The Final Post and The Final Part of the Ghost Story
It took some time and a few glasses of wine, but eventually Richard was prepared to talk. Not happy, but prepared to talk.
‘I was lying in bed – and before you say anything, I was NOT asleep. I did not dream this. I had problems at work and hadn’t really slept for days. Now, outside my bedroom window, there is a sloping outhouse roof. I could hear someone scrambling up onto it. I sat up in bed and saw, through my very thin curtains, a silhouette of someone hunched outside my bedroom. A burglar, I thought. The obvious solution was to ring the cops, which meant going downstairs and using the phone by the front door. But then I got to thinking. What if I pulled back the curtains and gave the guy the fright of his life? It’s got to be a stressful business, being a burglar. And so I made up my mind. I reached out to the curtains and…’
‘Yes?’ I asked.
‘The window smashed in and a pair of hands came through the curtain, reaching for my neck.’
‘You’re kidding,’ I said.
‘Nah,’ said Richard. ‘I wish I was. I rolled away, instinctively. So much so, in fact, that I fell off my bed on the other side. I looked up and I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. But there was nothing there.’
‘The window was undisturbed, the curtains drawn, no silhouette. That’s what I meant when I said something about mental health problems. I MUST have imagined it. Yet if that was a hallucination, it was more real than anything I had ever experienced. I mean I saw those hands. I felt the broken glass on my arms. I heard the window exploding.’
‘So what did you do?’
‘I decided I had to get out of that house, there and then. I would phone a friend and ask to crash at his place. But I hadn’t moved more than one pace when I heard the footsteps. Coming up the stairs, coming along the hallway, stopping outside my bedroom door. And there was no mistaking them this time.’ He thumped his hands on the table, hard, rhythmically. ‘Thump, thump, thump. I watched as the door handle turned. The door pushed in a few centimetres and the handle turned back. I crouched in the corner of the room, trembling, waiting.’
‘I don’t know how long I waited because I didn’t dare take my eyes away from that door. It might have been an hour. There were no other footsteps. Whatever was waiting for me outside hadn’t gone away.’ He took a small drink. ‘But in the end I didn’t really have an option. I rushed to the door and yanked it open. There was nothing there. I tell you, I was in that house no more than another five minutes. I grabbed a few clothes, threw them in my car and got the hell out. I’ve only been back once – to get my cat and to show a real estate agent round. So there you go. One haunted house, going cheap.’
I never saw Richard after that day. But I did see my host and wasted no time in asking after Richard. This was probably about a year after the dinner party.
‘Oh, Richard,’ she said. ‘He sold the house. Really quickly, actually. And he moved to another place. Trouble is, it all started happening again. The footsteps, the scratchings. Only this time it’s worse. He sees things moving, he catches glimpses of shadows out of the corner of his eyes, books fly off bookcases.’
‘What’s he done about it?’ I asked.
‘He got a priest round. The priest told him it wasn’t the house that was haunted. It was him. Richard is haunted.’
So there you go, folks. My ghost story. I have told it to many classes [particularly when I was relief teaching and had ‘problem’ classes]. On each occasion you could hear a pin drop. And this from kids who in normal circumstances could never shut up. Ah, the power of story!
It’s been lovely being inside this dog, but now I must go. Thanks for reading my posts. And give a warm welcome, as I do, to the one and only Isobelle Carmody.