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I’m back again with an occurrence that happened to a pair of close family friends, starting around the fall of 2004. They both work as faculty or administration at a local university, although I forget what their positions actually are. We’ll call them Tom and Peter for the sake of anonymity. Tom loves to play the piano, and when they moved out to the country, they finally had room for one. It wasn’t a great deal, but it was a beautiful parlor grand piano. Peter loved it, too, he could wake up in the morning to the delicate sounds of an experienced pianist. One night, while staying up watching television, they heard a soft, low note. Tom kind of looked around, then assumed that it was all the TV or his imagination. Plink! There it was again, this time a sharp, high note, undoubtedly coming from the room with the piano. They both got up and investigated, but found no one in the room with the piano, not in any other room in the house, either. Every door and window was locked. Peter decided to chalk it up to his imagination, and after some convincing got Tom to retire to their bedroom for the night.
A couple of weeks passed without incident, but then one morning Tom went to his piano and noticed a vase that’d been on the other side of the room was sitting on top of it, filled with fresh flowers. Peter woke up to his favorite piano concerto, and came down the stairs to the parlor where they kept the piano. “Where’d you get flowers this early, Tom?” he asked casually.
“I thought you put them out last night,” he replied, “I don’t even know where to get white lilies.”
Unnerved, they both decided to go out for the day, clear their heads and maybe one of them would remember bringing home flowers. They had breakfast, did some shopping and wandering before returning home early in the evening. When they pulled into the driveway, the curtain in the parlor window was drafting about as if someone had been standing in front of it and jumped out of it. They didn’t have a cat, or any dogs at the time, and as usual the house was locked up. When they entered the house, the lily petals had been torn from their stems and littered up the stairs and through the hallway that connects the bedrooms to the rest of the house. Peter was convinced someone had stolen a spare key, or something, and decided to call a locksmith and have the locks changed that night.
That night, long after they’d initially fallen asleep, Peter woke up to a thick black smoke rolling across the hallway floor. He couldn’t smell anything, when he tried to say something or reach over to shake Tom, he found he wasn’t able to move. He just sat there, helpless, as the smoke rolled and piled onto itself, forming a big ball. Plink, Plink, Plink. He heard three high notes, then the notes slowly rolled into a slow, sad song. The dense black smoke rose up into the form of a woman, with very defined boundaries, like the smoke was contained in a glass vessel. She arched her back and threw her head back, like she was stretching, and started to dance in a very slow and controlled manner. She didn’t have any detail outside of her outline, no face, visible clothes or definition of musculature. As she danced down the hall, he could see her through the mirror on the back of the opened bedroom door. She leaped forward as she reached the end of the hall, right into a hanging mirror, as the form collided with the wall, the smoke poured away, like what was holding it was just vanishing against the hard surfaces. When the smoke cleared, Peter could finally move, he shook Tom, “Did you see that? What the fuck was it?”
Tom was confused and groggy, “What was what?” he demanded.
Peter told him about the dancing girl, and the slow, quiet song from the piano. He looked at him like he was crazy, and assured him he was just having a very vivid dream, and that he would have surely woken up if the piano had been playing. Tom went back to sleep, but Peter said he couldn’t go back to sleep that night, especially after what he’d seen. The days went without incident, but every couple of nights, Peter would wake up to see the strange black figure slowly dancing to the same sad song. He told me it was like watching tai chi, but with ballet, he also said that she never seemed to notice or care that he was watching, and that it always ended with her jumping into the mirror.
He’d started to come to terms with what he was seeing and that Tom would never believe him, until a night after a long period of not seeing her. Peter woke up to Tom gasping for air and a series of urgent piano notes being played in quick repetition. When he looked over he saw the smoke woman kind of floating over Tom. She looked over to Peter and grinned a big grin with bright white, jagged teeth. He tried to hit her, he tried with every ounce of strength he had, but he couldn’t move, and apparently neither could Tom. She moved her mouth in a chewing motion, they said it had a sound like chewing a mouthful of wet fat. Then she collapsed into them as a massive puff of smoke. Peter immediately starts yelling at Tom, going on and on about how he told him about her over and over. Tom didn’t know what was going on, but he saw that his wrists had deep red marks, like he’d been held down.
While both of them were on edge for a while, things quieted down for a few months, they’d all but forgotten their mysterious house guest, and were even starting to think that maybe she’d moved on or moved out. It was a Sunday morning, and Tom was in the bathroom starting to shave. It was so close to being spring, and after the rough winter with their mystery dancer, that they wanted to go take a day long hike. Tom always used a straight razor, he still does, he was looking down checking the blade, and he starts to hear a piano playing a soft, yet triumphant tune. Tom came up with the razor in hand, and sees the black figure behind him. He can see the jagged smile, and he can see his hand with the razor edging up to his face, but he can’t pull it away. The razor’s going in his mouth, and he’s fighting as hard as he can, but his body won’t move. Right as the blade starts rubbing against the inside of his cheek, Peter walks past the opened door. The figure turns her head and motions like a roar with her body and mouth, but no sound comes out. The razor clanks to the floor, Tom follows it down, too.
After regaining their composure, they decide that they need to investigate the piano. Searching the outside for clues was fruitless, there wasn’t anything abnormal about it, the finish was clean, no carvings or anything. They opened up the lid and searched around inside of the body of the piano. Stuffed between the iron plate and the wood body of the piano they found a little cotton doll, covered in ground up charcoal with a small handwritten note that read, “Must repay pianist.”