The house sits on the corner of a well-manicured neighborhood. But it is more than a distinctive blight on an otherwise picturesque street that I notice on my weekly jogs. The house’s Gothic style seems so out place among the trendier homes. The sun had leached all pigment out of its paint until the colorless peeling resembles like gray scaly skin. A tree hovers stood near a rotted porch. Its branches were twisted and black.
Each time I run past the house, I feel a shiver. I know something inside beckons. Even as I stand safely on the opposite side of the street, I'm aware that folks are oblivious to the true evil that has settled on the house like a kind of shroud.
How can they not feel it? Well, I do. I’ve learned long ago to trust my instincts. I tried to change my running routes. Sadly, I’ve started to zone out during my runs and find that all my new routes lead me back to that house. Its broken second floor windows resemble eyes and look down at me while the broken shutters bang against walls, propelled by a nonexistent wind. The damn thing is laughing. I’m trapped by my fear.
Even in my dreams, I can’t escape that house. I’ve gone inside, you see. To me the interior is worse than the godawful exterior because I know evilness is hidden inside the darkness. A trace of daylight allows me to see the abandoned furniture covered with dusty white sheets and cobwebs.
Suddenly, I hear footsteps upstairs, and a long drawn out sigh. The sound is soft, but powerful because I can almost feel it. It is that sound, the sigh, which turns me into stone. It is full of an awareness that a hunger will be satisfied.
The it that lives in the house knows that I’m sensitive. I know that it will feed on my gift…and has been guiding me toward it from the very beginning. Since I’m sensitive, I now know that others like me are still in the house, not dead but not alive either.
When I finally see the creature, I try to scream, but it won’t tear from my throat. I beg my limbs to move, to run, and as if sensing my anguish and perhaps feeding off my fear, the gluttonous creature just laughs.
I’m not afraid of ghosts. Yeah, right. That’s the lie I tell myself when my eyelids flutter open at three in the morning. Sleep is elusive and those dark hours before dawn are just plain creepy. A creative mind can make up mind-numbing creatures out of shadows. At least, I think they’re just shadows?
Let’s face it, we all die. So as I “ponder” my mortality, I have one thought. When my body ceases, will I at least know that I’m dead? I mean, I don’t want to linger. How awful it must be to stay behind instead of crossing over. After all, what keeps a soul here? Is it fear or regret? Is there really a Heaven or Hell? The gothic cross around my throat professes my belief in both.
As the moon glides across the sky and causes the night shadows shift closer to my bed, I consider the plight of ghosts. What if spirits are afraid to move on because they failed to tell a beloved, “I love you,” or, “Please forgive me…?”
This is what I believe; that leaving the mortal coil and embracing the unknown is the true leap of faith.
Suppose I died, from a heart-attack in my sleep probably. What if my spirit were to continue because I didn’t know that I’d died? What if I stay behind operating in an infinite loop quite oblivious that the world has moved on while I haven’t? How do I recognize that I’m stuck like a needle caught in the groove an old vinyl record? Not only that, I might possibly end up scaring folks for a millennium in the process?
As the shadows elongate over my quivering body, I pull the covers up to shield my eyes and huddle next to my sleeping babe of a husband. He’s no protection, but I feel safer.
I can’t stop myself. I have to wonder about this, too…is it me, or have you ever noticed that ghosts have expiration dates? I’ve never heard of a caveman ghost or a ghost that existed beyond a few centuries? Have you? What happens when spirits can’t or just plain refuse to “move on”? Do these specters become mad and powerful enough to de-evolve and become demons?
Sometimes these are the thoughts that haunt me at 3 a.m. When my husband and dog are sound asleep, and in the stillness of a very old house, I wonder if we are really alone.