House For Rent
Gretchen had been looking for a place to rent. As a photographer, she needed a lot of space for all of her equipment, and hoped that she would be able to get a place with a spare room so she could set up a dark room. She had been all over town, on the outskirts of town, a town or two away, and still, she had come up empty handed. Gretchen was beginning to think she would have to move far away just to find a place. This would mean she would lose most of her clients, and at least a third of her business. By the time she would build up contacts and new clients, she would be behind in bills, and scrambling to make ends meet. Every place that she had seen was too small, too expensive, or simply not available.
Sitting at a stop sign at intersecting streets, Gretchen crossed off another hopeful location she had just visited.
"Not available until December." she huffed, looking over the list of places for rent. She shuffled the three pages in her hands, and gave a disgusted grumble. Just then, her cell phone rang.
"Gretchen Harrison." she answered, in her professional voice. It was a customer.
Big trouble. With little space at her apartment, she was overloaded with clients, and having trouble keeping happy customers. Mr. Cobb had been postponed for the second time now, not to mention Ms. Gray and her sisters, the local softball team, the Simmons family photos, and Carol Weston.
"I gotta find a place." Gretchen said. Her phone rang again.
"My name is Mary Beth Hammond, do you have a space in your schedule open..."
"At the moment I'm booked. I could possibly squeeze you in, I'd say the earliest, three weeks from now. But I won't be able to get you in for a set any sooner than that." Gretchen explained.
"Oh no no," Mary Beth chuckled, "I wasn't calling to have portraits done. I was calling to see if you were still looking for a place?"
Gretchen was stunned for a moment, and her eyebrows rose.
"YES!" Gretchen said, feeling a new glimmer of hope.
"Well, it just so happens that I have a..."
"If it's an apartment, or a room, I'm not interested. I'm a photographer and I need to space for my equipment, and another spare room so I can set up a dark room. Oh, and I need to ask you up front if that's gonna be a problem. I'm not going to be able to afford it if it's over 1500 $ a month, and I will be having clients come over for shoots..."
"Ms. Harrison, I have a house for rent. It's four bedrooms, and it's for 500$ a month. Is that suitable?"
"I can't move out of town, I'll lose my business..."
"I'm on Rochester and Ripley, is that too far?"
"You're here?!" Gretchen shouted in disbelief.
"Why, yes." Mary Beth chuckled again.
"Well, when can I come and take a look?" Gretchen asked, unable to believe her luck.
"Well, when is a good time for you, dear?" Mary Beth asked.
"How about now!" Gretchen asked, and again, Mary Beth chuckled at her enthusiasm.
Gretchen knew just where the location was, and she could have sworn that she had been through that area, and hadn't seen a place to rent. She assumed that it had probably just become available.
When Gretchen pulled up in front of a huge two-story house, she was certain that she had the wrong address. She pulled out her cell phone to see if she could call Mary Beth back. Scrolling through her calls, she found that there was no record of the call.
"That's odd." Gretchen said aloud.
"Gretchen?" came a voice. When Gretchen looked up, she saw a small woman, in her mid-fifties, with graying black hair. She wore a long skirt that came to her little black booted feet, and a white blouse that was lacy at the cuffs and the neck. A large broach was pinned just beneath the high neck, lace collar.
"Way to go retro." Gretchen said under her breath, seeing Mary Beth, "Hi there! Wow! This place is huge!"
"Well, it's also empty." Mary Beth smiled, "I have been waiting for someone to come in and fill it with something more than space."
"Well I certainly need space." Gretchen said.
"Well, why don't you come in, and I'll show you around." Mary Beth said.
Gretchen was thrilled. There was more space than she would need, and because of the beautiful architecture and decor of the house, she was already seeing that she could use some of the house for backgrounds for her shoots.
"This is perfect!" Gretchen squealed.
"I am so happy that you are pleased." Mary Beth said.
"Why are you renting it out for so cheap?" Gretchen asked.
"Oh," Mary Beth started, "A long time ago, this place got the reputation of being haunted."
Gretchen looked at Mary Beth and searched her face.
"Yes, silly isn't it?" Mary Beth asked, still with her warm smile gracing her face.
"Yeah..." Gretchen said, looking around the large living room in a suspicious manner, "Silly."
"Well, you don't believe in things like that, do you?" asked Mary Beth.
"Well...no, I guess not." Gretchen began to feel cold, and her neck heated up suddenly.
"Well, have you ever seen a ghost?" Mary Beth asked, as Gretchen continued to look around the room.
"No. I haven't ever seen a..."
When Gretchen turned around, Mary Beth was right behind her. Gretchen jumped and laughed. This time, Mary Beth didn't chuckle. In fact, she had a very serious look on her face, and it almost appeared as if she were about to become angry.
"Mary Beth? What's wrong?" Gretchen asked after a moment. Mary Beth continued to stare at her, her face becoming more and more disapproving and down right sinister.
"Are you sure you have never seen a ghost?" Mary Beth asked, through narrowed eyes, and a curled lip.
"Yes. I'm sure." Gretchen said, backing up a bit.
Suddenly, there was a blaze of white-blue light, and a blast of wind. Gretchen watched in horror as Mary Beth went from a little old lady to a corpse, to a skeleton.
"DON'T BE SO SURE!" it screamed. Then the skeleton crumbled to a pile of ashes.
Gretchen ran out of the house, down the sidewalk and to her car. When she turned around, she saw an empty lot, with nothing left of the house except a few large blocks of concrete from the foundation.
Still trying to process what had just happened, Gretchen stood there shaking, and staring at the lot, her hand to her racing heart.
"You okay, lady?" came a voice. Gretchen screamed and whirled around. A young man stood there with his hands up, and a surprised expression. His face was pale, and his eyes were wide. He had been scared by her reaction. Gretchen sighed in relief, and gave him an apologetic glance.
"You scared me to death!" Gretchen she said in a trembling voice.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I have to walk over here just to get home, and every time I do, I get scared." he said. Gretchen didn't say anything, and only looked to the young man for answers. As if he read her mind, the young man went on.
"Crazy, old, widow Hammond. She lost her mind when her husband passed away. Rumor has it she killed him. Then put this place up for rent and killed every tenant that stayed here. She got away with it for years, because she was always so sweet and nice. Then she died."
"Oh my..." Gretchen let her words trail off.
"Later, some new people moved in, and was cleaning out this old place and found over thirty skeletal remains of people in her attic." said the young man.
"What happened to the house?" asked Gretchen after a long silence.
"My brother burned it down when they clearly identified my body in her attic." the young man said. And with that, he walked up the sidewalk, and disappeared about midway.
Gretchen moved far away two days later.