If you’re looking for camping ghost stories or ghost stories for children, this story is suitable for younger people.
Suzie Rutherford was having a party!
The thought made Joell very happy because for one thing, Suzie was her best friend so she was definitely invited. For another, Suzie had some of the best parties because she knew the best people and had the best house for it (swimming pool, game room, liberal parents). Therefore, it was with great anticipation that Joell looked forward to Saturday night.
Mrs. Taylor’s last minute babysitting request almost threw a monkey wrench into Joell’s plans, but she refused to be deterred. The solution was simple. The babysitting gig was an early one, so she would watch the kids then hit the party afterwards.
Just because she wouldn’t arrive until 9:30 pm or so, didn’t mean she couldn’t still have a good time. After all, there was some wisdom to the phrase “fashionably late.” She would also arrive a few dollars richer, so that was a plus.
After mentally devising her careful plan, Joell cheerfully accepted the Taylors’ offer. Since the Taylors were old family friends, working for them offered some extra special benefits like being able to babysit in her own home rather than go to their house. That meant she could dabble on Facebook as well as tend to a few other things she had going on. It was all good.
And, bonus! Since her parents were also gone for the weekend, neither they or the Taylors were particularly worried about leaving the kids alone with Joell. She’d worked hard to prove time and again that she was responsible and trustworthy, and besides, she was now 16 years old. It was high time they got over it and quit fussing over her so much.
Joell’s parents knew all about the party and that Joell planned to go after she was done babysitting, but she knew they’d rather she get a ride or walk down with her brother. This is exactly where her plans went astray. She would soon wish she had followed her parents’ wishes to a tee. Unfortunately, she didn’t and she would pay the price.
Another benefit of babysitting the Taylors was their promptness and as promised, they had retrieved the kids at 9:15 pm (and paid in cash!). So after picking up the house and putting on a clean shirt, it was 9:35 when Joell opened the front door and made her way down to the sidewalk to the mailbox. There she made a selection on her iPod, slipped on her headphones and took off down Mulwood Road. She was careful to stay safely off the dimly lit road where it would be easy to see any traffic in any direction.
About half way to Suzie’s, she approached the Old Peterson place that some of the kids at school claimed was haunted. The moonlight cast a grayish gloom over the nightscape and an owl crooned from an overhead pine.
Out of the corner of her eye, Joell could swear someone was looking at her from one of the windows on the far side of the Peterson house. She tried to pass it off as her imagination, but couldn’t shake the feeling. So she stopped, removed one of her earbuds and listened intently for any audible movements.
She was hoping to hear absolutely nothing, but her blood turned to ice when she heard, “Jo-e-e-e-l-l-l-l,” as though someone was standing behind one of the nearby trees whispering her name. Joell stiffened and every hair on her body stood on end.
“Jo-e-l-l-l,” it said again, more quickly this time and Joell removed her other earbud. She knew she was going to have to turn around but couldn’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she rotated her head as far as she could without actually moving her body.
This time something DID move. A branch on the tree was shaking up and down, yet no other trees were stirring and there was . . . no . . . wind. Joell’s heart beat hard in her chest. After all the horror stories about the Peterson house, she was starting to freak out. She didn’t know what to do. It would be faster to run back to the safe, familiar surroundings of home, but it scared her more to backtrack to an empty house. On the other hand, she still had so far to go to get to Suzie’s.
After a few long seconds, she did what any red blooded American teen would do–she RAN! As fast as she could down Mulwood Road she ran, knees high, earbuds smacking her face with every rise of her knees. When she got to within a quarter mile of Suzie’s place, she absolutely had to stop to allow the stitch in her side to subside.
She stood at the side of the road clutching her waist, chest heaving while she caught her breath. She had been running so fast and so hard she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her–until now.
Someone was following her.
“Aaaahhhhh!!!!” she thought to herself and started off running again.
“Clop, clop, clop!,” went her shoes on the pavement. “Clop, clop, clop!”
A moment later, she heard, “Cloppity-clop, cloppity-clop, cloppity-clop.” It was another pair of shoes whose gait was just slightly off from hers–and the sound was coming up from behind!
The sound changed to, “Clop-cloppity-clop, clop-cloppity-clop, clop-cloppity-clop,” as the two pairs of running shoes began to synchronize. Another bolt of fear struck her as she realized the second pair was growing closer!
She was only a couple of blocks away from Suzie’s now and could see the front lawn. “Clop-cloppity-clop-clop!” It was closer still and Joell found a new burst of energy that propelled her across the street and down the sidewalk. Even when she knew she had gained some space, she didn’t let up.
Finally at Suzie’s place, she could see the front door, but all the lights were off! There didn’t appear to be another soul in sight and her heart sank like a rock. As her morale sagged, her running slowed and glimpsed an arm reaching out behind her, fingers outstretched, trembling, as if to grab her.
Joell bounded the stairs and dove at the front door, falling headlong inside as the door unexpectedly swung open wide. She landed face-first on the foyer floor and slid about five or six feet. Spinning herself around, she dove back at the front door to slam it shut before whatever was following her could get inside.
She was still on the floor when the dark house lit up and her vision came to focus on numerous pairs of pant legs all standing in a circle. Next came an uproar of a dozen voices that cried out in unison, “SURPRISE!” When the voices turned to laughter, the pant legs ambled about as realization came to Joell. It was her gang of friends and she was the guest of honor!
“Wha-?,” she said in a daze, chest still heaving from the sprint.
Suzie came forward.
“We know we missed your birthday last month, but thought doing it this way would really get you good,” said Suzie mischievously. “And judging by the look on your face, we were exactly right,” she finished and high-fived everyone within arm’s reach.
At that exact moment, the front door crashed open and in rolled her brother Jared, flush and breathless.
“You are one fast-moving chick,” said Jared as he threw his hands to his knees and held his head down, trying to catch his breath.
“Was that you following me?” cried Joell. “You little creep! You scared the living crud out of me!”
“Well yeah, I was hiding in the bushes out front here, but I couldn’t even grab you,” explained Jared. “Judging by the way you were blazing your way down the street, it looked like you’d seen a ghost. Ha ha ha!”
“So you weren’t at the Peterson place? Then who was that?” asked Joell, another bolt of fear running through her.
The group exchanged bewildered glances.
“Well, it wasn’t me. Maybe you were visited by the ghost of Old Man Peterson,” laughed Jared good-naturedly.
Joell was confused and scared. “Whatever it was, I will never pass that house by myself again. Ever!”
“Here-here!,” shouted the crowd as it moved into the living room.
Joell stood up to join them, but as they moved to the other room, Joell turned and took a long look out the front door window. Then she pushed the deadbolt firmly to the “locked” position.
“Just in case,” she said to herself. “Just in case — ghosts can’t get through locked doors.”
Joell was struck with a second thought, “Or can they?”