I think my treehouse is haunted - Chap 4
The rest of the fall was pretty tame. I dug around a bit more here and there, but didn’t learn anything more about the murders than what I already knew.
School was fine. The usual. I was making more friends, and even joined a drama club, which made my mom happy.
I never spoke to Jamie’s mom about the murders, or much of anything else, again. The next few times I saw her she acted really different, like I’d tricked her or something. I asked Jamie about it once and he mumbled something about nightmares.
He never invited me over for another sleepover, and we don’t hang out much anymore.
I still visit the treehouse, but not very often. It’s getting colder now and if I’m out there for more than an hour my hands get icy and my nose runs.
I have seen the little girl a few more times, though, and even saw the bleeding man again. Only once.
Like the first time, it was at night.
I hadn’t meant to be there after the sun went down, but I’d fallen asleep while reading a book.
It was his voice that woke me up.
“Don’t be scared.”
This time I didn’t stay for the end. I didn’t want to see him crawling across the floor again, watch him pull the little girl into that deadly embrace.
The only thing I heard him say, as I was scrambling for the ladder, groggy and terrified, was the same thing he’d said that first time:
“Do you live here?”
By the time the girl started to respond, I was already three rungs down the rope ladder, heading for the warmth and safety of my bedroom.
Still, as weeks passed, I couldn’t let go of the idea that I could somehow free the little girl. Let her eternal spirit rest or whatever. Go to heaven.
I spent a lot of time on the internet, looking for more information about ghosts, especially those trapped like mine was. It was hard to find stuff that was helpful because there was, like, tons and tons of stories and supposed facts about ghosts that had nothing to do with what was happening in the treehouse.
She was a very specific haunting.
There was, however, some information about getting rid of ghosts, like certain things you could do to free them into the spirit realm, which was interesting. But even that came with its own series of problems.
For instance: burn sage. What the hell is sage? And how do I burn it? I considered asking my mom, but like I said, she was already thinking I was getting too weird, and plus I didn’t want to have to answer a bunch of questions.
Another option, one that was much easier, was salt.
Salt I knew.
Apparently, if you put salt on the floor, or across a doorway, it keeps the ghosts out. I’m not sure if it would work, because the ghost was already in, but I swiped the salt container – the one my mom uses to fill the little ceramic shaker we keep on the table – from the pantry and hid it in my room. Figured it couldn’t hurt.
Another idea for banning spirits was to burn white candles. Okay, I thought. This was also something I could handle.
I knew we had a stash of emergency candles in the laundry room, along with a wind-up flashlight, bottled water and some first-aid stuff. The candles were white and heavy, plenty big. I took three.
So… I had my salt and my candles. I was feeling pretty good about things.
There was only one snag. I wanted to do the salt and the candles when I knew the bleeding man would be there. I’d pretty much decided that he wasn’t really a ghost-ghost, but sort of a part of the little girl. Like she was showing him to me using her own… spirit energy, I guess.
I don’t know what makes me think that. But there’s one obvious fact: If he killed the girl, and then her mom, it would mean that he probably didn’t die in the treehouse.
Unless he killed the mom first, of course. And maybe that’s why he was bleeding? Maybe she’d stabbed him or something. Defended herself.
Or maybe he’d already been bleeding. I thought of a hundred reasons why, but the ones I went back to again and again were these: he had robbed a bank, and the police had shot him while escaping; there was a drug deal and the drug dealer shot him or stabbed him when he wouldn’t pay; he’d been bitten by someone’s dog when he tried to rob their house and had gone to the treehouse to hide, not knowing the girl would be there.
Or, did the girl come in after he arrived? Maybe he was the one who was surprised.
Or, maybe he knew the little girl.
Maybe he was the mom’s boyfriend.
I know the police always think it’s the boyfriend or husband, though. He definitely would have been a suspect. There’s no way he could have escaped if he was someone they knew.
So, a stranger.
Or, as Jamie’s mom put it: an intruder.
Whoever he was, I wanted him gone along with the spirit of the little girl. And since he only appeared, at least so far, when it was dark, I figured I’d have to go out there at night.
The only thing that still sort of confuses me is something my mom said a few days ago.
“I was talking on the phone earlier with the realtor. He’d called to check in,” she said one night while the two of us were watching a movie. I could tell she was trying to be all cool about it, but she was obviously nervous. “You know, the guy who sold us the house.”
“Uh-huh,” I mumbled, my eyes on the screen. If she could pretend, so could I.
“It’s just… well, I don’t want you to be mad at me, but I mentioned that you’d been having nightmares. About a little girl, and the man?”
She said this like a question I was supposed to answer, or at least reply to, but I kept my eyes forward. I didn’t want her to see my face.
She went on anyway.
“He stopped talking for a moment…I thought we’d lost the connection at first. Anyway, he said something kind of strange.”
Okay, now she’d got me. I turned to look at her sitting at the opposite end of the couch. But now she was the one looking away, pretending to watch the movie.
“What’d he say?”
She was quiet a moment, and when she finally answered, it was more like she was talking to herself.
“He said, ‘Tell him to sleep in the treehouse. The fresh air will do him some good’.”
I swallowed hard, ignoring the chill that ran up my back at the very thought of such a horrible idea.
“Why is that strange?”
My mom turned to me then, her face half-lit by the light from the television. Her eyes were wide, and worried.
“Because when we bought the place, he’d said the exact opposite.”
“I don’t get it,” I said.
“At the time, he told me you should probably stay away from the treehouse. He said, and I remember this clearly, that it wasn’t safe.”
Which brings my story up to date.
As I type this, I’m readying myself for what I need to do next, and I’ve already figured out when I’m gonna do it.
I’ll do it tomorrow.
I’ll go out there after the sun sets, when it’s dark, and I’ll finish it.
After all, it’s just a ghost and her memories. There’s nothing out there that can actually hurt me – scare me, for sure – but not actually hurt me.
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