The Haunted Bridge of Lookout Mountain, Alabama

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Creepy true story of a haunted bridge that once stood near Lookout Mountain, Alabama. Written by Irran Butler.

I live four miles out of town on a narrow county road, which connects two high traffic paved roads. On my road there is an old iron railed bridge, which has a wooden plank floor, and it makes a very distinct and creepy sound when a car passes over it. In the quiet of the evening, I can sometimes hear clearly the sound of the old bridge complaining as vehicles cross from one side of the creek to the other.

On a number of occasions, before I moved to the area, I was told the story of the bridge being haunted and some of my friends and I made trips to see this bridge and, hopefully, the ghost. The story I heard told was of a woman and her very young baby being killed as she attempted to cross the bridge. It happened one very foggy night almost a hundred years ago when she was walking home from a friend’s house.  She carried a lantern in one hand and the baby on her other arm. As she started to cross the bridge someone in a speeding horse drawn carriage came upon the bridge in such haste that the woman was unable to retreat from the narrow confined deck of the bridge before the carriage struck her. The woman fell to her death in the water below and the fate of her baby was assumed to be the same by the friends and neighbors who came to assist when they learned of the accident. The baby was never found.

Haunted Bridge Lookout Mountain Etowah County Alabama

The haunting actually consisted of two parts. One part claims that the lantern can be seen moving along the road and onto the bridge, where it drops from the bridge into the water below. Just before the light drops from the bridge, the bridge rattles as though the speeding carriage was rushing across it. The second part is said to be hearing the baby crying from somewhere in the darkness below the bridge. Foggy nights are said to be the prime times to witness these events.

I was never a believer in this sort of thing, but one night I was driving toward the bridge through a light fog, when from a distance, I saw a dim yellow light ahead near the bridge. I was driving very slowly and it took the better part of a minute to reach the bridge. The old bridge was positioned in a curve in the road and the full length of it could be viewed as it was approached from my direction. I could see the light and could tell that it was then almost certainly on the bridge. I slowed almost to a dead stop and watched. My headlights shone on the fog which limited my visibility to just a few feet; beyond that was only the dim yellow light. As I came to the edge of the plank flooring I was still fixed on the light, which suddenly dropped from the left side of the structure and disappeared into the darkness.

I drove onto the bridge and stopped about midway. I reached for my flashlight and opened the car door. Stepping to the railing, I shined my light down into the fog-shrouded darkness below the bridge. Seeing only the leafy undergrowth on the creek banks and muddy, rain-swollen creek hurrying along on it’s way downstream, I really expected to see something… but there was nothing. Looking up and down the creek from my vantage point, I saw no sign of anything that had not grown there on the creek banks. My thinking was that, I had just witnessed the haunting of which I had always heard… though I had remained skeptical… until that moment. There was no doubt that I had seen a light and that the light dropped off the bridge. To the best of my knowledge there was no other person anywhere near that spot at that time and if what I had seen was a prank, it was a very good one. That was the first and last time I saw a light near the bridge.

On one occasion since that foggy night, I was walking along the road near my house accompanied by my dog. We had walked to the first spot on the road where the bridge could be seen from the high ground. I paused and looked up at the near-full moon through the light patchy fog, when I heard what I was sure was a horse drawn carriage moving rapidly along the road near the bridge. The moon brightly lit the countryside with a ghostly glow as it filtered through the fog. Looking at the road leading to the bridge, from where I stood; I could just make out a dark form of some size moving along the road in my direction. As it drew nearer to me, I could clearly hear the hoof beats of a horse and the rattle of a wooden carriage. What I was seeing and hearing had to be a horse drawn carriage, no other vehicle makes that sound. The view of the road was blocked in one spot at the foot of the hill just yards from where I stood waiting to clearly see whatever was moving toward me. I watched as the dark form disappeared into the blind spot…and suddenly, the sound was no more… only an unexpected gust of wind in the trees. Instead of a carriage passing me on the road, I felt that surprising and short-lived gust of wind push past me and stir the moonlit fog. My dog, which had followed me, stood and watched intently the empty roadway. He may have been expecting to see something too… or… maybe he did see something… he didn’t say. I looked both up and down the road for the phantom carriage, which had apparently vanished into the vapor. Only the quietness of a fog-shrouded night surrounded us and since that time, I’ve never seen or heard the phantom carriage again… and frankly, I hope not to.

-THE END-


From the Author: This was actually written while our Haunted Bridge was still resting in the place where it had been for many years. In 2007 it was removed and replaced by a soulless concrete structure that is likely safer than our old bridge, but completely lacks any of the charm possessed by its predecessor. I miss its charm, as do any of my neighbors with whom I have spoken about it. We miss our bridge and remember fondly the years we had with it. Hopefully, this story will help preserve the memory of a piece of Lookout Mountain’s past and pass it on to the young folks who never actually got to see, touch and hear our old reliable bridge.

This bridge was located in Etowah County, Alabama, about four miles northeast of Gadsden between Tabor Road and Lay Springs Road. I had heard several versions of the story of the bridge and everyone was sure that their version was the “real thing”, because their granny or somebody told them. I took the best of the stories, combined them and placed me and my dog in the story because that’s the mood I was in at the time. I have never seen anything that resembled a haunting at or near the bridge, but always liked the stories. Like so many other stories of hauntings, some folks will swear its true, others laugh at it… me, I’ll keep an open mind.

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Get Back Jack: Florida Ghost Dog Story

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True (kind of) dog ghost story from Florida of a beloved pinscher who protects his owner from beyond the grave. Written by Patrick McNicholas.

As many of you may know, a few months ago I lost my puppy dog. His name was Jack. He was a miniature pinscher from the Doberman Pinscher lineage. Jack was a small dog. He only weighed about 10 pounds when he died. Jack passed away unexpectedly from a bronchial sickness and I truly miss that dog. We buried Jack in the backyard in the far back corner and I put a statue of St. Francis there to mark his grave. I keep fresh flowers and doggy treats out there at his statue and change them out every couple of weeks. Sometimes when I’m in the backyard, I can feel Jack’s presence. I have three other dogs and I think they can feel him there too. Every once and awhile I will see my other dog Nono just sitting there staring at that statue like she can see something I can’t.

st. francis copy

Well one night at about two in the morning , I woke up to use the bathroom and there above the toilet is a window in to the back yard and you can’t help but to look out the window while you are in the bathroom. I was staring out the window in to the back yard and all of a sudden, I saw something moving in the darkness. I looked more closely and I could see the back gate open up and a dark shadowy figure move across the backyard. Of course, my heart sank in fear. As I stared more closely and as he moved closer to my house from the fence line, I could see a silver shiny object in his hand, reflecting off the moonlight that was shining down in the back yard. When I looked back up I could see the man’s face staring at me. He saw me through the window and raised the knife so I could see it. He had the true look of evil on his face! All I could think of was my phone is on the dresser in the bedroom, so I ran as fast as I could and grabbed it and started dialing 911.

I ran back to the bathroom and looked out the window again to see where the intruder was and I was shocked at what I saw. The man hadn’t moved. He was frozen in the middle of the back yard. Just then I could hear it…this horrible growling noise. As I got closer to the window the noise got louder and louder. It sounded like a mad, mad dog or a wolf of some kind and I could tell that the intruder could here it as well. The noise was coming from the far back corner of my yard back by where Jack was buried. At this point my other dogs came running out in to the backyard through the doggy door barking and growling, but as soon as they stepped off the back porch they became silent and just stared at the man in the darkness. Just then, the 911 operator came on the line and I quickly gave her my name and address and told her there was an intruder in my backyard with a knife. As soon as I got those words out, I looked out the window again and I could see the man now cowering in fear and backing away from the corner of the back yard. Just then I could hear the growling noise again; this time is was so loud , like it was in my head and all around me. All of the sudden the man turned and I could see the absolute fear in his eyes as he ran past my house along the side and over the small fence in to the front yard. My dogs came running back in the house. Following the man was a black mist, like a cloud of darkness. I ran to the front of the house and I could see the man hunched over my bushes and screaming “get it off me, get it off me”! I could see bite marks appearing on the man’s skin and I could hear flesh being ripped from his body, but there was nothing there with him. Just then the police pulled up and the man ran to them screaming, “please save me”! They immediately took the man in to custody. He had large bites marks all over him and was bleeding profusely. I told the officers that I saw the man enter my backyard with a knife in his hand. The police told me they were not able to find any weapon on the man and they searched my yard looking for it, but could not find it.

The officers noticed my dogs, which are all very small and could not have caused such bite marks as what this man had endured. The police were very puzzled and asked me if I had another dog? To which I replied “no.” The officers told me that once they calmed the man down and got him in to ambulance he said he had been mauled by a very large and very mean Doberman Pinscher! A couple of weeks later, the police informed me that the intruder they apprehended in my yard that night was linked to a home invasion and double homicide in another town not far from here.

The next day, after all had calmed down, I noticed all three of my dogs were laying down at the foot of Jack’s grave. Laying there in front of the statue was the large kitchen knife that the intruder was carrying.

I still make sure to keep fresh flowers and dog treats out there for Jack.

-THE END-

jack

FROM THE AUTHOR: To answer your question, yes there are elements of the story that are based in reality. I did have a dog named Jack who passed away on July 10th of last year. I did put a statue of St. Francis in my back yard to mark his grave. All if that is true.

Of course, I never actually had an intruder enter my yard with a knife. That is all fictional.

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The Organ Player: South Carolina Ghost Story

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What is that mysterious organ music drifting from the creepy house down the road? Read this South Carolina haunted house tale from Tony Young.

When I was a boy I frequently spent some time with my grandparents. They were country folk. Their house was on a dirt road on the county line between Greenwood and McCormick counties in South Carolina. I would sometimes spend the entire summer with them. Grandpa was a farmer and the nearest house to theirs was a mile away.

One day I was riding with Grandpa in the wagon back from Uncle Jake’s when we passed an old burned out house. There wasn’t much left of it, just some old charred timbers and an old chimney. “Grandpa,” I asked, “whose house was that?”

old-church-schoolhouse-organ

Grandpa cleared his throat and said, “That was old Mister Gulledge’s house. It caught fire one night a long time ago when I was a boy and burned up. Mister Gulledge got burned up in it! He was the organ player at our church, you know. But they say he learned to play the organ when he ran away as a boy and joined the circus.”

“My goodness,” I said, sounding real grown-up.

“Yeah, they say you can still hear the organ play on some nights,” he added.

“You mean that house is hainted!” I said with excitement in my voice.

“If you believe in that sort of thing…” Grandpa said with a bit of disgust in his voice. I decided that the less said about haints and ghosts the better.

After a supper of buttermilk and cornbread Grandpa and I sat out on the front porch while Grandma cleared the supper table. Grandpa took a rollin’ paper from a sheaf of them, pulled the Prince Albert pipe tobacco tin from the breast pocket of his bib overalls, and deftly made a cigarette. I was always amazed how he seemed to do it in one fluid motion with only one hand. I hoped he would show me how to do it when I got older. He struck the match with his fingernail, and in a flash of light he had his cigarette lit. Grandpa exhaled a puff of smoke that formed a ring that floated across the warm summer air. I knew he would teach me how to do that one day too.

The sun was setting in the west when Grandpa said, “Someone’s comin’”. And sure enough I could hear a car coming from toward Winterseat, and it was going fast. It was a flashy new car, and it turned into the driveway. As it slid to a stop a cloud of red dust followed. The door of the car opened, and a man got out. He looked younger than my daddy and had on a white shirt and necktie. I noticed his necktie was loosened and his sleeves rolled up almost to his elbows. There were brown and white wing-tip shoes on his feet. He walked toward us. ‘Bout halfway to the porch he stopped and spoke, “Hey! Is this the shortcut to Edgefield?” he asked in kind of a funny voice. I had heard a man talk like that before, and Mama said people who talked like that were Yankees.

Grandpa let out a puff of smoke slowly and answered, “Well, yessir, young fella, it is. But you’d be better off going back the way you came. Go back down to Bud’s store and hang a left onto the main highway. That’ll take you right into Edgefield.”

“I don’t have time for a tour of the county. I’ll take the shortcut,” he said as he turned and walked back to his car.

“Don’ say I didn’t warn you!” Grandpa said to his back as he was getting into his car..

The fellow backed out of the driveway, slammed his car into forward gear, and floored the gas pedal. A cloud of red dust and gravel followed as he raced down the road toward the Gulledge place and Edgefield.

By this time the sun had completely set, the whip-poor-wills were calling, and in the distance I could hear the sound of the hoot owl. When I was very young my Grandma would tell me that the hoot owl would get me if I didn’t go to sleep. I’ve never figured out how that was supposed to work. I still can’t go to sleep when I hear their haunting sound.

I happened to look down the road toward the Gulledge place, and I saw a flickering light. I didn’t say nothin’ to Grandpa as it seemed to get brighter. And then I heard it an organ playing. It reminded me of the merry-go-round at the fair. I nudged Grandpa as he blew a big smoke ring. “Do you hear it?” I asked.

He said nothing. He just raised his eyebrows. He heard. I turned my eyes back toward the flickering light. The organ played louder, then began to quieten as the flickering light dimmed and then went out. The night became very, very quiet. No organ playing. No sounds of the night birds. Nothing.

We sat there in silence a little longer and then Grandpa said, “Bed time.” And that was the end of another day.

A couple of days later Grandpa and I were picking some string beans in the garden beside the house. A car drove up into the driveway and stopped. The man who got out of the car stretched up to his full height. He was taller and bigger than my daddy. Then he put a hat on his head, pulled his pants up, and walked toward us. Then I saw the shiny star on his chest and the big gun on his hip. Walking toward us he spoke in a big deep voice, “Mr. Dorn!”



Grandpa did not say anything nor look up from the beans he was picking until the man repeated himself. You see, Grandpa doesn’t hear that well anymore. He finally answered, “Yep!”

And the big man said, “ I’m Sheriff Dixon of McCormick County, and I’m looking for a missing person.”

“A missing person?” Grandpa said, now standing.

“Yessir. The sheriff from over in Edgefield called me and said a lady over there had reported her husband missing. Said he had been missing a couple of days. Seems he’s a salesman who travels these parts but didn’t get home when he was s’posed to. She was worried ‘bout him and contacted the sheriff. You seen anything of him around here?”

Grandpa took off his straw hat and scratched his head. “Naw, Sheriff, we ain’t seen nothin’ of ‘im.”

“But Grandpa,” I said, “What about that fellow in that fast car?”

“Oh yeah, Sheriff, there was this young man who stopped by here a couple of days ago looking for a shortcut to Edgefield I told him to go back the way he came and get on the main highway to go to Edgefield,” Grandpa said.

“What did he do?” asked the sheriff.

“He took the shortcut,” said Grandpa and then he added, “But I warned him.”

“Down by the old Gulledge place?”

“Yep!”

The big man put his hand under his chin, seemed to think for a few minutes, and then he said, ” Well, I guess I’ll call the sheriff over there in Edgefield and have him tell the widow… he ain’t comin’ home”.

And he was gone.

-THE END-

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The Spring House Sale

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Alabama home for sale by owner, scary furnace in the basement included! Ghost story written by Kenneth Gage Gary.

Prelude:

Are there no traces of our lives in the walls of our abode, in the tools we use, on the Earth we tread?
– A spiritual investigator.

Once Upon a Time…

The plane ride was smooth enough. The security lines had been short enough. The entire ‘before your flight trauma’ had been mild enough. Why this intractable discomfort?

As Pilmer Holmes sat in his preferred window seat, exit row, looking out the window into total nighttime blackness, he relished the comfort of familiarity; this is the way he liked his flights. The window had that familiar duality where you could focus on the city lights below, or, adjusting your sight, you could see your own reflection in the window against the night.

Pilmer was flying from Texas back to Birmingham, Alabama where he was from. He was going to make the last adjustments regarding the sale of their property in Birmingham. His wife had managed most of the arrangements these past six months, but these last few arrangements had a portentous sense of finality to them. The house would be sold, its fate now in the hands of new owners, with new spirits, new habits, and new life. It actually left him mildly sad.

The first thing to be done was to complete an exhaustive walk through; make sure that every item cited in the pending deal was in fact addressed.

He started in the basement.

He never really liked the basement. Well, he never felt completely comfortable in the basement, almost as if it belonged to someone else…

Yessss…this we know, and remember…

And this time was really no different. He checked the furnace; a huge converted coal-burning iron monstrosity that now burned oil, creating steam that filled the radiators on the floors above. The huge ‘arms’ that carried the steam from its source to the upstairs radiators gave this system the image of a subterranean creature with tentacles that writhed throughout the entire building.

He checked the water level, the oil level, checked the whole system for leaks or any other anomaly that could be perceived. No apparent problems.

Having completed this check, but fully aware that he had not completed a check of the entire basement; Pilmer began his ascent up the stairway. Seldom do we admit the whispers we detect at the very edge of our being, and Pilmer, was quite satisfied to be climbing the stairs back into the familiar world that could be reached by the Sun.

Upstairs, while an improvement over the basement, it did not wash the traces of concern away completely. There was still a faintly persistent buzz, of some kind, not within the house, but deep within Pilmer himself.

BASEMENT - VIEW INSIDE EAST ROOM OF MAIN BLOCK - Blandfield, U.S. Route 17 and State Route 624, Caret, Essex County, VA HABS VA,29-CAR.V,1-35

Having conducted a cursory review of the premises, because, that is really all he could stand; Pilmer decided to prepare to go to the local restaurant for dinner. In the bathroom, his bathroom, he brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and in that last instant, where we always take an overview of our general appearance, turning our head right, now left; Pilmer saw with complete earth shattering horror that it was not him in the mirror at all: he was being observed!

As he turned to flee the bathroom, his soul was filled with screeching terror and unbelief at what he had just seen (had he screamed aloud?). What had he seen? Only himself in the mirror, but, unmistakably, the reflection was trying hard to imitate him without being detected!!!!

The door slammed shut of its own volition.

This gave Pilmer a freight that he first thought would just end his life. His heart pounded and his stomach turned – something within him even felt the floor move. But, in spite of limbs weak from fear, he managed to open the door and sprint into the dark hallway.

Amazingly, because the mind seems to surface concerns on its own schedule at times, the thought of planning to stay in this house for three days was already out of the question (why am I thinking about this now?). How would he explain this to others? “Well, the house just did not want me in it…” right now, he did not care. He knew he had to get out before that thing in the mirror climbed out and…the conclusion was too horrific to imagine.

Pilmer nearly fell down the stairs, throwing open the door, and escaping to the outside, hoping that the insanity he just witnessed was somehow confined to the house.

Standing on the sidewalk, in the full brightness of a perfect summer day, he looked back upon the building that he just now noticed, had caused his entire body to sweat so that his suit clung to his arms and legs.

How do I proceed now? How do I show this house to prospects? How could I ever enter this abode again?

There is that seldom acknowledged phenomenon of things that can only happen when you are alone. Why is it that the shadow, which just pulled back from sight only does so when one is alone? The unmistakable footsteps, upstairs, when you know you are alone in the house; who makes them? We have all heard them, but no one knows…

We sssseee… and we will show thisssssss …

Okay. The answer is to not be alone next time. I will only enter this house when it is time to show it to prospective buyers. Since I have to conclude this deal, this is how it will be done. After all, I cannot tell them it is haunted!

But, Pilmer could not deny those eyes! The mirror did not hold a reflection, but an attempt to convince him that it was a reflection. And eyes show intent. Pilmer could actually see that the reflection also understood that it had been discovered. Like a promise from some immortal source, this revelation attached a permanent grasp upon his heart; one he knew would never yield.

Even by mistake, the worst thing a human could ever do is witness the workings of the creatures of the night as they prepare, as they practice their ancient rituals, as they worship their eternal role of entrancing humans. They must then stalk and subdue you, so that you cannot reveal your discovery, their secrets…it is all about secrets! And the thing in the mirror had caught him looking through it’s secret!

Okay, I will not go into the bathroom at all next time.

Pilmer finally met two lovely young ladies that seemed as innocent as the colorful leaves that blessed the Alabama countryside in autumn. Better yet, they were seriously interested in the house. If he had to guess, Pilmer thought the two young women, teachers, by all appearances, were very dedicated to their trade.

Though offering the ‘salesman’s smile’, still, he could hear in the distant corners of his soul, an instrument that played in negative, discordant tones. Though it had not reached the surface of his consciousness, he was betraying himself, and these two young ladies, by showing them the house at all.

Soon he will be with ussss again…

The showing of the house was uneventful enough. Pilmer hoped not to evince any signs of how nervous, actually, terrified, he really was. The entirety of his sanity depended upon their very presence. He nearly revealed himself in the basement, where, they began to ascend the stairs as he was occupied with replacing several large boxes to their proper positions. Upon noticing that he was nearly alone in the cellar, his instincts propelled him, madly, towards the stairs nearly knocking his potential clients to the floor!

In their clear, sunshine begotten minds, by all appearances they mistook his insanity for mere haste, and patience prevailed. They did not really attend the incident at all. After all, it was rather dark.

Careful, lest he knowssss we are here…

Once back upstairs, where the late afternoon sun blessed the house through the windows, the two young teachers took those last, long looks at their surroundings, under the common misconception that they would be able to distinguish this house from several others they had visited that day. Pilmer, employed exemplary sales skills by his silence; not by design, but rather, because he hoped that no other anomaly would emerge to prolong his agony with this house.


Suddenly, with the speed of fright, the taller of the two women thrust a huge knife, gleaming in the afternoon sun, towards Pilmer’s vital organs before he could respond. But, in reality, the young lady only offered her hand for a common handshake, which, after recovering from his vision, Pilmer accepted, and in fact returned, heartily. Fortunately, all this occurred within the speed of expanding eyes only.

Just then, the other woman mentioned the light that was left on in the kitchen, at the back of the house. Pilmer felt as though he had been delivered a death sentence in the highest court of the land! Yet, he could not reveal a perceivable sign of reluctance: He had to go to the back and turn off this ill begotten light! Any other behavior would raise questions about the consistency of maintenance…

Pilmer slowly, reluctantly walked back towards the kitchen. He felt like turning around and walking backwards to the kitchen, to make sure they did not go outside, leaving him alone in this house that was quickly becoming no more than a tomb. But that would leave him vulnerable to whatever was in the kitchen awaiting him. Forwards, backwards; there was no good answer.

He satisfied himself with frequent glances over his shoulder during what seemed to be a marathon progression from the front door, where they were, to the kitchen in the back of the house. On the way, there was an unmistakable ‘bump’ in an empty broom closet that he had to pass.

It is near impossible for a man to control his instincts: and for good reason; instincts have a more direct perception of certain phenomenon than cognition does. Cognition requires logic; instinct does not. The latter will save your life to figure things out later.

Nevertheless, Pilmer did jump, in a contained way, when he heard the sound.

Be sssstill, he is paying attention to us…Ashanti, Kamala…

Then he heard an even more ominous shuffling as something seemed to be moving away from the door, towards the back of the closet as he passed. Of course, to escape my notice should I throw the door open. I am beginning to see what is going on here… Pilmer said to himself with false bravado: He was consumed with the terror that he may not be able to return back past this door in order to leave this house! Ever!

All because of a light left on in the kitchen; children, when your parents tell you to turn off lights, you really should do so.

It was a straight line from the front of the house, where his young guests were waiting, down a long uninterrupted corridor to the kitchen where he had to address the delinquent light. But the kitchen, unlike the rooms towards the front of the house, had the stove, refrigerator and cabinets on the west wall – and no windows. So, when Pilmer turned off the kitchen light, as it was late in the day, the room was sent reeling into an abysmal darkness far beyond what could really occur in the middle of a sunny afternoon. It is still daytime! No, this darkness was born of some other, far more menacing origin…No sooner had he quenched the light than he heard one of the women from the front of the house “We will meet you outside. We want to take in the neighborhood!”

No more mortifying sentence could have been spoken to Pilmer at this time. Pilmer managed to not scream. He tried to answer and could not; only mist, like dry ice in water, issued forth from his mouth – did I just hear them laughing as they left?. In fact, he realized he was becoming surrounded by mist. The hallway to the front of the house looked to be a mile long. And there was the closet on the way…who knows what horror it barely held within.

There is that moment in life where, after applying the brakes, the car skids anyways, and quickly adjusting the wheel, the body simply braces itself for the inevitable impact…

Surely that impact was imminent. Strangely, there was a small measure of release in his stomach as Pilmer submitted to this understanding. But in the very next instant, the survival instinct immediately regained the wheel. All the sweat and tension returned – throwing off what was really a sedating effect of the thick mist that now snaked across the floor and up the walls of the kitchen.

Now Pilmer could see her.

With her head thrust back, arms stretched out sideways, mouth agape in clear agony, this woman, who seemed to be made of this mist, appeared in a far corner of the kitchen: In front of a large dark tree.

Pilmer was no longer in the kitchen at all.

Others, closed in around the lady of the mist, grabbing her, shoving her backwards into the tree behind her. Waving some of the ever-increasing mist away from his face with his hands, Pilmer could make out, that it was not really a tree at all, but a very large ‘container’ of some kind, with a nearly human sized opening in it.

No sooner had she tumbled backwards through the door, with unmistakable terror on her face, Pilmer could see the inside of the container burst into ghastly flames.

Just like staring at a light source, then closing one’s eyes: Pilmer could still see the silent scream written upon her face when she was – ‘cast into Hell…’ – forced into the furnace… Why, that’s it! What seemed to be a container was actually a large cast iron furnace. Not unlike the one in his basement????

At that very moment, the furnace in his basement had exploded, with the door flying open welcoming the escape of livid, hungry flames. With his consciousness barely emerging above the scene swirling around him, Pilmer turned his head to look down the hallway only to see the two young ladies, still as statues, until one of them raised her hand, bending her fingers solemnly several times to wave a fateful goodbye. The two turned and simply walked through the wall behind them.

It seemed the crowd before him in the mist had not noticed Pilmer standing behind them, and he wasted no more time. He glanced quickly left and right, only to find himself surrounded by a dense forest on both sides that was also invaded by the gossamer mist, which seemed to bubble and twist between the trees in a way that made it clear not to enter.

These sinsss belong to you…..

Gripped by a commanding fear, Pilmer spun around to take his chances and just run in the opposite direction from what had become a ghostly crowd in front of him who had also seemed to have chosen their next victim. As if from very far away, he could even hear the familiar, fervent, animal inspired rantings that people only make when they are in a crowd; the accusations that will acknowledge no explanations; the incriminations that entertain no defense.

Directly behind him, now face-to-face as he spun around, was the stark expression of death itself etched in the face of who he recognized to be the woman they had just thrown into the furnace.

As she gazed at him, her face changed. Her expression now wore the smooth countenance of certainty, of something being eternally finalized. He instinctively equated that with peace, in contrast with the anxious uncertainty that commonly rules our lives.

Instantly she grabbed him by the shoulders, his hopes of peace immediately evaporating, she was spinning him back around to face the scene at the furnace, and slowly forcing him forward to the very edge of the crowd, which still all had their backs to him. All except for the one standing next to the furnace addressing them.

Although he could not make out the words their leader spoke; that it was rhetoric and religious dogma, absent of all reason and light, was unmistakable. Pilmer was experiencing the essence of communication, that without which mere words do not matter anyway.

She violently grasped Pilmer by the hair from behind and forced him through the crowd into the front where he was, once again, face to face with this man, who, like a skillful musical conductor, elicited all the hate and fear necessary for them to commit their atrocities.

To his complete horror, Pilmer could see that this was the face from the mirror! It looked like him, but it was not a mere reflection, which, after all is what a mirror is supposed to offer.

Clearly, the man in front of his face could not even see him. None of them could, except this woman who had a superhuman grip on his body, forcing him in the direction of her intent.

Soon he will remember, and it will be finissshed…

And slowly Pilmer did remember. It was 1906, in a small town in Alabama. He, the vaunted Pilmer Westchester, had decided to resurrect the lifestyle of the Puritans. He felt strongly that their staunch regulation of life was all that was necessary to return man to the path of salvation. Pilmer, as has been common to most recorded religious historical figures, assumed that salvation could be secured on a scale that is wholesale.

Pilmer, with his outstanding sales abilities, influenced a small number of families to cohabitate in the woods outside the city limits. However, ‘of mice and men’, while documented in fiction, is an eternal human reality; things took on a far more fervent tone than Pilmer ever anticipated, even from himself.

The two young girls that were finally openly charged with witchcraft, after having long been suspected of lesbianism, were taken into ‘custody’ by the mob one night. That was the scene that Pilmer was witnessing in his ‘Kitchen’. Needless to say, the girls were not witches, although they were lesbians. It was in fact the Puritans insult with the latter that lead to the formulation of the former. Pilmer had actually always known the truth, but refused to look at this simple fact. He only fanned the flames.

Now Pilmer was recalling everything. The ghost woman behind him even released her grasp; she too knew that his fate had finally caught up with him. He no longer struggled, he knew the inescapable nature of what was unfolding.

Pilmer was doubly damned by the fact that he did know real witches, with whom he had conspired to sacrifice these two girls, in order to allay suspicions in the true direction of the eternal evil that did exist. And this in return for the promise of lasting influence over the commune he had collected.

An essential part of his deal with the witches was that should he return to life again, reincarnated, he would never have a memory, nor dream, nor suspicion about the crimes he was committing on their behalf. They had agreed.

His escape was well designed: If you cannot remember, you really are not hiding at all. It in fact did not even occur as far as you know. How could Pilmer ever suspect that he would walk the earth again in close proximity to a simple, inanimate instrument of torture that absorbed the agony all unto itself. How could Pilmer ever suspect that the innocent girls he condemned could possibly leave a ‘residue’ within the iron chamber? So strong as to resurface and wreak their revenge?

The furnace …was silent witness to the entire atrocity. And, after all; the witches told him he himself would not remember; they did not promise him he could not be made to remember by others.

With the inevitability of the setting sun, Pilmer was already walking towards the furnace himself. The flames within were not so much damaging to the flesh as they were searing to the soul. The two ladies within the flames beckoned him with outstretched arms. Pilmer was beginning to know the abysmal pain that was his fate in every life he would ever lead.

And so it would seem that, if not the mundane in our existence, at least the extraordinary is etched into whatever surroundings exist at the time.

-THE END-

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All The Pretty Colors: Virginia Ghost Story

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Young woman’s haunted apartment paints itself in this Virginia ghost story by Kyle Moore.

Bing-Bong-Bing. Bing-Bong-Bing. Bing-Bong-Bing.

Deirdre groaned and rolled over, a creaky arm slowly reaching out for the source of the offending noise. She felt the molded plastic of her alarm clock, let her fingers slide over its surface until they found the nice, long, big button, and she pressed down with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. Sweet, blissful silence followed.

She knew she had to get up. Deirdre had danced this dance every morning for years. The nine extra minutes in bed the snooze button offered her didn’t really do much beside give her less time to get ready for work. Still, with a devotion that bordered on religious, she slammed the snooze button every morning in the desperate hope that nine extra minutes would magically turn into nine extra hours.

Bing-Bong-Bing. Bing-Bong-Bing. Bing-Bong-Bing.

No such luck this morning.

Deirdre flipped onto her back, and this time let her fingers search for the much smaller, nastier, evil button that stopped the alarm for good. This of course meant she would have to open her eyes and get up and get dressed and for this reason she really—really—hated that stupid little button.

She took a deep breath and braced herself for the official opening of the eyes. She silently whispered the prayer of the non-morning person—the one that beseeches the gods to let the alarm clock be wrong for once, and let it be the middle of the night instead of way-too-early o’clock—and let her eyelids tentatively drift apart.

On this morning they had parted to paper-thin slits before slamming wide open with shock.

A flood of questions poured into Deirdre’s brain as adrenaline coursed its nauseating, shaky, energy into her body. Wrong. Something was wrong. Everything was wrong. What was it? What was wrong? What happened?

The first truly coherent question Deirdre could pin down out of the panicked webbing of her thoughts was, “Where the hell am I?”

But that question made no sense. For one, there was no reason for her to have woken up anywhere but her own bed. The night before all she did was come home, watch some TV, and eat a microwaved Lean Cuisine dinner because at thirty she was going to get in shape at least once in her damn life. She didn’t go out, or visit any friends. Nothing.

For another, Deirdre was surrounded by her things. That alarm clock was her alarm clock. She knew it; it was her nemesis. The two of them had waged countless early morning battles against each other. This bed was her bed. After divorcing that asshole Tony, she made a big production of buying exactly the kind of bed she wanted, and the pillow top beneath her was as familiar as her own reflection. The dresser was hers, complete with clothes haphazardly trying to creep their way out to freedom. There was even the pile of dirty laundry in the corner which she considered a cherished luxury of single life.



So if this was her room, came the next coherent question, why in the hell were the walls the wrong color?

They should have been off-white. They had been off-white for the two years she lived in the little apartment. They were most definitely not supposed to be the minty green that currently surrounded her.

An absurd thought popped into her head. Maybe someone snuck in and, as a practical joke, repainted her room as she slept. Mindy, from work, still had a key; Dierdre let her crash on the sofa from time to time. But if that was the case, why didn’t she smell paint fumes? Deirdre raised her hand and brushed a finger along the wall beside her. It was perfectly dry. So what the hell happened?

Deirdre glanced briefly at the clock. “Shit,” she hissed. It was getting late and she hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet.

Flinging off her blanket and sheet, Deirdre leaped from the bed and made her way to the closet. The whole time she pulled on her clothes, she eyed the green walls of her bedroom. A prickling sensation crawled over her skin and she felt afraid to look away on the off-chance that when she looked back the walls will have changed color again, or jump out and yell, “BOO!”

Hair. Teeth. No time for make-up, but that wasn’t much of an issue. Deirdre, unlike her mom, was not the kind of woman who had to “put her face on” before she could leave the house. Instead she just grabbed her purse, and backed out of her bedroom.

Her first impulse was to leave the door open, but the oddity of the green walls continued to set her on edge, and she pulled the door closed to little relief. The last thing she thought as she darted out of her apartment was, there goes my security deposit.

At work, Deirdre found herself in the odd position of wanting to tell someone, but not really knowing what to say. Nor did she really know who she could trust anyway. How would she sound telling people in the office that her bedroom mysteriously changed color while she was sleeping.

To this end, Deirdre did at least make a point of spending a little time around Mindy. While the unusually tall redhead gabbed on about her latest, greatest, boyfriend, Deirdre nodded and pretended like she cared. In truth she was waiting for some slip on Mindy’s part, some clue that her friend had somehow managed to pull off the prank of the century.

“And then, oh let me tell you about last night,” Mindy said, and Deirdre found herself all of a sudden paying very close attention to what was being said.

“Mike took me to that little Italian restaurant by the airport in Norfolk. You know the one? It is so good. Anyway, we get a bottle of wine, and the lighting in there is perfect and just as the tiramisu comes out he gives me this,” she said as she pulled out a shiny silver key from her purse.

“Wow, Mindy, that’s… impressive,” Deirdre said. What she really wanted to say was, “And that’s when the two of you decided to sneak into my place, drug me, and paint my walls green because, ha ha, that would be so funny, right?” Instead, she simply added, “that’s pretty serious for you, isn’t it?”

“I know but he’s so…” Mindy continued, but Deirdre lost interest almost immediately. Mindy was not this good at keeping a straight face, and therefore not the culprit. The mystery remained unsolved.

When she got home from work, Deirdre headed straight for her room. As she wrapped her fingers around the door knob, she closed her eyes and whispered, “Please be white, please be white, please be white.”

She turned the door knob, opened her eyes, and pushed on the door to reveal that the walls were still green. Deirdre deflated.

No longer worried about showing up late for work, Deirdre took a few moments to inspect the walls a little more closely this time. The paint job was expertly done—no spatters of paint on the carpet or the trimming along the floor. It was all perfectly uniform, no spots where the paint ran a little thin. There were no brush strokes or roller marks to speak of either.

Then Deirdre had a thought. She went over to her dresser and started to shove it away from the wall. The wall behind the dresser was green too.

Deirdre was stuck. She could call the apartment people, but she didn’t want to risk being evicted. She couldn’t call the police; even if she didn’t sound completely insane, Deirdre was sure that the police had more important things to worry about than some phantom interior designer.

The following day, the new wall color did make Deirdre a little uneasy, but the apprehension wasn’t as bad as the morning when she first woke up to discover it. The day after that was a little better.

By the time a week had passed, she had just about gotten used to the new green walls. All things considered, the color could have been worse.

Then, after her daily routine of battling with the alarm clock, Deirdre opened her eyes to discover the walls were now eggshell blue.

“What the fuck is happening?” she whispered to her empty room. Only now she didn’t feel afraid quite so much as just bemused. For the price she paid for the one bedroom apartment, there were much bigger problems she could have expected. She could have had rowdy neighbors, or lived in a high crime neighborhood—this was Portsmouth after all. There could have been maintenance issues or, the worst, insects (one of her least favorite things about living in the South, the bugs were huge). But instead, all Deirdre had to deal with was a bedroom that had a hard time deciding what color it liked best.

If humankind were to have one remarkable super power, it is that ability to take the bizarre, the strange, and the impossible, and make it completely mundane. After a month of watching her room go from one color to the next, Deirdre not only stopped feeling any kind of fear or apprehension at all, but instead grew somewhat fond of the phenomena.

Another month passed and Deirdre realized that the changes weren’t just random, but that the room seemed to try to match her mood. If she went to bed uncommonly happy, she might awake to find her walls were sunshine yellow. After a particularly rough and depressing week at work, her walls were cornflower blue.

The morning after Deirdre went on her first date with Brent from accounting, the room surprised her with pink walls, coaxing a smirk out of her. “Very cute,” she grumbled happily.

Deirdre knew she didn’t control the color of the walls, but she did guess that they were complimenting her somehow. After a week of pink walls, Deirdre announced to her bedroom that she rather liked purple. She went to the store, bought purple blankets and sheets, and the next morning, to no surprise at all, Deirdre’s walls matched perfectly.

The walls had become something of a happy little secret for Deirdre—her own bit of daily magic. Looking back, it seemed silly that she was frightened of the color change at all.

It was the night before a big date for Deirdre and Brent. They’d been going out for a month now and she was starting to think it might be time to take things a little further. And by further, what Deirdre really meant was athletic. Clothing was optional.

She liked him. Hell, she had some intense feelings for him, but after Tony, those feelings weren’t easily trusted. But Brent was what she needed, as un-Tony like as could be. It was a scary romance, but Brent made scary easy somehow. If Deirdre was going to make a fool of herself over a guy again, Brent felt like the safest place to land.

As she lay in her bed, Deirdre spoke to the room, which had become something of a habit over recent months. “Help a girl out tomorrow? Can you do something nice and romantic?”

She chuckled sleepily to herself. Deirdre had just officially asked her bedroom to be her wingman. Bet that’s never happened in the history of ever, huh?

And with thoughts of Brent here, in her secret little magical place, Deirdre fell asleep.

It was a Saturday, so Deirdre thankfully didn’t have to wake up to an alarm. She could feel the sun pouring through the window and warming her exposed skin when she sleepily let her eyes fall open. The walls were the color of lavender.

“Very nice,” she purred in appreciation. “A little girly for me. But then, I am a girl, and we definitely don’t want Brent to forget that toni…”

She froze. The color of lavender only covered the walls from the ceiling down to about knee height. Below that, the walls were the old color, a festive lime green (a color Deirdre had come to associate with playfulness and energy. It had been a good week).

“You didn’t finish,” she said, a little disappointed. “Are you getting lazy on me?”

Deirdre swung out of bed and scowled good-naturedly at the walls of her bedroom. “Lucky for you I don’t have anything better to do today. Go on, take the rest of the day off. I’ll run to the store and finish the job.”

With that, she snapped a few photos of the wall with her cell phone, and used those to find the right paint at the hardware store.

As she was getting ready to finish the job, Deirdre noticed a kind of disheveled chaos where the old color and new color met. Her eyes traced the boundary, over jagged knife edge lines that jerked up and down. An eerie chill crept over her skin and she got the intense feeling that she was witnessing the remnants of some kind of fight or struggle. It was almost like the ghost painter that started out turning the walls lavender was wrestled away from its work.

Deirdre shuddered.

There was only one thing to do though, and she carefully used a roller to spread paint along the walls. The people at the hardware store were good, and when she finally finished a few hours later, she could hardly tell where her mysterious friend stopped and she started.

“Don’t worry,” she told the walls. “You’re still my favorite. I’d never try to replace you.”

This time, though, when she talked to the walls, a very different feeling came over her. Of course the walls never talked back, that would just be crazy. But Deirdre always felt like, it was hard to say, but it was like they at least appreciated the effort. Now, as she spoke to the walls, Deirdre was filled with a sense of cold emptiness.

She shook her head. That’s what you get for having magical walls that change color, D, she thought to herself as she hauled the paint equipment out of the bedroom. You start talking to the walls and get your feelings hurt when they don’t talk back.

Pushing the thought out of her mind, Deirdre took the paint and rollers out to the back patio. She’d have to figure out what to do with the leftovers later. It was getting late in the day, and she would have to shower, change, and get ready for her date. If she was very lucky, turned the fan on, and left the windows open, the paint might just be dry and the fumes dispersed in time for a romantic night with Brent.

Deirdre made her way back into her room, took half a step, and screamed.

On the far wall facing the door, in bright red, were two giant letters:

NO

“What the hell is this?” she breathed. That cold empty feeling returned, only this time she thought she could feel something else hiding in the emptiness, something icy and dangerous. She could feel her heart thudding in her chest, the war drum rhythm playing a machine gun beat in her ears.

She reached for her cell-phone and dialed Brent.

“Hey you,” his voice came through on the other side. She could hear the smile in his words.

“Hey,” she said back, and turned from the wall.

“Uh-oh,” he said.

Deirdre frowned. “What, uh-oh?”

“That tone. That was an, ‘I’m canceling our date,’ tone if I ever heard one.”

“Oh, sweetie.” Deirdre tried desperately to keep her voice steady, but she could hear the trembling fear slithering into her words.

“Did I—“

“No, no, no,” Deirdre blurted out, interrupting him. She took a couple of steps out of her bedroom, her free hand resting on the door knob, almost pulling the door completely closed.

“Then why—“ Brent started, only for Deirdre to interrupt him again.

“Look, Brent, it isn’t you. Or us. We’re fine, okay? I just have some… uh… maintenance stuff happening at the apartment. Last second. I can’t let it wait. I’m going to have to call the maintenance people and get them out here, and ugh… just a mess, and I don’t know if I’ll have it all tied up before our date tonight.”

She could hear the relief in his voice when he again spoke. “Oh. Good. I mean, not good. Are you okay? Anything I can help with.”

“No, no. That’s what I pay the maintenance people for, right? Besides, I know you and tools don’t mix. Probably best if you stayed as far away from a wrench as possible.” Deirdre threw in a chuckle for good measure.

Brent laughed with her. “All right, all right. Fine. But if you need a place to crash tonight, you’re welcome here.”

All of a sudden Deirdre’s heart was racing for a completely different reason. “Oh really?” she said, a little more breathlessly than she liked.

“Don’t worry,” he assured her. “I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”

You would, she thought, disappointed. Not that she was desperate, of course, but it had been almost a year. “Let’s just, see how things work out. If anything changes, I’ll call you later. But if not, maybe I can see you tomorrow?”

“Deirdre Hart, are you asking me on a date?” Brent gasped in a melodramatic voice.

“Shut up.”

“You’re a true romantic. Look, take care of yourself and let me know how things work out, okay?”

“I will,” she smiled. “Bye.”

Deirdre hung up the phone. There was something about that guy that even now, when some seriously strange shit was happening, he could make her forget it all for just a moment and smile.

She opened the door to her room. “Okay, if you don’t want me going on dates, we’re going to have—“ Deirdre started to say and froze, her voice dying in her throat. Whatever comfort Brent was able to give her evaporated, her fist clenched the doorknob as she shuddered in horror at the sight before her.

The word NO, large and red, glared angrily at her, but it was no longer alone. The word NO repeated itself over and over again, from ceiling to floor, in seething red letters. The words were different sizes and loomed at Deirdre from different angles, each scarlet stroke sharp and jagged like a hunting knife.

Deirdre stared, immobilized by terror, as tendrils of red slid down from the angry letters. A salty, coppery, smell filled the air, curled around her, and twisted her stomach in knots.

Across from her, in the empty center of the O from the first NO, Deirdre watched, transfixed, as a single spot appeared on the wall. At first it was so dark as to almost appear black, but as the spot slowly drew downwards, It too adopted the sickening red color of the rest of the letters on the walls. She remembered watching one of those cop shows on TV, where they were in the morgue doing an autopsy. That’s what this looked like, that first moment when the scalpel pierced the flesh and blood pooled up on the skin.

It was almost hypnotizing, watching as a spot turned first into a downward streak. Then a swooping curve, and another streak. She could not tell how long it took before the message was finished, maybe minutes, maybe hours; the horror that filled Deirdre so complete that something as mundane as time held no more meaning for her. When the new letters had finished spelling their single word message, though, Deirdre sobbed, a tiny squeak that curled around her throat.

DIE

Deirdre’s hand rose, as though to cup her mouth and nose, but before it could reach her face, she felt something wet slap against her opened palm. Feeling numb, she went to look at her hand. Everything felt fuzzy and seemed to move too slow, as though the world had been wrapped in some invisible cotton.

In her palm a tiny red pool glistened sickeningly, the smell of salt and copper now thicker than ever. Some part of her, dazed, had just enough sense to think, What is this in my hand? It was like she had an autopilot somewhere in her brain that took over the thinking when the real Deirdre was too scared to do anything. It was this autopilot that, wondered from where this strange red liquid came, that tilted her head up, her eyes scrolling over one angry red NO after another.

Directly above her, there was a circle on the ceiling that had turned pink. It was faint at the edges, but grew gradually darker until at the center it was almost red. Deirdre watched as a droplet formed at the center. It clung to the ceiling at first, a deep, wine-colored red. But soon it swelled, growing fat and bloated and it dropped.

It hit Deirdre in the face, just above the lip.

She screamed.

Deirdre didn’t stop screaming until she had left the apartment, and even then not until she sat shuddering in her car for at least ten minutes.

That was the last time Deirdre stepped foot in the apartment. She hired some movers, and paid extra for them to pack her things as they were. She hired a maid service too, and, handing one of the ladies an extra hundred dollars, Deirdre said, “Just, do what you can with the bedroom?”

When she went to the leasing office, she had her checkbook and pen at the ready. “I’m sorry about the bedroom,” she said in a quiet, beaten voice. “How much do I owe you?”

The lady at the other side of the desk looked over a set of gold-wired half-moon glasses and offered Deirdre a confused smile. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t I… Figured I would have to pay for damages to the bedroom?” Deirdre said with furrowed brow.

“Ms. Hart,” the older woman chuckled. Her voice sounded like fine wine. “I’m holding your security deposit here. Most people who live with us don’t typically get it back but we couldn’t find a thing wrong with your unit. The bedroom, was fine.”

-THE END-

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