The Old Man
By Michele Carbone
It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning, about 9 a.m. I was lying in bed savoring the fact that I did not have to get up early for work. My boyfriend had left an hour earlier. My roommates were gone for the weekend. I was thinking about that first cup of coffee and was cherishing the fact that I had the house to myself.
Or so I thought.
Suddenly, I heard angry footsteps in the long hallway leading to my door; like someone had forgotten their keys, and was coming back to get them. The footsteps stopped at my door. No one entered.
Now, I was fully awake; sitting bolt upright in bed. I had heard the stories about the entity that inhabited our house. Others had seen it, felt it, and heard it. I had assumed they were joking. They were trying to scare me. There was the friend who had seen a “man” sitting on our couch. Another friend who ran down the hallway after “someone” passed through my bedroom door in front of her. The tenant downstairs who repeatedly saw an “old man” peeking out from the basement door, as if spying on him.
Now, the primal scream welled up silently inside of me as I realized that the night when my blankets felt particularly heavy was because “someone” was actually sleeping in the same place I was. Finally, I decided that the ghost was a good spirit; the house had a good vibe after all.
Eventually, we roommates moved on and Grand Avenue became a memory.
One morning a friend called to say that my house was on the front page of the News Press. Our former neighbor had killed his wife and shot himself inside.
I wonder if they have met the “old man”…
On October 2, 2005, Campbell, my long-time friend from our 1950 college days at UC Berkeley, died in Seattle after months of unbearable pain and suffering .
Three days after his death, I was awakened by “something” and noticed the hallway outside my bedroom filled with smoke? Or fog? Or something that kept swirling around in the air currents of which there weren’t any. I didn’t think anything of it because things like this from the “other side” happen to me occasionally. I went back to bed.
The next night, my husband and I were awakened about 3 a.m. by a loud crash in the living room. Something or someone had picked up my hurricane lamp and smashed it against an end table. There was glass everywhere. I immediately picked up the base of the lamp so the oil wouldn’t spill. It was empty.
My husband was pretty shook up. I stood there laughing with relief and explained that this was Cam’s way of letting me know he had reached the other side safely and was A-okay.
(Interesting note: the next morning when I was cleaning up the mess, I decided I had better put more oil in the lamp base. Wonder upon wonders: The base was full of oil.)
In the weeks that followed, Cam continued to play pranks on his sister-in-law in New York and other close family members until we had enough and asked him to move on with his journey. He did.
I never sensed Cam again until recently. In one of my “visions,” I saw him on the other side. He was the picture of robust health, smiling and deliriously happy and tending to a beautiful garden of brilliantly colored flowers. Our eyes met for several long seconds and a wonderful sense of peace washed over me, knowing that he was finally safe and pain free.
Truth and Beauty
By Lise Lange
It is a dark night. The last thing to fold are the socks, and as I pull them from the dryer I hear a faint scratching sound from the hallway. A whisper like the striking of a flint with a wicked chuckle echoes impossibly in the silence and then Engstrand’s face, whiskered and sweaty gleams from the shadows. He holds a single burning match aloft. He drops the damn thing and I put down the laundry. The ancient shouts of Henry and Eleanor and their unending argument decides me. I have to get out.
Leaving this building at night is tricky, even with the lights on and nothing in my way. I stumble against a coffin and Hal’s mother raises the lid. Her face is hideous. I swallow a scream of fear. The hallway door creaks open and backlit by the street light is Tildon’s filthy self. I do not want to know what he holds out to me in his arms. “Keep away from me,” I think aloud and maybe they hear my thinking because a fox with eyes of terror and an old horse barely limping and clearly out for revenge start toward me.
“I’m an innocent!” I yell to Raskolnikov but I doubt he is listening because there is a tortured shine in his eyes. His axe is poised and ready to strike. Moving as fast as I dare, I ignore Carl getting ready to maniacally smash yet another violin in his self-obsessed anger. Heart in my throat, I turn with my hand on the doorknob and see Laura polishing her tiny glass unicorn. She looks at me and smiles, sadly and sweetly, under the soft glow of the ghost light.
By Fran Davis
Where r u? Answer your phone! Theres a scarecrow festival here! 100s all over town. Amazing. Painted faces, papier mache, so realistic, Willie Nelson, Frida Kahlo, Darth Vader, of course. Wish u were here!
Yah, cute b&b, up in the pines, Im the only guest, whole downstairs to myself. Good to get away from situation with Tim. Let him miss me. Hosts Chuck and Cindy put out some very cool scarecrows in front garden. They almost look real. Wouldn’t want to run into those guys in the dark!
Did run into those guys! Really dark here, no streetlights. Cindy recommended a restaurant in town, but it was closed—for a long time. Doesn’t she ever get out? Found a great seafood place on my own.
Didn’t sleep well, too quiet. And hot, windows don’t open. Hosts a little creepy. Chuck does cooking, wears apron with Halloween witches. They sit and just watch me eat breakfast. Forced to make conversation. Cindy likes old horror movies. Yuk.
Opened garage door next to bathroom. Whole place piled to the ceiling with black trash bags full of stuff, maybe old clothes, too dark to tell what. Bad moldy smell. Deliver me from this creepiness!
Low battery. Can’t find my charger! Awful nightmare of having head sliced open and sawdust poured in, like scarecrow in Wizard of Oz. Gotta get outta here.
Hey Liz, B&B owners said Mandy left a couple days ago. Didn’t say where she was going. Has she called yet? See why she left, not her kind of place. Dude in charge makes scarecrows as a hobby. One looks just like Mandy. Says he likes to remember his guests this way. Bizarre. Did Mandy have a green fleece jacket? Looked a little familiar…. Tim
Father and Son
By Peter Dorrance
Every attempt I made to sleep alone in my room, always failed with fitful sleep and a tiptoe back to my parent’s bed. A couple of weeks into fourth grade I decided the time had come: I was going to sleep alone. It’s been 16 years since that night and I still remember it as crisp and clear as the Santa Barbara waters: My mom tucked me in and said goodnight. Sometime later I awoke, feeling chilled and clammy. I felt uneasy, like I was being watched. My mind raced, imagining ghouls and goblins under my bed or gremlins staring into my window. I was frightened. I slowly peaked my head out from under the covers, like a gopher breaking the earth’s surface for the first time. Instantly chills shot into my spine and paralyzed me into a trance. My father was sitting cross-legged, rocking back and forth in a chair peering at me from behind his thick nerdy glasses. Ghostly, pale, and translucent he gave one slow, pure smile. It took every ounce of will power I had to slide right back under the covers, frozen stiff with fear. All night I hid under the covers too scared to take another look, maybe I slept: maybe not, but in the morning as the sun made its first appearance, I finally looked and he was gone.
That was the first and last time I had seen him in 6 months since our family vacation in Hawaii, where we were unfortunate enough to find him dead from a sudden heart attack. Not a day passes that I wish I could have had the courage as a boy to say something, anything, to him as he watched over me while I slept, but to a boy, he was only a Ghost.
The Lost Spirit
By L. Pallotta
Walking out the ground level of the parking lot, I entered the outdoor mall area called Paseo Nuevo. You know how almost everything looks different at night. Lights shine on store windows, shadowing what once was familiar.
With trepidation, I found myself trespassing in another time, a deserted section of the mall I had never seen. I didn’t want to look lost. Why, I live in Santa Barbara now, and should feel accustomed to windy paths through town.
Like a spirit unseen, something was leading me down narrow passageways through the back ends of the mall, fountains sounding like laughter in the night at almost 8:40 p.m. The few people around resembled youthful vampires in disguise, all smiling, all knowing where they were going. But I kept walking, in circles. All to get a free seven-piece gift set at a department store. The night before, having broken a friendship with what felt like a haunted partnership of past relationships, chills ran down my spine as I wondered if his broken spirit was getting me lost in the dimly lit streets of Santa Barbara with his telepathic aura.
Finally I saw a few cars pass by in the near distance, and I thought, that must be the main divide. State Street had an eerie feel to it, like I walked into it haphazardly from a backlot on a movie set. Then I reached Macy’s. Never had I felt that good seeing the department store logo since the Thanksgiving parade in New York City. Ah, so that’s the rub. A transplanted New Yorker lost between two shores. One so real and gritty. The other, a paradisiac elusiveness. A lost spirit, kindred to mine perhaps, that late October night, when the moon eclipses our senses, brought me back to reality.