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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Toby and Lilly Forever : Alabama Ghost Dog Story

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Alabama ghost dog story (or is it?) written by Keith Gregory.

Toby’s farmhouse was just as beautiful as the rest of the “new rich” houses that had moved into the area in the past decade. His family had been handing the property down to generations of his kin since the 1800’s. There had been plenty of offers in recent years from the “new rich” to purchase his land, but Toby was a stubborn man, a proud man. This was his farm and he wasn’t giving it up to no one. He figured the reason they kept coming around was because he had no one, as of yet, to hand it down to.

Toby Matheson was still single and in his late forties. He was a simple man and this, combined with his stubbornness, had been a large, contributing factor to his bachelorhood. The Matheson farm, which had run fallow over time, was a place of sanctuary for him. He maintained the property enough to enjoy a somewhat solitary life with his best friend Lily, a Golden Labrador. In Toby’s mind Lilly was the only affection he needed. Her loyalty was his company. He didn’t have many friends and he liked it that way, and his “friends” were mostly acquaintances anyway. He was also grateful that the farm was a considerable distance away from the nearest neighbor. The property was large enough that he and Lilly could live their lives the way they wanted to without outsider distractions.

Summers in the valley region of northwest Alabama could get hot despite the idea that the cold season stubbornly hung on for as long as it could. In August it was downright hot and humid during the day and still and warm at night. Toby loved dusk in August on Matheson Farm. He would sit outside on his porch with Lilly and watch the sun go down, beer in hand, listening to the sound of the woods bordering the northern end of the front yard. Some nights the trees would sway in a gentle summer night’s breeze or just before a storm. The leaves would dance on their stems, flickering back and forth against the branches. It was a nightly ritual Toby held quite dear.

Tonight was one of the still nights, the woods ahead a silent fortress wall. Toby sat in his porch chair taking in the evening, sipping his lager. The farmer’s simplicity came to a peak during these moments as he stared out into the growing dark with just about nothing on his mind, watching, listening to his world. Them “new rich” folk would probably call this “Zen” or “meditation.” To Toby, it was just a nightcap. His eyes soon fell to his, almost, empty bottle and he let out a long, emotionally exhausted sigh. It sure was quiet tonight. Save for the crickets’ song, the stillness was impacting.


There was a small rustling in the woods and a scattering of forest floor. Toby watched as a fox ran along the edge of the border of trees and back into the folds of the woods. That’s when he heard the bark. He knew that bark. His head shot up and he strained his eyes. It had come form just outside his vision on the far northern end. That was Lilly. It had to be. It sounded just like her. He carefully put down his beer and leaned forward in his chair.

“Lilly?” He asked the night. “Lilly, is that you?”

He was about to get out of his chair and stopped in mid ascent. He sighed, again, and sat back in the seat feeling a little stupid. It was impossible, of course. Lilly was dead. His best friend had passed on last fall. She was old, and time had had its way with her. She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, and the arthritis eventually had spread so bad he had had to put her to sleep. She was living in pain everyday and Toby had had enough of the grief, seeing her limp around. He had decided he was keeping her alive for his own benefit and it was time to let go. As he sat back in his chair, he looked down to where she used to sit during their nightly ritual, and felt a low tightening in his stomach, tears threatening to escape his eyes.

MoonSet

“Just stop it Toby.” He said to himself. “She’s gone and that’s that.”

He took the last slug of his beer and considered going and grabbing another, when he heard the bark again. It was clear in the still, night air. The sound was far off at the northern edge of the woods but close enough to make Toby wonder if a stray had wandered onto his property. But the bark was so familiar. He had heard it every day for the past thirteen years.

For a moment he didn’t really know what to do. It sounded like Lilly, so it must be a Lab and they weren’t much of a threat. Then again, they weren’t the kind to go off wandering on their own either. He heard another rustling in the woods. No bark. Toby leaned towards the yard in his chair, mouth slightly open, eyes, squinting into the, now dark, distance of the northern edge, concentrating. The night just hung there, silent save for the sounds of crickets. Continuing to stare at the trees and beyond, he slowly sat back in his chair and decided to dismiss the whole thing and wondered if he really needed another cold one. Then the barking came again, this time a little more frantic. Toby was up right, instantly. It wasn’t the barking of a dog in pain or danger. It was the sound of a Lab on the hunt. A dog alerting her master that she had found the fowl. Come over here, that barking said, it fell over here. Toby stood and walked to the edge of the porch.

“Lilly,” he said out loud and caught himself. The name had escaped his lips without him even thinking. Lilly was dead, he knew that, but it had just come out. The dog barked a few more times and sounded as if it was running back and forth trying to get someone’s attention. Whoever would listen, it seemed. Well, Toby was listening and the rustling he had heard in the woods was not coming from the north end of the woods where he heard the barking, it was more towards his position but deeper in the trees. The barking stopped again.

Toby resolved to go and take a look. Since he couldn’t hear the dog rustling when it barked maybe it was in some sort of trap. No, Toby thought, that’s just ridiculous. He had no traps laid out on his property. He heard the rustling deep in the woods again and it sounded like the scrambling of not one, but a couple of, what he assumed to be, foxes. He had just seen one not five minutes ago.

He walked across the porch and went into the house. Toby realized how fast he was walking and his heartbeat quickened, slight mists of fear matching his pace.


“Gotta calm down there a bit, Toby. Just a wandering Lab, is all,” he told himself as he walked through the kitchen and into the washroom. He didn’t turn the light on, just stared at the gun cabinet. He didn’t need the rifle, did he? He stepped closer and felt for the keys in his pocket: house key, truck key, gun key. He rubbed the gun key between his thumb and forefinger in a momentary state of indecision. It was probably just a lost Lab, he thought. No more a threat than Lilly ever was. He rubbed the key once more, looked to the right of the cabinet and saw his walking stick. He had whittled it himself years ago out of a branch ripped from its trunk by lightening. The tip was charred black and he had lacquered it to preserve nature’s quiet remnant of fury. The stick would do. If he startled the dog he would be able to use it to calm him, or her, down or defend himself if he had too. A gun would just be too much. He grabbed the walking stick and stood there in the darkness for a moment. He thought of Lilly and a pang of loss washed over him. He got himself together and headed back towards to porch.

As he crossed the living room he heard the barking again. It was coming from the same place, muffled by the walls of the house, but still as frantic as before. What was it doing out there? And damn if it didn’t sound exactly like Lilly. He paused in front of his couch, listening. There was an excited tone in the dog’s rant now, almost a yelp. He couldn’t take it anymore and just about stormed out the front door onto the porch.

“Lilly, settle down! I’m coming!” Toby caught himself again, in a jolt of confusion. What was he saying? He actually didn’t even know he was going to call for his best friend, since passed, and hadn’t realized what he had said until it was out of his mouth. Maybe he would have a couple more beers after he figured this whole thing out.


As he stepped out onto the porch, the rustle in the woods happened again. It was louder than the last, and this time it wasn’t on the ground. The tops of the trees were swaying just outside his vision in the still August night. Despite the growing weirdness of this situation Toby tried to keep a level head. “Must’ve been a night owl,” he said out loud – fully aware, in that pool of reason, deep down in the bowels of his mind, that the way the branches were scrapping, it would have to be three or more of the night hunters.

Lilly the Lab, the dog, or whatever, was barking at a steady pace now and the nostalgia of that sound was slowly forming a swell of tears on the corner of his conscious. But, mixed with that was a dash of fear and not a small amount of annoyance. Whatever was going on over there it must be taken care of if he was going to get any sleep tonight. Toby took slow steps off the porch and began to creep north past the barn into the once silent darkness. The trees swayed again just to the south of the commotion. It was a lumbering rasp with a considerable amount of weight scraping and cracking sticks along the way. How the branches would hold something as heavy as this animal (animal?) sounded was beyond Toby. Whatever it was, it was riding the treetops, creeping towards his Lilly.


He crossed the yard and was approaching the right side of the barn when the yelping ceased once more and something jumped into the woods from just outside the border, behind the barn. Something was messing around in the woods and he wanted it to stop. What worried him was, he wasn’t sure what it might be. He had lived here all his life and Lilly had never acted up like this.

“It’s not Lilly,” he told himself, teeth clenched. His brain kept allowing him to say things like that, and it was starting to really piss him off. He knew better. He had mourned and tried to move on. The old girl was gone and all he had was his farm. And whatever it was back there, in the pitch black of nature, he was going to make sure it didn’t threaten all he had left.

Night was fully upon the farm and the August moon crept along, half-hidden by the trees as Toby moved slowly along the border of his yard. Something rolled along the tree line in the darkness, just up ahead, cracking the stillness of the night. The snap and slap of the high branches echoed in the air, the sound quickly ricocheting and disappearing into the forest beyond. The sound was crisp and amplified, hypnotic. He thought about the gun in the washroom. What about the gun? Had something just occurred to him? Maybe he needed the rifle and not the stick. He felt the night wrap itself around him, comforting him. He couldn’t move. He needed to get the gun.

Toby forced himself to widen his eyes, blink and focus as if trying to stay awake. Something was gripping his conscious and squeezing the rational thought right out of it. He had only had one beer, but he felt the same as if he was on his sixth and the glaze of inebriation was forming over his eyes. It was the thing in the trees. He wasn’t sure how he knew this, staring at the ground trying to concentrate, stick held in white knuckled fists, but he did. He also came to realize, in this momentary lapse of reason, that this, something, was luring him against his will. He felt unhinged from himself, like a door not quite centered on its frame, askew, allowing slivers of light in odd angles. That was not Lilly’s bark. It was something else, and if he did not concentrate and try to mentally break free it was going to get him. How, he wasn’t sure yet, but his fight or flight alarms were sounding on the flight side and he could not move. He was in some sort of mind trance yet lucid as ever.

He really needed his gun. And then the barking came again. As hard as Toby tried to fight it, his eyes widened with concern for his best friend and he yelled, “Lilly!” He ran north toward her. Somewhere back in his mind he was screaming to himself that it wasn’t her. Somewhere, back there, he was also telling himself to run. Run and get the rifle, goddamn it. But the Lilly barking was a siren, pulling him in, using his affection for his lost companion. He lumbered, walking stick in a baseball bat grip, like a drunken pursuer towards the sound of his beloved girl. He felt a crash of anxiety and fear from somewhere deep inside him, slamming down from above. He looked up and saw a large black form riding the top of the tree line. Lilly was a good girl but, like any dog, she was stubborn. If this thing got too close to her before he could save her it might hurt her. Hell, it might even kill her.


“I’m coming girl! I’ve got a weapon!” Toby was too far back in his own mind now; too far to communicate with reason. He was a man trapped behind a mirror watching the event unfold and having no control over it. Despite this, he screamed. There was no Lilly, just as there was no breeze. Something was hungry. Something needed strength. Toby was the fuel. He was closer now, “Lilly!” he stopped, panting, stick still in hand. This is where he had heard her. Lilly barked. She was off in the distance. She was running away, away from him. Him? No, that couldn’t be. Toby just, stood there. He was on the verge of tears. She would never run away from his voice. Deep inside, far back in the corner of his mind, looking from the other side of that mental mirror, the real Toby cried. He was going to die.

As the last in the line of the Matheson farm caretakers looked further north into the woods, as tears ran down a face twisted with sadness and confusion, the tops of the trees rustled once more. In the distance the sound of barking faded. The dark mass from above emitted a clicking, crunching sound, like insects being crushed under foot. From this mass something squirmed out of nothing, the delicate, wet sound of birth. A trunk-like tentacle lowered from the branches with a glistening film, fluid like fresh okra juice. The crushing, clicking sound came again, along with a slight moan not unlike a baby calf just out of the womb. Three claws emerged from the tip of the tentacle all the while lowering and lowering towards its prey.

Toby stood in a trance, still staring off into the distance. His lips moved slightly trying to form words as the creature slowly, gently clamped its three claws around the front and sides of his neck. There was a moment of quiet. A moment of peace, as the farmer opened and closed his mouth, just so, to form the last word of his life.

He exhaled in the stillness, “Li…Lil…Lilly”, and with ferocious speed, the thing snatched the human up, and into its grip. With a crunch, blood spilled through the branches of the trees catching, on the leaves, one by one and running down the trunks like the seasons first sap.

-THE END-


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The Ghost of Thurber, Texas

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True story of the rise and fall of Thurber, Texas – a mining ghost town with a real ghost? Written by Bob Hopkins

Science has made phenomenal discoveries within the last one hundred years but even still some things just can’t be explained. One such ghostly tale must be among those unexplainable events as it occurred many years ago in a soon-to-be real Texas ghost town, a place forgotten by a world of high tech devices, modern conveniences and the worries of the day-to-day rat race. The place was a small community called Thurber located in the far ends of the Palo Pinto hills just on the Palo Pinto and Erath County lines.

Today, the only thing that remains of the old mining town is a very impressive smokestack towering next to row of aged brick buildings, one of which houses the Smokestack restaurant on Interstate 20 about 75 miles west of Fort Worth. During the late 1800s Thurber was a thriving coal mining town with a population of approximately 8,000 souls. Unlike most towns, especially in Texas, Thurber was constructed and owned completely by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company which was headed up by Robert Dickey Hunter and H.K. Thurber of New York.

Hunter constructed the town while dealing with the dissident union miners associated with the “Knights of Labor,” who had been working in the mines there since the mid 1880’s. He fenced off the property owned by the company constructing an entire town and mining complex complete with schools, churches, saloons, stores, houses, a 650 seat opera house, a 200 room hotel, an ice house and an electric plant. The union was not allowed inside.

Thurber_Texas_coal_mining

Eventually the miners’ strike ended and the families moved into the company owned town. Along with the mines, the company owned commissary stores where the town’s people purchased necessities with the use of “scrip’s” which were redeemable anywhere in Thurber. In 1897, a large brick plant was built as well. Hunter, also a partner in this enterprise employed many other types of labor. A stockade, armed guards and barbed wire fence restricted labor unions, peddlers and other unauthorized people from gaining access to the town.

Hunter retired in 1899 and a man named William Knox Gordon took over retaining company dominance about the community. Concentrated efforts by Gordon to keep the union affiliation out of Thurber failed by 1913 and Thurber became a union stronghold for the immigrant workers and remained so until about 1920. By that time locomotives, the primary source of transportation, began to burn oil instead of coal. Gordon, being an opportunist, discovered the huge Ranger oil field just west of the Thurber mines and changed the company name to Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company in 1918.

The conversion of the nation from coal to oil along with the consistent union strikes led to Thurber’s demise. The need for workers began to dwindle and many miners moved away by 1927. The brick plant remained open until 1930, a general office until 1933, and commissary stores until 1935. By 1939, the company basically dissembled most of the town and concentrated their interests toward the oil fields. The once thriving Thurber became a ghost town.

It was during those declining years that an eerie thing occurred. On a summer’s night in 1930, eleven year old Walter Kostiha and his older brother Frank had an encounter that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. Walter was 82 years old when he shared the tale from the safety of his store within the quaint village of Strawn, located just down the road from Thurber. Walter said, “I remember the night well, always have, always will. A boy never forgets the odd things of life and that one was surely odd for me.”

It was the beginning of the Great Depression which hit Texas harder than most other states. Many grown and able-bodied men were out of work and taking any job they could find so it was rare that two boys could find work. But they did. Walter and Frank would walk down to a local Mexican restaurant on Saturday nights, one of the few establishments left in Thurber, after closing hours to assist the owner with rolling tamales. “One particular night,” Walter said, “was very clear with a beautiful full moon hanging low upon the summer horizon.” The two boys finished their work at the restaurant about midnight and after collecting fifty cents each, they headed home down an old dirt road that paralleled a set of railroad tracks that took coal cars to the town of Mingus, a few miles north of Thurber.

Kostiha said, “We came to the place where we left the road to cross over a fence in order to get to the house.” In those days many fences had “stiles” built upon them…steps in which one could easily climb up, over and back down without having to climb the fence. “We were approaching the stile when the ghostly thing appeared. Here came this beautiful silver-looking thing.” He went on to say, “My brother looked at it, screamed and ran as fast as his feet would carry him toward the house, unfortunately, the long way. I followed but he was bigger and faster than me leaving me further and further behind. Once my brother cleared a considerable distance from the ghost he slowed then finally stopped until I caught up to him, both of us out of breath and scared half out of our wits. Only then could we gather enough courage to look back at it but it was gone.”


The boys, going the long way home to avoid another face-to-face with the specter, immediately went to their father and told him of the frightful event. Walter asked his Papa if someone was pulling some kind of prank on them. His father replied, “No, this was no prank.” He then explained to the boys that what they saw was something rare indeed, something that very few people in the Thurber area have encountered. He told them the story of an incident that took place in Thurber years before when it was a booming community. A carnival had made a stop in the village. There was a beautiful woman with the carnival who would sing with a voice even more beautiful than she was. She was tragically killed by a local resident who had become obsessed with her. “The woman”, he said, “avenges her murder by returning to haunt the streets of Thurber.”

After that night, Walter said his brother refused to speak of the incident and didn’t want anyone to know of their encounter with the ghost. Walter went on to say, “If people say that I didn’t see a ghost, you tell em to come see me! I saw it with my own two eyes and I know what I saw.” Rumors of the haunting floated in and around Thurber for a few years, however, Walter only personally knew of only one other person who claimed to have witnessed the ghost. The man, a friend of Walter’s father, told Walter and his family of the night he was walking toward his mother’s house, just about the same spot where Walter and Frank saw the ghost. He claimed on a moonlit night he came upon the ghost of a woman sitting on the stile at the fence. He said he was somewhat under the influence of strong drink when he approached the woman thinking it was his mother. “Suddenly”, he said, “she began to rise up into the air before fading away right in front of my eyes.” He then said he’d never sobered up so quick in all his life.

Since then, the road no longer exists. Pasture has reclaimed it and the fence has been gone for many years as has anyone who may have encountered the specter. Walter unfortunately passed from this world in 2006 taking any other information of the ghost with him.

The ghost town of Thurber, Texas was once a thriving place teaming with immigrant workers, mostly Italian, Hungarian and Mexican trying to make a living for themselves and their families. The great flu-pandemic of 1919 took the lives of at least 20 children and several adults in Thurber. Other sicknesses and difficulties plagued the immigrant town as well. A ghost in Thurber could be just about anybody.

Walter had many fond memories of growing up and living in the Thurber and Strawn communities. The coal mines are long gone but reminders of their existence still dot the countryside around the area of southwestern Palo Pinto County. No record exists of the murder of the beautiful carnival queen but that doesn’t mean that the event didn’t happen. Such a person in such a transient profession could have never been reported as the carnival moved on to another town.

If a ghost still exists in Thurber, the only live people it would find to haunt would have to be at the Smokestack restaurant which has reported their own accounts of ghostly happenings over the years. But if you want to see the ghost of the carnival woman, you’ll have to stand out in the field where the road once was. The problem is nobody knows exactly where that was or at least, none of the living. Happy haunting!

-THE END-

To learn more about Thurber, TX:

Wikipedia page on Thurber, Texas
Texas State Historical Association – Thurber, TX

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Thurber, Texas

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Thurber, Texas 32.506599, -98.418121  Story: The Ghost of Thurber, TexasGhost town of Thurber, TX. From Wikipedia: \"Thurber is an unincorporated community in Erath County, Texas, United States (near the Palo Pinto county line), located 75 miles west of Fort Worth. It was, between 1888 and 1921, one of the largest producers of bituminous coal in Texas and the largest company town in the state, with a population of over 10,000.[1] The population of the community is 48 per the 2010 United States Census.\" 

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Three Ghost Stories from Summerville (SC) High School

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Presenting three ghost stories written by students at Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina. Scroll down the page to read them all!

The first ghost story is “The Labrador” – a tale of a mysterious white dog guarding the spot of his master’s death. Written by Bethany Polutta.

On November 7, 1960, a traveling salesman came to Goshen Hill for a few days, selling his wares from door to door. He was a friendly man with a warm grin and a joke for everyone. He was accompanied by a large white dog that rode on the wagon beside him; companion, friend, and guardian of his wares.

The salesman and dog were making their way out of town when a murder was discovered in one of the places in which they had sported their wares. Suspicion blossomed at once against the stranger—certainly no one of the townsfolk was capable of committing such a crime!—and a lynch mob chased the salesman out of town and strung him up on a tree beside the road.

The white dog howled and barked and roared as the mob carried his master away. More than one man was bitten as the salesman, still screaming out his innocence, was silenced forever. One fellow finally shot his gun at the white dog, wounding it enough to send it whimpering away. It soon became obvious to everyone in town that they’d hung the wrong man. The corpse, dangling obscenely from the tree on Old Buncombe Road, was a grisly reminder of the community crime. They would have cut down the salesman and given him a decent burial, but the white dog stood guard over his master’s corpse day after day, savagely threatening anyone who came near the hanging tree. So the salesman’s body withered and rotted underneath the tree beside the road, filling the air with a terrible stench as it desiccated in the summer heat. It was many weeks before body and dog disappeared from the Old Buncombe Road.


A few months later, a man who’d participated in the salesman’s lynching happened to be walking down Old Buncome Road at night. As he drew near the hanging tree, his nose wrinkled in disgust as a whiff of rotten flesh swept past his face and his stomach roiled. He staggered backward, his arm over his nose, wondering what was causing the terrible stench. Then he spotted the hanging tree, and saw upon it a glowing, desiccated corpse dangling obscenely by the neck from one of its branches. And beneath the ghostly figure stood a huge, white dog with glowing red eyes.

The dog growled menacingly when he saw the man on the road, and the man stumbled backward over the rut in the center of the road and then started to run. With an ear-shattering series of barks, the white dog pursued the fleeing man with supernatural speed. The man whipped this way and that, spinning around, leaping into the woods to dodge around trees, trying to avoid the huge dog snapping at his heels. If he fell, the dog would be at his throat immediately.

The man crashed headlong into a tree and flung himself upward. Below him, the ghost dog leapt, and sharp teeth closed on the man’s hand. Pain ripped through him, and he climbed higher, trying to shake off the glowing beast. “Let go!” he screamed, kicking at it again. Suddenly, the white dog turned to mist before his eyes and swirled away. Realizing that the white dog might reappear at any moment, the man seized his chance. He slithered down the tree and ran all the way home. His wife sent a neighbor to fetch the doctor, who stitched up his hand as best he could. The white dog had nearly severed the palm, and the nerves were so badly damaged that he was crippled in that hand for the rest of his life.

The man later learned that every person who had participated in the lynching of the salesman was attacked by the ghost of the white dog. Many—like himself—were crippled in some way. As for the fellow who’d shot and injured the white dog—well, his four-year-old son disappeared and was never seen again.

-THE END-

The second story is “The Impossible” – a ghost story of twins who connect with their dead birth mother from beyond the grave. Written by Makevia Capers.

Beaufort, South Carolina 1994, February 20th, was when Mrs. Cynthia Blake passed away. She was twenty-two with twins named Kaden and Jaden. She passed giving birth to them, her heart wasn’t strong enough, so it gave out on her, and I guess it was her time to go. She wrote in her will she knew she was going to die; she said her friend up stairs showed it to her in a dream, so she wanted me to keep Kaden and Jaden. As I read her will, tears started pouring down my face; I wasn’t only crying because she passed, I was crying because the two handsome boys will never know who their real mother is and how intelligent she was. They will never know what a real mother’s love felt like because I was only sixteen; I was still a child myself.

March 23, 2002, I was sitting in the kitchen, and I heard laughing and playing coming from upstairs. It was an unfamiliar sound added; it didn’t sound like the footsteps of children; it sounded like the footsteps of an adult. I then yelled Kaden, Jaden; then there was a slight pause and they both yelled, “Yes mam” like they were up to something. As I was walking up the stairs the playing and laughing continued as I got to the door, I could no longer hear the third footstep that sounded like an adult footstep. As I opened the door, the two were sitting on the floor looking at me.

“Why are you guys playing so hard?” I asked.

Kaden starting smiling and pointed to the closet door, “It was Mama,” he said.

Looking around I laughed and replied, “But, I am your mama sweetheart.”

He stared at me like he was waiting on me to drop dead and said, “NO! My biological mother.”

That hurt me at heart because I was the only mother he ever knew, but I just kept a smile on my face and said, “Oh really, what is your other mother’s name?”

Then he said the name that was actually his biological mother Cynthia Blake. When he said the name the room began to get chilly, and I felt as if someone was in the room besides my boys and me. I walked out the room trying to ignore the fact that my nine-year old sons know the name of their biological mother, and I have never spoken of her since February 20th, 1994.


March 24, 2002, at one o’clock in the morning I was still up because I still wasn’t over what Kaden and Jaden had told me the night before. The name Cynthia Blake just kept giving me the chills, so I decided to go down stairs and take some medicine to put me to sleep; as I was walking down stairs there were two hard knocks on the door. I opened the door and there was nothing, but the smell of cookies, and the funny part was I wasn’t baking any cookies, so I thought to myself, could what Kaden and Jaden told me be true? I brushed it off; no, it couldn’t be; that’s impossible. I went to the bathroom to splash some water on my face, then I heard what sounded like Jaden screaming, “NO MAMA, PLEASE, DON’T.” I ran into the room to him sitting up in his bed crying. I asked him what was wrong and his reply was, “Mama said I couldn’t tell, or she would hurt you.” I hugged him and told him it was a bad dream. That night I thought I heard the television switching channels. I didn’t get up to check because the things my sons where telling me was starting to get to me, but then I felt someone lying next to me breathing on the back of my neck, breath ice-cold as snow. I turned over to make sure it wasn’t the air vent, and I wasn’t tripping, but then my face started to get cold too and my lips were feeling as if they were getting blisters from the cold air, but I just continued to lay there still until my body actually fell asleep.

March 25, 2002, that morning I got up hoping the television would be off because that would have meant that everything I thought I heard and felt would have just been all in my head; sadly, I got up to the television on, so I knew that I wasn’t going crazy. I went down stairs as usual to do my daily routine, check the weather and get the boys up and ready for school. I walked outside, and it was pitch black outside and cold as if we were living in Antarctica. I went to go look at the thermometer, it read below twenty degrees. I thought to myself below twenty in July with no sun, and it was almost twelve in the afternoon; that was the strangest thing that I have ever seen. An hour after I came from outside it started thundering, lighting, and raining; so, I decided that was not the type of weather I wanted to send my children into, so I decided that they would stay home with me. We all piled into my bed reading, and all of a sudden the power went off. Five seconds after the power went off, I heard rattling coming from the kitchen. I told the boys to stay there I was going to check; I grabbed the quickest thing that I could use for a weapon. As I was walking down stairs I could hear something coming up behind me; when I turn around it was Jaden and Kaden. “Didn’t I tell you guys to stay in the room?” I said.

“Yes m’am, but we were scared,” they replied.

We continued to walk down the stairs until Kaden kept yelling “Mama is it you?”

I interrupted and said, “Didn’t I tell you I was your…” and before I could finish my sentence a long scream came from out of nowhere.

Jaden started calling again, “Mama, did you come for us?” and then everything in the house started shaking. We finally got down stairs and there was a light; it wasn’t an ordinary old kitchen light; it was a light like a train was going to run us over, only we didn’t live by any tracks, and I saw doctors and two little baby boys. I went up to go hold them, but it was like they were heliographed; then I heard doctors yelling like they were rushing to do something, and right then and there I knew it was Kaden and Jaden’s biological mother Cynthia Blake. The light that I saw got even brighter, so I closed my eyes and when I opened them nothing was there not even Kaden and Jaden; I yelled around the house for them, but there was nothing not a sinker from their laughs, not a thump from their little feet, nothing.

-THE END-

The third ghost story is “The Black Dog,” about a mysterious ghost dog taking revenge on the truck driver who killed him. Written by Brian Latham.

Have you ever heard of the story of the Black Dog? If not, then here is some spooky themes and stories about the Black Dog. The story behind the Black Dog starts off as a normal scary or tragic story. From what I have heard from my family, it started out a normal night with a normal Black Dog walking into the street, trying to get to the other side to the woods. When suddenly, out of nowhere a driver behind the wheel of a truck came around the corner. The driver had not sleep in hours and started to get tired, and when he turned around the corner he passed out in the drivers set and hit the dog; the hit from the car killed the dog immediately. After that, when people start driving and start to get sleepy the Black Dog jumps up on the side of the car, barking and trying to get revenge on the person who ran him over many of years ago.

Not lots of people see the Black Dog when they are tired because they probably are not tired enough to be able to see it. You probably have not heard of the Black Dog before because there is not really any stories to tell because there is not really any sightings of him. Some of the people in my family have seen this beast saying he is almost as big as their entire car causing them to crash or be driven off the road by the ginormous beast. My family members who have seen him say if he was not a spirit dog, that to be face-to –face with this monster would kill by the sight or even the smell that comes off the spirit. Also, they said if I was to come face-to-face with it, I would be torn to shreds. My dad told me his story, when he came in contact with the beast, separated by a thin piece of glass that kept him away from tearing him to pieces. I would never want to come into to contact with this beast.

When my dad got home one day he seemed startled as he had just seen a ghost. He sat in his favorite chair and said to me, “Brian, I never want you to ever be a truck driver.”

I asked, “Why don’t you want me to be a truck driver?” At first he was hesitated from telling me but then he said, “Because of the Black Dog.”

I thought hard to think about the Black Dog, but I just thought of a dog that’s fur was black, and I asked, “Are you talking about a black dog that scared you when you were driving?”

He gave me a look as if I just said something stupid, but then it seemed, by the look of his face, that he realized that no one told me about the Black Dog. He stared at me and asked me, “Would you like to learn about the Black Dog, so that you can understand a little better?”

I immediately said, “yes I want to know everything about the Black Dog and do not to leave anything out about the Black Dog.”

He told me everything about how the Black Dog died, and why it tried to run people off the road and take revenge on his killer who fell asleep behind the wheel.


I said to my dad, “That’s kind of overboard, don’t you think?” He looked at me and the last thing he told me was that some people report seeing a huge kind of black mist around the car accident and that some people believe that it is the Black Dog to see if it was his killer.

When he was finished about the history of the Black Dog, he told me what happened to him and how he said it made me even more afraid of the Black Dog. He told me this: “I was driving last night, and I haven’t slept in a while, and I was getting extremely tired. I was thinking of pulling over to the side of the road to take an hour or two long nap to get some rest. Instead I decided to drive for about one more hour, and then I would get some rest. I started to get near the end of the hour of driving and decided it was time to pull over to a truck stop. Before I came to my stop to get some rest, the Black Dog jumped up, and hit the truck and the Black Dog did not take his eyes off me; and I was for sure I would be in an accident and pretty darn sure that the Black Dog was going to be having me for supper that night. The only thing going through my head at this point was that stare of his eyes that were blood-shot red.

Over the weekend after my dad got home, I was allowed to spend the night at my cousins’ house, and I told him about the Black Dog. As scary as it seemed to both of us, we decided to get my cousins’ go-cart with homemade doors on it, and when we got really tired, we went to see if we could see the Black Dog. I drove the go-cart because my cousin was way too short to reach the peddles, but I was the right height for the job. We got on the road and started to drive down the road and began to attempt to see the Black Dog; and on top of that, I was trying so hard not to go to sleep. We pulled over to the side of the road and closed our eyes for about ten seconds before we woke up to see the Black Dog. Somehow it seemed as if the beast had seen me before, and then I realized about my nickname that I was given. Little Keith was my nickname because I looked lots like my dad and then it hit me knowing that it thinks that I am my dad. It gave me a stare that made me feel as if I was being turned to stone by Medusa. It began to attempt to break the doors off. I took off and turned around facing the huge beast. I reacted and by hitting the gas pedal and headed straight for the Black Dog, and he did the same charging towards us. My cousin kept yelling, “Stop Brian, Stop!” I refused and hit the pedal to the floor board of the go-cart. When we were at least five to six feet away from the beast, it disappeared right into thin air. My cousin still believes it was not after us, but I think that it was because of the adrenaline that we had been going so fast that we were not tired anymore, and we became aware, alert, and awake. To this day, I have not seen the Black Dog, and I don’t plan on seeing him again for the rest of my life. This is my story and my experience with the legendary Black Dog.

-THE END-

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The Remains of a Clock

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Creepy haunted house story from Alabama, written by Irran Butler.

I don’t believe in ghosts. I am, however, a witness to something that defies my reasoning when it comes to that sort of thing. When I was eighteen years old, a friend and I decided to venture out to an old house that was said to be haunted. Neither of us really expected we would find anything, but we figured it would be a good story to tell others, after embellishments were added of course. So, off we went in search of whatever we might find.

Following the directions we had received from another ghost hunter friend of ours, we located the house quite easily. It sat half hidden by kudzu at the end of a short narrow driveway that was itself almost covered by that same eager vine. We parked just feet from the front porch and retrieved our flashlights from the back seat, preparing to enter the decaying remains of a rather small house. Whenever I have given any thought to a haunted house, I have always assumed it to be a rambling structure with plenty of rooms for resident ghosts and ample opportunity to get lost within it’s gloomy, dark and dusty bowels. This particular house was far removed from such. It was your run-of-the-mill four-room farm dwelling… not fancy, but sturdy even in it’s neglected state. There were few panes of glass in the windows and the front door was missing. I could stand in front of the house and see through the front door, all the way out the back door; a distance of less than thirty feet. It didn’t seem large enough for a ghost to inhabit comfortably.

Twilight was just settling over us as we entered the abandoned dwelling. This gave us ample ambient light to see within the four tiny rooms. The living room and the kitchen shared a back-to-back fireplace, which I thought to be unusual. I had never seen this arrangement before and I had been in dozens of old abandoned houses on ghost hunts throughout my high school years. The living room side had a mantle over the fireplace, which still gave rest to several aged items including the remains of an old windup clock. We’ve all seen clocks like this at our grandparent’s house; sitting there with it’s pendulum swing back and forth… with it’s constant and creepy ticking. … I remember my parents saying that they enjoyed hearing that creepy monotonous sound, but I never really acquired a taste for it myself, in fact I found it very unsettling.

Bracket Clock

Having toured the four rooms, we decided to step outside and wait for darkness to envelope us, thus making it more likely that we would see a ghost… at least that was our thinking. We talked for some time about ghosts and what exactly we were looking for at this particular place. At that moment we suddenly realized that our other friend had not told us what it was that we were supposed to encounter. As we talked on, darkness overtook us. About then, we experienced one of those odd moments of near complete silence that we have all experienced, when everyone stops talking and any other sounds stop suddenly, generally highlighting that one person saying something that he didn’t especially want everyone to hear. You know what I mean. At that moment, I very definitely heard the ticking of a clock. Both my friend and I turned and looked back at the front door of the house… then at each other. We had both heard the same sound. I spoke up, “Did you hear that?”. I knew what it sounded like, but every cell in my brain was telling me that it was not possible for the clock we had just seen to make the sound we had just heard… and were still hearing. We both expressed our amazement, but that quickly changed to skepticism. There had to be an explanation for the sound. I stuck my watch to my ear… that wasn’t it. The sound was completely different.

We then turned our attention to the car. Everybody knows that a hot car engine makes a ticking sound as it cools off. After we carefully investigated the car, it was very obvious to us that the ticking was coming from inside the house. Only a few feet from the open front doorway, we could hear the ticking very clearly. We shined our flashlights on the door of the house and knew we had to go back in there if we wanted to know for sure the source of the ticking. I first walked back and forth in the yard shining my light on the walls of the living room trying to see the mantle where the clock sat. I could see part of it but not the part where the clock was. The ticking persisted.


My friend said, “Well, let’s do it.” And we stepped up on the porch. The sound of our footsteps on the planks in the porch floor momentarily drowned out the ticking. We both stopped at the doorway and peeked around the facing into the room. The ticking stopped. Shining our lights on the mantle, we saw the remains of the clock… it was completely nonfunctional and was definitely not ticking. It could not possibly be the source of the sound we had heard. We both expressed how weird this was and decided to walk through the other rooms, just to be sure we hadn’t missed something the first time. There were a few pieces of broken down furniture and miscellaneous debris, but absolutely nothing that resembled a clock, other than the one on the mantle.

We walked out the doorway and stepped off the porch. Our footsteps, in the gravel, as we walked to the car were the only sounds we noticed, until we stopped just before getting in. There it was again… that creepy ticking. I can think of nothing else that makes the same sound as one of those old windup clocks. This was, without doubt that exact sound. Shaking our heads we got in and as we turned the car around to leave, we both heard a single ringing sound of a windup clock striking the half-hour. If the only clock we had seen was not capable of ticking, it certainly would not be able to strike the half-hour. I looked at my watch and it was nine-thirty on the dot.

We had a bona-fide paranormal experience to pass on to our friends and families and could hardly wait to do just that. Over the next few days we spread our story freely and were really quite surprised at the dull impression it seemed to make on everyone that we told it to. I guess that a haunted clock just doesn’t pack the punch that a flaming headless woman in a blood-soaked white gown appearing in front of you does. I’ve never seen such a woman, but… I have heard the clock.

-THE END-

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