#AtoZChallenge Who Are the Ghosts in My Attic? Isabella

Businessman hand holding a Crystal BallLet’s be clear about one thing. Isabella is not a ghost. Well, at least not yet. As far as I know, she just likes to pretend she is. I’m not going to say she is crazy either, but maybe she is just a little bit.

I followed her from one room to the next beginning on the main level of the house and then eventually working our way up the staircase to the bedrooms. She made a lot of sounds as we moved and sometimes she hummed or chanted softly, but none of that really made sense to me.

Finally, we stopped at the foot of the attic steps. She turned and looked at me. Was I supposed to lead?

“That is where they stay,” I said indicating the door, although being a highly recommended psychic, I had sort of expected her to know that already.

“I want to go up and take a look around,” she announced after an awkward silence. I ignored the warnings in my head screaming this was a bad idea and nodded. Slowly she ascended, one step at a time.

I probably should have followed but I couldn’t. My feet kept me firmly rooted where I stood as a wave of nausea struck me fiercely. Isabella opened the door and disappeared into their domain. Too dizzy to stand, I collapsed onto the bottom step to rest my head in my hands. I counted, forcing myself to breath. Inhale. Exhale.

Time barely passed, or at least it felt that way, before I noticed her standing at the bottom of the steps looking down at me. On shaky legs I attempted to stand.

“Well, what happened? What did you sense? What can I do?” I whispered because I was too afraid that they might hear me. I glanced up and felt relief as I realized that Isabella had at least closed the attic door behind her.

“There is definitely an energy here,” she said making no attempts to lower her own raspy voice. I cringed.

“Yes, but what do you think?” I wasn’t paying a psychic to tell me I had ghosts. I knew that much already.  “How do I get rid of them?”

“Not them. I only sense one entity in this house and I really don’t get the feeling you need to fear. It isn’t malevolent.”

“One? That can’t be right. I’ve spoken to at least eight of them already.”

She raised one eyebrow as if she couldn’t believe me or that I dared to question her professional assessment.

“A spirit can make you believe many things but I assure you, there is only one.”

I sighed heavily. Isabella obviously wouldn’t be of any help to me and I’d just spent one hundred dollars to do nothing but potentially anger the ones that didn’t want me to go poking where I didn’t belong.

“Anyway,” she continued, “I will perform a simple cleansing ritual and burn sage in all the rooms, especially the attic. This will send the energy back where it belongs and you will be free to enjoy your home.”

“Does that cost extra?”

Raised eyebrows again. “Ms. Ingram, do you want me to fix this problem or not?”

“Of course. It’s just that –”

That I think she’s clueless. Likely.

“– that I’m a little short on money at the moment.”

“No worries. I’ll give you a special discount. You are a friend of Sylvia’s, after all.”

“Thanks,” I muttered as I followed her back down the staircase and into the living room. She went to her large bag and started rummaging for things. At least she came prepared, I thought.

“Would you like a cup of tea?” I asked.

“That would be nice, thank you.”

She’d pulled out bundles of what I could only assume must be sage as I went to the kitchen, grateful to get away from her and the heavy perfume she wore. Strong scents gave me a headache and this lady was sending me straight to migraine territory. Then again, maybe it had more to do with the fact that I was no better off then where I’d started with the ghosts.

I leaned against the counter waiting for the kettle to boil. Perhaps I was being too hard on her? For all I knew, whether there was one ghost or twenty in my house, this sage thing just might do the trick and I could avoid putting the house up for sale. Being the only one remaining in my family, I had been feeling kind of guilty ever since making that decision. The house belonged to me.

I belonged to the house.

I shivered for no apparent reason at all.

I could hear Isabella humming as she moved through the house doing her work and another strong scent hit my nose, what I could only assume must be the burning sage.

“Geez, watch the crazy lady burn down the house and my luck, I still won’t be rid of the ghosts,” I muttered under my breath as I poured the boiled water over the tea bags.

I thought of Benjamin and my heart ached. This had to be the right decision.

When I returned to the living room, Isabella was humming her way up the main staircase.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” she called back to me.

Just as well I had nothing better to do. I set the two mugs of tea on the end table and made myself comfortable on the couch while I waited. Outside the blue sky promised a lovely day and I decided I should get out and take a walk. The fresh air would do me some good. I smiled watching the birds, hopeful. The sage had to work.

Isabella screamed.

The sound of it sent shivers through me and without a second thought, I raced up the steps to find her wide eyed and pale in the middle of the hallway trembling … like she’d just seen a ghost?

This should be familiar territory for a highly recommended psychic, surely.

A faint smell of burning filled my nose. This time it didn’t have the pleasant aroma of sage.

“What happened?”

“Your house — the g- g- ghost — I can’t —”

“What happened?” I repeated, annoyed that she couldn’t seem to communicate with me but before I could hear her response, I was distracted by a waft of smoke coming down from the attic. The door was wide open and I could see the flames begin to lick around its edges.

“Oh god,” I moaned.

Luckily, I’d kept a fire extinguisher on each floor just as a general safety precaution. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever figure I’d need it for a situation like this. I grabbed the nearest one and ran up the steps. Thankfully, the fire hadn’t spread far and I was able to put it out. I stood for a moment as I tried to catch my breath and assess the damage.

“I take it you didn’t like our new friend, Isabella,” I said to my ghosts. I couldn’t see them but I knew they were listening.

By the time I was sure the fire was out and I went back downstairs, Isabella was gone. She’d taken her bag, her bundles of sage, and disappeared.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be hearing from her again.


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#AtoZChallenge Who Are the Ghosts in My Attic? Daisy.

old kettle on the stove an abandoned houseThe rain fell in big, fat drops outside my bedroom window. I stretched and rolled over, convinced that my headache would never end. My head had been pounding most of the day and although my curiosity compelled me to stay up and wait for my next ghost, listening to the sound of the rain tap lightly against the window was lulling me into a drowsy state. Since sleep would likely be the only reprieve from the throbbing in my head, I didn’t fight it.

The soft patter of footsteps in the hallway brought my focus back to the bedroom and away from the dream I’d been having of sitting on the beach digging my toes in the sand. I groaned. Anyone else may have feared the possibility of an intruder but I didn’t have to open my eyes to know what lurked outside my bedroom door – a ghost.

“Go away,” I complained. I flopped onto my stomach and pulled the pillow over my head as the sound of footsteps grew closer.

When I dared to peek out from my makeshift hiding place, I realized that my ghost was having fun turning my reading lamp on and off.

“Stop that,” I said, less than amused by the antics.

“Naughty, naughty, get out of bed,” said a voice so strong that I tossed aside the pillow just to confirm that she was indeed one of the dead.

A plump woman in her late forties stood at the foot of my bed with her hands on her hips. I sat up to get a better look. I was pretty sure she was one of them but her presence was so much brighter and solid that I could barely see through her like I could the others. I rubbed my eyes, deciding that I must still be dreaming.

“Do you plan to stay in bed all day, you lazy good-for-nothing? There is work to be done.”

“Work?” I said. “It’s night and I’m tired. Plus, I don’t feel well. Can this wait until tomorrow?”

“Complain, complain. Get your lazy butt out of this bed or I will see to it that your punishment will be remembered.”

“Who do you think you are ordering me around like that?”

Suddenly the blanket and sheets vanished, pulled onto the floor by some unseen force. I gasped and jumped out of bed standing on shaky legs.

“We must prepare for the banquet this evening. No time to waste. Everything must be perfect or you will be out of work and I will see to it that you never work again.”

I shuddered. I didn’t dare ask how she meant to do that. So far, I found this ghost to be the most annoying and obtrusive, not to mention, just plain rude.

“Off to the kitchen with you then.”

I gave my bed one final wistful look as I rubbed my aching head and made my way down the main staircase and into the kitchen as I’d been ordered. I was already counting down twenty minutes in my head until this spirit lost her mojo and went back to where she came from.

I flipped on a switch bathing the kitchen in fluorescent light. I felt a little silly standing there in my nightgown in the middle of the night. I waited for further instruction from my ghost but there was no sign of Madame Bossy Pants. I was about to give up and go back to bed when there was a loud clanging sound of pots and pans on the other side of the kitchen. A dish flew through the air and smashed into the wall behind me, just missing my head by about an inch. I shrieked.

“There you are. Doing nothing again! Get to it. We don’t have all day.”

“But I don’t work here,” I whined, bracing myself for another flying plate. “I live here.”

The woman materialized in front of me again, hovering several inches off the floor. She studied me a moment and I wondered if the truth was finally starting to sink in.

“It’s all wrong,” she shouted as she gave up on me and started circling the room. “This is terrible and it’s all your fault.”

Three more plates flew toward me in quick succession but by some fate I was able to dodge them.

“If you calm down, perhaps we can work it out?”

“I’m ruined and it’s all because of you.”

“What did I do?”

“If you could be on time just once and do what I ask of you like all the other servants then none of this would have happened.”

“You must be Daisy.”

I remembered my grandfather telling me a story about her that had been passed down to him but I couldn’t remember the details. I had been a little girl at the time and as far as I had known, Daisy was someone my grandfather had made up. The only part of the story that stuck in my mind was how others had feared the woman. Now I understood why.

The dishes came faster now. I sank down against the back of the island counter hoping to find protection as fragments of porcelain rained down around me. Great, now I was going to have to go shopping for dishes.
Was Daisy insane, I wondered? The other ghosts had known I wasn’t one of them but Daisy was too wrapped up in vengeance to acknowledge that I wasn’t the source of her misery. According to the clock on the wall, Daisy was exceeding her twenty minute time limit as well. Just my luck that the craziest ghost would also be the strongest.

When the assault on my crockery finally subsided, I dared to peek around the corner. Daisy stood with her hands covering her face, a diminished version of the bright entity that she’d been earlier.

“It’s over,” she said softly as I stood up to face her. I took two careful steps in her direction. “It’s all over.”

“What happened, Daisy?”

In a puff of smoke, Daisy vanished and despite my efforts to remain calm, the sudden reaction made me jump a little. It was as if someone had taken a big breath and blown out a candle. I called her name a couple of times but eventually I gave up. Daisy was gone.

“Well, that was the oddest encounter yet,” I said turning in a circle to assess the damage she’d left behind. I had a lot of cleaning to do in the morning thanks to this ghost but for now, my bed still waited where I would find warmth and comfort and hopefully a reprieve from the ever growing headache. After meeting Daisy, however, I very much doubted my dreams would be peaceful.


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#AtoZChallenge Who Are the Ghosts in My Attic? Caroline.

Beautiful ghost girl in white dressA cool breeze floated over me and despite the warm evening air, I was grateful I’d grabbed a jacket before leaving the house. The sweat from my run served to cool me even faster so that my teeth chattered slightly and goosebumps covered my flesh.

I stood at the edge of the property looking up at the big, old Victorian house and shuddered, this time having nothing to do with the temperature. In one of the upstairs windows I imagined the little boy, Benjamin, who had cried in my arms. I thought he peeked out at me, secretly waving and smiling. I gave him a little wave back, careful not to draw attention, not because I was worried about the neighbors, but because I was worried about the man who had frightened him so much, the man who had taken his young life. Over and over the little boy would be forced to relive that pain and suffering. It hardly seemed fair. The afterlife overwhelmed me and even my run hadn’t managed to ease my anxiety about who I would encounter next.

Just as I was about to go inside, movement from the back of the house caught my eye. As I refocused my attention, I realized the figure of a young woman floated soundlessly across the yard. I glanced at my watch. My visitor of the evening was early. My post-run shower would have to wait until after I’d had the opportunity to speak to her.

As I jogged closer to the overgrown garden area of the backyard, I noticed that the young woman wasn’t merely out for a stroll in the lovely spring evening. She paced frantically, twisting her hands together, seeming to be talking but as far as I could tell, she was alone.

“Is everything alright?” I asked as I approached her cautiously. She didn’t even acknowledge my presence, continuing to pace back and forth, running her hands through her smooth, black hair.

When she switched directions again so that she was coming toward me, I was certain she would see me but instead she kept walking, almost moving right through me. I felt the chill circle around me again and I folded my arms over myself to keep warm.

“I would like to hear your story,” I said even though I didn’t expect a response.

I sighed and moved to sit on a an ornate cement bench to ease my tired legs. I imagined Agatha might have sat on this very bench on one time when she had been tending her garden. It must have been beautiful back then. I made a mental note to start clearing out the dead plants and weeds before spring really got into full bloom. Although I would never manage to restore it to what it may have been like long ago, I would look forward to spending time just as Agatha had, growing my own flowers and vegetables.

“I don’t know where to go. I can’t keep hiding like this.”

The sound of her voice startled me out of my daydreams and it took me a moment to realize that she’d stopped pacing and spoke directly to me. She hovered just above the ground and I remarked at how truly beautiful she was. She couldn’t have been older than mid-twenties and she had wide dark eyes that reminded me of Benjamin.

“You are Benjamin’s mother,” I said softly, mostly to myself. The resemblance between them was uncanny.

“Yes, I am Caroline. Can you help me? I’m afraid he will kill us both.”
I sighed sadly. I didn’t want to be the one to inform her that she was already dead. There was nothing I could do to change that.

“Who are you afraid of?” I asked.

“It’s Victor. He’s gone mad. I am certain he’s already killed a man and I believe he’s capable of killing again. Benjamin isn’t safe here. You have to help me protect him and get him out of here.”

Caroline melted to her knees, her white dress flowing around her as she did. Her eyes filled with tears as she reached one elegantly slender arm toward me. Her icy hand touched mine and I shuddered again.

“I don’t know how I can help.”

“I have nowhere left to turn.”

“There is no one who can help you? What about Benjamin’s father?”

“Victor is his father and there is no one else left.”

“Why would a man want to kill his own wife and son?”

“I am not his wife.”

“Ohhh,” I said.

“I didn’t want him to find out about Benjamin but now he knows the truth and he will kill us both.”

“Surely there must be some other way?”

I watched her rise to her feet and resume her pacing, twisting her hands together again, and mumbling incoherently.

“Maybe I can talk to Victor,” I suggested hopelessly. I knew it wouldn’t change the past but maybe I could help to give peace to their restless souls. Suddenly a purpose filled me. Perhaps it had been preordained that I should inherit this house? Perhaps fate brought me here for a reason?

“NO!” Caroline shouted. Her form shot up into the night sky and blazed through the trees. The chill wrapped around me again, this time squeezing me tightly until I could hardly catch my breath. I tried to move but I was frozen in place, shivering uncontrollably.

When she finally let me go, I fell off the bench and staggered forward, gasping for air. She materialized in front of me again looking serene and beautiful but in her eyes still raged a storm.

“Victor is mine and you will never have him,” she said.

“I don’t want Victor.” I struggled to my feet feeling confused and brushed myself off. One moment she was pleading for my help and the next she was threatening me?

“He is my only love. We will be together one day, you will see.”

“What about his wife?” I dared to ask.

“She won’t be a problem much longer.”

I shuddered again.

“And when he meets his son…” Her voice trailed off and she looked into the distance sad and lost.

“He will threaten to kill you both,” I whispered too softly for her to hear.

The look in her eyes changed to fear and she began pacing again. I simply stood and watched her as the anxiety gnawed away until finally she faded into the night.

No matter how long I stood in the shower letting the hot water pour over me, I couldn’t erase the deep chill that had settled into my bones that night.


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A is for Alien Abduction

Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger.

That’s me. I don’t know what it is about writing in a blog that makes me seize up in utter terror every time I open to my dashboard. I like to write. Really, truly, I do. So then, why is it so difficult to post something here every once in a blue moon (aside from that whole a million things to do and not enough time to do it idea, of course)? I can come up with little posts for twitter or facebook but give me free reign to write more than 160 characters and my brain goes blank. I forget how to write. I don’t know what’s going on but if you figure out, please feel free to share.

Rest assured, even though I’ve been out of touch, you haven’t been forgotten. I would also like to take a moment to say thank you for all the new followers I’ve had recently. I do appreciate your taking the time to follow and I am going to do my darndest to start posting once in a while. I mean that.

So, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to come up with ways to keep me writing. I’ve seen others use the alphabet effectively to come up with blog posts. I’m not sure exactly what the “rules” were in this approach but heck, who said I ever followed rules anyway, right? I’ll make it up as I go. Here is my own version of what I’ll call “alphabet blogging” and it will be my new Monday feature.

Today, A is for Alien Abduction! Why? you ask… Well, why not? I couldn’t actually come up with anything better on short notice. (Part of that whole blank brain syndrome.) I was watching a movie recently where one of the previews was for The Fourth Kind, a movie that I will not be watching anytime soon less I would like to have nightmares for the next several days. (weeks? months? years?) A quick scan of the movie premise assures that I will not be moving to Alaska either. But thinking about aliens always leads me to wonder why I’ve had this life long fear of aliens, or particularly alien abduction. I don’t know.

It’s not that I sit around thinking about aliens every day, mind you. Really, I don’t. But I suppose if I had to pick a ‘monster’ from stories or movies that I fear the most, it would have to be them and I feel a little guilty for automatically lumping them into that ‘monster’ category but that’s how I’ve seen them portrayed. (minus E.T., of course) I believe in ghosts but I don’t fear being haunted. I don’t know if I believe in aliens (the abducting, probing kind anyway) but I sure don’t want to have an encounter. I don’t want to even read about it in the newspaper, thank you very much. Although I am sure having that experience could lead to some interesting blog posts, I’m going to pass.

Every once in a while, I wonder if maybe I’ve been abducted multiple times over the course of my life and I just don’t remember it? (Cause you know, they do that whole brain wash thing afterward so I can’t run off and tell people about their shady night time experiments.) I laugh it off and tell myself it’s absurd. I’d have to remember something or at least have unexplained marks to show for it, right? Then I look at my children and I think … well, some days I’m not quite sure where exactly they did come from. WHAT IF?? I could be walking around with half human / half aliens! (Ha ha ha)

Maybe someday I’ll even write a story about it …

Next Monday I’ll be celebrating the lovely letter B. B is for ….?? Your choice. Pick a word and offer it up in the comments. If I actually get any suggestions (please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top?), I will choose one of those. If I don’t get any suggestions, well, who knows what sort of ramblings you’ll end up with…

I leave you with four past posts I’ve written concerning our lovely subject of aliens. 🙂

https://stephanieingram.com/2012/06/28/holy-caterpillar-batman/ (The alien caterpillar that invaded my backyard last summer.)
https://stephanieingram.com/2012/06/11/aliens-have-landed/ (Fun with aliens from my younger days.)
https://stephanieingram.com/2012/10/09/october-challenge-year-9-writing-writing-writing/ (My start in writing included a special story about UFO’s.)
https://stephanieingram.com/2013/01/03/is-there-life/ (More boring ramblings about the possibility of life on other planets.)