Once there was an Irish family named
Leery that had some strange experiences. One afternoon, Mrs. Leery was standing in
the kitchen when she heard and felt an explosion. She found nothing that could explain the
blast. A few days later, she learned that the wife of her favorite uncle had died at the
exact time of the mysterious explosion. Was the explosion a message from a ghost of the
dying? Or was it merely an odd coincidence? Mrs. Leery wasn't interested in finding out.
Not long afterwards, the whole family
began to hear knocking sounds at different times during the day: rapping on the doors, the
windows, the walls. Sometimes the raps were "like a sledge-hammer, loud and dying
away, and sometimes quick and sharp, two or three or five in succession."
One night, around four o'clock, Mrs.
Leery was disturbed by a loud knock on her bedroom door. At first, she thought it must be
the maid, so she said, "Come in."
The knocking continued so loudly and
persistently that her husband also woke up.
"See what it is," Mrs. Leery
told him. He got up from bed and went quietly to the door. He jerked the door open, but
the hallway was empty. Then he searched the entire house from attic to basement, but found
Later that morning, a telegram arrived
announcing the death of Mrs. Leery's favorite uncle. He had died around the time of the
mysterious knocking. Mrs. Leery began to wonder what was happening to her. Was the
knocking another coincidence? Or could her dying uncle have been trying to communicate
news of his death to the family? And what about the explosion she had heard? Maybe it
hadn't been her imagination after all. . . .
Deeply disturbed by these events, Mrs.
Leery became ill. To help her feel better, the family moved to a new house. While Mrs.
Leery regained her health, a young male friend named Richard had come from England to live
with the family and help with the chores.
One night Rachel, the middle daughter,
woke up and glanced at the window by her bed. There she saw a person's face peering in at
her. Am I dreaming? she asked herself.
She blinked her eyes a few times and
decided that she must be awake. Then she took a closer look at the face and realized that
it was so muffled in cloth, except for the eyes, that it resembled a mummy. Then the figure disappeared, and Rachel went back to sleep. The
next morning Rachel told her family about her strange experience. She didn't argue when
everyone said that she'd had a dream.
A few nights later, she awoke to see
the same face, still draped in cloth. The mummy's face was pressed against the window pane
and seemed more menacing. Before she could scream, the face disappeared. In the morning,
no one believed again.
Finally, another night soon after, she
relived the same experience. This time, the mummy's face seemed to move through the glass
toward the bed . . . toward her. She closed her eyes, but felt the mummy's presence as it
bent over her body. Then, she opened her eyes.
Inches away from her was the mummy's
face, its eyes staring at hers. She screamed, and the mummy disappeared.
The next morning, a telegram arrived
for Richard. It said that his mother, who lived in England, had had an unfortunate
accident the night before and had died; he left immediately for the funeral.
After her mother's experiences with the
explosion and knocking, Rachel knew that the mummy's face and the telegram were somehow
related. Soon she found out that Richard's mother had died from injuries received in
a fire while she slept. Her face was so badly burned that it had been wrapped in cloth.
Only her eyes had remained uncovered .
. . .
ŠJames M. Deem.
Originally published as Chapter 3 in Ghost Hunters
(Avon Books, 1992). All rights reserved.