Debbie Kuhn drops by our forest today with a spooky ghost story excerpt for you, readers. So gather around the campfire, get your marshmallows ready for roasting, and let’s listen.
Debbie Kuhn writes across genres, but admits that horror is her favorite. Her ghostly tales used to give her classmates nightmares back in grade school. To avoid expulsion, she stopped telling the stories out loud and began writing them down in the dead of night.
The White Death and Other Ghastly Ghost Stories
Ten dark tales. ‘The White Death’ – A reluctant candy striper suffers through a night from hell in what was once a tuberculosis sanatorium. ‘Little White Casket’ – Are a young mother-to-be’s frightening visions for real, or a product of her paranoid imagination? ‘Ghost Writer’ – The spirit of an English girl searches for her father in the aftermath of the London Blitz. ‘Angeline’ – Two cousins fight over a cherished doll – with disastrous results. ‘Flower Girl’ – The vengeful ghost of a murdered child haunts a southern plantation. ‘What Happened in the Cellar’ – A woman is forced to face her demons, from this world and the next. ‘Frankie Revetta’s Favorite Chair’ – A construction worker gets more than he bargained for when he bets against a cursed antique. ‘Red Barchetta’ – An Italian sports car changes a nerdy teenager’s life. ‘Playground for the Dead’ – The spirits of a mysterious woman’s dead children haunt an abandoned playground. ‘The Power of Moonlight’ – An Appalachian girl plans to summon her deceased lover’s spirit by using a special kind of magic.
Excerpt: Brenda Morris climbed out of her foster mother’s brand new ’64 Buick Riviera and slammed the passenger door shut. She was supposed to have Thursday nights off, but the old bat was forcing her to fill in for another candy striper that’d gotten sick at the last minute.
Yeah, sick of working at a geriatric sanitarium, probably.
Brenda stalked away from the car without bothering to wave goodbye and headed towards the institution’s imposing main entrance.
She took a deep breath, savoring the brisk October air, and gazed up at the gothic monstrosity that was Woodhaven. A full moon hung so low over the hilltop structure that it appeared to teeter upon the bell-tower.
She stood still for a moment to admire the effect. “That’s just so bitchin’.”
A whirlwind of dry leaves skittered past her, and she exhaled slowly. No use putting it off any longer.
Brenda entered the ornate lobby and wrinkled her nose. One never got used to the cool mustiness and the smell of stale urine. Quite often, the pitiful moans of elderly residents could be heard echoing down the long hallways.
No wonder the place was short staffed.
Brenda climbed the winding staircase to the second floor. Before beginning her rounds, she paid a visit to one of the restrooms to wash her hands and run a comb through her auburn curls. She smiled ruefully at her reflection in the smudged mirror. The red and white striped apron made her look like a sweet, innocent fifteen-year-old.
Brenda’s foster mother – her seventh in so many years – no doubt wished it were true. The witch had busted her one too many times for smoking and sneaking out at night to meet up with The Wrong Crowd. She’d given Brenda an ultimatum: Volunteer at one of the local hospitals several evenings a week or spend some time in Juvenile Hall.
Brenda had picked Woodhaven because her dark nature was drawn to its morbid history. For several depressing decades it had been used as a sanatorium for those suffering from The White D eath. Tuberculosis had claimed thousands of lives here – not including the suicides it had provoked among patients and nurses alike.
But, God, I’d rather die of a disease than grow old and useless, Brenda thought, leaving the restroom. She could hear a woman yelling just down the hall.
It was Mrs. Hauser in Room 212.
“Somebody help! She took it away! It’s mine and she stole it from me!”
Brenda reached the room and paused in the doorway, grimacing at the all too familiar sight. The old lady stood by her bed stark naked. She stared at Brenda with watery gray eyes full of righteous anger.
“Mrs. Hauser, calm down and tell me what happened.” Brenda hurried over and grabbed a blanket off the bed to wrap around the woman’s cold, saggy body.
“A strange little girl took my new robe. My pretty blue robe is gone – it’s gone and I want it back now!”
Brenda sighed. Mrs. Hauser was hallucinating again. It was probably another patient – they were always “borrowing” things from one other.
“Okay, stay here and I’ll go look for it. I’m sure the girl didn’t go very far.”
Brenda went back out into the hall, and a noise caused her to glance right, towards the elevator. Just before the doors slid shut she caught a glimpse of something blue.
Here we go.
Brenda hurried over and punched the UP button. Catching the person would be easier now. For some freaky reason, every elevator in the building insisted on visiting the basement first, no matter what floor was chosen.
She wasn’t really bothered by this fact – it just made the place more interesting.
Brenda listened to the distressing hum of the contraption as it ascended. It passed the first floor and then stopped. The doors opened slowly.
Empty. This meant the thief had gotten out on the basement level.
Well, they are loony, after all.
Brenda rode the elevator down and waited impatiently for the doors to open. When they did, she was grateful to see that the hall light had been left on. At least the morgue was located clear over on the other side of the basement.
Not that she was afraid of dead people. What could they do? It was the live ones that were scary.
As she exited the elevator, Brenda heard a cough behind her. She turned and looked as the doors began to close, but she saw no one.
“Great, now I’m hearing things.”
She let out a sigh and began walking down the dimly lit corridor, shivering slightly from the damp chill that hung in the air.
A few storage rooms were located on the right side of the hall, but she knew they were kept locked. The only open room was the janitor’s “office,” just ahead on the left. The light inside was on.
“Big girls don’t cry, big girls don’t cry.”
The sudden blaring of a radio made Brenda jump. It was Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
“Bi-ig girls do-on’t cry-yi-yi (they don’t cry), bi-ig girls do-on’t cry (who said they don’t cry?).”
Brenda stopped in the doorway of the break room, expecting to see the janitor, but there was no one around.
The radio played on.
Somebody’s trying to play a trick on me. Bet they’re hiding under the table.
Brenda started across the room, and suddenly noticed the small red splatters on the concrete floor. Blood?
Maybe it was just paint.
She followed the trail over to a large oak table that sat against the south wall. An ancient radio rested on top.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” faded out and then Brenda heard nothing but static. She reached across the table to hit the OFF switch, just as a child’s voice came out of the radio.
“I’m right behind you.”