Will the house on the hill bring them together, or tear them all apart. (unfinished)
The House That Wants
By Kim Babcock
Kristen Analise didn't want to come back to Crescent Pointe Falls. She had to come to take care of the arrangements for her aunt, Linda Shelby, who had died. Kristen didn't know how to feel about it. The two of them had come to be at odds over what Kristen should do with her life. Kristen had left everything behind and went off to college three years ago.
Kristen's raven hair was longer, down to her waist instead of just her shoulders. She had lost weight; her diet had changed to an almost vegetarian one and she did yoga to keep herself flexible and Tai Chi for meditation. Her eyes were still quite dark, something she had tried to change with colored contacts to no avail.
Kristen got off the bus in Bixby and weaved her way through the town in a roundabout route to Parker Spek's office. She didn't want to see any of them really, but she was avoiding Darrel most of all.
As she entered the office a young woman with blonde hair greeted her. "Welcome to Spekulator, Inc. How can we help you?"
"Just tell Parker that Kristen is here,"
"One moment please." The young woman slid her curvaceous body out from behind her desk and disappeared into an inner office. After a moment she held the door open. "Mr. Spek has been expecting you."
Parker sat behind a large mahogany desk looking at some paperwork through silver wired spectacles. He was still lean and sported that mustache that he kept meticulously neat. His sandy brown hair was shaggier than he had kept it before.
"Well look what the circumstances dragged home."
"I am the only heir."
"Actually, you're not. Mrs. Shelby left instructions that we should try and locate Constance Analise."
"Good luck with that. No one has seen or heard from my mother since before my high school graduation."
"None the less it is in the contract. If the house on Cannover St is sold, half the profit is to be put in escrow for her. That is the extent of her inheritance."
"I'll be staying at Cannover St. I'm sure there is plenty I need to see to before I can return to my life."
"Mrs. Shelby owned several businesses in Bixby and homes in Bixby and Crescent Pointe Falls. There are specific instructions for most of it. I already passed along the keys and blueprints of Pointe Bluff Manor to a local contractor. It seems a young family has inherited the property and needs to move in quickly."
Kristen nodded. Parker gathered up the files on his desk and handed them to her.
"Everything you need to know is in there. I am a consultant on this, but you are her executor. Its in your hands now."
Kristen took the file but dropped it as searing pain gripped her head. She stumbled forward and Parker helped to steady her against the desk. The vision Kristen was having was of a family in the dress of the 1940s. A young woman sat with two children at her feet,, a boy and a girl. The girl was soaking wet and shivering. The boy was cringing away from the man that stood over them smoking a cigar. The young woman had blood going from her mouth down the front of her dress. Suddenly the whole scene was blotted out by a red glow. When the glow disappeared, the family lay dead on the floor.
"Still having migraines," said Parker. He moved her to a chair and got her a glass of water.
Kristen took a bottle of pills from her pouch and downed three of the pills with the water.
"You should have listened to your aunt."
"My aunt would have had me become a public freak show."
"So instead you have pain from fighting your gifts."
Kristen got up. "It's not a gift, it's a curse."
"However you want to see it." Parker picked up the file and handed it to her. "Take care of you, Kristen."
Kristen left the office without another word. As she rode in the taxi to the house she had tears in her eyes. She knew it was going to be hard seeing Parker. Hopefully, she would be able to avoid the rest of the boys.
Darrel Michaels watched as Tim and Miranda Logan got out of their blue station wagon in the driveway of Pointe Bluff Manor behind his white truck.
"It looks like an old house," said Tim.
"That's because it is," said Darrel. "I've lived here most of my life and it was here before me."
Miranda was not as candid as her husband. "That doesn't seem all that long Mr. Michaels."
"I assure you my age has nothing to do with my work."
"I'm sure it doesn't." Mr Logan had a hint of grey at his temples but did not seem old enough to be turning grey. He wore a brown three-piece suit that was rumpled and sensible brown shoes. His blue-green eyes showed the bags from his lack of sleep.
In contrast, Darrel Michaels looked younger with dark brown hair that reached just a little past his shoulders. His rugged work boots and jeans with jean jacket highlighted his cool blue eyes.
"I guess we should really thank you for coming out at this hour." Said Miranda. She tried to keep her dress down by holding the drab overcoat closed tightly. The wind had pulled strands of her blonde hair out of her loose bun. Her eyes sparkled green in her pale drawn face that matched her slender frame.
"Shall we take a look inside?" asked Darrel. He pulled out an old skeleton key and lead the Logans to the doors of the manor. The double doors were made of solid oak and had a carving of an archaic tree on them. The lock clicked and Darrel easily pushed the doors open.
A woosh of what seemed like dust came out of the manor, making them gag. Darrel turned on his flashlight which revealed a layer of black dirt covering everything inside the manor. Tim knelt down and picked up some of it, rubbing it between his fingers before brushing it off on his pants.
"It's soot," said Tim.
"Was there a fire here?" asked Miranda.
"Not that I know of," said Darrel. "We'll know more after the inspection."
"Our funds are running low<" said Tim. "We aren't going to be able to stay at the motel in Pearl Cove much longer."
"We will start in the morning, and we'll clean up this soot too. Shouldn't take more than a day, maybe two at the most."
"Our son Brad has to work tomorrow, as does his girlfriend, Jamie, so we won't be able to be here for the inspection."
"Of course, see to your family. I'll call if I need anything."
The keys to the house on Cannover St. had been in the file that Parker had given her. She opened the front door to find that extraordinarily little had changed. Even though Mrs. Shelby had lived alone for the three years since Kristen had left, most of the furnishings remained intact. Kristen almost expected her aunt to appear from out of the kitchen or come gliding down the stairs to greet her with open arms. Kristen brushed away the tears that threatened. Mrs. Shelby had slipped on the stairs and fallen, breaking her neck. She didn't want the image of her aunt's broken body to be burned into her mind. She had purposely missed the funeral so she wouldn't have to face all the people that her aunt had helped over the years, especially the guys.
She went upstairs to find that her room was just as she left it, looking very much like a shrine to the little girl who grew up there. Kristen went in and opened her suitcase on the bed, taking out her hygiene kit and putting it in the bathroom down the hall.
She walked through the rest of the house thoughtfully; she would have to hire someone to come in and help her catalog the things in the house and pack it all so she could sell it. She didn't even want to think about what to do with her aunt's study behind the sliding double doors off of the living room. She didn't want to go in there and letting anyone else catalog it might damage her aunt's reputation.
The early morning light shone through the old oaks that surrounded the manor as Darrel arrived with the boys. Darrel had decided for the utilities to be turned on.
"So. Pointe Bluff Manor, egh?" said Frank Dunne getting out of the passenger seat of the truck.
"How many times you going to say that?" asked his brother, Fred, jumping out of the bed.
"About as many times as you drink those energy drinks per month."
"That's a lot."
"Alright I know you to are in awe of this job," said Darrel.
"I don't think awe is the right word." Said Frank.
"Is the little boy scared? Don't worry I'll protect you little bro."
Fred was the older of the two boys but looked younger than Frank. Frank always hated when Fred would point out their age difference. He slugged Fred's arm. "I'm not scared."
"Only you believe in all that haunting stuff Fred," said Darrel.
"What about you Darrel? I thought you believed."
"I said I want to believe."
"Well, maybe this is your chance to find out the truth is out there," said Fred with a half grin.
Darrel gave Fred a playful shove the went and unlocked the doors.
"Hey you weren't kidding. There's an inch of soot and ash on everything."
"The fire inspector did a quick sweep and said they can't find a cause."
"Let's get to work,"
As they gathered supplies from the truck, Darrel noticed just how grown up his two companions had become in just a short time. The two looked like twins though Fred was almost two years older. Each were frame with blonde curls, emerald eyes, and athletic builds from their competitive youths. Fred had a splatter of freckles across his nose and never wore shoes, just flip-flops and clogs. He kept his face shaven baby clean and wore cargo pants jeans and muscle shirts. Whatever wasn't sleeveless he would make it so. On the other hand, Frank was all business, or so he seemed. He kept a shadow of stubble over his chin to make him look older of the two. He wore polo shirts and slacks with sensible loafers. Neither of them minded hard work but Frank was the prissier of the two.
One of the first things Kristen did for unpacking was to set up her laptop and files on the dining room table. She had thought about setting it up in the big office behind the sliding double doors off the living room, but she would contend with that room later. Kristen's job was to write a self-help article for a syndicated magazine every month and she had yet to write the one that was due next week. Besides the monthly article. Kristen had her own private therapy office. It hadn't done much business yet, her being young in her education, but she would miss the few clients that she did have.
The next morning Kristen opened the file and skimmed through all the material. She was to inherit a tidy sum of money and her half of the house on Cannover St. where she had grown up and she sat in now. She was surprised to find that her aunt owned Leroy's garage and the house next door to it. She also owned Parker's office and the apartment flat above it where Parker lived. Another business that she owned was D Construction, which she found was the company working on Pointe Bluff Manor. There were recent notes written in Parker's hand saying that the family who had inherited the property, The Logans, were staying in Pearl Cove and had already seen the manor. Construction was supposed to be started that day.
Kristen felt confident that she was going to be able to take care of things easily. If all went as well as she hoped, she could be back home to the life she was building for herself as early as next week.
Kristen went out to her rental car that had been dropped off and headed for Pointe Bluff Manor.
Darrel and the brothers were a couple of hours into the cleanup when they decided to take a break.
"I still can't find a reason for all the soot," said Frank, "The fireplace is large but in magnificent condition and hasn't been lit in some time. There isn't even build up in the flue or stack."
"That's strange. I'm going to check the top of the stack," said Darrel.
Darrel was halfway up the ladder when he seen her. Her long black hair hid most of her face with the mirrored sunglasses and blue beret. The silver chains from her neck flickered in the light that was reflected by the pentacle and several crystals they held about her average chest. The long black duster did not hide the slimness of her hips accented by the snug red sweater and tight black jeans with silver hip chain. She had a strange green bag on her hip and leaned on a small staff. She took off the glasses and stared intently at the window above Darrel's head.
The ladder began to swing away from the house. The girl scowled and waved her hand. The ladder moved gently back to leaning on the house. Darrel looked at the window she had been watching. He saw a man walking away. He could smell the cigar the man was smoking.
"Frank, you there?" said Darrel into his radio.
"Inside, what's up," came back through the static.
"I seen someone upstairs. Check it out."
"Ten four we got it covered."
Darrel climbed down from the ladder and went over to her with his eyes narrowed.
"I didn't know you were back in town, Kristen," said Darrel.
"If I could have come back for the funeral I would have, but I had things I had to take care of first."
Kristen pushed her hair back from her face. Her eyes seemed darker than Darrel remembered.
"Now I suppose you are back here because of the manor."
"I'm the executor of my aunt's estate."
"We don't need you here Kristen."
"Well I am. Deal with it."
Kristen turned and stalked back to her rental car. Darrel kicked up some dust then went back inside the manor.
Frank was sliding down the banister. "I couldn't find anyone up there and I left prints in the soot. If there was someone up there, they didn't leave any sign."
"I saw someone walking away from the window."
"There's no way Darrel."
"What about the cigar smell?"
"What?" asked Frank.
"I smelled his cigar."
"I checked the windows while I was up there," said Fred. "They're all locked tight."
"I just know what I seen and smelled." Darrel went up the stairs.
The only prints were from Fred's flip-flops in the soot checking each window. Darrel shook his head and went back downstairs.
"There's no access down except the stairs," said Frank. "We will have to build a fire escape."
"I'll have Parker and Leroy come out tomorrow to assess some of the costs. I'm sure Kristen is going to want a detailed report."
Both Frank and Fred stopped what they were doing.
"Kristen is back. How do you know?" asked Frank.
"She was just outside."
"She going to help out with the manor?" asked Fred.
Darrel's voice deepened. "There's nothing she is qualified to do."
"What about your friend with the cigar," said Fred. "I'm sure she could find the explanation."
"Kristen Analise is the last person I would talk to about that."
The three of them worked on through the afternoon, cleaning walls, floors, and ceilings as they each took a section of the house. Plumbing and gas lines had to be checked as well and the supporting structure of the house and the foundation. It was tiring work, and they were all exhausted when they knocked off for the day.
Kristen drove a little over the speed limit back to the house. Her sight was blurred by the tears that she had feebly attempted to not have. When she got to the house she sat in the car for a minute trying to gain her composure. It crossed her mind that she should of known that D Construction was Darrel; but no, her second sight couldn't have clued her in on that one. She would have been better prepared to see him.
Kristen had a small fit, banging on the steering wheel and dash. Kristen could see no way that she could complete her aunt's wishes. Not if it meant she would have to work with Darrel.
Kristen took out her cell phone and called Parker. She had to get into the manor but was determined not to see Darrel again. Parker simply informed her that it was part of the contracts from Mrs. Shelby that Kristen should work with Darrel on the Pointe Bluff Manor project. Kristen hung up the phone and threw it out the car window. She got out, picked up her phone, now with a cracked screen, and went into the house. She would work on her article and forget this mess for a while.
The articles Kristen wrote usually related to something happening in her life at that time. It was something her readers seemed to love from the fan mail she had gotten. This article was to cover loss and the stages of grief. Kristen not only covered her aunt's death, but having symbolic deaths in a life, like the loss of a relationship. She finished her first draft quickly and stretched. She decided she could just start making lists of things, so she went in the kitchen and wrote down how many there was of the pots and pans, dishes, and utensils. She made herself something to eat for dinner and took it upstairs to her room. It was early yet, but she changed to her pajamas. She thought she would get some reading done while having to deal with her aunt's affairs.. She had picked out a best seller before coming to Bixby and now opened it. She read until her eyes felt heavy.
Parker drove his custom DeLorean up to the manor to meet Darrel that morning.
"So, what did you find out in your inspection?" asked Parker.
"The wiring needs some work, there are shorts in places. Standards now require fire escapes with a second floor that high. We had to toss out most of the furniture. We're going to have to do some exterminating." Said Darrel.
"That all sounds minor. I'll get Leroy up here this afternoon to help me assess what a fire escape is going to run. I can do a rough estimate of the rest for Kristen."
"Why didn't you tell me she was coming back?"
Parker shrugged. "You didn't ask. Besides, I wasn't even sure she was."
Frank came in from checking the outside. "There are problems with the siding in a few places and I seen parts of the roof in the yard."
"The manor has been abandoned since the 70s when Mrs. Shelby bought it as far as I could find out. Maybe the boys with their investigative expertise can find out more."
"the past is your department," said Frank. "Fred and I have expertise in more modern cases."
"I'm going to start writing out numbers," said Parker. "why don't you explain to me the blueprints and renovations that are going to be done."
Kristen arrived at the manor about mid-morning. The night had been a harsh one for her, dreaming about the family that she saw in the vision at Parker's office. The woman's essence made her feel weak, as though she was sickly. The girl was always wet and cold and had trouble moving around. The boy made her filled with rage and the man's essence made her feel hot. Kristen did get more information about one thing about the family. In her dreams she was following them around Pointe Bluff Manor.
Leroy's van pulled up behind Kristen's rental. He was formidable as an ex-gang member from the Detroit area. He could easily curl two hundred pounds and was spoiled rotten by Parker's wealth. Leroy was a bouncer at night for a local Bixby brewery and was frequently hired as a freelance bodyguard for the corporate big shots and stray celebrity that blew through.
Kristen sat in her driver's seat and took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Parker came out of the manor followed by Darrel. Kristen took in a deep breath again and got out of the car.
"You're looking good Kristen." Said Leroy.
Kristen gave Leroy a hug. "It's good to see you."
"I told you we didn't need you here," said Darrel.
"Calm down Darrel," said Parker. "Mrs. Shelby wants you two to work together here."
Fred came running out of the house and picked up Kristen, swinging her around in a hug. "We all missed you, Krissy," he said gleefully.
"I'm going to assess the yard," said Darrel. "Looks like it has gotten overgrown and someone's been using it for a junk yard." He walked away as Frank approached.
"Let's take a look at the side of the house for the fire escape," said Parker. "Feel free to walk around Kristen."
"We were about to take a break," said Frank. "You can join us."
Kristen shook her head. "I need to see the inside." She walked to the large oak doors of the manor, not caring if anyone followed or not.
When Kristen touched the door, she got a vision of a boy of about 10 getting his fingers smashed in the doors. It was not the boy from her earlier visions.
Kristen entered the manor and coughed, choking on the dust in the air. She looked up and saw the two children from her vision standing on the stairway. She felt more than saw the man standing in front of her. He shoved her backwards against the wall. Kristen gathered herself together.
"You're not going to scare me that easy," said Kristen. She shook off the residual feelings and went outside to Frank and Fred as they sat on two sawhorses next to Darrel's work truck.
"You know," said Fred. "Kids have been daring each other to break into this place and spend the night for years. As far as I know, no one has ever succeeded. There are some fantastic stories of what has happened to prevent them though."
"One boy got his fingers smashed in the doors," said Kristen.
"How did you know?" asked Frank. "He said the doors were actually unlocked when he got here but when he tried to go inside the doors slammed shut. He lost two of his fingers."
Darrel had finished his assessment of the yard and went upstairs to see what else needed to be done there. Across the upstairs hall, there were small bare child's footprints in soot. At the far end from the staircase, he thought he saw a white dress going up the stairs to the attic.
"Hey, what are you doing in here?"
Darrel ran down the hall and up the stairs to find nothing but old antiques, crates, and other storage items in the attic. Not even so much as more footprints. When he came back down, the child's footprints across the hall were gone. Darrel went slowly back down to the first floor.
Parker and Leroy stood in the vestibule.
"We thought we heard yelling."
"I thought I saw something."
Kristen was standing in the doorway as the men came out.
"More is going to happen and more often," said Kristen, "and we are out of time."
Kristen looked toward the driveway. The men followed her stare. As if on cue, a blue station wagon pulling a trailer came up along with a green nova behind it.
Tim and Miranda Logan got out of the station wagon, leaving their two little ones, Daniel and Darla, in their booster seats. Darrel met them halfway across the yard.
"They evicted us from the motel," blurted Tim. "No reasons, just told us we had to be out in an hour." Tim indicated the young couple that were walking towards them from the green nova. "This is my son, Brad, and his girlfriend, Jamie."
Darrel motioned for Parker to come over. "Tim here just told me they were evicted from the motel in Pearl Cove with no explanation."
"Right, sounds fishy to me. I'll look into it," said Parker. He walked away dialing his cell phone.
Kristen was walking around the yard on her cell phone. When she finished she went to Darrel and The Logans. Jamie was getting the two little ones out of the station wagon.
"It's nice to finally meet you," said Kristen. "Linda Shelby was my great-aunt, so I guess we are related in some way. In any case, I'm here to help."
Miranda took Kristen's outstretched hand. "I don't know what you can do but thank you."
"You would be surprised, Mrs. Logan."
The two little ones ran up to their mother and she bent down and enfolded them in her arms. Darla looked about 7 and Daniel to be about 9.
"Mr. Logan, why don't you and Brad come in the manor with us and we can see what is going to be needed," said Darrel.
Tim Logan sighed as they entered the manor. "Everything is just falling apart."
"Actually the manor is quite sturdy for its age and lack of use," said Darrel.
"You're a smart man with a good education and plenty of know how Dad. You will fall onto your feet and find a job in no time."
"What is it you do?" asked Darrel.
"In Colorado I had a job with a large consulting firm. I was studying to get my masters while I worked there. I was supposed to internship with a firm in Carroll but when I called them yesterday they said they were full up."
"So you're very close to being a lawyer," said Kristen.
"Yes, I studied all sorts of law so that I could open my own firm in a small town such as this. Miranda and I wanted to get out of the cities."
"Well we could use more defense attorneys here and in Bixby."
As they searched frm room to room, things were not looking up. There was fire and water damage in the 2nd floor rooms. Darrel tried to console the Logan men that it was mostly cosmetic damage and they just needed minor drywall and paint. There were few furnishings, and what was left looked to be only good for firewood. The two Logans tried to look hopeful for their families' sake as they came back out to the yard.
A large moving van pulled up into the yard. Kristen met the driver as he got out.
"Kristen, mon ami. I got your call and I responded as soon as I could."
"Piere," said Kristen, air kissing him. "What were you able to bring me love?"
"Ahh let me show you."
They went to the back of the truck and opened the door. Piere indicated the two large boxes in front.
"It is lunch time, no? Two dozen calzones and eight two liters of soda."
"From your restaurant? Aww Piere, you think more than I do. Fred, Frank, will you come help please?"
Fred and Frank came and took the boxes to the porch of the manor.
Kristen smiled as she looked in the truck. "You talked to Raoul...."
Piere grinned as he pulled the tarps off of the living room furniture that stuffed the rest of the truck. He sighed heavily.
"Raoul wished he could help with beds, but alas his store is fresh out."
"My aunt would be very pleased with how much you both were able to do."
Kristen and Parker were both walking around the yard with their cell phones stuck to their ears while the rest of them picnicked on the front lawn. All kinds of cars and trucks came, dropped things off, and left after welcoming the Logans to town. They brought food, clothes, linens...whatever they could scrounge up to help. The Crescent Pointe Falls Improvement Society brought them a long table and folding chairs they could use in the dining room until they could get proper furnishings. The Carroll County Parks and Recreation Society had called Kristen to find out just how many air mattresses The Logans would need until they could get beds. Miranda Logan was beside herself and couldn't stop crying.
Kristen, Miranda and Jamie started to sort through the boxes that had been dropped off. They found curtains and sheets that would work to cover the windows and put them up.
As Miranda pulled out some flat sheets she began to get tears in her eyes. "I used to collect material like this to sew with."
"I'm sure you are very skilled with a machine," said Kristen.
"Oh, she is," said Jamie. "She made most of the little ones' clothes and she made me this dress."
"We just don't have the money to start up my shop now. The boutique was going to be so lovely in the sunroom."
"You know, there is a lot of things here I am sure you could use."
"Everyone has already been so generous."
"That's the legacy that my aunt has left behind."
Kristen was happy that everyone seemed to find comfort in putting things in order, and the two little ones were running in and out of the manor doing what they thought was helping. By the time the light started to fade, most things had their place and all the people were ready to wind down for the night.
Brad came out of the manor, threw his phone and issued a long string of curse words. Kristen indicated to Darrel and Leroy that they should try talking to him.
"What's up Brad?" asked Darrel.
Jamie had come out of the manor behind Brad and was trying to comfort him. "His factory job in Carroll just called. They told him to not bother coming back."
"There's something going on that both of you have lost your jobs this way," said Darrel.
Leroy scratched his chin. "I could use an assistant at the garage, and a backup in my bodyguard and bouncer positions. It's not much, but it's something until you can find something better."
"Thanks," said Brad. "I want to help out my parents as much as I can until we can get our own place again."
"I'll be getting a delivery of iron tomorrow for the fire escape," said Leroy. "You can start helping me when it gets here."
"You know, I think you and your Dad could easily help with the fixing up and reconstruction around here. I can take it off the costs; only charge you all what it will cost for materials."
"I don't know where you all came from or what we did to deserve all this," said Jamie. "I just know you all are a god send."
While everyone else had been occupied, Kristen had gone into the manor. She opened the pouch she carried at her waist and took out a small bottle of powder. She stood at the bottom of the stairs, rubbed some of the powder in her hands, said some words in Latin, and blew the powder into the air.
Kristen opened her eyes to see a wispy woman with translucent hair standing before her.
"You shouldn't do this," said the woman in a weak voice. "You'll make it angry." The image of the woman faltered slightly. "Tell everyone to run while they can."
The woman's image faded. Kristen held her crystals about her neck. There was something else there, she could feel it. Suddenly there were strong, hot hands against Kristen's chest that pushed her back a few steps.
"You're not going to scare me away again."
Kristen was slapped across her face. She stood her ground. Next she felt the hands around her throat, cutting off her airway and lifting her a few inches off the floor. She clenched her necklaces and whispered an incantation. There was a flash of light and Kristen fell to the floor. There was a hard kick to her ribs and maniacal laughter. Kristen got to her feet and gave the ceiling a stern look before stumbling her way back outside.
Kristen got to the porch and fell to her knees. Darrel ran to her side. Everyone gathered around.
"What the hell happened?" asked Parker.
"She just stumbled out of the manor."said Darrel.
"I'm taking Leroy inside," said Parker. "Whoever did this is going to pay."
Kristen tried to speak but her throat was still sore and dry. She let herself simply settle into Darrel's arms.
"Frank and Fred, why don't you check the grounds in case whoever did this slips past Leroy and Parker."said Darrel.
The two boys simply nodded and were off.
"What did he look like? The one who did this to you?" asked Miranda.
"I didn't get a look. Just felt it. I've never encountered a malevolent spirit of such strength. I am going to have to consult my books."
"Wait, you're trying to tell me the manor is haunted, and a ghost did this to you? Are you out of your mind?" said Miranda. "Now you're going to tell me its going to cost for your services, and my dead mother told you that we need to give you a certain sum. I don't believe this!"
"Believe what you want," said Kristen. "I don't want your money, just to warn you to be careful."
"What's going on here?" asked Tim.
"This... woman... is trying to scare us away," said Miranda. "She must want the manor for herself."
Kristen sighed. Reactions like this were why she never wanted to do this kind of work and avoided it as often as she could. But now she was back in Crescent Pointe Falls and had to deal with the ghosts of her past, literally. She turned and walked to her rental car with Darrel as Tim tried to calm Miranda down.
"Here's my number," said Kristen. "Call me if anyone needs anything."
When Kristen got back to the house on Cannover St, she stopped just inside and leaned against the door, looking at the ceiling. She didn't want to, but she needed to do research, and that research was in her aunt's private study. She walked over to the big double sliding doors off the living room, pushing them open just enough for her to slip inside. She took great care to walk around the pentagram on the floor in a clockwise circle to the desk. The desk was piled with a mound of books, written in her aunt's hand and in others', as well as a few typewritten. The walls around the room were mountains more books with a rolling stepladder. All the books had faded or no names on them, but Kristen knew what they were. This was her aunt's collection of spells, incantations, and material on the supernatural.
Kristen smiled. She could feel the presence in the room, but it was a totally different feeling than she got in the manor. This was an energetic feeling, of something ready and willing to help.
"Okay," said Kristen. "I need to find out about these ghosts."
A book flipped open on the desk and another fell off the shelf to her left. Kristen went to read what was open on the desk, and it fell shut. The book on the floor slid closer to her. A light came on above a chaise lounge near the window. Kristen smiled, picked up the book, and went over to read it on the lounge.
Kristen had read most of the book, pushing past when her eyes had started to get tired. She set the book on the lounge and went to the kitchen. She put together a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a glass of milk and carried them to her room. She laid across the bed for just a minute but was so tired she fell asleep without changing clothes or eating. Her blanket moved over her, and her bedside light went out.
It was the week after Kristen had graduated from High School. Her headaches and visions had been coming more frequently and revolved around a specific house. She had been talking to her aunt Linda and she had promised her that the reasons for her visions would be revealed. All Kristen knew was that, despite her aunt's wishes, she was leaving Crescent Pointe Falls in a month to go to the college in South Georgia that had accepted her with a scholarship.
Kristen's aunt drove her to Pointe Bluff Manor. There were many stories about the old manor, and even Kristen had once been dared to break into it. Kristen brushed off the dare, saying it was a childish game and she wouldn't participate. Now her aunt brought her right up to the large oak doors and produced a large antique looking key.
"You need to clear your mind, Kristen. You can deal with whatever is here."
Linda opened the doors and a rush of warm air enveloped Kristen along with a bright red light.. It yanked Kristen inside and slammed her aunt out.
Kristen woke in her bed screaming. She felt like she had been violated again, the same as she had that day that her aunt had taken her to the manor. The only other thing she knew about that day was that, when her aunt finally got inside and found her, she was curled up in a ball in the attic with her clothes tore and deep scratches on her body. Her aunt had kept trying to get her to go back to the manor, but she would have none of it. She left for college two weeks early and hadn't looked back.
Kristen went back to the study and read more of the texts. Going to a church about the Logans spirits at the manor was never a thought that crossed her mind. She had seen too many church cleansings go horribly wrong, and there were too many hoops to jump through to get a sanctioned exorcism. She also dismissed the notion of bringing in other spiritualists. Miranda Logan would believe Kristen worse than whatever is haunting the manor if she was to start parading shamans, mediums and witchdoctors through it.
Kristen's phone rang and she felt a sense of dread.
"Darrel, what is it?"
"Mr. Logan has asked if both of us could come back to the manor. Something has happened."
"I'll meet you there."
Tim Logan opened the door before Darrel could even knock.
"From the feelings here, I may not exactly be welcome," said Kristen.
"Nonsense," said Tim. "Miranda is just being hysterical."
Kristen smiled and entered. "Tell me what has happened."
Everyone was huddled in the living room. Brad was consoling a clearly rattled Jamie wrapped in just a robe and a blanket. Miranda was coddling Darla who was almost hidden in a pile of towels and blankets. A sleepy Daniel was laying on the couch in a pair of dirty pjs. Miranda looked up when they entered the living room but quickly looked back down pulling her daughter closer to her.
"Jamie started to take a shower," said Tim. "Everything was going fine. We were all getting ready for bed. The little ones were upstairs."
"Then Jamie started screaming," said Brad. "I could hear her all the way in the basement. I ran up and when I got to the bathroom, the whole shower was red. Jamie stood there naked and wide eyed covered in blood. It was everywhere."
"It was just some kind of rust or something from the pipes," said Miranda. , "or someone put dye in them."
Tim picked up a towel from a footstool. "You can see for yourself. Its blood."
Darrel took the towel and examined it. There was blood smeared into it and soaked into the ends. Kristen looked at the towel and smelled it but wouldn't touch it.
"When we got Jamie calmed down," said Miranda, "I realized her screams must have woke the children. We went to check. We could smell smoke."
"I ran to Daniel. His lights were flickering but I could see there was soot all over that room. I brought him downstairs."
"I had gone to Darla. Her lights wouldn't work. Her bed was dry, but my poor baby was soaking wet and shivering. I wrapped her in a blanket and came downstairs."
Kristen took a few steps in a clockwise circle at the bottom of the stairs. "Would you mind if I looked at the rooms?"
Miranda started to say something, but Tim cut her off. "Whatever you think you can do."
Kristen went upstairs. The lights worked when she entered Darla's room. The bed was dry. She picked out some pjs from the suitcase and went to Daniel's room. She took some soot from a shelf and rubbed it between her fingers. It was warm. She got him clean pjs from the case and went back downstairs.
Kristen handed the pjs to Miranda. "I assure you I had nothing to do with this."
Miranda sighed. "I just want an explanation. I need to protect my children."
Kristen half smiled. "I wish I could give you one you were ready to accept." She turned to Brad. "I assume you already made sure none of the blood is Jamie's?"
"I checked her over and she doesn't seem to be harmed anywhere."
Kristen nodded thoughtfully. "Thank goodness for at least that."
Darrel had gone to look at the bloody bathroom. "There's blood in the shower head but not in the pipes. I can't figure out what could have happened."
"I'd like to take a sample of the blood to a colleague of mine. He might be able to shed some light onto what is happening."
"There's a sweet pickle jar I washed out in the kitchen." Said Jamie.
"That'll work thank you."
Kristen retrieved the jar and obtained the blood sample from the bathroom.
"I think we've done all we can here tonight," said Kristen.
"Just stay out of that bathroom," said Darrel. "I'll have Frank and Fred come clean it up and check the pipes in the morning. We'll check the kid's rooms as well."
"Thank you for coming tonight," said Tim.
As they left, Kristen studied the front of the manor carefully. She could see movement in the upstairs windows and knew it wasn't any of the Logans.
"What exactly are you up to?" whispered Kristen.
The Logans were still shaken up but a bit more hopeful the next morning. Darrel had let Frank and Fred take the work truck that morning so they could get to the manor early and clean the blood mess.
Darrel got to the manor a little later than the boys, giving the Logans time to eat breakfast and get themselves together for the day before he arrived. Brad and Tim had started to work on painting and some of the renovating on the basement.
Kristen took the blood sample she had collected to the County Coroner. Robert Denison had been one of Linda Shelby's closest friends and looked at Kristen like he would a niece. He told her it was definitely blood, but he wouldn't know much more than that without a few tests. His lab was a little backed up at the moment, but he would call her when he knew more.
Early that afternoon, Kristen arrived pulling a trailer behind the little black Volkswagen bug. The trailer had some odds and ends furniture in it, along with a sewing machine and materials. There was even a couple of dress forms.
"Why are you all so generous to us?" asked Miranda.
"I told you the other day, this is my aunt's legacy. She was a very generous soul when she was alive and helped a lot of people. Helping you all, as you are descendants of her, is like paying her back for all she had done." Said Kristen.
"I wish I could have met her," said Jamie.
"Would you have a picture of her? I think it would be a great way to honor her by having a picture in the foyer," said Miranda.
"I think she would like that. I'm sure I can find one."