In yesterday’s post, I shared a story prompt. I had to list six things to take to a haunted castle and to start the story with Sometimes glamour… Here is the story that came from this.
The Haunted Castle
“Sometimes glamour has to take a back seat,” said Amber as she packed her overnight bag.
“Which is why you are packing your sexiest nighty? And what’s with the chocolate and wine,” I picked up the bottle and read the label. “Two Buck Chuck merlot?”
Amber grabbed the bottle and put it in her bag along with her EMF device, flashlight, and her night vision goggles which she recently purchased. “A ghost hunt and overnight in a haunted castle may not be the most glamorous and romantic way to spend our ‘anniversary’, but I am going to come prepared.”
“Yeah, nothing but the finest, right?”
She sneered at me. Amber, my best friend, had been going out with Jarrod for a year, since last April first’s paranormal conference in town. This was the first time Jarrod had asked her to join him in a ghost hunt, one of his past-times. It seemed a little weird to me that he would ask Amber to celebrate their anniversary along with three or four of his best buddies. Personally, I think Amber was reading way too much into their relationship and Jarrod-the-Jerk, as I liked to call him to myself, was enjoying the attention and just stringing Amber along.
“Thanks for driving me to the castle.” Amber zipped her overnight bag shut.
“So why can’t Jarrod pick you up?”
“Well, he’s got to be there early to set up the equipment. Since I really don’t know much about all that stuff, he suggested that I might come a little later.”
“You sure you don’t want to join us? I would love to have you there too.” She picked up her iPad and stuck in the unzipped top of her shoulder purse.
“No, thank you. First, you know I don’t believe in that paranormal stuff, and second, why in the world would I want to be a third wheel?… Make that a sixth wheel on your big date.”
“Well, I thought since Jarrod’s team will be there maybe I could introduce you to some of them and…. well….”
“No! Thank you, but no.” Jarrod’s geeky techie friends were not remotely attractive to me.
Amber sighed. “Suit yourself. We’d better get going. It’s starting to get dark.”
After tossing Amber’s bag in the back seat, we took off in my old Honda and drove through the side streets of our town until we were out in the country. The Castle, as it was called, was really the old summer mansion of the Midways, a prominent family in the area. Built of dark stone with a round keep and tall narrow windows, the house really looked like a castle. It had been built in 1885 by the founder of our town’s steel mill. The family sold it a number of years ago and it had been turned into a Bed-and-Breakfast. The current owners were trying to drum up more business for the B&B by finding a paranormal group to affirm that it was indeed haunted.
My Honda crunched along the gravel driveway towards the front of the main entrance to the mansion. “I never can get over the size of this place,” said Amber as she craned her head to look out the car window at the tall castle keep. “You know the story, don’t you.?”
“Who doesn’t? Mrs. Midway the Third gets tired of her drunken husband’s philandering and offs him along with his mistress with a kitchen cleaver.”
“And her ghost still lures women into the pantry where they…. well, just disappear.”
“THAT is just an urban myth. Kids have been embellishing that story for the last 50 years.”
I rounded the curve in the driveway and came to a stop in front of the main doors. The investigation team’s van was already there. The back was open but no one was around. Amber pulled down my sun visor and examined herself in the mirror.
“You look fine, gorgeous. ” Amber smiled at me. “So when do you want me to come back to get you?”
“Well, I’m hoping you won’t have to. My plan is for Jarrod to bring me home after a long and lovely breakfast.” She actually batted her eyelashes.
I tried not to roll my eyes. Amber leaned to pick up her shoulder purse while I pulled her overnight bag out of the back seat and handed it to her. “Have fun,” I called as she slammed the car door.
As I drove down the driveway and back out on the road, I began to think about Amber. She had deplorable taste in men and Jarrod-the-Jerk was only the next in a long string of losers. I know that by noon-time tomorrow I will be consoling her on a disappointing “anniversary” celebration. I had better stop by the CVS and get a few more boxes of Kleenex. I glanced down and noticed something shiny and black. It was Amber’s iPad.
Amber never went anywhere without her tablet. I knew it would be only a matter of time before she missed it, called me and then whine and moan until I agreed to bring it back up to her. I had better take it now before I got too much further away. I did a U-turn in the middle of the road and headed back up to the Castle.
When I pulled up, I saw that the van doors were shut. I got out of the car with the iPad and walked up to the huge oak front door. Just like a castle, it has a large iron ring knocker. I lifted the heavy ring and let it bang. I waited a minute and when I heard no sound of anyone approaching the door, I tried the latch and found it unlocked. I guess it was really too early for their lock-down. I entered a large foyer. It was dark with only one small lamp on a side table providing any light.
“Hello? Amber, are you here?”
I slowly walked into the next room, the formal dining room. The table was fully set as if the Midway family was going to be sitting down to dinner at any moment. Obviously, I concluded, it must be set up for the breakfast that the team would eat after their night at castle. It was, after all, a working B&B. “Amber, Jarrod?”
“Don’t look now, but there’s one man too many in this room, and I think it’s you.”
I jumped and banged my hip against the edge of the dining table making the china, silver and crystal jingle. I looked down to the iPad cradled in my the crook of my arm. The tinny voice had come from there. A video was playing on the tablet’s small screen. Across the top of the screen were the words Duck Soup. I must have accidentally hit the video button. I must have.
I stopped the film and did a quick flip of the video playlist. Amber had loaded a collection of Marx Brothers films on the device. The Marx Brothers films, she had said, were favorites of Jarrod. She brought THESE on a romantic date? I decided then that I would need to buy a whole case of Kleenex to deal with Amber’s impending train wreck.
“May I help you?”
Startled again, I spun around, this time not banging the table. A red-haired woman in a well-tailored skirt suit stood in the doorway on the other side of the dining room. She looked about fifty-ish but it was hard to tell from the thick makeup on her face. She was glaring at me.
“Oh, hi.” The woman just stared at me. “Um, I’m looking for the investigation team. Are Jarrod and Amber here?”
A faint smile appeared on the woman’s face. “Yes, they’re this way.” She stepped backwards through the doorway and motioned for me to follow.
I had to walk around the large table to get to the doorway. I stepped through and found myself in the kitchen. It was a modern affair with a shiny commercial stove and two large refrigerators. Then I stopped. The woman was gone. The hair on my neck and arms stood up. “Hello?” I said. “Where did you go?” I heard a noise coming from a doorway next to the refrigerators. I walked over and put my ear to the door. I heard some a scraping sound, like metal against metal. Taking a deep breath, I turned the knob and slowly opened the door. It was the pantry, and there was no one in it.
Then I remembered the story.
No. This is not possible. It’s just a legend. I did not see a ghost.
I stood in the pantry for a moment listening. It was silent. Totally and completely silent.
Suddenly, the door on the opposite side of the room banged open and in tramped Amber, Jarrod, and two other men.
“What are you doing here?” shrieked Amber. She pushed by Jarrod who was not looking pleased. “What’s the matter?” said Amber. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I, I think I did. I saw… her. Mrs. Midway. She was here and then she disappeared.”
“What?” said Jarrod, with a tinge of irritation in his voice. “Describe what you saw.”
I gave them a run down with a complete description of the woman. When I was finished Jarrod had an obnoxious smirk on his face. The other two investigators where shaking their heads. Amber looked mortified.
Jarrod replied, “You didn’t see a ghost. ”
“Then who was that?”
Jarrod stepped aside and in walked the red-haired woman through the rear door of the pantry. “This is Mrs. Moyers. The night manager of the B&B. She just came and got us.”
Mrs. Moyers stepped forward with an outstretched hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t properly introduce myself,” she said. She glanced at Jarrod. “We were told to be as quiet as possible.” I took her hand. It was warm. She was definitely flesh and blood and not a ghost.
“Oh, OH!” I bent over and started to laugh. I felt like such a fool. “I am so sorry. I, I thought….”
Amber came towards me with a smile and said “Let me help you out.” As she pushed me out of the pantry, she hissed “Am-scray! Jarrod is pissed because we were right in the middle of an EVP session.”
“Okay, okay. Sorry. Geez.” Amber turned and went back into the pantry.
My face was flushed. I was so embarrassed. I don’t believe in ghosts. Not now, not ever. As I was shaking my head at my own foolishness, I suddenly remembered the iPad. I had forgotten the reason I came back.
I was in the foyer. I turned and headed back through the dining room, through the kitchen and into the pantry. They can’t have gotten far. Jarrod’s already mad so I can’t make him madder. Besides, I didn’t give a flip what Jarrod thought anyway. I walked through the pantry and got to the door that they had come through on the opposite end. I grabbed the knob. It was locked.
Great. I started back to the door that led from the kitchen. Before I reached it, I saw it fly shut with a great deal of force. I ran to the door and took hold of the knob. It was locked too. I banged my hands on the door. “Amber? Jarrod? Let me out.”
I heard a noise behind me. It was the metal against metal sound. I pounded the door. “Amber, this is not funny. Let me out.”
Then the lights went out.
Postscript: I sat in the passenger’s seat as Amber drove us home. She was still giggling. “April Fool,” she snickered.
“I hate you,” I replied.
ljg (c) 2012