The Ghost of Old Coal House by Amy Cross
English | 2020 |Horror | Science Fiction| ePUB | 2.7 MB
Amy Cross is the author of more than 100 horror, paranormal and fantasy novels. Her books include Asylum, The Farm, The Bride of Ashbyrn House and The Haunting of Blackwych Grange. She has also written three collections of horror short stories, titled Perfect Little Monsters, Twisted Little Things and The Ghost of Longthorn Manor.
The year is 1843, and Arthur Foreman is on his way to visit his sister and her family for Christmas. Tucked under his arm, he carries the manuscript of a strange ghost story, written by the mysterious Walter Ward of Old Coal House.
Arriving at his sister’s home, Arthur immediately realizes that something is wrong. Elizabeth seems distant and distracted, and she finally erupts in a fit of fury. After being thrown out of the house, Arthur searches through the snowy night for refuge. All the usual boarding houses are closed for the holiday. His only choice is to make his way up the hill and knock on the of Old Coal House, and to ask for a room.
Soon, Arthur discovers that Walter Ward’s tales are not necessarily works of fiction after all. A strange figures stalks the halls and corridors of Old Coal House, tormenting Mr. Ward and driving him to drink. When he sets foot in the house for the first time, Arthur does not believe in ghosts at all. By the time he leaves the following morning, he has discovered the truth not only about Old Coal House itself, but also about a terrible tragedy that once struck his own family.
“We have all longed to know what this Mr. Ward is like,” he explained. “Some of us imagine a young, intense gentleman, while others think he must be old and rather round. The point is, none of us can be sure, and we’ve often wondered whether we might one day learn more about the gentleman who so amuses us. I’m doing you a favor, Mr. Foreman, by letting you leave a little early for your Christmas holiday, so now I am afraid that I must attach a small but important instruction to your journey.”
“I’m not sure that I comprehend,” I told him.
“Take that manuscript,” he said firmly. “Read it during your journey down to Mevahole. And during your stay, you are to make every effort to track down this Mr. Ward and return the manuscript to him personally.”
“I am?” I paused. “To what end, Sir?”
“You will deliver some comments of your own, regarding the merits of the manuscript in question. Try not to be too harsh with the poor man, he might be rather frail and emotional. Most importantly, however, you are to set eyes upon him and report back upon your return. We want to know more about this dreadful little man, to understand why he continually sends these awful books despite our lack of interest. Find out everything that you can, Mr. Foreman, and tell us as soon as you return. I can assure you, we shall all be on tenterhooks.”
“Well, absolutely,” I replied, still somewhat perplexed by these instructions. “I shall do my absolute best.”
“That’s the spirit,” Mr. Fitton said, patting me on the shoulder. “Remember to ask around, too, and find out everything you can about this particular gentleman. No detail is too small to leave out. Indeed, several of the others have made small wagers regarding the nature of this Mr. Ward, and we shall all be delighted to finally discover the truth.”
With that, he turned and headed back into the meeting room.
“Gentlemen,” he roared, “I have uncanny but most welcome news! Our Mr. Foreman is going to finally resolve one of the greatest mysteries known to this office!”
The door swung shut, and a moment later a loud roar rang out.
“It would seem,” Mr. Sellis said, “that you have a job to do, Mr. Foreman.”
“It would indeed,” I replied, looking down at the manuscript that I still held in my hands. I felt no great enthusiasm for my task, although I could not think of a way out. “I suppose it’s always good to be useful, is it not?”
“That’s one way of looking at things,” he said. “Then again, sometimes it’s better to maintain the mystery, rather than to discover the whole truth. I wonder, though… Do you think that Mr. Fitton and the others might be a little disappointed when they discover the truth about Mr. Walter Ward?”
“I’m afraid I have no control over that,” I told him, before stepping over to my own desk and taking a moment to gather a few possessions. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must be on my way to the station. I shall be arriving at Chatham this evening and overnighting there, before traveling on to Mevahole the following morning. I do not mind the journey, but I do like them to be nice and ordered before I set off.”
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Foreman,” Mr. Sellis said as I headed to the door.