Day 14

 

An Accidental Haunting

 

  ‘You’d might as well admit it, we’re lost,’ Kay pushed her long hair out of her sleepy eyes as she peered out of the side window and into the unrelenting dark night.  Big fat raindrops splattered on the window and all that was missing was the rumbling of thunder.

  ‘We’re not exactly lost,’ Tom her fiancé was driving but somewhere along the line she had fallen asleep leaving him to deal with both the driving and the navigation.

  ‘As I see it, we are either lost or we’re nearly home,’ Kay was smiling in the darkness secure in the knowledge that this time, it was Tom who had gotten them lost.  The task of getting them safely to their destination usually fell to her as the non-driver even though she was hopeless at map reading.  Tom teased her relentlessly about her uncanny ability to get them lost.  Once he had even asked her if she wanted him to draw her a map of how to get to the kitchen.  As if she didn’t spend enough time in there!  Still, it would be different once she had passed her driving test and she could do the driving leaving Tom to navigate.  In the meantime, she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity of teasing him relentlessly about getting them lost.

  ‘It’s not a case of us being lost, it’s more a case of I’m not sure exactly where we are,’ Tom spoke slowly obviously making it up as he went along.

  Kay sniggered.  ‘Isn’t that the same as being lost?’

  The rain was now falling in a steady downpour and Tom gripped the steering wheel tightly.  He knew he should have taken the right turn as soon as they had left the main road.  It was just after midnight when they had left the party and Kay had fallen asleep almost straight away.  She had been feeling under the weather for a couple of weeks now and he hadn’t wanted to wake her. 

  ‘It’s not the same as being lost,’ Tom spoke seriously.  ‘I know where we were and I know where we are going.  Therefore we are not lost.’

  Kay leant back in her seat trying to stretch her tired legs.  ‘We’re lost.’

  ‘Not lost.’

  ‘Lost.’

  ‘Not.’

  ‘Oh my god look at that,’ Kay peered through the windscreen as the rain pulled off slightly.  Just in front of them was an old house.  Tall dark trees swayed menacingly in the garden and when the clouds scurried across the dark sky briefly revealing the moon it was easy to see it was abandoned.  Unusually it was a wooden house, the white paint now a dirty grey with dull windows silently watching the night.  One window was broken and an old frayed net curtain flapped in the breeze.  The house might have stood tall and proud at some point in the past but now it looked neglected and alone.  It’s was not an inviting place.

  ‘Creepy,’ Tom slowed down as they drew closer.

  ‘I bet it’s haunted.  With ghosts, bad-tempered ones.’  Kay couldn’t draw her eyes away.  The house looked like it belonged on the set of a horror movie.  A shiver ran down her back.

  ‘Well, I don’t think we should stop,’ Tom was still driving slowly as they passed.  There was something about the house that made him feel uneasy but even though he told himself that it was just an old empty house, he quickly pressed his foot on the accelerator, desperate to get away.

  ‘So we’re back to being lost,’ Kay turned in her seat to watch the house as it faded into the distance.

  ‘We’re not lost,’ Tom reminded her.  ‘We on a dark and lonely road and have just passed a haunted house.’

  ‘Don’t tell me, we’re about to break down,’ Kay turned around.  ‘There won’t be any cell phone reception, a thunderstorm will appear from no-where and we’ll have no choice but to go and bang on the door of the haunted house.’

  ‘You have got a vivid imagination,’ Tom laughed.  ‘But the car is running perfectly, the rain has pulled off and we have an almost full tank of petrol.’

  ‘But we’re still lost.  Maybe we should go back and ask for directions at that house…’

  ‘No, because this road has to come out somewhere…’

  ‘Lost.’

  ‘Still not lost.’

  ‘Let’s ask the satellite navigation thingy then,’ Kay was enjoying this more and more.  For one thing, it took her mind off feeling so lousy.

  ‘Traitor,’ Tom muttered under his breath.

  ‘I heard that,’ Kay reached under the seat where they usually kept the SatNav, her fingers grasping at air.  ‘Where’s the navigation thingy?’ Kay had bought it as a present for Tom’s last birthday but for some reason, he was reluctant to use it.  She had a feeling that he thought it was admitting defeat that he was unable to find his way from A to B without the help of the computer.  Either that or he had a phobia about putting his trust in modern technology.  So Kay continued to navigate – for the time being.  There had even been the odd occasion when she had used the SatNav to plot their route before they got in the car especially when Tom wasn’t around.

  Tom frowned at the road which was getting progressively narrower before answering.  ‘I think we put it in the black bag.’

  ‘Which means it should be on the back seat,’ Kay finished.

  ‘Let me get it, you can never reach anything in the back,’ Tom kept his eyes on the road and reached back only to have his fingers brush the bag.  ‘Damn.’

  ‘Pull over for a second and I’ll get it.’  Just as she said the words, the rain started again and this time it was torrential bouncing off the road as the wipers struggled to keep the windscreen clear.

  ‘It’s OK I can reach,’ Tom strained to grab the back but it was just too far away.  The road was deserted and it had been ages since they had seen so much as another car so he quickly unbuckled his seat belt this time easily reaching the bag which he passed to Kay.

  Kay dug deep into the bag until she found it.  She pushed the bag into the footwell and set about switching it on.  She was quite at home with modern technology but this particular satellite navigation system seemed to have it in for her.  Gritting her teeth in determination, she switched it on and waited.

  ‘So where are we then?’ The rain was still coming down heavily with visibility almost down to nothing.  The windscreen wipers were working flat out but to no avail

Kay watched the start-up screen as it changed to searching for a satellite connection.  ‘I thought you knew where we were.’ 

  ‘I was just wondering where the SatNav thought we were.’ 

  ‘We’re so lost that it’s having to think about it,’ Kay shook it trying to make it work faster.  It was still searching for an elusive satellite.

  ‘It knows.’

  ‘Knows what?’ Kay looked up and screamed.

  Tom slammed his foot on the brake but the lack of traction on the wet road caused the car to veer off the road.  The tyres were unable to get a grip on the sodden verge and then the car slammed into something very solid, throwing Kay violently into the door before it came to rest in a ditch.  Her head banged against the window and the last thing she saw before the blackness was a scattering of silver stars.

  ‘Kay?  Are you alright?’

  Reluctantly Kay opened her eyes and looked at Tom’s worried face.  She tried to move but it felt as though someone had her chest in a vice. 

  ‘Don’t move sweetheart,’ Tom whispered.  ‘I think you’ve probably cracked a couple of ribs and you’ve got a nasty bump on the head.’

  Panic washed through her as she found herself struggling to take a breath.  ‘Can’t breathe.’

  ‘It’s OK.’  Tom grasped her hand reassuring her that she wasn’t alone.  ‘Breathe in slowly – not too deeply and then gently out.’ 

  Kay nodded noting the dull ache in her head but she did as he asked.  Now that the panic had passed she could still breathe.

  Tom pulled his mobile out of his pocket but there was no signal.  ‘Where’s your mobile Kay?  We need to get you to hospital.’

  ‘Bag,’ pain laced her side and she closed her eyes concentrating on her breathing and on not moving her arm.

  Tom groped in the darkness by her feet until he found her handbag and her mobile but again, there was no signal.  ‘I’m going to have to find help.’

  Kay opened her eyes in fear as she remembered the only house they had passed.  ‘No…  Someone will… find us.  Stay… with me.’  White-hot pain knifed through her making her gasp out loud. 

  ‘We can’t take the chance.  We need to get you to a hospital,’  Tom gently pushed her hair off her face and she reached up and held onto his hand.  ‘Please don’t go.’

  ‘I have to,’ Tom squeezed her hand tightly.  ‘It could be hours before a car comes past and even then it might not stop.’

  ‘We can flag it down,’ Kay ignored the pain so desperate was she to make Tom stay with her.  ‘Make it stop.’

  Tom gently kissed her hand.  ‘I love you Kay Windsor and I’m not going to take a chance with your life,’ he slipped out of the car.  ‘I’ll be right back.’ In the darkness, Kay listened to the sound of the boot opening and closing and then Tom was back with her.  ‘I found these.’  He carefully placed two white tablets in her hand.  ‘They’re only standard painkillers but they should make things a bit easier until I get back.’ 

  Kay took the tablets with the water he handed her all the time her mind racing, trying to think of a way, anyway, she could make Tom stay.  Tom tenderly placed his leather coat over her and wrapped a blanket around her.  ‘I’ll be back as quickly as I can.  I won’t let anything happen to either of you.’  And then he was gone.  Kay felt as though her heart had been ripped out, tears trickling down her cheeks.  She wanted to sob out loud but it was too painful.  Panic tickled the edges of her mind and she closed her eyes to concentrate on breathing and listening to the rain.  Somewhere along the line, sleep claimed her.

  Kay wasn’t sure what woke her but she remained still in the darkness, too afraid to move.  Slowly she turned her head to look out of the side window wondering if she had heard the welcome sounds of rescue.  Straining both her eyes and ears, she found nothing but the steady tick of the rain on the roof of the car.  Surely if Tom had come back he would have called out to her, let her know what was happening?  There was only the steady swish of the rain and the gentle scraping of branches on the metal of her prison. 

  ‘Tom?’  It came out as little more than a hoarse whisper.   Icy goosebumps wound their way across her body as some deep instinct told her to freeze and not make a sound.  Something shoved the car causing the metal to groan.  She held her breath until her lungs were burning and she had no choice but to take a series of small frantic breaths.  A high pitched screeching wrenched her ears as something sharp was dragged along the side of the car.  Tears stung her eyes as she bit her lip to stop herself crying out for Tom.  Heavy footsteps sounded perilously close as she buried herself deeper under the blanket.  Long after the sounds stopped, she stayed hidden until the fear slowly faded only to be replaced a feeling of dread that had nothing to do with her injuries.  Something terrible had happened, she thought as a deep weariness washed over her.  Something had happened to Tom.  He wasn’t coming back, he was trapped in that haunted house.  She would never see him again.  That thought caused her to sob out loud which set off a chain reaction of pain.  This time when darkness hovered, she eagerly reached out for it.  At least in the darkness, there was no pain, no anguish, and no death.  Kay had no idea how long she had been unconsciousness but the first thing she did was to scold herself for being such a wimp.  Tom would be back any minute now and then everything would be all right.  Comforted by that thought and remembering the good times, she dozed lightly listening to the soft tapping of the rain.  Until that it is something knocked against the door pulling her back to reality.  A bright light blazed in through the side window followed by the sounds of voices.  Kay remained still, holding her breath as she fought to decipher the voices, listening for the familiar sound of Tom’s voice.  There was the sound of groaning metal which caused her hear to race but then her door opened and someone was kneeling next to her.

  ‘Are you hurt?’  Someone asked. 

  Kay told her story in gasping, halting breaths desperate to know where Tom was.

  ‘It was a good thing you were wearing your seat belt.’  His fingers gently explored her side causing her to wince.  ‘The driver wasn’t so...’  He stopped abruptly.  ‘I think you’ve got a couple of broken ribs but you’re going to be fine.’

  Frowning Kay tried to make sense of his words but she was more concerned about Tom.  Where was he?  He had obviously found help but where was he now?  She wanted to ask but it was becoming more and more difficult to talk.  With the help of the paramedics, they carefully lifted her out of the car and took her to the waiting ambulance.  Thinking that she had heard Tom’s voice she looked back down the road seeing only the broken glass littering the creased bonnet but there was no-one there.  No-one except for the paramedic who was standing looking at a blanket covering something near the front of the car.  Something that looked suspiciously like a body.