Excerpt: The Ghost of Shelly Dee
“Do you know you’re dead?” asked a clear, female voice.
The silence of the dead was the only response.
Moonlight sliced through the fog as it drifted among gravestones. In this eerie half-light, shadows ebbed and flowed like some midnight ethereal tide.
“Give us a sign of your presence,” commanded a clear and loud male voice.
The hooting of an owl answered, echoing eerily through the fog.
“Is there something you’d like to communicate to this side?” asked the first voice. More silence. Nearby stood the cemetery’s only crypt, a decrepit, crumbling concrete structure with a rusting iron door. Faded Latin etchings added to the aura of antiquity. Hidden in the shadows, it slept, sagging like a tired old watchman.
“Let us help you. We have your son Drew here. Do you have a message for him?” offered the second voice in his commanding tone. A cricket droned with airy indifference. The playing shadows coalesced into three figures, their backs to the crypt, all their attention focused on a small, unassuming gravestone.
A third voice broke the silence in a quiet, respectful tone. “Lets get out of here. I told you my parents wouldn’t be here.” Drew stepped forward, his features caught in the moonlight revealed a shaggy mop of dirty blond hair and clear blue eyes that looked far away at the moment. He let his fingers slide along the top of the twenty-six-inch tall stone. Carved in simple English, it read:
Here lies Gabriel Canny
1975 - 2011
and his devoted wife
1976 - 2011
Survived by their
beloved son Andrew
and loving mother Bethany.
It was no crypt. It was the farthest thing from one. Simple and cheap was all Drew’s grandmother could afford. This was the first time he had visited his parents’ grave since the funeral. His classmate and friend Jen had insisted.
Jen stepped forward, respectfully taking off her black knit cap. She reached for Drew, letting her hand rest for a moment on his forearm before shyly pulling back.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
Drew paused a moment before nodding.
The third figure stepped forward, taller than Drew and Jen. “Come on sis, are you guys ready to go or what?”
Jen shushed her brother. “Shut up Ron. We’ll leave when I say we leave.”
Ron shrugged his little sister’s reprimand off his gangly frame with practiced ease. “The portable DVR camera was recording so if something showed up, we caught it,” he said with a pat to his shoulder bag, “and I’ve stowed the tripod too. I’ve got the K-2 Meter and the thermometer. The K-2 was obviously a disappointment, and the thermometer ran a steady sixty-four degrees. Pretty warm for May in Ohio, huh? If this holds up, its gonna be a great night tomorrow for a romantic moonlit walk with the ladies after the school dance.”
“Whatever doofus,” replied Jen. “You’ll be lucky to get a Freshman girl to dance with you. You can forget about leaving the building with one.” Jen was short for her age. She was pretty, with big brown eyes and long brown slightly wavy hair. And she was smart; Drew thought she might be the smartest one in their entire eighth grade class. She reached for a small chrome digital recorder resting on the gravestone and held it to her mouth. “End EVP session, State Street Cemetery.” Pushing a button she slipped the recorder into her jacket pocket.
“I really wish we had caught something Drew,” she said earnestly. “We still might have an EVP on tape.
“I told you we wouldn’t catch anything,” replied Drew without emotion. “If you want to catch ghosts, the only ones in this graveyard are at the other corner,” he said waving his hand in the direction of Cemetery and State Streets. Looking up he could see two figures standing in the corner, some hundred yards away. Drew shuddered.
“We’ve been all over this graveyard and never caught anything and all of a sudden you tell me there’s ghosts over there,” said Jen incredulously. “I don’t believe it.”
“Suit your self,” replied Drew, stuffing his hands in his pockets and heading toward the west entrance on Wallace Drive. He didn’t expect her to believe him. He barely believed it himself, and he was the one seeing the ghosts. Yet he had hoped she would be different. Her father owned the local gadget store, a sort of Radio Shack meets James Bond amateur spy place, but more importantly her father was the founder of Ghost Patrol; Athens’ very own paranormal investigation company. She was his last hope.
“I’m sorry Drew,” said Jen. “I’m not trying to be mean. It’s just that we live right there,” she said, pointing across Wallace Drive to an old three story colonial house nestled among ancient elm trees. “Our father’s been investigating ghosts for a long time and we’ve sort of been over this graveyard like a million times and haven’t found the slightest bit of evidence.”
Drew looked over again at the two apparitions in the far corner of the graveyard. He could see them plainly. A man and a woman, and they were arguing. He couldn’t hear what they said. Sometimes it was like that. Sometimes they could look like they were yelling right in front of him, these ghosts, and he would not hear a peep. Other times, he couldn’t see them at all and yet they would be loud and clear, and talking to him too! Those were the most terrifying. The two apparitions weren’t making a sound though and even though Drew could see them, he knew that Jen and Ron wouldn’t. “They’re there right now,” he said quietly.
Jen looked in that direction, squinting through the night. “Who?” she asked, but she was unable to keep the skepticism from her voice.
Drew shrugged. “I don’t know them. A man and a woman, and it looks like the man is sorry and the woman is crying maybe. I don’t know it’s kind of far.”
Ron pulled his camera out and quickly pushed record. “Maybe we should check it out?” he asked, hopeful.
Jen looked at her brother and then to Drew. Her face softened. “Okay,” she said, “We’ll try and make contact. Let’s go.”
Ron hustled forward, then stopped. “Wait, where am I aiming this thing?” he asked.
Jen and Ron were both staring at Drew. He stepped forward and said, “This way,” and led them toward the corner. He didn’t creep up on them. He was pretty sure he didn’t need to. This type of ghost wouldn’t see them. Wouldn’t even know they were there. They were like a broken record, playing the same old song, over and over. Drew led them to within ten feet of the dramatic ghostly scene playing out like a silent movie.
“There,” said Drew. “Point the camera toward these two gravestones. I bet they are theirs,” he commented and walked over to read them.
Jen interrupted him. “What are they doing? What do they look like?” she asked.
Drew looked up and really studied the two figures. “The man is tall, maybe thirty years old, and fit. He’s wearing a suit and tie, but there’s something funny about the style. Maybe its old. He’s got a vest on underneath the jacket and he keeps pulling out a watch from a chain in the vest pocket and checking the time. The woman? She’s got long dark hair and…she’s beautiful.”
Upon uttering those words the woman looked directly at him. He was struck dumb. Had she heard him? Could she see him? Did she know they were there?
Jen said, “Beautiful, huh?”
Something in her tone distracted Drew and he looked over at Jen, breaking his eye contact with the woman. Jen was standing with her arms crossed and looking peevish at him. Did he do something wrong?
“I uh,” he stuttered.
“Anything else lover boy or is that all you got?” sneered Jen.
He definitely did something wrong, but what? He looked back at the woman who no longer looked at him. “She’s wearing a gown, sort of a pale green thing and it looks fancy, but it looks wrong too. Not something you’d see in Cosmo, that’s for sure.”
“You’d know, wouldn’t you,” teased Ron. “You got a lifetime membership to Cosmo, don’t you.”
Drew scowled at Ron’s attempt at wit. “It’s called a subscription and I didn’t know they offered lifetime subscriptions Ron. Tell me, when did they start?”
“They’ve always had them. They got a box on the enrollment card you can check for lifetime--wait a minute!”
Jen and Drew chuckled. Ron was thirteen, a year older than his sister Jen and was as outgoing as could be. The funny thing was, he was kind of on the dorky side. You could say everyone liked him, but it was more like everyone knew him because he was always showing up and chiming in and acting like the coolest kid in town. But he was so obviously not that person that people found it funny and endearing in its own way. He had straight black hair with a slightly skinny, long nose that held up his thick black-framed glasses.
Drew went back to his study of the scene playing out before them. “She’s throwing her arms up and he’s yelling at her,” he continued.
“What are they saying?” asked Jen.
“I can’t hear anything. I can only see them. It looks like he’s telling her he has to go or is going to go. She looks like she’s telling him not to, or, or, or maybe if he does he’ll be sorry. Something like that.”
“Ooh, it sounds juicy,” said Jen. Keep rolling Ron and keep talking Drew. Maybe we’ll catch something.” She pulled out the recorder and pushed play. “EVP start, couple arguing, State Street Cemetery,” she said and then held the recorder toward the gravestones like she were a reporter waiting for a comment from her interviewee.
“Why are they standing in a cemetery arguing?” asked Ron.
It was an excellent question and until he asked it they were in the cemetery. But something changed as soon as Ron uttered those words. Drew wasn’t in the cemetery anymore.
“They aren’t,” said Drew amazed at the change. “They’re in a house. We’re in a house. In the foyer by the front door. There’s a passage off to the left to a sort of living room, and an old staircase with a polished wooden banister running up straight away, and to the right there is another passage with one of those grandfather clocks against the wall by the stairs. Now he’s pulling the door open and she keeps shutting it.”
Jen interrupted. “Wait. We’re in a house? When did we get there?”
“Shush,” said Drew. “I don’t know what’s happening, but we’re all in the house now. Now he’s got the door open and he’s walking out and she’s got him by the arm. No, now he’s shaken free and he’s running down the steps. She’s on the porch, but she’s stopped at the top of the steps and she’s screaming. He, he’s stopped at the edge of the street and he’s turned back. He’s smiling now, but he’s not happy. I don’t understand it. He’s waving now and whoa!”
“Noooo!” wailed the woman.
All three froze at the sound, clear as can be it cut through the cool night air.