Chapter One: Alan Miller, The man who died twice
He was looking at me like I had tricked him, somehow. This little man standing before me was looking at me like I had made him call me. It became part of the job, but I never got used to it. It was always an itch at the back of skull. I knew what he was thinking, that I was a freak. I was a weirdo. That I was a fraud trying to steal his money. I charge so much because I don’t like my time wasted. Exhaust every other option and then pay through the nose for me.
This little man had my check crinkled up in his hands, but I didn’t care. The bank would still accept it. He had me come in because his walls were bleeding. His wife and kids had moved out of the house, but this little man was dead-set on keeping the house. Real Estate Agents are supposed to disclose any illicit activities that occurred on the property before purchase, such as murders, rapes, etc and the agent had done her due. This idiot had brought the house anyway.
“Holden. You can do it?” This little man asked through clenched teeth. He looked mad, but that could have been that I was smoking in his house. What was he going to do? Made me leave his bloody, haunted house? I really didn’t care. I had enough money that I didn’t need to bother trying anymore.
“Yeah. I can do it.”
“Because you’re not getting paid until…”
“My name’s Paul.” Of course his name was Paul. I never liked or could truest a man named Paul. I never liked a P name for a man, but Paul was the worst of them.
“That’s the name of the man who died here. Alan Miller. Violent deaths are the worst. When you die fighting, you think your still fighting.
“You’re wrong. I had the blood tested. It’s menstrual blood. Like from a woman.” Little man Paul said.
“Easy question: Do walls bleed?”
“Well, no. They shouldn’t.”
“So, we’ve established that weird shit is happening. Alan Miller died over a woman. He’s fixated on that woman. Annie Watts, Miller’s girlfriend, was cheating on him with Nathan Miller, Alan Miller’s father. How much does that suck? Nathan Miller is currently serving fifteen years for the accidental murder of his son. I do research. Do you?” I hadn’t actually done any research. Alan was telling me all of it. He wouldn’t shut up about his father and about Annie.
I had made up a rating system for ghost. The longer a ghost was left to stew on any particular thing, the more that ghost began to degrade. A level one ghost appears human, because their fixation hasn’t dug in deep yet. A level two ghost tends to look like a gray mist. The ghost begins to fall apart like a decaying corpse would. A level three ghost begins to pull himself together and he doesn’t look anything like a human anymore. For some reason, they like to reconstitute themselves with horns and fangs and in the case of one remarkably disgusting womanizer, several penises. Alan was a level three. Level fours existed, but I didn’t mess with them. Picture horns all of a hulking frame. Out of his ears and eyes and out of his nostrils. Beneath the horns, there were snakes and maggots slithering and writhing. No flesh was apparent.
“Paul. Can I have a minute alone?”
“Alone. Me. Leave. You. That’s the gist of what I’m asking.”
“This is my house…”
“And it’s a nice one…you, know… except for the blood. That’s why I’m here. Remember? Mind if I get to work?” Paul looked like he wanted to say something, but he left with his arms crossed over his chest.
The door slammed and I pulled some sage from my black overcoat and lit it with my lighter. I swayed the smoking sage back and forth, spreading the smoke around.
“Al? Al?” Alan wasn’t paying much attention. He was preoccupied with screaming for his father to come out.
Dad! Dad! Come out here! Where are you! When he screamed the windows rattled in their panes and began to frost.
“Alan Miller! Shut up!” Alan was finally looking at me. I couldn’t be sure, but I tried to be safe. Sometimes level three ghosts attacked people, thinking that they were objects of the ghost’s fixation. The sage was good for calming them down and helping them think about what was going on.
“Dad?” Alan asked.
“No. I ain’t your daddy.”
“Where’s my dad?”
“Daddy’s in prison. Going to be for a while.”
“What’s that smell?”
“That’s just sage. Don’t worry about the sage. I got bad news for you, kid.”
“It reeks like farts.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“No, it does.” Alan started coughing and gagging, which ghost shouldn’t be able to do. To cough, you need an obstructed airway. Ghosts have neither an airway nor anything to obstruct it. I had assumed it was psychosomatic. That he had a negative association with the smell of sage. Then, he started to smoke and then he burst into flames. Alan was screaming and flailing about and I was figuring that he just really hated sage.
I was wrong, however. There was a second ghost, one that I wasn’t messing with. A level four ghost was pure hostility and normally roved about where ever they felt like going. They burnt themselves out of existence, but they also managed to warp reality around before that could happen. I wasn’t sure why the hell a level four ghost was showing up, I wasn’t going to find out. The smoke wafting through the air turned into snakes, fucking rattlesnakes and I don’t even know how to deal with that. They were lunging through the air at me, creating distance between me and Alan, who was shrinking. His horns were retracting and snaky, maggoty skin was turning into human flesh. What the hell was happening. Alan turning back into a level one and I had never seen that. Alan had apparently died, bare foot in a pair of acid-washed jeans. I didn’t much of a view of it before he exploded and exploded as if he was made of real flesh. Blood and brain matter splattered over my clothes and there was a streaming, red skeleton laying in the middle of the floor. Paul came barreling in and then froze in his steps.
“What the hell did you do?”
“You can see that?” I asked, pointing to the skeleton.
“There’s a dead body on the floor.”
“Yeah. Weird. Got rid of your ghost for you. My payment?” The check was still in his hands, but I slid it out easily. I slipped out the front door and got the hell of out there.
Chapter Two: At Mother’s House
They don’t make water hot enough. I was working my fingers through my hair, picking out little bits and pieces of Alan Miller’s skull and hearing them clink against the porcelain floor. My mother’s bathroom wasn’t very clean and I didn’t feel too bad about making a little bloody. My old ma had gone on in years and I probably should have put her up in a nursing home.
The floor beneath my feet was a swirling pink and above that there was a faded ring around the tub. The shower was suited for an old lady. A seat, a hand grip and little pink daisies scattered across the floor. It was awkward to move in the small space, but for the time being, my ma’s place was the only place I had. My ma’s place was quiet like other places weren’t. A lot of the time, the dead don’t know they’re dead. They just know they’re being ignored. That they’re cut off. They figure out that I’ll look at them, hear them and they start bothering me.
I had thrown my clothes in the garbage. I wasn’t going to put them in the wash and ruin the washer. I had brought that machine in with my father when my father was still around. I turned off the water and watched the pink slither down the drain and all of a sudden, I felt guilty and decided to scrub down the tub. Maybe I’d do that later.
“Ma.” I called down the stair. My mother spent all her time in the basement, by the old washer, watching the tiny black and white. The washer knocked against the stone wall down there and I called for her again, a little bit louder.
“Ma. You kept my old coats? I had to throw mine away.” The washer was the only thing that answered me. I went down the stairs and they creaked beneath my feet. I had cut my leg up on those stair and actually put my foot through a step to do it. I never trusted them and now everything was so damn cold down here. I stopped at the landing and between me and her was a swirling bath of shadows.
The basement was shaped like a long rectangle and she was sitting at the end of it by the boiler, puffing on a cigarette and looking at the tiny black and white television. Overhead, there was a flickering, yellow bulb that cast sour light onto the floor. She wasn’t looking at me.
“Ma. You warm enough down here?” I knew I wasn’t. I was tucking my hands underneath my armpits, trying to keep warm.
“I’m fine.” Ma said. She had her sweater tucked up around her ears and her free hand concealed in her pocket.
“Why don’t you come up stair?”
“I’m happy down here.”
“I mucked up the tub a little bit. Sorry.”
“I don’t care.”
“Ma. I had a weird case, earlier. I saw a dead guy die again. He blew apart and sprayed blood everywhere. There’s a thing. I call them Level fours. It did that. I don’t know how or why, even… but it did that. I want to figure out why. I think I ought to find him.”
“Mmm.” Ma said. She sounded so tired and distant. She wouldn’t look at me and I wouldn’t get close to her.
“So, ah… I had to throw away my jacket. Did you keep my old coats?”
“You can check up stair in the hall closet. I don’t know.” She blew out a lung full of smoke and then tapped the cigarette into an old Dunkin Doughnuts cup. Every time I saw her, I thought I should do more for her, but I always walked away.
My mother had died. She had fallen down the stair, doing a load of laundry. She had died from dehydration. She had broken her leg and spent a day and a half at the bottom of the stairs calling for someone to help. Something about this place and the fact that she died here kept other ghosts away.
“Thank you, Ma.”
Chapter Three: Sex With Ghosts
I moved through red, metal bookshelves filled with dust coated books. Some of the library staff joke about there being ghosts in the Mezzanine. The idea is most predicated on the fact that the lights go out from time to time. The lights were set up to motion detectors and isn’t sensitive enough to sense someone reading. While entranced in a particularly good book, a reader might find themselves bathed in darkness. This all isn’t to say there isn’t a ghost in the Mezzanine, she just doesn’t turn out the lights.
Her name was Grace and she’s been impossibly lonely for fifty years. She committed suicide in the early sixties after being left at the altar. She had read nearly all the books in the library while alive and knew everything about anything in death. If anyone knew where I should start with my spontaneous reincarnation Level four ghost, it would be her. Dealing with Grace was tricky, however. Like all ghosts, Grace had a constant fixation and predictably, it was her would be husband. As she didn’t know where he was and probably couldn’t recognize him even if he were to show up in front of her, she tended to go after any man.
I spotted Grace on her knees, scanning a small green book that frayed at the edges. Her long auburn hair draped down over her shoulders and drew shadows over her golden horn-rimmed glasses and her long, gaunt face beneath that. She wore a flowing green dress that filtered off into stake blue of the carpet.
“Dennis?” She asked, not looking up to me. She flicked her finger across the yellowing page of the small green book.
“No. It’s Holden. I got to talk to you, Grace.” She flicked her eyes up to me and they were wide and watery, icy blue rimmed with eerie gold. The book fell through her fingers and thumped against the carpet. She moved across the floor, her dress fluttering behind her like cloth through water. She brought her hands to my face and they flew like rain droplet rolling down my face.
“Denis, please.” She said. She sounded breathless which suited her, considering she through herself in the Merrimack.
“Grace. It’s Holden. Listen to me.” She leaned in and pressed her lips against mine. I pulled from the kiss. Her lips were chapped and she tasted salty.
“Denis. Please. Stay with me.” Her fingers rolled down my chest and I stepped away, knowing where they’d end up.
“Grace! Listen to me, goddamn it!” She drew in a shocked breath of air and drew a few steps away from me.
“Oh. I see.” She began to flutter back toward her discarded book.
“Grace. I need to talk to you.” She picked her book back up knelt on the floor. “ Grace. What do you know about resurrections?”
“A lot.” She said, peering down at her book.
“I saw a ghost get turned into flesh and then explode. Skeleton, meat and brain matter in all.”
“Do you know what that is?”
“Yes and you do as well, I suspect.”
“ It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen. The closest thing to it, is that guy that was tearing lizards up at the Franklin zoo and smashing up cars in the parking lot.”
“You ran from that, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I’m never paid enough when glass and snake skulls starts flying around.”
“What does it matter?”
“Because I want to know. Can you help me?”
“Or possibly, you’re interested in dead person being brought back to life. Possibly without the explosion at the end.”
“Who do you have squirreled away. You seem old enough to married. Possibly with a child. A wife? A son? A daughter? You spend all your time with the dead. There must be a good reason for that.”
“What do you know?”
“You’ve given us these crude categories: Level one, Level two, Level three and Level four. Well, a level four, as you call it, doesn’t get that way without external help. Do you believe in magic, Mr. Errand?”
“Does it matter if I do?”
“I suppose not. Magic, of any sort, is cancerous to whatever passes for a spirit in all of us. Heavy magic practitioners, of an evil or benign sort, will produce twisted and mostly dangerous essences. What you would want to be looking for is, a heavy magical practitioner. Whoever that might be?”
“What about the level fours? Is there a way to track them? To find them? They can go anywhere.”
“In that, you are wrong. It’s true that they do not behave like other souls, but they still remain ghosts. There’s a cause for everything they do. Ghosts are people, just like you. You have a location and something to look for while you are there.”
“Can you give me anymore help than that?”
“That depends. Would you let me pretend for a while? You don’t know how stinging it is to be ignored by everyone. To be ignored by a man has turned away from you an infinite number of times.”
“I’m not Denis.”
“Denis is an old man by now. Probably has a family. A wife. Children. Everything I never had. Let me pretend.”
“What would you tell me?”
“A name. Nothing completely assured, but there is a man who wrote a book and that book is here in the library. I’ll give you the name. I’ll give you the book. You’ll need a library card, of course.”
“Of course.” She skulked toward me and rose her finger up to my face. They were just as cold as ever. Her kisses were just as bitter. She whispered ‘Judas Mason’ in my ear as she unbuckled my belt. Sexual contact with a ghost is never fun.
Chapter Four: The Family Mason
It was my second shower of the day and it still wasn’t hot enough. Grace had given me Mason’s book with peppering my bare shoulders with icy kisses. It was heavy, black leather bond thing that had been water strained and reeked of mildew. I sat on the edge of my mother’s tub with this book on my lap. The Mystic’s Digest had been etched out across the front cover in white lettering. It mostly looked like hokum to me. All it needed was a pentagram or moon symbols scattered about the front flap. Inside, it seemed just as ridiculous. Potion, spells and pagan holidays. I didn’t see anything using eye of newt, but there a couple things using eye of cat. None of it was useful as far as I could find. None of it told me about how Alan Miller could spray his brain-pan over my clothes and Paul’s walls.
Something I did find was an author’s biography. It didn’t give me an address, but it did give me another name. Judas Mason had a daughter, one who would still be alive. Apparently, him and his wife, Mercedes, were practicing mystics and ‘life patients’ and had conceived a child named Marigold. May the devil give pity to a girl named Marigold. None of it seemed like worth-while leads, but Marigold and a book of hokum was the best I had. Grace had got one thing right, she got most things right actually, but she was more right about me never being around people. I’m not going with them and they’re not good with me. I had to take Marigold like a bitter pill. I got dress. I had to hit the web.
My job and a private detective’s job aren’t all that different and we end up using the same tools. The one thing I couldn’t possibly do my job without is my shadow-creeper program. I had it made by a conspiracy minded hacker friend of mine. Friend is a strong word, but person-who-promised-not-to-liquidate-al-my-accounts-and-make-me-a-ditigal-non-person would be too wordy. His name was Angel. Think of a pasty face Puerto Rican in a Slayer T-shirt. In my younger years, I experimented with the Ghost Hunter scene. Said scene was plagued with types like Angel, except without the abilities Angel possessed. Some many of them stumbling over one another when they hear an old house settle or a branch scratch at a window. It’s a big joke to them, but they tend to piss of ghost when they actually stumble upon them. Think of having a conversation with someone who can’t heard you, but pretends that they can.
Give us a sign if you can hear us. Tell us if want something. We’re here for you. Ghosts take that seriously and when they completely ignore them, the ghosts, normally level ones, get pissed off.
Well, Angel made me this shadow-creeper program which essentially finds people for me by sending tendrils out into the Internet looking for digital footprints. It made me nervous that a little guy like Angel had the ability to make something like that, but he uses his power for good and stealing porn.
I sat before my laptop in my mother’s kitchen. The refrigerator rattled and hummed and wriggled in my ear. Dishes piled in the sink and water stains haloed out across corner top. The floor had been made uneven from a burst pipe five year back and the kitchen had been stabilized with a pile of old romance novels.
On my computer screen, the shadow-creeper program appeared as a black box with white text scrawling in a furious blur, faster than I could possibly read. It was reaching across the entire world-wide web searching for Marigold Mason, Mercedes Mason and Judas Mason. I made a bet with myself that Marigold would be the easiest to find. Marigold Mason was a flighty little star-child name and I had to think that she would be in some co-op off in the Arizona Desert. I was figuring that I might get lucky and get an email. What I ended up getting for Marigold was an address in Lowell and a name change. At age eighteen, she changed her name to Meredith and then at age twenty-four, she married one Howard Taylor who later died of congestive heart failure a year later in 2004. Two years after that, she, all of a sudden, went into law enforcement and made Sargent last year. She kept his last name and kept the residence of her deceased husband.
For Judas Mason, I got a date of death and allegations of murder. I had to bet that Judas was my Level Four. Apparently, Judas had a knack for luring college aged girls up to his house after the bars let out and having those girl disappear forever. He’d been linked to seven missing girls, although the Lowell police couldn’t prove that he had anything to do with any of their disappearances. He ended up dying in 1997 from prostate cancer and a lack of medical attention for said condition.
His wife, Mercedes, ended up going to jail for criminal neglect and then later, dying in 2001. Apparently, she had Judas held up in the house, performing their spells on him, having him drink mercury to induce ‘visions.’ She did blood-lettings and mixed his urine into his meals and a whole host of other weird shit. I would have put her in an insane asylum, but the dice had been rolled. Poor Meredith-Marigold. Her parents were a pair of loons and it seemed like all she wanted was to be normal. I didn’t have a great history with law enforcement and I didn’t think that Meredith would be too happy to talk about her crazy parents. I might even get shot over it. This was feeling more and more like a bad idea.
Chapter Five: The Mason House
I wasn’t eager to visit a cop and digging up a possibly raw nerve… Mixed metaphor… so I decided I’d visit the Mason house and see which spectators turned up. I figured there was a chance I’d get lucky and I’d find Mason there and I’d not need to bother with Sgt. Meredith Taylor and her raw nerves. The Mason house had its own annoyances, however. The legend of Judas Mason and the weird rituals he suffered had gotten out and ghost hunters had pounced on the scene. It had seen some success in the early 2000’s, but the ghost hunters decided that the house was a bit of a rip-off. Not enough creaks and groans to scare the jumpy thrill-seekers.
The Mason house had been purchased by a pair of lesbian witches who offered half-hearted tours of a house reeking of weed and beer if the Mason House reviews online were to be believed. Approaching the Mason house, I wasn’t impressed. It’d been done up for Halloween with spider webs and cardboard gravestones reading famous people’s names. They had no need to decorate at all. If they left the house as it was previous, I would have been preparing myself for a stabbing. As it was now, I was preparing myself for a handful of crappy candy and then a stabbing. All overgrown trees limbs and bushes, skeletal with bare, pale brown branches. The girls had made no attempt to rake up the drive and it probably was better that business was so terrible. If more people came, somebody would be bound to slip on a stray branch and shifting leaf. In a country so lawsuit happy as this one, this place would be a dream. I was momentarily tempted and I’m not even that kind of man. I’d been in worst places when hanging around ghost hunters and once was literally threatened with a knife. A crazy, old man with no teeth and a soiled pair of underwear. I had thought he was a ghost, but the others had seen him as well. After that day, I kept a gun on my ankle, register and everything. I didn’t keep it loaded. I’d be screwed if anyone called his buff.
The front door had one of those cheap plastic door decorations with spiders and black cats all over it. Above that was a wooden sign reading “The Mason House: Tours are $10.00. Ring the buzzer.”
The buzzer was rusted to hell on the side of the door and I thought it might have been broken, but a call from an upstairs window told me I was wrong.
“That you Jeffery? You ain’t getting shit unless you got my fucking money!” I stepped from the porch and around a corner to see who calling. It was a saggy sort of skinny brunette hanging out the top floor window. Though it was cold, she was wearing a tank-top and no bra. She had a thin sheen of moisture spreading over her bare arms and face.
“I’m here for the tour.”
“Fuck.” She said, spilling back into the house. I turned away and back onto the porch. It sounded as though the girl fell down the flight of stair, but she opened the door fine and then flipped her hair from her face. Her tight blue jeans weren’t buttoned, only partially zipped. As far as I could tell, she wasn’t wearing anything under those jeans, just her pink flesh and tiny wisps of hair hinting at her pubic mound. She zipped and buttoned herself while stepping out onto the porch and then pulled the tank-top over her jeans. She was out of breath and wide-eyed and I was glad for the moment of silence while she composed herself.
“Did you need a moment?” I asked, once I filed the fleeting sight of her mound into my ‘thoughts for later’ mental folder. I flicked my eyes down to her bare feet on the cement floor.
“Nah. I’m good. Come on in.” She said, moving aside and holding the door open for me. Such trouble for ten dollars, though I suspected that the girls were in a different kind of business nowadays. I stepped in and she closed the door behind me. Inside, there were three other girls sitting in a living room packed with blue-gray smoke. The room had a fecal stink of marijuana. None of girls had joints in their hands, though they all looked a little stoned. The three of them glowered at me through heavily ringed eyes. They hadn’t been sleeping to well it looked.
“This is where it happened.” The brunette started, wrapping her thin arms around her waist. The cold had perked her nipples up, though she didn’t seem to notice. “I’m Erica, by the way.”
“Holden.” I said.
“Like Catcher and the Rye, right?”
“In the Rye. Yeah. Judas died upstairs?”
“Yeah. But him and his wife did a whole bunch of weird shit in the basement, too.”
“That’s why you’re here. We got the death room upstairs, then the library, and then the basement and then we got a gift shop set up. The stairs are over here.” She motioned up a flight of stairs. I started up them and she followed.
“You know anything about the mythos?”
“Well, Judas and his wife, Mercedes, were these two hippie-dippy types doing messed spells in this house for years and years. Toward the end of Judas’s life, he and his wife started getting into the really crazy shit.” We hit the top of the stairs and turned a corner.
“ Judas was snatching up girls like skittles, but he couldn’t catch a case. Some say because he had help from dark spirits.” She stopped me in front of a door painted black and decorated with stars and moons from some glow in the dark set.
“He was feeding them the girls and they made it so he never had to worry about the law.” She opened the door and let it smack against the wall. Inside was a four-poster king-sized bed. Along the walls were clouded glass jars with big cork stoppers and there were antique medical equipment. There were slightly rusted handsaws and big glass syringes with big brass finger wells. The bed was set off to the far end of the room in front of a big window showing swaying trees and a cool, gray sky.
“He, all of a sudden, stopped taking girls and angered the spirits. The doctors thought he had Prostate cancer, but it was really just the manifestation of the spirit’s wrath. Demons and devils won’t flay you like they do in the movies, but that don’t make them any less dangerous.”
“Are you afraid of those spirits, living here and all?”
“It was a concern. Still is, from time to time, but we cleanse the place all the time. Me and my girlfriend are always burning sage and thyme and whispering blessing throughout the house.”
“So he died in here?”
“Yeah. We decorated it with cool shit. It was kind of bored before. Full of old people shit. The daughter who stole it to us didn’t want any of it. My girlfriend, Tiffany, went down to New York and found a fucking Civil War era hacksaw. I used it in a bondage fetish video and broke it, though.”
“How about the bed?”
“No. I don’t make videos in here. It’s too creepy.”
“No. Was this Judas’s bed?”
“Everything expect the mattress. When he died, he voided his bowels all over it. The two of them slept right there. She had him drink his own urine and eat his own shit. Something about not letting his life force escape. Some of the jars were broken and the ones filled with his blood were taken away, but she filled jars just like that with his blood and used it to ask forgiveness from the dark spirits that tortured her husband.”
“How long did she do all this?”
“What are these?” I asked, noticing symbols carved into the wood of the four-poster bed.
“The eye of you! Most people don’t notice those. Or just don’t ask. Those were part of a binding spell. I can’t say what Mercedes was trying to bind, though. It should have been a pretty powerful one.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Me and Tiffany study their spell books. The rituals attached to those symbols are pretty heavy shit.”
“The library next?”
“Yeah. Spell books abound. Pretty cool shit.”
Inside the library, there was a copy of Mystic’s Digest and fake copies of the Necronomicon. There were books on Alchemy, biology and reflexology. Books of all sorts, but none of any use.
“They got a lot of good shit here.” Erica said, while playing with belly-button. I wasn’t playing much attention to any of it until she got to Judas’s obsession with resurrection spells. The library was wall to wall hokum, but when Erica pulled a pale brown, leather bound book from a shelf, my eyebrow lifted. It might have had some promise, though Erica was hesitant to let me handle it. It had a pungent smell to it like something organic. Something like grave soil. The pages were stiff and yellowed and the spine cracked audibly.
“Human skin.” Erica said, sliding the book back on the shelf.
“Real human skin. I didn’t have it tested or anything, but it’s not like any leather I’ve ever seen.” It wasn’t like any I’d seen, either.
“What do you think he was doing with it?” I asked, eyeing the brown tome. It was stitched together with fine needle work.
“Trying to cheat death, the best I can guess.” Down the stairs, screams rang out and there were crashes. Something was going on down stairs and Erica wasn’t reacting to it. Something I could only hear meant it was something other-worldly.
“Let’s see the basement.” There was a loud crash and a wet slap. I led the way down the streets, trying my best not to spill my way to the first floor. Even with me trying to hold myself back, I hit the front door and turned the corner. The girls were being torn apart and I realized that they were the Judas’s girls, the ones he abducted.
The thing tearing the girls up like confetti streamers had mouths all over. Three mouths on the front of its face, two on either side of its head. Mouths. Mouths. Mouths chewing bloody, screaming flesh. Viscera dangling from the bloodstained, needle sharp teeth. All of them, looking at me with their dulled, shady eyes. Erica walked right past me and through the carnage without ever knowing it. The thing glowered at me, knowing I could see it and I wondered for the first time, what do ghosts see when they see me?
“Place like this, got to be spook to live in?” I asked, hugging the wall, giving the mouthy monster its space to tear apart the girls. There was nothing I could do for them and I had a suspicion that it would be over with soon enough.
“Yeah. Sometimes. I hate being alone here like this.” Erica said, opening a thin, wooden door garnished with a sign reading, “The Spell Room”.
“Have any ghost stories?” I knew she did. I could see them, dying their invisible deaths and being feasted upon. That sort of thing didn’t go completely unnoticed. All the girls’ eyes were still locked on me and I knew it was because they knew I could see them. They might have something to say. No, they definitely would. Tell my mother this. Say my body is there. Requests that would only call negative attention to me. But still, they might have information with having.
“Yeah. You can help screams in the night. Somewhere in the trees. Tiffany says ‘its probably animals,’ but its year round. What animals are out year round and cry like women?” Coyotes, possibly. Their yowls sound like women screaming, although they aren’t year round. It might be worthy investigating and less intrusive than making up a reason to be in their living room alone.
“You don’t see.”
“Yeah. A lot of girls went missing. I’m betting that one of them is trying to contact the world of the living.” She spilled down into the basement and I followed into the shadows. The slaughter had ended and the girls were left scattered across the floor. The thing with the mouth sulked away and through the wall. Even there, while I descended, the girls began to reassemble. It happened again and again, slaughtered forever. Forever in bloody terror.
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