I stepped into the hall and she was gone. A dream again? Going crazy? Had Sandy seen this same woman wandering the house too? Was the apparition in the hall the same one I saw in the attic the first night? What of the other two sculptures? Were they of significance? 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 women on the fireplace mantle. It was as if she was looking right at me. I almost went up to the fireplace to it to turn it around and face the wall. Instead, I left the couch then walked into the dining room to check out the other bust on the end table in there.
I picked up the bust of the girl with the short hair from the end table. This girl looked young. Teens maybe. Finally, I went into the sanctuary, sat in the wicker chair and looked at the sculpture on the table whose face I saw upstairs. Who are you? I asked out loud as if the bust could answer.
Drowsiness finally caught up with me around three in the morning. I went to bed that night and didn’t sleep well. I awoke after only about five hours of sleep the next morning and had to get away from the house for the day. I went to a small diner called Colombo’s in town for breakfast.
I sipped coffee, cream, no sugar as I looked around the small diner at the many people feasting on breakfast. I saw a familiar face in the crowd. It was Karl Lansley from the Center of Paranormal Investigations. He sat in a booth with an African American woman in her late thirties who wore a flower-patterned dress and thick-framed glasses. They ate and chatted about things I couldn’t hear.
I quickly finished the pancakes, grabbed the check that was left on the table by the waitress 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 hadn’t ever seen me before in his life.
“Hello,” he said, looked 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, 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. You know, ghost hunting.” I said.
“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? Obviously, I’ve missed a lot since I’ve been away. What do the police say?”
“They say she just 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 to in Ireland. Tell me, what have you experienced in the house?” he asked.
I told him about the things I saw in the attic, the floating black mass, and the woman 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, amongst other things.
We made an appointment for him to come by the house that same night so he could get a feel of the place. He would also bring Beverly. She worked with him on cases when she could. I thanked Karl for his time, said good-bye to Beverly and left.
I walked up Main Street looking at the various shops and people giving the town life. I came to a small bench on the corner near the bank to collect my thoughts. There was a large clock at the top of the bank’s front wall. “Time” I thought. How much did I or Sandy have?
I anticipated the arrival of Karl and Beverly, maybe they could give me some insight as to what’s been 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 8:00 p.m. Karl and Beverly were punctual. I went downstairs, greeted them at the door and invited them into the living room. 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?” Karl asked.
“Sure. I called a psychic hotline once,” I skeptically responded. “You’re the expert. You know what works. What did Sandy tell you about the house?” I asked.
“She said she was drawn here… as if called. She mentioned experiencing some of the typical phenomenon associated with hauntings, such as cold spots, things disappearing and reappearing in different places, something tugging at her blanket at night.” Karl said.
Beverly spoke up. “Cole, why did you move in?”
“After Sandy disappeared, I knew there was more than the abandonment story the police gave. There had to be something they missed. I had this urge to move in, to try to find her.”
“So, you too were called to the house,” Beverly said.
“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 looking at 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 down 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 but I need to go over this with Beverly. Can you give us few days or so to do that?” Karl asked.
I agreed. Karl and Beverly left soon after, but before they did Beverly told me something, “Cole, I think you should know, Sandy’s psychic.”