Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/715578-The-House
by Lori M
Rated: 13+ · Novella · Thriller/Suspense · #715578
Just because this house had no furniture in it didn't mean it was empty.
The House

My new house, 1236 Hill Manor Drive, I never dreamed I could own such a magnificent home. Built in 1902 it is majestic and it is huge, 24 rooms total. I must have passed by this house a million times in my lifetime but never really paid much attention to it until about three weeks ago when suddenly it's all I could think about.
I was out for a drive on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when I drove by and saw the for sale sign in the front yard. I normally would never have noticed but it had a huge reduced drastically sign atop it and it caught my attention. I was looking to move, maybe not buy a place but for some reason I decided that instant I must have this house. So I circled the block, pulled into the driveway and felt as though I had finally come home. I can't describe the comfort of that feeling except home, I'm finally home was my reaction.

I sat in my car in the drive and used my cell phone to call the realtor that very instant. She answered, Sally her name is, kind of sickeningly sweet southern woman. Sally was so excited that someone was interested in the house she drove over that instant to show it to me. To my surprise on entering the house I seemed to know just where everything was. I went straight to bedrooms and knew closet doors from bathroom doors instinctively. Sally even asked had I seen the house before. I had not.
I found myself saying "I'll take it" right there, this was my house and I had to have it. I would do anything I had to for it. I was approved on my loan with in two weeks.

I had movers packing me and moving me almost before the ink dried on the paperwork and the closing was pushed for me because I wanted to be all settled in as quickly as possible. I hired a moving company to pack me up so it would be quicker and the next day they met me at my new house with my things. I realized that I had no where near enough stuff to fill even a third of the rooms in the house but knew in time I would buy a piece of furniture here and there so I wasn't bothered that some of the rooms would be empty for now. I concentrated on the main rooms, living room, dining room, and kitchen and of course a guest bathroom and one of the many master bedrooms in the house that I had chosen for myself.
I set about making sure what furniture I had was perfectly arranged and that each item was just where it seemed to belong. I knew some of the house needed to be painted but mostly for freshening it up a bit since it hadn't been painted in I would guess about 30 years or more. I would do that all later, for now I had to be moved in and settled.
Finally the last box was emptied and the movers were driving off.

I was home.

I sat down in my rocking chair and marveled that all this was mine. This magnificent old majestic home was all mine. I knew it would take a lot to keep things up and make sure everything that needed to be done was done but I didn't care, I knew I could do it. I knew I would do it, no matter what.
Realizing it was late and I was hungry I decided I would drive into town and pick up something for dinner so I set the alarm I had installed the day before and I drove off to the hamburger place I'd chosen. I wasn't gone more than 15 minutes having decided to eat at home, the sight that greeted me as I pulled into my driveway was a startling one. When I had left only the lights in the living room and foyer were on and now every single light in the house was on, not a single room wasn't lit up.

I shook my head and laughed, the movers must have left them on and I must have not realized it when I drove off, it wasn't dark when I left and now it was dusk enough to see lights. I was just tired and hadn't noticed. I grabbed my burger and went up on the porch, suddenly I felt like someone was watching me, I got my keys out and unlocked the door getting in quickly and locking it back, setting the alarm quickly.
I walked to the kitchen and grabbed a cold soda out of the fridge and then made my way to the living room. I sat on the sofa and again looked around at this majestic home, still marveling it was all mine as I ate. I couldn't shake the feeling someone was watching me but I knew all the blinds were drawn and the alarm was set so I shrugged it off as just being overly tired and adjusting to a new place.

After I finished eating I made my way to each room turning off the lights. I made a mental note that some of the rooms needed painting worse than others and some seemed almost freshly painted, it seemed odd but it was late and I was tired so I decided that the next day I would take a good look and make actual notes of what needed to be done.
Finally I had gone to all of the rooms and turned off all of the lights I didn't want on and I decided it was time to make my bed, take a nice hot bath and climb into my nice soft bed for some much needed sleep. I left a small light above the sink on in the kitchen in case I needed a drink in the night and made my way to my bedroom. I was stunned to find my bed already made. I was sure I hadn't made it, I knew I was going to make it earlier but hadn't gotten to, one of the movers had me show him where the television went. I laughed, one of the movers must have made my bed, it was almost hilarious to me but it was also appreciated. He had done a wonderful job, even used my favorite set of sheets and the pillows were perfectly arranged. I laughed out loud at the image of one of those big burly movers taking time to make my bed up with the little flowery sheets and pillow cases and even taking the time to put the dust ruffle on. He must be married to a woman that has him help around the house and has shown him how to make a bed because it was so right, in fact it is exactly the way I would have made it myself.

I continued to laugh as I made my way to my dresser and pulled out a long nightshirt and some undies and headed to the bathroom where I anticipated a nice hot bath and relaxing for a while. When I
stepped into the bathroom it was cold and again I felt as though someone was watching me, intently staring at me, I got chills from it. Suddenly the scent of roses was overwhelming in the room, so strong it almost made me gag then it was gone, I smelled nothing but my own perfume. I didn't know what to think of it, it was certainly strange, I didn't have anything rose scented, I couldn't explain how it was so strong one moment and then completely gone the next. I was tired, too tired I told myself. I was imagining things now I was so tired.

I stopped the old claw foot tub up and started the water running into it, nice warm water, almost hot, I wanted a nice soak before bed. I added some vanilla bubble bath to the warm water and when it was filled just right I slid into the tub. I still felt as though I was being watched, like there was someone there with me watching me but I knew I was alone, the alarm was on and I had all the blinds closed. I told myself, yet again, that my imagination was working overtime.
I had relaxed in the tub, letting the warm vanilla water lull me almost to sleep but I was startled and snapped fully awake by the noise I heard. The television was on, I could hear the local news anchor talking about the storm moving in that night, he was rambling on and on about the Doppler imaging but it wasn't his voice or the news of a bad storm that scared me, it was the fact that I had not touched the television in my room or the living room since I had been there, suddenly the smell of roses was strong again. Not as strong as before but strong and then the television changed channels, now it was a sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun, a show I liked and usually would watch at this time of night but I was scared now. The TV was on, I had not turned it on, the TV was changing channels, and certainly I wasn't doing it. Then the rose scent was stronger and it got cold again, I was naked in the tub and the once warm water went stone cold. I started to shake, both terrified and cold. I saw the still water move, as if someone placed their hand in it and slowly moved it back and forth in the water. I couldn't move, I was shaking and terrified but I couldn't move.
Suddenly it was gone, the water was warm again and the scent was gone. I still shook, I still couldn't move, I was frozen in terror. My brain began to race, what was that? I thought of all the ghost stories I had heard, not that I hadn't believe them but I never believed I would be in any situation that would make me think I had encountered a ghost. Was it a ghost? What else could it have been, certainly not an invisible person, they didn't exist outside movies so what else could it have been? I finally was able to compose myself and get out of the tub, drying off and dressing quickly. The television was still on and I raced to my dresser for the remote control, it wasn't there, it was there when I got my nightie where was it now? It was on my bed, lying in the middle of the now turned down bed. I started to shake again, whatever it was it had turned the bed down for me. I suddenly realized that the movers had not made my bed, and they had probably not been the ones to leave the lights on in the entire house either. I didn't know what to do really. I sat on the bed and thought about it, nothing bad was done by whatever it was with me, the lights on just had me tour the entire house and the bed being made, well that was nice and appreciated and the bath, well I wasn't really sure about that, it hadn't hurt me at least. I surmised it was trying to be friendly in its way. I didn't know what to think really, I was so tired and I had no idea how to deal with this at all. I didn't feel like I was being watched anymore and I felt alone so I decided to get some sleep, I locked my door and made sure I had my cell phone and my cordless phone beside me. I sat up in bed and watched television but fell asleep within a few minutes .

During the night I awoke to the sound of thunder and lightening, my television was off then but I knew the lights were still on as I could see the alarm clock that read 3:02 am. I heard thunder and looked toward my window where I saw lightening flash even through the blinds, I smelled roses faintly, very faintly now. I drifted off to sleep again and awoke to a bright sunny morning, I turned my head to look at the clock 10:30 it said, I was stunned, I never sleep past 8:00, never. I felt rested and relaxed though and I still faintly smell roses, I looked around my room and saw why I smelled roses, there were now a dozen long stem white roses in my favorite vase sitting atop my dresser. I smiled, not sure how I should react to this. I wasn't scared really I just didn't know what to think.

I decided to get going, I had a lot to do today, and I had to make a list of all the things that needed to be done around the house. I climbed out of bed and went to the closet and found a shirt then to my dresser for some shorts. I got dressed and went into the bathroom and brushed my long hair up into a ponytail for the long days work I knew was ahead of me. I walked into the kitchen and concentrated on breakfast, I had brought what groceries I had in my old kitchen with me but I would need to go shopping soon I knew and fill up the pantry and refrigerator. I fried up some bacon and made a quick bacon sandwich which I ate while drinking some orange juice and looking around my new kitchen, it was old but had been remodeled in the 80's I would say so it was fairly up to date, the appliances weren't brand new but they didn't look like they had been used much and they all worked very well. I had opted to bring my refrigerator with me though, the one that was in the house didn't have the ice and water option on the door and I had decided I needed that. All in all it wasn't too bad, I decided some new curtains and a few things here and there and it would be perfect.
Finishing my sandwich and juice I went off to find a pen and pad to make notes as I surveyed the house from top to bottom for things needing to be repaired or painted. I walked into the foyer and on the table in the middle of it there was another of my vases full of roses. This time long stem red roses, they were beautiful, huge blooms that were deep red and their scent was strong and heady. I smiled again and appreciated them. I walked into the den and went to my desk and soon found what I wanted, a pen and a note pad of paper for my notes. I decided to start upstairs and work down so I climbed the stairs and went room to room making notes, most of the work would be easy, about half the rooms needed to be painted, some needed new blinds but mostly there were just things like leaky faucets in the bathrooms to be replaced and painting to be done. I was always fascinated when I would open a room and look around and find a neat little alcove for books or a window seat overlooking what had at some time been an amazing garden. I would have to see about working on that as well, there were still some plants out there that were blooming but I hadn't done any investigating in there yet. I hoped there would be no snakes when I did.

I reached the attic door and I felt a chill, I reached for the door knob and gave it a turn, funny it wouldn't open and it was ice cold. I had opened this door just the night before very easily and reached in and flipped off the light, I hadn't bothered to look around after seeing the switch right by the door. Now it was so cold you could barely touch it and the feeling that came over me gave me chills and goose bumps so I backed away and went back downstairs. I wrote on my list that I needed to call the realtor and ask if there was a key to the attic door. I stopped in the foyer admiring the roses again and then headed into the living room,
what I saw stopped me in my tracks, all the furniture I had so carefully arranged the day before had been moved around. It was all neat but totally different than it had been the night before. Suddenly I was cold, not like a draft or the ac blowing, just cold, to the bone and the scent this time wasn't the rose scent I had smelled before, it was rotten and acrid. This was different, this wasn't what I had felt before, it felt icy and I was terrified this time. I could feel something next to me, every hair on my body felt like it stood on end and I had goose bumps all over me. I couldn't move, literally, I was trying to run but it felt like I was nailed to that spot and I couldn't move, I tried to scream out, call for help but it felt like my throat was closed off. I didn't feel a hand around my throat but I felt as though someone were choking me. I suddenly felt myself being pushed and then almost thrown onto the sofa and then it was over. That putrid scent was gone and I was free to move around, then the smell of roses was strong again. I sensed I was okay then, that what ever it was was gone and I was safe again.
I was still scared and
I realize that there was something wrong with the house. I don't mean that there is a leaky faucet or a squeaky door, I mean there is something wrong with the house itself.
I am alone but not alone. I can feel it but see nothing.

I sat in that spot on the sofa where I had been placed for a long time, half scared to move and half not sure my legs would hold me if I stood. I wasn't sure what to do, I had just invested everything I had in the house and I had no where else to go since I had done that. Who could I call and tell I had a ghost and not be laughed at or thought to be completely crazy. I sat and thought about it for a long time, the smell of roses still strong in the air.
I had no idea what to do, I felt someone staring at me, I knew I wasn't alone, I knew someone was there. I felt like it was a man even though it was a rose smell that I kept encountering, something about the way the roses were placed and the way the water had moved in the bathtub as well as the way the bed had been made and turned back just made me think it was a man. I still don't know why I did it but I started to talk out loud to whoever or whatever it was.
"Thank you for making that stop" I said in a timid shaky voice. "I don't know who you are, I'm sorry I've interrupted or interfered with your house" I continued. I didn't know if what I was doing was right or wrong and I had no idea why I started to talk but I felt the chill near me, I knew somehow he was near me, the scent of the roses was strong, so strong but calming somehow.
"I don't know what to do now, I obviously upset someone or something in this house. I think you are being nice to me and I appreciate that. I bought this house and I don't have anywhere else to go now. I have to stay here, we all have to get along somehow." even I thought I was crazy now, I didn't know what I was doing I was just thinking out loud at that point I suppose.
The scent faded and I was warm again, I could move so I got up and went into the kitchen and made myself a drink. I walked back into the living room slowly and warily to find that the furniture was back the way I had placed it originally and in the middle of the coffee table was yet another vase with a dozen yellow roses in it. I smiled again, I knew my friend, could I call him that, was at it again. I had now received 3 dozen roses, one white, one deep dark red and one yellow, I laughed under by breath and wondered if there would be pink ones next time.

I spent the remainder of the day making sure things were where I really wanted them to be and late in the afternoon I made myself a sandwich and snacked on it while I was sitting in the living room watching some television. I decided that I would get to bed early because the next day I had someone coming to take a look at the huge live oak trees that lined the driveway, one of them looked like it was in bad shape and I wanted to make sure it was looked after. It seemed a shame to let such a beautiful old tree die when I could have someone work on it and hopefully fix it up. I didn't know much about gardening and trees, I thought about asking the tree man to look at the garden while he was there.

I made my way into the kitchen and threw away the paper plate and napkin I had used and rinsed my glass out and left the light on over the sink again and headed to my room. I had left the light on in there that afternoon and I could hear my television on in there as well. I went in slowly, there was the answer to my rose question, on the vanity table near my television was a dozen pink roses, they were the most beautiful of all the roses so far, a shade of pink I had never seen before. I walked to them and smelled them, the scent was amazing. All the roses that had appeared smelled heavenly, I had never smelled such strong roses before and I somehow knew I probably wouldn't again, unless they came from my friend. I didn't know what to call him and I wasn't sure how to find out but I said aloud "Thank you for the beautiful roses, all of them. I love them."

Silence, the TV went to mute and I could hear my own breathing, then I could hear someone behind me breathing and I became cold again. I could feel him, he was close, so close to me yet I wasn't scared. I waited thinking he would touch me or say something, I wanted to know who he was, how this was happening but he never touched me and he never spoke of course. Soon he was gone again, the warmth was back and the scent was only of the two dozen roses in the room already. I felt safe, I felt that he would keep the other one away from me and I would be ok, I don't know why I felt that way but somehow I did. That night I slept soundly all night long and awoke at 8 am as normal. I dressed and had breakfast and was waiting on the porch when the tree man drove his old truck up the driveway.

He climbed out of the truck, an older man with a long thin face, he looked kind enough but he seemed uneasy as he stepped up to the porch and introduced himself.
"Mornin' mam, Rick Flanders at your service" he said with a thick country accent. I smiled at him and introduced myself. He was looking around at the house and not really seeming to be paying attention to me so I said "It's a beautiful old house isn't it?" Rick seemed startled and said in a weak voice "Yeah, yeah it is" but he wasn't convincing and he looked a bit drained. "Would you like a drink?" I asked him, he shook his head no saying "I saw the tree you were talkin' about as I drove up. I'll have to trim a lot of it out, in fact all of them trees need trimming and fertilizing" he said.
"Well whatever needs to be done is what I want done" I reassured him. "By the way, do you think you could take a look at the garden in the back yard? I'm sure at one point it was magnificent but now it's a bit overgrown and in bad need of a person who knows how to get it back in shape" I said.
"Well mam' I could look at it but I don't know much about roses. I'm a tree man" he replied.
"Roses? I didn't know those were roses in the garden" I said shakily, not having known that overgrown brush in the garden was rose bush.
"Well yes mam' they're roses, Mr. Allerton grew prize roses in that garden for years. Them roses were the most talked about roses in the country side mam'." He said. I wasn't surprised to hear that given that the roses inside my house were the most beautiful I had ever seen, seems that even in death he was still growing prize roses.
"What can you tell me about Mr. Allerton?" I asked Rick, he seemed a bit surprised at my question and slowly responded in a hushed voice "You don't know?"
I got chills at the tone and the expression on Ricks face, that sounded like everyone knew except me and it was bad.
"No, no I don't know, could you tell me?" I said and added "Please" for good measure. Rick looked at the house and seemed uncomfortable but said in his slow way "I guess you should know 'bout it, since you live here n' all now".
Rick started to tell me about how the Allerton family had been one of the first to settle in the town and they had owned a lot of real estate as well as the main store in town, they had also owned the local funeral home which Mr. Allerton Sr's brother Robert had ran. The senior Mr. Allerton, Charles and his son, my rose grower, John. John Allerton, so that was his name. I was quite excited to know his name now, I was also very excited to learn about him. According to Rick, John Allerton had been a quite handsome young man and his fascination with roses started when he was a young boy. Mrs. Allerton had loved roses and had kept them in almost every room of the house, he had grown to appreciate her love of them and when she died when he was young he had kept her garden alive and it had thrived for him. He had always made sure there were fresh roses in the house and the garden won prize after prize for him. He had never married and his death was a mystery, no one ever knew exactly what had happened to John. There of course were stories. The gossipers of this small little town had always talked about the Allerton family. How the mother had died falling down the stairs when John was a boy, how the senior Mr. Allerton had drank heavily and been killed in a car accident with his brother Charles. It seemed, according to Rick, that this family had befallen one tragedy after another. I asked Rick how old John was when he died, I was saddened when he answered 36, that wasn't much older than me.
Rick went on to say that John had been found dead in his beloved garden and they had ruled his death an accidental poisoning. He was spraying his prize roses with a new insecticide and apparently the mixture was wrong and poor John having inhaled it had been overtaken and had died right there with his beautiful roses.

Rick slowed and glanced at the house briefly, he turned looking me right in the eyes "there are stories that this house is haunted mam'. I aint never been in it but from what I heard you better be careful." I was surprised at his words and wanted to know more but he had walked away heading towards the trees. I watched him examining the trees as I stood looking at what must have been a beautiful garden and I felt sad that poor John Allerton had died so young right there with his roses.

I hired Rick to become my yardman, he agreed to come and work on my yard weekly and make sure that all my trees had the attention they needed as well as work on the garden. I was pleased that Rick decided to work there even though I knew he was a bit apprehensive about it. I glanced at my watch and realized it was nearly lunch time so I asked Rick if he would like a sandwich and a cold drink for lunch and went inside to prepare our lunch while he made notes about what he would need for my yard. I was sure Rick would be valuable to me, not just as a yardman but as a source of information about the Allertons and I wanted to see what more he could tell me about them, I was very curious, maybe too curious about John Allerton.

Rick ate with me on the porch swing telling me all about the things he wanted to do in my yard. He seemed to relax a bit and was full of idea after idea that I did in fact love. We decided that the next day he would come and start, he would bring his helpers and he told me, rather excitedly, that they would have my yard looking like a prize winner in no time at all. I was very pleased when Rick drove off that afternoon.
I took the dishes into the kitchen and then headed to my bedroom for my list of things to do to the house. I grabbed my list and headed back into the hallway for the living room and that is when it happened. I smelled it first, that horrible stench and then the icy bone chilling cold hit me. I froze in fear and wondered if John would help me this time, suddenly I heard laughter, deep rumbling laughter, reverberating all through the house. I could feel it under my feet in the floor, I heard it as though it were being blasted from a stereo all through the house and the icy cold was getting worse.

The House Part Two

I couldn't move, I felt as though my feet were weights holding me in place. I wanted to run, I wanted to escape, this time things felt different somehow but I was stuck in place, not able to escape.

I could feel the presence of someone standing in front of me but could see nothing. I opened my mouth to speak but felt a cold icy hand touch my lips as if to hush me, then I felt it move across my check and brush a stray piece of hair off my face. I wondered briefly if this time 'it' would be nice to me but got my answer as the thought crossed my mind.

I felt the difference immediately, it was as if the air itself became charged. I was moving, quickly, being tossed side to side as one would shake a rag doll. It moved me from the hallway toward the front door slamming me into the glass pane of the door itself. I opened my mouth to scream, as I did I felt that icy cold hand on my throat, choking me. It was still pushing against me, as though it were trying to break the pane of glass on the door and push me right out of the house. I was struggling now, kicking and trying to fight back, the laughter started again. I hadn't even realized it had stopped in the struggle but now I heard it so loud it was almost deafening to me. I heard the glass start to crack and knew that soon it would surely break but just as I started to black out I heard the doorbell ring.

I awoke to find Rick kneeling over me looking both concerned and afraid. His voice quivered as he spoke "Are you alright mam'?" he asked quietly. I felt as though I had been beaten but I refused to let 'it' beat me, I started to sit up. "I'm fine Rick, thank you" I said still feeling a bit groggy. I suddenly realized it was Rick who had come to my rescue this time, he is the one who had rang the doorbell and stopped the attack.
I sat up and with Ricks help managed to stand and walk slowly into the living room and sit on the sofa. Rick sat across from me staring at me intently, his face pale and his stare intent "You're bleeding" he said startling me. "Bleeding?" I finally managed to say.
"You really need to go and look in the mirror mam', you have some marks on you too" Rick said, his voice quivering a bit.

I excused myself and walked to my bedroom heading for my bathroom. I stood in front of the mirror not believing what I saw. My lip was busted and I had a large bruise forming on my cheek from hitting the floor when I blacked out but the thing that made my blood run cold was the hand shaped bruise on my throat.
Very clearly you could see the shape of a hand on my throat, evidence that someone, something, had choked me. I stared at it silently, completely terrified. I knew Rick had seen it and I knew that surely he would tell everyone he knew when he went back into town. I thought maybe I should ask Rick just what he had seen and heard so I would know exactly what the people in town would be hearing.

I made my way back into the hallway and headed toward the living room but saw my front door standing open and Rick standing out on the porch staring at the now badly cracked glass panel in my door. I walked to the doorway, Rick looking up as I approached.
"I aint never seen nothin like it mam', never" he exclaimed shaking his head as I walked toward him. I stopped, looking at the door and thinking how lucky I was that Rick had come back when he did.
"Rick, what made you come back today?" I asked softly. He looked at me, shaking his head a bit "Mam' I really don't know" he stated sounding puzzled "I was drivin home an all of a sudden I just knew I had to come back here an check on you." His gaze shifted "I aint never seen nothin like it, never" he said again and sighed deeply.
"What exactly did you see?" I asked hesitantly. He looked surprised I would ask him but after what seemed an eternity he finally spoke.

"I seen you through the door. I was bout to ring the bell when I seen you coming at the door, but you was movin backwards real quick like." He shook he head, shifting his weight and looking uncomfortable. "You slammed into that door awful hard and I knew you was fightin somethin, they just wasn't nothin there" he stated matter of factly "I aint never seen nothin like it" he said again as he started to leave. He made his way to the bottom step and turned toward me again, his face pale and his eyes full of concern. This time when he spoke his words chilled me to the bone. "You better get outta here 'for it kills ya mam'" with that said he climbed into his old truck and drove away.
I was alone again, unsure what to do now. Ricks words had scared me but this was my house now and I wouldn't run away. I walked to the porch swing and sat, swinging gently taking in the fresh air and peacefulness of the late afternoon. The birds chirped and the sun shone and all seemed perfect except that I would have to go back inside the house again soon and I didn't know what to expect once I did.

I had to figure out what to do and I had to do it quickly. I knew that once Rick started to tell people what he had seen here people would start to either show up wanting to help me somehow or they would show up wanting to find a way to end it. I was stuck. I had no place to go and all the money I had was tied up in the house. I had no real family left to speak of that could help me or go to and not a lot of friends that would know what to do either.

I knew I had to go back in and it was starting to get dark so I stood up and gathered all the courage I could. I decided to take a stand and pray for the best. This is my house now. My house. Mine, mine, mine. No one, nothing would make me run away. I walked into the house and firmly shut the front door behind me fully resolved to find a way to deal with whatever, whoever, was in my house.

I decided to take a quick shower and get something to eat. I made my way to my bedroom and got some clothes and headed for the bathroom. I showered quickly and tried to ignore the bruises on my body as I toweled off and got dressed. I made my way into the kitchen trying to decide what I wanted to eat for dinner. As I entered the kitchen I smelled roses again and this time there was a beautiful cut crystal vase of white roses on the counter top. I stopped in front of them and took in their smell but after what had happened I didn’t enjoy them as I had the other roses. I didn’t know if they were supposed to be a peace offering or not and I wasn’t so sure that peace was what the thing that had slammed me into the door and hurt me really wanted.

I thawed a steak in the microwave and placed it in the oven under the broiler and then put a potato on to bake in the microwave and while they cooked made a small salad. Once done I went into the bedroom and sat on my bed. I would sit where I was comfortable and watch TV while I ate. I watched a few of my favorite shows and found myself relaxing more than I had thought possible. Even with all the crazy things going on I felt at home, felt relaxed and even found myself feeling safe, which defied any logic at all after everything.

I knew I wasn’t going crazy, there was a witness to what had happened, so there were only a few options for what I would have to do. I either had to face it and try to find someone that would help me deal with who or what ever was in my house or I had to live with it. Living with it didn’t seem possible after a violent attack so there were really only two choices. Leave and lose everything I had put into the house or I had to find someone who could deal with what was happening. I had seen shows on tv that dealt with hauntings so I figured I would have to get on my laptop and do some research. There were so many to think of though, who would I chose or better yet who would be willing to come to my house and help me. I thought of a few of the shows I’d seen on tv but no one was close to where I lived so I decided that I would try to find someone locally. I was afraid I’d get some crack pot that would charge me a ton of money and say they cleansed my house only to be burning sage and saying a prayer. Hell, I could do that. I actually decided right then that maybe I should do that. I’d seen it on those shows, maybe that would work for me. I figured it probably wouldn’t hurt to do that so I’d try to find some sort of shop for that kind of thing in the next few days.

I was tired and it was getting late so I took my dishes to the kitchen and then headed off to bed and get some rest. It had been a crazy day and I was feeling sore and achy from the abuse I had been given earlier. I put on my gown and climbed into bed, turned off my bedside lamp and let the tv lull me to sleep. I woke in the night to find the tv off and the covers pulled over me as tough I’d been tucked in safely. I slept late again the next morning but woke feeling fully rested and happy. I didn’t even feel the effects of the attack the day before, although I still bore the bruises to prove it had happened. More bruises had appeared over night and I thought I might need to document them so I grabbed my video camera and went outside to be in better light. I sat the camera up on the handrail of the side porch and started to talk and show my bruises. I documented all of them on the video and told what had happened as I did. Maybe this would help when I found someone to help me.

I went back in to get dressed. Today was the day I needed to go into town and buy some paint and a few other things for the house. I didn’t know if Rick would ever come near me or the house again so I would probably have to find someone else to help me with the yard and the rose garden. I had to fix that rose garden. I couldn’t explain the urgency that I felt to make it right again. I wanted it to be beautiful, I wanted to make it look the way John had kept it. I’d have to ask Rick if he would come back and if not ask if he could recommended someone else. I didn’t know if he would and was sure everyone in town would know by now what had happened. I would just have to deal with it.

I finished dressing and pulled my long hair into a ponytail. I headed for the kitchen and fixed a quick bowl of cereal and went to sit on the porch swing to eat it. It was a beautiful sunny day, the air was cool and crisp but not too cool. It was perfect. I ate my cereal thinking of the things I really needed to do before I headed to town. As I moved to get up a man suddenly appeared from the side of the house. He was tall and athletic looking, dark hair showed from under his baseball cap, as he got closer I saw he had blue eyes and was very attractive. He smiled saying “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just looking at everything that needs to be done around here. It took longer than I thought it would. You didn’t seem to be up when I got here so I thought I’d take a look around and then see if you were up yet.” The whole time he talkws I kept thinking 'who is he? But soon enough he answered that for me.

“I’m James. Rick sent me out to take a look at the rose garden. He said you needed a lot of help out here and that you might hire me on and rent me a room. I’m good with all kinds of yard and garden work and I’m also a handyman. I can do a lot of the work around here for you and I have references you can check.” He said all in what seemed to be one breath. I looked at him and didn’t know what to say. I had so many thoughts racing in my mind. I wasn’t sure if this would be good or not. People would talk if I rented him a room, even if he was working for me. I knew he must be pretty good at yard and garden work if Rick sent him out. I knew Rick wouldn’t send someone that wasn’t a good worker.

I realized I was just standing there looking at him and he looked uncomfortable while he waited for me to say something. “I do need some help and if Rick sent you then you must be good at what you do. I trust his judgement. I’m not sure about everything that needs to be done around here yet. I know there is a lot of painting to do and some of the boards need to be replaced on the porch. Beyond that I’m not sure what there is to do but if you’re interested I guess I’ll take a chance and let you have the job. I do have a few extra rooms and I suppose you could stay here. I can't afford to pay you a lot but I can give you room and board and a small salary for your work." He smiled and happily agreed to it saying that he really didn't need much and he would do a good job for me. Well, at least I wouldn't be alone if something happened.

I realized that he was looking at my neck and seeing the bruises on me. I could tell he was curious but I didn’t know what to say. Had Rick toldl him about the attack or did he think I was an abused woman? Would he think I was crazy if I told him that the house was haunted?

Not knowing what to say I turned to walk into the house. As I started to enter the door I turned around and said “I hope you aren’t easily spooked”. The look on his face told me all I needed to know, Rick had obviously told him about the house. He smiled and said “Not at all.”

I showed him to the room that the movers had put the spare bed in and got some extra bedding out for him. I showed him the kitchen and told him I would be going to the store in a little while so there would be food in the house other than what I had brought with me. I told him that if there was anything het wanted in particular he needed to let me know. He said he wasn’t picky and didn’t want to be any trouble so I told him if he wanted to he could go with me to the store, it was no trouble at all. He smiled and said if he’d gotten enough done by the time I went he would go with me. He went off in search of some work and I made myself busy making sure the kitchen was set up the way I wanted it to be. I made some sandwiches and went in search of my new helper.

I found James deep in the rose garden making clear paths through all the debris that was left of the rose bushes. He looked up and smiled. “I made some sandwiches and brought you some iced tea. It's lunch time. I thought you might be ready for a break." I told him. I headed toward the porch to sit on the swing and he followed me sitting on the porch rail and taking a sandwhich and the iced tea I had brought for him. He sat quietly eating his sandwhich while I sat on the swing eating mine and drinking my iced tea. We didn't speak but it was a comfortable silence. I realized I was very comfortable with James. He was a quiet man but comforable to be around. Easily likeable and always seemed to have a quick smile. Not to mention he was very attractive.

I finished eating my sandwhich and told James I was about to get my list and head to town. I convinced him to go into town with me so we could get anything he thought we would need that wasn't already on my list
I locked the house and set the alarm and we headed to town.

Chapter 3

We went to the hardware store and with a little help from the salesman got all the things we knew we would need and a few things we hadn't thought about until we were actually at the store. Once it was all totalled up and paid for we set up delivery later that afternoon giving me time to go to the grocery store and get home before the delivery man got there. After that we went to the grocery store and got everything I could imagine needing for the next week or so. James was very helpful with the shopping and we talked and laughed the whole time we shopped, finding we had a lot of things in common. James had little family left, no one he was very close to. He had been traveling alot for the last few years, working here and there doing odd jobs and then moving on when he was done. He had been about to leave town when Rick had told him about me and the help I needed with the house and land. He had been working with Rick for about a year and Rick hadn't wanted him to leave town so he would be very happy to learn that at least for the moment James would be staying in town.

Once we finished our shopping and got everything loaded into the car we headed off for the house. I had just turned onto my road when an ambulance passed me with flashing lights and sirens. James and I looked at each other and I said "Well they are going to be upset when they realize they came this far out of the way." I knew they were lost, after all my house was the only house on this road and since I wasn't home there wasn't any reason to be heading to my house.

As I pulled into my driveway I saw the lights flashing at the end of the drive by the house. As I got closer I realized that the delivery truck was already there and there was a man laying on the ground behind the truck. The paramedics were starting to work on him as I pulled up to the end of the drive. I parked quickly and got out almost running to the spot they were with the man. I didn't recognize the man laying on the ground but I did recognize the younger man sitting on the ground by the back of the truck, he was the salesman that had helped us at the hardware store earlier. He was sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest and had his arms wrapped around them rocking back and forth. He looked terrified. He was pale and shaky. He looked like he had seen a ghost. I was afraid that was exactly what he had seen and after my experience with it I was certain that the man laying on the ground had had his own experience with it as well.

My head was spinning. All I could think was that there was a man laying on the ground being helped by paramedics, another man rocking back and forth looking terrified and that it had happened at my house. They wouldn't have been there if it weren't for me and my delivery. It occured to me that the delivery men had come very early. Why had they come so early? I had been very specific about the delivery time. I had told them I was going to the grocery store and would not be home for the delivery until four o clock and it was just barely three right then.

I headed to sit down on the front steps and that is when I realized that my front door was standing wide open. I stopped and stared at the house realizing for the first time that all the windows were wide open like the front door. I knew I had set the alarm and it wasn't going off. I also knew there wasn't anyone else that knew the code to my alarm to turn it off and get into my house. No one had a key to the house besides me anyway. I knew for sure at that moment that the men making the delivery had definately had dealings with the ghost or whatever it was in my house.

James quietly told me to relax and have a seat and took me by the arm and helped me to the steps to sit. He smiled at me and told me everything would be okay and then asked me for the keys to the car so he could get the groceries out of it and take them into the house and get things put up that needed to be in the fridge. I gave him the keys and sat watching the paramedics work on the man on the ground. They were getting him ready to go into the ambulance just as the police car pulled up.

A tall, thin older man got out of the police car and stood looking at the house for a moment while another car pulled up and a young stocky officer got out and walked over to the young salesman sitting on the ground. I couldn't hear what he said to him but the salesman didn't respond at all. The older officer walked over to the paramedics getting the man into the ambulance and spoke to them for a few moments while they put the man into the back of the ambulance. The younger officer called one of the other paramedics over to the young salesman sitting on the ground and they talked to him quietly for a few moments finally getting him to respond. I couldn't hear what he was saying to them but they were all looking at the house and they all looked startled. Suddenly I was surprised when a man said "My name is Carl Woods miss. I'm the chief of police. Came out for the call. What happened here miss?"

I stood up slowly and said "I have no idea what happened here Officer Woods. I wasn't here when the delivery men got here, I didn't get here until the paramedics were here. They passed me on my way here in fact. I thought they were lost because I wasn't home and my house is the only house on this road. I couldn't believe it when I saw that they were here and someone was being worked on. The delivery wasn't scheduled until four o'clock. There shouldn't have been anyone here."

He looked at his watch as though to check the time and nodded his head saying "I'll have to ask 'em why they was here so early. Guess old man Tate had 'em come early so he could get closed up and head on home for the day. He does that sometimes." I could understand that in any other situation but I was sure it was, as he had called him, old man Tate that I had made sure knew I wouldn't be home and no one should deliver before four. I opened my mouth to explain it all to him when he suddenly walked away without another word. He stopped at the ambulance and said something to the paramedic and then they looked at the house again. The younger officer had finally gotten the young delivery man up and they were putting him into the back of the ambulance with the other man and before I knew it they were heading off down the drive.

The officers spoke quietly and the younger man got back into his car and drove off. Officer Woods walked back towards me stopping in his tracks when he saw James come out of the front door. He stared at James openly and what almost appeared to be rudely. James walked to stand by my side and finally Officer Woods continued to walk towards us. He stopped in front of us and shook his head as if surprised, saying "Didn't mean to stare but I swore for a minute that I'd seen a ghost. You look a whole lot like the man that used to own this place."

James smiled and laughed saying "I get that alot around here." I was shocked. I couldn't believe it so I actually opened my mouth and asked the officer "You mean John Allerton?" He smiled and said "Yeah. Yeah he looks a lot like John. Isn't til you get up real close that he's not an exact look alike but he's damn close to it." I was absolutely stunned but before I could start asking more questions he continued "John was real nice. I never understood how it happened, not with all his experience but you just never know what's in store for ya when ya get up in tha mornin." Before I could ask any questions he was heading back to his car and driving off. He stopped for a moment and put his window down saying "I'll let ya know how George is doin." and with that he was driving off and gone.

© Copyright 2003 Lori M (lorim at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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