Short, scary ghost stories

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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


"Now I think it is quite possible that up to this point you may have attributed my unhappy experience to nothing more nor less than a bad dream, but your dream theory can no longer hold good, for, on coming in such sudden contact with the floor, I gave my funny-bone a knock, which, I can assure you, made me thoroughly awake, and the first thing I noticed on recovering my scattered senses--was the smell. I sat up, and saw to my terror my bed was occupied, but occupied in the most alarming manner. On the middle of the pillow was a face, the face of--I looked closer; I would have given every penny I possessed not to have done so, but I could not help myself--I looked closer, and it was--the face of my brother; my brother Ralph--you may recollect my mentioning him to you, for he was the only one of us who was at that time making money--whom I believed to be in New York. He had always been rather sallow, but apart from the fact that he now looked very yellow, his appearance was quite natural. Indeed, as I gazed at him, I grew so convinced it was he that I cried out, 'Ralph!' The moment I did so, there was a ghastly change: his eyelids opened, and his eyes--eyes I recognised at once--protruded to such a degree that they almost rolled out; his mouth flew open, his tongue swelled, his whole countenance became convulsed with the most unparalleled, and for that reason indescribable, expression of agony, whilst the yellowness of his complexion deepened to a livid, lurid black, that was so inconceivably repellent and hellish that I sprang away from the bed--appalled. There was then a gasping, rasping noise, and a voice that, despite its unnatural hollowness, I identified as that of Ralph, broke forth: 'I have been wanting to speak to you for ages, but _something_, I cannot explain, has always prevented me. I have been dead a month; not cancer, but Dolly. Poison. Good-bye, Hely. I shall rest in peace now.' The voice stopped; there was a rush of cold air, laden with the scent of the drug, and tainted, faintly tainted, with the nauseating smell of the grave, and--the face on the pillow vanished. How I got through the remainder of the night I cannot say--I dare not think. I dare only remember that I did not sleep. I was devoted to Ralph, and the thought that he had perished in the miserable manner suggested by the apparition, completely prostrated me. In the morning I received a black-edged letter from my mother, stating that she had just heard from Dolly, my brother's wife, saying Ralph had died from cancer in the throat. Dolly added in a postscript that her dearly beloved Ralph had been very good to her, and left her well provided for. Of course, we might have had the body exhumed, but we were poor, and Ralph's widow was rich; and in America, you know, everything goes in favour of the dollars. Hence we were obliged to let the matter drop, sincerely trusting Dolly would never take it into her head to visit us. She never did. My mother died last year--I felt her death terribly, O'Donnell; and as I no longer have any fixed abode, but am always touring the British provinces, there is not much fear of Ralph's murderess and I meeting. It is rather odd, however, that after my own experience at the hotel, I heard that it had borne the reputation for being haunted for many years, and that a good many visitors who had passed the night in one of the rooms (presumably mine) had complained of hearing strange noises and having dreadful dreams. How can one explain it all?"

"One can't," I responded, as we turned in for the night.

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