Ghost stories from hell, p.49

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 49

 

Ghost Stories from Hell
 



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  ***

  Something slammed into the wall, and Charles sat up in his bed.

  The room was dark, no sunlight behind the drawn curtains.

  Looking at his clock, Charles saw it was three thirteen in the morning.

  Another slam shook the wall and the bed.

  And the bed was against the wall his room shared with the library.

  A third slam.

  Charles stood up and walked barefoot out of his room and into the dimly lit hall to the closed library door. Light was coming out from the edges.

  Taking a deep breath, Charles opened the door.

  A man, perhaps only five and a half feet tall, stood by the shared wall, holding onto the leather chair, getting ready to ram it against the shelves, which were surprisingly undisturbed.

  Charles realized he could see through parts of the man, who was smoking cheerfully.

  “Why are you doing that?” Charles asked, not quite sure what to say.

  The man stopped and looked over at Charles in surprise. After a moment he said, “You’re not Philip.”

  “No,” Charles agreed, “I’m not. I’m Charles. Who are you?”

  “Sid,” the man said, letting go of the chair and giving Charles an appraising look. “Where’s Philip?”

  “He’s dead,” Charles answered.

  “Oh. Did I wake you up?”

  “Yes.”

  “Sorry about that. It was the only way to wake Philip up most of the time.”

  “Why were you trying to wake him up?” Charles asked, desperately trying to figure out if he was dreaming or if he was having a conversation with a ghost.

  “To talk,” Sid said. He moved the chair back to the desk. “We’re all curious as to how the others are going to be brought back.”

  “Who’re you talking about?” Charles asked, confused.

  “Us,” Sid said, gesturing around the room. “Each item in here, every weapon or flag or whatever, someone is bound to it. And, when we’re in this room, we’re bound to this room. Don’t ask me how or any of that crap. I don’t know. Point is, none of us are happy to be in here. But, since we have to be in here, it’s not fair the others aren’t in here, too. We want to know how you’re going to get them back.”

  “I didn’t know I had to,” Charles said.

  Sid let out a deep and unpleasant laugh.

  “Oh, you don’t have to,” Sid said, grinning maliciously around his cigarette, “but people are going to die. A lot of people. Hell, I got one and I was only out for a few hours.”

  “You got one?” Charles said, shaking his head, realizing he wasn’t dreaming.

  “Sure as shit I did. One of the little peckers that stole us out of here. Can’t abide a thief,” Sid said. “None of us can. That’s alright, though. Burned the hell out of his lungs. Cooked him right. Wasn’t too happy his girlfriend brought me back to this place. But I can’t be too mad, she was good to Philip.”

  “Philip’s nurse brought you back?” Charles asked.

  “She did,” Sid nodded.

  She might know, Charles thought. She might know where to start looking.

  “So,” Sid said, interrupting Charles’ thoughts, “got time to talk?”

  Charles let out a surprised laugh. “Sure, why the hell not?”

  Charles walked over to the chair and sat down as Sid sat down on the table. “Well,” Charles said, “what do you want to talk about?”

  “Dames and baseball,” Sid grinned. “What the hell else is there to talk about?”

  ***

  The conversation with Sid had been surreal to say the least. There’d been no explanation why Sid was visible and present and not any of the others. Charles hadn’t exactly pressed the issue either.

  Charles sat in his kitchen, the bowl which had contained his oatmeal was empty with his second cup of coffee now in front of him. The hour of nine had struck. Charles stifled a yawn and tried to rub the sleep out of his eyes. He’d only left the library half an hour earlier, and Charles wondered if he was going to be able to sleep at all, or if sleep would ruin him for the rest of the day.

  But the question Sid had posed to him ate at his conscience.

  Charles knew what the weapons were. He knew, now, what they were capable of. How could he sit back, knowing what they were, and do nothing? Mr. Sherman had left him the means to handle the weapons. Sid, Charles knew, would be more than happy to assist with whatever information he had. More than likely most of the people in the library would.

  Charles shook his head at the thought.

  If he hadn’t seen the news about the murder, and realized the bayonet had come from Mr. Sherman’s own collection, then he might not be concerned. Charles could, like Ebenezer Scrooge had with his old partner Marley, attribute his own conversation with Sid to a bad bit of potato or mustard.

  Charles couldn’t, though. Not that he would have anyway. Charles had always been willing to listen to arguments defending the existence of the supernatural. The early morning discussion on dames and baseball, as Sid had so succinctly put it, had made Charles a firm believer.

  Now all Charles had to do was figure out how to get in touch with Mr. Sherman’s nurse, and see if he could enlist her aid.

  If she would believe him.

  Sighing, Charles finished his coffee and put the mug down. Well, he thought, I might as well shower and face the day.

  With an inward groan he pushed the chair out from the table, stood up, and cleared the dishes away.

  Chapter 10: John and the Bayonet

  John Henry took the murder weapon and got it ready to be filed away in the evidence locker.

  John had been working as a clerk for the Nashua Police Department for over twenty years, and he could have retired, but he had a gambling habit and needed some sort of income if he was going to play the Indian casinos. And sometimes things came into the evidence room that would never be missed.

  Like the bayonet.

  From all the talk going around the station, the murder was a closed-room case. Literally for this one.

  No sign of forced entry. No one was seen going in or out of the guy’s apartment except for himself. All of his convictions were over four years old. Plus, according to the guy’s employer, he was a steady worker. Never late. Didn’t steal from the job sites. Didn’t steal from the construction company he worked for. Worst thing the kid seemed to have done recently was get some coke and have a little party for himself.

  Hell, there wasn’t even any trace evidence kicking around the apartment. Everything was either the kid’s or the kid’s ex-girlfriend’s. She had said that aside from drinking and shooting pool with a buddy of his named Mike, he hadn’t done anything recently.

  And Mike was dead too. John had seen that report when Detective O’Malley was proofing it in the break room. Somehow Mike’s lungs had caught fire, and the guy had smothered to death. Nobody could figure it out. Technically the medical examiner said it was impossible.

  But John had seen the pictures of the lungs.

  They had been char-broiled.

  Nope, not pretty at all.

  John opened up the evidence box that had the bayonet and pulled the weapon out. He wouldn’t be able to get much for it, but it was better than nothing. John needed some easy cash for the trip down to Foxwoods on the upcoming weekend.

  With that in mind, he got out another evidence box, put in a ream of printer paper, and closed it up. He carefully put a fresh seal around the edges, typed up a new label, forged Detective Samuels’ signature—the guy was a prick anyway—and touched everything up nicely. After that, he shredded, cut up, and dispersed the evidence of his own crime.

  John took the blood-marked bayonet, still in its original evidence bag, and slipped it into his gym bag. With that done, he took one last look around the evidence locker, nodded to himself once he was sure he hadn’t left anything lying around, and made his way upstairs to the time clock.

  John waved to a couple of people, punched his numbe
r into the clock, and once he received the beep that said he had done it right, he left the building. In a few minutes, he was in his car and turning onto West Hollis Street. It was three thirty in the afternoon, and, if traffic was moving alright, he’d be able to catch Dave out in Milford.

  The guy was always happy to buy whatever John brought to him.

  And John was always happy to sell.

  Chapter 11: Ellen and Charles and Mr. Sherman

  It had taken some phone calls, and assurances he wasn’t trying to harass the young nurse, but Charles had finally found Ellen’s cell phone number. He sent her a simple text. Hello, I knew Mr. Sherman. Would you have time to stop by his house and speak with me? I live here now. Charles.

  At five in the evening, Ellen had replied.

  Yes. What time?

  Charles had written back, Anytime. I’m home all night.

  Ellen had responded with a simple, Ok, and that was it.

  At seven o’clock on the nose, however, the doorbell had rung.

  Charles had gotten out of his chair, turned off the news and hurried to the front door.

  When he opened the door, he found an attractive young woman standing on the porch, her eyes bloodshot and a sense of exhaustion around her. She wore a simple gray pullover sweatshirt and a pair of jeans and sneakers. She gave him a tired smile and extended her hand.

  “Hi, I’m Ellen,” she said.

  “Hi, Ellen, I’m Charles. Please,” he said, shaking her hand and then stepping aside, “come in.”

  Ellen stepped in, looking around the house as he closed the door and left it unlocked.

  “The place looks different with furniture in it,” she said after a moment. She gave him her tired smile again. “It looks nice.”

  “Thank you,” Charles said. “Would you care to come into the dining room?”

  “Well,” she said, hesitating, “can I ask what this is about? I came over because I liked Mr. Sherman a lot. He was a nice man.”

  “He was indeed,” Charles said. “And he was a very good man. I need to talk to you about something that’s going to be unpleasant, and I want to apologize in advance for it.”

  She looked at him warily, sliding her hands into the pocket of her hoodie, glancing over at the door quickly to make sure it was still unlocked. “What is it?”

  “When I came to look at the house,” Charles said, “I found an old Zippo lighter on the front porch.”

  Ellen relaxed slightly. “That was me. I think I accidentally brought it home one day, so I brought it back.”

  “Now, I do hate asking this,” Charles said, swallowing nervously, “but was that the same night your boyfriend died?”

  She looked at Charles coldly for a moment, and then her eyes widened slightly, and she nodded.

  “Ellen,” Charles said softly, “when the real estate agent and I came to the house that day when you brought the lighter back, there were two duffel bags on the floor in here. They were filled with military items from Mr. Sherman’s library.”

  “Oh, Jesus Christ,” Ellen said in a low voice. “Oh, Jesus!”

  “Do you think he might have tried to steal those items?” Charles asked.

  “He wouldn’t have done it alone, though,” she said angrily. “He would have gotten his friend Jared. They used to break into places when they were in high school. Stupid crap. Oh, God.”

  “Where’s Jared now,” Charles said. “Do you know?”

  “Jared was killed…” her voice trailed off, and she looked at Charles. “This can’t possibly be connected. It can’t.”

  “Have you seen any news on how Jared was killed?” Charles asked, still keeping his tone easy.

  She shook her head.

  “Channel 9 was reporting he was stabbed. That an inside source with the police said he had been stabbed with a bayonet.”

  Again Ellen shook her head.

  “I know they made it out of the house with quite a bit of stuff,” Charles said. “Mr. Sherman kept an exceptionally detailed list of what was in his library. What I need to know, Ellen, is do you know of anyone they would bring the militaria to?”

  “How could stealing some stuff cause them to die?” Ellen snapped. “Seriously. What, is this shit cursed or something?”

  “In a way it is, Ellen,” a voice said, and both Charles and Ellen screamed.

  Charles, who had been standing with his back to the stairs, twisted around in time to see the thinnest outline of a shape floating slowly down towards them.

  “Charles,” the voice said, emanating from the center of the shape, “it has been a terribly long time.”

  Charles took several steps back until he almost bumped into Ellen.

  The shape stopped at the bottom of the stairs, flickered into a solid form that brought a combined gasp from both Charles and Ellen.

  For the briefest of moments, Mr. Philip Sherman was standing before them. While he was clearly defined, he was not solid. Charles could see through the old man and the plain black three-piece suit he was wearing. The man looked far older than Charles remembered, and Charles was sure he was looking at Mr. Sherman the way he had been before his death.

  “Come up to the library,” Mr. Sherman said, fading away. “Come up to the library, and I will tell you what you need to know.”

  Chapter 12: In the Library with Philip Sherman

  Charles Gottesman knew exactly what sort of things were in the library, and they scared him to death.

  Ellen Kay, who had yet to be burdened with the information, sat in the library’s sole chair. She’d been trembling ever since Mr. Sherman appeared from beyond the grave to beckon both her and Charles up to the library.

  Charles stood behind the chair, gripping the top tightly and trying to stay focused on the faint mist standing in front of the door. That mist seemed to be Mr. Sherman, but around the room Charles could hear faint shuffling noises as if a great many sleepers had been awakened.

  He was afraid that was exactly what had occurred.

  “I’m glad you both are here,” Mr. Sherman said, his voice faint. “I could never have hoped, Charles, that you would buy my home. I always believed, ever since you first came into the house, that you would be capable of guarding the items within.

  “And you, Ellen, your kindness to me was more appreciated than you could ever know. I am terribly sorry for your loss. I tried desperately to chase your young man and his friend out of the house, to keep these cursed items within these walls, but I failed.”

  “What are you talking about?” Ellen asked softly, shaking her head. “Why is this even happening?”

  “The answers to both of your questions,” Mr. Sherman replied, “are one and the same. As Charles here has learned, the militaria which you see on the shelves around you is cursed, haunted. Each item here is deadly, and sometimes even wicked. Some of them are truly horrific. I am afraid the worst of them are out and abroad in society. I must ask you both to retrieve them.”

  “What do you mean?” Ellen asked. She looked up at Charles. “What does he mean?”

  “He means,” Charles answered, “we should figure out what happened to the rest of the militaria that’s missing and decide how we’re going to get it back.”

  The light went out in the room, and people laughed.

  Charles knew he hadn’t laughed, and he was positive Ellen hadn’t either.

  “Let us all out,” a voice hissed close to Charles’ ear. “Let us out. The world moved along well enough when we were free to roam.”

  “Do you know what’s waiting for you, pretty girl?” a second voice asked. “Terrible things you can’t even imagine. Oh, the pleasures some of us took in life, the mere mention of them would curdle milk.”

  The voices laughed again, and then Charles heard Sid’s voice. “Get ‘em back. Don’t get ‘em back. Whatever you decide better be the same. A few of us like things done fair and square, Charles. All of us locked up or all of us free. Doubt you’ll get much peace when there’s a single one of ou
r brothers out and about. Enjoying the sights, as it were.”

  The light flickered and then came back on.

  Ellen stifled a gasp, and Charles managed to hold back his own exclamation of surprise.

  For a moment there were perhaps a dozen, maybe even more, ghosts visible in the room. All men. All different ages and races. All in military uniforms and looking hungrily at Charles and Ellen.

  “Make sure it’s fair,” a voice said behind them, and the light flickered out again.

  Chapter 13: Dave Ganz and the Militaria

  Dave watched the news at eleven and listened to the replay of an early report about a murder over in Nashua. Some guy got stabbed to death with a bayonet.

  Damned kids, Dave thought to himself, lighting a cigarette. They’ll kill each other with anything. For any reason.

  He wasn’t surprised, though. Nashua had been getting worse for the past decade, and he was happy he’d moved out right before the end of the nineties. Of course, getting divorced and his bitch wife forcing him to sell the house had also helped with that, but he tried not to think too much about Diane. Thankfully she had died of breast cancer, and the alimony payments had finally stopped.

  That’s how Dave knew there was a God and that he didn’t like women all that much. Or at least he didn’t like bitches.

  Dave chuckled to himself, popped a Hungry Man into the microwave and started it. He popped the tab on a Natty Ice, grimaced at the first swallow, but relaxed after that. It was always the first taste that was the worst. Natties were never enjoyable, but they at least became tolerable.

  Dave walked over to the dining table, an old Christmas-themed tablecloth draped over it to protect the surprisingly unmarred cherry finish underneath, and looked at the militaria he’d scored. He had two good-sized duffel bags some kid named Jared had sold him, and the shit was undoubtedly hot. Even so, Dave could move it out to the stall at the flea market and hopefully sell most of it before the day was over.

 
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