Teaser: Haunting

The Haunting of Springett Hall

Light drew me back from oblivion. The sun’s rays pooled around me through a crack in red velvet curtains and spilled across the floor. Shimmering flecks of dust hovered in the air. I waved to stir them. They floated through my palm.

I gasped and jerked my hand back, staring at it. Through it, really. Even when I covered my eyes, I could see the furniture on the other side of the room: a grandfather clock with its hands stopped, a side table and sofa, and a framed painting draped in black.

Someone had died.

I turned my translucent hand back and forth. Yes. Someone had.

My eyes tingled, but no tears came. I raced to the curtains to fling them open. My fingers passed through their thick folds. Trembling, I wrapped my arms around myself and paced. It was a nightmare. I would wake up. Everything looked solid and real, though. Everything except me.

I fled the room. My skirts swayed but didn’t rustle, nor did my corset squeeze my ribs. The memory of them clung to me, but I’d moved beyond their pressures.

A housemaid dressed in black for mourning strolled down the wide hallway, dusting delicate side tables. She didn’t glance in my direction even when I hurried closer.

“Hello?” my voice rasped out.

The girl shook her dust rag and walked through me.

I didn’t feel anything. No pressure, no chill. Just the mental discomfort of having someone much too close. Then she was gone to her next chore.

What had happened to me? I ran shaky fingers over my face, my hair, my bustled dress. No injuries marred my body, but do ghosts remain as they were when they died, or do they return to some earlier state? How was I supposed to know? I straightened slowly. I couldn’t even remember my name.

“Help!” I tried to push my faint voice past my isolation. “Can anyone hear me?”

Nothing.

A black smudge stained my right index finger. I rubbed it and turned my hands over to find another mark on my left palm. Not a blotch, but traces of writing, difficult to read on my translucent skin. I squinted at the word: Limes.

What on earth did that mean? Was I a cook? At least it was likely just the remnants of ink and not some supernatural warning. If God wanted to send me a message in the afterlife, I was certain He’d have something more important to talk about than citrus.

I traced the phantom word, and a memory of writing it flashed through my mind. I’d been glancing over my shoulder, fingers trembling. The steel nib of the fountain pen had pricked my skin. My fingers twitched at the recollection of pain. I blinked several times and flexed my hand.

The rest of the memory hung just out of reach. There was something I needed to do, some important task left unfinished. That fit my notion of ghosts. Didn’t they—we—always have a purpose binding us to this world?

TheHauntingofSpringettHallCover

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