I never believed in ghosts or all the shitty things Amelia thought of the hacienda but when she started having terrible nightmares, I had to let her go stay with her sister in Melbourne.
“I don’t know why you insist on staying in this haunted house. I never had nightmares until 2 weeks after we moved in,” Amelia had said as she dragged her unzipped box towards her car. Picking up the lingerie and some accessories that fell out of the box, I hurried after her.
“Fine, I’ll call a priest or even a monk to sprinkle some holy water, just stay with me Lia,” I begged. With the way she hurled her bag into the trunk and stomped towards the driver’s door, I knew she wasn’t going to change her mind unless I promised to get us out of the hacienda. She’d nagged me into renovating it after she said the creaking floorboards creeped her out.
After that came the nightmares and her claims of being watched while she was alone with our son Diego. The hacienda was all we had and even though it was an isolated property in the woods and close to the sea, my grandparents and parents had lived there. We could no longer afford the rent in Melbourne after I was laid off. Lia worked shifts at a coffee shop but the money wasn’t enough to take care of the bills and mortgages. Things got tougher when Diego came along. Lia had been an understanding wife putting up with my frustrated and alcoholic self. But she had kicked against the idea of moving to the hacienda.
“You are just being ridiculously stubborn. If you don’t suck up all that shitty superstitious claims about the house my parents lived in and get ready to move, I’m gonna leave with Diego tomorrow morning,” I had lashed out. Words easily got to her. They found a way of crumbling her spirit and causing her to succumb like a puppy threatened to be dropped off at a shelter. She gave in and we moved.
The sound of the door behind me jolted me out of my reverie but not fast enough for me to catch the slipping glass before it shattered.
“Sorry Dad, I didn’t mean to scare you,” 7-year-old Diego said rushing over to the supplies closet to get a broom and dustpan. “Here let me get that,” I said, taking the broom from him and gathering the broken pieces into the dustpan. An uncomfortable silence ensued, except for Diego’s teeth which clicked together puncturing the silence at intervals.
Diego’s teeth clicked every time he mulled over some thoughts.
“Will mum ever come back?” He asked. His hazel eyes caught the uncertainty in mine and he turned away. “But she was right. There’s someone else in the house. She scratches on my door at night and she sings a song about lost souls in the sea.”
It’s probably just the sea breeze making music against the rocks. I hear the waves crashing into each other at night too.”
“Right.” He said with resignation.
“Diego, it’s okay if you want to go stay with your mom for some days. I know you miss her. I can come get you on the weekends. Moreover, you still have to learn and since Mom is your teacher, you shouldn’t be far away from her.” His eyes lit up. The dancing flames from the candles on the dining table shown in his eyes. They looked like tiny ballerinas leaping for joy. Electricity had earlier tripped off that evening leaving us to the mercy of the old candles and flashlights.
“Tomorrow?” His face embraced a grin.
“Sure, tomorrow,” I replied as he ran into my arms for a hug.
“Thanks, Dad,” he said sprinting off towards his room with a flashlight.
Then I heard it; a loud bang followed by rhythmic thumping and scratching. It came from within the walls.
“Give us the bwooi…” Eerie voices rang in my head. And just as suddenly as they had come, they vanished. Fear gripped me by the balls and yanked as I gasped with terror. I sprinted towards Diego’s room only to find him humming and packing up his clothes for tomorrow’s journey. My racing heart slowed to a steady thump-thump against my chest.
“You okay Dad?”
“Never been better,” I tried to smile but failed as I inspected his room. Nothing felt out of the normal. His baseball bat leaned against his wardrobe and his baseball cap still sat on the ridiculous bobbing head of his favorite baseball player. Opening his closet, I checked for awkward noises. Anything at all that could show he was in danger but I got nothing.
“Diego, did you hear anything weird? Awkward noises perhaps?” Diego looked like he had seen a looney and I hated being tagged paranoid. Amelia was the paranoid one.
“You know what, never mind. It must be the wine,” I said faking a yawn. “Come on now buddy, I’ll tuck you in. You can finish packing tomorrow.” I lifted him into his bed. “For a seven-year-old, you’ve got some bone-crushing weight.” He giggled. He reminded me of Amelia and all of a sudden I wanted to leave everything and run back into her arms. But I couldn’t just throw away the hacienda.
“You’re thinking of mum right?”
I nodded. “Maybe we can all live in the city. It’s lonely here,” he said hoping I’d say yes.
“I can’t leave my father’s property unattended. They made me promise to take care of him. It’s a family inheritance. One day, it will be all yours.”
“Okay, Dad. Maybe you should tell mum that you are taking care of the hacienda for me.”
“I guess I should. Hopefully, she will see the sense in that.”
The ride to Melbourne was a short one and before long I was back to the hacienda. The days crept by as I got busy working on my books. I hadn’t heard the noise again after Diego left.
“I could do productive work with some peace and quiet,” I said on a calm Thursday evening turning on the desk lamp in my study. Few words in, the scratching began. My study had glass doors, and windows that ran all the way down. It overlooked the rear walls of the hacienda giving me the best view of the deep blue sea. Most times when I was locked out of my head, I looked upon the sea for inspiration. The sun rays poured into the room illuminating it, unlike most studies that were dark and mostly lit by a candelabra. The scratching stopped immediately I raised my eyes from my laptop. Could be a mouse trapped in the walls, I thought pushing away the fear that was starting to grow in my mind. As I eased into the day, I gradually forgot about the noises. Night came and I retired to bed. The hacienda wasn’t so far from the city and so my reception was intact. Diego texted me saying he had fun at the park with Amelia.
When the clock on my lamp stand chimed 9 pm, I switched off the lamp and listened to the whistling of the sea breeze. I turned to face the glass door facing the garden. My grandmother loved to plant and she planted anything she could lay her hands on. Before long we had a garden that looked like the woods surrounding the hacienda. Something caught my eye as I peered into the enveloping darkness of the garden. A woman was standing and waving at me. I closed my eyes and opened them again but she was no more. It’s probably too much wine. I yawned. A door in the house creaked open and then a loud bang followed. I heard footsteps on the stairs and in the room above mine. “A burglar? In Diego’s room?” I wondered.
Then I heard voices two women chattering and giggling in low tones. This was surely not the wine. Someone was in my son’s room.
I flicked on the bedside lamp and taking the flashlight with me, I went in search of a knife in the kitchen.
Grabbing a kitchen knife whose edge shone in the dimly lit kitchen, egging me on to cut at something, I tiptoed towards Diego’s room.
I tried so much to make the least noise as I edged along the wall towards the stairs. Each stair creaked under my heavy weight and I muttered obscenities under my breath. Diego’s door which was opposite the stairs was slightly ajar. The dim light from his bedside lamp illuminated the room. I could make out a silhouette against the wall.
“Ghosts don’t have silhouettes,” I muttered feeling a bit relieved that I was dealing with humans. Damn you hungry bandits, I roared and barged in on what I thought was a robbery. I stopped short when I saw candles of varying colors placed in a circle. An old woman in a green robe was bent over a bowl of a foaming liquid and muttering incoherently into the bowl. Another woman; young and with long black hair flanking both sides of her face raised her head and smiled at me. My eyes widened in recognition, she was the woman who waved at me. Something else was in the room and the more the older woman muttered, the more it grew stronger.
“Where is the boy?” the younger woman asked. Her voice was scratchy and reminded me of grandma. The old woman didn’t seem to notice my presence. The silhouette I had seen loomed over me reaching out to grab me. I dashed for the old woman and plunged my knife into her back. The mutterings ceased and she turned at me with bloodshot eyes. I didn’t understand what was happening but these were no bandits. I recognized her. Who wouldn’t after so many years of baby sitting. “Nanny Cecile?” I muttered in bewilderment. Her lips gave way to a wry smile. All the love she bore in her eyes whenever she was with me then was replaced by hate; the type that could snuff life out of me. Nanny Cecile had been in the family. She had tended to the needs of my grandparents as a teenager and had disappeared after my parents died in a mysterious car crash.
“I made to speak to order them out of my house but my throat suddenly went dry and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. She raised her hands and the house danced in rhythm of the terror that coursed my veins. A nerve-racking shattering of the glass doors and windows followed. My head reminded me to run but my legs didn’t obey. They stood transfixed as if they grew roots through the new boards I had installed. The younger woman had vanished leaving me with nanny Cecile. She flicked her finger towards the door and I followed banging through the shelves and crashing into the door. I heard and felt no more.
The shrill ring of my alarm woke me up at exactly noon on Friday. I made to scramble out of bed but winced at the pain that raced through my bones. I felt like mashed potatoes. My head buzzed with loud bangs. My body felt like it had been used as a bat in a baseball game. I tried to recall what I had done the previous night when the memories of the horrifying events of the past night came rushing back. The last thing I remembered was being flung into Diego’s door by nanny Cecile. My adrenaline went into overdrive shooting me out of bed and towards the stairs. I took the stairs two at a time turning a deaf ear to my protesting body. Pushing open the door to my son’s room, I was met with the usual scent of kid’s bathing soap. There wasn’t the slightest scent of incense or burning candles. The room was just as Diego had left it.
“Nanny Cecile, the young lady with the flowing black hair and the silhouette were all a dream?” I questioned no one. That wine must be a really strong one, I thought. Something moved past the corners of my eyes towards the bookshelf. I turned but saw nothing. The windows were open which was weird. Diego never leaves his windows open. Walking across the floorboards to close them, my feet kicked something and it slid under the bed. I knelt down and since the bed was too low, I was unable to see what it was. I stretched my hand in and patted about the floorboards in search of what I had kicked at. My hands met with it and retreated immediately as I let out a yelp.
“Ouch!” Staring at my bleeding palm, I wondered what had cut my hand. Standing up, I bent over the bed, and grabbing its edge I moved it aside. The knife laid amidst the dust gleaming as if taunting me. The knife from my dream? What was it doing here?. Without a second’s hesitation, I picked it up, locked the windows, and soon was out the door on my way to Melbourne. It was the weekend and I had promised Diego some fun time in the hacienda. Placing my already bandaged hand on the steering, I backed out of the open gate. Raising my head to shut the gate with the remote. I saw someone at Diego’s window. I could swear she waved at me.
The drive to Melbourne was unsettling. A lot of weird things had happened in a week. Was I losing it or were the people in the house real? My phone buzzed with lots of messages from Diego. He was getting tired of waiting. I wondered if it was a good idea to bring him home.
“C’mon man, get a grip on yourself. You don’t believe in these things.” I said turning into the driveway. They must not see you this shaken up especially Amelia. Amelia and Diego approached the car. She looked ever so beautiful. Her hair was tied in a bun and she wore her favorite flowered dress. She had a different glow, the kind she had when we were still dating. She helped put Diego’s box into the trunk and watched as he got in.
“Hey Dad, I missed you,” Diego said with a mouthful of ice cream.
“Me too buddy.” Amelia stood by the driver’s door looking cross. Bending she looked at me with a worry creased face.
“I have a bad feeling about this but I won’t have you sue me for keeping him away from you. Please come stay with Miranda and I.” The worry lines on her face deepened giving way to the caring and loving Amelia I had always known.”
“Please come home honey,” I pleaded ignoring her request. Her eyes caught a glimpse of my bandaged hand as I retrieved it from the steering and tried to hide it.
“What happened to your hand, Derek?” Sighing, I put out my hand for her to see. “Nothing much. Minor injury. I cut myself while fixing the damaged circuit box in the garage,” I lied. I was a terrible liar. She could see right through me immediately the words left my mouth but she chose to believe me.
“Alright. Have Diego back first thing on Monday morning. Please take care of him and you too.” I was awfully quiet on my way home. Diego chattered on about a new friend he met at the park but I paid no attention to anything he was saying. I felt like I was dumped in the middle of a divorce. I wasn’t sure how long it would last but I hoped Lia would come around soon.
The hacienda was quiet as usual. I had some work to do in the garage so I let Diego take in his box while I headed to the garage.
“Fix yourself a bowl of cereal, I’ll join you as soon as I’m done in the garage.”
“Sure dad.” Watching him bounce along, I smiled. He reminded me of me as a little boy. I turned my working table to face the garage door keeping me in a position where I had a good view of the house and could see Diego’s window.
While I worked, I kept glancing at Diego’s window. The light in his room was on and I could see him giggling. I wondered what was making him laugh so hard. My skin began to crawl and the hairs on my nape stood. Someone was watching me. I turned and all I saw was a garage full of metallic scraps.
Midway into work, my phone buzzed with a message. It was from Diego. It read, ‘Hey dad,”
Wiping down my greasy hands on my apron, I picked up my phone and typed, “What’s up son?
“Dad, do you believe in ghosts?”
“Of course not. Ghosts do not exist.”
“But the maid said there are ghosts here.” My heart raced. I dropped my phone and made for the door but it fell shut. Try as I could, the lever wouldn’t give way. I dashed for my phone.
“Diego get out of the house right now,” I mentally yelled as I typed. I wait an excruciating 5 seconds to get a buzz on my phone. It came.
“But…why?” he asked.
“We don’t have a maid!!” I screamed as I replied to him. I waited for his texts but they never came. I banged at the door as yelled. Nobody would hear me and just when I thought all was lost, my phone rang it was Amelia. I picked it up and yelled for her to find help but the voice on the end of the line wasn’t hers. Did you get the souvenir I sent you Dee?” Nanny Cecile’s scratchy voice echoed in my ears. And again I saw the silhouette, it loomed above me blocking out the lights with its dark form.
“Please do not hurt my Diego,” I pleaded. Her cackles filled my ears and were immediately followed by a blood-curdling scream.
“The boy is ready,” I heard someone say in the background.
“And so is the father,” came the voice of nanny Cecile. At that moment, I wished I had believed in ghosts or in every shitty thing Amelia thought of the hacienda.
“Now, feast,” nanny Cecile commanded. The silhouette barreled through me knocking me to the ground. I laid there paralyzed and waited for my end. As it bore through my stomach shredding my innards I faded into nothingness ever to be haunted by Amelia’s cries and nanny Cecile’s evil cackles.
Did you enjoy the story? Leave your comments in the comments section.
Kindly draw my attention to any typos if you spot any.