Soul Bringer

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Untraversable Thresholds

The cameras were turned off and long put away. The lights were folded up and stowed back on the trucks. They struck the set, most of the staff had gone home for the evening, and dinner was canceled. It took nearly an hour to carefully remove the four dozen bottles of highly sought after vintages and to muscle the heavy wine rack away that was blocking the short corridor leading to the old wooden door which evaded Vince for decades. Standing just outside the door in that cramped hallway, armed with the information given to him by the Carmichael spirits, Grayson was about to show Vince the “key” that eluded everybody.

“You see, the key is the lock,” he started, fiddling with some of the ornate ironwork inlays that decorated the locking mechanism as Vince looked on. Pushing on the lever with his right hand and turning the seemingly useless knob that otherwise did nothing to unlock the door, Grayson then reached above the door and pushed on one of the stone moldings that surrounded the old door until he heard a click as the spirits instructed. It was then that the lever released the deadbolt and a screechy metal sliding sounded. The old wooden door was unlocked! With a massive jolt, Grayson pulled hard on the metal handle, breaking the seal on the door, opening it for the first time in this century. Immediately, the musty stench of a hundred-year-old air breached the hallway, giving the two an early indication of what lay dormant in the room behind the door.

“You gotta be kidding me,” Vince remarked, surprised. “The door was a puzzle? Who would’ve thought of that? No wonder we couldn’t get it open with a locksmith!” He was beyond thrilled.

With a heavy and tired creaking sound, Grayson pulled the old, heavy door open all the way, revealing a rather large and unlit room on the other side. “We’re going to need a flashlight or something, Vince.”

“Oh, Right! Doug!” Vince called toward the cellar stairs. “Bring the LED lantern!”

“Okay!” Doug’s voice echoed from upstairs.

“When’s the last time you think a Carmichael set foot in this room, Vince?”

“I don’t know for sure - a hundred years? More? This door has been locked to us since I got the house over twenty years ago. Before that, I don’t know if Great Grandad ever used the room.”

“Well, from what I learned upstairs, this room has been sealed since the late 1800s. It was your Great-Great-Grandfather Owen Carmichael, who was the last person to set foot in the room behind this door and now you’re about to be the next person to breach its threshold.”

The Carmichael family had strong roots in Killington, Vermont, back when it was known by the name of Sherburne in the early-1800s. First, making their money during the wool boom and then in the real estate, the family diversified into hops farming following the Civil War and then ultimately grew the family estate from their investments in the booming railroad business. The sixth-generation off the boat, Vince Carmichael, was born into the old money by parents who both made names for themselves in the high-end real estate business of the mid-’70s. The product of private education, followed by a tour of duty through Harvard attaining his business degree, Vince was in his early twenties when the TV bug hit him after taking a ‘blowoff’ communications class about television broadcasting. Like tossing a cinder block on the brake pedal, Vince found the prospect of television fame more rewarding than the new fortune he could ever garner from working in business. Just like that, destiny intervened. Following a few stints at network studios in all of the typical intern and entry-level starting positions, Vince did what any other high energy man of wealth would do who didn’t want to wait for his time in front of the camera: he bought his own studio and made himself the star of the broadcasts. The investment was not that great of a risk; Vince was good in front of the camera. It was less than a year before a couple of the networks started to reach out to his people for exclusive content with Vince as the host. Before long, he was syndicating news segments and providing filler content for many networks and cable channels. With his love of the weird, strange and fantastical as his driving force, Vince ultimately found his way to the creation of his Halloween Week special, an annual two-hour program that ran in syndication across the globe. Pop culture grew to learn that if something outlandish, scary, or remotely odd were out there, Vince Carmichael would usually be there to cover it.

“Here you go, Vince,” Doug brought in the hand-held LED lantern bright enough to light up a warehouse.

“Thanks.” He took the lantern, moved past Grayson, and entered the large room. “Is it possible there could be lights in here?”

“Highly unlikely if this room has been sealed off since the late 1800s,” Grayson suggested.

“The last time a human sat in this room, they likely used oil lanterns. You may want to bring some of those light stands in here from our interview.”

“Doug, can you please?”

“Sure, Vince,” and he was off again.

Vince stepped into the large room with the LED lantern lighting the way. At first glance, it appeared to be a small, round library or sitting room with ornate wood moldings, stone highlights, and brass fixtures. Was this a poker room? He wondered. The bright light from the bulb was throwing long shadows everywhere, making it difficult to make out the surroundings in the space. In the center of the room was a round mahogany table with four leather armchairs surrounding it and they sat on what appeared to be an intricate stone floor inlay, complete with marble trimming and random gems. The most remarkable feature of the room was that it was, in fact, an octagonal room with three other closed doors in every-other wall of its eight sides. Counting the door they just breached, there were a total of four entrances to the room offset with pictures of the family on the other walls. “What a weird room,” he offered, “It’s an octagon with four doors.”

The hair on the back of Grayson’s neck raised. To him, this was more than crossing over untraversable thresholds. Discovering that this room was in the shape of an octagon, which in some circles symbolized eternal life, regeneration, and rebirth - it was all a little weird and hit close to home. What was this room really used for? He wondered.

Sitting on the table was a small, steel box, about the size of a tackle box, only it had fancy border pressed into the steel lid and simple push-button fastener that kept it closed when not in use.

“What’s this?” He asked, putting the lantern onto the table to inspect the box. Wiping away the cobwebs and without hesitation, he pushed the simple button and opened the box. Inside was a weird metal key with an eye symbol etched in it, an old scroll of paper with some writing and two 1-kilo gold bars. “Holy shit, look at this!” he said with a laugh. “We struck gold, Grayson!” Vince didn’t need the money - this was all more about the thrill of finally discovering what was behind the old cellar door.

“Oh, that’s not the only thing,” Grayson quickly replied. “I have been told that key is a one-of-a-kind skeleton key that will not only open any door of this house but is the only key to open the other three locked doors in this room.”

“What’s behind them? Did they tell you? Let’s open them!” Vince was like a little kid at Christmas.

“Hold up, Vince. I was given some broad-stroke ideas what could be behind those doors, but it’s the scroll of paper that is the biggest treasure if you believe what your ancestors believe.”

“What do they believe?” He asked as he unrolled the scroll revealing words written in a foreign language. “What language is this?”

“Supposedly, if you decipher what that scroll says, it will direct you to the family fortune buried underneath this room - and perhaps reveal additional secrets about this room.”

Vince stopped suddenly to look at Grayson. “What?! The rumors are real?”

“Listen to me carefully. This gets tricky,” Grayson attempted to explain, “these three doors... one door leads to the fortune, while the two other doors, if opened, sabotage the true entrance to the fortune and trigger some sort of booby trap, destroying everything that lies beneath the stone floor of this room.”

Vince took a moment to take it in, only to come back with a “What? Why would they boobytrap the family fortune? What the hell kind of sinister shit is that?”

“I know, Vince, stay with me here. Remember, it was the late 1800′s, post-civil war, the economy was booming in Vermont, and your family had a lot of money stored down here. If word got out that your relatives were sitting on this pile of riches instead of tucking it away safely in the town bank, they most assuredly would be robbed. Your Great-Great-Grand-Father Owen took measures to ensure that the family fortune would be safe. Unfortunately, the secret - along with how to get into this room and which door was the right door to open - died with him.”

Vince’s mind was on overdrive at this point. “Can’t we just go back upstairs and have you talk to him in the garden amongst the other spirits?”

“Your Great-Great-Grandfather Owen was not one of the souls I encountered this evening, Vince.”

“Can you go up there and call out to him or summon him or something?”

“As I explained during the interview, I can’t summon spirits, Vince. They seek me out. If he’s not already out there wandering about looking for a medium, I won’t be able to get his attention.”

“So, what do we do now?” Vince exhaled, “I’m not going to dig through this floor.”

“You’d risk triggering the booby trap if you did that anyway.”

“Right. So, which door do we choose?” he grabbed the skeleton key.

“Well,” Grayson put his hands up, “my suggestion would be to get that scroll transcribed as it is likely the best was to learn more about this octagon room and to figure out what door is the right door to open. I don’t think you want to play roulette with these doors.”

“Why would he put the answer in a steel box - only to place it on a table in the middle of the room for anybody that entered the room to get it?”

“You have a lot of questions for the man who is the first of his relatives to set foot in this fantastic room in over a hundred years, Vince,” Grayson smiled. “Take a minute and think about that little victory.”

“Indeed,” Vince agreed with a grateful sigh, “and it wouldn’t have been possible without you and your gift. Thank you, Grayson.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Vince, really, it was my pleasure.”

“Speaking of questions, I do have another one for you,” Vince looked at Grayson. “Why on earth, my friend, would you have me turn off the cameras and miss all of this?”

Grayson stood in silence for a moment as he tried to register whether his host was serious or not. “I just thought you might like to keep this family business private, Vince.”

“Are you kidding?” Vince smiled. “This room alone and all of its secrets will make for a great Halloween Week special! We’re going to need to recreate the door opening and record the opening of the correct door to the fortune and - think of the viewership!”

Grayson nodded as he suddenly remembered who’s house he was standing in, “You’re right, Vince. My bad.” It was then that he was reminded that it was all about the ratings with Vince.

With that, Andreanna entered the room to meet up with the guys. “Wow, what kind of room is this?” she marveled. “Looks like a fancy library room. Maybe it was like some nineteenth-century man-cave?”

Grayson’s raised his eyebrows at the possible thought.

“I like that, Andreanna!” Vince remarked. “It does have an old smell of cigar down here. Imagine the card games Great-Great-Grand-Dad had in this room with some of the town tycoons!”

“If those gold bars say something about those gatherings, Great-Great-Grand-Dad Owen had some high roller friends. Those two bars are over one-hundred grand in today’s money. Imagine their worth, back when he was using this room. That’s not just some playing around money.”

“Good point, Grayson. It adds only more questions to what this room’s true use was back in the day,” he began to roll the scroll up, “Say, do you know somebody that can take a look at this and transcribe it?”

Grayson looked over to Andreanna and cracked a little smile. “I may know a guy.”

“Why don’t you just take this whole box with you?”

“How about if I take the box with the key and scroll, but you hold on to the gold? Probably not a good idea to go traveling around with gold bars shaking around in a metal box.”

“Good point,” Vince agreed, only to look toward the corridor and shout, “Doug, we’re going to need a camera down here tomorrow and we need to call the crew back in the morning.”

“On that note, Vince, I think Andi and I will be on our way...”

“And Grayson,” Vince interrupted as he pointed at his guest with a smile, “you are something else. I appreciate all that you’ve done here tonight, but you do owe me a follow-up interview so we can finish this Halloween Week piece.”

Grayson smiled back. He had come to know what Vince Carmichael was about. While he still didn’t understand his host’s drive to capturing everything on camera, he did at least appreciate his work ethic as well as his dedication to his craft. “How about we schedule some time next week in my studio to get the rest of the interview, Vince? Will that work for you?”

Andreanna smiled at the prospect of finishing the interview.

With a smile still upon his face, Vince replied, “Very well, my friend. I’ll have Doug connect with your staff to set up some time. Safe travels to you both.”

“Thanks, Vince,” Grayson extended his hand.

“Thank you, again,” he said, grasping his guest’s hand firmly. Their eyes met and there was an understanding. Grayson made a new ally this day.

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