Helena Scott finished eating her Cheerios and carried the bowl into the sink. She then walked down stairs to take the clothes out of the drier that had just buzzed. As she came upstairs and dumped the clothes onto the couch, she began to fold.
First she began folding her shirts into a neat pile. She then folded her jeans, placed her underwear and socks on top, and began working on folding the towels into a separate pile. She decided it was best to bring her shirts, jeans, underwear, and socks into her room first.
Afterwards, she grabbed the last pile of towels and headed for the linen closet. Just as she was about to head back into the living room of her Pennsylvanian ranch-style home, she heard a ticking sound. As she listened closely, at the end of the continuous “ticks” she heard a high pitch “ding”. While the sound was familiar, it was too faint to really get a good feeling for what it was. As she followed the sound, Helena stood in front of her closet.
“What the hell?” she whispered to herself as she began to dig through her clothes and on top of the plastic bins that held some of her belongings. However, as she looked up, she realized that the sound wasn’t coming from within the closet exactly, but from above.
Not knowing if she felt like taking the time to figure out what the sound was, Helena stood for a moment deciding what to do. Then after about a minute or so of hearing that the sound was not going to stop anytime soon, she headed for her kitchen and grabbed a chair. As she took the chair into her bedroom, she stood it in front of the closet and tried to figure out where the sound was exactly coming from.
While she found it hard to believe, Helena soon came to the conclusion that the sound was coming from the attic. The attic. Helena had never, not even once looked inside the attic. It’s not that the tiny space creeped her out, mind you, she just had no reason to go up there. For all, she knew there could be bats up there. She doubted it of course, but who the hell really knew. However, she made up her mind to just suck it up and open up the tiny door that would lead her to discover just what was making that sound that she still couldn’t manage to make out.
When Helena pushed open the door to the attic, she found the source of the noise right away. There it was a black typewriter. The weird thing? The typewriter was moving…on its own. As Helena watched the object in amazement, she felt herself begin to lose balance on the chair. She stepped down and went for her cell phone that she had left in her kitchen.
“Hey, what’s up?” came the voice of Helena’s best friend, Rosemary Fields.
“Hey, Rosie. You doing anything right now?” asked Helena, struggling to catch her breath.
“No, not really. You okay, you sound awful.”
“Thanks,” replied Helena, chuckling slightly, “I…I guess I’m alright. Something really weird is going on though and I don’t think I’m over-reacting. You wanna come over?”
“Sure, I’ll be there in about ten.”
When Helena got off the phone, she headed back to her room. Her original plan was to just wait for Rosemary to arrive, but for some reason, she felt as if she couldn’t let this go. As if pulled by magnetic force, she found herself faced in front of her closet again, stepping up on the chair to discover that the typewriter was still typing on its own.
“Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ding”
“Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ding”
Helena’s eyes moved from the typewriter to the right of the object. Somehow, she hadn’t noticed the medium sized stack of dusty papers next to it. She picked up the papers, stepped off of the chair again, and sat on her bed.
“What is this?” she whispered to herself. She took the papers into her bathroom, blew off some of the dust, which landed in the garbage can and headed with them into the kitchen. She stuck the papers on one of the other chairs and waited for Rosemary to come over.
When Rosemary arrived about five minutes later, Helena didn’t even bother to say hi. She dragged her friend along by her arm into her room.
“What is it?” asked Rosemary, “What’s that noise”.
“Get on the chair.”
Rosemary stood on the chair and looked into the attic.
“Holy shit! How long has that been in there?”
“That’s the first thing you ask? The things typing on its own, Rosie!”
“Maybe it’s just broken or something.”
“Rosemary, the keys are moving!”
“What the hell? This just started today?”
“Right before I called you,” answered Helena.
Rosemary picked up the heavy object and brought it down. As she held it firmly in her grasp, the object still typed along, ticking and dinging as if it was still sitting still in the attic.
“How is it doing this?” asked Rosemary, as she sat the typewriter on Helena’s floor and sat crossed-legged in front of it.
Helena began to shake her head slowly, “I have no idea. I don’t know how long it’s been in there but I know I’ve never heard it before. It’s kind of creepy, Rosie.”
“I found papers next to it to,” said Helena turning to face her friend, “They looked like stories or something.”
The two friends left the bedroom and headed for the living room. Rosemary placed the typewriter once more on the floor and Helena took the papers off the kitchen chair and brought them into the living room.
Helena began to file through the papers, searching for anything that might give her a clue as to what was going on. The shock of having a self-typing typewriter remained with her, and she couldn’t see for looking. She persevered, while Rosie was again sat cross-legged in front of the seemingly possessed machine. Her head followed its movements: tick, tick, tick, tick – DING. Tick, tick, tick, tick – DING.
For Helena, the words remained a blur and she threw them down in anger, and as she did so the typewriter stopped.
“Hey!” shouted Rosie. But as soon as she spoke, it started up again.
“Did it just…react?” said Helena, cautiously.
“I think so…” her voice trailed off, then she looked at her friend. “So, what do the papers say? Are they stories?”
“Maybe, but I couldn’t get my head around it. You take a look.” She passed the pile of papers to Rosie, and she began reading slowly.
“Hmm…” she turned to the page at the bottom of the pile. The writing only covered half of the page. “I wonder what would happen if I put the paper in?”
Helena laughed, “Good luck, the thing has a mind of its own, you won’t be able to get the paper in properly!”
“Worth a shot.” She got the page and tried to line it up ready for the DING. She touched the page to the machine and for the second time, it stopped.Without hesitating, she put the page in and lined it up ready. Then she backed away and they both waited for the typewriter to begin writing again. But it didn’t.
“Great, now you’ve broken it.”
“I want just trying to help,” said Rosie, feeling guilt overcome her.
The girls stared at the word in front of them. They waited, expecting more. They’d got used to the constant tapping, and now it had stopped, there was emptiness.
“Type something back,” suggested Helena.
“I…I…can’t. They keys must be broken or something. It can’t talk to us! It just can’t, it isn’t possible.”
“Fine, I’ll do it. Move over.” Helena sat where Rosie had been, and placed her hands over the keys, letting her fingertips make contact before pressing down.
When Helena’s fingers pressed down on the keys, she noticed that they were indeed, locked.
“Told you,” said Rosemary.
“Why won’t it type? It just did two seconds ago!” exclaimed Helena.
“Okay, now it’s just being a smart ass!”
“Yeah, the typewriter is out to get you” laughed Rosemary.
“Hey, don’t laugh. Don’t you ever watch science fiction movies?”
Rosemary rolled her eyes, “Oh brother.”
“So, what do we think we have here? A haunted typewriter?” asked Rosemary.
“I have no idea. I mean, I usually think this ghost stuff is a bunch of hooey. How do you explain this though? It’s not like I rigged it or something. No one else lives here but me, so it’s not like someone else could have either.”
“So, let’s see then. We have manuscripts of what seems to be stories. We have this last page that seems unfinished…”
“And a typewriter that types on its own?” questioned Helena, finishing her friend’s train of thought.
“That’s what it looks like.”
“This is insane!” exclaimed Helena, “There’s no such thing as haunted typewriters!”
“I…I know,” managed Rosemary, “But let’s just look at this objectively. We have all these papers here and a typewriter that’s somehow…typing on its own. We agree on that, right?”
“Okay, and for some reason, the typewriter doesn’t seem to want us to type on it. It seems, and let’s italicize the seems, to have a mind of its own, correct?”
“Yes,” replied Helena, feeling slightly irritated with Rosemary’s tone.
“And we agree that no one could have rigged it and that you’ve never even been in the attic, right?”
“Well, then we have a typewriter that types on its own and papers that someone must have written. I’m guessing they’ve been up here a while since they’re covered with dust. Do you know anything about the person that lived here before you?”
“Not really,” said Helena, “I know that he died in his late fifties. Other than that, I don’t know much of anything.”
“Okay,” said Rosemary, “So maybe this typewriter was his and he wrote this stuff.”
“And what, he’s the one controlling the typewriter?”
“I don’t know. Do you have any brilliant ideas?”
“No, but come on! This isn’t the Twilight Zone! We’re not some fifth dimension!”
“I know it sounds crazy,” began Rosemary, “But maybe this is how people come up with this kind of stuff. Maybe it’s about more than just having a great imagination. You don’t know. Maybe things like this really can happen!”
As the two friends looked at each other, the sound of the typewriter began to start up again.
This was the third time the typewriter had spoken to them, and for all their guesses and theories about what was happening, they had to pay attention now. The typewriter was now the third person in the room. They weren’t alone, and whether they wanted to admit it or not, this was the truth.
“So…I think that settles it,’ said Rosie, her voice exuding a calmness and air of acceptance.
“Stuff like this can and does happen. It’s happening right now before our very eyes!”
With that, Helena made a swift movement and yanked the paper out.
“What the hell are you doing?” shouted Rosie, confused by her friend’s actions.
“If this thing can talk, then I’m damned if we’re gonna do it this way.”
She put the page down with the rest of the manuscript and went to fetch a blank piece of paper from her office. When she returned, she put the new page in the machine and lined it up.
“I wanna know what’s going on,” said Helena. Before her friend could voice her agreement, Helena was typing.
Who are you?
She waited for a reply, but none came. So she carried on.
Who are you? Talk to me, I want to know. Give me a sign…anything.
Rosie laughed, “’Give me a sign’? Really?”
Helena stared at her, “Well what do you want me to say? I’m not an expert at this you know.” Then, Helena shut her eyes and her body became limp, leaning against Rosie’s shoulder. Rosie started to panic, and lifted her friend up onto the couch, “Helena? Helena, talk to me, what’s going on? Can you hear me?” Her friend didn’t move. Rosie checked her pulse, it was strong, normal. Helena remained passed out, then Rosie heard the ticking again.
I can hear you.
“Helena? Is that you?”
“What happened? What’s going on?”
It’s giving me a sign. I can feel him.
“Feel who?” asked Rosie, becoming aware once more of her limp friend leaning on her shoulder.
His name’s Zachary. He’s the guy that lived here before. He was a writer. Those papers…they were his manuscripts.
“What does he want from you?” asked Rosemary. The typewriter continued to tick.
He wants to finish his story. He says…he says he died of Cancer. He died before he could finish his work. He wants to finish. He wants me to understand, wants me to feel his pain.
“Let her go!” shouted Rosemary suddenly, “Let Helena GO!”
A second later, Rosemary felt Helena stir next to her. Her hand going to her head, Helena sighed and sat up.
“Are you okay?” asked Rosie.
“Yeah,” managed Helena, slowly, “I felt him, Rosie.”
“What did it feel like? Are you okay?”
“It felt weird,” began Helena, “I felt like someone totally different. I could feel how hurt he was, how much he wanted to finish that story. I also felt the anger. He’s angry that his life was taken away so soon. God…God is giving him a second chance, Rosemary.”
“A second chance?”
“Yeah. A second chance to be somewhat alive again, to work on his story.”
“So he just took over your mind to ‘give you a sign’” she asked, using air quotes.
“And to know what it feels like to just be able to type and not speak. It’s a horrible feeling, Rosie. All he can rely on is that paper being loaded into the typewriter.”
“So what, he’s going to become a human form and finish the story?”
“I don’t think so,” Helena replied, “I think he’s just going to type it and finish it up.”
“So he just wanted you to feel his suffering. Wow, really nice ghost there.”
“Hey, I was the stupid one who asked for a sign. I guess he just wanted me to understand it all. He wants us to supply him with paper, to allow him to work here. He wants us to help him sell his book.”
“How? He’s dead?”
“Under a pseudonym, maybe? I was in his mind, but I couldn’t really understand everything. Some things seemed a little cloudy.”
“I can imagine,” said Rosie, “So what’s the next step?”
“I guess we have to buy some paper.”
© B.G. , gettingthroughanxiety.wordpress.com, 2016
© Jade Moore, jadekmoore.wordpress.com, 2016