Saturday, 17 October 2020

The Ghostly Habitation

 A Haunted House Halloween Story

by Mel Dawn


Prologue

I enjoyed looking after my vast property in north Louisiana. Any other state, and we’d never have been able to purchase a mansion with some good acreage. Most of my neighbors 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 James 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 husband 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 son.


“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.”


James, 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 mansion. 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,” James 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.”


James 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 James 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 James 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 James 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. “James! this isn’t funny!”


Part 3 – Play Time


“I swear I didn’t do it,” said James, 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 porch. I’d deal with it later.


I was honestly getting concerned about my child. My husband 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 son James 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 James 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 James 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.”


James 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.”


James 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.”

James 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


James 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 neighborhood where they’d be no ghosts, as there were no more old mansions. 


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.


James 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. 


“Who’s there?” 


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 James, 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 a reasonable explanation for all this. The neighbor’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 James 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?


James 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.


James 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?” James 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 James, marvelling at the sight.


His Mum called the police immediately. 


Epilogue


James 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 husband 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.


James 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. 



The End.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

A Freaky Halloween

 A Harrowing Halloween Night by Mel Dawn


“Trick or treating is for kids,” said my best friend, Tony.


“That’s me,” I replied. “Besides, we get free candy. And it’s fun.”


“Well, I’ll go with you, but I’m not dressing up. And I’m not going to the doors.” 


My teen friend was a jerk sometimes but I just ran with it.


This year I was going as a witch. Kind of a boring Halloween costume, but on the other hand, I enjoyed doing traditional Halloween rather than being a princess or super hero.


“Let’s go!” he said, heading to the door.


I just shook my head. For someone not inspired by Halloween, he was eager to head out.


We headed out, near the end of the kids’ trick or treating time. This was the time that the young adults headed out for fun, before they went to their parties.


I felt kind of silly standing at strangers’ doors, asking for candy. It was just like being a kid!


I’d done the last house on the block and walked back to where Tony was standing, eating some of the candy I had collected.


And that’s when I heard screaming from the middle of the road.


We turned and watched as a group of people dressed up as werewolves chased after some random humans. But then they were tripped and fell to the ground. The zombies soon swooped in and started chowing down.


“We need to get out of here,” said my friend.


We ran down the street, past a vampire drinking the blood of a princess, except she seemed to be enjoying it.


“It’s as if people are being changed into their costume characters,” I called out to him.


“You’re right,” he said. “I’m glad I don’t go for that costume nonsense. I knew that nothing good would ever come of it.”


We hid behind some bushes and watched the chaos on the street.


A dragon breathed real fire. It ran down the street, setting every car on fire. At least not people.


We saw a little girl run around meowing like a cat. It sure sounded real.


Super heroes were running around, trying to help. 


It wasn’t long before the streets cleared of normal humans. The smart ones had headed indoors. The ones who had been wearing costumes were now unwillingly acting out their roles.


There was a snake rolling down the street. A man was trying to fight it off. 


A small fairy was floating through the air, causing mischief. It giggled as some pumpkins barrelled through the bushes where the teenagers were hiding.


“I think we need to go home,” I said.


Tony laughed. “Aww, but this is the most fun I’ve ever had.”


But we never made it back home. It was a mess outside. As if nothing could get worse than that quarantine we’d had, or that crazy election, or all those forest fires. And then no power or utilities for months. 


I felt bad for the kids. All they wanted was to finally get out and have some fun this month.


“At least it’s our common creatures. It’s a fair fight,” I said to Tony, as we had moved ten feet and huddled behind a laurel bush.


“I hear sirens, so help is coming.”


And then we saw it. It was coming down the street. What could possibly be the worst thing from horror movies?


This creature was ten feet tall and from any of several science fiction movies. It was black all over and had ten arms and legs. It hissed at a bird in a tree, opening its mouth wide. And inside its mouth was another mouth, that opened wide and displayed some extremely sharp teeth. 


Venom dripped out of its mouth. It trickled down to the ground. 


The ground sizzled, and a big hole opened up.


“What did you say again?” Tony said to me.


“What can we do?” I whispered to him.


“We need to just get out of here, go home. Let the cops handle it,” he whispered back.


We crawled past the bushes and over to the next house. 


I cautiously peered out. The alien was walking in the opposite direction to us. But then, a big gap in its backside opened up. Suddenly, about ten more little aliens dropped down to the ground. They scattered every which way,


I heard screaming as they gobbled up their victims.


And then there was rustling coming from under the bushes.


One of the creatures ran out.


I held my magic wand in my hand. Somehow I felt that hitting it would not do much.


But I tried away. “From creature to cat,” I proclaimed in a smug voice. Might as well try a magic spell while I was here.


And the alien baby turned immediately into a cat.


“Wow!” said Tony. “Can you restore things back to normal?”


I stood up and walked confidently out into the middle of the street.


“Every creature, be restored back to human!” I commanded. “Every dead human, come back to life.”


And then a bright neon green flash flew through the air.


What was chaos got restored back to normal.


Tony came out, amazed. “Super!”


I laughed. “Let’s go home. The police will be here soon, but I have no intention of talking to them.”


“Yah, don’t want to be questioned. I’m getting kind of tired. And my stomach is upset from eating all that candy.”


The streets were a mess as we carefully walked down the sidewalk. The former vampire was tending to his girlfriend, stopping the blood from oozing, while they waited for the ambulance. 


The former fairy lay in the street, her leg broken.


The former dragon was using a fire extinguisher, trying to put out the flames of their own car.


I nodded. Things were going back to normal.


Well, except for the zombies. There were still zombies. The people who had been killed or eaten by the creatures. I guess my magic could only go so far.



The End.




Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Our Adventure – Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia

A Fictional Short Story by Mel Dawn 

Last March we had to put ourselves into lockdown which can be stressful when you’re dealing with an irate spouse. Now it’s months later and we knew we had to give up our summer trip to the USA. But where to go? It had to be somewhere within driving distance from Ontario. Neither me nor my husband have ever been to Nova Scotia. But where? We wanted to avoid hoards of tourists. We finally settled on Ingonish, Cape Breton at the northern end of Nova Scotia. 

Often when you travel you must make sacrifices in comfort and in activities, particularly when you’re on a tight budget. Our car is small though, so we could only fit a few pieces of luggage and a cooler in the back. 


Ingonish is a harbour on the northeast part of Cape Breton Island. Before we even reached our hotel we got distracted by a ton of activities. We would definitely not be bored here.


But after driving several hours, both me and my husband were grumpy. That’s what happens when you get older. You just can’t tolerate things as well as you did when you were younger. You get tired more easily, and muscles start to ache. 


Nova Scotia is definitely unique. Coming from Ontario, we do have plenty of lakes, but aren’t close to the sea where you can smell the salt air. Nova Scotia also feels more like a community where people can slow down. People actually chat to strangers on the street, though wearing their masks of course.


Really, I wouldn’t have been able to think of a better vacation spot, unless we’d been able to get away to Portland, Maine this year, but we couldn’t. 


We were both exhausted, so decided to check into our accommodation first. I had expected some rundown motel where we’d have to bring our own towels and soap, but was pleasantly surprised.


And if you tire of hanging out in your room, there’s a spa where you can get the best services, and also a golf course where you can get fresh air and exercise at the same time.


Since we were here for a week, we didn’t try to rush around and do all the things in one day. After all, the point of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself. Surprisingly, my husband even agreed!


We spent the rest of the day wandering around. There were some wonderful views of the sea from here. 


Usually you stay at a motel and get stressed out, but the sheets and pillows were comfy, and our room was quiet so we got plenty of sleep.


By the end of the week we actually decided to stay a few more days. After all, it wasn’t like there was anything pressing back at home. It was great to actually spend some time with my husband, without all those stressors of life in the way. By the time we returned home we felt like newlyweds once again!