Having found herself between husbands and houses, Ora took temporary residence in a house next door to her elderly mother. The house had been home for her sister, Minnie, and Ora’s two nieces, until memories of Minnie’s husband had driven them to seek a change of scenery in another state. Now the house lay silent and empty. It had a musty smell from being closed up in the heat of a Texas summer.
Ora shook off feelings of unease, as she opened doors and windows, cleaned floors, then set up her bed and added crisp, cool sheets. By the time she’d gotten her toiletries unpacked and had a light supper with her Mama, it was too dark to see whether the swamp cooler was operational.No matter. The darn thing wouldn’t be much use in this heat and humidity anyway.
She’d chosen the front bedroom, rather than the master where a massive heart attack had taken her brother-in-law, J.C. Too creepy to think of sleeping there. Besides, the front might get a breeze, if one stirred. Ora lay quietly, awaiting sleep, praying for a puff of air to cool her sweat-moistened skin. Finally, in desperation, she got up and opened both front and back doors though she made sure the screen doors were secured. The moon was out. Prince would bark if anyone tried to get in. He was a good watchdog.
There was some air movement now, but it didn’t reach the bedroom. Ora pulled her mattress off and managed to get it into the empty living room under the windows.There. That was as close to the flow of air as she could get. She returned to her bed and lay quietly once again, listening to the creaks of the house, the chorus of crickets and Prince padding softly under the window as he made his rounds. Sleep remained elusive. She sighed, the sound broken by a ba-da-bump.
What was that?
Her heart leapt with sudden fright, but no sound came from Prince. She blew out a breath, admitting the empty house had a spooky vibe, as if it were waiting for something or someone. Just her imagination. It was just a house.
Okay, she did not imagine that. Sounded like it came from the back door. She strained to hear, peering down the hallway, her heart thundering. Something moved, a man, only not. Ora blinked, disbelieving. These things didn’t happen. They weren’t real. Though he seemed to walk, there were no footsteps, more of a glide above the floor. No matter what she told herself, her eyes recorded the man, not quite solid, a white aura around him. Balding. Glasses. Oh, Lord. J.C.
His usual mechanic’s uniform was white as well. He stopped at the entrance to the living room, his gaze searching, traveling over the area though he didn’t seem to see her. That was just fine. Just fine with her. Yes, sirree.
Not that she was scared of him. Frightened to see a ghost? Sure. But what was he looking for? His family? Sadness overcame her fright as he turned and made his way back down the hallway.
As soon as he disappeared around the corner, Ora sprang out of bed, flipping on the lights. All the lights. She even checked the back screen. Still securely latched.
No way she was sleeping here tonight or any night. Tomorrow she would find a house to rent.
At the barest hint of daylight, she slipped out the door and across the yard to her Mama’s house.
O-kay. Are you creeped out yet?
What if I told you that this is a fictionalized account of my aunt’s story?
Prince was our dog, but didn’t bark at family members. He investigated first. He wouldn’t have barked at daddy.
Still not convinced?
What if I told you that, though my aunt wasn’t aware of it, our immediate family knew that if the back screen door was latched we could push it tight against the frame and with a Ba-da-bump or two of our fist at the perfect spot, the latch would fly out of the eyelet, allowing us to enter the house.
Carol Burnside has had several short stories published in books and magazines. Her works have placed and won several romance writing contests. Also writing as Annie Rayburn, she is e-published and self/Indie published. Her latest release from Red Sage is Bittersweet Obsessions (June, 2011), an erotic romance with sci-fi and paranormal elements. Learn more about Annie and her books at www.AnnieRayburn.com. Twitter: Annie_RayburnFB page: Annie Rayburn, Author
***Carol/Annie is offering a copy of her e-book novella, Phantoms & Fantasies to one lucky commenter. A perfect gift, since the story starts on Halloween. Bwa-ha-ha-ha.***
A note from Tami: I have to point you over to two reviews for Phantoms & Fantasies.I posted one here on my blog back in August.LOVED the book!Pamela Mason wrote an amazing review for the story last week on her blog.Pamela writes amazing reviews and even had me rereading the story.Check them both out when you get a chance.