by Benjamin Judge
It was August, but when Mary woke at midnight she was as cold as she had ever been. Ice clicked in the marrow of her spine. The chill air formed wispy clouds from her panicky breath.
She reached for the comfort of the bedside light but its tepid glow only illuminated further horrors. The wallpaper had peeled from the wall in long dog-tongue-shaped strips and on the plaster underneath, in letters a foot tall, and scrawled in human blood, was a message for her.
MARY. I THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE LEFT THE GRILL ON. FROM FREDERIK
Mary ran downstairs. Black smoke was racing up the walls. Bacon fat bubbled threateningly in the grill pan. She quickly turned the grill off and dumped the pan in the sink.
“Wow!” she said out loud “er… thanks Frederik.”
Mary poured herself a glass of water and drank it down in one frightened gulp. Silvery drops of water fell from the tap and sizzled in the grill pan. She placed the glass next to the sink and stumbled back upstairs.
In her bedroom she found more wallpaper peeled away, another message written in blood.
YOU ARE VERY WELCOME MARY. FROM FREDERIK.
The next morning Mary found that Frederik the Helpful Ghost had polished her shoes and that the glass and the grill pan were freshly washed and drying on the draining board. Mary wondered briefly why, if Frederik could do all that, he had not just turned the grill off instead of covering her walls with blood. But she didn’t say anything aloud; one rarely gets anywhere questioning the supernatural.
Benjamin Judge lives in a little room full of books in which he divides his time writing very short stories and gazing sadly out of the window, wondering if the owl will return.