NOTE: This is not my work. I really like this and requested permission to post this. Enjoy the read and comment.
The house on the hill by Charles Richard Brentner
How I came to find myself lying on the grass in front of the old house I never have been able to discover. Perhaps I had walked in my sleep from my college dorm, perhaps I was the victim of a prank on the part of my fraternity brothers after a keg party. That night has always had a bit of haziness about it. How ever it came to be though there I was though I do have to admit to having been unimpressed by the sight of the old house when I finally laid eye on it. It didn’t look like something to be feared. In point of fact it looked to be a rather dilapidated old structure that would fall over if the wind were to pick up just a bit more.
Local legend had it that the house had been built by a local sea captain as a wedding gift for his young bride. Certainly it was a large structure that had the smack of the sea about it, though that could also be because it was built not far from a cliff that descended some fifty
feet to a shoreline of sand and rock. The air had a bit of a nip to it in point of fact and if nothing else it may provide some shelter from the cool autumn night air. Especially as I had neglected to bring along a jacket and it was a good mile walk at the least to town.
As I approached the moon was rising and reflected light on windows that hadn’t been broken gave the house an almost surreal and homey look. As if the house were somehow welcoming a visitor after having been alone for so long. Of course such was ridiculous The old captain had been dead for over fifty years, his wife longer than that. She had died in childbirth taking their infant son along with her so the legend went and the captain, never a neighborly man to begin with, had gone into seclusion, coming out only once a week when he had to restock his meager larder.
According to the story there had come a week when he hadn’t come into the town, and people’s tongues began to wag about possible reasons for this departure from so old and established a routine. The local Pastor, a man named Jones, who had known the Captain and his late wife came to hear of it and set out with the village Dr. to discover what had happened. No doubt the captain had fallen ill and as he lived alone he had been unable to summon aid.
Upon arrival they had knocked at the door, expecting that either the captain would come to answer it or at least call out. No answer came from within however. With mounting dismay and disquiet the good man and his companion proceeded to enter the house. All was quiet within save for a low, constant creaking sound that at first they couldn’t locate. After several minutes search they determined it came from the parlor. Opening the door to this chamber they found the Captain. He had apparently suffered a fit of despondency and hung himself via the use of a rope attached to a metal hook which he had screwed into one of the solid oak cross beams which made up the ceiling.
I shivered, though whether from the cold of the night , or the thought of the old Captain’s end I cannot say. I have often been given to understand in these later years that a suicide can leave an unhealthy impression upon the environment in which it occurs, and that this impression can grow in strength if not dispelled by the presence of life. The house had stood empty since the Captain’s death, aside perhaps from infrequent visits from young boys dared to enter it by their friends.
In any event I had little choice in the matter. The weather was cooling off and other signs pointed to the rapid approach of a storm. Better the shelter of an old wreck like the Captain’s house than no shelter at all. And even without the storm it would be dangerous to walk too near the cliffs at night. Even with moonlight it would be possible to misjudge ones step and find oneself plunging to one’s death.
Turning the knob of the door I found it stiff, but unlocked and proceeded to enter. The atmosphere was stuffy and unpleasant, but then the house had been closed up for fifty years so how could it be otherwise? My feet left deep footprints in the dust upon the bare floor as I searched for a safe place to spend the night. Meanwhile the storm that had been threatening struck and the rain fell upon the old house’s roof in a torrent. I had made it inside just in time.
I considered my options. Upstairs no doubt there would be beds, but then could I trust the stairs? Better to stay on the ground floor than risk a broken leg from falling through decayed steps I thought. Finally after groping about for several minutes I determined that the best room for my repose would be the parlor. I had found the door almost by accident in the dark. Moonlight clear and crisp illuminated the room, showing me that there was a low shape on which I might hope to pass at least a somewhat pleasant night. Pulling a dust cloth from it I found a well padded divan. Excellent. There was even a cushion which might be pressed into service as a pillow.
I lay down, and slept. Sometime later, perhaps shortly before dawn I sat bolt upright upon my makeshift bed. What had wakened me? I couldn’t figure it out. Then the glow appeared. It was just a speck of light at first but then it grew larger and began to take on a definite shape. The shape of a man! I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. There was no doubt in my mind who this specter was, or rather whom he had been. I anticipated a scene wherein a ghost objected to an uninvited guest, but strangely he took no notice of me. Instead he went about doing something that I couldn’t quite understand at first. The light dawned. He was reenacting his suicide! I was certain of it. And when he at last hung in the air with a spectral rope around his equally spectral neck I breathed a sigh of relief. And that was very nearly my undoing. The Captain heard me, and his eyes fell upon my form. His eyes, oh lord his eyes. Never before or since have I seen such a look of malevolence upon any
countenance. He reached out for me, and I bolted from the room. I would gladly take my chances with the cliff than that. Better to risk the death of the cliffs than to deal with the Captain’s ghost.
Somehow, I don’t know how, I made it back to the village. I never told anyone about what I had seen that night. For a brief instant I feel sure I had seen into Hell itself, and I wanted no further interaction with ghosts. Believe this tale or not, you who read these words, but mark my words well. Ghosts do exist!