Contest #64 shortlist ⭐️

13 comments

Fiction Mystery

Finding just the right haunted house is always a challenge. One cannot simply walk into any old house and find their match; there are specifics to consider. You are buying a house after all, and it is important to have the usual lists of needs and wants. You may want 4 bedrooms, but need a two story Victorian where a grisly murder took place. You might want a two car attached garage, but need a basement with the frayed and knotted rope still hanging from the pipes. You have to know your priorities, when hunting for a haunted house.


Of course everyone's house is haunted these day. A new house doesn't come on the market without it having at least one spectral sighting. But not all haunted houses are created equal. You know that, you've been in haunted houses for...well... you can't quite remember just how long anymore, the years always blend together after a while, but you know it's been a long time.


Your first haunted house was small, just right for you and your plants. It was a rental, which was fine for you then, as you weren't sure how long it would be just you. But you and your plants were quite comfortable in the small cottage by the sea. It had some water damage, from the flood, but you thought this added to the charm. Haunted houses need a bit of charm.


The guest wasn't as you expected; everyone told you they would be more of a nuisance than he was, but you liked his presence all the same.


When it was you and your husband, you moved inland and bought a townhouse in the city, with fire damage. There was plenty of space for the two of you, and the dog you found wandering around in the yard when you arrived. He had already seemed at home, so you let him stay. Your husband had always wanted a dog.


All was going well when you first moved into the house, the fire damage was easier to work with than you expected, but the guests... well everyone was right. Guests are a nuisance. Always moving things around, turning lights on and off, and on and off.


The guest by the sea was never this active. He mostly stayed in a chair in the front room of the house. You never saw him much anywhere else. It must have been a special spot. It did have a nice view of the water from the window.


But the fire damage house, my god there were eight of them! Eight! All crammed in the rooms of that townhouse with you and your husband and the dog. Everyone was jealous of your new haunted house when you had moved in. Having so many guests at that price in that location was considered a steal. But you were never convinced.


With the addition of your son, who arrived far sooner than you had hoped, you demanded a move. You had grown bored of the fire damage and annoyed with the guests. A haunted house with a less demanding presence would be nice as your family expanded to three.


In the end, your husband found the perfect spot, out in the country. A large farmhouse surrounded by nothing but corn. You moved in right away without even looking at the house first. So glad to be free of the townhouse. You had never fancied yourself a country girl, or a farmer, but you always liked a challenge.


It wasn't clear, in the beginning, what had happened in the farmhouse. You knew something tragic, for you could feel the pain seeping from the walls, and hear the wails at night. Such long, mournful wails. A mother, you supposed. Longing for a child long gone.


It wasn't until you saw the man that you realized how recent the tragedy must have been. All of your previous haunted houses had been struck with old tragedies, for these were the best for haunted houses, and the guests had been shimmers you saw on occasion. Flashes of light.


But not the man at the farmhouse. No... no he had been solid. Almost as real as you. It startled you, the first time you saw him. And you were sure he had seen you too.


That was different. You were not supposed to see each other so clearly. Haunted houses were haunted because of their feeling. The way you knew a presence was there but just out of reach. You could go months, years, decades in a haunted house without seeing a guest; just feeling it, knowing it was there was enough. Their presence.


The older the damage, the less real the guests feel. That's how it was supposed to be. That's how it had always been. You all preferred it this way. Seeing the guest, having them see you? Unheard of. It was too much. You couldn't possibly stay in the farmhouse now, with such a present presence.


It took weeks of convincing your husband. He had not seen the man, and besides, he enjoyed playing the part of farmer. Of wondering through the corn fields and racing your son around the nearby ponds. Your son too, was thrilled to have so much space. Space to stretch his legs, and really learn what it meant to be in a haunted house, find his place in this world.


Finally, one afternoon your husband came rushing towards you at the back of the house. He had seen the man. You were so relieved, you hardly heard what he said next, that the man was not alone. This startled you. A new guest? And just as solid as the man? Something was wrong with this house.


We must leave, you told your husband, our family is not safe here. They are too close.


Too close to making contact. Too close to crossing over. It was all too close.


You moved not long after. This time, a nice house in a small neighborhood, next to a graveyard. You had friends around the graveyard, it was nice to finally pay them a visit.


Your daughter came next, then slowly grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. You enjoyed your time with them, changing houses every few years, months, decades... time went by without you realizing.


It had to come to an end, though. You always knew it wouldn't last. Everyone moves on. Even you, when you are finished.


For now, it was just you. And the dog. Somehow you had ended up with the dog. But it also meant you needed a new house, for just you and the dog. You wonder if the small cottage by the sea is available. You had such a nice time, haunting the cottage by the sea. It was a good haunted house, though you imagine the old man has long since departed. You hope the new guests are just as thoughtful with their living.


For you are a ghost, and not any old human haunted house will work for you.

October 16, 2020 19:50

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13 comments

Claire Lewis
15:42 Oct 30, 2020

Congrats on the shortlist, Chelsea! I love your style and tone in this story, and the reveal at the end really caught me off guard! Excellent work, I’m looking forward to reading more from you 😊

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Chelsea S D
19:07 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it!

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Jaya Avendel
21:17 Oct 28, 2020

I love how prose-like this writing is and how each line flows musically without breaking. Also love the reveal at the ending and that this was not a tale full of tears and chills.

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Chelsea S D
22:17 Oct 28, 2020

Thank you for your kind words!

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23:45 Oct 24, 2020

I love this! I had a feeling this was going to be some sort of introverted POV but hadn’t fully made up my mind until the very last line - I love that you kept me guessing! Well done!

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Chelsea S D
21:18 Oct 25, 2020

I am so glad you enjoyed it!! Thank you!

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Tom .
11:41 Oct 24, 2020

I really enjoyed this. Well done.

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Chelsea S D
14:57 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you!!

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15:48 Oct 30, 2020

Yay!! Wonderful story! Congrats on the shortlist! Well deserved!

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Chelsea S D
19:07 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you so much!!

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19:09 Oct 30, 2020

No problem!

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22:59 Dec 04, 2020

I wonder how many guests my house is haunted with... My house is from the 1800s. Sometimes my bedroom door creaks open slowly... and when I was younger it would blow open suddenly like someone was shaking out a blanket on the other side, even when I was alone... Eerie. What do your guests look like? How many do you have?

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Gip Roberts
20:28 Oct 30, 2020

It almost reads like a transcript from one of those house-buying reality shows. Very clever slant on the usual ghost story! I like that twist where now this person is a ghost herself, still trying to find the right house to live in.

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