The Vickers Estate
In the days leading up to my investigation of the Vickers Estate, I had begun to suffer nightmares of a most horrifically vivid nature. These included ghastly visions of my body restrained by belts on hospital beds whilst bubbles beneath the skin of my forehead grew and shrank on the verge of bursting.
Needless to say, I awoke each night with a gasp and the sensation that I had just been submerged in a pool of warm salt water. I can recall myself waking to swat away the sweat atop my forehead each night, all while taking careful consideration to feel the area above my brows for lumps or other tumors.
By the fourth night, I had finally put it together in my mind that this was a premonition, as I was always a sound sleeper with a record of nine undisturbed hours under my belt seven days a week.
As I awoke on the fourth day, much under the trepidation of my spiraling anxiety, I chose to not fall back asleep until whatever it was that was heading my way was either discovered and-or totally dealt with.
It was before I started on my fruit bowl at breakfast that the letter, addressed to me from the Vickers Estate, made its way into my hands by a personalized delivery from the mailman who’d rung my bell with urgency.
Taking no time to go over the thing, I figured the letter was most likely what was going to put an end to my night terrors. How wrong I was, as opening the red wax seal only invited a slew of pleads urging me to drop any previous arrangements I had in the hopes that I would head south at once to the troubled Vickers Estate.
Reading on I learned that it was the caretaker, Michelson, who had requested me based on my dabbling knowledge of the occult. How word of my unnatural feats had ever reached him was beyond me, and in the short time I had actually spent in the house I had never remembered to ask just how it was that my name came to cross his mind.
This was but one of many lingering questions that played on my brain during the ride across the misty marshes that cut off the Vickers household from the rest of the state of Virginia.
For most of the ride, I had either stared into the distance of the approaching season of death or nodded off to the rocking of the carriage which, at the time, came as a comfort and welcome change to the four same walls of my humble Philadelphia apartment.
We came upon the estate by noon. After taking some time to inspect the surrounding grounds for myself, I sent the driver away and made my presence known to Michelson who had left the front door open for me as he sat, shaken and inebriated, in an armchair by the fireplace in the estate’s study.
As I opened the door and approached the fire, Michelson stood with a blanket covering his shoulders, welcoming me to the estate and apologizing for a draft I confessed I did not feel.
At first concerned about the unsecured nature of the house, Michelson assured me it was a request by the absent owners that every one of the doors be left unlocked at all times for reasons even he did not fully understand.
Moving past the formalities I at once got to asking the usual inquiries, much to the eagerness of Michelson’s fragile character. These included how long he’d been placed in charge of the estate, what he had experienced in his time there if anyone had spoken of these occurrences before, and possible ties to the phenomenon that had been plaguing him over the course of the supposed haunted.
We went back and forth for about an hour or so, sharing a few glasses of scotch each until Michelson grew tired, at which time I helped him to his bedroom.
Leaving him for only a few moments, I made myself comfortable in the single guest bedroom and began to arrange my belongings in preparation for our second meeting the following day.
With Michelson passed out drunk I was free to explore the house and experience its rarities for myself. From what Michelson had told me, the haunting would pick up at around six starting with faint distant laughter and the passing of shadowy figures behind doorframes.
By seven o’clock chains could be heard echoing down empty hallways while vacant corridors sounded as if heavy boots were being paraded about them.
By eight Michelson warned of vibrating walls and paintings that would tilt, but sit right back up by midnight. And finally, at nine there was to be a cold breeze that would blow the closed doors of the estate open, regardless of how hard they were shut, I would find, as well as an overall aura of grief that would weigh on the mind until ten.
From eleven o’clock to six after midnight the phenomenon experienced in the previous hours would fluctuate until coming to an abrupt halt just before the first-morning bird could be heard chirping outside.
The first night I had decorated Michelson and myself in pentagrams, silver, garlic, and warding scrolls. Trinkets that held up well against the chaotic night that was to follow.
Finally dozing off on the brink of six, I was pulled from my sleep at noon by Michelson’s concerned pleads as he half believed me to be dead with how sound I was slumbering.
After some green tea and my morning fruit bowl, I sat down Michelson and told him of how I stood up the previous night to see for myself all the strange occurrences in the hopes of possibly finding the cause.
I told him that the eradication of the cause of these ghostly occurrences would come as a joyous task for me and that there was little to fear as my extensive knowledge of the supernatural most likely surpassed that of any modern-day magician or psychic.
In truth, I was concerned. While it was not entirely true that the first night’s phenomenon had scared me out of my wits, my worries lied in how general the occurrences seemed.
Almost as if it was the house itself that was plagued. Over dinner, I explained to Michelson about how human energy has a way of latching onto items, people, and locations, with the ladder being one of the only three I had no previous experience in.
Still, even through my defeated tone Michelson’s belief in me did not waver. So convinced was he of my talents that it was Michelson who suggested I use him as bait in my investigation.
At first, I wasn’t sure, but after realizing he had been exposed to the forces of the house for so much longer than I, the thought began to grow. By six o’clock that evening I had discarded the pentagrams and the garlic, only keeping a crucifix of silver close with Michelson standing by my side.
He held our lantern after making the rounds to ensure all the doors were locked and all the lights were out. Apart from this we removed all the portraits off the walls and set up long electric bulbs at the center and far ends of each hallway.
This was to see how the spirits, or whatever would pass through here each night, would react to the new energy sources. I ordered the doors of the estate bolted shut as I wanted to see firsthand if the strange nightly wind would truly blow them open regardless.
By the time we had finished our preparations the sounds of the chains had started up. This night was one of inspection. To test the waters of the haunting to determine whether or notches haunt was harmless or aggressive.
At the base of each frame along the walls, the paintings we had taken down began to shake. After that the laughter grew faint as thunder cracked unmercifully, leading to every door within the estate all flying open at the exact same instant.
The timing was ungodly, sending Michelson and myself toppling to the floor in fear. After we fell there lifted a faint echoing laughter which I took some offense to.
It was my this time that I deduced that the invisible force was an incredibly powerful poltergeist. Handing my silver crucifix over to Michelson, I urged him to head to my room and to make himself comfortable by the tomes and garlic wreaths I had piled on the edge of my bed until my estimated return at midnight.
My new approach was to go at the halls naked and alone. To stroll into the center of the metaphysical den to locate and secure the weakness of what I found myself up against.
With the maddening sounds of torment and chaos in a maelstrom of fury around me, I kept a sharp mind to keep my breathing steady and to stay in control of my nerves as I went looking for the menacing laughter in the dark.
Its presence was as strong as a humid fog that had begun to drain the life out of every waking thing the longer it loomed. In the pitch abyss, my lantern had failed me, and with the dying of my final light, I could feel the influence of the poltergeist grow in over my head.
Right then I was awaiting some misfortune, some occurrence, or some accident to befall me which made itself tangible in the falling of hallway chandelier that I’d happened to be barely under at the time.
As it smashed beside me there ran a streak of lightning down my spine. Without another breath, I darted down the hall for my room while the choking laughter of the poltergeist shook the foundation of the estate around me.
Midnight was almost upon us, and as of then, I felt as if I had gotten nowhere, worrying that I had possibly made the situation worse by exhibiting obvious fear in the face of such a supremely ethereal parasitic entity.
Finding myself back at Michelson’s side in the guest room, I looked down over my tools and tomes, fully aware that the time to turn the tables was there and then.
With the dark force slowly approaching, I quickly told Michelson about how the poltergeist must reach its strongest point at midnight. Why it had chosen to haunt the Vickers Estate, and the reason behind its existence and choice of haunting hours I still did not know.
Normally tragedies in life carried on over the years which led to hauntings. People who die painfully or in fits of anger usually leave their negativity behind to fester and grow to exact some misguided vengeance on the living.
But according to Michelson this house was relatively new and had been built only sixteen years prior and with one owner in charge of it the entire time.
I asked Michelson if he had worked here in all that time and if this phenomenon had always taken place within the house. Michelson confessed to only serving in the estate for the last seven years, but did finally admit to noticing that the haunting had only taken place over the last four.
I was a bit angered, and felt this fact might have helped lead to a shorter case. At this point, it was clear to me that the cause of the poltergeist’s presence must have originated from something brought into the house over the last four years.
I knew at once that whatever this thing was, I had to find it and destroy it. Only then would this spirit depart. I told Michelson to fall behind me as I grabbed the Tome of Endymion and chanted lines seven through thirteen of the spell for warding off the dead. By this time a grey, skeletal hand had begun to make its way through the door.
By God, you should have seen it. It was the first time, Michelson said, that the poltergeist had ever physically manifested itself. It crept up on us slowly as heavy winds within the room blew my papers and occult trinkets onto the ground.
As Michelson and myself were backed into the corner we felt as if the room was coming alive, ready to swallow us. Finally, the second hand of the spectral entity burst through the door to the guest bedroom, only this one was flailing and grabbing at the air.
Almost as if the ghostly apparition couldn’t make it all the way through. That was when I remembered the small holy Japanese scroll I had stuck to the bottom of the door.
A little trick I picked up Osaka during my travels. This was enough to keep the powerful entity back, as any attempt on the poltergeist’s part to tear the paper away would result in its ethereal body decomposing.
Michelson and myself waited out the night in that room, dodging flying objects until the wind settled down, glaring at the ghostly arms coming through the door until they pulled back, and waiting until the sun began to peek into the bedroom from over the hill.
The moment the phenomenon ceased I demanded Michelson tell me of what great event occurred within the house four years ago relating to a gift or some obtained item.
Michelson explained how the owner, Master Vickers, was an archeologist of sorts and had come back from a two-year exploration of the Amazon four years ago in which he and his team uncovered the lost remanence of a long dead tribe.
It was here that Michelson said Vickers had brought back with him a rather malevolent looking mask made of clay and painted to be gold. Without another word I had Michelson take me to the mask, which was kept away in the farthest box in the estate’s attic.
Finding the thing was no trouble, as Vickers had labeled every box he’d ever filled with relics he had taken from his expeditions. Taking the mask downstairs, Michelson followed along close behind me, eager as to what I was going to do with it.
Michelson did not lie. The mask certainly was ugly. Red gems ran down the sides with the devilish eyes cut out, while green pieces of a marble-like polished substance had been pressed into clay that was painted a faded golden color.
I knew nothing about ancient civilizations so there was little I could bring to the table when assuming the origin of the thing. All I knew in that moment upon picking it up was that it had to be destroyed.
I asked the hopeful caretaker of what Master Vickers would think if he was to come home to find his tribal Amazonian mask smashed to pieces on a rock outside.
Michelson couldn’t care more, as he was prepared to smash every relic in the house if that’s what it took to stop the haunting. I nodded, took the mask outside and broke it over a boulder with a hammer provided to me by Michelson.
That following night, after a six-hour nap, Michelson and I headed to my room, surrounded ourselves in silver, crosses, pentacles, and scrolls, and waited for seven o’clock to roll around.
Just as predicted, the phenomenon had ceased. I had disposed of the broken mask pieces in a fire while explaining to Michelson that, while I was not an intellectual in regards to ancient tribal practices, I was aware that most long dead civilizations believed in infusing human souls into objects, and that through breaking those objects the spirits trapped within would be set free.
I, of course, stayed on one more night to make sure the haunting had truly met its end, and after a full night’s sleep I collected my payment from Michelson, shook the joyously jovial caretaker’s hand, and bid the Vickers Estate farewell as I added another completed case to my ever-growing list of successful investigations.
That night I headed home with a clear mind and was no longer plagued by visions of belts on hospital beds or bubbles atop my brow. No, that night I slept like a rock, wondering how Michelson was going to get on in that quiet house.
Especially now since he had grown so accustomed to that old dreadful haunting.