Ghosts and Demons


James’s Note: Another Halloween, so we have another competition between Sharon and I. Let us know which ghostly tale you like better. This year I think we’re both aiming for the feels.


My daughter Sarah was crying again as we unloaded boxes into the new house. I didn’t blame her. Moving was always hard when you were five, and she was already heartbroken to begin with. Our dog Max had just died, and she had loved that big galoot more than life. She insisted on carrying around the ridiculous stuffed panda that had been his favorite toy. My wife didn’t really like it, because she didn’t think it was sanitary, but I sure as hell didn’t have the heart to tell her she couldn’t.

Everything went OK for about a week. Sarah started her new school, I started my new job, and my wife got her home office set up to her exacting standards. Sarah was still sad a lot of the time, but she loved exploring the old house. I had just read her a Narnia book and I think she was searching for a wardrobe. She carried that beat up old panda with her on all her little adventures.

The second weekend we spent in the house is when things started to get strange. My wife was complaining about things being moved around in her office, and was about to scold Sarah for it when I pointed out that she always kept the door locked. She can be a little quick to jump to conclusions sometimes.

My first real spook was when I was shaving the next day. I use an old fashioned straight razor and soap brush combo, because I’m just enough of a hipster to think it’s cool, whether it actually gives a better shave or not. As I was halfway through my shave, I watched in horror as my reflection drug the straight razor across his neck, opening a gash from ear to ear, blood spilling down his naked chest. I screamed, threw down the razor, and immediately checked my neck. I didn’t have a scratch, and when I looked back at the reflection, it was normal, but I swear it was smirking at me.

That night as I was telling my wife what happened in bed, the lights began to flicker and our bed began to shake and rock. After a minute or so of admittedly pointless hysterics, I jumped from the bed and went for the door, only to find it refused to budge. I pounded on it, trying to break it down, only to have the shaking and flashing lights suddenly stop, and the door open spilling me into the hallway. Once my wife and I had regained our senses, we rushed to my daughters room to check on her, to find her sleeping peacefully, the ratty old panda bear wrapped in her arms.

We tried to tell ourselves it had been an earthquake, the same way we tried to dismiss everything else we saw. When my wife felt someone’s hands on her body in the shower, she decided that was enough. We decided that night we were going to pack up and go to a hotel, and worry about what to do with this godforsaken house later.

I had the car loaded, and was waiting for my wife and daughter to come downstairs with the last of their clothes. My daughter came tromping down the stairs next to her mom, carrying a pink princess suitcase. We had made it to the door, my hand on the knob, when it suddenly glowed red hot, causing me to jerk back my sizzling hand.

The house turned into chaos. Flames like an inferno leapt from the fireplace, demonic shadows danced on the walls,and the lights exploded. My daughter grabbed onto her mother, and I tried to put myself in front of them as best I could. My daughter had the ear of the panda stuck in her mouth.

The huge mirror over the fireplace ripped itself free of the wall and began to spin and levitate in the middle of the room. A creature that looked like a nightmare of shadows and heat haze began to pull itself out of the glass. I was frozen in place as the monstrosity pulled itself into our world. Suddenly, from behind me, I heard my daughter scream a single word.

“Max!”

The panda radiated light like it had become a second sun. From its otherworldly glow, strode a shining specter of a dog as big as a pony. It looked just like Max, but like he had been when he was young, huge and strong, with no sign of the arthritis that eventually made us have to put him down.

He barked three times, a sub sonic boom you felt in your chest, and leapt at the demon. The creature screamed as the dog’s light touched him and evaporated like smoke. The silence that followed was almost deafening. The fire died in the fireplace, and the door swung open revealing the normal outside world. The ghost dog padded over to me and laid his head on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around his neck and cried like a baby.

“I’m so sorry, buddy. I wish there had been something I could do for you.” His huge tongue licked my cheek, and I knew it was OK. He understood. My daughter leaped forward to join the family hug, joined shortly by my wife. My daughter gave Max a big kiss on the ear, just as he disappeared into the panda.

In the end, after a lot of arguing between my wife and I, we decided to stay in the house. Whatever had been haunting it seemed to be gone, and besides, it’s not like we didn’t have a protector.

I guess some loves can’t be stopped by little things like death.

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