"Leave the Lights On"
by John Hammel
(3:47 A.M., The Parker Residence)
8-year-old Jimmy Parker should have been asleep. Instead, he was very much awake, his blankets tightly clenched and pulled up over his nose. He tried to be brave like his father told him, but the voices were back again. And they were getting louder. The mournful screams of the damned.
Many times Jimmy summoned his parents, and each time reaped the same result: nothing.
“For the last time, Jimmy, the desperate cries of lost souls are not bellowing from your closet. But if it helps you to sleep, I’ll leave the lights in the hall on, okay?”
Like it’s that simple. Jimmy knew better. As far as he could tell, there were at least two ghosts inhabiting his closet. The first one was a young woman, who must have been murdered in this house many years ago. Her wailing kept him up all night, but it was her killer who he really feared. Night after night, Jimmy could hear them reliving her brutal slaughter. Thump! Thump! Moan! Thump! Thump! Scream!
Jimmy peaked out from under the sheets toward the well-lit hallway.
The light would protect him. He was safe. Thump! Thump! Scream!
Jimmy shot out of bed, ran out into the hallway, into his parents’ adjacent bedroom and flipped on the lights.
Jimmy learned that there were no ghosts in his closet that night, but that’s not to say what he saw wasn’t scary. He never slept with the light on again.