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Noises: A Ghostly Mystery Short Story For Halloween

IN THE October 17 ISSUE

FROM THE 2017 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Guy Belleranti

This story was first published by Nevermore in Jan 2004. Republished by Golden Visions Magazine in Fall 2011. Check out more Halloween short stories, with more still to come, in our Terrific Tales section.

Roy heard his wife even before she burst into his writing room. Though Elaine padded about either in slippers or barefoot, the floorboards still creaked whenever she ascended the stairs of the old house. Noises…always shattering his concentration.

“I need you to look at the dishwasher,” Elaine said. “It’s not working right.”

“Then do the dishes by hand,” Roy snapped. “Right now I’m in the middle of an important scene, and I can’t tolerate any interruptions. And stay off the stairs. I need absolute quiet.”

Elaine’s blue eyes flashed. “You need a shrink, that’s what you need. Sitting at that desk all the time making up fantasy worlds, filling them with nuts and crazies—”laptop

“Nuts and crazies? I write horror fiction.”

“Horror fiction. Ha! Living with you, that’s horror fiction. Well, I’m finished. I’m filing for divorce. I’m going downtown this morning to the lawyers.”

Roy covered his ears as she went on. It had always worked in the past. But this time her lips didn’t stop moving. This time she looked really serious. What if she did go through with it? How would he live? His writing income wasn’t nearly enough. He needed her inheritance.

He shoved back his chair and ran after her as she stalked from the room. “Please, Elaine. Wait.”

“Nuts and crazies,” she said, turning when she reached the landing at the top of the stairs. “That’s what you and your so-called stories are. Nuts and crazies, nuts and crazies, nuts and crazies.”

Roy felt his face grow hot. “Stop it!” he snarled, grabbing her left arm.

“You’re hurting me,” Elaine cried.

He caught a glimpse of his and Elaine’s faces in the large ornate mirror on the wall beside the stairs, and liked what he saw—he suddenly scary and strong, and she frightened and weak. “Ha,” Roy said. “I’ll show you hurt.”

Elaine’s upward knee jab caught him totally by surprise, and he let go, grabbing at his groin as he fell to the wood floor. Elaine swung around, but in her haste she lost her balance, and tumbled head over heels down the stairs, her cries rattling the windows.stairs

Roy lay there for several minutes, recovering slowly. Then, clutching the stair banister he hurried down the steps, mumbling Elaine’s name over and over.

She lay in a twisted unnatural position, and there was blood bubbling out her nose and mouth.

“Elaine,” he said.

She didn’t respond, and seconds later the bubbling blood stopped. She was dead, no doubt about it.

Tears sprang to his eyes. Tears of sadness for his wife’s passing, tears of gladness for the quiet and inheritance he would now enjoy.

***

“So you were in your office when you heard her fall?” Detective Barton asked.

Roy nodded. “Yes. I was working on my latest horror novel.”

The morgue wagon had come and gone, and Roy was doing his best to act the part of grieving husband. True, he hadn’t pushed Elaine down the stairs, but he still couldn’t tell the truth. They might then go after him for manslaughter or something and throw him in a cramped jail cell filled with crooks. Dirty, noisy crooks.

“There were no problems between the two of you?” Barton’s partner, Detective Wang, asked.

“Certainly not.” Roy rubbed at his eyes as he pretended to wipe away a couple of tears. “Everything was perfect.” He bowed his head. Silence dominated the room for a moment, the first silence Roy had experienced since the authorities had arrived.

“Please,” Roy said at last, looking back up, rubbing his eyes once more. “I’ve answered your questions. There isn’t anything more I can say. With everything that’s happened…I’m feeling ill. I need to lie down.”

Barton frowned, looked at Wang, who shrugged. “Yeah. Okay.”

Roy saw them out and locked the door. Then, heaving a sigh, he returned to the living room couch. Damn you, Elaine, he thought. No way can I get my head back into my writing this afternoon.

***

Roy had a simple graveside service three days later,
accepted the condolences of the few acquaintances and neighbors attending and then drove home. Now he’d be able to write in total peace.

An hour into his work he heard the first noise, one stair step creaking and then a second. Roy froze in the midst of a paragraph of intense dialogue. “Elaine?” he whispered. No, of course not. Nor anyone else. The doors were all locked, and he’d even put the alarm on.

He returned to his writing.

The noise came again. At the top of the stairs now, on the landing.

“Who’s there?” He hadn’t shut his office door today, hadn’t felt the need to since he now had the place to himself. “Who’s there?” he repeated, rising, moving toward the doorway.

No answer. No sound. No noise.

Roy peeked out into the upper hall, to the left, then the right. He moved toward the staircase, leaned over at the top step and looked down. And heard a sound from behind. A padding of feet, then a voice. Elaine’s voice.

“Nuts and crazies,” he heard her say.

Roy spun around, and a cold gust of air struck him in the face.

“Nuts and crazies,” she said again. But no one was there, no one at all except the voice.

He swung back to the stairs all set to rush down, and that’s when he saw her framed in the wall mirror on the landing. Or rather, he saw her face, a face that floated in that sheet of reflective glass, a face that glared at him with angry, burning eyes.

The face’s lips moved and Elaine’s voice came again, louder, much louder.

“NUTS AND CRAZIES. NUTS AND CRAZIES.”

Roy threw his hands over his ears and lost his balance, screaming as he fell.

***

“Where’s the body?” Detective Barton asked the uniformed cop at the front door when he and Wang arrived.

“At the base of the stairs. Broke his neck in a fall.”stairs

Barton glanced sharply at Wang. “Let’s have a look.”

“Uh, before you do….”

“Yeah?” Barton asked. “What?”

“Well,” the cop said, “it’s kind of screwy.”

“What is?”

“The whole thing. The couple across the street stopped over to see how he, uh, the dead guy was doing. Uh, his wife died the same way just a couple days ago and…”

“Spit it out,” Wang snapped. “And what?”

“Uh, the couple, when they came over they heard a woman yelling inside, then a scream, then silence. They looked in the side window and saw him crumpled on the floor.”

“A woman yelling, you say?” Barton asked.

“Yeah. Saying the words ‘nuts and crazies’ over and over.”

“Nuts and crazies?” Wang asked.

“Yeah, and it gets screwier. First, there wasn’t anyone but the dead guy in the house.”

“How do you know that?” Barton asked.

“Because all the doors and windows were locked and the alarms still set when I broke in.”

“And second?”

“Second?”

“Yeah,” Barton said. “You said ‘first,’ so what’s second?”

The cop made a face. “I’ll show you.” He led the way inside, and pointed. “Look at that expression on the dead guy’s face. He looks like he was scared out of his wits. And upstairs—at the top of the staircase…” The cop’s voice trailed off, and they followed him up the stairs. “Look.”

The two plainclothes detectives followed the direction of his shaking arm, saw the large mirror, and in the mirror… Both Barton and Wang stared. Then they swung around to glance behind themselves. No one stood there, yet the mirror reflected someone, or rather part of someone—a woman’s face, a face that smiled.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories (including more Halloween mystery short stories) in our mystery section.

Guy Belleranti lives in Tucson, Arizona. He writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, puzzles and humor for both adults and children. He’s been published in over 200 different publications including Woman’s World, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Liquid Imagination, Big Pulp, The Saturday Evening Post, Scifaikuest, Highlights for Children, Jack and Jill Magazine, MysteryNet, Crimestalker Casebook. Two of his flash mysteries were nominated for Derringer awards and he has won cash awards in many writing contests. When he’s not writing he works in a school library & volunteers as a docent educator at the local zoo. His author’s website is www.guybelleranti.com/

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gail FarrellyNo Gravatar
Twitter: @gailfarrelly
October 18, 2017 at 11:02am

Creepy, but excellent. I loved it!

Reply

2 Earl StaggsNo Gravatar October 19, 2017 at 1:17pm

Good one, Guy. Loved it.

Reply

3 Guy BellerantiNo Gravatar October 19, 2017 at 3:35pm

Hello, Gail. I’m happy you enjoyed the story!

Reply

4 Guy BellerantiNo Gravatar October 20, 2017 at 7:51pm

Hey Earl, thanks so much for the note. Glad you liked the story.

Reply

5 Denise JohnsonNo Gravatar October 30, 2017 at 8:10pm

Great story.

Reply

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