Kalliel (kalliel) wrote,

[Not Fic] Lightbringer

In my last house, on the third floor of a Victorian on the Old West Side, I had birds that sounded like gas stoves trying to ignite, but never finding flame. Filling the house instead. (But they were just birds.)

My current house just clicks. It's late autumn and there are no birds.

My current house was built in 1895 and it has been on the market for as long as I've lived here--a year and a half. It has yet to be sold, though people come by sometimes. I have two theories as to its unpopularity:

1. The inane price my landlord has listed.
2. The ghost.

The ghost has been waging a slow war on light for months now. This is marginally better than its activities upstairs, before the old tenants moved out. Back then, it dealt in sharp objects.

First our kitchen lights flickered. Then they were gone--only to return suddenly, and completely without explanation. In the times they went missing, we put a small backpacking lantern on the kitchen sink and that was that. When it took the light in the dining room, we pulled a lamp from elsewhere. Mostly, we let the room stay dark.

Then it came for the flashlights.

A friend and I tried to leave the house once, quietly, before sunrise. She knocked a glass jar from the sink in our dark kitchen, and it shattered the way real glass does--in scimitar shards and minute crystalline granules. We picked up what we could, and tried to vacuum the rest (with a bagless vaccuum)--but the vacuum died. So we tried tape--great strong lengths of duct tape for all the glass we could not see in the dark. When my friend cut herself, and started to bleed, I tried to find the bandages. Beyond the kind of bandage you use for gaping wounds, I couldn't find any, so I went for the backpacking lantern, which had served us so well--dead. I found another flashlight--dead. Three first aid kids and two flashlights later, it was just us and the ghost and the dark.

Later, I discovered that both flashlights were not only dead, they were destroyed. They were bubbling, crusty containers for rogue battery acid, spilling from their casings like white viscera. Different ages, different brands, and no abnormal temperature spikes or drops. Just this ghost.

Wait, said my housemate, when I told her about this. Wait, she said.

The same thing happened to my headlamp, she said.

That's when she told me about the upstairs couple and their trouble with sharp objects, before they'd left. (She to Alaska and he--north as well. Just less so.)

That's when it all started to make sense. The night before the glass and flashlight incident, my friend and I had been sitting on our couch. Another friend had made a fetish, and it was sitting in the living room, looking out our large front window.

He likes to watch the people go outside, I said. And immediately, the blinds jumped from ceiling to floor, blocking the view so that no one--fetish or otherwise--could see out, or in.

It all made sense.

A few days ago, I was sitting on that couch again, by the window, blinds still drawn--our ghost's handiwork untouched. Four feet from the couch, we have a standing lamp. It's elegant in ways our other lamps--the ones now dark--are not. So of course, this meant it was time for the ghost to prove itself: Will this be an artful haunting, or not? This lamp's lightbulb did not just die--it exploded. Audible pop, visible spark. Right in front of my face, like a dare.

Just like those stovetop birds, this spark did not ignite anything. But I know it's only a matter of time.
Tags: strange tales from the midwestern front

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