Escape and other spooky.., p.1
Escape and other Spooky Stories, page 1
Copyright © 2017 by Samantha Adams
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The Hanging Man
Lady Morwenna’s Ghost
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AS IT WAS, I WASN’T sure I would make it out alive. But while I was moving faster than I ever thought I could go, there was a chance I might live to see another sunrise.
Twenty-four hours ago, I’d been partying with my friends at a new club that’d opened in town. Having the time of my life, I perhaps wasn’t as careful as I should’ve been. But how could I know what awaited me? Had I known that last drink would lead to this dark forest in, god even knows where, I would never have raised it to my lips.
We’ve all heard horror stories of women who go missing never to be seen again after a night out. Naïvely, I thought that would never happen to me. It was always someone else. True danger had never been perceived as real; just a distant thought.
But now, I was now one of those girls.
Moonlight shone into the trees, touching upon the ground here and there. Following it without question was my only thought. Swiftly, I chased it toward what I could only hope was safety. More and more light shone upon the ground. A clearing, I thought, the trees must be thinning out. A renewed vigour raced through my limbs, pushing me harder.
An exposed tree root caught my foot and sent me tumbling towards the muddy ground. Landing on my knees and palms, I whimpered with pain. My wrists already burned and bloody from being bound, felt the impact the most. I pushed myself up withholding a silent scream at the fire flowing through arms. “Run,” I pleaded with myself in a whisper. “So close.”
I looked up and noticed that a light was shining nearby. Oh god, a house maybe? Without another moment’s hesitation, I threw myself forward, never once taking my eyes off the salvation that lay ahead. I would reach it. Find sanctuary and then I could fall apart.
What felt like forever was only a few minutes before I broke through the trees into a clearing. And there in the centre stood an old house. In the dark it was hard to make out much, but it didn’t matter to me whether it was a mansion or a tin shed. There was life in that house. And probable safety.
Bounding up the crumbling wooden stairs onto the veranda, I banged on the decrepit door frantically.
No-one answered the door.
My elation at finding a house, slowly died down. I became chilled as reality set in. I didn’t know where I was. The below freezing temperatures had seeped through my terror and shock was setting in as a relentless shivering followed a second later.
I didn’t want to give up after my escape; but what I was to do now?
Looking around me, I noticed a blanket and pillow lying on the day bed to my left. My face crinkled. I swore that wasn’t there before.
Perhaps I had missed it. Nervously gazing around and listening to the unnatural quiet around me, a cold shiver that had nothing to do with the weather settled around me. I shook it off and forced my quivering body to crawl to the bed. With every intention of getting into it, I found I hadn’t the strength to lift myself off the wooden boards. Instead, I grabbed the pillow and blanket and lay on the floor. Expecting to freeze to death out here, I should be frightened, but I’m not. Dying under a warm blanket seemed like paradise compared to incomprehensible horror that had been my constant shadow these last few hours. At least I would die on my terms and not those insidious arseholes that had snatched me from the club. That had bound, gagged and made me suffer unmentionable horrors. Yes, I pondered with a strange gratefulness, this is how I choose to die. I escaped them. That is all that matters...
And with that final thought I gave myself up to fate and closed my eyes with a heavy, yet peaceful heart.
I felt warmth.
Pops and crackles broke the heavy silence. My eyelids felt heavy, and I fought to drag them open. Darkness with an eerie orange glow surrounded me. I was hot now. Too hot.
“Am I in hell?” I croaked to the room.
“No, my dear girl,” replied a distinctly male voice. I gasped and tried to get up, but stumbled. Gentle hands helped me onto a couch near the fire then forced a glass of water to my lips. My throat screamed out for it, but I turned my head away. He frowned then put the glass on the table beside me and moved back slowly with his hands raised in surrender.
“I mean you no harm,” he spoke to me as one would speak to a frightened animal. I grimly recoiled at the comparison because that’s probably exactly what I resembled. “Something happened to you, I can see that. I only want to help you.”
Two days ago, I would have believed him. Now I suspected everyone. Nor had I expected such a young - not to mention handsome - man to live here. In my state, I had expected an older couple. Kind and sweet looking that would help me find my way home. Eyeing the water again, I didn’t know whether to take my chances or not.
It seemed he read my thoughts. “I know you want the water. Why don’t you drink it?” He queried, still adopting the same tone and keeping his distance on the other side of the room.
I stared at him, weighing my answer. Eventually I settled on the truth. “My last drink was drugged, and I ended up... here.”
His eyes widened at my words. I could see his mind turning, putting together an assumption that I could guess was only too accurate. He took a few steps closer. I folded myself further into the couch. As he took note of my movement, he stopped abruptly and sat where he was on the floor. For a long time, he didn’t speak a word, just sat there staring into the fire. My eyes never left him. Something about him captivated and terrified me.
“I won’t ask you to tell me what happened until or if you feel ready.”
I gave a short nod.
“I’m Elijah.” He left the words open and waited patiently for my reply, which I gave.
“Stella,” I said, then after a pause added. “Estella actually, but no one ever calls me that.”
His eyes softened and a hint of victory shone in them. “Estella is a beautiful name. But I can see that Stella would suit you as well.”
Again, I gave a nod.
“So Stella, can you walk?”
Frowning, I answered with, “I think so.”
He stood up. “Good, because you need to drink and I understand why you won’t touch that glass beside you.”
I stared at him, the confusion obviously evident as he gave me an indulgent smile. “The kitchen is through that door,” he indicated with a casual wave of his hand to the right. “Cups are in the top cupboard next to the sink.”
“You want me to get my own water?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes, Estella.” He paused and looked to the front door when a woof and thumping sound came from outside. “I want you to feel safe and if that means getting the water yourself, so that you will drink what you desperately need then I will not stand in your way.”
“Thank you,” I mumbled and drew the blanket he had placed over her a little closer. “Is t
“Yeah,” he looked between me and the door once more, with an uneasy glance. “Do you like dogs?”
“I love them.” For the first time since waking, I didn’t even hesitate to answer.
“Good,” he said rubbing his hands together. “Then you’re going to love this guy. But I warn you, he’s not a small dog and will not hesitate to give you a kiss.” With that said, Elijah opened the door; a big excited mass of grey and white fur bounded inside, shaking the water off his back as he ran to his owner. Elijah crouched down, gave the dog a pat and pretended to scold him. “Now, Max there is a lovely young lady by the name of Estella here.” She smiled involuntarily at the way he spoke to his dog as if he was a person and could understand perfect English. “Best behaviour please.”
Max looked at me with eager eyes and a canine smile. I fell in love in an instant. “Come here, Max,” I crooned to him. Not needing another invitation, he jumped over the coffee table in the middle of the room and sprang onto the couch, where he proceeded to curl up next to me. Gazing into my eyes with doggy devotion and snuggling even closer to me, I put my arms around him and let the tears fall.
Max whimpered and cried with me as I hugged him tighter to me. A furry lifeline in the aftermath of my escape from hell. Looking up I saw Elijah was watching me again. Only this time, I wasn’t so afraid of him. How could I be truly afraid of someone who looked like he’d just had his heart ripped out after watching someone else’s grief pouring out? I wanted to cry even harder for his compassion; for bringing me his dog. A dog which I was beginning to suspect was more than part wolf. “Elijah?” I rasped out, suddenly unsure of what I was about to say.
I watched him mentally shake himself out of his empathy and I found a smile somewhere inside of me blossom.
“I... well, I just want to say thank you for... everything.”
“You’re more than welcome, Estella.” He replied humbly.
She had always hated being called Estella, but when he said it, it felt like a caress on her battered soul. “Can I please have that water now? I don’t seem to be able to move,” I glanced down at Max.
His eyebrows raised. “Are you sure?”
Elijah walked towards the table and handed the water to me again. Greedily, I drank it all. Without a word, he took the glass and refilled it. He left it on the table and hesitated a moment.
“What is it?” I asked, a little nervous once more.
“Nothing is wrong. I’m just nervous if I’m being honest.”
“Why should you be nervous?”
He rubbed his neck and made a strangled sound. “I’m nervous of making you nervous again.”
“Oh,” I replied. “Well stop it, because that is making me nervous.”
He gave her a lop-sided grin. “Sorry.”
We both said no more after he resumed his seat and watched the fire. I curled into max, my eyes drifted close as I absently patted his soft fur, and fell into a fitful sleep.
Sirens blaring startled me out of my sleep. I tried to sit up, but a weight held me in place. My heart thudded in my chest and my breath rushed out in a whoosh. A soft whimper alerted to me that fact that I was being held down by a dog. Max had stayed with me all night. My breathing returning to normal, I focussed again on the loud sounds that appeared to be coming closer by the moment. Max jumped down and went to the door, barking and pawing in an effort to get out and investigate. Gingerly, I climbed off the couch, looking around for Elijah as I made my way to the door. He couldn’t still be asleep–no one could sleep through that racket. I shrugged and made my way to the door. My hand reached out and grabbed onto it, pushing down and pulling the door open. The sirens were even louder now; I could see their flashing lights heading towards the house. Relief filled me, I was going to go home. The police had somehow found me. Max ran out into the woods and disappeared. I shrugged again and moved back inside to gather the blanket around me again as I waited for my escort home.
As I turned, something caught my eye. The pillow and blankets were huddled in a strange way. Almost like a lump was under them. I went to take a step closer, but a soft voice behind me stopped me in my tracks. “Estella, wait.”
I turned to face him and drew back at his expression. Deep lines formed between his eyebrows and his mouth was drawn in a tight line.
I took a step back. “What’s wrong?”
His mouth opened and then closed again. A sigh escaped his lips as he ran his hands through his hair.
Something was wrong. Very wrong.
I took another step back. “Elijah,” I all but whispered. “You’re scaring me. What’s wrong?”
He hesitated again. “I hoped I’d have more time with you, before they showed up,” he said with a gesture towards the sirens. “There is something that you don’t know and I have been trying to find the right way to tell you... But I don’t think there is a right way.”
Eyebrows drawn together I replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He shook his head. “You do, Estella, but you’re not ready to face it yet.”
I took another step back. Was this man that I had thought was so kind, actually a devil in disguise. No, I said to myself. Something was wrong, but he meant me no harm. In fact, he seems so distressed by whatever it is that he has to tell me. I took a deep breath and made a bold move. “Just tell me what it is.”
His eyes slowly met mine, I read the heartbreak in them. “I’m so sorry Estella, but the police won’t be taking you home.”
Another step back. “And why is that?”
Anguish. Pure anguish stared back at me. “Because you’re dead.”
“What?!” I yelled and stumbled backwards. I grabbed the arm of the couch behind me to support myself. He was beside me in a second, holding me steady.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
“But how?” I softly asked then barraged him with all the questions that ran through my mind. “I found a pillow and a blanket and fell asleep then you rescued me and brought me in here... and max? What about Max? And what about you? If I’m dead, then how is it that you can hold me and see me and talk to me, for god’s sake!”
“I think the answer to that should be fairly obvious.”
My eyes widened to the size of saucers. “You’re dead too? And Max?”
He gave me a sad little shake of his head.
“But there is a fire and this house and...”
“Nothing but an illusion, my love.”
Still, I stared at him in disbelief.
“Look around you and see; really see what it is like.”
Reluctantly, I dragged my eyes from his gaze and looked around the room. The furniture was the same, there was an old fireplace, but the fire no longer burned. The ashes in the grate had been sitting there for a long time. The furniture was covered in cobwebs and dust. The walls dilapidated, and the door hung on an angle.
“Oh god,” I cried. “But how did I die and is my body still...” I couldn’t finish, just pointed towards outside.
He nodded. “I couldn’t save you, but I could at least put a pillow and blanket out there to make you as comfortable as you could be. And then I sat by you and waited till you drew your last breath. I couldn’t bear the thought of you dying all alone, even if you didn’t realise someone was there with you.”
I looked back and remembered that I had felt something eerie at the time, but dismissed it. He was telling me the truth. He had stayed by my side as I lay dying.
His voice snapped her back into her strange new reality. “When the time came, I knew you would wake up and find yourself in here with my illusion and just couldn’t bring myself to tell you the truth straight away, but now the police are here and your body will be discovered and of course no one but me and max can see you, so you were bound to realise something was seriously wrong.”
The shouts from outside drew their attention back. I heard someone walking onto the veranda. They
I walked to the window and looked out. I had to see. I had to know for sure.
The officer pulled back the blanket, and I was staring into my own lifeless eyes. I heard him curse then calling out to his fellow officers. “We’ve found her.”
The officer let out a sigh. “No. Inform the parents and get the medical examiner out here.”
I moved away from the window. “So what happens now?”
“Well, if you don’t mind our company then you could stay here.”
I smiled despite the fact that I had just found out that I was a ghost. With a wry shake of my head, I said, “Yes, Elijah. I would love to stay here with you and Max.”
She moved into his arms. “My ghost in cobweb armour.”
He chuckled and laid a kiss on the top of my head. “I knew there was a reason why I hadn’t moved on. I’ve been waiting for my dream girl to become a ghost.”
I PICKED UP MY HEADSET as I fired up the computer, ready to start my shift. Working in a call centre may not be the highlight of my career so far, but it paid the bills. Opening the programs in auto-pilot mode, I wasn’t paying much attention. I’d done this same thing, every morning for the last six months. But the call I was about to make was very different from the thousands of other calls that I had made.
I clicked the dial button and the familiar ring-ring filled my ears.
The call was answered and expecting the usual hello; I was greeted with a series of goo sounds. I smiled. This had to be a little kid. “Hello sweetheart,” I cooed. “Is your mummy there?”
More goo’s and what sounded like a yes came through the receiver. “Can you put her on the phone for me, darling?”
I heard rustling and then an older woman shooing the child away, “I’ll take it, James. Your mum is waiting for you.”
I smiled again. Must be grandma.
A few moments later. “Hello? Who am I speaking to?”
“Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m calling from Teleco. How are you today?” I said with the well-rehearsed introduction speech.
by Samantha Adams / Romance / Science Fiction & Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes