THE RAVENSGATE CHRONICLES: UNHOLY AWAKENING
I got up from behind the desk and stepped into the hall to go after her, but she was gone. The hall was empty. A dream again? Going crazy? Had Sandy seen this same woman in the green dress wandering the house too? What of the other two sculptures? Were they significant? And that horrible gurgling in the attic.
I turned on all the lights in the house after I saw her. I couldn’t get the sound of the groan in the attic out of my head. With the skeleton key, I locked the attic door, then went downstairs into the living room to watch TV and calm myself.
I looked up at the bust of the woman on the mantel. It was as if she was looking right at me again. It was her in the hall upstairs who had walked past the study door. I almost went up to the fireplace to turn the bust around so that it faced the wall. Instead, I left the couch and walked into the dining room to check out the other bust on the end table in there.
I picked up the bust of the young girl with the short hair. She was in her teens maybe. Finally, I went into the sanctuary, sat in the wicker chair, and studied the third sculpture on the table next to the grandfather clock. I looked at her sad face. “And who are you?” I asked out loud, as if the bust could answer.
Around three in the morning, drowsiness finally caught up with me. I went to bed but didn’t sleep well. I awoke the next morning after only about five hours of sleep and had to get away from the house for the day. I went to the small diner in town called Colombo’s for breakfast.
I sipped coffee—cream, no sugar—as I looked around the restaurant at the many people feasting on breakfast. I saw a familiar face. Karl Lansley from the Center for Paranormal Investigations. He sat in a booth with an African-American woman in her thirties who wore a flower-patterned dress and thick red-framed glasses. They ate and chatted about things I couldn’t hear.
I quickly finished my pancakes, grabbed the check the waitress left on the table, and headed for the front register to pay. I walked past the booth in which Lansley and the woman sat, then stopped in front of them.
“Mr. Lansley, how are you?” I said.
He looked up as if he had never seen me before in his life. “Hello,” he said, looking at me curiously, then suddenly recognized me. “Oh yes, you’re Sandra Breyer’s friend, Mr.…”
“Cole Mendoza,” I said. “I never did give you my name. I apologize, it was late.”
“No need, Mr. Mendoza.”
“Just call me Cole,” I said.
“Sure, call me Karl. This is Beverly, a friend of mine.”
“Hi there,” I said. She warmly put out her hand to shake, so I did.
“Hey there. How are ya?” she said, displaying a smile containing a row of perfect white teeth.
“Um, Karl, I don’t mean to intrude, but could I speak with you for a second?”
“Of course. Excuse me, Bev,” Karl said.
He wiped his mouth with a napkin and got up from the table. We stepped only a few feet away from where they sat.
“What can I help you with?” he asked.
“I think I might need your services,” I said. “You know, ghost hunting.”
“I was wondering how long it would take before you contacted me, considering what Sandy told me about the house. How is she, by the way?”
“I don’t know. That’s the thing. She’s been missing for a while. I’ve been occupying the house.”
“Missing? I haven’t kept up with local news since I’ve been away. What do the police say?”
“They say she took off because she doesn’t want to be found.”
“I wish I could have worked on her case sooner, but I had a serious matter to attend in Ireland. Tell me, what have you experienced in the house?”
I told him about the things I saw in the attic, the floating black mass, and the woman with the auburn hair in the green dress walking in the hall. I chose not to say anything about the bust Sandy created that resembled the ghost, not yet anyway. He told me that Sandy saw a similar woman in the house, among other things.
We made an appointment for him to come by the house that same night so he could get a feel for the place. He would also bring Beverly. She worked with him on cases when she could. I thanked Karl for his time, said goodbye to Beverly, and went home.
I awaited the arrival of Karl and Beverly. Maybe they could give me some insight as to what was going on.
That night at the house, I sat in the study facing my computer as usual, when I heard knocking at the front door. The clock on the wall read 7:00 P.M. Karl and Beverly were punctual. I went downstairs, greeted them at the door, and invited them into the living room. They sat on the sofa and I offered something to drink, but they both declined. Beverly curiously glared at the painting of the red Victorian above the fireplace.
“I appreciate you both coming by tonight,” I said.
“No problem,” responded Karl. “Before we get started, I’d like you to know that Bev here is a psychic medium. She’s very gifted, and we’ve been working together for some time now. Is that okay?”
“Sure,” I said skeptically. You’re the expert. You know what works. What did Sandy tell you about this house?”
“She said she was drawn here… as if called,” Karl said. “She mentioned experiencing some of the typical phenomena associated with hauntings, such as cold spots, things disappearing and reappearing in different places, something tugging her blanket at night.”
Beverly spoke up. “Cole, why did you move into Sandy’s house?”
“Well, after Sandy disappeared, I knew there was more to it than the abandonment story the police gave. There had to be something they missed. I had this urge to move in, to try and find her.”
“So you, too, were called here,” Beverly said.
“I suppose I was.”
“Where do think she might be?” continued Beverly.
“I don’t know, but something tells me she’s alive.”
“That’s what we’re going to try to find out, Cole… I do feel something, toward the back of the house. Mind if I have a look?” Beverly asked.
“Sure, have at it.”
Beverly got up from the sofa and stepped into the main hall from the living room. Karl and I followed her lead. She took a hard right down the hall, eyeing the paintings on the walls as she moved toward the sanctuary. She stopped at the basement door to her left first.
“What does this door lead to?” Beverly asked, pointing to it.
“The basement,” I replied. “Do you want to go down?”
“No… not right now.”
Beverly turned around, walked back through the hall and into the living room, where we again sat. Karl and I waited silently before she spoke.
“There is something strong down in the cellar.”
“About Sandy?” I asked Beverly.
“I’m not sure. It’s just very… unsettling. I may need to scan the whole house, but not tonight. I need to work up the strength to do that.”
“That bad, huh?” I asked.
“Cole, I think it’s possible that we can help,” Karl said, “but I need to go over this with Beverly. Can you give us a few days or so to do that?”
“Of course. Take all the time you need.”
Karl and Beverly left soon after, but before they did, Beverly told me something. “Cole, I think you should know, Sandy’s psychic.”