The Ghost Town
by Caitlin Donahue
There wasn’t supposed to be anything interesting happening in Shurfield. Everyone came here for peace and quiet. Almost everybody has a story from their great grandparents about how they came here to settle down in a small safe town. Everybody except for the Akbar family.
The Akbars were here before everyone else and there’s rumors about how they’re vampires or witches. Of course, everyone knows those are just stories people made up around the campfire. That’s exactly what George Marsh thought too, until there was finally something in the town paper worth reading. According to the latest gossip around town, there’re been a string of deaths in Shurfield that can’t be quite explained. Official reports say that it’s a wild animal going on a frenzy but George knows that isn’t right. He has a nagging feeling tat something is going to happen.
“GEORGE.” Mom screamed from the bottom of the stairs. “YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE FOR SCHOOL!”
I grunted and threw on some clothes. I gave them a sniff and decided they were clean enough. Besides, if I waited one more second until I went downstairs, I’m sure my mom would explode. I grabbed an apple and finished it just in time to catch the bus.
I was trying not to fall asleep for most of the day but something piqued my interest in 8th period, Adela. She was definitely weird enough to be the murderer. Today she was sitting in the corner writing something down.
“Dude.” Wyatt whispered with a judgy look on his face. “Stop staring.”
“What do you think she’s writing?” I asked back.
“Probably a list of people to kill.” He smirked, and I smiled back at him.
Finally, the bell rang. I was about to leave but while Adela was rushing out, she dropped a small slip of paper. This was my chance to see what she was up to. I “accidentally” dropped my pen and swiped the paper with it before I walked out the door.
When I got out of the school doors I finally looked at the piece of paper. A wave of disappointment washed over me as I saw it was just an address. It didn’t last long though , because then I realized that the house was on Cemetery Road. I didn’t notice because the real name is Smith Street, but I guess everyone decided that it wasn’t scary enough already so they made an unofficial name change.
Cemetery Road isn’t actually where the cemetery is, but it’s called that because it’s the start of an area of Shurfield no one goes near. When all the young couples decided to new cooler things and left their old parents to move into retirement homes, suddenly all these houses got abandoned and half of Shurfield got turned into a ghost town.
Anyway, this is why I knew I needed to go to this house. If Adela was doing some witchcraft in an old abandoned house, I wanted to catch her doing it.
After my parents were fast asleep, I knew it was my time to shine. I mean after years of me resisting the perfect circumstances to sneak out, I finally had a good reason to. They really made it too easy since they gave me the downstairs bedroom.
I carefully opened my drawer and picked up the flashlight inside. I’ve watched enough horror movies to know to at the very least, bring a flashlight. I creeped out of the door and to the back of the house. Then I jumped on my old rusty bike and started to ride all the wat across town.
The streetlights were bright and the streets were mostly smooth at first but the closer I got to the dead part of town, the more the lights flickered and the more potholes there were. When I got to Cemetery Road, I leaned my bike against the last working streetlight and flicked on my flashlight.
Of course I wasn’t scared of anything, but at that moment I wished my flashlight was just a little bit brighter. I pulled out the paper in my pocket and looked at the house number. I let out a big sigh and started walking towards the other end of town. Did it really have to be that far? The farther I got from my bike the more I could hear my heart beating over the sounds of trees clawing at the old cracked windows and owls cooing from what used to be attics.
I was totally being a wimp, but it didn’t matter because it was just me and the darkness surrounding me. At least, I think I’m alone? Suddenly, just before I get to the house I hear a twig snap behind me. I whip my head around and stare at the empty side of the road. I see a raccoon scurry across the street and I feel my whole body relax.
“See?” I whispered to myself. “Nothing to be afraid of.”
I take a deep breath and finally step up the moss covered stone stairs of the house. I’ve gone way too deep into this to back out now, I think to myself as I push the door open. I try to be quiet but the door creaks every inch I move it. The house looks almost just as I imagined it with all the dust and cobwebs but there’s something different. When I thought of what it might look like, I assumed there would be cloth covered furniture and emptiness but this house has a strange feeling about it like I just stepped through a dusty time machine.
I walked along the hallway until I stumbled upon a room with the door open. My stomach was filled with butterflied but I pushed through and went inside to reveal a home office. In the middle of the room there was a big grand wooden desk and behind it was a floor to ceiling bookshelf expanding almost to both sides of the wall. I walked around and admired the perfectly preserved room before something caught my eye.
My mouth went dry as I saw part of the floor that didn’t have a layer of dust on it. There were footprints that looked like they walked straight into the bookcase. I walked up to where the footprints stopped and I looked at the books in front of me. There was one book that made my heart skip a bear. I could see where someone had tried to grab a book, and I did the same. All I could hear was my heavy breathing as part of the bookcase popped out and I swung the secret door open. I took a step inside and I was dumfounded at what I saw.
Inside the secret door, there was a small room with even more books? Before my eyes could finish racing around the room, none other than Adela popped up behind me with a small pocket knife pointed towards my neck. I held my breath as she spoke.
“What are you doing here?” She whispered angrily. “Did you follow me?!”
All I could muster was a whisper. “Please don’t kill me.”
She had a confused look on her face as she stepped back with her knife still tightly clutched in her hand.
“Excuse me what?” she laughed. “Really? You think I’m some kind of psycho don’t you?”
All I could do was give her a blank stare.
“No. I already figured out who did it so you can go home to your mommy and go to bed before you mess this up for me” she muttered as she turned away and resumed flipping through an ancient looking journal.
“Wait who?” I asked.
“None of your business” she replied with an attitude.
“Well you just pointed a knife at me so why shouldn’t I believe it’s you and tell everyone what I think?”
She rolled her eyes and answered back “because if I were a murderer I would have already killed you.”
I thought for a moment. “Let me help you, I mean if you’re so determined to catch this guy you’ll need some muscle to help you out.”
She looked at me with a disgusted look on her face and snapped back “I don’t think you’ll be much use against a ghost.”
I laughed in her face but quieted down after I saw the seriousness on her face.
“You think I’m joking?” she replied back.
I shook my head and said “I guess not but I really do want to help.”
“Well lucky you because I’ve already got most of this figured out. I think this dude that lived here before it got abandoned is haunting this town.” I must have had a confused look on my face because she continued. “I found his diary in this room, it was kinda cryptic but it said his whole family died from pneumonia.”
“So he’s going on a killing spree because he is sad?” I scoffed.
“Well that’s the most logical explanation I have.” Adela said with a sigh. “We both know it wasn’t a wild animal.”
I shrugged and asked “OK well what should we do then?”
“I think we should find the family’s graves” she said with a nervous smile.
“Seriously?” I asked wide eyed. “You really think it’s a good idea to visit an angry ghost’s grave?!”
“Do you have a better idea?” she grumbled with a bit of annoyance in her voice.
I said nothing and we both walked out of the house. She quickly grabbed her bike from the side of the house and we made our way towards mine. After we reached it I begrudgingly got on my bike and we sped off in the direction of the real cemetery. We rode in silence until we reached the gate of the old beaten down fence around the graveyard.
“If I die it’s your fault” I mumbled, wishing I just went home instead.
The lock was ancient so it didn’t take much for it to break off the gate. We both cringed as the door made a long drawn out screeching sound as it opened. We slipped through and made our wat to the start of the first of many long rows of graves. I shivered as we began looking for the name that was on the name of the diary.
“Oh” I said, “you never told me what name I’m looking for.”
Her face went a little more pale.
“Akbar” she mumbled. “And no, I didn’t know him, I only found the address from my parents because I overheard their conversations. There’s nothing much to talk about so let’s just keep looking.”
I nodded my head and didn’t say a word. It took a little time but we finally found all four graves of the family. When I saw them I kind of understood why this dude wanted to haunt the town. All the graves were almost all covered in vines, broken, and covered in trash. I knew there were some rumors about the Akbar family, but were people really that crazy and superstitious?
It took until the sun started to rise, but me and Adela cleared all the vines and did our best to find any chipped parts of the graves and place them in their correct spot. We weren’t quite sure what else we could do to make this ghost happy so we hurried home and we agreed to meet up after school the next day if anything else happened. We waited and waited but as quick as things went haywire, Shurfield was quiet again.
Me and Adela never really talked again after that night, but we had an unspoken respect for each other. I’m still not sure of it was a vengeful ghost or just a bear, but I’ll still remember that day as one of my proudest moments.