Satisfied with what I had found, I got Scott out of there and to the nearest dog park, tidy bags in tow. How many paranormal mysteries do you know of with proper dog care?
As I was leaving the park after letting Scott run buck wild for about forty five minutes, I heard a voice from behind me call my name. Naturally I turned and found a man in a button down with rolled up sleeves. “Yes?” I asked.
The man stretched out his hand “Fredrick Kerse.” I shook it, never taking my eyes off him. He reached down to pet Scott and the dog wisely backed away with a low growl.
“Can I help you, Mr. Kerse?”
“Well I heard you were in town, I honestly didn’t believe it myself until I saw you here. I’ve followed your work for a while, really impressive stuff.”
I stared at him for a moment. I don’t have a ‘fan base’ to speak of, and my work is scattered among a few books and many, many periodicals so for him to say that he’s followed me for a while…
“I realize that makes me sound like a complete stalker.”
“Oh good, just so we both know how that sounds. That’s… peachy.”
“Yeah, no, when I saw you I had to know what… what brings you out of Texas, especially to, of all places, Lakehaven.”
“I got a tip on a story, just looking into it. Nothing much…” I shrugged.
“Not… not going to tell me are you?”
“Nope, not at all.”
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with the ghost of Beverly Hamilton, would it?”
I know how to play poker, so I played my best poker face and chose to lie my ass off. “Actually I was looking into a lot of different ghost stories. Turns out you have a few haunted churches, a graveyard or two, and a hospital with a spectral patient. Beverly Hamilton’s name came up, so it’s on my list to look into.”
“Uh huh.” He did not buy it. “I know Ms. Andrews from the library. She gave me a call after you stopped by. I’m just being friendly… there are some mighty powerful folks in town that really don’t like Beverly’s name tossed around. One professional to another, be careful.”
“Mr… Kerse, is it? Love the name by the way, I’m just looking into hauntings for stories. That’s what I do, and if you follow my work like you say, you know that’s what I do.”
“That’s not all that you do, Mr. Spencer. Just be careful.”
I took the scenic route to my hotel room, dropping off Scott and making sure he had food, water, puppy pads, and the television on before heading back to the house on Stillman. Using my voice access on my phone I searched “Frederick Kerse” on Google. There wasn’t much on the internet. He had a page as a private investigator and had an ad in the jobs section of the local newspaper website for a new secretary. As far as news items there wasn’t much on him. I pushed the thoughts about the encounter out of my head as I arrived at the house. Judith met me at the door and asked me to sit on the couch. George was pacing. “Do you think you can help us?” he asked.
I leaned forward to listen intently “What exactly is going on?”
“We moved out here from Lansing about two years ago. For George’s work…” Judith explained. “He’s in asset protection and they were opening an office in Lakehaven. Coming to town, we found a good deal on this house and snatched it up and at the time it was a dream come true. We didn’t have to remodel or upgrade anything, the house was in excellent condition but the price was low.”
“We figured…” George added, “that it was because of the area. I’m five minutes from work but, well I’m sure you saw how much traffic is out there. All this was developed around the house. It was vacant for about forty years.”
“So Beverly was the last resident.” I confirmed. Something rumbled in the basement, hard enough to rattle the ceiling fixtures.
“Boiler?” I asked. George looked away, shaking his head, Judith buried her head.
“Right, so how long did your problem start?”
“It’s been six months,” Judith opened up. “We’ve had everyone here. Plumbers, electricians, pest control, contractors… no one can find the source. At first we figured it was some casual household problem. Then we started hearing voice in the night, things going missing and turning up in strange places that they never should have gotten.”
“And you weren’t just misplacing things?” I asked.
“I found my damn keys hanging from that light,” George said. The light in question was about ten feet above the floor.”
“I can see that being a problem.”
“We even got a local ghost hunter out here to take care of the problem, but he couldn’t do anything but take our money up front,” George complained.
“Then Stacey started seeing things in the house. A woman in white is what she said,” Judith pointed out.
“You haven’t seen the woman in white?”
George shook his head, sweat starting to bead his brown. “No, no we have not seen the woman in white.”
I watched him for a moment. “What have you seen?”
“Shadows…mostly,” Judith said, “where shadows shouldn’t be. Moving where there shouldn’t be movement. Watching us.”
Another rumble came from the basement. I got up from the couch and rubbed my hands together. “Well, Beverly thought to send me a letter I might as well go see what she wants.”
The basement was wide and spacious, and surprisingly not cluttered. I pulled out a flashlight and looked around. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling and in the corners of the joists. I turned around and its sparse nature made it pretty easy to tell there wasn’t anything down here.
Then the hair on the back of my neck stood on end, a chill went down my spine, and the air got so cold so fast that I could actually see my breath. I turned around and saw a translucent woman dressed in white standing the middle of the basement, looking at me with cold eyes. There was an alien beauty to her, bone white skin and faded blonde hair waving in a breeze that wasn’t there. I shined my light and the beam passed through her, casting against the wall behind her. I lowered the beam, mostly out of politeness. I’ve seen several types of hauntings in the past, most are what you would consider repeat hauntings, where a ghost appears, does what it did in life, and vanishes, regardless of who is there or what is going on at the time. I figured that since this could be predicted by the clock that this was a repeat haunting and I’d just sit back and watch the show.
“Thank you for coming, Ned Spencer,” A disembodied voice said, and the ghost turned towards me.
This was a different kind of haunting.