excerpted from Spooky Oregon
S. E. Schlosser
He never paid much attention to the neighbors living on his city block until the day the pretty middle-aged widow moved in two doors down from him. She was plump and dark with sparkling eyes, and she always wore dark gloves on her hands, even indoors.
He went out of his way to meet her, and they often “bumped” into each other in the street and stood talking. One day, as she brushed the hair back from her forehead, he caught a glimpse of gold under the glove on her right arm. When he asked her about it, she grinned coquettishly and told him that she had lost one hand a few years back and now wore a golden hand in its place. In that moment, a terrible lust woke in his heart – not to possess the lady herself, but to possess the solid gold hand that she wore under her long black gloves.
He courted the widow with every stratagem known to him; flowers, trips to the theater, gifts, compliments. And he won her heart. Within a month, they were standing in front of a minister, promising to love one another until death parted them. Within another month, he was a widower and had buried his ailing wife in the local cemetery – without her golden hand. It had been so easy. A slow poison, administered daily to resemble a wasting disease. No one – not his wife, not the family doctor, not their neighbors – suspected murder. And the night after the funeral, he slept with the golden hand under his pillow.
It was a dark night. Clouds covered the moon, and the wind was whistling down the chimney and rattling the shutters of the town house. He was deeply asleep when the door to his room slammed open with a loud bang and a wild wind whipped around the room, scattering papers and books and clothing and table coverings every which way. He sat up, startled by the sudden noise, and his pulse began to pound when he saw a greenish-white light bobbing slowly into the room. Before his eyes, the light slowly grew larger, taking on the shape of his dead wife. She was missing one arm. “Where is my golden hand?” she moaned, her dark eyes blazing with red fire. “Give me my golden hand!”
He tried to speak, but his mouth was so dry with fear that he could only make soft gasping noises. The glowing phantom moved closer to him, her once-lovely face twisted into a hideous green mask. “You stole my life and you stole my hand. Give me back my golden hand!” the dead wife howled. The noise rose higher and higher, and the phantom pulsed with a strident green light that smote his eyes, making them water.
He cowered back against his pillows, and the hard shape of the golden hand pressed against his back. And then he felt the golden hand twitch underneath him as the mangled green phantom that had been his wife swooped down upon him, pressing his face against the pillow in a suffocating green cloud. He tried to scream, but it was cut off suddenly by a terrible pressure against his throat, cutting off his breath. The world went black.
The next morning, when the housemaid came into the room with her master’s morning cup of tea, she found him lying dead on the floor, with the golden hand clutched around his throat.
Copyrighted content: This is an original story retold by S.E. Schlosser, who owns the copyright. It may not be reproduced, reprinted or used in any other way without the permission of the author. Teachers may link to or photocopy this story as part of their classwork.
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