From Chapter Four:
Roberto Wing's Ghost Story
Old Widow Hanson lived and died in this house. Only before she was Old Widow Hanson, she was Theodora Birchington. She lived on a farm near here. She didn't play with the other children and always kept to herself. She talked to herself a lot, too. When she grew up, she got married to Hans Hanson who was a salesman.
Theodora and Hans fought a lot. The neighbors could hear them screaming at each other all night long. I don't know why she just didn't tell Hans to move out and then get a divorce, but they didn't have any kids so I guess she wasn't in any hurry. Then one time Hans tried to strangle her. That day she told everybody, "He's never going to do that again."
The next day, Hans disappeared. They found his body a few days later, only it was missing the hands. They had been cut off just above the wrist. His body is buried in the town cemetery. You can go see his grave, but his hands aren't there.
Anyway, people knew that Theodora had killed murdered him, but they couldn't prove it, so she was never charged with murder.
Widow Hanson got older. She had wild wavy hair and a weird look in her eyes. And, like I said, she was really ugly. She was always talking to herself and screaming, "Get away! Get away!"
Then one day, when she was really old and ugly and after no one had seen her for weeks, the sheriff went looking for her. The neighbors had smelled something terrible, and I don't mean a skunk. The sheriff knocked the door down and searched the entire house, except the attic. Then he and his deputy opened the attic door. There was old Theodora, lying on her back at the bottom of the stairs, with her neck broken.
The sheriff figured that she'd slipped at the top of the stairs and fallen to her death. Then they heard a strange sound. Drip drip drip. Coming from the top of the attic stairs. Drip drip drip.
They climbed the stairs and discovered a gruesome scene. There, lying on the floorboards, were the bloody hands of her husband. He had been dead for years, you know. The flesh was hanging off them and you could see the bones inside. The fingernails were all broken off and the fingertips were oozing blood. But the weird thing was the hands were covered with fresh blood--and it wasn't Widow Hanson's. The blood was dripping down the stairs. Drip drip drip. They followed the bloody trail to an old trunk where she must have kept the hands locked up. Inside it they found deep scratching gouges where the hands had clawed their way out of the trunk.
The sheriff didn't know what to make of it, until he and the deputy turned Widow Hanson's body on her side. There on the back of her white nightgown were the prints of two bloody hands, prints that matched the hands of her husband. After all these years, the ghostly hands of Hans Hanson had come back from the dead to kill his widow.
People began to see her ghost in the house, but the scariest thing happened when the next family moved in. The husband was a truck driver. The first week they were there he was away, hauling a load of tomatoes. One night near the end of the week he called his wife to say he was coming home early and to wait up. But she fell asleep in what used to be Widow Hanson's bedroom. In the middle of the night she heard someone come into the room and she figured it was her husband. Then she heard someone get into bed with her. She was so sure it was her husband she didn't even open her eyes. She reached over and their hands met. He squeezed hers as if to say, "Goodnight." Then the woman fell back to sleep, holding her husband's hand.
In the morning the phone on the nightstand rang and woke the woman up. It was still dark, and the bedroom curtains were closed.
"Hello?" she said.
It was her husband. He was calling to say that his truck had broken down and not to worry, he'd be home soon. He hadn't wanted to call her in the middle of the night.
The woman's heart was pounding as she hung up the phone. Who had crawled into bed with her? And who had held her hand?
She jumped out of bed and turned on the light. The room was empty--or at least it looked like it was. Then she forced her eyes to look at the bed. It seemed empty, too. So she caught her breath and decided that she had had the strangest dream. She climbed back into bed and pulled the covers up to her neck. She tried to go back to sleep, but she kept hearing a noise. A dripping noise. At first she wondered if there was a leak in the roof--only it hadn't been raining.
Drip drip drip.
The noise was getting louder. It seemed as if it was coming from the other side of the bed. So she reached over and felt some liquid. Some warm liquid. She turned to look and pulled back the covers. There on the sheets next to her were the bloody handprints of Hans Hanson.
And his blood was drip drip dripping on the floor.
Her husband found her--still alive, but she was never the same. They sold the house as soon as they could. That's why everybody calls it the Ghost House.
So two ghosts haunt your house now. Widow Hanson stands at the attic window and looks out . . . and just behind her are the creepy rotting hands of Hans Hanson waiting to push her down the stairs.
Copyright © James M. Deem. This excerpt is taken from The Very Real Ghost Book of Christina Rose (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996). All rights reserved.