One of my favorite Halloween traditions is to create a new Tales Around the Jack O’Lantern story for the O’Reilly family. All of the O’Reillys sit together every Halloween night and share real ghost stories they’ve experienced throughout the year. This year, as I was gathering stories, I took the time to reread last year’s stories. And guess what? I scared myself. So, I’m sharing the favor and my favorite story from last year with you. I hope the ending shocks you a little too!!!
By the way, Tales Around the Jack O’Lantern 4 will be available in the next few days, so watch for it!
Mary O’Reilly watched as the car pulled away from the curb and headed down the street. She felt her heart drop, watching her parents drive away from the Sorority house. Her new lodging for the school year. She stepped away from the window and looked at the boxes, tubs and suitcases all lined up on top of and next to her narrow bed. With a resigned sigh, she rolled up her sleeves and started unpacking all of her belongings.
She was in the bathroom, storing her toiletries in her cabinet when she heard the crash. Fearing the worst, she stuffed her remaining items onto the shelf and rushed back into the bedroom. Confused, she slowly examined the room. Nothing was out of place. Nothing was on the floor. Nothing could have caused that sound.
With a shrug, she went back into the bathroom. To her surprise, the items she’d shoved on the shelf were all arranged neatly in order. “Did I do that?” she asked herself.
She finished up in the bathroom, stacked all of her tubs and suitcases together to be put in the house’s basement and finally made her bed. Examining her half of the room with a critical eye, she smiled. It looked organized and homey. She nodded. Yeah, she could be happy here for the next four months.
Dragging the tubs and suitcases into the hall, she locked her door and then headed across the hall to the staircase to carry the empty containers down three flights of stairs to the basement. Piling the containers on top of each other, Mary lifted them in her arms, the containers blocking her vision, and slowly slid her foot forward to feel her way onto the first step down.
The slight nudge between her shoulder blades knocked her forward. She gasped in fear as she felt herself falling headfirst down the stairs. But before she could even emit of scream of terror, strong hands grabbed her shoulders and pulled her back, setting her upright. “Thank you,” she stuttered, her heart in her throat.
She turned to meet her rescuer and was shocked to see that she was the only one there. “Hello?” she called out, wondering if her rescuer had slipped into one of the nearby rooms. She placed the containers on the floor and walked down the hall. “Hello?” she called again. There was no response.
“Okay, that was weird,” she said, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves. “That was really weird.”
She started to pick up the containers again, when she was interrupted, but this time in a more normal way. “Hey, I can help you with those,” a friendly voice sailed up from below her. “You don’t want to come down these stairs blindly.”
Mary put the containers down once again and smiled at the young woman walking up the stairs. “Hi,” she said with a quick shrug and then she nodded toward the pile on the floor next to her. “They’re not really heavy, just cumbersome. I can carry them, really.”
The young woman finished the climb up the stairs and shook her head. “It’s not how heavy they are,” she said. “It’s…” She paused and bit her lower lip, debating her next words. “Okay, don’t judge me. But weird stuff happens on this floor and, really, you don’t want to go down those stairs and not being able to see.”
Mary shook her head. “I’m not going to judge you at all,” Mary replied. “Especially since I nearly took a facer down the stairs just a few moments ago.”
“Someone push you?” the girl asked.
“Yeah,” Mary said. “I felt hands on my back. But, just as weird, someone caught me and pulled me back up.”
The girl sighed. “Well, at least you’ve got someone on your side.”
“Someone on my side?” Mary asked. “What does that mean?”
“Back in the seventies there was a fire in the house,” she explained. “They say it was bad wiring, but no one really knows. Anyway, most of the girls were able to get out, but three of the girls got caught in their room. The fire was between them and the staircase, and the fire department didn’t have a ladder tall enough to reach the third floor.”
“Oh, that’s terrible,” Mary said.
“Yeah, it really sucked,” the girl said. “But now the girls play pranks on the sorority sisters that live in the house. And…” She paused and looked apologetically at Mary. “They really like to pick on the newbies.”
“Great,” Mary replied. “So, one of them tried to push me down the staircase and another one saved me, right?”
The girl nodded and smiled. “And the third one offered to help you carry your stuff down the stairs.”
And then she disappeared.
“Whoa!” Sean called out. “I didn’t see that coming.”
Mary grinned. “Yeah, neither did I.”
“So, what did you do?” Art asked. “I mean, with your stuff?”
“I slowly dragged it down the staircase, one hand on the railing, the other hand pulling the stuff down after me,” she said. “And I didn’t have a good night’s sleep in that room for the entire semester.”