“I like the concept of ghosts as personalities locked in a never-ending ‘now’. Also, when it comes to haunted houses, one ghost is never enough.”
The House, the Garden, and the Occupants
by Amanda C. Davis
This is Anne, with shreds of her gown wisping away like the edges of clouds, at the elbow of the grand staircase where the iron-framed window overlooks a patch of garden entombed in briars. She casts a glow onto the wall that reflects faintly but bestows her no shadow. She is riveted to the window; her face is watery, difficult to make out, but her posture reveals her inner workings. A clock chimes midnight. Slowly, she lowers her head. Slowly, she turns from the window. She takes a single step upstairs before she dissipates like fog under the sun.
The first time she took this path she followed it to her bedroom, to a letter-opener strewn on her writing desk, to her bath, to her grave. Now she exists only in a narrow series of moments. She only completed this path once.
Anne comes with the first stroke of midnight and leaves with the last; she knows nothing but midnight, and the word that falls from her ghostly lips, unheard, and those things have composed the full of her existence for over one hundred years.
This is the column of light that flares in the garden, as tall as a tree and bright as an angel, just after the last chime of midnight. It burns bright for a single blink of an eye before it collapses to the earth, leaving the night empty and dead. A pool of light lingers at its base. The garden shifts. Its shadows follow no rules.
The column of light, in its youngest years, answered to Boy, and then to Groom, and a host of careless and vicious names in between, but the only name it will answer to now is the last one it knew, the one that Anne called it. If the light speaks, it has never been heard; if it knows anything at all, it is the single moment of flaring and falling, too quick to grasp. Its existence is an eternal cycle of light and dark. It moves so fast that life from its perspective might be a single blur of light. But it will never tell.
This is the roil of malice that dwells in the crack above the lintel of the front door, a seething coil tight as a Gordian knot, black as blindness, in a place no light can reach.
This is Jacob Winterbeam, twenty-five, who has sunk the savings of his brief life into an estate that has by disrepair or disrepute been spared the indignity of subdivisions and commercial zoning.
About the Author
AMANDA C. DAVIS Amanda C. Davis is a combustion engineer who loves baking, gardening, and low-budget horror films. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Goblin Fruit, Shock Totem, and Cemetery Dance, among others. She tweets enthusiastically as @davisac1. You can find out more about her and read more of her work at her blog. WOLVES AND WITCHES is a book of dark fairytale retellings by Amanda and her sister, Megan Engelhardt, released from World Weaver Press in 2013.
About the Narrator
Pamila Payne – is a narrator and writer of noir horror. She’s the creator of The Bella Vista Motel series. Originally from Los Angeles, she’s currently writing in Yucatan, Mexico. She can be found on twitter, @mspamila and on her website, Vintage Vice. Her short story, “Agent Ramiel Gets The Call” will be included in EXILES, an international anthology exploring the theme of the outsider, edited by Paul Brazil and benefitting The Marfan Trust.