Now you see me
The ghosts began appearing in the hallway about two months ago, and it’s been hell ever since. Life has become a terrifying nightmare of shadowy shapes that open and close doors, turn on lights, bang dishes and crockery, and run screaming up and down the stairs. I’m at my wits end. I can’t eat, can’t sleep. They’re driving me crazy. I can’t stay in my own bed any more because they have occupied it. Even in the morning when I’m in the kitchen making breakfast after a night of intermittent dozing, they appear and start screaming and throwing things. It’s got to the stage I skulk around the house peering into rooms before I enter.
I sleep in the spare room now with the door locked and barred. It’s the only way I can get some rest. I can still hear them moving around outside on the stairs and in the hallway but they haven’t been able to get inside. During the day it’s not too bad. Mostly they leave me alone, except on weekends when I’m trying to catch up on some rest. On weekdays I find I can work without interruption at my desk in the study. Even so, it’s playing hell with my nerves.
And I’ve been sick. Actually, I used to wonder whether the ghosts weren’t connected in some way with my breakdown. They made their first appearance about a month after I became really sick. The doctor wanted to cart me off to hospital but I resisted. I was pretty delirious for a time and I seem to remember nurses and other doctors so I must have been pretty bad. Overwork was at the bottom of it. I used to get really depressed and tired. I thought of committing suicide, even going so far as to buy pills.
But it all worked out in the end and I was just getting myself together when the bloody ghosts started. I remember when it first began. I was taking it easy, convalescing I suppose you’d say. Most days I’d just lie in bed, or sit at the window looking out in the garden. I was more relaxed and calm than I’d been for a long time.
Then the haunting began.
The first time I saw them they were in the hallway, two of them, a man and a woman. They were young and in other circumstances, I suppose, would be considered a handsome couple. Their arms were around one another and they laughed. It was ghastly, like the hollow echoes of wind in empty streets. They were transparent, all a-shimmer. Their clothes were quite modern so they couldn’t have been dead for too long.
I heard them from the bedroom and at first I thought it must be burglars. I crept down the stairs cautiously and there they were. I almost keeled over with fright. They began to come up the stairs after me and I ran and hid in the bedroom. I was terrified. They began opening doors and laughing that horrible laugh of theirs. The hairs on my neck stood up straight.
When I realised they had me trapped I dived under the bed. It was the most awful experience of my life. As I lay there hardly daring to breathe they came into the room and lay on the bed. Then they began making love. The bed was bouncing up and down and the room filled with frightful howls and yells.
After a while I couldn’t stand it any more so I slid out from beneath the bed and crawled out the door. Once outside I stood and peered in between the jamb and the door. It was awful to see those two ghostly shapes making love, just like they were living people.
That was enough for me. I ran down the stairs and out the door. I walked for hours trying to calm down. I fancied a drink but hadn’t brought any money with me. Anyway I was still pretty weak from the breakdown.
When I got back they seemed to have gone but the whole house had a strange vibration to it. I generally don’t believe in ghosts or the afterlife or anything like that. After sitting down with a cup of tea it seemed sensible to write it off as a hallucination brought about by the stress I was suffering. I took a sleeping pill and went to bed.
But I was wrong; they weren’t figments of my imagination. Next day they came back and they’ve been here ever since. It happened like this.
The sleeping pill put me out for a long time and I guess I must have spent the whole of the next day in bed. It was dark when I woke up and immediately I knew something was wrong. There were noises outside and through a crack in the door I saw lights were on in the hallway. They were off when I’d gone to bed. I lay there in the dark, petrified, listening intently to the rustling and murmuring coming from outside. Gathering my courage, I slowly got out of bed and crept to the door. Just as I approached it swung wide and there she was.
She came sweeping into the room and stood staring at me with eyes that were huge, dark and deep. She was dressed in a floating white nightgown that billowed in the breeze coming in through the open window. Her hair was loose and streaming in wild cascades around her shoulders. I felt an awful icy chill sweep over me and yet, at the same time, a powerful attraction towards her. That she was beautiful there was no doubt but her form was insubstantial, shimmering like a wraith. Suddenly she screamed, a wild, powerful, unearthly howl that froze the marrow in my bones and turned my blood to ice.
My nerve broke. I had only one thought, to get out. I charged for the door and as I did she whirled in cloud of flying gauze and vanished through the door. I cane to a dead stop, my heart pounding. What mischief was she up to? I could hear her thin high-pitched wail descending the stairs and the sounds of awful, heartfelt crying as if the whole world was bereaved.
Cautiously I went to the top of the stairs and peered over. To my horror both of them reappeared and began to advance up towards me. Frantically I searched around for somewhere to hide. I felt a wave of intense heat emanating from them as they slowly mounted the stairs. The male was obviously the most dangerous. He was scowling ferociously and shaking his fist as if he would tear me limb from limb.
The only room upstairs with a key in the lock was the spare room so I bolted inside, slammed the door shut and turned the key. They came all the way up the stairs and began to bang on the door, howling and screaming. I thought the wood would split under the assault and crouched, cowering in the farthest corner of the room. Cold sweat broke out all over me. It was the most terrifying time of my life. I lost control and began shouting and screaming at them to go away, to leave me alone. After a while they stopped banging on the door and I could hear them whispering together. They moved away and finally the house became quiet.
I was exhausted and determined to stay locked in the safety of the spare room until daylight. All through the night I remained awake, listening, starting at every creak in the floorboards. Now and then came a sound, faint and muffled as if someone was weeping bitterly. It was a heart-breaking sound and I wondered what tragic fate had befallen the young lovers in this house that they should be condemned to haunt it.
Near morning I must have dozed off and when I finally opened the door the house was empty, sunlight streaming through the windows, dispelling the horrors of the night. Shaken, I went down stairs. There were the remains of a meal, half-eaten on the table, the television set was flickering vacantly in the living room.
Since then my life has been a nightmare of unexpected apparitions and physic disturbances. I’ve taken to retreating to the spare room as soon as it gets dark. I lock the door. During the night I can hear them rustling around the house and on one occasion they repeated their assault on the door. I moved a heavy chest against it and prayed hard until they gave up and left me in peace.
But something different is happening now. There’s a change in the routine. More of them seem to be gathering outside the door. Different voices are echoing against the walls. I know it’s irrational but I feel they are plotting to kill me. A weird chanting comes through the door and even as I watch they’ve begun to break the lock and push against the door. What do they want with me?
It’s hopeless, try as I might I can’t keep them out. The door is slowly being forced open. There’s a strange smell like incense. The chanting is getting louder.
I was right, there are more of them, men and women, young and old, all transparent and shimmering. Now they’re crowding into the room, staring at me. I’m backed into the corner, there’s nowhere to run. One of them is dressed in long robes and he’s holding a crucifix and chanting. He’s coming across the room towards me, the crucifix held in front of him, chanting.
“Be gone spirit, rest in peace. In the name of God, be gone.”
What does he mean? I’m the one who should be saying, “Be gone.”
What’s happening? I’m feeling faint.
Does he mean me? But I’m not dead.
I’m not. The pills didn’t work.
I didn’t commit suicide.