#picturefiction #flashfiction #ghosts
Ghost story? You haven’t heard anything as scary as reality sonny. Let me tell you about my first house.
The missus and I moved in, oh what was it, about a year after we got married. It was a nice enough place. The inside needed some work but there was a charm to the old mountain cabin that made us sign on the dotted line without hesitation. It was early April when we moved in. Winter was finally over and the first plants were coming up all over the mountain. Heck, we were a sight, huddled in front of the fire pit around back burning old wood left by the previous owner. You’d think we were nuts just sitting out there watching the flames instead of being inside but being out of the city and having the ability to make a bonfire was such a unique experience that we couldn’t resist. Besides, we only had a few boxes of household things and we didn’t even have a real bed yet so it’s not like we were in a rush to get settled.
The last owner had done a good job of moving out all his stuff but he left us a present. I guess the guy was a hunter because way up near the roof peak in the living room was this mounted deer head. I thought it was very weird to put it so high up. Normally folks put those things over the fireplace where it could be admired but for some reason that guy just placed this head opposite the fireplace and so high up that the antlers were brushing the fifteen foot ceiling. My wife hated the thing immediately but then again she loved all animals so probably was bothered by the disembodied Bambi head. I figured that it added to the rustic charm of the place and convinced her to let it stay.
Our days were spent putting the house in order. I painted and patched. My wife picked out furniture and drapes. Everything was coming together nicely, except that damn deer head. I was beginning to figure out why my wife didn’t like it. Somehow you always felt the thing’s eyes following you. You’d be walking to the kitchen and look up and there were those brown glass eyes glaring at you.
Sure, people say things like that all the time but this was more than an optical illusion. You could feel the thing watching you. Plus, have you ever noticed when you see a stuffed animal head that they usually have either a flat expression or almost a smile? Well this thing was scowling. I don’t know if the taxidermist did that on purpose of if the deer was pissed at having been killed so its final expression was a sour one. Either way, that was one angry deer.
Now, the average Joe realizing that he didn’t like something would have taken the thing down; but not me. Nope, I was stubborn and a bit embarrassed by my initial demands to keep it. If I took it down now I’d look like a darn fool to my wife. So I flipped the bird to the stuffed head, told it to stop looking at me and did my best to ignore it.
A week later the water line to the bathroom toilet exploded. Darnedest thing too, the plumber who inspected the house for me said all the pipes were new. Several hundred dollars later I had a new pipe and new drywall to replace the saturated panel and I chalked it up as a fluke. The electrical socket catching fire in the office the following week was also a fluke. A litany of destruction followed over the next several months. The hanging light in the kitchen fell and almost hit my wife. The stairs to the attic collapsed under me. The sewer line in the basement suddenly started flowing into the house rather than the septic tank. I knew in my gut that that damn deer was laughing at me from the wall. I don’t know why it decided to dislike me, I didn’t kill it. I took the damn thing down and tossed it into the wood shed. I swear the thing was smirking at me as I closed the door.
Still the little disasters continued. Broken lamps, cracked joists, tree limbs crashing into the roof. One calamity after another befell my home over the next year. Things finally reached a peak when we decided to clean out and furnish the basement as a den. I was carrying old lumber debris out of the basement and I remember my wife calling to me in a very odd voice. She was a strong woman, my wife, and not prone to acting like the fainting femmes in those old movies but something in her shaking voice as she called to me across the basement gave me goose bumps. She was standing outside of the small storage room that was built in the corner of the basement and she was as white as a sheet. All she could do was point and tell me to go see for myself. I walked through the open door and I swear that every hair on my body stood on end. It felt like walking into one of those giant meat freezers. I’m not a timid man but every instinct screamed for me to run. Inside the small room were dozens of deer antlers. There was every size antler imaginable from a single point to a dozen or more points. All were bleached with age and piled so that all the tips pointed outward creating a thorn bush of horn. The temperature couldn’t have been any different than the rest of the room. The storeroom was open to the rest of the basement and made of the exact same stone. It was cold with the deaths of all those deer. You could feel the hate coming from the animals that had been butchered for their antlers. I carefully backed from the room forcing myself not to rush – rushing would have led to running and I would not have stopped before I reached the county line.
My wife was adamant that we needed to get rid of the antlers and for once I did not argue. I told her that as soon as I came home from work the next day I’d fill up my pickup and haul all the antlers as well as the old deer head to the dump. I should have done it then.
When I came home from the office the next day the house was dark. My wife’s car was in the driveway so I figured she was taking a nap. Tiptoeing to the bedroom I planned on playing Prince Charming but instead found an empty bed. I called her name, wandering through the house. A rapid series of thuds came from below me and I realized that she must be in the basement. I walked down the stairs still calling her name but receiving no reply. I was beginning to dislike the game she was playing. When I reached the basement, the only light was the dim table lamp we had placed in the storeroom. Again I heard the thudding sounds, almost like a galloping sort of noise. Crossing the basement the same sense of panic I had felt in the storeroom before began to possess me. Something was wrong and it was worse than the day before. I saw my wife, my beautiful love, lying on the mound of antlers. Dozens of points of horn pierced her body and beautiful face. Blood was everywhere. I heard a high keening sound and realized it was coming from me. Presiding over this carnage was the deer head. I don’t know how it got there but the head sat atop the pile of antlers like a king over his subjects and for once the damned thing was smiling. I began to shriek and cry falling to my knees beside the body of my love. The galloping thuds came again, closer, this time I could hear the snorting of the ghostly beast as it ran through my home – its home.
The last thing I remember was the feel of its breath on my neck and I began to scream. I think I screamed until the police arrived. They said I killed my wife but I would never hurt her. She was my life. It was the deer. They didn’t believe me so they put me here, in this asylum. But the truth is still there, in the house. Go, look for yourself. Be careful though son, that beast is still there and it doesn’t like intruders in its home.
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