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Chapter 55

Shelly was confused. The photo of the house had sent chills through her body, but the real house, white and welcoming with its expansive porch and comfy looking pairs of rockers, four in all, seemed to have no such effect on her. “Do you feel anything,” she asked Allen.

“Oh yeah,” Allen replied. “Tell me you don’t?”

“I feel the spirits are angry inside,” Chan said, again trying to get the jump on the new girl. “They are warning her to stay out.” Had Dodd been right all along about her? Was she just an ambitious bitch trying to take over?

“Are they,” Shelly asked Allen.

“I don’t know what wacko telephone he’s on, but I don’t hear anyone talking, warning or moaning. I just feel this strange heaviness, like the air has become really thick and heavy. Do you feel that?”

“No,” Shelly said softly.

“No what,” Chan asked. “Are you refusing to obey the spirits of this house?”

Shelly sighed and then charged up the three wide wooden steps that led to the front porch. “I’m here,” she shouted in a challenging voice. “Come and get me evil spirits!”

Chan scrambled up the stairs and stood next to her, hissing in a low voice, “What are you trying to do? If I lose this job, I will be sent back to China. Is that what you want?”

Shelly sighed. “No. Of course not. Listen, I’m not after your job or anybody else’s.”

“Then why are you here? Why would anyone put themselves through this kind of thing if not for the job?”

Shelly saw Dr. Lasker puffing up the driveway and pulling himself up the stairs. “I can’t talk now, but please trust me? I’m only doing this to help a friend.”

Allen realized she meant him. He felt like telling her not to bother, but sensed from sharing her emotions that it was too late.

Chan pulled away from Shelly as he saw Lasker’s curious eyes. He didn’t know whether to believe her or not. She had been honest admitting she had not felt any of the sensations he had falsely reported. She could easily have stolen the spotlight from him. Maybe Dodd was wrong? It is possible, he thought, knowing how sick he is. He gazed at Shelly, aware again of how nice she looked, not at all dark and sinister like he had expected of someone with her special gift and ambition…as described by Dodd. His gut told him to trust her, but he would keep a wary eye on her anyway.

“What is going on,” Dr. Lasker asked, sensing some sort of tension between the two Ectos, a tension he could not afford.

At that instant the front door of the house opened and a small girl with dark brown hair and brown eyes was holding the ornate handle. “Momma, someone’s here.”

“I’ve told you not to open the door for anyone,” a female voice reached Shelly’s ears.

In an instant Shelly found herself face to face with a woman who could have passed for her older sister, almost the same color hair and the same light blue eyes, but there was one major difference, the woman’s eyes were ringed by dark ashy circles and red veins spidered across their surfaces. “Who are you,” she asked, looking pensively back into the house. “Please go away?

He’ll hear you.”

The woman gave off a strange breath odor as she spoke. Shelly recognized it as garlic, fresh garlic. Her thoughts immediately summoned up the vampire movies she had loved as a child, the dark circled eyes, pale skin, and the garlic hung all around to keep away the evil spirits and vampires. “Vampires are make believe, aren’t they,” she asked Allen.

Chan wondered who she was talking to.

“I always thought ghosts were fiction too,” Allen replied. “Now, I’m not sure of anything. Are you?”

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