A Ghost Story
By Casey Wickstrom
It all started out as a joke.
Jolene was just the name that we put to the strange occurrences around the house. Jolene, like the Dolly Parton song. A pretty name, I've always thought. She was the ghost in our house: the one that would flicker the lights on and off as we sat in the living room drinking beer and getting high. She was the ghost who slammed the doors in the middle of the night, when we were all sleeping. She was the one who turned the shower water to ice for an instant, and then turned it searing hot the next.
She's the reason the television exploded; the reason the stereo burst into flames.
And she's the reason that people started dying.
So, this is a ghost story, but it's more than that, to me at least. Because I lived in this house with the guys, and I got to know Jolene very well.
The house was nice. It was a two story duplex, blue on the outside, white trimming. A nice, simple, unassuming American house with a tall thin tree out in the front yard. It was on a street called Richard Avenue. When we moved in, I was the oldest, but not by much. I was nineteen, and the others were a year or so behind me. There was Jacob, Billy, Joshua, and myself. I had known these guys since high school, and we had decided to get a place together now that school was over.
We had been searching all summer for a place to live. Finally, when we settled on the Richard Ave house, it was the end of August, the beginning of fall in the small mountain town of Durango, Colorado.
Jacob was kind of like the leader; he had found the place. He had red hair and was built like a lumberjack. Billy was tall and long, with toned arms and shaggy blonde hair that hung over his light blue eyes. He had a big nose. Joshua was tall and lean, with short dark hair and an acne ridden face. He wore round glasses, and had a soft, quiet personality. These were my roommates.
Four guys, and one girl.
In the movies, the monster is always in the reflection of the mirror.
Camera tricks: the girl is all alone; she opens the medicine cabinet mirror, takes out a bottle of pills; then she closes it, and BOO! Who's behind her? The killer in the mirror.
Shock scares: build the tension to a fever pitch, then let it fizzle away. False alarm. BAM! Drop your guard, and you jump. It gets harder and harder to scare you, the more you watch out for it.
You see, it wasn't like that in the house. We were seldom startled by the occurrences. At first, they happened so infrequently that it would be like a strong breeze slamming the door to one of our rooms every once in a while. Except there was no breeze, of course.
Looking back, it started with the stereo.
We did a lot of drugs in the house. We drank like fish. Nights of warm friendship, drinking and getting stoned, doing coke and shrooms, acid when we could score it; mixing them all up, taking hits of salvia through the bong as we tripped into the early morning. Youth is sweet. Maybe it was the drugs that delayed us in taking any action with the strange occurrences in the house. Being constantly submerged in the ocean of alcohol and controlled substances, we didn't take much notice to the fact that the stereo would click on all on its own, on a semi regular basis; the lights would flicker in and out occasionally. We figured it was just a defective stereo -- some kind of jammed button, or something. I kicked it once, and it shut off again. As for the lights, it was an old house.
Then the doors started slamming.
I couldn't tell you which door slammed first, but the first one that I recall was the bathroom door. Bill and I were doing the dishes (a rare occurrence in our house), and the door to the bathroom, just on the other side of the kitchen, slammed loudly. We looked over towards the bathroom. There wasn't a breeze in the house. Not a door was open to the outside.
We looked at each other, laughed, and finished the dishes.
At first, it was kind of fun. It gave the house character, personality. A door would slam, the stereo would turn on out of nowhere, softly playing. It was a kind of cool quirky thing to show our friends. "Did you hear a noise?" They'd ask. "What was that?"
"Oh, it's just the ghost of the house," we'd tell them. "Shit like that happens all the time here."
It was a game. Cupboard doors opened and shut at strange times in the night; the light in the bathroom would flicker in and out before shining brightly again, as if nothing had happened. It was innocuous.
Then the frequency gradually increased. It became more of a regular rhythm in the house; like living in a house with a train nearby. It rolls by throughout the day and night, blowing its horn, maybe even shaking the windows as it passes, and eventually it gets to a point where you don't even notice it.
And you know, you see all these horror movies where you're thinking to the characters, "What the fuck is wrong with you guys? Get the fuck out of there!" But it wasn't scary for us.
Three months passed, and as winter rolled around, and the world outside turned to ice and darkness and snow, it was only us and the ghost in the house, keeping each other company. We barely payed any attention the occurrences anymore.
But eventually it got to a point where it would be hard not to notice it. And then the dreams started.
I remember my dreams. Every single one.
I write down every dream I've ever had. I have dreams from when I was four or five years old that I remember and write down. I know that dreams are only interesting to the dreamer, but I've had some real doozies. I don't know how to lucid dream -- I've come close a few times -- but I don't really care; I just enjoy going along for the ride. But all the dreams I've ever had, I can honestly say that I knew that they were just dreams. I've always been able to distinguish between the waking world and the dream world that I occupy every night. But then Jolene started coming into my dreams, and things got strange. Things became different. The dreams that I had with her started bleeding out into the day time: moments of deja vu, a suspension of reality. It became too real.
When the dreams first started happening, I had no idea that the girl in them was Jolene. I didn't know who she was until she told me. Before that, she was just a beautiful and illusive girl; alluring and mysterious. She started gracing my dreams as a complete stranger. She came into my dreams in the beginning of November.
She's floating, suspended in space, completely weightless. Her nightgown is as white as the moon. So is her skin; it contrasts with the piercing small circular black pools that are her eyes. Her mouth is small, but sexy, and she has perfectly sized teeth, I think, although I didn't really see those. The way her mouth moved was soft and sensual, slow and beautiful, like each word has it's own emphasis, it's own purpose. She's speaking, but no words come out. She reaches out to me; she touches my right forearm, her finger is an icicle, freezer burn on my arm, and then I wake up.
Hey! This is Casey Wickstrom. I hate to do this, but if you want to read the rest of this story, you gotta go to Amazon and download it for a few bucks. It'll be up on Halloween! Thanks.