This story features characters from My Haunted Home and A Visitor to my Haunted Home.
Emma walked through the halls of her home, noticing how unusually quiet it was at that moment. Normally, Calvin would either be watching TV or arguing over current events with Jimmy or Stan would be making one of his famous dishes, filling the house with the sound of clattering silverware and roaring fire. The unusual peace reminded Emma of how quiet she was; were she still flesh and blood her hooves would be echoing throughout the halls.
Reminding herself of her spectral status made Emma stop for a minute to look at her surroundings, at the faded, peeling wallpaper and the dusty paintings. Even though a human was now living in this house, it looked little better than it had been for so many decades. Then again, thought Emma, the human who now lived in this house was a student, and he only lived in the house because it had cheap rent.
Many had trespassed upon the haunted house, many had even tried to take advantage of the cheap rent, but Calvin was the only one who stayed. He entered the hall, didn’t even bother to sweep the leaves on the floor and sat down at a table to check his dongle worked.
Emma trotted in, the sunlight doing nothing to diminish her ethereal glow, and he looked at her not in horror, but in interest.
Jimmy sprung in, hanging from his ghostly noose, and Calvin didn’t flee.
He didn’t even flinch when he saw Stan Skulton the flaming skull float in.
Calvin came up with a variety of explanations on the spot. After the threat of student loans, barely anything seemed scary anymore. He had watched several horror movies and played several horror games, so he was desensitised to an actual appearance of the supernatural. It was a relief for him, as he had often feared there was no life after death.
He even said, ‘Maybe I’m like the girl in Beetlejuice’ and was surprised when the three ghosts recognised the reference.
That was when he was introduced to the fourth ghost of the household; a spectral television, which, despite being an old model, could pick up almost any channel. Jimmy had found it while floating invisible around a tip, floating from a discarded TV set. Televisions had souls of a sort, manifestations of its owners memories of watching it.
Hearing about television ghosts made Calvin smile; the revelation that there is a life after death is even better when learning your prized possessions have one too. Each of the ghosts told him their favourite programmes; Emma watched the sports, Jimmy watched the news, Stan watched the cookery shows and sometimes in the evenings, they would all get together and watch a movie. All things, Calvin said, he liked watching, even suggesting he and Stan collaborate on a dish together.
Remembering the day she met Calvin, Emma said to herself, ‘I should have told him then and there.’
The ability to talk was something animals gained when they became ghosts, and Emma quietly cursed herself for wasting her gift. When she was alive, she knew something the humans in the household didn’t, and wanted to tell them all, to yell it, to scream it to everyone who lived there. She wanted to run out of her stable and let everyone know. At night, she would wish and pray for speech, so she could say what she knew.
When she gained the ability of speech, however, she never told anyone.
She kept telling herself she couldn’t tell anyone because as soon as they saw her, they ran away screaming, the very same problem that befell Jimmy and Stan when they tried to say something. There were some people, Emma remembered, that stayed to admire her, as they found a ghostly horse more majestic than frightening. When they stayed, Emma opened her mouth to tell them, yet always found herself tongue-tied.
The present Emma took another look at the hall’s walls, and the paintings that hung from them. There was also a spot where there used to be a painting, before the ghosts removed it. It was one of Emma when she was alive, standing next to the Master of the mansion. The Master was one of the house’s residents that didn’t linger on Earth as a ghost, and Emma, Jimmy and Stan were all pleased that was the case.
Emma walked out of the hall into the living room, where she saw the rest of her friends. When Calvin had come back from lectures earlier that day, he challenged Emma to a race around the house – with Emma, perpetually-energetic, winning -and was still trying to catch his breath. Jimmy and Stan floated beside him, the latter chatting with Calvin about what recipes to put in a book he wanted to publish.
Emma smiled. Stan loved cooking in life, and he loved cooking in death. He even saw his spectral form as a giant flaming skull as an advantage, using his head to cook pies and crumbles. Ghosts could eat, even though they were no longer in danger of dying of hunger, and the ghosts of this house ate plenty, especially with Calvin being there to buy ingredients.
It was because of Stan’s love of food it happened.
Again, Emma remembered her living, breathing days, when Stan was, of course, the Master’s cook, and Jimmy was the stable boy. Despite working with meat, Stan had a fondness for animals, and made sure to visit Emma whenever he could, even giving her a few extra apples from time to time. When Stan paid a visit to Emma, he paid a visit to Jimmy too, and even gave him a few treats just to make the work a little more bearable.
Both Jimmy and Emma agreed that Stan was a fine food provider, but the Master didn’t share that opinion. Every time Stan came to the stables, he had a new story to share with Emma and Jimmy, a new complaint from the Master. The scones were stale, the cake was too dry, he just seemed to like complaining.
Jimmy had a job no-one wanted, but he kept at it with a smile on his face, because he liked Emma, even sleeping in her stable some nights.
One of those nights, the Master came into the stable himself.
Emma remembered opening her eyes, and seeing the Master creep in, a glint in his hand. Looking back, she wished she had sprung up, wished she had kicked him, but instead, she just closed her eyes again, thinking it was just a dream.
The next day, Stan was found dead, stabbed in the heart several times. Jimmy was found in the stables, beside a knife and covered with blood.
Jimmy begged and pleaded and protested, saying that he and Stan were friends and he would never do such a thing, but the Master had told the other servants that Jimmy resented Stan, and they were going to believe their employer over a stable boy. Jimmy’s reason for being in the stable seemed especially unbelievable – no-one thought he could actually like his job.
After Jimmy was sentenced to death, the Master and his other servants spoke for days about why and how Jimmy could have done such a thing, with Emma overhearing the conversations, wishing she could tell them what happened that night. She even wanted to burst out of her stable, find the Master and kick him in the back with her hind legs, but there came the thought he could do to her what he did to Stan, and get away with that too.
The only thought that comforted her was that when she died, she would be reunited with her friends, and she didn’t know how true that was.
When she became a ghost, and first saw Stan Skulton as a giant flaming skull – a form he gained from the anger of his murder and his friend being wrongfully accused – all she felt was glee, imagining the Master cowering in terror at what his victim had become.
That glee vanished in seconds when Stan spoke to her. He knew who really killed him, and followed the Master everywhere he went, screaming and screeching and letting his fire burn. Many servants screamed in terror, but the Master didn’t notice him.
You were more likely to see ghosts if you believed in them. The Master didn’t believe in ghosts. He didn’t believe in life after death, which, Emma thought, was probably why he did what he did.
Murderers were more likely to see the ghosts of those they murdered if they regretted the murder or feared a haunting. The Master felt no guilt, no fear. He felt no remorse for what he did, or feared anyone finding out, so he had no reason to expect the ghosts of his victims coming to haunt him.
When he died, he never became a ghost. Emma, Jimmy and Stan knew full well where he ended up.
Yet his crime was never exposed. In fact, it was forgotten. People still expected to see ghosts in the house, so they saw Emma, Jimmy and Stan, but only because the house now looked like the type of place where you’d expect to see ghosts.
‘Hey, Emma.’ Calvin broke Emma out of her reminiscence. ‘You want a rematch?’
Calvin didn’t know the story. He never questioned why Jimmy was hanging from a noose or why Stan was a skull or how any of them died.
Maybe he thought it would be rude.
Emma wanted to tell him the story right there and then. She no longer had a heart, yet she felt it pound. She no longer had a stomach, yet she felt clawing within.
Jimmy and Stan looked at her quizzically.
If they wanted Calvin to hear the story, Emma thought, they would have told it themselves.
Over the years, they had been trying to get the truth heard. Most people, however, belted when they saw a giant skull. Most people don’t believe the words of a hanged, undead man.
Then Jimmy and Stan realised that no-one was going to listen to them, and they spent their afterlife waiting in the old mansion for intruders, just so they could have fun frightening them. They’d spring out of floors, walk through walls, make the paintings spin, filling the halls with vicious red light.
It seemed they had forgotten Stan’s murder as much as the rest of the world had.
Calvin was here. Calvin was their friend and thus willing to listen to anything they had to say.
Stan never mentioned his murder to Calvin.
Jimmy never mentioned being framed to Calvin.
Calvin never asked about their deaths.
Maybe Stan and Jimmy didn’t want to relive their deaths. Maybe Calvin wanted them to forget how that they were undead monsters.
Maybe all three of them thought it would ruin their friendship.
‘Emma,’ said the present Calvin, ‘are you alright?’
‘Yes,’ said Emma, ‘I’m fine.’
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