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THE CARETAKER

By Richard David Bach All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Horror

Chapter 1

People swear that this house is haunted. I don’t know why they’d say that — I’ve been here since 1841 and I’d never seen a ghost. Until yesterday. Oh, there were a few frightenings on occasion, like the time in 1863 when I chased off a company of Virginia Irregulars who wanted to set up a field headquarters in a move that was sure to get this place burned to the ground, or when I scared the bejabbers out of The Right Reverend Chester Fowles in 1912 as he tried to take advantage of his cleaning lady’s simple teenage daughter. But all my acts were righteous and performed in a manner that, upon retrospective examination, could be attributed to natural causes.

And then yesterday she showed up - erupting out of the bloodstained body sprawled on the porch with an anguished shriek that rattled the shutters and threw open the front door. I could actually feel the force of her anger and it startled me. The first time I’d experienced a physical impact in 172 years. Her essence paused for a moment, hovering over the remains, and then with another shriek even more piercing than the first, she dissipated, expanding into the entire house and penetrating all of its corners. Uh, oh, I thought. But at least it was quiet.

Not for long. She coalesced about an hour later in the master bedroom where I was trying to take a nap before what I expected to be a long night. The owners were out of town and their teenage kids were planning on hosting a kegger. It was my job to be alert to any unwanted shenanigans and be prepared to keep the dumber ones from any serious stupidity.

She was good looking and had a great body — assuming that she was materializing in the factory issued size and shape. But the hatred in her eyes immediately squelched any thoughts of a possible connection.

“Why are you here,” she demanded.

“I don’t know. I just am.” I truly didn’t know. Something bound me here, but it gave me something to do, something to protect.

“Then leave. Get out.” She flared and faded and flared again, before settling down into a cool glow. “Please. Go away and leave me alone.”

“I can’t. No more than I suspect you can. I died here, and so did you. I think we’re stuck here together.”

She exploded again, this time in a burst that blew open every window in the house and knocked every picture askew. Double uh, oh!

I didn’t see her again until about midnight, long after the coroner had collected her body and the police had removed the yellow crime-scene tape, when the beer party was in full swing and the kids were beginning to get a little rowdy. I had just rattled a doorknob to rattle a couple of sixteen year-olds who were getting carried away, when she showed up. With a face and body inspired by Medusa and showcased in every sci-fi horror flick ever produced with the aid of computers and mind-altering drugs, she swept through the party and very effectively shut down the festivities.

Afterwards it was assumed someone had slipped some LSD into the lager, but no one could explain the banshee wails that came from the house all night long, or the lights that kept flashing on and off at random until the sun came up. And then, this afternoon, Ghostbusters drove up to the house in that ridiculous hearse they drive.

Nothing has been the same since.


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