Halloween Blogfest: Velda Brotherton

A Haunted Memory
Our family moved to Wichita from rural Arkansas in 1943. Because of the war, my dad was going to enlist in the Navy to prevent being drafted into the Army, and so our parents decided to move somewhere that my mother could find employment. That meant Wichita and Boeing, where she later went to work as a “Rosie the Riveter.”

My brother Freddie was five and I was seven. Blackouts were enforced, so we were scolded a lot to make sure and come in the house before dark. In those days it was safe for kids to play outside and wander a bit, and so we did. One afternoon we crawled into a thick growth of bushes, hiding from enemy soldiers. Coming out on the other side, we saw the haunted house for the first time.

It was large, with a wrap-around porch, a second story and a window at the peak that looked out of the attic, where we were sure ghosts lived. Wasn’t that a light we saw wavering around up there just as mom called us in for the night? We discussed all the possibilities and decided that one afternoon soon, we would go there as soon as I got home from school.

Whether he let it slip or told on purpose, which he sometimes did cause he was just a little kid, my mom told me in her most serious tone, “Don’t go near that house. It’s dangerous. You could fall through the floor or get a rusty nail in your foot.”

Naturally, having that information, we could not resist.

“We’ll go tomorrow when I get home from school,” I told Freddie. “And don’t you tell, either.”

“But we won’t go inside, will we?”

“Let’s just wait and see,” I said, but I was fibbing. I was definitely going in, whether he did or not. The old haunted house was simply too inviting.

So, the next afternoon, as we ran out to play, mom called, “It looks stormy, don’t you kids go far. And come in if it starts to thunder.”

“We will, we will,” we promised. I could hardly contain myself. A storm and a haunted house combined was too much to ever wish for.

We skipped off down the street. Most of the outlying streets were dirt in those days, so we kicked gravel and threw rocks as we ran.

“Come on, let’s sneak up, just in case,” I said, and took my brother’s hand. We hurried to the bushes that surrounded the old house, crawled under them and lay there on our stomachs for a while staring at the windows. Some were broken out and a couple on the ground floor near the porch were boarded up.

“Look,” I whispered. “Did you see that?”

“I didn’t see nothing,” my little brother said.

“Up there. I saw something move behind that window.”

He began to whimper. “I’m not going in there, then.”

“You stay here, I’ll reconnoiter.” I loved learning big words and their meanings and that was one of my favorites.

“What’s that mean?” he asked.

“I’ll go look around first, then signal you when it’s clear.”

He nodded.

Heart in my throat I snuck through the yard, crept up on the porch and to the door, which stood ajar. Once inside, I listened for the sound of anyone moving about. Old wallpaper hung raggedly, some of the ceiling had fallen down. Above me, the floor creaked like someone walking around. The hair on my neck stood straight out.

Just as I started backing up, the air raid sirens went off, which happened frequently in Wichita during the war. I never was a screamer, being a tomboy, but that screeching noise startled me so bad I jumped right up in the air, yelped and ran lickety-split out the door, across the porch and leaped to the ground without ever touching the steps.

We ran all the way home, and even though I never actually saw a ghost, in my childhood memories that house has always been haunted.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of The Purloined Skull by Velda Brotherton.

About the Author:The Purloined Skull FC 300 Velda Brotherton has always loved to read mysteries, but in her long writing career, she has just recently had her first mystery, The Purloined Skull, published. She writes from an office in the home she shares with her husband. Located on ten acres of land that borders against the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas, she often goes for days without seeing another human being. Visitors include herds of deer, red foxes, bobcats and occasionally a shy black bear, along with all the tiny critters that habitate the Ozarks. Since 1988 she has been multiply published in historical nonfiction and fiction, as well as short stories and articles.

Velda is the co-chair of a large critique group; she mentors young writers, holds workshops and speaks at conferences.


Website: http://www.veldabrotherton.com

Blog: http://www.veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

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Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Velda-Brotherton/e/B001KCC0ZU/

Buy Link: http://www.oaktreebooks.com


  1. Great story, Velda! I had a couple of similar experience when I was a young girl. One was an abandoned (haunted?) dairy I absolutely had to explore. Another was an old house that sat at the end of a long, dirt road. I convinced one of my friends to go with me but, when we got about halfway to the house, an old man came out with a shotgun. I’m sure he fired into the air but, at the time, we were convinced he was shooting at us. Needless to say, we ran as fast as we could to get away and gave up any hope of exploring the house after that.
    Can’t wait to read “The Purloined Skull.”

  2. What a great story! My heart was pounding.

  3. Nice story

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. As always, Velda, you come up with great stories, even when directly out of your real life. The cover for The Purloined Skull is perfect.

  5. Richard Briggs says:

    Excellent story. Most of our childhood ‘supernatural’ adventures took place in our minds, but that did not detract from them one bit. Reminds me of the dark, sprawling, run-down former railroad flop house in my small North Arkansas hometown, known as Mears Apartments. Ambrose Mears, dressed in rags with one wandering eye, his wife Ida large and fierce-looking… All it took was a little imagination.

  6. I’d love to win, Velda. Sounds like an interesting tale.
    E-Mail: charlesjanATsbcglobalDOTnet

  7. Alice Trego says:

    I loved this, Velda! Reminded me of the time when “Hector” filled my childhood imaginings. Though he was made real by my oldest cousin’s storytelling, there’s the extra fact that she made it more real by making me walk past his “house,” a burnt ramshackle of a wood home. Not one to “walk” past this dark and creepy edifice, I ran! The image still remains fresh in my mind. But the truly lasting thing about Hector, as annotated by my cousin in her stories, was that Hector usually came out during the full moon, mostly to prey upon children. If we looked at the moon three times in a row, he would no doubt find me! To this day, I admire the full moon only in one glimpse…never three times in a row. I’m excited that you’ve written the mystery, The Purloined Skull, one that I can’t wait to read as I’ve always been intrigued by all things related to Edgar Allan Poe.

  8. Scary and fun, fun, fun on this Halloween Eve. Got us in the mood.

  9. Thanks for the great response and comments. Alice told the most hairraising story and won a copy of The Purloined Skull. I’ll will email her for her mailing address. Congratulations, Alice. And thanks to you all for entering this little Halloween contest.

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