Weird Fiction Contest Runner-Up: The Blue Room

The Blue Room

by Jack B. Rochester

“This is the Blue Room,” Helen Devries said. I looked around, enjoying the tour of this old Rhode Island farmhouse I had already made up mind to buy. The Blue Room was indeed blue, shade upon shades of blue, from the wallpaper to the curtains to the bedspread on the white metal bedstead. “It’s said this was once the room of a beautiful young woman named Samantha, back in Civil War times. The father built this house. He and his wife had five children, four boys and the youngest a girl. They each had their own room, and this was hers.” It was a huge Colonial farmhouse, perched atop a steep hill, surrounded by oaks and maples at least as old as the house. The view across the rolling purple hills was just magnificent.

“Our three boys had their rooms up here, on the second floor, and Will and I shared the master bedroom on the first floor. Just like when the Grantham family lived in it. Until Samantha – um, was killed.”

“Killed?” I said, startled. “You mean murdered?”

“Oh, no, not murdered. It was an accident. Her father was driving a buckboard, taking her to a Hallowe’en party. Took a turn too fast. Poor Samantha was thrown out of the carriage and struck a rock or something. Died. You can still see the marker out on Old Bainbridge Road.”

I started to say something commiserative, but it wasn’t Mrs. Devries’ daughter; she was just telling me the story.

“Poor girl was just twenty-four years old,” she continued. “Her father was inconsolable, as you might imagine. They lived here, oh, what, perhaps another year? – then moved away. You see that poster in the breezeway? It was the auction announcement for the farm. Grantham packed up his family and just walked away. He died shortly after. But that’s not why I tell you the story of Samantha.”

I turned to her. “Oh?”

“No, I tell you the story because I can see in your eyes you want this house for your own, and I want you to have it. I think you and the house are right for one another. But it’s only fair for me to tell you it’s haunted.”

I raised my eyebrows and suppressed a smile. “By Samantha.”

“Yes, by Samantha Grantham. So I am told. I have never encountered the ghost myself, personally. But many stories have been told by others who have owned this house over the years, and guests who have stayed in this room, who have met the ghost of Samantha Grantham. And do you know, I have also been told that nothing – absolutely nothing – about this room has changed since the child lived in it. The bed, the curtains, everything – just as it was when she was alive.”

“Wouldn’t the wallpaper have yellowed or peeled? The bedding rotted away?” I asked.

“You would think so, but none of that has happened.” She gave me a steely gaze. “So be forewarned, Mr. Harrison. This is truly a haunted house. Ghostly events have driven many from it. So don’t say you weren’t told what you’re getting yourself into.”

* * *

My name is Hank Harrison. I’m a bachelor, a graphic designer by trade. A small inheritance and the Internet gave me the freedom to settle into the quiet comfort of this well preserved old farmhouse. I grew serene and content here, and my two dogs were too, happy to play outdoors on the rolling hillside or sleep under the big old trees. It was summer, and the three of us enjoyed every minute of it.

One day I took the dogs on an exploratory excursion, I on my mountain bike, Missy and Dagmar running alongside, over the old dirt roads and hiking trails. As we came off one of the latter, I saw we were on Old Bainbridge Road. Further along, we came to the iron cross planted beside the road with a sign that read

Here felle Samantha Grantham

Beloved Daughter of Stewart and Mary

This day 21 October 1863

Jest Twenty-four Yeares of Age

May Her Soule Rest with God.

And so the story was confirmed, although I thought little more of it at the time. Summer passed, and it was in early August that the so-called “tears of St. Lawrence,” the Perseid meteor showers, began. I lived far enough into the country that no man-made light of any kind spoiled my nighttime skies, and so spent many hours in my easy chair outside, watching for falling stars and marveling at nature’s fireworks display.

One night I stayed out too late and fell asleep in my chair. I rose, gathered the dogs, and went in through the front door. I thought I heard a sound, and at the same moment the dogs became agitated and began twisting and turning at the foot of the staircase. They never went upstairs, for their own reasons I suppose. I shushed them and climbed to the second floor. Samantha Grantham’s room was the first at the top. A pale light suffused it, probably moonlight glowing in all that blue, I thought.

I entered, and the light remained although it did not seem to come from the windows. As I stood there, trying to figure out what was occurring, I was overcome with drowsiness. I felt compelled to lie down on the bed to rest. As I lay on my back, I saw the pale luminescence moving again, around and around, like a restless star from the Perseids now trapped in the confines of this room. I tried to follow it, but my eyelids grew so heavy I had to close them.

I snapped awake. The glowing orb hovered over the foot of the bed, perhaps five feet in the air. As I looked on, the orb turned into a face. The face of a beautiful young woman, pink and healthy, smiling, surrounded by long, golden-blonde hair. Her form slowly rose into the air to reveal a pale blue frock of shimmering silk, and there she hovered, over the foot of the iron bedstead. She was at once ethereal and real, and seemed to modulate between those two states. The smile grew on her lips and she spoke. Or at least I thought she did. Perhaps I heard it only in my mind.

I thought I heard her say, “Henry.”

No one had called me Henry, not since childhood. 

My thoughts were diverted as I was overcome with a feeling of weight pressing upon me. The countenance of Samantha Grantham – for indeed, I could no longer rationally argue that I was not seeing her ghost – was floating above my outstretched form and coming to rest upon me. The glow was becoming more material by the moment, taking human form. I could smell her perfume, feel her hair fall on my cheeks, and then her kiss upon my lips. Her fingertips touched my face and I put my arms around her, holding her, absolutely certain she was as real as real could be. We clung to one another in a sweet embrace and I felt our bodies begin to float and rise from the bed. As we hovered in mid-air, the most powerful erotic sensation I have ever known enveloped me, overpowering and blurring my senses, indeed all of my consciousness. I was utterly in the possession of this spirit whom I held in my arms, whose lips and tongue were at play with my own, and the contact seemed to flow from our faces down our forms, rippling like an erotic tidal wave into our loins. And there it was, the unmistakable fact that I was making love with the ghost of a girl who had been dead for well over a hundred years. And it was amazing, it was all-encompassing, the most peaceful yet intense lovemaking I have ever known. We moved together toward the crescendo but never crested that ecstatic moment or descended the other side. I wanted it to never stop.

“Henry,” she sighed again and again.

“Samantha,” I breathed into her ear. I closed my eyes and felt tears squeeze out and flow down my face.

When I opened my eyes, daylight was coming through the window. I was lying on the bed – her bed – utterly naked and slightly chilled. I rose and staggered into the hallway. The dogs were lying at the foot of the stairs, looking up at me expectantly.

All day, and for days afterward, fleeting mental images and strange sensations kept recurring as I thought about our lovemaking, suspended in the blue-tinged air above Samantha’s bed.

And now, many years and many nocturnal visits to her bedroom later, I believe I can say with some sense of certainty that Samantha’s spirit has departed the Blue Room, and her soul is indeed at peace with her God.