I crossed the street and walked into the café. Customers sat, talked, studied and drank coffee. The groundskeeper was gone. I walked towards the back of the café where the restroom was. The cute red headed barista nodded and smiled as I walked past the counter, “Can I help you?”
“No thanks, just going to the rest room,” I said.
I checked the bathroom and he wasn’t there either. I took my cell phone from my jacket pocket as I left the Coffee Nook and walked back to my car. I dialed Dale Ortman, the old owner of the house. I had questions about the groundskeeper. How long had he been looking after the place? Who was he? Ortman’s phone rang but he didn’t answer.
I went home and that night was quiet in the house, unlike my first night there. No creaks in the attic, no dreams. I was beginning to think I made a mistake moving to Ravensgate, I had no real leads.
After handling some work in the study, I went downstairs to grab a bite. In the main hall I passed the living room and again noticed the bust of the woman on the fireplace mantle. There was something about her.
Curiously, I walked up to fireplace, picked up the bust and studied it in detail. It’s about ten inches tall and made from a white marble, perhaps. Subtractive sculpture, Sandy was good at carving from stone. The woman’s features were distinct and beautifully crafted. She was a pretty woman and the hair, eyes, and face were extremely realistic.
I was curious about the other two busts and went to look at them. The one in the dining room was made of the same material and just as detailed but had a perfectly different face and short hair. The last one was in the Sanctuary, it sat on the table next to fish tank. The melancholy appearance on her face made this bust stand out the most.
I then strolled through the house to look at the paintings. They weren’t Sandy’s handiwork; she was a sculptor not a painter. The paintings were the same ones I saw when I first visited her. There was no particular theme, some were of scenes of nature, others of people in public places, and others of still life.
The one that most struck me as odd was the one above the fireplace, next the bust on the mantle in the living room. Someone painted the very same Victorian house that I stood in. It was signed with the signature Tabitha K. as were many of the other paintings. Whoever lived in the house before Sandy, this married couple maybe, that Elena mentioned, had a thing for this artist.
The next day I headed to Detroit to deal with issues at my company, Alpha Black Security. Business kept me out of Ravensgate during the next week or so, but it wasn’t long before odd occurrences began happening again when I came home. I saw something that I can’t explain.
Upstairs, I came out of the study one night, walked into the hall to go to the bathroom and peered into Sandy’s bedroom. The door was open. I never leave the door open. I glanced into the room and saw something near the ceiling above the bed. It was black, shapeless and hovering in mid-air. It was shiny and reminded me of tar, or a moving black garbage bag.
I paused and watched it for about five seconds. There it floated, changing the shape of its dark mass. I walked toward the room and the closer I got the further it began to rise upward until out of view. When I entered Sandy’s room it was gone. I looked around and nothing was out of the ordinary. I don’t know what it was, but I shut the door and never saw it again.
I had to have imagined it. Doors swing open from drafts all the time and the dark mass could have been a shadow or trick of light. I explained it away, but it still bothered me.
The next evening after dinner I sat back upstairs in the study again, looking over new clients in the database. The hall outside of the study was dark. I sat immersed in my work. Then the silence was broken by a muffled gurgling sound that came from the attic through the ceiling above. Nervously, I sat in my chair staring at the ceiling, listening to the sound of someone being drowned to death.
I heard footsteps out in the hallway near the study door. Peering into the darkness from my chair at the desk, I saw her walk slowly past the doorway. The woman tilted her head to her right, giving me a sideways glance. She had dark hair shoulder length hair wore a white gown.
I recognized the look on her face before she disappeared as she walked to the other side of the doorway. It was the same melancholy look of marble bust in Sandy’s sanctuary next to the grandfather clock; the very same look and the very same face.