I have just sat down at my computer to try and write down the events that have just occurred. I must hurry as I fear I have little time left to accomplish this. I only need to go back two hours to start from the beginning. With the last bit of my “stuff” moved into the house, and a quick beer, my friends exited one by one with a heartfelt thank you from me. Moving is a trying experience and the help of my friends made it bearable. It was even a bit fun actually, but I don’t have the time to go into such details.
I looked around at the unpacked boxes piled up in the corner of the living room then at the last six pack of cold beer on the coffee table. It really wasn’t much of a choice and the beer won out over the prospect of emptying the boxes and putting my junk away.
I sat back in my new, soft-cloth, (I hate leather furniture), recliner that I purchased today from the local rental center, and sipped on a cold brew. I gazed proudly at my new, clean and freshly painted empire. New to me that is. The house is actually very old. I was told it was built in 1891 by, and this sort of freaked me out, the guy that ran the funeral parlor. Undertakers always seemed a little off to me anyway. I guess being constantly surrounded by dead people has that affect on them. I was okay with it though. It wasn’t like they stored dead bodies in the basement or anything, at least I hoped not.
As I sat there positioned in front of the bay window located on the front and west side of the house I could see the very tip of the sun as it slowly exited the horizon. What a view I saw as I looked out on the most beautiful fiery-pinks and deep-purples of a late fall sunset that hovered just above the darkening, green hills. The sky’s lovely hues mixed with the reflections from the dew-covered grass to create an even more spectacular view. I felt content in my new surroundings as with a deep relaxing breath I sank deeper into the soft, comfortable cushions of the recliner.
In an instant that mood was shattered. I suddenly felt a chill so cold it was as if someone had poured a bucket of ice water down my back. Then a pair of hands reached over my shoulders and rubbed my chest like a loving wife in an amorous mood would. I couldn’t see them, but I sure felt them. I jumped up so fast that I spilled my beer on my new recliner. At first I thought one of my friends had sneaked in the back door to try and scare me, but as I looked around there was no one else in the room. The biggest chicken-skin goose bumps rose up on my arms and legs as all the hair on my body stood at attention. The coldest of chills ran rampantly up and down my spine. For a moment I could swear I could see my breath escaping my mouth like the steam from a tea kettle as the whole room suddenly felt cold.
After a thorough search of the room, behind the chair, under the sofa, even behind the floor length curtains and finding nothing, I chalked it up to fatigue. I downed the last swallow of my beer as I grabbed a towel from the bar that separated the living room from the kitchen and wiped at the stain in my chair, (I guess leather has its advantages). Anxious to fend off the chills I headed upstairs to take a hot shower before turning in.
While digging through the boxes marked bedroom looking for some clean clothes I once again felt the hands gently rubbing my back. I turned quickly to catch the culprit, but no one was there. I must admit I was freaked out by the experience and thought surely I would check the basement for dead bodies in the morning.
The steam from the hot water running in shower had already begun to fog the mirror as I undressed. I had to stand on my tip-toes to see over the foggy part of the mirror. As I checked my smile after a quick brush of my teeth a figure appeared in the mirror behind me. It may have been there the whole time or it could have just appeared when I noticed it, but when I turned around no one was there. I looked back into the mirror and the figure was gone. I’m not that tired, I thought as I walked out into the hall and saw nothing in either direction. I listened intently, but the only sound was the running water of the shower. The bathroom was filling with steam and the mirror was completely fogged over when I stepped into the shower after another quick glance around.
The hot water felt good as it soothed my tired muscles, and as I slowly turned my body to distribute the heat, the hands returned. I was startled at first, but as I stood there with my eyes closed I actually began to enjoy it. The pressure was soft and gentle against my wet skin. I didn’t feel any pain. I only felt pleasure from the caressing hands, but when I opened my eyes the shower floor had turned a bright red. As I looked for the source of the crimson flow I noticed five deep gashes running across my chest. I watched in silent horror as five more gashes tore into the skin on each of my thighs. Instead of running from the house screaming as one normally would when faced with such a situation, I became strangely calm. Even though I had just been ripped up by an unseen force, I felt fine, almost giddy. I marveled at the pink hues caused by my blood mixing with the shower water as it ran down my legs, across the shower floor and disappeared down the drain. It reminded me of the sunset I had just moments ago witnessed.
The caressing had, for the moment, ceased. I was more amazed at the fact that I felt no pain than the fact that it had happened. I dressed the wounds with some gauze I had packed from my medicine chest in my old place then dressed myself. The calm has only increased as I write this. Somehow I am alright with the fact that I know I am about to die.
The hands have returned once again and I am finding it hard to concentrate on what I am doing. I have fallen completely under the spell of whatever it is that is ripping painless gashes into my back and sides. I cannot resist the strange comfort I feel from its presence. I know somehow that where I am going the soft and gentle, yet slashing hands will be with me. I don’t understand why, but that is a great comfort to me.
I would like to let the police know that there is no murderer as such for them to look for, but I would implore them to tear down this house to prevent this from happening to someone else. It is strange. I know I should leave, but I cannot. I need to be with the owner of the hands. I must find out who, or what it is and I fear death may be the only way for me to find out.
For my family I am sorry that I must do this, but I have no choice. I cannot resist the pull toward death that has taken over me. It’s as if the living world no longer exists for me. I hope you can forgive me, but this is something I must do. It is not suicide, but something much more profound. I have had no hidden desire to die. I have not been unhappy in my life in fact quite to the contrary. I was looking forward to living on my own in my new place. Beyond that I have no further explanation of this thing that is happening to me. I cannot hope to make you understand short of you going through this yourself, but I would hope none of you ever will.
Now, as I sit here, my keyboard is filling with blood from the new gashes that have just opened up on my forearms; running into my eyes from the bone-deep cuts that have suddenly appeared on my forehead. Still no pain as my blood begins to pool up on the hardwood floor beneath my feet. I feel only a gentle touch caressing even my bones through my now shredded skin. The room is becoming dark. My .[ 0 eyes bb are gettingm; blurty k I cab no linnger see the kwys uylirkjel.nb
THE GHOST By James G. Kelly