THE WEEPING GHOST
I wake to a plaintive wail echoing through the mansion’s deserted halls.
I open my eyes, but darkness surrounds me. This is not my room.
Where am I?
Fallen asleep on the couch in the west wing again, it seems.
Why did I come here dressed only in this gossamer nightgown?
I don’t remember; I’m still groggy.
A flash of lightning illuminates the sitting room, and a crack of thunder shakes the oak-paneled walls of my ancestral home. Driving rain beats in staccato syncopation on the lounge’s many-paned windows.
Above the fury of the storm, I can still hear the weeping.
Where’s it coming from?
Frost Hall is huge, built up by generation after generation of a family rich enough and eccentric enough to do the Winchesters proud: my family, the Frosts. You could hide an army within these looming walls, but fewer than a dozen of us survive, each living in our own reclusive domain, our chambers scattered throughout the decaying heap.
Noises play tricks here, and the house’s ancient timbers have their own groaning voice.
It’s a woman crying, and the sound seems familiar, though I can’t quite place it. The wailing continues unabated, a mournful counterpoint running beneath the rainfall.
She sounds disconsolate, suffering not from injury but from loss.
Did someone die?
Stealthily, I move through the darkened corridors toward the weeping.
Only three of my relatives are women, but the voice does not sound like any of them, nor like our handful of servants.
Who is this stranger? What is she doing in my house?
The wail grows louder as I near my chambers.
I turn a corner and see her: a white wraith, limned by flashes of lightning, gliding across the corridor.
I freeze, unsure what to do, as the figure walks to my own door … and passes inside.
Terror grips me.
Family legends insist that more ghosts now reside within Frost Hall than living souls. I’ve seen apparitions before, fleeting glimpses in darkened corridors, nothing I could be sure of. Nothing like this. And never here.
She’s in my room!
I hesitate outside the door.
The weeping continues, piteous, heartbreaking.
She has lost something she cares about very much—a friend or a loved one. For her, the world has ended. The thunder and rain are fitting accompaniment for this oh-so-personal apocalypse.
Dare I intrude? Can I find the will to confront this mournful specter?
Is it the will to remain in a place that creates ghosts?
The crying grows softer now, becoming muffled sobs punctuated by gasping breaths.
I gather my courage and enter the room.
Everything seems normal: no possessions out of place, no specters floating in midair, not even my bedsheets ruffled.
But the door to the adjoining bathroom stands ajar. A sliver of pale light leaks out from within.
The weeping has stopped.
Trembling, I push the door open.
A woman lies in the bathtub, rivulets from her wrists staining the water crimson. Her hair floats around her head in a wavy black halo. Her eyes are closed, and she looks almost peaceful … glad to be done with it all … though she’s very young.
I recognize her.
How could I?
Was the knife’s edge really so … comforting?
What have I done?
I cry for my family—my aunt, my uncle, my cousins—calling to anyone for help.
But my plaintive wail echoes through the mansion’s deserted halls.
* * *
To all my friends & fans, Happy Halloween!