A Haunted House Halloween Story
by Mel Dawn
I Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
By Mel Dawn
I enjoyed looking after my vast property in north Alberta. Any other state, and we’d never have been able to purchase a manor with some good acreage. Most of my neighbours complained about the upkeep of so much land, but I didn’t mind. My family enjoyed it here.
I was mowing the bottom part of our property, the part that led out to the narrow river. I was working my way up to the side of the house.
I shook my head as I ran the mower around the side. The house next to ours was in ruins. The city owned it and came by twice a year to do some upkeep, but it still wasn’t a pretty site. I really don’t know why they didn’t just unload it for some cash and put it toward the community center instead.
Oh right, something about it being “unsalable”, whatever that meant.
I was eager to finish as I was getting thirsty for some sweet tea. My mower skipped over something in the grass. I flicked the off switch. Better check it out. Maybe Janice dropped one of his toys here. If I didn’t pick it up, I’d hear no end of his whining.
I shifted the mower over to see what we had stumbled across.
Lying there in the grass was what appeared to be an animal bone. Or, was it? What’s that thing called in the arm, an ulna?
I was trying to decide whether to touch it, or let my wife deal with it when he came home, when I heard screaming coming at me.
Part 1 – It’s Alive!
“What’s the fuss?” I asked my daughter.
“It’s alive!” he ran down the path to where I was, near the front of the house.
I was briefly puzzled, wondering if he was referencing the human bone in the grass?
“What’s alive?” I asked him, dragging the mower back over the bone, as I realized these two situations couldn’t possibly be related.
“There’s a woman in the window!”
I peered frantically at the house. “In our house?”
“No, Mum, in the house next door!”
I laughed and shrugged. ”Of course there is, my dear. Probably just a Councillor checking it out, like they usually do.”
Janice, my ten year old, rushed up to me and hugged me. I patted his back.
“It’s nothing, dear.”
He pulled away and looked up at me. He shook his head.
“It’s not anyone from the city, Mum. This woman has long gray hair down to her hips. Her face was so old. If she had an age, I’d say 100 years old.”
I peered up at the old manor. There were only two upper windows facing our house. They both had brown curtains that were frayed and old. Most likely they’d been bright white about 100 years ago.
“Well, whoever she is, she’s gone now.”
“I swear I saw someone,” Janice said. “She was staring down at me from that upstairs window there.” He pointed to the one closest to us. “Look now!”
Part 2 – Moving Day
I just laughed. “Look, dear. The window is cracked. It’s just the wind, moving the curtains.”
Janice ran screaming from me and toward the backyard. I guessed he had his fun and was going to play in his playhouse, which was getting much too small for him now he was ten.
I pushed the mower back into the garden shed, then detached the bag and emptied the grass into recycling. It appeared that my chores were done for the day.
I was chopping up radishes in the kitchen for lunch when I suddenly remembered that arm bone out in the yard.
Worried that Janice would find it and concoct more stories about ghosts, I dumped the radishes into the salad, then headed back outside. I walked back and forth in the spot where I thought I had seen that bone.
But it wasn’t there. I looked back at the playhouse, but if Janice had come out and found it, he would have brought it to me, as that was his thing. He was naturally scared about everything.
“Some animal must have grabbed it,” I muttered to myself.
I headed back to the house. No human remains, no longer my problem.
As I walked around the side I looked up at the big house next door. It wasn’t even a fixer upper, more like a tearer downer.
The house had no running water, no electricity, and no gas, which meant no heating and no working stove. I’d heard that the fireplaces had even caved in, so they couldn’t even be used.
Pest control was sent in twice a year to keep them out, and the garden maintained at a bare minimum for city aesthetics, but other than that, no one could live there as it had a “DANGER – DO NOT ENTER” notice on the door from the city’s bylaw department.
They wanted people to know that if they entered the house, they did so at their own risk. No insurance would cover them if they fell through the floor boards and broke their leg, or worse, no insurance for their survivors.
I sorted through my brain. What had happened there? The city kept it hush-hush. One family had lived there for over 100 years. The house was quite the relic.
Then one day, the entire family vanished. Three generations together all gone. No survivors. The house and its contents had gone to the city. The city had donated the furnishings and personal effects to a church rummage sale, then donated that money to charity.
I decided I’d better get our lunch together. I was getting hungry, and soon Janice would be back, demanding lunch.
I washed my hands, then grabbed the salad tongs and fluffed up the salad.
“What is that?” I cried in horror.
I sifted through the big bowl of salad and pulled out that same human ulna I’d seen in the yard.
I looked angrily at the back window. “Janice! this isn’t funny!”
Part 3 – Play Time
“I swear I didn’t do it,” said Janice, crying.
“Okay, sweetie. I believe you.” I sighed. I sent him to the bathroom to wash his hands and face, while I prepared a new salad to eat.
I carefully placed the ulna outside on the back deck. I’d deal with it later.
I was honestly getting concerned about my child. My wife just said to let him be a kid for a few more years. But I felt as if something were wrong with him.
My point being, my daughter Janice was always naturally scared, by everything. He believed in ghosts. There, I admitted it. I’d just hoped that he was having fun playing.
But now it was getting to a point where it was harmful.
I placed all the food and dishes on the table.
What if Janice actually believed he saw ghosts? As in, he was cray cray? I shook my head. I’d have to take him to a psychiatrist.
I sat at the table with my hands on my cheeks. I didn’t know what to do.
The alternative was that Janice was joking around and having fun with his parents. But I knew he wasn’t. I knew him too well.
As for that real human bone, he must have found that somewhere. Maybe he had found it in the house?
“I’m ready to eat!” he called, sitting down. “I’ll sit here with Henry.”
I started eating. “Who is Henry?”
He giggled. “Henry is friendly. He died about 40 years ago.”
“Okay, sweetie, you need to stop pretending. It’s fine you have friendly ghost friends, but the other scary ones are freaking you out. Like that woman you saw in the window.”
Janice slowed down his eating a bit. “But I really see ghosts.”
I put my fork down. “You can’t keep on doing this. You already told me the kids at school are making fun of you.”
Janice had a sad expression on his face. “I just told them I’m joking around. I can lie to people, but I still see them.”
“Okay, let’s make a deal. You can ghost away as much as you can in October, after all, it’s Halloween month. Then in November, promise that you’ll work with me to figure this out.”
Janice looked at me and smiled.
I smiled back. I think he felt a bit better. We were going to work through this together.
“Oh, by the way, what’s up with the arm bone?”
“What bone?” he asked, completely puzzled.
That’s when I knew he had nothing to do with that arm bone. I quickly finished my lunch so I could do a search of the house, check all windows and doors, and see if anyone was prowling around.
Part 4 – Playmates Forever
Janice sat in his playhouse, hiding. He was starting to get worried. His Mum had never believed him when he said he saw ghosts. What was he going to do?
He thought about it for a bit, then made his decision. He’d have to keep this part of his life from her. That meant, no more playing with his ghostly friends, or hiding from his ghostly enemies.
His playmates would understand. It was the malevolent ghosts he saw that wouldn’t listen to him. They’d continue to torment him.
He should never have followed that little girl ghost when he was 5. He’d followed her into the house next door.
No, he wasn’t allowed to be there. But he had gone in, anyway.
And since then, the more space he gave to ghosts in his mind, the more prone he was to seeing them, even when they should not exist.
He wished he lived in a brand new neighbourhood where they’d be no ghosts, as there were no more old manors.
He grabbed a blanket and tossed it over his head.
“There, can’t see you,” he said. So now, the ghosts couldn’t bother him at all.
But he couldn’t live in a world of darkness, even though it was pleasant hiding under the blanket for half an hour, simply thinking of puppies, kittens, and other things that weren’t ghosts.
It had taken him some effort to train his thoughts away from ghosts and toward other things. He already knew he had to mask his ghostly abilities from the students and teachers at school. And now he was going to have to do it with his family.
He didn’t know what else to do. He’d watched enough TV to know he could be sent to the loonie bin, or worse, be forced to take drugs that would turn him into a drug addict.
And he felt so alone. He had no help at all. What was he going to do? He’d felt a bit better when his Mum said she’d help, but she just didn’t get it.
It was one thing to stop playing with imaginary friends, but another to stop playing with ethereal beings who enjoyed following him around.
Janice grabbed his tablet and pulled it under the blanket with him. Perhaps he’d play a game or something.
“Come and play with me forever,” said a raspy old female voice.
He dropped his tablet on the table.
Usually the ghosts didn’t talk!
He flicked his blanket off. There was that old woman with the long gray hair sitting beside him.
Part 5 – The Unbeliever
I went outside to hide that arm bone, but it wasn’t there. Whatever was happening? I knew it wasn’t Janice, because he had gone directly outside and into his playhouse.
“Where are…” I started to ask, but then I didn’t want to get into it. I didn’t believe in ghosts. That was silly.
I was positive there was an explanation for all this. The neighbour’s cat was probably just dragging the bone around.
I’d done a thorough search of house and grounds and hadn’t seen anything out of place. Just to be certain, I’d closed and locked all the windows and doors, except for the back door that I could keep an eye on.
I finished tidying up the kitchen. I turned back to the table, and there was the bone, lying on the table.
“What the hell?” I looked around, but there was no way any living person could have placed that bone on the table.
I had only looked away for seconds. When I turned back to the table, the bone was gone.
“I wonder if Janice inherited it from me?” But I was positive that I’d never seen any ghosts myself.
Except for Grandpa, on the night after he died. Oh, and my pet cat, Fluffy. And….
But I didn’t dwell on it, or let it take over my life.
“Where are you?” I screamed at the house. “What do you want?”
Okay, too late. It’s taken over my life now. I walking outside, slamming the door shut.
I stomped over to the house next door and looked up at the window.
And there it was.
Part 6 - Where Are You?
Janice looked at the ghost seated before him.
He finally decided to stand up for himself.
“Look, lady ghost. You guys are ruining my life. My Mum doesn’t understand. We can’t keep meeting like this.”
“I know, little boy. Soon, this shall come to an end. Meet me at the house. Your problems are solved.” Then the ghost abruptly vanished.
Janice hopped out of his playhouse and ran to the side yard to see if she’d gone back to her house.
There was his mother, standing there, looking up at the window.
“Look!” she called out, pointing.
“What’s that on the windowsill?” Janice asked.
“It’s an ulna, an arm bone that humans have.”
“Cool,” he said, looking around for a glimpse of the woman.
“Where are you?” the two of them screamed out in frustration.
And that’s when the bone fell off the windowsill and to the ground below.
The bone hit the soil. And then, hundreds of other bones popped up to the surface.
“Oh, that’s where they all went,” said Janice, marvelling at the sight.
His Mum called the police immediately.
Janice moved out as soon as he turned 18 years old. He went to stay at the local university, pursuing a career in anthropology.
As for me, my wife remained oblivious and it was better this way. I never saw anything unusual around the house. After the bones were removed from the yard and buried in the local cemetery, the house next door was bulldozed, and a new duplex went up. Two nice families now live there.
Janice had assured me he no longer saw or heard ghosts, but I knew that wasn’t true. I knew that was the reason why he went into the field he did.
To this day, no one knows how ten people, from three different generations, ended up dead and buried at the side of their house.