Basement Ghosts (Rating: 15, Genre – Horror, Genre – Supernatural, Genre – General) – (988 words)
It was the handwriting that haunted me more than anything.
‘Basement’ it read in cursive handwriting, the ‘B’ curling around in many loops and swirls that was totally different to my own spikey hand. The box looked identical to all of my other boxes, same cardboard, same tape wrapping up every corner. Dammit, the way the box was taped looked exactly the same as the others I had spent the last week piling my stuff into.
But this box. This box had different handwriting, this box was labelled basement when there wasn’t a basement.
I like to think myself a relatively normal person, I’m not one to believe in the supernatural. But when I sat on my heels in the freezing cold kitchen, listening to the loose metal frames of the glass rattle in the wind and the broken bulb above my head flicker just slightly I can’t help but wonder.
I gently reached out to touch the box. It felt the same, dammit the tape was definitely the same as all the other boxes. It was a conundrum, a puzzle for me to work out, a present with unknown contents for me to discover like Pandora opening up the box to reveal the secrets inside.
You’re being stupid, Hugh, I thought to myself. After all, I had known the history of the house. It was nestled on the edge of the cliffs, just on the edge of the little village of Tuckwold. The views from the house were stunning, looking right out onto the open expanse of sea that was the English Channel. It had been a wonder that no one had bought the house before, really.
Well, there was the rumours about the fact the house was haunted by the ghost of a dead woman who had leapt off the cliffs in the 1800s, but I had naturally dismissed as rubbish.
Because ghosts didn’t exist.
Right? I thought to myself, hand brushing over the word ‘basement’ again as if doing so would reveal some meaning to it.
A door slammed upstairs.
I jumped to my feet, heart pounding in my chest, eyes darting about the room looking for something.
Get your shit together, Hugh, I told myself, curling my hands into fists in frustration. Still, I was annoyed I hadn’t unpacked my kitchen equipment yet, a large knife might make me feel a bit better.
The wind continued to howl outside, the window frames rattling louder. It was as if nature wanted me to be terrified, shaking and battering the house with its invisible hands to make me feel uncomfortable.
Get your shit together, I thought to myself, digging into my pocket on impulse to pull out my keys and break the tape along the top of the box. The tape parted easily, the same as all the other boxes I had unpacked upstairs.
It’s nothing, I told myself as I pulled the tape away from the box with ease. I put my keys back into my pocket again, pausing for a moment before I opened up the box.
What if? I thought to myself. My fingers curled around the edge of the box, nerves spiking through me with each rattle of the windows.
I opened box.
The light might have been poor, but I could see the sole object in the bottom of the box. There was an oval mirror, with an ornate golden frame that surrounded it, sitting in the very centre of the box.
“Okay,” I said to myself, as I picked up the mirror from the bottom of the box. It seemed normal, apart from the fact that it shouldn’t be there at all. There was nothing otherworldly about the object at all.
“Oh, you found it,” a soft voice said behind me.
I screamed, almost dropping the mirror as I spun around to see the owner of the voice. A young woman stood next to the kitchen counter, an apologetic smile on her face. She wore a heavy dress of a design that I did not recognise, only that the number of layers and the fact it was floor length suggested that it was a dress not from this era.
And the fact that she was slightly translucent.
“Sorry,” she said, smiling again, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“No one has lived here for a while you see,” the woman continued. Her voice had an operatic tone to it, the kind that was always given to Disney princesses in the early movies.
“I’m a bit out of practise talking with people,” the woman said, cocking her head to one side. It was then I noticed that her hair was wet, dripping wet, clumped together at the back of her neck.
“Er,” I said, barely able to move my mouth from shock, “do you want your mirror back?”
“Oh no,” the woman said cheerfully, “I can’t touch it you see. Not much use to me. I could barely make the pen move on that box.”
“How did you get the mirror in the box then?” I asked quickly.
The woman smiled.
“A lot of trouble I tell you,” she said, “took me a few days to move it. You can look after it now.”
“Er, thank you,” I said nervously, “but why did you put it in the box.”
“I didn’t want to scare you,” the woman said, “it can be a bit disconcerting talking to a ghost, and considering you’re one of the first people in a long time to want to come here, I did not want to scare you off.”
“Very courteous of you,” I replied.
I mean what else could I say?
“Anyway,” the woman said, gliding over the floor towards me, “my name is Irene, what’s yours?”
“Hugh,” I replied on instinct.
“Lovely to meet you Hugh,” Irene said, “do you want me to give you the guided tour of the house?”