H G. Wells wrote “The Red Room” in 1894. It is a ghost story, written in the first person and set in an old castle that boasts a haunted red room. The protagonist of the story is never named, but he has arrived at the castle with the sole intention of spending the night in the haunted room just to prove that it is not haunted at all.
The castle has three caretakers: an old man with a withered arm, an even older man with a crutch and an old woman. All three of them try to warn the would-be ghost buster of the danger of staying in the haunted red room. The man is adamant in his intentions though and tells them, “Eight-and-twenty years I have lived and never seen a ghost yet.” To which the old woman replies, “Aye, and eight-and-twenty years you have lived and never seen the likes of this house, I reckon.” The old man with the withered arm has only four words to say on the subject and he repeats them over and over again, “It’s your own choosing.”
Once he is inside the red room, though, the man finds it a little harder to keep a rational mind and the sombre reds and blacks of the room begin to trouble him. Even with seven candles the room still seems dim, so he lights ten more candles and as their light forces back the shadows he finds a reassurance in their dancing flames, until that is, one by one, the candles are all snuffed out by something that he cannot see.
There are many stories about people who stay in haunted places for a dare or, as in this case, just to prove that there is no such thing as a ghost. Invariably the protagonists of these stories end up finding out how wrong they are, as is he case in this story. In 1894, however, the idea would have been a lot fresher and this is a very good example of a traditional ghost story.
The Classic Tales audiobook version of “The Red Room” has a runtime of about twenty-five minutes. B.J. Harrison does a good job of bringing the story to life and his two minute introduction to the story provides the listener with a brief biography of H.G. Wells.