“I’m not crazy,” Ken said. Despite the fact that he felt maybe he was, he wasn’t telling Alex that.
Alex was quick to answer. “I didn’t say you were. I just think maybe you staying up there by yourself isn’t such a good idea. If you want, I can come up on Friday and stay the weekend…”
“Only if you bring a camera, some voice recorders, and a digital thermometer.” Ken had considered this carefully before calling Alex. Now, only two hours after arriving back to the cottage from an experience, that by most standards, would have scared the bejeezus out of anyone, he was glad he’d called his best friend. Alex had always been open-minded about this sort of thing. He was one of the few who believed one of the local deputies after he’d called in a sighting of a tall, ape-like creature running across the road during a routine patrol. If Alex could believe in Bigfoot, he’d certainly be open to the possibility of ghosts.
“Should I bring some ghost hunters, too?” Alex chuckled, but quickly stifled it and said, “Maybe I should bring a few of those small battery-operated cameras and we can put them up in different rooms.”
“We’d need chargers or something, wouldn’t we? Don’t forget we won’t have electricity and everything has to be carried in. There may have been a road once, but it’s overgrown.”
Then Alex said, “Man, I would have run out of there so fast…”
Ken could imagine the five-foot seven, stocky, former marine, who still wore that same military buzz cut, screaming and running from the ghost and laughed. “I don’t know about that. I don’t think you would have. It wasn’t scary. Just… unsettling. You know?”
Alex was silent.
“I just need to know I’m not crazy. You understand, right?”
“I get it.” Alex cleared his throat. “Your ex stopped by my office earlier.”
A sinking feeling settled in Ken’s stomach. “Oh yeah? What did she want?”
“Nothing. I think she’s seeing McMahon in records.” Alex worked as a dispatcher at one of the sheriff’s departments just North of Albany.
Ken perked up. If his ex had a new boyfriend, maybe she’d leave him alone and he could forego hiding in another state just to get away from her. “Well good.”
With a laugh, Alex said, “Ghost hunting…”
“And you’re not allowed to run screaming into the forest if we see something. You’re a grown fucking man.”
More laughter erupted from the other end of the line. “I’m not going to turn tale and run. No man left behind, bro.”
But Alex didn’t sound certain. They said their goodbyes and hung up, and Ken was left staring out into the remote canopy of trees the rental overlooked.
He did well for the next few days to stay away from the delapitated cottage. When he walked, he started at the main trail head and hiked up the well-worn path. The rest of the time he worked in seclusion. The music this place conjured seemed to fit the eerie, haunted feeling he’d had since the first day he arrived – the first time he’d come across Eidolon cottage, or what remained of it.
Alex arrived late on Friday. Far too late to go tromping up the mountain to the haunted cottage. Instead, he brought his guitar, a case of beer, and a couple of pizzas. It had been a cool, drizzling day anyhow, and Ken wasn’t in the mood to be wandering out in the wet, looking for ghosts that might have only existed in his own mind.
They ate and drank, and Alex filled him in on Vicky and McMahon. “I guess someone broke into her apartment and stole her bike and laptop. She met him when she picked up a copy of the police report for her insurance claim.”
Ken took a swig of beer. “Well good. It would be great for another guy to take her off my hands.”
“You really don’t care, do you?” Alex appeared surprised by this.
“Nope. How long has she been seeing him?”
“Couple of weeks.”
With a nod, Ken thought back to the two weeks before he’d come up here. Her visits did seem to dwindle those few weeks before he left. Three the first week, and only two the week right before. Before that, it had been once a day, with the occasional one day break scattered in there somewhere. “Good. Maybe by the time I’m done with this album and I get back home, she’ll have forgotten me.”
Alex didn’t respond to that. Instead, he took another bite from his pizza and a drink from his beer.
From outside, there was a loud thunk against the window on the far side of the room, the lights throughout the house flickered, and then came a voice, “Kenneth!! Help me!”
The hair on Ken’s arms lifted with the electricity that ran through the room.
Alex set down his beer, jaw dropped and eyes wide, looking out the window.
There, perfectly framed by the glass, stood the ghost he had seen in Eidolon cottage. The same pale face framed by dark whisps of long hair peered in at them
“You see her, right?” Ken asked, just to be sure.
“Uh huh. You’re fucking with me, right?” Just as Alex said this, a bright light filled the room, then vanished, taking the ghost with it. He blinked a few times. “You had someone dress up outside…”
Ken gave Alex a dumbfounded look. It had been almost dark when Alex arrived. Now, it was pitch black out there. There was no way Alex was prepared for what Ken was about to tell him. “This window is ten feet off the ground, Alex.”
Then he got up and went to the back wall and clicked on the switch that illuminated the sides and back of the cottage. “Look.”
Alex got up and followed. His jaw dropped again when he saw just how high the window was from the ground below. “That was real?”
Ken nodded. “You still want to go do a ghost hunt tomorrow?”
The look on Alex’s face spoke volumes, and Ken realized that maybe relying on Alex to help him through this weird, supernatural phenomena that had taken interest in him, and him in it, was a bad idea.
“Do they always come here? Because there’s no need to go out into the forest for some old creepy building if they’ll come to us,” Alex said before taking a really long drink of his beer, draining the rest of the bottle.
“No, this is a first.”
“We’re doing this during the day, right?”
Ken nodded. There was no way he’d spend the night in a run down cottage in the middle of the woods. He was curious, not stupid.
“This is going to require more beer.” With that, Alex got up and retrieved two more beers from the fridge, popped the caps, and brought them back into the main room. Both of them kept their eyes on the window.
Taking the beer Alex handed him, Ken took a deep drink.
A cold breeze rushed through the room, dropping the temperature twenty degrees.
“I’m coming…” whispered a hoarse voice. This time it wasn’t the sociable ghost from Eidolon cottage. No, whatever this was, was more sinister. Darker. And it didn’t like Ken, nor Alex. Not one bit.
Watch this blog for more installments. To be continued…
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