A little bit of darkness to brighten your day
Just like in the movies...
Delia didn’t look up from the computer screen when a yawning Maggie came into her bedroom.
“I think I found something.”
Maggie stretched and let out a harassed sigh. “It’s almost dawn.” Then, hearing the low groaning echo through the house again, albeit softer this time, she lowered her arms quickly with a shudder and wrapped them around herself.
“Ugh, it has to let up soon, right? Don’t ghosts only come out at night? I’m so tired, Deel; I can’t sleep with all this awful—”
“Look,” Delia cut off her roommate and pointed to the website she’d been reading intently. “I was right. It took some digging, but this street, Shady Lane? This whole area, actually, was the site of a Civil War battle.”
She jabbed the screen violently as Maggie leaned over her shoulder to read. “I’d bet anything we’re sitting on the site of an old Civil War hospital. That’s what those awful screams and cries are.”
As if on cue, another otherworldly moan seemed to emanate from the very walls. “Heeeeeeeeeeelllllpppppp… summmm… onnnnnneee… pllleeeeeeaaasssse…”
Maggie shivered. “I can’t believe this is happening. This is real life, not the set of Poltergeist.”
She turned and threw herself down on Delia’s bed. Grabbing a pillow, she pressed it over her head to muffle the sounds.
“I can’t take this anymore. I didn’t sleep a wink.” She lifted the corner of the pillow to peek pointedly at Delia. “And obviously, neither did you. I can’t believe you discovered all that in just a few hours. You’re so smart, Deel.”
Delia couldn’t quite hide her self-satisfaction. “Yeah well, no… I just knew where to look, is all. I was always good at research in high school, remember? The question is, what do we do now?”
Maggie made a face. “Ugh. I can’t believe we’re living in a haunted house. Aren’t they legally required to disclose that information, or something?”
“Hmmm,” Delia mused. “I think that’s only if there’s been a murder in the house. And maybe only if you’re buying it, instead of just renting.”
“I don’t care. It should be illegal,” Maggie sniffed. “I’m going to complain to the landlord. He should give us back our security deposit.” Her face fell. “But you’re right. What are we going to do? I don’t want to live in a house full of ghosts. But I don’t want to move again. We just finished moving all of our stuff in.”
Delia pursed her lips. “Well. The noise is starting to die down now that it’s getting light, so maybe you’re right and it’s worse at night. I guess our next step would be—”
Both girls looked around uncomfortably as the moan trailed off into a gasping sob and Maggie let out a dismayed squeak before she could stop herself.
With a shake of her head, Delia continued. “I guess our next step would be to contact a priest, maybe?”
Her roommate perked up. “Like an exorcism? Yeah!”
“Welllll,” Delia looked doubtful now. “I think official Catholic exorcisms are kind of a big deal and you have to, like, be possessed for months and go through all these tests and get approval from the Vatican. But,” she chewed her lip, “I’ll bet I could call some local churches and see whether anyone would be willing to, like, ‘bless’ the house or something. That’s gotta be something they do. Right?”
“God, I hope so.” Maggie whined and shuddered again. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take! Last night was the worst.”
Delia studied her nails. “Yeah, I’m just glad we figured out so quickly what was going on, so we didn’t have to suffer through this every night for like, weeks and months.
“Fortunately, I think it has finally let up for the night. Unfortunately,” she checked her watch, “It’s only just past seven, so I probably won’t be able to start calling around to churches about having someone come look at the place for a few more hours.”
At her friend’s despondent whimper, Delia gave her a consoling look. “Don’t worry, Mags. We’ll make sure it gets taken care of today. Do you think I should print this page off?” She gestured to the computer screen. “In case they need some sort of proof?”
She reached for the mouse but before she could click, there was a knock at the door.
Maggie jumped and almost fell off the bed. Delia, a look of consternation on her face, rose to answer it, then hesitated when Maggie grabbed her arm and violently shook her head, mouthing “NO!”
“Ghosts don’t knock, silly,” Delia said with a nervous laugh, and moved from her friends grasp to head toward the front door.
Before she made it out of the room, though, the knock came again, more insistent this time, and quickly followed by a call of “POLICE.”
Delia’s expression changed to one of alarm and she dashed from the room and down the hall to answer the front door. Maggie followed for a few steps but then stopped at the end of the hallway, the comforter from Delia’s bed wrapped around her shoulders.
Delia opened the door to reveal two rather bored looking police officers, a man and a woman, standing on their front stoop. The man’s hand was raised to knock again but he lowered it when he saw Delia. The female officer spoke first.
“Ma’am. I’m Officer Detrick, this is Officer Falls. We received a phone call about some screams coming from the area of this residence, and--”
At the word “screams,” Maggie let out a little shriek. At the sound, Officer Detrick stopped talking and dropped her hand to her gun holster, and Officer Falls took an aggressive step forward.
“Hello? Is everything alright in there?” he called around Delia.
Delia opened the door wider and stepped back to reveal her roommate, swathed like a terrified mummy in the blanket. Maggie seemed to realize her error.
“Sorry, officers,” she apologized, then cleared her throat and spoke more loudly. “That was me just now, I --” Before she could continue, the female officer, Detrick, interrupted.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step aside so we can take a look around. As I stated, we received a call that there had been screams reported at or around this location. May we come in?”
Knowing she didn’t really have a choice, Delia nodded and gestured for them to enter, then shut the door behind them. After Maggie’s reaction, Officer Falls seemed a little jumpy. He kept eyeballing the blanket-clad girl as though expecting her to make a break for it at any second, but Officer Detrick simply turned to face Delia expectantly.
“Well, Officers,” Delia cleared her throat. “This is probably going to sound crazy, but… we’re pretty sure our house is haunted.”
She caught movement out of the corner of her eye and three heads turned as one to see Maggie vehemently nodding before shrinking back into her blanket cocoon.
The first girl continued sheepishly. “I know it sounds silly, but I think those are the screams that were reported. A ghost. Or ghosts. They started last night right around ten and didn’t let up.”
“We couldn’t sleep or anything. It was awful,” Maggie squeaked.
“I mean, I guess you can imagine how loud and relentless it was,” Delia added, “if even the neighbors could hear.”
She made a move toward the computer in her bedroom. “I have information pulled up about it if --”
Officer Detrick put out a hand to stop her, using the other to pinch the bridge of her nose.
“Ghosts, huh?” Her voice sounded tired despite the fact that it was early morning. “Look, girls, if you don’t mind, Officer Falls here is going to stay with you while I have a quick look around.”
Delia nodded but Officer Detrick had already moved off to begin her search. The two girls and Officer Falls stared at each other wordlessly as they listened to the policewoman make her way around through the rooms of the house. She rejoined them after only a few minutes.
“Nothing,” she answered Falls’ questioning glance. “I’m gonna have a quick look outside and then we can head out.”
While she’d been making her rounds, Maggie and Delia had moved closer to each other and now huddled nervously, their gazes on Officer Detrick. Maggie chewed a nail as she watched the officer exit, leaving the front door slightly ajar behind her. Officer Fall’s posture had just begun to relax when, a minute or so later, the radio clipped to his shoulder crackled into life.
“Dispatch, this is Unit 19 requesting backup and a bus at 319 Shady Lane. I have a 10-54.”
“This is Dispatch. Copy. Central to all available units –“
Officer Falls’ eyes flared in alarm and he unsnapped his gun holster. Taking a step back, he half-turned to speak into the radio, keeping his eyes on the girls all the while.
“Kath, did you just say there’s a dead body?”
“Yeah. There’s blood all over the ground and the side of the house. I’m no paramedic but it seems like she just died pretty recently. I checked and the body’s still warm. No pulse though. There’s a trail of blood leading from the street to where she collapsed. Looks like she might have been here all night, leaning against this A/C vent, crying for help.”