But it wasn’t the cold wind or the jagged lightning that had made her shiver. It was the book of ghost stories she was reading. The story she was reading now had made her blood run cold. It was about a ghost that haunted an old graveyard. One cold night the ghost let out a mournful moan. He missed the house where he had once lived. The ghost went to the nearby town and searched frantically for his home. He went from house to house, knocking on the doors. But no door opened for him.
Until, finally, he saw an old house sitting on a hill. The ghost began his weary climb up to the house… Dana stopped reading. She put the book down on her lap and searched the dark corners of the room with her eyes. Had she really heard something? Or was it just her imagination getting carried away? She sat very still for several moments. All she could hear was the cold wind howling around the house and through the trees. Dana picked up the book and began to read again.
But before she could get back into the ghost story, she heard a loud rapping sound… a rapping on the front door of the house. Dana sat very still. She waited, wondering if the rapping would go away. But it didn’t. It came again, louder than before. Whoever was there was not going away. Dana pushed off the blanket and got up from the couch. She hesitated in front of the fireplace, staring into its leaping flames. Should she see who was at the door? It was probably a neighbor. Or maybe it was someone that she knew. But maybe, her mind whispered, it was the sad ghost searching for his home… Dana fought off the crazy idea that had just come to her.
She walked out of the living room and into the hallway. Without hesitating, she pulled open the door. “Hi,” a timid voice said out of the dark. Dana’s face dropped with disappointment. It was just a boy from a nearby school. He had a pad and pencil in his hand, and he was dripping with water. “I was just wondering,” he said, “If your family might like to buy some candy for our school fund raiser?” “Come on in,” Dana said.
She opened the door wider for the boy to walk inside the hallway. “I’m Jason,” the boy said. “Would you like to buy some candy?” He asked eagerly. “No!, not exactly,” Dana answered, leading him into the room where she had been reading. “it’s just that I don’t want to be alone right now.” “What do you mean?” Jason asked, looking around the dimly lit room with its heavy curtains and strange antiques standing in corners. “What I mean,” Dana said, “is that I don’t want to be alone because I’m afraid.’ “Afraid of what?” “Of ghosts,” Dana said in a low voice, almost like a whisper.
Jason’s eyes darted around the room again. Even though he was new in town, he had already heard weird things about this house. It was one of the oldest in the area. Some of the kids in his class had warned him not to come here to try to sell candy. They had told him to forget it. Now he wished he had. “Your not afraid of ghosts, are you?” Dana asked, her voice trembling slightly. “Ah… no,” he answered. Just then a piece of wood made a loud crack in the fireplace. Jason jumped. A minute later there was a strange scraping sound over their heads.
Jason followed Dana’s wide eyes up to the ceiling. The sound came again. Like something heavy was being dragged across the floor above them. Jason stared at Dana, his eyes taking on a frightened gleam. “What was that?” Dana sunk back into the warmth of the overstuffed couch and pulled the blanket up around her. “It always starts that way,” she murmured. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jason said, getting up from his chair. “But I think it’s time for me to go.” Dana reached out an arm and pulled on Jason’s coat sleeve. “No! Don’t leave me alone tonight. Please? I just can’t face it by myself!”
Jason looked down at Dana’s pleading face. He wavered for a minute; then slowly he sat back down. “It’s true what they say about this house,” Dana whispered as though some other ears were listening and trying to hear what she had to say. “It really is haunted.” She suddenly stopped as a sad mourning sound came from upstairs. The sound moved from one side of the room to another. “What is that?” Jason asked, trying to sound brave. “It’s the ghost” Dana answered him. “A person was murdered in this house years ago, and their ghost roams this house searching for the remains of its body and its killer,” Dana said.
A cold sweat was standing out on Jason’s forehead now. He wondered if Dana was unbalanced; she sat there on the couch like a statue, not moving. He wanted to run out the door and never come back. He started to get up out of his chair again. “Wait!,” Dana cried out. “I can hear it in the hallway.” Jason strained his ears to hear. There it was. The mourning had started at the top of the high, winding staircase. He suddenly felt as though all the strength had drained out of his legs. He looked over at Dana, who was staring back at him in stark terror. “It’s never come this close before,” she whispered.
“Before, it always stayed upstairs.” The mourning grew louder and louder with each passing moment. The sound was getting closer to them! Jason inched away from the couch where Dana sat as still as death. He moved toward the door to the hallway. If only he knew another way to escape. But he had to pass the staircase. Finally he couldn’t stand it any longer. He dashed out into the hallway. “IT’S HIM!” Dana screamed. Jason’s legs were rooted to the floor in terror. He looked up the long, winding staircase.
Coming down was a huge figure in black. He held a bloody head in one hand, and an ax in the other, and had a satanic glare in his eyes. Jason ran back into the living room to grab Dana and take her out of this hell house. But he could only stare in ghastly horror at what he saw. There sat Dana, but she had turned into a decaying skeleton. Maggots and ants were skittering across her face. And a huge black spider was crawling out from a nest it had made in Dana’s skull.
Her yellowing teeth gleaming back at him with a wicked smile. Jason let out a bloodcurdling scream and ran for the door. He gave one terrified, backward glance before stumbling out into the stormy night, still screaming and screaming. A playful, innocent smirk crossed Dana’s rotting face. She went back and sat on the couch. And through her deep black empty eye sockets, began to re-read her favorite GHOST STORY.