The Girl at the Window
I write this now, for the first time, part memoir, part confession. I am sick now and have little time left in this world, and want, at long last, to relieve my conscience, and maybe my soul, of a burden I have long carried. Dear reader, I hope you will not judge the behaviour I describe too harshly; I dare say many of you would have behaved in much the same way in my shoes, but repeating this mantra over the years has never calmed my guilt, so maybe telling the truth, the truth that has haunted me so through the years, will finally let my mind rest.
As a young man I was lucky enough to land a good job right out of college, in a company that helped its employees climb the ladder. I was good at my job, honest and quickly trusted, so progression was fast. Soon I found myself at the age of twenty three with the resources to buy my own house and cut the apron strings of home. I had never really enjoyed living at home, my parents, though not neglectful or abusive, were always cold and distant from me. My sister said it was down to me 'creeping them out' as a kid, but whenever I asked what it was, she just brushed it off saying I was just weird. I eventually decided this was just her form of sibling teasing, and thought no more of it.
The house I bought was a small, but beautifully presented, three-bedroom detached house in a very suburban area. They were newly built, and the whole estate shone. Each of the houses were carbon copies of each other, each given a slightly different flourish on the outside, but the layout was identical. Further up the road there were a few bigger and a few smaller houses, but this area was fairly uniform. I resisted buying an old house, as I had always been uncomfortable living in a house where someone could have died. I know this sounds foolish, but we all have our fears, and few of them are truly rational.
I furnished and had the place decorated just how I wanted it before I actually moved in, so that the first time I walked through the door I would have nothing to do; it was bliss and I could hardly contain my happiness.
As I was one of the last residents to buy a place in the street, I decided it would be advisable to make a good impression on my neighbours, so I bought a couple of bottles of wine and baked some cakes to take round to the nearest ones as an ice breaker. I set out to my left hand side neighbour's house with wine and cake and knocked upon the door my very first evening. They were a friendly, lovely couple called Helen and Jeff, who insisted I came in and shared the wine and cakes with them. I did just that and had a fine evening of conversation, laughs and fun. After drinking my wine, they opened two more bottles that they had in, and it became a rather boozy night. At one point I mentioned I was going to go over the other side with the same gifts the following day. They had glanced at each other and then laughed and said, 'Good luck with that!'
I assumed they didn't get along with them and dug no further, soon other topics distracted me and I thought no more about it. I stumbled back home late and fell into bed, sleeping the death like sleep of a man heavy with wine.
The following day, once I felt fully recovered from the previous night, I headed to my other neighbour's house, same gift packages in hand. I strolled up the paved path that slashed the newly laid lawn in half, approaching the dark wood porch. I noticed, as I walked, that the curtains of the house were all closed. I looked upwards to see if the same was true on the upper floor; I saw it was, but there was movement. As I had raised my head, one curtain had quickly fallen back into place, as if someone had been watching me approach. I decided I would knock once and, if no one answered, I would leave and try again later. I did not wish to burden myself on people who did not wish to be disturbed. I knocked lightly on the door, listening for sounds of anyone approaching, but no one did.
I headed back home, gifts still held tight in my hands. I would try again the next day. As I was leaving, I glanced up at the window again and once more saw the curtain hurriedly pulled closed. This time I was sure I saw a hand pulling the curtain closed. Puzzled, but not wishing to impose, I left.
The day after, I called again, knocking once, waiting and knocking again, but still no one answered. I was beginning to see the reasoning behind the 'Good luck' I had received from Jeff now. I walked back down the path, pausing just as I emerged from the house's shadow, to look up at the window. This time the curtain remained pulled aside, and I could just barely make out the face of a young girl in the darkness of the room. I lifted my hand in a casual wave, but before I could complete it, the curtain fell closed once more.
The following days were taken up with work and planning my house-warming party for the following weekend. A small group of close friends were to be the only guests, but I also added Helen and Jeff to the guest list; an invitation that they seemed very pleased with. All was well with me, and my life; I thought I would be happy here forever, but things would soon change.
The day of the party arrived and, to be neighbourly, I decided to make another attempt to meet the mysterious occupants of number 15, and if successful, extend an invitation to them also.
I hadn't really thought about them, or their house during my busy week, but now as I approached the house again, I began feeling uneasy, the curtains were still all closed, and I hadn't yet seen any life here, save for the face at the window and the moving curtain. Nonetheless, I knocked upon the dark wooden door again, harder and louder this time, once, twice, three times; still nothing. I had brought more cakes and wine, and, thinking ahead, a pen and notepad. I wrote a note for the occupants that read 'Hello neighbour, I have just moved in next door and just wanted to introduce myself and bring you some cake and wine as a way of saying hello. Enjoy them with my best wishes, and I hope you are well. Feel free to call on me if you need anything at all. I will be having a small house-warming tonight, you are more than welcome to join us. Sincerely, Mike (number 17).'
I left the gifts and note at the door and walked away. As before, I looked up at the small thin window to the dark room, the girl was there again. This time I could see more of her face. She looked to be somewhere between 17 and 19, but from my vantage point and the shadowed window, it was hard to tell. I expected the curtain to snap shut again, but this time a fragile hand raised and waved to me. I waved back and she was gone; the curtain still swinging behind the window.
The party began and everyone arrived as planned, drinks and conversation flowed and music played. Helen and Jeff got along with my friends famously and the evening seemed to be a huge success. As the time approached 11:30, the doorbell rang. Ever the attentive host, I jumped up, to answer it. As I swung open the door, a rather drunken grin on my face, I was perplexed to find no one there. I glanced around, then noticed, just in front of the door, the cakes and wine I had left earlier. I bent to pick them up, looking round to see if I could catch sight of the deliverer, but the street was empty except for a cat lazily washing in the quiet, still road. I took my rejected goods inside, and as I set them down on the kitchen table, I saw the note I had left; written on the back was a reply, it simply said, 'No thank you. Do not call again, my daughter is unwell and must not be disturbed.' At that moment, Jeff had walked in looking to top up his drink. I held the note up to show him and he grinned.
'Told you,' he said with a drunk smugness, then laughed and said 'Fuck her, miserable bitch. We tried and failed too. Good party by the way, man.'
I thanked him, dropped the note on the table, and headed back to my guests. The rest of the night was uneventful, and everyone left the party in high spirits. Helen and Jeff stayed for a few more drinks well into the early hours. I was glad of this in truth, I had a creepy feeling still gnawing at me about the neighbour and company was a good distraction. I wanted to ask them about their experience with her, but I couldn't bring myself to bring it up. Eventually, as if drunken telepathy had sent him a message, Jeff drunkenly tapped his wife and said, 'Hey, I forgot to tell you, Mike made contact!'
Helen looked at him, puzzled, as Jeff nodded his head towards the right side of the house.
'Nooooooooo!' she exclaimed. 'REALLY?!'
'Mmmhhhmmm,' Jeff said, grinning. 'Got a note and everything.'
I looked at them, eager to know more, but still too uneasy to ask. The telepathy kicked in and they recounted their story. They told me that they had tried to call on numerous occasions but had never got a reply, eventually they gave up, until one day, they finally saw the mother leaving the house, so hurried out to speak to her. She had screamed at them to get away from her and had run back into the house. Since then, they had never seen her leave. Her shopping was delivered by a local store each week; it was left on the doorstep and was never taken inside until the delivery driver had left. They decided, in the end, they would rather not get involved in her craziness, and suggested to me that I take the same course of action. It sounded good to me; I had no desire to get involved in whatever was going on there. Eventually they left and I crawled off to bed to sleep.
The morning came, accompanied by a crushing hangover, the curtains in my room were not total black out ones, but were a dark rich brown and thick enough to block most of the light, despite this, the small amounts of light that crept through felt crippling. After around forty minutes of tossing and turning in my alcohol-sweat soaked sheets, I decided to get up and try to eat.
The day was dull, but not quite grey; dampness on the ground indicated it had rained, but the sky looked free of rain for now, so, finishing the last bite of a rejuvenating bacon sandwich and the final mouthful of tea, I decided to go for a walk to clear my head and to explore my new environment a little. I set out, pausing for a moment at my door to enjoy the air on my face and my picturesque environment, I tried to decide which way to walk, I looked right, towards the strange house next door, and my mind was made up, I walked the other way. The place was making me more and more uneasy by the day.
I walked for an hour, exploring streets and alley ways, and when I was back in a place I recognised, I realised I had come full circle, and would have to walk past the house to get home. I had no idea why I felt so afraid; others lived here; Helen and Jeff didn't seem bothered by it. I decided to stop being silly and headed home.
Passing by the house, I couldn't help but look up to the window. The girl was there. I could see her a little better this time; her eyes looked dark and sad, her face drawn and sickly. Maybe she was unwell, as the note said, and her mother was simply very protective, but something still felt wrong within me. I lightly nodded and smiled, not wanting to attract the attention of her mother if she was watching from some other vantage point. The girl waved weakly and put her hand against the window. I continued to walk, but each time I glanced up, she was still looking down at me. Each time our eyes met I felt within me a deep sadness.
I considered phoning the police, asking them to check on her, but I was young and this was a time when people minded their own business. Many of the systems of child protection we now have in place did not exist or were in their infancy at this time. I was worried what may come of such an accusation, and did not want to get a reputation as an interferer in my new street, so I abandoned that idea and tried to forget about it.
That night my sleep was infected by bad dreams, plagued with images of nightmarish landscapes and cruel acts. One of these dreams affected me enough eventually to wake me completely, and as my eyes opened, I was struck with crushing fear; through my half-open eyes, I saw a figure standing in the doorway to my room. I bolted upright and looked to the door to better see the intruder, but I saw nothing but the hallway outside my room. My blood flowed with liquid nitrogen; every hair on my neck stood to full attention as I darted my eyes around the room to look for the figure. I jumped up and checked the hall, bathroom, and eventually, I had checked the whole house. All the windows and doors were still locked; nothing was out of place; nothing other than me, standing half naked in my lounge, holding a candlestick as a weapon and now feeling rather silly. I deduced it must have been nothing more than the remnants of my dream, remaining for the briefest second after waking. Despite this, I chose to switch on numerous lights, make tea and listen to the radio rather than head back to bed.
My working week began again, though my concentration was not as it usually was, the experience from the other night still causing unease in me. I didn't mention the episode to anyone, lest they think me mad, but it continued to plague me.
A couple of nights later, my dreams were once again invaded by hellish things, during which my mind began to wake itself before my body did, causing me to hear it before my eyes were open. At first, it seemed to just be part of my unconscious imagery, but suddenly I was aware that the sound was in my room, a whispering, muttering, too faint to make out the words. I sat bolt upright in bed and looked on in horror. By the faint rays of moonlight creeping through my window, I could just make out the vague black shape of a person walking back and forth at the end of my bed; it was the source of the inaudible whispers. I was frozen for what felt like minutes, but was, in reality, barely seconds. I quickly reached for the switch on the lamp beside my bed, and as the light spilled into the room, the shape vanished. My heart was beating furiously. I knew this time that it wasn't a dream figment. Whatever had been there, in the darkness, had really been there. Once again, I retreated from my room to the relative safety of the kitchen to make tea, checking every room and window as I went. Eventually, after two cups of tea, I fell asleep on the couch, waking late into the morning. I called work to apologise, feigned illness and decided to go to the library to research the area that my house now stood.
This was in the days before computers and the internet, so I resigned myself to a long day of dusty books and old newspaper articles; desperate to discover if there had been some unmentioned horror that had taken place where I now laid my head. I looked and looked but found nothing. The area had been fields before being built on, and there seemed to be no record of anything untoward happening around there as far back as I could research.
Although slightly relieved to discover there hadn't been a terrible murder where my house now stood, it also left me with more questions than before. If this thing wasn't some poor soul that had died on that spot of earth long ago, then what was it? Maybe, it had something to do with number 15. After all, the only thing that had frightened me as much as the figure in the night was that house. I got in my car and headed home, rather relieved that I could just pull into the small driveway beside my property, rather than have to walk by that house again. As I arrived I decided to head round to Helen and Jeff's to see if I could seek company and distraction there; they didn't disappoint me. They invited me in and offered me some dinner. We ate, talked, and laughed till around 10 pm, when I took my leave so I would not become a bother. During my evening with friends, I had almost forgotten about my nagging fears, but now as I walked from their property back to mine, they came flooding back. I did not relish the idea of sleeping in that room again, but I was young, headstrong, and determined not to be run out of my own house by something that could well be an over-active imagination.
As I slept, my dreams disturbed me again. Pulling myself out of my unconscious I glanced around the room; nothing. I lay there in the dark, trying to sleep, but something wouldn't let me; each time my eyes fell shut, I would jolt awake. That was when I heard the creak on the stairs. Slow, rhythmical steps compressing each tier, getting closer and closer. Its strange the thoughts that enter your head in times of deep fear, the thought that crossed my mind as I lay there in the darkness, expecting my death, was that my stairs didn't creak when I walked on them, but now, each one was a cacophony of noise, bringing with it unknown terror. I was frozen. I wanted to reach out for the light, but I simply couldn't. My hands were wrapped in my blankets, my knuckles aching from the tightness of my grip, my eyes fixed on the dark doorway to my room, waiting for whatever was about to show its self. The footsteps ended outside my room, then nothing. After a few seconds of silence I was able to remove my hand from its death like grip on the sheet and switch on the light. I fell back to sleep shortly after, but the light remained on.
The following morning I headed out to work as usual, but rather than head home afterwards, I decided to go to my parents house. It would be nice to see my family and would be nice to be away from this house and its frightening night-time inhabitant.
My parents welcomed me with their usual lack of warmness, but they fed me and we talked about our day as families do. I asked if I could stay there for a night or two, as I was having some work done at the house and the place was a little disrupted. They agreed; my room still had my old bed in it so there was no problem there. I was interested to see if my nocturnal companion would appear here too. My parents headed off to bed around 10:30, leaving me and my sister alone.
My sister, although older than me by five years, still lived with them having only been able to find temporary, low paid jobs; though I suspect, had she been wealthy, she would still have remained there. Once they were definitely upstairs for the night, my sister looked at me quizzically and asked me what was really going on. I told her I didn't know what she meant, to which she smiled and told me I had always been a terrible liar. I took a deep breath and just said that I had seen something in my house. My sisters reaction took me completely by surprise. Instead of asking what it was, or what I was talking about her reply was to roll her eyes and say 'Oh, not this again.'
I asked her what she meant, and she paused, looking into my eyes as if deciding whether or not to continue. Something within my visual windows must have convinced her, as she began to finally tell me why I creeped out my parents. She told me that when I was a baby, I was constantly laughing, or crying at nothing, then as I developed speech, I would talk to people that were not there. I was aghast, no one had ever mentioned this to me before, it didn't surprise me, my parents were both quite religious people, not to extreme levels, but I understood why they hadn't liked this aspect of me. I asked her if she was joking, but I could see by her face she wasn't. She told me that the 'nowhere people' (as I had called them) was not even the weirdest part. She told me that as a child, I would sometimes tell them things that I had no way of knowing about. She said when I was four years old, I had announced to the whole family that Dad had kissed a lady at work that wasn't Mummy. It turned out that my father had been about to begin an affair with someone from his office, and they had shared their first kiss that day. My father took my statement as a warning from god, confessed about the kiss to my mother and broke the relationship off. It had taken them a while to get over it but eventually they worked things out. That was the point when they had become slightly afraid of me. My sister had been told never to mention these things again to me or anyone else and I was punished anytime I talked to the nowhere people or talked of something I should not know of. Eventually I had stopped altogether.
I was in shock, I just stared at her, my mouth hanging open, unable to speak. This was why they had always been cold to me, why they seemed so glad when I was leaving. She asked me what I had seen and I recounted my experiences. I kept my story brief as I could see my sister becoming uncomfortable, I ended my story by telling her that I had researched the place but found nothing. Her advice was to stop it from happening. I had obviously pushed these senses down before, surely I could do it again. She hugged me, which was unlike her, but at that moment I appreciated it immensely. She made us both some hot chocolate and then we both headed off to bed. That night I slept fine; no visitors, no nightmares, just the rest I needed. I slept there the second night and again, I was undisturbed.
I decided it was time to head home then. I was rested and refreshed and my fears were dissipating well. Even on seeing number 15 as I pulled into my drive, I did not feel the same degree of unease that I had. Maybe all this was simply stress related; a combination of moving house, new surroundings and lack of sleep. That night would prove me wrong.
In the early hours of the morning, I awoke to the sounds of things breaking downstairs; it sounded like someone was smashing the whole house to pieces. Despite my recent experiences, my first thought was that it was an intruder. I had kept the large black iron candlestick next to my bed since the first appearance of the apparition, so grabbed it now to protect my home. I ran down the stairs, the sound of breaking and smashing getting louder and louder as I approached the door to the kitchen. I turned on the hall light and swung open the kitchen door while trying to make myself look as intimidating as I could. The light from the hall spilled into the dark room, casting a corridor of light across the tiled floor. There was nothing. I switched on the kitchen light, and walked into the room confused and concerned, panting from the adrenaline racing through my system. Not a thing was out of place. The door was still locked and bolted as were all the windows. As I stood once again, half naked with my candlestick in an empty room, I deeply considered the theory that I was losing my mind. My pondering was interrupted suddenly by a blood curdling scream from the bedroom. I raced upstairs, to find nothing, which at this point did not surprise me. I switched on the small radio beside my bed for company and sat down trying to make sense of everything that was happening. Eventually I lay down and drifted to sleep still clutching my trusty candlestick.
The following day was quite pleasant and I decided to walk to work; the fresh air would do me good and hopefully blow some of last nights tiredness off me. I glanced up at the window of number 15 as I passed but there was no movement there today. I was rather glad about this, as looking into those sad eyes would not have been a helpful way to start my day.
Returning home that night, I looked up at the window, secretly hoping no one would be there, but there she was. Those sad eyes, dark circles around them, like she hadnt slept for months. Her delicate hand reached up and pressed on the window as before. I stopped and looked at her, our eyes met and stayed that way. I mouthed silent words of 'Are you ok?' but she just looked at me, before the curtains fell into place again. Before they did, however, I was almost sure I saw a single tear run down her pale face. I had to do something.
I knocked at Helen and Jeff's house and they invited me in. I told them I was worried about the girl. They agreed it was no life for someone hidden away in that house, but discouraged me from calling the police. Jeff told me his uncle was in the local police, and he said he would call him and ask his advice. He called and his uncle said he would look into it. I returned home, feeling slightly better that this burden of worry had now been passed to someone who had the authority to investigate it. I settled into my couch with a glass of wine and hoped that now I would get a better nights sleep. It was not to be however. Tonight would be the most frightening night yet.
Once again as the early hours came, when the night seems at its darkest, I awoke to the familiar sounds of smashing. I swung my legs around and out of the bed, grabbed my candlestick and reached for the switch on the bedside light. The only thing that resulted was an empty click, no light, no flicker or pop of a dying bulb, just an impotent click. I dove for the light switch by the door, but again, just the empty click. In my eagerness to bathe myself in light, I was briefly distracted from the sounds from downstairs, and it was only now as I stood by my door that I realised the smashing had stopped. I froze there and held my breath, listening for any signs of life, but hoping to hear none. Then the creak, the creak that didn't happen when my foot fell upon the stairs, the creak that terrified me beyond belief. Slowly the creaks moved closer and closer. I wanted to look out of the door, but I couldn't, I wanted to see that nothing was there, but I couldn't move. The creaks stopped, but were replaced by another sound. The muttering and whispering I had heard in my room before, and something I hadn't heard before, a scraping, dragging noise, on the wall. My body finally kicked in and I moved, not toward the hall, but away from it, my legs hit the bed and I stumbled back onto the mattress. I shuffled back as the noise came closer and closer to the door to my room. I should have closed the door, why didn't I close the door, I thought to myself. My eyes had slightly adjusted to the dark now, the pale streams of moonlight breaking through my window was just enough for me to make out the shape of the figure as it rounded the doorway, pausing as if watching me cower in the illusionary safety of my bed. It walked into my room, no detail could be seen, just the black shape of a person. Blackness somehow darker than the surrounding night. I followed it with unblinking eyes as it walked back and forth at the end of my bed, muttering inaudible sounds as before. Then it stopped muttering, I could see it turn to face me, but could still see no face, then came the scream I had heard before. Angry, horrible screaming. The black shape leaning forward slightly as it screamed at me. My ears hurt, the sound filled my head as though someone had put a hose in my ear and was filling my head with a steady flow of tar till I felt that my skull may give way at any moment. The pain was too strong and just as I felt I may pass out, everything stopped. The lights burst into life, the noise was gone, leaving not even an echo. Leaving no signs other than the dull ache in my head. I headed downstairs when my courage returned, again nothing was damaged or out of place. I illuminated every room and made coffee. I wasn't going to sleep again this night any way after this encounter with terror.
The day after I called to see Jeff in case he had any updates from his uncle; he did. His uncle had asked around a few people and very little was known about the lady, or her daughter. He had tried to find out from the local doctor if he knew anything, but patient doctor confidentiality prevented him from getting this information without a court order, and at present, there was not enough evidence of wrong doing. Luckily, his uncle was friendly with one of the doctors receptionists who gave him some information. She couldnt tell him much, only snippets she had picked up from bits and pieces she had been asked to file. It seemed some medication did get delivered to them, medication that implied a possible problem with the immune system. This could explain why the girl never left the house, and also why she was so sad. He could find very few people who had met her or her mother, though he did find the person that helped them move house. Their old house had been demolished to make way for a new shopping centre that was being built. The moving man said he never saw the daughter, just the mother who never actually spoke to him and seemed very old fashioned, even for those times. Jeff's uncle said he would keep listening out for information and to contact him if anything else came to light.
This information put my mind to rest a little. I had read about health problems that made people especially vulnerable to infection and illness, so maybe that was the reason for the strange behaviour. I hoped that now I was less concerned about the girl, maybe my mind would stop conjuring up the terrifying images that plagued me. Walking home from the shop that evening, I glanced up at the window, and waved to the sad face there, she waved back and watched me as I walked to the path to my house. Her eyes still filled me with sadness, and I realised my concern wasn't quite as satiated as I'd hoped. Nonetheless, I headed inside to eat dinner. I didnt realise at this point that this would be the last night I would spend in this house; this place that was to be my sanctuary, but had instead become a dungeon of mental torture.
With a full stomach and tired from the night before, I headed to bed early. My sleep was not without incident though.
I sat bolt upright in my bed, the sounds of smashing coming from downstairs again. I tried the light beside my bed, but to no avail. I looked over to my clock and it read 10:05 which briefly puzzled me as I had gone to bed after 10 that night. My thoughts were pulled away from my malfunctioning clock as now the stairs were creaking again, those steady slow footsteps that got ever closer, the scraping on the wall began again, I knew it was coming but I could do nothing. I hadn't the desire or strength to head out and confront whatever it was in the corridor, so there I remained, in my bed, pressed against the wall, frozen with fear, waiting for the darkness to arrive. Soon it stood in my doorway, the muttering seemed louder tonight, I could pick out words now; words that sounded like they were being spit out rather than spoken. It made little sense. What I could pick out, and what I can remember now, went something like ' . . . . evil . . . the devil . . . . innocence . . . dirty . . . . my curse. . . '.
I couldn't make out anything else, and before I could attempt to piece it together, it had turned to face me again. I was prepared for the scream this time, or so I thought, but it hurt my head so much that I had to close my eyes; squeezing them tight to try and somehow cancel out the noise. Then I felt it. I felt the bed sink as though someone had sat down on the edge of it. I opened my eyes and the darker than dark shape was on my bed, kneeling it seemed, and coming towards me. I was frozen with fear, literally paralysed, no matter how I tried, I couldn't move. It shuffled in a determined way towards me, then raised its arm, holding something high, something that was just as black as this shape, but where the shape seemed to absorb the light around it, this somehow reflected it, it was long and wide and I suddenly realised what it was. It was a large carving knife. That was what I had heard scraping against the wall. As it swung down towards me I finally regained my body, my eyes shut tight and I curled into a ball instinctively, waiting for the blade to strike me; but nothing happened. Through my clenched lids, I could tell the lights had come back on, and cautiously opened my eyes. The room was empty. Just me, huddled, shaking, my heart pounding, ice in my veins and pain in my head. I looked over at the clock, which now read a more appropriate 03:49, then down at myself, and saw the thing that would make me leave that house forever. There on my chest, arms, and stomach were marks, light red marks, the size and shape of knife wounds, I was covered in them. They didn't hurt and were not raised to the touch, but they were clear as day. I jumped off the bed, and turning on all the lights as I went, rushed into the bathroom to check them in the mirror. By the time I looked at them, they had almost faded away, and seconds later, they were gone completely.
That was enough for me; I'd read enough ghost stories over the years to know when to call it a day. I packed a bag, sat downstairs with all the lights on and drank coffee till the morning came. I knocked on at Helen and Jeff's house first thing and spun them a tale of having to go away for a few days. I didn't look at the window of number 15 before I left, I couldn't bear to add that sad face to my already haunted mind again. I headed out and rented a house there and then. I didn't care what the house was like, I just wanted to be somewhere else. It wasn't bad, a reasonably priced, furnished semi-detached in a small cul-de-sac. I hoped beyond hope that whatever had been plaguing me, wouldn't follow me here.
That night I slept better than I had in weeks. No nightmares, no figures or ghostly murder attempts, just peaceful sleep and a refreshed awakening. I had called work and told them I wouldn't be in for a couple of days, that evening I called Jeff and confessed to the fact that I had moved. I spun a tale that I couldn't afford the place and had to move somewhere smaller but had been embarrassed to admit it. He either believed me or was too polite to question me, but we swapped numbers and promised to keep in touch. I hadn't moved far, a short walk or even shorter drive away; but it was far enough that I felt safe.
For around a week I slept well, worked well and was feeling back to my old self, although I remained confused as to how a house, not only without a sad or violent history, but without any history at all, could have have been subject to such a strong and violent haunting. I had put the house up for sale, and it was getting viewers already, I had hired movers to bring my possessions over, and given them the keys to take care of it so I didn't have to return. All seemed to be well, so I was unprepared for the phone call I got that Saturday morning.
Jeff rang around 8:30 am, I was glad to hear from him, but was surprised he had called so early. He sounded serious and asked if he could come round later; I said of course, it would be great to see him. At around 11:00 am he arrived. He looked serious and tired. We went through to the kitchen and sat down at the table, a hot pot of tea waiting that I had already prepared for us. I asked him what was wrong, and he took a deep breath and told me there had been trouble at number 15 last night. My blood became like ice again just at the mention of that house. I, somewhat reluctantly asked him to go on.
He said that the night before, they had heard sounds of a commotion coming from the mysterious number 15, the sound of things smashing. He had called the police, and they sent someone out, but before they could arrive they heard horrific screaming coming from the house. He had run out towards number 15 just as the police arrived, so he stood back and let them handle it. They approached the door with caution, when suddenly it had opened, and the mother had walked out, holding a large kitchen knife dripping with blood. The police ordered her to drop it, which she did, and had handed herself over to the police without incident.
As he told me the story I could feel the blood draining from my face and worried that I may faint, but managed to retain my composure. He said that the girl had been stabbed 15 times by her mother. Then he paused and explained that actually, she wasn't the girl's mother. The real mother was the woman's sister, she had got pregnant by some biker guy, and the woman at number 15 had taken the girl on after the sister died of a drugs overdose. She was convinced that the free nature of her sister, that she viewed as evil, would have been passed down to the girl, so she kept her locked away. She told the police that she could no longer keep it up and had decided to 'destroy the girl, lest her evil be released into the world.' I just stared at him in horror and amazement, but he continued. He told me that this wasn't even the weirdest part. He reached into his bag and pulled out a brown file. He told me he was not supposed to have these, but his uncle had sneaked some copies out as he knew that they had shown concern for the girl. He passed me the file. Inside were copies of diary pages, going back months and months. As I read, I started to realise the terrible truth.
In the diary, the girl described visions she had of her own death, every detail exact to what eventually happened. The most vivid description was highlighted, and I felt sick as I read her words:
I've seen it again. My death. She is going to kill me. The clock reads 10:05, the smashing starts downstairs, then the creak of the stairs. I hate those creaky stairs. She comes into my room, tells me I'm evil, tells me I'm the daughter of the devil and that I am dirty and her curse for not stopping my mother from wasting her life in bars and drug dens. She says she wont make the same mistake again. She screams at me, climbs on my bed, draws the knife and stabs me over and over. I don't know when it will happen, but I know it will. I can't get out to tell anyone. Who would believe me anyway.
I look up at Jeff, he looks back at me and asks me a question, a question I don't really know how to answer. He asks if I ever spoke to the girl. I say no, I never did; other than seeing her at the window occasionally, I had no contact with her, but I know now that this is not strictly true. I ask him why he asked that, and he reaches over and finds a page and tells me to read it. I do, and I start to cry without realising it. It reads:
I think I've found someone like me. Someone who can see through the veil. Someone who can help me. I need to show him what I see. I need to show him what's going to happen before its too late. The kind man that smiles at me will surely help me if I show him. I know he can see too. I can see it in his eyes. I'm weak though, and I don't know how much of my thoughts are getting to him. I wish I could break the window, scream to him, but I can't. I'm sick, I'm weak and she would kill me if I tried to escape. I hope he hears. I hope he helps.
I know right there that I wasn't being haunted; she sensed the thing inside me, the thing that frightened my parents so much that I hid it even from myself, and she was using it to ask for help. She showed me how she would die if I didn't help, and I ran. I ran away instead of helping her and now she's dead. I can see a photograph in the back of the file; it's a photograph of the mother. She is dressed all in black, with a long black shawl covering her head and shoulders, and I recognise her immediately as the dark shape that I saw. I wasn't being visited by the past of my house; I was being visited by the future of number 15. I tell Jeff I have no idea what it means. I can't admit that I saw her thoughts and abandoned her. I can't admit that she could be alive now if not for my cowardliness. He says he didn't expect me to, but had to ask. I glance back down to the scattered pages. The last entry in the diary reads:
I can't find him any more. He's gone and I can't find him. It's too late, anyway. The smashing has started, and the creaks will come soon. It's too late. It's too late now. I'm dead.
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