Happy Halloween, everyone! So for this spooky season, I thought I’d give you a short story to read. I wrote this a year ago back in my creative writing class and was waiting for Halloween to come to share it with you all.
If you enjoyed reading it, please be sure to share it with your friends and others who love a spooky and cool story.
Have a safe and spooky Halloween!
A Night at Studio 44
Instead of heading home to sleep, private investigator Hammond chose to spend the night in his office. He didn’t feel comfortable at home, preferring to sleep anywhere but his apartment. With no one waiting for him at home, he had no reason to leave a comfortable chair and oak table. Hammond wasn’t what one might say as kind; since the death of his wife two years back, he’s kept to himself. But it doesn’t mean that he won’t talk to others. He will as long as it helps him make ends meet. And at times those associations are quick; any association he had with someone usually ended poorly or with the wrong end of a pistol. He lived in his own little world.
He sat by his desk, face flat in losing gambling tickets and empty bottles. Late into the night, his door creaked opened. The blinding light woke him. Hammond looked up and saw a silhouette of a woman in her late twenties standing in the frame.
“We’re closed!” Hammond said, coughing and covering his eyes from the light.
“I don’t think you would be the one to turn down a job offer,” the woman said, walking towards a window across from Hammond’s desk. Her raven black hair cascaded over the top of her black and white dress.
Hammond groaned and stood up. Walking towards the window, he pulled the blinds up to see the dimly lit city. The street lights shined on an empty Battery Park across the street as isolated cars drove by while a lone bystander strolled along the sidewalk. The woman turned on a desk lamp and looked and him.
“You got a name, miss?” Hammond said, putting a cigar in his mouth and lighting it.
“Margaret, you can call me Margaret,” she said, walking to a chair opposite of his desk.
Hammond sat down by his desk and looked up at Margaret. Her black eyeshadow and red lipstick reminded him of the movie he’d seen on the weekend, Mildred Pierce. Hammond straightened his sweater vest and took a drink of a nearby mug of water.
“Well what can I do for you?” he asked.
“Have you been keeping up with the times?”
“I try not to, but with the war wrapping up, I’m obligated to see current events whether I like it or not. Is there something I need to be looking at?”
Margaret reached into her small purse and handed him a slip of today’s newspaper.
Allied Forces Return Home!!
Following the death of Adolf Hitler and the surrender of the Nazi force, our troops are finally making their way home.
Hammond looked at Margaret with a sign of confusion.
“It’s just an announcement,” he said.
“Turn it around.”
On the other side of the slip, read a small column.
Strange Occurrences at the Old Radio Station
Following the big transition to another improved station, Studio 44 had been abandoned for a year. Just two days ago, an anonymous scavenger stumbled upon strange markings on the wall and heard faint whispers in the hall. The scavenger recounts the markings as an animal skull surrounded by a circle and the whispers sounded of clicking and hissing. If anyone has any information regarding this station, please notify the police.
Margaret explained that the markings and whispers were paranormal. And that she wanted Hammond to investigate the area and report any findings back to her. Unfortunately for her, Hammond was only a private investigator. Unwilling to be deterred, she insisted that it should be him to undertake the job.
“Let me ask you something, Margaret,” he said. “Why me? Why should I take this job?”
“Because, Mr. Hammond, I know you are a paranormal investigator, a damn good one at that. And all this is a cover. You are a special individual, the only person I know that dabbles in the world of the wicked. Also you won’t turn down any form of money, not when you have these losing tickets to pay off. Name your rate and I will pay you. Money is no object.”
Hammond gave his rate, but he wouldn’t accept payment until the job is done. They both stood and shook hands. Before leaving, she wrote the number of her home phone on the newspaper slip. Margaret left the office and closed the door, leaving Hammond alone with the desk light. He walked to his closet; inside hung a silver necklace, a tracking device, and his silver pistol. After grabbing his things, he left the office and made his way over to the radio station.
The drive took about a half hour. With no one on the road to block him, it was a smooth ride. Hammond reached the station in the dead of night. The radio station didn’t look broken down or decayed, and the neighboring buildings still showed signs of life inside as countless shadows flickered back and forth. He walked closer to the station doors, flashlight in hand. The loud creaking doors echoed through the empty halls. With no working lights around, the flashlight was Hammond’s best friend. He clipped the light to his belt and continued working.
Even though this seemed to be a simple job, Hammond had to go through with his usual routine. First, he had to ensure that there was in fact a paranormal event. Next the source had to be identified. Once it is, Hammond consults with the journal he kept on his person at all times. Inside the journal contained the instructions needed to fix the problem. He then will go on and deal with the situation and collect his reward. Simple enough.
He reached for his tracker; a radio looking device that helped him find any signs of paranormal activity. Slowly walking the hallways, Hammond pointed the tracker into the empty rooms. Each room had knocked over chairs and rotten desks. The clicking of his loafers echoed throughout the building. Upon reaching the last room of the first floor, he found the marking referenced in the slip. It was a skull of a stag surround by three intersecting circles, all painted in red. From his experience, he knew that the mark meant trouble. A stag skull was associated with ghosts, and the three circles would mean that there is an object in the area of importance. Hammond had to stay on his toes, knowing what he would find in the halls. The last thing he wanted was a wraith, slitting his throat and drinking blood from the wound.
As he finished checking the first floor, Hammond continued to the second. Just as he planted his feet on the final step he heard the sound of radio static. He walked closer trying to get a read on his tracker. It began to click in a slow octave with every step. Hammond finally found the source of the static, an old recording booth with a radio still on. He walked toward the radio to turn it off. But it wouldn’t shut down. The radio kept playing static. Trying again, Hammond pulled the plug from the wall, yet the static persisted. Hammond stared at it until suddenly the radio static shifted into a broadcast. He knelt down and listened closer, thinking that the radio would give him a hint as to what happened.
Following the gruesome attack on Studio 44, the Regional Broadcasting Station has decided to relocate to a new building, turning the other one over to nature. The attack occurred on March 15, 1944 as a lone gunman walked into the station with a loaded rifle. He gunned down the first forty people he came across. With no ammunition remaining, he switched to a trench knife and gutted those remaining. One of the few survivors around recalled what happened. “We just hid underneath our tables and behind curtains, hoping that he would walk away. I can still remember some of their cries and the blood running down the hall.” As of this broadcast it is known that the killer of the radio station has died from a self inflicted cut to the throat. This is Nicholas of NYR signing off.
Something was stalking Hammond, watching his every move. He got up and turned around as his tracker began to click in the direction of the doorway. The light of his flashlight caught some sort of deer or animal’s head. It immediately backed away into the shadows. He walked closer and turned the corner. Nothing. Once he knew what he was dealing with, Hammond rushed outside and found a nearby phone. He turned the dial and waited as the tone rang.
“Hello?” Margaret answered.
“This is Hammond; we spoke earlier about the radio station. I have some new information.”
“Yes of course, what do you have?”
“We’re dealing with a wraith with the head of a stag. If you don’t mind, could you bring me some provisions? I don’t think I can take care of the problem with what I have on me,” Hammond said.
“It shouldn’t be a problem, what do you need?”
Hammond reached into his jacket and found the list of items needed to curing the problem inside his journal.
“I need some salt, holy water, and gasoline. They shouldn’t be hard to find. Although there isn’t a church nearby to get holy water that I’m aware of,” he said.
“I know of a church near my home. I’m on my way,” Margaret said, hanging up the phone.
Hammond hung up the phone and waited. In one of the windows of the second floor, a fairly large shadow wandered the station. The head had some kind of bone or wood sticking out the top, and the limbs were long and slender. The shadow stayed in the window frame for four seconds and disappeared. Unless he wanted to end up dead and on the morning newspaper, Hammond knew enough not to reenter without the proper supplies. Instead he stood near the lamppost and quietly smoked his cigar.
With the morning sun raising its head, Hammond knew he had to finish before morning. His journal specifically instructed that the wraith must be killed before the morning sun rises. If not, it will escape and appear in another part of town. In the dawn light, he saw Margaret, still wearing her dress, walking down the street carrying a small can. She handed him a small pouch of salt, a bottle of holy water, and a can of gasoline.
“So what do you intend to do with this?” she asked.
“First, I have to take care of the wraith. He’s bound to the place by something in there. I found an old radio inside that looked in mint condition. I bet it’s that thing. And if that goes horribly wrong, I’ll have to burn the station down. If I’m gonna do it, I got to do it now. When that sun comes up, the wraith goes away and terrorizes another place. Now if you’ll excuse me Margaret, I’ve work to do.”
“I will be here if you need any assistance,” Margaret said, standing by the lamppost.
Hammond stopped, half turning around, “Are you sure you don’t want to come in? It’s dangerous to be alone at this hour,” he said.
“Well, if you don’t think I will get in your way. But won’t it be safer to stay out here?”
“It’s only dangerous if you stray too far. Stick by me and you should be fine. Besides, I can’t let a woman like you alone out here in the dark,” Hammond said, picking up the gasoline. “Let’s get started.”
The two of them returned to the radio station. Hammond gave her the pouch of salt and instructed her to sprinkle it at every door frame. The salt would trap the wraith within the station so that it couldn’t escape. With Margaret’s help, the two of them managed to lay the first floor with salt. In addition, Hammond also poured gasoline into each room as an extra precaution to burn the station to the ground. RBS wouldn’t bother with an abandoned building; hell, maybe they will benefit from insurance money.
Once on the second floor, Hammond and Margaret walked toward the wall with the marking. She held the flashlight in her hands and stared at the mark. Meanwhile, Hammond poured gasoline onto the mark and took out his lighter. He touched the gas, and the mark was engulfed in flames. As they watched the mark burn, the color of the flame changed from a bright orange to a deep blue. Margaret reached out her hand out of curiosity, but Hammond pulled it away. She apologized, and they continued preparing.
After a half hour of gas and salt, they finished at the final room with the radio. Margaret sprinkled the last of the salt by the door and leaned on a table. Hammond looked at the radio one last time. It had finally died, but a red sticky liquid oozed from the speaker. Hammond realized that it was blood. The object the wraith is attached to was the radio He quickly placed it on the ground and poured gasoline over the hard. With the lighter, he lit the radio into a blast of blue fire. With the preparation complete, all they had to do was wait for the phantom to show its face. Hammond took a seat on a desk and waited.
“So what happens when the wraith shows up?” Margaret asked.
“I’ll shoot it; unfortunately, my journal says this particular ghoul can’t be harmed by silver. But they can be stunned. When it is down we’ll pour the holy water on it and burn the place down. The mark on the wall was its entrance. With that gone, it has to face us; there is nowhere for it to go. This wraith in particular is drawn to this place, maybe because of the killings I heard about on the radio,” Hammond said.
Margaret sighed and stood up. “Well for the time being, why don’t you tell me about yourself?”
“Doesn’t seem like the right time to talk about it.”
“It is a good time as any. The fire is still burning and the wraith hasn’t shown its face.”
He chuckled and said, “Well, you already know about me. How about you, what’s Margaret’s story?”
“Very fair, I was born in Manhattan. I graduated in the top ten percent of my class, and have a degree in Greek mythology. My mother was a nurse and my father dabbled in the dark arts. It’s how I know about things like this. Maybe someday I want to continue his work. This radio station was my way of seeing if I can handle it.”
“Sounds like you had a normal life,” Hammond said.
“Well normal in your line of work, yes.”
There was a clicking noise coming from the hall. Hammond stood with his pistol in hand. The clicking was getting louder with each step closer. He put his back to the wall and listened closely. The wraith was right behind that wall. Margaret stayed still inside the room. Hammond swung around the corner, pointing his pistol in the empty hallway. He gave out a sigh and returned to the room. He looked at Margaret. She was staring at him, hands covering her mouth.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
“It’s right behind you…”
Hammond felt a cold breath touch his neck. The sound of gurgling and snarling echoed throughout the station. In a quick motion, he ducked below the wraith and fired two shots into its chest. The thing shrieked and swung its elongated arms. Hammond ducked out of the way and pushed the wraith into the hallway. Pinned to the wall, the wraith vanished, but not without leaving a trail of a bright fluid out of the room and into the hallway.
The wraith was stunned but still walking. An extra two shots could take it down. Hammond and Margaret followed the trail downstairs to the center of the building. They spotted the wraith making another mark on the wall with the fluid. Hammond leaped onto its back to keep it off guard. The bottle of holy water fell out of his pocket. Margaret took the bottle and poured the content onto a broken chair leg. She ran up to it and struck the wraith. The holy water made the wraith burst into flames and it fell backwards into the puddle of gasoline, creating an even brighter fire. Hammond and Margaret rushed out the station to not become engulfed.
Outside in the cool weather, Hammond and Margaret sat on the curb looking at the sunrise.
“So the wraith is gone?” Margaret asked.
“I’d say so. The building is just an extra precaution. Good work with the holy water,” he said.
“I actually didn’t expect it to work. I’ve mostly just set up the contracts and that’s it. It’s a nice change of pace.”
They stood up and looked at each other. Margaret reached into her pocket and pulled out a check. She gave it to Hammond as payment for the job. Again thanking him for his work, Margaret assured him that if she finds any other issues that she will find him. They shook hands and stood there for a while, looking at the sun rise over the skyline. Hammond heard the sound of fire trucks coming their way.
“We should get out of here before the police and fire department show up,” Hammond said.
“Where would we go?”
Hammond looked in the direction of his office. “My office sounds like a safe bet.”
“Thank you for the offer,” Margaret said, brushing off her dress. “But I think I’ll just walk home.”
As the sirens came closer, Hammond and Margaret went their separate ways. The sun rose above the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. As the sun’s rays touched the ashes of Studio 44, a small blue flame died out.