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Room for rent (standard:Ghost stories, 974 words)
Author: Lev821Added: Aug 10 2012Views/Reads: 3554/0Story 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 

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. 


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