A Catfishing Ghost

“Help!”

Travis looked at the mirror again and blinked. How was this possible? It… it’s probably a joke. He wiped the steam on the mirror and finished drying off. Having roommates play practical jokes was something he had to learn to live with if he was going to live in the city.

The new house was a beautiful, historic four-floor Victorian. He had the attic and paid dearly for the luxury of having the largest room and private bath. Though his roommates didn’t quite understand the whole “private” space clause in his contract. Still, they were friends and he loved living in the city.

After working ten hours in the finance district, the quiet neighborhood was just what he wanted. At least it was quiet when they were house hunting. Now that they moved in, the house seemed chaotic and always on edge – at least to him. None of the others seemed to notice.

Travis woke in the middle of the night to the sound of a woman’s scream. He bolted from bed, flung open his door, and found nothing but the cold, stillness of the house. Jeff’s snores was the only thing stirring in the night. Glancing outside his window provided no clues. The only thing out there was a lone stray dog sniffing for his midnight snack.

As Travis laid back on his bed, he saw a woman’s figure in the corner of his eye. She seemed to be sitting on a low cushion and weeping. “Are you–” She disappeared as soon as he turned his head to look at her. Travis took a deep breath and remained wide awake for the remainder of the evening.

The cycle of hearing a woman’s scream followed by seeing the crying woman continued for many nights until he left a pad of paper and a pencil where she sat. He booked a hotel for that night and when he returned in the morning, there was a message for him.

“Help me. Please. Help Me.” Line after line of a heartfelt plea filled the page.

His heart broke for this woman who was reaching out to him for help. After seeing his mother be abused by his father for so many years, he refused to stand idly by and allow someone else to be hurt.

For weeks he tried to contact the woman but to no avail. The local historical society had articles about the house and its former occupants but none spoke of this woman. It wasn’t until a historian investigated the original owner of the property did Travis have a name. Elizabeth.

“Elizabeth,” he said late one night when he was alone in the house. “Elizabeth, I want to help you.”

She appeared to him that night, and every night after that for many months. Soon, he started thinking more and more of her. The way her dress draped around her slim frame, the bow in her braided hair, and how she seemed to smile when he was able to see her.

He became consumed by Elizabeth and eventually stopped going to work. The historical society’s archives became his new daytime home. He never noticed his life crumbling around him and never thought twice as he slipped the rope around his neck. All he needed was Elizabeth.

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