Storytime – a writing exercise – “Whispers”

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The assignment:

Your good friend is going to be on assignment overseas for the summer and asks if you can ‘cabin sit’ while they are away.  You are a teacher, with the summer off, so you agree.  You move in, all alone, and begin to experience disturbing things at the cabin, mostly at night.  There are odd sounds coming from the space under the floor, sometimes it seems that there might be someone on the porch, silently trying to open the door. What was that white wispy figure in the woods?  What’s going on?  Ghosts, trespassers, animals?
Pssst, tell me a story…..

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Whispers

I am writing this in hopes that someday someone will see it and understand what happened here.  If it’s possible to whisper the written word, then that’s what I’m doing – I can’t let them hear me. I know that several of them are just beyond the clearing, nearby in the woods.  If they come, when they come, my time will end. I hope I have time to finish this chronicle.
It was only a few weeks ago that I moved into the cabin.  Jamie was gone for the summer and I was to watch the place until mid-August.  My position at the university would be open for me then, so it would be perfect.  Perhaps I need to re-think the definition of ‘perfect.’
It was on the third night that I heard the whispering in the basement.  That alone should be cause for concern, because I knew I was alone, but the frightening part of it was that this place did not have a basement.  The whispering was coming from under the floor planks.  It sounded like a woman, alternately sobbing quietly, then talking to someone.  I didn’t hear a second voice, so the woman might have been addressing a memory, rather than a real person.  I was frozen in fear at first, could not move from the bed, was forced to lie there and imagine the worst, whatever that was.  I’m a pretty strong guy, not prone to fleeing from a threat, but this chilled me to the bone, I can tell you.
I could not make sense of what I was hearing, only the sense of grief and loss being expressed – sadness was in every syllable, in every sob.  Occasionally it sounded like the woman was saying, “Ethan”, but I couldn’t be sure.
I rose from the bed as quietly as I could and turned on the little lamp on the bedside table. Only then did I notice that there were gaps between the boards, as if it was made by an unskilled workman rather than by a carpenter. Between the boards I only saw blackness, and now that I was fully awake the whispering voice stopped. It was almost as if the voice was itself a presence, and as I arose the presence slipped down through the gaps, disappearing into the dark spaces. I heard the voice no more that night, and I slept no more that night.
At daylight I went outside, seeking the full sunlight, that it might be a way to banish the darkness. It was a bright morning, flower blooms and birdcalls, and a light wind soughed through the leaves.  I decided to take a walk to try and shake the feeling of gloom that had settled over me.
The old forest had its dark places and secrets, and I stumbled upon one of them after a short walk. It was a family plot with seven or so headstones, the whole thing being surrounded by the remains of a picket fence, but most of that had collapsed with the passage of untold generations of time. I knelt down, trying to make out the markings on the simple stones.  They were hand-carved, if stone scratchings could be called carving.  It looked like they had been cut with a rough chisel, and the passage of years had weathered away much of what had been entered there. The family name appeared to be “Dinker”, with many of the dates of death occurring within the span of a few months; perhaps they had fallen to sickness. Was the stone-carver himself at rest in one of these  spaces? If so, he had carved his own stone ahead of the need, for there was no change in style on these markers.  The largest stone was for “John” or “James” Dinker, hard to make out for sure, with “Mary Dinker” at his side.  The small stones were encrusted with lichen and moss, perhaps because the lettering was closer to the ground.  They were very difficult to read, but one of them was for “Ethan”. Below his name I could read only one word, and that word was “Spawn”. How odd!
By the time I got back to the sunny clearing where the cabin stood I was in somewhat  better spirits, grave memories aside.  After a bite to eat I slept for several hours, making up for my night of little sleep.
The voice was quiet that night, for which I was thankful, but something else was rather disturbing.  As I locked the front door and glanced out the front window, something caught my attention just at the edge of the darkening woods.  It looked like a man walking by the edge of the clearing, clad in rough leather clothing and carrying a long rifle, possibly a flintlock. I stepped out onto the porch to speak to him, but in that instant he was gone, possibly having stepped behind a tree.  Curious, I followed into the trees, but found no one there, so I returned to the cabin and went inside, locking the door and turning out the lights in the main room.
Weeks passed, all was well, then without warning I awoke again in the night to the sound of that woman quietly sobbing, whispering. I arose as quietly as possible then got the flashlight from the mantel. I shone it around the room, but saw nothing, as I expected.  I listened to the voice, but again nothing could be understood but that one name, “Ethan.” I flipped on the overhead light and the voice stopped.
After a bit I turned off the overhead light and lay back down. I was able to go back to sleep but woke up again after a time, due to a sensation that someone was in the room with me.  Someone had lain down in the bed with me.  I recoiled in horror and jumped up, frantically flipping the light back on. There was nothing, no one. There was a feeling of coldness in the room, but there was nothing to be seen. Sweat was running down my face and back, and my breathing was ragged.
I ran into the main room and was about to turn on all the lights there when I saw dimly illuminated ghostly faces at several of the porch windows. I shouted in terror as I fumbled for the light switch.  The light seemed to make them disappear; at least I could no longer see them, but couldn’t say if they actually went away.
Over these weeks, I have tried to leave the cabin, but something always happened to keep me from leaving.  My truck would no longer start, and each time I attempted to walk to town I found myself going in a circle and winding up back at the cabin. More than once I found a bloody animal carcass on the porch, and one night I awoke to find a dead raccoon or something draped across me in the bed.  I jumped up screaming from that incident.
I don’t know what they want or what they plan, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to leave. If you are reading this, it’s too late for me, but I must warn you, “Don’t stay here, even for one night!”
Don’t stay here.

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2 responses to “Storytime – a writing exercise – “Whispers”

  1. Norma Murphy

    I love it the picture of the cabin on your face book is pretty not scare at all your story like before leave me wanting to read more

  2. enjoyed this one! very suspenseful. maybe I’ll read it to the kids before bed tomorrow night. 😉

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