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Summer Vacation by obiwan [Reviews - 6]

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-stories
From:!pwz (Paul Zaccari)
Subject: How I spent my summer vacation.
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 1995 01:06:16 GMT

Maybe this doesn't apply, maybe it does. But here's a story from a true unbeliever.

Back in my youth I worked out a deal with a friend from college. I would fix up his upstate NY summer home if I got to stay there during break. It was big old house (aren't they all) on a lake. It was surrounded by woods on three sides and you couldn't see the road from the front widows. The trees were mostly big old pines that had been around to see alot before my first breath of air.

The house had recently had the electricity upgraded to 120 AMP service and some of the wiring inside needed to be upgraded. There were some plumbing problems as well as wood to be replaced or repaired.

The best part (to me) was the complete lack of phone service. I don't count it much of a service to be interupted any time someone get's it into their head that they want to talk to me.

The girl friend was supposed to come with me but she said she didn't like the idea of being in those dark woods all alone. I felt that didn't reflect well on me but I didn't give her a hard time about it. I did kind of wonder how we would ever get along. They say love is blind but right about then I was thinking it was more along the lines of stupid. But she was mine, I was hers and she wasn't coming along anyway. But I digress.

The first week was filled with me squeezing my over large frame between beams in the attic while trying replace wiring. Got to be on a first name bases with some of the bigger spiders in the house, even made a few black widows of my own by crushing their mates when they decieded that they needed to be in a spot more than my hand did.

The cellar had a dirt floor and was actually a series of four rooms because of the walls placed across the length for extra support. Lot's of spiders down there too but that didn't stop the beetles from visiting often. The cellar also had the plumbing and oil furnace. These were mostly in the third room and always seemed to be in shadow no matter how bright of a light bulb you put in the socket.

About the begining of the second week I was working on the hot water heater over the furnace. The water was shut off and I was trying to replace the main feed to the house. As anyone who's worked on old plumbing can attest, the fitting was not inclined to release it's hold on the pipe. So here I am, pipe in hand, putting more and more pressure on the fitting when a sequence of events occured that is still not clear in my mind to this day. I remember the fitting giving way abruptly and falling forward. The light bulb went out at the same time, leaving me in total darkness. There was a spark to the left of me as I pitched forward accompanied by a dull metallic ring.

The exact order of these events escapes me. They were just too close together. Now I'm sitting in the dark and I think I sense someone next to me. You know when your standing next to someone and you close you eyes and can kind of feel them there. It was just like that.

I reached slowly around behind me and got my flashligt out of my back pocket. I was real careful not to make a sound, but I can't think of a reason why. When I flicked the light on there was nothing there, of course. Well, there was no person there. There was a shovel. It had a crack in the handle as if some fool had swung it side- ways like an axe. The wood inside the crack looked as dirty and old as the rest of the handle, so I could tell tool was put to bad use long ago.

I figured the bulb must have burned out until I noticed that the other rooms were dark as well. When the fuse box revealed no tripped breakers I searched until I found the source of the failure. The light switch by the stairs had been flipped to "off". The only explanation I could think of was that I had not flipped it on all the way. The shovel was still a mystery. I didn't notice it on top of the furnace or water heater so I figured it must have been on the ledge where the wall meets the ceiling beam. My struggles with the pipes must have knocked it loose somehow.

With all the work I had to do I soon forgot the incident in the cellar. Life slipped back into uneventful mode for a few days. Then one night I came down to the kitchen to find that it was swarming with beetles. Big black crunchy things scurrying all over the floor. I was taken aback for a few seconds, then I got the shop vac and laid into them like there was no tomorrow. Since I was in my socks I started to skate around the tile floor in pursuit of them, doing my best to imitate Bobby Orr. (A hockey player, to those of you too young to remember). As I go the last of them up I noticed the door to the celler had come open. I walked over to close it and I imagined heard more beetles down there. The was a sound like whole piles of animated corn flakes, or so I thought. When I turned the lights on the celler was it's usual dank, dirty self. I put the shop vac outside the kitchen door to the back yard. I figured the bugs would make good bait an the shop vac would hold them until then. But wouldn't you know it in the morning every single one of 'em was gone. I couldn't find a way out but they sure did.

Now I was never one to be credited with a vivid imagination. I was always more of a "Bigger Hammer School of Solutions" type of guy. But hear me out.

A few nights later It's raining real hard. I'm just falling asleep when I hear a woman scream. It sounds like she's somewhere IN the house. So I pick up my .45 from behind the night table (remember the "Bigger Hammer School"?) and a flashlight and head towards the front of the house where I heard the scream. I don't have the light on because if there's trouble I don't want to telegraph my location to any intruders. I hear a moan of terror or pain in the living room and think to myself "Hang on, Honey! I'm almost there!".

Now, I heard the low moan from just outside the room but when I come through from the hall the room is empty. I searched the house, methodically going from room to room. The doors are all locked. The windows are undisturbed. The cellar door in the kitchen is open. The shovel I found in the cellar is on the kitchen floor. At this point I guess I should have been a little put off about the cellar. But there's something about the heft of a Colt 1911 that banishes all fear, reasonable or otherwise. So I searched the basement. I turned the lights on before I went down because it was just too dark to see anything, even with the vision of my youth. It was empty.

I searched the house again, this time with the lights on because I was sure I had heard someone. I attained the same results but when I was getting ready to go back to sleep I felt like I was being watched. Yeah, how cliche, right. But I did. This time was very different from the time the lights went out in the cellar, though. I just didn't seem to mind. It must have had something to do with knowledge that I was the only one in the house. I cleared the Colt and put the bullet that had been in the chamber on the night stand. I slept the sleep of the working man and dreamed that my woman came to me and curled up next to me in the dark and didn't even steal all the covers.

The next morning I woke up refreshed and made my way down to the kitchen. Sunlight streamed into the house and everything was right with the world. It was the sort of morning that demands you make buckwheat pancakes, which are, incase you didn't know this, the universal symbol of health and life. And since upstate NY is the source of the best damn maple syrup in the world I achived male Nirvana. I had wondered if I had dreamed the whole episode of the night before but the cartridge was on the night stand where I put it the night before. I reinserted it into the magazine and locked the pistol away. Then I turned towards the days work.

Today was to be another plumbing day and I would spend much time in the dank old cellar. I decided to put a pot of my famous (to me) chunky pepper sauce on the stove to simmer while I was working. The work went quick enough but I noticed I was getting in a rather bad mood while down stairs. This progressed until I half resolved that the grim old tomb was doing it on purpose. Rather then let it get the best of me I decided to take the rest of the day off. I treaded up the stairs and slapped the light off with a half muttered "Kiss my fat Yankee Ass". I was washing up at the kithcen sink when the soap sqirted out of my hand and slid across the floor to unerringly find the area under the stove. I cussed a bit and got down on my knees to look for it when two things happened. One, I noticed in the oven window the blurred reflecton of a dark shape in the kitchen behind me. Two, and this saved my hide, I heard that scream again. This caused me to jump up and bolt towards the hall. And the falling pot of sauce landed right where my head had been a half second before. It spread the across the floor like three gallons of steaming blood.

I grabbed a cleaver on the way out of the kitchen and headed towards the front of the house. It was, of course, empty.

Gee this is taking alot of bandwith. Let me end it here 'cause I don't want to be a net.hog.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-stories
From:!pwz (Paul Zaccari)
Subject: How I spent my summer vacation. Part II
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 1995 16:22:03 GMT

I'll try to post in small, polite pieces from now on.

Well, by the time I searched the house again, cleaned up the sauce and got everthing put away it I was in a worse mood than ever. I took a shower and went outside to enjoy the view from the back porch. There were a few boats on the lake, the occupants of the nearest one waved cheerfully. I waved back, all the time muttering something unpleasant. The lake was beautiful. The sun- shown on the low forested hills that contained it. This lent a hue to the lake that transformed the water into a plain of shimering gold and emeralds. The nautral beauty lifted my spirits, but as the day came to an end I started to feel restless. I was planning on watch- ing the stars make thier appearance. I kept getting the feeling that I had to be somewhere else. You know that sense of unease you have right before you realize you left the stove on. Imagine that going on for about an hour. Eventually I got up and checked the kitchen. One glance showed I hadn't forgotten anything important.

I walked through all the other rooms I had been in that day. Nothing. With the feeling still gnawing at me I grabbed a book and went up to my room. As soon as I entered it the feeling stopped. The change was so abrupt that I clearly remember it. It struck me as very odd. So much so that I delayed reading to analyze why that might have happened. (And it was Tolkien, so you KNOW it had to be important to put off reading that!)

Eventually I started reading and visited J.R.R's far off lands. I got caught up in it, I guess, because I caught myself reading outloud. It had gotten kind of late so I put the book away and hit the sack. I felt very content and soon was asleep.

My dreams were filled with summer days in a house much like the one I was in, except the wall paper was different. And there was a boat house by the lake with a fine old wood Criscraft in it. It was summer and the house needed no work and we had a ball up here. But the pleasant dreams turned grey and cold and I could hear a church bell tolling mornfully somewhere.

I woke up. Whisps of the dreams slipped from my mind so it was a few seconds before I realized I could still hear the ringing sound. It sounded more like a pan being beaten against a rock. And it was coming from the bowels of the house. Before I could get the Colt the noise stopped. I did the pistol/flashlight/commando thing again because intellectually it made sense. But my gut feeling that I was the only living being in the house proved to be correct. I slept well the second half of the night as well.

The next morning wasn't as nice as the previous, but it would do. I got an early start on the plumbing and finished up before lunch. I had a great deal of discarded pipes and furnace parts that was becoming quite a hazard so I decieded to start carting them out to the dumpster. I sorted out the pipes into managable hundred pound piles to be carried out. (Ah, to be young again!)

As I was carring all the old pipes out of the celler the door slammed shut just as the longest of them started to protrude past the door jam. This, of course, transfered the energy down the pipes and into me and sent me sprawling backwards. I grabed a post that supported the stairs and swung out of the way of the falling pipes. My momentum carried me around the post and threw me into the wall. I hit my elbow hard enough to make it bleed. I felt my way to the bottom of the stairs, avoided the pile of old pipes resting there and made my way to the door. It opened to reveal an empty kitchen. I looked around and saw the door to the back yard was open. Of course! I had opened it so I could carry the pipes out. A guest of wind must have slammed the cellar door shut. I cleaned up the nasty scrape and bandaged it. I went to gather up the pipes again but this time I wedged the cellar door open before I went down.

That afternoon I replaced the wood trim and some gutters. Dinner was steak and potatoes with buttered corn. Glory be to the pre-cholestrol days! I stayed up late reading that night. I again found myself reading aloud. This was a habit that I didn't want to carry back to school with me since it would make using the library awkward.

I went to sleep and dreamed the good dreams until I started to detect the first traces of the reappearance of the shadows. You know when your having a dream and you stop it to examine somthing in it? You figure out it's a dream while the dream scene fades away from all around you. This is what happened to me. I remember thinking that I had to wake up now. Something was gooing to happen. I drifted towards wakefulness.

My eyes slowly opened. The house was dark as pitch and quite as a graveyard. I got up and opened the door to the bed room. I waited. The dull ringing noise started. A clanging sound from what I guessed was the cellar. The first dull clang startled me and I shuddered for a second.

It sounded four times, then stopped. I stood in the dark listening, waiting for it to start again. I checked the clock. It was 3:17 AM. I considered checking things out, but I was sure I would find nothing. I waited a short while, then closed the door and went back to bed. Was it the furnace I was supposed to have fixed. Air in the hot water pipes? Or was I fooling myself and the damn house was as spooky as I was begining to think? Or was the isolation getting to me? A smile came across my face. Knowing myself as I did, THAT seemed far less likely than seeing any ghosts.

The next morning came and I slept late. I went down to the kitchen for breakfast and planned my day. Today was panneling day. While I had the walls apart I would do some electrical work. This would be in the den. The work went smoothly and I figured I would be finished by night fall. I lunched on, well, lunch meat. Sandwiches and other bachelor fare. I took a brief break and read some more Tolkien. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the book. But judging from the detail that he put into it, the man had way too much time on his hands.

I got back to work and finished up before dark. Things were coming along well and soon I would have months to just relax in the house. Maybe I could convince the girl friend to join me. I took a walk along the shore of the lake to find good fishing spots. I did notice that there were some pilings at one point. I bet the fishing would be good around them. I originally assumed that they were from a ruined pier, but I noticed that they were too far apart for that. Something in the back of my mind sat up and took notice though. I got that "I've been here before" feeling. Try as I might, I couldn't remember any place like this that I had been to in my past.

That night I don't remember dreaming anything. I slept like the dead. I did wake up once. Everything was quiet and you could here the water lapping down by the lake.

As I was drifting back to sleep I heard it. The clanging sound. Three times. That bought me back to wakefulness for a while. I thought about that. I would have to see if it was the pipes. I mean, I WAS responsible for maintenance, after all. What was I supposed to tell my friend if he heard the noise. "Naw, I decided not to try to fix that 'cause I figured it was ghosts." Right. I went back to sleep.

The next day I got up even later. And that was fine with me. I got to work on installing the new fixtures for the bathrooms. I had new sinks and toilets to install. They were heavy, but I carried them into their respective bathrooms. I took out the old ones and had them outside and in the dumpster with all the other jetsom before I broke for lunch. After I cleaned up the kitchen I was starting down the hall when I heard a sound behind me. I stopped dead in my tracks and listened. All the sounds of the breeze in the trees and the birds from outside came to me. But the sound wasn't repeated. I poked my head back in the kitchen. The cellar door was open. This time the kitchen door was closed. Now, if I were watching this scene in the movies I and everyone else in the theater would be thinking what a jerk this guy is for going into the basement alone.

Right? I decided to go down in the celler and see what was up. I stood in the doorway momentarily to see if I could catch any hint of a breeze that might have blown it open. Nothing. I flicked on the lights and made my way down the stairs. The last step was actually a concrete slab that the stairway was anchored to at the bottom. I stepped off of it. The cellar was it's usual dank, unpleasant self. The bright incandescent lights always seemed brown and dirty down here. And they wouldn't penetrate into shadows despite the 150 watt bulbs I installed. The first room still held the junk that others would probably clean up and sell to an antique shop. Now webs choked with dust and dirt hung from everything. I made my way into the second room and I noticed nothing unusual until I saw that shovel that almost fell on me while I was fixing the water heater. This was strange because the night I found it on the kitchen floor I had put it just outside the door on the back porch. How did it get here? Just as I was thinking of taking a closer look at it I noticed that the lights were getting dimmer. I looked at the bare bulbs and they seemed to be bright as ever. It was like the light wasn't falling far from the bulb. I watched this in awe for a few seconds, trying to figure out what was going on. Then it occured to my less than brilliant mind that I had better find my way upstairs. But before I took five steps the light just faded from view. I was in total darkness in a basement that had not exactly endeared itself to me.

Ok. The rest is coming.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-stories
From:!pwz (Paul Zaccari)
Subject: Repost: How I spent my summer vacation. 3
Date: Mon, 1 May 1995 15:02:14 GMT

Part the last. Enjoy.

The only thing I can make out at all is the outline of of the light bulb. It was like looking at one of those shapes you see behind tighly shut eyes. Mine always seemed blue-ish. And why was I thinking about this when I was either being haunted or had just gone blind? I stifled a giggle. This didn't mean I wasn't scared, mind you. I was also trying not to wet myself. It's just that when your mind has the truly weird thrust upon it it can react in strange ways.

The jumble of thoughts racing around in my head came to abrupt order, however, when I became aware of The Presence. It was something very close to me, in that unnatural dark. Something not at all pleased with the fact that I was staying here. And something else became apparent about The Presence. It had killed before. I knew it as sure as I was standing there. This thing had taken human life.

I waited for a while, listening. I tried to gather some clue as to what was going on around me. I heard nothing.

The silence rang in my ears. I expected something BAD to happen any second. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. I took a step. Something brushed lightly against my cheek, causing me to startle. The oil furnace started behind me and to my left. That would put the exit to my front about twelve paces and to the right.

I started taking slow, small, carefull steps. My hands were thrust out in front of me feeling for obstacles. My ears picked up a small scraping sound, very near. Close enough to touch. I anticipated walking into something in the dark. My hand touched a wall and identified the door frame just as something scuttled under my palm. I heard the sound again. I couldn't make out what it was because it was masked by the racket the furnace was making.

I was in the room with the stairway now. It was still blackness all around me. The furnace noise receded as I made my way farther from the door. And the noise came again. I was able to hear it better now without the sound of the heating to cover it up. It was the sound of a slow halting tread right behind me. The realization was accompanied by a waft of cold breath that stirred the hairs on the back of my neck.

I ran in the direction I though the stairs were. It was an inspired guess too, 'cause I hit them and went sprawling onto them. Without knowing exactly how, I launched myself through the door to the kitchen. I heard rather than saw the celler door slam shut violently behind me. I didn't regain control over myself until sitting in the pickup truck in the drive way. The keys were in my hand when I stopped them from fumbling with the ignition.

I was breathing heavily. Blood streamed from a cut in my lip. I had some good sized splinters in my hand. There were bruises forming on my forearm. I got out of the truck and looked back at the house. It stared back at me. The place didn't look so attractive and comfortable as it had. I checked my watch. It had been a grand total of seven minutes since I entered the celler. It seemed like years.

I thought of leaving. Just driving down the road and telling my friend to forget it. (His name is Jack Brandt in case you were wondering). I'm not sure I could think of something to tell him that would make sense. Any fool could see I was almost done with the repairs and I would be giving up some well earned vacaton time in a nice summer home. But it didn't matter what I told him. What ever was said would be spoken by someone who was scared.

Jack wouldn't know why, and he wouldn't say anything anyway. But he would know I was scared.

In the end, I went back inside. Maybe I was more afraid of what I would be if I let myself be chased out of the house than of what was in it. Maybe something deep in my noggin knew what I would eventually figure out later. But I went back in.

I finished the bathrooms. That was all I was supposed to do, really. But I had also decided to paint the hall on my own, kind of an extra "thank you" for the hospitality. That would be tomorrows project.

That night the alarm went off at 3:00 AM. I got up and quickly dressed. I went down stairs to the kitchen, pulled out a chair and waited. A short time later I heard it. The hollow clang of a shovel blade being struck against stone. It struck twice. I waited in the dark for another twenty minutes before going back to bed. It took two hours before I got back to sleep.

The next day I was up at noon. The bedroom didn't have the familiar comfortable feeling that it had before. An anxious sense of waiting pervaded the whole house now. It was waiting, I was painting. The hall led from the kitchen and dining room in the back of the house to the living room and den in the front. I put a nice coat of light blue on it that matched the wall paper in the dining room and the tile in the kitchen. I heard the cellar door open and close a few times. Softly. On it's own. But I had work to do. And it didn't end with the painting.

While I worked I thought about the events that had been occuring. Bugs, screams, doors opening and closing, killer spaghetti sauce, sudden darkness. And something that liked to play with shovels.


Not shovels. A shovel.

And it stayed in the cellar. Which had a dirt floor. That sort of fit. There could be something buried under the the floor. If there was, how would I find it? The cellar had an area as big as the house. Maybe a metal detector?

My thinking was interrupted by a soft sound from the up stairs. I was going to ignore it as well but it was different this time. I was due for a break anyway so I wiped my hands and crept upstairs. At first I couldn't locate the sound. The bathroom was clear. I went down the hall and determined the source. My bedroom. As I approached the sound stopped. I pushed the door opened.

The bed, which I made this morning, was now dishevelled. I searched the room. Everything else was as it should be. Closer examination of the bed revealed that the pillow was wet. I was puzzled. The thing in the cellar drooled on my pillow? I sat down on the bed. It was still warm. It occured to me that the sound was crying. A womans crying. The moisture on the pillow was her tears.

I guess I wasn't the only one who was being tormented by The Presence. I added the new information into the swirl of thoughts. A faint scent of perfume was in the air. The smell seemed comfortable, and I realized that I had been catching wiffs of it for weeks. But always in my room.

My glance strayed to the night table and the hide-a-holster that held the Colt automatic at night. And something else sprang to my mind.

A door slammed violently down stairs. I excused myself and started down. There was a faint tug on my sleeve. I glanced back and saw nothing. When I got to the hall I stopped. I had to look for a minute before I realized what I was seeing. The walls were covered with beetles. They stuck to the drying paint, some struggling weakly. They covered the walls. I walked though and entered the kitchen.

The door to the cellar stood open. The bright daylight from the kitchen was choked and defeated before it fell on the first step. The darkness was there again. And something moved in it. The Presence regarded me with hatred from the shadow. The memory of blind terror started to well up inside my chest, causing my throat to constrict. I tried to control it. The blackness seemed to bulge out toward me, like it was trying to burst through some unseen damn that held it in the cellar and smother the house and it's contents. Naked terror pressed against my reason. Maddness stared at me from the dark. I looked back and saw my future. then the door slammed shut with a sound like thunder. I was released.

I shook for a few minutes and my knees felt weak. Then I turned and took a few unsteady steps towards the hall.

The beetles were all dead now. Their struggles finished at last. I gained strength and confidence as I made my way toward the stairs. As I climbed them I thought about The Presence. It had displayed the ability to effectively blind me. It could move physical objects. It could see in the dark.

It appeared to have a problem with me, to say the least. It also had a few chances to kill me. Like the time I fell down the stairs with the pipes. It could have grabbed one and brained me in the dark. For that matter it could have slipped the Colt from it's holster and drilled me in my sleep. Why try to dump a pot of sauce on me? The worst that could have done was land me in the burn unit for a few days.

By this time I had returned to the bed room. I sat down on the bed again and wrestled with the puzzles of the situation. Eventually I picked up the book again and purposly read aloud. I had an audience after all.

That night 03:00 AM found me wide awake and still clothed. I went down stairs to my least favorite spot in the house and stood in front of the closed cellar door.

I fought against fear as I reached forward to open the door. It was black as the pit down the steps. Shapes that were darker still seemed to move slowly about in front of me. I waited, listening.

A single metallic "clang" sounded. The noise was in front and to my right. I tried to envision where that would be from my mental layout of the room. As I turned away from steps the hairs on the back of my neck raised again. I half anticipated a violent blow from behind. I swung the door closed and started back. As I was going throught the hall I paused and looked at the paint and beetled walls.

"Naw" I muttered to myself. "It'll never catch on."

The next day I woke in the afternoon. I was still clad in my painting clothes. I took a shower and changed. The air held a little chill outside. I wandered around by the shore and through the surrounding woods. The smell of the pine was pleasant but the trees seemed to cast shadows when seen out of the corner of your eye. As the sun went down I went inside. After a small supper of sandwiches I dragged one of the kitchen chairs to the bedroom. I set it at the foot of the bed facing the entrance. I picked up the book and read out loud while the few lights across the lake winked out and the stars wheeled overhead. At last I finished and closed the book.

The clock said 03:09.

I sat in the chair facing the door. The whole world was quiet. My ears picked up the sound of a door opening. I stood and went to the door. The lights in the room began to slowly dim. I pulled the door open. The hall was unlit. I could just make out the stairwell. Something scraped softly in the kitchen. I waited. The lights in the room continued to dim until extinguished.

My ears seemed super sensitive. The fear started to creep up in the pit of my stomach. In the downstairs hall I heard a sound like a whispering. It grew swiftly until a crackling sound like dry leaves could be heard. I knew without seeing that the beetles stuck to the walls were reanimating.

A darkness filled the bottom of the stairs. The Presence was there. I watched as the faintly seen hand rails seemed to melt into the shadow. I thought I heard a soft noise behind me. The house seemed to become cold. The blackness drifted down the hall towards me. I could feel the chill and fear of it pressing against me. Finally all in front of me was total darkness. The Presence was before me.

I stood in the doorway facing it.

"Go away." I said

The anticipation of a blow filled me so powerfully that I almost winced.

"Go away" I repeated "You can not enter."

Part of me waited for death. The fear was beginning to grow in me. I knew if I didn't do something I would be overcome with it. I drew a slow, ragged breath of the ice cold air.

"Leave us. I will not move. Your way is blocked." The words seemed to hold my terror in check. It was all I could do to utter the next ones.

"Or kill me if you can." The words were almost rushing out now. I steadied myself. "You either can't kill me or you don't dare. I bet it's the latter. You've been trying to get rid of me. Burning me with sauce or breaking a limb with a push down the stairs would put me in the hospital, which would suit your purpose because If I'm not here you can't reenact you ancient crimes." My voice was loud and strong now, the fear changing to anger. "You had your chance in the cellar but you didn't take it." The darkness started to recede from in front of me now. I stepped out after it. My teeth were clenched as I spoke.

"You didn't take it because if you killed me there wouldn't be anything between me and you, would there!"

The shadow seemed to get smaller as it withdrew. I pressed after it.

"Maybe you can terrorize and murder a women. Let's see How tough you would be facing a man on equal footing."

I had it almost to the bottom of the stairs now.

"If you were such hot shit you wouldn't be dead in the first place!" I spat.

The darkness vanished. One instant it was in front of me, the next, just the shadows of normal night. Relief poured through me. I just started to inhale for a deep sigh when I heard the bedroom door slam. There was a womens scream upstairs. Shit! My mind raced. I pivoted around, then turned again and went towards the cellar.

The screams and angry shouting of unintelligible words filled the upstairs.

I flung open the door and flipped the lights on. It seemed like eons since I saw it's chambers illumintated. I hurried down the stairs and moved to my right. As the sounds of violence echoed through the house I prayed I was right.

As I reached the wall I saw the shovel behind some old wrought iron railings. I took it both hands like a bat and planted my feet. I swung it into the wall. The hollow clanging noise I'd become so familiar with rang out.

The commotion upstairs stopped. I swung again, harder. My ears and hands both were stung by the blow. Bits of the concrete pelted my face. I was rewarded by the sight of new, clean wood in the crack.

The light started to die. It was coming. And I think in this situation it would be willing to take it's chances with facing me in the spirit world.

I swung again, putting all my weight into it. A trickle of blood started down my face where flying concrete fragments cut it. The sound of wood cracking mixed in with the metallic clash. I swung again, harder. The chamber rang with the impact. The last thing I saw was the handle if the shovel with a split a quarter of it's length. The light was gone. The door slammed shut. Something black and cold rushed unseen down the steps.

I swung at the unseen wall grinning like a cossack.

In upstate New York a house stands watching over a summer vacation paradise. Boaters race the length of the lake while small groups of bathers dot it's shore. Anglers cast their lines and test their skills against the fish. The air is clean and scented with pine.

In the basement of the house two Sheriffs Deputies and the county medical examiner expose the skeletal remains of a young women, victim of a grisly murder committed long ago.

The Deputies are finishing up questioning of the young man who discovered the body while doing repairs at the summer home. The officer in charge notices the pieces of a newly split shovel on the dirt floor. As the young man is leaving he nudges the pieces with his foot and calls out. "What's this?" The young man turns and regards the object with a glint of triumph. "Nothing" he replies "Just a broken shovel."

The End

Paul Zaccari

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