Marty spent the afternoon exploring the house. Everywhere she turned, there were more staircases leading to even more hallways lined with rooms. Each hallway was the same as the last, making her wonder if anyone ever got turned around and lost.
It amazed her that anyone should live in a house like this. Was it once full of life with parties and guests? She could easily imagine the life this house once witnessed. Now it only seemed a shell of its former self.
Leaning over the railing, she realized she was overlooking the massive foyer where they had entered the mansion the night before. What seemed like only moments before, she’d been looking down at an enormous ballroom. If she closed her eyes, she could almost hear the orchestra playing as masked guests danced and champagne corks popped.
How grand this ghastly house must have been at one time. Xalen told Marty how old Mr. Ridley’s father had built this house high upon the cliffs of Fortress Rock. Prior to the mansion, an abandoned garrison had stood on this spot. There had been a monarchy then and this had been the perfect spot for a fort because it could only be approached on one side.
Quite suddenly, Marty’s heart began beating faster and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She shivered and could see her breath. Knowing what this meant, she willed herself to stay calm and still. It wasn’t but a moment later when an apparition slowly became visible…
Before dinner, the team met up in the ballroom to discuss their findings thus far. As Rosetta told the others about her experience with Clara, the others looked on in fascination.
“Clara is an apparition?” Marty gasped.
Rosetta nodded. “It is she who does not want the house to be sold or to have Mrs. Ridley’s belongings moved. Mr. Ridley cannot see Clara, although he noticed items out of place throughout the house. She, of course, is responsible for that.”
As her daughter spoke, Marty went back to when they’d first met Clara and replayed in her mind everything she had done and said. Now that Marty thought about it in more detail, Clara had been opinionated about Mrs. Ridley’s things and the house but Marty hadn’t realized she was a ghostly apparition. Why was Clara so different from the other ghosts she had seen?
Clara added to the conversations they’d had but Marty now realized that every time Clara spoke, Mr. Ridley had not acknowledged her. He was unaware of her presence. At least that’s what made sense to Marty.
“I have something to tell you,” Marty said. “There is another presence in the house but it’s very weak. I could barely make out any features.”
“Do you know who it is?” Xalen asked.
Marty shook her head and cleared her throat. “I haven’t any idea. Why do you suppose Clara looks so… filled out but this other apparition was so weak that I could barely see it?”
“I’m not sure,” Daniel said. “I”m going to try to get some EVP readings tonight. Maybe your apparition has something to say.”
“Wait,” Susan said, “why don’t you ask Clara who the other presence is?”
“That’s exactly what we should do,” Shelly said. “I saw the same thing Marty did when we first got here. Whoever this other being is, I believe they aren’t strong enough to fully manifest.”
“Meaning what exactly?” Rosetta asked. “How does a specter gain strength?”
“It lures people to where it is and sucks the energy off of them,” Owen said while cringing.
“I don’t like that sound of that at all.”
Daniel smiled reassuringly at his wife and squeezed her hand. “Relax, it doesn’t hurt.”
“But will we miss the energy it sucks?”
Shrugging a little, he attempted another smile. “I’ve never noticed.”
“That’s because you’re not psychic. Besides, it may have lured us here using Mr. Ridley, however, it isn’t going to suck the energy from us.”
“No, it will harness our energy to gain strength. The more attention we give it, the better,” Xalen explained.
“All right, where do we begin?” Susan asked.
Xalen and Shelly shared a knowing look…
… as the piano began to play an eerrie tune.
Author’s Note: Next Wednesday, I’ll be posting an interview with young adult author Marie Landry! I’m really excited to share what she has to say about the craft of writing. I hope you will enjoy it.
Stay tuned because the finale of this story in The Inheritance is coming up!
As always, thank you for reading and for your support,