It was almost Halloween and typical autumn night, the rain pelting down and the wind at gale force. The clock ticked to 3 AM. In the haze of sleep, a voice was calling me and something was touching my arm. I woke, confused and fuzzy.
‘Mummy? The ghosts have been talking to me again,’ a voice whispered.
I clicked on the lamp and looked down at my five year old son, Bailey. He was clutching an action figure of Iron Man and looking as tired as I was feeling.
‘You said I had to tell,’ Bailey spoke louder.
I yawed and mumbled something that was meant to be I know. I rubbed my face and got up.
‘What did they say?’ I asked.
‘The ghosts say we have to get rid of the tiki head.’
‘Again?’ I moaned, ‘are you sure that’s not just you, Bailey?’
He shook his head, soft blonde hair floating about.
‘What’s matter?’ my husband, Tom asked from the other side of the bed.
‘It’s nothing,’ I replied.
Getting out of the bed, I took Bailey’s hand and lead him back to his bedroom. The night light was on, casting an calming orange glow and also creating more shadows. I thought I saw shapes moving by the wardrobe but it was just my tired eyes and lack of light.
‘Where did you see the ghosts, Bailey?’ I questioned.
He let go of my hand and said, ‘all round.’
‘And they look like…?’
‘Like they normally do!’ he snapped, ‘see-through, floating and like people.’
‘Okay,’ I muttered.
I put him back to bed, not impressed. Ever since Bailey had started talking, he had spoke of the ghosts most nights. Which was weird because my husband and I had never told him anything about ghosts or the supernatural. I tried to keep him away from that stuff, believing that it could effect him somehow.
I tucked him back in and sat on the edge of the bed, ‘tell me what they said, again,’ I asked.
‘The tiki head is evil. We have to get rid of it,’ Bailey replied.
I knew of course what he was talking about, he had been going on about it for weeks. Tom and I had a wooden tiki head which we had gotten from Easter Island where we had gone on our honeymoon. I wasn’t that keen on the ugly face and had half hidden it on the corner bookcase in the living room. I don’t remember telling Bailey about it but maybe Tom had done?
‘Why is it evil?’ I questioned.
‘A bad spirit,’ he said.
I rubbed my face again, not sure what to do.
‘Okay. Go back to sleep.’
I kissed him, patted the duvet down and went back to my own bed. Tom was snoring again and everything looked normal. I wondered as I got back into bed and turned out the light what was going on with Bailey.
Waiting to fall asleep again, I listen to the heavy rain and decided in the morning, without saying anything, I would take the tiki head and hide it somewhere. Then Bailey would stop talking about it and the ghosts.
In the morning, before Tom and Bailey were awake, I went downstairs and took the tiki head from the shelf. It felt rough and cold in my hand, the features of the bold face leering at me in a shocking grimace. I remembered Tom picking it, making a joke that it remind him of my mother, whom he didn’t get on with.
In the hallway, I opened the under stairs cupboard which we used to store unwanted things. I tucked the tiki head in between a horrible brown glazed vase and a stack of old books. Closing the door, I dusted my hands in a there that’s dealt with motion and went to have a shower.
I shouldn’t have believed that a simple act like that would solve the problems. That night I put Bailey to bed and told him, ‘I got rid of the tiki head. You should sleep better now.’
‘Thanks, Mummy,’ he said sleepy.
I tugged him in, kissed him goodnight and left his room.
In the morning though when I woke him up and took him into the bathroom, Bailey announced, ‘the ghosts say you didn’t get rid of the tiki head.’
‘What? Here, brush your teeth,’ I said.
‘Mummy, you said you was getting rid of it but you didn’t.’
‘I did,’ I countered back.
Bailey shook his head, ‘you hid it.’
I put my hands on my hips and told him firmly to brush his teeth. I got him dressed and wished, as I imagined other parents often did, that I was taking him to school. It was half term though and so today, I would have to entertain my son.
We went downstairs and at the cupboard underneath, Bailey stopped and went to the door.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
He opened the door and went in before I could stop him. He picked up the tiki head and handed it to me. There was a such a serious adult look on his face, that for a few seconds I didn’t recognise my little boy.
‘You lied,’ he said.
‘How did you know?’ I whispered.
‘The ghosts told me.’
‘Fine,’ I snapped.
I took the tiki head into the kitchen and placed it into the bin.
‘It’s gone now,’ I declared and Bailey seemed satisfied again.
The tiki head wasn’t though.
Two days later was the eve of Halloween and we were watching a movie on the sofa. There was a knocking at the door. Confused, I stepped into the hallway to answer it and heard that the knocking was coming from the back door and not the front. Kids playing jokes? A neighbor wanting to point something out?
I turned on the kitchen light, the knocking stopped and so did I.
Sitting on the sink draining board was the tiki head.
‘Tom?’ I called.
I backed out of the kitchen and hurried into the living room.
‘The tiki head. Did you take it out of the bin?’ I asked.
‘What? I didn’t move anything,’ he replied.
He shook his head and turned back to the movie again.
I walked back into the kitchen and turned on the light again. The tiki head was gone.
I walked in, over to the sink and ran my hand across the slight wet surface. Nothing. I went to the bin and looked inside, I could just make out the tiki head from underneath other rubbish. I grabbed the bag and took it outside.
The air smelt like burning wood and leaves, damp earth and fireworks. The sky was a dull black and the half moon stark. Rain began to fall and I heard the wind playing. I dropped the bag into the waster bin and went back in.
Back in the living room, on the sofa, the soft glow of the TV and Bailey laughing, I didn’t say anything to them. I told myself I had imagined things.
That night, I lay in bed unable to sleep. I could hear this plastic rattling and something tapping. The wind and rain had died down now and I couldn’t tell what was making the noise or where it was coming from. I must have fallen asleep at some point because I had a weird dream that the tiki head kept appearing all around the house and I was chasing after it.
In the morning, I got up and searched the whole house but there wasn’t anything. I went to the outside bin and looked in, the bag with the tiki head was on top and the knot I had tied was still there.
I felt uneasy all day. Bailey was happily doing some Halloween craft activities and later we decorated the house. He didn’t say anything about ghosts or the tiki head. When Tom came home, we carved pumpkins together and get ready for the trick or treaters to call.
The first knock came at the door and I hurried to answer it.
There was no one there, just the grinning pumpkins flickering with light and the fake cobwebs pulling in the breeze. I looked further out, there was no way I could have missed anybody. In the distance, came the faint voices, knocking and doorbells. Something on the path moved. A leaf?
I walked out and towards it. My feet hit something and I looked down. The leering face of the tiki head stared up at me. I picked it up, the wood was icy cold and wet.
‘This has to be a joke!’ I snapped.
I looked round and saw no movement. I went back inside with the tiki head and placed it on the hallway table. I grabbed my coat and car keys.
‘Tom?’ I called.
‘Yes, Katie?’ he shouted back.
‘I’ve to go out. I forgot something.’
‘I won’t be long!’
Snatching the Tiki head up, I went to my car. Not sure where to go, I drove around until I reached the park. There was a pond there and if I dropped the tiki head in it would be gone forever.
I got out of the car and smelt the deep autumn air. There were some people dressed up and wondering about. The park was light with some street lamps and the glow of the houses around. I hurried along the pathways to the pond.
The black water rippled against the stone wall, looking dangerous. A firework crackled into the sky, startling me. I saw the bobbing of a cyclist’s headlight and heard laughter.
Looking down at the tiki head, I tossed it in the water. The splash was loud and small waves rushed towards me.
‘So long,’ I said.
I went back home and enjoyed Halloween with my family. I felt like a weight had been lifted. However, as I went to bed that night I heard a dripping sound. Thinking someone had left a tap on I went first to the bathroom then the kitchen.
Turning on the light, I saw the back door open and the tiki head laying in a pool of water.