Willard’s phone beeped it’s low battery sound.
“I only have a minute or so left and I don’t have time to argue about whether I should have brought the charger or not,” his voice taking on a stern, almost angry tone. “I’ll be damned if I’m holding a metal lug wrench and becoming a human lightning rod. There’s a house nearby with light coming from the windows.”
He purposely left out the word creepy. Beep His phone warned again. “I’ll just ask to use their phone. I shouldn’t be too much longer.” He looked at his watch.
“It’s eleven thirty. Don’t worry about waiting up. I’ll be there before you know it. Get some sleep.” He looked at his phone. It was dead and he hoped she had heard him. His knock echoed loudly and Willard shivered out of both fear and cold. Thump…thump…thump. The door opened with a loud lingering creak.
“Yes?” Willard was taken back a bit at the sight of the frail old man, leaning on a wooden leg. “Come on in an git yerself outa the cold.” The man grinned and hobbled to the side, opening the door wider.
Willard stepped in and the man closed the door behind him. Thump…thump…thump… Willard followed the man, taking note of the deep scratches running down most of the length of the man’s obsolete prosthetic, and into a room lit up by large white candles, but harboring dark shadows.
“Take a seat. I’ll pour us a nice stiff brandy.”
Willard nodded appreciatively and sat down on the dusty and old, red velvet sofa. The man returned, handed Willard the glass, and sat down at the other end of the couch. Willard took a sip. “Hisssss!” Willard turned quickly into the face of a raggedy looking, arched black cat sitting on the sofa’s arm right beside him, and he quickly leaned back away.
“Oh, don’t mind her,” the old man chuckled. “She don’t scratch anymore. Not since losing her claws.” He laughed again, reached down, and knocked on the wooden peg leg.
Willard understood. BONG! A majestic grandfather clock, nestled in the corner, struck the first of its twelve chimes as lightning viciously flashed. Willard was almost sure that the candles flickered in unison. “Might I use your telephone?” Willard asked between the eighth and ninth chime.
“Phone?” the man questioned. “There’s no phone here.” BONG! “And besides…” he added, “it’s probably too late.” BONG! Growing increasingly transparent, the old man continued. “Almost made it out once.” He tapped the wood leg again. “Kept the other tho.” BONG! “T-t-to l-l-late,” came a deep voice from the corner shadows. Willard turned and peered toward the voice. “I-i-it’s t-t-the house. Y-y-you’re n-n-now o-o-one of us!”
Looking down at his glass holding hand, Willard watched it fade from view. By the time the glass shattered on the floor, Willard was completely gone.
“Where could he have gone,” Officer Smith thought, squinting in the sunshine. “There’s nothing out here.”
Ghost Story by Sylvester P. Gildersleeve
My friends were always afraid of the old Thompson house, but I was determined to show them there was nothing to be frightened of. It's true that I also wanted to impress my girlfriend, Kathy, which factored into my decision to cross the house's dusty threshold at midnight Halloween night.
The stories I'd heard painted Howard Thompson as a stuttering, one-legged giant who absolutely hated cats. The story was that Thompson would catch cats that were unfortunate enough to wander onto his property and lock them in his basement, where they would eventually starve to death. Rumor had it that the basement of the Thompson house was knee-deep in cat skeletons. And if you listened closely on Halloween night, you could hear the cats meowing, begging to be let out of the basement.
The front door was unlocked, so I pushed it open. I walked along a dark hallway, passing a large mirror. I glanced into the mirror and was shocked to see not only my reflection, but the reflection of an enormous man with a wooden leg hobbling along behind me.
“W-w-w-what are you d-d-doing here?” the ghost of Howard Thompson asked. I spun around and there he was, standing right next to me. I tried to run, but the ghost placed a bony hand on my shoulder, holding me in place.
“I...I'd heard your place was haunted,” I gulped, “I wanted to find out for myself.”
“Heard about the c-c-c-cat skeletons in the b-b-basement, eh?” he said.
“Follow me,” Thompson's ghost said.
I followed him toward a door at the end of the hallway. As we drew closer, I heard a sound that made my skin crawl and the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was a cat meowing. Faintly at first, but as we got closer to the door the meowing grew louder. Did the ghost plan for me to join the cat corpses in the basement? I gulped again, fighting the urge to turn and run.
“Oh, d-d-don't mind him,” said the ghost, turning the knob and opening the door. A translucent fluffy black cat padded up the last couple of steps leading out of the empty basement and into the hallway, where it curled around Thompson's good leg. “That's j-j-j-just f-f-f-Fang.”
“Fang?” I asked.
“That's r-r-right,” Thompson said. “He wouldn't h-h-h-hurt a fly. He hasn't even g-g-g-got any claws.”
The cat leapt into Thompson's arms, purring. They both began to fade away.
“N-n-n-now that you have d-d-d-dispelled the rumors about me, I c-c-can finally r-r-rest,” Thompson said, and he and Fang vanished.
My friends were disappointed to hear that there were no cat skeletons in Thompson's basement. I only told Kathy about what had really happened. Now when she and I walk past the house she meows in my ear and I chase her, stuttering and hobbling along after her as if I had a wooden leg.