As the Rodgers family prepared to go down for breakfast at the hotel, so too were Tom Smith and his guests at his house on High Cross Lane. The Rodgers were now deeply concerned about their daughter and the latest incident to occur the night before. As Bill took a shower Tina sat brushing Wendy’s hair which she had always liked as it chilled her out. “Wendy love, did you have another bad dream last night?”
“I can’t remember mum, why are you asking, did something happen?” asked Wendy.
“Well at one point in the night you sat up in bed shouting, ‘they’re burning me, they’re burning me!’ It woke me and your dad up. We’re so worried about you chicken.” Tina replied as she gave her daughter a loving hug.
Bill had finished in the shower and walked in to the room. “Hey how are my two favourite ladies in the whole world today?” Bill walked over to his wife and daughter and kissed them both. “I love you too so much and I promise with all my heart that we are going to be back home very soon and then we can go away on our holidays as planned.”
In the house on High Cross Lane, Tom Smith had been joined in the kitchen by Alexis and she offered to help him cook breakfast for everyone and lay the table as well. The table was a huge old farmhouse table which Tom had bought at an auction along with eight rustic chairs, it looked splendid in the long dining room which Tom had built on to the back of the kitchen years earlier. Alexis found the drawer with the utensils in and started to lay seven places. She found a stack of place mats and arranged the table as if fit for a king. “Hey Tom I spotted some nice flowers out front in your garden, is it okay to get some for the table?”
“Why sure Alexis by all means.” Tom replied busy turning over the sausages and bacon on the large grill. He had eggs frying in a large frying pan and a pan full of beans. He had the oven on low to keep the plates warm and to place the cooked eggs as well when they were ready. Next he placed slices of black pudding into the frying pan and kept an eye on them so as not to overcook them.
Alexis came back into the kitchen and asked if Tom had such a thing as a vase. Tom said there should be one in the cupboard to the left of where she was standing. She found it and half filled it with water, then she arranged the flowers and placed them in the middle of the table. As she stood looking at her handy work the sun shone through a tall window and lit her features and body up. Tom felt his heart skip a beat as he looked at her. “Hey Miss Bishop you have done a splendid job there, very professional indeed.”
“Good to know I’ve not lost the knack of laying tables Mr Smith.” she replied with a big smile on her face, “I used to work in a posh hotel in Kensington, London as a waitress and had to learn the correct way in laying and waiting on tables, so it’s come in handy in later life I’d say.”
Tom kept looking at her, “Would you mind if I took a photo of you exactly where you are standing Alexis?”
Alexis looked surprised, “Why Mr Smith I didn’t know you cared, of course if you want to you can.” Tom pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and made sure the light on her was perfect, then took about four photos of Alexis. When he had finished she walked over to Tom and asked to see the photos he’d just taken. “Hey I can see why you wanted to take a pic of me, the sun shining down and the shadows are perfect.”
“You’re perfect Alexis, perfect in every way.” Tom replied as they looked at each other and then into each other’s eyes.
“So are you Tom, I’ve been finding it hard to keep my eyes off you since I met you the other night. Which now seems so long ago doesn’t it?” replied Alexis as she put her arms around Tom’s waist and then kissed him softly on the lips. “That’s just for starters honey now let’s not let this wonderful breakfast you’re cooking get burnt to a crisp.”
Both Tom and Alexis took control of cooking the breakfast and as they did they could hear footsteps above them. “Hmm sounds like your guests are getting ready to come down they must have spelt the cooking.” Alexis said as she stirred the pan full of beans and then went to fill the kettle up to make pots of tea to go with the breakfast.
Sitting in the dining room of the hotel, Bill and Tina asked Wendy again if she could remember anything about her dreams last night, but Wendy said she couldn’t. Tina heard her phone ringing and took it out of the back pocket of her jeans. “Hi Margaret, how are you? Lovely to hear from you after so long, Yes Bill’s told me that you’re coming into Coldport today to research our house and who lived there. Yes we’d love to help and the good news is we’ve got an extra pair of eyes as Bill has been allowed to start his holidays this week. Yes meet us at the hotel, you remember where it is? Okay we’ll see you in forty five minutes, bye for now love.” Tina put the phone back into her back pocket, “let’s hope we get to the bottom of the problem now Bill.”
Bill finished his breakfast and looked pensive, “I wonder how Tom Smith and the team got on last night? I hope they were successful.” He looked at his phone and thought about ringing Tom to ask him, but then thought better of it.
Tina took hold of Bill’s hand and caressed it, “Honey, I’m sure Tom will call you, he said he would, and remember his promise to our little girl here. Come on, let’s go and get ourselves ready for Margaret’s arrival. Hey chicken are you okay, you look like you’re going to fall asleep there.” Tina kissed Wendy on the head and the family left the dining room and headed for their room.
Everyone sat around the old farmhouse table in Tom’s dining room and ate heartily and chatted about different things, all trying to avoid what happened last night, but knowing they would have to broach the subject sooner or later. Tom and Alexis sat next to each other and seemed to be getting closer as they chatted and giggled a lot, which didn’t go unnoticed by the others. “Well at least something good has come out of us all meeting this weekend.” Jane said smiling while looking at the happy couple, everyone laughed and smiled at Tom and Alexis and both of them blushed like a young couple in love for the first time.
“Well I think it’s time that we talked about what has happened over the weekend.” Joseph said as he refilled his cup from the second pot of tea.
Once all the dishes and cutlery were placed into the dish washer Tom and Alexis joined everyone else in the living room. “Does anybody want to start or do you want me to go first?” asked Joseph as he sat in one of the armchairs.
“Go ahead Joe, and let’s see what plan we can come up with as up to know we’ve not been successful except for hacking up and burning the doll.” Jack said as he sipped from his now warm tea.
“Well, I think now that we have got rid of that horrible doll, we will only have to concentrate on the entity, which I prefer to call it, a demon seems to conjure up the devil in my mind. Anyway, we now know that it can trap not only us but Father Gabriel as well. We have got to stay together and not get separated again. And now that the attic door has been virtually demolished it can’t separate us up there. I think you would all agree with me that the entity is bound to that area, why it is, is anyone’s guess.”
Everyone nodded in agreement, “Well I think that we should go back tonight and finish this off once and for all!” said Alexis. “Have we any news yet from the family Tom about the house and the doll?”
“Not yet, but I know that they were meeting up with Bill’s sister Margaret, the lady who bought the doll for Bill’s daughter. They are going to…” Tom’s mobile phone rang and he looked at who was calling.
“Hi Bill are you guys coping okay? We were just discussing the case here at my house. I’m afraid all we’ve managed to do is to get rid of the doll; we chopped her head off and set fire to her in your metal bin in the garden. At what time, why do you ask Bill?”
Bill Rodgers explained that during the night Wendy had sat up in bed, totally asleep and shouted out, ‘They’re burning me’ twice then fell back to sleep, but she had no recollection of it at all this morning.
“I don’t like the sound of this Bill, it sounds like there is a connection between the doll and Wendy, but what? Please let me know as soon as you find anything at the library as we need all the information we can get. If you do find anything do you think you’ll be able to send it over to me via email, providing you can find anything out that is?” Tom gave Bill his email address and wished him luck.
Everyone looked at Tom after he ended the call and asked what happened to Bill’s daughter. Tom explained what Bill had told him, “All we can do is wait and see if they can find anything out about the house. He said that they had found out that the doll was a very popular doll called Katie in the Victorian era and nearly every household with little girls had a Katie Doll, so it can’t be the doll that was evil, it looks like it has been manipulated by the entity all along.”
They all decided that they would wait for any information to come through before they planned their next investigation of the house. So it was decided that they would spend the next couple of hours going through the video tapes from the night before. What interested them the most were two things; one was the entity outside the attic which appeared to be the height and build of a male. The second and most compelling was the doll walking up the staircase. The camcorder placed at the bottom of the stairs had captured it perfectly, it had also captured a dark smaller shape like that of a child, and it appeared to be manipulating the doll. After discussing the footage and replaying it countless times Tom suggested that they all take a break for a few hours and do something else to take their minds off things. Jack and Jane headed off home so that they could freshen up and change clothes and sort out any business they needed to take care of. Father Gabriel, who had been very quiet most of the morning, headed back to his apartment and was then going to have a word with the Bishop regarding the house and what had happened to him in the attic. Joseph went back home for a few hours as did Alan. Once everyone had left Tom’s house Tom and Alexis decided to take a walk on the beach.
In the library Bill and his family had been directed to the archives section and began scouring old newspapers dating back to the early 1800’s. Margaret was looking through old house records and located a section regarding the houses on Lexington Avenue in Coldport. As she read she was amazed at what she read, she called Bill over to the table where she had the book open. ‘Bill look at this I’ve found, it says that prior to your house being built there was an older house which dates back to the days of Cromwell, the late 1500’s or there about. It also says that the house was extended a number of times over the years as larger families lived in the house. Now let’s see if we can get some information on who actually lived there from when it was first built.’
At that moment Tina and Wendy walked over to where Bill and his sister were sitting. “We’ve come across a book which I think will be very interesting indeed.” Tina said placing the book down on the table. The book was called The History of Coldport and its Families, which was bound in leather and had two leather straps with buckles on it. The text was all handwritten and traced the history of families and properties and was a consummate book about Coldport. Tina looked through the contents list which was twenty pages long. “Ah here we are Lexington Avenue properties and who owned them, page two hundred and five.” Tina found the section they were after, “Now then let’s see, here we are Lexington Avenue, originally called Seaport Lane.”
1643 to 1645 the house, a small cottage was built by Mr and Mrs Bartholomew who lived there with their only child, a girl. Rumour has it that in 1645 the Bartholomew’s were accused of witchcraft and it was Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General who accused them of heresy and the family were forced to confess to being witches, even their twelve year old daughter. They were all hung on Gallows Hill which was a mile from their cottage.
In 1648 Mr Edmund Butterworth bought the land and knocked down the derelict cottage and built a large house for his wife and daughter and son, the house was a single fronted house but boasted a large living room, kitchen, basement and three bedrooms. Apparently Mr Butterworth was quite a rich man for the time. It is said that his family were well liked and respected and at one time Edmund Butterworth worked for Cromwell.
From 1668 to 1888, it is stated that the house had at least ten different families living there. Three of the families had one child, a girl, and they never stayed longer than a year. Seven families had large families and it was a Mr and Mrs Abraham Donleavy that added the final part of the house in 1868, extending it upwards to include a large attic, and an extra bedroom was added as was a second living room.
The house fell into disrepair after the Donleavy’s left the house for reasons unknown.
1971 to 1999, the house has four more occupiers all of whom never stayed long for reasons unknown and again the four couples only had one child, a girl.
2000 to 2010 the house was empty for most part and it says here that the house got the nickname of ‘The Devil’s House’ as screams and loud banging noises would emanate from the house even though it was empty!
“And now, as dated 2015, according to the book it says we are the new owners, so it must get updated whenever someone moves in or moves out judging by the change in handwriting over the years.” Tina concluded.
“Don’t you find it strange that families never stayed in the house very long, and a lot of them only had one child and each time it was a girl?” Margaret remarked as she turned some of the pages back. “I hate to point this out but the Bartholomew family that were hung for being witches could have put a hex on the town or on the house. Also, you have never mentioned the basement Bill, why is that.”
“Because I didn’t know until now that there was a basement in the house, and the fact that we’ve never found an entrance to it.” Bill responded to his sister’s question.
“Have you found any strange markings in the attic space, or on the floors of the other rooms? By strange I mean pentagrams drawn in chalk, they may be anywhere in the house Bill?”
“No none at all, the few times we’ve been in the attic we’ve not seen any all, and we recovered all the floors in every room with new carpets, so I’m sure we would have come across something like a pentagram if there was one.”
“I truly believe the problem stems from the Bartholomew family, as we now know, the Katie Doll was very popular so we can’t blame the Donleavy family for that problem can we?”
“But how on earth did the Katie Doll ever get to the shop in Boxley after all those years?” Tina asked as she looked at her daughter noticing that she looked bored. “Hey chicken, do you wanna go see if we can find an ice cream van and stuff ourselves with ice cream and take a walk along the beach?”
Wendy smiled at her mum, “That would be great mum, can we have some chips too as I’m hungry?”
Tina gave Bill a kiss and hugged Margaret, “I think my little girl needs to get some fresh air, I know I do. You don’t mind us leaving you to it for an hour do you?” Both Bill and his sister said they didn’t mind at all and gave Wendy a big hug, then continued to go through more documents.
“I’m going to see if it’s okay to scan the pages out of this book and then save them to my phone and some of the photos too.” Bill said as he picked up the old leather bound book.
“If you scan the pages of the book Bill I’ll scan the photos, we can then send both lots via email to Sergeant Smith straight away can’t we?” Margaret replied picking up a handful of old sepia photos of how the house had changed over the years.
Tom and Alexis sat in a café sipping tea and chatting to each other and finding out what each other’s likes and dislikes were. “So what’s made you want to retire Tom, you’re too young aren’t you?” Alexis asked placing her cup back on the table.
“Well seeing as how you’ve asked my sweet lady, I feel that nearly twenty years in law enforcement is enough for anyone and too be honest I feel it’s time to settle down with someone again.” Tom replied as he finished drinking his tea.
“Hmm, so you’ve been in a relationship before, what happened?”
“Yes I have, I was married with two kids, Tommy and Angela, my wife’s name was Lorraine, here’s photo of them.” Tom replied opening his wallet and taking a photo out.
“They look lovely Tom, what happened, did you get divorced?”
“No Alexis, my wife and two kids were killed in a car smash, a drunk driver ploughed into them, and they were all killed outright. He got five years, that’s all, five years. But thank god he’s dead now. He became an addict and one day someone pumped him full of dirty cocaine. We never found out whom, but I would have shaken the hand of the person who did.”
“Oh Tom, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have pried into your private life like that.” Alexis took hold of Tom’s hand, “If it’s too soon for you to have a relationship with me, I’ll totally understand.”
“It’s okay Alexis, the accident happened ten years ago and all this time, I’ve had to hold things together on my own, but now I feel it is time to move on and I think you are the right person to help me move on with my life. That’s if you want too?”
The couple smiled at each other and got up to leave, Tom went and paid for the teas and they left the café hand in hand. “I’ve told you that I want to become a full time paranormal investigator haven’t I honey?” Alexis nodded as they walked along the warm sands of Coldport beach, they had taken their shoes and socks off and walked barefoot, letting the warm sand slip through their toes. “Well I would like the two of us to team up together and hold investigations. Maybe get the help of Joe and Gabe now and again if we needed them, what do you say?”
Alexis stopped walking as did Tom and she kissed him softly. “If it means me spending more time with you Tom, then I would say yes I would love to investigate hauntings with you.” They kissed again and began walking, as they did, Tom’s mobile phone rang, ’Hi Tom Smith speaking, Bill, good to hear from you, have you found anything out yet?”
“We have Tom, and I’ve sent you some very interesting documents and my sister has sent you old photos of the house through different eras. I think we now know where the problem lies in the house, but you may need to go searching for something in there first. Apparently there is supposed to be a basement in the house which may or may not have a pentagram drawn on the floor of it.”
Tom ended the call and let Alexis now what Bill had said. “Come on we need to get back to my house and check my emails. I think we’ll need to get the rest of the guys back as soon as possible too.”
Back at his house Tom, turned on his laptop and connected it to a printer, finding the two emails sent to him as promised, he opened them and clicked on the attachments, once opened he clicked print and waited for the first attachment to print off. He did the same with the second attachment, and then both he and Alexis sat on the sofa and together went through the document and the photos. “Now we know where the trouble has arisen from, the family that were hung as witches. They must have placed a curse on the house or on the town, but it looks more and more like it could be the three members of the family that are haunting the house, wouldn’t you say Alexis?”
Alexis studied the old photos of the house and was drawn to the kitchen area in each photo. “I agree Tom and I think the basement is somewhere in the kitchen, I’m drawn to that area in each photo.”
As they continued studying the photos and documents a knock came to the front door. Tom rose out of the sofa and headed into the hallway, upon opening the door, he was confronted by Joseph, Alan and Jack and Jane, “Come in one and all. We have got some pretty good, no, excellent information from Bill Rodgers regarding his house. But where’s Father Gabriel?”
“He’s going to be a bit late as he’s in talks with his Bishop regarding what went on last night. He feels we are going to need a lot more protection when we return tonight.” replied Joseph as he walked over to where Alexis was sitting. “So what have we got here?”
Tom handed the printed off documents to the team and headed into the kitchen to make them all a cup of tea. On his return he noticed the look of concern on Joseph’s face. “What’s the matter Joe, have you spotted something Alexis and I haven’t?”
“No Tom I’m just even more concerned about Wendy now, with what you told us about her waking up last night at the exact time we burnt the doll shouting ’They’re burning me! Could it be the spirit of the Bartholomew’s daughter that is the connection and it is her spirit that has inhabited the doll all this time?”
“You mean it might be the daughter’s spirit manipulating the doll to make it move like we saw in the video footage earlier, and her parents are the ones in the attic?” asked Jane
“I feel as if that is what we’re up against in that house. What else did Bill Rodgers tell you Tom?” asked Alan Davies.
“He said that that if you read the notes you will notice that when the house was constructed in 1648 they had a basement. Now Bill says he has never known about a basement in the house, and more to the point, we haven’t noticed one either have we?” Was Tom’s reply.
“That’s right we haven’t! So we need to find the basement especially if the Bartholomew family were tried as witches, they may have practiced black magic in the basement. We need to find it and now! I say let’s get round there now while it’s daylight and look for any hidden doors in all the ground floor rooms.” replied Joseph.
Finishing their cups of tea the team decided that they would go back to the house straight away. Tom went into his garage and brought out two crowbars. “I’ve got a feeling we’ll need these guys.”
Margaret Rodgers had invited the family to leave the hotel and stay at her house in Boxley as it had three bedrooms and a large kitchen and living room, so there would be plenty of room for them all to stay. She knew if they stayed in the hotel any longer it would cost a fortune and wouldn’t take no for an answer. The four of them walked back down Kensington Road to the hotel and went to their room to collect their belongings. Back down at the reception desk Bill paid for the room with his credit card and leaving the hotel they got into their cars and drove to Margaret’s house.
As they arrived at the house in Boxley, Margaret showed them their rooms and told them to make themselves at home and relax. “Now that you’re out of the town just try and relax and leave the problem to the team of investigators, I’ll go and pop the kettle on and make some sandwiches, come down when you’re ready.”
“This is so nice of Margaret isn’t it Bill, I just hope she still doesn’t feel like she’s the one that caused the problem with buying the doll in the first place.” Tina said as she began to unpack the few clothes they had with them.
Bill walked over to his wife and held her close to him. “Do you know something, I love you so much. With all that is happening at the moment, you haven’t panicked or shown any fear at all. You’re a very brave lady indeed.”
Tina kissed Bill and looked at him, “I have to be Bill, for Wendy’s sake, we both have to be. I’m really worried about her, she’s so quiet. When we went for the walk on the beach earlier, she hardly said a word, and you know what a chatterbox she can be.”
Bill kissed his wife again, “We’ll keep a close eye on her and make sure nothing happens to her. I’m sure once this is all over, she will be back to her normal chatty happy self.”
The family gathered in Margaret’s living room and chatted while having the snack Margaret had prepared for them and all seemed to relax at long last.
“Excuse me your Grace, I just need to take this call, it’s Joseph Daniels, I won’t be long.” Father Gabriel stood up and left the room and stood in the corridor of the Bishop’s residence. Joseph informed Father Gabriel of what they had found out and what they were about to do. Stating that at that very moment they were outside 215 Lexington Avenue. He told him about the listing of owners and photos that the Rodgers family had gathered from the Coldport library.
“And you are going to try and find the entrance to the basement now? Right, I’m going to ask His Grace if Father Driscoll can help us, as I feel we are going to need his help too.”
Father Gabriel went back into the Bishop’s office and informed him of what had happened. “Your Grace, would it be possible to have Father Driscoll accompany me to the house and help me?”
“Of course Father Gabriel, I’ll ring for him now.” The Bishop dialled a number and it was answered straight away. He briefly explained what the problem was and five minutes later, Father Driscoll was standing alongside Father Gabriel. The two priests shook hands and Father Gabriel said he would explain in detail the ordeal the Rodgers family have been going through as well as the paranormal investigators, him and the two policemen while he drove them to the Rodgers house.
“What, the police are involved as well, my god, how come they are involved Gabe?” asked Father Jeff Driscoll.
“Sergeant Tom Smith received a call from Bill Rodgers on Friday night as they thought they had an intruder in the attic room of the house. He turned up with three officers and when they went up to the attic all hell broke loose, but it wasn’t a human intruder, it was something paranormal and one of the officers was attacked…by a doll!” Father Gabriel then went on to tell the wide eyed priest sitting in the passenger seat next to him everything that had happened since Friday night. “So now we need to find this basement and what is in it as it could be the catalyst for what is going on.”
Wendy lay asleep on the large comfy armchair and the family looked once again at the information that they had printed off for themselves as well as for the police sergeant. Bill kept going over the names and details of the extensions added to the house since its first construction. Bill was convinced that the basement had to be either under the grand staircase, or in the kitchen, and if it was, it was very well hidden. “I think the entrance has been boarded up for a reason, and for one reason only, the dark entity has been haunting the house since the Bartholomew’s lived there. I think, but I could be totally wrong in my way of thinking, but I think the house is haunted by all three members of that family!”