Without even a second wasted on consideration of the matter, Phoebe and I marched across the street! This ordeal had now lasted two weeks, which, on the grand scheme of things, isn’t that long, but it feels like a lifetime when you’re suffering! After a slew of sleepless nights and reams of restless days, we were more than ready for this nightmare to end, and up until right then, we hadn’t gotten any new leads on how to make that happen! For the first time in what seemed like forever, a warm wave of hope ensnared my senses, and I strode over there with a fierce determination in order to end this chaos that evening! I wasn’t about to face another day of Damon’s moronic yet maniacal plot- we were going to put a stop to that immediately!
As we passed his antique vehicle in the driveway, I was too focused on the storm brewing within me to take note of anything else until Phoebe mentioned, “Gosh, I don’t know how he can stand to live beside such a creepy place!”
I shook myself out of my torpor. “Huh?” I gazed over to the edifice she had indicated to, and although darkness shrouded most of the structure, the dilapidated and fire-damaged wood was still very much visible! It spooked most of the residents who occupied this region, and they merely traveled past this locale! I highly doubted Richard had actually gone inside, as far as I could tell, I was the only human who had done that, but I couldn’t imagine living this near that abandoned house based off of the rumors alone! And, while the portal was opened, so many strange incidents occurred there, so it mystified me as to how he resisted the temptation to move as far away as possible! “I could see why my realtor got so surprised when I bought property so close to that creepy crap!” Phoebe and I took a moment to contemplate this concept, and then I recalled our mission and brushed that off. “We better keep going!” I advised, and we renewed our efforts to get to the bottom of a mystery that haunted us for too long!
I knocked on the door and waited patiently for him to reply to our call. I didn’t feel nervous about this interaction whatsoever, on the contrary, I felt energized by the prospect of what was to come! My palpitating anticipation didn’t leave me with as much patience as I initially felt, so I knocked again. I increased the volume to ensure that he heard it properly, and I inwardly thought that I wouldn’t take no for an answer! If he hadn’t responded, I was prepared to shout to get his attention! “Richard! We know you’re in there! Come on out!” Oops! I meant to keep that to myself! Phoebe gave me a reproachful look, and I shrugged. It was too late to take it back!
“What?” an elderly fellow cracked the door enough for him to peek out onto his stoop. He didn’t appear particularly pleased with our presence, but I could’ve cared less! We finally reached the critical juncture I had been praying for!
“We need to know who the original homeowners were for that hovel next door to you!”
Richard’s eyes grew wide, and he coldly stated, “I can’t do that!”
My curiosity peaked at his outlandish reaction. He previously spoke with such conviction against the evil that dwelt within those walls, so it never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t want to cooperate with us! He never struck me as someone with ulterior motives, but since he displayed this opposition, I wondered what on earth he could have been hiding! “Why not?” I probed.
“It’s close to midnight for crying out loud!” he snapped. “I just returned from a lengthy trip, and I’m ready to go to bed!”
“Oh!” I hadn’t spotted it until he alluded to the hour, but he was wearing his pajamas! I suddenly felt very foolish for tackling a venture like this at a nocturnal period, and I hoped he hadn’t spotted my cheeks turning red under his porch light! “We’re so sorry! We haven’t gotten much sleep recently and lost our concept of a normal schedule!”
Pheobe requested, “Can we come by tomorrow to get the information?”
Richard barked, “Fine!” before slamming the door. Quite embarrassed by this faux pas, Phoebe and I swiftly walked away!
“Hey, there’s Blaise’s lighter!” Phoebe announced when we went past his truck. “I guess he didn’t resurface yet or he miraculously quit smoking wherever he ended up at!”
“Let’s bring it inside,” I suggested. “Since he’s been gone for a while, he may need to light some more candles in our bathroom! Besides, I’d like to give it to him personally ‘cause that prick owes us an explanation!” As we inched forward toward our abode, I shocked myself by knocking on wood that we’d find him inside! I didn’t get the details we needed about the origins of that door to the Netherworld, but perhaps we could discover why Blaise played a part in trying to reopen it!
It sounded kind of funny to us, but we were actually hoping to encounter Blaise arguing with Miriam when we entered into the foyer, and the silence that typically would have been extremely welcomed after an arduous day sincerely disappointed us! As we shuffled off towards our bedroom, Miriam unexpectedly hopped out in front of us and excitedly proclaimed, “I’ve got good news!”
Phoebe conjectured, “Blaise was found dead and you’re inheriting a bunch of money?”
“Psh! I wish!” Miriam grew somewhat sullen upon this subject. “I was gonna let him vanish as long as he wanted to, but then I figured if I didn’t work out whether or not he’s alive, I’d have trouble accessing his funds, so I forced myself to call all the hospitals and see if he was there. When they all said no, I contacted the police to file a missing person report, but apparently, you gotta wait seventy-two hours! Leave it to him to make this process as tedious as possible! Anyways, that’s not what I was gonna say! Follow me to the bathroom!”
“Did you get rid of that portrait?” My optimism renewed itself once more! My dismay of not getting ahead with Richard or Blaine definitely added to the wounds (both physical and emotional) I already sustained during this stint with that petulant phantom, but maybe his calamity would, at last, reach a more ideal turning point for everyone involved in the Ghost League!
She opened the guest bathroom and let us know, “No. That spell book didn’t have a chapter on how to reverse a potion that opened up a window to the afterlife ‘cause no one with an ounce of sanity would do that! But I did find a way to make this curse more tolerable!”
Great! I cynically cogitated. That’s all I needed- a method of adapting to my struggles rather than getting rid of some! I didn’t voice that griping out loud so as not to offend her, but I had no interest in getting comfortable with the troubles that we were plaguing us! I gazed inside and beheld that instead of viewing Babelsama’s snarky picture, a small set of curtains now hung in its spot! “Yes! I have an audience! Good! We need to talk! Just move the drapes and we can properly have a discussion! Go on! Let’s show some decorum and do this face-to-face! Oh, come on!”
“Hmm… I like that it bothers him so much! That helps a little!” I conveyed to Miriam. It still disappointed me that none of my problems exactly got solved, but it was a nice gesture, and I appreciated the consideration! I didn’t see how she could have dubbed this as a noteworthy development for either of us, but I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, so I stayed tight-lipped.
“No, I didn’t do that for your amusement!” she surmised what I had been contemplating regardless of me censoring my communication to her. “Although, it is pretty fun to mess with him! But I did it for privacy! He can’t see who uses the toilet, so I don’t mind using it now! You can have your room to yourself tonight!”
A wave of relief cascaded over Phoebe and me! One of our dilemmas had gotten placated that day after all! If we got nothing else done, at least we could get a good night’s rest! Phoebe gratefully regarded her, “Thanks, Mom!”
They gave each other a hug, which clearly had some significance for them since until a couple of weeks ago, they hadn’t spoken to each other at all! It was a cute interaction, but it got interrupted pretty quickly when Miriam’s phone went off in her pocket. “If that’s Blaise, I swear, I’m gonna…!” She glanced at the screen, and we crossed our fingers that it was Blaise so we could get the confession we needed out of him! She frowned and reported, “Oh, it was just a notification for some real estate app that I downloaded. Huh, I could’ve sworn that I turned alerts off for that one! Oh well!”
“Well, let us know if you learn anything important,” I requisitioned as we headed into our room to prepare for our slumber. It would have been swell if we had gotten closure on that issue, but it comforted me to get some secludedness with Phoebe!
“Hold on! Let me get a picture of you in your prom clothes before you take them off!” Miriam beseeched us. We both groaned, but we still agreed to do it. Luckily, it didn’t take her ages to get a shot that she approved of! “So adorable! Look!” I grimaced at how sallow our skin was and how pronounced the circles around our eyes appeared, but I felt too exhausted to demand a more flattering photo! “Good night you two!” She waved as she strolled into her quarters.
We returned her sentiments before turning in ourselves. At the onset, I envisioned eight or more hours of uninterrupted snoozing, but it then occurred to me that Phoebe and I could freely get frisky under these circumstances! Phoebe obviously got under the same mindset because she silkily asked me, “Hey, do you wanna…?”
I readily acquiesced, “Oh yeah!” We kissed each other passionately, fell onto our mattress, and then…
The bright morning sun and the merrily chirping birds compelled me to open my eyes and survey the scene. I observed that Phoebe and I had fallen asleep with our formal attire still on, so it didn’t insinuate that we had gotten very far with each other! I shrugged- a blissful dormancy was also sorely needed in our lives in that instance! It sort of alleviated me that we hadn’t become intimate- apparently, we had forgotten to shut the blinds! As Phoebe began to stir, I slyly went over to the window with the intentions of closing it in order to persuade her to do a morning romp, but prior to me initiating anything, I abruptly woke her up when I saw something outside that made me audibly gasp! “What happened?” Phoebe urgently inquired.
“Richard’s on our porch… And he has an axe!” I revealed. Phoebe dashed over to espy this horrifying abnormality for herself, and it bewildered her as well! The doorbell rang, and we became filled with dread! I quietly told Phoebe, “We started questioning him about that abandoned house, and now he’s here with a weapon! He must have something to do with the secret of-!” He gazed over in our direction, so we ducked out of his line of sight.
“This is a marvelous example of why we shouldn’t answer the door every time we have a visitor!” Phoebe softly pointed out.
I muttered, “Is it really necessary to do a victory lap right now?”
Before Phoebe could offer a retort, Miriam loudly broadcasted, “I’ll get it!”
“No!” Phoebe and I called out in unison. We followed her to the door and prepared ourselves to snatch her out of harm’s way…
“Oh, hello!” Richard pleasantly addressed Miriam. “I apologize if I woke you up, young lady!”
I whispered to Phoebe, “This guy’s a psychopath! He’s a little too chipper at the beginning of a killing spree!”
Richard posed to Miriam, “Is Connor or Phoebe available?”
“Yeah, they’re-.” Miriam swiveled around and stared at our positions in confusion. “Um.. It’s for you…”
“Oh, hi!” Phoebe and I sprung into a more ordinary stance, but we kept a wide breadth as we contacted him, “What brings you here so early?”
Richard caught on to what we were eyeballing so nervously, so he assured us, “Sorry if this old thing frightened you! Though I’m not that sorry since you gave me quite the heebie-jeebies last night! Anyways, when I got up, I recalled that you wanted to know about the original owners of that abandoned place. Then I got reminded that I purchased some of the goods he was getting rid of ahead of his move, and I found his inscription on this old axe! Take a gander…”
We slowly crept up to the object in his outstretched hands, and there was, indeed, a name etched onto it! Though I felt stoked to finally possess a vital piece of this bothersome puzzle, my jaw dropped when I glimpsed at this moniker…