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Do You Really Believe in Ghosts?
Do You Really Believe in Ghosts?

Do You Really Believe in Ghosts?

strange_tellerstrange_teller

“I was in a dark, cold room. Everything was still around me and I heard, somewhere in the hall, the dazed noise, which seemed to me at that sinister moment, of the pendulum clock.

From behind the curtain came the ghost of a little boy – it was a small, dark silhouette with phosphorescent eyes, like the one whose image was related to the famous case of the haunted house in Amityville.

I turned back, terrified.

“You have reopened a curse that has been lying idle for decades – now be prepared to bear the consequences,” said a voice coming from the tiny immaterial figure, which had meanwhile been raised to a slap above the ground.

I watched, helplessly, as blood began to flow from the ceiling.”

I'm waking up.

I was in my own apartment, lying in bed, the prey of a nightmare.

I quickly opened the refrigerator to take a few sips of cold Coca-Cola.
I could not explain this dream, it seemed to have nothing to do with anything known. Blah, the ghosts. I leave the school children, naive and with colorful backpacks, as well as the thrill-lovers to believe in the existence of such paranormal entities. I have other, more important things to solve.

I thought I had to prepare for a new day of work. My wife, Katy, had already gone to work, and the time I had left was just enough to feed Max, the family doberman.

But I can already say that a new idea had sprinted in my mind... An idea designed to change my pretty banal existence.

*

At work, as usual, I sat in front of the computer for many hours, working, but waiting for the moment when I could go on Facebook to see what was new, but also to communicate through the messaging system with friends.

A new day of work would pass over my blatant existence, everything would be stuck in monotony and absurdity, unless...

I had a kid in the neighborhood, Edward, who liked ghost stories. Katy and I could not, unfortunately, have children, so the friendship with little Edi could only be beneficial for us, it brought us a little comfort, even if we were aware that we could not adopt him, it could not be ours.

After I had finished my working day, and after he had left school, I went to a confectionery for a little while. He was happy, as usual. I was delighted by his childish enthusiasm and the blush in his cheeks, the candor with which he asked me various questions about life, to which I tried to answer as honestly as I could.

“Tell me, Edi, would you like to be rich — in fact, we both have so much money that we don’t have anything to do with them, go on a trip to the Bahamas and look at all the girls? Should we play them at roulette and still have so many of us left to visit other and other wonderful places?”

“Yes, of course I would. But that can’t be done.”

“If you listen carefully, you can. Do you like ghost stories?”

“Yes, of course, they are the coolest.”

“You see, I don’t really believe in them. But I have an idea in that sense. Some great people, like you, are passionate about ghost stories. And they’re willing to spend a lot of money to see their fiction come true. I have an apartment that my grandmother left me as an inheritance. It was rented for a while, now it is uninhabited. I will give you instructions on how to imitate the presence of a ghost in that place. You’ll be hiding under a hatch and making strange sounds, pulling a curtain to make it look like it’s moving on its own—stuff like that, I assure you, that’s not a big deal.”

“And how will we get the money?”

“Well, how. First I will spread the rumor that the house is haunted, then those people I talked about will want to see it. We will agree, but we will ask them for a fee. You will play your role, and they will be convinced that they have visited a house where ghosts are, and they will carry on the talk in turn. We will also rent the room to adrenaline seekers after midnight for an hour or even until morning, as they wish. If you add to all this that I will also write a novella, inspired by real facts, about the story of this house, which I will commercialize, you will also see that the money will come. Do we take advantage of the fools, don’t you think it’s fair?”

“And those people will come?”

“Yes, they will come. Have you seen Amityville?”

“Yes, three times. After all, were there ghosts in Amityville?”

I was so moved by his naivety.

“No, I don’t think they were. But then I try to inspire myself to get what I promised you. I agree?”

“Okay, I’ll stick. Will they come from the TV with cameras?”

“I don’t know from now on. But if you do as I teach you, everything will be fine. They won’t catch up, just stay calm. No one knows about that hatch, and it’s covered with a carpet, and you can pull the curtain through a thread without standing behind it to see you, and so on.”

After convincing little Edi, I drank orange juice with him and headed home.

Katy was already in bed, tired, so I was content to watch a movie on tv, reflect a little on my plan, and then go to bed.

If they don’t make mistakes, everything will come out perfect.

*

It is good that there are such people in the world who believe in such stories. So I will be able to lead a better life, walk Katy and Edward, visit exotic countries...

But I still have no right to dream. First, let me put into practice what I have so carefully prepared.

Said and done. I did Edi’s “instruction”, how to hide under that hatch, how to distort his voice to seem like he came from another world, how to draw, also from there, a thread that I had tied to the curtain, so that it seemed to move on its own (or pulled, not so, by a ghost), and a few other similar tricks.

Then I began to complain to the acquaintances that my grandmother’s former apartment was haunted, that I couldn’t sleep at night because of nightmares, and the like. After the introduction was made, I hid my little friend in the house, prepared the place, and invited some strangers eager to see with their eyes and hear with their ears what was going on there.

There is no need to say that they were convinced that the apartment was dark, creepy and... as haunting as possible.

We celebrated the little victory with Edward by a walk in the park and a small meal, plus dessert, at a nearby McDonald's. I was looking at my little companion in delight and I was already imagining what escapades we would do together in the future.

“Tell me, Edi, do you really believe in ghosts?” I asked him while I was enjoying the delicious strawberry ice cream.

“Yes, of course. You are not?”

"Me, not very much. “Tell me, why do you think?”

“It’s not just because I’m attracted to these stories. But, you see, besides many tricks, like our own, there were also famous cases, certified by specialists. I believe in them.”

“The problem is that I doubt even those specialists. But, finally, we talked enough. It’s time to get back to work.”

Soon, our small apartment became the star of the city, then of the country, and the certainty that we did not fail at anything we had when we managed to convince some foreign tourists of our story. They came from a city famous for a case of the same kind, from Connecticut.

The money began to flow, I even opened a special bank account for this “source”, because visits and rentals were paid, just as I had anticipated, and the more visitors I had, the more the amount was thickened. When everything reached its peak, I let go of the last part of the plan, namely the novella inspired by the so-called real case. Since it has sold very well, I can say that I have really achieved my goal.

Soon, I started autographs.

I was famous, rich, with a beautiful wife, and I had won the affection and friendship of a wonderful kid!

What more could I have wanted?

*

Success touched me on the sensitive side. I started to end the era of celebrity, to be relatively arrogant with the less “initiated”, to appear drunk at parties...

However, I didn’t want to deviate from my original goal – to lay the foundations for a better life for Katy, Edi, and myself. Of course, Edi was not entirely ours, and we did not want to kidnap his parents, but since they were simple people with no material possibilities, they themselves gladly “borrowed” him to take care of him and offer him some things they could not afford.

I spent a lot of time, almost a year.

When I was told that a Scottish musician wanted to watch the apartment, I was delighted. For some time I had not had visitors from abroad, and I can say that I was missing them.

We sneaked little Edi into the well-known place, then we went in with the Scotsman.

“Come here, please. You will not find a more haunted place in the world than this. I will accompany you, show you the rooms. At some point you might hear the ghost's wailing - don't be afraid, nothing happens to you."

“Let’s go,” said the stranger, impatiently.

After admiring the walls on which I had hung some bizarre paintings, to increase the suspense, I politely invited him to the living room.

It was the time when the sounds of Edi were usually heard, but this time nothing happened. The curtain also did not move.

The Scottish musician looked around, puzzled.

I was like, “Hey, Edi, what are you doing, you’re asleep?”

After a quarter of an hour, I had already prepared to apologize to the Scottish guest, when I heard, as clearly as possible, a lugubrous whistle coming from under the floor.

“Oh, certainly, these are the wailing of the ghost you mentioned,” said the Glasgow tourist, pleased.

But I was still, unable to reply. I almost froze—and that was because I was sure the whistle was not Eduard's. (I knew him very well). Then, whose?

“Yes, they are,” I finally added to save the situation.

After another quarter of an hour, which seemed to me to be an eternity, during which I prepared the violinist (this was the instrument he played) a green tea, I led him to the exit.

He was pleased with the way the visit had gone, me - except, because I did not know what had happened. The sounds Edi was making I would have recognized from a thousand, and what I had just heard was not those, I was sure!

After making sure that the Scotsman had gone far enough so that he could no longer see or hear what I was about to do, I hurled at the hatch under the carpet. I was desperately shooting at her, but didn’t open up.

“Come on, come on!! You are there, are you okay? Please answer me!!!” I began to scream.

After many efforts, the hatch finally opened and brought out a creepy scene, which I will never forget: Edi lay inert, lying on her back, and looking up, with her eyes glassy. He had been dead, no doubt, for about twenty minutes since I heard the strange noises!

“It’s not possible!” I cried and began to cry.

“Who did that?”

*

I could not, of course, reveal to the coroner the real reason why poor Edward was usually there, but I told him that he was taking refuge in that place to read while I was busy with the guests. What really interested me at that time was to find out exactly why he had died.

And the doctor’s answer I will not be able to erase for a long time: He told me, literally, that little Edi died strangled, but not of a living being, because there were neither fingerprints nor significant injuries around the neck. It all seemed as if an invisible hand had squeezed him by the throat. A ghost!

As a doctor, he could not explain all this.

And when the police came to a similar conclusion that the boy had died strangled, but it was impossible for anyone on Earth to be charged with his murder, it was clear to me that I had entered a game much darker and more terrifying than I could ever have imagined.

Tell me, Edi, do you really believe in ghosts?” I asked.

Yes, of course. “You are not?” he answered, with that unmistakable, crystalline voice.

And I felt horrifying guilty of his death, it was almost as if I had killed him. Because although I was still not sure what had happened under that trap in that nightmare apartment, I was sure that none of this would have happened if I had not had the unfortunate idea of introducing him into my plan of getting rich quickly and imitating ghosts.

I haven’t recovered from this shock for a long time – maybe, in fact, I’ll never do it. Little Edward had been all that I had in the world, half for him I had done all that I had done, but now all this was of no use to me, and I had to bear the burden of an unimaginable winn!

I abandoned the visits to the apartment, citing personal reasons. I have even retired from public life because I would not have been up to it as I had been before. But I swore that I would do everything I could to find out what really happened there.

*

After a while, I left, accompanied only by Max, for an inspection of the apartment. This time, of course, not to fool a tourist, but to discover the truth.

Once the key was turned into the lock, I felt I was going into the unknown, even though I had been there many times before! When I stepped into the living room, the curtain suddenly moved, letting the sun enter the room for a few moments. But now I knew Edi wasn’t there to move her, and they gave me tears.

I grabbed her, as if to convince myself that no one was behind her.

Then I went to the toilet, because I was filled with dust on my hands. But as soon as I got into the bathroom, the taps moved quickly, leaving a jet of cold water to sprout. I looked at them powerfully, afraid to touch them. They moved by themselves!

I looked at the cracked ceiling and got out as fast as I could.

I walked through the room for a few moments, disoriented, in the dark. The paintings that I had put on the walls to enhance the strange, bizarre effect, seemed to me now hostile, frightening.

I realized I hadn’t seen the dog in a long time.

”Max! Max!” I shouted, but I didn’t get an answer.

Soon, however, I had another big surprise: Max lay, inert, on the floor, lifeless. I examined him closely and realized that he had died just like little Edward, strangled by an invisible force.

I couldn’t believe that all this was happening! Did I not start the game? Did I not challenge my destiny? Didn’t I want to get rich from stories I didn’t believe in?

But now it really seemed too late to change anything.

I left the house in a hurry, because any extra delay there would have become dangerous.

I returned home shocked and traumatized. First Edi, now Max. What else does the future hold for me?

Ghosts really do exist.

Didn’t I bet my life, like in roulette, that wouldn’t it?

*

I drank a whole liter of black beer and listen to dark ambient music. I can’t be myself, be alive, be authentic. All I can do is anesthetize my senses somehow.

Even when I make love with Katy, it’s not the same as before. It has become a kind of sport, a kind of intoxication of the senses, and nothing more.

Because, above all, I still feel extremely guilty – and I have no one to share this terrible guilt with. I didn’t want to defy anyone, and yet I did – I said something like, “I get rich on the backs of fools.” Didn’t I also attract the innocent Edward, the one who I liked so much to make him laugh and see him happy, in this cursed game? Didn’t I take my dog to protect me on the last break?

I started crying again, almost without stopping. I’d rather have died than have been there.

I no longer want to continue. Not so. Not by the rules of this game.

Do I really have a choice?

I kissed Katy, I lay beside her. She looked less tired, fresher than usual. I loved her with passion, with voluptuousness, we merged our bodies like a little magic.

But after that, I took a sleeping pill and went to bed. I was too afraid of the visions or remorse I could have had again.

I dreamed that I had wandered into a dark, sinister place, full of dead bats and packs of wolves, abandoned cemeteries, true abode of Satan.

From a forest with black, dry trees, a ghost appears, which I identify as the little Edi, who whispers to me in a macabre tone:

Now you believe in ghosts?

Then I see Max’s figure, as well as Katy’s bloody body.

I wake up in the morning hours.

I get up with difficulty, reaching out for the cup of coffee and trying to get back on track.

Katy was nowhere. I was surprised because it was not yet the time to leave for work.

I found the following ticket on the nightstand:

I had a strange dream last night. A Scottish violinist told me that he wanted to visit the city again the following month. Then I dreamed of little Edi. He was weak and pale, the poor man, as I have never seen him before. He called me from somewhere in a dark land, which he called the “Kingdom of Wolves.” It’s a very strange thing – I have to find out the truth once. I didn’t wait for you to wake up. I went to the apartment that we both now think is haunted. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Katy”.

The ticket dropped out of my hand.

For a while I could only say the words “too late”.

*

On the spot, I faced the inevitable: The glasses on the dining table were vibrating, as if touched by an invisible hand, and Katy lay on the floor, her throat cut, full of blood. About a meter from it was a fan with very sharp, metal propellers.

Of course, it will be the same as in previous cases: It will not be possible to say, either by the doctor or by the police, who started the killer fan and how exactly my ex-wife fell with her neck in it.

Probably just a supernatural force.

I shouted:

Okay, I was wrong! I didn’t have to start this game, I didn’t have to draw others into it! I am the only culprit! If you want, I will refund all the money I have collected to all tourists, to all the credulls who have ventured so far! But tell me, who are you? What do you want from me? Why do you kill everything that is dear to me?” “Tell me, why?” I said, exhausted, falling to the ground.

I was in a dark, cold room. Everything was still around me, and I heard, from somewhere in the hall, the dazed noise that seemed to me in those sinister moments of the pendulum clock.

From behind the curtain came the ghost of a little boy – it was a small, dark silhouette with phosphorescent eyes, like the one whose image was related to the famous case of the haunted house in Amityville.

I turned back, terrified.

You have reopened a curse that has been lying idle for decades – now be prepared to bear the consequences,” said a voice coming from the tiny immaterial figure, which had meanwhile been raised to a slap above the ground.

I watched, helpless, as blood began to flow from the ceiling...

Yes, I was now reliving, by all means, the dream sequences I had at the beginning before everything began.

I looked more closely at the silhouette and I recognized, terrified, Edward!

I also understood, in a few words, from him that through my play I had attracted the ghost of another boy, a Scotsman – therefore from the same country as the musician – who had died strangled by his father several decades ago. The curse was passed on to the next victim, the victim who, in this case, was little Edward himself.

So I realized in a single, hallucinatory sequence that it was the ghost of the Scottish boy who had strangled him, but guilty for the death of Max and Katya, that was the ghost of Edward, who had taken the curse!

I watched in horror as drops of blood fall on my cheek.

Terrible revelation, for all this slaughter I was also almost exclusively guilty, for in fact I had revived the curse!

I close my eyes... I'm dizzy... I'm falling.

I want to die.

I don't know anymore.

Let it end.

Tell me, Edi, do you really believe in ghosts?” I asked.

Yes, of course. “You are not?” he answered, with that unmistakable, crystalline voice.

The voice of the one I have indirectly taught to kill.

With my last strength, I murmured:

"Edi, I can't fix anything now... It all ended for me. And for you. But I have a duty to rewrite the novel and publish it. You know, it’s inspired by real facts,” I said, through tears. "Really..."

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strange_teller
strange_teller
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15 Dec, 2022
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