Geoffrey watches the morning light turn to harsh noon. The shadows fade away fron the stately halls. Tapestries with rich colors retreat to washed out halls. Distance voices race down halls. The tours are starting again.
His pale face and hollow eyes dim. The children bring a challenge to his type. The adults look past him and sometimes walk through him. Time changes things for the living. Today will be tomorrow for Geoffrey again.
“Hey, I think I see a ghost!” a high-pitched voice rises above the crowd.
Geoffrey waves and smiles. The adults never understand the kids reaction of wonder and fright.
“Be grateful for whover comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” My voice fades.
The window seems to bring the flaked paint. A strange grayish tint mixes with the earliest sunset. A warbler jumps on the branch closer to me. His orange nape takes me away from his searching eyes. He is the visitor from beyond. Beyond his season. Beyond his range. Her glares through my person. He shrills a call out.
The dresser with its fading burgundy Gerbera lies waiting to crumble away. The ancient house groans and pops as the evening chill gathers. Timeless ritual of the night collapsing the days work is fine fashion. It’s tender cool fingers run down my spine.
I feint a move to warmer rooms. I like the faded room. Comfort in its condition. An orange glow climbs past the metal frame toward me. I’m glued by the scene of an ancient city catching it’s nightly fire before fading to black.
In the stillness moments rush by. More fingers of cool reach across my back. Reluctantly, I move toward a more festive place with strangers called family.
In the hall, laughing. Tender as if calling a lover to gather. Intimate details promise desires fulfilled.
I stop in mid stride.
A door open to the left. A room with a tub and candles surrounding her watery grave. I long for her still. I can sense the scent of her. My eyes touch flesh that is no longer of this Earth. I’m waiting for her to turn. …. she always does right before fading away. Back under the water into which she left.
I sigh. My guilt is a pleasure. Then glass silvers into my soul. I gave up reaching out to her. My trance shatters.
“Hey, are you going on there?” The nephew points at the bathroom.
“No, I just thought I heard something in there.” I speak slowly like I’m learning the language.
“No ghosts! I hope.” He jumps in the room closing the door.
“Not any more.” I’m telling myself this as I retreat to the rest of the people I escaped from 30 minutes ago
The cold air causes the house to Creek. The sound persists. Light scratching upon a wooden door. A whistling wind calls along the window panes. A draft rushes to see its cousin outside.
Four paws stretch out. With a flip of a tail, Whiskers trots to investigate the sound.
The scratching of nails on wood grows. A sense of impatience in its tone.
The wind kicks up its heels and howls a bit. Dancing trees paint shadows upon the windows. Dim lights of a rustic living room hold them bsck from entering the house.
Whiskers sits in front of the door. His eyes fixed about a foot from the floor. His tail twitches with each scratch. The sound deepens and adds a thud before the scratch continues.
The wind dies quickly. The trees freeze in place. The thud becomes a knock. it ends with a deep scratch. Then repeats.
Whiskers scurries back to the hall. He turns back to listen. Watch, just in case.
The wind howls again. Trees dance their dance silently bare of leaves. The windows rattle.
The bang on the door commands attention. It’s tell tale scratch seems to come through the door now.
A muffled scream of low deep origin rumbles against the door. It emerges as a whail. Angry against the ears, sullen in the brain. It carries the weight of burdens and suffering. Cringing is the nature reaction.
Once more the knock comes with a sorrid scratch running down a larger chunk of door than ever before.
A flash of light drowns the porch. Shadows form and scatter. Long pointed fingers cling to the banister as they fade back into the night.
An old man peers down a stairwell. His tiny flashlight meets the modem convenience of motion detector controlled lighting. His aged eyes claw at shadows to make out figures. Nothing comes into focus.
From stories up his castle has keep him safe. From the outside, it’s well worn weathered face shows little of value here. The floors creak and moan. Walls pop and the day time heat leaves through the roof. Much like the old man, it lies in perpetual half awake mode.
A small boy scurried across the floor. A bouncing ball leads him.
“Mommy ate the ghosts here?” A fragile voice of innocence carries.
“No, darling! Ghosts are just for scary stories.” Mommy replies from an unseen place.
Ward looks down. “Sonny, look up and you’ll see one!”
“Are you ok?” Her little voice has an echo to it. The little girl had pigtails that start blonde and end uneven with charred clumps. The sweet face is hollow. Her figure is twisted. She hides a second child behind her. A even smaller face peers out from above waist height. It’s spiked hair singed and face covered in soot.
Cecilia clears her tear stained eyes. She had been crying all night. She wasn’t sure if it was night or day. Hell did it even matter. But her eyes behold these two little ones.
Her mind tries to grab a hold of the scene. The grey black had become more blue black. Shadows stir in the distance. Some shadows
drag across what looks like ground. Voices mutter in a language made of gibberish and underwater sounds.
“Sally, is she ok?” The little head asks as he looks up at the girl.
“I think she’s scared. Tucker, she’ll come around. I bet Dark man already saw her.” Sally stares at Cecelia. Her dark eyes are cold. She holds no expression. The face seems to go in and out of focus.
“Dark man! He’s the Dark man! What does that even mean? How did both of you get here….your just little children. I don’t…understand….it makes no….sense. I. . ” Cecelia finds words harder to come by.
“He comes to pull you away. That tree, or this place means something to you. If you leave, you will drift. You may find it again. But we lost our way home! The Dark man did it to us. He’s mean.” Sally looks at her like Cecelia should know that already.
“He took us. We heard then calling us back. But the Dark man said we being to him now!” Tucker talks into his sister’s back.
“What are these voices? I hear strange voices…it’s like a speaker…They are so distant. Does the Dark man come by everyday?” Cecelia is shaking. Anxiety chops at words. Headless thoughts parade down memory lane. She is the adult and her grip on reality tells her the children need to help her. Afraid is knowing why to fear. Fear is worrying about what you should be afraid of. The play volleyball with her mind.
A loud banging noise rings to her left. The children let out a quiet “Oh, no!”
“We have to go. He already knows we saw you! It could be trouble. Bye, lady!” Sally no more then gets the words out and they are gone.
“It’s not possible. It’s not possible.” Cecelia shakes her head.
Her skin has lost its color. Her back up against a tree. Her eyes see the white colored leaves tremble in unseen breezes. Her ears bombarded with sounds that make little sense. Strange groans. Creaks. Muttering in whispers.
She pushes back long locks of black hair. Leaning forward she his her knees. The dark air around her gives little clues to where she had found herself. The land seems open but no structures loom in the distance.
“I feel asleep. All I did was fall asleep! I feel asleep. Aaaaauugghh! Wake up!” Cecilia slaps herself several times.
“My dear, you are going to wake the dead. Now tell me your troubles child.” A thin pale man in overalls look down at her.
He’s no more than five feet away. His beat up cowboy hat shadows half his face. His wrinkles soften what could be a terrifying face. Hollow checks sink into black holes. More hikes where you expect eyes. The soft beard and mustache add light to a smile.
Her eyes are fixed. Her pulse through the roof. She never seen him coming. There is nowhere for him to hide. Her mind is in overdrive. Sounds in the background seem to call out, then change to leaves rustling in the tree.
“You can’t wake the dead! Why did you say that? Where am I? Who are you? What’s going on here?” Her words run together. She stays in semi fetal position but starts to rock a bit.
“Quite right, child. The dead have no need for sleep. I could hear you down the street. Needed to see what all the commotion was about. I figured it was someone new.” The old man tips his hat back a little. His face is even creepier now. Where there should be eyes seems empty.
“What do you mean ‘new here’?” Cecelia knows the answer. Denial runs deep in her heart.
He laughs. Both thumbs rise up to straighten the straps of his overalls. His hat slides back down and covers more of his face. The laughter can be felt, not just heard.
John Donald this is for you (if you speak Auto correct- rid is fit tijuana). please visit him at https://johndonald.wordpress.com. doing my toes in reality…no, not quite reality but non fiction! Well, reasonable explanation of history surrounding a ghost story! The Non Fiction thing is like sacred ground, I don’t think my heels will catch fire if I step there with both feet…why take unnecessary chances?
Chapter Thirteen: What Really Happened at Gore Orphanage (Presented at Paper Session: Legend I: Local Legend, October 27, 1983, American Folklore Society Annual Meeting.)
By Bill Ellis
There is this place. . . it’s kind of close to my town and it’s called “Gore Orphanage” and it was back in the 1800s I believe. It was an old building, all that’s left is the foundation now, but, uh, it was an old guy who ran it, Old Man Gore, they called him. He was a mean guy and all the kids in there they were really deprived I know that. . . the place caught on fire. The old man Gore he got away and he left all the kids in there to burn to death….
This is all that remains of Swift Mansion. A driveway marker. This is the only solid past of the story left. Legend of the Gore Orphanage runs deep. The road is a long country road that is jagged starting and stopping at different places. It possess few traditional crossroads. The lack of a physical building just makes its existence have more mysterious. There is tought the Swift Mansion story is to keep teenagers from needing attention from the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department. Young thrill seekers end up in driveways of farms, farmers wish to make them ghosts!
So the legend is Ma and Pa Gore, losing all of their children start an Orphanage. They were always described as hard luck people. This is 1903. The horseless carriage is not around this area much. The area is the middle of nowhere. It’s an island of misfit toys long before a Rudolph story. In these days, children who didn’t go to school worked.
There are branches in the time line about 1905. At a time near this (maybe even 1902, or 1908..), the Orphanage was changed owners. A Lutheran Reverend used the name Light of Hope Orphanage. The road was so known as Gore Rd. The name of Gore Orphanage never dies
In 1908, a school nearby creates a legend. Lakeview School has a real piece of history. A fire cost 108 children there lives. There are stories of children crying unable to flee the building. The cause was probably one exit and poor construction for the deaths. But one quick fire changes everything.
Following the fire, ghosts came to the area. The assigned Swift Mansion burnt down abdonded in 1923. But teens were scouting out the grave yard a generation earlier. Swings moved empty near Swift Mansion and other buildings called the Orphanage. Children screams cries out from beyond.
Time changed the area. Near Swift Mansion site runs an Interstate highway. Trucks vibrate a bridge near a ravine. The high pitched sounds like children screaming after they travel a mile and a half. Maybe.
But before that highway, the sounds were from? Can one Legend be splintered into different parts then explained away? If you go near Vermillion, Ohio, maybe you can stop by and see. The empty swings are waiting.
“The old lady is crazy! You smell gas?!” Kevin shakes his head.
His middle aged arthritic knee grinds into linoleum. The gas pipe flaps out of a hole in the wall. The hole is the best part of the wall. He hears a single tap. Metal against floor.
“Boy, I’m not crazy! I forgot more than you ever knew. I’m telling you I smell gas!! You’ll fix it. That’s what I paid for. A stove put in. The stove was bad and it didn’t leak gas. Get you’re head out of your ass and fix it.” Her age softens the sound of her voice but not the content.
An outwardly feeble body props up the cane. A silver Horsehead looks out behind curled fingers. Large chucks mark where knuckles used to bend. Deep set eyes, black as coal peer into the world. The look is half distant at first, but hawk like while it lingers.
Kevin mutters “Of all the old people, I get one that can hear!”
“Mr Kevin. Do you have that pint of grape Vodka in your truck? Oh wait, it’s in the glove compartment. My hearing is better than your ability to read people. My Granny Sally said we could hear the dead, if you closed your mouth long enough.” The old woman holds her ground.
“I sprayed soapy water on the pipe. They’re no bubbles. There’s no gas!” Kevin’s angry glare clears the corner of the stove. He grabs his Zippo lighter. “I’ll show ya!”
The lighter disappears behind the stove. A single flash erupts. Neither of these two hear the sound but a while neighborhood does.
A small boy jumps out of bed. The room is dark. He’s startled but doesn’t scream. To his left, she sits next to him. Granny puts her bony hand on Bobby.
“Bobby, I needed you to know how I became this way. You’re a good boy. I thought it might scar the dickens out of you. I’ll let you sleep now.” Granny’s voice softly laudes him back to sleep.
I feel suspended.
Trapped within pale seas of green.
Movement is in thoughts
I can sense feelings
They are outside
Your empathy is clouded.
I long to feel more.
Your closeness teases me.
The heart beat measures my time.
Some day I will be free.
We will become face to face.
I lurk in inclusions.
The clouds and specks.
My green cell called Esmarelda
But that long lost name forgotten.
When the birthstone didn’t fit you
I gained hope to be free.
Carved within the emerald
I wait as Demons are patient