In the morning I awoke on the sofa, my back sore from sleeping on an uncomfortable piece of furniture. As I sat up and stretched, sunlight shot through spaces in the living room curtains, aggravating my eyes.
I recalled last night’s dream; the decaying hand out from the darkness in the attic closet, the silhouette of the woman walking past the window and the strange UFO in the night sky.
It was my first night in a Victorian; much larger and creepier, than anything I’ve ever lived in. When traveling for work, I would sometimes have odd dreams when I slept in new places like motels. This was normal.
I yawned and saw the business card from the Center for Paranormal investigations I left on the coffee table. I picked it up realizing that Sandy might have just gotten creeped out because of living in a new place, like I was. Probably why she thought to hire a ghost hunter.
On the way to the kitchen to make breakfast, I stopped in the room at the back of the house with all the plants, Sandy’s sanctuary. She put an aquarium in there like she said but didn’t get around to putting water or fish in it. The tank sat on the table next to the huge grandfather clock.
Another white bust of a woman sat on the table next to the fish tank. I hadn’t noticed that bust before.
In the kitchen while cooking chorizo, potatoes and eggs, I heard a noise in the hall. I turned off the stove, peeked out into the hall and saw mail sliding through the slot in the front door. Sandy still received mail. I looked through it, most of it was junk, coupons and crap.
Among the mail, there was small catalog from a local new and used bookstore in Ravensgate, the Red Fawn. The paper listed books that were on sale and Top new picks for Sandra Breyer. Most of the books chosen for Sandy were about ghosts, paranormal, and psychic phenomenon. Sandy had never any interest in such nonsense before, so I thought.
I remembered the paranormal books on the shelves upstairs in the study. I made my way up to have a look at them. They had titles such as True Hauntings, Ghosts and Other Phenomenon, Psychic Ability, Men in Black, and The Moth Man Prophecies.
After looking closely, I noticed that there was a space between the back the books that were on the bottom shelf and the wall of the shelf. I removed the books from the bottom shelf and found a black daily planner that was hidden or slipped and fell behind them, causing the space. I took it and put the other books back on the shelf.
I skimmed through the daily planner. It was empty expect for a few times when Sandy recorded when she went to church or made her way down to the Red Fawn Bookstore to meet with Elena and the book club. It seemed that Sandy made friends. It might be a good idea to find out which church she attended. If were to get to know the people that Sandy knew, I’d get an idea as to what she did when she was here.
After breakfast, I put the planner in my small, black, book bag then made my way into town to check the Red Fawn Bookstore on Main Street. People walked up and down the short strip of quaint businesses and shops. Among them were a small art gallery, an ice cream parlor, a few bars, a furniture store, and antique shop called Marcia’s Vintages.
There was also a small café called the Coffee Nook and the Red Fawn Bookstore was directly across the street from it. I found parking space along the street in front of the Red Fawn and went inside.
Chimes clanged as I opened and shut the door behind me. The store was small and musty with creaking hard wood floors. Shelving units almost reached the ceiling and many used books were covered in dust. Some of them were rare and expensive. A few customers skimmed books within the aisles. The register counter was in the far left at the back of the store.
A thin, attractive woman with shoulder length, light brown hair in her mid-thirties, categorized a pile of books on the counter. She wore a dark blue dress and smiled when she saw me.
I stopped through the history section then made my way to the magazine rack, which was near the register counter and perused through and issue of Men’s Health.
“Hi, is there anything I can help you find?” asked the woman from a distance.
“Yeah, maybe you can. Where is your metaphysical section?”
“That would be next to religion,” she said. “It’s small but we do have a variety. It’s this way,” she said.
The woman stepped away from her mountain of books and walked toward the other end the store. I followed her to the shelves that were built into the wall.
“A friend of mine was into this type of stuff,” I said. “She was a part of the book club here.”
“Her name doesn’t happen to be Sandra does it?”
“Yeah, it is, you know Sandra?”
“I do. She was the only one in the book club interested in that subject. She’s a friend of mine as well. You’ve heard, haven’t you?”
“Yeah, I know. She’s missing.”
“It’s got many people around here worried.”
“That’s understandable. I’m new to Ravensgate myself.”
“Oh yeah? Where are you from?”
“Detroit. I have to say, I like this town. I’ve recently taken up residence in the house that Sandy lived in,” I said.
The woman looked concerned.
“How long have you been in the house?” she asked.
“Only for a few days or so, I…”
“Come with me, I need to talk to you,” she said.
She scanned the store then walked behind the counter and through a door into a small office. I followed. She waited for me to enter then shut the door behind us.
“My name is Wendy,” she said as she sat behind the desk, “Please, have a seat.”
“I’m Cole,” I said as I sat in the chair in front of the messy desk.
“It’s a pleasure to meet a friend of Sandy’s,” Elena said then briefly paused before she spoke again. “That house, it isn’t safe. I tried to warn Sandy before something bad happened, but she was intent on staying.”
“Tell me, did Sandy say anything to you about what was going on in her life before her disappearance?”
“The house is what happened, it has a bad history. I don’t know the details, but Sandy said something about ghosts in the house. She came here looking for books on the supernatural. I helped her as much as I could. We became friends when she joined the book club and came to meetings.”
“Ghosts? Tell me about the house. What’s wrong with it?” I asked.
“A married couple lived there before Sandy. They were involved in bad things, exactly what, I’m not sure. Whatever they were into, it left a bad residue in the house. After the couple left, the house was empty for a while then Sandy moved in. When she came up missing, I suspected it had something to do with the house, but of course I can’t be sure.” Wendy said.
“You wouldn’t by any chance know which church Sandy attended or any other place she frequented would you?” I asked.
“No, I’m sorry. We spoke many times, but I don’t know much about her other activities.” she answered.
The ring of the bell from the front counter outside put our conversation to a halt, a customer was ready. Elena got up and took a business card from her desk.
“Please, be careful, Cole. If you need anything contact me,” Wendy said.
I left the Red Fawn slightly satisfied. Ghosts; never believed in them. Something happened to Sandy, but it wasn’t supernatural.
I opened my car door, glanced across the street into the front window of the Coffee Nook. Sitting at a table by the window inside the café, was the groundskeeper. Emotionless, he stared at me through the glass. A truck passed by and when I looked again, he wasn’t there. Was I being followed?