I’ve got ghosts on my mind, not only because Halloween is on the horizon, but also because I’ll be getting the cover for my novelette, A Highland Ghost for Christmas, this week.
So, I thought I’d share my own ghost story. I’ve never told it before, but now seems like a good time. It took place many years ago when I was a young mother with two children, a husband and assorted pets living in the wilderness on the Haida Gwaii.
PJ, my husband, had some business in a small town on Vancouver Island, so the kids and I tagged along. My oldest was two and my youngest a baby. It was a big deal, because we lived in a logging camp and were getting to go to the city. In those days I defined a city as any place that had a stop sign. This city had traffic lights. Imagine my excitement.
We settled into a small, ocean side motel for a week. There were two bedrooms and a living room with a kitchenette. It had a fifties vibe with well-worn furniture and an old Frigidaire in the kitchen. It was the kind of place that’s hard not to feel comfortable in.
The first night I found it hard to sleep, partly because of the noise of traffic outside (remember I had been living with the bears), partly because of the skanky smell belching out of the local sawmill, but mostly because I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought I ate too many french fries.
The next day PJ went off to work and I drove to a mall to binge shop. If you’ve ever been cut off from stores, you’ll understand my term. We had a simple dinner, played with the kids and read. An October drizzle set in. The sky became layered shades of grey and the air damp.
I awoke in the middle of the second night with a start. The tiny hair on the back of my neck rose. Someone was in the room.
I looked around. PJ snored quietly beside me. I strained my ears to hear someone, but it was quiet.
Everything looked normal. It just didn’t feel it.
I rolled over and tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I knew I wasn’t alone. And I sensed danger, as if something had happened, something bad. A visceral awareness of violence flooded my senses.
I checked on the girls. They looked so peaceful and perfect in their sleep. I swallowed. Should I be afraid for their safety? Do ghosts take over toddlers and children? I said a silent prayer or two.
I looked around the whole suite. Nothing was out of place.
Unable to swallow my fear, I sat on the sofa the rest of the night. There was no question in my mind, I was not alone. The presence of several spirits surrounded me. I had become trapped in an event from the past.
I sensed one woman … at least two men, bikers. Anger, hatred, violence, screaming … I could feel it. But I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t help her.
I checked on my daughters every few minutes. They looked at peace. I checked on my husband. He snored.
I couldn’t think about this logically, because it made no sense. But I couldn’t deny my feelings. I stayed awake, on guard, until morning. The heavy presence of the spirits disappeared as the sun burned through the morning mist that hungover the ocean.
My visitors returned the next night, but I figured since they hadn’t hurt us the first night, they would be unlikely to do so the second. I got a little sleep and more the next night. The spirits always left by dawn.
At the end of the week I was extremely happy to leave for home.
The ironic twist to this story is that nine years later we moved to that town and we still live here, Nanaimo, B.C. Canada. It’s known as a biker town. Every time I pass the motel a shiver slithers up my spine. I’ve never told anyone this story, because it sounds too weird to be believed, but I know it happened. I know it was real.
So that’s my ghost story. Do you have one?
Photo Credit – Pixabay.com
Coming soon maybe – A Highland Ghost for Christmas
I’m getting mixed reviews from beta-readers on this story, so I may shelve it. The principle concern is that it reads so differently from my other writing. On the plus side, 1) any story writing is good practice so I don’t begrudge the hours I’ve spent on this project. 2) playing with another genre is fun. It’s like trying on clothes you don’t normally wear, but admire, 3) I won’t muddy my collection for the loyal genre hunters, so that people who are expecting to find a certain kind of story when they reach for one of my books won’t be confused, 4) I’m working hard to think of another good thing about this situation, but I can’t. On the, ‘it sucks’ side, 1) I won’t have a story coming out for Christmas 2) I liked this story, as crazy and whimsical as it is.
I considered publishing it under a pseudonym. That’s what the big publishers do when a writer tries something different. But it’s a lot of work keeping track of one of me, two seems impossible, and in January my speculative fiction story will be out, which would raise the question that I may need three. I cheer myself up thinking about names. My favorite at the moment is, Crazy Carson.
Wishing you a happy ghouless October day.