A Certain Type of Decisive

United States

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Radio Broadcasting

April 8, 2020

FREE WRITING

6
    Everyone believed the old Sharp house was haunted, even before Lin was born. They say a woman stands at the top of the stairs, looking at nothing. She re-arranges books and cabinets the way she remembered. They say the house still creaks under her missing feet. 
    Lin didn't believe in ghosts. She had enough rationality not to believe there was anything in her house, but learning about serial killers didn't really help her ever diminishing view of humanity as a species. Ever since she her dad-
    She stopped herself, hearing creaking through the house. In the ghost hunting books, they would always talk about how any noise could conceivably be their own movement, amplified through old wood. Her house was definitely old wood. Whenever she walked around, it made twice as much noise. She hated the creepy old house- it felt like she'd been living there for centuries. But hey, better than rent, right?
    Once or twice there had been ghost hunters here, something about a murder back in the 50's. Some demon- or was it a ghost? She couldn't remember. Lin had never seen a woman there, but had her fair share of re-arranged things. Sometimes, she would think she saw other people, in other places. Sometimes she'd hear kids laughing or an old woman praying. And night, sometimes there were whispers, lights from seemingly nowhere. 
    But Lin, despite all this, did not believe in ghosts. She was lonely, in this big old house and she was certain she only pictured people because she wanted to. Only heard speech in noise because it was what she desired. The human brain in a social machine and it was driving her crazy. 
    Most days, she spent trying to write her memoirs. She would stare for hours at blank pages, listening to footsteps echo through the house. She would try to read her old writing, but she usually threw it away. Her eyes would glaze over the words- it wasn't good enough. It was never good enough. She spent time doodling and writing short stories. She wrote poems to distract herself. Reading every book in the house was fun- at first. The memoirs stayed unwritten.
    Sometimes, she tried to imagine, for a moment, a ghost in her house. She would stand at the top of the stairs, trying to imagine what it was like. She tried to put her mind into that of a woman from long ago. Trying to imagine being a ghost.
    She never felt anything.
    She was hearing things in the house again- trying to sleep was an uphill battle. It wasn't just footsteps, though, as she thought, truly listening to it. She had lived in this house since she was child, long since coming to ignore it's quirks and noises, but there was something. Laying in bed, she realized there was a static noise, a background. She must've left the radio on. The radio was newer than the house, but still pretty old. The quality wasn't the best, but it fit the house. She could imagine the Fireside Chats with FDR vividly, people gathered around. A decade before, the War of the Worlds Broadcast- the radio had still been around back then. She wished she could write memoirs about that.
    She crept downstairs, the rushing static becoming louder as she approached. She reached for the dial, but before she could turn it off, a voice came through.
    "Can you repeat those names back to us?" There was a pause, filled with static. It was a very quiet voice, she had to get close to the speaker.
    "My name is Ellen, there's Ace, and that's Daisy. Can you say any of our names?"
    "What a weird radio program," she mumbled, shaking her head. 
    "What was that?" A different voice came through the radio, a bit deeper than the first. All of the words were hazy, they might've been hard to understand if they weren't so clear in their enunciation- it was unnervingly, like a spelling bee.
    "You'll have to speak a little more clearly for us to hear you," the first voice said. Maybe she was just tired, but it was almost like they were responding to her. She remembered those ghost hunters, using radios to talk to ghosts. She had definitely been reading too much creepy stuff.
    "Can you- Can you hear what I'm saying?" she asked carefully, trying to be clear enough, but not loud enough for anyone to think she was crazy.
    "Can we hear what you're saying? Yes. Yes we can hear you. Can you repeat our names back to us? Are we speaking with the woman who inhabits this house?" 
    That was kind of a weird way to phrase it, she thought, but she was. She didn't believe in ghosts, but that didn't matter to her in the moment. It was midnight in her house and she was speaking to a radio. This was an adventure and any belief could be suspended long enough for an adventure.
    "Yes, I live here. I'm Lin, Lin Sharp-" the static got louder and she was cut off. She tried to turn it down, but it was almost as if it wasn't coming from the radio. She only had the one radio, where else could static like that be coming from?
    "Can you repeat that?"
    "Um, Ellen, Ace, Daisy?" she asked. There was an immediate response of screaming. Even through the radio distortion, she could tell it was multiple people, yelling different things. Ghosts screamed all the time in the stories, but she never heard any in her own house. I don't even believe in ghosts, she had to remind herself. She wasn't thinking through her own mind, she was imagining herself as a ghoul brother, not boring old Lin. She knew she was reaching for adventure, but there was nothing wrong with leaning into a dream. 
    "Can you describe what we look like, Lin?" 
    "I can't see you," she responded. "You're talking through my radio."
    There was a static silence after that. She could only catch bits of words, it seemed as if they were whispering. She heard some giggling and noises she couldn't identify. The static was loud next to her ears- it was grating, like the carpet she was kneeling on.
    "Hello?" she asked.
    "Did you say we're inside a radio?"
    "Yes, I can't see you," she insisted. She turned, hearing a loud noise coming from behind her. The stairs were creaking, like people were coming down. Maybe there was a ghost on the stairs, she thought.
    "Did you catch that?" a voice came through. "I couldn't understand."
    "It's just noise," came a different voice. "It's not like-" and the voice cut out. 
    She felt a rush of adrenaline, some kind of fear. The air in the room wasn't still anymore. Maybe she was just breathing harder, but something was different. She could feel someone- something watching her. 
    "Ace, are you getting any vibes?"
    "I can see her," said another voice over the radio, definitely a man. "She's kneeling by the radio, wearing pajamas. Daisy, to the left a little- there, you're right next to her."
    "What are you talking about?" Lin asked, standing. She wanted to see these people. At least one of them could see her. Ghost stories were all different, but she was suddenly concerned. Weren't ghosts sometimes violent?
    "No- hold on please don't leave!"
    She wasn't sure about taking orders from radio ghosts. Radio ghosts inside her own home, for goodness sake. Getting tangled up with spirits, even if she didn't really believe in them, was probably some kind of witchcraft and she was intent on heaven. 
    Wasn't she going to heaven?
    "Tell me about heaven," she whispered, sitting back down. She leaned into the radio again. The itchy rug irritated her skin, cold in the night air. The house was rather drafty- something her mother used to tell her when she was younger, when she came crying about monsters in the closet. She felt some kind of grief, climbing up within her- she hadn't thought about her parents in ages. She hoped they were happy, in heaven. She hoped they weren't stuck as ghosts. 
    "What did you say?" came a crackly reply.
    "Are you ghosts? Everyone says there's ghosts in my house."
    "Lin-" one of the voices started, but there was just silence. She was sitting so close to the radio, so desperate to hear someone talking. She used to listen to talk shows when she was younger, but it wasn't the same. 
    She hadn't talked to anyone in so long.
    "Lin, what year is it?" came a gentle voice. She opened her mouth, confused as nothing came out. 
    "It's- It- Well, of course, it's-" 
    Lin did not know what year it was- it dawned on her she didn't know how long she hadn't known what year it was. She didn't remember how old she was. A surge of panic came over her, but she didn't dare move.
    "It's 2020," came the man's voice. She felt as if someone had stabbed her in the heart- two thousand- two thousand and twenty? The year? She looked down at her hands, still smooth, not wrinkled as if she was an old woman, forgetting her place. Her own grandmother, when she had been alive, used to think the war was still on. But her hands- she was young, she was still young, but how long had she been young? She ran to a mirror, and in it, her reflection. Behind her, three people, two teenage girls and one teenage boy. They were holding cameras, a hand-held radio, an old book- she turned and there was no one there.
    "What- what happened to me?" she asked the mirror and she knew. Her dad had poisoned that cake. Her birthday cake. He had seen her with that woman and he killed her. She remembered doubling over, vomiting, tears in her eyes. She remembered the pain, every muscle on fire, every inch of skin like ice, her head like a lead balloon.
They didn't call an ambulance.
    "They poisoned you, Lin. No one ever found your body."
    "I- I- Get out. Get out of my house," she said, searching for something to hold onto, something solid, but everything was falling apart.
    "GET OUT!" she screamed, turning away from the mirror. She couldn't tell if they were, so she ran upstairs, into her bedroom, under her covers- away from the radio. She didn't want to hear its static anymore, she didn't want an adventure.     She didn't want to believe in ghosts.
    She didn't want to be a ghost.
    Everyone believed the old Sharp house was haunted, even before it was turned into a museum. Even before the grisly murder of Lin Sharp. They say a woman stands at the top of the stairs, looking at nothing. She re-arranges books and cabinets the way she remembered. They say the house still creaks under her missing feet.

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6 Comments
  • Anne Blackwood

    Review submitted!


    6 months ago
  • Emi

    This is so creepy. I'm not usually one to read ghost stories (I get frightened very easily and I don't like filling my head with them) but this is superbly well-written.


    7 months ago
  • Loser

    I love the eeriness in this piece. Quite haunting.


    7 months ago
  • AbiJoy

    I cried. This is like a sad slow version of the 6th sense but with more loveable characters.


    7 months ago
  • bbbb

    Wow! this gave me chills hahaha


    8 months ago
  • Tushar Mandhan

    This piece needs so much attention from Wtw community. In the beginning, I started to have an urge to live in haunted house (I know it's crazy :P) but then the twist! Lin was that ghost. It's such a great piece.


    8 months ago