The private security business had been good the previous year, enough to where I could run it from Ravensgate. I put, Greg, one of my managers in charge while I was away. It would help me to put adequate energy into an attempted investigation of Sandy’s disappearance. Occasional out of town trips may occur but wouldn’t be a problem.
Some of my belongings were brought in the house after about a week of signing the contract. The first thing I did was change all the locks. I added a security alarm system too. I put a camera on the front and back door. It wasn’t hard to be completely moved in by August.
I noticed the calendar that hung on the refrigerator was from last year. I took it off and tossed it in the trash. I’d get an updated one later.
The old-style Victorian wasn’t what I was used to, but I wanted things in the house to be as close as they were when Sandy lived there. It was surprisingly easy to get comfortable in the large, brooding house. I began to feel at home even though there was an air of unease to the place.
The first night, after moving in boxes of my things, I tried relaxing in the living room and watching tv. The eerie, quiet house somehow made me nervous but also put me at ease.
As I sat on the couch, which was covered in a light layer of dust, I heard noises. There was a sound coming from within the walls. Some type of movement. A bumping and a thumping. Rats. There had to be rats scurrying withing the walls.
I spied the white bust of the woman on the fireplace mantle; nice touch. I noticed another bust on an end table in the dining room earlier.
I got up from the couch to get a better feel of my new home. I wanted to see Sandy’s art studio in the cellar. I opened the basement door, next to the kitchen in the hall, and walked down the wooden steps into the basement. Spider webs hung from underneath the steps and in corners near the ceiling.
Metal shelves stood against some the brick walls on the left. Pieces of pottery, painted in various colors sat on each shelf along with small statues of the human figure, male and female. Sandy’s accurate attention to anatomy was uncanny.
When I was a kid, I used to visit and watch her sculpt from clay and marble. She let me play with the clay, but I could never produce anything.
In the rest of the basement was nothing more than old junk stored in plastic totes stacked atop one another.
There was a wooden door on the far wall of the basement at the front of the house. I opened it, revealing a smaller room with a large, wooden table in the center. More shelves aligned the wall opposite of the door on which sat sculpted female heads, plastic bags of moist clay, and small utensils, some of them very sharp. In the corner to the left of the room was a circular kiln in which clay was baked. Obviously, Sandy’s art studio.
I shut the door then took a trip from the basement up two flights of stairs to the second floor. In the center of the master bedroom where Sandy slept was the large bed, its sheets neatly done, probably the work of the groundskeeper, maybe.
I opened the closet door. On hangers, hung a few women’s blouses and on the floor were few pairs of shoes, left behind by the police I guessed. I felt I was invading Sandy’s privacy, but I looked in the dresser drawers; all empty. I sat on the comfortable king-sized bed but would not sleep there. I still felt it was Sandy’s room. I would use the guest room.
The study, to the left of the master bedroom, would be the perfect home office. The large oak desk and leather chair were still there. The drawers were empty.
I perused through the books on the shelves, much of it was on art and history. Many were on the paranormal and the occult. From what I knew Sandy was never interested in that stuff.
The second-floor bathroom was tidy but smaller than the one downstairs. The guest bedroom with its twin sized bed in the center of the room was neat. There was a closet to the left of the bed, a small night table to the right and a dresser by the window. I’d move my clothes in later.
I needed a good look at the attic, so I jerked open the attic door from the hall, turned on the switch, and followed the narrow wooden steps to the top. Sandy was right, it was cluttered. It was one huge loft-like room filled with old furniture covered with white sheets.
One by one I lifted them off revealing old items like an empty bureau, a rocking chair, and a vintage waist high radio with a wooden frame. More plastic totes containing Christmas and Halloween decorations were stacked on one another in one section of the attic.
The only window in the attic was small and round on the front wall which gave a view of the front yard of the house, the driveway and Arkham Road. A large wooden trunk sat in the far-left corner, also left to the circular window. I went to it, bent down to open it, but it was locked shut. Did the police even bother with this?
To the right of the round window on the wall adjacent to it was a closed door. I opened it. The closet was small and empty except for a naked, armless, upper torso of a female mannequin that sat on the floor. She had pink, plastic skin, her bald head was turned to the left and she stared into space.
The temperature dropped, the dusty attic suddenly became cold, a draft maybe. I shut the closet door leaving the mannequin shrouded in darkness then headed downstairs to turn in for the night. I turned off the attic light when I reached the bottom of the steps and shut the attic door.
Hours later I lay in the guest room bed, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling in the dark. The house was foreign and still took some getting used to. Sleep finally overtook me but I was awakened by a sound in the middle of the night. A heavy creak came from the ceiling above. Like the one I heard when Sandy showed me the house. Another creak followed the first. Someone was walking in the attic.
I sprang from the bed and grabbed my side arm which I kept in the dresser drawer. I ran into the hall, pulled open the attic door and turned on the light switch before running up. As I stood at the top of the stairs facing the large attic, everything seemed fine, but only for a second.
“Who’s up here?” I said.
The light bulb that hung from the ceiling flared then went out leaving everything in darkness, perfect timing. Light from the moon outside rushed through the circular window illuminating a small portion of the attic but it was still hard to see.
I paused, waiting for movement of any kind. Nothing. I quickly ran down to the second floor for a mag flashlight and returned to the attic within seconds. Shining the beam from my flashlight, I slowly treaded through the old furniture and junk. Anybody could have been hiding in all that clutter. My eyes slowly adjusted. A raccoon she said.
I checked in all directions with my light. When I glanced at the circular window, I saw it: the dark profile of a woman walking silently past the window from left to right, blocking out the moon light. She had a thin frame and short hair. The floor creaked as she walked.
The silhouette disappeared into darkness as it stepped beyond the window toward the closet which contained the mannequin torso. When I aimed the flashlight in her direction she was gone.
“Sandy?” I called.
I ran to the spot where I saw the woman in front of the window and shined light around the room. No one was there, nothing but the window and the closet door. Nervously, I walked to the door, reached for the knob and opened it. There was nothing but pitch black. The flashlight didn’t help much, and I could barely see the mannequin torso on the floor.
A soft wind came from the darkness of the closet and blew my hair across my forehead. A disembodied whisper called, “Cole.” My heart beat faster. It was a woman. I couldn’t tell if the voice came from the closet or somewhere else in the attic. I turned quickly, flashing the light everywhere and saw nothing but the dust covered furniture.
When I turned back to face the closet, it emerged from dark; a hand reached out for me from inside. The flesh was gray, peeling and rotted. The nails were black, and its fingers stretched outward. I stood transfixed, frozen as the appendage came forward.
A loud banging rang out from downstairs snapping me out of the trance and the hand was gone. I saw only darkness. I was sure I imagined the whole thing and shut the closet door. The knocking continued, still a little uneasy, I realized someone was downstairs knocking at the front door, the doorbell didn’t work.
I found my way through the dark attic. I looked at my watch as I walked downstairs: nine-thirty. A late visitor.
Gaining my composure, I put the firearm in the back of my pants and opened the front door. There stood a heavy man, tall, middle aged, wearing a full red beard and mustache wearing gray blazer.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“Hello. I’m Karl Lansley… I tried the doorbell, but it doesn’t work. I apologize for my late arrival, but can I speak with Sandy?”
“How do you know Sandy?” I asked.
“Sorry if it’s late but Sandy said I could come by no matter the hour. I’ve been trying to contact her but for quite some time. Her cell is not in service and she doesn’t answer her emails.”
“Sandy’s not here,” I said calmly, “she hasn’t been for some time.”
“Oh, I wasn’t aware. Did she move?”
“Not quite. Who are you?”
“I’m sorry, here’s my card.”
He reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and handed me a white business card.
“I’m from the Center for Paranormal Investigations,” Karl said. “Sandra and I were to schedule another meeting, but like I said, I wasn’t able to contact her by phone and got a little worried. I stopped by tonight since I’m back in town.”
“Paranormal investigations? How did you meet her?” I asked.
“She found us online, she wanted us to have a look at the house.”
“What did she say about the house?
“She said she thought there was some activity here. Well, when you see her. Tell here I came by.”
“Sure. Thanks for stopping by, Karl.”
“I appreciate it, again, sorry for the inconvenience.”
I shut the door and walked into the living room. Through the window I watched the man walk down the walkway to his Chevy parked in the driveway. He drove off then I noticed a light high up in the night sky. It was stationary and changed colors back and forth from red to white. To get a better view, I went back to the front door, opened it and stood on the porch.
The object was still there and began to descend slightly then stopped above the clouds. It hovered, continuing to glow from red to white. Abruptly, it moved diagonally to the upper right with great speed and stopped. It moved again to the left quickly and again stopped like a laser pointer on a wall. The object turned blue, green, then flew straight up with lightning speed and disappeared.
What the hell? Planes can’t do that. I shut the door and sat down on the sofa. I looked at Mr. Lansley’s card. The Center for Paranormal Investigations. UFOs? Ghosts? Maybe Sandy was on to something.