Enid and the usual suspects accept a job to rid an old house of a poltergeist. Simple? Not so much. Lucrative? Definitely. Their first trouble comes from their fellow house guest, a employee of the Paranormal Society. He has an unhealthy interest in Enid and her unusual talents against spirits. The second is the ghost itself, and the house it inhabits. Their late-night foray into the world of the supernatural quickly devolves into a frightening ordeal filled with disembodied hands, murderous spirits, and a house so encased in darkness that even the stairs give off bad vibes. Enid begins to seriously doubt her eagerness to join in this new adventure, and any future ones, as the stakes get higher and the danger grows greater. Will she and the others make it out alive? Or will the spirit of the house rid the world of them?
I dreamed a lot nowadays. Strange, whispering dreams of dark rooms and quiet voices full of warning.
The funny thing was, they were always the same, and tonight was no exception. I stood in the center of the dark room in a spotlight, and all around me were the sounds of groans, cries, and those whispering voices.
"Hello?" I called out. "Is anyone there?"
"Danger. Danger," echoed a voice.
I snorted and crossed my arms over my chest. This wasn't one of those normal dreams where free-will wasn't optional. I could laugh and frown, and yell. I could do everything but leave that circle of light. Fear kept me in that light. Something inside me told me if I left that circle I could never come back to it.
"I kind of got that from everybody trying to eat or kill me," I retorted.
"I get it already! What's the danger?" I yelled.
"Shadow. Dark shadows."
I rolled my eyes. "You're a load of help."
I don't think I'm that bad," a new voice chimed in. It was familiar, and there was a teasing quality to it.
"Who are you?" I questioned the new voice.
"You know who I am, so just wake up!" the voice shouted.
My eyes shot open and I beheld the amused face of Ian Osman, my boss and, I'll admit, slight crush. He knelt beside my bed and his smiling face peeked over the horizon of the mattress.
"You know, you're beautiful when you're asleep," he complimented.
I sat up and glared at him in all my Medusa glory. My hair stuck out in all directions and my eyes were a little bloodshot. Parts of my face were flattened from the pillow, and my lips were dry and cracked.
"And you're a really terrible liar, now what are you doing in my room?" I growled at him.
He stood and nodded at the window beside the bed. "It's time to get up."
I glanced at the clock on the nightstand. It was early evening, about five. The sun was gone and darkness had taken its place. I groaned and ran a hand through my hair. My fingers got stuck and I pulled out more than one strand of hair freeing them.
"Give me a break. I'm still not used to all this night-owl stuff," I reminded him as I let fall the strands of hair from my fingers.
"It's a cruel, harsh world that forces a beautiful woman from her beauty sleep, but we all have to make sacrifices to survive," he teased.
I rolled my eyes and flung aside the sheets. "Does the amount of bullshit in your body ever run dry?" I asked him as I swung my legs over the side of the bed.
"I haven't found the depths yet," he quipped. He stepped aside to let me stand. "By the way, what was all that muttering about?"
I shuffled towards the door of our shared bathroom. "What muttering?" I returned.
"The muttering in your sleep. You sounded like you were having a nightmare," he commented.
"I was dreaming about you," I retorted as I opened the door and dragged myself into the bathroom.
He followed me and stuck his head through the doorway. His eyebrows wagged and his smile turned into a lecherous grin. "Was it a good one?"
I spun around and glared at him. "I said I was dreaming about you, so it was a nightmare, now go away."
I slammed the door on his face, and it gave me pleasure to hear his nasally voice from the other side of the shut entrance.
"I fink you're getting stronger," he mused.
I didn't deign to reply, but readied myself for another long, boring night with no one for company but the lecherous clown outside the bathroom door, and his moody assistant, Cronus.
"What kind of a name is Cronus, anyway?" I muttered to myself as I washed my hair. "I mean, come on? What the hell does it even mean?"
I washed up to where I wouldn't break any mirrors or turn anyone into stone, and walked downstairs. Voices drifted out of the front parlor, so I took a peek around the corner and into the room. Ian sat in his usual chair and Cronus stood in front of him with a small tablet phone in his hand.
"When do we meet them?" Ian asked him.
"This evening," Cronus replied.
"When do we meet who?" I spoke up.
Ian grinned at me, but Cronus didn't even turn around as I entered.
"A new case, and one that might pay us a little more than the last couple," Ian told me.
I plopped myself onto the couch and snorted. "So we might get a buck?"
"Or maybe even two," he joked. He returned his attention to Cronus, but nodded at me. "You may as well tell her what you told me."
Cronus' frown deepened, but he turned to me and read the notes from his tablet. "A Mr. Titus Cash contacted us tonight through our mutual acquaintance, Officer Morgan. He explained that his house, which up to now suited him and his wife, has recently become haunted. He infers that it may be because of recent renovations to the oldest portions of the structure."
"What kind of haunting are we talking about? Noises?" I guessed.
Cronus glared at my intrusion, but continued. "Knocking, footsteps, shadows, objects moved without anyone remembering moving them-"
"The usual poltergeist things," Ian spoke up.
"So why don't they just call an exorcist?" I suggested.
"An exorcism was attempted, but failed. The hauntings have increased exponentially over the last week, and an apparition has been witnessed on the third and fourth floors," Cronus continued.
"So now we have to clean up the mess left by an idiot priest," Ian grumbled.
Cronus lowered his device. "So it appears."
Ian sighed and rose from his chair. "Well, I guess we'd better not keep them waiting."
I jumped to my feet. "Can I come, too?" I requested.
He turned to me with a grin. "Of course. If I let you stay here you might get into trouble with a satyr, and then I'd be jealous enough to have to kill him."
I raised an eyebrow. "What's a satyr?"
Ian chuckled. "I'll tell you when you're older, but we've got some clients to meet."
All three of us got into the car and drove to the usual meeting spot, a park not far from where I used to live. For this trip, though, I got out and walked with the guys over to the gazebo near the center of the park. There was already a fancy car in the parking lot when we arrived, and a well-dressed couple stood uneasily beneath the roof of the gazebo. They were middle-aged, though the woman tried to hide her wrinkles under too much makeup. A fur stole was wrapped around her shoulders, and she wore a short, tight dress that showed off her curves and a few more wrinkles on her legs. Her hair was tinted and short, and wrapped in a tight bun behind her head. The man was gray-haired and wore a tailored suit with shiny buttons and shinier black shoes. He held a cane in one hand and a frown on his face.
We walked up the short flight of steps onto the gazebo, and Ian approached them with his hand outstretched.
"Good evening. My name is Ian Osman, the owner of the paranormal agency," he greeted them. The gentleman shook hands, and the lady offered hers. Ian gallantly took her hand and kissed the top.
She graced him with a small, tense smile that had no warmth. "You certainly have more class than the police," she complimented him.
"We have more time on our hands to be so, but my assistant here, Mr. Cronus, tells me you have a very unique problem which we may be able to solve," Ian commented.
The gentleman, Mr. Cash, pursed his lips and gave a nod. "Yes, or at least we hope you can help us. The-well, the strange occurrences began about three months ago. You see, my wife and I bought an old estate outside the city about five years ago to retire, which I did six months ago. We recognized that the house needed some work, and hired a contractor to perform the work. It was shortly after that that there were the-well, the problems."
"Has anyone been injured because of these problems?" Ian asked him.
Mr. Cash nodded. "Yes. Several painters and carpenters have fallen from their ladders. They say they were pushed. Another worker was shoved down the stairs."
"So only shoving?" Ian wondered.
"Yes, but the noises have become louder, and as I told your assistant over the phone an intruder has been spotted on the third and fourth floors," he added.
"Typical signs of a poltergeist, but I'd need to investigate further, and as soon as possible," Ian advised.
Mr. turned to his wife. "What do you think, Ada? Shouldn't we better allow them?"
"Are you sure you can handle this case, Mr. Osman?" Mrs. Cash wondered. I noticed her gaze fell on Cronus and me. "It is a delicate matter and needs the most professional of touches as we wouldn't wish for our acquaintances to know of our ‘problem.'"
Ian smiled and bowed his head to her. "You have our utmost confidence, Mrs. Cash. We won't tell a soul, or at least not one living."
Mr. Cash set a hand on his wife's shoulder. "Come, my dear, we must have someone handle this problem or we won't be able to invite any of our friends over."
"What of that organization the priest recommended to us? That Paranormal Association, or whatever it was?" she suggested.
Ian chuckled. "I can assure you, Mrs. Cash, we can get the job done better than anyone from the Paranormal Society."
"But not at a better price," she argued.
"My dear, we can afford both of them, and think of the expense we've gone through with all the renovations," her husband reminded her. "We can't very well abandon them and sell the house. Not if its reputation preceded any sale."
Mrs. Cash sighed and waved her hand at us. "Very well. You have your case, Mr. Osman, but we will only pay half down. The rest you will receive upon completion of your task to rid us of these things."
"Thank you for the honor, Mrs. Cash," Ian replied.
And with that we got our next job.