Dining in the Dark is a spooky story about a man who is out driving one night when his car breaks down and he is invited to spend the night in a haunted house. It is based on an old story by WW Jacobs.
My grandfather told me that, many years ago, when he was a young man, there was an old house on the outskirts of town that was supposed to be haunted. Some local children claimed they had seen some hideous monstrosity peering out the window at them. Nobody was sure if it was just childish imagination running wild or if they were telling the truth, but most people stayed away from the old place.
One night, my grandfather was driving home when his car broke down. It was dark and he was miles from home. Up ahead, he saw a house with a light in the window. It was the haunted house. Mustering all his courage, my grandfather walked up to the old house and knocked on the front door. It was answered by an old woman who was holding a candle.
“What do you want?” she demanded gruffly.
“My car broke down,” said my grandfather. “Can I use your phone to call a mechanic?”
Her husband appeared at the door and the pair exchanged a quick, furtive glance.
“You won’t find a mechanic at this time of night,” the husband said slowly. “You’ll have to wait until morning. If you like, you can stay here for the night.”
My grandfather hesitated. They were a strange-looking couple, but spending a night indoors seemed better than a night sleeping outside in his car. He went inside and the old woman shut the door behind him.
Their living room was lit by three flickering candles. My grandfather sat by the fire and warmed his hands. The old man gave him a strange look.
“Dinner will be ready soon,” he said. “Somebody will be joining us. You’re the first guest we’ve had in a long time.”
“That’s fine,” said my grandfather, trying to hide his uneasiness. “The more the merrier.”
The old woman came in and set the table. Then, she brought in the food laid it out on four plates. The old man got up from his chair and placed a large screen in front of the fire. Then, he slowly extinguished the candles and the room was plunged into darkness.
“I hope you don’t mind dining in the dark,” he said.
“Not at all,” my grandfather replied, trying not to seem shocked.
In the darkness, somebody came into the room and slowly sat down at the table opposite my grandfather. They ate in silence. My grandfather was so nervous, he found it hard to eat anything. His hand was shaking too much. Through the gloom, he could see a pair of wide eyes staring at him.
“I forgot to bring in the wine,” said the old woman.
She got up and in the darkness, she accidentally bumped into the screen in front of the fire. It fell over with a crash and in the flickering light, my grandfather caught sight of the person sitting opposite him.
He screamed in terror and jumped out of his chair.
The person’s face was horribly disfigured. It barely even looked human.
For a few moments they just stared at each other in silence.
“This is my son,” said the old man sadly. “Years ago, he was injured in a fire. Since then we haven’t had many visitors.”
“I’m sorry I startled you,” the young man mumbled.
The old woman came back in, holding a bottle of wine. She poured out four glasses. My grandfather sat down again tried to calm his nerves.
“Let’s drink a toast,” said the old woman.
My grandfather reached out with a shaking hand and lifted his glass.
“Yes, let’s drink a toast,” said the old man. “To the health of the children my son saved!”