Kevin kept his hands in the four o'clock - eight o'clock position on the steering wheel. He kept them there for so long that they had begun to go numb, and then on fire with the sensations of needles stabbing them from all directions, exacerbated by every bump and irregularity in the road. He kept shifting in his seat periodically, trying to adjust his blue jeans which were hugging too close for comfort as the slightest decelerations of his Chevy Silverado shoved him against the denim of the crotch area. He was too sleepy to limit himself to compulsively bump the cruise control up and down; the increasing monotony of the drive required increasing alertness, so he switched to manual control of the accelerator to try to occupy himself enough to force his eyes open, just enough external stimuli to remind the reptilian part of his brain that he was operating a ton and a half of steel, and needed to stay awake. Only his right foot began to sting with the same feeling as his hands. Everything went fuzzy and gray for a second, and rushed back into a white sun and blue sky with a jolt of a raised reflector under the front left tire, indicating that he had been drifting into the oncoming lane. He jerked awake just soon enough and corrected himself just quick enough, before Sam could say anything. Kevin shook his head side to side, trying to wake up, and leaned forward against the steering wheel, trying his hardest to keep his gaze focused towards the road ahead, until the horn went off and startled him. Sam glanced over at him once, then twice. Kevin glanced back at him with weary bags under his eyes. "We're almost there."
"Kevin, keep it under seventy-five."
"Maybe you should pull over to rest a little man, you're having micro-sleeps. I'm not going to steer and break for you the next time you pass out. We want to get there in one piece right?"
Kevin didn't respond. He knew that the sooner they got there, the more likely they would be able to get a hold of Todd to at least do a walk through and obtain some specific insight on the location. He already called him and made sure that they would be the only visitors to the estate that evening. He spent months putting a little bit of money away from each paycheck from his job at CVS to buy two Nikon digital SLR cameras, two BenQ S21 night vision camcorders, two Trifield 100XE EMF meters, four electronic thermometers, six infrared lamps, six floodlights, and six beryllium-diaphragm microphones sensitive to fifteen kilohertz above and below the median human hearing threshold. It was a booty worth several thousand dollars. It was all falling into place, the dream he had chewed on for so many years was coming true. He was by no means a pioneer. The Ghost Adventures crew had done it before him, as had many other hundreds of amateurs who traveled for thousands of miles to come there on their own dime, with nothing to gain, nothing positive at least, from their family, their friends, their peers, or from society at large. It was such a taboo subject to talk about. As a culture, Americans had an extreme trepidation for discussing death, and to ponder philosophically, that which waited after. They seemed so content to cycle, and cycle on. Going to school, going to work, going home, paying bills, watching television, keeping the kids occupied or out of the house, quality time with the spouse, dinner with wine, bathing, drugs to help them sleep, or to help them have sex, drugs to make themselves and each other more pleasant to be around, go to church to wash themselves clean of their humanity, go to doctors to keep expiration at bay, and then hopefully maintain the adequate serenity to do it all over again. People were so shallow, or scared, to sit down for a moment and understand that one day, they, all of them were going to stop being, to cease to be, like all of their ancestors before them, and so many unfortunate descendants too soon. Homicide. Suicide. In a country with so much material wealth, and so many vices by which to side-step the bitter shortcomings of reality, people just couldn't stand other people and they couldn't stand themselves. But they would just as soon call him crazy, for stepping out of the bubble, and suggesting that there is more to life than feeling good to feel better. For just a moment he thought. Crazy? Maybe if there was no obvious incentive in accepting that which was inevitable. The universal need for immediate gratification limited most people to think about the present, not because they wouldn't accept destiny, but because they couldn't. There was life, or some version of it, and then there was death. There was death, and Kevin wanted a better understanding of it.
"Highway 99. Fresno. We're here right?"
"Yeah Sam, we're looking for Clovis."
"That's in Fresno, Kevin."
"Just direct me for now. I wrote down the address for you."
"On the map"
"Where on the map?"
"Where it says Clovis, with a little black star. In pen."
"1315 Shaw Avenue, Clovis, CA 93612-3961"
"Just the street, I'm not writing a letter here."
"Just get off at the next exit and take a left to merge with 180."
Kevin parked the truck by the curb, just close enough to keep him in the legal limits and not in the street. He got out of the driver's side, his sneakers hitting the hot asphalt, shocking his heels. Wobbling, he walked around and sat down on the curb, his rump half on the burning concrete and half in the parched dirt of the property. He laid his head on his knees for much needed rest. Perhaps because he was the one doing all of the driving, non-stop all the way from Portland, it didn't seem real to him that he had traveled for over twelve hours, over seven hundred miles. He never paid attention to the mundane scenery outside the vehicle, the terrain, the geography, the road signs, the speed limits, off-ramps and over-passes, the McDonald's and Burger King, the Exxon and Shell, the Motel 6 and Super 8, the Peterbilt and Volvo semis, the ever increasing ratios of foreign made cars to the American fossils long dating. All of that was purely incidental. He made the trek for Wolfe Manor. The name resonated in his mind, his physical exhaustion dissociating him from awareness that he was actually there. The single most haunted location in the State of California: the Black Hole of Clovis. And he was too tired to look at it. Sam on the other hand, still hadn't gotten out of the truck. He continued to stare at the dreaded building that Kevin had spent so many hours telling him about, day after day at the gym back home. Besides the telephone lines, it was the only recognizable man-made structure for the several un leased blocks that marooned it, the grass yellow and dead, isolated into islands by the cracked Earth between. Just one tree could be seen, its branches shading a portion of the house, an extended driveway snaking around the other side. A rusted stairwell hugged one side of the house, a row of portable restrooms on the other. A huge pile of rubble, remains of the portable building that served the assisted living, equivalent to the house in grossness, lay behind it. The house itself was derelict, broken windows with plywood in their place, missing roof tiles, fading aqua-green paint and peach colored vinyl siding, coming apart at the corners. He opened the door and stepped out on to the curb, but didn't take a step farther, as something had crossed the corner of his eye, to his right. In his peripheral vision, just close enough to be seen, but not clear enough to discern, it was as though someone had bobbed a tissue up and down for a split-second and then walked away, vanished. Sam turned to his right and saw Kevin, snoozing over his crossed arms, curled up into a ball with his head resting against the rear bumper of the truck. It was just his white t-shirt.
Sam walked around him and hopped up into the bed of the truck, opening up the utility box in which they had stored their equipment. As he unloaded the lights into the bed, they hit against its scaled metal surface and stirred Kevin back to wakefulness. "Is Todd here yet?" Kevin stood up and rubbed his eyes, climbing over the tailgate to assist in unloading the gear. "No, it's only five fifty-five. You said he was going to stop on by at six thirty. You really want to spend a night in this pisshole? Are you sure you won't fall asleep?" Kevin smirked and stared Sam straight in the eye "We won't be able to sleep. This isn't an ordinary house. For over sixty years this was a place where people came to die. This house would house upwards of one hundred fifty patients at a time and the conditions were so horrendous that the average lifespan of the employee's tenure here was about a month before they'd burnout from the horrors they witnessed. This is a slaughterhouse, plain and simple. That's what a sanitarium is, a place where the poor, sick and unwanted people come to croak. It's where society doesn't have to be inconvenienced by the rampant mortality of the less fortunate they so claim to care about. And I'm gonna tell you something, those lost souls that were forgotten, they are still here, crying out in anger, in sadness and in insanity. Since you're a skeptic, and all of this is just mysticism and nonsense, it'll be even easier to get you inside that house right there, and for you to see for yourself. I didn't just bring you along so I wouldn't feel as afraid. Poverty, mental illness, polio, tuberculosis, cancer, Alzheimer's, alcoholism, addiction, AIDS, murder, suicide, neglect, abuse, it's all right in there. Souls condemned to roam the prison that was their lonesome demise. Condensed into a cauldron ripe with emotions. Tell me, so you think emotion is not real?" Sam shook his head and went right into a rebuttal, "I came along because I want to show you that this is mysticism and nonsense. The human mind is a powerful thing, and it sometimes malfunctions. I understand why you'd believe in this stuff. You lost your dad before you graduated high school. It's a subconscious form of condolence that has worked you into psychotic devotion to that television show. You know how easy it is to just script all of this? To add in all of the touches, and "EVPs" as they're called? You ever watch a movie? That's all that's going on. Fake, fake, fake." Kevin turned his back to Sam, and looked into the darkened windows of the second floor. The dirty windows only revealed the inside of the house by the sunlight raying through them. The walls on the inside were barely visible, broken by the shadows of the black curtains in the window frames. As he tried to focus his vision to make more out of what was inside that second story room, something moved. Something moved and did so by itself. The black curtains moved apart. His heart skipped a beat and he jumped on the balls of his feet, though had he seen an apparition he would've turned around and ran away for his fucking life. A feeling of overwhelming intrigue and terror interrupted his thought in that instant that he saw black curtains glide open by themselves. The fact that Sam was there with him brought not a hint of comfort, because he wouldn't believe him, and if he saw it too, they'd both run away like hares from hounds, screaming in futility when finally caught. It was one thing to see it on the Travel Channel, and quite another to be dreaming of it in broad daylight. Yes, he was dreaming. Sleep deprivation was playing tricks on his mind. He had way too much caffeine. He was worked up and his blood sugar was low. It was at least one hundred degrees outside and he was dehydrated. Or the curtains really moved apart on their own. He cleared the lump in his throat, now feeling wide awake with the abrupt increase in action potentials rocking his sympathetic nervous system. "So it's not real? Okay, why don't you prove it to me and stay in the basement while I stay on the second floor. Take your half of the equipment then. Tomorrow morning, if you're not dead on the floor from fright, we can review our evidence and see what's real or not."
A red Jeep pulled up on the opposite side of the street. Out stepped a tall man with a spiked cru cut, a goatee, a black collared Dickie's shirt, black jeans and Mexican boots. He had defined stress lines, crows-feet, and mild hairline recession. "Hello there!" Kevin ran across the street to immediately steal his hands in excited salutation. "Todd Wolfe? I'm Kevin Reese, we spoke on the phone last week?"
"Yeah glad to meet you. It's gonna be dark soon so I'm going to go ahead and unlock the front door for you. Show you around my home." He stopped and looked at Sam. He looked at him so intensely, so long, and so resolutely, that Sam tried to move his head out of the way, as if Todd was trying to see something behind him that he was missing. Sam looked around at the house, and looked back at the tall and somewhat intimidating man standing in his way. Like laser beams, it was unpleasant to look directly into his blue eyes, much too stationary to convey any sense of welcome. "I'm Todd Wolfe!" He exclaimed, with an open hand waiting to receive greeting. "… Sam Aiken."
"Glad to meet you! Come on in I'll show you around."
The crimson door opened, after Todd had to unravel the mass of chains bound by three padlocks that secured the old and badly warped burglar door. Inside of the house, it was pitch black. Tickled by the light from the outside, the walls were painted a crimson color, but deeper and less faded than that on the front door. Immediately in front of them was a gurney, with ripped imitation leather and foam cushioning that herniated out of it through the broken seems. Kevin moved forward and noticed that it had small, encrusted stains pocking it all over. "Blood?" Todd looked at him and smiled "Paint." He took a recess from his strange short-spoken demeanor and turned into their de facto tour guide. "Okay so this is the foyer, this is where patients were received after being processed by their HMO and determined ready to receive end of life care. Back in the 1930s when after the Andriotti family lost their estate during the Great Depression, the State of California purchased the deed to the land and turned it into the Clovis Sanitarium. It was in operation up until 1996, and people would come here to live their last years at the mercy of the state's goodwill. To your left is the living room, this was the main hospice where they'd have dozens of patients side by side on their beds. The conditions were poor; they'd have cases of bedsores to the bone, patients lying in their own excrement, lots of wound contamination and secondary infections. In good news they were fed regularly, but only if they threw up it may have been hours or even days before they were cleaned off, not to mention changed into their clean gowns. Right where I'm standing is where we had a confirmed suicide; a patient unlatched the fire extinguisher, swallowed the nozzle and asphyxiated himself. Wanna see up stairs?" Sam started to feel his skin crawl. He dismissed it in his head as being just a humanistic reaction to the appalling information he was hearing, but it felt like someone was slowly caressing him right down his back. Someone with ice cold hands. "They do that you know, it's just like being around an animal. They just know that you're uneasy around them. You're not feeling uncomfortable are you?" Sam bit his lip. "N-no. Just… is there a bathroom in here?" He pointed down the ominous hall, where only a glint from the light outside could be seen on reflecting off of the wall tile. "Right back that way, past the kitchen. There'll be another corridor to your left, go down it and there will be a bathroom." Sam only nodded and marched forward, as if he had a bayonet being pointed to his back. The walls just before the kitchen were covered with antique wallpaper, plaster overlapping with glue holding the sheets to the wall. The solid crimson gave way to crimson and white vertical stripes, interrupted by old photos in tarnished brass frames, presumably of the original tenants. In to the kitchen he noticed that there was a strange smell, like something was frying in lard. Like at a carnival or fair, the kind of aroma that would make you want to eat until you puked. Only it was out of place, and rather nauseating considering the setting. And it was very odd, being that the building had been abandoned for sixteen years, and that there was no gas or electricity going to it. He put it out of his mind and took a left down the corridor as Todd had told him. At this point, Sam couldn't see his hand in front of his face. He put his hands in front of him, feeling around for the door that would soon lead him to the toilet where he could relieve the pressure in his bladder. Suddenly, he felt his forehead collide with a hard edge of something. It stunned him so bad he couldn't help but fall on his butt, and while he was seeing stars, he heard something. Something that he knew wasn't possible to be heard, not if he was sane. Watch where you're walking. Sam softly repeated it to himself. He quietly inquired aloud, to himself, to the wall behind him, to what in the hell had said that right into both of his ears, so clearly. "… Who said that?" After a minute of sitting in the darkness, he stood to his feet, turned around and trotted right back to Kevin and Todd. "Pardon me." He went straight out the door and went around the house to the porta potties, yanked open the door and closed it. When he was done, he walked back inside the house. Todd and Kevin were standing in the doorway with their hands on their hips, as if they were dissatisfied that he had used the bathrooms outside. "I couldn't see. I had to go. I couldn't see anything back there." Sam said.
"That's fine, that's perfectly all right. Let's go up stairs."
Kevin knew what had happened, and he couldn't help but feel a kind of personal victory that he could at least make a skeptical person see that there was more going on than met the eye. Todd led the way up the staircase and into a ball room, heavily embroidered with fine lacquered oak wood-work and a crystal chandelier. The light coming in through the windows of the second floor brought a gladly noted, but false, sense of security. Even with daylight still prevailing over the eerie finality of the night to come, the ghosts were making themselves known.
"This is Mary's bedroom. Mary was the Andriotti's first daughter. This room served as the executive suite of sorts, for those who were definitively terminally ill, and within their last days. They would house a maximum of only four patients here, they had enough space to where they could leisurely host visitors, including the bearers of their last rites. That old stool that you see right there by the window was the same one that a local priest, Father Martinez used for over twenty years when he came here to serve the patients. We could say that he probably personally saw upwards of several thousand people go to their graves in that span of time." As he thought for a moment, Kevin realized that this was in fact the same room, with the same window, where he saw the curtains move apart by themselves, less than an hour earlier. He walked towards the window and touched the curtain. It seemed so sensational, tantalizing the black rayon cloth. No physical stimulus had ever synced so powerfully with his emotional state. It had never seemed so real to him, so concurrent with the moment. He was breaking out into a cold sweat in the midst of triple digit temperatures inside the house. He was touching the same cloth that had been animated by an unseen force, presumably one that, upon the documentary of its existence, would shake society's cumulative understanding of the very meaning of life after death, to the miserable ground on which it had stood for so many years, that was for so long either close minded and dogmatically religious or rebelliously hostile and atheistic, without appreciating a compromise between the empirical and the spiritual. He felt like a scientist on the brink of a breakthrough discovery that would earn him a Nobel Prize, cracking open champagne with his colleagues, becoming a great philanthropist and another jolly good fellow of the century, with a legacy to boot. "These had moved apart before you got here Todd." Mr. Wolfe smiled and chuckled "If only you had a camera at the moment. Turn around and look at the door frame." Surrounding the door on the wall was an assortment of framed pictures, only these were recent additions to the aesthetic nature of the residence. Two in particular were prominent as evidence, one with an alleged shadow figure cast against the wall of the same staircase that they had climbed a minute ago, and another, and rather frightening portrait, aptly named "Man Baby". Sam was the first to evaluate the photograph, his skepticism guiding him to selectively appraise what he could add to his tally of debunked myths and legends, only he fell silent, and still, seemingly possessed by the image now sculpting its façade into his mind. It was somewhat translucent, solid, but at the same time, not unlike a projection that one would see on a screen at a drive in movie. A hologram, but much more substantial, like a person in the flesh: meaty. In comparison to the bathtub in the adjacent bathroom where its portrait had been taken, it was perhaps three feet tall, and curled into a fetal position. Though it had a humanoid form, a head, arms, legs, it was incomplete with regards to fingers, toes, eyes, ears and a nose. It looked like a living ragdoll. It looked grotesque. "Todd, that's your name right? Would you mind explaining to me what in the name of Jesus Christ on a crutch, this thing is?" Todd, looking without aversion at the picture as he stepped closer, as personally indulging on its frightening effect, went on to explain. "That is something I personally captured on my camera, right here in this room." Kevin cut in. "You saw it?!" With a solemn look of affirmation, Todd stared Kevin in the eye, forebodingly. "No, I was actually putting my equipment away for the night. I hadn't yet turned off the camera, and as I placed it on the bed to turn it off, pull out the battery and put it away. I saw this as I was reviewing my footage back at home. And it still gives me the creeps. I want to warn you gentlemen, this is believed to be the apparition of the vampire that exists within these walls." Sam appeared in shock, as if he had seen a ghost, which didn't surprise Kevin considering his experience trying to use the restroom; the effect of the location was living up to its name, seeping into even the most hard-lined of disbelievers, and seep into Sam it did. "Vampire?! You can't be serious man. You mean like a blood sucking creature?!" Kevin now knew that he was starting to get it. To get what he had professed to him endlessly. It was real. "Sam…"
"You guys will notice tonight I'm sure, that your equipment may malfunction, batteries will drain, and you'll get light headed. That's what it does; it will sap your energy out of you. Let's check out the basement."
With the aid of a flashlight, Todd illuminated the cracked pink paint of the walls in the basement, which was noticeably colder than the rest of the building. "This is the pink room, as you can obviously see. Back in the 1930s through the baby-boomer era, this was where bodies were stored. This building used to be considered relatively far out of town, and the time it would take to get a hearse out here to take the bodies out to the funeral home, crematorium or what have you, would be hours, days, sometimes weeks. This room was sometimes stacked full of bodies, each shrouded in cloth, and the ground temperature provided a kind of refrigeration. A lot of weird things have happened to visitors in here most notably a friend of mine was actually strangled in here, and passed out on the floor. He actually had finger marks around his neck where the skin had been broken." Kevin walked around the floor of the basement, trying to imagine what it must have felt like being packed in like a sardine with other corpses, trapped. It would make sense that the area would be alive with activity, considering what he had learned working around the medical industry. Death almost never happened as an instant moment, but rather as a process. In the case of terminal illness, the lungs would go first, followed by the heart, followed by the brain, a cascade of functional loss that could take several minutes. Clinical death, which was defined by loss of cardiac function, followed then by brain death, brain death being true, irreversible death. Their brains could've still been alive, as their motionless bodies were snatched off their beds, tossed on a gurney and stacked like stock on to many others still departing. They could've been aware of this, as their brains became colder and colder, their realities became grimmer and grimmer until… the finality, and uncertainty, of death… or what eternity was to be, what eternity was to come after. My God.
Kevin fell to the floor, holding his chest. "Kevin! Are you alright?!" Todd and Sam rushed to his aid. "I just… I just feel this place. I feel the fear." A panic attack overwhelmed him, a sense of butterflies in his stomach, his heart trying to jump out of his chest, the sensation as if all of the blood in his brain had drained, and his head spinning. A feeling of suffocation. It was as if he was living the terror of death that must have befallen the many thousands of patients, gasping for air, fighting to live, fighting their own decrepit decaying bodies that wouldn't allow them to, their flesh committed to stealing all inclination to be anything, no more. "I just felt for a second like I was… dying." All three men froze to complete stillness, as on the spur of the last word he said, the moisture in Kevin's breath was suddenly visible, as if it were just above freezing. Sam looked at Todd, and then back at Kevin. I didn't just see that. They all sat on the floor, waiting for Kevin to catch his breath. The flashlight burned out as soon as Kevin had fallen to the floor. Eventually Todd got up, feeling his way along the wall, finding the two cellar doors and pushing them open. The light of the setting sun roared into the basement. Kevin sprang to his feet. "Now if we could've gotten that on camera. Let's go get the gear!" The three of them climbed out through the cellar doors.
"I want you to lock us in Todd. I want you to padlock both the front door and the cellars. I want to take what just happened, and reproduce it on camera." Todd gave Kevin a half-grinned expression of acknowledgement of his request. He knew that Kevin had clearly seen Ghost Adventures on television, and was greatly inspired by the more provocative approach to paranormal investigation. But he also knew that the Ghost Adventures crew were more experienced, and weren't as vulnerable. The two young men now at the house were amateurs at best, and didn't have any real idea of what they were doing. But he couldn't deny them from doing it. Part of him couldn't refuse their staying there. The only reason he could levy in his own mind was because it was just two more people with the firm awareness that there was a world beyond this one, one that was just as real. It was risky, but what rewarding endeavor wasn't? That was how he would justify it. "Okay." Todd walked around the back, and put the lock over the iron deadbolt on top of the cellar doors. When he came back to the front porch he smiled at Kevin and Sam. He put the chains back on, and locked them in place over the front door. The lockdown was officially started.
"Thanks Todd! See you tomorrow at six!"
Everywhere inside the house that Kevin went, Sam followed him. They set up the six flood lights, six infrared lamps, and six microphones: two of each in the basement, one of each in the foyer, one of each in the living room, one of each in Mary's room, and one of each in the kitchen. He wanted to move the two digital cameras to different stationary positions throughout the night, leaving them alone to capture evidence. He only had two night-vision camcorders, one for Sam and one for himself, which he intended to use only when provoking the entities in the house; the infrared light would offer him the absolute best potential to capture anything on camera, and the infrared lamps would expand the visibility range of the night-vision for the cameras. The microphones would remain stationary along with the digital cameras, which would pick up the spirits' responses, direct and indirect, to their presence and provocation. The EMF detectors and thermometers would serve as quantitative evidence to support his claims. As scared as he was, it was all happening tonight. He was going to document reality. "Sam, I want you to take this camcorder, and go up to Mary's room, by yourself. And when you get there, I want you to start asking questions. Any question you can think of that would be pertinent to the terrible things that happened in here." Sam stared back into Kevin's eyes, with a flat, unwavering gaze. Without a word, he turned around, and headed up the stairs from the foyer, using the LCD screen that visualized the input from the camera's infrared light source to guide his step. It seemed a little odd. Just a few minutes before, he appeared highly animated, equally if not more frightened than he himself was after his chilling encounter with a spirit in the basement, but now he seemed unengaged, dull, had not even said a word while robotically helping him set up the equipment, and when splitting up, the same thing, emotionless.
What the hell is going on with Sam?
Kevin reached into one of the duffel bags that he hadn't disclosed to Sam. Aided by the light from both of the floodlights in the living room and in the kitchen, He reached into it, and pulled out the bottle of holy oil that he had obtained from the priest at the church by his house back in Portland. Though a non-religious man, Kevin proceeded to wipe it across his forehead, in the motion of a crucifix. "Dear lord, please protect me this night, from any evil spirits. Please protect me this night, from any evil spirits." With a deep breath, gathering his courage, he reached into the bag again, pulling out a zip-lock bag with another item he'd procured without Sam's knowledge: ten candles, made from lambs' tallow. What he hadn't told Sam, or Todd for that matter, was that he was going to be provocative, very provocative. Inspired by the art of Ouija, which he himself never fully accepted as a sure-fire method of necromancy, he was going to construct a portal, to harness the raw energy that weighed in the air so heavily, to tap into the spiritual vortex that was restrained within the walls of Wolfe Manor. With his lighter, the candles and the holy oil, he walked down the steps to the basement, now very well lit by the floodlight down stairs. He walked out into the middle of the floor. On his knees, he took out a string. He tied one end around the tip of his left index finger, and the other end around a black magic marker. Slowly, he made a perfect circle on the floor. With a ruler and a compass, he filled in the circle with five alphas, forming the pentagram. Using a fine brush, he dipped it in the holy oil and painted it over the outlines of the dark star. Once the whole outline was glistening with the holy oil, he stopped, got up and turned on the digital camera on the tripod and hit record. "Okay, so here I am in the pink room of the Wolfe Manor. If you can see behind me I've drawn a pentagram on the floor to draw out these entities in here. And again, I'm not being provocative; I'm just trying to make contact. I come here with the utmost respect to the many patients who were here, and who still are here. Don't be afraid. I, we, Sam and I are here to show the world that you exist, that you are still here, and we want to let you know that you are not forgotten. You're suffering is not forgotten." He turned around, and walked back to the pentagram that he made on the floor. With the ten candles, he laid each candle on each of the five points of the star, and on each of the five corners of the pentagon formed inside. He pulled out his lighter, flipped it on, and held it to the wicks.
"I'm now lighting these candles to help me contact the spirits." One candle.
"In the name of all mortals." Two candles.
"And immortals." Three candles.
"For those among the living." Four candles.
"And the dead." Five candles.
"I call out all those who have been blessed." Six candles.
"And those who have been cursed." Seven candles.
"To come unto me in thine ecstasy and thine hope." Eight candles.
"And in thine agony and thine hopelessness." Nine candles.
"I command thou, show thineself!" Ten candles.
The flames were flickering, and the candles were melting, all in unison, forming a faint light radiating in the shape of the pentagram. For the next seven minutes, Kevin sat, with his eyes peeled and ears up, and he heard nothing. He saw nothing. He thought nothing. He knew that séances could take a long time, and wasn't at all impatient with regards to capturing evidence. He had no problem staying relaxed, collected and confident. He knew that the microphones were recording things he couldn't hear. He knew that the cameras were capturing things that he couldn't see. He knew that the thermometers and the EMF detectors wouldn't lie. In his moment of genius, it seemed that the trepidation that he felt, the wariness of the perilous venture in which he was partaking, had become quite diluted. Whether it was some actual power contained in the holy oil, or that the superstition in the specificity of candles, made of lambs' tallow, would serve as an adequate offering to pacify evil spirits, had somehow removed the very real danger that he was in, or if by a simple mind over matter, he had summoned the bravery within himself to face the spirits head on, he felt like he was on a roll. He would go back to Portland a hero to himself, and to the many other people who accepted the evidence of life after death. He would be a hero to the lost souls of the dead.
Sam lay down on the bed in Mary's room. He had made it a point to just sleep through the night. The bed was comfortable, the sheets were fresh, and the pillows were clean. It was obvious that Mr. Wolfe used the location to make money. He did after all charge Kevin a tidy fee to stay here. It was Todd's own sick twist on an inn. The people who suffered and died in the house would probably feel extremely angry that he was selling their story so he could make book. Thankfully it was money that wasn't his to lose. He ultimately came along because Kevin wasn't bold enough to do it alone. Sam thought to himself about what had happened earlier. The bathroom and the freak out that Kevin had in the basement. It was all just a trick of the mind. He learned in psychology class about the many limitations of the human brain, and it was all he needed to debunk the myth that took over Kevin's mind. Tomorrow he would be smiling at Kevin and laughing about how stupid this was, the whole way back to Portland.
"Notoriously haunted. What a croc of shit." He picked up the night-vision camcorder. "Kevin is really losing his marbles. He turned on the floodlight in here, and asked me to use a night-vision camera? Wonderful." He got up off the bed and turned on the digital camera mounted on the tripod by the bathroom's doorway instead, and hit record. "So, I'm Sam, and this is a complete waste of time. The only thing you will get out of staying here is you'll spend a fair amount of time trying to scare yourself shitless, and learning how to make the things you hear in your head seem as if they are being spoken to you by someone else. You'll learn how to make yourself insane staying here." At the end of his sentence, the priest's old stool behind the bed took to the air and launched itself into the window behind him. The floodlight's bulb then shattered into a million pieces. The room went pitch black so instantaneously, that he could still hear each and every shard of glass ticking against the floor, one by one. For a second, it didn't seem real. Sam, still with a cocky grin on his face, still sitting upright on the bed, turned to stone.
Oh Sweet Jesus. His heart was pounding at least two hundred beats per minute. He was clenching his fists so hard that his nails were cutting into his palms. Somehow, he still hadn't screamed. Like lightning, his fight or flight mechanism engulfed him. With his whole body throbbing to-and-fro with his heart's pace, his lungs full of fire, and pupils dilated to see the impossible, his mind echoed with the only thing he could do in his petrified state. A prayer recited itself in his head, by itself. The horror was so great, so enveloping, so paralyzing, that he couldn't move, as much as he tried. The prayer was now his entire conscience, the Sam who had entered the building was now a prisoner awaiting execution by the blade of the demon, the pure evil, of whatever, of whoever shattered the light bulb and now had his soul in its ghastly grip.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The prayer announced itself over and over again, reverberating through the millisecond that separated the mind of skeptic from the fresh prey in panic from the predator looming somewhere in the darkness, waiting for the right moment to come in for the kill.
Kevin was still sitting on the floor of the pink room, staring into the flames of the candles. Suddenly, a frigid breeze blew right through his body, and the candles, all ten of them, slanted far over to the right, almost parallel to the floor, and gradually went back to their native upright position. "Okay, I'm assuming that was one of y'all. Thank you! I appreciate your effort in helping me out. What did I get on camera?" He stood up, and walked around, behind the tripod. Lifting the camera up, he stopped it, and hit rewind. At the moment he felt the drop in temperature, and that the candles' flame blew over to one side, a male shadow figure had walked by right behind him, cast against the wall, and a white orb of light, strobed around his head, hovering around as like a housefly, and then finally disappearing into his neck. Sam couldn't believe it. Time seemed to stand still as the footage played. He rewound it, over and over, expecting to see something different. "Oh Jesus." Kevin continued to rewind the footage further still, trying to see other things that could've happened, until he noticed that the candles, all ten of them, simultaneously blew out. With the floodlight still on, Kevin began to feel the creeps. "Oh shit…"
Right then, like a bomb going off, he heard a tremendously loud, blood-curdling scream.
"Oh shit! Oh Shit! Sam!" He dropped the camera and ran straight up the stairs with his flashlight. Sam screamed again, louder, like an animal being butchered alive. Kevin tore up the staircase into the blackness of Mary's room. He shined his flashlight everywhere, noticing that the window by the curtains was smashed out. Sam, where is Sam! He turned around three hundred sixty degrees, bumping into the tripod, and he then saw him. He found Sam, on the floor of the bathroom, motionless. His whole upper torso was covered in blood, his throat split wide open, and in his right hand, a huge piece of broken glass, bloodied.
Kevin felt his blood turn to ice, the hair on the back of his neck, all the way down his spine, lifted his shirt away from his skin, his eyes, wide and white, filled with tears as he felt the dread of death, completely immobilize him. The scream trumpeted again, shattering his eardrums.
That wasn't Sam.
Sam's corpse rose up off the floor, straight as a board, like a doll being picked up by a child. It levitated straight towards him, closing in until his face was right up against Kevin's. Sam's lifeless eyeballs, like glazed spheres of glass, stared right into Kevin's. Then, like a sack of potatoes, his body was dropped back to the floor. The mass of flesh that was once Sam fell to the floor with a thud. Standing immediately behind, was the entity. Before Kevin could scream, the short, white, translucent, plasma-thin being, twisted in its proportions, faceless and distorted, charged straight through him. Kevin fell on his back, slammed to the floor, his eyes watering, and his mouth agape and foaming.
His thoughts were no longer his own. A horrible demon from the beyond, bore itself through his mind, and took possession of his soul. His flesh was no longer his own.
Die... Die… Die… Die... Die... Die… Die… Die… Die… Die. ..
Like a puppet, being pulled by the invisible master's strings, he crawled across the floor, dragging himself, his face running painfully across the planks that made up the floorboards, grabbed the glass out of Sam's hand, and began cutting into his own throat. Soon, everything got very dark, and very quiet… and very black.