The Room That Swallows People 2

“I am not what you think I am.”

The paranormal brothers Allan and Joseph Carmichael looked at each other and then back to the apparition in front if them. A rather attractive lady wearing a late Victorian two layered bustle skirt with matching ruched blouse. Being of spectral extraction the colour was indeterminate and limited to transparent white on the basis the woman herself was not as solid as the corporeal investigators.

It was Allan that spoke up first.

“What is it you think we think you are?”

Owing to dryness of throat, this came out as more of a weak rasp despite efforts to whip up saliva and lubricate the vocal chords. Joseph, the taller of the two, by some two inches, at just under 6ft shook his head in disgust.

“Way to show confidence Al” he whispered from the corner of his mouth in a poor attempt at ventriloquy. It was not unnoticed by the shade who smiled demurely and floated towards them.

“I think you think that I am a ghost.”

Despite the ethereal aspect, her words were solid enough. Softly spoken with an element of authority.

Allan dropped the hammer he’d used to pry of the boards covering the front door of the old Hamilton place across the street from where they had kept vigil since hearing about the potential for psychic phenomena. It struck the floor with a resounding dead thump that caused the revenant to shy away. A hammer had been used here before except then Allan had been a Jonathan. Joseph watched his temperature gauge plummet to just about fridge temperature and noticed his breath beginning to fog in the air at each exhalation. Why do we always do this in the middle of the damn night? Nerves were beginning to jangle internal warning bells. The moon, being almost full, was not helping matters by poking eerie fingers of light through gaps in the shreds of old drapes; illuminating the inside enough to reveal the cringing shadows probably held secrets. Through the shimmering lady he could see the outline of, what was once, a grand staircase leading upwards.

“But you are a ghost surely. This place has been derelict for years and is a prime site for our research into…well, ghosts.”

The woman drew closer gesticulating towards the entrance door behind them.

“I rather think that depends on your perspective. To me you are the apparitions that have just walked through my front door.”

Allan looked back following the line of her pointing trying not to shiver. His insides suddenly felt quite nauseous. A none subtle elbow caught Joseph in the ribs causing him to slowly follow the direction his brother’s open mouth was gaping at.

“Oh crap” was all he could manage. The boards Allan had hacked through with the hammer were back up on the inside and covering the front door. More to the point, there was a pool of dark liquid surrounding the head of the very same implement that had been cast to the floor. Despite the poor lighting neither brother considered it to be anything other than blood.

Allan pulled his brother to one side. The shade remained near staircase.

“Time to beat a hasty retreat Jo. I’ve got a real bad feeling about this.”

Joseph eyed his brother followed by a quick look back at the woman.

His voice, barely audible whispered, “Give it five more minutes and make sure you’re recording this too.”

Both were equipped with a couple of hidden cameras. One infrared and one visible; unbeknown to either of them all of them were busy storing video footage of an empty house.

“Your call Jo, but I now hold you entirely responsible for our untimely demise.” There was a resigned feel to Allan’s voice.

Joseph turned back to the woman and took a step forwards feigning confidence.

“So who are you then?”

The lady gave him an eerie smile.

“Elisabeth Beechworth some might say.”

Some might say? He thought, what’s that supposed to mean?

Allan carried it on, “what year is it?”

“1875 clearly” was the surprised reply, “why what year is it by your calculations?”

Joseph cocked his head, “2000, or at least it was when we came in here.” He paused slightly before continuing, “what do you mean by some might say?”

Elisabeth’s aura sharpened briefly revealing facial features that caused Allan to stare. “I am many things in many times. In this place I am Elisabeth.”

The brothers looked at each other.

“Roll with it?” Mouthed Allan, Joseph nodded consent before carrying on talking to the spectre.

“And you are not a ghost you say?”

Elisabeth exuded confidence, “absolutely not.”

Allan chipped in, “and you are saying that we, in fact, are?”

She produced the captivating smile again. “Consider, if it is 1875 and I am right it would infer you have yet to be conceived. By my reckoning you are therefore from the future and have made a grievous mistake by coming into my home.”

Joseph was now feeling seriously unsettled. Five minutes must be up, time to leave. He shuffled backwards leaving Allan in discourse with the ghost that wasn’t. He turned to try and remove the boarding that had somehow self assembled back into the doorframe when they first encountered Elisabeth. His stomach fell towards the floor as he watched his own hands encounter an unseen wall that prevented him actually reaching the wood. Wafer thin. He could slide up and down the outer edges of the planks but not get any purchase. In controlled but rising panic he ran to the window and found these were similarly barred. Time appeared to slow down as he turned back toward the staircase. There was no doubt his physician would have much to say about both current heart rate and blood pressure.

Allan meantime was deep in conversation and things were going from slightly wrong into fingers in ears not listening, blah blah blah.

“By similar argument if it is 1875 then you are long dead being the victim of a house fire this very year.”

Elisabeth remained unperturbed.

“That may be so, but given you cannot pass out of this house,” she nodded towards Joseph scrabbling unsuccessfully at the window, “I will wager it is more likely you, not I, that has passed on.

There was a shrill shout in his direction from the adjoining room.

“Al, I can’t find a way to get out!”

Elisabeth smiled once more; except it looked smug and unwholesome.

“Tell me, have you ever been to the room upstairs?”

Joseph was back, out of breath with impact bruises on his knuckles caused by angry pounding on wall that simply should not be there.

“Which one?” He managed to ask between gasps. The cold air was really biting now.

She turned to face him directly. Somehow her eyes were now filled with both fire and ice.

“Top of the stairs, directly in front of you.”

Allan turned to his brother. Despite the cold he was suddenly rather clammy. Two days previous they had done a daytime exploration. Testing the way in and wandering up the dusty stairs taking a peak into a room and noting how out of time it looked.

“Errr, maybe…” he said.

About Gary

Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the courses will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career working from home around children!
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18 Responses to The Room That Swallows People 2

  1. freckles says:

    Now, who’s leaving who hanging! Gosh, Gary, I loved this. Elizabeth, what or who is she? I also love the banter between the brothers. You’ve got me wondering what on earth is really going on in that place. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop… I want more :) Now, don’t beat yourself up and feel you have to write more (you do) but I don’t want you to ‘forget’ you have kids… Wait, I’d best check on mine LOL.

    I really loved it. Wonderful flow of dialogue and description. You have a lovely way of describing everything. Great job. I honestly couldn’t see any flaws. I’m not an editor or a grammer checker mind you :)

  2. Gary says:

    Elizabeth is many things ;)

    You are currently challenging speed writing. I started the above yesterday and in between children took maybe 3 hours or so. I’m trying to improve the method by which I lay text down. Before I was so slow I kept forgetting where I was and things got disjointed. 24 or 48 hour self challenges skew all sorts up. The main one being too many repeated words and my own bugbear, pronoun overuse. It also adds suspense because once you bang a character into a problem you have to think fast to get them out…or not… For me that is like post per post combat in RPG. Used to do that years ago in a text based multiplayer world. Some of my friends from that found writing coming out if that experience too.

    But more???

    You have a choice

    Elizabeth
    The Brothers
    The House….

    No idea where any of those paths lead yet btw :)

    Ps you are overgenerous. I am still very skeptical of all this :(

  3. freckles says:

    Your quick, quick at writing ;) And between children too! I wish I could knock that kind of quality writing out that quick. I’ve never played RPG, but heck from what I’vre seen, there is so much that goes into them! Major story lines themselves and everyone gets so invested in them too. No wonder some of your friends were able to write after playing them. Now, I’m lucky to get something down, before I have to change a nappy, fix lunch, or tea, then actually interact with my tinkers :) There fun at this age, 4 and 2 :) Albeit tiring too (yawn)

    Choices! Eek.. It’s like telling me I can only choose one bar of Cadbury, when I want all three ;) However, if I have to choose, I choose…. ARGH I can’t decide, why don’t you surprise me. I will love reading, whichever one you decide to write :)

  4. Gary says:

    I can be quick yes, but it took nearly a decade to actually get round to doing the bit I sent you. That was poor self confdence in this department being a major player. It took ages to find my narrative “voice” and even now its still evolving. The other bits come together with practice and I find when you are flowing keep going because when the wall hits it can be quite a while before anything at all pops out!

    The 24 hr self challenge is more like 3 hours given some of it is nightime and the rest is children :)

  5. Anna says:

    This is wonderful! Great cliff hanger, great dialogue, and great story telling. It had a very nice flow to it and was easy to read. I loved Elisabeth’s “ghost”. Challenging the reader as to what’s actually going on in the story is such a fun thing to do and as a reader, very captivating to read. Reading something so predicting is never as much fun.

    Well done!

    • Gary says:

      Thank you again :)

      Although half way through I was pondering which players were the ghosts lol.

      If we (Freckles et al) actually get a writing blog up you are more than welcome to join in… I find it massively helpful to bounce ideas and thoughts. It really gives confidence to do more too. :)

      Actually we insist you do lol

  6. Hana says:

    Just finished the two related stories. I found them very rich in description, plot and relationships between characters. I enjoyed figuring things out as I read instead of everything being explained outright all the time. Nicely done.

    I also appreciated reading a little about your process (conversation with Freckles on the earlier story). It helps to know how others write, I think. It helped me. Thank you.

  7. Gary says:

    Thank you Hana :)

    Agree with you. Can’t abide everything being explained. Trick for me is to let the character I am dealing with take over. If said character doesn’t or wouldn’t know something then I try very hard to stick to that principle. If that character is the readers eyes then why would they know the answers either?

    Personally I write to open up loads of paths and leave bits behind that can be opened up later. I don’t write in a linear point a to point b fashion if something unexpected crops up I roll with it to see where it goes. Sometimes its better than the original storyboard idea in which case things evolve to include it. Mostly though I let my characters dictate the way things go.

    Feel free to join in. Without questions no-one improves :)

    We are all amateurs trying to get better… Likewise the blog idea mentioned above.. If it pans out all welcome. I figured that way if someone gets famous I can say I know them lol

  8. Anna2987 says:

    Count me in! I would absolutely love to join. This course has help me feel more comfortable with my own writing and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everyone else’s work.

    • Gary says:

      Answered this this on the other post :)

    • freckles says:

      Yeah! We have three now wanting to do a writing blog… :) Gary is in the driving seat :)

      • Gary says:

        Still got to make the blasted thing do things right though lol

        Much easier on Facebook groups but then I know more about that. My original idea was to link a blog to that too… Promoting writing and all that…. Schools out soon though and I suspect productivity will be affected !!!

        • freckles says:

          Ugh, I’m not on FB. Although, with school holidays you have 6 weeks of fun time with your children. So no rush, enjoy your summer holiday. We know where to find you :)

          • Gary says:

            You called me an air head amidst the compliments…. I see…. I read between the lines…. Lol

            Get thee onto Facebook then. Much easier to commune… ish…

            Six weeks… You had to say that didn’t you.. Thanks… However, that should be enough time to have a blog up and running. How hard can it be???

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