Walter

 

I always knew my house was different from all the others.

Whereas most houses creaked, mine moaned. Now, I don’t mean moaned, as in had its own settling sounds, but actual moans, as if it was always depressed.

 

At least, that was how it was when my parents and I first moved in.

 

While the realtor was showing us the house, it seemed like a normal, everyday house, but maybe that’s why they only show houses during the day, because it’s not until night that the special houses, like this one, come alive.

 

The first night we stayed in the new house, it moaned. My dad only told me that it was normal and was normal for houses to make strange sounds.

 

After a few nights of the normal, moaning, house sounds, I saw my dad at breakfast, and he looked like he hadn’t been sleeping well.

 

Once we had settled in, it was time for everyone to go back to their normal routine.

 

Since I was off school for the summer, my parents, who both worked, found a baby sitter to watch me. Of course, she mostly watched TV.

 

One day when I was outside playing, I saw another little boy digging in the ground by one of the old trees.

 

I looked around to see where he might have come from. I should point out the house we bought was an old farmhouse, and though I could see our neighbors, they weren’t that close.

 

“Hello?” I timidly said as I approached the boy. “My name is Carl, what’s yours?”

 

The boy turned to look at me and I could see how pale he was.

 

He gave me a glance, and then went back to digging.

“What are you doing?” I asked, curious.

 

He turned slightly to show me a shoe box. He opened it to reveal a dead cat inside.

 

I wasn’t so much surprised that he was burying a cat, but that he was trying to bury it at our house.

 

I was about to press the issue, when the babysitter called out for me to come in for lunch.

 

As soon as I was done with lunch, I ran back outside to see if the boy was still there.

 

Not seeing him, I went to the tree where he was burying the box and looked for the grave site.

 

I must have walked around the tree a dozen times, but I was never able to find the hole he had dug, even when I was sure I was at the right spot where he was digging.

 

That night the house groaned as usual, so I wrapped my pillow around my head to block out the sound.

 

My parents were already gone when I woke up the next morning and the babysitter was sitting out in the living room watching TV again.

 

I said ‘Hi’ to her and quickly walked out the door.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw the same boy from the day before doing the same thing he was doing the day before.

 

He ignored me as he dug his grave for the cat.

“Hello?” I asked again, feeling a sense of déjà vu.

 

He turned and looked at me.

 

To this day, I’m not sure why I asked, but I do remember feeling compelled to.

 

“Are you a ghost?” I asked.

 

The boy nodded.

 

We stared at each other, and then he put the box down and stood up.

 

“Do you want to play?” the boy asked, to my amazement.

Dumbfounded, I could only nod.

 

Only the first day was weird. By the second day, playing with my new ghost friend seemed normal.

 

He told me his name was Walter and he had died in the year 1837. That was how he worded it, so I just went with it.

 

After the first day we played, when I went to bed, I couldn’t believe it, but the house wasn’t moaning.

 

I woke up the next morning early enough to see my parents before they left, and they looked as if they had finally gotten a good night sleep.

 

That summer we played together every day and it wasn’t until I had to go back to school, that Walter’s mood seemed to change.

 

I assured him that I would play with him when I got back, and this seemed to cheer him up a bit.

 

Walter quickly became my best friend, and whenever I wasn’t at school, or doing homework, I was playing with him.

 

I never told my parents about Walter. He said they wouldn’t understand and would only be concerned with my mental health.

 

When I reached High School, my relationship with Walter began to wane. One, he was still a little boy, though he was as mature and smart as any of my other friends. Two, he was limited to the property and I wanted to get out and do things.

 

I did my best to explain it to him and somehow, we were able to make our friendship work throughout high school.

It was hard to say goodbye to him when I left for collage, but I made sure to hang out with him whenever I was home.

 

After collage, I got a job on the other side of the country, and while out there I met the woman I married and had children with.

 

At first, I would visit with my family as much as I could and sneak off to see Walter.

 

I thought of introducing my kids to him when they were old enough, but after just a few short years, my wife was growing tired of traveling across the country to see my family, so we lessened our visits to just once a year on Christmas.

 

It was around that time that my dad started to complain about the moaning having returned and how he was having trouble getting to sleep.

 

The last conversation I had with him, he told me he was going to put the house up for sale. He couldn’t take the noises at night anymore.

 

I told him I completely understood and would be happy to help them move when they were ready.

 

It wasn’t even a week later when I received a call from the local police of where my parents lived, informing me that they had been in a car crash and didn’t survive.

 

My heart was broken, and a part of me felt it was the house’s, and by association, Walter’s fault that they had died.

 

When it came time for the funeral, I couldn’t bring myself to take the wife and kids to the house. I was afraid that Walter would do something to them as well.

 

We arrived the day before the funeral, and while the family rested from the traveling, I went to see the police to see what the cause of death had been. I know they were in a car accident, but I wanted to see if alcohol were a factor, or what else could have been.

 

The police were very accommodating. They told me it looked like my father had fallen asleep at the wheel. No drugs were found in their system, and there were no signs of foul play.

 

‘Fell asleep at the wheel,’ I thought. ‘Probably because they couldn’t sleep with the house moaning every night.’

 

I thanked the officer and went back to my family.

 

After the funeral, I got the family settled back into the hotel, and went to the house to confront Walter.

 

As I drove up, I saw him by the tree, burying the cat like he was the first day I had seen him.

 

“Hi, Walter,” I said as I approached him.

 

I didn’t think there was any reason to beat around the bush, so I asked him if he had anything to do with my parents’ death.

 

Without hesitation, Walter explained that when he saw that my parents were going to sell the house, he had to do something.

 

He knew that if my parents sold the house, I wouldn’t be going to see him anymore.

 

Apparently, I was the only friend he had made since he died.

 

Angry that he all but murdered my parents, I told him I was going to sell the house and there was nothing he could do about it.

 

As I began to drive off, I saw Walter standing there, his hands balled up into fist.

 

That didn’t concern me. What concerned me was the front door of the house and all the windows began to open and shut, as if a strong wind was moving them.

 

Determined, I gave him one more angry look and drove away.

 

Up until that day, I had no idea that Walter was able to move things. That was the first time I had ever seen anything in the house, or on the property, move because of him.

 

I tossed and turned all night, trying to think what to do.

 

The next day, we flew back, and I put it out of my mind until all the necessary paperwork was completed to put the house in my name.

 

I immediately called a realtor and had the house put back on the market.

 

‘Let some other family deal with Walter,’ I thought selflessly.

 

It wasn’t long before the realtor called stating that she couldn’t be my realtor any more. When I asked why, she told me that strange things were happening in the house when she showed it, and nobody was going to buy it.

 

Infuriated, I jumped on the next flight out.

 

I put the ‘For Sale’ sign out front, only to find it torn to pieces the next day. I finally was able to get some people to come look at the house, but Walter was really not having it.

 

When I opened the bathroom door to show one couple, they screamed when they saw the entire bathroom was covered in blood.

 

Another couple ran out as they swatted at the swarm of locust that had enveloped them, and another family didn’t even get out of their car when they saw a dead body hanging from a noose in the front tree.

 

I was in shock. In all of my years spent with Walter, he never showed any ability other than making the house moan at night.

 

A part of me knew he was in pain, but all I had to do was remember my parents, and the anger grew once again.

 

Finally, I decided more drastic steps needed to be taken.

 

I paced back and forth in my hotel room, going over again and again what needed to be done.

 

When I woke up the next morning, I drove to the house to have one final confrontation with Walter. He was waiting for me at the tree when I arrived.

 

I walked up to him and said that enough was enough. I told him that if he promised to leave my family alone, I would not sell the house and even stay there from time to time.

 

His anger was slow to dissolve, but it did. He nodded and told me he promised.

 

He could tell I was still angry, but as long as he got his way, he didn’t mind.

 

I walked to the car to grab my luggage. I told him I would stay a couple of days and then fly home, but that I would return again.

 

He cautiously watched me as I carried my things inside.

It took all my strength to act normal for the rest of the day, but I did my best.

 

Finally, when it was time for bed, I said goodnight and went to my room.

 

I don’t think ghost sleep, but they don’t seem to be able to be at all places, at all times.

 

Not turning on any lights, I slipped out of the bed, opened both of the suitcases, and grabbed one of the gasoline cans.

 

I knew once I started, Walter would try to stop me, so the first can I poured throughout the room. I continued draining it just outside the door.

 

Walter didn’t appear.

 

I grabbed the second can and began pouring it where the first can finished off. This time I threw caution to the wind and began pouring it throughout the entire first floor.

 

Just before I finished pouring out the second can, Walter appeared, instantly enraged, and all the doors and windows started slamming open and shut.

 

I tried to walk out of the front door, but it slammed closed.

“You killed my parents, you little shit!” I yelled at him. I struck the lighter and then threw it to the ground.

 

The entire first floor became engulfed in flames.

 

Walter Screamed in agony.

 

Fire surrounded me as I crashed through the front window. I kept rolling until I was sure I was far enough away from the house.

 

I smacked a small flame that was on my arm and stood up.

 

I got in my car and watched the house crash in on itself.

 

Inside, I could still see Walter standing there screaming in anger.

 

I turned the car around and drove off, my middle finger waving in the air.