The Baby

By: Heather (Lost Sheep #3)

Bo Duke glanced around the thick stand of trees that he was walking through, imagining sounds from every direction. Bo wasn’t usually this fearful, but it was Halloween, and he was walking near the old McPhereson’s place, one of the houses in Hazzard that was rumored to be haunted. He wouldn’t have been walking, if the CB in the car he’d borrowed from Cooter had been working, but it died just as he picked up the mike to call for help after the engine blew, something else that shouldn’t have happened. Normally he wouldn’t have even had a car from Cooter, unless Luke had taken the General out of town, but the Duke family had volunteered to take the orphans trick-or-treating to the farmhouses spread out in the county and Bo had borrowed the car so that they could take more kids, between the four of them not an orphan had been left at the orphanage. He was just grateful that the engine had blown after he had dropped the kids off.

Suddenly Bo heard a dreadful screech and looked to either side, chastising himself, “Bo Duke, get ahold of yourself, it’s only that tree branch scraping against the window of the old McPhereson place.” But that didn’t help, when he saw what looked like a light coming from the window, a light which should have been impossible from the house that had been deserted for over 50 years.

Then it happened, the rain that had been threatening all that night started, not with a few drops here and there, but with a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder, followed by an immediate downpour. Bo knew that he was too far from any other shelter, and if he stayed out in the deluge he was going to get pneumonia or something even worse, so he raced for what had been the front door of the old farm house. He ran full-tilt through the old wood door that had been left standing open. Slamming the door behind himself Bo let out a grateful sigh that he hadn’t gotten more soaked than he had.

Using the flashes of lightning that came frequently through the window Bo looked around what had once been the front sitting room of the farmhouse. As a particularly bright flash of lighning lit up the mantlepiece over the old stone fireplace Bo saw an old fashioned hurricane lantern that still appeared to have some oil in it. Holding his breath that the emergency matches he always carried with him hadn’t gotten too wet he fished one out of his pocket and struck it on the mantlepiece. When it lit with a satisfying glow he lifted the cover off the lantern and quickly stuck the match to the wick. Bo sighed with relief when the wick began to burn, that is until he had placed the chimney back on the base of the lantern and lifted it to look around the room some more. The light from the lantern caused more shadows than the lightning had, and made the old farm house that much more creepy.

With a shake of his head Bo began to investigate the first floor of the run-down building, picking his way cautiously over loose, squeaking boards and flashing the light from the lamp into all the corners of each room. When he made it back to the entry hall he contemplated investigating the second floor, wondering where that flash of light had come from. But since he didn’t hear anything from up there he decided against it as he noticed that all the stairs seemed to be in very bad shape. He decided to settle down in the corner of the sitting room where he could best watch the entryway and the door into the dining room.

Bo sat and hummed, trying to keep the shadows at bay with his voice, though his humming sounded overly loud in the stillness of the house. How long he sat there he didn’t know, and he didn’t want to go back out as the rain was not letting up, in fact if anything it seemed to be getting worse. Eventually he drifted to sleep, the lantern still shining brightly to keep the shadows at bay.

**********************

Bo awoke with a scream caught in his throat, unable to figure out what had woken him, then he heard it again, a loud crash from the second floor thundered through the rooms. Bo froze in terror, wanting to ease his fear that it was nothing, yet at the same time knowing that it was something, and very likely something he didn’t want to run into.

Cautiously Bo made his way up the staircase, each step creaking and groaning in protest. When he reached about halfway up and was eye-level with the second floor he stopped on the stairs and peered through the railing, at first he didn’t see anything, but then he saw a flickering light in the bedroom off to his left, then he heard it, the most eerie sound he had ever heard. One moment he thought it was a scream, the next it sounded like a moan.

Bo crept closer still, edging up the stairs and toward the light. When he could see into the room finally, what he saw nearly broke his heart, while at the same time scaring the living daylights out of him. There was a woman, about his own age, sitting in a rocking chair, cradling a baby to her chest and letting out etheral moans and screams as she weeped over the baby.

Bo watched as the ghost rocked the ghost baby, it was obvious that the anguished cries of the mother were over the loss of her baby, and even though the sight of two ghosts filled Bo with fear, the sight also left him hartbroken, that is until he heard a creak behind him. Turning around he saw a ghost heading for the mother and the worst words he had ever heard, spoken in the eeriest voice.

“Shut up….the worthless kid’s dead….give him to me….” the “male” ghost said to the mother ghost, as ‘he’ passed straight through Bo’s body.

Bo screamed in terror and ran down the stairs. As he reached the bottom step the front door flew open revealing a shadowy figure in the night. “Leave me alone!” Bo screamed, running into the parlor, thinking it was more apparitions from beyond the grave.

“Bo, relax, it’s just me.”

“I said, leave me alone,” Bo yelled again as the figure came closer, shining a light in his eyes.

“Bo, it’s Luke!” Luke screamed, trying to get is cousin to listen.

“Luke?” Bo asked, clearly shaken up.

“Yeah, cousin, it’s me,” Luke said, stepping closer and kneeling down next to his shaking cousin.

“Oh, Luke, I was so scared.”

“I know you were, come on, let’s get out of here, you can tell me on the way home,” Luke gently eased Bo to his feet and guided him out of the house.

Once they were in the car on the way home Bo turned and looked at Luke, “Do you believe in ghosts?”

“No, Bo, you should know better than to believe in them too,” Luke laughed softly.

“I didn’t think I did, until I saw three of them tonight.”

“Three?” Luke asked.

“Yes, three, a mother, baby and an angry man.”

“You’re kidding right?” Luke asked, hoping Bo was just pulling a Halloween prank on him.

“Luke, you saw me, do I look like I’m joking?”

“No, I guess not, what happened?”

“The car stalled and I couldn’t get it started again, when I went to call for help the CB was busted, so I got out and started walking. When I was just about on top of the McPhereson place it started to rain, I knew that I had to get under cover so I ran inside….” And so it went on, Bo told Luke the whole story, leaving nothing out.

“Wow,” Luke said, when Bo had finished his story. “If I believed in ghosts, which I don’t, though I don’t say you’re lying either,” Luke added quickly to reassure his cousin that he believed him “I would have to say those were the ghosts of the McPhereson’s themselves. Do you know the story?”

“No, not all of it anyway.”

“Well, the young couple came to Hazzard right after they were married and moved into the old house that had been in her family for generations, things seemed great, they seemed like the perfect couple, so I’ve been told by Jesse, when Elizabeth got pregnant she and James were ecstatic, but when the baby was born it was sickly, all sorts of medical problems, and James ended up hating his son because he was not a legacy to his name. The baby died on Halloween night. The story goes that Elizabeth wouldn’t give the baby up because James wanted to bury it in the back yard and forget that it ever existed. Finally, James had enough and threatened Elizabeth with a shotgun, if she wouldn’t turn the baby over to him, when she still refused he shot her, and then when he realized he shot the wife he loved so dearly he shot himself. It’s been said, since I was a kid that the whole tragedy replays itself on Halloween every year. The ghosts are stuck there because none of their souls can rest in peace.”

“Wow, I never knew the whole story,” Bo said, still shaking a little.

“Yeah, wow,” Luke echoed, “So you’re really convinced that it was ghosts you saw?”

“Even now more than ever,” Bo cast a glance over at his cousin, “I feel really bad for the mother and baby.”

“So do I cousin, but it’s been said that only a loving family can bring that house back from the haunted wreck it’s become.”

“Then I hope that happens, before next Halloween,” Bo said with a nervous laugh. “How did you find me, anyway?”

“I saw the car on the side of the road and then when I got closer to the house I saw the light in the upstairs window.”

“Luke, that wasn’t my light, I never made it off the landing of the stairs, and when I came back down I left the light on the landing, I was so scared.”

“You mean?”

“I mean you saw the ghost’s light.”

At that Luke shuddered and stepped harder on the gas, he couldn’t wait to get home to a warm fire and friendly, earthly faces. Then Bo reached down and hit the dixie horn, as though to warn off any other unsuspecting spirits that might haunt the back roads of Hazzard.

~End~

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