Dusty Davis

The January Featured Writer is Dusty Davis

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by Dusty Davis

Amanda Brenner felt the heat of the summer as soon as she yanked the cord for the trapdoor and dropped the ladder to the floor. The wood squeaked in protest as she climbed the narrow staircase. Sweat formed on her neck and lower back, tickling her skin as she made her way to the attic.

A beam of sunlight filtered in through the single, oval window at the far end of the room, reflecting the cobwebs that gathered throughout the Willow Winds Plantation House. At the top of the stairs, Amanda stood in a crouch so she wouldn’t hit her head on the wood beams that crisscrossed the ceiling. Finding the post beside her with her hand, she flipped up the switch, turning on a string of overhead bulbs that ran the length of the attic. The dim light showed her the mess her father-in-law had left her and Scott. Boxes were piled from floor to ceiling with a coat of filth to keep them warm.

With a sigh, she crossed the attic, leaving footprints in the grime behind her. She grabbed the nearest box and ripped it open, sending a cloud of dust into the air. Fighting back a sneeze, Amanda began to go through its contents. Inside, she found old clothes left over from a forgotten generation, including a wedding gown. The once-white fabric was yellowing at the bottom. She rolled the gown into a ball and dropped it back inside with another sigh.

Fanning herself with her hand, Amanda crossed to the farthest part of the attic. She grabbed the edge of the little oval window and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. A light green paint— was faded with time—held it securely in place.

Wiping the sweat from her face with the back of her hand, she kicked a box out of her way and watched as it slid across the floor. It came to a stop near a large, camel-back trunk that was pushed flush against the wall. The wood was splintered and the metal latches were aged with rust. She pulled up on the lid but the locks held tight despite their age. Looking around the attic, she found a discarded piece of wood and picked it up. A splinter poked the side of her finger causing a small drip of blood to appear. She licked it away and gripped the wood tightly in her hand. Amanda brought the board down against the lock until it shattered and fell to the floor with a thud.

Huffing from exertion, Amanda dropped the board next to the broken lock and lifted the heavy lid. Once the seal was broken, the sweet smell of violets rushed up to meet her, making her take a step back.

A scream escaped her lips as she fell backwards to the floor. Bile found its way into her mouth and she gagged it back down. With a hand covering her face, Amanda looked back into the trunk wanting to make sure her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her.

Inside were the remains of a young girl. Her bones were folded in half with her skull lying against the side of the trunk. Willowy strings of hair dangled over what used to be her face. Amanda stepped away and couldn’t hold the vomit any longer. It exploded from her mouth and hit the floor with a splatter. She dropped to her knees over the mess, heaving. With nothing left in her stomach, Amanda wiped her mouth with the back of her hand catching the scent of violets once again.

A chill found its way into the attic. It crept up her arms and tickled the small of her back, while goosebumps popped up on her legs. She exhaled, letting out the breath she had been holding, and watched as it formed a mist in front of her face. From the back of the attic a floorboard creaked as if someone had crossed it. Amanda snapped her head in the direction of the noise, but saw nothing. She got back to her feet and turned towards the trapdoor wanting to get out of the attic when the noise came again, louder this time.

Amanda wiped at her arms, trying to dissipate the chill that overcame her. Attempting to reassure herself, it was her imagination recalling the old legends of the house and nothing more.  She stopped suddenly on her retreat to the ladder when a box crashed to the floor, falling from its stack. Amanda watched as old Christmas decorations spilled from the box and rolled across the wood like a child’s game of jacks. The creaking from the boards came again as she stared into the space. One of the Christmas bulbs shattered into a million pieces as if by force. Amanda spun and ran in a crouch for the trapdoor as the lights winked out one by one, chasing her across the attic.

The light from the hallway below beckoned her from the hole in the floor as she ran. From behind her, the floorboards continued to creak and moan, closing the distance between them and her. Above her, the last bulb winked out as she was coming to the ladder. She was almost to the opening when the smell of violets hit her again and the door closed with a bang, casting the attic into darkness.


The flashing blue and red lights of the police cruiser met Scott Brenner as he drove up the long driveway to the Willow Winds Plantation House. He threw the car into park next to the cruiser and jumped out leaving the door standing wide open.

Amanda was sitting in the back of the police car with her elbows on her knees and her face cradled in her hands. Scott rushed over to her and wrapped her in his arms.

“What the hell happened?” he asked. Scott pushed a strand of her blond hair back from her face. It was damp with sweat. He met her eyes and saw they were bloodshot from crying.

“It was awful,” she stammered as the tears flooded her eyes again. She buried her face in his neck and sobbed. He stroked her head trying to calm her as an officer came out the front door of the Willow Winds with a bang.

Scott watched the steps wobble as the man made his way down from the wraparound porch. In the fading light, he could see how badly the house was in disrepair. The three stone columns in the front were chipping and the whole of the facade needed new paint.

“We didn’t find anything, Mrs. Brenner,” the officer said with a voice deeper than Scott anticipated.

“What—what do you mean, you didn’t find anything?” Amanda hesitated as she stared at the officer incredulously. “She was there, the body was there. It was nothing but bones, but it was there.”

“Wait, what body? What happened?” Scott questioned. He swiveled his head back and forth from Amanda to the officer.

“Your wife claimed to have found a girl’s remains in a trunk up in the attic, but I think that she just heard too many ghost stories about this place.” The officer turned away.

Amanda buried her face back into Scott’s neck as another officer came out the door and met his partner. Scott watched them climb into the cruiser and drive away, leaving them alone.

“I’m not crazy,” Amanda told him, wiping her eyes. “I was in the attic cleaning and found a trunk,” she said as she broke into sobs again.

“It’s okay. Let’s get you cleaned up, and I’ll take a look upstairs,” Scott said as he put an arm around her shoulder and led her into the house. He guided her up the stairs to one of the guest bedrooms, the furthest room from the attic. Once she was settled, and he heard the shower, Scott crept back out into the hallway. He made his way down the corridor where he found the trapdoor to the attic still open.

He climbed the narrow steps up through the hole. The cops left the lights burning, allowing him to see the entire space. He saw the footprints that Amanda had left behind, and the piles of boxes that were scattered around the room in no particular order. Then from the corner of his eye, he saw it. The trunk was pushed against the far wall with the lid still open. Scott peered down inside and found it empty. With a sigh, he slammed it closed and turned back to the ladder.

His mind drifted back to what the officer had said about Amanda hearing too many ghost stories about the place and wondered what he was talking about. His Grandfather use to tell him stories when he came to visit as a boy, but none of them were true. They were just the ramblings of an old man, from a time when tales of ghosts were entertainment.

Scott was making his way to the ladder as a sweet scent drifted on a cool breeze. He looked around the attic and saw movement in the corner. He squinted into the shadows as they lengthened in the light from the falling sun coming through the window, not trusting his eyes.

A girl, in her early twenties, glided out from behind a stack of boxes in a beam of fading sunlight. She wore a long, white gown that drug the floor behind her, but didn’t disturb the dust and dirt. Her hair was braided back behind her head and fell just past her slim shoulders. Scott stared at her, with his mouth gaped open. Her beauty was breathtaking. With a smile, the girl glided towards him.

The cold radiated from her body. Scott wanted to take a step back but was frozen in place. He could see his breath form in front of him as he exhaled. Her eyes were a crystal blue that sparkled even in the dim light. They seemed familiar to him, like he spent a lifetime gazing into them. The fear that he first felt when he saw the girl was gone now. The scent of violets grew stronger the longer that he was in her presence.

A scream shattered the silence that had fallen over the house breaking the moment. Scott backed away from the girl whose smile turned up into a grimace. Without taking his eyes from her, he stepped onto the ladder but then blinked, and she was gone…leaving behind only the sweet smell of summer flowers.


Amanda stepped from the bathroom and saw that she wasn’t alone in the guest bedroom. A young girl of about twenty sat on the edge of the bed softly humming to herself while she lazily ran a brush through her long, blond hair.

Amanda stumbled and screamed. The girl seemed unfazed by the noise. Amanda threw herself from the doorway and toward the hall smacking her knee on a nearby dresser. Hobbling, she backed away and came to a stop against the far wall. The sickly, sweet smell of violets permeated the room, stronger now than in the attic. A slight tremor ran under the floorboards making her knees tremble as the girl turned her attention to Amanda. The soft tune that she had been humming died on her lips as she rose from the edge of the bed. She let the hairbrush slip from her fingers and fall to the floor silently while gazing into Amanda’s eyes.

The girl glided across the floorboards, making no sound. It was as if Amanda had fallen deaf. Time slowed to a crawl as the girl closed the distance between them. Her long, white gown billowed behind her. Amanda recognized it immediately from the one that she found in the attic. The girl was in front of her now and she began to hum again, softly at first, then rising in pitch as she brought her hand up to Amanda’s cheek. She couldn’t feel the fingers that lightly stroked her face; only the cold, icy breeze that caressed her.

Amanda felt faint as she stared at the mysterious girl standing in front of her. The sweet sound of her voice combined with the smell of violets made her head spin. She wanted to scream again but couldn’t find the strength to open her mouth. Under her feet, the floorboards shook more violently, as the air in the room turned to ice. It made her weak. Her knees trembled and finally gave out on her. Amanda crashed to the floor where her head bounced like a ball. Darkness crept into her vision. She closed her eyes and gave into it.


Scott threw the door of the guest bedroom wide open and was shocked to see Amanda sitting on the edge of the bed. Her back was to him, but he could hear her softly humming to herself while she ran a brush through her hair.

“Amanda, is everything okay? I thought I heard you scream?” he said, taking a step into the room. The smell of violets lingered, reminding him of the attic and the girl. A cold breeze found its way across the room even though the window on the far wall was closed tightly. “Amanda,” Scott said, taking another step into the room.

He reached out to her, and grabbed her by the shoulder. She was icy cold. Scott gently spun her around and saw that it wasn’t Amanda, but the ghostly girl from the attic. She smiled at him as she rose to her feet. “Where’s Amanda?” he asked.

Scott took a step back as he waited for a response that she wouldn’t give. He ran over to the dresser beside the bed and pulled open the top drawer and took out the handgun. Scott pointed it at the girl who seemed unfazed by the weapon.

She came closer, bringing with her a coldness that made Scott shiver. The gun shook in his hands. He could barely keep it trained on her. Again she smiled at him…a smile that seemed so familiar. One that he knew in a previous life.

The girl brought her hand up and placed it on the gun, bringing it down. He met her icy, blue eyes and got lost in them. The girl brought her hand up and stroked the side of his face. Despite her icy touch, it filled him with a warmth that he had been missing his entire life.

Staring into the girl’s eyes, Scott knew her. Knew everything about her. She was his love. His true love, one that he knew lifetimes ago. The sweet smell of violets was the perfume that she would always wear. Memories flooded his mind, overwhelming him. Christmas spent here in the Willow Winds. Their wedding day. There was only one way that they could be together again. Scott knew what he had to do.

The ghost glided back from Scott and he knew what she wanted from him. What he had to do to make things right, to bring peace to the Willow Winds Plantation. From the corner of his eye, he saw Amanda on the floor by the wall beginning to stir. Scott brought the gun up and stuck it under his chin. The explosion rocked the house as Scott collapsed to the floor in a heap. The floorboards stopped trembling and the summer heat returned. Peace settled over the entire Plantation for the first time in centuries.

Dusty Davis is an author living in East Liverpool, Ohio. When he is not working on a story, he can be found hanging out with his wife and two kids. Dusty’s work can be found at