The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Past Meetings with Ghosts
by Alyson Faye
We scurried, two happy rats, backpacks chock-a with jam sarnies, through the attics of the old Grimshaw Mill, now derelict and abandoned.
Me and Mozzy, short for Maurice; no one called him that except his Dad. And he was a two-timing prat. Everyone in town knew. Except his son. I said nothing. That’s what mates do, keep stumm.
We also kept stumm – this time from each other – about the strange noises, rattles and crying in the Grimshaw attics. We told each other it was the wood breathing, the wind sighing, the beams shifting.
We told each other this make-believe – so we could keep coming to our safe place. Our second home. We stored our gear there:- sleeping bags, packs of biscuits, torches, candles. The summer we turned thirteen we ran away from both our crappy homes.
Old man Grimshaw had owned Gillerton until the asylum swallowed him up. His son, forever called Junior G, had slept, near as damn it, with every girl in town, siring a squadron of kids.
Hordes of ‘No Trespassing’ signs didn’t deter us, nor the smashed windows, nor the fallen masonry, ‘cos in the attics, it was mellow, chill and all our own.
We had to make two trips to cart all our gear, but by dusk we were snuggled in our sleeping bags, telling scary stories and listening to the timbers de-stressing.
Then the crying started. Distant, from the farthest end of the attics – a young woman. Usually she’d stop after a few minutes, but this time she kept sobbing for an hour or more. We plugged in our earbuds to escape the misery-fest.
At 1am Mozzy gave up. ‘Can’t sleep, Jay, we’d better go find her.’
I sat up, shocked. ‘She’s a ghost, Moz.’
Mozzy shrugged, grabbed his torch. ‘You comin’? You ain’t scaredy?’
‘Course not.’ I lied.
The sobbing reached a peak, then stopped. The silence seemed frozen; us too, like flies in the amber air, sucking in sawdust-flavoured spit. Mozzy was up ahead of me, so he reached the padlocked door first.
He stretched out his bare hand, touched the wood, then screamed blue murder as his fingertips changed from fleshy pink to icy blue, then black. The flesh peeling away in strips. ‘It’s f- freezing, burning.’
We jimmied the padlock, wearing gloves, and kicked in the door. The sobbing was quieter now. We were not prepared for what was on the other side of that door. I’m sure neither of us ever forgot, though we never spoke about it- not for the remaining fifteen years of Mozzy’s life, which ended over a bad debt and a worse woman in a bar.
Me, I dream about that room still, especially on drowsy summer nights when I’m alone except for a bottle of whiskey.
Shadows were dancing over the walls, as though alive. Those same walls were decorated with chains. There were rust-coloured stains on the floorboards, the sole window blacked out. Bang in the middle of the room stood a chair, a metal monstrosity, with a headrest, and foot plate.
It was painted black too, customised with a cruel metal head cage, and canvas cuffs for wrists and ankles.
Worst of all the chair was occupied.
A teenage girl sat slumped in a once-white nightgown, long hair raggedly cut short, her toenails were, by contrast, long One ankle, her left, splayed out at an abnormal angle.
Broken, I thought.
Her eyes flickered open; she stared right at us. Mozzy whimpered. Her eyes were milk-cauled, blind. But she knew we were there. Her scabbed lips opened, ‘Help me.’
A wind gusted behind us, the air turned sour, Mozzy peed his pants, and a tall shadow, a bulky man in a hat, consumed the wall, smothering the girl, who shuddered. She began to cry, that same gut-wrenching sobbing.
‘Let’s get out of here,’ Mozzy shouldered past me.
I didn’t blame him, but I felt compelled to be witness to the girl’s tragedy. I stayed to the end of the ghosts’ timeless, endless show. I was crying then myself; huge jagged chest-heaving sobs, which hurt my ribs.
At sixteen I got the hell out of Gillerton. Mozzy’s funeral brought me back, and then, between the whisky and the memories, I stayed, stuck – a fly in amber, once again.
Fiction © Copyright Alyson Faye
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Alyson Faye:
The Lost Girl & Spindleshanks
The Lost Girl
A nailed-up door. An inheritance which comes with a ghost. A missing girl. A fifty-year-old mystery. Parapsychologist Berkley Osgood is hired to investigate. What he uncovers reveals secrets the living want to hide and the dead will never forgive.
Adam is having nightmares about a skeletal shadow figure, who he calls Spindleshanks. Soon his whole class are sharing the same nightmare. Adam’s dad, Rob, knows that Spindleshanks can’t be real. But is he? One terrible night Rob has to face his son’s nightmare creature and fight for his son’s life. What would you sacrifice to have your child back safe?
“A decent two-for-one. Alyson Faye brings the engaging and eerie in equal measure.” CC Adams – horror / dark fiction author
Excellent! What a treat!
Thank you Marge, that’s so kind of you, and thank you for reading my story.
Very haunting, loved it.
Thank you so much,
Proper old-style creep-fest – love it!