It seems like someone else's life now. A story told around campfires to scare naive teen-agers. So far away, yet emblazed in our hearts and minds forever.
Alix was a small town that I always felt had been passed over by the demons of modern technology and the congestion of big city life. It's a town where the quality of life has remained the same ever since I can remember.
For the first year of our married life, my wife and I lived in an apartment building. Not a large one, just four flats. It wasn't bad, but we longed for a real home. A house by a running stream, and a garden. Nestled off a country road, surrounded by trees. Not exactly original, but yes, we wanted a white picket fence.
When it came time to look for a home, the natural starting place for us, was the country. Equally as natural was Alix. Not much for size and attractions, but big on country and clean air.
From the very first day we arrived, it was just like a dream come true. We had waited and planned so, it seemed just a fantasy. But this time, we were really here.
I guess it didn't really hit us, until we drove into the driveway behind the movers. Our little red convertible packed to overflowing. One would think we had moved from a large home. I remember thinking that now we had it made. . . we were finally grasping for our share of the American dream.
The hundreds of trips to the hardware store, the grocery store, and every other type of moving in thing you can think of. The trips themselves are a blur, but I remember the sting to my wallet to this day.
On that very first evening, in our very first home, we said a prayer of thanks and went to bed utterly exhausted.
So began our life as happy homemakers, living out that American dream, I suppose. Up at 6:30am, coffee, and of course, the paper. After that, shower, wake up Carla, and off to work.
As fall approached, so did my dread of winter. My least favorite season, winter is cold, wet, slippery, and quite simply, an all around miserable experience.
There was, however, a good aspect this year. Our new house came equipped with a cobblestone fireplace. Just what God made winter for. Sitting indoors by a roaring fire with the one you love, watching the fire until the dying embers grow cool.
Cutting firewood is no picnic, but there is something about working toward an end. If the end is a pleasure, the work also becomes a pleasure. By the first of October I had a stockpile of wood. More than what we needed, but as somebody wise must have said, 'better too much, than not enough'. This, I determined, to be my philosophy as well. For that first few months, Carla would just watch me and laugh. She gets a kick out of watching me act like the happy homemaker. That's probably because I know so little about it.
We were having mild weather. Usually we have snow by the first. Well, our luck ran out. Normally I'm a sucker for a good thunderstorm, but this one was unreal. Carla and I tossed and turned all night. To top everything else, I couldn't help but be concerned how well the house would hold up under the force of the wind. And what about the lightning? I wanted to get up and stand watch, but forcing myself to be brave and responsible, I stayed in bed. Wide awake, but in bed none the less.
The following morning was when things started to get weird. Luckily it was Saturday morning, and I didn't have to get up early and go to work. I must have looked like hell. My hair tossed every way but down, dry nasty mouth, one foot asleep, limping downstairs to start a fire.
The thunder and lightning had now subsided, along with the rain. The wind was still kicking up, but it cowered in comparison to the night before.
As I said before, I was limping as I made my way to the stairs. I wasn't very awake yet, but I soon became very much aware of what was going on around me.
As I looked down the stairwell into the familyroom, I could see shadows dancing on the wall from the fire. This was the first in a series of instances, where I questioned my own mental stability.
A reasonably responsible, fairly level headed guy, if I had built a fire, I would have remembered it. As I cleared the final stairs and turned to see a cozy fire in its place, I desperately wanted to remind myself I had already built the fire. . . but I hadn't.
Then, my second reaction as a rational adult was, of course, to assume that at some point this morning Carla must have come down and built a fire. It was the only logical explanation.
I didn't want to sound stupid, freaked out, or anything like that. So I played it really cool. I did what any strong, brave husband would do. I went back upstairs and laid down next to Carla. Appreciatively, I reached over ever so gently and kissed her on the cheek and said, "Thanks baby." Consoling myself with this, I felt total relief. That is until she rolled over and said, "For what?"
This created a situation I really couldn't get out of without sounding like some whacked out kook from the twilight zone.
After going through the entire play by play of what had happened that morning, Carla just looked at me. For a minute there was silence, but then, just like the supportive and special wife she is, she smiled. Smiled and asked me if I was kidding.
"No!" I was so ticked, I took her down to the familyroom, and said, "No, I'm not kidding." I pointed at the fire, "Does that look like kidding to you?"
She simply looked me dead in the face and made her classic, all covering statement, "Oh well. . .weird." High strung person, my wife.
That day would prove to be only the first of many strange happenings.
I've read books, and seen the movies. I know horror. This was not really horror though. This was just strange and unexplained. I've always said if my house tells me to get out. . . I'm history. If it tells me to go, I'm gone.
One night before bed I wrote in my journal, as I always do. I sit in the familyroom in my favorite recliner next to the stairs. The light over the foot of the stairs is excellent to write by.
After finishing my paragraph, I closed my journal, pushed the chair back against the wall, and turned off the lights. The fire had just died down enough, that the room grew very dim, and all was normal again.
I'm not sure how long we were in bed, but I had just fallen asleep when I'm sure I heard the doorbell. Now I don't care who you are, if you ring my doorbell late at night, it better be an emergency. So naturally I thought the worst. I grabbed my robe, and with Carla right behind, headed for the stairs.
As soon as I opened the bedroom door I became afraid. It was at that time I could see the light at the foot of the stairs was on. Once again I questioned, and once again I reasoned that it must have been left on.
I checked the door, but there was nobody there. Being the rational, reasonable, fairly sane person that I am, I assumed quite logically that I had been dreaming.
As we made our way back upstairs I made sure the light was turned off. No more, 'I think so'. Carla went to bed. I went to relieve myself. But upon exiting the bathroom, I was no longer relieved. From the bathroom door, I could see the light from the foot of the stairs. For just a moment, time stood still. I could hear Carlas slow deep breathing, indicating she was fast asleep. I could hear a winter wind blowing outside. There was not a sound otherwise.
Before I could move, I had to call on my baseball bat for moral support. I needed to search the house. Someone was inside, and I wasn't going to find them alone. The whole time, I was thinking, how they'd probably take my bat and beat me senseless with it.
I searched the whole house, and checked windows and doors. Everything was secure and locked tight as a drum. This was when real fear began to set in. We were not alone in our home.
Well, I never found anyone in the house. As a matter of fact, I never found anything else out of order. The door was still locked, and everything was in its rightful place.
The next morning, Carla and I had breakfast in the sunroom. A 12 X 14 enclosed patio where I grew my 'passion'; my own personal jungle. We discussed and worked on explanations over bagels, and strong coffee. Neither of us slept very much after that last incident.
Well, like I said before, this wasn't horror like the movies. It was just incredibly strange. Our relatively normal lives were getting strangely twisted and unexplainable. I'm a pretty open-minded type person, but these types of things don't just happen. We couldn't just come out and tell people what was going on. First of all, who would believe us? Secondly, if they did, what kind of person would believe a story like ours?
So we did what any rational red blooded Americans would do. We went to the pet store, and bought a dog. A big mean mother who wouldn't take kindly to strangers. A full blooded, pure bred doberman pincer. Of course, he was only ten weeks old when we got him, but we were planning for the future.
We named him Grim, which was short for grim reaper. Anybody or anything that didn't belong in our home, he was meant to take care of. This was our plan.
The next several weeks were peaceful and uneventful. It seemed our little killer had scared any perspective boogeymen away. Little Grim grew fast, and quickly became close to our hearts. Especially to Carla.
My work schedule left Carla home alone at night quite often, and almost every night when I came home I'd find Carla and Grim crashed on the sofa watching the tube. It became very clear to us, nobody was coming close to either of us without our invitation. Grim is a friendly dog, but he became very protective as most dobermans do.
One Friday night as spring was approaching, I was working, as usual. Carla was home with Grim, and the weather was normal for our part of the world. . . dismal. Most of the snow had melted, but it was bitter cold and had been freezing rain all night. When I walked out to my car and saw the ice caked on the roof of my car, I wondered why I ever wanted a convertible. There was so much ice caked on I had to break ice just to get the key in the door. My windshield was covered a quarter inch thick and solid. While I let the car run to warm up, I called Carla to tell her I'd be late. One look at the ice on my car and I knew the half hour drive home would be a long and slippery one.
Carla answered the phone half asleep. She had fallen asleep watching tv as usual. Not totally awake, all she really cared about was getting back asleep. "Be careful. I'll wait up." I knew what that meant. She'd be crashed, but not in the bedroom.
The roads, as I had feared, were pitiful. All the way home I skated on a thick layer of ice.
By the time I reached the little dirt road our house was on, I felt it. It was like the rain was trying to stop the car. The direction of the wind, the force of the wind, everything took life. I could barely move. Deep ditches on either side, I was especially careful. The last thing I wanted to do was walk the rest of the way in the freezing rain.
Finally, after battling the wind and the rain, I saw our driveway. Anyone who's ever driven in a winter storm knows the feeling of total relief when your destination is finally reached. I was so glad when I turned into the little driveway, I can't express it.
From the end of our driveway, I saw something that made my heart stand still. In the moonlight, I could see a glow over the entire house. At that point, my nerves were shot. All I could think about was the fact that Carla was in the house.
I stopped the car right where I was, and slipped and slid to the front door as fast as I could. I put my key in, but it wouldn't turn. I banged on the door, but who knew if Carla could hear me? I started to panic. beating on the door, practically breaking my key off in the lock, shouting like a madman, I must have been a sight to behold. Just as I thought my heart was about to explode, the door opened. Carla stood there half asleep, with this dumbfounded look on her face. She thought I was just a little uptight.
I was glad to see her. I told her about the glow. I even dragged her outside to see it, but it was gone. When there was nothing there, I drove the car into the garage and went inside. By the time it was all over, I wondered if it had happened at all. Exhausted and worn out with worry and frustration, I fell into bed.
I'm not sure what time it was, or how long I had slept, but I woke up at the most eerie sound ever made. A low, far away, almost painful moan. It made me sit straight up in bed. Carla heard it too. After the glow thing, I was really glad I wasn't the only one going nuts.
Together we got out of bed, put on our robes and went downstairs. Downstairs, the sound was louder and more clear. It was then that we realized it was Grim. This unnerved me right away, but Carla totally lost it. We had to find him, he sounded like he was in real pain.
We set out to search the downstairs. Every room we went into we could hear him, but he was just out of sight. By now we were both losing it. It was as if he had slipped into another dimension or something.
After searching the house we went outside. The rain had stopped and the air was deathly still. No noise whatsoever, except for the painful moan of our poor dog.
Once outside, it almost sounded like he was around the side of the house in the garage. We had a one stall detached garage, but this was impossible. Only hours earlier after the glowing ordeal, I parked my car in this building. . . no dogs.
Totally at a loss, we checked there too. It wasn't until we exited the garage, that Carla realized where the howls were coming from. It sent chills, because there was only one way into the cellar. The two large doors that open outside the house, and these doors had a lock on them. Absolutely no way. We went to check anyway. Sure enough the door lock was hanging loose, and when I got the guts to open the door Grim came running out like a whipped puppy.
Needless to say we didn't get much sleep that night. We talked and worried most of the time. With Grim sleeping under the bed. He was so affected by whatever had happened to him that he twitched and shook all night.
By morning the whole thing seemed like a bad dream. We were still upset, but it wasn't dark anymore, and that helps a heck of a lot.
Now Carla and I were not really open-minded about ghosts and goblins, but by this time too much had happened. Unexplainable, supernatural things. We needed to find someone to help us. Someone who wasn't some strange publicity seeking ghost chaser.
What I didn't want was for everyone and their brother to hear our house was haunted. We came to the country to get away from the crowds.
I also didn't want some kook to come into my house waving chicken feet and chanting. I just wanted a professional opinion of what was going on at my house. This was our dream home and we weren't ready to give it up for things that go bump in the night.
Well, you don't just look in the phonebook for ghost exterminators. I wish it had been that easy. We took a little trip to the citys darker district. To the strip of fortune tellers and palm readers. I know what you're thinking. I knew that most, if not all of these people, were scheisters, but we had to try.
We went into several of these storefronts. Nothing but incredible ripoffs, and incredibly weird people. Hours on our feet, and a few dollars poorer, it became painfully clear that the only thing these people cared about was our money. We knew more about the supernatural than some of them.
This experience prompted our trip to the university to see their parapsychology expert, Dr. Sekorsky. We were certain he would be a professional and a scholar. He'd know what to do. If he didn't, who would?
Dr. Sekorsky was a large man. He seemed very quiet and reserved. Outspoken, yet polite and very articulate.
He was very open to speaking to us. He welcomed us to his office with a handshake and a smile. "So, you have some questions about the supernatural realm?"
I was elated. Finally there was someone taking us seriously who wasn't a kook or a crook. "Yes, we have a problem that you may be able to help us with," I paused nervously.
"Go on," he urged.
I stalled, "In your research, have you ever seen haunted houses?"
"I've heard of many." He smiled thoughtfully.
"Have you ever experienced anything first hand?"
"Not personally. The closest I've come to such a situation, was with a colleagues claim a few years back."
"I guess I should just come out and say it," I gulped. "We think our house is haunted or something. Things are happening we can't explain. Impossible things that just can't happen on their own. . ."
"Let me interrupt you there my friend. I teach a class here at the university on the supernatural. I have done so for thirty years. I must tell you that things happen in this world that our minds can't always understand. This does not mean that ghosts exist." He looked me dead in the face, "If ghosts exist, a matter that remains a controversial subject, I have never in thirty years seen an actual, verifiable case." He smiled again and took us both by the hand. "You're a nice young couple, you have your entire life ahead of you. Don't let things you can't explain become a source of stress and confusion. Don't lose sleep over things that don't exist. Go home and live your lives well. There are no ghosts, only things we don't understand."
I can not describe the feelings inside when we drove away from what we considered our last hope. My heart had a sense of encouragement and relief, yet, inside, I knew there was something actually there. No matter what kind of expert this guy was. Something existed at our house, and it wasn't natural settling or magnetic anything, or any other scientific dribble. If it wasn't a ghost, what was it?
Dr. Sekorsky was right about one thing. We needed to get on with our lives. We needed to somehow take control of our situation. Deal with it, if not get rid of it.
All of the way home we talked, and thought about this. We had a plan by the time we pulled into the driveway. If the spook or kook that was doing this wanted to harm us, it had every opportunity. It hadn't yet done anything destructive. It had definitely scared us, not to mention Grim, but nothing of real consequence. We decided if it could make itself known to us, we should also be able to communicate with it.
We walked into that house with determination and boldness. Just inside the door, in the foyer, Grim lay half scared to death. Shaking and whimpering, and generally glad to see us.
This is where true warfare started. Mess with her, and she doesn't care. Mess with her husband, and it's okay. . . but mess with her animals, and you've had it.
Carla comforted Grim ever so gently, then looked around as if she could see the spook that had scared him so. With fire in her eyes she went through the house talking to someone we couldn't see. "That's it! I've had it! This is my house, my husband, and my freaking dog. . . get out!!" She began shouting at it, becoming more ferocious with each statement, "This is our house, and we're not leaving!" Then, as if she realized how insane she really looked, "You don't even exist, you rotten piece of scum." I'm not sure why she stopped. Maybe she saw the way I was looking at her. She looked at me, and I looked back at her. She was quite a sight. Breathing heavy and irregular, red in the face and working up a sweat. Then, just as abruptly as it began, we started laughing. My wife, the ghostbuster. It was simply too cool, and so was she.
After my wife, the exorcist was through, things got really quiet around our house. Weeks went by with no problems whatsoever. No strange happenings, that is other than normal married life. Of course, most people think normal married life, is a strange happening.
Since it was our first 4th of July with our own home, we decided to have a holiday gathering. Family, friends, and new neighbors were invited. Since we really have no neighbors for a mile either way, none of them came. However, our large family, and a gang of friends, made it look like we were having a major bash.
The driveway was full, and cars were parked out on the road. The back yard was all lit up and decorated for the 4th. We had everything prepared, tables of food, everything. It just couldn't get much more perfect.
As soon as it was dark enough we shot off fireworks and sat around ooooing and aaaahhing. Then, very much unexpected, Grim started barking and growling at the cellar doors. Carla looked at me without saying anything, and I knew what she was thinking. I agreed. It looked like our visitor was back.
We publicly blew it off as a nervous dog because there was so many people around. We put him in the garage. Without being pushy and rude, we discouraged everyone from staying. See-ya, bye, and all those types of things.
As soon as the last guest left, I took a flashlight and Grim, and opened the cellar doors. He was really nervous, but followed me growling all the way. Once in the cellar, everything looked normal. In its place, lights working, no problems. For just a few minutes, there was dead silence. Time stood still. Carla crept up behind me. I stood there and looked around the room. Our cellar consisted of two main rooms. The stairs empty out into the first room. The second room appeared to be designed as a storm shelter. It had no windows, and the concrete was much thicker.
The farthest wall appeared to be newer and thicker than the rest of the cellar. All things considered, it was pretty average.
Like a shot, the huge cellar doors slammed shut. The lights began to flicker, and Grim started barking and whimpering ever more. Carla and I ran for the doors. To my surprise, the door wasn't locked. Shook up, with very possibly a few years shaved off our life, we ran outside. Before we could catch our breath, a crash of thunder jolted us into the reality that we weren't safe yet.
We had just enough time to make it to the porch before torrential sheets of rain started coming down. It was a kicking storm too. Thunder, lightning, heavy wind, and great sheets of rain. The sky that only an hour before had a full moon and millions of stars was black and pouring out its wrath on the sun parched countryside.
The lights flickered once more, and then went black. It had been a warm beautiful night, but now the ice cold wind and rain had brought the temperature from the eighties to the fifties in no time.
As quickly as it had begun, the wicked storm subsided. Carla got a blanket, and we sat on the enclosed porch and watched it rain. . . and rain, and rain, and rain. Several times during the night the severe weather returned, but the house stood firm.
By sunrise the clouds and rain continued on their way to where ever clouds and rains go. It was the greatest sunrise I've seen. Maybe, in my whole life. There were huge billowed clouds in the distance with the sun coming up over, and beyond them. Carla and I stood in the wet grass silently.
"Ain't it pirty?" A scratchy, New Orleans bellow came from behind us.
We jumped sky high, but after recovering from the mild strokes she gave us, we met Jane. I turned to see a tall, heavy set, black woman in a flowery, island type dress and bare feet. Straight shoulder length hair, pulled back in a barrette. She was definitely a sight.
"Shareeka Jane's ma' name," she said in her quaint drawl. "Bin wantin' ta meecha."
I reached out to shake her hand, but she just waved it off and started looking around at our property.
"Laaawwd, don't ya'll have a pirty place," she said walking around, almost ignoring us. "S'bin so long since Shareeka's bin ta Alix. Sho feels good ta be home aginn."
I wasn't really sure how to act to our visitor, but she was certainly friendly enough. "Shareeka, what are you doing out and about so early?"
As if startling her out of her daze, she snapped her eyes back to us and smiled as she spoke. "Ma' frennz jes call me Jane, fo shote. Shareeka bin gettin' up early all her life," she paused. "Thins' be lotsa differnt in da monin."
Carla, normally a quiet and shy person, took to Jane right away. "Would you like to stay for breakfast?" I couldn't believe my ears.
"Honey, that'd be sa nice'a you." Then she turned to me, "Dat is if yo husbin don't mind."
I was still shocked that Carla had been the one to extend the invitation, but considering we really didn't know anyone in town, it was an excellent idea.
Jane turned out to be a joy. Funny, and terribly interesting. She had that Louisiana accent and those old south stories just poured out. Being from the south originally, I really enjoyed this. It brought back a heck of a lot of memories, and was very entertaining. About noon, Jane looked at the sky and abruptly said, "Well, a'best be goin' now. Shareeka done sto' ya ho monin."
We assured her that we thoroughly enjoyed her visit and welcomed her back anytime.
"Sho wuz nice ta be wit peoples aginn," she looked like she was going to cry. Then she stood up to leave and smiled graciously at both of us. She walked down our wooded driveway limping ever so slightly, from old age I suppose. We just stood and watched, as this strange, yet lovable woman walked out of sight.
Our first visit with Shareeka Jane was best described as pleasant. Now, I try really hard to be a good judge of character. Sometimes I'm right, and sometimes I'm wrong. Carla is almost never wrong when it comes to this. She was really fond of Jane, and so was I. We hoped we would see her again, but she never told us where she came from or where she was going. We spent the entire morning with the woman and never even thought to ask her where she lived. We could only hope she would contact us again.
The fourth of July scare was only the beginning of a brand new reign of fear. Every night was a new experience.
One night Grim started a low growl from the foot of our bed. He didn't seem to want to check it out, but something was shaking him up.
Even though these things happened often and we were actually becoming accustomed to them, I always had to check it out. For one thing, our house being haunted didn't mean we couldn't have a burglar or some other danger dogs alert their masters to. For another thing, just because we were getting used to the strange goings on, didn't mean we weren't afraid of them. If something was upsetting Grim, I needed to know what it was.
So he and I started down the corridor toward the stairs. I hadn't seen or heard anything unusual, so I had to watch his expression to know where to look and when to look.
Once downstairs, he directed me to the kitchen. Once in the room he started barking. Strange, quiet, short barks. He was looking at something I couldn't see.
By this time it was clear, I wasn't getting any sleep. I put some coffee on, and sat down at the table. Grim snuggled up close to my leg and laid down. I'm not sure how much time passed, just that it did.
I stood and turned to go to the coffeemaker, when something hit me in the back of the neck. I jumped nearly out of my skin and turned to see the culprit. Lying completely by itself at least ten feet from the nearest counter or table, was a pencil. That's not the whole story. I know this sounds strange, but when it hit me it seemed to be falling, as if from the ceiling. This, in addition to the fact that it was sitting in the middle of the room, froze me in my tracks.
It took me a minute, but prompted by Grims low growl, I stepped backward against the counter where the coffee was. My heart was pounding in my chest. "SSHHHH!!" Came the sound from behind me. I just about fell over myself trying to get away before I realized it was just the coffeemaker releasing steam.
I relaxed and poured a strong one. Relieved as I was, I started talking to Grim as I sipped my java. I must have appeared half crazy. Of course, at that moment, I may have been.
After a nice little conversation with Grim and my cup of coffee, I stood to go back up to bed. On my way out I bent over to pick up the pencil. It moved. . . I couldn't believe my eyes. I stepped back in disbelief. Just like spin the bottle, it started spinning. Really slow at first, then fast. Then it slowed again until it came to a stop pointing directly at me. My heart was in my throat. I tried to scream but I couldn't get anything out.
Just as quickly as it had spun, it slid across the floor at me. I jumped and ran. I could hear Grim barking behind me, but I didn't look back. On the way up the stairs I ran into Carla, who was coming down to check out the noise. I didn't stop to explain, I just grabbed her arm and shouted, "Move! Go, go, go!!" And she did. No questions.
This kind of thing kept getting worse, and more frequent. Noises, things moving around, off and on, you name it, it was happening at our house.
The bad thing about all of this was that our close friends and relatives found out about some of the things that were happening. This gave us undesired attention.
My family believed there was something going on, but that there was a logical explanation. No matter what happened my mother would try to degrade the experience as a common occurrence in houses everywhere. We were just silly superstitious kids. This offended me, but my family has never taken me too seriously.
Some of my friends were convinced that it was a hoax. That we were trying to grab publicity and make people believe our house was haunted. This was ironic considering we had kept it a secret for so long. The last thing we wanted was publicity. It was all we could do just to keep our neighbors from finding out.
Still some of my friends believed. Not only believed, but were intrigued. Kathi and Scott, our friends from the city, wanted us to have it exorcised. But, neither Carla nor I were ready to have some strange priest chanting things in Latin to a force nobody could see, besides, we're not even Catholic. Then again, what if the ghost was?
A person could go crazy trying to figure out this difficult and unusual trial we were going through.
August hadn't even arrived yet, and we were already singing praises to our air conditioner. It was ninety in the shade, on a good day. And hotter than that on at least half of the days of summer.
It was a particularly hot Saturday night and the air was cranked. The sun was just going down through the trees as I lay there awake, listening to Carla breathe, and the central air whine.
It was one of those nights when you lay there and think of how blessed you really are. I was a young man, with a great wife, good job, nice house, a convertible (this was my symbol of success), and last but certainly not least, Grim.
GRIM! It was bedtime, we were both in bed, and he wasn't at the foot of the bed where he always slept. This made me feel just a touch uneasy.
As I walked downstairs, I remembered the very first happening in our new house. It seemed like so long ago. An eternity, and only yesterday at the same time.
Rounding the corner into the entryway, Grim came into sight. He was sniffing at the crack under the front door. This was not normal behavior for Grim, who barks at anything.
So I assumed that he wanted to go outside to do his business. I put on my shoes and opened the door, but Grim wouldn't go. I didn't blame him a bit.
It was just getting dark, and deathly still, but the clincher was the fog. Thick and eerie are the best words to describe it. I stepped out on the porch, thinking this would encourage Grim. Then I saw it. There on the railing of the porch was the most bizarre looking necklace. It was made of crudely carved wood, slightly burned for effect, and beads intertwined.
At that very moment I wasn't sure how to feel. There was a lot of things to consider. Someone had walked onto our porch, God knows who or how long ago, and left a necklace. . . and Grim never even growled. Yet if someone could come that close, and only left a necklace, could they have meant any harm? They had every opportunity, and only left the gift. Who did we know, that would show up at bedtime, leave a gift without knocking, and that Grim wouldn't bark at to announce their arrival?
I was more than a little puzzled. This night went down as another one where we didn't get much sleep. Luckily, we had Sunday to call around and try to find the culprit. I could hardly sit through church I was so jumpy. I just couldn't get my mind in the right place.
Carla handled the whole situation better than I, of course. She prides herself in being tough. She couldn't quite bring herself to wear the necklace right away. She did think it was pretty cool though. I just though it was weird. The beads were off white, cracked, and looked about as ancient as the wood. It wasn't really bad looking, just strange.
We called everyone we knew, and some people we didn't. Nobody admitted to bringing that dumb necklace.
Two days after the necklace showed up, we saw our friend Jane again. Just as it was getting dark again the knock came at the door. It was really good to see her. We both were beginning to think we would never see her again.
Carla answered the door wearing that spooky necklace. Jane notice right away, and surprised us by saying, "I see ya got ma present."
"You are our mystery person?" We looked at each other. "Why didn't you knock? We would have loved to see you."
"Aaahh, Shareeka don't wanna be no trouble. . . too many peoples troublin' too many peoples. 'Sides, the time wudn't right," she said in her own unusual way.
"Nonsense. Would you like to come in for coffee or something?"
"That'd be real nice," she grinned.
We sat in the livingroom drinking coffee most of the night. This was really nice, but really stupid since I had to be to work by 6:30am.
Sometime around midnight Grim started pacing back and forth in front of us. Normal people, in a normal house, with a normal dog, would think that the dog needed to go outside. But not us. Grim was telling us something was coming. Just as he started getting really upset, the entire house, from the foundation to the roof, started shaking profusely. Grim started barking and running in circles, as if he wanted to attack, but wasn't sure what to attack.
Jane had the strangest look on her face, as if she wasn't surprised. Not calm really, just not taken off guard by the situation.
Carla and I were in complete and total confusion. What was happening? How much trouble were we in? Were we going to die?
The necklace caught my eye. It was lying on the coffee table when the quake started. The violent shaking had caused it to inch to the edge of the table. When it fell to the floor, it seemed like an explosion. I actually heard it hit the floor. I mean through all of the shaking, rattling, and rumbling, I heard it when it hit. It wasn't just loud, it was deafening. One of those things that seems like it's in slow motion.
No sooner had it hit the floor, than the whole commotion slopped very suddenly. We all sat there silently as if we were afraid to move. Even Grim was quiet. He nervously snuggled his head into my lap, whining slightly. Other than a few pictures on the floor, everything appeared just as it was before the quake.
I turned on the tv to see if there was any news about the quake, but there was absolutely nothing. It was as if there had never been one.
Carla was very surprised, "I'm so sure. They tell you if the president has a hangnail, but have an earthquake in a small town, and it's not news."
"If dat's what it wuz," Jane muttered.
We just looked at her. In our hearts, we were thinking it was our ghosts, but how would Jane know about that? Did she know something she wasn't telling us? Or was she just superstitious? Should we ask her what she meant? Or should we simply let it slide, assuming she meant it may have been some other phenomenon?
We opted to laugh nervously, and assume she meant nothing in particular. I mean, what were the chances she had a clue? She was just a nice old lady who lived nearby.
She didn't wait around for us to get our heads together, she quite abruptly decided it was time to go. It was late and she needed to be getting home. Getting super serious for a minute, "Ya'll best be on ya toes. Ya jes never know what ta 'spect 'round here." Then, like something out of a bad Agatha Christie movie, she left us hanging, and turned to walk away into the darkness.
As we stood there dumbfounded, Carla nudged me and said I should get on my shoes and take her home. I agreed, got them on, and started out the door.
"Wait up Jane. Tim's getting his shoes on. He'll take you home." There was no reply. As a matter of fact, there was no Jane. She had disappeared into the night once again. "Jane?" Still no reply.
I looked all of the way out to the road, with my flashlight, but she was really gone.
There was a lot of stuff to think and talk about now, too much for me to go to work in a couple of hours. So I did what any hard working American man would do. I called in sick.
We never even went to bed that night. There was too much going on. The feeling that our situation was severe, was thick. It seemed like everything was quickly coming to a head.
Throughout the rest of the summer, although sometimes things halted completely for a short time, it was only enough time for us to catch our breath. Things got progressively worse. It seemed with each new incident, came more danger and less chances to ignore it. Things were getting way out of hand.
It was 6am one morning in late August or early September. I had decided to make us a hot breakfast. The previous night had been one of those rare times of peace and quiet, so after a good nights rest, I wanted to celebrate.
Hot cakes for me, and a ham and cheese omelet with onion for Carla. Everything went well, the hotcakes were golden brown. . . perfection. I was just finishing the omelet when I reached into the cupboard for a plate to put it on.
I remember feeling the heat, but not a burn. I turned to see the fire from under the skillet had intensified and was jumping, as if alive, from the stove. I jumped back and let out a shout, thinking I was on fire, but my arm merely singed.
Carla came running down the stairs and into the room just in time to see the billow of fire creep across the floor and pour itself into the heating duct in the floor. Disappearing, leaving no sign of its existence, except for a trace of smoke in the room. Carla looked at me sitting in the floor where I had collapsed in fear, just long enough to see if I was breathing.
"The cellar!" She grabbed the cellar key and ran outside in her nightgown followed closely by Grim. She must have been a sight. Of course, I followed her in my bikini briefs, so I guess we were a matched set.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we went downstairs. Were we afraid the house would catch on fire? Or of the ghosts? I'm still not sure.
Once down there, everything seemed normal. We thoroughly, cautiously, checked over and around the furnace, for stray fire I guess. Everything was fine. For the moment we were out of danger. That is until the smoke alarm from upstairs went off.
"Your eggs!" I ran upstairs in time to douse the flame, but the omelet was a total loss.
At first, there had only been noises, that was no big deal, but now we were having earthquakes and fires. I have to admit I was not only confused, I was scared. What was next? If this ghost had the power to shake our house, what was the limit? Was there a limit to what it could do? Were we in real danger? If we were, what did the ghost want? Was there anything we could do to appease it? Did we disturb it? Or did it choose us? All of these questions flooded our hearts and minds. There had to be something we were missing, but what?
There comes a time in every persons life, where they surprise even themselves. They're pushed to a point where their extra human senses take over, and they do things they wouldn't normally do.
We had now reached that point. We had no clue what was next, but we couldn't just sit around and wait for something to happen. We thought perhaps if we could find out why we were being haunted, we could do something about it.
So, we gulped some extra strong coffee, and headed into town to the library. Our objective was to find out everything we could about ghosts and goblins, spirits and witches. There had to be an answer, and if there was, we had to find it.
We didn't just read, we studied. We ruled out nothing. Religious theory, science, complete bull, absolutely everything was considered. There was something real going on at our house. Because of this, we were open-minded to anything.
I kept notes in a pocket notebook. I wrote down everything I thought might be important.
Time, and the lack of food and sleep began to take its toll. We were losing it. Deciding it was better to collapse on a full stomach, we went for lunch at the nearest restaurant. A cheesy, teenybopper hangout, sort of place. Where the music is loud and two different movies are playing on two different monitors. Too much going on at the same time to really catch anything, but just enough going on to combat teenagers worst nightmare, other than parents. . . boredom.
Normally, this kind of place bugs me bad, but this time I was grateful for the noise to keep me awake. I'm not even sure what was on my mystery burger. For that matter, I'm not sure that I ever want to know. It didn't matter much, because my mouth was so tired I couldn't really taste anything. Carla, normally a beautiful and cheerful person, looked like hell. At this point, she was better left alone. So I did.
Somewhere during this whole dining extravaganza my eyes wandered to the tv screen where an old movie was showing. I just happened to catch one key line that clicked in my head. It gave me a new idea to follow up on. The line? 'There's something evil in this house. . . '.
The line itself wasn't all that significant, especially since that was obvious, but something in the way it was said, made me think. 'In this house'. We were studying about ghosts, and reading all kinds of accounts about all kinds of supernatural experiences. Yet we hadn't even thought to check out the house. The history of the house, of the property, or even of the town. It never occurred to me to check these, the most obvious things.
After our wonderful and uplifting lunch, we rushed to the county records building. We started with the most pressing, our house.
Actually, it was relatively new. It was built five years earlier by a local contractor for an elderly couple who were retiring in Alix. This couple would be the people we bought the home from. We saw nothing wrong with their reasoning for moving. They claimed the house was just to much for them to keep. Old Mr. Carmichael was just too unhealthy to mow the lawn, cut the firewood, and all of the other upkeep that comes from owning your own home. . . especially in the country. They bought a condo in town when they moved out.
Our next step was to check the town records, and the property records, for anything out of the ordinary. However, it was getting late, and we were completely wiped out. Ghosts or no ghosts, we were going home and getting some sleep. We did swing by my office first.
I'm a regional manager for a large chain of department stores throughout the northeastern states. Therefore, what I had to say was both easy, and difficult. Easy, because I do have the authority, but difficult, because my job is very important. I simply had some calls to make, and put myself in for a leave of absence, effective immediately. My boss wasn't thrilled, but she is a very family oriented person and I assured her it was a family problem. This worked like a charm. She assumed, I'm sure, that I was having marital problems. Normally this would bother me, but under the circumstances, it was very necessary.
Considering all of the problems we had been having we had a pretty restful evening. I don't think either one of us moved all night. I can't remember anything until the clock went off at 7am. We wanted an early start, there was lots to do and we figured there may not be much time left. Whatever was happening was coming to a head.
I opened the garage door and we drove off through the autumn leaves toward town. Determined to gain control over this thing that had hung over our heads since we moved into our dream home.
As the days grew shorter and the weather grew colder a sickening thought came to mind. Halloween. It was already a scary time for me and thousands of other folks. Imagine just how bad it was this year knowing, 'Yes, Virginia, there really are ghosts'.
This, and God knows how many other thoughts ran through our minds at this point of our experience. It was hard to believe that things could actually get worse.
October 7 we received a very strange, very unexpected phone call.
"Hello? This is Dr. Sekorsky from the university speaking. You visited me this past spring," he paused, as if embarrassed.
I urged him to continue. The suspense was killing me.
"Do you still have paranormal activity in your house?"
"Yes. As a matter of fact, it's worse now, than before," I told him.
"I would like permission to take a group of students to your house to investigate."
I gulped, "Are you serious?"
"It's not my practice to do something like this, but, you see, your particular case interests me. Besides, my classes really are rather boring. This may be just the thing to reach my students. Real live, hands on experience. Pardon the 'real live' pun."
"What do we need to do?" I inquired.
It was really beginning to sound like we had our answer. The doctor and his team of novices wanted to come stay the weekend of Halloween with us.
We were both open to that, because we were scared to be in the house alone during that time anyway. It would actually be nice to have a house full. We didn't even have to worry about something weird happening in front of them like we usually did when we had company. I mean, they were expecting this. On top of all of that, the university would make a sizable contribution to our mortgage just for the trouble. We're not poor, but nobody in their right mind turns down money.
The days before the ghost chasers arrived seemed to stand still. We were very apprehensive about what might happen. Evidently so was the house. The activity in and around the house was at its peak.
After pondering the 'evil in this house' idea, it became more and more apparent that whatever was in our house originated in the cellar. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it was.
Grim getting stuck down there, the fourth of July thing, the fire from the stove, all of these were just warm ups for the events that followed.
On an early October morning, I heard what sounded like a faint and distant sports event. I knew there was no such thing around where we lived, but I thought perhaps the TV was left on.
I looked at the foot of the bed to see Grim snoozing and over at Carla to see her equally as crashed. I should have known right then something wasn't right.
I walked downstairs before I realized what the voices really were. I stopped a few steps from the bottom. The noise was still faint, but more clear now. It wasn't fun and games at all, it was yelling and screaming. It was so faint you could hardly hear it.
The hair on the back of my neck stood straight when I saw the back door open. I'm not sure why, but I knew I was supposed to go outside. I took one step out, and the door shut behind me.
For a moment everything was silent. The sun wasn't up yet, but it was beginning to get daylight. I breathed a deep sigh and started to go back inside. I no sooner touched the door than the distant cries of anguish returned, a bit louder and more intense. From my left I was shocked to hear someone pounding on the cellar doors from the inside. Without thinking I grabbed the key to the cellar to let whoever it was out. All I could think about was how I was going to explain this to them.
"Hang on, I'll have you out in a sec'," I assured him.
He sounded like he was in a panic. He probably was scared to death. I flung open the doors expecting to see, oh I don't know, the meter reader, or the phone man, but it was something more frightening. . . nothing. As soon as the door opened it grew instantly quiet again.
That silence only lasted a moment. From somewhere deep in the dark cellar came the desperate cries for help again. They sounded too far away to be in our cellar, but the sound was certainly coming from there.
I'm not sure what I did with my good sense, but I slowly started the decent into the cellar. Once at the bottom of the stairs, I flicked on the lights.
Everything appeared normal. I slowly crept into the next room. The sounds were there, but they weren't there. What the house was trying to tell me I wasn't sure, but I could feel the panic and the desperation.
I stood there feeling helpless and stupid for a few minutes, when as strangely as it had begun, it stopped.
As I said, things were getting very strange, and there had to be something done, fast. We were consoled by some things. Grim had matured and toughened up. He was no longer a cowering puppy. He often faced off with the invisible. Many times he would stand at the foot of our bed and growl at the unseen force coming through our bedroom door. He was always faithful to announce when something was going to happen. Yeah, he had become a real ghost detector for us.
October 13: Carla and I were summoned by the house in the late afternoon. Clearly, it wanted us in the cellar again.
We were having a snack in the sunroom, when Grim started sniffing and whining. Then he stood back and barked. Appearing just plain enough for us to see, was a vague mist. It hovered in the sunroom a moment, then quickly moved through the house toward the back door. Grim followed barking, (keeping his distance, of course). We also followed. More and more the happenings in the house became a matter of great interest. It was like a mystery being unraveled before our eyes.
The back door opened and the mist disappeared out the door. By the time we caught up, Grim was barking at the cellar doors.
We three went down the stairs and turned on the lights. Right in front of my face, and very distinct, was the misty figure that had led us there. With the speed of a bullet, it burst through the first room, through the second room, and straight into the far wall.
It was only then that we noticed this scribbled message on the wall: 'Stop the evil, before it stops you!'
Grim barked and scratched at the message until it slowly faded away. Then the lights flickered out. We were confused and surprised. We had experienced this house and its ghostly activity for over a year, and not once had it communicated with us. Why all of a sudden? What did it mean? Was it afraid we were finally going to be rid of it? Maybe it didn't want to go.
Who really knew? We asked Dr. Sekorsky what he thought about the eerie message. He was convinced that it had something to do with the planned expedition at the house, and shrugged it off. He went along with the theory that the house might be the last refuge for the spirit or spirits, who resided there. It, or they, may not want to go. He also warned, that they may fight to stay.
As if we didn't have enough problems, now we were encouraged to be afraid of this thing. It took us this long to lose our fear, now it flooded back. Now, we could only think of getting this thing out of our house. The sooner, the better.
Now there came at this time, an unexpected feeling. It was faint at first, but it gradually became stronger. We had lived with, and had grown so accustomed to this thing, we almost hated the thought of being without all of the excitement. Sure we hated the unknown, as anyone else in our position would, but what would our life be like without a haunted house? Normal? What was normal anyway? In todays society, is normal, normal?
These, and tons of other emotions rushed through us as the days grew closer.
October 17: Dr. Sekorsky asked if he could come ask me a few preliminary questions in preparation for the upcoming weekends activities. I thought that would be fine. Carla would be away, and I was still off from work, so I was making my own schedule. Why not?
The doorbell rang while I was in the shower, so I threw on a robe and ran to the door. I grabbed the doorknob, unlocked it, and gave a heave. No results? . ? When I looked for the reason why, my heart plunged.
We are not paranoid people. Other than our ghost, which has proven its existence over and over, we're actually pretty down to earth people. There is, however, one thing we are rather strict about. Our housekeys.
Carlas parents are the 'drop by un-announced' types, and they have a key in case of emergencies. However, the deadbolt has only one key. The key currently in my possession. The one hanging by the door.
This was the shocker now. Dr. Sekorsky was at the door, but I couldn't open it until I unlocked the deadbolt. The deadbolt that can only be locked and unlocked by that one key. . . and I didn't lock it. In fact, the only time we lock it is when we're feeling romantic and we want to make sure that nobody can walk in on us.
I told Dr. Sekorsky to wait just a moment as I fumbled with the key. Once inside, I didn't tell him what had just happened, but I couldn't get my mind off the locked door.
My mind wandered the poor guys entire visit. He asked questions, and I answered, but I'm not really sure what I said.
After he left I asked the rhetorical question out loud, "What do you want? What are you trying to do to us?"
I tried to call Carla, but there was no answer at her parents. I got my notebook and my reading glasses and took off for the city. There were so many questions left unanswered. In our quest to find history of our land, we found some names of previous owners, but no transfer of ownership, until the elderly couple we bought it from.
Another strange thing was the lack of information available about who they bought the land from.
I'm no expert, but it appeared that the Carmichaels bought the land from the city. To me, this made no sense. What happened to the owners?
I knew nothing of this sort of thing, but maybe Marge would. Marge was the real estate agent we bought the house from. She wasn't an Alix resident, but she knew everything there was to know about real estate. A few phone calls, a visit to county records, and a roll of antacids later, she filled me in.
The property had been owned by the same family for generations. They handed it down to their children, and their children's children. Apparently the final owner before the Carmichaels, disappeared and the property reverted to the city. (Record of this particular transaction was missing, but the county clerks office assured us that everything was in order.)
I also acquired the address of where the Carmichaels had moved. This gave Carla and I plenty to do the following day.
By this time it was getting late, and I had just enough time to get to Carlas parents at the time that I said I'd be there. Not that that meant a whole lot, considering I'm late for just about everything. People who know me become accustomed to this and simply expect me five or ten minutes later than I say. Since I'm so rarely on time, I think I surprised her.
I was totally pumped. My excitement didn't take long to ignite in her. It was really hard to even think about sleeping, but we tried.
At midnight exactly, Grim woke us. He wasn't barking, but whining. He begged us in his dog way, to follow, so we did. He led us downstairs to the closest thing we have to an inside door to the cellar. . . an air duct to the furnace. Once near it Grim started making strange faces and cocking his head at the sound he heard. At first it was hard to hear, but it became very clear. Whispers. Audible, multiple, whispers. We were horrified. Until now, every incident involved inanimate objects, or our dog, the wind, etc. Even the cries from the cellar I had heard were not really recognizable as a human voice. But this thing, was the actual voice of the unknown thing that plagued our house. Even more frightening was the tone used. We tried to understand the words, but we couldn't quite catch it.
I remember being surprised at the feeling of urgency I felt. Carla seemed to share the emotion. While neither of us actually had the guts to go down into the cellar, we were very interested to hear what it had to say. Carla grabbed a couple of throw pillows off the couch and we laid there listening until we both fell asleep.
I just about jumped out of my skin when I was interrupted from my sleep at the sound of a voice calling my name. When I realized that there was no one there, I shook. Carla hadn't heard the voice, but that wasn't necessary, I knew what I had heard.
It was 6am and we had a million things to do. Breakfast was very important, as we didn't want to be fainting during research again. After breakfast we were off to see the Carmichaels.
It wasn't a long drive to their condo in the city, but it seemed like it took forever to get there. They weren't expecting us, and were a little uneasy at first, but they warmed up to us after a short while. They had remembered us from the sale of the house, but just vaguely. We told them that we were just very interested in the house and what kind of experiences they had there.
Old Mr. Carmichael, a man of few words, said flat out, "That house was in perfect condition before you bought it. Anything else, is your responsibility."
We really felt sorry for the old man. "It's nothing like that at all sir," Carla comforted. "We're more interested in the happenings at the house than the condition of it," she said in her own hinting and sneaky way.
No results. All we could get out of them was that it was just too big and too much trouble for an elderly couple to take care of.
"Could we please have the name of the contractor who built the place?" I asked.
Mr. Carmichael, again started taking the defensive about the condition of the house, but his wife obliged. Mrs. Carmichael, a slight and very sweet little person, politely rose and went to look him up for us. As she left the room I turned to Mr. Carmichael and leveled with him. "Sir, I know this sounds crazy, but did any strange, unexplainable things ever happen there?"
"Strange?" He said, bewildered.
"Do you believe in ghosts?" I asked.
As Mrs. Carmichael re-entered the room, Mr. Carmichael boomed out a jolly laugh. "I'm afraid that Gramma and I are the closest things to ghosts I believe in son," he looked at her and gave her a slight hug.
We left the Carmichaels confused, but with some answers. We also managed to come up with more questions. Why had the ghosts never appeared to the Carmichaels? Or had they, and they were just keeping it to themselves? This was puzzling.
Our next stop was the contractor. Being a local contractor, he was easy to contact. By noon we were at a work sight, talking to him about our house.
Most of what he told us was very normal. So normal it was boring. Of course, we didn't just come right out and ask him about ghosts. So we had to seem interested in every little boring detail.
Then he said one line that caught my attention. "I knew that you could sometimes build on pre-existing foundations, but this was the first time I had ever done it."
"Wait a minute?" I interrupted his thrilling lecture. "Are you telling me there was a foundation already here when you built the house?"
"Yeah, left over from the fire."
"Fire?" All of a sudden he was getting interesting.
"You don't know about the fire?" He seemed surprised.
"No, we don't."
"Yeah, there was a terrible fire there. The owner, and several other people burned to death." He paused slightly, looking mostly at Carla, "I shouldn't be telling you this, should I?"
"Please go on. We're very interested."
"There was one survivor. Burned real bad."
I interrupted again. "What was his name? Where can we find him?"
"I can't remember his name, but I know he was in the hospital upstate for over a year." Grimacing at the thought, "He was burned beyond recognition ya know."
Carla looked at me with those, 'I've heard enough' eyes.
"Thanks so much for your time. If we ever need any more work done, we'll give you a call." With a sigh and a handshake, we left.
Who was this mystery survivor? Did it matter? I know what you're thinking. We lived in a house where a bunch of people had died in a tragic fire. The thought gave us the willys too. This could definitely be the explanation we were looking for.
There was one other thing we wanted to check out. If we could just find the survivor, maybe we could put the ghosts to rest once and for all. There had to be a connection, and we knew nothing about these people. So we were off again to the library and old newspaper articles. Who was this person? And, could he help us?
Now that we knew what we were looking for, things got a lot easier. Nobody knew the exact date, but the librarian came close enough for us to find it, without too much effort. It took us a couple of hours, but we found what we were looking for. The shock, anger, and confusion that followed, made me want to explode.
The headline read, "Twelve Die in Tragic Fire as Lone Survivor Fights for His Life'. It was your basic bad news, hard luck fire story, until this paragraph. "The actual cause of the blaze remains under investigation pending questioning of survivor, Dr. Stanley Sekorsky. Dr. Sekorsky, a professor at nearby Oakland County University, hasn't yet regained consciousness. Doctors say it is uncertain when or if he'll recover, but they're hopeful. He was flown to Springfield Burn Center with burns over 60% of his body."
My mouth dropped to the floor. The feeling of betrayal, the confusion as to why he didn't tell us, all of this was almost too much to bear. At this point we had to call it a day, because the library was closing. The librarian kept giving us dirty looks, but we promptly ignored them.
Once at home, we simply couldn't function. We were so totally unprepared and overwhelmed we didn't know how to act. On the one hand, we should have been proud of ourselves. We did a really good detective job. Our day paid off and then some. On the other hand, did we really need to know all of this? Our dream home was becoming a nightmare.
Another night, and hardly any sleep. Carla finally dozed off way into the night. I crept downstairs, because I didn't want to wake her. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see people burning in that fateful fire. It was a miracle that Carla could sleep at all. I didn't want my lack of sleep to hinder hers.
I don't know why we do such incredibly stupid things, but, as in every stupid horror movie I've ever seen, I went to the cellar. . . alone.
Armed with a flashlight, and a Bible. I still don't know to this day what I expected to accomplish. I guess I thought it might give the spirits rest.
I turned on the light and sat on the floor. I'm not sure if I helped them, but I know it helped me. I simply began reading, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
I'm not sure how much I read, or what time it was, but somewhere in the night I fell asleep. I woke up to movement upstairs, and Carla calling my name. I noticed right away, these two frightening and puzzling things. My Bible was gone, and one word was scratched on the floor near me. 'Sekorsky'.
At this, real fear set in. I wanted to get out of the cellar, but I could hardly move. The very word on the floor meant that the spirits knew that I now knew something about them. Why were they communicating? What were they trying to say? Were they angry with Sekorsky? Or afraid of him?
As soon as I could muster the guts and strength, I ran upstairs. I was almost screaming for Carla. Carla, too, was shaken, but her real and pressing question was, "What were you doing down there alone?"
An answer was due her, but if I had one, it wasn't readily available. All I could get out was, "I'm calling Sekorsky. Right now."
"Hello? Dr. Sekorsky, here," his mellow voice whined.
"We need to talk, doc," I said in my toughest voice.
"Tim? Is that you?" He asked innocently.
"As if you didn't know. I want to talk to you. I think you owe my wife and I an explanation, and an apology." I tried not to give him the chance to be nice. I was so upset I wanted to deck the guy. To think, all of those months he knew where we lived and that we were having problems with his friends, however dead they may have been. He not only wouldn't help us, but pretended not to believe the very subject he teaches.
"There was a long silence on the other end, "Doc, are you there?"
"Yes. I'm still here," he paused again. "You know about the fire obviously."
"Yeah, I know. I want you to tell me why you didn't tell us. Why? How could you let us go through all of this alone?" I asked frustrated.
He began, "You have to try to understand one thing. In the beginning you were just a nobody who showed up in my office. I didn't know where you lived. After you told me, I felt a rush of feelings I hadn't felt in years."
"What kind of feelings?" I could feel myself getting softer and more forgiving.
"My best friends in the world, no, my only friends died in that fire. I lost everyone dear to me." His voice quivered, "I was burned so badly, that they wouldn't let me near a mirror for months. Even then my face was a charcoaled mass like a piece of burnt plastic."
"I'm sorry." I was feeling about two inches tall. Carla, on the other line, was almost in tears.
"Anyway, I considered your request for help since that first day. But, I had to deal with my personal demons first." He cleared his throat to sound professional again. "As I'm sure you're aware, it is very likely the spirits of some or all of those who died are haunting your house."
It was then that I remembered the most recent message.
"Dr. Sekorsky," I hesitated because I didn't want to scare him away now. "They wrote a message on the cellar floor this morning."
"They what?!?" He sounded surprised, and slightly upset. "What did it say?"
"It was actually just one word. . . 'Sekorsky'," I blurted.
Once again there was dead silence. The anticipation of his reaction was killing me.
"Doc?" I waited. "What do you think that means?"
He cleared his throat nervously and spoke, "Perhaps they are trying to communicate with me. After all, because I was the lone survivor, they are all together minus one. Perhaps they need to know that they can move on. They're not to wait for me, because I survived." He chuckled nervously, "Maybe I was supposed to die too."
Somewhere during the conversation the phones began to static and make popping sounds. The connection faded until finally there was nothing. Not even a dialtone.
Things were getting a whole lot more strange right around then. But, as I always said I would never do, I stayed. It was our house and we weren't giving it up yet. Not without a real fight. This fight was apparently going to take place Halloween weekend. How utterly appropriate.
By this time, I just wanted a break from all of the weirdness. Carla too, looked a bit ravaged from the stress of it all.
Meanwhile, my mind often becomes clouded by my stomachs discomfort. "Let's go have a nice day in town, grab something to eat, do some shopping, and all of those other things that make us feel better," I said.
Well, Carla is never one to refuse a chance to go shopping. So away we went.
Hours later, who knows how much later, we arrived home. Our minds a little easier, and our wallets a little lighter. As we walked from the garage to the front door, the night just seemed so peaceful.
Once on the front porch, I couldn't stand the temptation. I plopped myself down on the porch swing and tugged at Carla to do the same. Granted, it was a cool night, but it was really nice to sit there and enjoy the cool autumn air.
I'm not sure how long we were there, but it was a short while anyway. We'd have stayed there longer if we hadn't been startled back to reality.
"Dat's the sweetest thang Shareeka done seen in a long, long time."
After getting our hearts back out of our throats, it was really cool to see Jane again. There was something different about her this time. She was somehow more serious or something.
"Ya talkin' 'bout havin' comp'ny, right?" She asked to our surprise.
"Yeah, how'd you know?" I asked.
"Well, sho, it's a small town ya know."
"That it is. I think we pretty much know everyone in town, and it doesn't even seemed like we've lived here that long," Carla said.
"Peoples are strange," she looked us dead in the face, "sometimes da ones ya think ya know, ya don't no nothin' 'bout."
She sounded so distant, so cold. So very unlike herself. What was she trying to say? The more she talked the more she didn't say, and the more uncomfortable we became.
""Well, I guess we better be off to bed," I hinted. "We've got lots to do the next few days. . . God knows we'll need all of the help we can get."
"I'm sho He duzz," as she turned to walk away, "sho He duzz."
We said our good-byes, but they were just formalities. The friendship atmosphere was over, shadowed by an eerie feeling.
I tried to get the feeling out of my mind, but the more I tried, the more I felt it. It was awful, but how much we knew about Shareeka Jane scared me. Actually, how 'little' we knew was more the issue. I was beginning to see that we put our trust into a total stranger. . . and she was very strange. And how did she find out that we were having company that weekend? We weren't buying that 'small town' bull that she wanted us to believe. She knew more than she was telling, and the lack of openness, was really bearing on my mind.
I fell asleep wondering. So many questions running through my mind, I didn't know what to do with them all. God only knew what troubles were ahead of us.
Well, as Carla says, 'Tomorrow is a new day'. Still, there was something I had to do. My objective was to find somebody, anybody, who knew Shareeka Jane. I asked at the grocery store, the bank, and anywhere else I could think of that everyone in town has to go sooner or later. But no luck.
Just as I had thought, not one of the dozens of people I had talked to, oldtimers included, had ever heard of our friend. Who was this woman that we had taken into our hearts and home? I wasn't even sure that her name was Shareeka Jane. Had everything she told us been a lie?
Thursday, October 29: We were to meet with Sekorsky at noon, so we left early. We still had a few loose ends to tie up. There was the matter of extra food, extra bedding, and those little things that only matter when guests are coming.
The pressure was almost too much to bear. By the time we got to the cafe we were pumped. Dr. Sekorsky had arrived early, and was already seated.
Noon, and it still wasn't light outside. Clouds, wind, and rain mixed with sleet. Not exactly a peaceful autumn day, but not so unusual either. The weather can be pretty extreme in Alix.
We stepped inside shaking off the cold, to see the doctor sitting alone sipping a cup of hot cider. He was as excited to see us as we were to see him. In two days we could all be facing our demons once and for all. Hopefully an end to all of our suffering.
That day was a blur. We spent hours in that little cafe recounting our experiences to Dr. Sekorsky. It was really quite exciting. We had so longed for someone to help us, to listen to us. Finally, someone was taking us seriously.
That evening the doctor and some of the kids from his class came out to the house to set up for the weekends activities. They brought boxes of stuff to the cellar, but I'm not sure what all they had. It was all we could do just to stay out of the way. They worked feverishly down there for an hour or two and then came up stairs to relax.
As everything began to wind down, we all sat in front of the fireplace, and talked some more. Finally, Dr. Sekorsky took on an altogether different aire as he began to tell us what the weekend might hold.
"Parapsychology is not an exact science. Unfortunately I cannot tell you precisely what might happen. I can, however, warn you that it's almost always messy. To the untrained eye it appears very peculiar, bordering on occultic."
Carla and I were growing more and more excited, but it was coupled with just as much fear.
Friday, October 30: I awoke to hear Carla in the bathroom throwing up. I jumped up and ran to help her. Her face was green, and her hair was wet with sweat. She tried to talk, but every time she tried, another wave of nausea hit.
Things were really crazy for a while. Carla was really sick, and Grim was completely freaking out. I'm not sure if it was our ghost, or because Carla was sick, but he was running back and forth, panting and whining.
This went on for what seemed like an eternity. Just when I thought things were completely insane, including myself. . . a calm fell over us.
Immediately following the calm came a knock at the door. I shouted down, "Just a minute!" and helped Carla to bed. I placed a cold cloth on her head, but she already looked better.
On my way to the door I passed Grim resting quietly near the foot of the stairs. I opened the door and stood there with my mouth hanging. It was Shareeka Jane. I wasn't prepared to see her. We hadn't decided how we were going to deal with our feelings of distrust. We didn't want to hurt her feelings, but face it. . . too many weird things happened with her around. Right then was a perfect example. It was as if she had some awesome control over what was going on in the house. It stopped so I could hear the door. And what about the earthquake that shook only our house? She was oddly comfortable with it. All of these thoughts and more ran through my head all at the same time. I was totally speechless and unsure of myself.
"Kin I come in?" She looked at me strangely. "Is dis one of dem bad times?" She tried to sound cheerful.
All of my thoughts took one ugly, angry, and incredibly fearful form. "No. No you can't come in. As a matter of fact, I'd like it if you left and never darkened our door, or our lives again," I paused to regroup. "How dare you? We trusted you."
"Ya gotta be kiddin'," frustrated and hurt, "ya tryin' ta say ya think Shareeka haunted yo house?"
"Don't even speak. Just please go, and leave us alone." I turned and closed the door.
My heart was on the floor. I, now, really feared what might happen. I not only asked her to leave, but I told her off too. At this point, I wouldn't have been surprised by anything.
I grabbed the phone and called Dr. Sekorsky. I wanted him to come early. I wanted him to come right then and there.
From that point on, everything went pretty fast. Dr. Sekorsky and his motley crew of ghost chasers were at our house in no time. Making last minute preparations and testing equipment.
Now the rest of our story may be somewhat confusing. It all happened so incredibly fast. Everything at once.
Just after dark Dr. Sekorsky took his people into the basement. He asked that I leave him and his crew to their work. At that point, I wasn't sure that I would have bothered them if I could.
At 8pm exactly, I know because the grandfather clock began to chime, we smelled a smoky, pungent smell. At that same time, Grim noticed smoke coming through the registers.
I was supposed to be prepared for anything, but nobody mentioned fire. Carla and I raced outside for the cellar doors. Grim raced outside too, but for obvious reasons was reluctant to go downstairs. No sooner did we get into the basement than we were completely overwhelmed by what we saw. It appeared we surprised Sekorsky as much as he did us.
Sekorsky and his people were dressed in the classic hooded robes like they were ready to talk to satan or something. Most were sitting, except for Sekorsky, who stood with his arms outstretched over a fire in the middle of a painting on the floor. He was attended on both sides by students. Everyone else was seated, in a circle around the painting and the fire. They all held hands and bowed their heads low, with their hoods covering their heads.
Before we could say a thing Sekorsky looked, (glared really), at us and boomed out, "Bring them to me."
We were then brought into the circle, in front of Sekorsky. It was at this point that I had had enough. "This is going too far," I said. "It's too weird and," pointing to the fire, "it's dangerous!"
"Silence!" Sekorsky shouted. "You no longer have authority here." He stared a hole through me, "You gave your authority to the coven only hours ago."
My heart hit the floor as I gripped Carlas hand hard. We were fools. Sekorsky said, 'coven'. We were complete fools. A feeling of total helplessness, and terror fell over us as we were pushed to our knees before Sekorsky.
He then turned his eyes from us, and started speaking to everyone except for us. He ignored us like we weren't even there.
"Thirty years ago on this very foundation, I began my coronation. I was young, strong, and ready for my destiny," he sounded almost nostalgic.
I felt sick. Obviously something way deeper was going on in this house that tragic night than a casual gathering. The night the house burned they were actually involved in this coronation. . . whatever that was. Whatever it was it didn't sound good or holy.
Sekorsky looked at me as if to say, 'I know what you're thinking'. "Did you think that mere mortals could rid you of the supernatural?" He snarled piously, "Humans are such prideful fools."
He began speaking, but it wasn't English. everyone began to sway, but there wasn't any music. He rolled and then closed his eyes, as if in ecstasy. Just at that moment, just when I knew we were all going to enter a new state of consciousness, the earth began to shake.
Sekorsky opened his eyes in surprise. This was especially sickening, because you couldn't see anything but the whites of them. He roared, almost like a wild animal. Intimidating, yet frightened or caged.
The house shook violently for what seemed like an eternity. The followers, in their own trancid states at the time the quake began, were at various levels of consciousness, therefore were effected differently. Some fell over like statues, while others began to writhe as if in pain. Still others began to come out of it, and began to panic and show their fear.
As the house came slowly to a calm a hologram of a stately man appeared near the wall at the far end of the second room. His body engulfed in flames, but a look of total control and vengeance in his eyes.
"Samtha, you murderous witch, you're finished!" He sounded like a god. His voice was powerful, yet somewhat distant, like over a loud speaker.
Assuming by this that Sekorsky was actually this Samtha, we looked to him, waiting for the next event in our nightmare.
"Sekorsky?! You're dead. I killed you myself!" He tried to sound strong and brave, but had an obvious waver in his voice.
At the moment, Carla and I were slowly putting the puzzle together. Sekorsky was Samtha, and Samtha was Sekorsky, but what was going on? I didn't dare guess. My small frail mind had already made such a mess, I was afraid to speculate. We stayed on the ground where we were placed. Afraid to move.
"You're the fool Samtha. You cannot kill the immortal," cutting himself off before going into further detail. "I see you've gathered new recruits for your coronation," he paused. "Pity it's a ceremony of ill fate."
Samtha grew in strength of tongue, and courage. "It was easy to get new followers. I became you to take over your class at the university. With a charred face and similar build, it was really quite simple. With my knowledge of the dark world, I found teaching quite rewarding." Turning violent and raising his voice, he shook his fist at Sekorsky, "You'll not stop me this time professor. I'm no longer a frail student with big ideas. My powers are strong and I've had thirty years to prepare for this night. Besides, there is something you must have forgotten, you're sealed behind the wall. A wall built by evil. evil hands, evil sweat, and evil blood," he said boldly. "Your pure heart has no power to penetrate!" He shouted laughing.
As if reading our minds, Samtha turned to us. "You must be wondering what's going on here. It's actually quite simple. Dr. Sekorsky was my teacher. Anything anyone wanted to know about the supernatural, he knew it. What he didn't know that some of the other students and myself wanted more. Power the good doctor was too pure to hunger for. The night of the fire we were this close to immortality when 'Dr. Do-Good' here decided to stop us. Under my command the others sealed him behind a brick wall. . ."
"He didn't realize that the power of good always prevails over evil. I started the fire that night. Evil put me behind the wall, but my power was able to snuff out all of the evil that did it, except for the most powerful, Samtha." Sekorsky interrupted.
"From there, after years of painful rehabilitation and plastic surgery, I returned to the university. But this time, as Dr. Sekorsky. It was tough to fool people at first, but it's surprising how simpleminded good people can be. I had the cover that I had some memory loss from the fire, and the rest was easily fudged. Why would I lie? Good is more powerful? Look at you. I think not!" He laughed again.
With that, the house began to shake again. The students who weren't in a trance started screaming and scrambling for the door. A roar like a rushing freight train filled the room. Dust filled the air as the house started to crumble.
The students who were, as I described before, semi-conscious, were actually convulsing in pain. Rolling around in the floor, crying like babies. The unconscious ones appeared dead They simply rolled around whatever way the rumbling took them. Carla and I huddled together. It seemed useless to run.
Samtha remained calm and confident. He looked Sekorsky in the eye, and roared again. This time louder and with incredible force. He swung his arm as if throwing an object toward the hologram. An invisible force smashed the hologram with an intense crash like glass to the floor, where it disappeared. Everything grew quiet and still again. Still, that is, except for the frantic attempt of frightened followers trying to escape our cellar. The doors appeared to be locked. This was impossible, because this could only be done from the outside. Of course at this point, impossible, was a very relative term that I dared not use. Finally after what seemed like hours, the room grew very peaceful. Samtha said nothing. He simply started the fire next to Carla and I just by pointing at the burnt spot on the floor where it had been earlier. He outstretched his arms over it again and closed his eyes. All of his followers once again systematically came back to their places in the circle.
Finally the only ones who appeared conscious and sane were Carla and I. And I worried about the sane part, every time I thought about what was happening to us.
The place was deathly quiet. I could barely hear myself breathing. It was then that the intensity began to build again.
From somewhere upstairs I could hear the clock toll. One, two, three. . . seven, and at the precise moment it tolled twelve a horrifying laughter came from Samtha.
A red aura formed around him. Beginning at his feet and moving upward until his entire body was engulfed. His eyes opened to reveal the most whacked out looking set of kaleidoscope eyes there ever was. He pointed at me and shouted, "You are about to witness the greatest display of power you'll ever see. You are privileged to be a part of Samthas unholy coronation."
He looked to the servants on the floor. Without saying a word, they leaped to their feet and forced Carla and I to ours. Surrounded by mumbling zombies, we stood before our executioner.
Samtha held in his hand the most wicked looking knife I had ever seen. It made me wish for a butcher knife, or at least for something sharp and quick. It was a crooked, jagged piece of gold metal, maybe ten inches long, with what appeared to be a bone handle.
Knowing we were history, and without saying a word, Carla and I stood there silently. Her hand gripped mine as the tears streamed down my face. She always was tougher than me.
Samtha raised the knife slowly over his head, relishing every passing moment. The entire time chanting something we couldn't understand. Every inch higher the knife went, the louder he would chant. His voice became deafening as he shouted the chant in my face.
I looked at Carla, and with one valiant try at being brave covered her eyes with my hand. What she never needed to know was that it was then that I closed my own eyes.
With all of the power of a tornado and the speed of lightening, the cellar doors exploded inward off of their hinges. Samtha took his eyes off of us and focused his attention at the door. Carla and I turned to see what this new turn of events was. My heart hurt, I almost wished he'd killed us and got it over with. The tension was almost too much to bear.
All eyes were cast upon the smoky doorway. An intimidating silhouette appeared. Light shown around it, and the smoke began flowing in a pattern.
Samtha, still the tough guy, boomed out, "Who dares approach Samtha during coronation?"
The figure turned slightly and kept its silence.
The followers were now moving toward the figure very slowly trying to get a glimpse. The only light anywhere was the light behind the ominous figure in the doorway.
"Once again I say, who dares disturb Samtha?!" He grew louder and more frustrated by the silence. "You must be punished," and with a thrust from his arms he threw a burst of flame. "Burn, you son of a. . ."
Before he could finish his sentence the figure raised both hands as a shield against the burst. The flame hit like an explosion. It took flight immediately upon touching those powerful hands and directed itself toward the followers of Samtha who were closest to the door.
Screams and confusion followed. People on fire, smoke, and again silence fell as two people lay dead and char-broiled on our basement floor. As the smoke cleared, the room became a little brighter. Everyone had scattered. Some were trying to help those burned, some were crying, some were motionless, and more than one ran out the now opened doors.
Samtha stood close to us. He looked through the darkness, desperately searching for the powerful intruder. He stayed very close and showed no intention of letting us go. There was no sign of the mysterious one anywhere. Samtha began taunting it to make it show itself again.
"Parlor tricks," he laughed in defiance. "So you have the power to kill weak minded mortals. Hooray, I can do that in my sleep." He looked as if in thought, "I have actually. SHOW YOURSELF!!" He continued looking around, "I've got something real for you troublemaker."
"Bin waitin' for ya ta ax me in dev'l," we knew this voice. "Let dem mortals git out da way'n Shareeka show ya sumpin' real!"
"Do you think I'm a novice?" He pulled us close with a hand on each of us. He held us in front of him. He wasn't really hanging on. It was almost like his hands were magnets, and we were steel. We weren't going anywhere. "You want these humans? You're a pure heart for sure." He looked around with great paranoia, "I knew that when you entered the room. I took care of the last pure heart that tried to stop me by burying him alive. I'm ready for you, bring it on."
By this time the stage was set. Nobody moved. It was the 'Samtha and Shareeka Show'. Nobody dared interrupt. Especially me. I wasn't so sure that she'd want to save me. I'd only that afternoon told her to take a hike.
A tremendous crash of thunder broke through the night. Then another, then another. Shareeka was furious. In a spectacular display of power, she boomed, "Samtha, you petty warlock wannebe!! Enough! Release the mortals and face the wrath a pure heart can wield!" She spoke loud and with very articulate English.
Samtha dropped his arms and picked up his knife. He turned to me as the winds, rain, thunder, and lightening in our basement, as well as outside raged. He smiled and quickly raised it and plunged it into my stomach. I fell, but I felt no pain. Just a burning, like from touching a hot pan.
No sooner had he done this than Shareeka appeared between Samtha and Carla. She looked thirty years younger. Her face was painted, and she wore a bone necklace, with a bunch of other ancient looking jewelry.
Samtha turned to Carla, but Jane took a protective stance. Quickly he turned to me, to finish me off, I guess. Just as quickly, a bolt of lightning, formed from nowhere, struck Samthas knife and moved down the blade to his hand. He dropped it cursing and screaming.
"You're a fool to think your voo-doo, witch doctor magic is any match for mine!!" Then he fell into a fetal position on the floor, where he began to moan and glow. Jane and Carla helped me away from Samtha and leaned me up against the wall where Sekorsky had been buried alive so many years ago. Jane then turned just in time to see Samtha leap from the floor at her. He grabbed her throat and began clawing her flesh. Clawing, quite literally, as his hands had changed to resemble an animals more than a mans.
They were struggling, but there was nothing we could do but watch and wait. I was beginning to feel some pain, and losing consciousness. Carla was trying to keep pressure on the wound in my stomach, as the blood flowed.
With a mighty blow to the side of Janes head Samtha knocked her against the wall where I lay bleeding. She didn't move. Samtha looked around the room at the mess his coronation had become. He grew more angry by the second. He turned slowly to look at us all.
"You've turned my grandest day into shame. For that you will die. You've broken my coven into fragments. For this, too, you must pay."
With those words he began to glow red again. This time a more intense shade. He began to tremble and sweat, as if he was focusing every energy on this one thing. He drew his hand back behind and over his shoulder slowly. The glow began surging through his body intensifying in his arm and hand. "I'm finished with you!" He shouted at me.
As he thrust his arm in my direction, a surprising and incredible thing happened. From out of nowhere, and without warning, Grim leaped onto Samthas back and latched those powerful jaws down on his throat. The jolt of Samthas blast, meant for me, hurled into the wall. Thanks to Grim. The concrete wall crumbled like matchsticks.
After a moments struggle, Samtha touched Grim, and Grim fell to the floor paralyzed. He then hit him with his fist. He raised his hand to hit him again, but a silent, solemn man stepped forward and gripped his wrist. Samtha stopped and looked up at the man standing over him in horror.
"Sekorsky?? You can't possibly. . ." surprise and terror in his voice.
A sickening crackle was heard, as Sekorsky began to crush Samthas wrist. With some ease, I might add. He was begging for mercy on his knees.
Carla and I just sat there with our mouths open. That is until a familiar, kind voice said, "Ya'll best be gittin' outta here fast," she paused. "Don't worry 'bout yo stuff, jes git in ya car and git. Now!"
She didn't have to tell us twice. With Carla half carrying me, we ran out of the cellar to the car as fast as we could. Carla tore us out of the driveway like a pro. We never even looked back until the blast.
Carla pulled over and we turned to see the sky light up as what was once our dreamhome disintegrated in an incredible explosion of fire.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the hospital. Carla was smiling and holding my hand, and I felt groggy. It seems that I had been unconscious for the better part of two days. My surgery went well, and I was on my way to a complete recovery. I lost a lot of blood, and Carla had to share some with me. But, considering how bad it could have been, I was very lucky. We were both lucky.
Our dreamhouse, was another story. It was completely destroyed. The blast even destroyed the foundation, or at least the most of it. We were told later by the same contractor that built our house that he'd never seen a foundation so badly damaged after a fire. There was no way he could use that foundation again.
The police and fire departments had a lot of questions for us concerning what went on at our house that Halloween. There were human remains found in the rubble, but the fire was so intense and the explosion so powerful, they couldn't even be sure of the body count.
We explained that we had been asked by a professor at the university if his class could conduct experiments at our house. Things got nuts, and when I tried to stop it, I was stabbed.
We tried to make sure that what we told them was honest, but we didn't tell them everything. Would you?
The police were never conclusive about our story, but a university spokesperson corroborated our story about the class being there. As far as the rest, they didn't have a heck of a lot to go on either way, now did they?
As far as those of Dr. Sekorskys class that ran, nobody ever came forward. Where they are, and what they think about what went down, I don't know. I'm not sure that I want to know.
The fire marshal theorized that there must have been gas lines or old tanks in that foundation that nobody had a record of, judging from the pulverized cement. Of course he never quite substantiated that theory.
The insurance adjusters had to agree that our home was a total loss. As soon as I was able to make the trip out to the property, we met our adjuster there just to make everything official. It was such an eerie feeling to even be there. There was nothing left but charred and crumbled cement, and what was left of the garage. The force of the blast had caused extensive damage to it as well. We were covered on the fire completely, and actually came out ahead. The university even came through with the money that Dr. Sekorsky had promised, and then some. Their fear of a lawsuit and bad publicity about the school and its instructors was great enough that they even gave us an undisclosed amount just for keeping our mouths shut. We can keep a secret under those conditions.
After returning to our hotel, we received a message from the police that our dog was at the animal shelter, and for us to pick him up as soon as we could. When we got there we received another pleasant surprise. The elderly lady that brought him in, left this note:
May peace follow you all of your days,
you've been through much in many ways.
It's all over, you've been blessed,
enjoy your life, enjoy your rest.
P. S. Ya gotta know you're forgiven Tim.
This experienced changed our lives. It opened our minds. There's so much unexplained, so many questions. We may never figure it all out.
One thing I do know, and the reason we shared our nightmare. . . 'just because you don't understand something, or have all of the answers, does not mean that it doesn't exist'.
We look at life a lot different now. When I hear a noise, or see something move out of the corner of my eye, I don't assume anything. I'm open for the unexpected.
Our hope is that someday, somehow, we'll again cross paths with our dear friends Jane and Dr. Sekorsky. Who knows? Perhaps we'll need them again. But in the meantime, if you happen to meet a mysterious black woman named Shareeka, tell her we said hi.
Thanks for reading.