Hey guys we only have 15 days left before Halloween and as most of you know, while we've been counting down I've been posting true ghost stories that readers have sent me. Today's story comes from L.M. Graham who is a full-time journalist and first-time novelist. She lives in rural Oklahoma with her husband and their two ridiculous Great Danes. When she isn't chasing news or working on her novel, she loves road-tripping, gardening, gaming and, of course, reading. Her short story, "The Keeper of the Trees," will be published in "Holiday Magick," Spencer Hill Press's upcoming anthology.
She can be found at LMGrahamwrites.blogspot.com or on Tumblr at everythingsbetterwithtea.tumblr.com.
It's an unassuming little house, a nine-hundred-square-foot place surrounded by the older part of town, but lucky enough to have a decent-sized lot that spreads around it. My grandparents bought it in the early 2000's - the very first house they ever owned, and they treated it that way.
My granddad passed away several years ago, leaving my grandma alone in the house. She made offhanded comments about "nighttime visitors" and strange happenings, but she spent her free time glued to true crime novels, so we chalked them up to dreams or her wonderful, overactive imagination. The few times my mom indulged her and asked if she was scared, my grandma would shrug and say, "Well, if they haven't hurt an old bird like me by now, they aren't going to."
Then, a few years ago, my grandma got sick. Sick enough to land her in a nursing home for several months, which left my mom and me in charge of going to the house every day and taking care of her two cats. Mom noticed anything off about the place, but she's a staunch skeptic when it comes to the paranormal, so I doubt she'd have mentioned it if anything had struck her as odd.
Unfortunately, she expected me to be a staunch skeptic too, which meant she had zero problems with sending me out there at nine, ten, or even eleven at night when she'd occasionally forget to run by the house during the day. I smiled and joked with her about how "the ghost in the house" might come after me if I was there after dark, but I never told her about the tension I felt any time I went in there by myself. Like a pair of eyes were watching every move I made, and they just plain couldn't wait for me to leave.
Then one night any doubt I'd had was totally blown away.
It was my fault I was there so late. In high school, my Friday nights were devoted to huddling on the football field's end zone with the rest of the marching band, wrapped in a blanket and trying to remember what it felt like to have full control over my fingers. That night, the game went into overtime, then double overtime, and I realized I'd forgotten to feed the cats.
After the game, I sprinted to my car, still in the polyester nightmare that passed for my marching uniform, and high-tailed it to the house. In the five or so blocks to the house, I managed to unbutton the jacket and pull on a hoodie, but I was still wearing the ugly suspendered pants that looked like I was gearing up for a monsoon. I parked, killed my headlights, fumbled around for the key, and headed up the driveway.
As soon as the key turned in the doorknob, I knew something was off about the place. Not "it's been robbed" off, but off in the sense that I'd interrupted something, and the silence I met when I swung the door open felt artificial and too complete to be real. I whistled for the cats, but they were nowhere to be found.
The blinds were up and the moon was full, so I didn't bother with turning the lights on. Instead, I made my way through the house by moonlight, grumbling to myself about waiting until the middle of the night to feed the cats, and they were so fat one day without food wouldn't kill them, anyway, but grandma would kill me if she found out I'd let her precious babies go a day without sustenance. My steps crunched on the heavy 70's-era shag carpet, and the wood floor beneath.
I rounded the corner to the kitchen, thinking I'd find a shattered plate, or some other crime scene that would explain the cats' disappearance. Maybe I'd even find them face down in their food bowl, trying to devour whatever was left so I'd think the bowl was empty and they were starving.
I didn't find the cats, or any broken dishes.
Instead, I found the ceiling fan, silhouetted against the moonlit windows. It was turned off and perfectly still, except for the chain that controlled the lights.
That chain was swinging. Violently, like someone had smacked it as hard as they could.
At first, it didn't occur to me why that would be odd. Ceiling fans got out of balance, after all, and the chains would swing and clink against the light fixtures or make a soft swooping noise that was almost as annoying as nails on a chalkboard. I shrugged, walked across the kitchen, and grabbed the chain, stopping its movement.
The cats still didn't make an appearance, but their dish was empty, so I refilled it and made sure the litter box in the corner of the room was clean. A couple cars passed by, the loud kind that most likely belonged to the more popular kids who thought their reputation depended on the number of car alarms they could set off with their mufflers. They broke the silence, but as the noise faded into the distance it seemed like the eerie quiet in the house was twice as pronounced as before.
Then, as I straightened back up from re-sifting the cat litter, I heard a clink. I straightened, turned, and looked around.
The light chain was swinging again.
A million things ran through my head. Miniature earthquake, the vibration from the mufflers, the cats somehow swinging across the room like tiny Tarzans when my back was turned. None of them made sense, but watching the chain swing back and forth made me suddenly want to be anywhere, anywhere but there.
I threw the plastic litter bag away and power-walked back through the kitchen, just sure I'd feel a pair of cold, clammy hands on my back any second. The silence was so loud it might as well have been screaming.
The floor shifted from tile to carpet, and I was back in the living room.
Then I saw it.
It was white and formless, like smoke, but brighter, and it stayed in one wispy column as it moved from the dark mouth of the master bedroom to the tiny hallway that led to the bathroom. It didn't make a sound as it moved, but it shifted and shook like it had enough weight to be thrown around. Once it reached the hallway, it vanished, like it had gone into a wall I couldn't see.
But I didn't wait to see any more. I turned toward the door, made an exit that could at best be called undignified, and slammed the door behind me.
Mom said she found the cats under the bed the next day. She just about had to pry them out from beneath the mattress, like something had thoroughly spooked them. And for the next week, if not longer, I wondered if my mind had exaggerated the incident, or if I'd seen a pair of headlights thrown against a wall. Nothing I came up with made sense.
I felt for the cats though.
Something had thoroughly spooked me, too.