What’s better than a ghost story in October?! The moon hangs in a black sky on a crisp night. Wood smoke lingers in the air, as well as the mouth-watering scent of toasting marshmallows. But wait — that’s not the story. Here’s the story.
Ellie Simpson ran screaming into the sheriff’s department about 11 o’clock that Saturday morning. I saw her from my desk, her eyes as wide as dessert plates and her skin as pale as a midnight moon. She ran right up to Deputy Nixon and tugged on his sleeve. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t get any words out. Sheriff Gates came out of his office, and I hurried over to Ellie, thinking that a woman’s presence might help calm her down.
I checked to be sure she still had a tongue in her head, thinking that somehow she’d lost it, and that was why she couldn’t speak. Her tongue was in there, all right, but all she could do was blink and swallow and shake her head back and forth.
After a few minutes, she dashed for the door, motioning frantically for us to follow. We ran down the sidewalk, and in a few minutes, at the edge of town, I had a pretty good idea where we were headed.
The old Simpson homestead, where Ellie’s grandparents had once lived, wasn’t far out of town. If we’d been driving, we’d have been there in two minutes flat. As it was, at a fast walk, we were there in seven or eight. The sheriff and Nixon, his deputy, were winded by the time we got there; they were sucking air in great gulps and clutching their sides as we stood outside the dilapidated barn not far from the ruined shell of the burned farmhouse.
I stood a few feet away from them, slightly winded, but in much better shape. I was younger, and had run varsity track in high school. I ran third position on our 220 team. And I was still good at fast sprints–and getting out to the Simpson place wasn’t much more than a couple of fast sprints linked together.
The barn door gaped open, hanging on one end of the roller plate, leaving just enough room for a small woman or a kid to scoot inside. Nixon and Sheriff Gates fiddled with the door and finally pushed it aside enough that they could enter. Meanwhile, Ellie Simpson stood shivering, pointing at the barn like she didn’t want to go in.
I have to admit, I didn’t much want to go in either. The place had long been the site of creepy events. And they weren’t just hearsay, either. Back in my junior year of high school, Billy Joe Caldwell had seen a headless person wandering around, and not long after, Susan Warren, who was a year behind me in school, swore she saw a person hanging from the hayloft on a rope. Neither story was every proved, but folks believed them all the same.
(Part 2 coming your way on Monday. While you are waiting, please visit my website, http://www.marycoley.com, and fill in the contact form to get free stories from me and possibly win the October drawing of an item from Burt’s Bees!)