Haunted

Submitted for Contest #91 in response to: Set your story in a library, after hours.... view prompt

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Apr 30, 2021

Coming of Age Drama Fiction

     Haunted

Suzanne Marsh

“I double dare you to stay in the library all night.”

“How much do you want to lose?”

“Ten dollars.”

“Bet.”

Friday night I walked slowly toward the library. It had a mansion before Angus MacIntosh willed it to the library. Every kid that lived here knew the stories about the library being haunted. Just what made me do this foolish stunt? My pride in not being afraid of ghosts, I was not afraid of anything. I entered the library around seven thirty. It was almost dark which made it seem creepier than most of the old stores and such in town. Over the years librarians had heard sounds they could not identify, such as chains rattling or clanking noises. Fodder for a fertile imagination; mine was more fertile than most. Over the years teenagers like myself hid when the library closed for the night. I wondered if it would be worth it tomorrow. However ten dollars is ten dollars.

I hid under the winding staircase until I was sure the three librarians had left. I emerged into a darkened library. I did remember my cell phone and also a flashlight. I have no idea what made me bring those two items but before the night was over I was really thankful I had them. I made my way up the staircase to one of reading rooms; I planned to sleep there since it did have a couch. No television sort of stunk but I was going to win the bet.

I thought about several books I wanted to read; they were in the next area room of the library. I used my cell phone to light my way; I was afraid that if I used the flashlight it would be seen very easily. I had no intention of being caught by Deputy Sheriff Cromwell; he patrols the area near the library. The first book I saw that I wanted to read was Ghost Hunters. I grabbed it off the shelf returning to the couch. I settled down then I heard a loud bang! I was on my feet racing toward the door of the next area room only to see Bookie, the library cat. He was jet black with piercing yellow eyes. I returned to the couch and resumed reading Ghost Hunters. I was half way through the book when I heard a clanking sound as if a body were dragging a chain. I began to remember that legend about a ghost here in the library. The story was that when Mr. Barrows came home one night he found his wife in bed with his friend. Barrows challenged him to a duel. The friend, a John Newberry was more than willing to duel. They and their seconds rode down Main Street as Mrs. Barrows screamed and cried. Before Newberry could raise his pistol, Barrow’s shot and killed him. He turned to Mrs. Barrows and murdered her. Three ghosts for the price of one; seemed rather ridiculous but then again I was a teenager at the time. Was it possible that these three were still here? After all this was their home, it was called Barrows Mansion.

I finished Ghost Hunters and decided to find another book to read. I turned on my cell phone to see what time it was...only nine o’clock...it was going to be very long night. I immersed myself in a book about the Civil War. There was no mention of ghosts in this book. As I read on I thought: ‘who knows, maybe I will learn something. There was a clanging noise, it sounded like someone dragging a sword down a staircase. No, that was to ridiculous even for my imagination. I put the book down, grabbed my cell phone to investigate the sound I had just heard. I saw a shadow, it appeared to be headless...I should have read The Legend of Sleepy Hallow then at least I would have had to cause to hallucinate this headless person. I wondered if it might have been John Newberry. That made no sense but who I was to question my feelings or thoughts.

The apparition disappeared as quickly as it arrived. That suited me just fine. I returned once again to the book I was reading. It is strange how shapes and shadows have a way of scaring the living begeebers out of a person. I then looked at the time on my cell phone. It was now ten o’clock; talk about a long hour this was it. I kept telling myself to ignore the sounds that I heard. It was nothing. Nothing became a night of terror in the Library.

I made myself concentrate on the book I was reading. Thus far I had heard a clinking then clanking sounds. I wondered what was next. It could be a couple of my friends entertaining themselves at my expense, after all, ten dollars was involved. Deputy Cromwell rattled the oaken door to be sure the library was locked. He left without checking to see if anyone was in the library. Once eleven o’clock rolled around, I was ready to sleep or so I thought. I heard a howling sound so I made my way toward the French doors of the room I occupied. I decided that it was the wind; turning over on the couch, which was not easy feat, made me even more uncomfortable. I hoped daylight would arrive soon.

I heard the creek of the steps; I was on my feet moments later. That was when I noticed a glimmer of light on third floor. That was odd. I knew that I was safely locked inside the library so why this glimmer of light? I crept slowly up the staircase hoping to surprise whoever was in the attic. I slowly opened the door; moving quickly into the room. There stood a very elderly gentleman whose face I recognized...no could not be or could it? He was dressed like someone out of the nineteen thirties. He turned when he heard me enter. I stared, I had seen pictures of “Lucky” Luciano before but I certainly did not expect to find him hidden in the attic of the library:

“Well young man what are you doing in my part of the library?”

“Are you really “Lucky” Luciano?”

“Yes, I am.”

I gulped, he should have been dead years ago. The old man must have read my mind:

“I needed a hide out and this library seemed to me a good idea. Over the years

the librarians have left food and other sundry items. In return for their kindness

I keep people such as yourself out of the library. By the way how much was the

bet?”

I stared at him stunned:

“Ten dollars”

“Ten measly dollars! Boy you have a lot to learn.”

I watched as he continued working an old press. It appeared to be twenty dollar bills. I decided I had crossed the line. No one would ever believe “Lucky” Luciano was still alive. I quietly backed out and ran out the front. It was daylight I had won the bet. My night at the library at best was spooky. I still think “Lucky’ Luciano was simply a bad dream...or was he?

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