The floorboards creaked again in the room upstairs. Jace jumped a little as he sat and I smirked at him for being so easily scared. We were sitting in a small kitchen in pitch darkness. A tapping sound originated from where I know the sink is. Both of us were crouched on the floor with our equipment surrounding us. The monitor showed no changes and all the camera feeds showed nothing but empty rooms, completely lifeless. I sighed as I contemplated another night of absolute boredom.
I started the Ghost Seekers three years ago. I grew up in a small town in South Africa and were always fond of ghost stories. But the country is surprisingly empty of any interesting haunted houses or sites, judging by the century of oppression and racial conflict raging through it. I finished school and got a degree in archaeology. Afterwards I moved to the US as soon as I could. There I worked at a university for a few years and managed to make enough money to start my own ghost hunting business. I called it ghost hunting, but as I was crouching on a cold floor just shy of 2AM in pitch blackness, I had to admit it was more like a security service. Me and my nineteen year old assistant Jace, were spending countless nights staring at camera feeds in empty houses without so much as a breath of anything remotely supernatural. At this point you might ask: “Why do I bother continuing then?” Well, because some two and a half years ago I saw a ghost…
It was one of my earlier call outs, before I hired Jace. Some real estate agent wanted to sell a small house, I say small, but it might as well have been a shack, a single room, small kitchen and what was supposed to be a bathroom, though the toilet looked more like a bottomless bucket. The agent had heard that the house was haunted and because she did not want to have more of a hard time selling it, what with the state it was in, she found my website and asked that I come and certify the house’s non-haunted status. Since I had so little work to do, ghost hunting is not a flourishing profession, I agreed when she phoned me, and the next day was off to have a look at this house.
From the outside it looked like any other abandoned lot. The garden was overgrown, weeds have been taking over for a number of years. I opened the rusty gate, and walked up the pathway toward the front door. The wooden steps were rotten and creaked threateningly when I trudged up them. I knocked on the door out of habit, before I remembered the house was abandoned for nearly thirty years. But before I could unlock the door with the key the estate agent gave me, I heard a voice call out: “It’s open!”
I stood dumfounded for a few seconds and then decided someone must have made themselves at home here without anyone knowing. I shrugged and walked into the house. The front door opened directly into the single bedroom and apart from a single bed, some furniture and a few paintings on the walls, it was empty. “Would you like some tea?” I turned to where the voice was coming from, but it was coming out of a small room to the left of the bedroom. I assumed it was the kitchen, because I saw the bathroom straight ahead, with a towel hanging carelessly from a somewhat rusted metal bath. The kitchen itself was hidden from my view as there was a closet standing next to the doorway. I walked towards the kitchen.
The voice belonged to a women in her late thirties. Her back were turned toward me and I could not see her face. “Tea, dear?” she asked again without turning around. She appeared to be washing dishes and I did not want to interrupt her.
“No, thank you. I apologise for barging in here, but I was told this house is empty?” As I said that, it dawned on me that the woman invited me in and offered me tea without so much as looking at me. I assumed she must have seen me enter the yard and for some reason accepted that I was trustworthy.
“Yes it is empty” she answered in a sad voice: “It belonged to my late husband. I will be moving on as soon as I am done here.”
I listed to her reply and regretted the idea to leave my jacket in my car. Even though it was in the middle of summer, this house, and especially the kitchen was icy cold. I could see my own breath as I exhaled and at this point I started to remember the reason I came to the house in the first place. Something supernatural was definitely going on here. I started to back away from the woman a little, and then after clearing my throat asked: “Is everything ok?”
Then she turned around. I can honestly say that I nearly shat myself right there. The woman did not have a face. She wasn’t faceless like some stuff you see in horror movies, but it looked like someone took a sander and reworked her face completely flat. Some facial bones with sticking out and there were only empty sockets where her eyes used to be. She had no nose, no lips, no skin whatsoever. Most of her teeth were missing and all you could see were the face muscles and what was left of her tongue. The front half of her skull was missing and the hair that use to grow there. Here clothes were ripped and I could see much of her torso, which was badly wounded as well. Both her arms and legs were also scraped and bloodied. The bones in her hands were visible and most of her toes were missing. I threw up on the floor and then I did what any rational person would do, I ran out of that shack at top speed, jumped into my car and sped off like my life depended on it, which in retrospect, might have been the correct choice.
As soon as I had time to calm down I phoned the police and told them what I saw. The officer on duty at dispatch seemed highly sceptical, I couldn’t blame him, but they sent a patrol car anyway. I followed them to the house and watched them enter and clear the place. My faith in the supernatural is unquestionable and based on some of the more credible stories I have heard about ghosts and demons, I guessed the police would find nothing out of place at the scene. I was right. After answering several questions and trying to sound as sane as possible, the officers, after going on about having to deal with prank calls too often, left me be. After dwelling on the idea for a few minutes I decided to enter the house again. This time the house was completely empty. No furniture, no paintings or closets. Nothing. All that was there, was the pool of vomit that I gagged on the floor earlier. At this point most people would freak out or simply assume they were hallucinating, but not me. I was elated. I have just seen a ghost!
In order to confirm my suspicions I decided to investigate the history of the house and after finally getting some information from the local library and some old newspapers, I was able to discover that about thirty two years ago, a man named Robert Blemming lived there with his wife. At some point he appeared to have become fed up with her and decided to tie a chain around her neck and drag her behind his car on a roughly seven mile patch of dirt road. He was sent to serve a life sentence in prison, and I found out that he actually died in the prison from natural causes a few days prior to my visit to his house.
After that incident I hired Jace and I have had him accompany me on all my cases from then on. Having a witness is paramount in this line of work. But I have not seen anything supernatural since.
At around 5:30AM I finally decided that there is no ghost in this house. “Jace, let’s pack it up. There is nothing here. Just the wind, leaking water pipes and old floorboards.”
“Yes, sir.” Jace didn’t wait around. He jump to work and in about 25 minutes he had all the cameras disconnected and the equipment packed. I smiled: “I wish you exerted as much enthusiasm unpacking as you do with cleaning up Jace.”
He only laughed and without a word climbed into the car, waiting for me to go drop him off at the hotel. I would only be able to go sleep a bit later as I had to wait for the owner of the house to come back so that I can inform him that his house is clean.
I looked around the empty front yard, and then towards the neighbours. On the left side there was an empty lot, on the right side there was a huge house. Three stories and with what seemed like more than thirty rooms. I decided that it might be worthwhile to go ask the people there if they have seen anything creepy in the house next door.
Looking at my watch I decided to go drink some coffee at a nearby diner while I wait. I ordered a double-espresso and read some articles in a newspaper I found on the table I decided to sit at. After about two hours I went back to the house and a few minutes later the owner arrived. We spoke for another few minutes in which I basically assured him that his house is not haunted and that all he had to do was hire a plumber and a handyman and all the spooky effects that was bothering him would disappear. He seems unpleased with my report, and I knew I was going to have to fight the guy over the bill. But I was too tired to bother about that at the moment and after greeting him, I climb into my car and sat there thinking for a few minutes. Even though I was sure that the house was not haunted it didn’t hurt to be thorough. I decided to go talk to the neighbours anyway. I should have asked Jace to come with me but I wasn’t searching for ghosts right now, and he needed some sleep.
As I drove through the open gates of the yard next door I noticed that everything looks perfect. The grass were immaculate, the hedges were trimmed in all sort of amazing patterns, even the trees shone like they were polished. I couldn’t remember everything looking this great this morning when I was looking at this house from the yard next door, but I assumed I just didn’t notice at that time. I parked the car on the driveway some distance from the front door and then climbed out. Looking up I could see several windows facing my direction. At one of them, on the third floor, I noticed a woman looking at me through the window. When she noticed I was looking at her, she frantically started waving her hands at me. I smiled and waved back, and then she disappeared.
“Well it doesn’t seem to be an unfriendly family that lives here.” I walked toward the front door. The outside walls were built with some kind of yellow stone, but covered in green moss. It did not look dirty or out of place though, it looked like it was perfect. The roof was covered in red tiles and smoke were coming out of the chimney. I walked up the stone steps and knocked on the door.
After a few seconds the door opened. A small, old man opened the door. He was wearing a flat cap and thick rimmed glasses. He had a dark green overcoat on, a grey jersey underneath and what seemed like a white shirt and a blue tie under all that. His shoes were shining black and he had no jewellery on his hands or face. But I noticed this in a second, because the moment I looked into his eyes everything else were forgotten. He had almost emerald green eyes. His eyes shown with warmth and love, and I felt safer at this moment than I had ever felt before. He was smiling brightly waiting for me to speak.
‘H… Hi, my name is Ron Thomas, I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your neighbours?” I stuttered. I was caught completely off guard. I did not expect this incredibly friendly, smiling old man.
“My neighbours?” he asked, without so much as a hint of uncertainty. “I do not know much about them, to be honest. Never seemed to have the time to go greet them.”
I thought about that for a few seconds, and then said: “Well, have you noticed anything strange happening over there? Anything paranormal? You see, I am a ghost hunter, and I help people by checking if their houses are haunted by ghosts or demons, or anything supernatural really. And the owner there was complaining that he heard weird noises and that something felt wrong there, especially at night.”
“That is most interesting! I cannot say that I have seen anything strange going on there though. But I guess it is possible that one of the bastards living here might have gone and made a mess over there!” He said this without blinking, and I noticed that at the word, bastards, his eyes became cold for a split second, before it smiled again.
“Ah… sorry. What do you mean? The b… bastards over here?” I used the same term he used with some slight hesitation but as his smile only broadened I guessed he didn’t mind.
“A whole bunch of ‘em, demons that live here. About eighteen I would say. They keep flocking here like a bunch of birds.”
I stared at him to see if he was joking, but apart from his smiling face, I could see that he was quite serious. There were actually demons in this house, or, at the very least this old man appeared to believe there were. Before I could stop myself I asked: “Do you mind if I meet them?”
“Sure, but one of them might kill you. Remember that.” As he said that, he turned around and walked into the house. I, seriously regretting my request, followed him slowly over the threshold.
The inside of the house looked pretty much like you would expect it would look. There were several doorways leading to other rooms or hallways. Two sets of stairs started at the centre of the room and spiralled upward to the second floor. The floor, walls, stairs and ceiling looked like it was carved out of solid rock. The furniture, which was abundant, appeared to be mahogany. Paintings and other artefacts, like crossed swords were everywhere on the walls. Light sources came from what seemed like hundreds of braziers on the walls and every room appeared to have one or more chandeliers.
I followed the old man through several rooms and hallways. After we walked for a minute or two he suddenly turned around and looked at me, still smiling. “I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Edgard Brandenburg.” I smiled in response, and he continued walking.
At this point I was completely lost. There was no way I would have been able to get back to the entrance if I wanted to. But I couldn’t really be bothered, the old man seemed to emit an aura of safety. After what seemed to be almost 10 minutes of walking up and down stairs, I noticed that we were being followed.
A small girl, about eight or nine years old, with blonde hair, dressed in a Victorian era dress were walking behind us. She seemed to alternate between skipping and jumping on one leg as she followed us, but she always remained at exactly the same distance from us. I turned my head to look at her more closely and smiled when she lifted her head to look at me. My smile vanished instantly when I saw her eyes though. There were hardly any colour in them at all. It was white, not completely white, but faded, like the eyes of a corpse. I nearly collapsed and filled with fear. I increased my pace to make sure that I was close to Edgard. He was unfazed by this zombie-girl following us it seems. When I turned to ask him about her, he said, without turning around or stopping: “That is Mary. Annoying little creature. She will kill you without a second thought. You should stick close to me.”
My heart felt cold as he said this and I inched closer to him as much as I can. Mary moved closer as well, and I can see that she is carrying a doll in her arms. I shuddered when I noticed that the doll’s head is missing. She made no sound and I couldn’t hear her footsteps, but the distance between us never changed. I looked at Edgard again and wondered how he could be so relaxed. If he had any fear of this undead little girl, he sure didn’t show it.
He must have noticed that I was staring at him, because he said: “She is a spirit, or ghost if you’d prefer that description. She was tormented quite badly when she was alive and never quite moved on to the afterlife. Now she exacts vengeance, by killing people it seems. Most of the spirits or demons in this house seems to follow that trend. But you shouldn’t show your fear. It will only make her act more rashly. And besides, she is only the fifth strongest being living in this house…”
To be continued…