The cabin in question was straight out of a horror movie. Single story with a door in the center of a sagging porch, two windows gazing balefully into the forest and a swing at one end. The posts holding up the overhang looked sturdy enough but the rest looked as though it might collapse if a gentle breeze came from the right direction.
Angelié declared it perfect. Shooter wasn’t so sure.
“I’m not so sure about this, babe. It doesn’t look all that safe. I mean, it definitely looks haunted but, I don’t think we should go in there. What do you think, Sam?”
“It doesn’t really matter what Sam thinks because Sam is not in charge. I am. And I say we go…” her voice trailed off as the porch swing started moving. Though she couldn’t see anyone sitting there, she just knew it had to be Blane showing off and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Instead she gestured to Sam to start rolling. Lowering her voice to a theatrical whisper, she grabbed Shooter’s arm.
“Look babe, a classic manifestation. Get out the instruments so we can get a reading.” Shooter looked terrified but did as she said, laying the case on the ground to open it. Never taking his eyes off the porch swing, he handed her the furiously blinking EMF meter and then grabbed the boom with the mic attached. Sam already had the camera on, filming the movement for a few moments until Angelié moved into the frame.
“Here we are at the-” she paused, head tilted and a hand on her hip, with the sudden realization that she had no idea what the place was called. “-site of a ghastly occurrence. Back in the day, this resort was a thriving vacation getaway, but all too soon, it would become the living nightmare and final resting place for many of those adventure seekers. Behind me is one of the cabins constructed to make visitors feel at home, and as you can see, from the motion of the porch swing, the residents haven’t gone anywhere. We’ve used the best state of the art technology to determine that this is in fact, a classic spectral manifestation.” She briefly held up the meter and then stepped out of frame, hissing to Sam to zoom in on the swing, but it suddenly stopped. This time she did roll her eyes. She made the motion to cut and Sam did so, lowering the camera hesitantly.
There was something about this that felt so wrong. Whoever the ghost on the swing was, they had found a way to hide, and that was more unsettling than being surrounded by them. That was the other weird thing, around the far side of the lake, there were countless ghosts, but here the woods were eerily empty. Sam checked and was dismayed to discover there was no cell reception. So much for finding out what Alex and Herb had discovered.
“Sam, get that camera going, I need to do the part we’ll add a map to in post-production. We want people to be able to find this place.”
“Do we though? I’m not really sure it’s a good idea to encourage people to come out here, it doesn’t seem safe. I’d hate for anyone to get hurt. And I feel like the locals aren’t really into visitors. Though everyone has been really nice to us. Especially that lady at the post office. Dang it! I forgot to give Jeff and Georgia her regards.”
“Okay, it’s super cute that you’re making friends, Shooter, but that’s not why we’re here. This place has been hidden for a long time and people deserve to know what happened here and to experience it for themselves.”
“Experience what? Being murdered? Because that’s what happened here.”
“Haha, Sam. I don’t recall asking your opinion. Please just start recording on my mark.” Her tone was glacial. Shooter gave Sam an apologetic shrug and lifted the boom, casting an uneasy eye toward the porch swing. The stillness was somehow more unsettling than the movement.
When they’d finished, Shooter cast a glance at the sky.
“Looks like we’re losing the light, babe. Not sure how much more we can accomplish today. How about we head back to the motel and finish up tomorrow? We’ve got lots of footage to make for a great segment here. I don’t see much point in sticking around.” He was very pointedly not looking at the porch swing. Angelié looked at the sky and pulled out her phone, checking the time.
“What are you talking about? We still have hours of daylight left, and we haven’t filmed any interior shots yet” She turned to Sam. “Did you bring down the lights? We’ll need them inside.” Shooter made a motion for Sam to stop.
“Babe, I really don’t think it’s safe to go into that cabin. Maybe one of us, but not all three. It looks like it’s about to collapse any second.”
Angelié took a deep breath.
“Babe,” her emphasis on the syllable denoted impatience. “You’re being silly. Things from the past were built way better than stuff now. I bet an earthquake couldn’t budge this thing. Now, I don’t ask for much…” It was all Sam could do to keep quiet. “…but this is important.” Her voice softened and she gentled her approach as though Shooter was a wild animal who needed taming. Sam cocked an eyebrow, suspicious. “Tell you what, we’ll do a couple of quick interior shots, and then there’s a place just up the hill I’ve heard is amazing. A house and garden straight out of a fairy tale. Birds and deer and even bunnies just running around. We can spend as much or as little time there as you want, and then head back to the motel and…” She leaned in to whisper in his ear and Shooter blushed. Sam exhaled, knowing Ange was going to win this round, and headed back to the van to get a couple of portable lights.
They were on the porch when Sam returned, having some sort of disagreement. Sam could see the whole house shift and sway as they moved on the porch. The structure was far from safe, regardless of what Angelié said, but that wasn’t the reason for the argument.
“Babe, if the door is locked there’s a reason for it, someone doesn’t want random people wandering in. Probably because it isn’t safe. Even so, it wouldn’t be right to break in. Maybe it’s whoever that ghost was on the swing a few minutes ago. They got tired of us being here and went inside.”
Angelié huffed, her patience wearing thin.
“It is so obviously abandoned. Don’t think of it as breaking in, think of it as gaining entry to document something of great historical value. Who are we to deny the world knowledge? Besides, ghosts can walk through walls, why the hell would they bother locking the door?”
The click was as loud as a gunshot and had the same effect. Shooter paled, and even Angelié looked unsettled as the door started to slowly swing open, with all the creaks it could muster. She recovered quickly, pointing to the now open door.
“See? That’s an open invitation if I ever saw one.” Shooter started to back up, shaking his head.
“That’s a whole lot of hell no, babe.”
“Don’t be such a fucking coward!” Her shriek echoed through the trees, thoroughly eliminating any element of surprise or stealth. Shooter blanched at the insult. She immediately tempered her tone, but it was too late. She shook her head, resigned.
“Fine. Fuck it.” She stepped off the porch and back into the filtered sunlight. The boards gave a groan and settled back into place. Shooter let out a sigh as she rummaged through the bag she’d left on the ground by the gear.
“I’m glad you came to your senses, babe. It’s really too dangerous to do any filming in there. Remember what happened to the twins? It would suck if…” his voice trailed off as he found himself staring at the gun Angelié had pointed at him. “What is that?”
“What is this? This is bullshit. I hate that it’s come to this. Guns are for losers and I am disgusted that you’ve forced my hand like this. Do you think I wanted this to happen? A person can only put up with so much. I was planning to keep you around a little longer, but I’m done.” She sighed as she moved the gun between the two of them.
Sam had suspected Ange had a dark side, but not murderous dark. Shooter had suspected nothing. Both were in a state of shock, unsure how to react to the revelation.
“So here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to head into the cabin, both of you. And then there is going to be an accident. You’re right about the structural integrity of this place, babe.” Shooter winced at the endearment. “It’s just too bad I was the only one who made it out. Now get in there, both of you.”
“You’re not really going to hurt us, are you? This isn’t you.”
Angelié’s laughter was as sharp as her haircut.
“You have no idea how much this actually is me. The past three months have been so frustrating. I honestly thought you’d be the perfect, enthusiastic arm candy helping me rack up followers and fans, but you’re just so cautious and tenderhearted, it’s really annoying. I mean, at least the sex was fun, so you had that going for you. Now move!” She gestured with the gun and Shooter reluctantly headed for the cabin, his expression a mix of sadness and confusion. Next she waved the gun at Sam.
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, Sammy. Head on in.” Left without any immediate options, Sam followed Shooter onto the porch and through the door. The interior was much darker, partly due to proximity of the forest outside as well as the window to their right being haphazardly boarded up. The window on the other side of the door let in enough light to see that the space contained a comfortably furnished living room containing a sofa, chair, and coffee table. There was even a cozy looking blanket folded over the back of the sofa, as though ready for someone to stretch out and take a nap. Not much help against a gun though. Sam swiveled to the right, toward the shadowy corner where a dining table and three chairs sat, as though waiting for someone…
One of the chairs was occupied and Sam’s blood froze even though the figure was familiar. The long, grey fingers almost blended into the darkness of the table top, where it tapped, then scraped, then tapped, then scraped in a horrifying rhythm. Realizing the ghost had physical form, even without the help of the hagstone was alarming, to say the least.
Sam gave Shooter a quick look but the large man was casting eyes about the place, perhaps looking for an exit, unaware of the gruesome vision at the table. That was one small blessing, perhaps. Sam did everything possible to stay stoic, waiting to see what happened when Angelié spotted it.
Her gasp gave away that she saw it, while Sam stayed perfectly still, focused on Shooter rather than the specter. Shooter mistook the noise for a reaction to the disarming sway of the floorboards beneath their feet. Stepping forward, he tried once more to bargain with her.
“Babe, listen…” She swung the gun toward him, forcing him back, while keeping the figure at the table in her peripheral vision.
“Sh-shut up.” Her voice was barely a whisper. Her eyes wide, she glanced at Sam, trying to gauge whether she was the only one who could see the apparition and that’s when Sam knew that Angelié had been told about the visit in the café, confirming that this was the same individual.
“Sam?” The fear in her voice might have made Sam smile if not for a healthy sense of self-preservation. “Sam, do you see anything?”
“I see a psycho with a gun…” Ok, not so much a healthy sense self-preservation as a mild awareness that it might be a good thing to have. Angelié huffed, then shrugged and turned to the apparition.
“Well, you’re fucking useless. What’s the point of trying to scare people if they can’t see you?”
“That one can see me. Even without a fancy little charm, it seems.” Blane pointed to Sam. “Nice try, friend, but you’re not fooling anyone. Well, not me, anyhow.” He gave Angelié a sardonic look and she whirled on Sam.
“Are you kidding me? Have you been able to see ghosts all this time? Do you know how fucking helpful that would have been?”
Shooter looked confused.
“What are you talking about, Ange? And who are you talking to?” She jerked a thumb at Blane.
“This guy, you can’t see him?” She turned to the ghost. “Why can’t he see you?”
“I don’t know, maybe he’s too stupid to penetrate. I don’t have a clue how this works, you know. I’m not an expert in being dead or anything. Speaking of,” he walked over to the wall which created the alcove where the table sat and leaned on it. The structure swayed menacingly. “This seems as good a time as any to acquire some company. Say the word, and I’ll bring it all down.”
Angelié smiled, a malicious smirk which called to mind Norman Bates or Freddy Kruger.
“Not a bad idea. And it won’t harm you, being that you’re already dead. I suppose I don’t have to do everything myself, however fun it might be.” Using the gun, she indicated that Shooter and Sam were to take a seat at the table. “It does make more sense for them to them to die in a way that looks accidental, guns don’t really manage that easily. It’s why I’m not a fan. Comes in handy in a pinch though. Now sit!”
As they took a seat on either side of the table with their backs against the wall, Shooter looked utterly miserable, and Sam felt for the big man. His great strength was useless against a bullet, even if he was the type of person to reciprocate violence, which he wasn’t. Sam should have paid more attention when mum issued her warning about the evil in the hills. Well, she’d likely get to say I told you so soon.
On Sam’s side of the table was a cut in the wall with a view into the kitchen. The opening was made for food to be passed through, much like in the diner. As Sam wondered if the space was large enough to dive through, there was a flash of movement in the kitchen, and for a brief moment, hope flared. But then the other ghost from the shore walked through the wall separating kitchen and dining area, and the spark died. He looked confused as he spotted Blane leaning against the wall.
“How are you solid? And how do you shape shift? I can’t do that stuff.” He waved a hand at the wall and it easily passed through.
“Have you tried? Like, actually tried. Or have you just thought, I’d like to do that, but never actually work for it the way most people do?”
“Of course I’ve tried! Maybe I just have different afterlife superpowers!”
“You should, considering that a demi-god or whatever it was picked at your brain. It doesn’t seem to have done you any favours though.”
“Shut up, you. At least I wasn’t taken down by a dog.”
“It was a hell hound! It just looks like-”
“HOLY FUCK SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU!” Ange had completely forgotten about the two living souls in the room, distracted as she was by the ghost fight. Sam paced the distance to the door, wondering if they could make if before she…
“Don’t even think it, Sam.” Shooter looked between the two of them, trying to work out what the hell was happening.
“It’s not very polite to yell like that. I don’t know who or what you’re talking to, but it seems like you’d have an easier time getting people to go along with you if you were kinder.”
Angelié rolled her eyes, her head dropping back with a loud sigh. She pointed the gun at Shooter.
“Why are you so fucking nice? You literally have a gun pointed at you and you’re still so fucking nice. Do you know how boring that is? I was going to force you to film an interior segment with me, so that I’d gain sympathy clicks when it was discovered you had died shortly after when the house fell down, but I’m really not feeling it anymore.”
“Well, good, because I’m not into helping you anymore. I don’t even understand what you’re doing, I thought you wanted to help people, you know, come to terms with loss or something. But you’re just mean.” He crossed his arms over his broad chest and pointedly looked away from her.
“Mean? That could easily describe most humans! Petty, selfish, greedy jerks, the lot of them. Humans are weak and governments are corrupt, and the result is a world where there is no sense of order or…or…sense! I used to spend so much time preoccupied with frustration at the insignificant advancements humanity was making when we’re obviously capable of so much more. Humans don’t deserve to have dominion over anything! So can you imagine my joy when I discovered the idea of ancient beings, terrible and powerful, was potentially more than an idea? Finding that there are whole groups of people working to bring them back and have them rule over the multitudes? Can you imagine a mid-level bureaucrat trying to argue their relevance with a god? And I’m not talking some feeble deity consumed with spreading love and tolerance. That’s not what people need. They need order and regulation. Who gives a fuck where you’re from or what you look like, that’s part the problem. People think that where they’re born or what they worship makes them special. What better equalizer than a long-slumbering, half-remembered, ancient force to be reckoned with!” She twisted to face Shooter, electrified by a manic passion. “You think I gave a fuck about ghosts? Do I look like Scrooge McDuck? Fuck no! I’ve been looking for dead places and sleeping gods. I’ve been tracing ley lines and following whispers for a long time now. And-”
“Ebenezer.” Sam’s voice was very quiet but somehow resonated bright in the small space. Blane snorted, then covered his mouth when Angelié whirled to face him. She turned back to Sam. Her voice was cold menace.
“What did you say?”
“It was Ebenezer Scrooge, not Scrooge McDuck. If that wasn’t enough to suggest you’re confused about things, I’d add that ley lines aren’t real. Someone made up the idea of them in the 20th century and they’ve been debunked countless times. Doesn’t bode well for your napping grandpa god if your research is coming from internet randos in tinfoil hats.”
Sam had never considered that apoplectic red might be a colour but the shade Angelié’s face was turning could certainly have been a contender. Shooter groaned the way someone might when convinced they were about to be shot by a raving maniac in tiger striped spandex. There was a sudden bang in the kitchen, causing everyone to jump. They could see through the opening that Nathan was on the other side, bent over and holding his head while moaning. It would appear that he had worked out how to become solid by attempting to walk through the wall a second time.
“Who’s that?” Shooter asked, and the rest of the party turned to look at him. “Sam,” he whispered, though everyone could hear, “is that the Ebenezer guy you were talking about?”[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]