9. The case of the haunted B&B

We throw our bags on the floor by the bed, too tired to unpack. I fall into our chair and Vincent drops to the bed with his arms wide. We both sigh deeply. What a trip! I hear steps coming up the stairs in a hurry. Vincent sits up on his elbows and we look wearily at each other. It has better not be a new assignment! A quick rap on the door is followed by Cassie opening it and rushing in. She is all energy and good humor. “Grace! Vincent! Oh, how I’ve missed you!” She throws herself around my neck, as I stand up, and then she runs to hug Vincent. She puts her head on his chest and sighs happily. I get an urge to leave the room, but Cassie lets go of him and says “Look, I brought tea and biscuits”. She pulls a canister of biscuits and a thermos with tea out of her bag. “How was your trip? Did you solve the problem? I simply MUST tell you all about what happened here, while you were away, and then you must tell me simply EVERYTHING about your trip!” As she pours tea and serves the biscuits she starts talking, and then sits herself besides Vincent on the bed.

“Well, it all started with a conversation with M, because she had read the adverts in the news papers” Cassie giggles. “She was very surprised and quite a bit annoyed that we do not read the adverts. But well, she had discovered that the same B&B had adverticed for tenants a couple of months in a row, which was strange since we know that there is a housing shortage at the moment. At the same time she had noticed that in the classifieds someone was looking for help to expel evil spirits, and the address was the same as the B&B. So we could deduce that someone was having so much trouble with something supernatural that they couldn’t hold on to their tenants. Since both ads had been in for months, M decided it was time to do something about it. Ads like that attract all sorts of charlatans and crooks, but since the ads was still in, the problem had not been solved. I agreed with M that we should investigate, even if hauntings like this often have sensible explanations. And apart from your investigation – which you must tell me ALL about afterwards – we had nothing much to do”

“M had another surprise for us! And this is where our new member enters the scene! Alejandros. Well, M had received an applikation. An applikation!” Cassie smiles mischievously. ”She is not used to get one of those. It was quite a laugh, since we are supposed to be a secret society, and then we get an applikation to join us” She giggles again. “So we are not as secret as we think apparently! Well, it turned out he had heard about us from reliable sources in his clan. Oops, I’m jumping around in the story, Sorry! But it is all very exiting about Alejandros. I really like him! Well, M had the applikation from someone who had offered to help us fight evil, and she knew we was a member short, now that Niall has left us. So she suggested that he should come along on this assignment, which seemed neither dangerous nor too compromising, and we all thought it was a splendid idea”

Alejandros met up with us in Mackenzies apartment, and we talked with him a bit, told him about the assignment and started planning how to go about it. He seemed a really nice chap, even if his demeanor is a little special – he is a Lanter or gypsy, after all, and he makes no effort to hide it. Well, we decided to split up and go about our investigation in two ways. Mackenzie and Max would apply for tenancy, and Henry and I and Alejandros would present ourselves as clairvoyants to get rid of the ghosts. I think that Henry thought it was all bullocks – you know, to investigate something we didn’t even know was supernatural or not, but he could hardly go against direct orders from M. I think he has a lot on his mind these days, and he is very dedicated to teaching me to get my abilities under control. I am doing SO much better! He is not only teaching me to hold it back, but also how to use it right. It is really exiting, and he is SO helpful! And it is so wonderful to be able to use it, and not bottle everything up all the time!” She throws out her arms and looks extremely excited, then she slaps her hand over her mouth. “Oops, sidetracked again!” She takes a big sip of her tea and a bite of a biscuits, before she goes on.

“We contacted the landlady in two groups, as if we didn’t know each other. She was much much nicer to Max and Mackenzie, than to us, which makes sense, since they were paying and we were expecting to get paid. But it was very clear that she – the landlady – was absolutely certain that something unnatural was going on. She hadn’t experienced anything herself, but her tenants had, and she was afraid that she would have to sell the house with no profit at all, if it didn’t stop soon. She told us that the tenants complained that she entered their rooms at night – which she didn’t, but something else clearly did – that doors opened and closed on their own, and that there was spots in two of the rooms that did not wash off.  She told us that she had originally bought the house after baroness Whatshername (I’m not sure that was really her name, but that is was Cassie called her) murdered her husband and was hanged for it. So the price had been really good. The baron had not been murdered in the house, but still! It sounded like the beginning of a really good gothic story, and it went on! First one, and then another old lady had died in the house, then a scullery maid and lastly, just a few years ago a violinist. The first old lady – a really cranky sort – had fallen down the stairs when her cane broke, and died of her injuries. That sounded like a terrible accident, but not very supernatural in itself. The maid had hung herself in the bathroom. Well, her hands had been bound behind her back, but the police had declared it a suicide nevertheless. As Henry mentioned, the police just want an explanation, and are not necessarily to keen on the truth. The other old lady had died in her room, and was found in her chair by the window. She was the landlady’s friend actually. She had had marks on her throat, but was otherwise unhurt, but since she was old, nothing was considered strange or criminal. The landlady told us her room had been full of things – and they had found a lot of bonds and other valuable papers in her drawers. You should have seen Mackenzie light up! I bet she wished that she had found all those papers” Cassie giggles. ”Well, lastly, about 5 years ago a young violinist had died in his room. That was a bit strange, because the door had been locked, and nobody could figure out what had killed him. But the police concluded that is wasn’t a crime and left it at that. So all in all the house had a pretty bad reputation!”

“After we spoke to the landlady we met up with Mackenzie and Max, and we started searching the two rooms with unwashable stains. Remember last time we came across something like that? That’s the house Niall lives in now! What a laugh! I am still rather shocked how fast things took a turn with him” Cassie gets very excited and throws out her arms again. Vincent ducks. “And HER of all people! It’s just too funny!” She bends over laughing. ”Lucky that the grandmother in law isn’t there anymore – she was none too fond of him and vice versa. But I am glad he took on the responsibility and chose to be father to his child and husband to her. I think it may help him find peace. Well, back to the story: these stains – one of the was in the bathroom, where the maid had hung herself, and the other was in the room where both the old lady and the violinist had died. Big black stains! Henry showed us how to scrape some of it off to be analyzed in the laboratory. But the stains went really deep and was not  at all easy to get samples from. When we headed towards the basement we discovered that the door across the hallway was open – and it certainly hadn’t been before! And suddenly Henry drew his rapier and poked Mackenzie with it. Not on purpose, off course, and he was obviously very frightened about something about the third door in the hallway. Mackenzie checked out the open door, and Alejandro and I went to investigate the third door, where Henry said he had seen something pass through. But none of us found anything. It was strange. And that was the first time we experienced something odd”. Cassie hugs herself and shudders. ”But it got worse! Much worse!”

We decided to all sleep in the same room, just to be safe – and that turned out to be a very good idea. Goodness gracious! What a night! So scary and surrealistic!”. A spasm of shudders ripples through her body and Vincent puts her arm around her. She smiles at him radiantly. “Well, Henry went to the bathroom at night, and suddenly felt how everything around him went ice cold. Out of nowhere! Like he was not alone! You should have seen his face, when he came back – white as a sheet and terrified! Poor Henry! Then Max went to get something from his and Mackenzies room across the hallway, where all their stuff was. When he was in that room he suddenly couldn’t see the door to our room, as if there was an immense distance between the two doors, even if it was only two steps across the hall! And then some of his equipment sounded like it was turned on and then he was knocked unconscious! Alejandros went to the kitchen to get some water for Henry, who was beside himself. He didn’t say exactly what happened – something about a loaf of bread going bad and a kitchen drawer? But something weird for sure! Mackenzie went to find Max, heard a sound from the stairs and fell down it! She wasn’t hurt, just startled, there was nothing mysterious about it, but still! It was like all of us had something unpleasant happen to us. When we heard Mackenzie cry out, the others went to her, and I was left alone, and something happened to me too: Suddenly I was not wearing my own clothes, but a very oldfashioned and fine nightgown, and it was full of blood! I touched it and it was no illusion! I got blood on my fingers, and I could feel the soft fabric of the gown! I tell you, I was so scared and ran out to find the others. The rest of the night we made sure that no one was alone at any time. The next day I decided to ask the advice of the gods. You know, the gift I have, where I can sometimes find answers about the future like the soothsayers? Now that Henry has helped me so much, I am not as anxious about it as I once was. It is not an evil thing after all, just a sort of power that must be used correctly! It is such a relief that I can use it actively now. It feels good” Cassie smiles radiantly, and we can’t help but smiling back. “Well, so I asked the gods ‘Is it baroness Whatshername that haunts this place?’ and they said no! Too bad, since it sounded like it had all started with her. But it hadn’t. Alejandros have some gifts that are a bit like mine, even if he has a different approach to it. He uses a Ouija board!” Cassie laughs out loud. ”You should have seen the look on Henry and Mackenzies faces! Mackenzie and I had fooled around with a Ouija board when we were much younger. It was really popular that year and simply EVERYONE had to try it. But nothing ever really happened and it’s not like it was REAL magic! Henry looked completely incredulous. But well, the Laters know a thing or two, and I agreed to give Alejandros a hand. Apparently is it Hades Alejandros asks for help, when he uses it, and since Henry disliked it very much when we went down to Hades’ realm and locked the door and all that, well, I thought that Henry at least should not get involved in this”. I shudder. Hades. Only Kaku scares me more than Hades. And I seem to have to get used to associating with both.

Cassie continued: “Well, Alejandros managed to get an answer from Hades. He asked it the spirits were held here against their will. And the answer was yes! But Hades didn’t seem too fond of me being there, so he thought I should pay a price. He sucked all my strength out of me, and whispered to me that if I wanted to be any help to my friends the next day, I would have to find my own cure. You know how I dislike using medicine, when my life doesn’t depend on it. Father have always said to be moderate with medicine, but I simply HAD to do this. I felt it was necessary for me to be fast and smart, so we could solve this in a hurry. I concocted a tonic for myself and boy did it work! While the others managed to check out one or two things the next day, I managed to check out every room and wall in the entire house! We are talking 3 floors and a basement – looking for secret rooms and doors and such. I didn’t find anything, but still! Last time it turned out to be mechanical, and not supernatural at all, so I thought it was important to check out. Mackenzie helped by lifting me up where I couldn’t reach and move around some of the heavy furniture. But otherwise I did it all myself! Mackenzie and Max followed some clues out in the city, Henry investigated the floor in the basement and Alejandros asked the landlady all sorts of questions. Henry found some ritual candles in the basement, and that seemed pretty suspicious! I suggested right away that we should totally check out the basement at once – the mystery had to be solved after all! – but the others said they were tired and that it was too late. Too late?!” Cassie throws out her arms exasperated. ”They didn’t have any energy at all! Maybe I should have given them a bit of tonic too” She pauses and looks pensive. “Well, anyway: I made Mackenzie come with me later on as I couldn’t sleep, and we were really just lying there wasting time, when we could be solving the mystery! We were so close! When we got down into the basement, I suddenly heard a dripping sound. I turned to look at Mackenzie and a drop of blood ran from her hair into her face. Urgh! She was all calm about it, though, stepped aside and looked up. And then buckets of blood just poured out of the ceiling above us! I tell you we got out of that basement in a great big hury! Just then we heard a great noise from up above. That was Alejandros who had fallen down the stairs. He told us afterwards that the stairs had simply vanished under his feet and hands had reached out for him from the paintings on the wall. I totally get why the landlady couldn’t rent out any rooms in that house! It was terrible, and we had only been there two nights! Meanwhile Henry and Max had heard the sound of a violin, so they had headed downstairs too. We all met up on the floor just under the one our rooms were on. We slowly moved towards the room where the old lady and the violinist had died, and there we saw a figure playing ever so melancholy on a violin! Henry talked to him, and it turned out that it was the violinist, and that it was his music that kept them there. According to Henry and Alejandros there must be things that were bound to the music somewhere in the house, and that some titan ritual had bound the spirits to the house. The spirits must have some physical thing to anchor them to the house, and if we could find these things we may be able to break the spell. So we had to be on lookout for a violin or a sheet of notes or something like that. At this time everybody else finally agreed that it could not wait until the next morning! So we woke up the landlady, who was very surprised to see us all together, since she didn’t know that we knew each other. But when we asked about the violin, she said she had sold it years ago, but that we could look in the old soup tureen in the entrance hall. That was where she put items that had been left behind over the years. And lo and behold! There was the diary of the maid, the broken cane of the old lady, and stock bond from the other old lady and a set of notes from the violinist. And would you believe it: the song he had written was made on the background of an old atlanthean ritual. Apparently he was one of those goth people, and he had thought that the words of an ancient ritual in a book was just the right words to set to a melancholy melody! I know that it isn’t fun at all, but really! Some people will do anything for fame!” She actually giggles a bit. ”Well, with his song he had woken up the spirits of the people who had died in the house and had bound them to it along with himself. Alejandros thought that if we played the song backwards, we could break the spell. Max ran out the door to get a violin – in the middle of the night – and ended up stealing it from an old homeless man. What do you think of that?! Max acts really weird some times. Fortunately Mackenzie dealt very nicely with the homeless man, when he showed up, so we didn’t have to involve the police and the authorities. And it really worked, when Alejandros played the song backwards. Played backwards it was actually a really cheerful and catchy song” She hums it for us. “We are thinking we ought to give the tune to some really good musicians. I’m sure it will be a bit hit! And a very nice end for the young violinist. A much better way to be remembered!

I’m really looking forward to introducing you to Alejandros. I am sure he will be a fine member of our group. Now, you tell me what you have been up to, while you were away!” She gets comfortable in the bed and takes another biscuit.

Offentliggjort af Den tatoverede børnebibliotekar

Bibliofil rollespiller, Æventyrer, lystløgner, mor og zeppelinerstyrmand. Jeg har knytnæverne resolut plantet i siden og med en kappe, der blafrer i vinden

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