This is an alternate uber story. The physical descriptions of the two lead characters may remind you of two others we all know and love, but all characters in the story are from my own imagination. This story is an original work and is copyrighted by the author. It cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copyright 2008.
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Three different sized craft pumpkins rolled across the floor as a pair of eyes watched with amusement. Two six foot collections of bones went flying through the air next.
“I knew you had skeletons in your closet,” said the observer.
“Very funny,” yelled the seemingly disembodied voice.
More items landed on the floor: a bolt of black cloth, a hand that started crawling across the floor by itself, a huge fuzzy spider, several black bats, a few tombstones and a white Styrofoam head. There were more noises from the enclosed space as boxes were shoved through the door and a very loud “Ouch!” was exclaimed.
“Are you all right?”
“Just stubbed my toe.”
The waiting woman crossed her arms in front of her and laughed silently, not at the painful mishap, but at the whole situation. Another five minutes passed before she asked, “What is all this? Are you coming out of the closet?”
A dark haired head popped through the doorway. “Did that years ago Sweets,” she said as her tall, lanky frame followed through. Lane McKay carefully trudged across the littered floor of the spare bedroom, stepping over pseudo limbs and other body parts. She stopped in front of her partner’s grinning face and planted a passionate kiss on her lips. “This is my favorite time of the year,” she explained. “I have put together a haunted house every Halloween for the last six years. And now that I…we have this great old house, it’s gonna be better than ever.”
Allison Peyton grinned at her lover, falling in love all over again. But then she seemed to do that at least four or five times a day. But one of the things Allie loved most about Lane was her inner child and her carefree spirit, currently illustrated by the excited gleam in her blue eyes.
Allie and Lane had met seven months ago at a Valentine’s party one of their friends had arranged for all of her single friends. They felt the immediate attraction and had begun steadily dating, falling in love in just days. But Allie had only moved in with Lane three weeks ago, and was just beginning to feel at home.
Lane surveyed the props and decorations scattered around on the floor, mentally constructing her haunting ideas. It was a big house, but she was only decorating the front yard, porch and the first floor of the house. She didn’t want to disturb her acclimating lover’s office or the bedrooms, which were on the second floor. There was one exception to that though. The nearly one hundred year old house had a tower room at the right front of the structure. It was one of the things that had first attracted Lane to the home that she had only purchased nine months before. At times she was almost mesmerized by the small, but interesting space.
Lane included the four other big boxes still in the closet as she did more calculating for her haunts. “We need to go shopping,” she mumbled.
“You’re kidding,” Allie exclaimed as she picked up a huge spider, bending its eight legs into different configurations.
“Nope,” Lane said persuasively. “I usually get at least a dozen new things each year. And I…” She suddenly had a revelation and walked back to Allie. “I’m sorry,” she said sincerely. “I should have asked if this was okay with you.”
“Why?” asked Allie. “It’s your house, and like you said, you’ve been doing this for a lot of years.”
“No; it’s our house.” Lane tapped her gently on the nose. “You are not just a roommate. You are my partner. I love you. I respect you. And everything that happens in this house affects you and you should be part of the decision making.”
Allie was almost brought to tears at how wonderfully different this relationship was compared to others in her life. She hugged her tall lover tightly. “I love you too. And although I never felt slighted, thank you for saying that.”
“Well, I mean it. And that’s the way it’s going to be from now on.”
Allie pecked her lover’s lips with a quick kiss. “I say the haunted house is on, and you have carte blanche to do what you want to…as long as I can help.” She started to walk out the door, but turned back with a grin. “Besides, you just wait until Christmas.”
Lane picked up the slim blonde and twirled her around. “You are wonderful!” she shouted. “And of course you can help. Be thinking about what you want to dress up like for the big night; that’s part of the fun.” More kisses. “And I can’t wait for Christmas.”
* * *
The weekend shopping trip added three large props and a dozen smaller decorations for atmosphere. Lane had spent nearly an entire day drawing plans and separating all of the scary accessories into groups. She had allotted three days for the decorating, including a few construction projects for outside. But construction was her business. Lane had worked for her father’s construction company since she was sixteen. After graduating college with degrees in art and business, Lane had switched into fine detail carpentry. Many houses in the city featured cabinets, fireplace surrounds and other furniture crafted by her fine hand. When her father had wanted to retire a year ago, he passed on the business to Lane and her brother Luke. Her brother now ran the on site operations, while Lane did the office work from home. She also took commissioned jobs, making new creations in the workshop she had built behind the house. She had fallen in love with the architectural details of her house the minute she laid eyes on it, inside and out. But after buying it, Lane decide that it was really in need of some updating and began renovations in the kitchen, gutting everything from top to bottom, only preserving the exposed beams in the high ceiling. She had only recently finished the project, just in time for her new partner, who just happened to be a gourmet pastry chef, to take up residence.
Allie left for work at noon on Wednesday. Lane immediately ran to her workshop to finish building one of her props. After two hours work, Dracula’s coffin lay at her feet, complete with detailed woodwork, satin lined interior and trap door in the back. She had also added a trick mirror in the lid that would not reflect the vampire’s image. Lane began cleaning up and putting away her tools. From the window, she had a clear view to the back of the house and as she glanced that way, Lane saw the curtains at the dining room window move. Or at least she thought she did. She knew that no one was in the house, always double checking the front door when she was going to be in the workshop. Lane watched to see if it happened again, but it didn’t. But she did see something else that bothered her. Heavy, dark clouds hung low in the western sky. It was unusual to have a bad storm this time of year, but not impossible…obviously. The property was full of beautiful, mature trees, but being the time of year that it was, the foliage lay scattered over the ground. The wind tossed the red and yellow leaves into the air and snapped a few bare limbs, one of which hit the side of the structure. Lane hurried with the clean up and ran for the back door before the rain started. Halfway to the door, she definitely saw the curtains move again. Lane doubled her pace and threw open the back door. Grabbing a large knife from the kitchen, she moved slowly into the dining room, her eyes scanning all around. The house was dark from the storm clouds and Lane strained to see into the shadowy corners. Listening closely, she heard nothing unusual. Finding the room vacant of any living intruders, Lane did a thorough search of the rest of the house, finding nothing out of the ordinary. Returning to the suspect window, she checked for drafts or any other explanation for the moving fabric. But there was nothing. Lane finally shrugged it off and put the knife back where it belonged. Heading into the family room, an enormous clap of thunder rattled the windows and sent Lane into the air.
“Damn,” she cursed, trying to get her heart back into her chest. Lane McKay loved to be scared, but only when she at least half expected it.
Before long, heavy rain and hail pounded the roof and windows. Lane flooded the rooms downstairs with lights and turned on the television for weather reports. She also tracked down a couple of flashlights in case of a power outage. Once all that was done she went back to decorating. I’m glad I decided to leave the outside stuff until Halloween morning, she thought to herself as the rain continued to flog the side of the house.
She got in about half and hour’s work before the room suddenly went black. “Damn; guess I saw that one coming,” Lane muttered, grabbing the flashlight by her side. And it quickly became warm without the cool air pumping from the vents. Even in late October they were having a stretch of unusually hot weather. Lane opened a window at the front of the house, which was protected by the porch roof. The breeze was refreshing and after a few minutes of watching the rain, Lane returned to her task.
She was in the middle of hanging a chained up ghoul from the ceiling when she heard a rap. Thinking it was just the wind, she paid it no mind. Just a few seconds later it sounded again, a little louder this time. Is somebody at the door, she wondered. Hopping down from the ladder, Lane made her way to the front door. Looking through the side window, she didn’t see anyone standing there. Opening the door anyway, she stepped out to check around the porch to see if some kid was playing around. But there was nothing. Going back in to the room she was decorating, Lane was surprised when the prop she had just finished hanging now lay in a heap on the floor. “Guess I didn’t get it very secure.” Lane went back to work for another hour until the knock sounded again. Shaking her head, trying to ignore it, she assumed it was just the wind. Even though it had died down some, it was still gusty.
Finishing up with the family room, Lane stepped back to look at her spooky creation. It was now lighter inside the house, but still dim enough to add to the eeriness. “Not bad, not bad,” she said. Lane immediately moved into the dining room, which was going to be the séance room. She put her stuffed gypsy woman behind the square table, adjusting the large hoop earrings and multi-colored wool shawl around her neck. Placing the withered hands upon the table, Lane then sat the crystal ball between them. When turned on, colored lights and fog would swirl inside the sphere. A set of Tarot cards was soon dealt out across the rest of the table. Lane set up a sound system in the corner, but remembered that the CD was left upstairs in the office where she had done the recording. The power was still out, so Lane raised the dining room window just a few inches before she ran up the stairs. When she returned, Lane was surprised to find the crystal ball colorful and animated. She turned the switch off. All of the odd occurrences played on her mind just a little, but all had logical explanations: drafts, outside wind, loose hangers and switches.
That’s all it was.
* * *
It was just before eight that evening when Lane grabbed the phone and dialed a familiar number. “Hey Sweets.”
“Hi,” Allie said. “I was just about to call you. I thought I’d bring home some of the pasta you like so much. You haven’t eaten yet have you?”
“No I haven’t, and that sounds good. And I can’t wait to have some sweets for dessert,” Lane purred.
“Sweets for the sweet,” Allie added.
Lane chuckled in her special, sexy way, before getting to the point of the phone call. “Do you have an umbrella with you?” she asked.
Allie thought about it for a second. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, I’ll be watching for you. Just stay in the garage and I’ll bring one out.”
“You are so sweet.”
Lane smiled. “You just said that, but thank you. Love you. Bye.”
* * *
That night, Lane was in bed, reading. The storms had ended and they had the bedroom window open a bit for the fresh, after rain smell. Allie was in the shower. As she washed her hair, she mentally prepared the menu for a convention she was going to cater. After a final rinse, Allie turned off the water and grabbed a towel, draping it over her short hair. Drying off the rest of her body, she slipped into her robe and stepped up to the mirror. As she reached for a comb the lights went out, throwing the enclosed, windowless room into inky blackness. Allie flipped the light switch, but she still found herself in the dark. She fumbled for the door knob just as the lights flickered back on. Allie turned back to the mirror and flinched, as just for a split second, she thought she saw a strange pair of eyes where her own should have been. She reached up to rub her tired green eyes. “I need some sleep,” she told her reflection.
Allie soon stepped into the bedroom and climbed into bed next to her lover. Lane set her book aside and wriggled down into the soft sheets, snuggling against the woman she loved. They kissed goodnight and Allie asked, “Did the lights go out in here a few minutes ago?”
Lane opened her sleepy eyes. “No. Why?”
“There might be a short in the switch in the bathroom. Maybe we should call an electrician in the morning.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Lane mumbled.
* * *
The next morning, Lane called over a neighbor, who happened to be an electrician, but he couldn’t find a problem with the bathroom switch or any other reason for the previous nights, bathroom power outage. Strange, but Lane was going to be too busy to worry about it.
She turned her kitchen, her beautiful new kitchen into a mad scientist’s laboratory. There would be bubbling beakers, brewing experiments and a crazy looking doctor with wild hair, named Doctor Blooperhoff. With a lot of concentration and dexterity, Lane was assembling an intricate configuration of small tubes and pipes. She began singing. “I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight. My monster on the slab began to rise and suddenly to my surprise he did the mash. He did the monster…HEY!” Lane dropped what she was doing, the metal tubes clanking to the table, and she spun around when her long hair was tugged hard. Of course no one was there. “What the hell is going on around here?” Thinking maybe that a few dark strands had just gotten caught on the box on the chair beside her, Lane once again shrugged it off. “I’ve been messing around with this scary stuff to much,” she reasoned.
By mid afternoon, the lower level of the house was substantially horrified. She couldn’t efficiently test out the lighting effects until after dark, so she settled on checking the sounds that would accompany each themed room. The coordinating dialogue and music checked out fine. Lane grabbed a bottle of tea from the fridge and headed upstairs to check her work e-mail.
All was quiet in the house…but not for long.
Someone screamed. Lane nearly choked on her tea, and then jumped from her seat. It screamed again and continued. She was halfway down the stairs before realizing it was one of her sound effects, one that was tripped when someone would pass in front of the device. The sound stopped when she headed for the family room, now turned ghostly haven. Lane walked passed the trip point and on cue the terrifying scream sounded. Shaking her head, she muttered, “I’ve gone to too much trouble to disassemble everything now, but I think I might just skip the haunting next year.” Lane made a cursory examination of the house for her own peace of mind. A piece that was showing a few cracks to be sure.
* * *
Far from the inclement weather of the day before, the sky was bright blue and sunny. And the temperature was substantially cooler, much more appropriate for the season. The cheery outside was a complete opposite from the dark, macabre interior of the stately home at 1665 Franklin Way. Allie pulled up in front of her house; she was still getting used to that thought. But she loved it. Both the structure and the other inhabitant. Allie smiled as she got out of her car. Heading up the walk, movement in the tower room caught her attention. “Someone’s a busy bee,” she said, before climbing the steps. Allie opened the front door, but barely flinched as a huge spider dropped down in front of her. It automatically climbed back up into its web as she gave a slightly impatient sigh.
“Gottcha again huh?” Lane questioned, as she repentantly approached her partner. “Sorry babe; I meant to take that down before you got here.” Checking her watch, Lane added, “But you are a little early.”
“I am,” Allie agreed, “but I don’t mind.”
Lane pulled Allie into her arms. “Neither do I,” she said before beginning a passionate kiss that lasted a long time.
“Wow!” Allie exclaimed, once she had possession of her tongue again. “If that’s your way of apologizing, you can blunder any time.”
“Oh Sweets, I’ve only begun to apologize. But the rest will have to wait until later.” They walked arm in arm through the house and into the kitchen. “Since this is now Dr. Blooperhoff’s Lab,” Lane explained, “I am going to take you out to eat.”
Allie patted her lover on the behind as she headed for the upstairs bathroom to freshen up. “My stomach thanks you,” she said. “But it does look great. Did you finish in the tower room?”
“I haven’t even started in there yet. That’s first thing tomorrow morning.”
Allie stopped halfway up the stairs. “Weren’t you just up there?”
“Because I just saw a shadow of movement up there.”
Cautiously Lane said, “Wasn’t me.” One more thing to add the eerie list. But she had decided not to tell Allie the extent of the odd occurrences. “Oh, I know. I opened the window this morning. You probably saw the curtain blowing in the breeze.”
Allie shrugged. “I guess so.”
* * *
After a hearty meal, they returned home to find the house dark except for the very top room. “I suppose the wind blew the light on too,” Allie said, pointing to the tower room.
Lane studied the small window with trepidation. “Uh…yes,” she answered quietly, not shifting her stare from above.
Allie pulled the keys from her purse and let herself in the house. “Well, you can go up and turn it off, my forgetful darling,” she said. “And while you’re out there, pick up that can in the yard…please.”
Lane finally looked away and grinned at her lover. Then she did as she was asked. But the smile quickly fell as she looked back up and the light went off. She ran in the house, and hearing Allie in the kitchen, continued up the two and a half flights of stairs. She stopped at the top, just a little breathless. Peering intently down the small, dark hallway, it was just as she had left it earlier in the day. The door was closed. The light was still out, not a beam peeked out from beneath it. Lane took a step forward. She took another step, her legs heavy with trepidation. Her hands began to tremble. She took two more steps, bringing her right in front of the door. Lane hesitated, listening closely for any movement inside. It was quiet. A chill suddenly ran down her arms as if she had stepped into a cold breeze. “Okay, don’t be a coward,” she muttered to herself. “There’s no one…or nothing in that room.” Lane grabbed the doorknob. The metal was cold. She took a deep breath. She…
“Lane, Honey hurry up. We need to get these pumpkins carved.”
Lane pulled her hand back and silently cursed. “Be right there Sweets,” she yelled aloud. Shoot I can’t go in there and check. Maybe tomorrow…in the daylight. Lane turned back down the hall.
She didn’t see the old brass knob turn by an invisible hand.
Allie was on the back porch, wrapped in a heavy sweater to ward off the chilling air. The area was flooded by light, and on a long table in front of her sat four large pumpkins and several size knives. On the ground under the table were two big buckets, soon to be filled with orange, sticky, stringy innards.
Lane joined her, carrying two beers. She knew that the alcohol would warm up her lover. Lane held out a dark bottle. “Here Sweets. But just one for you if you’re going to be handling sharp equipment.” She kissed a peach toned cheek. She was trying very hard to put the spooky happenings out of her mind.
Allie giggled. “Okay. But you know I prefer my equipment, blunt and just a little soft.”
A pair of dark brows wiggled. “Me too. But I don’t think you could carve too well with that.”
“No, but you do some of your best work with that.”
A pair of long arms wrapped around Allie and hugged her close. Lane nuzzled a smooth neck. “Thank you,” she purred, as her lips traveled a well known path. “I’m in the mood to do some of that good work.”
Allie tapped on the dark head with a huge spoon. “Get busy with the big, orange gourds first. This is your favorite holiday after all.”
Lane sighed dramatically. “I did say that didn’t I?” She had a seat, and using the largest knife, cut the lid out of the soon to be jack o lantern. Allie set about cutting into hers as soon as the knife was free. Lane began pulling the guts from her pumpkin, her face not as joyful as it should have been. The preoccupation of oddities was playing on her mind again. She just couldn’t decide if everything was coincidental or if her imagination was working over time. Haunting the house had never bothered her in the past. But then she had never haunted a haunted house before. Maybe some previous resident was pissed off at what she was doing to the beautiful home. Maybe I should explore the house’s history, she thought. Oh please don’t let it be built over a graveyard. Or on the site of an old mental hospital. Or a battlegrounds. The possibilities kept scrolling across her brain, but she continued to work quietly.
Allie loved wind chimes and there had been several, intricately designed ones hanging throughout the backyard. After the previous storm though, Lane had brought the musical pieces in for the season, so they wouldn’t get broken. She had left one under the porch roof where it was protected. The wind began to gust, sending the chimes into a chorus of tinny toons.
Allie glanced up several times at her lover as they cleaned and carved. The pensive expression she saw concerned her. “What’s up Babe?”
Lane continued with her work. “What do you mean? Everything’s fine.”
“It just seems like your enthusiasm has waned a little. Aren’t you having fun?”
Lane smiled and leaned over, giving her partner a loving kiss. “I always have fun with you. But as for Halloween, maybe I’m just getting a little burnt out. I think next year I’ll just back down a little.” A big wicked grin curved her lips. “So this year, I’ll just have to go out with a bang.”
There’s that spirit I love, Allie thought. She stopped cutting the grinning mouth she was working on and took a sip of her brew. She stared out into the night. The dark was made even darker because she sat under such bright lights. Shining through the trees, the nearly full moon cast spindly shadows across the leafy ground. At times the swaying fingers seemed to want to reach out and grab any unsuspecting victim. The dog in the next yard barked at something unseen. A car horn honked.
The wind suddenly calmed and the chimes were momentarily silent.
Until they suddenly dropped to the ground.
The startled reflex caused Lane to toss her hand full of pumpkin innards.
They landed right on top of Allie’s head.
The chimes forgotten, Lane’s blue eyes bugged out in mortification at the sight of her stringy haired lover. Allie’s stunned expression became frozen until the initial shock passed, sending her into convulsive laughter. Lane scooped up the discarded goo and plopped it onto her own head, joining in the hilarity.
“Just for that,” Allie said, as the laughter slowed, “when we’re through here, you can join me in the shower and shampoo my hair.” She winked a green eye.
Lane was in for more penance…but she would gladly pay, because it was also a benefit.
With four scary visages staring back at the duo, the night’s labor was done. Allie sent her strong lover to the back of the yard with two buckets full of pumpkin stuff for the compost heap. Allie wiped off the vinyl table covering, listening to the wind howl. Something tickled at the back of her neck and she reached up running her hands through her hair. Allie giggled again as she pulled out an orange straggler. Flicking it out into the grass, she suddenly felt a warm breath against her ear. A voice whispered her name. Allie turned to give her lover a big kiss.
But Lane wasn’t there. Lane was still out by the back fence.
“Some imagination,” Allie mumbled as she trekked back into the house.
* * *
The wild wind tapped on the window all night long. At least Lane hoped it was just the wind. And even if it wasn’t, it was outside.
Lane didn’t get much sleep that night.
The tall insomniac got up to go to the bathroom at about three thirty. Returning to bed, she passed by the window facing the street. Their house was on the corner, so Lane could also see the corner of the next street. At first, she took just a quick glance out of the corner of her eye. But then both eyes zoomed in on the shining lamppost. Or more specifically the lone figure standing under it. The male form was turned her way, but curiously it didn’t move. His head was lowered and his hands appeared to be stuffed in the pockets of the jacket he was wearing. There was no bus stop on that corner. There was no good reason for anyone to be standing there at that time of the morning. Lane watched for over ten minutes, but the man didn’t move a muscle. Then suddenly his head shot up and he looked precisely in her direction, pointing an accusing finger at her. Lane jumped back, but continued to watch. The room was dark and he was over two hundred feet away. He couldn’t be seeing her. But there was no mistaking where his focus was. The man pulled a cell phone from the other pocket and put it to his ear. The phone next to Lane rang. She didn’t answer it. But she quickly silenced it. She looked back out the window to see him still staring and pointing at her. Slowly, the man methodically placed the phone back in his pocket and started walking toward her house. He had only taken three steps when the doorbell rang. Lane looked away for a split second, and when she looked back, he was gone. No normal human could have covered the distance that quickly. Lane reached for the phone, to call the police, but it was gone. The doorbell stopped. But the pounding began. It got louder and stronger.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Crack!
Suddenly she heard the wood give way. Lane locked the bedroom door, grabbed the nearest heavy object she could find and took a protective position by her lover. Allie hadn’t even twitched through the ringing and the banging. And she was usually a fairly light sleeper. Lane’s heart raced as she heard the footsteps come up the stairs. Something began tapping on the window again, but it was too rhythmic to be the wind this time. Lane was surrounded. Footsteps. Tapping. Footsteps. Tapping. Footsteps. Tapping. The handle on the door turned. The door creaked open. The tip of a boot appeared. Lane raised her makeshift weapon. Suddenly a pair of hands pulled her from behind and she crashed onto the bed. Her attacker looked at her with blacked out eyes. Blood dripped from the pointed teeth in the oversized mouth. But the wrinkled, weathered face was familiar. Lane screamed. “Allie!” Her monstrous lover leaned over for a kiss. Lane closed her eyes and pushed away the fiend, her hands burning at the contact. She screamed in pain.
The blue eyes opened again and everything was gone. Lane was on the floor, in the dark. Everything was quiet. She raised her hands and they were fine. She swallowed hard and raked her sweaty hair back off her face. It was just a dream…a nightmare.
Lane grabbed the bedding and eased herself to a sitting position. She stopped as her eyes barely peeked over the top of the blanket. She sighed in relief. There was her angelic looking lover, sound asleep. Peaceful. Beautiful. I don’t know what you are trying to do by invading my dreams, Lane thought. But you won’t turn me against Allie.
Lane got up to go to the bathroom. Returning to the bed, she passed by the window facing the street. She hesitated. She was curious to look out at the corner…under the lamppost. But she was also afraid. “It was just a dream. It was just a dream,” she chanted. Lane inched her head around and she looked out into the clear, dark night. On the corner…there was nothing. No one.
Lane climbed back into bed. But peaceful sleep was still elusive.
* * *
Allie had taken Halloween day off from work so she could help Lane with the last of the decorating. She wasn’t aware of the dream that had plagued Lane the night before. She just knew that her lover looked very tired and disheveled when she first saw her that morning. Lane was quiet as she ate breakfast…almost introspective as she sipped her coffee. The only thing she had said was that she had a restless night. Allie didn’t push for more of an explanation. She drank her own coffee and she headed for the front porch to get the morning paper. It was another beautiful day and Allie stopped to just enjoy for a few minutes. She waved to the neighbor across the street as they left for work and watched as a group of children climbed aboard the bus for school. Allie took in a deep breath. The air was just crisp enough to let you know you were well into autumn. It was just about as perfect as it could be for the blonde chef. Allie stepped down into the yard to retrieve the paper, and then back on the porch, she sat in a chair and continued to sip her coffee as she skimmed the front page. Out of the corner of her eye, something caught her attention. There was a peculiar dirty spot on the wood planks right in front of the door. She could tell there was more hidden beneath the welcome mat, so she gently lifted it, moving it aside. Before her eyes was a single soiled footprint. “How in the heck could that happen?” she pondered. She soon figured that some teenage boys in the neighborhood were up to some early Halloween pranks, and she laughed it off, covering the whole thing, intending to show it to Lane later.
Lane’s mood improved as the morning went on and she really got into fulfilling her plans for the porch and the yard. And so far everything was going along fine. The outside was fully decorated by noon. The vampire, in his coffin, was by the front door. His family of bats was hanging around, over his head. The fog machine was ready to fill the air with smoky ambiance. The walk through graveyard, complete with moaning and shivering zombies sat, patiently waiting for the visitors. A gang of skeletons was climbing up the side of the house, hauling a body sized burlap bag that would, at the appropriate time, shake and call for help. The hedges surrounding the porch were liberally covered with icky webbing and about a hundred small black spiders. The spider queen was spinning her human sized prey from a low branch in the old oak by the street. The plan was for the trick or treaters to walk through the front yard, then across the porch and around to the back, enter the house through the back door, tour the haunted first floor and exit through the front door, where they would receive their sweet treats from Allie. They had recruited Lane’s brother, Luke to be the back door greeter. He stood six foot five and was going to do his best Lurch the Butler impression. Luke’s wife, Kat was going to cover the inside, appropriately dressed as the living dead maid, Lilly.
Lane had stalled all morning, but with the outside done there was only one thing left to do. She didn’t want to chicken out now. Lane gathered up the courage to enter the tower room to install her flame effect. From the street it would appear that the house was on fire. Lane worked alone in the small room. She looked around often, sensing eyes watching her. But there were no dark corners or anywhere else for…anything to hide. Some extra pieces of furniture were scattered about, still dusty from storage. Some trunks, holding family memories were stacked against one side. Nothing was out of the ordinary. The window was wide open and she could here the sounds from the street outside. She tried hard to concentrate on that and her work. She didn’t want her mind to drift to spooky, eerie or evil things. But she really couldn’t stop it. Just about finished, Lane bent over to plug in the fan that would shake the pseudo flaming panels.
The door flew open. Lane screamed and turned to fend off the attacking entity.
“Whoa!” Allie yelled. “It’s just me.”
“Oh God.” Lane’s legs collapsed beneath her and she dropped to the dusty floor. Her heart thumped against her ribs and she quickly inhaled the warm, dry air. “I’m sorry,” she huffed. “I didn’t want…to hurt you.”
Allie was at her side, rubbing her back. “I know you didn’t Hon. And I’m sorry I scared you. How did I scare you anyway? Your nerves are usually solid as a rock.”
Before Lane could answer, the door slammed shut. “Let’s get out of here,” she said, jumping to her feet and dragging her lover by the hand. She pulled the door open and hurried for the stairs.
“Lane, what are you doing?” Allie anxiously asked. “What’s wrong?”
“I need to tell you something.”
“Okay, but can’t you slow down?”
They ended up in the room with a dozen ghosts peering attentively at them with hollow eyes. “Not here,” Lane said and moved out into the back yard. She sat down at the table and took a few more seconds to calm herself.
Allie ran her fingers through the dark silky hair, and then began a neck message. “Honey, what is wrong?”
Lane pulled her petite partner onto her lap, taking comfort in her presence. “There have been some really odd things going on around here the last few days.” Lane told her everything, including reminding her of the bathroom lighting incident. She also mentioned her dream of the night before, though omitting Allie’s actions and appearance.
Allie listened closely, hearing the tense quivering in Lane’s voice, and reading her anxious body language. For a moment, Allie considered that it was all a setup, that maybe Lane was trying to scare her. But then she remembered her own peculiar incidents. She told Lane of the eyes in the mirror and the word whispered in her ear. “What are we saying here?” Allie finally asked. “You think this house is really haunted?” Lane shrugged. Allie continued to ponder the creepy situation. “But you’ve lived here for months,” she said, “has anything like this happened before?”
“No. That’s what I don’t understand. Why now? I mean it’s awfully coincidental that it just starts at Halloween.”
“Exactly,” Allie said. “You don’t have any friends that might be scaring you, do you?”
Lane considered it. She did have a couple of friends who shared a rather strange sense of humor. But she was sure that they wouldn’t go so far as to break into her house to do these things. “No,” she finally answered.
Allie hugged her lover. “Okay. Has anything happened today? Besides me scaring the shit out of you that is.”
Lane smiled and took her lover’s hand. Both of her dark brows climbed in thought. “No,” she said in answer to the question. “Well, except the door just slamming shut. But with the window open…that can happen.” She shook her head in doubt. “I don’t know, maybe everything that has happened does have a logical explanation…tricks of the eye, my over active imagination.”
“Well,” Allie said as she walked toward the house, “let’s put on our bravery armor and get through the rest of the day. If more things happen today or tomorrow…or next week, or next…”
Lane grabbed her and tickled. “I get the point. We’ll handle it as...if it happens again.”
* * *
Word of mouth spread fast around the neighborhood, and children and adults started showing up in large groups at 6:30. It was still light out, but that was good for the youngest trick or treaters, most of them passing on the inside haunts. Actually it was the parents that made that choice for them. Allie walked out to the drive several times to deliver candy to a few tots who could barely walk, some because of the cumbersome, but cute costumes and some because they just hadn’t had the new skill for very long. Dressed in her costume, Allie was non threatening and just fun and fanciful for the youngsters. Allie had declared herself as Autumn Queen. Her dress was made of satin and tulle, in colors of yellow, orange, red and brown. On her head of golden hair, she wore a crown of grapevine covered in fall foliage.
As darkness blanketed the neighborhood, Lane turned up the scary factor full force. She was having so much fun, she almost forgot about her own scares. A group of pre-teens, dressed as pop singers, warriors and super heroes approached the property. From her perch up on the cornstalk, Lane shook the dry husks and growled menacingly. Her scary vocalizations increased in volume, until just at the right moment she jumped from the platform right in their path. They jumped, yelled and then laughed as the tall, creepy scarecrow chased them around the yard. Allie smiled as she watched her partner having the time of her life.
The fun continued on for another hour, but once the last group had left, the two couples hauled all of the outdoor decorations into the backyard. The rest of the undecorating would wait until the next day. With hugs, they said goodnight to their family and watched as they drove away. Lane secured the downstairs as Allie warmed up some apple cider and took two mugs full and a plate of fresh baked cookies up to the bedroom.
The dark scarecrow appeared in the doorway. “Would my queen like some assistance with her undressing...or should I say deflowering?”
Allie turned and demurely batted her eyes. “There isn’t a flower on me,” she said with a bit of her original southern accent. “And if you only had a brain scarecrow, you wouldn’t have to ask?”
After the quick shedding of clothing, they both slipped into some robes and enjoyed their late night snack while watching an old classic movie. They kept it light with some spooky fun with Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
After the movie, Allie remembered an email she needed to send, so she went down the hall and into the office. After that quick task was finished, she headed back to the bedroom, but a noise near the far end of the hall, toward the tower room, caught her attention. She debated whether to call her lover, but finally decided to check it out herself…until. Allie stopped in her tracks and looked up as something moved in the dark. Her eyes went wide as something…or to be more precise two someones blocked her path. Quite calmly she called out “Lane.” Waiting just a second, her voice climbed a few decibels as she repeated, “Lane!”
Long legs hit the floor running. “Allie? Allie what…” The words died in Lane’s throat as she spied what had her lover spooked. Two translucent, white, human shapes floated a few inches above the floor.
Allie kept her eyes on the space at the end of the hall, but tugged on Lane’s sleeve. “Please tell me that is one of your special effects, and you rigged it up to scare me,” she begged, her voice a terrified whisper.
Lane just about ignored her partner, except to reach up and take a trembling hand in her trembling hand. She recognized the female figures. “Mom? Gram?”
“But Lane,” Allie said, “your mother and grandmother are…”
“Spirits,” said one of the figures. “Hello Elaine.”
“Hello my beautiful granddaughter,” the other one added.
Lane’s mouth moved, but the coherent thoughts wouldn’t quite articulate the way she wanted. “Why? How?”
The ghost of Lane’s mother explained. “Well, lets see, we’ve come to see you and to tell you how proud we are of you. And…” Deidre McKay’s eyes drifted to the woman standing beside her daughter. “Aren’t you going to formally introduce us?”
Lane still couldn’t quite believe she was seeing and talking to her mother. Her mother, who had passed away more then two years before. And her grandmother who had passed away ten years before. “Uh…yes. I’m sorry,” she said acknowledging her lover. “This is Allison Peyton, the woman I love.”
“Oh we know that,” Deidre said. “It is wonderful to meet you Dear. You are a beauty. We are so happy for both of you. You definitely belong together.”
“Hello,” Allie muttered. “Thank you.”
“It’s taken us quite some time to find the energy to appear to you like this, so we don’t have much time, but we’ve also come because your grandmother has something to tell you.”
“I spent part of my childhood in this house,” the spirit said. “We lived here from the time I was two until I was seven. I led you to this house when you were looking to buy.” Lane remembered the series of what she had thought were coincidences. “You need to know what’s in the tower room; it’s the family secret. But it’s something wonderful. My mother only told me when I passed over; it had to wait until your generation.” The two figures began to fade in and out. “We don’t have much time left, no time to explain. But you will understand when you find it hidden under the floorboards near the back.”
“It is your destiny Elaine,” her mother said. “Be strong and diligent.” The spirits held hands as her mother continued. “We have to go now Elaine. We love you. Oh and if you happen to make me a grandmother someday, I will be around.”
“I love you,” Lane said with a bit of a lump in her throat. She suddenly remembered and stepped forward holding out her hands. “Wait! Why the noises, the lights, the moving things?”
“What do you mean?” her mother asked.
“The last few days. Was it necessary to scare the hel…heck out of me?”
“That wasn’t us Dear. Goodbye.” Both spirits completely faded from view, but Lane could still feel their essence. It was a wonderful feeling. But it didn’t last long as she realized what her mother had said.
Lane and Allie stared at each other with bug eyes and slacked jaws. They mumbled in unison. “It wasn’t them.”