Tag Archive | ghosts

Cold Fingers

by Suzi Albracht

I have had experiences with ghosts and the paranormal all my life. I have heard voices, seen apparitions, and felt their cold touch on my flesh. This ghost story is one I will never forget because it was the one time a ghost wrapped his cold, gnarled fingers around my throat.

I was seventeen-years-old when my mother decided to divorce my stepfather. They shared five children, so it was decided that my stepfather and my siblings would stay in the family home while my mother and I would move into a house not far away.

The move was exceptionally awkward for me because my mother already had a boyfriend, he was the reason for the divorce. And I suspected, he would be a part of our new household. While I didn’t feel obligated to my stepfather for personal reasons, I really hated my mother’s new boyfriend. Add to that, I had a fear of being discarded by my mother. But I had no other place to go, no one else to take me in. I had to make the best of what I got. My life was about survival.

To make matters worse, the area my mother and I moved to wasn’t in the best part of town. It was on the outskirts of urban downtown Moline, which meant dealing with things like vagrants and rats.

On the plus side, I only had to take three buses to get to school.

The house itself was an older home that still had a coal chute in the basement so when it rained, parts of the basement flooded.

The main living area on the first floor included one bedroom, a bath, and a kitchen. A staircase off the living room led to the second floor with one small bedroom and several closets.

And then there was the attic room. Just off the kitchen, there was a door. When you opened it, there was a set of steep, rickety stairs that led up to a third-floor converted attic. That room had small, floor-level windows. It also had no heat, and ventilation was poor.

It was clear that things were not looking good for a new beginning. To this day, I remember the feeling of doom that came over me when I was told I would sleep in the third-floor attic room.

***

My mother moved us into our new home while I was at school. To be honest, I didn’t even know we were moving or anything about the house ahead of time. And it was the same day I learned of the divorce.

I remember coming out of my school and seeing my mother’s car by the curb. That afternoon, she had come to pick me up, something she never did, and then brought me to our new house. I followed her up the front stairs and inside as she said, “This is it. Help me unpack the kitchen.”

Later, when my mother was busy on the phone, I had walked around the small house, noticing there was only one bedroom on the first floor. I had also seen the staircase in the living room, that led to another bedroom, but my mother had already told me it was off-limits. Mentally, I crossed my fingers, praying that she wouldn’t expect me to sleep in the basement.

“Where am I supposed to sleep?” I asked as I stood at the kitchen sink, getting a drink of water.

When she didn’t respond, I turned to look at her. My mother pointed toward a door that I hadn’t seen earlier.

I frowned and walked over to it. Touching the handle, I felt a black veil of doom creep up my arm. I pulled my hand back.

“Can’t I sleep on the couch?”

My mother went to the sink and busied herself.

“Mom?”

“I told you that I need my privacy. You can’t be downstairs when my friend is here. As a matter of fact, you better head up there now. And take your books with you.”

It was still light outside, but I knew better than to argue with her. My mother didn’t have motherly instincts or nurturing skills. I was a burden to her and knew I was lucky that she let me live with her at all. I had no choice except to do as I was told.

And so, I opened the door to find a steep and narrow staircase. I inched my way up stairs so narrow there was no way to get real furniture up them. Near the top, I had to turn sideways to slip into the room.

It didn’t surprise me to discover that the room was a closed-off section of the attic. The windows were floor level and tiny. I didn’t see any vents so I knew it would be stifling hot in the summer and frigid in the winter. Living in the Midwest, those were our only two seasons if you didn’t count the three days of spring and the five days of fall.

And then when I pulled the chain on the single, hanging light bulb in the middle of the room, I noticed how sparsely my room was furnished. There was an old cot in the middle of the room and a bookcase in the corner. A couple boxes containing all my worldly possessions sat in the corner.

The light bulb was still swaying when my breath caught in my throat. There was a shadowy figure in one corner. For a second, I was frozen, unable to think or move. I forced myself to turn my back on the shape and sprint toward the door. When I got to the door, I turned to look back. The figure was gone.

Maybe it was my imagination.

I took a deep breath and decided I should just stay. I didn’t have any other place to go anyway, and I had lots of homework to do. So, I walked over to the cot and sat down. The mattress was thin and worn, as was the blanket and what passed for a pillow.

Yeah, home sweet home.

***

I may have had a suck home life, but at school, I was aces. Schoolwork was my escape from whatever was troubling me at the time. The one thing that kept me moving forward.

That evening, I was in the middle of my English assignment, when I heard a scratching noise across the room. My eyes flew to look at the mouse skittering across the windowsill.

Oh, great, now I had to worry about mice crawling over me in the middle of the night.

I rummaged through my purse until I found a package of crackers. I had discovered a trick to training mice while living at another house. I found that if I led the mice away from where I didn’t want them to be, in this case, my bedroom and then fed them regularly at the new location, they would relocate to be closer to the source of food. Easy peasy.

So, I made a small trail of crumbs out the window and put a couple whole crackers on the ledge outside. It wasn’t long before the little creep went for it. Relieved, I shut the window behind him. Now I just had to remember to feed him every day.

With the mouse taken care of, I went back to my homework. The next few hours flew by until I heard laughing and the sounds of clinking dishes downstairs. I desperately wanted a snack, but… well, you know.

By then, I was starving. Struggling to ignore my growling stomach, I wished I had kept back some of my crackers. But I had been hungry before, so it wasn’t a new experience for me. I knew all too well that eventually, the pangs would pass. I decided I would make a late-night raid on the fridge once my mom and her friend were occupied.

Later, after I finished my homework, I pulled out my Stephen King paperback to read for an hour or so. Thirty minutes in, I fell fast asleep. I had a very vivid dream, probably because of Stephen King, but other than that, my first night in the attic room was uneventful. I wish that was the end of my story, but it wasn’t.

***

A week later, as I opened the door to the staircase, I heard a strange noise upstairs. This time, I wasn’t concerned since I had already gotten used to various sounds the old house was making. Hurrying up the stairs, I hoped to get a head start on a new English assignment.

The minute, I stepped inside the room, I noticed a small piece of paper on the floor. It was a corner of one of my English papers

Damn mouse. Didn’t you like the crackers I left out?

Snatching the paper up, I noticed that there were no chew marks. It had been torn. I felt myself frowning.

There had to be chew marks, right?

As I stuck the paper inside my books, I heard the noise again, but this time it sounded like a low, menacing growl. Every hair on me, from my head to my toes, stood on end.

I backed up, my eyes scanning every nook and cranny in the room.

If I can get to the stairs, I can get down to the kitchen. And then if I run into my mother or her friend, I’ll just say I was hungry and take whatever heat they hand me.

Turning, I nearly stumbled and fell but I thought I could make it. All I had to do was take two more steps. I heard the growl again. Turning, I saw it.

The shadowy figure was back… in the corner… moving. This time, I was convinced it was real. But I couldn’t move.

Minutes passed, or so it seemed, as I stared at it. I blinked… it was still there. I blinked again, and then time, it changed. I took a step closer. And another. It was then that I realized the thing I had seen was nothing more than a spider web.

Oh, for God’s sake. Your imagination is running wild. Get a grip.

My gut told me that what I had seen was much more than that. It was a ghost who could shift into other shapes. At the same time, my logical brain told me to calm down and do whatever was necessary to get through the night. I kept reminding myself that I had no other options, nowhere to go, no one to help me… no one to believe me.

Suck it up, I told myself.

Yeah, I was still brave.

Mere hours later, I would regret staying.

***

I found myself tossing and turning, unable to sleep. So, I got out my Stephen King book again and buried my nose deep. At some point, I don’t know when, I ended up in a dead sleep. Troubled, but deep.

When I first felt the hands, I thought they were part of a dream that I couldn’t wake up from. Fingertips brushed against my collarbone. I thought it was nothing, so I swatted them away and rolled onto my other side. Then the fingers touched the base of my neck. I rolled my head and buried my head deeper into my pillow.

“Suzi,” A male voice growled my name.

My mind snapped to attention as if ice cold water had been splashed in my face. I threw my covers off and grabbed the sides of the cot to lift myself up. At least I thought I did.

And then my eyes flew open. I tried to move but I couldn’t. I was pinned to the bed. I attempted to raise my arms, but I was paralyzed. From my toes to my head, I felt crippled except my eyes. My gaze moved from left to right. I didn’t see any bindings or anyone.

How could I be pinned if nothing and no one is holding me?

I squeezed my eyes shut, as tight as I could, fearful of what was going to happen.

A second passed… I tried once more to rise up on the cot. This time, I felt a full body against the length of mine. It was hard, sinewy. My eyes flew open. This time, I saw him. It was the ghost from the corner. I could see his wavery outline.

The ghost pressed harder against me. I looked again and realized the ghost had no face. Somehow, he was more threatening because he was missing his face. I wished I had kept my eyes shut.

And then I felt his fingers again. They had been around my throat the entire time. Squeezing and tightening. I felt a scream from deep within me crawl up my throat. It caught and I couldn’t shake it loose.

The man’s fingers felt cold and gnarled as they squeezed even harder. I tried again to cry out, this time, he pressed his thumbs into my flesh. I couldn’t breathe. The pain was excruciating. I felt myself gasping. I yanked my hands from their invisible bindings and reached up, fighting to pry his fingers off my throat. I could feel the sinew in his fingers, the jagged cut of his ragged nails and scaly callouses I knew were filthy. I dug my nails into his flesh.

He squeezed again. I felt them dig deeper into the soft flesh of my throat, tearing and bruising my flesh. There was no ignoring the intent.

My eyes rolled up into my head. I no longer cared about the pain or the ghost.

I was done.

***

I woke around dawn.

My hands immediately went to my throat. I felt raw inside but outside, nothing seemed to be injured. I jumped out of bed and ran to my purse. Retrieving my mirror compact, I tried to open it but couldn’t. My hands shook, I almost dropped it. Finally, I pried it open.

Staring, I could see bruises and scratches all over my throat. There was also a large bruise on my chin. And then my eyes caught my stare. Something was different in my soul. The ghost had changed me… forever.

Grabbing my books and my clothes, I ran from the attic room that an evil ghost called home.

I dressed on the staircase that day. And then I went to school and swore I would never return.

***

When I returned home from school, I found a note from my mother telling me she would not be back for a few days. I was so relieved, I cried. That meant I did not have to go upstairs. I did not have to see the ghost again or feel his hands on me. Instead, I could sleep on the couch, in peace, until my mother came back home.

Unfortunately, my mother returned to our house the next day. Mad as anything because she and her boyfriend had a fight. He told her he was done.

I waited until after dinner to make a pitch I hoped she’d agree to since the boyfriend was out of the picture.

“Do you think I could sleep in the second-floor bedroom? It’s really suffocating upstairs.” I asked as I washed the dishes.

“I don’t know. Reggie might be back.” My mother lit a cigarette and blew smoke at me.

“When he comes back, I’ll go back to my room. No problem,” I said.

Suddenly I felt her eyes on me. She got up from the table and came over to stand next to me.

“What’s that on your neck?”

“Nothing. Isn’t your show on soon?” In my mind, I begged her to just go back to the living room.

She poked the bruise on my neck with her nail.

“Who did that to you?”

“No one. I got my purse caught in the bus doors. I practically strangled myself… if you want to know.”

No way was I telling her about the man upstairs. She wouldn’t understand or believe me.

“Did anyone see it? Did you tell anyone? We can sue you know.”

“Mom, it was an accident. No one else was there.”

She stared at me. I suppose trying to break me. She didn’t understand yet that I was unbreakable.

“Fine but cover it up. Make-up, a scarf, something. I don’t want any social workers coming around.”

She put her cigarette out in the dishwater and left me alone to finish cleaning up.

When I finished, I noticed the door to the upstairs was open. I considered leaving it open but remembered that if I didn’t shut it, my mother might send me up there to sleep. I inched my way over and just as I reached for the doorknob, I heard a voice. Growling. Calling for me.

“I’m waiting for you, Suzi.”

I slammed the door shut. I backed away until I was in the middle of the kitchen. And then I heard footsteps on the staircase. It sounded like the ghost was coming down the stairs. When he reached the door, the ghost pounded on it. Relentlessly.

My mother yelled from the living room.

“What are you doing out there?”

“Nothing, Mom. Just dropped a pan is all.”

The pounding continued until my mother came to see what I was breaking. She walked in, looked around, saw nothing was going on, and went back to her show.

The minute my mother was gone, the growling whispers started again

“I know you are in there. Come upstairs and play with me, Suzi.”

***

Do you believe in Guardian Angels? I do.

The next day, when I came home from school, I found my mother sobbing on the couch. Her boyfriend had dumped her for good. She was devastated. I felt terrible for her, but I was happy for me. In her grief, my mother told me I could stay in the second-floor bedroom because she didn’t want to feel alone.

I never slept in that attic room again. I paid a little neighbor boy to bring down my clothes and I moved into my new bedroom that day.

I still heard the voice taunting me whenever I was in the kitchen alone, but for some unknown reason, the ghost could not go past the attic door.

Not long after, another more affordable house became available that was closer to my school and my mother’s job, so we moved.

I never went back to that house with the haunted attic.

But one day, years later, I happened to drive by on my way somewhere. I was stopped at the light waiting for my turn when I heard a voice… growling my name. I didn’t look around, I didn’t want to know where it came from. I just hightailed it out of there and never looked back.

I’ve been told the house still stands, but it’s been unoccupied for decades now. I know I’ll never go near it again.

I’m a survivor.


Suzi Albracht … The Queen of Scream

I always feel a little naked when asked to talk about myself. So let me put something on first. Ahhhh, that’s better.

I am an author of Supernatural Horror Crime Thrillers and Paranormal Romance/Ghost novels. Currently, I have two series. The Devil’s Due Collection—Supernatural Horror Crime thrillers. And An OBX Ghost Haunting Series—Paranormal Romance/Ghost novels. I am known to my fans as The Queen of Scream.

I currently live near Annapolis, Maryland. That places me halfway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. My horror books take place in these metro areas so anyone who lives here will recognize some of the locations.

My Paranormal novels take place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina or the OBX as it is known to locals. We vacation there every year. Many of the locals have read every book in my series. I’m especially partial to North Carolina since I will be moving there soon.

I’ve had many fascinating things happen to me along my life’s path. The first President Bush gave me a shoulder/back rub when I was visiting the compound in Maine one hot August in the 80s. I went to church with Princess Diana once (she was stunning, Charles was a lot shorter than I thought he would be). I’ve been to Las Vegas to shoot pool in the APA Championship twice. I won’t share all of my adventures. Where would the mystery be if I expose all?

I would consider myself to be a fair and giving person who loves hard. I am a nice person, but if you do me wrong, I will never forget. I may forgive, just to get past it, but you will never get close to me again. I am loyal to a fault. I’m into shoes and purses, they have their own room here.

I can honestly say my twitter bio describes me to a T – Write, scare myself, turn all the lights on, write some more. Take a break, play pool, kick butt/get butt kicked, go write more horror, double lock door.

You can find my books on my Amazon page here..

And now I am naked again because you know too much.


 

I don’t like creepy things, do you?

Horror and paranormal is not something I read or watch. I get spooked easily and have a very active imagination. As I teenager I would be plagued by nightmares for weeks. As I grew up I knew to stay away from anything like that.

These two subjects are very big in the book world and there are plenty of people who love a good horror film. Personally I can’t understand why a perfectly sensible and normal person would enjoy being scared or frightened. If that’s you, perhaps you could explain what drives you, I’d really like to know.

I wrote a story called Embers of Webster Street and it was about a girl dealing with her mum who suffers from dementia. It’s a difficult subject seeing someone you love forgetting things, and ultimately not always recognising you.

My Nana showed signed of it for years before it was recognised. We thought she was just a bit batty. She was a joker, liked to have a laugh, and I remember the day she was trying to get out of the car, stumbling or struggling and we laughed. She asked if we were laughing at her, we stopped when we realised it was a serious question. Normally, she would have laughed too, and it was at that point I knew something had changed.

My auntie, her daughter, took her in when she could no longer care for herself. Eventually she was admitted to hospital and my sister and I went to visit. By this time she was no longer our Nana, just a shell of a person who couldn’t even speak. It was the strangest thing because she looked like Nana, she had the same eyes, nose, and mouth, we knew so well. She was a funny lady, always talking, always joking and yet the woman in front of us stared at us with blank eyes. It was heart-breaking.

So when I wrote Embers of Webster Street, this was my main topic, only my pen took on a life of its own. It was supposed to tell the story of Jen, who felt tremendous guilt over having to put her mum in a home. But my pen introduced the ghosts of all the people who had lived in the family home. How her twin sister didn’t see them and  and how her mum couldn’t accept it.

It turned out to be my first paranormal story.

It’s just one of the stories in my book The Magic of stories.

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Steps of a Killer

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 16.24.36Hampstead Heath is beautiful in the early morning sunlight. The dew sparkled on the grass giving it a magical appeal. Where I stood, the ground was elevated and I could see the city. People were waking or heading off to work. It was just a normal day for them.

For a moment, I looked over at the trees and breathed deeply. I could feel her. Exhaling, I took another breath and my feet moved in her footsteps. Briefly, my eyes closed as I advanced. This was where she was, where she walked, stumbled and broke into a run. Her feet became mine as I moved with her towards the trees.

I entered a pathway surrounded by trees and knew beyond a doubt this is where she was killed.

My heart is thumped. My breath was jagged and the adrenaline is surged through my veins as I entered a pathway surrounded by trees. Beyond doubt I knew this wass where she was killed.

I become her as a sob escaped me. I felt him following behind. Moving quickly, I stumbled, my head whiped around and his shadow attacked me. Crying out, I threw my arms forward hoping to knock him away. Instead we rolled together on the ground. Me and a shadow from the past.

We came to a stop having hit an obstacle. A shaft of sunlight hits the trees and a beam of light illuminated his face.

Later, I sit alone in the Danilion café sipping my drink and staring out of the window. The high street is full of shoppers. They carry their bulging bags and have no idea a killer could be amongst them. He probably looked like an average man on his way to do his business, to the pub for a drink, or to meet friends. They don’t know what he did. Or the life he took for his personal gratification.

My fingers worked the fabric in my hand, a bit of cloth that came from an evidence bag.

I felt the girl in my core. Her hopes and dreams for a future she will never have. Poor girl. Poor, poor girl.

Coldness enveloped me and for a second everything went silent. I took a sharp intake of breath – he was here! I felt him strongly.

My mind returned to the café and the surrounding people come back into focus. “Excuse me? Is anyone using this chair?” My blood runs cold. It’s the face of the man I grappled with in the forest.

I shook my head, too stunned to speak. He moved the chair to a different table and joins an older man. They chat and I stared at his profile.

His forehead jutted out a little and his hair is side parted, his nose was sharp and long, and he had a slight double chin.

How can he sit there looking like any normal guy?

Pulling out my phone, I selected Seb’s name and listened to it ring. Seb was my brother and a police detective.

“Cassie,” he answered.

“I’ve got him,” I state.

“What? Where?”

“Right here. I’m looking at him.” I was staring at the side of his head, unable to take my eyes from him, unable to fathom how normal he looked when he carries such a terrible secret. I suppose I expected him to look the monster he is.

“Where Cassie? Where are you?”

“The Dandelion café.”

“Okay, I’m on my way.” The phone went dead.

The man’s companion gets up and I hear him say, “Thanks for the coffee.” My eyes burned into the side of the killer’s head. He glances around as he raised the cup to his mouth.

My blood boiled. How dare he just sit there and act normally! He thinks no one knows what he had done but he is wrong. I know! I couldn’t help myself as I stood and moved over to his table to sat in the empty seat. He looked surprised as I said nothing.

“Can I help you?” he asked sounding like a regular guy. Normal voice open expression, friendly even.

Seb was going to be annoyed. He says I’m a loose cannon and unable to contain my feelings. He’s right. I shouldn’t be taking risks like this.

“I know,” I said quietly.

He stareed at me and says, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

I wish I could throw the fabric I still have clutched in my fist at him, asking if he remembers it, but because of where it came from, I can’t.

“Yes, you do. I can see it in your eyes.”

He continued to stare, and I could hear the sound of him breathing. “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.”

“No, I haven’t. I know who you are, or rather what you are.”

His Adam’s apple bobs. “And what’s that?”

I looked around. “Do you want me to say it out loud?”

He leaned forward and I flinched as my back pressed into the chair. In a whisper, he said, “You’re crazy, I don’t know you.”

As his breath washed over me, I realised she wasn’t the first one he’s killed.

The shock of his evil breath made me rise to my feet. I shouldn’t have confronted him. He stood up too, scraping his chair on the floor.

Glancing out of the window I urged Seb to hurry. The man gives me a hard stare and strides out the door.

Damn! I rushed after him while putting the phone to my ear and pressed redial.

Seb’s voice comes through and I heard he is on hands-free. His blues and twos echoed down the phone and in the distance, as he approached.

“Can you still see him?” he asked after I explained.

“No, he’s gone. Where are you?”

“Two minutes. I’ll be two minutes. Stay there,” he said urgently, and hung up.

Moving away from the doorway, I looked up and down the high street, stopping sideways to look at the reflections in the shop windows hoping to spot him.

I felt his presence.

Spinning around, he was right behind me. Something sharp pressed against my skin.

“Keep walking,” he commanded. His touch consumed me. My psyche flooded and I saw everything he had done. How those poor girls suffered! I couldn’t do anything except walk with him. I knew beyond a doubt he would plunge the knife without conscience and disappear into the crowd before I even hit the floor.

Where the hell was Seb?

He walked me into an alleyway, and out of sight behind a large dustbin.

Seb! The sirens approached.

The blade was against my throat and his other ha nd was pulling at my skirt and underwear.

“How did you know?” His fetid breath covered my face.

“I know everything,” I told him as the blade broke the skin and I panicked.

“You know nothing!” he hissed.

“I know if you don’t let go, that man over there will kill you.”

He laughed, but still checked as Seb came skidding over. Grabbing him by the neck of his jacket, he threw him to the floor. With a knee in his back, Seb cuffed him.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

I pushed my clothes back into position and wiped the trickle of blood from my neck, Seb yelled at me again. “Yes!” I retorted, and he talked into his radio.

People gathered, wondering what was going on. They shouted in our direction, aiming phones. I tried to keep my face hidden. Seb yelled at them to stay back.

The man, the killer, is struggling on the ground trying to break loose. Seb was having trouble holding on to him. I couldn’t do anything to help as the guy swung round and pulled Seb with him. More sirens got louder as Seb fought to keep a hold on him.

Relief flooded through me as cops spilled into the alleyway. They relieved Seb of his prisoner and he strode towards me.

“You bloody fool!” he sid moving my hand from my neck, shaking his head. “Get that looked at. God, Cass, what the hell were you thinking?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling shaken.

The killer threws us a strange look as they carted him off. My brother, Seb, and I are used to those looks. People often look at us strangely because we look so alike

“At least you’ve got him,” I said as we walked back up to the road.

“Have to link him with the crime yet.”

“Him attacking me will give you time to do that.”

“Don’t tell me my job,” he snapped, and I knew I’m wasn’t off the hook yet, although, he rarely stays mad for long.

An ambulance pulled up and I was glad to get inside, away from the curious eyes and stares. It is just a scratch and a plaster was all that is needed.

Seb drove me home and I took the tongue-lashing, as is par for the course. You see, Seb and I are twins, identical, and it’s unusual for a girl and a boy to be as much alike as we are.

He was a seeker, he always finds what he’s looking for, especially when it’s me. He can zone in on where I am, so I never get lost. Seb has no psychic power, but we work well as a team.

The End

 

This is the first story in The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold. It is available to download for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Also featuring Cassie is The Haunting

 

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