Okay, so I couldn't wait to do this and am going to do it now. The only problem is I'm on lunch break and don't have that much time, so I will do personal thanks when I get the chance tonight.
Thank you so much to everyone who has read, reviewed, and encouraged.
Thank you so very much to Jules...she is the greatest cohort and sweetest critic I could ever hope for. She has this amazing talent for filling in my holes and rearranging the words to say what I had actually wanted them to say but couldn't make them work...*inhales* She also did a fast turn around for this update today, so Jules, you get two
gold stars! Also, because I can't stop fiddling (dagnabit) any mistakes left over are my own.
Sam sat patiently in the bright gray room, the fingers on one hand tapping the edge of the table and the other drumming a rhythmic beat with a pen.
A large door opened behind him, bringing a splash of color to the otherwise dull room. Mandy was escorted in by two guards, cuffed at the wrists and ankles, her bright orange jumpsuit swishing as she walked.
“As always, a pleasure guys,” she said, nodding to the guards after she was seated across from Sam. Her wrists were left handcuff free this time, but her situation wasn’t improving much beyond that.
“Behave,” one of them replied with a grunt, and then turned to Sam. “She’s been getting restless. Holler if you need help.”
Sam turned with a disappointed frown, slightly taken back with her change in attitude. “Fighting isn’t going to help-”
“Cut the bullshit, Sam. I know you’re not my lawyer’s aid.”
Sam stuttered for a moment, but before he could recover she waved him off.
“I talked to my lawyer. He can’t even afford the extra help. He warned me not to talk to you and to let him know the next time you came around, he thinks you’re some sort of nut job with a taste for drama.”
“Look, Mandy, I can explain-”
“What I want to know is,” she interrupted again, “are you just some psycho who gets off on this? Do you enjoy visiting prisoners, pretending you can help, and then offering no help whatsoever? Cuz I gotta tell you man, there’s a lot better ways to get your jollies out there.”
Sam sighed, and stopped for a moment, re-collecting his thoughts. “You’re right, I’m not your lawyer’s aid,” he approached carefully.
“Then who are you?” Mandy leaned back, crossing her arms over her chest and frowing with a defensive scowl.
“I’m a type of private investigator. My brother and I, we travel around, uh, hunting.”
“Hunting? Like deer?”
Sam shook his head as his lips curled in a small smile. “No, not exactly.”
“I don’t get it.” Another sigh came from the imprisoned girl, this time tinged with exasperation.
“Look, you said you saw a little girl in the house, right?”
Mandy nodded, wringing her hands in front of her.
“My brother and I think that’s the spirit of Ann Marie Emerson, a little girl who killed herself in that house in the sixties.”
“A spirit? As in, like, a ghost?” Then, she did something that surprised them both. She nodded. “I figured.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, I’ve always had a very open mind about that type of stuff.” She remembered ribbing Jesse, calling him out on his belief that the house had been haunted. Maybe, if she had managed to convince him she had been scared out of her ever-loving mind, and that she had actually believed in that stuff, they would have just left that place alone. Maybe… Shaking her head, she banished her self-destructive thoughts. “And seeing that little girl proved it. How did she kill herself? Was it a violent death involving her head?”
“Uh, jumped from the third floor. Split her head open, why?”
“Because I watched her head fall apart. It was really gross.”
“Now I have a question for you.”
“Why did you agree to meet with me again if you knew I wasn’t an aid?”
“Well, my lawyer is a crotchety old grouch. He doesn’t listen to a thing I say, and is trying really hard to get me the easiest sentence. He’s not even going to attempt to free me, just trying to lessen the blow, thinks I’m guilty. You? I didn’t know who you were, but you really seem like you want to help.”
“And we’re going to do what we can.”
“So if you find out who the ghost is, then what?”
“Well, we’ll put her to rest and the haunting should be over.”
“Will that help me out any?”
Sam frowned, and then shook his head. “I’m sorry, Mandy, but I don’t know how this would help your case. The best we can figure is one of the ghosts possessed you, and used you to kill your boyfriend.”
Mandy’s eyes filled with tears and her fists clenched, bleaching her knuckles. “So you’re saying, just because some freakin’ ghost has issues, I have to rot here? Or worse?”
“I’m sorry. We’ll do everything we can, but I want to prepare you now. You still need to have hope, just don’t depend on it too much.”
She nodded, and wiped her eyes. “Well at least you’re being honest with me. So, Sam, what are you doing here?”
“Well, I need to know how much you remember, exactly.” He slowly removed a tape recorder from his jacket pocket, and laid it on the center of the table between them. “Start from the beginning.”
“Can we skip over some parts that I’ve already told you?”
Sam nodded in understanding. “Sure.”
“Okay, so we opened the door and the first thing we saw was that stupid chandelier…”
.:.SN.:.“I don’t think it was a little girl. I’ve been having dreams of that night ever since, and every time I remember just a little bit more. I remember feeling insanely scared after watching that little girl’s scalp fall apart. I ran for outside, hit the bottom step, and blacked out. The rest you know about of course. The only thing that’s different is I sense strong feelings of anger, hate, jealousy, and guilt between the blackout and coming to. Like a bad case of PMS. The little girl, she seemed sad when we ran into her. I think it was a very adult, female ghost who possessed me, if you know what I mean.”
“No, why do you say that?”
“I also felt horny as hell.”
Dean smiled as he tried to picture Sam’s face when the girl had revealed that gem, and fast-forwarded a bit through the tape. “I know this is tough Mandy, but do you remember anything else about the murder?”
Dean heard a slight pause, a hiccup, and a sniffle. “I…she…well, we were screaming.”
“Do you remember what?”
“You can’t get away with this, and, um,
you won’t kill me again.”
Deciding he didn’t hear anything he hadn’t already heard in the past five replays, Dean clicked the tape recorder off and dropped it onto the table. So they had another player in the mix, a ghost that wasn’t the dad and wasn’t the little girl. Things were starting to feel a little crowded, and the hunter wondered how much digging they were going to have to actually do.
“Find anything on the nanny?” Sam asked as he came out of the bathroom. A towel was draped around his shoulders, and a toothbrush protruded from his mouth.
“No. She was an illegal immigrant, and was paid under the table. No one had a real address for her, just the first name of Moña.”
“Which we already knew,” Sam sighed, feeling the drain of yet another long drawn-out case. He pulled the brush from his mouth and twirled it between his fingers in a distracted gesture. “So there’s no way to track her down. Do you think Rose would know any more?”
“She might. We never did ask her about the nanny, and she might not have thought to tell us.”
“Well, Rose certainly took a liking to you. You call her.”
“Ah, you’re just jealous,” Dean teased as he flipped open his phone.
.:.SN.:.“Ah yes, I know all about Moña,”
Rose answered, her voice sounding superior even over the phone. Dean could picture her surrounded by her lace doilies and her delicate tea sets, sitting ramrod straight on an over-stuffed flower-covered couch.
“Did you know her personally?” Dean asked, smiling as she huffed.”Lord child, everyone knew everyone personally back then. It’s a wonder anyone even knows how to talk any more with all the gadgetry they have now.”
“What can you tell me about her relationship with the family? Especially the parents?”“Screw her ‘relations’, that girl created straight up drama for that poor family. She was great taking care of them kids, was even my babysitter here and there, but she caused horrible problems between the mister and the missus. Some say she was the beginnin’ of the end.”
Dean cocked an eyebrow, earning a curious glance from Sam. “What do you mean by that?”“It’s a good thing you’re cute, ‘cause you sure need a lot spelled out for you.”
Dean rolled his eyes and dropped his head as he continued to listen.“It was purely rumored, and as you know the rumors fly in such a small town, but it was rumored that the mister and the señorita were having a little love affair and the missus found out. That’s about the same time the missus ends up going insane, and the mister has her committed. A little while after both the poor wife and daughter are dead, the nanny is found dead herself. They called it a ‘suspicious suicide’, but everyone knows that poor girl was murdered.”
“And the cops never went any farther than their suicide ruling?”“Naw, ‘course not. The family was well off, one of the ‘royals’ of this town. I’m sure Mr. Emerson paid off the right people, had who he needed in his greedy little pocket. I don’t care how flexible you are, you can’t shoot yourself between the shoulder blades, then tie up the gun in a plastic baggie and throw it in a river five miles away.”
“So the question is, is it the nanny hell bent on revenge for her murder or the mother pissed over being committed?” Sam pondered, going over the notes for the various sessions held with Mrs. Emerson. “What Mandy said could be true for either of them.”
“So we just find where both of them are buried, then we salt and burn them. Problems over, case solved.”
“Hopefully it’ll be that easy.”
“What do you mean?” Dean asked, absently twirling the silver band on his finger as he half-heartedly watched a muted news report on TV. Something about a squirrel being caught in someone's stove pipe.
“I don’t know. I just…I’ve been reading over the notes from Mrs. Emerson’s therapy sessions. She keeps talking about this doll…what if we’re focusing on the drama of the family too much when we should be looking for this doll?”
“Why would we look for a doll?” Dean argued, perplexed. Who cared about the ramblings of a crazy woman and her doll?
“Why wouldn’t we? It could be some sort of soul sucking medium – it would explain the mom’s delirium.”
“Or it could just be the ramblings of a depressed and psychotically broken woman,” Dean tried. Sam’s eyes narrowed and his mouth twitched into a frown.
“You’re gonna make us figure this out, aren’t you?” Dean groaned.
“We have to. If there really is a doll out there, we need to find it and destroy it.”
“I was afraid you’d say that.”
“We’re going to figure this out,” Rachel said softly, her long fingers curling around Jace’s bicep as she walked beside him.
“I just can’t wrap my mind around it.” The couple walked in silence for a bit, stumbling as they picked their way through the mist. “She didn’t do it. Mandy doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.”
Rachel caught herself as she stumbled again, cursing the hidden roots on the forest floor. “Of course not,” she bit back. She actually couldn’t have cared less. That was all Jace could ever talk about, his darling loveable do-no-wrong sister. She herself had been in love with the boy since she could remember, but all he had cared about was taking care of his needy snot-nosed little sister.
In some horrible way, maybe one day insuring her ticket to hell for having this thought, but she was relieved the girl was in prison. It was a terrible tragedy that her boyfriend was dead, but now that Mandy was out of the way, Rachel could concentrate on comforting a grieving brother. A very hot, grieving brother.
“Are you sure we should have come out here when it was this dark?” she complained, hugging Jace even tighter.
“Well, we could have come out with daylight to spare if someone hadn’t taken three hours to get ready,” he lightly scolded. They continued through the forest, Jace setting a determined stride and dragging a pouting Rachel behind. She stumbled again, cursing the thick mist that wrapped around their feet. How cliché was that? No moon…creepy mist…haunted house…Rachel had seen this movie one too many times. What was next? She wouldn’t have been surprised if a figure in a white sheet came at them next.
A tense silence settled over the feuding couple as they picked their way along the steep forest path. Every reason for being mad disappeared the moment the house came into view, and Rachel practically jumped onto Jace in sudden fear.
Yellow police tape fluttered sharply in the biting wind, reminding them of what had happened with a sobering stab of grief. They slowed as they reached the center of the clearing, and Rachel watched quietly as her companion spun in a slow circle.
Letting his eyes slowly close, Jace let his imagination run free. He could almost hear the screams of his sister, could feel her fear and her panic. It echoed off of the trees like a bad sense of déjà vu, amplified by the murky darkness. Rachel nudged him, and he snapped his eyes open to find her offering up her flashlight.
“We should get in there and get out, before we’re missed back at home.”
Jace nodded, wrapped a heavy hand around the cylinder handle of the small Maglite, and pushed forward. He had promised his parents he wouldn’t seek answers on his own, but he wasn’t ready to let them know he’d reneged on their deal just yet.
They ducked and crawled, bypassing the tape criss-crossing the door. Once inside, they didn’t have to look far for the scene of the crime. Blood stained the thick carpet, and the acidic smell of copper mixing with the moldy dust had them both coughing and gagging.
“Oh…my…God…” Rachel breathed. Her hand flew to the base of her neck; her shaking fingers fiddling with the small silver cross her parents had given her. The Power of Christ compels you.
Jace was more convinced than ever that Mandy could never have done this. Blood was everywhere
. A large crusted pool sat in the center of the foyer; small dots confected the walls and even the large crystal chandelier held evidence of the brutal murder that had taken place.
As jealous as Rachel was of the young girl, even she had a hard time believing Mandy was that
“It’s all the way up there,” she commented, raising her own flashlight to follow the gruesome trail. Silence answered, immediately causing her to spin around. “Jace?” There was no sign of him anywhere. “Jace?” she repeated, a bit more panicked.
“It’s all my fault, I did this,” a deep voice echoed around her, coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once.
“This isn’t funny Jace!” she practically screamed, pride be damned. “How dare you goof off at a time like this!” She didn't care if he was just playing a joke, she whimpered as she felt an ice-cold finger trail its way up her spine.
“They’re gone, and I can never bring them back.” The voice came from behind her, the statement spoken so closely she could feel the disturbance of hot air on the back of her neck. She spun, preparing to bring down her attacker with her flashlight.
“Damnit Jace! This is no time for games!” He towered over her, looking intimidating in the darkness of the house, and Rachel swallowed nervously. “Jace?”
His face crumpled, and he cocked his head to the side. “Do you hear that?” he asked softly.
“What? Jace! Come on, let’s just go, please?” she begged, backing for the doorway. "This stopped being funny five minutes ago."
His face fell even further, and he slowly followed her. “Even now they look for it; they cry for it, my children. It is my fault, and I can never save them.”
“God, you’re such a jerk!” She was steaming now; no man was worth this bullshit.
“I can never leave.” Jace’s voice hissed, dropped three octaves, no longer sounding human.
“Y-you’re not Ja-ace,” Rachel stammered out. She brought her flashlight up, aiming it directly in his face. “You’re not Jace!” she repeated. Where his bright green irises used to be, vacant white orbs stared back at her, through her. His mournful expression curled upwards slowly, hardening into a murderous sneer.
“You have done some very bad things,” he said, his voice returning to a more normal tone while still sounding cold and unfamiliar. Rachel stumbled backward, tripping over the curled carpet and sending her panicked form plunging to the ground. From her position on the floor, she stared up at him, begging and pleading – her panicked words tumbling over themselves in her haste to get them out. She didn’t care if she was crying, begging for her life like a baby. She didn’t care if she was tearing up her newest manicure as she tried to claw her numb body towards the door, couldn't feel the thick grimy blood as it seeped into her jeans.
“You did this! You! I told you to leave once, and you wouldn’t. Now I’m going to make you!” he screamed, producing a long carving knife suddenly from somewhere behind him.
Time froze, she froze, momentarily hypnotized by the flash of the steel blade. He pounced on top of her, screaming obscenities as he plunged the knife down again and again. Rachel tried to scream, but blood welled in her throat, poured into her lungs, oh God she was drowning
. Her body jerked to the side, and his knife hit home in the center of her throat. He ripped it free, grinning in satisfaction as it released a crimson flood. She tried to inhale, but the oxygen was lost through the gash in her throat, producing a flow of frothing pink bubbles.
She choked, coughed once, release a gurgling cry, and then fell silent. Her head slowly rolled slightly to the side, leaving her sightless eyes to fixate on the chandelier. Standing to admire his handiwork, Jace wiped a slow finger across his cheek, leaving a dirty trail of blood in its wake. He popped the finger in his mouth, tasting the sweet nectar that held her essence, her life.
With one last salute, Jace slowly sagged to the ground. He sat for a moment, and then gradually, groggily, his head came up and he stared blearily around him at the ruined house. “Rachel?”
His blurry eyes focused on the girl who, just a moment ago, had been standing right in front of him. His gaze fell to the knife gripped limply in his hands, the handle slick with blood. Her blood.
A raw and animalistic scream ripped through the forest, going unheard and unanswered.
Thanks for playing in my fun house. See you guys in a couple of hours. :D