The Ghosts of Houston is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are of the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Shakespir 2017 Edition
Copyright © 2017 by Dan Whitesnow
All rights reserved.
My name is Anna Marie. I am a 27-year-old single mother
with bright blonde hair and blue eyes, and this is my diary of Hurricane Harvey.
This book is dedicated to all the victims of Hurricane Harvey, living or dead.
August 17, 2017
The weather forecasts were horrific. I sat in the living room of my apartment that fateful August night, absorbing perspiration as the meteorologist carefully expressed her concern, or thoughts as it were for the disaster that awaits to unravel on the beautiful city of Houston. I had barely even settled down at Garden Oaks, as I had only moved into my new apartment. It was a one bedroom flat, and I lived literary alone, except with Lola, my little cat, Rosaline her sister, and Katherine, my unborn child who had practically given me one hell of a swell time since the last eight and half months. It was my first pregnancy, but it seemed as though I had been pregnant six times already. I needed the weeks to come by quickly, as Katherine seemed too eager to hit planet earth from her insistent turbulence in my womb. She kicked far too often, and my doctor feared I might have her prematurely. I didn’t want that, especially when I wasn’t financially stable at the time. I had just broken up with her dad, and her pregnancy had been the reason he left me. He said he wasn’t ready to be a dad just yet. He’d asked me times without number to get rid of my pregnancy, but I’d blatantly refused. Why should I? After all, he had never really been there to support me. He was a dreamer, and even at twenty-seven, he still dreamed to become a professional quarterback for the New England Patriots. He had been a Patriots all his life, and had always dreamed to become the next Tom Brady. I didn’t blame him. I never did. I only got worried for him. I thought he started dreaming too late. Tom didn’t start so late, I often told him that.
Anyway, Mr. Handsome like I teasingly calls him, always shunned every good advice I gave. I asked him to get a day job to support his lofty dreams, but mine was the ones that was often thrown into the trash bin. He never really cared about anything I say. He assumed I was against his ambitions, and that really hurts sometimes.
To cut the long story, Sammy left me, and I was left alone with my two cats whom he hates so much, and then, Katherine my unborn child. His absence was instantly felt, as the King size bed of our bedroom suddenly became too big for me at night. Lola and Rosaline usually shares the bed with us while Sammy was still around, but with his absence, it was as though the whole world had separated from me and I was now stuck in the middle of an ocean. I felt lonely and empty without him, but with each passing day, Katherine gave me hope. She kicked so badly, such that I found myself always communicating with her, as she seemed so much physical in my life than Sammy ever was. I would sing for her, and tell her beautiful bedtime stories, until that fateful August night when Allison Chinchar, of CNN broke the cold news from her report of the weather situation in Houston. I sat frozen on my settee, wondering exactly what to do, especially with my eight and half months pregnancy. I was doomed! I hate hurricane, and I feared Harvey was going to be as horrific as Katrina. I kept my eyes fixed on Allison, and could feel the tiny hairs of my skin standing. I barely knew what to do! I was very aware of the catastrophes Katrina unleashed on the city of New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana, and that got me very worried.
I tried to divert my attention from the TV screen, but tiny pieces of the broadcast kept falling into my ears. I turned down the volume of the TV set, and tried to light up a cigarette, but I remembered my doctor had ask me to give it up until I had my baby. I hissed to my own irritation, and decided to call it goodnight instead. I turned off the TV, and went into my bedroom. I said a little prayer, and drifted off that instant.
As I slept that night, I had a strange dream. It was about Sammy. We were on a beautiful Yacht, and were cruising across the Atlantic. As we cruised in fashion under blue summer sky, he suddenly stretched out a glass of wine toward me, and I happily took it from him. I gulped it, all of it without a single word, but just as I did, I realized I had swallowed something. It was like a tiny piece of metal. It felt hard in my throat, and I quickly looked up at him. I saw the look in his face. His eyes were cold, or sad as it were. He gawked at me, and shook his head. I tried to speak, to ask what was going on, but just at that moment, the beautiful Yacht which had suddenly transformed into a tiny little boat, ducked by the shores of a strange little river surrounded by tall palm trees. Sammy climbed out of the boat, and started to walk away. I called out to him with my hands choking my throat, only then, he spun around at me, and quietly whispered in a most despicable voice, ‘’that thing you just swallowed, was supposed to be your engagement ring.’’
I woke up staring strangely at the ceiling. The room felt cold, but I realized I was sweating profusely. I didn’t have an air-conditional unit in my apartment, but that wasn’t the cause of my abnormal sweating. I guess it was the dream, the nightmare I’d just had. I spied at the bedtime clock, it was few minutes past six in the morning. I sat up in bed, trying to recall the dream, trying at the same time to understand its meaning. I didn’t like the feeling of it, especially when it seemed to have brought Sammy into my mind. I hate to suffer alone, to have his thoughts all over me while he makes out with other women. He was my first and only true love, and that breaks my heart each time I thought of the manner in which he’d left me. But, was he really planning to get married to me?
The news of the anticipated hurricane had become a major gossip in most News Networks by the time the day broke completely, August 18. I fed Lola and Rosaline, and fixed myself a steamed mug of coffee. I sat before New Day, on CNN that morning, and sipped my coffee. The tension had cooled off, as it was said by the weather reporters that the wind had surprisingly degenerated into a mere tropical wave. I breathed deeply, and sipped my coffee. I knew about hurricane far too well, and since the last one I experienced with my entire family in Louisiana back in 2005, I’d swore never to allow myself become a victim anymore. We practically lost everything in that disaster, including my adorable pet dog, Maggi. She was heavily pregnant at the time, and had been drowned by the flood during the delivery of her first child. I’d watched the incident occur before my very eyes, but there was little I could do, as I was battling to save my own skin. Everything had transpired like the flash of lightning. It took place in a split second, such that, they’d already been swept off by the flood before I could even scream. Funny thing was, the water was already mounting up in the area, and people were warned to evacuate their homes, but my dad didn’t pay much attention. He was a prolific salesman, and was barely home to look after my mom, and my two siblings. I was fifteen years old at the time, and the oldest child of all three. We lived in a very beautiful bungalow home. My dad didn’t own the place. It was a family property. He’d inherited it from my grandpa. We’d only moved in there six years earlier after the old man had passed on.
However, as the days slowly went by, the news of the expected cyclone suddenly resurfaced in all the News Channel. I stuck with CNN, and watched the cyclone been deliberated amongst other developing world news. They said the storm was beginning to regain its strength, and was speedily forming into a hurricane.
As I watched the development on TV that afternoon, I received a phone call from my mom, asking me to take my few things and leave the city of Houston. She told me about the catastrophe that was being expected in Houston, and that I could come down to Virginia, our new family home since Hurricane Katrina. I told her to give me some time to make other arrangements, as I was too heavy to travel that distance. I don’t even go beyond my front porch anymore!
The phone call kept pouring in from family and friends, but Sammy never called. His, would have been the most important of all the phone calls I’d received, but it never came through. I sat by my bedroom window all through that night, looking up at the dark summer sky, thinking of where nearest to go to, and praying at the same time for the cyclone to fade away. But it never did.
The following morning, on August 23rd to be precise, I sat before my TV, and watched Governor Greg Abbott declaring a state of emergency for over 28 counties in the state of Texas, and to other counties like Jackson, Victoria, and San Patricio, mandatory evacuations were issued. I lived in Houston, but much wasn’t stressed about a mandatory evacuation at the time. I fixed myself a nice lunch that afternoon, and fed Lola and her sister too.
It actually began with the wind on August the 25th. I have never seen such magnitude of tornado ever in my life. It was so massive, such that, the roof of my apartment suddenly began to flip. I hurried over to the living room, and turned on the TV, and I froze at that instant. I couldn’t believe the scene on the screen! I stood motionless for a while, my frenzied eyes boring vast holes through the TV screen. I heard my phone ring, and it jolted me, suddenly bringing me back to consciousness. I grabbed the phone from the center table, and peered at the caller; it was my mom. I tapped the answer button, and took it up my ear. I knew what she was going to say, and I was damn right. She was practically screaming on the phone, asking for my whereabouts. I told her where I was, and the situation, and I could feel the fury in her voice.
Are you trying to get yourself killed, Anna? I asked you to leave the city already! There’s going to be a flood! A great flood, honey!
And just as she lamented, the lights in my apartment suddenly went out, and the phone in my hand, dead. I turned sharply around, suddenly trapped in my own home. I heard the whistling of the wind outside; it sounded like the howling of a wolf. I began to tremble. I felt trapped! I knew I had to get out of my apartment if I want to stay alive. I turned on the tiny light of my cell phone, as the whole house had suddenly turned into darkness. I fumbled into the bedroom, and grabbed my car key from the headrest of my bed. I pulled a cardigan from the wardrobe, picked my ATM card, and eloped from my apartment. Lola and Rosaline were nowhere to be found. I had a feeling they overheard the meteorologist earlier on, and had ran away for their lives. I was proud of them. They seemed much smarter than me in some ways. I didn’t bother to look for them. I knew they could take care of themselves.
As I fumbled onto the front porch, I felt a jolt from the wind, and it almost swept me off my feet. I quickly wedged my hands against the wall, trying so much not to get blown away by the wind that was already tearing maple trees into shreds before my very eyes. I knew I must have to leave at once. I looked out onto the cloudy street, trying desperately to maintain my composure, battling at the same time to protect my unborn child. The streets were dark and empty, as there was barely a soul on sight except for the trees that danced rapturously to the force of the wind. I paused for a moment watching the scenario. The wind shook the huge oaks, and pine, and pecan, attempting to uproot them from the ground. And to my misery, I saw the roof of a building few meters away, flying off, and shredding into pieces. I heard the chattering of glass doors and windows, and I felt the blood rushing to my face. I was scared for my baby. I knew I had to get away from here. I stood for a moment, trembling like electric fish, fighting desperately not to get blown away by the horrific wind, and feeling too scared at the same time to run toward my car that was just standing there on the windy street.
As I waited in my uncertainty, hoping for the wind to cool off, I suddenly heard the cranking of my roof, and I knew it was time to run off to the car. I stepped slowly off the porch, and got onto the wind, minding my steps, trying not to get blown away. As I hurried in my slow steps toward my car, I started praying quietly in my mind, asking the Lord to watch over my baby. She was all I’ve got, and I was desperate to make sure nothing happened to her.
I reached for the front door of my car, and just at that moment, I heard a freaky sound just behind me. I spun over my shoulder, and behold I saw the roof of my home flying off in the air. I tried to scream, to warn the other neighbors, but I suddenly realized I was the only stubborn tenant who hadn’t evacuate the residence. I shoved the key into the door lock of my car, and hurried in. I shut the door behind me, twisted the key on the ignition, and watch the engine come alive. I took one last look at the bungalow, and pushed the gear.
I have been driving since I was seventeen, but as I drove through the wind that scary August afternoon, it felt as though I had only begun to drive. I was so scared. I couldn’t even exceed beyond the first gear. The wind kept prowling, throwing familiar and unfamiliar objects in all directions. I padded on, my hands carefully and firmly molded on the wheel. I was like the only one in the whole town, as there was barely a car or pedestrian on sight. The city was suddenly like a ghost town, as the only things on sight were the dancing trees, and restless rooftops.
The tornado swept in all direction, causing great havoc, and the late afternoon weather that was once bright, had suddenly turned into twilight. I didn’t know where I was headed, but I knew I was running for dear life. I just wanted to get away from danger zone, or probably from Houston as it were, but I knew I didn’t have enough gasoline to get me out of town. I picked up my cell phone, and tried to call Ruby, but the network was terribly bad. The line wouldn’t connect, and I wasn’t able to receive a call either. I knew my mom and the other members of my family must have been trying to reach me. I was doomed! I thought about Ruby once again, and hoped she was fine. Ruby was Sammy’s younger sister, and we have been very close friends since college days. She was like my best confidant, and it was through her I had met Sammy. She lived on the other side of town, and I needed to be sure she was fine, and Sammy too.
I turned on the radio, eager to catch up with some breaking news. I sensed the whole town was in chaos, as the warnings from the radios made it seemed that way. I turned off the radio, and padded on. I didn’t want the scary warnings from them to worsen my predicament.
Gear two seemed almost the same as gear one, although I felt the car floating a little faster than before. It was like in the movies, like I was being indicted for a crime I didn’t commit, and I was now running away to safety. It was such a strange moment, such a horror filled day! The wind kept prowling, throwing everything it could carry in its stead at me. I held my heart in my mouth, fighting to subdue my fears. I didn’t want to drive too fast. I feared the tornado might sweep the car off the road.
As I trudged on through goose of dusty cloud, Lola and Rosaline suddenly came across my mind. I wondered where they could be, and if they were safe. They were like family, and just like Maggi, I held them with high esteem. They were mates, fantastic creatures that almost had the ability to think like humans. They knew just how to act, especially when they don’t have to mess the whole place up. I love them so much, and hoped to meet them in safe condition when I get back home.
I pushed the gear to the front right, and gear three suddenly seemed too tough. I felt a heavy jolt in my heart, and my hands shook tremendously. I thought the car was flying, as it seemed much in control of itself now. I didn’t want that. I was in a desperate situation, and was very concerned about Katherine, my unborn child who had been surprisingly calm ever since I left home few minutes ago. She had never been this calm. She seemed to understand the situation I was in, and was eager to help me through it. I knew she might be in conversation with the supernatural at this point, to Jesus or to God, to come to our rescue. I wasn’t alone! I actually just realized that! Katherine was with me, and so was God!
I kept my eyes focused on the road, focused on the tornado that was rotating like a huge pillar of fire a hundred kilometers away. I was on the highway en route Louisiana now, and hoped to get to Tennessee by midnight. I wasn’t sure where I was headed, but Nashville kept popping up in my head.
Nashville was the safe haven I’ve imagined, but as I drove on, I wondered if I could ever get there. The whirlwind kept spinning, making a show right in front of me, causing a great fear in me.
A weird thought suddenly sneaked into my mind, and I knew we were not going to make it. There was no way I could drive through that storm without getting blown away. I watched it, my scary eyes boring holes through my windshield.
The cyclone was like a cloud of dust, rotating aggressively between heaven and earth. It was so scary, especially because I was the only soul alive on a cloudy highway, and in a manually functioned Volkswagen car that was nearly as old as I was. I kept my eyes fixated on the windshield, my mind, racing in a hundred direction at the same time. I wondered if it was the end of time, if there would be life after now. I was heading to nowhere in particular, but deep within me I knew I was heading somewhere.
I wanted so much to get out of Houston before the tornado makes landfall. I didn’t want to be on the highway while it rained. It would be too dangerous for me and my Katherine. I wanted to get to my safe haven, to a place where there was plenty of summer sunshine.
At this point however, the wind seemed to travel more than a hundred miles per hour, and I knew it won’t take long before a torrent of rainfall broke down from the heavens. The meteorologist had predicted a great flood, and I sensed it was going to be as massive as Hurricane Katrina.
So much was lost in Katrina, especially Maggi, my wonderful pet dog. And because she was my first ever pet, I’d decided to name my first daughter, Katherine, in order not to forget the beautiful times we once had in Louisiana. Maggi still holds a special place in my heart, and for her sake, and for my unborn daughters sake, I had vowed to get through the storm.
It didn’t take long. I was still pondering on how to get through the storm when it struck. I never anticipated it. It was as though the wind listened to my thoughts, and got angry at me. It didn’t warn me. It just seemed to have regained much strength, attaining over three hundred miles per hour within a split second, before descending on me. I practically saw myself flying in the air, before I crash landed on a ditch. I drifted off immediately.
It took a long time before I regained consciousness. I actually thought I was dead, but when I opened my eyes and found myself strapped on a gurney in a very beautiful passageway, I knew I was alive. I spent the next few seconds goggling at them, wondering exactly who they were. They were rolling me through the vast corridor of a very beautiful hospital, all six female nurses, clad in their traditional white uniforms, with the scarlet First Aid cross symbols stashed on their white hats. They were so beautiful, and were smiling delightfully at me, uttering very kind words at the same time. Although I could barely understand what they were saying, but deep in my heart, I knew they were lovely words.
The corridor seemed never to end, but as we finally branched out through a metallic doorway, Katherine suddenly came across my mind. I quickly touched my belly, and it was at that instant that I realized I was in labor. The crash earlier on, had forced Katherine to begin her journey to planet earth much earlier than her destined time. I wasn’t expecting her until two weeks from August the 25th.
As we got inside the labor room, I was quickly lifted up from the gurney, and placed on the labor bed. It was like a theater for operations, or intensive care unit as it were. And, believe me, it was the most beautiful place for child delivery I’ve ever seen. The nurses quickly surrounded me, and they were now in light blue uniforms, and so was I. I tried to say something, to thank them for saving my life, but each time I tried to speak, a particular nurse in med-glasses, would smile at me, and I would instantly lost the words I was about to say. This happened for close to half a dozen times.
A brilliant blue light was positioned in front of me, as certain medical tests were taking place on me. The nurses all seemed to be experts, as every one of them performed their various tasks diligently. The room was around 26 degrees in temperature, and it seemed so heavenly in a certain way. Everything and everyone in the room just seemed heavenly. I felt so much at peace, and just wanted to remain there for as long as it gets.
Kindly spread your legs, would you? The baby’s about to come out.
It was a male’s voice. There had been no male doctors in the room. I looked up at him, and he smiled faintly at me. He was in a light blue Lab Coat, and he looked so beautiful in it. I recognized him, and he was aware of that. He smiled once again at me, and quietly said. I know you’re surprise Annie, but you don’t have to be. All is well now.
It was my ex-boyfriend Sammy, father of my unborn child. I was tempted to want to ask why he was in a doctor’s uniform, and what he was doing here in the delivery room, but again, the nurse with the med-glasses smiled at me, and I instantly forgot the question I was about to ask. She seemed to have supernatural powers, and it frightened me.
‘’Push…’’ I heard Sammy say. I looked up at him, still enveloped in my misery. When did Sammy become a medical doctor! And one to deliver me of my baby? It felt so unreal, but as I wandered in my imagination, I suddenly felt something slid out of me, and I heard Sammy say, ‘’okay, here Samantha comes…’’
I looked down below, and behold my lovely child. She was still in a sac, and she wasn’t crying. Sammy grabbed her in his gloved hands, and broke her sac, and my infant daughter began to cry. I felt the tears gather in my eyes. I was so happy for my baby to have made it through. She was a survivor, and so was her mom.
‘’oh, what a lovely girl,’’ I heard one of the nurses say.
‘’Her name wouldn’t be Katherine.’’ Sammy said not looking at me. He spun at me at once, and said. ‘’Her name would be Samantha, just like Sammy her daddy’’.
I woke up with a start. Her voice actually woke me up. She was crying just beside me inside a shelter. We were alone in the middle of the woods, and it was raining hard. Water was everywhere! I looked around, trapped in my own misery. Where are we? What is this place? I asked myself.
Few minutes ago we were in the hospital, and Sammy, and the other nurses were there, and they had helped me deliver my baby. How come we were suddenly in a shelter in the middle of nowhere? And why is there water everywhere? But, Sammy was here! He’d actually helped me deliver my baby, and he wanted her name to be Samantha! So, now where is he, and the beautiful hospital we were in, and all the nurses I was with, especially that strange looking nurse in medicated glasses!
I would have concluded it was just a dream, or a strange vision as it were, but no, not when I was with my baby! She was the confirmation of the reality of it all!
My baby gave another soft cry, and I quickly took her in my arms. She was soaked in blood, and was looking quite unhealthy. I knew she looked that way because she had been forced out of me prematurely. I needed help. I knew if I don’t get her to the hospital in time, she might not make it through. With my legs completely draped in blood, I staggered up to my feet, and cried out to God, asking him to not let my baby die. She was all I’ve got, and that, I would take my own life should anything happen to her.
The rain was still drizzling hard when help came through. They were in a boat, and were three in number; two white males and one black. It was close to twilight now, and I wondered how the boats had made it through the woods. They said they had been out since the early hours of that day, that they were trying to find a friend who had gone missing in the woods. They were astounded to find my baby and me in that shelter, and seeing the conditions we were in, they quickly took us inside the boat, covered us with their raincoats, and padded away from the woods.
It baffled me that the whole city had suddenly become a huge swamp. Massive destructions was everywhere. I spun around in awe as we got into town, trying desperately to identify our location. I could barely tell where we were, as the once beautiful streets and pedestrians of Houston, had been swallowed up by the flood. The rescuers briefed me with the latest developments of the state of Texas, and I felt my heart leap. They said it had been raining all night and day, and that much rain was still expected in the next two days. I tried to look up into heaven, to ask God for interventions, but I quickly realized he was with us all. I couldn’t be more grateful for his grace in our lives.
As soon as we paddled to a nearby hospital, my baby was instantly taken from me by the nurses on ground, and placed in the ICU. They said she would be there in the Intensive Care Unit, for the next two weeks until she was healthy enough to go home with me. They said she was doing fine, and that she was going to make it through alright. They gave me all the medical attentions I needed, and I was grateful to God, and to Sammy too, and just as he came across my mind, I decided to have words with Ruby. I borrowed a cell phone from one of the rescuers, and put a call through to Ruby. I was eager to know about Sammy, and since my baby was in isolette, I decided it was the perfect time.
Ruby didn’t pick up until after the sixth or seventh phone call. Her voice sounded strained and I could tell she had been crying. I suddenly felt my heart pounding against my chest, as deep within me I knew something terrible had occurred.
She refused to give the sad news at first, but after a few hesitation she let it out.
I was silent for a moment, and then, the despairing news suddenly began to take its toll on me. I wanted to hang up on her, to crush the phone into pieces, but I found myself listening through. She said Sammy had been killed by the flood in his attempt to come rescue me and my unborn child, at Garden Oaks. She spoke for a while, but I wasn’t paying attention. My thoughts were distance away.
It quickly began dawning on me, that Sammy loved me so much, and that he had refused to give up on me and his unborn child even in death. It was his ghost, and probably with a couple of the others that had been killed by the flood, that had come to my rescue during the car crash, and during the delivery of my baby. I thought of all the beautiful nurses, and tears began to pour down my eyes. Sammy was a hero, and so was every one of those nurses. They were the Ghosts of Houston, and would forever be cherished in my heart.
I named our baby Samantha as her dad had instructed, and would narrate our miraculous survivor story to her when she becomes a teenager someday. But, in the meantime, I have works to do. Sammy needs to be giving a befitting burial, and then, I would go on a real-life search for the mysterious nurse with the med-glasses.
Connect with the author:
Facebook: Dan Whitesnow
I didn't know ghosts exists, until I had my first encounter with them. And if you stick with me on my diary of Hurricane Harvey, you will come to realize just how physical they could be amongst us. The very first time Annie experienced a hurricane, she lost something very precious to her, her adorable pet dog, Maggi. She was only fifteen at the time, but was very conversant with the catastrophes Katrina caused the entire state of Louisiana. Now 27, Anna is about to experience her second hurricane, but this time around, she is poised to confront her fears and protect everything she needs to protect, especially her unborn child, who is only eight and a half months old in her belly.