Authors: Annette Brownlee
Tags: #Adventure, #Paranormal
She tried her key hoping it would work to let her in. No luck. Remembering that the laundry room connected to the registration area, she made her way around the back of the building to the laundry room. An orange security light cast long shadows down the alley between the registration building and the motel. Anxious to get safely inside, Chaos inserted her key and held her breath. Her room key worked. She opened the door, stepped inside and shuddered. The laundry room wasn’t any less creepy than the alley. She locked the door behind her and crossed the room. She tried her key in the room between the laundry room and the registration area. “Pay dirt.” The door opened. “Piss poor security if you ask me,” she muttered. Now she just hoped she'd be able to log onto their internet and get online.
A dying palm stood in the corner by the window. “Too cold,” she said aloud. People always put their trees right in front of the window thinking they needed the sunlight. But in a climate like Colorado nine months out of the year it was too cold for them. They needed to be away from drafts. While she waited for the computer to boot she made a mental plan of her approach. A password was required to log on but it took her all of five seconds to guess - it was the name of the motel. Once on she headed to Google and entered "getting rid of a ghost". There were more than nineteen million results. “This is going to take a while.” She narrowed her search and while the light from the computer monitor cast an eerie glow in the lobby. Chaos was grateful that she was alone. She didn’t want to have to explain why she was searching for information about ghosts.
An hour later Chaos wished she had coffee. Fishing a dollar out of her wallet, she settled for a diet coke from the laundry room vending machine. Sipping her coke she clicked on the next search result. “Blessings to get rid of ghosts. Looks like a place to start.”
Chaos turned to see the same clerk who registered her yesterday standing in the door. She was holding a steaming coffee and a bag of bagels. Onion by the smell of them. Chaos’s stomach growled. “Morning.”
Without hesitating the woman walked over and peered at the computer monitor. “Seeing ghosts, huh?”
“Just doing research.”
“Uh, huh. That’s why you’re sitting here making a fashion statement in my office and looking up ghosts on my computer. Get in through the laundry?”
Looking at her orange and green flannel pajamas and the untied work boots on her feet. Chaos nodded. She looked like a colorblind lumberjack.
“I need to change that lock,” she said setting the coffee and bagels down on the registration counter. “How long you been in here?”
“What time is it?”
“Six thirty.” She peeled off her coat and hung it on a hook by the door. She wore white tennis shoes that looked like they’d been purchased in the late eighties. Her faded jeans barely reached her ankles. Garfield socks filled the space between the tops of her shoes and the bottom of her jeans. A white long sleeved t-shirt tucked into her high waist jeans completed the outfit.
Chaos had no room to judge considering what she was wearing at the moment. “Then I’ve been in here for more than three hours.”
“You must be hungry,” the lady said. She moved over behind the registration desk and opened the bag of bagels. “I have a coffee pot in the back. I’ll make you some if you want. Help yourself to a bagel.”
Hunger propelled Chaos out of her chair and over to the counter. She grabbed the bagel on top and closed the bag. “Onion. I was right.” Chaos bit into the still warm bagel and stifled a moan. “Thank you. These are really good.”
“Coffee’s brewing. My sister owns the bagel shop down the street. She makes ‘em fresh every morning. My other sister, she may be able to help you with your ghost problem.”
“Who says I have a problem?”
“Ha! You’re kidding, right?” She put a hand on her ample hip. “You’re in my motel lobby in the middle of the night in your pajamas researching how to get rid of ghosts. I’m Janet, by the way.”
Chaos took her outstretched hand, “Chaos.”
“What kind of a name is that?”
Chaos grinned. She liked the lady’s straightforward nature. “The kind you earn. Tell me about your sister. How can she help me with my ghost problem?”
Getting comfortable, Janet took a sip of coffee, leaned against the counter, and prepared to share her story. “Judy, that’s my sister, she lives up in Rollinsville. That’s west of Boulder and up a bit higher. Judy had some ghosts in her home. She thought she was going crazy. She’d leave her keys on her desk and she’d come home and find them on the floor. She’d hear things, feel things.”
“She ever see anything?”
“Patience, dear,” she said. “Judy is a pragmatic woman. All of us are. I have seven sisters. We’re down to earth and grounded. And not much scares us. One day, she comes home and can’t find her keys. She says out loud, “Give me my damn keys.” The keys flew across the room at her and hit her in the face. She had a black eye for days and needed six stitches. Well that scared her. But she didn’t back down. She did what you’re doing right now. She started searching for information on how to get rid of a ghost. Turns out she had five ghosts living with her. Apparently, back in the 1920’s a group of men were killed there by a disgruntled employee.”
“How’d she find that out?”
“Judy called this group in Boulder called the Spirit Savers. They came in, did an investigation. They also researched the history of the home. Then they cleaned the house, sent the spirits away.”
“Yep, did some sort of ceremony that got rid of the ghosts. Sent them on to hell or heaven or wherever it is they were supposed to go.” She waved her free hand in the air over her head and took a sip of coffee. “You should call them to get rid of your ghost.”
“Maybe I will.” Chaos drained her coffee cup and set it down. “Thanks for the coffee. And the information.”
“Google them. Get their number and call them. Now. You need help. I can see it in your eyes. Don’t waste time, honey. Today is Halloween, the day the veil between the spirit world and our world is at its thinnest, or so they say. Get rid of your ghost today, before he gets stronger. Make him go away so you can go back to your life.”
Suck it Up, Sister
Chaos drove past the house three times.
It looked nothing like what she'd expected. She imagined that the headquarters for a ghost hunting organization would look spookier, or more professional. The adorable bungalow wasn't at all what she had in mind. White siding with pale yellow shutters, a large covered porch and an arbor laced with climbing roses were as far from creepy. It was about as supernatural a feeling as a pizza. There weren’t even any Halloween decorations on the house. Chaos checked the address again on her phone. Yep, she had the right address. Finally, sucking up her courage, she parked on the street in front of the house.
Maybe it made sense, she thought as she made her way up the driveway. The last thing a group like this wanted was to attract attention, right? They’d spook their neighbors and perhaps even attract hostile attention if they had skulls and crosses in their front yard. A wind chime tinkled on the porch. Chaos noticed small crystals hung from the otherwise traditional Celtic wind chime. She also noticed a large Celtic cross beside the door. On any other house Chaos knew these small symbols wouldn’t have been noticed but on a ghost hunter’s house they seemed important.
Chaos reached the front door and took a deep breath. She knocked hard three times and then stuffed her hands into her coat pockets. Even with the bright sun shining, the air was cold and the wind was colder. She could smell the faint scent of snow and knew a storm wasn’t far away.
The door opened. Chaos took two steps back and repressed a sigh. He was tall - more than six feet and naked from the waist up. Worn jeans clung to his thighs and he was barefoot. Jet black hair hung to his elbows. His hair caught the sun and shimmered like a blackbird’s wings. A vibrant eagle tattoo consumed the span of his wide chest. Muscular, she thought, but not like a gym rat. This guy worked with his body. Touching her own hair, she met his eyes and found a scowl waiting for her.
“You’re here,” he growled.
He said it like he’d been expecting her and he wasn’t too happy about it. Her outstretched hand dropped to her side. “Yes, I’m…” The door slammed shut in her face. “What the hell?” Now what? Torn between wanting to ogle him again and wanting to give him a piece of her mind, Chaos knocked on the door again.
Chaos heard him bellowing inside the house. The expletive vibrated the windows. Confused, Chaos stepped back a few feet on the porch. She could see him through the large bay widow. He stood in the center of the room with his fists raised at the ceiling like he was cursing God. He swore again, quieter this time but she could still hear him. “Weirdo.”She had to have the wrong house and there was no sense wasting time just to get another good look at some man candy. Odd man candy, but damn good looking nonetheless. Taking a deep breath at the base of the porch steps, Chaos jumped when the front door opened behind her. She turned. A petite woman with short blonde hair, a cherubic round face, and rosy cheeks beamed at her.
"Chaos, we've been waiting for you to come. Please, come on in.”
“Waiting for me?” This place was just plain old weird, she thought. Why would they be waiting for her? Had Janet called them?
“Janet didn’t call us.”
“Excuse me?” Chaos knew she hadn’t vocalized that thought. How did she know about Janet?
“I can hear your thoughts. Come inside. I can help you with your ghost.”
“Um…” Chaos backed away. The woman, who was wearing a navy pantsuit that looked like it cost more than Chaos earned in a year, beamed at her as if reading her mind was a common everyday occurrence. And she didn’t even bother to apologize for it, she thought.
“Why should I apologize? You’re shooting your thoughts around for anyone to listen. You don’t want folks to listen you should shield them better.”
Chaos stood, dumbfounded. Her hands hung at her sides. A bitter cold wind blasted her cheeks yet she was too stunned to feel it. “You’re blaming me for thinking?”
“No, just thinking noisily. Now come inside. It’s cold out here.”
Should she go inside? It took her only a second to decide. She was here and it wasn’t like she had much to lose at this point. She might as well see what these people could do for her.
The lady held the door open and gestured Chaos inside. “That bad huh?”
She stepped across the threshold and into the woman’s home. Chaos couldn’t help but scan the room for the man who’d answered the door and then slammed it in her face. The angry man candy was gone. She turned her attention to the apparent owner of the home. Meeting her eyes, she noticed that they were the color of the Caribbean if it had been frozen solid - sparkly like turquoise ice.
“Yeah, it’s that bad.” A marijuana-like scent permeated the interior of the home. It hurt her throat and stung her eyes yet the air wasn’t smoky. Chaos looked around to see if anything was burning. The room looked like it had been designed by a professional. Each item appeared strategically placed and from what she could see there wasn’t a pillow out of place or a speck of dust to be found anywhere. A vanilla orchid grew on a table in front of the window. Chaos noted a lovely cluster of about fifteen flowers. Pretty impressive considering they were difficult to grow in a climate like Colorado. It looked like it was just about ready for some fertilizer, she thought.
“I fertilize it every two weeks and it is the sage that you smell. Have a seat.” Linda extended her hand and gestured toward a tweed colored sofa. Chaos crossed the wood floor, the sound of her work boots the only sound in the quiet house. Sitting, Chaos instinctively grabbed a red pillow beside her and clutched it to her chest. “Sage like the herb?”
“Yes, it’s used to cleanse a person or a space of bad energy. It’s a Native American ritual. I grow it in the back yard so it’s extra fresh and potent. I’m Linda, by the way.”
Speaking of Native American, she thought, where did that guy go? She wouldn’t mind getting a peek at him again. Looking around, Chaos held out her hand and Linda took it. “Nice to meet you. Does it work, the sage?” Damn if all she had to do was burn an herb to get rid of Dead Bill. Then she’d happily smell like pot for the rest of her life.
“It does work but I imagine it’s not strong enough for what you’re dealing with. Please,” she said, taking a seat in an armchair next to the couch. “Start from the beginning.”
Chaos picked at the pillow. She didn’t know where to start. How did you tell someone you murdered another person who was now haunting you and you wanted to banish their ghost in hell where they belonged?
“I guess you are dealing with something then, aren’t you?” Linda said.
She smiled a kind smile and Chaos couldn’t help but notice her teeth were a little yellowed. For some reason it made her like the woman just a little bit, despite the fact that she could read her mind and she’d just essentially confessed to murder.
“You don’t look like you are capable of murder. I suspect it was self-defense. Am I right?”
“He tried to rape me. In my own home.” It was the first time she’d said the words. They almost overwhelmed her. “I didn’t know him. I didn’t invite him in. I hit him over the head with a lamp. The glass broke. I used a piece of glass to protect myself and accidentally cut his throat. I didn’t mean to kill him but I’m not sorry.” Chaos closed her eyes. She’d relived the night’s events so many times now she felt like she spent half her time lost in thought. She heard the knock on her door. She saw her hand go for the doorknob; she'd stopped yelling at the image of herself knowing full well she could do nothing to change the night's events.
Chaos saw herself cracking the door. She saw the door fly open and her own body as it stumbled backwards. She saw him storm in with lust and rage on his face. She saw each blow to her face as traumatic as it had been at the time she'd become numb to the scene. She saw him yank her shorts down. She saw her hand reach for the lamp cord. The lamp tumbled to the ground. The shade fell off. The light bulb broke. She saw her wrap her fingers around a shard of glass and slash at him with it. She witnessed the moment it struck his jugular and all the blood. She couldn't stop the blood. Hadn’t even tried. She pushed to her feet and watched as the life drained out of him. Then the image went black. Nothing was left except Dead Bill standing there next to her with a ghostly sneer on his face. Stalker in life, stalker in death.