Strange Sounds at Night
I was working late in the Book House last night. It was snowing outside, and the light from its large front windows lent the snow and the shadows of the trees an eerie whiteness in the dark. It was very cold outside, but I was warm inside, with a single space heater that was working overtime.
All was well until I became aware of the sound of muffled tappings from the ceiling above me. I discounted the tappings and continued sorting the series of the four “Macabre Quarto” advertising cards into sets. I sorted one batch of fifty and then started to do the same with the second batch. The tappings persisted and even grew in volume and became more persistent. Had I known the Morse Code, I might have been able to interpret the sounds. All I knew was “S.O.S.” for Save Our Ship and “V” for Victory. But before long the tapping sound was continuous.
I turned the lights down, and when I went outside, I used a flashlight to check the freshly fallen snow for footprints. There were none in the snow that I could spot, human or otherwise. Although outside I could hear no tappings, only the wind, my imagination started to work overtime. What was happening inside? Was there a leak in the roof? That was unlikely because the roof was new and the shingles had just been laid last fall, before the snow, under ideal weather conditions.
Was there, up there, a new nest of some animal or other? A family of raccoons, squirrels, or rats? There were no footprints and there was nor spoor in the snow in the morning, when I walked entirely around the perimeter of the Book House to check. On the roof, the snow appeared to be undisturbed and, more importantly, the eavestroughs and the screens were completely covered in snow.
The next morning the situation remained unchanged. In the light of day I went back in the Book House and I found that all was well. I continued to unpack the boxes of books, one by one. All was quiet; not a soul stirred.
I returned to the Book House after dinner, and all was initially noiseless. But then the tappings resumed. They were exactly the same as they had sounded the previous evening. They were very quiet at first, and then a little louder. The tappings were persistent and suggestive of an unseen hand, some unseen force that was only now manifesting itself. There had to be a natural explanation, I concluded, but up until then I could not come up with it.
What was the cause of the tappings? Was it a ghost? Was it a poltergeist? Was it a shade or a wraith or a spectre? Was it a critter or creature that had lodged between the walls? Was it an eerie being from another dimension trying to communicate with me in some unknown fashion, in some foreign language, Swahili perhaps? Was it the spirit of the books of the fantastic that I was publishing and shelving?
I could not answer these questions but I could come to a conclusion. Then and there I decided that my new Book House was a haunted site. Should I arrange for an exorcism? Should I try to communicate further to find a natural explanation for this unusual phenomenon? Should I
have a colleague visit to see if he could confirm what I heard? And whatever or whoever it is, should I give it a name? Should I call it “BH,” the Ghost of the Book?
Stay tuned! Be sure to read the next thrilling installment of “The Ghost of the Book House”!