Our client, Mr. Murphy, owned a pretty little blue farmhouse on a big tract of land off exit 62. The driveway ran alongside a field in which two brown horses grazed. They were well back, away from the road and the house. It might have been nothing – a dislike of cars, for example – but animals generally liked to avoid ghosts.
And in fact, the second I got out of the car it became apparent that it wasn’t nothing. I could feel a cold breeze wafting from the house, a breeze that had nothing to do with convection currents and everything to do with the strength of its spirit inhabitant.
I let dad handle the introductions and the paperwork, instead doing a brief reconnaissance. I walked a circuit around the house, carefully directing my gaze out toward the fields instead of back towards the freshly-painted clapboards. I let the little prickle at the back of my neck tell me when I had the ghost’s attention. Then I stopped, leaning casually against the side of the house, and let it explore my aura.
This is how ‘feeling’ ghosts works. Everyone has their core self — their soul, if you like – which is anchored within them. But…souls are radiant, and bodies, as much as I like ‘em, are just meat. If you’ve got a particularly strong core self, it…radiates a bit. That’s an aura. A normal can feel when your aura overlaps someone else’s — you know, that sixth sense that tells you someone’s standing too close behind you — but some can sense them from farther away. And others can sense them when they’ve become detached from their bodies and turned into ghosts.
And by ‘others’, I mean hex-eyes. Lucky me.
So this ghost could get close to me and ‘read’ my aura. If I let it, it could learn somethings about me. Fortunately for my purposes, that works both ways — I’d be able to learn something about it.
This ghost was strong, and it was pissed. I managed to keep myself from shivering as it drew nearer, but I couldn’t repress a little shudder as I first felt its anger. And underneath, there was something more…a seething mess of jealousy and fear and…I frowned. Pain. Grief. Loss.
I wandered back toward the front door.
“—throwin’ things, and we can’t take it any more, really we can’t. Sally and the baby are staying with her parents. Told them it was because she was exhausted and wanted the help, and I was still fixin’ the house up, but really…”
“I understand, Frank. I know this must be very difficult for you.”
Mr. Murphy shifted uncomfortably, twisting a soft cap between his hands. “I don’t really know that I believe in ghosts, Mr. Bell, but I’m desperate.”
“Luckily for you, I’m good at my job whether or not you believe in ghosts,” my dad said, smiling. “Let’s see if we can get this cleared up for you.” He shuffled the papers he was holding into a folder and passed them over to me, along with his car keys.
“Drop these in the car, Lizzie, and meet me inside? And if you could arrange to be out of the house for the next little while, Mr. Murphy, that would be best.”
Mr. Murphy nodded, his hands raised to show his palms. “I don’t need to see it, I don’t want to see it, I just want it gone. I’ve got some work I can do out in the far fields today. Just ring the farm bell when you’re done.” He headed off toward the barn, Dad headed inside, and I made for the car.
The folder went into the glove compartment, and I fished my phone out of my pocket to put it in there as well. Electronics and ghosts don’t usually mix. I paused, though, as I caught sight of the screen. I had two text messages from Ariella. I swiped my thumb across the screen.
//Hey, Liz, Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you’re enjoying the country, I guess, though I still don’t really understand the appeal of trees?//
//Anyway you’ve been kind of avoiding us lately, and Sean and I are starting to get worried. Let me know if something’s wrong?//
And just like that my good mood was gone. This is what happens when I get involved with ghosts, damn it. It took over my life, crowding out everything else. Like my friends.
//I’m fine,// I wrote back, //Just dealing with some family stuff. Should be back to normal soon.//
Almost immediately my phone buzzed in my hand. //Sorry, baby 😦 Let me know if there’s anything I can do.//
I hovered my thumb over the keys…then turned the phone off and slid it into the glove compartment. I wished there was, but Ariella couldn’t do anything about kidnapped spirits or angry poltergeists.
I trudged toward the house, pointing the key fob back over my shoulder toward the car. It beeped once as the doors locked, and I felt the ghost inside the house bristle in response. It wanted us to leave. It wanted to hurt us.
“Oh boy,” I muttered to myself. “Isn’t this going to be fun?”