“Finally,” said Raymond to Jane his best friend.
“A few days away from the city.” He closed the door to his black sedan as he took off his black leather jacket and slung it over one shoulder.
“Ugh I know hun, the boys of Manhattan are getting super annoying, and I need a few days with my bestie with no interruptions”.
Raymond and Jane were work colleagues and childhood best friends. Raymond owned a respected fashion design company in New York and with the fall line awaiting finalizations he decided he needed to take a brief vacation to clear his mind.
He invited Jane because of her recent bought of bad luck in the dating circuit. She needed the escapade just as much as he did.
Jane was super into vacation spot hunting. She found this very cute, very off the beaten path little town house. With Raymond’s popularity he had become somewhat of a fashion icon; a celebrity. So, if they were to really enjoy some time away, they needed to go where no one would know them, and where they could be truly out of reach.
Monhegan Maine was the perfect spot. They drove just over four hours, and loaded their sedan onto a ferry which took them an additional twelve miles off and onto the quaint little island. Another drive lasting about thirty minutes took them deep into the thick forest to their rental townhouse. The town’s history was what fascinated Raymond. He loved to infuse history with his fashion design.
“Did you know that Monhegan means ‘out to sea’ in Algonquin?” Raymond asked as he popped open the trunk.
“Apparently these parts have seen a lot of maritime economy, including way back to pirates!” Raymond’s nerdy side was rearing its head.
He unloaded their luggage onto the autumn leaf covered dirt drive way.
“Pirates?” Jane said as she looked around at the rich reds, browns, yellows, and greens that surrounded her.
“Like the kind that would pillage their way through a place like this?”
“Is there any other kind of pirate Jane?” Raymond said as he peered over his glasses.
“What would Ted think of his place hun?” Jane asked Raymond.
“Ugh, he’s such a city boy. I love my husband, but he and I just have very different taste when it comes to vacation spots,” Raymond replied happy to be able to have some space from his loving husband.
“Oh that reminds me, I should text him and let him know we got here safely.”
Raymond took out his phone, and noticed that he had no signal.
“Damn girl, you really took us offline!” Raymond said playfully.
“You said you wanted the middle of nowhere, this is it,” Jane replied.
They took their bags to the front door and saw a note.
“The key to the house is hidden under the doormat, enjoy your stay.”
Jane found the key, and opened the door to a very quiet, dim, and dusty home.
It looked very lived in. But also gave the vibe that no one had set foot in the place in quite some time.
“Oof, needs a good dusting,” Raymond commented as he wiped his finger on the table just inside the threshold.
“Let’s put our bags in our rooms, then head downtown to get previsions,” Jane said as she nodded to the staircase straight ahead of them.
They both walked up a very loudly creaky staircase, and across equally loud upstairs floorboards to their respective bedrooms.
As Raymond placed his bag onto his bed, he realized they left the front door open.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Jane standing in his doorway. With his eyes focused on his clothes, he simply asked,
“Jane hun, could you please go shut the front door?”
From the second bedroom down the hall he heard,
“Ray? Did you say something?”
Ray quickly snapped his head to his doorway where he thought he’d just seen Jane. And before he could say another word, the door to the house slammed shut.
He jumped back and gasped.
“Gotta love forest breezes!” Jane yelled from the other room.
She walked down the hall to Raymond’s room and asked,
“Honey, did you say something before?”
Raymond just stood there with shock on his face.
“Sweetie, are you alright?” Jane asked.
“I…umm…just thought I saw something.”
Jane gave him a side eye of suspicion.
“Well, we better get a start to our shopping trip if we are to make a nice dinner tonight.”
Raymond shook off the creepy chill that ran the length of his spine.
For the next few hours, Jane and Raymond shopped at the downtown grocery stores. They stopped by a meat market, a winery, and an organic produce store as well. They carefully planned out three days’ worth of food and drink.
They loaded the sedan and returned to the house.
By the time they pulled back up to their house, the sun was setting.
“Oh! Raymond I have to get a picture of us in this light with the house behind us!”
Raymond smiled and waited for Jane to set up her tripod and Polaroid camera.
He hit his favorite pose, with his leather jacket over his shoulder, and Jane gave a wide smile.
The camera clicked, and Jane checked the printed photo.
“Ugh there seems to be a glare behind you. Just one more shot to be careful.”
They resumed their poses, and again the camera clicked, and another picture printed.
Raymond felt another chill down his spine,
“Jane honey, we should get the food inside,” he said rubbing his arms trying to get warmer.
“Alright, alright,” Jane said as she packed her tripod back into the car, put the printed pictures in her purse, and aided Raymond with the bags of food and drinks into the house.
Raymond turned the key in the door, but for some reason could not get the door to open.
“Ugh, as charming as old houses are, they are a bitch to manage.”
“Oh gimme the door twig arms,” Jane said as she lightly nudged him away,
“You just gotta but your back into it.”
Jane struggled and jostled the door making a lot of noise.
The breeze around them began to pick up, and caused all of the resting crows to suddenly take flight.
“I don’t need your hand on my wrist Ray,” Jane said as she still struggled.
“What are you talking about Jane? I’m over here.”
Raymond, having let Jane take over opening the door, grabbed all of the bags, and stepped back.
“I could have sworn your hand was just wrapped around my wrist.” Jane said as she looked back at Raymond with wide eyes.
The wind came to a stop, and Jane gave the door handle another shake, and this time it opened with ease.
“Okay, that was creepy,” Raymond stated.
Jane just decided to ignore him and entered the house rubbing her wrist.
That night they made pasta with a meat sauce and had a few glasses of wine each before going to bed.
Raymond had a hard time falling asleep, thinking about all of his responsibilities that awaited his return to the city. With just two weeks until his big fashion show, he had a lot of details to finalize.
Jane, however, fell right to sleep.
The next morning, Jane heard the floorboards in her room creaking, she opened her eyes and saw a figure at the foot of her bed wearing a long white shroud.
She gasped loudly,
“What?” Raymond said as he opened the curtains in her room.
“Ugh! Ray you scared the shit out of me! What are you wearing?”
“It’s my night shirt, Ted gave it to me for my birthday. Come on honey, get up, I want to take a nice walk through the woods. I found a nice map downstairs.”
“How long have you been up?” Jane said as she rubbed her eyes.
“Eh, only about an hour. Let’s go hun.” Raymond patted the bed to coax Jane along. And headed out of the room.
Jane got out of bed and reached for her glasses. Before she could put them on, she saw a figure in a white shroud standing in her doorway.
“I heard you Ray; I’ll meet you downstairs.”
There was no reply.
“Okay, I’m going to get dressed now, you can close the door.”
From the base of the staircase, Raymond heard Jane talking.
“Jane? What did you say?”
Jane gasped and looked at the figure in the doorway. She couldn’t make it out because she hadn’t yet put her glasses on. The door just slowly closed and latched shut.
“Ray!?!” Jane shouted in terror.
“Jane I’m downstairs honey, just hurry up and get dressed.”
Completely terrified, Jane put on her glasses and got dressed.
She ran as quickly as she could down the stairs and into the den.
“Jane, are you okay?” Raymond asked. He too had changed into his hiking outfit.
“I’m not sure, I seriously think I was just visited by a ghost.”
She expected Raymond to give his usual condescending, non-believer speech about how ghosts aren’t real. But he didn’t, he instead just looked at her with a flushed expression.
“What?” Jane asked.
“Nnn-nothing,” Raymond said as he refused to vocalize his own suspicions of what he thought was lingering in the house.
“Let’s just go on a nice walk.”
They packed a bag of food and water and spent the whole day out walking and talking, venting about their respective issues.
Commiseration can feel validating, until a second night is shared in that house. Whatever problems Raymond had with over dramatic assistants, and models, and Jane with her boy problems, were about to seem trivial.
They arrived back at the house just before dusk. The sun was at the horizon on its way down. The entire house was bathed in a soft dark blue light. Clouds overhead were becoming dense with the hint of rainfall. The air became cool, and the wind was at an increasing speed.
“Looks like we made it back just in time right hun?” Raymond commented looking up at the storm rolling in.
“Absolutely, that looks super dramatic! I feel like this is what the maidens of Monhegan saw right before the pirates invaded the shores.”
“Ooooh, maybe!” Raymond said playfully.
“Hey, did you see that Jane?” Raymond said as he saw something quickly run behind the house.
“See what love?” Jane asked as she tried to follow where he was looking.
“I think I saw a dear run behind the house. Are their deer that are all white?”
Just the words, “All white,” gave Jane a shiver down her spine as she recalled the figure in her room.
She then quickly headed for the door. She slid the key in and went to open the door, but again it would not budge.
Jane felt a quick rush of fear and panic, for she knew in the bottom of her heart that this was not because of the old architecture. Her breath began to race and her heart pounded like a war-drum beat.
“Calm down Jane. Here let me try again.” Raymond looked at his friend whom he had never seen get so worked up so quickly.
With a concerned face Raymond guided Jane out of the way, and shoved his shoulder against the door and struggled with the nob.
In his ear he heard a soft whisper,
“Please, don’t hurt me!”
“Jane no one is going to hurt you. It’s just an old house.”
“Ray, I didn’t say anything.” Jane’s eyes filled with tears as she began to feel very afraid.
Raymond did not know how to react, but the door simply opened.
Raymond entered the house and saw Jane just standing there shivering with tears streaming down her face.
“Jane, it’s going to be…”
Before he could finish the sentence, the door slammed shut again.
“RAY!?!?” Screamed Jane from outside.
“Jane, hold on. It was just the wind.”
Raymond opened the door,
“See, nothing to…”
Jane was nowhere to be seen.
Raymond ran outside, and searched the entire perimeter of the house.
“Jane! Jane where are you?” He shouted.
He went to the car to see if she had run there to hide. She was not there. He shouted out again,
“Jane?? Jane come on! It’s going to be alright!”
Nothing but a crow in the tree above him cawing to the stormy sky.
Raymond ran inside the house, and decided it would be best to wait a few hours to see if she would come back inside. Then if he didn’t hear anything from her, he would go downtown to the police station and try to arrange a search party.
With no one for miles in every direction, Raymond knew she had not been kidnapped. But he did feel something in the pit of his stomach that told him she had been captured. Taken somewhere. All he could do was wait.
He sat in the rocking chair in the den. The chill in the air made him reach for the blanket that was draped over the back of the chair.
As he shook the blanket out, a key fell to the floor. It looked very old; it was rusted. It looked to be an old skeleton key. He thought maybe it led to a room in the house.
He then walked around the house and noticed that all of the nobs had been changed to be modern. Whatever the key went to, it wasn’t any of the rooms.
He went into the kitchen and noticed a very old door by the stove. Perhaps it was just an old broom closet.
He went to the door, and noticed a notebook on the counter by the stove. He picked it up and opened it. It was pictures of a lovely young couple, the guy was a handsome tall man, and the woman was much shorter with long dark hair and glasses. She looked very similar to Jane. As he flipped through the pages of pictures and love notes, he noticed that the pictures taken in and around the house all had a bright glare behind them. As he reached the last page, he heard whimpering. He didn’t have time to look at the last picture, so he set the notebook open on the counter and pressed his ear to the door.
The last picture, showed the couple in the kitchen, smiling at the camera, with a woman in a white shroud behind them. She had a ravenous and angry look on her face that was also half burned and blooded.
The whimpering continued.
Raymond took the key, and found that it was a perfect fit. He opened the door, and noticed that it led to the basement of the house.
He flipped the light switch on the wall to his right, and nothing happened.
He then decided to call out,
“Jane! Are you down there?”
All he got in reply was,
“Please don’t hurt me!”
It was not Jane’s voice.
He slammed the door shut and locked it again. He turned around to return to the den, but was met by a woman in a white shroud, and a half burned face. She was slightly transparent.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she said again.
Raymond completely speechless just looked the ghostly woman in the eyes with his heart pounding and his heavy breaths hurting his chest.
The ghost then disappeared as Jane’s voice cried out.
“Ray!?!? Ray is that you!?!?”
Her voice came from the basement. With the instinct to protect his best friend, he unlocked the door and swung it open. For a half of a second he was distracted by the photo that laid on the open notebook. Sure enough there she was, in the photo; the decrepit decaying woman.
Raymond ran down the stairs and tripped over something heavy. He landed on his chest and looked back to what made him fall. A human skeleton laid on the floor at his feet. He let out a scream and looked around for Jane. He could not see her.
“Jane! Are you down here?” His voice now shrieky with terror.
“Please don’t hurt me,” the voice of the earth-bound spirit repeated. This time Raymond could not see her anywhere.
Jane’s voice weakly called out,
Raymond mad with confusion struggled and fumbled around. He searched with his hands until he felt cold, wet clothes over a woman’s body.
He took the woman by the shoulders and held her into what little light was there.
It was Jane.
“Jane! My God what happened?”
Jane’s head then slumped to one side, as her face hit the light. Her lifeless eyes looked through Raymond, as half of her face had been burned off.
Raymond shook his dearest friend’s shoulders.
He was too late. Jane had succumbed to her injuries. Jane was gone.
Raymond now sobbing uncontrollably, looked around for a way to get her body to the den so he could get to the police.
At the top of the stairs he saw the blooded ghostly woman who killed his best friend.
He just screamed out,
“Why!!?!? What do you want from me!?!?”
The ghost simply said,
“I will not let you hurt me Pirate! Not ever again!”
Raymond quickly realized; this woman was the ghost of a victim of piracy.
He looked up at the woman who now smiled with vicious intent.
Smoke began to arise from his feet where he stood.
He coughed as he struggled to breathe.
“I won’t hurt you!” shouted Raymond in attempts to reason his way to safety.
“I will not let you hurt me Pirate! Not ever again!” the spirit now shouted as Raymond became swallowed by flames.
The flames burned and charred through his clothes and flesh until the pain caused him to fall.
In agonizing moments, Raymond could no longer breathe, and his only thoughts were of his loving husband Ted.
The flames would only subside when they were satisfied with success.
And so they did, and the flames left behind the remains of the once vibrant fashion designer and his best friend.
Raymond and Jane now shared their fate with the victim of piracy; the lady in the white shroud.
The next morning, Raymond, and Jane found themselves in the den with massive headaches.
They looked to one another. Jane simply lowered her eyes in sadness. Raymond shook his head as he simply could not believe. They looked to the door to the house, and there she stood, looking through the door.
“I hope they don’t hurt me,” said the ghost.
A voice from outside said,
“Can you believe it? Another couple? I am surprised this place can even get guests anymore.”
Raymond and Jane both looked to each other, then in a soft breeze found themselves outside by their car.
They watched as an old man and a younger man, loaded the black sedan with Raymond’s and Jane’s luggage and hooked the sedan to a tow-truck.
The truck pulled away with the remnants of Raymond’s and Jane’s lives.
The two best friends sat on the sofa in the living room and cried inconsolably.
Then dusk, again washed over the house, and with it a bright white light.
Raymond and Jane gave each other a hug, and without another word, joined hands and walked into the light.
They looked back and saw the woman in her white shroud and scorched face wave at them with a satisfied grin.
Not moments later, a station wagon pulled up to the driveway.
A man stepped out with a Stetson hat, flannel shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots. A woman stepped out of the passenger side, with a white crop top, an over-sized cream colored cardigan, blue jeans and high heeled boots.
“Ahh, finally Jackson, some time away from Boston! Can you stand how quaint this house is?”
“Lilly, it’s perfect!”
“Ugh I know right? And Jackson, did you know that pirates used to pillage their way through this town? Probably right where you’re standing!”
If only they knew how right they were, maybe they would not have booked for three days and two nights.