Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘ghosts

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.

Book cover Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind by author Darlene Foster

To celebrate the one year launch of Amanda in Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind and just in time for Halloween, I am giving away a copy. Your choice of a print or digital copy if you live in Canada, US or the UK. If you live anywhere else, the prize will be a digital copy.  Simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below. The contest is from September 30th to October 7th, 2018.

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

This is what one reviewer had to say about Amanda in New Mexico.

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind finds student Amanda Ross on a school trip in Taos, New Mexico. While there, her classmate Cleo thinks she sees ghosts. Amanda feels anxious too, sensing that something or someone is watching her. An engaging adventure ensues during their visit to the Land of Enchantment in this sixth book in the fun and educational series for early middle-grade readers. 5/5 Literary Soiree

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During my visit to York, I went on a ghost walk. A city with such a long and rich history is bound to have ghosts lurking about. In fact, York is known as the most haunted city in England. Our excellent guide took us to places where ghosts sightings and paranormal activity have been reported. We began the tour at the York Minster on a chilly misty evening.

One of many Ghost Walks available in York.

The York Minster looking spooky at night.

Our knowledgeable and entertaining guide.

I expected to an apparition to appear at any moment.

 

Some say the face of a young girl appears at the small window in this house. This ghostly child starved to death after her entire family died from the plague as no one was willing to go into the house to get her. Sad times.

Working in the cellar of the Treasure’s House in 1953, plumber Harry Martindale was terrified when a group of Roman soldiers walked past him. He noted that the figures disappeared into the floor at knee height. Later investigation revealed a roman road half a metre under the basement.

York is the birthplace of Guy Fawkes and is also where he is buried. Unfortunately, his head was buried in one place and his body in another. Apparently, he wanders the Shambles at night looking for his head. I didn’t encounter him, although I did find an inn named after him.

The ghost of Guy Fawkes is supposed to wander the Shambles at night looking for his severed head.

Mysterious splashes have been heard late at night at the site of the ancient Roman baths.

During a daytime walk around town, we found these guys hanging about.

The sign says, Here lies Fat Ken, our original shop skeleton who fell to bits because people loved him too much. Please be kind.

So why all the interest in ghosts, skeletons and creepy things? Probably because I´ve been busy doing final edits on Amanda’s next adventure, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind. You guessed it, there will be ghosts in this story. What do you think of the fabulous cover my publisher created?

Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind is available on all Amazon sites, Kobo, Indigo and Barnes and Noble

I´ve been on a number of ghost walks. They can be good fun and the guides are usually very entertaining.

Have you ever been on a ghost walk? Do you enjoy hearing or reading about ghostly encounters?

 

During my recent trip to New Mexico, my travelling companion and I visited the St. James Hotel in Cimarron on the Santa Fe Trail. The hotel was built in 1872 by a trained French chef, Henri Lambert. Many famous guests stayed in this elegant but often violent hotel. Cimarron is Spanish for wild or unruly, which was a fitting name for this lawless town in the nineteenth century when arguments were often settled with bullets. Twenty-six people lost their lives at the St. James Hotel.

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The lobby of the St. James Hotel

The lobby of the St. James Hotel

We had a delicious burrito lunch in the restaurant sitting under a huge Texas longhorn. We then wandered into the bar where bullet holes from days gone by, pepper the ceiling.

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Famous lawmen, outlaws and wild west characters  stayed in this hotel. Colourful individuals such as Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, the author Zane Grey and Annie Oakley.We wanted to look inside the rooms that are still decorated in the manner Mr. Lambert had established. With luck a friendly maintenance man agreed to show us around. The St. James is still an operating hotel but since many of the rooms were vacant we could check them out.

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The Annie Oakley Room

The Annie Oakley Room

The very room Wyatt Earp slept in

The very room Wyatt Earp slept in

We had heard the hotel was haunted and were eager to learn more. Our guide told us that many guests have felt the presence of the spirits of those who have met their demise in this hotel. The staff tell stories of cutlery being moved around, a cowboy suddenly appearing and then disappearing and the sudden scent of rose perfume. Room #18 is never rented out as the ghost of a cowboy,  T.J. Wright, killed during a game of cards, resides there. The St. James Hotel has been featured on a number of television shows.

The card room where the guest of #18 was shot

The card room where the guest of #18 was shot

A peaceful sitting area outside with murals, a waterfall and a bear about to steal a freshly baked pie is a good place to escape from the eerie feeling inside.

Peaceful outdoor seating

Peaceful outdoor seating

 

 

 

 

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This was a great place to visit, full of wild west history and ambiance. I’m sure there are many stories contained in those walls. But I’m not sure I would want to spend a night.

More great pictures of the hotel and the rooms here


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