Henry seemed hesitant to go upstairs. I could see his skin begin to flush the further up he went, and his fists were clenched tightly. Obviously, these ghosts had taken a toll on him.
“You okay, Henry?” I asked, concerned for his well-being. Spirits typically fed on fear and he was showing every sign of fear in the book.
“Uh, yeah. Just get a little nervous when I come up here,” he said, finally reaching the top of the staircase. “The room that my boy talks in is just over here.”
When we reached the room, I observed my surroundings carefully. It was a plain room, with walls that looked like they hadn’t been painted in years. On the outside wall, there was a fireplace that had been sealed off some time ago, likely before Henry’s family ever moved in. There was an armchair in the corner by the fireplace, a side table resting beside it.
“My son, Shaun, usually sits in that armchair and talks to… Whatever it is he’s talking to.”
I glanced at the armchair and could tell it was older than most of Henry’s other furniture. “Was that armchair here before you moved in?”
“Yeah. It’s the only piece of furniture that the last owners didn’t take with them. I figured it was probably worth some money as an antique and I was going to have it appraised before tossing it out. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
“Henry, if you don’t mind I’d like to spend a few moments alone up here. I find the spirits are less hesitant to approach if I’m alone.”
“Sure,” Henry said, sounding hesitant. “Let me know if you need anything.”
The ghost’s skin was pale and her eyes looked dead and black.
I stood in silence until I heard his footsteps fade down the stairwell. Once I was sure he was gone, I approached the armchair and sat down. I closed my eyes and took three deep breaths. The familiar shallow breathing and rapid heart rate soon overtook me. When I opened my eyes, I saw a small figure pass the doorway in my peripheral. Although I didn’t completely see who it was, I knew deep down that it was the little girl I had seen in the street on the way here.
Rather than standing and pursuing the ghost, I continued to sit in silence. For a moment, nothing else happened, but then it hit me. A stench, similar to the smell of roadkill after it’s been sitting out for days on end, hit me like a wave. I stifled a gag and put my left hand to my mouth and nose. A few tears streamed from my eyes and I wiped them away. I almost jumped out of my skin when my hand left my eyes and I saw an old woman standing in the center of the room in front of me.
The ghost’s skin was pale and her eyes looked dead and black. The only thing I can compare them to in hindsight are the eyes of a shark. I gripped the arms of the chair forcefully, hearing the sound of the fabric beneath my fingers groaning from the pressure. The old woman and I maintained eye contact and didn’t say a word for what felt like an eternity.
“Wh-who are you?” I finally demanded after finding my courage.
As the woman opened her mouth to reply, a small amount of black dust poured out. Before she could muster a response, however, the little girl from earlier peeked around the corner of the doorway and the woman flinched and turned toward it. The girl ran away and the elderly spirit walked swiftly behind in chase.
“Wait!” I called, standing from the chair and running to the doorway behind it. When I turned the corner and peered down the hall they had proceeded toward, it was empty.
“Everything okay?” Henry asked from down the stairs.
“Everything is fine,” I said as I walked back down the stairs and saw Henry. His face had regained some of its color but I could tell he was spooked by my callout upstairs. “You definitely have a ghost infestation in this home. The most prevalent one was an old woman but she wouldn’t tell me who she is.”
Henry’s mouth stood agape as he heard the information I was relaying. It took a few seconds for him to process it, but once he did he spoke up. “So what do we do now?”
“Well first,” I responded. “I need to talk to your son, Shaun. I want to know what he’s seen, and most importantly, what the ghosts are telling him.”