Below is our ghoulish Halloween ghost story, written and inspired by E-Cards' visitors. Every several days proceeding October 31st, 1998, a new visitor-inspired section was added to the story. We hope you enjoy this spooky tale, and thanks again to all who contributed!
It was a dark and stormy Halloween night...
It was most definitely a ghostly Halloween night. The misgivings that, with a chilling tingle, had begun to plague me on this venture now seemed well warranted in the funeral aura surrounding this sinister house. And, the ghoulish festive chaos that pulsed in the town streets I had navigated to begin this night's venture had not hardened my fortitude for the task before me.
She was found last night by a fellow towns-person returning form the tavern where the she tended bar. The ghostly pallor of her lifeless corpse so altered her appearance that I had trouble accepting it was Jenny. The strange stories of witches visits she had urgently whispered to me the last time I had seen her had seemed strange hysterical babble. But the large amulet she was clutching in her death's grip persuaded me I should have paid her more heed...
The amulet was the very same one Jenny and I seen worn by the woman we had met as kids while sneaking around the house that was before me now. I would never forget that old woman -- she had terrified me. She had asked us to look into the to the blood-red stone of the amulet she wore. The next thing either Jenny or I remembered was waking three days latter, cold and feverish, in the county hospital, each with small tattoos of concentric circles painfully emblazoned on the soles of our feet. No one knew how we had arrived at the hospital...
Staring at the house before me, I again thought of what Jenny had said when I had last seen her. "They come at midnight. They gather in the gather behind the old house on Bristol Hill. Should you loose me, I will be there." It had all seemed delirious rambling at the time. It seemed horribly spooky now. But for Jenny's sake I had to come here. I had returned to this place so closely interwoven with that horrifying experience of my childhood.
I was about to walk to the back of the house when a bone-chilling feeling took me in its icy grip - I was not alone. My breathing suddenly was labored, to the point of suffocation. My first instinct was to run, but my body would not respond. I was frozen. The heavy sky seemed to be pressing down upon me with smothering intent. A hideous scratching sound was coming from somewhere.
With horror I realized that I was being pulled to the ground. They were everywhere. They had simply appeared, emerged from the muddy ground around me. Ghostly white, zombie-like creatures were dragging me to my knees. I started to feel hypnotically dreary as I was overcome by the horror of what was happening to me. They began lifting me from the ground. Raising me above their shoulders. Night sky, the house, and puddle-laden earth were swirling about me. The last thing I remember before drifting from frozen, horrified consciousness into unconsciousness, shrouded in muffled howls, whispers and shadows, was the cold -- the cold of their hands as they carried me away.
"Aaaaaaah!" A scream jarred me awake. It was my own scream. I had somehow been transported to the garden. I was again alone; not one of the gory monsters was in sight. It was quiet, too quiet, dead quiet...
Dark too, much darker than before. The darkness was an oppressive, heavy blanket on my body. Not a star shone in the sky. Even the moon, which had been full, had disappeared. Lying on my back, I was staring up at a disturbingly colorless and toneless palette.
More thoughts and feelings began to creep and then rush into my conscious: I was cold, extremely cold and yet the soles of my feet burned -- each tattoo throbbed with a fiery pain. Where were my shoes? Why was I barefoot? How had I come to be wearing the amulet? The police had kept it as evidence, but this had to be the very same pendant! Shivers of apprehension began to creep down my spine and then rebound in violent shakes.
With the quickening pace of my heartbeat the environment around me began to pulse with life. The garden trees began to rustle and then seemed to claw at the sky. Flashes of distant lightning began to illuminate my surroundings in rhythm to a metronome of thundering that seemed, with crazed impossibility, to be reaching an almost strobe-like pace. The hysteria of the moment seemed to be dragging me once again into the delirium from which I had just escaped. A creeping madness seemed to be overtaking my entire being. It felt as if I were being held hostage by this horrible garden! A pungent smell of burning flesh began to fill the air with un-breathable acidity. I was screaming again, screaming and scrambling to get away. To be anywhere but where I was. The burning flesh was my own -- the soles of my tattooed feet were somehow being painfully filleted. Branches tore at my clothing and skin as I struggled through an unbroken circular wall of hedge that had surrounded me.
"Wendy!" Someone was shouting my name. "Wendy!" The voice seemed to be coming from the house. Still dazed with terror I ran stumbling towards the desperately beckoning and somehow familiar voice. With no cognizance, other than crazed panic, I began running up the decrepit verandah stairs that backed the old house.
Sprinting across the verandah, I burst crashing through the house's back door and then froze in my tracks. The strange vagaries of panic, which had earlier sent me fleeing, now held me frozen. Shivering, and cowering in a fetal defensive huddled, at the bottom of the stairs was Jenny's father. He looked like a man who had seen the fires of hell and had just narrowly escaped its horrors. "Help me! Help me! Help me!" he repetitively and weakly whispered in scratchy voice, rocking as he clutched his knees.
I crept towards him half wanting to help, half horrified by the transformation of the powerful, intimidating man I had known most of my life. I was about to speak when he looked at me imploringly. "I just came here to find answers. Just some answers..." his voice drifted off. I was about to speak when he focused on the amulet around my neck and began screaming. "What is it? What is wrong?" I tried to reach toward him but he cowered from me screaming more violently.
"It's OK Daddy", with a surge of adrenaline I swirled around to the voice behind me. "It's OK. It's all OK. Wendy is here now. She will take care of us."
What was happening? Who was this small child, this ghostly apparition? So like Jenny, but not recently... an apparition of a much younger Jenny -- the nine year old that had accompanied me here before! I now knew whose voice had chased from the garden. It belonged to this girl -- my best friend. A friend I had seen yesterday, but a friend I hadn't seen in 16 years!
I closed my eyes -- hoping, fearing that this girl, this child before me would somehow vanish; just disappear from here into memory. "Surely I must be dreaming!! How could this be? How could she be here?"
"Jenny?" I whispered. She nodded, her eyes oddly twinkling with a silver glow. She seemed to be almost floating before me -- standing on her feet but weightless. And though she wasn't moving, the gown she was wearing seemed serpentine and alive. Tentacles of translucent fabric danced around my friend gropingly, swimming around her.
This ghost-like little girl smiled at me and whispered, "Yes, Wendy it is me. It's Jenny." Then more seriously, "Wendy, I haven't got much time. Listen to me now, but if you see me again stay away. You must stop this. You can stop this. You wouldn't be here now if their power over you were complete. You have surprised them. You weren't supposed to see me until later. You weren't supposed to make it in here. You weren't supposed to wake in the garden, but you did. You have scared them. Remember, they are scared of you too."
"Bong! Bong!" From somewhere in the house the clock began to strike its midnight toll. Almost desperate now this semblance of my friend spoke again, "Wendy, I am almost out of time. You must help us. You must stop them. You can. I know you can. Good-bye. Come Daddy we're going now. Good-bye Wendy."
She reached towards her, now strangely calm, father. Holding hands the two began to ascend the stairs with seeming weightlessness and without the slightest of sound.
Horrified and transfixed I watched this impossible pair disappear into the darkness -- swallowed by the dark gaping mouth of the second floor.
I sucked in a deep breath. Gulping for air. I realized I hadn't been breathing. Fear had starved me of air. But even my desperate, hungry breaths couldn't stop the powerful, pulsating pounding in my head. I begin to panic again, "What was I to do?"
Tentatively I began to explore the vacant, dusty, cobwebbed rooms of the first floor. But somehow I new any answers I was looking for were probably up those stairs...
Limping cautiously, I began ascending the staircase. Each step seemed a step into increasingly complete darkness. Soon I was forced to grope my way along the walls and railing, unable to see a thing. "What on Earth was I doing?"
The absence of a stair, and a crashing fall to the floor, were my welcome to the second floor. I was wondering what I should do next, when I was sure I heard my name called again. Jenny was calling again. I began crawling in the direction it seemed to be coming, but repeatedly, with head-thumping misgiving, encountered walls. I was beginning to feel a desperate sense of caged blind panic when the room suddenly seemed to erupt with deep echoing laughter. Jenny's laughter, but with a maniacal twist.
The darkness began to quickly fade replaced by blindingly white light with no seeming source. The word "run!" was echoing with pounding terror inside my head but my body wouldn't listen... nor had I the faintest clue in which direction a run would make sense -- every direction I turned was bathed in the same blinding glow, the hideous laughter echoed all about me.
"Looking for me?" I jumped around to face Jenny, no longer the small girl but instead the friend I had lost, just yesterday. Noticing my surprise and terror, Jenny began to laugh, again filling the space with horrible taunting sound. Then suddenly serious, and with a voice as abrasive as sand-paper, "Give me the Amulet." Shocked I stepped back instinctively clutching the amulet, which I had put in one of my pockets. Not sure where the word was coming from I heard my own voice with cold determination saying "No."
The figure before me suddenly was engulfed in a frightening metamorphous. She seemed to be suddenly aging before my eyes. Horrified I realized it was not Jenny I was facing, but the old woman I had seen at this house before. "You will give me the Amulet!" she hissed at me. And then as if suddenly catching herself, more politely, almost meekly "You need to give me the Amulet. You need to seal the rift. You need to save your friend."
For the first time feeling courage in this horrifying night, I confronted this woman, "Why? What have you done with Jenny?" Moving my eyes from the woman's withered, wrinkled face, I looked down at my fist in which I now had the red stone tightly clutched. I began to feel that it was sending some kind of power and courage through my body. And indeed something was going on with this pendant. It had become increasingly warm and was illuminating my fist with a powerful red glow.
"Both you and Jenny were marked long ago to carry the keys that could seal the rift between your world and the realm of restless spirits. It was I who marked you. I who recognized your power and I who knew both you a Jenny were likely to be chosen to carry the amulets."
Holding out her hand and revealing an amulet almost identical to mine except for the cold dark cast of its stone she said, "Jenny has given me her stone. I just need yours, this stones companion, to seal the gate to the terrors that are escaping from this place."
Imploringly from behind me, "Give it to her. Give it to us... It' s the only way." Jumping around I again found my friend Jenny from years ago. Confused I realized the old woman was gone and I was alone with my friend who with out-stretched arm and, swimming robes was floating before me. "But Jenny I can't. Something is wrong about this," I said, certain that I was indeed right.
"Then look below you if you must." Doing so I realized I too was floating. Beneath me, like a hazy mirage dancing on the edge of the bright white aura that had been surrounded me, I could see the garden. I was looking down upon the circularly hedged piece of land on which I earlier awoken. It, however, was no longer vacant, but filled with dancing ghoulish figures gyrating and swaying around a small girl. Transfixed by odd sensation of this situation I was now in, I stared at the scene below me.
"If you need reason to give us the amulet surely this will convince you. Surely you will help us save this little girl." Not surprised to find the old woman again next to me, and Jenny again gone, I simply stared. "Don't you see?" the old woman hissed? Don't you know who she is?" I looked again. "It's you she whispered", with dreadful coldness.
With horror I realized it was indeed myself I was gazing on. It was myself as a young girl -- myself years ago that the gruesome ensemble was dancing about.
"No!" I yelled looking at the woman holding out her hand for the amulet. "No!" I grabbed the amulet the old woman had been holding, surprising both her and myself. Jenny was screaming behind me -- screams of horror that electrified my spine with fear. Helplessness washed over me as I stared at my friend - helplessness that was soon backed by panic.
The tendrils of Jenny's gown began filling the room -- reaching, swirling, and flowing. In mesmerized powerlessness I watched and felt these fingers of fabric wrapping themselves about my body. I was quickly, completely entwined. Though I struggled with all my might I could not escape the fabric that had engulfed me and was squeezing me with frighteningly increasing pressure. I could barely breathe. I realized with horror, I was being squeezed into suffocation.
I opened my eyes, to find myself thrashing with a tangle of sheets. My mother was above me stroking my forehead. "It's OK, It's OK," she was repeating, with gentle reassurance. "Both Jenny and you are going to be fine."
"Ahh! You are awake!" another voice boomed. Jenny's father, Doctor James, came striding into the room, a big smile on his face. "You gave us quite a scare young girl. We thought for a while we might loose you. We actually thought we had lost Jenny. Really quite amazing recoveries by both of you."
"No talking now. Sick twelve year olds need their sleep. You and Jenny can fill us all in soon enough. How are those burns on your feet?"
"No don't answer. We'll check them out later. It is time now for sleep."
Confused, but unable to fight the truth of his suggestion, I closed my eyes and felt sleep wash over me. As sleep dragged me into its embrace, I was vaguely aware of a protective comfort I felt from an object I held tightly clutched in my left fist.