""Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates-the darkest and most evil of thoughts.""
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Invited

Based on Vamplit Publishing's Reader's Choice: Haunted Houses
The soft whispers of the room faded to silence as the flickering flame reflected off the glowing white marbles that only seconds ago were Madame Weir’s steel blue eyes.  Her head tilted toward the ceiling and she cried out, “Come one and all.  Do not be afraid.  You have loved ones here calling out to you.”
Mary Beth held the last of the air in her lungs waiting for a sign from her recently deceased mother while John, her husband, sat holding her right hand softly snoring.  She released her over held breath and glanced around the table and wondered if the woman squeezing her left hand or the two men across the table holding hands were just as longing to talk to a departed loved one as she.    
Madame Weir convulsed in her chair and then she stiffened.  Her head dropped forward and turned toward Mary Beth.  Her bottom jaw dropped opened and she sat motionless.  
Mary Beth nudged John with her right elbow and took a deep breath.  “Mommy, are you here?”  
John shook his head.   “What . . . what’s going on?”   
“Shhh, I think my mother wants to say something.”  
The amber glow from the melting candle danced shadows off the tapestry hung walls and the stiffness of the room deafened Mary Beth to Madame Weir’s silence.
“This is a crock.  Mary Beth I told you she was a fake.  Your mother’s dead and she’s not coming back!”  John scooted his chair across the wooden floor and mumbled,  “Thank God.” 
“Sit back down John.”  Mary Beth gave an apologetic smile to Madame Weir and the other believers.
Suddenly, the patio french doors flew open, turning the flickering candle into an exhausted bellow of sulfur.  A stream of moon light beamed across Madame Weir’s face and from her stretched out mouth an eerie voice said, “Why did you let me die?”  

Her wailing started the moment they left Madame Weirs and continued the entire thirty minute drive home.  John pulled into the driveway and pushed the garage door opener.  “Look Mary Beth, that crazy old woman just said that to get you to feel guilty.  They always prey on the one person most eager to believe the dead can come back.  That’s how they make their money.”  He pulled the car into the garage.  “I don’t want you to ever go back there again.  Do you understand?”  

Mary Beth stared straight ahead, in silence.
“Fine.”  He shut the car door and made his way into the house, slamming the door.
Mary Beth’s cell rang, bringing her out of her trance.  She looked at the number and answered.  “Hello Madame Weir.  Did my Mother contact you again?”  
“No, Dear.  I’m sorry to be calling you this late, but I didn’t have time to warn you before you ran out of the house.”
“Warn me?  Warn me of what?”
Madame Weir paused.  “That wasn’t your mother that came to me.  It was someone else, and they were very angry.”
“Who was it?”
“I’m not sure, but it was someone who died a long time ago who wasn’t ready to die.”
“But, you said you called to warn me.”
“I did.  You see when a person dies before their time and their soul does not move on into the light they wander in the land of the lost dead waiting for someone to invite them out.  Someone whom they can take revenge on and you my dear are that person.”
“You mean, they blame me for their death!”
“Just be.”  Madame Weir took a long breath.  “Just be very careful.  Good night my Dear.”  
“But wait!”  Mary Beth looked around the darkened garage, fumbling for her purse.  She grabbed the arm strap and wasted no time getting into the house.


The neon numbers flipped to 3:59 as Mary Beth wiped the last tear from her dried up tear ducts.  The pain of never speaking with her mother again seemed unbearable, but she knew she had to move on or the thought of it would drive her insane.  
Mary Beth sat up and reached out with her left hand and gingerly touched John’s shoulder and whispered.  “You’re right John, the old woman is crazy.”  Not expecting an answer she added.  “Tomorrow, I’m blocking her number so she can never call and scare me again.  Like you said it’s probably her tactic for getting fools like me to come back and spend more money.  I hate it when you’re always right, but I guess that’s why I went against my values and married a divorced man.”

She lifted her robe off the end of the bed and draped the sheer material across her shoulders and stepped out into the hallway, closing the door behind.  She began to descend the stairs when she noticed through the dim moonlight a wavering translucent figure moving toward her.  She froze and closed her eyes and prayed.
“Do not be afraid.  I want to thank you for setting me free by inviting me out of that dark and lonely prison.”
“What do you want from me?”  Mary Beth gulped.
“But, I don’t know you.  Why do you want revenge on me?”
“I’m not here for you.  I’m here for him.”  A long boney finger pointed up the stairs.
“John?  Who are you?”
“I came to make our divorce final.  He promised till death do we part, but he broke that promise when he murdered me.”
Knowing the truth helped Mary Beth drown out John’s screams that filled her head during the dead of night.  
Knowing her house was haunted by the ghost of her recently departed husband’s wife gave her an idea.
In the year it took to implement her plan, Mary Beth and her live-in house ghost became the best of friends and on the anniversary of their meeting they eagerly awaited their first guest to The Invited Inn - A Haunted Bed & Breakfast.   

Total word count: 1,000