Jon Batson of Raleigh claims the $200 prize in our 2014 Ghost Story Contest. This is the prize-winning story.
Mr. Randle Perkins walked home from closing up the cafe, having missed his bus. As he walked up St. Mary’s Street, it began to rain. Randy turned his collar up, put his head down and quickened his pace. As the rain poured harder, he ran up to the wraparound porch of one of the historic buildings on St. Mary’s Street.
The rain beat him back against the house as the wind blew against the ancient building. Randy took out his cell phone, hoping to call a friend or a cab or even a stranger at this point, in order to get home to safety and warmth, but there was no reception.
As Randy huddled against the large, ornate door, he felt the door give way. It was unlocked and opened under his weight. Taking this as a sign of good fortune, Randy went inside and, using his cell phone as a flashlight, looked through the house. There was no one home, nor evidence of any inhabitants.
On the second floor, he found a bedroom with the bed made. The wind beat the rain against the glass, but inside it was cozy and dry. Randy decided he would get a night’s sleep and let the rain run its course. He would make the bed up in the morning and leave a note of thanks to the owner.
Randy kicked off his shoes, put his phone by the bed and climbed underneath the covers. With the patter of the rain and feeling warm and dry, Randy had no problem drifting off to sleep.
In the early morning hours, Randy felt movement beside him. Remembering where he was, he sat up but there was no one in bed with him. The covers on that side had not been disturbed and the room was empty except for him.
Now awake, Randy looked around the room and through the open door out into the hallway. Sleepy eyes tricked him and he shook his head to clear the fog blurring his vision. He thought he saw someone in the hall, someone just leaving and only there for a second. A creak on the top step of the landing sent a chill through him.
Summoning his courage, Randy picked up his phone, turned on the flashlight app and walked out into the hallway. The hallway was empty. He couldn’t see who had walked past the door or what could have made the stair creak. He chalked it up to a stormy night, a strange bed and a picturesque house.
Feeling a little silly about the tricks his senses played, Randy put on his shoes, made the bed and walked down to the front porch. The rain had weakened to a drizzle. Perhaps now he could call a friend or a cab.
But on his phone was a new picture, one taken during the night. It was Randy, asleep in the bed.