Tag: ghost story

Hidden Doors

I picked up a book and dusted it off. It smelled just like an old book should. I took it to the counter, swiped my membership card and heard a satisfying beep. There used to be someone who’d stamp books with the return date, but it’s all done electronically now. I don’t mind the new system, it suits me and it suits this place. Nobody who frequents libraries objects to having an element of human interaction removed from their visit. We come here to read, not talk.

I put the book in my rucksack and zipped it up.

It was raining when I stepped outside- not heavy rain, but the kind of light drizzle that you have to squint through to stop it from going in your eyes. The kind of drizzle you can’t really feel on your skin, but that gets your clothes wet inexplicably quickly. A van in the car park reversed towards me. I backed away and took cover in a small alley that ran between the side of the library and a high stone wall.

A gust of wind came from nowhere. A cat was startled from her position on the wall, leapt down and darted past. I turned to watch her run down the alley behind me, to cower beside the library bins, when I saw a door I’d never seen before.

It looked like it had seen better days- it was grubby, weather beaten, and the paint was flaking off in several places. Above it there was a panel of glass with faded gold lettering that spelled, ‘Come, sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts’.

Was this a part of the library? I’d walked past this place so many times. How had I missed it? What was this mysterious door tucked away behind a library, hidden from sight by a few pungent bins? Where did it lead? And why was it slightly open?

I made my way over to it and pushed on the wood. It didn’t budge. I pushed harder and there was an almighty creak as it scraped against the floor. It opened wide enough for me to slip through.

I found myself standing in a once- grand foyer. My footsteps echoed and I wondered why this place was a secret. A white marble statue of a woman reading a book sat in the middle of a chipped mosaic floor. Behind her rose a staircase that reached a small landing. I started climbing, cautiously at first and then a little quicker until I reached that little landing. I chose the stairs on the right, but it didn’t matter- they both lead to the same place. Another landing, but this time there were a set of double doors in front me.

I hesitated. Surely this would be the point where my luck ran out. Nobody would leave these unlocked too. I pushed. They sprang open with no resistance.

Music filled my ears and I was hit by the smell of freshly made biscuits. Rows of worn and threadbare seats filled with people that looked too vibrant for their surroundings looked out over a stage where performers were beginning to take their places. An usher took my arm. “You’re just in time,” he said and smiled like he had been waiting for me.

He lead me to the only remaining empty seat in the Upper Circle and handed me a red and white striped paper bag filled with biscuits. They were light and sweet and still warm.

The lights dimmed and a performance began on stage unlike any other I have ever seen. For a moment I forgot where I was.

Actors became characters who then became my friends. They sang songs that brought me to tears and a lullaby that relaxed me more than a good night’s sleep ever could. There was fire and thunderstorm on stage that was so realistic I jumped with every crash of thunder. Things moved and people flew with no visible wires attached. A man turned in to a flock of doves before my eyes and a woman vanished from the middle of the stage to appear in one of the boxes seconds later. They battled daemons with flames and flew like angels. The applause when they took their final bow was deafening.

And then the curtain came down and the lights went up and I was alone. The stage was empty, the seats were threadbare and falling apart and my lonesome applause echoed in an empty space.

I ran from the theatre, back down the stairs and in to the Foyer. ‘Our revels now are ended’, the words glinted at me in gold from the back of the door. I pushed it open and stepped outside.

Back in the car park, drenched in sunlight.

And the door was gone.

Via Daily Prompt: Hidden

An Experiment

The room is set up like always, just the Professor and I and a few empty chairs. He attaches electrodes to my head and we begin.

When we are done for the day The Professor shows me the readings that the various machines had been taking- graphs and charts that I pretend to understand. I’m too tired to listen to what he is saying, but nod as he shows what my brain had looked like during the whole ordeal. It looks a lot less frightening when it’s reduced to bright colours on a sheet of paper.

“Do you see that, right there?” he points to a spike in the data that I’d have to be blind to miss.

“Yes.”

“That’s where you almost did it, that’s where you almost made contact with the Other Side.” His eyes are glistening with excitement. The paper trembles in his hand. “Ah well,” he smiles at me. “There’s always tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” I nod. I don’t tell him that I didn’t almost get to the Other Side. I don’t tell him that the empty chairs are now occupied.

via Daily Prompt: Spike

The Final Illusion

“The trick, my friend,” The Illusionist once told me, “Is to always let them think they’ve seen you three times. They stop looking after that.”

Despite having been told this, I could never spot how he did it. I knew the Great Lafayette better than most and I could never tell the difference between the real him and his doubles.

He was a cut above other entertainers. He could appear and reappear seemingly at will. He could take very specific and distinctive objects and send them to different parts of the theatre in the blink of an eye. He could destroy things and heal them again with a simple touch. He could enchant animals to do things I never dreamed possible.

But it was his finales that really set him above everyone else.

An audience watched as a lion roared. He shook his mane and paced the length of his cage. Around him jugglers swallowed fire and balanced knives, contortionists folded themselves in to glass boxes so small I think I would have struggled to get my feet in them. And the Great Illusionist Lafayette sat so still that a flock of doves came to rest peacefully on him.

A young woman walked on stage. Slowly and deliberately she made her way towards the lion’s cage. Lafayette did not move. She opened the door of the cage and still he did not move. She locked it behind her. He remained still.

Then two things happened at once. The lion rose up on his hind legs. The doves around Lafayette sensed the danger and moved in a flurry of fearful feathers. The lion made to pounce on the defenceless girl. She screamed.

Then the lion’s skin fell away from it’s body and out stepped the Great Lafayette.

The crowd were on their feet. On the other side of the stage, the doves came to settle back down on an empty chair.

The Great Lafayette let himself and his assistant out of the cage and stepped forward to take a final bow. As he did so something snapped. A crack. A crash. And the curtains went up in flames.

The audience stayed on their feet.  The stage was obscured by smoke, but they peered around. Where would he come from next? Would he be in amongst us somewhere? A door at the back burst open. There was a gasp, but it was not him. It was an usher, wide-eyed and pale.

“GET OUT!” he shouted. “THIS IS NOT PART OF THE SHOW!”

It took a few moments before anyone believed him and then chaos rained down on all of us. There was a stampede out of the door.

The fire spread quickly. I could still smell it when I reached the evening air outside. I could see smoke pouring out of the stage door. And there he was- my friend, The Great Lafayette, coughing and choking on the smoke. I remember it because he looked me in the eye.

“Where is my horse?” he looked around at us all. “Where is Magic?”

When nobody could answer him he ran back in to the flames.

They found his body under the front of the stage the next morning, charred beyond recognition but still wearing his costume. We buried him, I paid my respects and they continued to clear out the theatre.

Then they found his body for a second time.

Charred beyond recognition, but definitely wearing his rings.

Who was the first man? The real Illusionist? A stunt double?

I stood in the burnt out skeleton of the Empire Theatre trying to distinguish any feature on this body that might have belonged to my friend. I found myself smiling and the scorched skull grinned back at me.

“Always let them think they’ve seen you three times,” I muttered to myself.

From deep in the wings I thought I heard a chuckle and a voice that whispered, “They always stop looking after that.” 

 


 

 

*This is a fictitious account of the real death of the Illusionist Lafayette at Edinburgh’s Empire (now Festival) Theatre in 1911. 

More info on the real story here: Scotsman article.

via Daily Prompt: Chuckle

For Sale: One Nearly Empty House

For Sale:

A spacious, four bedroom house in a quiet neighbourhood. 10 minute drive from the beach and 15 from the City centre. Bedrooms are all large with stunning sea views. Newly refurbished kitchen and dining area.  Ideal family home.

Property also comes with an attic ghost. Not creepy, just extremely cranky (especially around holidays). He moans and wails and rattles his chains a lot and there seems to be very little any of us can do to calm him down. He refuses to leave, which seems fair enough as he was technically here first.

Will accept offers under the asking price.

via Daily Prompt: Cranky