The New Mist Man of Landington Manor

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

An Investigative Report by Stark L. White

I had been poring over static-riddled videos for hours. I had been combing grainy pictures of dull, dusty halls lined with cobwebs and reeking of mildew and boredom. I had been listening to recording after ridiculous recording full of the sound of ribbon rubbing over tape heads; that latent, mechanical hiss akin to tinnitus that crawls into your brain and laughs squarely in your face as you try to forget it long enough to sleep. Days, I proclaim, DAYS I had been doing this. And for what, you may ask? Why did I put myself through this torture? What could possibly be the fruits of such exhaustive searching?

Two. Measly. Words.

But when I heard them, they were clear, clean, and obvious. From a primordial Dictaphone that I rigged up and left in the uppermost levels of my most recent investigation, these words literally boomed over the empty background ambiance: Attic. Midnight.

I had replayed those two words over and over for the next hour, volume at full blast, making sure I hadn’t missed anything else. Pareidolia, that’s what they call it; finding patterns in the chaotic static, a big fancy word for seeing faces on Mars and rabbits on the moon. No, this was not chaos. I hadn’t imagined or created this. The only chaos I created was as I literally repositioned every piece of equipment I had brought with me to Landington Manor.

I had it all; video cameras, still cameras, voice recorders, EMF detectors, fantastic flickering temperature variance measuring devices (seriously melted a very nice new credit card strip with all that swiping too) and just about every other heavy and clunky hunk of metal and plastic recommended for ghost hunting. I moved EVERYTHING five flights of stairs spiraling up the ancient house to a decidedly very stuffy attic. And the reason for all this?

Damn internet video commentators.

Brain-dead lot of pompous trolls. In this, our highly flawed and conspiratorial digital age, you can be sure not to trust two things: one, your eyes. Two, what your eyes see on the internet. The more these idiots flood the internet with video of themselves prancing about in their juvenile bed sheets, with titles like “REAL GHOST VID!” and “OMG U GUIS MAh CRIB IS HAINTED!”, the more the trolls seem to multiply and clone, and thusly also detract from videos that show the truly unexplained. My point is, I lugged all this stuff up 5 stories of stairs because I wanted to make sure I recorded myself from every angle, lest I give the skeptics a single shred of doubt to discount what was to occur.

As an investigative journalist, my job generally constitutes legitimate publishing of the mundane: corruption in politics, non-profit company CEO’s driving brand new beamers, stuff like that. But I’ve always loved the investigation into the supernatural, be it ghost videos & pictures to UFO findings and cryptids. The more videos I watched, the more I wanted to satiate my own curiosity. To that end, I chose Landington Manor as the spot of my ghost hunt, specifically because it was the low hanging fruit, so to speak. It was close to my home and there had already been pictures taken there before: glimmers of light written off as cars passing by on the highway, dust particles, smoke, and a dozen other skeptic explanations that the squeamish tell themselves so they can sleep without nightlights. Specifically, I was interested in an occurrence referred to as the Mist Man of Landington Manor, claimed by many to be the spirit of Rutherford G. Bixby, patriarch of the family that owned and resided in the house for nearly 6 decades. There had been fuzzy snapshots taken before of what appeared to be a man roaming the halls of the manor, and naturally I was excited to think that the electronic voice phenomenon I had recorded was the man himself. The words said attic and midnight. I could only imagine what would happen if I found myself in the highest level of the manor at that time. But my hope, of course, would be that I would possibly see the owner of the voice.

At 11:30 PM, with plenty of time to spare, I officially turned everything on. I focused my cameras, tested my infrared imager that I had just pulled neatly out of the box (because this pricey thing was going right back in and back to the store as soon as it served its brief purpose), and, thinking that I was wholly and fully prepared for whatever was going to happen, I settled in and waited.

I wasn’t. Prepared, I mean. For what happened…

Before I go any further, you need to understand something. Perhaps you will, given if you have been in this situation. I don’t know how many paranormal videos you may have watched, or ghost hunting shows, or any of that, but let me tell you this: you aren’t ready. No matter how much you psych yourself up, when you witness as I did a supernatural event, nothing can prepare you for it.

As the large grandfather clock a floor down chimed going in to midnight, I watched as ethereal white poured out of the thin air, flowing like tubes of murky water, turning, twisting into a humanoid form with hollow, pupil-less eyes. Strings of aural essence dripped like fangs, finally molding into a recognizable feature…

A smile, followed immediately by a resonate voice bidding me a good evening…

When I awoke, there was a figure standing over me, asking in the same masculine, resonating tone if I were alright. It seemed that I had gone to sit down in a chair that was located in the attic and I had fallen and perhaps bumped my head.

“You’ll get the hang of that.” the figure assured me as he inspected my person, grinning ear to ear. I sat up slowly.

“Reckon you’re okay, then?” I was asked once more. I rubbed at my skull, glad I didn’t seem to be injured.

“I think so.” I finally managed. He smiled as he extended his hand to assist me off the floor.

“Good!” As he pulled me up, I gulped hard, knowing but not believing. This was a ghost! I knew all my cameras were running, pointing right at us and I was getting conclusive proof of their existence once and for all. This was more than I could ever have imagined!

“So, Rutherford Geffen Bixby, I presume?” I asked in an almost stately manner, dusting attic grime off my shirt as I did. He threw his head back and sent a laugh rolling through the stuffy air that seemed to echo from everywhere and nowhere.

“No, no of course not…” he thrust his hand out to me, “…name’s Henry. Henry Overstreet …” I glanced down at his bladed palm, waiting for me to take it. I reached out, and was surprised at the firm grip the ghost gave my hand as he shook it.

“Well, shall we try sitting again?” He asked with another grin as he moved to a rather heavy-looking hand carved oak rocker. I took the seat across from him, already deeply confused.

“Wait, Henry Overstreet?” I asked. Then, with a tone that was more deriding than I intended, I also inquired, “…well, don’t take this the wrong way, Mr. Overstreet, but who exactly are you?” He seemed to find my question amusing, because, still ever grinning, he threw up both arms and announced

“I am the legendary Mist Man of Landington Manor!” My brow furrowed as the look I gave communicated incredulity.

“No, wait, I thought Rutherford Bixby was the Mist Man of Landington Manor?” I answered with a question.

“Well, he was the Mist Man of Landington Manor, but he, well…”

That smile faltered ever so slightly. The black hollows of his eyes seemed to roll to the floor, appearing to be lost in thought. When the seemingly sightless emptiness rolled back up to me, the grin was broad as ever.

“I’m what you could call the New Mist Man of Landington Manor, instead of the legendary.”

“New?” I asked. He nodded slowly but said nothing further, I guess waiting on me to piece it together. I wasn’t following, apparently, because he said

“Ford Bixby retired from haunting back in 1956. Hell, can’t blame him really. He’d been doing it since the early eighteen hundreds.” Again, disbelief crossed my face, and like an imbecile I repeated back, in annoying reporter question form, what he’d just told me.

“Retired? You’re saying Rutherford Bixby retired from haunting a house?” He nodded.

It was at this point that I had to recline a bit in the high-backed chair I was occupying and consider what I was being told. To say I was flabbergasted would not do the word justice. I just met a ghost, who told me he took over haunting a residence for another ghost. I was stunned to muteness.

“What do you know about Ford?” he asked, breaking the silence and snapping me out of my daze. I shrugged as I tried recounting simple factoids that I learned before my investigation. I told him I knew Rutherford Bixby had constructed the house beginning around 1750, naming the stately residence after his father, Landington Bixby. I further recounted that he and his family had fought to keep it from being commandeered by the British during the Revolution, and that he’d lived most of his adult life within the walls following the war. However, I had a feeling that Mr. Overstreet knew more than me about the former resident.

“Beyond those simple things, I don’t know much else about him. I was certainly unaware that he went by ‘Ford’.” That grin faltered again, and this time the corners fell enough to dampen the ghost’s smiling form. His aura faded in sight slightly. I’m not sure what I was witnessing, but he was decidedly more difficult to see. Maybe there was a connection between the mild melancholy he was displaying and his visibility?

“When I was a child, he told me to call him Ford. I guess he knew, at the time, that ‘Rutherford’ was a difficult name for a youngster to muddle out. See, I moved here to Landington with my parents in 1935. Ford had already been here over a hundred years…” the smile returned to his face, “…both above ground, below ground, and back above again, so to speak. I was 3 when we came here as tenant caretakers. My parents used to fight, a lot, so I would often sneak out of the worker cabin and into the main house, because at the time no one lived here. That’s when I met him. You could say, perhaps, that he even befriended me…”

“Befriended you?” I blurted, “As a child? You weren’t terrified when you saw him? Because, I’ll be honest, you were quite a sight when you first appeared to me.” That shark-like grin shone bright.

“He didn’t appear to me then as I do to you now. On our first meeting, he appeared as physically natural as any other man. He spoke to me kindly, treated me less as a child and servant like my parents, and more like a young man. But as I grew older, I began to suspect that there was something different about the man I’d met in the halls of Landington Manor. It occurred to me he never came around when my parents were about. When I told them of my friend they insisted it was nothing more that boyish imagination. The more the years past, the more he seemed to wither…” Mr. Overstreet lifted his spectral hands.

“…until he ended up looking like this. Like me…”

Henry stood from his chair, slowly drifting to an aged, ornate mirror in the corner, and stopping before it. He cast no reflection.

“You see, it’s a result of being forgotten. This…” he paused, pointing at his absent reflection in the antique looking glass,”… is how time rots the departed…” I frowned as I considered what he was saying.

“So, Bixby once looked like a man, but over time he began to look more like you because he was forgotten?” Again, with the annoying reporter-repeating-the-same-words-back thing. Henry nodded as he continued to stare without seeing.

“And now you look as though you’re, well, melting, if that’s not too bold a thing to say…” Then, suddenly, a question popped into my head, and I knew I had to ask it as fast as I could lest I forget.

“Who’s forgotten you?” Henry finally turned away from the mirror and moved back over to sit down. If I had to accurately describe the expression on his face, I have to be honest, I’d be extremely remiss; even though I’m a writer, I seriously lack the words to describe in better detail the anguish and sorrow I saw embedded in those sightless hollows.

“It’s not me that’s been forgotten. It’s him. It’s this house that’s been forgotten…and that is what rots me.” It was my turn to stand and pace around the room. This was incredible. I mean, seriously, this was an absolutely unprecedented opportunity to delve into one of man’s greatest mysteries and unknowns regarding our inevitable physical passing and the consequences of an afterlife. And I swear, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a single thing in that regard to ask of Henry. His story, I was discovering, was more interesting to me than inquiries about being dead anyway.

“If Bixby was the mist man and he retired, how did you become the mist man? How did that work?” That bright, beaming grin was still nowhere to been see. Again, appearing lost in reminisce, he answered me.

“When I was 14 I saw him one last time. He told me that I had been a good friend to him all these years, but that he had to leave now. I asked him where he was going, and he told me he was retiring. Ford personally asked me to watch over this place for him. He had a lot of love for it, see? He built this house for his family, fought to protect it and them, raised his children and crops here; this place was meant to house his legacy…the legacy of a good and decent man…” Henry looked up, glancing around at the piles of debris and dust.

“That’s what’s kept me here all these years; the promise I made to Ford a long time ago to watch over it for him… but I do have hope for the future of this place...” He claimed, leaning forward in the rocker.

“Hope? That what? It’ll be fixed up and occupied again?” Henry sent another ethereal laugh through the attic, finally breaking the sadness that besieged him.

“Oh no, of course not. I mean I have hope from people like you. You know, the ones that claim themselves to be hunters of sorts. They come in here from time to time with their cameras and devices, much like you did a few days ago. They take their pictures, ask me move a chair or make a little light on some contraption dance and flicker. You want to know what I did when they asked me to do that? Or better yet, what I did when you asked me to do that?”

“Well, yes! Yes I want to know! What did you do when I asked you to give me a sign that you were here?” I was positively giddy with the further insight I was receiving, mainly because up until those two words I hadn’t caught a damn thing. Henry’s head began to slowly shake from side to side, like a white marble twisting on a flowing fountain of milk.

“I jumped up and down. I ran up the stairs, leapt from the balcony to the floor. I got right in your face and yelled just as loud as I could…” My brow furrowed as I took this in.

“But, I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t feel anything. I got no evidence at all except those two words from that old Dictaphone…” Henry sat back in his chair, finishing his thought.

“And that’s how I know it’s now time for me to go…once not so long ago I actually had to hide myself when I began to do as Ford asked and watch over this house for him. It was easy to show myself for a few moments to get the people talking. Other times, I’d do it just to spook them into fleeing. Used to get quite a kick out of watching them run screaming out the front door.” Mr. Overstreet laughed once more and I joined him in it. It actually WAS quite funny to think of someone fleeing in terror at the sight of him.

“Little things like that kept the curious coming back. That kept this place in people’s mind. And THAT kept me going. But after a while, they stopped, and I began to rot. I knew, though, if I could manage to find the strength to show myself maybe just one more time, to one more person, I could help Ford keep his legacy alive. It’s my legacy now, too.” At this point, Henry seemed to fade in his persona once again, and as the questions and thoughts created a cacophony in my mind, I still found I was having trouble latching on to just one. However, as he mentioned showing himself to just one more person, I clued myself in to whom he may be referring.


At last, that shark-like, shining, unnatural grin returned to his face.

“I couldn’t have asked for more, really. You came in alone, for one. It was always easier to show myself to just one person as opposed to two or more. You used older technology, which requires much less from a ghost to be perceived. But most importantly, you came in already believing that I was real, that the legend itself was real, and that is what made it actually possible for me to be here and to speak with you.” Henry Overstreet, the mist man of Landington Manor, leaned forward and extended his spectral hand.

“Thank you for that…”

I shook his firm grip, trying to think of something to say. Mr. Overstreet stood from his chair and began walking towards the corner of the attic. Finally, the confused haze in my head cleared long enough for me to squeeze out a query.

“Well, hey, wait, where are you going?” I exclaimed, definitely not the question I wanted to ask. He paused briefly, glancing over his shoulder with those blackened sockets before replying and continuing to move away. As he did, his form flickered and faded again, his aura lessening.

“Like I said, it’s time for me to go. It’s been time for a long time, but I believe the legacy of Landington Manor and Ford Bixby is safe…for now…”

“Wait!” I called “I do have a couple more questions…” Overstreet stopped and turned back to my direction. I jumped from my seat and hurried over to him.

“Where does a ghost go when he retires?” Henry looked down, and suddenly a smile as bright as the full moon lit up the misty aura of his face, brightening his presence momentarily before his form weakened again, becoming nearly transparent.

“I can’t wait to find out....”

“But if you’re leaving, retiring…well, then, who’s going to be the new Mist Man of Landington Manor?”

My question would ultimately go unanswered by Mr. Overstreet. He simply grinned as his aura finally faded completely from view. The Mist Man of Landington Manor was gone. I stood in the silent attic for a few minutes longer, contemplating and reflecting on his words, and I was struck with an odd feeling, as if there was something I should be doing, but not fully comprehending-

-and that’s when it dawned on me, as I turned around and saw that antique mirror in the corner…you know the one Henry had looked in? THAT’S the moment when it all came together for me…


So, at this point, I suppose I should be forward about something. Thing is, up until 11:59 PM and 1 second until the stroke of midnight, I told you I thought I was well prepared for whatever was going to happen, but as you’ll recall I most certainly was not. When Mr. Overstreet materialized and began talking, it proved a bit too much. I immediately became starkly white with terror, backed away yowling bloody murder, and promptly fell through the rectangular attic window from 5 stories up. Luckily, I left one of these tape recorders going in the back hall, and now here I am, leaving a confounded EVP, and I can STILL hear the damn hissing, even on this side!

Seeing as how I appear to be the new Mist Man of Landington Manor AND a journalist, won’t you please leave a recorder going so you may join me for my next piece as I investigate the immergence of shorthand EVP, the evolution of contact with the other side by the next generation of haunters. (KMSL…)

Submitted: May 31, 2016

© Copyright 2023 Casey King. All rights reserved.

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