Spooky Stories for Halloween: Part Three

House on the Hill by Simon Howden

 

As promised, here is part three of spooky stories for Halloween. This particular ghost story is from my childhood, and I have reproduced it for your chilling enjoyment. Happy Halloween!

The Bridge

It was a black night. Wind and rain buffeted the lone farmhouse. The nearby river had washed out the bridge—the only connection between the farmhouse and the main road.

Cut off from all human contact, the aged farmer gazed out at the swift, swollen river from his kitchen window. It was just beyond the reach of the floodlight in the yard. But whenever the lightning flashed, which was often, he could see where the bridge should have been.

The farmer sat down at the kitchen table and began to read his paper: “Man Escaped from Insane Asylum.” The rain formed a pleasant percussion on the roof, and soon the farmer nodded off.

Crack! Boom! Startled awake, he saw that a large tree limb had fallen in the yard. Relieved it wasn’t the roof, he had picked up the paper again when he had the sudden conviction that something was out of place.

Lightning flashed nearby, and he glimpsed a man across the river. A man with a white face and fluttering black clothes. What was he doing there? If he was looking to cross, then he was out of luck. The bridge was no longer useable. But the man just stood there, unmoving.

After staring at the motionless man for a few moments, the farmer began to read his paper again. It was no business of his. He was immersed in page two, column three “Local Hotel Reports Paranormal Activity.”

Crack! Boom! The farmer raised his eyes to check what had been hit this time. He started.

The man was in the garden, next to the scarecrow. He had crossed the river. Crossed without a bridge! In the middle of a storm! Who was he? How did he manage it?

Now that he was within range of the floodlight, the farmer could see his white face better. It was so white and so still that the man could have been wearing a mask. His black clothes were tattered.

Mystified, the farmer left his chair and got up to peer through the window more closely. Suddenly, the telephone rang. It was Millie. She had gotten back late from shopping. Seeing the bridge was washed out, she had gone to stay at a neighbor’s house instead of coming home. The farmer was glad to hear that she was fine.

“Hey honey, something weird is going on. There was a man standing across the river just five minutes ago. I got distracted for a bit and when I looked up he was standing in our garden!”

“Well, did you invite him in? He must be freezing, that poor man. You never think of such things, Payton.”

Payton looked out the window towards his garden. No one was there. He could feel tiny hairs on the back of his neck. He turned his face and saw. The man was only ten feet away outside his window and seemed to be staring straight at him. He had to be wearing a white mask.

Without taking his eyes off him, Payton replied, “Maybe I will. It was something, getting across that river. It wasn’t humanly possible. Stay at the neighbors’ house okay? I will telephone when it is safe to cross the bridge again.”

Another bright flash of light, and Payton was momentarily distracted by a branch hitting the roof. He realized his mistake too late. Again, Payton looked out the window.

A FACE! NO, not a face, THE GHOST OF A FACE! On the other side of the glass! He knew, he knew what happened…he had come for revenge…there was no escape…

The phone dropped to the floor, and there was a loud thump. “Honey? Payton dear? What happened? Hello? Is anyone there? Hello? Hello?”

In the morning, Millie found the bridge completely gone. She crossed in a shallower part of the river upstream and went to the house. When she got inside, she found her husband crumpled to the floor. He was unconscious. When he woke, he babbled incoherently about a ghost of superhuman strength, and it took him a while to calm down. There was no sign of a forced entry, and the house had sustained no damage from the storm other than that a large branch had damaged the roof a little.

Payton repaired the roof that day and never spoke of the ghost again. However, he always made sure that all the curtains were closed on dark and stormy nights.

The End

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