Chapter 8: Untitled chapter
On the landing of the second floor crouched the shadow of pure anger and hatred. Cold tendrils cascaded down the stairs like fog spreading from the lake. It filled the hall the men had just vacated. She had been there to torment him again. She was always there. A crashing in the conservatory told him she was gone. It was the one place he would never go. Heavy footfalls retreated to the lonely room at the end of the hall. Before the door shut, the shadow let loose one last howl of anger and despair. On the other side of the wall a scratching mixed with soft evil laughing.
“Um. So…there’s that,” Alex whispered, pointing to the crashing sound and the moaning. Standing there with his arms crossed, pointing in different directions, he started to feel better. The chill and sadness seemed to slowly lift from the house. It was quiet again. “So, Dad”—Alex swallowed. “You were saying about Granddad finding something.” He glanced up at the ceiling as his arms fell to his sides—“something that might explain why this house is…groaning?”
Visibly shaken yet trying to hide it with work, Arthur shook his head. Suddenly he looked up at his sons. He jumped as if just realizing they were there. “What? Oh, right.” Wiping the sweat from his brow and scratching his chin, he continued the story. “He said he was walking along the old road.” Arthur’s eyes darted around trying to see into the shadows. “He and his friend were messing around, tossing a football or something.” He quickly threw light into an empty corner. Slowly he began to continue. “Well, it bounced over into a field.” He adjusted the light, trying to get a better illumination in the space, though he seemed lost in thought. He tried to swallow though his throat was a desert. “Not bad once we get the junk out of here.” He started clearing away dust and debris. He could feel the eyes on him. He stopped and turned to his boys. The looks on their faces told him little work was going to get done. Frowning at them, he waited, and then it hit him. “Oh, yeah, the story,” he replied to the frowns he was getting. “Well, he went into the field and found”—he watched their faces—“a shoe.” He ended, waving his fingers mysteriously, although his eyes nervously scanning every direction ruined the effect.
“A friggin’ shoe? How the hell does that mean old Eddy killed her?” Aaron demanded. Alex thought this was obvious.
“Because when he hit her, her shoe flew off. It was proof she didn’t just skip town,” Alex stated as if saying one and one make two.
“How did he know it was hers and not just a random shoe?” Aaron retorted. There was creaking brought on by a strong wind. Aaron spun in fright then immediately laughed it off. “Jumping at shadows,” he muttered to himself. “There might be structural issues. That is where all the noise is coming from,” he said bravely.
Arnold nodded, but he wasn’t listening. “Well, Granddad was pretty sure about it. Says it was just like the ones she wore.” Arnold shrugged. His voice was calm, yet Alex saw his father’s eyes glancing to the hall every few seconds. Alex could feel his tension. There was more that wasn’t being told.
“Old Granddad had a shoe fetish, huh? Just like Alex.” Aaron barked out a laugh. Alex threw a punch at his brother’s shoulder, ending up in a headlock for his trouble.
“Boys! This place ain’t going to fix itself. Let’s get some work done.”
“OK, OK! Geoff me.” Alex tried to pretend he hadn’t seen what he thought he saw and that all he had heard was old plumbing or the wind or whatever people blamed a vision of a ghostly girl on. Checking over his shoulder again, he decided to investigate things a bit more.
“Hey, what about the rumor she was going to marry that Eddy guy?” Aaron suddenly asked, standing up straight. “I just remembered something about that from school. Kids would dare each other to come out here because of the gray girl.” He ended sheepishly, remembering his own adventure to the house.
“Shouldn’t she be in white?” Alex asked even though he knew the girl he had seen was in gray.
“Like I told you boys, Granddad knew her. She had been complaining about Edgar the morning she went missing.” Arthur paused, trying to remember the details. “It seems he tried to pick her up that day.” A smile crept into the corners of his mouth. “I guess she had a boyfriend or something at the school that she told him about. Not sure, Dad was always kinda squirrelly about that.” Arnold laughed. “You know what?” He watched as his sons stood waiting for the next part of the story. “It’s late, and we are not getting anything done.” He ignored their groans. “Let’s start again tomorrow after you boys get over the ghost stories and scary noises.” He laughed. “Tomorrow will be a bright, sunny day, and you’ll be ready to work.”