Chapter 15

We sat quietly for some time after. Luke didn't know how to comfort me, so he just sat next to me and got me drinking my tea. I wanted to tell him what I had seen, explain what happened. Those horrible things, I just had to get them out. But I couldn't trust myself to speak. It was easier drinking the tea. I was so drained. I couldn't even believe that I wasn't spewing from what I saw. I wanted Luke to explain things too. But I was also scared. What else would I learn? What else could I possibly learn? I liked having Luke around, as a friend. If I told him what had happened to Robert, would he suddenly remember everything and turn into...?

I tried not to think about that. The way he turned into something else when he got angry got me shaking and I was sick of being scared. Besides, Carl became himself when he remembered. Sorta. Where was Carl anyway? Another question I had to ask. Oh God I was so sick of this mansion. It's dark, I'm alone, and I'm trapped. And I have no strength. I wanted to throw a chair through a window but I knew it wouldn't work. I think I knew what I had to do to leave: I had to help the trapped ghosts get their revenge. But how? I couldn't do anything trapped here. Could I face Robert again? I really didn't want to. Not unless he reverted to how he was alive. Yeah, right.

I sighed, putting my empty mug on the floor in front of me. But it was Robert's mug, and I was pulling Robert's blanket around myself. Yeah, I hadn't forgotten that the kettle was plugged in. "Did you make the tea yourself?" I asked quietly. Stupid question but I wanted to make sure.

"Yeah," Luke answered just as quietly. He sounded proud. "Did you like it?"

"It was very nice. But uh...that kettle..."

"This house still has an electricity supply. Don't ask why, I really don't know."

Did Luke always speak that fast? Or was I just speaking really slowly? I was still looking at the floor. "You brought me down?"

"Yeah. I had to. I heard you screaming and suddenly I was in the loft. You were-you were convulsing and shaking. Sometimes you screamed loudly, sometimes you sobbed, sometimes you babbled, but you acted like you were trapped. And your eyes were open. It was weird. You were having nightmares but you looked awake. And you were the only one in the loft. I had to pick you up and bring you down here. You didn't get out of the nightmare until you smelled the tea."

I could feel his eyes on me. I knew what he wanted to ask. He was sweet to worry about me. "I saw how Robert died." I felt my chin quiver, like I would cry again. I just let out a breath. "Luke, what she did to him. She must have done it to you, too."

When Luke spoke, he sounded like he was struggling to keep something under control. "I think you now understand our pain. Why we're trapped." He let out a breath. Could ghosts do that? "I still don't understand though." Was he about to cry? "Why would Alicia do such a thing? We got on great for a while. She was sweet, really caring. But then she snapped. Or maybe she didn't?"

He just stopped. I couldn't stand how quiet it was. "What do you mean?" Damn, why couldn't I speak any louder?

"She convinced me to have sex with her for about 2 years before she killed me. I wanted it to stop. I knew it wasn't right. She said we had to in order to get energy for spells. That she was so down and drained from working so much, to support us. But a lot of the time I could sense she wasn't storing the energy anywhere. I shoulda contacted someone in our parents' old coven, they coulda helped. But I was scared. I didn't want to have to move away if my sister couldn't take care of me. What a stupid mistake."

"She treated everybody after you the same way. Robert is now a vengeful...ghost with tunnel vision. You always forget your memory. And everyone else is like Carl: tortured until they face what happened."

"I don't think he was freed. Sure he disappeared but he was still in so much pain."

I let out a shuddering breath. "And Ray is just like him." I swallowed. "Why Ray? Why Carl? Why Robert?" I looked up for the first time. "Why Robert!"

Luke looked at me confusingly. "What about Robert?"

"Carl was trapped here, and Alicia let him out, right?"


"But Ray wasn't?"


"Both of them didn't know Alicia. She picks boys she doesn't know. But how could she know of Robert? He wasn't trapped."

"Robert did find the article with her name in it," he suggested helpfully.

"What if he contacted her? What's that?" And then my track of thought was lost. I had seen something shiny on the table and cared more about that than the mystery.

"Oh!" He stood up quickly. "This is what I went to get just now." He picked it up. It was a very pretty necklace, with some kind of star in a circle. "This is the Pentacle I used to wear. I thought I'd give it to you, to protect you from danger in your life." With a smile, he handed it over to me.

I just sat there, staring at the dangling star like an idiot. For some reason, it hadn't reached my brain that Luke wanted to give this to me. When it finally did, I reached for it. I held the necklace. For some reason, my hand was frozen in the air. I think I was staring at the Pentacle in an attempt to find some kinda hint for something. "Your sister had one?" I asked quietly.

Luke shrugged (I think). "Still does probably."

I was still staring. "Robert knew I wasn't Alicia when he felt my necklace. If it's alright with you, I'd rather put it in my pocket."

"That's fine," he assured me. "It's yours, you can do whatever you want with it."

He was definitely speaking too fast; for me anyway. I stared at the Pentacle a little while longer, wondering when I would possibly wear it. I decided to figure it out later and put it in my pocket. Luke took the empty mug away while I put my knees together. Leaning my head against my knees, I started to feel somewhat safe.

I don't know how long I was in that position. I don't remember hearing Luke move around at all. I definitely wasn't sleepy or wanting to go to sleep, although I was missing my bed. For some reason, I wanted to make sure I felt safe around Luke. I had this feeling he couldn't protect me from anything, even though he had done everything possible to help. All my scariest moments in the mansion were when he wasn't around. I was about to ask him to repeat how he brought me down from the attic.

"How did Robert look?" asked Luke nervously.

I shivered. "Like a zombie."


"He never said anything," he told me quietly. "I swear, when we first met he was friendly, chatty, charming and really confident. He became like a big brother I never had. But whenever I talked to someone after him, he'd just appear somewhere. He'd never say anything, not to me, he'd just appear and stare." (I immediately thought of the memories I got from Carl, seeing Robert sitting on the stairs and staring.) "And every single time, I remembered who he was, what he told me, and then I was always shocked by how awful he looked. But when you came in, he never appeared. I wonder why."


I sat there, trying to remember what I could have been previously thinking. My eyes wandered around the room before falling onto the rucksack.

"Luke, I have my headlight. Where's my iron rod?"

"Sorry Tanya, it's still in the attic. I couldn't touch it, it just kept burning me."

"It's okay. It just...I have to go get it. Will you come with me? Please?" I looked up at him. He nodded seriously.

When we left the kitchen, Luke held the flashlight while I wore the headlight, as usual. I had left the blanket behind and I didn't bother wearing anything else over my clothes. The mansion was so large and dark. Our beams of light were so small, I thought I could see moving shapes and shadows in the darkness. I didn't want to believe that Ray could be one of them, although I knew he was. I felt hopeless then. How could I free him? I noticed Luke's light shining on the front door. There was some blood leaking out of the peephole.

I stuck close to him as we ascended the creaky stairs. The noises made me jump. I was afraid I'd set off something else with the noise. We couldn't really see or hear anything. I suppose that should have made me feel better. Instead I was on edge, preparing for whatever might appear. I think what made me even more afraid was how weak and stiff my body was. I was tired, overworked, some of my muscles were already complaining, I definitely could not react quickly in that state. I was also hoping from the bottom of my soul that I would not see, hear or experience in any way anything more horrible than that house in the nightmare and Robert's last moments.

I forced my attention onto the stairs. I had to climb them slowly after all, I really couldn't see where to put my feet unless I looked down, and I didn't want to look down. I wanted to keep my eyes raised, to make sure nothing else appeared to freak me out. I found myself almost at the top. I turned my head to look along the balcony, just in case. Still nothing. Luke and I were making the only noises. At the top, I was still walking gingerly.

We did a slow procession to where I had climbed the stairs to the attic. I felt like I was in a huge cave, swallowing me in darkness. Any sound was normally that quiet. Most of the time, the beams from our lights did slide along some part of a wall. I shivered when I saw a shadow on the wall, without a source. The way the shadow was positioned suggested someone was standing right in front of us, watching us, but no one was there. I remembered when I first saw this. It was freaky in daylight and at night it was worse.

"Luke!" I whispered. "You see that? Where is he?"

"I don't see him either," Luke explained in a quiet, shaky voice. He found it freaky too, but it didn't make him whisper. I really thought he was talking too loud then.

I let out a breath, filling the air in front of me with vapour. We carried on walking. I started hoping that something would appear, just to end the creepy atmosphere. We walked past where the shadow was. On the other wall, ahead, there was another shadow without a source. I thought I saw it shift its head.

"I think they're watching us," I whispered.

Luke nodded. "We have nothing to fear, then." That made sense, but he didn't sound that convincing.

Before we found the ladder, standing just as I had left it and Luke too, we saw another shadow. This one was on the floor. If a person was standing there, we would have had to split up and walk around him. But there was just air. Nothing. I swallowed. I stared at the ladder, trying to sense something. Earlier I was scared of going up it. This time, it was just a ladder. I felt nothing.

I was surprised to find Luke staring at the door behind the ladder. He saw me looking at him and shook his head. "I don't think there's anything interesting in there. Do you wanna go up first?"

I nodded. I had no problem going up the ladder this time. It didn't take long for Luke to climb up after me. Now that I think about it, it's a bit weird that he never did his ghost-teleport. Anyway, I crawled into the cold attic and slowly stood up from my hands and knees. I brushed my knees as Luke stood up. I looked slowly around the large attic, almost like some kind of detector. I couldn't see anything or anyone. I couldn't sense anything. The attic was just one big empty black room. I couldn't believe that I'd had a really scary encounter with a zombie-ghost that talked little in this place. I tried not to think about it. We walked over easily and I found my iron rod. End of problem.
© Ruth Hüneke 2009