A pale glow of a half-moon lit up the overcast night sky as delicate flakes of snow swirled in the air parachuting down onto the rooftops coating them with a thin layer of snow as chimneys pump out gray smoke into the night sky. The cobblestone street hidden under the snow muffling the sounds of the lone horse-drawn carriage taking residents of this little London suburb back home on this quiet Christmas Eve evening. The gas street lamps glow warmly onto the snowy sidewalks as couples, carolers, families and those returning from working late traverse the cold evening either returning home or going out. As the evening carried on for the rest of the street, the evening was winding down at the mansion at the end of the street as the home’s Butler watched out the window in the dining room before drawing the curtains.
The Butler turned from the curtains that now kept the radiating cold from the glass at bay and looked towards the gas lit lamp on the wall and walked softly over to it and turning the nozzle to make the flame smaller to allow a faint glow in the room without making it completely dark. The Butler was in service to the family since they moved in and made sure to keep the house in working order. The mansion had eight bedrooms, a playroom for the children, a dressing room for the Misses, two reception rooms, music room, game room the family uses in the evenings, the Master’s study, scullery, kitchen, dining room and breakfast room. Off the back where a flower garden is located is a detached house where he usually spends his evenings when his work is done.
The Butler’s footsteps were muffled from the lush maroon carpeting that lined most of the house as he made his way towards the Master’s study to check in on the Master of the house who’s been in there since tea earlier in the evening. Gently sliding the door open, the Butler entered and saw the Master sleeping in his chair by the small fireplace with a book in hand and his reading glasses resting on the end of his nose. The Butler gently took the book from the Master’s hand and placed it onto the table next to him before going to the fireplace and stoking the coals and carefully placing two more large chunks of coal onto the already glowing embers. The Butler glanced over to the Master’s working table and smiled as he saw the wrapped presents for the children on top of the desk, signaling that the Master was on guard this evening to ensure the peeping eyes of his brood won’t spoil their Christmas morning surprise.
Just then, the Butler noticed a shadow moving past the doorway in the hall, curious, the Butler entered the hall closing the Study door behind him and looked down the hall in both directions noticing coolness in the air. Recognizing this chill, the Butler briskly made his way back to the dining room and found the curtains were open. Closing the curtains the Butler turned and heard the faint sound of bare feet going up the stairs. Slowly shaking his head the Butler made his way to the stairs and crept up the wooden stairs quietly as possible. Making it to the next floor of the Mansion, the Butler gazed down the dimly lit hallway and saw the door leading into one of the children’s bedrooms slowly closed. Smiling to himself the Butler softly walked to the door, opened it gently and peered in at the two beds that were on either side of the room where the middle children from the family were.
Entering the room the Butler looked at the two children sleeping and came to realize that they were in fact sleeping, he knows the signs of a fake sleeping child and these two were not pretending to be asleep. Just then a shadow came out from under the bed of one of the children and shot out across the floor making the Butler jump up in order to not be hit. The shadow slid out the door and into the hallway. The Butler best to his ability rushed out into the hall and closed the door behind him. The shadow vanished down the hall towards the dressing room. Carefully and as soft as he could go, the Butler made his way down the hall almost knocking over a vase that he caught and put back on its pedestal. Rounding the corner, he found the dressing room door still in motion of opening slowly, the shadow already inside the room.
The Butler entered the room, pulled out a box of matches and lit the gas wall lamp careful to keep the flame low. In the glow of the light the Butler jumped at the sight of the dress dummy which was sporting a dress that’s a work in progress. Looking around the room, the Butler could not find a trace of the shadow, he looked under the sewing machine, the end table and even in the small hearth but no shadow. As the Butler stood back dumbfounded, the shadow sprang from under the dress’s skirt on the dummy and shot out of the room and towards the direction of the stairs! The Butler turned the knob quickly to the off position of the gas lamp before running on the balls of his feet into the hall and down the steps, luckily his shoes not making a sound.
Bent slightly with his hands on his knees, the Butler panted as he looked around to where the spectral rapscallion flew off to. The Butler stepped sideways to the doorway leading back to the dining room and peaked around the corner to see if he can spot the vaporous nuisance. Just as he was about to enter the room he heard a light jingling noise coming from the parlor, the parlor where the Christmas tree is! Damning stealth, the Butler ran into the parlor in time to see the shadow being knocking a glass ornament off the tree. Time seemed to have stood still for the Butler as he leaped forward, his entire body stretched out in mid-air as he flew through the room and crashed down onto the floor with his palms up providing a soft landing for the glass adornment to land on. With the tree shaking from the Butler’s landing, the door to the Master’s study slid open, hearing this, the Butler shot up to his feet and put the tree ornament back in its place.
Looking around for the Shadow, the Butler saw the door leading out the back and towards the detached house was open letting the cold night air in. The Butler made his way to the door quickly and quietly as the Master was about to enter the parlor. As the Butler stepped out the back door he closed the now locked door behind him gently and raced towards the detached house where the dark curtains in the windows would give the appearance that all is calm inside but when the Butler entered, the inside was brightly lit and the sounds of merrymaking filled every corner of the small abode. Floating around the small dwelling, spirits from current times and times passed swirled around clinking glasses, exchanging jokes and catching up on their last conversations.
The shadowy phantom’s appearance that was in the main house changed in the warm light of the wall lamps into a fair young woman wearing a maid’s outfit. The Butler’s stern look faded as she came to him with a cup in hand which he graciously took and joined her in swirling around the room where he was met with questions mainly alluding to wondering why he was late for the party since his duties as a Butler in the mansion ended years ago when he passed.
“Old habits die hard.” The Butler said, leading to a chorus of laughter from his fellow ghosts of the mansions past who raised their glasses up in the air for Christmas cheer before continuing the revelry that will last the rest of the night and all into the next day before continuing on with their usual haunting until the next celebration where the Butler hopes to attend but on time.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Traditionally ghost stories would be told on Christmas eve, the most famous was Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ . Now telling ghost stories on Christmas eve is considered by some as a forgotten tradition.
Daniel S. Liuzzi, a Poet and aspiring writer from New York who is a lover of Sushi (anything Japanese really), Video Games and a good movie. Writes mainly Short stories of Strange Fiction, Fiction and Horror. Daniel had two poems published in the June 2011 issue of the Taj Mahal Review and in the past contributed to Far Horizons E-mag. Daniel is inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, HP Lovecraft and Vince Flynn.