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Shadow of a Memory

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Tonight, Rey and her paranormal group would finally make their way to the abandoned mansion secluded in the woods. Her little ragtag team of ghost hunters have had their eye on investigating the property for a while now. The full moon was out and a thunderstorm was approaching. Perfect!

 

The ghost hunting trio were venturing deeper into the old mansion. Rey had an odd feeling as soon as they stepped on the property and felt there were at least two spirits residing in the house, possibly a third. Even though the mansion was deceptively quiet, Rey knew they were being watched.  

 

 *****

 

Years ago, Rey and Finn became fast friends after literally running into each other on their first day of high school. They remained nearly inseparable until Finn met his girlfriend, Rose when she transferred to their school. After a little bit of initial jealousy, Rey and Rose became friends also. The duo eventually became a trio. Rey came to love them like the siblings she never had.

 

A mutual love of all things paranormal led them to amateur ghost hunting. Of course, it helped that Rey was an empath and could feel the presence of a supernatural entity. After spending most of her life hiding her ability, Rey was excited to put it to use.

 

Finn was the skeptic who was more than happy to be in charge of collecting and analyzing evidence--anything to debunk the supernatural. And Rose volunteered for the time consuming task of scouting and researching. She also had an interest in the occult and demonology.

 

In their short history of investigating, they went to several houses and a few businesses. Rey encountered a fair number of human spirits that needed help crossing over but nothing demonic. The evps and anomalous photos captured were still not enough to convince Finn of their existence no matter how excited Rey and Rose were about them.  

 

 

The abandoned mansion locals called Vader Manor was a ghost hunter’s paradise.  Constructed by the Skywalker family sometime in the mid-1850s, the large, dark red brick house was in the Italianate style and even had a prospect tower. Every local resident knew the lore about the creepy, haunted house nestled among the woods off the main highway. The doomed lovers Anakin and Padme began their family here but their hopeful lives ended in tragedy, abandonment, and death.

 

They had twins, a boy and a girl. It was said that the husband descended into madness just before their birth and left. The wife died in childbirth. The twins had been separated and adopted. The boy, Luke, was said to have joined a strict religious sect called the Jedi Order. The girl, Leia, was a debutante of great beauty who married Han Solo. He was locally known as a professional scoundrel but Leia ignored any advice or opinions about their relationship. They eventually had a son named Ben. As a young adult, Ben Solo left the family never to be seen again. Some said that his parents’ tumultuous marriage had helped drive him away. The others in the family eventually died of old age and were buried in the family crypt. One spot still remained empty. With the Skywalker clan gone, the grand mansion remained vacant as no one would buy the property.

 

Decades passed and rumors of a curse began to surround the property as more than one missing person was said to have visited the site only to disappear. Explorers who were brave enough to get close but smart enough not to enter returned with tales of disembodied screams, objects thrown by unseen hands, and shadows chasing them among the trees.  

 

 *****

 

Rey, Finn and Rose arrived after sundown in their beat-up orange and white van packed with their equipment. They parked as far away from the mansion as they could and hoped that the faded old van wouldn’t attract the attention of any passing cops. Technically, they were trespassing but they figured the payoff would be worth the risk.  

 

Finn’s small but sturdy hoard included voice recorders, ghost box, K2 meter, and a full spectrum camera. A FLIR thermal camera was the number one item on his wish list. Rose took care of what she considered the more important stash of snacks and water along with any research notes. Rey’s mantra was “I bring the magic.”  

 

Rey’s “magic” stirred up as soon as they parked. She knew they were already being watched and warned the others to be extra cautious tonight. They grabbed their backpacks and started their walk up to the mansion. The moonlight created an eerie atmosphere and the impending storm made the air tingle with electricity.  

 

They went around back to find an entrance into the imposing brick structure. Rey noticed that for a supposedly abandoned house it was well kept. No peeling paint or broken windows. There were no lights on and no cars parked anywhere except for theirs.

 

A harshly whispered “This way!” guided Rey to a basement window that Rose had managed to wedge open. It was just wide enough for them to squeeze through. After a brief argument about who would go in first, Rose turned on her flashlight and slithered down into the opening.  

 

“All clear!” Rose declared, “Well, except for the dead bodies.”

 

Finn snorted while Rey told them to knock it off as she took her turn entering the window. She couldn't shake the strange feeling about the place. It wasn't fear despite her hyperawareness. Rey felt like the house was “alive” and that freaked her out. Finn followed in behind her and the three were off to explore.  

 

The basement was nothing extraordinary--the standard cold, dark and creepy room. Several minutes with the K2 meter out proved fruitless so they decided to move on. Finn took the lead this time and opened the door out into the main floor of the mansion. They were in the large kitchen that looked near pristine in its condition.  

 

Again, Rey had an eerie sensation that the house wasn’t as abandoned as they thought; although, she could tell that no living humans resided here. Clean as it was, the kitchen bore no signs of being used or lived in. A flash of lightning caught her attention through a large window.  That was encouraging at least; the elevated electromagnetism in the air would help draw out whatever was here in the house with them. It really was a beautiful night with the moonlight shining through the trees. Pity that the spirits weren’t ready to come out and play yet.

 

The trio was ready to move on when their attention focused on a loud screeching noise coming from the next room.  

 

“Let’s go!” Rey exclaimed. Finn and Rose grabbed their bags and ran after her.  

 

She rushed forward into a large dining room furnished with a huge, antique oak table and a dozen ornate chairs all pushed back from their proper place. Every room they entered confirmed their suspicion that perhaps the mansion wasn’t as abandoned as they’d thought.  

 

They arrived just in time to see all the chairs slide back to the table on their own.

 

“What the..”

“Hell yes,” Rose and Finn spoke at the same time.  

 

Rey quickly pulled out a voice recorder and started asking questions while Rose and Finn fiddled with the other equipment. Rey followed the same pattern on almost every investigation during evp sessions. She introduced herself and explained what she was doing and moved on to simple questions from there.  

 

To add to the evidence, Rey decided to use the ghost box. She turned the device on and the scratchy white noise of the device echoed through the dining room. The other two stood back from her with the camera recording the session. Rey was feeling that little tingle under her skin that told her they weren’t alone.

“Is anyone here with us?” Rey asked. No answer, just static. Undeterred, Rey repeated her question and asked if the spirits would show themselves.

 

Static followed by a clipped male voice followed. “Leave,” the voice said clearly. Rey jumped in excitement, not concerned about the ominous message.

 

“Who are you? Did you live here? Die here?” Rey wondered aloud. She paused in between questions to give time for an answer.

 

“Leave now!” the same male voice said louder. Rose shot a worried glance at Finn but Rey was still too thrilled with responses to be afraid.

 

“She is stubborn,” a female voice stated in between the white noise of the ghost box.

 

“There’s two of them!” Rey exclaimed. “What’s your name?”

 

An exasperated sigh came over the static, surprising Rey. “Hux,” the male voice sounded bored.

 

Rey knew she was pushing it, but had to know more. “Is the female still here? Please tell me your name.”

 

Something like ‘phas’ was the answer. “Phasma,” the female corrected haughtily and added, “Too late now.”

 

Within a minute, the room erupted into chaos. Chairs flew back and the crystal chandelier swung violently. A loud screeching moved through the house as the living trio grabbed their equipment and ran.

 

The mansion felt several degrees colder. Disembodied hands yanked at their clothing. Out of nowhere, they were being pelted by small rocks. Dizzy and disoriented, they kept looking for a way out, all while being taunted by the entities that had spoken earlier.

 

Not knowing the layout of the property, they opted for going back the way they came--through the dining room and kitchen to the basement.

 

Moving together down the darkened hallway, their flashlights flickered then turned off just as they approached a door. Rey heard the loud clap of the door opening and closing and a grunt from Finn. She screamed when her light turned back on. Finn wasn't in front of her anymore. Frantic, she and Rose pulled on the doorknob and beat on the door but it was useless. Finn’s flashlight lay abandoned on the floor.

 

With Finn’s disappearance, Rey and Rose knew they needed help. Both of them pulled out their cellphones to dial for help but they were dead. Rose made the decision to go alone and get the police. Rey stayed behind in case Finn was able to open the door from the other side. She kept shouting his name but got no response. She had no idea where the door led to.

 

Rose had barely crossed the threshold of the basement when the heavy door slammed shut behind her. Hearing Rose shout, Rey ran to the basement door to open it but it wouldn't budge. After that, all the paranormal activity abruptly ceased and the only noise was from the pounding thunderstorm outside.

 

Rey was now alone in the hostile, unfamiliar mansion with no way to call for help. The sudden silence was just as unnerving as the chaos before. She took deep breaths and counted in her head to ward off the oncoming panic attack.

 

She was still counting when Hux and Phasma’s eerie voices called out to her.

 

“Your friends will pay the price, stupid girl.”

“The master of the house is on his way.”