WHAT THE GHOST LEFT
"What do you mean it's lowering the value of our
property in a difficult market? What it's doing is
scaring the you-know-what out of me. We know it's
for real. We both see it at the same time and it throws
things at us so it knows we're here. And it really
doesn't like us being in this house." Bill didn't realise
he was shouting at his wife, nor did he notice the two
of them were now on their feet, eyeball to eyeball.
Alice could manage a reply in altogether much
calmer tones. "Well it can't really hurt us physically.
It's sort of non-material. All it does is creep up on us,
stare at us a bit and make some funny old gestures.
OK, it is able to throw some small things around but
it doesn't have a very good aim. Now we need to sell
this draughty old house and you've gone and told
anyone who'll listen about the ghost. Oh yes, and you
had to include that reporter from the local paper. You
know, the one where the For Sale notice goes in."
Bill reached for his coffee and spilled half of it.
"Look, they're not just any old gestures. It's a mad
monk and he's been cursing us. And do remember, we
have been going through some pretty bad times."
"OK let's get rid of it," she said. "Know what? I'll ask
my Auntie's friend and she was the only one to
believe us at first."
"Just what we need, an old wife's tale. I'm going on
the Internet," he said.
A week slipped away as they each learned all they
could about the other world and how very near it is to
"At least we're singing from the same hymn sheet
now," said Alice.
Bill's reply was almost kindly, "Maybe it is a hymn
sheet we need. The thing's a victim. It's earthbound. It
could be stuck down here forever. We've got to help it
go to the light."
"We'll get your Auntie's friend in to help us," he
"Oh no, that's not fair. It's our house and it's our
ghost. So it's our problem. We have to sort this out
ourselves." Alice spoke in that voice Bill knew not to
argue with. So they didn't argue but went out and
bought or borrowed the things they needed. Soon
they were ready.
"Why can't we have the lights on, this creaky old
house is spooky enough without us having to sit in
the dark?" He said it so quietly he had to say it again
"Oh, don't be such a big girl's blouse," she said
briskly. "You go and light the rest of the candles and
I'll lay out the other things. Then we can go round
with the holy water and I'll start reading out the
"The air's getting very cold," she said as she finished
reading out the last page.
"Go to the light. Go to the light. Go to the light," they
said it three times more or less together and waited.
That was when a cold draught blew out the candles,
all of them.
"There's something behind you," he said more slowly
than he meant to.
She was screaming now. "It's got its hands on me.
Get it off. Get it off me."
Somehow they scrambled out of the room and then
out of the house. They didn't stop until they got to the
pub where everything was nice and tidy and warm
and normal. They calmed down after a few drinks.
After a few more, they could see things a whole lot
more clearly. One thing they realized was that when
they were in the pub the ghost couldn't listen in on
what they were saying. What's more, what they were
saying was, "No more Nice-guys".
And so they were ready for it, for anything. They
went back to the house and threw on all the lights.
Like a military raid with strict radio silence, they said
nothing at all, nothing the thing could hear. When
they were ready, they lit a single candle and put all
the lights out. They waited for what seemed like a
very long time.
"The air's getting cold," she said.
Silently a hooded figure took shape in the flickering
candlelight. It carried itself with a confident, almost
arrogant, bearing. Carelessly it raised a hand ready
for yet another dreadful curse.
It was the signal they had been waiting for. They
rushed at it, shouting and screaming, and using some
very unholy language. They threw bell, book and
candle right at it together with what was left of the
It backed off as far as it could but it was in a corner.
Now with the courage that comes in the heat of battle
they were right up close and personal. The hood
slipped back and for a moment they could see fear
written all over it's ghastly face. Then, all at once the
look of fear changed to one of strange
The ghost was never seen again. But on damp days
ever since, there has been a bad smell not to mention
a persistent stain on the floor in that particular corner.
What the Ghost Left was published in
Golden Visions Magazine Spring
Online Edition, 2011
ISSN No 1942 4450.
First appeared in ABCtales, 2004.