Our Echo
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Story ID:568
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Gilboa New York USA
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.

“Hey guys, did you hear about the people who bought the old Hardenberg mansion?” asked Bobby.

“Yeah. They must be crazy. That house is haunted and nobody in their right mind would buy that place,” opined Tony.

“I know, but the new owners fixed it all up and remodeled it, and now they’re living in it. They claim there ain’t been no ghost. Must be so, because they’re still living in it.”

“Probably all the commotion from the remodeling scared it away,” Tony reasoned. “Maybe it’s hanging around Road Seven.”

“Naw,” Jimmy spoke up. “I bet there never was no ghost.”

“I bet you won’t dare walk it to the end at night to find out,” declared Bobby, knowing that Jimmy always took a dare.

“Hell I wouldn’t. I ain’t scared. There ain’t no ghost no way,” boasted Jimmy.

Seeking to call his bluff, Tony remarked, “I can drive at night now I’m eighteen. I’m going to Gilboa to pick up some stuff. I’ll go route 23 and drop you off by the manor. That way, on the way back, I can pick you up on Route 30.

“You’re on. It’s a full moon. I won’t even need a flashlight. I’ll find out if there’s a ghost. I ain’t afraid.” Bobby said, “That’s about a four mile walk across there.”

“Four miles ain’t no biggy.”

They drove west on 23 and stopped at Road Seven, beside the Hardenberg Manor looming on the hill beside the road. It was a dirt road that followed the shores of the Schoharie Reservoir. Jimmy opened the door and got out.

Tony asked, “Do you want me to drive you in as far as the bridge and the gatehouse road?” “Nope. I’ll go the whole way past the side of the mansion, just in case the ghost is nearby.” “See yuh on the other side,” Bobby laughed as the car drove off.

Jimmy began his walk. He rounded a sharp bend, crossed the small bridge and then the road to the gate house where they let the water into the tunnel that carried it towards New York City. Now there was nothing but woods from here to the end of the road.

Soon, Jimmy became aware of many sounds. The breeze moaned softly through the pine trees and stirred the leaves of the hardwoods in a gentle whisper. He enjoyed the symphony of frogs and peepers that blended with the breeze as he moved through the dark, motion filled shadows of the night.

Slowly, Jimmy’s spine began to tingle with the first of many chills this night. I wonder if there really is a ghost, thought Jimmy. Maybe I was too quick to agree to this. My big mouth could get me into some serious trouble.

Suddenly Jimmy was aware of a presence in a patch of woods between the road and the water. He froze, a big lump lodging in his throat. Damn, he thought. My heart is pounding so loud it will give me away. He cried out, “Who’s there?” Then, “Oh man, what’s that?” as something big leaped from the brush, flashing a white flag as it ran. Jimmy sighed, “That white flag was a deer tail. Betcha that deer is as scared as me.”

Slowly, as his heart stopped pounding, he moved on.

He thought, here’s a good stretch and I can see pretty good. Not many trees here. Man, those silver streaks shining on the water in the moon light sure are pretty. I better speed up in this good light.
Damn. The woods are closing in again and it’s awful dark. I can’t even make out the roadway. An owl hooted. Jeez, he thought, that gives me the shivers.

Suddenly a low growl split the night. Jimmy’s mind raced in panic. What’s that? Oh my God! I’m in deep doo doo now. That was a bear doing that growl. I can’t see him and I don’t know where he is. What should I do now? I can’t go nowhere. I can’t run. He’d catch me sure. Besides, I can’t see nothing. Sure hope he ain’t hungry.

Jimmy waited until he could no longer hear the bear, then cautiously moved on. He began to worry then about Tony and Bobby. What if they got tired of waiting? What if they think I got another ride, he fretted.

Oh Jesus, Jimmy moaned suddenly. Something moved in the brush just ahead. Is it that bear again? Maybe it’s another bear. Now what’ll I do? I can’t go back. I’m scared to go on.

In the distance, near the water’s edge, sounded a mournful cry. Jesus, I’m shivering again, and it ain’t cold. That was a coyote talking, he thought.

Just then a raccoon jumped from the brush, pouncing on an unseen rodent or frog. “Oh Lord,” Jimmy said out loud, “I don’t know if I can take any more of this. If that ghost shows up now, I’ll probably be glad to see him just for the company.”

Finally he began passing fields and he thought with great relief, the worst is over. Ought to be clear sailing now.

Soon, car headlights appeared coming toward him. The car looked familiar in the moonlight. “Thank God,” he said out loud. “That’s Tony’s car.” He fought back his tears of relief and forced a smile as the car stopped and the door swung open.

“Jump in, Jimmy,” Bobby called. “We thought you were stuck somewhere. Did yuh see any ghosts?” “Naw, “ Jimmy replied. “Tweren’t no ghost. It was a piece of cake.”

“Maybe you should try it at midnight or try a different night next time,” suggested Tony. “Naw, one of you guys can if you want. I’ve had my turn and I’m satisfied.”

“Well, there’s probably nothing there anyway,“ Bobby agreed. “We’ll just forget it.”

Jimmy smiled, knowingly.


Photo - Hardenberg Manor


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