These Haunted Hills
49 pages
English

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49 pages
English

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Description

These Haunted Hills is a collection of short stories that tease the readers' curiosity of the supernatural. With the Appalachian region as a backdrop, each story brings fictional characters to life with intertwining moments of mystery, humor, and a reality check of the beating heart. A group of talented authors has created a delightful, haunting read in a non-cookie cutter, invigorating style that each reader will enjoy! Each story brings its own intriguing and engaging moment of excitement and thoughtfulness.

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Publié par
Date de parution 20 août 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781950895786
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0015€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

These Haunted Hills

A Collection of Short Stories

Book 2



These Haunted Hills
A Collection of Short Stories
Book 2
Published August 2020
Mountain Girl Press
Imprint of Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc
Copyright © 2020 These Haunted Hills

EISBN: 9781950895786
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020943924

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, either living or dead is entirely coincidental. All names, characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination.
This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, in any manner whatsoever without written permission, with the exception of brief quotations within book reviews or articles.

You may contact the publisher:
Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 701
Johnson City, TN 37605
publisher@jancarolpublishing.com
www.jancarolpublishing.com


This is dedicated to all the talented authors for their participation in this collection of short stories, and to all the readers
of Jan-Carol Publishing’s books.
5

The Straight Back Chair
Jan Howery
(While this story is fiction, the tale is based on an actual event.)
I t was beginning to snow as Pa snapped the whip high in the air toward the harnessed horses. They jumped forward, pulling the wagon along. “I won’t be long!” Pa yelled to Ma.
Ma stood in the doorway of their old farmhouse. “Be careful, and don’t forget the coffee and sugar. And it may turn bad with this snow, so hurry along,” she answered.
Their farm was only three miles outside town. Pa was making his usual weekly run to the store, but this trip was special. Pa needed to buy Ma a birthday gift.
It wasn’t just Ma’s birthday; Christmas was in the air. With Christmas only five days away, the tree was already decorated. Ma and Pa had agreed to buy an award-winning cow for their Christmas gift to each other, so there were just a few gifts under the tree. But Ma’s birthday was the next day. Ma was always agreeable to buying gifts for the farm for Christmas gifts to each other, but she expected something personal for her birthday.
The horses didn’t need guidance to know the way to town. With each clip-a-clop of the horse’s hoofs, Pa got more lost in thought. With their finances so tight, Pa didn’t know what to buy Ma for her birthday. He wanted to get her something for the house and make it special, but he didn’t have much money.
He was deep in thought when the horses and the wagon rounded a curve and came to a sudden stop. “Whoa! What’s the problem?” Pa yelled.
Pa looked around the horses, and to his amazement, he saw a straight back wooden chair in the middle of the road. Even with the gentle snowing falling, there were no tracks on the road, and it didn’t appear that it had been dropped by another traveler.
Pa jumped off the wagon and walked over to the chair, brushed off the snow, and saw a beautiful red velvet cushion seat. The chair was made of solid walnut, with ornate carvings in the back. It looked brand new. Pa looked around, but didn’t see anyone or any indication of how it was possible that the chair had been dropped. It was just there.
Pa continued to brush off the snow and dirt, and realized that this chair was an answer to his dilemma. This is the perfect gift for Ma for her birthday, he thought. But first, I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t belong to anyone.
As Pa ran his errands in town, he asked folks about the chair. No one claimed it. When he stopped to buy the coffee, sugar, and other things at the local store, the store owner saw it and said, “That’s sure a good-looking straight back chair you got in your wagon. Where did you buy it?”
“I found it,” Pa answered.
“Found it? Well, it looks like you got yourself a nice chair!”
Pa was so proud. “Sure do! Do you have a red bow? I want to give it to Ma,” Pa asked the store owner.
The store owner went to the back of the store and returned with a big red bow. “This matches its red velvet.”
“Yup. Sure does!” Pa said. “How much do I owe you?”
“Oh, nothing! Merry Christmas!” the store owner said with a smile.
Pa thanked him and headed home. Ma’s going to be so surprised , Pa thought.
The snow had accumulated by the time Pa got home. He unhooked the harnesses and put the horses and the wagon in the barn. He took the wagon’s canvas cover and pulled it over the chair. I’ll surprise her in the morning , he thought with a smile.
The next morning, Ma and Pa awoke to see a deep snow, getting deeper; the snow was still falling. “Looks like we’re in for a big snow this Christmas,” Pa said. “Sure hope the neighbors, Mary Lou and Kent, are going to be able to be here Christmas Eve.”
“Well, I sure hope so,” Ma said. “I’m fixin’ enough food for the whole town.”
“I guess I better go out and check on all the lanterns to be sure we will have lots of light,” Pa said.
“Make sure we have enough wood for the fireplaces,” Ma reminded him as he headed out the door.
Ma figured that Pa had forgotten her birthday since he left without saying anything about it. She felt sort of sad, but she knew that he had been busy trying to get an additional stall built in the barn for the new cow.
Ma was putting a cake in the oven when there was a knock at the door. She quickly wiped her hands on her apron and walked over to answer it. Ma opened the door and to her surprise, there sat a beautiful straight back wooden chair, with a big red bow.
“Oh, my word!” Ma said loudly. “Where did this come from?” She picked up the chair and carried it into the living room. She ran back to the door, looked out and yelled, “Pa?! You there?!”
Pa stepped out from around the corner of the house and yelled, “Happy birthday!”
“Thank you! I love it!” Ma screamed.
Both walked back inside to the living room. The chair seemed to glow, it was so beautiful. “I love this chair,” Ma said. “I’m not sure where I’m going to put it. It’s so beautiful. Are you sure we can afford this?” Ma asked.
“Now, Ma. Don’t you worry! It’s your birthday!” Pa proudly said.
Ma loved the chair. She set it in the living room, then the bedroom, and then moved it back to the living room. She couldn’t make up her mind where to place it.
The morning of Christmas Eve, Ma was busy in the kitchen preparing food when she turned around and almost fell over the straight back chair. “What! What are you doing in here?” she asked. “Pa, did you bring this chair in here? I set it in the living room. Pa? Did you hear me?”
“What did you say?” Pa asked. “I just walked in.”
“Well, how many times do I have to ask you the same question?” Ma asked.
They heard a faint knock. *tap, tap * “Pa, there’s someone at the door. Go see who it is,” Ma instructed.
Pa walked to the front door and opened it wide, but there was no one. Pa stepped outside, looked around, and quickly turned back inside. “It’s cold out there. I didn’t see anyone. It must have been the wind,” Pa said.
Ma asked, “What time is it, Pa?”
There was another knock, three taps this time. * tap, tap, tap*
Pa answered, “Ma, it’s three o’clock. Guests will be arriving in about an hour.”
“Pa, I heard another knock at the door. Are you sure there’s no one there?” Ma asked.
Pa went back to the door, and this time he saw the neighbors arriving in their horse-drawn sleigh. They and their four children had arrived early.
“Ma, Mary Lou, Kent, and the kids are here,” Pa announced.
“Well, tell ’em to come on in, and I’ll go get changed into my dress,” Ma said. Ma noticed that the chair was no longer in the kitchen. Pa must have put the chair back in the living room , she thought.
Christmas Eve was a joyful time for Ma and Pa, with singing, opening gifts, and eating. More neighbors stopped by, bringing cakes, candies, and homemade gifts, and the celebration lasted well into the morning of Christmas Day. It had stopped snowing and the sun was shining brightly by the time Ma and Pa went to bed. They slept until almost 2:00 p.m., when Ma awoke. “Pa, it’s late afternoon. It’s time we get out of bed. There’re chores to be done,” Ma said.
“That was one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had,” Pa said as he stirred. He stepped out of bed and tripped over the straight back chair, somehow sitting next to the bed. “Did you put that chair there?” Pa asked.
Ma sat up in the bed and looked over to the chair. “No, I didn’t move it, Pa,” Ma said.
“Well, how did it get here?” Pa asked.
“Maybe you brought it in here before we went to bed,” Ma said.
“No, I did not,” Pa said thoughtfully. “How many times has this chair shown up in different rooms? Isn’t that a little strange?”
*knock, knock… tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap, tap*
“Oh no, Pa! Someone is at the front door,” Ma said. “Go see who it is.”
Pa quickly put his clothes on and grabbed the chair, carrying it into the living room as he ran to see who was knocking. He opened the door, then yelled, “There’s no one here!”
Ma got out of bed and went to the kitchen to brew some coffee. “Pa, put that chair in the living room. I don’t think I want it here in the kitchen.”
Pa walked into the kitchen to see the straight back chair sitting next to Ma at the kitchen table.
“Ma, I just now put that chair in the living room,” Pa said cautiously.
Ma looked at the chair and then looked at Pa. “How do you think it got here?” Ma asked.
“I’m not sure, but maybe it walked,” Pa said with a giggle. “It does have legs.”
“I don’t think that’s funny. I didn’t move it,” Ma said. “Don’t you find it strange that we hear tapping or knocking when it’s around? We always think that it’s the door, but there’s never anyone there.”
“Strange? I don’t know,” Pa said. “You don’t like the chair anymore?”
“I never said that,” Ma said. “But how many times has that chair just shown up in different rooms?”
*knock, knock… tap, tap… tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap, tap, tap*
Ma and Pa heard the tapping and looked toward the sound at the same time. It was the chair, tapping on the floor as if it were counting. The front legs of the chair were actually moving up and down and tapping the floor.
Ma screamed; Pa froze and didn’t move. The chair finally stopped tapping.
Ma and Pa stared at the chair. Ma caught her breath and broke the silence, calmly asking, “What time is it?”
The chair tapped three times. It was three o’clock in the afternoon.
Ma ran out of the kitchen, spilling coffee as she ran before dropping the cup. Pa ran behind her. They both stopped at the front door. They looked at each other and Ma asked, “What are we going to do? That chair is possessed!”
Pa said, “I’m going to get that chair out of this house and put it in the barn!”
“The barn? Then what?” Ma asked.
“I don’t know,” Pa said.
“Can’t you take it back where you bought it?” Ma asked.
Pa looked embarrassed and said, “No. I can’t. I didn’t buy it. I found it.”
“Found it?” Ma asked. “What do you mean? Found it where?”
“I found it down the road a piece, just in the middle of the road. It was just sitting there,” Pa said.
“Well, put it back in the road where you found it!” Ma cried.
Pa put on his coat, then cautiously carried the chair to the barn. He got the horses harnessed to the wagon and set the chair in the back, covering it carefully. He jumped on the wagon and headed down the road. Soon he rounded the curve where he found the chair, but didn’t stop. He had decided to take the chair to the far side of town, far away from his house.
When Pa got to a place called the Cliffs, which was 10 miles on the other side of town, he stopped. He grabbed the chair out of the wagon and threw it over a long embankment. He watched the chair roll over and over and hit the bottom of the cliff. Good riddance , Pa thought.
Spring was a long time coming, but in late April, the flowers were blooming and folks were getting out and about. A young couple was riding their wagon into town when they rounded a curve and saw a beautiful straight back wooden chair, just sitting in the middle of the road.

The Phantom Skier
Lori C. Byington
S undown was quickly approaching and the top of Pine Butte glowed pink and orange with the falling sun. Breezy was an understatement, because a constant wind was always expected on top of the mountain, in “the highest town east of the Rockies.” Rising to an impressive 5506 feet above sea level, Pine Butte is one of three ski resorts in Western North Carolina. The other two, Salty Mountain and Highlands Mountain Resort, maintain crowds in the winter ski and board season, but they don’t have their own purported ghost skier. The Legend of the Phantom Skier may be an old wives’ tale—or hogwash, as some locals put it—but those who have seen, heard, and skied with the ghost swear it is real. According to mountain legend, the temperature falls in a matter of seconds and the wind picks up when the Geist is near. Some skiers swear they hear odd laughter floating on the wind and the *sshusshh* of snow, vow they see the tail of a bright red scarf flying and then fresh ski tracks in the snow—but no one is there.
*sswooosshh… shuusshh… pfoooof… shsssshssshssshsss…* Charlie Brigham dug his left ski edge into the somewhat powdery snow and stopped sideways in the middle of Red Thunder, one of the black diamond slopes on Pine Butte. He breathed in deeply through his nose and let out his breath quickly through his mouth. As expected, clouds of steam rose up to fog his goggles. Charlie had to take off his goggles to wipe out the fog, so he took off his helmet first and set it down on the alabaster snow. “Stay!” he commanded the headgear, then began to spit into his goggles to get rid of the fog on the inside. He peered up the slope and saw a red Patrol jacket jettisoning down the other side of Red Thunder. He recognized his fellow Ski Patrol member, Gus Moore, who was almost straight-lining down the opposite side of the run. Charlie grabbed a trekking pole and waved it to get Gus’ attention. Gus nodded and veered left to slide over to where Charlie was. He slid to a stop sideways a little uphill from Charlie, and as usual, sprayed Charlie with wet snow: his idea of fun. Charlie cracked a smile and pretended he was going to stab Gus with the pole.
“How does the backside of Wizard run look?” asked Charlie.
“No issues, from what I can tell,” responded Gus as he took off his goggles and helmet. Gus continued, “But I got a radio call about thirty minutes ago. Amanda Clinger was about to sweep Loblolly and evidently thought she saw a lone skier out of bounds, but when she turned to yell at the person, there was no one there. I told her I would check out the bottom of the run, but I didn’t see anyone either. So I rode quad number one back up to help sweep Thunder.”
“Hmm,” pondered Charlie. “You guess we need to sweep the runs again? Dark is about on us, and the lights on the slopes don’t shine in the woods.”
“We can’t get to all fifteen slopes before the sun goes down,” commented Gus. “But we could sweep Loblolly again, since that is the area Amanda spotted the skier.”
Charlie nodded as he put his helmet and goggles back on. The two patrollers skied quickly down Red Thunder, crossed over Slippery Dip, and continued down to the quad one lift. The attendant waved them through and the men slid onto the moving travellator. The pair waited impatiently for the chair to sweep them away up the mountain.
Out of habit, the attendant yelled, “Don’t forget to put the bar down,” once the two men were swept on their way.
As the men relaxed a bit on the ride up the mountain, the sky began turning from blue to rouge-tangerine. Wisps of feathery cirrus clouds drifted on high above the rapidly sinking Winter Solstice sun. The time was about 4:30 and all skiers other than patrol had to be off the slopes, so the likelihood of a lone skier cutting through the snow to his or her heart’s content was slim to none.
Gus adjusted his ski poles under his backside and remembered something Amanda had told him. He suddenly turned to Charlie and almost yelled, “Hey! Amanda said the skier had a funny look, like clouds were in front of her. She told me the skier looked to be a woman, and she also said the skier had on old clothes—like from the ’70s or something. Amanda didn’t see a helmet, either. She said she thought she saw a bright blue toboggan on the skier’s head, or where a head would be, and the skier did not have a jacket on but appeared to be wearing a sky-blue Fair Isle sweater with a red line and white snowflakes around the neckline with a long, vivid red scarf around her neck. Amanda admitted what she saw could be skewed, because there was a glare or something foggy between her and the skier.”
Charlie slid his goggles up on his helmet, peered sideways at Gus and gave him a look that made it clear he thought Gus was daft.
“Okay. I have been here since the late ’70s, and I have never seen that type of garb on anyone in at least forty-five years. Obviously, a lot of skiers and the crowd dress in 1980’s gear during ’80s weekend, but we don’t have a ’70s weekend!” Charlie chortled.
Before Gus could come back with a snide retort, their lift chair reached the top of the mountain and the men got ready to slide off the lift chair. The attendant waved and gave a thumbs up when Charlie held up an index finger to signify they were doing one more run. As the patrollers slid down the ramp and onto the top of the slope, both looked out over the place they called home every weekend in the winter. The sun had almost set, and the clouds had underbellies of pink and blue-like cotton candy from a carnival. The men could see White’s Mercantile a half mile below; to the right, across the street, the crowd had already gathered at The Stone Kiln for the “best wings on the mountain.”
“I never get tired of this view,” Gus mused as he blew out a long breath.
“Neither do I,” agreed Charlie. He crossed his poles and clicked them loudly together. “Well, let’s see if we can spot a rogue lady skier!”
After about thirty minutes of an exasperating search from the top to the middle of Loblolly, while straining to see in the dim light and yelling “Hello!” into the woods on the right side of the slope, the two men slid to a stop where Upper Loblolly meets Lower Loblolly. The sun was behind the top of the mountain and well below the backside Wizard run, so the natural light was minimal at best. With the dropping sun also came dro pping temperatures, but suddenly the usual cold bite that comes with evening’s fall felt like a blast from the far away Arctic Circle. The hairs on the back of Charlie’s neck prickled, as if someone had run a feather across his back. He shuddered in his blue ski boots and looked at Gus with wide eyes. Gus felt the spasmodic bristle in his gut rather than on his neck, and he shot Charlie a look that did not hide his sudden foreboding.
“What in the world?” Gus said with a slight quiver. “Where did that cold come from?” Before Charlie could answer, an eerie thick fog appeared and a loud maniacal giggle floated on the stiff breeze to where the men stood stock still on their skis.
“Whee-hee- hoo !” echoed on the mountain and had apparently come from thin air, but both men heard the depraved tittering as clearly as if the Wicked Witch of the West had cackled right beside them. “I’ll get you my pretty!” echoed eerily in both men’s heads at the same time.
Charlie’s mouth dropped open and he gasped as another “Whee-hee-hoo!” seemingly swept right between the men. Charlie felt the tail end of a rough, woolen scarf slap sharply across his face, and he had the heavy sensation of someone’s skis running over his own skis. The ghostly fog, now in a more human form, forcefully knocked Gus off kilter enough to cause him to flounder awkwardly on his skis. He tried to wave his arms to keep his balance, but his left pole jammed into the snow and he tumbled backward. A loud “Oomph” escaped Gus’ lips as he landed unceremoniously on his backside.
He looked up in horror at Charlie, who rubbed his left cheek, returning the panicked gaze as he choked out, “Are you all right, man? What the hell?!”
Gus nodded and as he caught his breath, suddenly looked down the hill toward the Green Glen slope. His peripheral vision had caught the tail end of a long red scarf flying behind a dim feminine figure weaving in tight S-turns down toward the stretch of Beech trees that divides Lower Loblolly from Green Glen.
“Charlie! Look! She’s going straight for the tree line!” yelled Gus, awkwardly trying to stand up on the slope with his skis still attached to his ski boots.

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