Storm could feel that the house was bitterly cold. Not unsurprising as it was November, tomorrow. She had nowhere else to go. She shivered. The. silence seemed to be holding its breath. Dumping her bags on to the over patterned carpet, she flicked the light switch but nothing happened, so she went in search of the fuse box.
Her Great Aunt had left her the house and the solicitor had sent her the keys . She hadn’t been going to move straight in but her mother’s new boyfriend, Jim, had been quite threatening this morning and it seemed the safest thing to do to move out quickly. The journey hadn’t been too long but she could only bring as much as she could carry.
What was that noise? A thin screeching yelping sound. She must be imagining things.
Once the lights were working she went to the kitchen to see if a cup of tea would lift her spirits. The water seemed to struggle from the tap protesting and making a knocking sound. She looked around and found the kettle and heard a scuttling of tiny feet. But she could see no sign of mice. Storm was glad she was still wearing tall boots with her jeans tucked into them. Her phone rang.
“What’s the point of leaving if you leave all your rotten stuff here? “shouted Jim.
“I couldn’t carry it,” Storm replied. “I’ve packed it all up and I’ll come back a couple of times tomorrow and pick it up.”
“No you won’t, I’ll bring it to you now,” said Jim and the phone went dead.
Rubbing her arms to try to get warmer she looked around the old fashioned kitchen. It needed a good clean, but that was a job for tomorrow. She took her tea and started to climb the stairs. When she had nearly reached the top she glanced through the banisters and saw a door close. Somebody was in the house!
She thought quickly. If she left the house she’d be out in the night with nowhere to go. She’d have to investigate. Slowly she climbed the last few stairs. She opened the door. She could hear the blood rushing round her head. Flicking the light switch, the room looked empty, and searching under the bed, in the cupboards revealed nothing.
Storm heard the thin screech again.
“Who’s there?” she called but there was no reply. Quickly she searched the other rooms and then finding nothing she sat down on one of the beds. At first she thought she was seeing things as smoky images of four teenagers wafted away from the wall, but as she looked more closely they became more solid looking. Her heart was thumping and she couldn’t move. She tried to speak but no words came out.
“You’ve gate crashed our party,” said the tallest being. “If you want to leave we’ll let you go. NOW.”
She nodded. “I haven’t got anywhere I can go,” she muttered but she stood up and was sidling past them when there was a loud banging on the door.
“Well you’d better answer it,” said the tall ghost. We can’t.” And then he laughed his shrill laugh and Storm shivered.
She ran downstairs and threw open the door.
“So this is where you’re hiding out,” Jim said, walking into the house with two large bin liners. Not a bad place; much nicer than I expected. You all on your own?”
“Not exactly,” she muttered.
“Oh but I think you are. I quite fancy having a mother and daughter,” he said as he grabbed her and pushed her into the main living room.
“If you touch me, I’ll tell mother and then you’ll be out on your ear. Do you want to risk that?” she shouted.
“Ohhh, you’ll tell mummy, will you? I doubt if she’ll believe you, will she? She hasn’t believed any of the other poison you’ve been telling her about me, has she?”
She could feel his grip digging into her arms and then she felt his breath on her face. Just at that moment she heard the shrill, yelping sound. It grew louder as it came nearer and nearer. She saw a brief look of terror in Jim’s eyes and then blackness closed over her like a protective cloak and she knew no more.
When she woke it was morning. She was lying on the carpet with her head resting on her tapestry bag and her sleeping bag had been pulled over her. There was no sign of Jim and as she was fully clothed she felt sure he hadn’t done anything to her. She called to the ghosts but there was no sign of them anywhere. There was no response.
Storm made herself a cup of tea and pondered over the previous night’s events. She certainly hadn’t imagined Jim because there were her bags in the hallway. She couldn’t have imagined the ghosts either or Jim wouldn’t have left. They had saved her. She’d spoilt their party but they had stopped her being hurt. Lifted by this thought she set about cleaning the house. She put the heating on and scrubbed and polished until the place looked spotless. As she went along she packed away most of her Great Aunts nick knacks and some of the furniture into the smallest bedroom. Soon her new home was looking a lot less cluttered. When she had finished it was evening and she went to the main room and sat on the bed.
“I don’t know whether you can hear me but I want to say ‘Thank You’ for saving me. Surely we could share the house.”
She waited and waited but there was no reply but then she noticed a smoky form emerging from the wallpaper. It was the tallest ghost. As he started to take a more solid form she heard him speak.
“I had to get special permission to talk to you tonight. We only come back to earth on one night of the year. We should’ve listened to you when you said you’d no place to go. We chased the man off and stayed with you until we had to leave. I’m glad you’re alright.”
“You didn’t get much of a party then?”
“No but for the first time in years we actually helped someone and that felt fantastic.”
“I’ll always be grateful. In fact come back next year and I’ll leave the house empty for the night and you can have your party.”
“No, stay in next year and we’ll pop in and say hello. We might see if we can work out a way to help someone else. I have to go. “
“What’s your name,” she called as his image faded.
“Thomas Driver” whispered a faint voice as he disappeared.
‘Tomorrow I’m going to find out all about you, Thomas Driver,’ she thought.
Then her phone went. It was her mother.
“What did you do to poor Jim last night? He’s been a jabbering wreck all day. I want to know what went on.”
Storm paused. What was the point in saying anything to her mother? Jim was right; she wouldn’t be believed.
“Nothing of any substance happened while he was here mum. He met a few of my friends. It was so useful that he brought all my clobber round. Saved me a lot of time today.”
When she put the phone down, she smiled to herself. She had a safe place to live and she hadn’t even lied to her mother.