Author's Note: I'm taking part in the October Spooky Writing Challenge (OSWC2019) on Tumblr again this year, so I'm posting my entries here again too. Instead of unrelated short stories, these prompts and stories are all connected. (Goodness knows what the finished version will look like!)

The Haunted House

Rumours

[OSWC2019 Day One: Rumours]

The old Lewis house had stood at the end of the street for longer than anyone could remember. It had been old when the villagers' grandparents were young. New houses were built, old ones demolished, but that house still stood. No one had lived in it for twenty years; not since Miss Annie Lewis had died. A distant cousin had inherited it. They visited once and left the same day.

Rumours already circulated about the house. Everyone knew someone who had seen something odd there. Everyone had their own story of unusual sounds or lights in the house. The longer it stood empty, the louder the whispers grew.

"The new owner saw something and ran away in terror," some people said.

"Did you hear about old Mrs. So-and-so?" someone else told a friend. "Her cat jumped over the wall. Something that looked like it came back. But it had glowing eyes!"

"You must never go near that house," parents told their children. "No one knows what's inside it."

Of course all this talk made the children want to visit. They were always very quiet and nervous when they came back. If they came back. But it never stopped some other child doing the exact same thing.

Nor were children the only ones to wonder.

"I don't believe in ghosts," Lydia said scornfully when she heard her friends whispering about yet another mysterious light in the house's windows. "The streetlamps reflect off glass. That's the only light anyone sees there. People died in that old house, didn't they?"

"Of course they did." Maggie sounded affronted that anyone would doubt this. "Little Stephen Lewis died forty years ago when he fell down the stairs. My brother-in-law heard scream and an awful thud a few years ago, and he knows it was Stephen's ghost!"

Lydia snorted. "Nonsense. He imagined it after too long in the pub. I'll prove there's nothing in that house. I'll go there myself! Right now!"

She put on her coat and walked out, in spite of her friends' attempts to stop her. The old house loomed ahead, dark and silent and empty.