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Hunting Ghost

He froze mid-stride, straining to distinguish the sound that was now echoing away into the woodwork. It was a creaky old place, constantly sighing and gurgling to itself, but he knew the difference between house sounds and human sounds. And, though faint, this sound seemed somewhat human.

He had bought the house for a song and laughed out loud at the stories of the Hunting Ghost and the mysterious deaths. Such myths and the stories of reclusive owners were fine for fireside tales, but made little sense in the clear light of day. Now, however, in the early evening as he explored his new property, a little shiver sneaked up his spine.

Faintly, he hoped to find something there. It would be wonderful to challenge those years in the laboratory. But science had made a stout atheist of him, as well as a very wealthy man. The house obviously needed a lot of work and his wife had seemed uneasy about it, but for those with vision, its potential shone through.

As he rounded a corner in the long and winding corridor, another wrong creak jolted him back to now. He froze again, alert. A shifting of light, a whiff of ancient decay. Something was there. With a cold thrill, he strained his senses forward, searching for more. Creeping now, he peered cautiously into a large room and was rewarded with the silent swish of a disappearing shadow.

He noticed the grey of the windows. Dusk was falling whilst he played cat and mouse with what? His imagination? A ghost? The notion was getting more real as the impending night sapped his courage. Unable to stop himself, he quickly crossed the room, found a small servant's door in the far corner, and slipped around it into the darkness beyond. He could hear what his wife would say.

"No! It will kill you! Remember the stories!!"

But he could no more prevent himself following than stop the beating of his heart.

There was a hiss of steel.

"You are not there." he said, forcing assertion into his voice, yet trembling as he spoke. Unreal. Unreal. It's in your head. Imagination. Get a grip!

A grey figure was floating towards him, a dim shape with arms raised. Everything in him cried out of dread danger as primeval instincts banished woeful logic and numbing regret coursed through his shaking limbs.

"Begone!" He thrashed out at emptiness, the fear taking him, suddenly and completely.

"haaaaaaa" the sound swept down upon him and he felt a strange, sharp warmth as a deeper darkness swam before him and he dropped, drunkenly.

The grey figure sank down over the still body, dark hands feeling. With a sigh it found its target, pulled out the wallet and fled into the final night.

 

***

 

~by David Straker~

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