Chapter 7

"Robert?" I checked. Luke just nodded. "Can you remember anything else about him?"

He scrunched his face as he thought. "I remember him saying he was a medium."

He'd said that already. I tried to figure out what kind of memory that could trigger. "Why did he tell you that?"

"He said...he said it was why he was talking to me. I remember being surprised that someone was calling my name, so I came down here and found him and he introduced himself. And then he gave me a report from a newspaper. It was about me, I was a missing person. That was the first time I learned I was dead." Luke seemed amazed by that.

"I wonder how many other times you had to discover that?" I wondered aloud.

"I don't think all those corpses down there were trapped here," he argued.

"Okay," I said. "So Robert told you you were dead. No wait, missing doesn't make you dead."

"But as a medium he could tell the dead apart from the living. That's what he said anyway."

"And he also told you about The Crow." Luke nodded. "Was he also trapped here?"

"No, he used to come and go." He laughed quietly. "I remember asking him if me being here made this house haunted, he said no because I'm the only one here. I was at least. Now Ray's here somewhere and the door just locks itself." Luke sounded depressed about this, the thought upset me too.

"If it wasn't haunted when he came, that would make Robert victim number 2," I said.

"What makes you think he's number 2?"

I sighed. "When I, uh, covered you up I accidentally pulled back another blanket. He was tall, thin, had blonde hair and brown eyes. I think that's Robert."

"Sounds like him," agreed Luke in shock. "Oh no," he whimpered, "the killer got him too?"

I couldn't help feeling sorry for the guy. First he finds out he's dead and has been for 15 years at least, then he slowly starts remembering a friend he had, but then he learns that the nice guy was also killed. This was not his day. I still couldn't believe that Ray was a victim of some random murderer who's been acting quietly and under the radar for a long time. I had to solve this, not just for Ray anymore, but also for Luke and every other victim that came before him. I also tried to convince myself that whatever had happened to all the others wouldn't happen to me. But I couldn't even concentrate on the image of that executioner in the dark tunnel.

Okay, positive thoughts. I had to solve the mystery and I would dammit.

I stood up. "Luke. For some reason you're the only ghost here that I can seem to interact with. That also means your memories can help solve whoever the murderer is, or whatever. Q & A doesn't seem to help, so why don't we explore the rest of this house? We might find something to jog your memory?"

He shook his head.

... "Why not?"

"I'm no good to anyone," he mumbled.

"And why do you think that?"

"Robert tried helping me before and now he's dead. Now you're stuck in this house. What if I just trap people for whoever it is?"

"Robert tried helping you?"

Luke was scratching his shoulder again. "Yeah, he said that as a medium it was his duty to help 'wandering souls' find their peace, so he tried to figure out why I was stuck here. But if he's dead and you're trapped-"

"You honestly think you're partly responsible?"

He opened up his hands. "What other explanation is there?"

"We don't even know the full story! I think you're just a victim, nothing more!"

"Nothing more? Then why do I always forget things, think I'm still alive and manage to touch and move things?"

I shrugged. "I don't know! That's just another part of this big mystery!" I put a hand on my hip. "Wait, actually, I have a way to prove you cannot control a damn thing here."

He looked up at me suspiciously. "How?"

I looked over to the front door. "Open it. Let us out."

His face went blank. Then he looked over to the door. And then he just looked completely dazed.

"Ha, told you," I couldn't help grinning. "Now will you help me or not?"


Oh great, he was in an absolute slump and just couldn't see logic. Well, the sun hadn't quite set, so anywhere lit up was just so orange. At least I could see, although I was still wearing my headlight, so I could use it anytime. I might as well take the chance to look around, when it was dark I'd want someone to be with.

"Okay, I'll look around by myself. Can you at least promise me you'll stay here? Or just be somewhere I can find you?"


He was quiet for a really long time, so long I started wondering if he'd heard me.

"If I'm not here, just look for me in the kitchen," he said quietly.

I sighed. It was good enough.

I walked away and decided to see the last ground floor room on the right wing of the house. I couldn't leave a single stone unturned after all. I checked the walls carefully as I approached the corridor, making sure nothing suddenly changed or whatever. When I got to the corridor, I just walked along no problem. But the corridor wasn't as well lit as the rooms, so the darkness made me think of my dream and that clanging I heard. The memory made me shiver. Why did I think of it?

At the end of the corridor was a set of stairs. But standing shortly before them was a door. This one I hadn't yet been in, so I went inside. The room was huge. There was no furniture but I could picture bookshelves standing end-on-end. Yeah, if I owned this house I would totally make this room my library.

I couldn't smile at my little daydream for long. The way that shadows were just sprayed all over the place really had me on edge. I walked along the walls, checking the floor, hoping for any sign of anything. A present to Luke from somebody else maybe? Something else that Luke made and somehow got hidden? The murderer's diary. Who was I kidding? This wasn't a game of Resident Evil.

I found myself examining one part of the wall. I could see something drawn in blood, like the name 'Alicia' written on that bathroom wall. Except this blood was pretty red, almost fresh even. I could see they were doodles. One was a stick-doodle of a girl and the other a boy. They were holding hands, or rather the ends of their stick-arms were touching. It would have been a cute picture, if it wasn't drawn in blood and if the boy didn't have a massive 'X' going through him. That 'X' frightened me. It was like someone had wanted Ray dead.

A shadow moved in the corner of my eye. I quickly turned around to look for it but all I saw was a shadow retreating from the doorway, with the sound of hurrying footsteps. But those footsteps were way too fast for a normal human. The speed was like hearing a row of collapsing dominoes, except heavy, because it was definitely a sound made by weighted feet hitting floorboards.

Or maybe it was made by a rodent running along a porch. But that wasn't it. Standing alone in this room made me realise that I was truly the only living thing in this house. I never saw any maggots or worms or other creepy crawlies where the bodies were, I hadn't seen a lot of dust around the house and I never even saw the random spider that just appears in every house imagineable. That knowledge made the house even more intimidating.

I absently turned back to the wall I was looking at. Hey, where did the doodle go? It was blank. I didn't want to be here any more. I left the room and decided to go up the stairs.

Part way up the stairs, I realised I could hear something. I was going slowly anyway, but then I really slowed down. Like crept. The floorboards creaked slightly, I could also hear some faint shuffling. I gripped the iron rod tighter. I climbed the stairs slower. I tried to be as quiet as possible. When my head reached the landing, I looked around for whatever could be shuffling. It really was getting pretty dark. I climbed up an extra step, to try and see further down the corridor with my low, craned head.

I could make out a shape. It was moving towards me, but it took its time.  I climbed quietly to the top of the stairs, keeping half an eye on the thing. When I got to the top, I crept a little down the corridor. The thing was human shaped, but in the darkness I couldn't see exactly what it looked like. The thing was crawling, but it didn't use all its limbs, as if an arm was broken or something. It was getting closer to where it was better lit, closer to me in the process.

When it hit the lit area, a blood-stained pale hand attached to a part-bandaged arm reached out to pull it along. Then the head appeared. It was bloodied and bandaged, there was no way that eyes could look through, no way the thing could breathe, and it definitely did not move its mouth when it let out that howl. Just like on a sped-up VHS it crawled jerkily towards me, banging the floor as it did so. The speed jumped me. Just out of reflex I hit it with my rod.

It disappeared. The only thing my weapon hit was the floor. The corridor was completely empty. All I could hear was my breathing.
© Ruth Hüneke 2009