TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
They drove up to the house, and it did, indeed look haunted. It was a two-story Victorian, with dark shutters on the windows. There was a light on inside, so Steve used the old door knocker to announce their presence.
"Look at this place, Ghost. This door knocker is a gargoyle face...almost the same one we have on our door back home."
Ghost was hopping from foot to foot, anxious to get inside. "I know, I know! It must be a sign. We're supposed to be here, Steve."
Steve pulled back the antique, gold handle on the knocker, giving it three raps. A curtain parted in the window next to the door, then quickly closed. Locks and chains could be heard clinking open. The door opened with a scary sounding creak. A small, birdlike woman peered out.
"Y'all the one's need a room?" she asked. "Clerk down at the store gave me a call. Said he was sending a couple boys out here."
"Yes, ma'am, we're the ones," said Steve politely. "We'd appreciate a room for the night. Don't want to start over the mountains at night."
She looked at them both, carefully, weighing her decision. "What's wrong with that one, there?" she nodded toward Ghost, who was slowly turning in a circle, with his eyes closed.
Steve looked over, saw what Ghost was doing. Several answers came to mind, that he could tell the woman, but none of them reassuring. "Uh, nothing?"
"Um-hum," she said, as she eyed Ghost. "Wait a minute...I know this one. He's Miz Deliverance's grandson, Ghost! Well, I'll be...never in all my born days would I expect to see you here on my doorstep. Y'all come on in, then." She held the door open wide.
As they crossed the threshold, Ghost stopped in his tracks - eyes wide, taking in the essence of the old house. He could smell herbs...as familiar to him as his own childhood...and something else. There was a presence...of someone, or something watching them. He smiled big, as he looked all around.
"I feel like I'm home." he said reverently.
"You can feel the others, can't you, Ghost? You are a powerful sensitive...I knew you would be," the woman said.
Steve was just watching this exchange with fascination. How could this be? A random encounter, miles and miles...well, a lot of miles away from home, and a stranger knows Ghost. Impossible, but he'd just seen it happen, right in front of him. What exactly was he dealing with, here?
Sure, Ghost was psychic, but he was usually such a goofball, it was hard to take him seriously...usually.
Ghost and the woman were chatting about Miz Deliverance, her passing, and how the woman knew her. Evidently, she'd lived up in the same community as Ghost's grandmother, many years ago. When she'd married, her and her husband had moved here, but she never forgot her old friend, and would get updates on her where-abouts, now and then, as people drove through this little town.
She'd heard the story of Ghost and his grandmother, and all the strange circumstances that led them to Missing Mile. So they had just randomly came to this house? Maybe...maybe not. It might have been ordained that they be here right now.
"This is some heavy shit," Steve marvelled. "Too much to think about, right now." He was exhausted from driving, and asked where their room would be.
"Sure, sure...c'mon up the stairs, I'll show you," she said, leading the way.
The stairs were narrow and the wooden steps creaked as they made their way up. "Great sound effects," Steve thought.
She opened the door to a furnished bedroom with one double bed, a patchwork quilt on it, and a dresser with an old-fashioned, silvered mirror, a bedside table - probably from the last century, and a lamp, which she flicked on. There was no overhead light, and the one casement window was covered with sheer lace curtains, yellowing with age.
"There's a bathroom down the hall," she pointed out. "I'll leave you two to get settled. I serve a big country breakfast at seven," she told them. Then, she was gone, off to her own bedroom. No mention of ghosts or hauntings.
"What'cha think, Steve?" Ghost asked, as he fell across the bed, to test for softness. "It needs more pillows and blankets," he muttered.
"It smells funny here...like old musty cellars," Steve said as he sniffed the air. "Good enough to sleep in, though, I suppose. That's all I plan on doing...you should do the same."
"But..." Ghost started.
"You do whatever you have to do, Ghost, but leave me out of it. I don't wanna know, I don't wanna see, don't wanna hear...anything. I just need to crash until morning...got it?" He gave Ghost a no-nonsense look.
"Yeah, I got it, but I have to find out stuff, ya know. It's for research, and for writing it down for our book."
"Well, be quiet then, ok?" Steve yawned. Taking off his jeans and shirt, he got into the bed, closing his eyes.
"Ok, Steve, I'm gonna be real quiet," he whispered, as he opened his backpack, taking out his notebook, markers, and camera. He snapped a few shots of the room, and of Steve, trying to sleep. Scribbling in his notebook, he absentmindedly started humming a song, and tapping his marker on the page. He got up from the side of the bed he'd been on, tripping on Steve's boots, banging his knees as he fell.
"Shit...oh, sorry, Steve..." He paced the perimeter of the room and tapped on the walls a little. Just soft little taps, he thought.
"Quiet!" Steve said, louder than he meant to.
Ghost jumped, then hurried out into the hallway, the wooden door slamming shut, before he could catch it. His intention was to go into the bathroom for a drink of water, but before he got there, he heard a knocking on the wall. He knew it wasn't himself doing it.
"It must be answering me!" he thought. He tapped on the wall again, out in the hallway...and something tapped back. "This is so cool," Ghost was grinning. After a few minutes, he went on into the bathroom. Feeling around for a light switch, he finally found a long string, attatched to a light fixture on the ceiling. Pulling it, it turned on the bare, forty watt bulb. He looked around the tiny, dim bathroom for a cup. There wasn't one. He had to cup his hands to fill with water to drink.
As he raised up, he saw himself in the old, medicine cabinet mirror above the sink...and he saw another pale form reflected there, beside his image. It wasn't a fully formed person...mostly just a shimmery shape of a face, with dark spaces for the eyes and mouth. Looking directly at it, it mostly disappeared, but looking from the corner of his eyes, it took on more substance.
He wasn't scared...more curious than anything. He reached his wet hand up to the mirror. "Hey," he said. The figure didn't speak, and it didn't go away. Was it in the mirror, or in the room, he wondered. Turning around fast, to catch sight of whatever it was, he saw nothing there.
"Hey, mirror person, who are you?" Ghost asked, looking back into the mirror. He got no answer, and the image faded away. Shrugging, Ghost turned off the light and left the bathroom. "I gotta write this down," he said.
Sneaking back into the bedroom, he saw that Steve was sound asleep. Grabbing his notebook, he wrote what just had happened, then left again. "This might be a long night," he muttered, as he went down the hallway.
He was wide awake, and wanted to explore. He'd sleep in the car tomorrow. This was just too much fun to quit now.
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing