Grandmother

I’m pleased to host a chilling Halloween tale today by fellow Holmfirth Writer Vincent Johnson.

Halloween

Banging shutters wake me, just as the hall clock is striking midnight, and the unresponsive light-switch tells me the electricity is off. Between fizzing strobe lightening, thunderclaps growl like gods tumbling down their stairs. I sense an intruder in the house. A violent gust bursts the lounge windows asunder, clattering shutters and snuffing both my candle and the memorial candle lit to remember my grandmother’s death, which normally burns on the mantelpiece throughout Halloween.

‘Always remember your dead kin and friends’ she had said to us all, a few days before she had died. ‘Forget us at your peril’….

Most of the older family have since passed on, and the younger ones moved away.  Now there’s just me, elderly and alone, shuffling around this old family home. Howling down the chimney, the brutal wind bellows the fire’s dying fumes and ash into the lounge. Then, another lightening flash ignites the billowing smoke, and for an instant,  I see an infernal hologram of Grandma’s stricken face caught in the flickering cloud, like some silent horror movie, her eyes brimming with knowing sorrow.

The house yaws like some great ship, its ivied walls, creaking floorboards and rafters, and rattling eaves and casements buffeted by the wailing sea wind that roars in the trees. Rats gnaw and scratch in the attic, Ash twigs claw the rooftiles, and I can hear slippered footsteps dragging across the upper floor….

Grandma’s very last words had been directed at me,  ‘I will come back for you my dear, I will come back when it’s time.’

Silvered in the next flash I see her, sitting in her rocking chair by the hearth, looking directly at me with that vacant and slightly menacing smile, her knobbled hands clasped on her lap. The smoky air is ice-cold, and the grandfather clock’s ponderous tock is getting louder and louder, along with the banging on the upstairs shutters.… and then, drenched in sweat I wake up in my bed to the sound of banging shutters. Midnight is chiming, and the electricity is off.

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