A Haint Between Pages
Well hello there, Internets, nice to see you again. Or, I guess I should say, it will be nice. Blogging being what it is, I’m coming to you from October and you, my friends, are sitting pretty in November. It is two days before the spookiest day of the year, and I’ve got the creepy on the brain.
AF HENLEY: Don’t let her fool you, gang. Creepy is her middle name the OTHER 364 days of the year, too.
AF Henley: *leery* What?
Nothing. I was just contemplating how my name is apparently Kelly Kinkycreepysouthernweirdopeculiarassertiveaggressivebizareefreakycutecreativecruelsexypantssmartass Wyre these days.
AF HENLEY: …I don’t… I just…
Well, let’s take advantage of Henley’s speechlessness while we can, shall we?
Anyway, creepy stories being on the mind, (and fall/winter being the best time to tell those tales) I thought I’d share one with y’all.
A few years ago I (got suckered into) went antiquing. I was invited by my stepmother, whose brother and sister-in-law were in town. They wanted to see “the sights,” which is laughable in a town our size, but hey. We do have a downtown and there are plenty of little quaint shops and also antique stores, resplendent with overpriced end tables, dishes, and dust. They’re cool buildings, though; some of the oldest in town, and as I am a sucker for a poorly-lit staircase or strange building design, I agreed and off we went.
It was a sunny day in September, I believe, and we roamed the sidewalks until we found one particular store. The front door jingled as we entered, and a nice little lady asked if we’d like some water or sugar-sweetened Coke. I took the first, and immediately we split up to wander the place on our own.
The shop smelled like the top floor of a hot library combined with the pungent aroma of floor cleaner and wood. The air was damp despite the climate control, and the only windows were in the front. The lights were overhead and an odd mixture of modern florescent and hanging lamps. The boards creaked underfoot as I made a slow circuit through couches, chairs, and all manner of brick-a-brack. Dirty glass cabinets held more of the “priceless” antiques, and there was the odd display counter sans clerk to man it. The building was mostly deserted of humanity, actually, it being mid afternoon on a weekday, so I hunted through piles of costume jewelry and flicked through silk scarves without ever once being asked if I needed assistance. That was fine by me.
Eventually, I found the stairs and sure enough, they were narrow and concrete covered in plastic grip pads so people are less likely to trip. I went up to the second floor. Not finding much interesting, I kept meandering until I found a second and smaller staircase. I went up it, and I entered a wide room that could have been some sort of living room or parlor in the days when those rooms were likely apartment buildings over the store. I passed by a bucket catching dripping water from the ceiling, and I stepped up again through a pair of sliding pocket doors.
I had discovered… the room with the books.
Thousands of tomes rested in boxes, some cardboard and some plastic. There were tables piled high and shelves stuffed to the brims. Some were tagged, some weren’t, and I think I spent a good hour drooling and chuckling over titles. I petted spines, flipped pages, and inhaled mildew and probably mold. I didn’t care. Books are magic and old books are potent.
I’d collected a nice armload and was about to leave when I found, of all things, a French primer. Now, I don’t speak French, though my mother understands quite a bit. My stepmother, who has always been delightfully odd, spoke Frenchbefore she learned English and considering that English was her household’s native language, that was, shall we say, interesting? Bemused, I put down my stack and picked up the primer. It had a desk and a little girl on the front. Her eyes were drawn without pupils, making the cover unsettling. The eyeless girl watched me study her, and I looked through the book for all of three seconds before deciding I had to have it. I took my treasures down the twisty-turny path that had taken me to the land of books. I found my stepmother and various peoples, we paid for our findings, and we left.
When I got home, I took the books out of my car… except, for whatever reason, for the French primer. I’m not sure why. Intuition? Premonition? Some vague idea that the thing should not be allowed in my house? I have no clue, but I took everything else inside, set it up and put it away, but that book? It stayed in the backseat.
That night I started having the dreams.
Objects in mirror might be more real than they appear.
At first it was scratching at my bedroom door. Thanks to other previous bizarre-ass experiences that lead to an education about such things, my house is warded. That just means that typically the bad juju is left on the porch, thanks for trying.
Unless, of course, the bad juju is in a garage directly beneath the bedroom in which I sleep.
My bedroom door, though, is further protected. This might sound insane, but if you wake up one too many times with shadows in your room that aren’t shadows at all but things that would really like a chat… Well. I don’t know. Think I’m crazy if you must, but I contend that if physics — so the hardest science of them all — tells us that 90% of the Universe is made up of Dark Matter, AKA Shit We Cannot Identify and Do Not Know What It Is or Means or Does, then really? Truly? Anything is in-damned-possible.
Back to the scratching… Think nails trying to claw their way through wood. It certainly got my attention. And me being me, I got up, in the dark, went to the door, opened it, annoyed, and glared at absolutely nothing.
“Scram,” I said. “I’m tryin’ to sleep.”
AF HENLEY: Oh, FUCK no. I’d move.
- Believe me when I tell you my metaphysical balls have not always been this big. They swell in direct proportion to the amount of weirdness in one’s life, and, well, mine’s been plenty entertaining.
AF HENLEY: True ‘dat.
Anyway, back to sleep I went and the scratching continued intermittently. I ignored it. The next night, I had “dreams” of a woman in the hallway. But not just any woman. She wasn’t standing or sitting or walking or running or even doing a soft-shoe. Her arms were too long for her body, as though they’d been stretched on a torture rack, and she was dragging herself, ape-style, on her knuckles. Whump-whump-WHUMPTHUD… Whump-whump-WHUMPTHUD.
AF HENLEY: Yeah. Move. I would. Right then. Packed and OUT WE GO…
It crossed my mind. Her name was Edna.
I know this because she kept screaming it at me.
I’d wake up. There’d be nothing there. I’d fall into a fitful slumber. And there’d be Edna. Face too-long, jaw unhinged, eyes wild and white, arms dragging a body dressed in a tan suit that dated her somewhere around the 40s. Maybe 30s. Fashion isn’t really my thing.
Ghosts in my hallway, though… that’s my bag. Apparently.
I took this for a total of three nights. By the third restless/sleepless night, I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped trying to sleep, as that’s when I could hear her caterwauling. I’m not sure what she was so pissed about. She wasn’t a reasonable sort of… whatever. I’d have to scream, “WHAT IS UP WITH YOU WOMAN?” and I just wasn’t in for that much commitment. Anything that disturbs my sleep really pisses me off.
So I sat outside on our back deck watching the sun come up on morning number four. I called my stepmother when I was pretty sure she’d be up. So around seven.
“Hi there,” she said.
“Have something you need to talk about?” she paused. “Someone?”
It’s like that with her.
She hissed through her teeth. “How long?”
“Three nights. Not doing well. I think I officially have a metaphysical problem.”
“Hm. What’s changed?”
I thought about it. And I saw the book in the backseat of my car as clearly as though it was right in front of my face. “That book. The French one.”
“I’ve warned you about French.”
My stepmother believes that French — the language, not the people — is connected to some darker time for me in a former life. Or something like that. It’s hard to keep all the esoteric straight. I need to take better notes.
“I know, I know. Now what?”
“Come over. Bring the book.”
So I threw on clothes and off I went. Thankfully the drive is only about eight minutes. I pulled into the driveway and there was my father. He wakes up around five a.m., so this wasn’t disturbing him in the slightest. In fact, he looked amused. “I hear you have a book for me to burn.”
“Is that what we’re doing?” I asked, getting out of the car.
“Evidently so.” My father loves setting crap on fire. I don’t blame him.
My stepmother popped her head out of the house. “Don’t touch it!” she yelled at me. “Let your father do it. Energy’s feminine, masculine stabilizes.”
I just sort of nodded and blinked and opened my back door. Dad picked up the book with two fingers and hauled it off to the shop to throw it in the woodstove.
“Come on in, dear,” my stepmother said. “I’ve made you breakfast.”
She had also set me up in a cozy recliner with a teddy bear and a blanket. I slept for a solid couple of hours and then went home.
I don’t have to tell you that when nighttime came and bedtime rolled around and I wasn’t disturbed by scratching or images of women lumbering around my hallway screeching at me that I was extraordinarily relieved.
And I had to think, “Why me?”
And of course the Universe answered, with a smile, “Why not?”
AF HENLEY: It’s sort of amazing you’re not batshit crazy by now.
*lifts eyebrow* Who says I’m not?
AF HENLEY: You said it, not me.
’til next time, may the spooks be not with you (nor with me)!
A supernatural reincarnation romance novel.
Outer Banks bookstore owner Hyacinth Silver Fox has a secret millennia in the making: her soul was magically entwined with another, and at night she dreams of every lifetime they’ve ever spent together. The rules of their magic are simple: Hydee always knows her lover, but he, or she, doesn’t remember her. It’s up to Hydee to find and make her soulmate see they are destined for each other, and this lifetime is no different, but there’s one problem: her soulmate is Theo Monk, heartthrob actor and Hollywood’s sometime-infamous bad boy. Hydee’s hope of reuniting is wearing thin, but she has no idea how dire the situation really is.
Because meanwhile in California, Theo Monk is losing his mind. Anxiety and paranoia rule his life, along with his on-again-off-again girlfriend and her entourage. When fear and frustration push him to an edge, Theo cuts and runs as far from his problems as he can without knowing Fate’s giving him one last shot to unite with the only person who can help him. Hydee and Theo must save one another before hope runs out and Hydee’s despair and Theo’s fear keep them apart forever.
Get Your Copy Now on Amazon.com
Kelly Wyre enjoys reading and writing all manner of fiction, ranging from horror to romance. She used to work in advertising but is now happily chained to her writing desk and laptop. She believes she’s here to tell stories and to connect people with them. She’s written several novels, novellas, and short stories and has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
Kelly relishes the soft and cuddly and the sharp and bloody with equal amounts of enthusiasm. She’s a coffee addict, an avid movie lover, a chronic night owl, and she loves a good thunderstorm. Currently Kelly resides in the southeastern United States.
Connect with Kelly: