Once, a woman was struck by a car while she was crossing the street. She was severely injured and lost her left arm as a result. The car was driven by a rich man who felt so guilty he bought the woman an artificial arm made of solid gold.

The woman’s husband was a greedy man who saw his wife’s gleaming golden limb and thought only of all the things he could buy with it. He tried to persuade her to part with the arm but she wouldn’t hear of it. In a fit of rage, the man killed his wife. He took her golden arm and buried her body in the woods behind his house.

Late that evening, at around midnight, the man lay in bed stroking the golden arm and envisioning his coming riches. Outside, the wind blew briskly at a high, shrill pitch, at times rattling the shutters of the ramshackle house. It was an unsettling noise, almost like a woman’s voice moaning in pain. As the man listened more intently, the wailing began to sound like words:

“Golllllden arrrrrrm! Golllllllden arrrrrrm!”

The man shuddered. It sounded like the voice was somewhere out in the woods near where he buried his wife, 640 feet away from where he lay in bed. As the man listened for the next 100 minutes, the voice began to travel, nearer and nearer, until it sounded as though it were 160 feet away! Abruptly, the wind died down. He strained to hear the voice again but all was still. The man told himself he must be hearing things. He tucked the golden arm safely under his own and soon fell asleep.

But the next night, at midnight, he heard the voice again! Cold nodules of fear blossomed up and down his spine like arctic flowers. This time when the voice spoke, every word was articulated and distinct:

“Where is my gollllden arrrrrrrrm?” it wept. “Where is my golllllden arrrrrrrm?”

It was his dead wife. As he listened, it was clear that her voice was drawing closer!

However, the strain of materializing again so soon had weakened the ghost and she was not as powerful as she was the previous night. As a result, she was only able to manifest for 50 minutes. She groaned and cried, moving closer and closer. Finally, her voice fell silent 40 feet away from where he lay in bed, just outside the front door to his house! The man was eventually able to fall into a troubled sleep at dawn.

The following evening, the man made sure to lock the front door with its heaviest bolt. He shuttered all the windows and sealed the chimney flue. Content that nothing could penetrate his defenses, he fell asleep cradling the golden arm. At midnight however, he woke with a start. The ghost had begun her hideous moaning once again. A great shattering of glass was heard. She was inside the house! Slowly, the phantom drifted down the front hall, toward the man’s bedroom.

“Where is my gollllden arrrrrm? Where is my gollllden arrrrrrrrrrm?” his dead wife wailed.

That night, the ghost appeared for even less time than before, her energy much depleted from the previous night’s efforts. After 25 minutes of caterwauling, the apparition gave a last choking gasp only 10 feet from where he lay trembling in fear.

The terrified man didn’t sleep at all that night. The next morning, he locked the bedroom door and pushed the couch in front of it, then stacked his dresser on top for good measure. Soon the door was all but buried under a mountain of possessions. He boarded up the windows and dragged over a heavy desk to block the fireplace. He moved his bed five feet to the center of the room so he could survey it from all angles, inadvertently moving himself five feet closer to the path of the ghost. All day he huddled there, wide-eyed, cowering under the sheets. Then, sure enough, as the clock chimed midnight, there was a resounding thud as the desk blocking the fireplace fell over. The spirit struck up her unearthly keening as she glided through his bedroom. The ghost was even further exhausted by the rigors of manifesting in the fleshly plane and appeared for a shorter amount of time than the night before.

“Where is my golllllden arrrrrmmm? Where is my gollllden arrrrrrrrrrrm?” howled the specter.

The man lay frozen, clutching the golden arm, too afraid to stir. How much of this did he have to stand? At this rate, how long would it take for the ghost to be upon him?!

“I’VE GOT IT!!!” yelled the man. “You will press your moldering body against mine, place your decaying, necrotic mouth over my mouth, and begin sucking out my soul in precisely 8 minutes and 33 seconds!” And with that, he flung the golden arm at the ghost!

There was a long pause of complete silence. Minutes passed. Then, chillingly, the man felt the bedclothes being drawn from his body. A piece of scrap paper and a pencil were roughly shoved in his hand by a clammy, fumbling claw.

“Show your work!” moaned his dead wife. “Showwww your workkkkkkk!”