WEP - Youthful Frights vs. Adult Fears



For this WEP challenge, share a childhood fright that might or did turn into an adult fear, real or imagined.

I think quite a common fear right now is of darkness; it was certainly one of my fears growing up. I think it's less the lack of light and more a fear of the unknown; what's hiding in that darkness.
There was a house down my street growing up that all the kids were afraid of; a typical haunted house. We went one day to look through the window, and one of my friends swore she saw a face staring back at her. That, and my fear of darkness, are what gave me the inspiration for this story. 



Haunted
884 words FCA


I see them coming. They’re unsteady on their feet, the glass bottles they carry clinking gently. Every now and then they stop to peer at pumpkins and plastic ghosts lighting up windows all down the street.
“It’s so warm,” the tallest boy says. “Isn’t winter supposed to be cold?”
“Actually,” replies another boy, wearing glasses. “It isn’t officially winter until the 21st December.”
One of the girls comes to a stop outside the house, her blonde hair swaying in the breeze. 
“Oh my god,” she says. “I wonder who lives there.”
“Nobody,” the boy wearing glasses says. “It’s been abandoned for as long as I’ve lived down here.”
The group stands on the path, gazing up at the house, taking in the broken windows, the overgrown garden, the ivy creeping up the walls. They don’t see me.
“I heard it’s haunted,” a dark haired boy says, grinning wickedly at the girls. “By a girl whose insane parents kept her locked up in this house, until she eventually killed them, then killed herself. Her soul’s stuck here, trapped in the house she longed to escape from.”
The tall boy jumps in. “I heard it’s haunted by the ghost of a girl who was due to be married, but her lover died before she made it down the aisle. She haunts the house, forever searching for his spirit. Some say she possesses anyone who gets close enough, so she can live again through them.”
“That’s ridiculous,” the blonde girl says. “Ghosts don’t exist.”
“I say we break in, and prove that theory,” says the dark haired boy, grinning. 
“We can’t do that,” said the other girl, flicking aside her mousey hair. 
“Let’s go round the back,” the dark haired boy says.
They head off down the street as I head to the back of the house, to the window that overlooks the garden. I hear them before I see them, laughing and joking. This should be fun. 
The dark haired boy heads into the garden first, the rusty gate groaning loudly. The others follow, some looking apprehensive, some excited. I head downstairs, the house creaking and groaning around me as if in anticipation of our guests. I enter the kitchen to find them climbing in through the window, shining the lights from their phones around, examining the room. 
“Definitely abandoned,” glasses boy says, shining his light over the cracked floor, the peeling wallpaper, the cobwebs stretching from wall to wall. “Nobody could live here.”
I creep amongst them unseen, examining them like they’re examining my house. Which one would be best?
The blonde girl shivers as I pass by, pulling her flimsy cardigan around herself. “When did it get so cold?” 
“Winter is coming,” the tall boy says, laughing. 
Grinning, I approach the girl, and she shivers even more. 
She’s the one. 
“It’s so dark in here, even our torches aren’t helping much,” the mousey girl says. 
The boy with glasses gropes around the walls, looking for a light switch. He flips it on, but nothing happens. 
I laugh, and the blonde girl whips around. 
“What was that?” She whispers, eyes wide. 
“What?” the dark haired boy says. 
“Someone laughed,” she says. 
“You’re imagining things,” he replies. He leads them through the house, all of them unaware that I follow. The house continues to creak and groan, pipes gurgling, each new sound making the group jump, especially the blonde girl. The others giggle every time they jump, but she looks terrified.
Excellent.
“Guys, I think we should get out of here,” she whispers, eyes darting here and there. 
“I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts?” The tall boy says, laughing. 
A loud thump sounds from upstairs, making everyone start. It’s followed by a dragging, clawing sound. 
“What the hell was that?” The dark haired boy says, the smile wiped from his face. They head upstairs, the blonde girl at the back of the group. I pass my hand through her shoulder and she yelps, grabbing onto the mousey girl in front of her. 
“What?” the girl hisses. 
“Something touched me!” the blonde girl says, desperately looking around, trying to see me. 
“You’re imagining things! Come on,” the mousey girl says, following the boys. 
I chuckle again, but this time Blondie doesn’t say anything; she knows they won’t believe her. 
They head into the main bedroom, where the bangings and scrapings are coming from, and I almost feel the collective sigh of relief when they realise what’s making the noises.
“It’s just stray cats,” the boy with the glasses says. 
The group heads forward to fuss the cats, the blonde girl the only one who still appears nervous. 
“Can we go now?” She says, jumping a little as I let out a breath next to her. 
“Fine,” the dark haired boy says. “You were totally right anyway, there’s no ghosts here. Let’s go watch a scary movie at my house.” 
I follow them back down the stairs, disappointed that they’re leaving so soon. I watch the blonde girl, the relief on her face as she climbs back out of the kitchen window. 
She’s the only one who looks back at the house as they walk away, the only one who sees me standing in the window, watching them leave. 
She’ll be back.
I’ll make sure of it. 

Comments

  1. Oh wow, Laura, fantastic story. So I'm not the only one staring through a window for Halloween. Great job. It kept me on the edge of my seat. That ending freaked me out! LOVED it. Thanks for joining in on the fun. Your story makes it that much better of a WEP.

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  2. Laura, this is perfect and truly wonderful. So that's how they keep their existence secret – only exposing themselves to a few. Secret to survival don't announce your disbelief when visiting a haunted house. Have put that in my survival kit of knowledge! LOL

    Great story, I love that it's based on your childhood memory. I find the possibility of the existence of ghosts most frightening. Don't admit to belief one way or the other, but I don't like to watch the new ghost stories because they're too frightening. I am curious as to why she would return, unless it's to prove the existence. Stay away, say far, far away!

    This is a great entry for the WEP Halloween Challenge, thank you so much for participating. Excellent story!
    Happy Halloween!

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  3. If she's smart, she won't return! Great evocative post. :-)

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  4. I like the dark, but am less comfortable with it after reading your tale...

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  5. Okay, I got goose bumps. Nicely done.

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  6. I liked the way you set up the scene and described the characters. I thought the ghost was a bully, a sadistic spirit.

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  7. What a nice flash. The tension is handled superbly.

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  8. On no other road
    Should we treat
    For fear we might
    Wake the dead
    Your story was seen
    From the other side
    Through the ghosts
    Gleaming eyes

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  9. Oooh, purrhfectly creepy. The ghost almost felt a part of the house. I love setting as a character. You did great mixing all the chilling effects. Awesome story.

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  10. Very creepy that last line. How is she going to make sure, by haunting her dreams? I do believe some people are sensitive and can feel the presence of the other-world, where others have minds that are closed to that perception. Remember it is said that we don't use all of our mental capability. . .very well done!

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  11. Loved the choice of the ghost as MC, and the ending was superb. Perfectly handled tension through out. I hope she will work it out and stay away!

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  12. I remember freaking out as a child whenever there were power cuts and the house went totally dark. It still makes me nervous when that happens (very rarely), but at least I'm no longer a blubbering mess.

    I loved that the ghost was the protagonist, and the thought process that went into picking a victim. Deliciously creepy!

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  13. Very cool ending! I love how the story is mostly told with dialogue.

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  14. Very cool ending! I love how the story is mostly told with dialogue.

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  15. Eeek that was creepy! Cool ending too ;)

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  16. Now that was delightfully disturbing! I loved the "ghost's" perspective!

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  17. If I were a ghost, I think I'd enjoy playing around with people too. You've got to entertain yourself somehow, right? This was both creepy and fun, which is always great!

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  21. My "favorite" horror stories are haunted house stories. I even designed a haunted house game when I was eight years old that I am going to use in a project nowadays. It's no fun being a ghost in a house. What a lonely life. Too bad that more real life people couldn't make friends with the "other-side" then death wouldn't seem so final and feared. Really good job on making the dialogue and the interaction between the characters was smooth. Interested to know why they didn't have names?

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  22. Fun outing. Nice to see you tackled a ghost story.

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  23. Oh, very good! I like it from the ghost perspective.

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  24. That's a pretty cool ghost story. It was creepy, but for me, mostly intriguing. I want to know more about the girl and the ghost and how they'll meet again. I like that the story is told through dialog and that the characters aren't given names. However, I think it would have been cool if their descriptions had become their monikers, such as "Blondie", "Mousy", "Glasses", etc...
    In any case, stellar story. Right up my alley.

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  25. Hey Laura. I was the first commentator but my comment has been eaten by the google ghost. I loved it. Lovely kiddie scary feel to it shown with great dialogue and the ghostly perspective, then whammo...the ending! It really has a great impact as now we're sure of who's telling this story. Just reading Toi's comment. Yes, you could have used those terms for their names. Would have been a powerful tool.

    Thanks Laura for participating in WEP again! Your story really adds to the great list of fabulous entries we've had.

    Denise :-)

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  26. I love this! I thought about writing a book from a ghost's perspective, but I couldn't figure out how to make a whole book out of it because being a ghost has to be pretty boring! A short story is the perfect forum for that...you did an amazing job with it!

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  27. Nope, nope, nope! There's no way anyone would get me back into that house if I were that girl! I like the shift of perspective. I'm not sure I've read from the POV of a ghost before. Good job!

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  28. A great tale, loved the ghost because although scary I have a feeling it was to be protective of its environment but then it is going to make sure she comes back - ooooh! Great writing.

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  29. I liked the ghost's POV. Seems like the ghost connected with the blonde girl.
    Very interesting.
    Scary too!

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  30. I love that the story's told from the ghost's POV. Poor blond girl... It's always the pretty ones who get into trouble or fall down while running away from the maniac killers! It's like being one of the red-shirts in the old Star Trek! lol Good luck in the competition!

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  31. Excellent. Really well done writing. I love how it ended.

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  32. Ah ha! And that's one spooky ghost. Great job.

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  33. Ah ha! And that's one spooky ghost. Great job.

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