A Reverse Angle – Part Three

Victor helped me remove the drapes.

Neither of us spoke of our night time adventures. Yet, they clearly haunted our thoughts.

Oh, but it was such a relief to pull those horrid drapes down. There is so much light in the house now.

I can almost feel the house breathe.

***

Victor’s fears and fearful thoughts dissipated with each drape that came down. The knowledge that he didn’t need to be dainty about it made him enjoy the project so much more.

Pull!

Pull!

Tug!

Snap!

Tear!

And another one down.

“Are we going to put up any new drapes?”

“Not for some time. I want to enjoy all of this delicious, delirious light.”

He laughed.

But his mother was right.

The daylight was delicious and exhilarating. He wanted to roll around in it as a dog rolls in snow.

***

“There! I think we ought to take a break.”

Victor followed me into the kitchen.

I set the tea kettle on the stove as he washed his hands.

“After our break, we’ll tackle the upstairs rooms.”

Victor shut the water off. “Mother.”

I busied myself making us cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches.

“Mother.”

“Yes?”

“About what I saw last night.”

Again, I felt that cold arm wrap around my waist. But I kept myself calm. My voice remained steady. “Yes?”

“It wasn’t a dream. How could it be when I still heard them after I woke up?”

I put extra cream cheese on my sandwich. “I don’t know what to say. I can’t explain it. I wish I could.” I plated our sandwiches and carried them to the table.

“Mother. Are they ghosts?”

I picked up my sandwich and took a bite.

He didn’t touch his food. He sat there, waiting for my response.

I swallowed. “I don’t know.”

“Have you…Have you seen anything?”

“No. But I’ve thought I…I imagined I heard some distant voice. It was too distant to understand what they were even saying. And last night.”

I hesitated.

Did I really want to tell him my side? Surely, it would accomplish nothing more than increase his fears.

“What happened?”

I surely couldn’t leave it at that.

I told him.

Yet, with the light shining through the windows, my tale of terror didn’t seem so frightening.

Victor picked up his sandwich and took a bite. “So, what do we do?”

I contemplated my sandwich. “We will finish taking down the drapes. Then, I will call an old friend of mine who may be able to answer our questions.”

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A Reverse Angle – Part Two

I am unsure as to what Victor had seen in the attic.

I am certain he saw something.

I do not know what.

Neither does he.

I will keep that attic door locked.

***

Victor stuck close to his mother for the rest of the day.

But it couldn’t stay day forever.

Night came.

He put on his bravest face and kissed her good night.

He tried his best to not look like someone ordered to walk the plank.

He honestly tried his best.

“I’m just across the hall if you need me.” she said.

“I know. Good night, then.”

“Good night.”

***

The master bedroom has a strange feel to it.

A sort of heaviness that presses down on one’s head.

I suppose I could share the room with Victor, but no.

No.

I will not cave in to such weak-minded fears.

I am not afraid.

This house will not make me afraid.

***

It was a strange feeling of familiar and unfamiliar to sleep under his own blanket on someone else’s bed.

Victor shivered.

What if someone died in here?

What if someone died on this very bed?

No.

I cannot think of such things.

Mother says there are no ghosts and she is right.

I can’t explain what I saw in the attic.

Maybe it was a wayward raccoon.

It would have to be a fairly large raccoon to look like…

He shivered again and rolled over onto his side.

I shan’t think of it.

I shall sleep and sleep well.

This is my new home and this is my new bed.

No one else’s.

***

There is someone in the bed with me!

I opened my eyes and lay as still as possible.

No.

It was only a dream and nothing more.

Perhaps I am missing my husband.

Surely that is it.

I lit the nearby candle and carefully checked the bed.

Nothing.

No one.

There.

Only a dream and nothing more.

I set the lit candle on the night stand and considered blowing it out.

But then I thought of the arm that had touched my waist.

The candle stayed lit all night.

***

“There’s someone here.”

“Shh.”

“You shh. Look. He’s there.”

“I don’t see anyone.”

“That’s because I’m older than you. I can see more. And I. can. see. him.”

“You’re trying to scare me. I will tell mum. Mum will go mad again.”

Victor opened his eyes.

The voices fell silent.

Only a…only a dream?

Victor’s feet were cold. He drew them upwards.

“See? There! There he is!”

He let out a sound that was neither a gasp nor a scream, sprang out of his bed, and bolted towards the door. He grabbed the doorknob and tried to turn it.

“He’s there at the door! Look! Look!”

The doorknob resisted his efforts.

Victor heard the sound of muffled breathing growing faster and faster. He couldn’t say if it was his or not.

The breathing stopped.

The doorknob turned.

Victor fled the room.

***

Victor burst into my room with wild ghost tales.

I calmed him down as best as I could, but it wasn’t easy. Whatever he had witnessed had left him badly shaken.

I let him stay in my room.

It made him feel better.

It made me feel better too.

***

I am tired of these heavy drapes covering every window, blocking every breath of daylight.

They are coming down today.

All of them.

 

 

A Reverse Angle – Part One

The house was gorgeous.

Period detail.

So many heavy drapes. Of course, those had to go. Period detailing or not. Horrible things were terribly musty. But I would take care of that after we’d all moved in.

Victor bit his thumbnail. “Looks haunted.”

“Of course it does. Most grand, old houses always do.”

“Mother. What if it is haunted? We won’t have to stay, will we?”

“My dear boy. There are no such things as ghosts or hauntings.”

****

Victor explored the house on his own while his mother bossed about the movers. She was terribly good at bossing.

And he discovered a strange thing.

No matter where he went in the house, no matter what room, the door always slammed shut behind him.

Most doors will drift closed given time and patience.

Yet, these doors slammed shut with a powerful force.

He tried to make sense of it.

It’s an old house. he thought. Old houses have drafts and…such. Yet, I don’t feel any drafts.

Ghosts, then?

But Mother says there are no ghosts. And she knows.

Still.

I wish the doors wouldn’t slam so.

It worries me.

***

It is a beautiful house, but it has so many dark corners.

I keep…hearing strange things just out of my range of hearing. I can’t tell if it’s a woman’s voice, a girl’s voice, or a boy’s voice.

Yet, there is only Victor and I here. No other woman or child.

I fear it is the vast loneliness of this place trying to get to me.

It will not get to me.

I love this house.

I intend to stay here.

***

Victor walked all the way up to the attic. He opened the door and shuddered.

Covered things stood like an assembly of ghosts all around the room. They could have been anything.

Or anyone.

Then, in the far left corner, one of the covered things moved. It was low on the ground, like a child sitting on the floor. It raised its head and turned to look at him.

Victor ran out of the attic and headed for the stairs.

The door slammed shut behind him.

***

I will add electric lights to this place. It will be expensive, no doubt, but it must be done.

I will not spend my days here, quaking at shadows and darkness.

“Oh, Victor. There you are. I was worried. I—”

“Mother! Mother! I saw a ghost. A ghost!”

I hesitated.

I thought about the strange…sounds I had heard. “Perhaps you are mistaken. Perhaps it was some sort of animal.”

“It’s in the attic. Come see. Come see!”

I couldn’t very well refuse.

After all, I can’t have my son believing in such falderal as ghosts and spooks. “Lead on.”

***

Victor led her upstairs into the attic. He watched her reaction as the doors slammed shut behind them.

Yet, it didn’t seem to bother her all that much.

He wondered if he were just being overly jumpy.

Yet, her reaction to the ghost in the attic…That is what he needed to see the most.

He tried to turn the attic doorknob.

It was locked.

He frowned. “I came in here. I did.”

“I’m sure you did, Victor. It’s an old house. The realtor said that the doors tend to somehow lock themselves. Loose locks or something of that sort. Nothing to fear.” She pulled out the enormous key ring the realtor had given her. Each key was marked with an initial or some sort of id.

There were so many keys to go through.

“Why are there so many doors?” asked Victor.

She shook her head as she flipped through the keys. “To keep the house warmer, I suppose.”

“Seems to keep it darker.”

She stopped and looked up at him.

He shrugged. “Personal observation.”

She smiled and resumed her search for the attic key.

“Who owned this place before us?”

“Oh, it hasn’t been owned in years. Last family lived here during one of the World Wars. I can’t recall which one.”

“Oh.”

“Here it is.” She put the key into the lock and unlocked the door.

They entered the attic.

She gasped at the sight of the covered objects. “Oh. What treasures are hiding under these yellowing sheets?” She pulled them off in bold, unfrightened gestures.

Victor stuck close to his mother as she unveiled chairs and credenzas and such furniture stuff. He tried to pay attention to her, but he could feel his gaze wanting to move to that far left corner. “Mother.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. Yes. Your ghost. Where is she?”

He gulped. Here it is. My moment of truth. “In the far left corner. Do you see it?”

There was a long moment of silence as she looked over there.

Victor had no courage. He stared at the empty bookshelf she had uncovered.

“No. Victor darling, there’s nothing there.”

He looked.

That corner was the only empty spot in the whole attic.

 

9/11/01

Impact.

Cement cracks.
Fumes.
Metal melts
Fear.
People run.
Fall.
People jump.
Fall.
Land.

Broken.

Buildings crumble.
Destroyed.
Lives lost.
Obliterated.
White ash
Everywhere.
Papers fly
Homeless.

Courage

First responders.
Come.
Firemen.
Come.
Search and rescue dogs
Come.
To do what they can.
Come.
To find who they can.
Come.
To save who they can.

In New York
On
9
11
2001.

Sophie’s Shadow

Some days I’m free.

Free to be myself.

Free to do what I want.

And I am happy.

Then, she comes.

Then, Sophie comes. And I am not happy. I am not me. I am not free. She holds me prisoner with the brilliance of her eyes and the flirtatious lilt to her laugh. She makes me feel dirty and cheap and out of shape and out of sorts.

But I adore her.

I adore Sophie with her brilliant green eyes and her laugh that seems to come from the sun. I walk in her shadow, hoping for a touch of her light. She sees me and she lets me follow her. And that is all that I want.

Until she leaves.

And she is gone.

Sophie is gone with her light and her glory.

I am no longer confined to her shadow.

I am bright.

I am brilliant.

I am beautiful.

I am happy.

Then, she returns.

Then, Sophie returns. And I am again her shadow. Her ugly, malformed shadow. I long for her to look back at me and see me and acknowledge me. When she does, it’s like God smiles at me. I live for those moments, but they are always too short. And she never stays

Sophie.

Sophie always leaves.

And she sets me free.

She sets her prisoner free.

Free to just be me.

Me without her.

Until she returns.

Raven’s Alternate Reality

Author’s Note:  Yet another alternate reality moment for my Ambrose and Elsie characters. This time, it’s Raven’s turn. 

James Arden returned to the house in a state of badly rattled nerves and messed up emotions.

When will Miss Farlington understand? We cannot be together. It can never be. We can never be.

I wish we could be.

He set the lemonade carafe on a side table in the hall.

How can I go back out there? How can I face her again?

I need to calm down.

I am a butler.

I must be calm.

He entered the parlor to pull himself together.

The parlor wasn’t empty.

A woman sat on one of the stiff-backed chairs.

“Excuse me.”

She rose from her seat to reveal her close-fitting yellow dress.

He bowed. “I was unaware that anyone was in here. I will leave you be.”

She had marigold hair and black licorice colored eyes. “Well. Aren’t you an interesting fellow?” Her voice made him think of fresh cream on a summer day.

She strolled over to him in a way that made James think of a cat. A very dangerous cat.

An irrational fear gripped him. He turned to leave with at least a minimum of decorum.

She grabbed his shoulders and held tight. “Do you have any idea how good you smell?”

“Madam, I need to—“

“You need to just shut up. I don’t care for prey that talks and talks.”

His face turned pale as he understood what he was dealing with. “Vampire.”

“mm. Yes. Vampire.”

“I am deeply sorry, Miss, but I am not interested in becoming a creature such as yourself.”

“Too bad.” She dug her claws into his collar.

He elbowed her hard in the ribcage.

She gasped and staggered back.

He pulled a stake out of his sleeve. With a couple of expert touches, the stake transformed into a full scale javelin.

She opened her mouth to speak.

She was too late.

He thrust the javelin into her heart.

She fell dead.

He dusted off his gloves. “I never thought I’d have a need to make use of that particular skill set.”

James Arden sat down in the seat she had vacated. He thought about his near death experience. He thought about his life as a whole.

He thought about a great many things.

He stood.

Life is so short.

He walked over to the dead vampire and reclaimed his javelin.

For some, it is shorter than average.

He shrank it back into a stake and slid it up into his sleeve.

I may not know how long I have to live.

He let the house and returned to the party.

But I know what I want my life to be.

He found her in the crowd.

May Rose Farlington.

He smiled.

I know.

He strode over to her.

She glanced at him. “What do you want? Sir?”

“I have come to apologize, Miss Farlington.”

“Oh.”

He crowded into her space and she did not back away.

He kissed her.

He ended the kiss before she could properly react. “From now on, I will call you May Rose.”

Joy brightened her face.

He kissed her again. A long and tender kiss.

Her fingers slid up the sides of his head, ruffling up his hair.

James Arden broke away and opened his eyes. He looked at May Rose Farlington with all of the love he had kept so carefully concealed. “My own May Rose.”

Oops! I Think I Forgot Something Important.

All right! Today’s the day I escape and stay escaped.

Okay, let’s see. I have fifteen white shoelaces, a bunch of wires I found inside a tv set, forty-nine shiny candy wrappers, sixty-five pieces of sugarfree gum, one dozen chicken eggs, a bowl of sparkling rice candy, and a tofu proton pack.

Yes.

I am going to create a transporter from scratch and escape this Area 51.

***

Well. I created the transporter without any problems, but I may have forgotten a small detail.

Unfortunately, I can’t recall what.

The device transported itself to points unknown.

And I’m still here.

*sigh*

Back to the drawing board.

I will get out of here yet.