Suddenly the amusing, cocktail/dinner party story about the house being haunted wasn’t so funny. I don’t know why exactly, but I’d been uneasy all day— testy and irritable when the kids’ father came to pick them up for the a weekend away camping. They even took my canine soulmate, Champ, whom the children said needed a vacation too. From me? I growled and grumbled as I closed the door on them.
Two people had been brutally murdered in this refurbished farmhouse, once isolated in the country and now on the edge of a sprawling community. Two people, husband and wife, tied up, beaten, and stabbed to death, and the killer never found and brought to justice. Which is why, according to local legend, this poor ghostly couple stayed behind. Matthew and Thomasina were sad, angry ghosts, and you could hear them creep slowly across the floorboards, sometimes smell fresh-baked bread which was on the counter when the bodies were discovered, and hear their wails when the wind blew, or so the story went.
I didn’t find it charming anymore, as I lay in bed, awakened suddenly by… what? It seemed unusually dark and cold. There was no light from the night light in the bathroom down the hall. Only a bright moon behind hazy clouds cast a dim light in this darkness, or I would have been totally blinded. There was a wind, and the old house creaked and settled, as it usually did, but somehow, something was different. I could feel it. A rush of cool air, an unfamiliar smell, a pattern of creaks on the hardwood, someone walking, someone coming nearer.
I lay in bed, the quilt pulled up to my nose, staring at the bedroom door, frozen in fear. I saw a shadow across the wall, and then, yes! A man, a large man, blurred by darkness, looming in the doorway. I stifled a gasp, I squeezed my eyes shut, and when I opened them again he was gone. I was shivering with the cold now, paralyzed, listening for movement.
My body ached with tension, but I got up out of bed, wrapped the quilt around me, and crept to the doorway. The house was silent. The wind had picked up, I could hear it rattling the eaves and send echoes down the chimney.
I stepped as softly as I could but the floor betrayed me. Where had Matthew gone? Why had he come to me in the first place?
Why was it so cold?
Then I heard the front door abruptly swing open and crash against the wall in the foyer. The wind, I thought, Matthew and Thomasina making themselves known, demanding justice!
I was wrong. Three police constables with flashlights sending laser-like beams over the walls and floors, and finally into my face, strode right into the front hallway.
“Are you ok?” said a voice.
Did I not look ok? Had my hair turned white? “I, I…”
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” said a different voice, without irony. “Your power was out, lines were cut, and we got a mobile 911 call from this house.”
I just stared at him. A 911 call? At that moment the night light clicked on, and I could hear the furnace starting up as the power was restored, and there was a bright light from the kitchen. We found the refrigerator door wide open, contents on the table and floor— milk, eggs, cheese and oranges. The constable flicked on the kitchen light. “You make this mess?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
The back door was open. A car’s taillights could be seen disappearing into the distance. “He must have heard us arrive. Barb, see if you can track that vehicle down,” said an officer. Constable Barb disappeared.
Then the officer turned to me. “You don’t live in the 1950s, Mz Waters,” he said. “You need to lock your doors properly, with dead bolts. Both doors were easily compromised.”
It was hard to speak. I couldn’t seem to take a breath. I couldn’t move.
“Want us to call anyone for you?” said the officer as they prepared to leave. “Doesn’t feel right leaving you alone in this state.”
“No, it’s fine,” I said, finally finding my voice. “It’s ok. It’s fine.”
And I put the kettle on for tea.