)
            Bat: (Fully awake) It’s OK, I’ll move!  (He drops to the floor)
            Spider: Yeah, I can get out of the way! (She unhooks the web and transfers it to the back of the driver’s seat) See?  Now you don’t even know we’re here.
            Driver: Except that I know you’re here.  But, I suppose you’re not doing me any harm –
            Bat: Thanks, lady, you’re all right!
            Spider: Yes, much appreciated.
            Driver: I’m blaming you guys if I get into an accident.
            Spider: Duly noted.
            (The next morning, the Driver enters her car)
            Driver: Still alive?
            Spider: (Drinking) Oh yes, we’re doing just fine, thank you.
            Bat: [Snores]
            Driver: Wonderful.  (She sees a stirring in the back seat) What… is… that?!
            Werewolf: (Sits up and yawns) Oh, hello, ma’am!  Sorry to crash in your vehicle, but these two said it was OK.
            Driver: How’d you even get in here?!
            Werewolf: Well, when I’m not a wolf, I’m a car thief.
            Driver: Get out!  (She starts to dial 911 on her cell phone)
            Werewolf: Actually, since I’m a wolf right now I won’t be stealing your car.  Or eating you, for that matter, `cause I’m full.  And no one will believe you if you tell them that you have a werewolf in the backseat of the car, so you might as well not sound crazy to the police this early in the morning.
            Driver: (Reluctantly disconnects the call) I want you all out of here in the next 30 seconds or I’m reporting you as carjackers.  (All three groan) I don’t care!
            Spider: Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, wolf man.
            Werewolf: Hey, I have one more night on the full moon, what am I gonna do?
            Driver: Whatever you’ve done up to this point!  And shouldn’t you be changed back into a man during the daytime?
            Werewolf: It’s full moon o’clock somewhere.
            Bat: What’s going on?  Are we getting evicted?
            Driver: Yes!  I want you all out of my sight!
            Spider: Well that’s easy.  (All three duck out of sight)
            Driver: Out of my car!
Spider: But I thought we were going to drive cross-country together solving crimes!
Bat: Ooh, that’d be sweet.
Werewolf: I’d agree, but I’m wanted in seven states.  Ooh, my fur probably could be my disguise though – you mind if we do this thing only four days a month?
Driver: No we cannot!  Eject yourselves!
(The Driver’s car screeches away as the other three are left behind on the driveway)
Spider: That was a bust.  Back to braving the elements.
(A toad carrying a suitcase hops up to the group)
Toad: Hi!  Word is there’s a mobile home with room for one more.
Bat: Sure is!  (To the other two) Don’t worry, we’ll wear her down eventually.
Werewolf: Awesome, I haven’t had a real project in a long time, this’ll be great!
Spider: I call dibs on the front passenger seat!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Story 104: A (Haunted) Walk in the (Haunted) Woods

            The three friends decided one day to take a walk in their town’s creepy park.  It was October, chilly, and cloudy, with a hint of werewolf and bat activity.  Partway into the walk, a twig snapped.
            “What was that?!”  Friend 1 froze and looked everywhere around her.
            “It sounded like a leaf fell,” Friend 2 said.
            “Are you sure?  It’s not someone following us?  Or some thing?”
            “Pretty sure: I saw the leaf as it fell off the branch.”
            “I don’t know, guys,” Friend 3 spoke up.  “I’ve heard this trail is haunted.”
            “Haunted?!  Oh no!”  Friend 1 began to run until Friend 2 grabbed the collar of her shirt and pulled her back to the group.
            “There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Friend 2 said, becoming antsy at the time they were losing on their five-mile walk.
            “Yes there are,” Friend 3 said with the wide eyes of conviction.  “My cousin saw one once.  Plus, it’s almost Halloween: ghosts are everywhere this time of year!”
            “Why?”  Friend 2 asked.  “What does it matter what time of year it is, and why would anyone be hanging around random areas just waiting for people to show up?”
            “For the first one,” Friend 3 said, “it’s because we’re coming up on the Celtic year-end holiday honoring the dead, and for the second one, it’s because they’re compelled to.”
            “Yeah, that sounds about right,” Friend 1 agreed.
            “Compelled to do what?”  Friend 2 asked.
            “…Stuff?”  Friend 3 suggested.
            “Guys,” Friend 2 said – they needed to get back on track here – “I will allow for the possibility of energy sticking around certain areas, `cause that’s what energy does.  But it’s only an echo!  You’re hearing, seeing, and being scared by an echo!  It doesn’t mean anything, it can’t do anything, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
            “But my cousin,” Friend 3 put out there.
            “Whatever your cousin saw, it was in her –”
            “His head!  His own mind created it, and that’s the only place where it has any significance!”
            “He said it pushed him downstairs.”
            “I hate to be the one to say this, but your cousin may be a bit of a klutz.”
            “What about all those lights people see, and noises people hear, and conversations people have with the spirit world?”  Friend 1 asked.  “They’re all on camera!”
            “Mass hysteria and tech glitches!”  Friend 2 had had enough of this drivel.  “There are no ghosts, there never were any ghosts, and even if there were, we’d have more to worry about from those guys over there than any non-physical beings, ever!”  The three friends and the guys illegally camping in the woods waved in greeting at each other.  “Can we go now?  It’ll be tomorrow by the time we finish at the rate we’re going!”
            Friend 1 and Friend 3 grumbled as they went along with Friend 2; they walked the rest of the trail nervously peering into the shadows around them as the sun set and the sky darkened behind them.
            The ones watching over them continued their vigil.