My Friday Frights submission for the Issue 57 prompt – Telekinesis. This story is around 2300 words. More fun at the expense of my dear neighbours. Continues from my Dinner Party Story, She Wasn’t Invited.
My first and, I expected, my last dinner party here in France, was a disaster of epic proportions. All went well until an apparition in the form of a child, a girl of eight or nine years appeared on the staircase and scared the bejesus out of my guests. Without exception, they fled from the house leaving me to confront the nightmare alone.
Actually, it was not so much of a nightmare. I knew the house was haunted. It began, at least I first became aware of a ghostly presence, when, whilst digging to clear brambles from an area of garden, I unearthed a human skull. I realise I should have reported the find to the local Gendarme, but this being France… The skull had obviously been in the ground a very long time and I could not see them being overly keen to investigate a possible murder of so long ago. Besides, I thought it might look good, well, a talking point at least, if displayed in a glass cabinet under an eerie green light.
The night I first brought it into the house was the night I first saw the young woman to whom the bones had belonged. Aware of the paranormal for as long as I remember, I have no fear of ghosts and, after an initial moment of embarrassment on my part for desecrating her grave, we began what I think many people would see as a bizarre relationship. Her name, when she was alive, was Monique, a beautiful name that I will always refer to her by.
She liked my idea for the display of her remains as it gave her a strong physical link with this house. She wanted to stay and, to be honest, I enjoy her company. I should add here, our relationship is not sexual. No matter what romantic fiction writers tell you, physical sex with a ghost is not possible. For an apparition to even remain visible, it must draw energy in the form of heat from the physical plane. This is why there is such a noticeable drop in temperature during paranormal activity. No matter how stunning your ghost appears, I challenge any man to maintain his libido when she feels like a block of ice to his touch.
Anyway, getting back to the dinner party, I made no mention of hauntings to my guests before they arrived. I really did not think they would believe me. It never occurred to me that Monique might get upset at not being invited and make an appearance with such devastating effect. Monique and I had a long talk later that evening, when I explained that most living people do not understand ghosts the way I do and, as I thought she understood that, she would know why I could not invite her. Admittedly, I should have told her about the dinner, but as it’s not every day she visits me, and I am so pleased to see her when she does, it had completely slipped from my mind.
This pacified Monique, but I was uncertain how I should explain to the neighbours I had invited. I considered one idea: that being a writer of horror stories, it had been an experiment to see their reactions and my ghost was the daughter of a friend made up and dressed to look scary. Unfortunately, her mother, who had been upstairs all evening with her, had got a little carried away and made her look too realistic.
In fact, I didn’t need to go to such measures. Mid-morning the next day, I was disturbed from some writing by a knock at the door. It was Michelle who had been the first to see Monique on the stairs.
“I am so sorry that we all rushed away leaving you alone,” she said. “I expected to find you this morning a white haired, gibbering wreck of a man. Did you realize the house was haunted?”
“Well, as it happens…”
“I’m sure you didn’t.” She answered for me before I could admit I did. “I thought I could sense a lurking evil in the house as soon as we came in.”
I am certain I looked at her in surprise. Monique has never struck me as being evil. I know she worked as a prostitute before her murder by a deranged psychopath who believed he was, “doing God’s will by cleaning the scum from the streets.” Monique’s words, not mine. I also know she has a certain sense of humour in an un-deadpan sort of way. But evil… She bears no grudge, even against the man who ended her life.
Michelle continued, “I’d like to bring some friends over this evening. I know they can help you.”
“It’s okay…” I tried to stop her but she was not listening.
“Would nine be all right?” She glanced beyond me into the room, perhaps as if expecting to see a winged demonic presence on the carpet. “Well, nine it is then. Bye for now, and please don’t worry.” She turned and almost ran from the house to her waiting car.
I tried to call Monique, but it is not as if I could pick up a phone, so whether she got my message or not, I had no way of knowing.
At a quarter-past nine, I began to suspect Michelle had been unable to arrange the “help” she promised. I started to feel a sense of relief until there was a knock at the door. Michelle with her husband Guillom, a plump woman who appeared to be in her late forties, with almost flame red hair, and a thin, elderly man in the attire of a priest stood waiting on the step.
The moment the door was open sufficiently, Michelle made her apologies. “I am so sorry we’re late, but I didn’t realize Father DuBois needed to make so many preparations.”
“You’d be surprised how long it takes to get holy water.” Guillom was smirking as he added his contribution.
Father Dubois looked more serious. “My apologies, but it’s not just a question of turning on a tap and filling a flask.”
“And this is Odette.” Michelle indicated to the red haired woman. “She is a psychic.”
The woman bustled forward until her presence seemed overwhelming. Perhaps it was the red hair, or perhaps the bright orange dress. I felt dazzled.
“We’ve already met,” I said.
Odette stopped abruptly. She looked bemused. “I think you are mistaken.”
“Not this life,” I added. “Paris? 1790? The French Revolution.” I have no idea if I was correct, but three of my four guests stared at me in awe.
“So, you believe in reincarnation?”
I had assumed The priest would not. Such a concept is not part of the Catholic creed. “Of course Father,” I replied. “I’ve seen too much evidence not to be certain.”
Odette looked deflated. “I think… maybe I do remember.” She sounded very hesitant. One up to me, I thought.
“You’d better come in,” I continued holding the door open for them to enter.
Odette, having pushed herself to the front was the first to enter. As she reached the middle of the lounge, she clutched at her chest with both hands and her knees buckled. I thought she was about to collapse; heart attack or something similar.
Michelle grabbed her arm for support before I could move. “Whatever is the matter?”
“I feel it. That sense of foreboding. That evil presence you told me about. I feel it, here in this very room. It’s so strong, so powerful, so overwhelmingly evil.”
A large black ball of indistinguishable form suddenly appeared in the corner of the room, flew across the carpet and out through the open door. Everyone jumped, Michelle screamed and the priest made the sign of the cross with one hand.
I tried to stop laughing. “It’s all right. That was only one of my black cats. You scared her.”
How many cats do you have? The priest asked. I would swear his voice had developed a nervous quaver.
“Three black and one silver-grey. I think the others are out at the moment.” I turned to Odette. I intended asking if the “evil” presence was still in the room now the cat had gone, until I realised she had fainted. I went into the kitchen for some water as Michelle tried to revive her.
As I turned the tap, I felt a snigger of amusement. Monique?
I could not see her but sensed her presence. Monique and I have a wonderful system of communication. She speaks no English, and my French is very limited, but as a spirit, she is totally telepathic. We communicate with pure thought, with sensation, emotion, feelings. She translates my sensations into French, while I translate hers into English. The thoughts are the same; it is only the symbols, the words we use to convey those thoughts that vary from language to language. If one of us thinks of an apple, which is the word symbol I use, Monique sees the same fruit but she knows it as “un pomme.” It is perfect. There is no chance of any misunderstanding.
I realized at that moment, we also had the ability to talk with none of the others overhearing us. I’m so glad you’re here Monique. I couldn’t stop them. I hope they don’t really exorcize you.
I don’t think they can. SHE, is a charlatan. I assumed Monique was referring to Odette.
I thought you would be more concerned about the priest. With his talk of holy water, he had me worried.
If we were religious fanatics, maybe. But neither of us believe in a god, do we?
That was true.
I returned to the lounge with the water. Michelle and Guillom had Odette sitting in a straight-backed chair beside the dining table. Placing the glass on the table beside her, I said, “If you want to call off tonight…”
“We wouldn’t dream of it.” Michelle seemed to have taken on the roll of spokesperson for the group. “You must have been living through hell these past years.”
“Not at all!” I felt it was time I explained before they got carried away with their hocus-pocus. “I’ve always known this house is haunted. A young woman by the name of Monique who was murdered here around fifty years ago. She doesn’t always haunt the house as a nine-year old child. I understand she was seventeen when she died. She can appear as any age she experienced in life, up until the moment she died. She believed a nine-year old would have the most sensational effect among those she wanted to scare. I should have warned you before last night, but, to be honest, I didn’t think you would believe.” I decided to make no mention of the skull sitting in a box beside the computer in the room I use as a study.
I turned to Michelle and Odette. “I don’t know why you should think she is evil. She can exude an air of sadness, melancholy at times, but evil? Never to me. She has given me some wonderful inspiration for stories. I see her as my muse.”
A snort of derision from the priest drew my attention back to him. “Then she has seduced you with her lies. This is exactly the way God’s word describes the behaviour of demonic entities. We are expressly forbidden in the Holy Bible to have any contact. To prove to you the demon’s true nature, I will summon her in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to appear before us in her true form.”
I was not sure why he felt he needed to speak in such a loud voice. Far more quietly I said, “There is no need for summoning, father. She is standing right behind you.”
The look on his face was priceless as he spun around. Of course, he could not see her. I was aware of no more than the faintest glow of ethereal light.
“Would you please be good enough to show yourself in your true form Monique?” Even when speaking to the dead, it is considerate to be polite. I asked the question aloud only for the benefit of the living. I felt the sudden drop in temperature from the warmth of the summer night.
I guessed how she would show herself: the way she looked, the moments before she was murdered. Many times has she appeared to me in such a form, she knows it excites me. I was not disappointed. I think the priest was shocked. The two women definitely were. She stood, a glowing vision, completely naked. To me, she looked more like an angel than a demon.
The events that followed, I was not expecting. Father DuBois pulled a crucifix from an inside pocket of his cassock, thrusting it toward Monique. The electric lights in the room were suddenly extinguished. There was a loud thud from the table behind me. I think both women shrieked. I half turned, catching site of the skull now resting in the centre of the table. It still glowed from the eerie green light, although there was no light visible. The priest yelled something in French and unprintable. I looked back to see the crucifix glowing redder than Odette’s hair. He dropped the cross from where it lay, smouldering on the carpet. The smell of singed flesh mixed with burning carpet-pile reminded me of sulphur and brimstone.
The final straw was the loud, demonic chuckle that came from the skull. Four figures, including a badly shaken priest fled from the house.
I turned to Monique. That was amazing. I didn’t know you could do telekinesis.
There was a strange, almost frightened look in her eyes. It wasn’t me,she whispered.
© 2012. Robert A. Read