Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Haunted House

This is one of the first short stories i've written. Of course i've translated it from the original greek version, so please forgive me for any possible mistakes. It's the story of a Haunted House and it goes like this:

We've heard a lot of stories about that house. Strange stories. The old people of our village said, that there used to live a very unlucky woman; one of those women that never come to enjoy a happy day in their lifetimes. My own grandma, who was a wise old woman, said that that was the “house of Death himself”.
However, we were children, and in our eyes that place didn’t look scary at all. On the contrary. The bigger the mystery, the more we wanted to explore it. We just had to discover the truth, no matter what. But the older people just wouldn’t let us do that. Every time we brought up the subject they would start praying and crossing themselves and tell us that we were crazy, and that we just had to stay as far away as we could from that haunted place. “Haunted!” Hmm! We were more and more determined to do what we set our minds on doing. As for my grandma, well, she was a bit philosophical about the whole thing: “It’s not right to play games with the works of the Lord and the Devil” she’d say. Come on grandma, not even a play of cards? Besides, I thought that the god and the devil had better things to do, than seat right there and look after an empty house. Unless they were the landlords, of course.
Our curiosity was growing all the more as time went by. What was it that the older people were afraid of? And did that so common, in every aspect, house really hide any big and scary secrets? Besides, it was just a big two-storied mud house, that didn’t look even a bit weird. But “It’s during the night that the ghosts come out”, said the old women. And we wondered if anyone really knew how did the ghosts look like. They told us that they had big black horns like the goat mace’s, and their eyes were red, as was their skin some times, and that if they wanted to they could walk with two feet and run with four; oh, they could also fly high and fast like the eagle, or just like the dragons did in the good old days. That was a very accurate description actually. But my friend John and I didn’t feel even a little bit afraid. However, in the days that followed I’ve seen some strange dreams. And they would scare the shit out of the old people every time they heard me talk about them. They were sure that something evil was about to happen. And I kept wondering how something evil could come out of a dream.
As the years passed, the legend surrounding the haunted house became darker, and many different versions of its story were now readily available. The older people, who had nothing else to do, used to sit at the coffee shop from morning till night, playing games of cards and waiting for some foreigner to show up, so they could get to tell him their version of the story. So, it wasn’t long before headless people were seen moving around, or just heads by themselves, somebody heard the old lady who used to live there – and died of sorrow – having her needs met at the toilet, while at full moon nights the passers by would hear horrifying screams come out of the house “ggggg.... vvvvvvvv..... tmeeeeeeeeee”. However, I, to be honest, stood outside that house many times and for long, and I never heard a single sound coming out. Maybe the ghost was afraid of me!
Anyway, the rumors traveled far and away, crossing the borders of our small province and reaching the big cities, so people started pouring in to pay it a visit. They all said that as seen from outside, in the light of day, it looked quite ordinary, just an abandoned house. However, those who went inside in order to explore it afterwards would say that they were certain that it hid a lot of dark secrets. They said that the floor sounded like it was empty underneath, that the walls certainly hid some secret passages and that the three dusty little paintings that hang in the old woman’s bedroom had something evil about them.
A misty spring day, a young weird man, arrived at the village. He introduced himself as a ghost hunter. He wanted to spend a night alone in the house, as he was sure he could solve the riddle and sent the ghost to rest. Everyone tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t take any advice. “Good for him and for us” I thought, “at last we are going to get some action in this sleepy place”. Well, the rest of the people of the village, were not as happy as I was. They had no doubts that something bad would happen to him. The priest, a man of good faith who, however, believed in ghosts, stayed with the man outside the house, until the day started fading away. He was trying to convince him to abandon his quest, but it was just a waste of time. In the end he gave up every hope of success and left. When he got home he told his daughter, Margarita, to bring some food and coffee to the stranger, and left right away for the church to pray for the fool man’s soul.
Night had fallen. A very dark one. Everyone thought and worried about the weird stranger, but none of them would dare go and check out on him. A bit after midnight, as everyone else in the house sunk into sleep, I slipped out of my bedroom’s window and headed for the house of my friend, John, who was expecting me. We were both sixteen at the time and afraid of nothing. So, there was no chance we would miss whatever was going to happen that night at the haunted house.
When we arrived there everything was deadly quiet. Even the wind had no sound. So, having nothing else to do, we sat outside and started drinking in rounds from a bottle of gin that John brought, courtesy of his father, who of course didn’t know.
Time was passing by real slow. Nothing had happened for too long and in the end we’ve fallen asleep. A terrifying scream ringed into our ears, “mamaaaaaaaaaa”, and in a moment we were on our feet shaking like we were naked in the snow. There were fists hitting hard on the door of the house and the next thing we saw was the ghost hunter jumping out of the window and start running like crazy. We stayed there, frozen for a while, but in a few seconds we started running after him. He and the chase stopped outside the church of the Virgin Mary. He had thrown himself in front of the door and whispered, as pale as one can be, “Mary, mother of god, help me. Mary, mother of god, help me!” We tried to bring him back to his senses, but with no success. His eyes looked frozen and his body seemed to burn in high fever. “He acts like he saw Death” John said. The next moment, the priest, who lived next to the church and was upset by all the yelling, was there. After a long effort we managed to convince him to arise from the ground and helped him to his house.
Not a single soul was asleep there. The priest’s wife, their son George and Margarita, they all seemed to be in a state of emergency. Oh, Margarita looked so good in her white nightgown! Anyway, we put the poor soul down to lie on the sofa, and the girl left to prepare some tea for him. “I don’t think that he’ll be able to sleep, having taken the scare of his life” the priest said, but before long facts would prove him wrong. He went to sleep straight away, without even finishing his tea. We felt drowsy as well, and a few minutes later we were on our way home.
The next day was our day! We were the village’s heroes. Everyone would come to us to learn the news first hand. Even Margarita, seemed for the first time in all our young lives, to pay special attention to us. She would smile at us, talk to us, and ask for details. Oh, really, it felt so good to be close to her, to talk to her. It felt even better than the gin we drunk the night before!
The foreigner stayed at the priest’s house for one more night. And then he left the village never to return. As we found out from the visitors that continued to arrive in increasing numbers, that poor fellow went to a shrink to try and sooth his fears away, but the latter thought that there was no cure for him so he locked him up in an asylum.
That man was my ticket to happiness. And the night that he went nuts turned out to be the most important of my life so far. That unfortunate event was my soul’s... salvation. How? Well, is there a way to put this into words? Oh, i’ll just spit it out... My fool soul was in love; in love with Margarita, just like every other young guy’s in the village. But I didn’t know how to get close to her. My good luck, though was working for me, so after what happened she came a bit closer to me. However, I couldn’t bring my self to tell her what I felt about her. She was the priest’s daughter. And she was virtuous. So virtuous that everyone called her “The little saint”. Pure like sin! How could I talk to her about my love? How could I conquer her heart? Being brave was enough to get her under my spell?
I’ve talked to John about my feelings towards her, and it was no surprise when he admitted that he liked Margarita too, but he thought it impossible that someone could become her boyfriend.
He was right, but I wasn’t willing to give up trying. A first step has been taken. Others had to follow. I thought that if I were brave enough to bring out to light the secret of the haunted house, I stood a good chance of making her mine. Wise John said: “Things are easy when you talk about them, but when it comes to action they could get pretty tough. How do you know if she is going to love you, anyway?” Well, I didn’t know, but I thought it was worth a try.
After a lot of serious thinking and since I could find no other way to her heart I’ve convinced John to help me out with my plan. So, just when the summer came and the schools were closed, we started preparing for the task at hand. Many times, day and night, we would go with John and sit outside the house of evil. Some times we would hear weak screams coming out as from a grave and others light footsteps on the floor. I felt my blood freezing at those sounds and so did John, but we never left our post. We heard doors creaking and saw more than once a dim red light passing in front of the closed windows, but we were determined to stand solid at our place.
Oh, yes, that house had many secrets to hide, but after a few days, we weren’t feeling so scared of them. However, we told nobody about our evening adventures because they would try to talk us out of them.
Well, time passed by really fast, making Margarita look even more beautiful in my eyes. Her face was shining just like a fabulous sun in the dark. And her eyes, her eyes... wouldn’t look at us. She only had eyes for god.
One night, after a long long time, we’ve decided to take the big step. So, a little after two o’clock in the morning we went to the haunted house again, determined to get inside and solve all the mysteries. The truth is we were a bit afraid, but after all that preparation, after all the bravery stands, we thought that the time was ripe. So, we slowly opened the door and with light steps moved inside. Just then we heard a yawn “oooooohhhhhh” coming out of the floor and the next minute we found our selves running like crazy in the deserted streets of the village.
The night after we wouldn’t dare go even close to the house again. We were such cowards, so miserable, such cowards. We were cursing each other and our selves. However, we’ve decided to pay it a visit on Sunday morning. At the time everyone would be at church and so we’d be able to explore the house, and return at night for a new “attack of the brave.”
Well, everything went as planned. We’ve searched the walls, the doors and the floors. We’ve searched everywhere and found out a lot of things, more than one could even imagine. So, we decided that on that particular night we would go there very early, and hide in the kitchen, waiting for something to happen. We felt that, at least for us, the mystery that surrounded that house would soon come to light.
We knew that it could be a long wait, so we carried along with us some bread, cheese, olives and slices of pork, as well as a bottle of gin to keep us busy; and of course, our torches. We went straight into the kitchen and while having a pick nick in the dark, we had our ears wide open in order to catch any sound. As we were not able to talk, time seemed to pass really slowly.
It must have been three or four hours later that we heard the back door slowly creaking open. Somebody whispered something and at that very moment we saw a dim red light moving in the living room and two shadowy figures opening an unseen trapdoor and going underground. We remained in the darkness watching. As they disappeared closing the trapdoor behind them, I whispered to John to stay still and quiet for a bit longer. And so he did.
A few minutes later interrupted words started arriving at our ears: “ggggg.... vvvvvvvv..... tmeeeeeeeeee.” The same words over and over again. And right then we started off for the source of those sounds. We crawled towards the trapdoor and opened it suddenly wide, shedding strong waves of light into the underground from our torches. What we saw left us speechless. It was…
Three months later everybody in our village was talking about a miracle. Margarita, the priest’s daughter, the best and most virtuous girl of them all, got pregnant by the... lily. Just John and I knew that the lily’s name was Roddy!

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