Mary Murray walked the halls of the house at night, and her eyes were accustomed to its many shadows. Six hundred and six pools of darkness on the ground, six hundred and six shifting with the moon. Mary walked, and she counted softly as she went.
Three hundred and thirty as her footsteps made no noise across the library floor. Four hundred and ninety at the end of the great gallery.
Mary turned and walked up the great stairs, and there were five hundred and fifty eight. She slowed as she approached the hall where they slept, and walking, counted five hundred and eighty seven.
At the end of the hall, she made her last turn and slowly took in the shadows of the last bedroom. Six hundred was the moonlight on the lamp, and one more was the toy horse by the little bed.
Six hundred and five, and she was nearly done. Six hundred and six, and Mary shut her eyes, breathed a soft sigh of relief, and turned to rest for the night.
Behind her, the little boy’s breath suddenly caught in his throat.
Mary whipped around, and saw another shadow emerge from behind the toy horse. She watched in horror as the shadow grew, and enveloped the little boy in its darkness. Her hands clawed the air searching for a hold in vain as she screamed. And screamed and screamed.
The constable stepped outside the room, visibly shaken. He stepped aside as they took the small, sheet-wrapped body out of the room. Even so covered, he could see the red blood blossoming through, and felt his stomach turn again. He turned to look at his superior officer, and asked, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but what are the odds, chief? Happening again in the same house, and everything just like that Murray girl’s murder eighteen years ago?”
The inspector turned a stern eye on the constable. “Don’t you mention a word of that, or I’ll have you demoted. They’ve already had to call in a doctor for the mother.”
The two men walked down the hall, solemnly following the body movers. The door to the master bedroom was ajar, and as they passed it, the constable saw the mother sitting in the bed, rocking back and forth with wild eyes, thrashing at her husband, at the doctor, and shrieking at the top of her lungs, “Six hundred and seven! She counted six hundred and SEVEN!”