This story is by Clay Huston and was part of our 2022 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Our house is haunted by a horrible, hideous creature, and my mom doesn’t know it.
You might say, “Sam, ghosts aren’t real, there must be an explanation.”
To that, I’d say, I don’t know if the creature is a ghost. All I know is it’s real. I’m sure of it.
I’m sure it’s real because, number one, I’ve seen it. In fact, I see it nearly every day. Well, to be more specific, I see its horrible, hideous hand every day. It looks the same as mom’s hand, except not the same at all. Mom’s hand has pretty colors at the tips of her fingers. But this hand? No, there are no pretty colors on this hand. This hand is wrinkly with long, skinny fingers. Its skin is pale, and its knuckles are swollen. It’s a big, mean-looking hand. There is a dangerousness to it, like one day it might show up with its friend and wring my little neck.
I can only imagine what horrible, hideous creature owns a hand like that.
Number two, I’m sure it’s real because it leaves behind evidence. I’ve come to call it The Bringer because it brings us things. It brings what I can only describe as capsules, and leaves them in a messy pile. Day after day, right after ringing its ear-piercing bell, it reaches its spooky hand through the door and drops the scary, hurtful capsules. I shout at it to go away and leave our house alone! I scare it off, but it always returns with more.
You might say, “Sam, if this creature leaves behind evidence, how could your mom possibly not know your house is haunted? There must be an explanation.”
To that, I’d say, touché. But If mom did know about The Bringer, there’s not a chance she’d leave me home alone. She loves me far too much to risk losing me to a horrible, hideous creature. That leads me to believe mom is unaware of the haunting.
But she does know about the capsules. She sees them every day when she walks through the door. Poor mom, she must be so confused and curious as to where they come from. Some of these capsules have a tiny window that lets me peek inside with my little eyes. Mom throws those out. Others have no window. Those are the scariest. They make mom sad. When she finishes looking at them, she tosses them to the floor, frowns, and slumps her shoulders. Sometimes they make her cry. I hate those capsules. They’ve hurt mom for far too long!
But today is the day. Mom is home with a cold, and I’m going to prove to her The Bringer is real, and this haunting will finally be over. Mom can control things I can’t, and she’s the only one who can open the capsules. That leads me to believe she’ll be able to scare off The Bringer for good. Then, at last, there will be no more capsules to make mom sad.
Everything is in place. It’s nearly time; I can sense it. I lay on the couch to save my energy. As soon as I hear The Bringer’s bell, I’m going to rush the door and make such a fuss mom will have no choice but to see for herself my cause for alarm. If all goes according to plan, mom will rip open the door and expose the horrible, hideous creature! Then I’ll spring into action. I’ll grab hold of The Bringer, and I won’t let go until it tells us why it’s haunted our house for so long.
There it is, that drawn-out diiiiiing doooooong. It’s here. The Bringer’s bell hurts my little ears, but I ignore the pain. As fast as I can, I leap off the couch and into action! When my little feet hit the floor, I immediately begin sprinting. The cold hardwood causes me to slip and bump my little nose. Mom chuckles and asks me what’s wrong. Now is no time for jokes!
I turn the corner and run down the front hallway. I don’t see any capsules in a messy pile. Good, there’s still time. I stand against the door with all my might and shout as loud as my little voice will let me. Over and over again, I yell, “Mom, the door! Get the door!” With no sense of urgency, mom appears around the corner, and slow step after slow step comes closer and closer.
I forget where I’m standing, and something awful happens. The Bringer reaches through the door with the capsules, and it touches me. The hand recoils. Scared for my life, having never touched The Bringer before, I jump backward and hide behind mom, where it’s safe. Again, mom laughs. I’m bewildered she isn’t taking this seriously!
My little heart is beating faster and harder than it ever has before. My little mouth chatters and my little muscles twitch. Mom reaches for the doorknob. Grabbing a handful of it, she gives a turn and begins to pull. The door opens and… oh my, there it is! The Bringer!
Crouched low, I’m ready to pounce. This is the moment I’ve waited and planned for. The Bringer doesn’t know what’s coming. Three, two, on… Wait a tic. What is mom doing? She isn’t trying to scare off The Bringer. She isn’t warning it of the consequences if it doesn’t stop haunting our house. And she isn’t frightened a bit. In fact, she’s smiling. It almost seems like she knows The Bringer. Like they’re friends?
The Bringer reaches out to mom with a slew of those scheming capsules in hand, and I make the meanest face I can muster. The Bringer pauses for a split second, realizing how ferocious I am. But mom chuckles again and says, “don’t worry, he’s harmless, aren’t ya little guy?” I look up at her with my little eyes, confused beyond belief. Why is she being so friendly with this horrible, hideous creature who brings us those scary, hurtful capsules?!
I take a closer look and realize The Bringer isn’t quite what I expected such a frightful creature to look like. It has a face like mom, two arms and legs like mom, and two feet like mom. In fact, aside from a beard and big belly, it looks just like mom. He doesn’t seem horrible, or hideous. In fact, he has a soft grin on his face and a funny-looking uniform that is not threatening in the least. Who is this Bringer? I think to myself.
Mom shuts the door and proceeds to the kitchen, capsules in hand. The haunting is not over yet! I follow on her heels, yelling for her to drop the capsules before it’s too late.
As usual, Mom throws the ones with windows in the trash and begins flipping through the windowless capsules. She pauses at the last one in the pile. She sets all but this seemingly special capsule on the table and stares at the front of it. Is she smiling? This is not a reaction I could have expected. A single tear wells up in her eye and falls from her cheek. But this is not a sad tear. No, it’s a tear of joy. I watch as the lone droplet crashes to the floor. Mom holds the letter to her chest. She’s happy. This capsule… made her happy?
You might say, “See Sam! You’re not haunted. Who ever heard of a happy haunting? There is an explanation.”
To that, I’d say, it is puzzling, isn’t it? Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe The Bringer, and the piles of capsules he brings us, are not so horrible and hurtful after all. How could a creature who brings us things that make mom happy be bad?
Tomorrow, when I hear the Bringer’s bell, I think I’ll stay on the couch.