Old Coat :
I went out for a cycle, one grey Sunday afternoon, on a lonely country road. I was miles from anywhere and got caught in a storm. The rain was pelting down and there was no place to take shelter.
Up ahead, not far from the road, I saw a large house that seemed to be deserted. It was an old chateau and the walls were covered in poison ivy. Most of the windows had been boarded up and it was obvious that it had been empty for a number of years.
I decided to take shelter inside and when I tried the front door, I was surprised to find it was unlocked. Indoors, there was a stale odor of damp and rotting wood. The house had an eerie feeling that made me a little uneasy. For some reason, the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end.
Looking down, I happened to notice an odd trail in the dust that looked quite recent. It was as if something or someone had been dragged down the hallway. The strangest thing was that there were no footprints in the dust, just drag marks.
There was an old coat hanging on the end of the staircase. Picking it up, I took a look at the worn and moth-eaten garment. In the back of the coat, there was a small hole and the area around it was scorched and stained. It looked something like a bullet hole.
It gave me the creeps. Did this mean that, at one time, the coat had been worn by a dead man? There was a stale odor of dampness and mold coming from the old coat. I got the feeling that it might be more than mold. There was a putrid smell of rot and decay. If I didn’t know better, I would have said it was the stench of decomposing flesh.
Standing there in the hallway, a sudden feeling of danger came over me, but with a slight shudder, I brushed it off. The whole atmosphere of the place seemed to be charged with evil.
I went into the living room and tried to start a fire. While I was piling some damp wood into the fireplace, I tried to pull myself together and told myself that there was nothing to be frightened of. Even though the chateau was creepy and I wouldn’t want to spend the night there, it was better than getting drenched in the driving rain.
Just then, I was startled by the sound of movement coming from the hallway. There was a single soft flop, as if something had dropped to the ground.
I froze and strained my ears to listen, but there was no further sound. Creeping quietly over to the door, I looked out. There was nothing in the hallway. All I could hear was the sound of the heavy rain outside.
Then, I noticed something strange. The old coat that had been hanging at the end of the stairs was gone. A chill crept down my spine and I had the strangest feeling that I was no longer alone.
Just then, I heard a low, evil chuckle echoing down the hallway, followed by the sound of stealthy movement.
I turned, just in time to see a shapeless black mass rise up behind me.
It was the coat!
The empty sleeves jerked grotesquely at its sides as it slowly moved towards me. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. As the thing advanced, I took a step backwards until I bumped against the fireplace. The empty sleeves reached out for my throat.
I grabbed a poker from the firplace and swung it with all my might, lashing out at the thing in front of me. As soon as I struck it, the coat collapsed to the ground in a heap.
I fled from the room and ran out the front door as fast as I could. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw a black shape on the doorstep. I could have sworn it was the coat, lying there, watching me escape.
I didn’t stop running until I came to a small country pub by the side of the road. I ordered a drink to steady my nerves and cautiously asked the landlord if he knew anything about the deserted house.
After a while, he told me that it had once been occupied by a man who was a staff sergeant in the army. Those who knew him said he was the meanest man ever to walk the earth. They say he murdered his wife and tortured every living thing he could lay his hands on, including his own daughters.
In the end, said the landlord, one of the daughters couldn’t take the abuse any longer and wound up shooting him in the back with his own gun…