The Skeptic


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Dear reader,
Your Side of Midnight shorts are free short stories I write up to get people interested in our novel and to learn about the characters and get to know them. If you enjoy our stories, Lyra and I invite you to read Your Side of Midnight. Thank you!

We decided to let Billy write this one, and we hope you enjoy.

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Chapter 1

A Your Side of Midnight short



I could feel the man as he passed through my barrier at the end of the driveway.

I don't know what he had said to Kelly when he cornered her in town, knowing full well which haunted house she lived in, but she had been angry enough to tell him to come over. To see for himself so to speak, but she wanted it in writing that if anything bad happened to him, that he wouldn't sue. When she told me of her hasty lapse of judgement, I had been too flabbergasted to give a proper rebuttal.

He is a skeptic, you see. If you don't believe in us, that's just fine and dandy with me. We usually don't bother you if we don't feel you'll be a problem to us. That's not a skeptic, though, not our ghostly definition of them, anyway. No, those types are the ones who firmly believe that they are right (Even though, no matter what they say, they do believe in us), that we are foolish bits of imagination and will usually go through any lengths possible to prove the believers wrong.

Skeptics frighten some ghosts, they unknowingly chase them away with their rude behavior and words, and then upon doing so, return with a smug air of satisfaction that they were right once more and everything they can see or taste or touch is reality, no room for what goes bump in the night. Me? They piss me off because their unfounded fear of us physically causes us pain. Don't ask me why; I've been dead for two hundred years and I still don't have all the answers. I just know I don't like their arrogance.

When I heard the car door slam shut, I floated slowly down the grand staircase and watched as Kelly stood at the front door. Her back was stiff, her relaxed demeanor all but gone. They would leave for the night and stay at a nice hotel, the one with the indoor pool the girls grew so excited about when Kelly mentioned it to them.

"All this for pride?" I asked as I reached the main floor and floated to stand behind her. She's a little slip of a thing, that Kelly, but as fierce as a tiger when she gets her fur up just right. “You don’t know this man from Adam, yet he knows where you live. I suppose that wouldn’t be so hard to figure out in a town as small as Bon Hollow. However, I would be extremely hard-pressed not to remind you of how dangerous it is not only to talk to strangers, but to invite them into your home. Whether or not they know the address is incidental. Never trust the living.”

"I know," she whispered as she removed the security chain from the lock, letting it fall to dangle against the door. "I don't know what came over me. I think when he insulted my girls..." She lifted her face to me, realizing she had said the wrong thing. "Don't kill him, okay?"

"No promises," I frowned, and then shimmered out of sight as the girls came down the stairs, holding their overnight bags.

"You're sleeping with Mom," Jade said as she put her elbow out into Jenn's ribs. "You snore, you drool, you fart and mumble."

"Oh goodie," Kelly commented dryly. "It'll be just like when your father's home."

"Gross," Jenn grumbled as she tossed her bag down by the door. "I'm going to go get a few fart bars, so I can climb into bed with Jade in the middle tonight."

"She's your daughter," Jade hissed at Kelly as her mother rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “Do something about her!

"She's your sister," Kelly fired back as she opened the front door. "Are you sure you're still up for this?" she addressed the stranger.

Randy stood on the front porch, looking around slowly, mulling the ornate gingerbread decorations along the top of the roof's overhang, and the wave begonias that dripped full and colorful blossoms down to the handrails.

“You know, I almost had the chance to come into this house once. When I was twelve. One of the handymen in town had been hired to fix the wiring before the new owners were to come in. He was a drinking friend of my fathers. I listened to them talk about the “happenings”,” he lifted his fingers to make the air quotes, and Kelly plastered on a fake smile to keep from rolling her eyes at him. “I might have been a young boy, but even back then I knew that this was foolishness.”

“Well,” Kelly said as she sized the portly man up. “I guess whether it’s beauty, or the supernatural, it’s all love in the eye of the beholder.”

“Of course,” Randy said after a few moments of silence. I stood, invisible, behind Kelly, watching this smug man with the uneven goatee scrutinize my friend.

“You’re welcome to anything in the fridge,” Kelly said. “If my husband knew that we had company without provisions, he would be upset with me.”

“Thank you,” he said and stepped into the house as Kelly moved away from the door. I watched him like a hawk and I could feel electricity crackle around him.

“He has a ouija board,” I said. I suppose Kelly assumed I had gone back upstairs, and she jumped when I spoke.

“You know what I think of those,” I reminded her as Randy paused at the staircase. He was holding a large leather briefcase in his hand, and this is where he decided to set it down.

“If,” he chuckled with a mean twinkle in his eye. “If I find anything, I’ll be glad to share it with you. I’ll be honest and say that over the years, I have encountered some unexplained phenomena, but I assure you, it had nothing to do with ghosts. Though I do find it a bit fascinating how people can attribute strange happens as paranormal when they have simple scientific explanations.”

“Well, you be careful, we’ll be back in the morning, or thereabouts. My brother in law is across the road, so if you need anything, he said to feel free to come by. His name is Nick.”

“What? And not Nix?” I asked. “I guess he doesn’t like this fellow either,” I mused.

“Alright, girls, have you gotten what you want to bring tonight?”

“I do,” Jade said. She had packed light, unlike her little sister who felt the need to carry everything in her room. Kelly had intervened in the packing and forced her only to bring what she needed with the promise they would be too busy in the pool and having fun to worry about homely comforts.

“Guard my dollhouse, Billy!” Jenn called up the stairs.

Randy gazed down at the little girl with an attitude of impatience as he openly scoffed at her. He realized that the gesture was rude, but it was just so ingrained into him by now. How could a mother allow her child to believe in ghosts and goblins and fairies? It was beyond him.

“My guys are going to come in and sweep the place first,” he said as his small team came up onto the porch. “We’re going to get a base reading of the house, and set up a station in our van.”

“That’s a good idea,” Kelly said as she began to herd her girls out of the house. “Be safe!” she called.

“And stay out of my room!” Jade announced. She locked her eyes to Randy. “I wasn’t talking to you,” she said flippantly before trotting down the porch steps and heading to the car.

“Bring me back those chocolate cookies I like,” I reminded Kelly as I floated to the car and watched them get settled in. “You know the ones I’m talking about; the ones that bribe me into behaving.”

Blowing me a subtle kiss through her smirk, Kelly buckled up and cranked the engine. She took one last moment to gaze at the team as she desperately wished she had hidden cameras set up in the house. She knew no doubt that I would chew them thoroughly before swallowing. “Put those cookies on the list,” she whispered to Jade before backing down the driveway.

I turned slowly, my long hair whipping leisurely around my body as I gazed up to my old home with the adoration a husband felt for his young bride. The sweetness suddenly left my face as I turned my attention to the living who were now pulling out their equipment.


My attic was filled with all sorts of treasures that I had pulled into this side over the two centuries I had been dead. Though I liked to collect what I felt I needed, I did take a small bit of pride to realize that I wasn’t a hoarder. In life I was a firm believer of everything having a place and that everything should be in said place. The trunk lid opened with a thump and I sank down onto my knees so I could dig through it. An idea had occurred to me; something I had never tried before, and I was anxious to test it out. I was going to haunt the living as the living. Maybe do a little research on my own and see why people felt the need to encroach on my peace and quiet.

For this to work, I needed to try at least to look the part of a modern day youth. The clothing I typically wore were jeans I had taken in to my side, though they were always much too short for my long legs. I simply accented the lack of length with a pair of heavy work boots. The year Gregg had found a discarded pair of Doc Martins in my size and gifted them to me on Christmas had made this surly ghost extremely happy. Happy enough to hug him tightly, in fact. You would have thought that hug was made of gold or something. Silly, sentimental boy that he is.

“Okay, let’s see,” I murmured to myself as I rose and walked to my chifferobe; the one that had held my clothing in life. I opened the tall doors and peered inside.

“What are you doing?” Gregg’s amused question caused me to start, and I turned quickly.

“I have a plan. I’m going to pretend to be one of the living and try to pick their brains.”

“Oh?” The young spirit leaned against the wall with a smirk as he watched me turn back to the antique wardrobe. “I heard what Kelly had done; inviting that skeptic in.”

“Yeah,” I said as I pushed shirts to one side, and then back to the other. “I need some clothes.”

“What you have on is fine.”

I looked down at myself and sighed. “A ratty pair of jeans and a ratty shirt,” I frowned. “I need to look presentable.”

“Well, why don’t you go and see what Ade has?”

Kelly’s husband was as tall as me, but much broader. The man was as muscled as a breeder bull and often simply wore overalls. Sometimes, he even put on a tie if he wanted to look fancy. I resisted the urge to groan at the memory. “I suppose so, I need to look…”

“Alive,” Gregg suggested.

“Alive,” I agreed. “Where’s the wonder-monkey?”

“Sabaste is at Glorianna’s.”

“Oh,” I said, pleased with that. Glorianna was an elderly spirit who had died even before I had. Her family was still thriving in the region and she was the eternal mother hen. And a hell of a good cook. When Sabaste had found out that the little old lady was renowned for a hot sauce that had no match (or cure), he had marched himself down to her homestead the night before to go see for himself.

“I hope he’s okay,” I mused as I sank through the floor.

“Well, what doesn’t kill you,” Gregg answered with a wry chuckle as he sank down with me. “Are you going to be okay pulling a full body for this long?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Now, we must be quiet,” I whispered as the closet doors opened silently before us. “They’re starting to sweep the house for base readings.”

“Things are getting really technical these days,” Gregg murmured as he pilfered through Ade’s clothing. He found a blue tee shirt with tribal designs on the front which closely matched Nix’s tattoos. I took it, pulled off the one I was wearing and slipped it over my head. It was a little loose, but tucked in nicely. There was no sense trying to make Ade’s jeans work; they’d just be too baggy on my slender frame.

“Brush your hair,” Gregg whispered. “I think you’ll be just fine.”

“Alright,” I said as I lifted Kelly’s brush and began to tackle my long moonlit mane. Downstairs, voices drifted up to us, followed by a burst of laughter. “I should braid it like yours,” I muttered as I ran the brush through my shaggy bangs.

“Nah, me and Nix have that covered.”

“Good to see long hair is making a comeback,” I whispered before setting the brush down carefully. I paused to listen, and then gestured to Gregg. Someone was coming up the steps. “Don’t make a sound,” I breathed so low that Gregg had to read my lips.

Putting his finger to his lips, Gregg nodded, and then shimmered out of sight as I did the same.


Evening had finally settled.

Tilting my head back, I inhaled deeply several times as I manifested into a physical form. I then shook my hands at the wrists and closed my eyes. “I can do this,” I murmured after exhaling an explosive breath. I lowered my head and turned my gaze to the house, and then slowly began to walk up the expansive driveway. Gravel crunched beneath the thick soles of my boots as the full face of the moon began to play hide and seek with fair weather clouds that skirted over the night sky.

They had arrived in one vehicle; a large dark gray van with tinted windows. SKEPTICS REVIEW was stenciled along the sliding doors in bold white letters. I took a moment to study the vehicle before walking to the side steps that led to the large wraparound porch and it was at that moment where I met Randy for the first time; face to face.

“Sorry, but this place is off limits,” Randy said dismissively as he walked past me. “No lookie-loos.”

I watched him go to the van, open the passenger’s side door and reach in. When he gathered a large metal case, Randy was surprised to see me still standing there.

“Speak English?” he asked me brusquely and for that moment, I had to fight every fiber of my being not to knock him through that vehicle. Instead, I simply plastered on a smile that felt as fake as it must have looked.

“I’ve spoken English for quite a long time,” I answered. Longer than you for sure, pal.

“Yeah, well, this place is off limits, if you’re interested in doing a tour with us, you’ll have to contact Monica at the fro—“

He stopped speaking when I held up my hand. “My name is Nick, Nix to my friends,” I said smoothly. Surely one of my best friends wouldn’t mind me borrowing his identity for the evening.

“Oh yeah, the brother in law,” Randy said, still staring at me in a way that made me start to wonder if I didn’t smell bad. “How can I help you, Nick.”

It was obvious that he and I were getting off to a majestic start. I fought the urge to give him a real smile as I walked to him and stuck out my hand. He hesitated, but gave it a limp shake. His hand was weak and his grip was clammy and I didn’t hedge my manners as I openly wiped my palm upon my denim clad thigh.

“So,” I said as I turned my gaze to the home my mother had named Heartstead. Oh how I love this house. “What brings you here?”

The question was enough to spark a mean little twinkle in his piggy eyes. “Ghosts!” he announced, and then laughed as if he had told me a real knee-slapper of a joke. I waited for him to settle down before giving him an uncertain smile. I could play along with this. I love games.

“Ghosts?” I repeated as if it were the most preposterous idea ever. “Don’t tell me you believe in ghosts!”

“Absolutely not!” he spat immediately. Suddenly that distrust in his eye for me had begun to quell. “Absolutely not. I’ve been trying to get into this place for years, but I never could get permission, you see.”

“Is that so?” I asked in an airy manner. “Why was it so hard?”

“Ah, the people here wanted to protect the reputation of the place, didn’t want me to come in here and prove them all liars, that’s what I think is an honest fact.” He nodded to himself as he verbally patted himself on the back and I gave him a sideways smile. Upstairs, in the stairway window, I could see Gregg grinning down at us. When Randy walked past me, I took a moment to put my finger to my lips. My young friend nodded and slowly backed away.

“So, you go into places like these and prove there are rational explanations for what people experience?” I helped right off the bat. Oh yes, Randy, yes, please put your ego up and your guard down. I love playing with your type.

“Absolutely! I pride myself on debunking haunted residences!”

“I bet that really puts a lot of people’s minds at ease,” I commented in an easy tone as I followed him along the porch. I cast a glance at our reflections in the large picture window as we passed by. So far, so good. I was passing muster.

“You’d be surprised at how many people were disappointed,” Randy said as he pulled out the key and unlocked the door. I subtly lifted my hand up at the wrist, wiggled my index and middle fingers and it swung open a little easier than he anticipated. He stumbled forward to grab it before it could swing against the wall with a thud, but since he wasn’t graceful or fast, I could only wince at the bang of the collision.

“So people desire to have their houses haunted?” I asked as we entered the home. He shut the door with a slam that caused me to wince again, but I covered it nicely with a large smile.

“Yeah,” he said as he carried the case through the parlor archway and into the living room. “I guess they’re so caught up in their make believe that they just want something to prove that we still go on after we die.”

“You disagree?”

“Dead is dead,” Randy stated, and without regard to Kelly’s favorite antique coffee table, he set the heavy case down with a dreadful snap. I clenched my jaw. Temper, Billy… temper.

“So, you don’t believe there’s anything else?” I kept my voice light and curious, so he wouldn’t think I was trying to argue with him. Randy shook his head as he plopped down on the love seat and leaned forward, opening the case of what was apparently camera equipment.

“No, once you’re gone, you blink out,” he said with a satisfied grunt. Maybe five minutes of standing had been too much for him.

“Your beliefs are very concrete,” I answered after a long moment of silence. I walked past the coffee table, keeping my eyes on the hideous monstrosity that was Ade’s chair. That old Frankensteined throwback from the sixties and seventies that had somehow been allowed to survive until the present. That chair and I had had many mighty battles during the wee hours of the morning. Just for the heck of it, I plugged into the energy of the house via my feet on the floor, and with the simple whim of desire, surged a bit of my own energy into the chair. There came a soft groaning sound, like it always did as if protesting any service to offer a sitting person before it finally relented to allow you to prop your feet up. Its groan was loud in the quiet living room, and then, without a preamble, the foot rest sprang up with a sound of a spring releasing its pent up energy. The audible “Boing” sound that was so comical to the kids. It was even more comical when Randy suddenly leapt to his feet in surprise.

“Did you see that?” I gasped in shock as I took a few steps away from the chair.

“I did,” Randy said. The surprise on his face was hard-pressed to bleed away, his eyes were large and his pallid skin even more pale, save for the high patches of color on his cheeks.

Gotcha, sucker.

He took a long moment to compose himself before walking over to the chair. He leaned over to examine it, his breathing labored as adrenaline continued to surge through his system. He touched, shook and prodded the poor thing until he finally rose. “Well, just look at this thing. I doubt if any of the original framework is still on it. Where did they find this thing?”

“It’s Ade’s chair,” I said simply. “He’s patched and repaired that thing over the years; refuses to get rid of it. If you ask me, if there were such things as ghosts, that thing right there would surely scare them away.”

Randy laughed, and this time, it had an honest sound to it. He walked back to the love seat and sank back down before pulling his cameras out of their heavy case.

“So, what kind of equipment do you have?” I asked as I sat down on Kelly’s recliner. It was not a comfortable fit, tiny as she was, she had bought it specifically for herself. My knees came up high, so I leaned forward to keep from looking like a fool.

“Ah, you know, just the basic ghost hunting stuff. I don’t know how most of it works, but my team does.”

I tilted my head. This guy had to be an idiot and I couldn’t help it; I opened my mouth and fell right in. “So, you want to debunk ghosts, but you don’t use the equipment to hunt them?”

However, my question wasn’t taken as hard as I expected it to be and I gave a mental sigh of relief as Randy shook his head. Maybe I had opened an opportunity for him to rant about something else.

“No, those things are designed for false positives. To give those ghost hunters the proof they want so they can come trotting out shouting “We have proof! We have proof!” without any real scientific proof. I don’t trust their equipment. It’s biased, and that’s a fact,” he said.

You've got to be kidding me, you hypocrite...

I smiled. “I can understand your point of view,” I answered. And honestly, I could. If people wanted proof of anything, sometimes they wanted it so badly that they manifested it on their own. Like a child with a teddy bear at night to give them comfort, perhaps.

“I’ll stick with things that aren’t geared towards ghost hunting. You know a lot of those guys make a lot of money doing that,” he said. I only nodded in silence. Though I didn’t like them, the ghost hunters, to come into my home bothering me, I had to admit; most of those guys were real down to earth people. If I liked them well enough, I gave them a good show. There was a paranormal team way back in the 50’s who came to my house with, by today’s standards, the most rudimentary gear, but they were just so nice. The lead guy, Herbert, would come in and just talk to me. He knew I were there, and he even told me once that he could feel me. I, however, didn’t want to be seen. I just wanted to be left alone, so I didn’t give him much, but, Herbert came many times over the years. It really meant a lot to me when he left his equipment at home and just came in and talked to me.

When Herbert died, I made a point to go meet with him. Poor soul; he had battled a long illness and when I got the word that it was almost his time, I traveled through mirrors to go visit him. At that time, he lived about four hours away from me but I managed to get there in time and was there when he slipped from that world into this. We spent a long time talking afterwards and he was so grateful for any help I could give him. I explained to him that documenting ghosts at that time, in the 50’s, was starting to get more technical, and evidence was starting to get way too easy to produce. It was a time when all ghosts were in hiding for fear of being exposed.

“I’m not here to hunt ghosts,” Randy reiterated, pulling me out of the fond memory. “I’m here to prove they aren’t real and I don’t need biased, overpriced gizmos to prove that point.”

“Of course,” I said as I nodded my head while making a mental note to write a letter to Herbert, who I know would no doubt get a big kick out of all of this. I wish I had had the forethought to invite him over so he could see firsthand.

“Alright, I’m going to ask  you to stay right there while I set up the cameras,” Randy said as he rose with a grunt.

“Sure,” I said as I got up out of Kelly’s chair. I gave him a charming smile as he flashed me a hard look for rising as soon as he told me to remain where I was. Moving quickly, I sank down onto the couch and leaned against the arm. Satisfied that I was up to no mischief, Randy headed towards the kitchen as his three team members came into the house.


It took them nearly an hour to get the cameras set up where they wanted them, and by the time they were fully satisfied and had them rolling, it was nearly half past eleven. The old clock whizzed, clicked and chimed off the half hour as soon as they settled down in the living room. Weren’t they going to set up their camp in their van? I gave a little shrug, but said nothing. I remained silent as they pulled out a ouija board and set it up onto the table.

“We’ll take more readings,” a young woman said. She wore glasses with a heavy black frame, her hair was short and dyed blue and pink. I couldn’t help but to stare at the huge rings in her lower lip and septum.

“Good, we’ll check and recheck the temp,” a young man answered as he jotted down the time and position of the moon in a little notebook.

“Storm comin’ in,” another girl said. She seemed more serious and studious, like a librarian who had seen battle. I don’t know why combat came to me when I looked at her, but it seemed to fit her well. This one… this one believed in us. Atta girl.

“Christy,” the young man said. His name was Garret. “Could you get us some iced coffee from the cooler?”

“Sure thing,” Christy, with the pink and blue hair, said. “You want anything, Darlene?”

“I’m good,” the combat librarian answered.

“You?” Christy asked me.

“Sure,” I said. “I like to keep my… energy levels high,” I answered with a smile.

Christy left and Randy returned.

“Do you want to try to capture some EVPS?” Garret asked. “I got this new recorder, digital, no way it can be manipulated.”

“Anything can be manipulated, we’ll run an old school one with it, but I doubt they’ll both capture the same thing,” Randy dismissed. “But go with it,” he said.

I listened to them speak in terms that made them feel important while Darlene sat silent. Christy came in, bringing cold cans of name brand iced coffees to each of us. I had to admit; they were pretty good and the surge of caffeine really gave me the boost of energy that I desperately needed. It wasn’t hard to pull a full body, but it was taxing, and sometimes old habits were hard. I nearly walked through the door when we first came into the house, so I had to mentally remind myself to watch myself and pay attention.

The old clock whirred, clicked and then chimed the quarter hour; eleven forty five at night. It was then that I felt a particularly strange energy signature come through the barrier and I was halfway up before I realized that I was reacting to it. A second later, after doing a pretty good impression of a man on a Pogo stick, I let out a chagrined laugh.

“Muscle cramp!” They dismissed me and I turned to the window. Muscle cramp, indeed. Here came Sabaste up the yard, hunched over and holding his stomach. He groaned once, loudly enough that the sound barely made it to my ears. Dread tickled its way along my stomach. Gregg was a blur as he came buzzing down the staircase, unnoticed to our so-called experts, and through the front door. I sank back down on my seat as the team leaned forward to engage that ouija board.

“Mark the time,” Garret said.

“Time marked, eleven forty six p.m.” Christy said. Fingers were placed upon the planchette. I was invited to participate, but I only shook my head no quickly.

Christy asked the first question.

“We’d like to invite any spirit that’s in this house to communicate with us,” she said. “Are there any spirits willing to speak to us?”

Sabaste moaned softly, his misery deaf to their ears. Gregg had him close to the porch, trying to keep him from sinking to his knees. I warned him that Glorianna didn’t play around when it came to making her famous spicy barbeque sauce. I warned him!

The cameras rolled on an uncooperating planchette.

“Is this house haunted?” Garret took his turn to ask.

“It’s okay,” Gregg’s voice wafted to me. “You shouldn’t have had thirds!”

“Are we alone?” Darlene asked. Sabaste moaned again, a low pitiful sound that I dearly wished they could hear. It struck me a second later that Sabaste’s voice was now closer. They were on the porch and I was on my feet before I knew it.

“Excuse me,” I whispered. “Need to use the restroom.”

“Upstairs,” Randy answered in a short tone. “Don’t touch the cameras and we’ll see if you tamper with anything.”

I honestly didn’t care, it wasn’t as if I were planning to let these people stay in my house much longer. On stiff legs, I walked quickly to the stairs and then ascended them in haste. They were still asking questions when I reached the top landing. I dropped, and yet kept, the pretense of me being alive as I let the bathroom door shut hard enough in the frame for them to hear before I slipped back into my ghostly form. I floated my way quickly down the staircase and through the front door as I fought the urge to panic.

“You are not going to ruin this for me,” I growled in a low voice through a clenched jaw. “Go back to Nix’s!”

“Oh,” Sabaste moaned pitiably as he let go of Gregg to throw his arm around my neck. I frowned deeply as those soulful eyes peered into mine. “Hermano… you warned me… and now… I’m dying.”

“You’re not going to die,” I growled.

“It’s gonna hurt tomorrow…”

“It’s hurting pretty bad right now,” Gregg said, amused.

“No man, when am I gonna crap this out? Because that will be what kills me! Burn up my little ghostly O-ring!”

I looked at Gregg in open mouthed shock, and then back to Sabaste, who was still clinging to me with one arm, like a cuckle burr. “You aren’t going to…” I said slowly. “We can take in, but we can’t… evacuate.”

“What do you mean?” Sabaste asked in a quick, sober tone.

“It means that all that heat is just going to radiate through you for a while, until you eventually burn it off,” Gregg answered.

With a huff, I threw Sabaste’s arm back around Gregg’s shoulders. “At least put him in the attic, but keep him out of mischief!”

“I’ll do my best,” Gregg promised as they both began to glide through the front window. I followed after them, well aware of the infrared cameras standing along the walls and pointing in various locations.

“Hurry, down!” I barked as I pointed them out. Gregg nodded and they disappeared quickly through the floor. No doubt by now they were evidence captured on those sneaky things.

“Nick? Is everything okay up there?” Darlene called. I grimaced, and then moved quickly up the staircase before taking solid form once more at the top of the landing.

“Fine,” I called as I pressed my palm against the wall. I willed the toilet to flush and it did.

“You didn’t disturb the cameras, did you?” Randy asked as he listened to my heavy steps descend the stairs.

“No,” I answered simply before returning to the couch. I sank down with a sigh, and then watched them once again try to activate that horrid board. I was thankful I had put up a fresh barrier before I started this nights charade; no telling what they’d try to pull in that could easily sneak past my defenses.

“Alright, let’s try this again,” Christy said. “Are there any spirits in this house that are willing to speak to us?”

They let out a soft gasp as the planchette moved, each one accusing the other of doing it. They squabbled for a moment before quickly leaning forward in tandem, studying the board as if it held vast and great knowledge.

“Quick, Darlene, start writing,” Christy whispered as she and Randy kept their fingers loosely on the planchette. I only stared in horror as words were slowly spelled out.

“D-e-a-t-h… death!” Christy announced. “It said death!”

“Hush,” Darlene said. “It’s still spelling!”


The group’s excitement suddenly turned to monumental confusion.

“Death poop?” Christy asked. “Randy, are you jerking us around?”

“It was one of you, that wasn’t me,” Randy huffed.

“I didn’t do it,” Darlene countered, and then looked at Christy, who, at the silent accusation, let out a disgusted sound. “That wasn’t me!”

“Well, who was it?”

“Not I,” I answered, helpless to not remain silent.

“It’s moving again!”

“A-m-a-z-o-n… Amazon. Amazon?” Lifting their heads, they looked at each other again briefly before going back to spelling out the words.


“Did it mean sherbet? Amazon sherbet?”

“That doesn’t make an ounce of sense,” Randy said. “She beats? Is this a woman?” he asked despite the fact of his stance on the entire matter.

“She-beast,” I said. “Amazon she-beast.”

“Do you have any idea of what that means?” Christy asked me.

I shrugged one shoulder as the old clock chimed midnight with a whir, tick, and the lovely mournful clang of twelve bells. “Yeah.”

“Are you doing this?” Randy accused me. “Did you set this up somehow? Did you screw with the planchette and that’s why you went to the bathroom? Did you use some kind of remote control or magnets to get it to do that?” He rose from his seat, a look of arrogant triumph on his face as he smugly pointed down to me. “You’re the brother in law, so of course you’d try to save face and keep people thinking this house is haunted! I knew it! I could see right through you at the very start! Way to go, Nick, Way. To. Go!” Turning, he lifted his arms up grandly, as if addressing a large crowd of adoring fans instead of turning to face his colleagues, who only looked mildly embarrassed at his theatrics.

I interrupted his self-congratulating puffery by speaking in a calm, cool tone. “I highly doubt you could see through me,” I said. Suddenly, the temperature began to drop slowly, degree by steady degree. “Oh no, I doubt you could see through me at all.”

“I see through people like you all the time,” Randy said as he turned to address me. “All the time. You never had me fooled, and I know that when I rewind that footage up there, I will have all the evidence that I need to debunk this stupid old house and this foolish and naïve family.”

“You said something to Kelly about the girls,” I interrupted him while dropping my own personable and “living” act. “What.”

He leveled a cool gaze at me. The human instinct for preservation is very strong, and it was no slouch for Randy. Perhaps he thought I had come to settle a score for insulting my girls. He no doubt assumed that perhaps I had come for a round of fisticuffs. Be as it may, he was right to listen to them, I did come; for revenge.

What did you say about my girls?” I asked again in a firm, but still relatively calm voice.

Stiffening his back and lifting his chin, Randy glowered down at me as if I were a bug he had just squashed with his brand new loafer. “I said,” he stated. “That they were stupid, in this day and age, to believe in anything as whimsical and ignorant as ghosts. I said the older girl needed to see a shrink and perhaps if she stopped dressing like a girl who slept with guys in cemeteries, then maybe she might have a chance to live a normal life. I said about the little girl that she was lost in a vapid imagination and that if she didn’t get herself in some sort of counseling, then it would be too late for her. If it wasn’t already, as you know, she’s been indoctrinated by her scummy older sister.” His upper lip curled far enough to show me the white incisor, and I simply tilted my head.

That night… I remember the night Kelly came bustling through the door. The girls were highly agitated, too, but they never told me why. All three had been clingy; to me, to each other, but they kept their secrets to themselves.

“So, just because they believe in something you do not,” I said slowly as the women began to realize that they could now see their breath. “That makes you superior to them?”

He only floundered for a moment before taking his resolve and gripping his firmly. “Yes,” he said simply.

“Randy,” Christy whispered. “Our breath is steaming!”

Randy frowned and then exhaled slowly, a twin stream of dragon’s fire pluming from both nostrils. He turned back to me. “And I see you’ve turned the air down while you were up there! Very elementary tricks you have there, Nick. Not very bright, are you?”

“Well, let’s put it this way; no one has ever accused me of being a dumb blond,” I said with a mean smile. Fire twinkled in my eye.

No one has ever accused me of being a dumb blond my voice murmured from the old school tape recorder they were using to try and capture EVPs. The girls let out a soft gasp and jumped in their seats as Randy’s piggy eyes grew large. He looked at me with accusation before leaning down to snatch the small device from the old table.

“How’d you do that!?” he asked as he cut his surprised face to me.

“It’s simple, really,” I said with a smug smile. “When you’re a ghost.”

When you’re a ghost… when you’re a ghost… WHEN YOU’RE A GHOSTGHOSTGHOSTGHOOOOST!

Screaming, Christy leapt from her seat and ran to the door, knocking over one of the cameras in her panic as the ethereal sound of my chuckling came over the tiny speaker. Darlene, frozen in her spot, only looked at me with fear and dread, yet at the same time, seeming to appear as if asking me for assistance. I turned my face back to Randy, who was now as pale as a, well, if you’ll excuse the pun, ghost.

“By the way, my name isn’t Nick.”

Billy my voice breathed from the recorder. Accompanying my voice this time was the teeny sound of a music box, the chimes crisp, and the tune old. It fell from numb fingers as Randy continued to stare at, and then through me as I began to fade to a partial apparition.

“And for the record, you’re not the first of your kind I’ve ran out of here. I doubt you’ll be the last.”

You’re not the first; you’ll be the last my voice hissed ominously from the recorder, my voice muffled since it had landed face down.

“What do you want?” Randy asked as he eyed the open front door with greedy eyes. He knew better than I that he was in no shape to gallop towards it.

“A letter,” I said simply. “Formerly apologizing for every bad thing you said about them. About Kelly, about Jade and about Jenn. Jenn’s name has two n’s at the end, just so your letter will appear to be more authentic. And if you ever speak to them again, I will hurt you. If you ever come by this place again, I will know, and I will hurt you. If you send any other hunters to my home, I will know, and…”

I will kill you

“Can you see through me now?” I smiled, and then completely disappeared from his view, like the Cheshire cat.


“I am so proud of you!” Gregg said as he beamed up to me. “You didn’t lose your temper or anything! That was really amazing!”

“Eh,” I said as I floated to the picture window. They were eagerly tossing their things into the van, casting furtive glances towards the house now and again. “It was a haunting that was way out of my comfort zone, but I thought; why not?”

“I’m so proud of you,” Gregg said again, chuckling this time. “Kelly will be, too!”

“Nix’ll be disappointed,” I said. “I didn’t bust any heads, but… at least this is a story he can tell Jayce that won’t upset the lad.”

“That’s true,” Gregg said.

“I do plan to kill Sabaste, though. There’s no ifs, ands or butts about that.”

“I know.”

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