“How is it going?”
Iris looked up from her notes to see Missy coming into the parlor with a sweating pitcher of water. She set down her pen on the side table as Missy picked up Iris’s empty glass and refilled it.
“Thank you,” Iris said, taking the water gratefully.
Though the shades and the darkness helped cool the room, The Countess didn’t have air conditioning. This was the second pitcher of water Missy had brought Iris in the past two hours.
“I’ve been going through the witness statements you took,” Iris said. “I think you’re right about it being an intelligent haunting. I don’t know why it would be so repetitive in that case, but a residual energy wouldn’t have responded to either of these two witnesses the way that it did.”
“Ah, Ariana and Ben,” Missy said, glancing over Iris’s shoulder at the reports. “I took those statements. They’ve never met each other, come to think of it. They come in at different times of year from entirely different countries. But the accounts line up with my own experience up there.”
“I haven’t gotten to yours yet,” Iris admitted.
“Well, if you don’t mind a quick iced tea and pastry break, let me give it to you directly,” Missy said with a smile.
She walked out of the room, returning a few minutes later with a tray loaded with cookies and two iced teas. Flashing Iris a grin, she set the tray down and sat in the antique chair across the table from Iris.
“So it’s not much different from anything you saw in Ariana and Ben’s reports,” Missy said. “But it was, oh, two years ago when I first saw the apparition? It was upstairs on the top floor. I know you haven’t been up there yet, but there’s this long hallway with several rooms that are generally closed off to the public. The spirit looks shadowy, at least when I was there. Human-shaped, but misty, like it’s not fully there. It walks the hallway in a steady pattern, starting at the window at the end of the hall, that great stained glass one? It starts there, then turns, walks down the hall to the third door, and walks through there and vanishes.”
Iris was digging through her notes for her pen, but Missy put a hand on hers to stop her. “Don’t worry, it’s all in the report,” Missy said, nodding toward the stack of papers.
Iris picked up her tea and took a sip, nodding for Missy to continue. “I saw it for the first time two years ago, but I’ve seen it at least twice since then. And Anna’s seen it as well, though she tends not to go up there as much. She’s got knee problems, you know? We’ve got the lift, but she hates it. But if it was just that, I would think it’s an energy recording and leave it at that. It all fits. The house is old and the building materials are local. The original owners were a wealthy family in New Winslow who lost a child before selling the building. There’s so much energy built up within these walls, I’m sure you can feel it.”
“Yeah,” Iris agreed, tracing a line along the condensation on her glass.
The energy she’d felt the other day was just as strong in the parlor she sat in now, that electrical humming just along the edge of her consciousness.
“So I’ve tried treating it like a residual haunting,” Missy said. “We’ve tried cleansings and blessings. But then last year, Ben requested one of those top floor rooms to work on his novel. He said the vibes were good in there. We normally just use them for storage, but he’s a good customer and we trust him. So he spent the night in one of the other rooms, not the one the spirit goes into at the end of its rotation, but nearby. The next day he told us how he spent the evening communicating with the spirit up there. Nothing in depth, but requesting signs of its presence. Knocks and flickering lights, you know? And they were consistent enough that both Anna and I agreed that it sounded legitimate. Obviously we needed more evidence, but within two months, Ariana came in with the same statement after going up there to record a special for a web series. So after two similar reports, I went up there with my spirit box and did some testing. There’s definitely an actual presence in the house, not just a repeating recording.”
“I wonder what it is that makes the ghost so stubborn about staying,” Iris said, her mind already on the possible approaches she could take.
The spirit box was certainly a consideration, though she’d never actually used one before and heard they got mixed results. No, she’d probably be better off with her usual approach of using her abilities to contact the spirit.
“I’m not sure,” Missy admitted. “But there’s so many antiques and artifacts in this house. It could be the land. Before the inn was moved here, this land was a farm. So on the surface it’s nothing dramatic, but we haven’t been able to find any details. And neither of us are particularly psychic, at least not in any consistent way.”
“If you don’t mind my asking, what makes you want to get rid of it?”
Missy looked up uneasily, as though waiting for the spirit to get offended by the question. “It gets…touchy after interactions,” she said. “We’ll have a few days of things being thrown around or going missing. And if the interactions were all started on our end, that’d be different. But Ariana didn’t instigate anything, the ghost did. And Anna’s statement is in there as well, you’ll be able to read that. She tried not to communicate with the ghost, but it contacted her anyway, then proceeded to shatter several antique vases in some of the rooms. So it’s starting to interfere with our customers’ safety and we can’t have that.”
“Completely understandable,” Iris said.
She shuffled through the papers until she found both Missy and Anna’s statements, then pulled them out and placed them on the top of the pile. “I’ll take a look at these before I go,” she said. “Then I’m thinking I’ll do one more quick daytime visit to get a feel for the affected area before I try to interact with the spirit.”
“Perfect,” Missy said.
She stood up. “I need to get back to work, but I leave the cookies with you.”
Before Iris could protest, Missy ducked out of the room, leaving her alone with a tray stacked with sweets.