Darlene Foster's Blog

Ghosts in the Attic

Posted on: February 1, 2019

This is my entry into Stevie Turner’s Short Story Competition for February. Here is the info if you would like to enter. Why not give it a go.  https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/share-your-short-story-february-2/

photo from Pixabay

Ghosts in the Attic

by Darlene Foster

The attic above the barn sits empty. Some say it is haunted. Others say it is cursed.

The room is possessed with many stories.

When Jim and Alice bought the farm, they decided the attic would be a perfect place for the farm help to live. So they purchased some paint and fixed it up. Then they placed an ad in the local paper seeking someone who enjoyed working with horses.

Mature, buxom Gladys responded first. They showed her the spotless attic room smelling of fresh paint and polished linoleum. Gladys took the job and moved in the next day – with her seven cats. Alice warned Gladys to keep the cats confined to the barn. This was after they jumped up on the picnic table and ate the cream cheese dip she had put out for her croquet party guests. Gladys worked hard and knew her way around horses but had her own ideas about how to do things. After several disagreements with Jim, she packed her meager belongings and left, cats in tow. She left a note tacked to the barn door with a forwarding address to send her last pay cheque.

Gladys seemed unfamiliar with the concept of a litter box. Alice scrubbed the once pristine room thoroughly. Disgusted, she left the doors and windows open for days to get rid of the acrid smell of cat pee. Alice believed she could still smell it years later.

The next ad included, ‘No pets allowed’. Joy, a university student with a love of horses, became the second resident. Young and eager, she did a good job. A light shone from the attic late into the night while she studied. Occasionally a young man spent the night. Jim and Alice didn’t mind. Better than cats. One day Joy told them she was sorry but had decided to move into town with her boyfriend, to be closer to the university.

The attic didn’t take much cleaning. Although the wax on the floor caused Alice to shudder at the thought of candles burning in such a flammable structure.

Against his wife’s advice, Jim hired a writer with a bushy beard. Alice didn’t trust men with bushy beards, or writers. The man slept until noon every day and did only the basics of the job. Days went by without fresh food and water for the animals. He was soon asked to leave. The attic smelled like a biker bar. Crumpled pieces of paper mixed with stale crumbs and tin foil TV dinner containers littered the floor. They took two truckloads of empty wine and liquor bottles to the recycling depot.

Alice didn’t say anything but had that smug ‘I told you so’ look on her face.

Two women in cowboy hats, big belt buckles, and fancy boots drove into the yard one summer afternoon. Jo and Jean had been in the rodeo circuit for a time and knew a thing about horses. They told great stories sitting around the picnic table with Jim and Alice, sharing a cup of tea. One day, Jo approached the house in tears. Jean had left in the middle of the night. Jo sobbed uncontrollably and said she didn’t know how she could go on without Jean. Alice made her a cup of chamomile tea and tried to calm her down. She had never seen anyone so upset. Two days later Alice called the paramedics when she found Jo in the attic, passed out in a pool of her own blood. Alice and Jim hired someone to clean up the attic.

A couple in their forties showed up in a pickup truck with the job posting in hand. The wife, a meek little thing who made no eye contact, let her husband do the talking. He convinced Jim he was capable. Jim gave him the job.
Alice had a funny feeling. “She looks like a battered wife.”
“You watch too much Oprah.” Jim shook his head and walked away.
Things went well. The chores got done and the couple kept to themselves. Jim decided they were the best yet. Perhaps Alice should admit she was wrong.

One peaceful, sunny day while Alice washed dishes, she looked out the kitchen window and detected someone hiding behind the big apple tree. Sure enough, it was a man – with a gun. Alice tensed. Another man behind the car shed placed a megaphone to his mouth. “This is the police. Come out with your hands raised and no one will get hurt.”

The husband emerged from behind the barn and ran toward his truck. The police officers moved faster and seconds later he was in handcuffs. Alice never imagined she would witness an arrest in her own back yard. She needed more than a cup of tea to calm her down.

The plain-clothed police officers explained they received an anonymous call to the farm. The husband, known to them, had two previous charges of assault. After they took him away, Alice made her way up to the attic. The wife held her head and rocked back and forth, moaning. Her swollen right eye was turning an ominous purple. Alice offered to call an ambulance but the woman insisted she would be all right until her sister came to pick her up. Alice couldn’t stop shaking for days. Jim refused to talk about it.

Alice took over the hiring process.

Characters of all sorts paraded in and out of that attic over the years. Eventually, Jim and Alice got fed up and moved back to the city. Except for a few items left behind, the attic has stood empty ever since.

A chipped bookcase, holding dusty paperbacks waiting to be read, leans against one wall. A beaten up trunk remains in a dark corner; one item too many to be allowed on the next journey. A moth-eaten blanket, an assortment of old newspapers and a cowboy belt rest inside. A rusty, wrought iron headboard covered in spider webs, holds secrets of amorous nights and lonely days. Extreme happiness and deep sorrow ooze through the faded walls. A poster of Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ hangs lopsided on one wall surveying the scene with wide-eyed wonder, and silently shrieks.

On windy, rainy nights, some say they hear sobbing. Others say they hear hideous laughter. Children say the attic in the barn is haunted. But don’t children always say that?

photo from Pixabay

It’s good to try writing something different from time to time.

76 Responses to "Ghosts in the Attic"

Pretty scary, Darlene. Well-done.

Very well done, thanks for sharing!

Quite a variety of characters there, Darlene. It certainly held your attention and kept you wondering…Good for you.

I’m pleased you liked it, Joy!

I wonder if the setting for this story could have been inspired by your early farm life in Alberta, minus the attic smelling like a biker bar, of course.

We never had anyone live in the attic of the barn but a friend of mine did. I have seen my fair share of abandoned places though and often wondered about the folks who had lived there and left some of their things. Do places remember past inhabitants? Writers think about those things.

Creepy… whatever next? Amanda Goes To Pandemonium?

I enjoyed your story, Darlene. Good luck. ❤

Thanks for submitting your story, Darlene.

Thanks for running the contest!!

The string of characters who inhabited the barn and their post departure impact was a very enjoyable read. Well written, full of good details. Left wanting to understand the history of this barn and possible ghosts.


Thanks for the feedback, Ben. I’m always pleased when my readers are left wanting more!

You showed off this short story so well, Darlene. It captivated me and had my full attention. I’m glad Alice and Jim finally left. It sounds to me as if the attic above the barn is a dark world that nobody but the devil would want to stay in.

Coming from a master of short story writing, that is welcome praise. Thanks so much, Hugh.

Darlene you had me on the edge of my chair. What a parade of characters. Each time you created the scene so vividly in my mind. Well done. And by the way I think I would have been running for the city early on!

Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. xo

This was nail biting stuff. I’m not a fan of empty barns or places and would expect someone to go in first before me. Great tension. Would you be using something like this in the next Amanda story I wonder? 😉

Well, Amanda gets in tight spots sometimes so you never know. The ghosty one was in New Mexico.

You have my vote for the short story contest! Good read.

Excellent, Darlene!!

Thanks, Jennie. I don´t always write children´s stories.

You’re welcome, Darlene. 🙂

Nicely done! 👀

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I really enjoyed your story, Darlene. Well done.

I appreciate your feedback, Robbie!

Fascinating, enjoyable read, Darlene.

Susan A Eames at
Travel, Fiction and Photos

Thanks, Susan. Words a writer loves to hear.

Wonderfully atmospheric, Darlene! A great story and perfect end! It’s not easy to end a story with a question but works brilliantly here. There is something about attics ,especially in older buildings, and I’ll be even more cautious of them in the future!

Attics in old or abandoned buildings are begging to be written about. I often wonder who lived in them or what went on (or still does). Pleased you like the end. Always the hard part.

Thanks Darlene,

I enjoyed your story. Well done!

I think there’s only one story i could send to this competition but that one is entered in another one.

Take care, Marion

I think you can enter it in more than one competition.

I’m glad you liked this one!

What a wonderful story. It’s be perfect for Halloween time!!

Thanks, Jodie. You’re right. I must keep that in mind.

Places have lives. They remember things. Sometimes I think they tell us their stories and we get to write them. Kind of like a song that gets stuck in your head.
This is a great story. Thank you for sharing it!

I’m so pleased you liked this story. I have always believed that places contain the lives of those that inhabited them. Only some people here the stories and some of us write about them. Thanks for the visit and great comment.

I enjoyed reading this story, Darlene. You have a wonderful imagination and a great way to describe the characters. Well done! #seniorsalon

Thanks, Natalie. Pleased you enjoyed the story.

[…] https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/ghosts-in-the-attic/ […]

Loved this Darlene – great story telling! I could see the characters and smell the attic! You can see I have shared, C x #SeniorSalon

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for sharing. Delighted you enjoyed the story. xo #SeniorSalon

Darlene…A departure from Amanda stories but very well written and scary in places 🙂 x

Thanks, Carol. A writer needs to deviate from time to time to exercise the creativity. I actually wrote short stories for adults before I started writing the Amanda stories.

Great short story….loved the way you developed the characters and the attic itself….loved it!

Pleased you liked it, Kirt. I played around with this one for a while until I was happy with it.

What an interesting cross-section of characters. Seems like the barn was a character too. Nice story, Darlene.

Thanks, Cath. I am glad that came across as that was the idea.

Creepy! And I love that the writer was the most slovenly of the bunch. :0)

I had to put that in there, didn’t I? Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Lovely story and pleased to share the runner up place with you. 🙂

Thanks, Julie. How sweet of you to drop by and tell me that. Off to read yours now.

Nicely done! Enjoy that quick read. Loved the “The room is possessed with many stories” line!

So pleased you enjoyed this story. I worked on this one for quite a long time. Short stories can be more work than writing a book!

I’ve never written a novel, but I spend FOREVER (and then some, lol!) on my short stories. Some of them literally take years, lol.

[…] also want to mention that my story Ghosts in the Attic won runner-up in Stevie Turner’s short story competition. Thank you for all the positive […]

Love it! Great job, Darlene!

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

Darlene, I really enjoyed this short story. Your descriptions of all the different characters kept me imagining what they would look like. Alice was very perceptive and a better judge of character than her husband. I like that the ending gives a subtle chilling message.

Thank you, Gilda. I’m pleased you liked it.

Hi Darlene! A fantastic read! Well written!

Thanks, Carol Anne. So pleased you liked it.

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