|Room for rent (standard:Ghost stories, 974 words)|
|Author: Lev821||Added: Aug 10 2012||Views/Reads: 2264/0||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|This room isn't just let to anyone.|
The Cuban capital wasn't immediately obvious to her, pen poised over the crossword, sat in the small lounge of her house, a half-drunk cup of milky tea on a saucer beside her on the antique table in front of an unused coal fire, while outside, slight drizzle watered the windows, distorting the shadow that passed by outside to her front door. Perhaps it was intuition, a sixth sense, but she guessed that it was somebody here for the room upstairs, and she also guessed that whoever it was would be turned away, as the other prospective tenants had. The house had once been student accommodation, but since the nearby college was knocked down, it was barley occupied at all until Margaret Saffron bought it, intending to simply allow one or two other occupants, along with herself to live there, but she quite enjoyed the solitude, but preferred selective company. The first impression she had of those enquiring would often tell her her answer there and then, thus having to go through the rigmarole of showing them the room and the amenities, telling them that she would call if they were successful. When the bell chimed at the front door, she opened it to see a rather tall, dapper gent, in a dark-grey suit, clutching a grey book under his arm. He looked to be in his late fifties, early sixties, precisely the era of time that it could have been where it looked like he had stepped off the set of a Hollywood movie. His hair was white and combed back, barely concealing the fact that it had been thinning for years. “I've come about the room,” he said, and Margaret's prejudiced mind automatically said no. No men, she had decided. Even though no man had ever done her wrong, she still could not trust them fully. Most criminals seemed to be men, most liars, most fraudsters, most deceivers. Yet, to let one who would be a complete stranger to live in her house would be a complete non-starter. So she knew she had to go through the rigmarole of showing him the room and giving him false hope of maybe letting it. “Yes,” she said, come in. He stepped inside and looked around at the Victorian décor. “Nice place," he said, looking at a dial telephone on a small table beneath an ornately framed mirror. “It's this way,” said Margaret, heading towards the stairs. "My name's Raymond," he said, "Rent money wouldn't be a problem". The door was closed, a key protruding from its lock. Margaret unlocked it and Raymond followed her in. The room was large and a single bed was backed near a window looking out onto the immaculately kept garden. Prints were on the walls of Australian landscapes and the floor was varnished floorboards. He walked across to the window and stared out. "I like it," he said. “I'll take it”. “I have a few other people to see, so I will let you know if you have got it”. The man nodded, looked around again, smiled a humourless smile, and left the room. They walked back to the front door and she bid him farewell, then walked back into the lounge. After two days, Margaret had rented the room to woman of 38, 19 years younger than herself, who now slept soundly in the bed, dreaming of pink penguins, a dream that began to fade slightly, as something scraped on her conciousness, scraped and scraped until the dream had vanished and she opened her eyes to hear a straining sound, a creaking, very close. Blue moonlight filtered through the thin curtains, but couldn't quite discern what she saw moving slowly in the middle of the room, something she couldn't recognise, so turned on the bedside lamp, to see a man hanging, turning slowly, the rope straining. She screamed, panicked, and clambered out to press herself against the wall. Her scream awoke Margaret who was soon in the room, finding herself also screaming when she saw the gent from two days ago, snapped neck and bulging eyes. “My home,” he rasped. “My home”, as they both fainted. It was Margaret who awoke first, in daylight to find no body there. Everything was as it was, but when the tenant had roused, she found they had both seen the same thing. That very day, the tenant moved out. She also found on her lounge table, a book she recognised the man carrying a few days ago. It was a book on local history, and this being an old house in a town included in one of its chapters, it showed a black and white picture of it, beneath which was the owner, the same man, smiling without a care in the world. It was he, according to the information, who was found hanging in one of the rooms. A lynch mob had got it into their minds that he was a black magician, and was responsible for a cholera outbreak, which of course, had nothing to do with the dirty drinking water at the time, but with his involvement with the occult. He was no magician, or had any real interest in it, but once he'd been accused, there was no changing he mob's minds, and he was chased, deciding not to give them the satisfaction of killing him, hanging himself instead. It seemed as though his smiling face in the book was looking directly at her. It knew that she was looking. His presence now though, was in the walls, or wherever he wanted to be. He had come back to claim his house. Margaret understood, and packed most of her essentials into her handbag, except for the house keys, which she placed on the table. Other eyes watched her leave the house, closing the front door quietly behind her. Tweet
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