As Sebastian pulled onto an unfamiliar street, I could still tell that we were near my place. The streets were lined up the same way, with the houses hugging right up to the sidewalks and built close together. I noticed he was pulling over to the right side of the street, coming to a complete stop at a creole cottage style house with white shutters and a small porch. What I thought was quite beautiful and unique was how the porch was made of the famous wrought iron from the French Quarter. It was absolutely stunning.
However, at a closer look, I noticed a glow around the home that none of the other ones had. At first, I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me, a glow casting from the porch light, but when the light should be blacked out from the porch itself, the glow continued on. I blinked several times but it was still there.
“Am I crazy? Or, is there a glow around this house?” I nodded to the one in question, wondering whose place it was.
Sebastian leaned over towards me, looking up at the same house before I noticed a small smile spread across his lips.
“That’s my place and that’s incredible that you can see that. I put up a protective bubble around my place so that when I’m gone, nothing can come in.” He leaned away from me, shutting off the truck before he got out.
I continued to stare at the strange glow around the house and wondered how that protected his house? And what was he protecting it from?
Sebastian opened the door for me, holding his hand out to help me as I stepped onto the sidewalk and stared back up at the house.
“What are you protecting it from?” I finally asked, wondering if he’d tell me. I’d imagined this isn’t the kind of conversation he was used to having, or maybe it was. I didn’t know him all that well yet.
“It’s protected from unwanted spirits,” Sebastian replied like it was the most normal thing in the world to do.
I let out a small laugh, shaking my head. I have a feeling that I’m barely just scratching the surface with all this paranormal stuff but I can’t help but laugh at his statement. He’s protecting his house from unwanted spirits. What the hell does that even mean? Are there spirits we don’t want around? I mean, I get it if it’s a demon or something but what else is out there that could be bad?
Sebastian didn’t answer my thoughts for once and I was actually surprised. He claimed he couldn’t read my mind but I was honestly wondering if that was true or not. He had answered unspoken questions so many times that I lost count.
“Come on, let me show you around before we get started on lesson two.” Sebastian climbed the steps to the cottage, stopping when I didn’t follow behind him.
I couldn’t stop staring at the glow of the house that I hadn’t looked at the actual house itself. But to be honest, I wasn’t missing out on much. The place looked like it hadn’t been painted in years as it had begun peeling from the siding, leaving debris along the porch.
“I know it’s not much to look at yet, but I just bought the place a few weeks ago,” Sebastian said over his shoulder as he stopped to wait for me.
And here we go again, him answering my thoughts. How does he keep doing that?
“It looks fine,” I lied. Now, I’m not a prude by any means, but the place seriously needed some major TLC.
He waited for me at the front door as I ascended the concrete steps, waiting just behind him. I watched him stick the key in the front door before he stopped to look at me over his shoulder again.
“I just want to warn you that you might be a little freaked out by the inside.”
I felt my eyebrows scrunch together in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I collect…” he paused to ponder the word he was looking for, “eclectic items. Some are a bit spooky if you ask me.”
One look at the guy and I realized he was definitely the type who would own weird objects so it didn’t surprise me.
But little did I know that it actually did.
As we stepped inside, my eyes scanned over the front hall walls that were lined with frames, and at a better glance, I saw several strange images in each. What was strange about these images was that they held death in each one; a portrayal of a beheading in one while another was of a hanging. Why in the world would he collect such dark and horrifying things?
The hall was filled with other unrecognizable artifacts, all looking ancient and medieval and I wondered how much he spent on these items. The rest of what I saw was pure beauty. Even though the outside looked horrendous, the inside made up for it.
Most of the woodwork in the hall was a dark maple and antique wallpaper clung to the plaster. A staircase led up on the left side of the hall with several stacks of books leaned against the wall, perched on the stairs.
“Don’t like to read much, do you?” I joked.
“Just wait until you see my library.” He laughed.
Library? From the outside, the place didn’t look bigger than a three-bedroom, single-family home, but apparently he has a library now. How big is this place?
“Why don’t you take a quick look around and I’ll go put some tea on. You like tea, right?”
I only nodded, still mesmerized by all the artifacts around me. I stopped looking at the photos on the wall because they were making me uncomfortable. Why would he have so much death hanging on the wall when you first come in? How depressing.
Sebastian walked straight back, past the staircase and I went into the first room to the right. The ceilings in the home were surprisingly tall for being such a small home and I noticed a small chandelier in this particular room. It must be his living room because a black couch sat in the middle of the room, coupled with matching armchairs and unique end tables that looked like old logs. This room made me a bit uncomfortable with its dark crimson wallpaper and lack of any real light. Most candles give off more light than the lamps in the room.
I tried looking for a light switch for the chandelier but when I began searching for one, I noticed a pocket door near the back of the room. There was a small light illuminating from the room and my feet began carrying me there.
The pocket doors were quite heavy and I needed to use some extra force to push them open. When the doors slid into the walls, I scanned the area in front of me. A large pool table sat in the center of the room while shelves covered the walls with more books than I’d ever seen one person having. I guess I found the library.
My hand ran across the top of the pool table, feeling the smoothness of the finish, as my eyes roamed the room. This room felt different than the other one and there was a cold draft in here, sending chills up my arms.
A few sconces sat on each side of the bookshelves, giving off a small amount of light but it was enough lighting to allow me to read some of the titles. I had never heard of any of these books but that didn’t surprise me either. Most of them were paranormal studies and the like. Apparently, Sebastian’s into this stuff more than I thought.
I felt more than heard, something behind me. And when I spun to look, I inhaled a sharp, terrified breath and jumped back into the bookshelf. Several books fell on the floor as I tried to decipher what I was looking at.
Underneath the pool table was a strange-looking being. The tone of its skin was grey and the clothing it wore was tattered and barely hanging on it. All of the hair on its head was melted off and its skin looked boiled. It didn’t say a word as it stared intently into my eyes.
Every hair on my body stood up as I stood frozen in my spot. I was too afraid to even scream. It almost felt like this thing’s eyes were holding me captive; its aura keeping me silent. I didn’t know how to explain it. Tears filled my eyes as my terror continued to ripple through me.
When the thing began moving, it started crawling towards me, its legs swinging over its elbows in a strange position. It wasn’t human, that much I could tell. It began crawling a bit faster, almost coming out from underneath the pool table when another door opened and Sebastian stood there.
As soon as I saw Sebastian, it was as if my entire body broke free from its frozen state. I broke down in tears, trying to catch my breath as I pointed towards the pool table.
“Emersyn? Are you alright?” He genuinely looked concerned as he stepped farther into the room.
“Th-there was a- a…” I was stuttering, still not able to catch my breath as I looked back underneath the pool table. The thing was gone, no sign of it ever being there. But, what did I expect? That there would be ectoplasm there like on Ghostbusters? Unlikely.
“There was a what?” Sebastian inquired, following my gaze to the pool table. He came around it, standing near me as he placed his hand on the small of my back. The warmth from his hand seemed to slightly warm my chilled skin, allowing me to breathe deeper.
“A thing. I don’t…” I didn’t know how to explain it to him without him thinking I was completely nuts. That’s been the habit of things lately. Me thinking I’m crazy because of all this crazy stuff happening to me. Is this how everyone feels when strange things happen to them? Surely I can’t be the only one to feel this way.
“What thing?” Sebastian asked again, sounding a bit more agitated than I had expected.
“A thing! It was grey and creepy looking with no hair and burned skin. It started crawling at me!” I blurted out, feeling frustrated that he was beginning to sound like he was annoyed with me at the moment.
“A grey thing. Creepy and no hair.” It sounded as if he was mocking me and I didn’t care for it.
“I know what I saw, Sebastian,” I bit out, feeling annoyed by his presence at the moment.
“I didn’t say you didn’t see anything, did I?” He stepped back up to me and gripped my biceps, staring me directly in the eyes. “There was nothing under the pool table. I would know of a weird grey creature living underneath it. Trust me when I say nothing was there. Perhaps it was a shadow cast from the lights. This house is notorious for doing that.” He was gripping my arms tighter as if he was trying to make me believe his words but I wasn’t about to. I know what I saw.
“I know what I…”
A woman’s voice echoed from the front hall and I watched Sebastian’s face turn from irritation to… was that fear? Who could be here that made him this unsettled?
“Shit,” he cursed lightly, finally releasing my arms.
He stepped away from me to head towards the front hall and I was right behind him. There was no way I was going to stay in that room alone, whether the thing disappeared or not. I wasn’t going to stick around to see if it was going to come back.
“What are you doing here?” I heard Sebastian bite out.
Rude, I thought to myself.
“It’s Friday; we always meet on Fridays,” the woman’s voice answered him.
As soon as I stood in the doorway to the front hall, I felt my heart rate picked up several beats. I knew this woman but couldn’t remember her name.
One look at me and I knew she recognized me as well. A small smile tugged at her lips as she pushed Sebastian to the side and grabbed my hand.
“It’s so nice to see you again. I still haven’t figured out where I know you from but it will come to me.”
“Nila,” Sebastian growled out as I noticed him reach behind his head and pull the binder out. His hair fell over his shoulders before he ran a hand through it frustratingly.
As soon as he said her name, I remembered where I knew her from. She was the woman who came up to me at the Autumn Equinox Fair, talking to me like we were old friends before she handed me her card and told me to look her up for a reading. It was even more strange now that she stood here in Sebastian’s house. How did they know each other?
“I didn’t realize you two knew each other,” Nila spoke, releasing my hand before turning to look at Sebastian. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
“We were in the middle of a lesson,” Sebastian lied, looking angrier than I had ever seen him. What’s his deal with this woman? Were they not friends as I had first suspected?
The smile on her face widened as she turned back to me. “A lesson, huh? Can I assist?”
“No,” Sebastian immediately answered.
Nila was still eyeing me suspiciously. “It’s driving me crazy that I can’t place your face. You honestly don’t know who I am?”
I shook my head, honestly not knowing her. The only thing we had in common was the Autumn Equinox Fair but I never saw any psychics there any year I went with Brad. There was no way I knew her.
“Nila, may I have a moment alone with you?” Sebastian was glaring at her when she turned to look at him. “In the other room.”
They walked past me, Sebastian staring at the back of her head with pure anger as she winked at me.
Once they were alone in the other room, I felt uncomfortable standing here alone. After seeing that creepy thing under the pool table, I didn’t ever want to be alone in this house again. But one look at the photos of death hanging on the walls and I immediately didn’t want to be standing here alone either.
I looked towards the back of the house where I knew the kitchen was and headed that way. He mentioned something about tea and I wondered if it was done yet.
As I walked back towards the kitchen, I saw a door underneath the stairs and wondered where it went. I’m not curious enough to open it, though. There was something creepy about it.
When I reached the kitchen, I was amazed by how beautiful it was. Huge windows filled the back wall, looking outside to small fruit trees in the backyard. The kitchen was white and sterile looking, nothing like the rest of the house with its dark antique wallpaper and even darker wood.
What caught my eye almost immediately were all the herbs hanging upside down near the windows. There were also shelves built in front of the windows that held several bottles of different shapes and sizes. I had no idea what was in any of them and I didn’t plan on finding out. There was enough weirdness going on in this house without me snooping around weird medicinal bottles.
As I stood next to the island, I could hear their faint voices from the next room: the pool table room. And found myself holding my breath to listen more carefully. It was difficult to hear what they were saying but I did manage to catch a few words here and there. They were discussing something about Scotland and possibly ruining everything. I have no idea what either of those things could mean. And, why were they discussing Scotland? That part really threw me for a loop.
After a moment of silence, the door opened and nearly made me jump out of my skin. My hand flew up to my chest as I watched both of them file into the kitchen, Sebastian shutting the door behind them. I was thankful for that because I didn’t want to look in that room again.
I noticed that Nila was keeping her gaze down as she walked past me.
“It was nice seeing you, Emersyn, but I must be going.” Her gaze continued downwards as she walked by me, not once glancing at me and I found that to be extremely odd considering she was all about me when she first arrived. What had Sebastian said to her in there?
“I’m going to follow her out and then I’ll be back,” Sebastian stated, walking past me as well.
When the room was quiet again, I began snooping with my eyes once more. The windows were very mesmerizing and I wondered what it looked like in the daylight. I’ll bet the room was filled with life from the sun. Compared to my tiny house with small windows, this kitchen made me envious.
“Emersyn,” a voice whispered.
All the hairs on my neck stood up as I instantly looked towards the creepy room’s door. When I noticed it was still closed, I looked behind me and thought maybe Sebastian was messing with me. But one glance down the long hallway told me he was still standing at the front door with Nila.
I turned back towards the windows and that’s when I saw it: a woman’s face in the window, staring back at me. I immediately froze, holding my breath once again. However, she didn’t frighten me as the creature did in the next room. No, this woman made me feel almost comforted, although I didn’t know who she was. Her lips were moving but I couldn’t hear her words, much like the Captain from the cemetery.
“Hello?” I asked in a shaky voice.
Her lips continued to move but then I noticed her expression morphed into fear when she looked behind me. I followed her gaze, only to find Sebastian walking back towards me. Why was she afraid of Sebastian?
When I turned to look at the woman in the windows again, she was gone. Strange, I thought to myself. Where did she go?
“Sorry about the interruption,” Sebastian stated, sounding like his normal self again. I didn’t know what was going on but an uncomfortable feeling overtook me as I remembered the frightened woman in the windows. She was obviously afraid of him for some reason, a reason I’d like to figure out.
“It’s fine,” I lied, not wanting to see that angry side of him again. “It’s getting late, I should probably get home.” Not only had this been the most terrifying and confusing night of my life, I really was getting tired.
“But I haven’t shown you the next lesson. I promise it won’t be long but will help you understand a lot.” The look on his face told me he wasn’t going to let me go home until I went through with this next lesson.
I sighed. “Fine. What do you have to show me now?”
He grinned, his demeanor completely changing.
“Follow me.” He spun and left the kitchen, heading back towards the front door but then I watched him start to climb the stairs. I was genuinely curious to see what was upstairs, so I followed him up, ignoring the deep feeling of dread filling my stomach.
After we passed the books lining the steps, we reached the top landing. I continued to follow him towards a room at the end of the hallway, surprised to find it had the same style and taste as the other rooms.
However, this room was different. There was a table in the center of the room with a few wooden chairs surrounding it. The tablecloth on the table was pressed white linen, flowing all the way to the floor. The room was darker than any of the others in his house and made it very difficult to see what was actually here.
“What is this place?” I asked, looking around for some kind of clue but with such low lighting, I couldn’t see anything.
“This is my reading room,” he replied, walking up to me. “This is where you’ll learn to really focus on your own energy as well as those around you. It’s very important that you recognize your own emotions over others or you could feel like you’re drowning in depression.”
His words made sense, especially since the emotions I had felt back at the cemetery were definitely not mine. I was excited to learn how to control this. I also wanted to mention to him about the woman in the windows but the way he reacted to the creepy creature under the pool table told me not to just yet. I do, however, want to know why I can’t hear spirits. That’s twice now that I’ve seen mouths moving but I can’t hear them.
“Come. Sit.” Sebastian led me toward the table, pulling out a chair for me before he leaned over and lit a single candle in the center of the table.
“Now, before we do any…” he paused, staring down at my hands in my lap. His eyes went large with surprise and shock before his expression went back to normal. “Where did you get that?”
“Get what?” I fidgeted in my spot, trying to hide the arm I knew he was looking at. I had done well hiding the leaf tattooed into my skin with a wide leather bracelet but clearly not well enough as I looked down and saw that it was now revealed. I wasn’t ready to tell him or anyone else what had happened that night in the woods.
He grabbed my arm with force, staring at the leaf in my skin. When his thumb ran across it, I instantly felt a burning sensation and jerked my arm away from him.
A wicked gleam filled his eyes as he continued to stare down at it.
“Did I hurt you?” The tone in his voice and the way he asked that question made me realize he knew exactly what happened when he touched me there.
I shook my head, trying to play it cool. “I just don’t like people touching me,” I lied.
He lightly chuckled. “I’d like to learn how you got that, Emersyn.” His glare was pinning me to my spot, nearly taking my breath away. It was a look I hadn’t seen him have before and my heart started to race. Why is he looking at me like this?
“I-I think I should g-go home now,” I stuttered out, pushing away from the table.
“But we’re just getting started, Emersyn.”
Why does he keep saying my name like that?
A cold chill ran over my neck and arms and I knew I needed to get out of here. I started for the door and was thankful that Sebastian wasn’t following me. I did, however, notice that he was watching me intently, a wicked grin on his lips.
After whipping the door open, I nearly ran for freedom. There was something not right about this whole situation and the way he was looking at me. I don’t know what it is, but I could feel in my soul that I needed to run and run fast.
The woman’s face in the window came back to me and I remembered how terrified she looked. Perhaps she was warning me to run and I didn’t.
But once I reached the front door and finally stepped outside, the fresh air immediately calmed me down. I hadn’t noticed until now, but it felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from me the moment I stepped outside. What was I feeling inside then?
There was seriously something not right about this guy and maybe I should listen to my gut.
My phone rang, startling the hell out of me, as I saw Brad’s face lighting up the screen.
“Brad!” I nearly shouted into the phone as I took off running down the sidewalk. I’m pretty sure this was the way to my house. At least I hope it is.
“Where are you? I’ve been calling you forever. I’m standing at your front door and there’s a creepy old guy sitting on his porch staring over at me.”
I froze in my spot as I gripped the phone tighter. “You’re here?! You’re actually at my house?”
“Yeah, stupid. Where are you?”
My heart started racing for other reasons now. My best friend is here. I can’t wait to see him.
“Don’t go anywhere. I’m almost there.” I looked around and hoped that I was almost there. On second thought, I have no idea where the heck I am. “I’ll see you soon, Brad.”
I hung up right away and pulled up GPS on my phone, typing in my address.
Sebastian lied to me.
According to the GPS, my house was 17.3 miles away. But how is this possible? He told me he only lived a few blocks away that’s why he ran into me yesterday. What is going on?
I grabbed my phone once more and called for a taxi. I just want to get home and see my best friend, hoping this will all go away for the rest of the evening.