The House That Jack Built ~ A Short Story

After watching the Nicole Kidman classic, ‘The Others,’ last night on Netflix, I decided to revisit my haunted mind and publish one of my ghost stories on here. I had a little dig through my computer and found this. It was a story I started writing last year, and thought I’d upload one my shorts. Maybe I’ll make it longer, who knows.

So… grab your blankets and sweet tea and prepare to cover your eyes as we delve into the world of a haunted East End.

The House That Jack Built

I never used to believe in ghosts. Even as a fairly naïve teenager – which I was back then – I’d thought it to be a figment of superstitious jargon.

That was, before we moved to London and into number 7 Wicker Street. It was then I realized – I’d been living in an arrogant reality. I can safely say; my naivety has well and truly passed.

I suppose it all began that first moment we visited the house.

Call it intuition, but my senses started to prickle the very second I laid eyes on the place. It was a ginger coloured, semi-detached Victorian house perched on the end of Wicker Street.

The dark windows of the house, felt like eyes glaring at us from across the street.

There was a narrow alleyway sandwiched between this house – and another empty house that was to let. In fact…I glanced down the street…the only colour dotted around here were the estate agent boards. They were stuck outside most of the houses on this street.

Our estate agent sashayed up the stone steps, reciting the words as if they’d been plucked straight from a script.

“The house was built in the early Victorian era. As you can see it still retains some of it’s…magnitude.” She poked a copper key into the battered red door, giving it an extra shove. “These old doors,” she laughed nervously, glancing at us over her shoulder. “They can be quite tricky!”

She was a tall, stepford looking woman with pearls strung around her neck and her auburn hair twisted into an elegant bun, which she patted occasionally.

We climbed the steps. I stared up at the house. The closer I moved to it, the taller it grew, until it towered above me. My Mum gave me a little push, nudging me inside. We shuffled into the hallway. Immediately, I was struck with a sharp chill.

“So sorry.” The estate agent said in a fluster, “The heating is off for obvious reasons. If you’d all kindly step inside the living room…”

We followed her into the nearest room. She stood in the middle, hands clasped together with a Cheshire cat smile pinned at the cheeks.

The room we were standing in now, had dirty white walls, a window caked with so much grime you could barely see the daylight and a stone fireplace sitting lifeless against the central wall. The floor was littered with newspapers, soaking up some kind of damp.

My Mum, bless her, just stood next to me, clutching her handbag. I could tell she was itching to squeeze out an entire bottle of sanitizer on our hands. She probably will once we left.

“I just have one question.” My Dad started. He paced around the barren space, running his finger along the cracked windowsill, inspecting the dust with fervour. He wiped it on his jeans. I cringed, pulling my arms inside my sweater. I wouldn’t touch anything in this house.

“Ask away Mr Leonards.” The estate agent said, bearing her pearly white teeth.

I actually don’t remember her name. I remember so many things about that house – about the first time we saw the house, about wishing I could strangle her with those damn pearls, for everything she didn’t tell us…but I can’t recall her name.

“Why are there so many houses on this street that are on the market?” Dad asked, lightly prodding a soggy newspaper with his foot, “I mean – how come we can afford this place? I was prepared to be hit by a six figure number at the very least, but…this house is below our asking price!”

The estate agent’s porcelain face almost cracked. Almost.

“Oh Mr Leonards!” She laughed, patting her hair. “I told your wife this over the phone. This street has a lot of – history. In fact it’s one of the stops on the Jack the Ripper ghost walk.” She looked right at me, as if I would somehow find it exciting. I just gave her a sarcastic smile back. She widened her hands, waving around the room, “This used to be the lodging house which one of the victims was found – lived in.”

Her hand jumped to her hair. Pat, pat, pat.

“So, living on a street which has bulks on tourists flocking to your door – it tends to lower the property value.”

“Which brings me to my next question,” Dad added smoothly, ignoring Mum’s fierce look “Have there been any recent deaths in the house?”

“Richard!” Mum exclaimed, her voice echoing around the bleak room. “You promised me you wouldn’t ask that again!”

Dad gaped at her in defence, “What? They owe us full disclosure! And I think it’s important we know if someone’s snuffed it, in a house we’re intending on living in! I’m not going to apologize for asking that!”

I rolled my eyes. At this point, I would’ve turned my attention to the window so I could tune them out – but I couldn’t really see past the grime.

“No, you’re self sabotaging as per usual!” Mum huffed. She smiled at the estate agent, who looked like she was drowning out of her depth. “I’m so sorry for my husband.” She fired him an acidic look, “He doesn’t really think before he opens his mouth.”

The estate agent tried to respond but then Dad cut in, “You’re the one who fled the last place when you found out the previous owner topped his wife in their bathroom!” He nodded in self-satisfaction, “You were certainly glad I asked that question then.”

Mum sniffed, turning toward the estate agent, “You couldn’t point us toward the nearest pub could you love? I need a drink!”
She stormed out of the room. The estate agent looked to me helplessly. I just shrugged; no way was I getting involved. Besides, what could I do? Dad trudged after her muttering about women under his breath.

The question was never answered.

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