This is a ghost story, and like so many other ghost stories it started out with a call from my sister.
“Kelly? What’s up?” I asked, carefully balancing the smart phone on my shoulder and pinning it in place with my chin so I could keep typing the history homework that was due tomorrow.
“Hannah? Hannah? It’s Kelly,” my sister said, her voice shaking.
“I know, caller ID remember?” I said.
“Oh right. Anyhow, I’m at the cabin and there are some weird stuff going on here,” she said, throwing in a few gasps for added drama.
She was big on drama.
“Uh huh, cabin, weird, got it,” I said, continuing to type.
“I think there’s something after me!” she said, nearly wailing
“Uh huh, I’m sure there isn’t,” I said tapping away to the next paragraph.
My sister gasped again, “There’s something beating against the door!” Kelly shrieked.
I pressed my ear closer to the phone. . . .
and heard all of nothing in the background.
“Shouldn’t you be more concerned with what you’ve been smoking lately? I told you to stay away from the mushrooms in the forest,” I said.
The sound of a huge crash vibrated over the phone.
So typically, the line went dead.
Oh party-hardy sisters of the world, when will you ever learn.
So, just like in every ghost story, I kept working on my homework until I got to a good stopping point, saved my work, finished my tea, stuffed my laptop into my backpack, and borrowed Dad’s jeep to head up to the family cabin in the mountains. Probably to haul my hallucinogenic filled sister out of the back pond and back to reality.
This ghost story includes about an hour’s worth of boring highway traffic as I made my way to the base of Mount Tacoma. All the while I was thinking about how I could have spent that hour researching my lovely end of the year thesis. But no, instead I was busy chasing after my idiot older sister. Seriously, once I leave for college, she can kiss the HRS (Hannah’s Rescue Service) good bye.
As I turned onto the mountain pass, the sun started creeping toward the horizon. Of course, the very moment the sun went down, the fog started rolling in.
“Awesome, dark and foggy! Damn it, Kelly, why did you have to go out to the middle of nowhere to get stoned?” I asked, glaring through the windshield.
The fog got thicker and thicker, I drove slower and slower. Clouds of gray rolled up over the hood of the jeep and blasted the windshield. Seriously, if it got any worse, I wouldn’t be able to see the driveway to the cabin, even if I drove right passed it.
I looked out the driver’s side window and then the passenger’s. Where was I? The fog was so thick I couldn’t see any landmarks, I could barely even see the road. Crap, I really hope I hadn’t missed a turn.
A strange scream came from the windshield. I turned to see a wild haired old lady clinging to the hood of the jeep. Her face pressed against the front window. Her jagged teeth were gnashing at me through the glass. She clutched an old, bloody hatchet in one hand.
I slammed on the breaks. The wheels didn’t exactly skid or anything, I was only driving about three miles an hour anyway, so the car kind of lurched to a stop.
I blinked and she was gone.
What the hell?
A high pitched screeching, like nails against a chalkboard, came from the passenger’s side of the jeep.
“Hey, you better not be scratching the paint job!” I yelled at the direction of the sound.
The sound instantly stopped.
I sat idling for a moment. The forest was completely silent.
I leaned forward as far as I could to look out the windshield. The headlights brightened a fluffy wall of fog and that’s it.
A “tap, tap, tap” sounded at the passenger’s side window.
It was the old lady again, she was tapping the bloody ax against the glass. Her broken toothed smile stretched much wider than what should have been possible.
The old woman pulled her arm way back and then slammed the hatchet into the window. Glass shattered and sprayed into the jeep.
“Hey, I’m going to have to pay for that window out of my allowance!” I yelled at her.
Sometime during my travel, my sweet, innocent laptop had slid out of my open backpack and onto the passenger’s side of the front bench seat of the jeep.
The old lady swung her hatchet up again and brought it down, right in the center of my laptop. The computer fizzled and popped and a tendril of smoke oozed from the hole around the ax blade.
My homework, my thesis, my EVERYTHING was on that laptop.
I screamed and screamed and screamed.
When I finally stopped screaming, I leveled my eyes on the old woman that was still standing at the broken car window, frozen with a shocked look on her face and the computer murder weapon still in her hand.
“You! You are so dead!” I shrieked, lunging across the bench seat at her.
She squeaked and tried to dart away. My hand swiped out the broken window at her. My claws should have made contact with her shoulder, but instead my hand passed harmlessly through her back as if she was made of fog.
My brain paused on that for a moment.
And then I was bouncing back into the driver’s seat and out the door.
“Oh, you think being dead is going to save you? Think again B****!” I said through gritted teeth.
I raced around the jeep to the hatchback, flipped it open and pulled out the bag of road salt. I had seen in a movie that ghosts don’t like salt, and I was hoping that was true.
I turned back to the fog, and there was the old woman.
The hatchet was raised over her head. She let out a piercing howl. The hatchet came swinging down toward my head.
And she got a face full of road salt.
What started as a “ROWR!” quickly turned into an “AHH!” as the salt melted into her ghost skin.
The old woman scraped her gnarled hands over her face, desperately trying to get the salt off. In her urgency, I guess she didn’t notice that she had dropped the hatchet.
As I picked it up off of the wet pavement, a smile big enough to hurt my cheeks spread across my face.
“I bet this works even better than salt,” I said, waving the hatchet at the old woman.
As she lowered her hands from her face, her eyes were huge.
“No, no!” she cried, backing away from me.
My smile deepened and I took one step toward her, tightening my grip on the ax.
Between one heartbeat and the next she shrieked, then bolted into the fog.
“Oh, you’re not getting away that easy!” I yelled, sprinting after her.
She was fast, but I was pissed. She wove through the forest, leapt over fallen trees and dashed through bushes. She probably hoped that she could lose me. She half floated, half ran through the woods. Over and over again she darted just out of my reach. But anytime she paused or turned to look over her shoulder, I was there slashing at her with her own hatchet.
Just as she dashed into a clearing, the moon sailed out from behind a heap of fog. The moonlight illuminated the evil old wrath as she made her way across the yard and into a tiny, run- down cabin. Not my family’s run-down cabin, a different run-down cabin.
She skittered over the porch and into the cabin, then slammed the door behind her, just as I bound into the clearing.
Good, now I’ve got her cornered.
As I treaded around the little house, each porch board I stepped on let out a horror movie squeal.
I peered in one window after another barely seeing anything, just bands of moonlight and shadow. I narrowed my eyes and stared into the darkness.
I wasn’t going to let that laptop killer get away.
I pressed my nose to one of the window panes and puffed out a breath, it left a circle of white lingering on the glass.
Carefully drawing the letters with my finger, I wrote, “I will get U,” backwards so whoever was inside could read it. I pressed my face to the glass again, and tapped the hatchet blade against the window.
Was that movement over there?
I hurried around the corner of the cabin and hid behind a beam between to windows.
I could feel more than hear my prey creeping up to the window to look out. She was so close now, if I turned my head and looked, I could probably see her breath on the other side of the glass.
And then I lunged!
I slammed my palms against the glass where she was standing, and snapped my teeth.
The old ghost shrieked and scurried away; in a flash of moonlight she bolted out the back door.
And I followed.
Losing any grace she might have had before, she blasted through the darkened woods blindly. She flailed her arms as she ran, and screamed at every sound.
The tiniest hint of light shined up ahead and she darted for it.
“Help me! Help me!” The old woman yelled as she barreled into this new clearing.
Probably to meet with her ghost friends, to gang up on me.
“I don’t think so!” I yelled, leaping over a bush and into the clearing.
She was blitzing towards a familiar looking SUV parked in front of a familiar looking cabin. Faster than thought, I snapped the hatchet back and flung it at her. The small ax spun end over end. The moment the blade touched her back, the old ghost burst into a puff of ash and dust. She was gone. The rotted remains of what might have been the hatchet handle clattered across the hood of the SUV and rolled to a stop against the windshield. The blade had turned into nothing more than a rusty smudge on one end of the stick.
“Hey, what’s going on over here?” a male voice asked, a flashlight beam smacked me in the face, and booted footsteps hurried over to me.
Ten minutes and lots of explaining later.
“Sorry for the confusion Miss. We weren’t really expecting the family to be showing up so soon,” the sheriff deputy said, tipping his hat at me, “and certainly wasn’t expecting them to be popping out of the woods.”
“I’m used to chasing after my sister,” I said with a shrug.
“Yeah, we were just in the process of fishing her out of the little pond you’ve got out back, when I heard yelling out here,” he said, scratching his head and looking around again.
I had been a little vague on why I had been yelling at nothing, while I was all by myself. I can completely understand his confused expression.
“It looks like your sister’s been smoking the local mushrooms, she really shouldn’t do that,” the deputy said.
Like clockwork, a distant “Woah!” followed by a big splash and my sister’s giggling sounded from behind my family’s cabin. I guess my sister was being a handful for the deputy’s partner.
“Tell me about it,” I said, and rolled my eyes.
“You should be more careful too Miss, the woods aren’t save at night,” the deputy said, tipping his hat again, “Lots of hikers go missing in these parts. The people we do manage to find say they’ve seen a ghost. Some old lady with an ax. Lots of times we don’t find the hikers, just some bloody clothes.”
“The woods don’t scare me,” I said with a smile, “Besides, I don’t believe in ghosts.”