A story by Mickey Minner
Emily Conrad sat in a SUV peering through the windshield at a two-story house situated at the end of a long gravel drive and surrounded by colossal oak trees. “Impressive,” she murmured in admiration. “How old did you say this place was?” she asked her assistant sitting behind the steering wheel.
“According to the research I was able to do in the short time you gave me, it was built in thirty-seven… eighteen thirty-seven, that is,” Todd Everling answered, his eyes also surveying the old but apparently well cared for structure.
“Quit bitching about the short notice. The client wanted us here this weekend and we need the work.”
Todd grimaced at the rebuke but he knew Emily was right about needing income for her new company. He decided to switch focus. “Bet it holds a ton of memories.”
Emily grinned. “By what the owner said on the phone, it has a lot more than memories roaming around it.” She sat back on the SUV’s leather seat. “No sense in sitting here; go on and drive up to it.” As soon as Todd parked just past the steps leading up to a wrap-around porch, she pushed open the door and slipped down to the ground.
“I’ll get the equipment?” Todd said, turning off the engine.
Emily nodded then tilted her head up to let her eyes roam over what she could see of the house partially obscured by late afternoon shadows made deeper by the oaks’ wide stretching branches. Spotting nothing particularly unusual after her cursory inspection, she turned her attention back to Todd who was waiting for her at the foot of the steps holding two custom designed hard-sided carry cases. She walked around the front of the SUV to join him.
“Is the owner meeting us?” Todd asked, surprised at finding the expansive driveway empty except for their SUV.
“Ms. Taylor… yes, but she said we might beat her here. She said the front door would be unlocked.”
“That’s a little unusual. And if you want my opinion, which I know you don’t, this whole set up is unusual. We get a call out of the blue from someone who says they heard about us. Heck, the paint on the office walls isn’t even dry yet.”
“Maybe she read about us on the internet. It’s not like we’re completely new at this.”
“You really don’t think it’s odd she wanted us to come out right away?”
“It’s not like we had anything else to do.”
“She’s not here to meet us—that’s not unusual?”
“Okay, maybe it’s not the norm but we do need the business. So can we just concentrate on why we’re here?” After Todd nodded in resigned agreement, Emily mounted the steps and crossed the wide porch to the front door. Tentatively, she twisted the doorknob. “It’s open,” she said pushing the door inward.
“Wow, what a place,” Todd exclaimed after following Emily into the house.
They stood in a spacious foyer facing a grand staircase that led up to the second floor. At the left side of the foyer, a door opened into an office complete with antique roll-top desk and rich leather chairs. A matching door at the right of the foyer provided access to a library with walls hidden behind floor to ceiling bookcases, their shelves crammed full of leather bound volumes. More doorways were visible behind the staircase, accessed by wide hallways on either side of the steps.
“Do you think these furnishings are originals?” Todd asked.
“If they aren’t, they’re darn good replicas,” Emily said, peeking into the office.
On the second floor of the house, Rebecca Sterling sat on the top step of the staircase watching Emily and Todd explore the entry and adjoining rooms. She stood then walked around to gaze over the banister, her arms resting on the hand polished wood. Her eyes never left Todd moving around the floor below. “He’s going to be a problem,” she muttered.
Emily turned and looked to where Todd was wandering past the stairway toward the rear of the house. “Did you say something?”
“I’m sure. Why?”
“I thought I heard… a voice.”
“Wasn’t me. Are you sure Ms. Taylor isn’t here? I feel like we’re being watched.”
“I think she would have made her presence known if she was,” Emily said tilting her head to the side and concentrating on the faint sounds coming from various areas of the house. She heard birds chirping and assumed one of the upstairs windows must have been left open. She heard a creak from somewhere upstairs but that wasn’t uncommon in houses this old. “Let’s get out the digital recorders. “I don’t want to miss anything.
Todd reversed his steps and walked back to where he had left the equipment cases. “Want to start using the cameras?”
Emily thought for a moment. “I guess it can’t hurt if we do a quick walk through before Ms. Taylor gets here. She didn’t say we couldn’t nose around.”
Todd opened one of the cases to reveal a camcorder, digital camera, and a pair of digital voice recorders tucked into form-fitting pockets cut into thick foam that lined the inside of the case. He opened the second case that had pockets for an EMF detector, motion sensors, and replacement batteries for all of the equipment. “You want the camcorder or the digital?”
“I’ll take the digital and the EMF.”
Having moved downstairs, Rebecca leaned over Todd to peer at the equipment. “Ooo, this should be fun.”
Emily bent over to pull the EMF detector out of its protective pocket. As she always did when preparing for an investigation, she flipped on the power to check the battery level. “Holy sh..!” she exclaimed jerking upright. All five multi-colored lights on the front of the device were flashing. “Look at this thing, it’s going crazy. Get that camcorder on and toss me one of those digital recorders,” she ordered as she slowly turned in a circle with the EMF held out in front of her. She flipped on the recorder as soon as Todd handed it to her then also held it out at arm’s length. “Is someone here?” she asked in a loud voice.
Rebecca moved back to avoid Emily’s outstretched arms. “Sheesh, you don’t have to yell, I’m standing right here,” she snapped scowling.
“I heard something,” Todd said excitedly as he pointed the camcorder in the direction of the sound. “It came from right in front of you.”
“I heard it, too.”
“If someone is here, can you give us a sign?” Todd asked loudly.
Rebecca laughed. “A sign? You want me to give you a sign? Hmm, what can I do to let you know I’m here,” she asked mischievously then took a step closer to Todd and leaned into the camcorder’s microphone.
Stunned by the closeness of the unexpected voice and its less than friendly message, Todd stumbled backward.
Emily spun around when Todd crashed against the wall. “Are you okay?”
“Didn’t you hear that?” he asked in a shaky voice.
“No. What happened?”
Todd regained his footing then hit the rewind switch on the camcorder. “Listen,” he said pushing the play button.
A loud voice filled the room. “GET LOST!”
Emily’s mouth dropped open. “Did that… just now?” Todd nodded. Undeterred by the warning, she turned back to what appeared to be an empty foyer. “We are not here to hurt you,” she told the invisible entity.
Rebecca chuckled. “As if.” She had moved back to the staircase and was perched on a riser.
“Did you hear that?” Emily asked a still shaken Todd.
“Sounded like a laugh.”
“Was that you? Were you laughing at what I said?” Emily asked.
“I’m not hearing anything,” Todd complained as he cautiously moved around the foyer pointing the camcorder at any possible location where an entity could hide.
“You’re not seeing anything either,” Rebecca reminded the man.
“There’s someone here,” Emily said determinedly. “The EMF is still going nuts.”
“I can fix that,” Rebecca murmured then moved to the top of the staircase. She stood there watching the pair unsuccessfully searching for a sign of her presence.
Emily looked disappointed when the EMF detector suddenly stopped blinking. “It’s gone.”
“That was intense,” Todd muttered. “We’ve never had such a clear EVP.”
“Play it back. I want to know if it’s a man or a woman,” Emily instructed as she rewound her digital recorder.
“Ready?” Todd asked before replaying the captured voice. When Emily nodded he pushed the play button. “Woman,” he said after focusing on the voice and not the message.
“Definitely,” Emily agreed.
“Wonder why she doesn’t want us here?”
“I don’t want you here, dimwit,” Rebecca grumbled at Todd. She glanced at the grandfather clock at the head of the staircase then moved off down the hallway. “Got to get rid of you soon.”
Sue Taylor turned into her driveway, surprised to see a SUV parked at the front of the house. “Wonder who that is?” she muttered, not please to have unexpected, and uninvited, visitors. Normally, she would drive to the garage and park her car inside but she stopped beside the SUV and turned the engine off. Grabbing her purse and laptop case, she pushed the door open and stepped out. The SUV had no markings to provide a clue as to its owner and when Sue looked inside the cab she found it empty of occupants. Climbing the steps to the porch, she glanced around the property. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea,” she told herself after she realized whoever drove the SUV to her home might be inside of it. She was just about to turn around and return to the relative safety of her car to call the police when the front door opened and a woman stepped out.
“Ah, I thought I heard a car,” Emily said with a smile. “Miss Taylor?” she asked extending her hand. “I’m Emily Conrad, nice to put a face to a voice.”
Sue stared at the woman. “Who?”
Emily self-consciously dropped her hand when Sue showed no sign of shaking it. “Emily Conrad, we talked on the phone yesterday.”
Sue took a nervous step backward. “I don’t know who you are.”
“Em, you’ve got to get back in here,” Todd called from inside the house. “Something’s moving around upstairs. I heard footsteps.”
“Who the hell are you?” Sue screamed digging in her purse for her cell phone.
Todd bounded out of the house, drawn by the screaming.
“Why are you in my house?”
Todd held up his hands, palms facing Sue. “Whoa, lady; you called us, remember?”
Sue managed to pull her phone free. “I never called you but I am calling the police!” With her hand shaking so hard she had trouble holding the cell, she started to punch in 911. Before she could get all three numbers dialed the phone flew out of her hand.
All three of them stared at the cell as it slid to the far end of the porch.
“What the…” Todd stammered.
“It’s here,” Emily said seeing the lights on the EMF detector flash wildly. “Damn, it’s gone again,” she grumbled when the EMF’s lights went dark.
“WILL YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!”
Emily looked at Sue. “I think we should all go inside and… calm down.”
“We are not going anywhere until I know who you are and why you broke into my house,” Sue said tersely.
“Todd, go get Miss Taylor’s phone,” Emily directed her assistant then focused on the distressed woman standing in front of her. “Okay, hear me out. Then, if you want, we’ll leave. I received a call yesterday from a woman who identified herself as Sue Taylor. She said she was having activity in her house and wanted us to investigate and, hopefully, discover the identity of the person, or persons, causing it.”
Sue waved her hands violently from side to side. “Hold on. Activity? Investigation? What are you talking about?”
“We’re paranormal investigators.”
“Ghosts,” Todd explained handing the cell back to the confused woman.
“Ghosts? Someone told you I have ghosts?”
“You do,” Todd said confidently. “We’ve already heard them. Even recorded one of them.”
Shaking her head, Sue stepped toward the door. “I need to sit down,” she stated then disappeared inside the house.
“Will you back off,” Emily hissed to Todd. “Can’t you tell she’s pretty shook up?”
“She called us,” Todd defended.
Emily thought for moment. “Did she?” she asked then followed Sue inside.
Todd considered the question then grinned. “If she didn’t, wonder who did.” He looked around the porch before moving inside to join the women.
Rebecca settled into one of the pair of comfy overstuffed chairs in the library. Her face softened and she smiled when Sue entered the room followed by Emily. Her smile quickly dissolved into a sneer when Todd joined them.
Sue walked to the overstuffed chair in front of the room’s only window. When she bought the house, the pair of chairs had been situated in front of the fireplace but she had repositioned one to take full advantage of the sunlight when reading.
Emily walked to the fireplace and sat on the hearth and patiently waited for Sue to indicate she was ready to continue their conversation.
Todd entered and walked purposely to the second overstuffed chair.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Rebecca growled. When Todd tried to sit on her lap, she kicked him in the butt.”
Emily and Sue looked at Todd who was rubbing his posterior and staring at the chair.
“What’s wrong?” Emily asked.
“I just got kicked in the ass.”
“What?” Sue asked, startled by the declaration.
Todd pointed at the EMF Emily had set on the hearth beside her. “Look.”
Sue looked at the device. “What is that?”
“It’s an—” Todd started.
“Shut up,” Rebecca demanded, her foot striking out again.
Emily sighed. “Todd will you find someplace else to sit. Whoever is here obviously doesn’t want you in that chair.”
“Especially when I’m sitting here.”
“I think my head is going to explode,” Sue groaned dropping her head into her hands.
“Sue. Please, I’m rattled enough. You keep calling me Miss Taylor and I won’t know who you’re talking to.”
Emily smiled. “Sue. What say we start over?” When Sue nodded in agreement, she continued. “I’m Emily and that’s Todd,” she motioned toward to the corner of the room where he was sitting on the floor looking through the viewfinder on the camcorder. “I own a company called PINS, Paranormal Investigators, Not Skeptics. Todd is my assistant. Yesterday, you, or I should say someone identifying themselves as you, called me and asked me to come out immediately to investigate activity in this house. The caller insisted I had to come today.”
“I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand.”
“Have you ever experienced any paranormal activity?”
“You mean ghosts?” Emily nodded. “No, not that I know of. I mean, I hear creaks and pops and stuff like that but I always figured it was just part of living in an old house.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“Almost three years. I bought it after my…” Sue’s voice cracked and she paused when a lump formed in her throat. “I’m sorry,” she apologized before continuing. “I bought it after my wife died. I couldn’t bear to stay in the house we had shared; or the town for that matter. I moved here hoping to leave the unhappy memories behind me.”
Rebecca felt her eyes well with tears. “Is that all I am to you anymore, unhappy memories?”
“Not my memories of Becca,” Emily quickly added, smiling as she remembered her wife of ten years. “She was a wonderful woman. But I wanted to forget what happened to her.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I notice that the furniture appears to be original to the house.”
“It is. I bought it furnished. It was an estate sale. Why do you ask?”
“It’s possible for entities to stay attached to physical objects.”
“Ghosts,” Todd said nonchalantly then shrugged when Emily glared at him.
“None of the furnishings are yours?”
“I had to leave everything of us behind.”
“Not everything, sweetheart.”
“Do you think the original owner is here?” Sue asked.
“I was thinking it might be someone closer to you,” Emily suggested carefully.
“You think Becca is here? Oh, that’s not possible.”
“Yes it is.”
“Why would she be? She… No, that’s just not possible.”
“All right,” Emily said. “Then perhaps it is a previous occupant of the house.”
Sue looked intently at Emily. “Why are you so convinced this house is haunted?”
Emily chewed on her lip considering how to answer the question without further upsetting Sue.
“Because of this,” Todd said then he hit the play button on the camcorder.
Emily and Sue looked quizzically at him when no sound was heard.
“Wait a sec,” Todd told them. “I must not have rewound to the right place. Here we go,” he said, nervously pushing the play button again.
“Won’t work, little man. I erased it. Can’t have her recognizing my voice now, can we?”
Emily frowned. “Todd, if you recorded over that, I’ll…”
“I didn’t. I swear. Let me try again.” Todd fumbled with the camera trying to locate the previously recorded voice.
“What are we supposed to be hearing?” Sue asked.
“When we first arrived, almost before we had our equipment out, we heard a voice. We managed to capture it on the camcorder.”
“A voice? What did it say?”
“It told us to leave.”
“I told him to leave.”
“And it wasn’t too friendly sounding,” Todd groused, still trying to locate the mysteriously missing recording.
“Todd, will you keep quiet,” Emily ordered then stood and walked to where Sue was sitting. She knelt down and placed a comforting hand on her knee. “Sometimes, entities just don’t like strangers in what they still consider to be their homes. I can’t say I blame them.” She smiled reassuringly. “But that doesn’t mean they are capable of doing anyone harm.”
Sue listened to Emily’s explanation as she looked at Todd. “But… something kicked him.”
“Twice,” Todd grumbled.
Emily again glared at her assistant. Then slowly a thought materialized in her head. She gazed at him.
“What?” Todd asked, confused by the odd look on Emily’s face.
“Why do I get the feeling that whatever is here doesn’t want you here?”
“Why doesn’t it like you, Todd?”
“How should I know?”
Rebecca had moved to stand beside Emily. She whispered in her ear, “Because he’s in the way. He needs to go.”
Emily rubbed her ear after feeling a breath of air blow across it. She walked back to the hearth and sat down picking up the EMF detector, its lights still flashing. “This is an EMF detector,” she told Sue. “It’s used for detecting electromagnetic fields. Usually, you’ll have high readings—lights flashing—when you are around areas of high electric or magnetic activity like power lines or circuit boxes. But many believe that paranormal energy can also set them off.”
Sue watched the lights flashing. “You mean, because those lights are flashing, you think my house is haunted?”
“Yes and no. The lights have not stopped since we entered this room. That could be caused by leakage off the house’s wiring—not that unusual in older homes. We could try to locate such a source, we call that debunking—finding a reasonable explanation for the activity. But, in this case, the EMF has registered extremely high levels of activity, both in here and in the foyer. And it registered activity out on the porch when the phone was knocked out of your hand. It eventually stopped in the foyer and it stopped on the porch. Now it’s going off again in here.”
“But it hasn’t stopped,” Sue pointed out. “So, that means there’s bad wiring in the house?”
“It could but my gut feeling is that there is an entity here. One that wants us to know it’s here.”
Sue looked around the room. “I don’t see anything. And I’ve never heard anything out of the ordinary.”
“I understand your doubts,” Emily told her. “But, the facts are, I received a phone call asking me to come here. And, almost, as soon as we arrived, activity started. Voices—”
“Which you can’t prove.”
Emily shot a look at Todd who was still trying to recover the lost EVP. “No, unfortunately, we can’t. But it happened. And it’s my belief that someone, for whatever reasons, wants us here today. I’m asking you to let us complete our investigation and find out who it is.”
“Why do you keep referring to it as an it?” Sue asked. “Shouldn’t you say he or she?”
“We should but we don’t always know.”
“You said you recorded a voice?”
“Was it male or female?”
“It sounded female.”
“Then can you please use she? Calling it it makes me uncomfortable.”
Rebecca stood behind the chair where a confused and befuddled Sue sat. “Let her stay,” she whispered to Sue.
“I suppose…” Sue glanced at Todd and the equipment cases on the floor beside him. Then she looked back at Emily. “How did you get into the house?” she asked.
“Uh, oh,” Rebecca mumbled. “I’m gonna be in trouble.”
“The caller told me the door would be unlocked. It was.”
“No, I’m sure it was locked,” Sue said thoughtfully then smiled sadly at a memory that popped into her head. She looked at the EMF detector Emily held. “The lights stopped.”
Emily looked down at the device in her hand. “She’s left.” One of the lights flickered. “But she hasn’t gone far. Can we stay?”
Sue leaned back in the chair and swiveled it around so she could peer through the window. The shadows streaking across the yard were long and she knew it would soon be dark. In the past hour, her memories had come to life. Memories she had buried deep inside of her heart. Now they were flooding back. So much so, she had thought she had even heard Becca’s voice moments before. She swiveled back around to find Emily had stood and was anxiously watching her. “She never saw a reason to lock doors. I always wanted to take every precaution. It’s the one thing we fought about.” She paused. “You can stay.”
Rebecca, listening from her perch on the staircase, thrust her fist in the air then yanked her arm down, elbow bent. “Yes!”
Emily, Sue, and Todd’s heads whipped around to look out of the library into the foyer. “Did you hear that?” they asked in unison.
Todd picked up the camcorder, flipping it on as he did. “I’m ready,” he told Emily who was checking the settings of the digital camera she would use to take random shots in hopes of capturing evidence not seen by their naked eyes as they moved throughout the house.
“Okay. Let’s start in the foyer. Wherever the EMF shows activity, we’ll stop and try to capture some EVPs.”
Todd filled his pockets with extra batteries. “Sounds good.”
“Ready?” Emily asked Sue who had insisted on accompanying them.
“What’s an EVP?”
“If we think the entity… she has returned, we’ll ask her some questions. Hopefully, her answers will be picked up by our recorders; they can record sounds not audible to the human ear. That’s an EVP—electronic voice phenomena.”
“Are you ready?”
“As much as I’ll ever be.”
“Good.” Emily led them into the foyer.”
Still sitting on the stairway, Rebecca watched the trio emerge from the library.
“We’ve got flashing lights,” Emily noted the activity of the EMF detector. She stopped and stood at the foot of the staircase. “Hi,” she called out to the room. “My name is Emily. But I think you must already know that. Are you the woman who asked me to come here?” she paused to allow for an answer. After several seconds, she continued her questioning. “Are you upset that Sue has moved into your home?”
“Oh, please,” Rebecca groaned.
“Please,” Emily continued, “if you are here, can you give us a sign of your presence. Can you say something or make a noise?”
Impatient with the apparent lack of any response, Todd started his own questioning. “Hey, stop playing games,” he demanded aggressively.
Rebecca stood up then moved down the steps. “Time to get rid of him,” she muttered.
“Come on, don’t be afraid of us. Do something,” Todd insisted.
Rebecca smirked standing in front of him. “Like this?” she asked balling up her fist. “GO AWAY, TODD!” Rebecca screamed in his face.
Todd’s head snapped back with such force that the camcorder flew out of his hands. Before either woman could react, they watched in shock as the camcorder stopped in mid-flight then settled to the floor as if someone was gently placing it there.
Todd grabbed his face. “What the hell—”
“Todd!” Emily rushed to her assistant. “Did that really happen?”
“Must have,” Todd mumbled holding his broken nose. “I’m bleeding,”
“I’ll get a towel,” Sue said as she rushed toward the kitchen.
“Let him bleed,” Rebecca grumbled.
“Where’s the cam?” Todd asked pinching his nostrils together to stop the flow of blood.
“It’s okay. Something snatched it out of the air and set it on the floor. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Isn’t this place fantastic?”
“I wouldn’t call being hit in the nose by a ghost fantastic.”
Rebecca chuckled. “Well, you did ask for a sign.”
“You did ask for a sign,” Sue commented as she returned and handed Todd a wet cloth. “That looks pretty nasty, I think you should go to the hospital and get it checked out.”
“Are you kidding? I’m not leaving now.”
“But, you’re hurt.”
“Look, lady, this place is a gold mine, I’m not going anywhere.”
Rebecca again coiled her fist. “Oh, yes, you are,” she threatened.
“Hang on,” Emily said as she pushed buttons on her digital recorder.
“GO AWAY, TODD,” an angry voice shouted from recorder.
Emily laughed. “Boy, she really doesn’t want you here.”
“Well, I’m not leaving.”
Rebecca raised her fist.
“Yes, you are,” Emily told her assistant.
“Todd, Sue is right, that does look nasty.”
“Not if you stick around, you won’t,” Rebecca sneered.
“I know how you feel—this is obviously a very unique opportunity. But whoever is here wants you gone,” Emily persisted. “If we’re going to have any chance of finding out who she is and why she’s here, you’re going to have to leave.”
“No. I want you to go to the hospital and get checked out. Then go home. I’ll call you as soon as I’m finished here.”
“No, Todd. This is important… for Sue.” Emily was as surprised as the others when she added, “And for me.”
“For you? You mean your reputation. You don’t want me to get any of the glory, do you?”
“It has nothing to do with that. Look, I can’t explain how I know this but whoever is here needs something to happen tonight. And it seems you can’t be here for that. So, I’m telling you, as your boss, go to the hospital then go home.”
Smiling at Emily, Rebecca lowered her fist. “I knew you were the right one. I just knew it.”
“Okay, but you promise to call.”
“Yes, now get going. And be careful.”
Todd turned and walked toward the door, shoulders slumped in disappointment. “Have fun,” he said halfheartedly as he opened the door and walked outside.
Rebecca waited for the door to shut then quickly turned the lock. “Finally, he’s gone. Now we can get down to business.” She jumped in the air clicking her heels together then ran up the stairs.
“What was that?” Sue asked.
“I thought I heard something.”
“What did it sound like?”
“It sounded like…” Sue focused, trying to remember what exactly she had heard.
Emily was looking out the window, watching Todd climb into the SUV while still pressing the towel to his nose. “Sounded like what?” she asked as the SUV started to move away from the house. Hearing a startled gasp, she immediately shifted her attention to the woman standing a few feet away.
“Nooooooo, it couldn’t be.” Sue was white as a… well, a ghost and was shaking uncontrollably.
Emily rushed to her side. “Hey, are you okay?”
Sue shook her head. “I think I need to sit down,” she said sinking down onto one of the risers of the stairway.
Rebecca slapped herself on the side of the head. “Damn, you weren’t supposed to hear that.” Slowly, she made her way back down the staircase.
Emily settled beside Sue and, instinctively, began a slow soothing rubbing on her back. “This is my fault; I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to you being here. Sometimes, the activity can be pretty scary and people who aren’t used to it—”
“No, it’s not that.” Sue took a deep breath then released it. “I heard something… a sound. A very familiar sound.”
“My wife used to do this thing; it was kinda silly but we were watching an old musical one night and she went nuts when Gene Kelly did it. She got up right then and tried to recreate the move.” Sue smiled. “It took her a few tries but she mastered it that night.”
“Jumping in the air and clicking her heels together. She loved doing it.”
“That’s what you heard?”
Sue nodded. “Yes. It sounded just like when she did it. But that’s crazy.”
Emily softened her voice. “What happened to her?”
Sue sniffled. “She was coming home from work. She’d stayed later than usual for a meeting and I could tell she was tired when she called before leaving her office. She missed a stop sign. The truck driver had no chance to stop.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Me, too. She was my life.”
“Not any more, my love,” Rebecca whispered.
“When did she die?”
“It’ll be three years tonight.”
“She died on Halloween?”
“Yes. I think she would have liked that. She always loved Halloween.”
Emily considered her next question for a moment before asking, “Sue, don’t you think it odd that the woman who called me said I had to come here tonight?”
“What do you mean? Oh… no… you don’t think it was Becca? How?”
“Odder things have happened,” Emily said reaching behind them to place her digital recorder on a riser several steps above where they sat. She placed the EMF detector next to it. “I think we should see if someone will answer some questions now that Todd is gone.” She stood and walked toward the library.
“What are you doing?”
“I need something to set the camcorder on. I want to aim it up the staircase.”
Emily stopped and turned to look at Sue questioningly.
“Please don’t. If it is Rebecca, I don’t want to see her. I can’t.”
Emily frowned. She felt she was on the verge of something extraordinary. But if the entity was Sue’s wife… She nodded then walked back and sat down.
“Will she talk to us?” Sue asked nervously.
“Only one way to find out,” Emily said scooting to the end of the step and leaning against the balustrade. From that position she could watch the EMF and the stairway. “Rebecca, are you the entity in the house?”
“Entity? How rude.”
Sue looked at the EMF, its blank display remained unchanged. “Becca, is it you?” she asked uncertainly.
Rebecca smiled then slowly moved down the staircase.
Emily pointed to the EMF, its lights starting to blink. “Rebecca, can you talk to us? The recorder will capture whatever you say.”
Rebecca sat down on the step next to the recorder.
Emily asked a question then waited several seconds before asking a second. Again, she paused to allow for an answer but before she could ask another question Sue did.
When she was finished answering questions, Rebecca stood and slowly moved back up the steps.
The women watched the EMF’s lights go dark.
“Is she gone?” Sue asked fearfully.
Emily was already reaching for the recorder. She rewound it then hit the play button and heard her own voice burst from the speaker.
“Please tell us why you are here.”
“I’m sad,” a whispered voice answered.
“Is there something you want to tell Sue?”
“I’m so sorry,” the voice was gaining strength as it spoke. “I should have been more careful. What we had was too precious.”
“Becca, if you are here, why haven’t you moved on?”
“I can’t bear to see you so unhappy.”
“I’m not… Becca, I’m not mad at you. You should move on, you deserve that happiness.”
“So do you, my love. This is a good woman; she will love you as I did. Give her a chance. Give you a chance.”
“Becca, I loved you so much.”
“As I loved you.” Rebecca reached out and lightly touched Sue’s hair. She withdrew her hand. “Emily, take care of her. I must leave now.”
Emily stared at the recorder. Slowly, her eyes rose to meet Sue’s. “Was that…?”
Sue nodded, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Rebecca.”
“I, uh… I mean, I’ve never…”
Sue smiled nervously. “Had a ghost play match-maker?”
“Something like that. That was… un-freakin-belieavable.” Emily stood and moved on unsteady legs into the library. She returned moments later with a box of tissues and handed it to Sue then she sat back down. “I don’t know what to say.”
Sue laughed. “I imagine not,” she said drying her eyes.
“Well, at least, now we know why she didn’t want Todd here.”
“Three’s a crowd.”
Emily grinned. “He’s not going to believe this.”
“He will when he hears the recording.”
Emily stared at the digital recorder for several minutes. Then she hit the erase button.
“What are you doing?”
“Ruining my career as a paranormal investigator.”
Emily tossed the recorder at the set of carry cases across the room. “Because I don’t think you want anyone else to hear that.”
“You did that for me?”
Emily nodded. “For you… and for Rebecca.”
“Don’t worry. There’ll be other investigations… I hope.”
“Thank you.” Sue reached for Emily’s hands and tenderly wrapped her fingers around them. She was startled to feel something that had been missing in her life for a long time. She looked at Emily quizzically. “Are you… do you have… someone?”
Emily shook her head and smiled. “No. Single. My ex walked out on me six months ago. New girlfriend, one with a steady source of income.”
“I’m not,” Emily said looking at their entwined hands. Her eyes drifted up to meet Sue’s. “I don’t suppose you’d like to go someplace for dinner?”
“Why not. I don’t think there’s anything left here to investigate.”
“Are you sure?”
“I hope you are. I would hate to think of Rebecca being trapped here. I’ve always believed we must go to a better place after we die.”
“That’s a good belief.”
“I want her to be happy.”
“Seems she wants the same for you. So, how about dinner?”
“I’d love to but… before we start down that road, you have to know I’ll never stop loving her.”
Emily smiled. “I wouldn’t expect you to.”
Rebecca sighed. “And I’ll never stop loving you,” she murmured tearfully then vanished.