Episode 3 by Aubrey Wynne
Sarah took one step over the threshold and peeked her head inside the darkness. The light from the fading afternoon cast long, eerie shadows across the living room. She scanned the room and identified the hall table, the couch and a chair, and in the corner stood a—“Aaaagh!” She screamed at the man standing just under the staircase. “Aaaaaagh!” Her voice rose in a high, fingers-on-the-chalk-board pitch. But he didn’t move, as if he were frozen in time. Time. It was the grandfather clock. I’m an idiot. I need to remember to leave a light on.
She raised her fist with the key still firmly between her two fingers and moved inside the house. The stairs, hidden in a murky gloom, reminded of her that old movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. She figured her eyes looked about as big as the poor guy trapped in the haunted house for the night. Flicking on the small table lamp next to the door, she took a deep breath.
It must have been the wind. Or the foundation. Didn’t that creak on an old house? She walked into the kitchen and set down the groceries. Catching her reflection in the microwave, a chuckle escaped. Her dark hair hung wet and limp down the sides of her face, and she wiped at the mascara now smudged beneath her eyes. “Shit, I’ll be the one scaring the ghost.” The panic eased and Sarah laughed at herself. “At least Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome isn’t here to see me in my finest hour.”
A long, hot bath would turn this day around. She headed toward the stairs and the only bathroom in the house. Visions of the huge claw foot tub, with bubbles spilling out the top, filled her head. Wine. Doing a double-take, she corked a bottle of red and poured a glass to enjoy during her soak.
Her foot hit the first stair, and the old oak plank moaned under the weight. A shiver went through her and she took a sip of courage. The next step made an odd c-r-eee-ak. Another swallow of bravery. A gust of wind blew at her back. The front door! She hadn’t shut the front door. God knows, the old steel bolts needed oiling.
Her heart stopped. Definitely not rusty hinges.
A puff of air hit her face, as if someone had just blown softly on her cheek. Terror clutched her throat and only a strangled cry escaped. Battling the fear that now turned her legs to stone, she concentrated on moving one foot behind the other—away from the stairs and back to the door.
Her hands felt for the doorframe and the cold drizzle licked at her backside. “Now just turn around and run,” she whispered then peered down to see what looked like a pool of blood, seeping between the planks. “Aaaaaaghhh.” Movement came back to her limbs, and she spun toward the street. But a solid dark mass stopped her in mid-flight. Another scream tore from her raw throat.
“Hey, what’s going on? I heard you screaming…”
Chest heaving, an icy October mist covering her face, Sarah looked up to see a pair of sexy chocolate-brown eyes looking into hers. Strong arms held her up on legs that threatened to buckle beneath her.
“I live next door and heard the screams. I figured you must have met the Prescott ghost.”