Guest blogger Mary Ricksen presents a tale from her Gothic childhood.
Many years ago my sister and I used to play this game. We would lie in bed late at night and play when we couldn’t sleep. The old Victorian house my great grandmother lived in would creak and groan. We never knew what was house or what could possibly be ghost. The odd shaped windows and doors that opened into walls added the mystique. You had to keep both feet well away from the edge of the bed. Better safe than sorry.
The idea of the game was to guess the tune. We would tap out the music on the bed while hearing it in your head. I don’t know how we did it, but we always guessed right.
The room we stayed in was all dark corners and deep closets with shadows so dark, you had to feel your way out of the room. I hated it, but every time we visited we ended up in the same room.
Dark, heavy curtains lined the windows. Not a speck of light got in when they closed. Wood pineapples were on each of four posts of the old cherry furniture. We stayed on the third floor. I don’t know why because there were four bedrooms on the second floor and we were always the only ones visiting. The only ones up there. All alone. My cousin used to tease us, saying great Uncle Snidely had died up there and watched his heirs all the time. She told us about him and showed us his picture. We were primed.
No night lights allowed; we were big girls.
One very stormy night at Great Gram’s place we lay there tapping out songs. Thunder boomed and lightning knocked out all the street lights. After one particularly loud boom I realized I had to take a pee. My sister ran to the window to look and I jumped outta bed and ran. The tile floor chilled my feet as I walked on little squares. I quickly did what I had to and ran back down the dark hallway to our room.
My sister was talking and she sounded flustered. “I still can’t understand what you’re trying to have me guess.”
I jumped on my bed closest to the door. “What are you talking about?”
“Very funny, I’ve been trying to guess the song, but you keep tapping out nonsense. I told you I give up and still you kept tapping. What was the song you were trying to have me guess?”
“I just got back from the bathroom. I haven’t been tapping anything.” I chuckled. “Have you been playing our game with a ghost or something?”
Her voice quivered. “Did you say you just came back from the bathroom?”
“Yes.” Now I was getting scared.
“Well, I have been trying to guess the song and you, well I thought it was you, were tapping away like crazy. I had no idea what you wanted me to guess.” She jumped on my bed as a loud peel of thunder ripped the skies.
“Someone was here. Something, oh man, something was playing our game with me.” She shivered against my side.
Just then we heard it, in the silence between lightning strikes. Tapping. Tap, tap, tap…
“AAAAAHHHHHH!!” We screamed in unison. Both of us jumped up and ran outta that room so fast our feet flew, screaming the whole way. “AAAHHHHH!”
My great grandmother appeared at the end of the hall. “Girls, what’s wrong?”
“Ghosts,” we wailed. She calmed us down and urged us into her huge bed. Between breaths we told Gram what happened.
“Oh, that wasn’t Uncle Snidely. We have no one in the family by that name.” She laughed and we laughed.
We got under the covers with her and snuggled. Warm and secure we felt foolish, until she closed her eyes and sighed.
“The only person it could be is Uncle Frankie. He loved music.”
Vermont-born Mary Ricksen now lives in Florida and writes time-travel romance novels. Her next novel will be released in November, and her first novel, Tripping Through Time, is available at both Amazon and B&N. Her website is www.maryricksen.com/ where you’ll find a link to her blog.
On a dark and scary Halloween night, Mary suggests you hang out with other writers, who are generally warm, supportive and willing to share their knowledge.