Being inspired, maybe – 42
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
"So, you're telling me this building is haunted?"
I was surprised that Jake was telling me this because he was the last person on the planet who believed in the paranormal, little green me, and everything else in between. For him, everything had a scientific answer.
"I'm telling you what the city building manager told me. The fact it only happens at night seems to me there's something else in play."
When Jake had brought the idea of refurbishing old buildings to me, as out of work carpenters, a trade that was dying fast, I laughed at him. They were pulling the old buildings down and replacing them with concrete and glass, not treat them as fixer-uppers.
He wasn't looking for an opinion, just a yes or no. Of course, it had to be yes.
Now for the question uppermost in my mind, "Why is this relevant?"
"Because we can have the restoration contract, which is huge if we can find out whether or not it is haunted. People just don't want to work there if it is."
A fair enough answer. I guess that meant, other than being restorers, we were about to become ghost hunters.
At 19:00 hours, the building was dark, cold, and forbidding. And that was just from standing in the front foyer.
The doors were closed, and only muffled sounds from outside could be heard. Other than that, there was silence, not exactly a dead silence, but one associated with an old building, the odd creak of wood, and low moaning sound as if there was a breeze getting in somewhere.
No doubt on one of the floors a window would be partly open, and after an inspection of the building perimeter, I saw at least three places where entry might be gained by an enterprising visitor.
The only other noises came from Jake and his latest girlfriend, Angelina, and her younger sister, who seemed to go everywhere with her, Theresa. They had gone on ahead into the main entrance, stopping by the staircase which on one side led down to the basement, and the other, to the top floors.
I'd met Theresa several times before when Angelina had taken it upon herself to try and be a matchmaker and match her sister with me.
After Eleanor, Theresa was too much of a handful for me, and apparently everyone else. She was a party girl with no interest in permanence. I got it, her sister didn't.
By the time I'd made it to the staircase, Jake and Angelina had gone, and Theresa was looking down towards the basement.
She looked back towards me as I approached her.
"This is going to be fun."
"Why are you here?"
It might have been my tone, but it clearly had an effect.
"What's your problem."
"You. This is neither the time or the place to have what you might call fun."
"You should learn to lighten up. Jeez."
I shook my head. "Just keep out of my way. Or else!"
Looking up, I could just hear Jake and Angelina above me heading to the next floor. I assumed that meant I was going down to the basement.
I brought a very powerful torch and flashed it down the stairs, the beam stopping at the halfway landing. If there was going to be any ghosts, they were more likely to be downstairs than up, which is why I was sure Jake had taken the upstairs.
After another shake of my head, I headed down to the landing and shone the torchlight down to the floor below. Behind me, I could hear Theresa descending slowly, one step at a time. Her torch was not as powerful.
At the bottom of the stairs, I stopped and listened. It was almost silent. In such an empty building, every sound made an echo or was amplified, such as my footsteps.
The passage led off in either direction, and from the plan of the building Jake had been given, at the basement level the passage ran around the building perimeter, and rooms were either side, including one large area in the center of the floor given over to a cinema.
I headed towards the right and followed the passage to the end where it veered around the corner. I checked several rooms along the way, all but one being empty. One had a table and several chairs in it, and surprisingly, no dust.
As I shut the door there was a loud noise like a glass window shattering.
I heard Theresa shriek in fright, and it didn't exactly help my nerves.
"What was that?" she asked.
"A ghost maybe, knocking over a bottle."
It sounded quite close, so I continued on around the corner. More passage, more doors, more rooms. No shattered glass.
Half away along I stopped.
A faint sound of what sounded like a stone chisel and hammer. A sculptor?
Then I heard a scream right behind me, abruptly stopping.
Theresa?I turned, just in time to see a very bright light and a very heavy object hit the back of my head.
© Charles Heath 2019