I could not release it from my weary mind. Where would this strange preoccupation end?
|1282 word entry into the Haunted house contest for the prompt: Haunted, Dark Woods, Full Moon, Ghosts
It started with a vague hunger. I wanted something but didn’t know what. Restless, unable to sleep, the full moon drew me out under its gaze. The night was filled with an urgency I could not resist. I walked, careless of direction, letting my unfocused need draw me on.
Unbidden ghosts of old memories haunted my vision. The pattern of my footsteps carried me into a cold gray mist rising, curling, its tendril-like fingers urging me on. The silver tinted full moon blinked and was gone.
Fear invaded my soul. The old nightmare had come alive again in my thoughts. There was a hunger out there just beyond my senses. Lost to reason my imagination raced, turning the mist into unearthly creatures escaping from hell, ravenous for my soul.
Cold, dank, tears wept from where the mist left its embrace upon me. Clothed by the fine texture of these changeling ghostly auras, I became a shadow of myself, moving without aim, blind to anything but my need to escape that greater hunger lurking just out of sight.
A low keening cry moaned out from the swirling tide. No human throat could be adorned by such sound. The chilblains, tiny inflamed blood vessel lesions caused by the cold, made me realize my peril. Was it a stray storm wind calling out?
It was the mist itself, in its shapeless form feasting on me and my fear. Lost within it, I struggled to come to my senses. Surely it was my imagination I was unable to escape from and not this haunted dream of vapor holding me hostage.
My chattering teeth gnashed against each other into a fierce scowl. Blind I might be, the sodden silence in this dead of night made no sound, yet I walked feeling my way step by step through this endless gloom.
A mindless time later, the torture eased. Only a cold sweat adorning my brow remained of the past horror. The mist sank to the ground upon which I stood. My need returned full force. There, before me hovered my dream, beckoning me on towards the dark wood. She was sepulcher bleached white as a tomb embracing my lost love. My passion for her beat in my heart, haunting me still.
The cold chill of the forest path ate at my bones. I followed my lovely wreathe, uncaring as to our destination. Deeper we fled the two of us alone, together, as of old times where we were wed. My heart debauched with the sight of her knew no doubt.
If spirit our union were to be, I hungered to be such a guest. Forest shadows moaned through the cool breeze and naked limbs arching overhead. The smell of dank bog heavy with green Spanish Moss hanging from dead branches made me pause.
Bubbling gases warned me of misstep. Resolute I continued trusting my path to follow hers. If my grave she beckoned me with was the way to join her embrace my will would gladly drown myself there to meet her.
There is no haunting presence greater than one’s true love sequestered in the whispers of the mind. Each heartbeat echoed that pulse. I yearned beyond reason. She glowed with a soft inner beauty transforming this blackened place. The sight of her in comparison only made her more alluring.
I bore this sight with heated blush. Her seductive length of hair half hid her smile and starlit wink of eye. She paused in curve of thigh. Her breasts rose and fell in greeting. We were now that close.
I could taste the memory of our first kiss, the scent of her warmth caressing my touch. This teasing flared into a white heat coursing through my veins. When I reached for my bride she was gone.
Was my mind flirting with me? From the height of my joy, I fell into dark depression. My gaze searched thicket and deadfall to no avail. The giants inhabiting this realm stood still in repose, a circle of forest trees judging my next move.
Forward or back. One side or the other. Which path lay salvation and which loneliness which I could no longer bear.
My only guide whispered cold from the ground, that same cruel mist clouding my vision rose to greet me. Within its folds, I felt her presence. A trace of her resided in its whispering touch.
Tempted beyond hope, I trembled in this grasp. My own searching hands found no purchase. Releasing my will, her breath came closer, kissing my lips open with her name unpronounced upon my tongue. I nearly fainted with relief. When I closed my eyes she was there.
We walked as one, seeming each to haunt the other with promise yet unfulfilled. My feet floated over our path touching only where needed to carry us on. What destination was that in the distance?
Her walking with me was destination enough, yet she would not tarry. Scarce had I measured our shared world than she danced ahead. The cloud of vapor weakened. Her form and substance solidified before a winding path frequented by the spore of animals having traveled this way.
It snaked and wound for I knew not how much further before revealing a velvet glade with a rising gabled roof. Blank windows and an open gaping doorway of an ancient single gilded home rose two stories before me.
My wife’s spell cast upon me made me blind to caution. Where she had disappeared inside so would I. The creaks and groans singing from worn wood planks distracted me. I remained uneasy upon the porch, marveling that such a structure as this had withstood the test of time.
My hands tested the strange carvings in the door frame. Unearthly creatures were trapped within its art. Gargoyles and demons etched in the wood did not hide from me.
Within the enclosure, more marvels were found. Not a wild bird or beast of the forest had made nest here. A table and chair awaited my rest. I massaged my furrowed brow awaiting developments. All would be revealed if I had but the strength to recognize its arrival. A swoon threatened me. I resisted its cause. Where was my beauty? No mist nor quivering silver moonlit being bewitched my yearning sight.
My hand traveled on its own volition to the aged leather cover of a book resting with me nearby on the table. I brought it to my lap, comforted by its reality and tested opening its pages.
There lay my bride’s name next to my own, together as they should be. But what was this? My death date lay scrawled next to hers in this my family bible.
Memory began serving me its haunting relief of images, me in my last moments, casting forth my fevered wish. My spirit rose from my last gasp of clay, to go wandering, drowning, clawing in search of my willowy love.
There she was, firm and supple before me, the mist before my eyes had only been within them. My bride had gone in search of me, returned me to our burial place.
I glanced at the vision of her reflected in the window under the moonlit silver sky. Clouds rode the heavens above. I followed my bride to reclaim my ancestral home. I rose, each step releasing me from these walls, floor, window and shelter fading into memory’s resting place.
As did we, the haunting having done its secret desire. My need was stilled as was that of my bride. Here, our memories, hopes, and dreams could mingle together while we shared our burial place within the bog.