© 2009 Patrick Hester. All Rights Reserved.

Ghost Story

“Well, there it is! The most haunted house in the world!  Do you know, they say a hundred people died in there on the same night!  Poisoned!  And we’re gonna spend the night!” George grinned at his friend Aiden, who appeared to be turning a fine shade of green.  Without another word, George stalked up the stairs and into the condemned house, leaving Aiden alone in the over grown yard full of too-tall weeds and stickers.  He’d already gotten a couple in his socks and they hurt.

Aiden readjusted his rolled up sleeping bag under his arm and stared up at the old house, the oldest on the block.  It had sort of towers that rose up to little flat points surrounded by tiny versions of the iron fence that kept most people out.  The windows were all boarded up, the green paint chipped and fading, the porch wide and flat but with spider webs in the shadowy corners and weeds growing up through the cracks.  He scratched his cheek, sure he felt a spider crawling there.

George reappeared in the doorway.  “What are you waiting for?  Come on!” then disappeared again.

Screwing up his courage, Aiden followed his friend of two weeks, taking the steps in one great leap and then rushing inside.  He looked around wildly, half expecting ghosts to be sitting or standing around waiting for him and chatting with his friend.  Instead, he found a dusty stairwell to his left, a mostly gone chandelier above him and a wide open room to his right.  It was here that George sat on his own sleeping bag, engrossed in a pile of old baseball cards he was arranging into piles on the floor.

Aiden quickly scurried into the room and set his sleeping bag up opposite his friend.  He looked around the room; there was a fireplace big enough he could probably stand up in it, it had a fancy looking mantle with carvings in the wood and a thick layer of dust.  Sitting on top was a broken mirror frame.  Jagged shards were still in the top and the bottom, but the rest was gone.  Suddenly, he realized that it looked like a giant mouth with teeth and quickly looked away.  The walls had wallpaper on them.  It was faded, but he could still make out what vague shapes and colors that twirled around.  The windows behind him were boarded up on the outside, letting only slivers of the fading sunlight in.  He grabbed his little lantern and set it where he could quickly grab it and turn it on as soon as that sun did go down.

“…this is a bad idea,” he muttered.  George looked up, concerned, then smiled.

“Don’t you want to see a ghost?” he asked.

“Well…” Aiden said, drawing the word out and looking around again.  “I thought I did, but now I don’t know.”

“Look,” said George as he stood up and walked over to his friend. “We both said we wanted to see a ghost and that we’d do this together! Ghosts can’t hurt you or anything, they can just jump out and say ‘boo’ or something, right?” he asked.  Aiden nodded, looking around as if he expected one to do just that.  “So, we’ll just spend the night and if we see a ghost, that’ll be really neat. And if we don’t, well, we’ll still have a great story to tell at school, right?”

Aiden nodded.  He had to admit, his friends would be really impressed to learn that he’d spent the night in a haunted house, not to mention how impressed they’d be if he actually saw a ghost.  He nodded to himself again, stronger now.  Everyone would want to be his friend.

“Good?” asked George.

“Good,” Aiden replied with a smile.  George smiled himself and went back to his baseball cards.  Aiden spared them an uninterested glance.  He didn’t really care for baseball, unless it was on his PSP, which he slid out of his pocket and turned on, then sat across from George and started playing.  When the sun set, he turned on his lantern and they sat huddled around its neon glow until it was very late.

George yawned as he slid into his sleeping bag.  They had not seen a single ghost so far, but Aiden hadn’t really looked very hard.  He’d almost suggested that they take a look around upstairs, but then realized what he was about to say and snapped his mouth shut so hard his jaw still ached.  Aiden followed his friend’s example, switching off his PSP and sliding into his bag.

“Do you think we’ll see anything tonight?” he asked.

“Dunno!” George replied.  But he was soon snoring, so that left Aiden alone to stare at the ceiling and listen to the creeks, pops and cracks of the old house.  He heard a lot of things that made him jump, but nothing said ‘Boo!’ to him – not even once.  And before he knew it, he’d fallen asleep.

“Time to get up!” George shouted.  Aiden woke to find his friend sitting up and once again, going through his baseball cards in the weak morning light.

Aiden groaned.  His whole body was stiff from sleeping on the floor.  He pushed himself up on his elbow and regarded the room again.  It didn’t look half as scary as it had the night before.  He threw back the top of his sleeping bag and stood up, then walked around a little bit.  “Did you see anything?” he asked.

“Like a ghost? Naw, not really,” George replied.  “Never do,” he said with a dramatic sigh.  “I’m just not that lucky.”

“Yeah,” Aiden agreed.  “I was scared and stuff, but now I sorta wish I had seen a ghost.”

George laughed and it echoed through the room.  “But, Aiden,” he said.  “You did see a ghost.”  …and then he faded away, baseball cards, sleeping bag and all.

Aiden ran screaming from the old house.