Just when you thought it was safe to open the newspaper, it’s the return of ... Ghastly Ghost Stories!
Want to scare the wits out of your fellow Evening Sun readers?
Enter our annual Halloween fiction contest!
The Evening Sun’s Ghastly Ghost Stories competition is returning for another year of spooky fun.
This year the contest will be open to students grades 5-12 and to adults. Entries should be 1,500 words or less. Prizes will be awarded for the best story in each age group; fifth and sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, ninth through twelfth grade and adults.
The winning story in each category and selected others will be published in The Pumpkin Vine, a special section of the paper that will be included in the Thursday, Oct. 29 edition, prior to the Norwich Pumpkin Festival. Winners will receive a certificate of accomplishment and gift certificates from First Edition Bookstore in Norwich! Questions? Call Melissa Stagnaro at 337-3071.
Submit your most terrifying tales via e-mail only to:
The Evening Sun
Put “Ghastly Ghost Stories” in the subject line!
DEADline Thursday, Oct. 21!
To get things started, our ES staffers have penned their own terrifying tales. Can you do better?
By Melissa Stagnaro
I woke to find myself staring into Horace’s amber eyes. The beastly tortoiseshell was glaring. He didn’t like to be woken up in the middle of the night either. I reached for my cell phone. It hadn’t rung yet, but I knew it would. I could feel the urgency, and the fear, of my soon-to-be caller. That niggling feeling was why I was awake at 2:13 a.m.
God, was that really the time?
Distracted by the glowing numerals on my bedside clock, I was a second too late in grabbing the phone. Only it wasn’t my usual ringtone which greeted me; but the Ghostbusters theme song.
“Oh, you think you’re so funny, Horace,” I muttered under my breath, wondering for the billionth time at the cat’s ingenuity. Now, I’d be humming that damn song all day. It didn’t really inspire confidence in clients, most of whom already have their doubts about the legitimacy of my chosen profession.
But such is life when you’re sensitive to the things most people are eager to write off as superstition and folklore.
Having a name like mine doesn’t help either.
Clearing my voice, I raised the phone to my ear.
“Persephone Fox,” I said, pleased to find my tone calm and even, despite my quickening pulse. You never want to sound too eager.
I wasn’t expecting to hear Bryant’s voice. My Paranormal Response Unit handler was usually unflappable, and it had been strong emotion which woke me.
“Damn it, Seph, this is a bad one,” he said, not bothering with pleasantries. “It’s one of our own.”
“What? Who?” I sputtered, all semblance of calm shattered.
“Just get here,” was his grim reply. I scrambled for a pen as he rattled off an address in a rural part of the county. It stirred a memory, but before I could press him further, he terminated the call.
As I shrugged into jeans and gathered my gear, I struggled to regain my focus. I’d have answers soon enough, I knew. One way or another.
As I neared my destination, I realized why the address had sounded so familiar. I mentally kicked myself for not having recognized it sooner. Fisher House, I thought.
And as I rounded the final bend, there it was, illuminated in the headlights of Bryant’s standard PRU issue SUV.
The once-grand home, built of native fieldstone more than a century ago, looked like it had aged another hundred years since I had seen it last. Its wide front porch sagged and the formerly manicured lawns were overgrown.
I shuddered. Had it really been 10 years?
Easy girl, I thought, shaking my head to rid myself of the memories which still haunted my nightmares. Pull it together. I took breath and let it out slowly before exiting Camille, the 1973 Plymouth Cuda my mom had left me. It, and the locket I wore around my neck, reminded me of her every day.
Patting the old girl’s shiny black hood boosted my resolve. I knew I’d need every ounce, because what waited for me inside the house was pure evil.
Bryant stood next to the SUV, and as I sidled up I realized he wasn’t alone. There was no mistaking Ivan’s hulking form standing next to him.
Great, the night had just gone from bad to worse. To say the Russian and I didn’t get along was putting it mildly. He was good, I’d give him that. But his methods left something to be desired.
Then I noticed a second vehicle parked nearby and my heart sank. It was an old VW van, its blue and white body painted with peace signs and flowers.
Not Cicely, I thought. Please, not Cicely.
I pictured my mentor, with her riot of dark hair and penchant for long flowing skirts and brightly colored scarves. She loved playing the part of a hippy fortune teller, but her skills were genuine and her knowledge of the arcane unmatched.
Ivan and I were going to have our work cut out for us. I glanced over at the big Russian to find him glowering at me. Maybe he and Horace were related.
“Ladies first,” he said, his accent thick and harsh to my ears.
Jackass, I thought. Maybe chivalry was better off dead.
I picked my way through the briars, up the stone steps and paused before the massive oak front door. It had gleamed in the moonlight when I’d stood before it last, but now its veneer was weather-worn. I didn’t bother knocking. With a twist of the tarnished knob, I pushed the door wide.
“Cicely,” I whispered softly into the darkness, pushing Power into the name.
Before I could steel myself, I was bombarded. My mentor’s agony, the pain and anguish she’d experienced in her final moments whipped around me like a gale force wind, tearing and biting at my soul. The coppery scent of blood filled my nostrils, and an endless barrage of images flooded my mind. They were Cicely’s, I knew, but they were so similar to my own memories of this house that for a moment I was unsure.
I was no longer standing at the threshold, but on my knees, retching and shaking. I heard Bryant’s worried cry, but raised my hand to ward him off.
“What did you see?” demanded Ivan.
“Dining room,” I gasped, using the door frame to climb to my feet. “Second door on the right.”
He moved to pass me, but I grabbed his thickly muscled arm and met his eye. He must have seen the fear and determination there, for he nodded once and took a half step back, allowing me to lead.
I took a deep breath and stepped inside, giving my eyes a moment to adjust to the gloom.
The layout was as I remembered. The long, winding staircase lay in front of me. To the left, the study. And on the right lay the formal sitting room and beyond it, the dining room.
Pushing my will outward, I scanned the house. There were a few scattered spirits, but I wasn’t concerned with them. They too were unsettled by whatever had taken up residence in the dining room, but none were sentient enough to provide information.
I moved off down the hall, trusting the Russian to follow.
The door to the dining room was open wide.
Ivan muttered a curse in his native tongue, and mentally I echoed his sentiment. For Cicely’s bloodied form floated in mid-air, her animated corpse rotating slowly above the room’s massive table, head thrown back at what could only be described as an exultant angle. Or at least it had been until we’d disturbed her. Now “her” glowing red eyes were fixed firmly on us.
Ivan’s heavily accented baritone rose behind me again, as he began to intone the Russian Orthodox rite of exorcism. Which, frankly, only served to piss the thing off even more. I couldn’t believe he’d just launched right into it, without even taking the time to see what we were up against.
I, on the other hand, knew what it was. I’d faced it 10 years ago and barely made it out alive. My mother, God rest her soul, hadn’t. My hand rose of its own accord to the locket around my neck as those red eyes met mine. And I knew without a doubt that this evil being had been waiting for me.
It was stronger now, but then so was I.
I reached deftly for the sack which dangled from my belt and, with a practiced movement and a concentration of will, spread its contents in a wide arc. The blend of grave dust, salt, herbs and other choice ingredients landed, just as I’d intended, in a perfect circle. In one motion I drew my silver athame from its scabbard and across my forearm, the razor sharp blade drawing blood. One drop and the circle closed around our prey with a thunder clap of power.
The house shook as the spirit bellowed in rage. But I wasn’t done. I began to chant the vanquishing spell I’d spent years crafting. Ready, if I ever had this chance.
Ivan’s voice joined mine, and I could feel the evil being’s hold on this plane, and on poor Cicely’s body, loosen.
The Russian moved forward to take my hand, intending to combine our power. But the toe of his boot extended too far, breaking the circle. The instant the barrier fell, the beast was upon us.
The force of the attack propelled me back into the hall. I landed heavily, the knife skittering out of my hand and across the parquet floor. I lay panting with exhaustion, cursing myself for dropping the blade as I watched Ivan grapple with the animated corpse.
I hunted for the ceremonial knife and, as soon as my fingers closed around the artifact’s obsidian handle, dragged myself back into the dining room. I was too weak to stand, but I knew this was our last chance. Both of our lives, as well as the fate of Cicely’s soul, hung in the balance. I used a chair to pull myself upright. The athame glowing as I spoke the words of power and raised it above my head. And then, I plunged it downward.
An inhuman scream rent the air as flames consumed Cicely’s body. But I saw a silvery wisp rise above the flame, dancing almost, as it made a slow steady ascent upward. And I knew my dear friend was heading home.
For a moment, too, I saw the ghostly figure of the man who had taken my mother’s life and left me for dead. My father, Jacob Fisher.
Then he too was gone.
This was one soul I’d waited far too long to put to rest.