I can see them all sitting there looking at me, my palms grow sweaty and my throat is dry, if only Helen were here right now. A single touch of her hand would calm me, but she's not and I'm all too aware of the fact that I'm alone. I can see they are all looking at me expectantly, they are getting restless and I can see it in their eyes and it makes me feel worse. My hands shake and I begin to stammer, they want to know all about it and I'm not sure if I can tell them. Oh god, Helen would know what to do; but I can't rely on her now, maybe I should just get this over with and tell them what they want to hear.
"I've been alone for quite a while now, not how I intended for things to be but circumstances were beyond my control. You know its funny, people say you never know what you had till it's gone, that's not true, I knew what I had." this is what they wanted to hear, I can tell. My hands continue to shake, as I feel their eyes boring deep in to me, I just know they are going to be horrified when I'm done telling them what I have to. "Helen, my one and only true love and she always will be, but all that's gone now, she's gone now and the dreams are destroyed."
"Nikki for god sake, will you put that down! Its too heavy for you to lift on your own." Helen trailed after me, with a look of concern on her face.
"Don't worry, it's not that heavy sweetheart." I looked at Helen fondly, she was always fussing and it felt good to have somebody care as deeply as she did.
"I know moving house is supposed to be a stressful experience but this is torture." Helen made me put the box I was carrying, down on the floor and dragged me in to the kitchen and handed me a coffee.
"Mmm I needed that." I remarked as I took a sip of the drink and wrapped my arm around her shoulder.
I could see them all sitting there, listening avidly about a cosy scene of domesticity, but they wouldn't be looking at me so mildly soon. All the horrible details would be dragged out for them to see and I wasn't sure how many of them would still be looking so eager to hear about it when it came to that point.
"Ah thank god today is over." I got comfy in bed and wrapped my arms around Helen.
"Yeah I know what you mean, I'm glad it's all over. Our first night in our new home." Helen smiled as she looked around the bare bedroom and then at me.
"As much as I'd love to christen our new room, I don't think I've got the energy." I was tired and my body ached.
"Me neither, we must be getting old." Helen chuckled and then kissed me on the cheek before we settled down to sleep.
Some time in the early hours of the morning a noise awoke me, I could hear a strange tapping sound, as if somebody was walking to and fro in dancing shoes. I knew how stupid it seemed but that's what it sounded like. I sat bolt upright in bed but Helen didn't stir, it didn't surprise me, Helen could have slept through several natural disasters and not known a thing. I carefully got out of bed, not so I wouldn't wake Helen, as I said she could sleep through anything but I had the sudden thought there may be somebody in the house and I didn't want to alert them to my presence.
I picked up an old hockey stick of Helen's and proceeded cautiously down the stairs with it, as I descended, the noise got louder. My heart was in my throat and I tried to stay calm, knowing that panicking in a situation like this wasn't going to help. I reached the hall, no sign of anybody, so I carried on through to the living room. I cursed softly when I felt my leg come in to contact with a solid object, most likely one of the packing cases we had placed there earlier on in the day.
My heart thudded in my chest as I crept around the downstairs of the house, making sure that nobody was there. I felt much better when I realised everything was as it should be. Then suddenly, I heard the noise again, but it was coming from above my head this time. My first thought was of Helen and I bounded up the stairs and went flying in to the bedroom. Nothing. Helen was still sleeping and the bedroom was empty, I made a quick check of the other rooms but again, there was nobody there.
I was thoroughly unnerved, my earlier good mood had evaporated and all that was left in its place was a sense of uneasiness, something felt not quite right about the place, something I couldn't put my finger on, it lingered in the air as if it was almost tangible. I knew it was probably all down to the fact that I was in a new house and I was unfamiliar with its various creaks and groans. I almost laughed when I realised how stupid I'd been, it wasn't like me at all to start behaving like this, Helen always claimed I was the fearless one.
At the moment it didn't much feel like her assumption was correct, I may have been fearless in the past but not any longer, my heart began to thud again as the sound started up once more. It was louder this time, and as I realised something, my heart felt as if it was trying to leap from my chest. It sounded like whoever was walking to and fro in those shoes was dragging something along with them. I could hear it scraping across floorboards as the shoes tip tapped; there was a bump, then several more bumps and silence. I lay there thinking it may all be over, only to have the sound start up again.
I tried blocking it out but I couldn't, and sleep was impossible. I clung on to the warm soft body of my partner feeling terrified and instantly felt stupid. Helen was practically five foot nothing, she was slightly built and although she had one hell of a temper on her, I doubt she would have won many fist fights. I was supposed to be the strong one, the one who looked after Helen when she was scared but right at that moment I was totally afraid and it wasn't a feeling I much liked or was even used to.
It was some hours before the noise stopped and by the time it did, I was almost used to it. Its funny but no matter how awful something seems to begin with, it becomes familiar after a while and you begin to start coming to terms with it. Our new home quite honestly was absolutely beautiful and if all I had to put up with was a few weird noises then that would be ok by me. The sky had begun to get light and I felt all at once much safer, so I snuggled down beside Helen and relished the feel of her warm breath on my neck as I held her close to me.
They are all absolutely mesmerised now and I'm still sitting here feeling like I shouldn't be telling them any of this, that maybe all of this should have remained locked in my head where it belonged. They don't know what's going to happen yet, they will find out soon enough though and when they do
I woke up and noticed Helen wasn't lying next to me anymore, she must have gotten up earlier, I glanced at the clock and noticed it was almost lunchtime. I sprang out of bed quickly and felt so guilty for oversleeping, it wasn't fair to leave Helen with the unpacking, the poor woman had worked so hard the previous day.
"Morning sweetheart." she had flashed that dazzling smile at me, the one I loved so much, the one that made my knees go weak.
"Helen I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have slept this late." I put my arms around her and kissed her forehead.
"Don't be silly, you were obviously tired so I left you to sleep." she pulled me to her and I felt her small frame press against me, I don't think I've ever felt a feeling so wonderful as I do when she is near to me.
"Sit down and rest, you look worn out love." I had smiled and placed my hand on the side of her face as I drew close to her and captured her lips in a kiss, "I'll make us some lunch and then I'll get cracking on those boxes."
I set about making lunch as Helen relaxed at the table, in the cold light of day; my fears had all but disappeared. I wasn't afraid anymore but I didn't think I would be able to say the same when it got dark, that was assuming of course that it would happen again, I was uncertain about whether it would.
I brewed some fresh coffee and made some sandwiches, Helen's favourite, smoked salmon and cream cheese. I placed lunch down on the table and sat opposite her, I knew she had been watching me, she sensed there was something wrong. I had decided I would tell her as little as possible, I didn't want to alarm her, but I would have to be reasonably truthful because a) I didn't want to lie to her and b) she knew me better than I knew myself and she would know I was lying.
We had a pleasant lunch and I was waiting for her to broach the subject of what was wrong with me, but strangely she didn't. I can only assume she knew I knew she would ask me and she didn't because she knew I would feel uncomfortable talking about it. That's one of the things I loved about Helen, she knew when to keep talking to me and when to give me a little space, she knew I can be a stubborn bugger at times and I won't tell anybody anything if they try and force it out of me. On the other hand, the only person who could get the truth out of me when I was in this sort of mood was Helen, and my mother often used to remark upon the fact that Helen was the only person who was able to get through to me because she certainly couldn't.
Helen and I both went our separate ways, I sent her off upstairs to unpack while I dealt with the heavier things downstairs. Now that some of our belongings were scattered around the house and it started to take shape then I began to feel more at home and less a stranger in the house but something at the back of my mind was telling me that I didn't belong there. I could hear Helen singing upstairs and it brought a smile to my face, she had the voice of an angel and it wasn't often she would sing so I made the most of it and leaned against the doorframe listening to her.
"Are you listening to me singing down there? I can't hear anything being unpacked." she called down to me, the amusement in her voice apparent.
"Don't be such a spoilsport." I replied, "its not often you sing and you know how much it turns me on." I giggled as I spoke and I could hear her laughing.
"Is there anything that doesn't turn you on?" I heard her moving about as she spoke to me.
"Yeah several things but you are definitely not one of them." I shouted back.
"Glad to hear it, why don't you come up here and show me how much I do turn you on?" I heard the seductiveness creep in to her voice and I smiled.
"I'll be right there!" I called up to her as I placed the toaster back in the box and headed off upstairs.
The next few days passed without incident and I managed to sleep well for which I was grateful. The house was all in order; I had blitzed through the place with Helen and was thankful when we came to the very last box. We celebrated with a bottle of wine, which led to more wine and lots of drunken flirting. We ended up in bed, and made love for most of the night. Whenever we made love it was always a very emotional experience for both of us and it was more than just a connection of our bodies. Our souls which were already deeply connected, were brought together on an even deeper level than before.
I settled back on to the bed and took Helen in my arms, we both laid there fully satisfied and content, as we talked quietly. I loved the sleepy look on Helen's face after we made love, it was a soft loving look that made me want to take her in my arms and hold her forever. Her sleepy green eyes gazed at me with such an intense look of love that it took my breath away and left me feeling so appreciative of the love we shared, for not everybody was as lucky as I had been when I found Helen.
She fell asleep with her head on my chest as I gently stroked her silky soft hair. I heard her sigh softly in her sleep and wrap her arms tighter around me, it made me smile, it was everyday small occurrences like that that made life with Helen such a joy to experience. I closed my eyes and rested my head against hers, and very soon I too was asleep.
I was unbelieving at first, but the noise soon came again and I knew it wasn't my imagination. I had been in a wonderfully deep sleep, and I was yanked back to consciousness as the noise started up. I knew Helen was still asleep, I could hear her slow breaths that came at regular intervals. I wondered whether I should wake her up and ask her if she could hear anything but thought it best that I didn't, after all hearing noises, especially like the noises I was hearing wasn't entirely normal and I felt foolish.
There it went again, tip tap, tip tap. It was accompanied by a scraping sound that I was by that time familiar with but that wasn't all. I heard a low grunting sound, and then a loud tapping noise. My heart was thudding and I broke out in a cold sweat, I envied Helen's ability to sleep soundly. I had read plenty of ghost stories in my time, I loved the feeling of being scared but in reality it was a whole different matter. That was of course assuming that I was actually hearing ghostly sounds, which I was loathe to admit because it added to my feelings of stupidity.
"You've broken my heart for the last time." I shot up in bed and my eyes darted wildly around the room.
I knew it wasn't Helen that had spoken, for the voice I heard belonged to a man. It was one of those moments where your heart just suddenly stops and refuses to beat, and your stomach clenches itself painfully. My brain refused to work and I sat there paralysed until I managed to steel myself to get up out of bed. It was like one of those horror movies, the character always goes off in the direction they shouldn't and everybody screams at the screen for them to run the other way. I had on occasion done just that when watching those types of films with Helen and here I was doing the self same thing that I had warned the character not to. I couldn't explain it but I suddenly knew just how they would have felt, you know you shouldn't and you know its stupid but you feel compelled to do it anyway.
I didn't bother with the hockey stick, what would have been the point? You can only protect yourself against something that is solid enough for you to defend yourself against and I had a feeling that what was in this house wasn't human. I crept along the landing in the dark, strangely enough I felt safe in the dark, and if I couldn't see it then maybe it couldn't see me. I reached the top of the stairs and hesitantly placed one foot on the stair below me, my legs shook and it took quite some time before the other foot followed. But once I got started I was determined to reach the bottom.
I did so a couple of minutes later and stood in the hall, the streetlight outside illuminated the surroundings just enough for me to be able to pick out various familiar shapes. The hall table that had Helen's mobile and keys sitting upon it. Helen's briefcase that was on the floor underneath the coat rack, where my tracksuit top and Helen's leather jacket were hanging.
I moved further up the hall, and almost tripped over when my feet came in to contact with something. I bent over and picked up Helen's work shoes, ordinarily they would have been on the floor beside the hall table and I was curious as to why they were now in the middle of the floor. Helen could be as untidy as the next person at times but it wasn't like her just to leave things in the middle of the hall like that and I was certain that before we went to bed her shoes were neatly lined up beside the table.
Then the noise started again and my heart jumped, if this didn't stop soon then I would need an ambulance crew permanently on call. I heard the tip tapping of those bloody shoes and they seemed to walk right past me, I pressed myself tightly against the wall and tried to keep my eyes open. I heard the scraping sound once again, and to my fevered imagination it sounded just like something was dragging a body across wooden floorboards. I tried to swallow to moisten my throat that had dried out through fear and desperately tried to keep my breathing even.
Then came the grunting sound and the loud tapping noise.
"You've broken my heart for the last time."
I saw the door to the basement that was located underneath the stairs swing open and I heard a loud thudding noise. It seemed that whatever it was, was rolling down the stairs to the basement. The noise decreased the further down it got and then I heard a final bump as it hit the basement floor. The door slammed shut again and I stood there, eyes wide with horror as I stared at the door through the darkness. I heard insane maniacal laughter and then a voice said.
"Goodnight me darlin' sleep tight."
I felt a cold wind rush through me, before I passed out on the floor in the hall. I was in the same position next morning when Helen found me. That was the beginning of all our troubles.
I was moody after that, and I got angry at the slightest thing, I kept snapping at Helen and it hurt me to see the look in her eyes when I lost my temper with her. Five minutes later it was forgotten and things would be back to normal, but I could tell she was still wondering why I was behaving this way and who could blame her? I was wondering exactly why I was behaving that way myself. We had never discussed why I had passed out in the hall; I put a stop to all discussion just after it had started. I could understand she was concerned about me but I didn't want her knowing, whether or not she believed me was immaterial, it was more a case of if I said it loud then it would be real somehow and that was the last thing I wanted.
I look around the room and they aren't looking so nonchalant now, my guess is they are slightly horrified by what they are hearing. If they think this is bad then the worst is to come
A few nights later I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, Helen was quite late as usual and I cooked dinner for her to try and make up for the last few days that I had been behaving oddly. It got to 7pm and then 8pm, and I began to get angry, I could feel it bubbling up inside me and I knew I was acting irrationally but could do nothing to stop it. She called me at 9pm and told me she was on her way home, apparently there had been a crisis at the prison where she worked and she had been unable to call me sooner. I acted normally on the phone but as soon as I put it down, the anger returned.
She walked in the door half an hour later and was all smiles, normally I would appreciate it, she always made the effort to smile for me even if she had a crap day. But that night it riled me.
"What are you smiling for?" I snarled, not quite believing I was talking to her like that.
"I'm happy to be home that's why. Nikki what's the matter sweetheart? You've been acting strangely for the past few days." she walked up to me and put her hand on my arm, it made my heart ache. I had just been horrible to her and yet she still looked at me with such an expression of love and trust.
"Sure it's not because you've had a lovely time with Thomas? I won't stand for being made a fool of!" I started to pace the kitchen.
"Nikki what on earth are you going on about?" she looked at me as if she didn't have a clue what I was talking about and to be honest neither did I.
"Do you wish it was his bed you were in instead of mine? Do you wish it was him you were making love to instead of me?" I couldn't understand where all this was coming from, I knew Helen didn't think of Thomas that way, and I knew he didn't think of Helen like that either. In fact the three of us were very good friends and he was engaged to Helen's best friend Claire.
"Have you been drinking?" she folded her arms and looked pissed off at me.
"No I bloody haven't!"
"I am not having an affair with Thomas and I don't even know how you could think such a thing! We had a riot at the prison today, and Thomas wasn't even there, it's his day off remember? Nikki look at me!" she spoke sternly.
I turned around and looked at her, and she backed away from me, almost tripping over as she did. The look on her face was one I don't wish to remember, she was looking at me as if I was the most terrifying thing in the world and at that moment I didn't understand why. It was only later on when I was supposed to be in bed asleep, that I heard her on the telephone talking to Claire. She told her all about my accusations of her being unfaithful to me, which was bad enough but it was the bit afterwards that really chilled my soul.
"Honest to god Claire, when she turned around and looked at me, I was terrified. I've never seen such an evil look on anybody's face before. She just seemed to transform from my Nikki in to this ..this ..monster. The only way I can describe the look in her eyes is to say that it was just pure evil, she looked at me as if she hated me." I could hear the pain in Helen's voice as she spoke, ignorant of the fact that I could hear her.
I turned around and went back upstairs, what was going on? Why was my life turning upside down? Why was I hurting the woman I loved so much? I knew I was doing it, I could feel myself doing and yet I didn't want to, it felt as if something was forcing me to do it, something was taking me over. I was determined to get to the bottom of it before it changed my life forever, I loved Helen with all my heart and I didn't want to lose her.
They are all now sitting rigidly in their chairs and I have their full attention, I don't have to question what they think, it's written all over their faces. Not long to go now .
I spent most of my time alone, Helen seemed to prefer spending all the hours god sent at work. But then again who could blame her? I was hardly the same woman she met and fell in love with, and even I could see things were going downhill fast. She kept up the pretence that nothing was wrong but I could see the strain in her face.
Sooner or later I knew it would all come to a head, but for now she was walking on eggshells and even though I made an effort to control my temper, it wasn't working. I sat trying to read one night and just couldn't concentrate, Helen wasn't back from work yet and I was even more convinced she was playing away from home. An overwhelming feeling of anger washed over me and I began to pace the room, when Helen finally arrived home two hours later, I was still pacing.
"Nikki! Oh god!" Helen exclaimed as she ran towards me.
"What bloody time do you call this?" I pointed to the clock; it was already Ten o'clock at night.
"Can we do this later? At the moment I need to sort you out." Her face held a look of concern mixed with fear. I saw her looking at my hands, and for the first time I noticed they were covered in blood.
"How did that happen?" I said in surprise, my anger was forgotten as I tried to figure out why my hands were bleeding.
"Come through to the kitchen, I need to look at you." Helen led me to the kitchen and pushed me down on to a chair, "here give me your hands." She tenderly cradled my hands in her own as she examined them.
I hated myself at that point, I didn't deserve her tenderness and I certainly didn't deserve her love. Ever since we had moved in to the house, I had done nothing but shout at her, and it broke my heart that every time she looked at me, I could plainly see the fear in her eyes. She swore softly under her breath as she noticed that I had shards of glass stuck in my hands, she didn't bother asking how I did it, broken glass littered the sink.
I couldn't remember what happened, one minute I was reading, and the next I was pacing. All I remembered after that was Helen coming in, I suppose I must have ended up in the kitchen at one point and that's how I come to smash the glass. Helen carefully bandaged my hands and then cleared up the mess; I struggled to stay silent for fear of saying something I shouldn't have. I knew there was no chance of Helen cheating on me, she was far too honest for that and I knew how much she loved me. But now, I began to doubt that love, not because of anything that she had done, but because of what I was doing and the way I was behaving. I knew I was driving her away and I felt powerless to stop it.
Helen sat down next to me and took a bandaged hand in hers; she placed her lips upon the bandage and kissed it. My chest went tight and my tears began to fall, after all I had done to her, she could still find it in her heart to show me love. I wasn't surprised by it, Helen was the most loving person I knew, and she must still have really loved me deep down no matter how much I had doubted it.
"What's going on sweetheart? Why are you always so angry with me?" I could see the pain in her eyes.
"Nothing." I replied shortly, I wasn't sure I wanted her to know, even though I knew it would give her a clue as to why I was acting that way.
"I thought I knew you, I thought I knew you inside out but now I realise I don't really bloody know you at all!" Helen became angry, and in a strange sort of way it was comforting.
"You do know me." I looked up at her with tearful eyes and she calmed down a little.
"Tell me what's wrong." she tried again and I was grateful that she was persisting in trying to find out what was wrong with me.
"Do you trust me?" I asked, it was a stupid question, for I knew that she did. But I wondered why on earth I had even asked, I had wanted to tell her about what had been happening.
"Yes and you know I do."
"Then trust me when I say that I don't mean to lose my temper with you. I love you more than life itself, and that will never change. But at the moment I'm not quite feeling myself, and I'm trying hard not get angry with you." Where did that come from? I wanted to tell her everything and I knew the words coming out of my mouth were not my own.
"That's a pretty bloody poor excuse! If YOU can't trust ME enough to tell me what's going on then sod you. I'm going to bed." she stormed out of the kitchen and I was left sitting there on my own.
I closed my eyes and wondered what the future would hold; my inability to explain the situation to Helen was going to cause an awful lot of problems.
The sound came every night and it was steadily wearing me down. Despite what happened between Helen and I the other night, she was still speaking to me; I had to admire her persistence. Trouble was, I didn't want her to talk to me, and I didn't want her anywhere near me. So at night, as soon as she was asleep, I moved away from her and sat in the corner. It was better that way, then I wouldn't hurt her, because I felt myself getting angrier as time went by. I would keep a close eye on the time and then climb back in to bed before she noticed I had not been there all night.
She was preparing to go to work one morning when I brushed past her and entered the kitchen without a word. It didn't seem to please her and she stormed in after me.
"Nikki for god sake will you talk to me?"
"There's nothing to talk about." I replied casually as I spooned some coffee in to a mug.
"What's gotten in to you lately? You won't talk to me, you won't come anywhere near me."
"After what happened the other night are you really so sure that's what you want?" I turned around to face her and caught the look that flashed across her face, "No I didn't think so."
"Nikki ..please, I don't know what's going on but you've got to tell me otherwise you and I will end up drifting apart and that's just what I don't want."
"How can I tell you what's wrong with me when I don't understand it myself?" I tried to keep the harshness from my voice and failed.
"Then just say whatever you feel, I love you and I feel I'm slowly losing you." Tears sprang to her eyes and whatever it was that was making me feel so angry towards her was suddenly swept aside and I felt like my old self again.
"Oh Helen." I said as I broke down in tears too, "you must never doubt how much I love you, and you will never lose me. I'm not quite sure what's happening and I don't know if would even believe me if I told you." I kissed her hand and then her face.
"I'm going to call work and tell them I won't be in. you and I need to sit down, and talk about what's been happening, I promise I will believe you, I've never doubted you before." I could tell by the look in her eyes that she meant it, and those words struck a chord deep down within my heart.
We spent the rest of the day going over what had happened since we moved in, Helen was horrified but she never once doubted a word I was saying, it was another reason why I loved her so much. We talked about moving out, but it wasn't a quick solution, it would have taken months to sell the house and we were stuck with it in the meantime. That night when we went to bed, it was in separate rooms, not because we had fallen out, quite the opposite in fact, because now I had finally told her we were as close as ever. But I didn't feel she would be safe if I was in the same room, what if I lashed out at her or the anger returned? I would never forgive myself if that happened.
It would have been foolish of me to think that nothing else would happen, and I was correct in doing so, for every night the sounds returned and every time they did a little more would be added to the mix. So much so that most nights I lay on my bed with the pillow clamped around my ears, trying to block out the sound of the woman that was screaming. The first time it had happened, I shot out of bed thinking something was wrong with Helen, but I found her to be sound asleep.
I told Helen of the sounds but she was adamant she had heard nothing; she had even once stayed awake all night just to make sure she wasn't missing it. This in turn made me feel like there was a padded cell somewhere out there that was just waiting for me. As the weeks went by, despite both our efforts Helen and I slowly began to drift apart, she must have thought I was crazy for I still insisted that it was all real when she could find no evidence of it.
I wish this was all over
There was that bloody noise again, only it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon and it was still as startling during the day. I heard the screams and softly sobbed as I paced the living room, why wouldn't it stop? I heard the front door open and I froze, it had never happened before and I wondered what else was going to happen. I felt stupid when Helen walked in. She saw the state I was in and despite herself came rushing over to me.
"Sit down sweetheart, you're as white as a sheet." Helen gently guided me over to the sofa and sat beside me.
"I'm sorry, god I'm so sorry." I said as I looked around the room. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck begin to rise, something was going to happen.
"Oh love, what are we going to do?" Helen didn't have any answers and neither did I.
Then there came a bloodcurdling scream, I jumped and put my hands over my ears. Helen jumped also, the blood drained from her face, she had heard it too. I didn't know whether to feel horrified or relieved that I wasn't the only one hearing it now.
"We've got to get out of here." Helen seemed to have recovered somewhat, which was more than could be said for me.
"You have at least, what do you want me for Helen? We've drifted apart and pretty soon there isn't going to be much left worth loving is there?" I suddenly felt sorry for myself.
"Don't be so daft, we may have drifted apart slightly but its nothing we can't put right. I love you, I want my Nikki back. Come here." Helen reached over and took me in to her arms.
"I love you too." I was about to say more when Helen's favourite ornament flew off the mantelpiece and headed straight towards us. I tried to pull her out of the way but I wasn't quick enough and it struck her on the forehead. I clamped my hand over the wound to stem the flow of blood and my anger returned but this time it was directed at whatever was causing this.
I felt a sudden chill deep within my bones, it felt like the temperature had dropped twenty degrees all of a sudden and I began to shiver. Helen still felt warm and I knew that whatever was happening, I was the one it was all being channeled through. I made a decision there and then that Helen had to get out. I was determined to stay and find out what was happening but I didn't want Helen to be in danger.
"You've got to go to Claire's. We can pack you some stuff, you have to leave."
"No, we've both got to go; I'm not leaving you here while this is going on. There is an evil presence here, I've just witnessed it for myself." Helen was adamant she didn't want to leave me behind.
"No, just go. Once I find out what's happening then I'll be with you but till then I can't leave." I was just as adamant.
I went upstairs and began to stuff clothes in to a bag for Helen. She stood watching me like I had gone out of my mind.
"Why won't you listen to me? We have to get the hell out now!" Helen pulled me around to face her.
"What for? We know what's wrong with the place now, can't we just get it exorcised or something?" I don't know why I said it, I was eager to leave. But as soon as I said it, I felt a strange feeling in my chest. Whatever was in this house was preventing me from leaving and I had no clue as to why.
"This place has been nothing but bad luck; we've lived here for a month now, and look at the state of you. When was the last time you slept properly? When was the last time you had a proper meal? I love you and I want us to be together Nikki but not here, this place does something awful to you."
"Get out." I replied calmly.
"What?" Helen was incredulous.
"I said get out. If you don't love me enough to be here with me then I don't want you anymore." what on earth was I saying?
"I'm not leaving." I could see the determination in her face and by god I loved her for it, if she couldn't save me then nobody could.
"You will regret you ever said that me darlin'." I couldn't believe this was happening, it wasn't my own voice and I could seen Helen looking at me strangely.
She opened her mouth to say something but then closed it again, something was pushing me forward and I went to grab her, but she was too quick and she ran down the stairs and out of the front door. I heard the car screeching off and I slid down the wall, what in gods name had I just done?
I still have their attention, and they are wondering what will happen next. I'm not going to disappoint them; I have every intention of telling them what happened next, because if I don't then I will never get out of this place .
I had to forget about Helen, I needed to concentrate on the problem of what was going on; otherwise I would never be free of it. I waited till it got dark, and then I closed all the curtains. The phone rang again and I jumped out of my skin, I should have been used to it by now. It had rung almost non stop since Helen had gone and I knew she was trying to call me, she wanted to try and talk some sense in to me. Had I been in full control of myself then she wouldn't have had to try very hard but I wasn't, something else had control of me most of the time. I went to my computer and booted it up, I connected to the internet and started my search for the information I would need. I already had my suspicions and I was going to make sure I got to the bottom of it all.
After a short while of searching, I came upon a news article.
27th of august 1963
Laura Bickerstaffe aged 34 disappeared from her home a week ago and her whereabouts are unknown. Her husband, major Horace Bickerstaffe aged 58 of number 12 Eaton Avenue, has urged the general public to contact the police if they know of her whereabouts.
"My wife went out to visit some friends and she never came home that night. I'm anxious to know if anybody has any idea where she may be and if they see her I would urge them to contact the police so that I may know she is safe." the major was quoted as saying.
There was a short article dated six months after the first one where the police had finally given up the search and declared the case unsolved. I searched for any evidence that they had eventually found her but there was nothing to tell me that they had done so. There was also a short paragraph telling how the major had committed suicide one night, apparently grief stricken at the disappearance of his wife. It was at that point that I knew what this whole thing was about. I also knew where his wife was, she was in my basement.
A gasp sounded in the room
I put all thoughts of everything else from my head and took a deep breath. I slowly opened the door to the basement and flicked on the light. I walked down the stairs with a confidence I knew I didn't really feel. The dusty bare bulb swung gently as a cool breeze seemed to sweep through. That was when the temperature suddenly dropped and the light began to flicker, although thankfully it didn't go out.
That's when the noises started again, and I tried to ignore them as the worked out what I should do first. I picked a spot on the floor and wondered how to break through the concrete, I tapped it with my foot and it didn't seem to be very thick. I looked around and found an old hammer that sat on a dusty wooden shelf in the corner. I kneeled down and began to hammer away at the concrete, nothing happened at first but then the concrete suddenly seemed to crumble.
I felt a presence behind me and knew I couldn't resist turning around to look. She stood there looking hideous, her skin was tinged a pale green colour and her hands were skeletal as they reached out towards me. She was getting closer and I almost stopped breathing, I didn't want her to come anywhere near me. She reached out one hand to touch me and I flinched but it didn't deter her, surprisingly when her hand touched my face it was warm. Not what I had expected at all, by all accounts ghosts are supposed to chill you right to the bone when they touch you. She spoke to me and the words came out in dry raspy breaths.
"He's here, he's never left. I can't leave either, set my soul free."
"How? How do I set you free?"
"You have to make him let me go."
"How?" I said again.
She didn't answer and faded away, leaving me sitting there sweating although the temperature in the basement was well below freezing. I set about clearing the concrete from the floor; it was all I could do under the circumstances because I didn't know what else I should be doing. I could feel a strong resistance as I did, he didn't want me to uncover her body, he wanted her to stay hidden.
I knew he had taken possession of me but at the moment I was strong enough to fight him and I carried on digging. Then as I was clearing the rubble away, my hand touched upon something, and I knew without looking what it was. It was the barrel that contained the body of Laura Bickerstaffe. I dug feverishly away, and managed to unearth it completely; I heaved it from the hole and stood looking at in horror. I could only imagine how awful it must have been to end up buried in your own basement, murdered by your husband.
Then he was there with me, grinning at me with an evil intensity that chilled me to the soul. His eyes shone cruelly, and I gained some insight in to the fear his wife must have felt when confronted with him. Was he still in possession of me now? Or did I have control over myself because I was seeing him instead of feeling him? I didn't know, I didn't have any answers to any of these questions and I regretted not figuring all this out sooner and doing some research on the whole thing so I could fight against him.
The light began to flicker again, and this time it went out. I could hear him laughing maniacally in the dark, despite what people think, when you hear laughter like that it sounds nothing like it does in the movies. In the movies it's scary; in real life it's downright terrifying. I desperately moved my eyes around the room, hoping that I would be able to see him but it was impossible. I no longer felt like I would be safe in the dark, my earlier feeling of not being able to see him and feeling safe with the prospect because it would mean he couldn't see me went out of the window.
I knew he was aware of me, I knew he could see me, which put me at a disadvantage because I was powerless to protect myself. He didn't speak to me, but kept laughing, evil little chuckles that sent needles of horror down my spine. I didn't know why he had killed his wife, I could only assume from what I knew that he was jealous, and he had killed his wife because of it. He had been channeling his evil through me. The temperature dropped further, if that was possible because it was already so cold that I could hardly feel my own hands. Then I felt the chill concentrate itself in front of me and I knew that was where he would be.
I could smell a stale putrid smell, unlike any smell I had ever smelt before. It seemed to force its way into my nostrils and I felt like I was unable to breathe. Then I felt cold clammy hands begin to find their way around my throat, I was paralysed. No matter how hard I tried to move, I was rooted to the spot. I felt lightheaded as my oxygen supply was cut off and I was prepared to die, I knew there was no escape.
Suddenly, and at that point I didn't know why, he let go and the light came back on. I took the opportunity and fled from the basement; I charged up the stairs at great speed and burst through the door. I found a startled looking Helen standing there, she had been about to come down in to the basement.
"There you are, I was looking everywhere for you." she noticed the look of terror on my face and her expression matched my own, "I don't know what happened and right now I don't want to know, we've got to get out of here now Nikki."
"What are you doing back here? I told you to go." I was crying as I said it, I didn't want her here, not with him around.
"I came back because I love you and I was worried. Never fucking mind anyway, lets go!" she shouted at me desperately.
"I agree lets go." I was finally able to say those words and it felt good.
I took hold of her hand and then I felt something creep through me, I stopped walking towards the front door and turned around to look at her. I could only gain a small idea of what the expression on my face must have been like because Helen snatched her hand away, and started to back away from me.
"Come here me darlin'." my voice was evil, he had taken possession of me again.
"Nikki!" she shouted at me, but it didn't do her any good. I was powerless to stop what was happening, it felt like I was watching everything on a TV screen, somehow detached from it all.
I advanced towards her; I was quick and managed to catch her before she got to the front door. I picked her up and took her down the basement while she screamed and kicked, she fought against me but she wasn't strong enough. I tied her hands up and made her sit on a chair. What on earth was I doing? I was hurting the woman I loved more than anything on earth and yet it wasn't me, I had no control over it. I felt an uncontrollable urge to do some damage to her.
I'd been able to fight him off at times but he was getting stronger and I was growing weaker by the minutes. I needed to get her out of there safely but I couldn't go anywhere near her to help her, I struggled to break free of him and still it wasn't enough.
"Helen for god sake! Run!" I screamed at her, pleaded with her to run while she had the chance.
I could tell by her face that she thought I was going to kill her.
"Helen please, just trust me when I say you need to leave now! If you don't he'll use me to hurt you and I don't want that. Go!" I shouted at her and she seemed to hear me this time.
She stood up and began to run up the stairs and I used every ounce of strength that I had left in my body to stop him but he was slowly gaining on her and I could see my arms shoot out in front of me and grab her. We both ended up on the floor and my hands went around her throat, she struggled to fight me off but my hands remained where they were. The last thing I remembered before I passed out was her eyes closing and the feeling of horror that swept through me.
I never found out what happened to the love of my life, when I woke up, I was sitting in a padded cell. Helen, my one and only true love and she always will be, but all that's gone now, she's gone now and the dreams are destroyed.
I had finished telling them everything and I looked around the room, the faces were different, but they all told the same story. They were shocked and frankly I couldn't blame them. Maybe now I had told them I could finally get out of here, but I didn't think that was at all likely, I knew I would be stuck there for some time to come.
The applause was enthusiastic, this was the first time I had ever shared a story I had written with my English class students, at the night school where I worked. I wanted to get out of there and get home to Helen but they wanted me to stay behind and discuss my story with them, as I knew they would.
"That didn't scare me." said a burly six footer in the back row whom I vaguely remembered asked to be called Daz on his first night on the course.
"Maybe I wasn't trying to scare you." I said.
"I was scared." A young woman called Tina smiled at me from the left side of the room.
"If you weren't trying to scare us, what was the point of the story then?" a shy looking housewife in the front room timidly spoke.
"Scaring you wasn't my primary goal, if I managed to do it then that's great. But let me explain......I wrote about what the character saw, what the character was thinking, and most importantly of all what she was feeling. Even though it's important to describe what a character sees and thinks, it's also important to write about how a character feels; it adds depth to a story. I'm also trying to teach you that words don't have to be complicated to be frightening or emotional and nor does the plot. When you write your stories for next week, try to keep that in mind." I smiled and stood up. I stuffed my papers in to my briefcase, "I really do need to be getting home now, we can discuss this another time, because if I'm not back home in half an hour then my wife Helen will kill me." We all smiled at each other as we filed out of the room.
I left the building and got in to my car, I breathed a sigh of relief, thank god it was all over! Helen had told me it would be ok and I was slightly ashamed to admit that I doubted her enthusiasm. Standing in front of my students and reading a story that I had written was not an easy task but I saw in the end that I had gained a new respect. I wasn't just a teacher who was telling them what to do; I was showing them how they could use the English language more creatively if they really wanted to.
I pulled up at home a short while later and I smiled as I put my key in the door. This was home, the place I loved to be, with Helen and our daughter Amy. I hung up my jacket and took my shoes off, before padding in to the kitchen.
"Hello sweetheart." Helen smiled warmly at me and I felt my stomach flip as it always did, "so how did it go?"
"It went fine really, I was a bag of nerves and I was terrified to begin with but after a while I wasn't so bad." I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close, I took in the wonderful smell of her perfume and then placed a gentle kiss on her lips.
"I told you. You should have more confidence in yourself Nikki." she rested her head against my shoulder.
"How is the little monster?" I was of course referring to my daughter and Helen smiled.
"She's asleep at the moment; it took me quite a while to get her settled. Even at six months old she is showing quite a stubborn streak." Helen chuckled and her eyes twinkled.
"I wonder who she takes after?" I smiled knowingly, she was every inch her mother's daughter, and even at that young age it was quite uncanny just how alike she and Helen were.
"I plead guilty to that. I've got a casserole in the oven and some wine chilling in the fridge, why don't you go and get changed and then we can sit and eat before her ladyship wakes up screaming."
"Have I told you lately how much I love you?" I made no move to leave the room; I loved to be close to her and even being away from her for a few minutes made me feel like I hadn't seen her for weeks.
"You told me less than three hours ago before you left for work, and this morning, oh and four times this afternoon and yes I'm counting!" she giggled, "but don't stop, you know I never get tired of hearing it."
"In that case then Helen Stewart, I love you with all my heart." I cupped her face with my hands and kissed her, trying to convey all of the things I felt for her in that one kiss.
"And I love you too." She replied before I kissed her once more and then I went upstairs to change.
I popped my head in to our daughter's room and watched her as she slept soundly in her cot. I never got tired of looking at her, she had Helen's features and I could tell she was going to grow up to be beautiful like her mother. I would have bent over the cot to give her a kiss because I had missed her bedtime with having to go to work but I didn't dare. If I had woken her up then there would be hell to pay, and I didn't much fancy having to face the wrath of Helen Stewart! I loved the woman to distraction but she had a fiery temper at times!
I went back downstairs to share a cosy evening meal with Helen, and a few glasses of wine. We talked and I was always more than interested in what she had to say, I loved hearing her thoughts and her sexy Scottish accent was a definite bonus! We decided to go to bed soon after and I popped back in to Amy's room to take one last look at her before we settled down for the night. I noticed she was awake and kicking her little legs about.
I picked her up and cradled her close to me, she had a way of looking at me that made my heart melt, oh yes, she was very definitely her mother's daughter! I stroked the soft dark hair on the top of her head and she gurgled at me, I smiled and she smiled back at me, her little cheeks dimpling as she did so. I rocked her back and forth in my arms to try and make her sleepy and it began to have an effect. I knew Helen was standing in the doorway watching me, she hadn't made a sound but I could always feel her when she was close.
I didn't turn around; I didn't want her to know that I knew she was standing there. I could picture her leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded and a smile upon her face. She often watched Amy and I together like this and neither of us ever mentioned it but we both knew. It was one of those little secrets that wasn't a secret. Amy finally closed her eyes; I kissed her little head and then placed her gently in the cot so I wouldn't wake her. I turned around and sure enough, Helen had gone, I smiled, becoming parents had turned us both in to soppy gits! Not that we weren't before mind you.
I climbed in to bed beside Helen, took her in my arms, and we made love several times. It was always the same after I came home from work, the enforced separation made us hungry for each other in a way neither of us could describe. We often joked that work really had nothing to do with it, that no matter where we went or how long for then the result would always be the same, we would drag each other off to bed and prove how much we had missed each other. Even after five years of being together, we never got bored of spending every single minute we could together. Some couples become comfortable with each other and the passion dims but we had never been like that and I didn't think we ever would be.
"Goodnight sweetheart, I love you." Helen placed a kiss on my lips and then snuggled down in to my arms.
"Goodnight angel, I love you too." I replied and held her tighter, as I too snuggled down and soon was asleep myself.
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