Short, scary ghost stories

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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


"A noose!" I ejaculated, interrupting Hely Browne for the first time since he began.

"Yes, a noose!" he repeated, "suspended in mid-air. As you can imagine, I was greatly astonished, for I knew there had been nothing that I could be now mistaking for a noose in the room overnight. I stretched out my arms to feel to what it was fastened, but, to add to my surprise, the cord terminated in thin air. Then I grew frightened, and, dropping my arms, tried to move away from the spot; I could not--my feet were glued to the floor. With a gentle, purring sound the noose commenced fawning--I use that word because the action was so intensely bestial, so like that of a cat or snake--round my neck and face. It then rose above me, and, after circling furiously round and round and creating a miniature maelstrom in the air, descended gradually over my head. Lower and lower it stole, like some sleek, caressing slug. Now past the tips of my ears, now my nose, now my chin, until with a tiny thud it landed on my shoulders, when, with a fierce snap, it suddenly tightened. I endeavoured to tear it off, but every time I raised my hands, a strong, magnetic force drew them to my side again; I opened my mouth to shriek for help, and an icy current of air froze the breath in my lungs. I was helpless, O'Donnell, utterly, wholly helpless. Cold, clammy hands tore my feet from the floor; I was hoisted bodily up, and then let drop. A frightful pain shot through me. A hundred wires cut into my throat at once. I gasped, choked, suffocated, and in my mad efforts to find a foothold kicked out frantically in all directions. But this only resulted in an increase of my torments, since with every plunge the noose grew tauter. My agony at last grew unbearable; I could feel the sides of my raw and palpitating thorax driven into one another, while every attempt to heave up breath from my bursting lungs was rewarded with the most excruciating paroxysms of pain--pain more acute than I thought it possible for any human being to endure. My head became ten times its natural size; blood--foaming, boiling blood--poured into it from God knows where, and under its pressure my eyes bulged in their sockets, and the veins in my nose cracked. Terrific thunderings echoed and re-echoed in my ears; my tongue, huge as a mountain, shot against my teeth; a sea of fire raged through my brain, and then--blackness--blackness inconceivable. When I recovered consciousness, O'Donnell, I found myself standing, cold and shivering, but otherwise sound and whole, on the chilly oilcloth. I had, now, no difficulty in finding my way back to bed, and in about an hour's time succeeded in falling asleep. I slept till late, and, on getting up, tried to persuade myself that my horrible experience was but the result of another nightmare.

"As you may guess, after all this, I did not look forward to bedtime, and counted the minutes as they flew by with the utmost regret. Never had I been so sorry when my performance at the theatre was over, and the lights of my hotel once again hove in sight. I entered my bedroom in fear and trembling, and was so apprehensive lest I should be again compelled to undergo the sensations of hanging, that I decided to keep a light burning all night, and, for that reason, had bought half a pound of wax candles. At last I grew so sleepy that I could keep awake no longer, and, placing the candlestick on a chair by the bed, I scrambled in between the sheets. Without as much as a sip of spirits, I slept like a top. When I awoke the room was in pitch darkness. A curious smell at once attracted my notice. I thought, at first, it might be but the passing illusion of a dream. But no--I sniffed again--it was there--there, close to me--under my very nose--the strong, pungent odour of drugs; but not being a professor of smells, nor even a humble student of physics, I was consequently unable to diagnose it, and could only arrive at the general conclusion that it was a smell that brought with it very vivid recollections of a chemist's shop and of my old school laboratory. Wondering whence it originated, I thrust my face forward with the intention of trying to locate it, when, to my horror, my lips touched against something cold and flabby. In an agony of fear I reeled away from it, and, the bed being narrow, I slipped over the edge and bumped on to the floor.