Greetings and salutations, faithful readers! I am Timothy S Purvis and this is Story Time With Tim. I appreciate your coming back and enjoying some more story telling opportunities. This week’s offering is one of my favorite stories I ever wrote. It’s about a man who buys a house that’s possessed by spirits of previous owners. And it’s not as straight forward as you might think!
I remember when I first came up with this tale. I’d woken up from a dream where I’d bought a house and inside there were Spanish Dubloons on a table and a GTO car on the second floor balcony. What did it mean? Hell if I know. However, it made for quite the amusing story. And I think it still holds up as well. So, I hope you enjoy this short story and remember to come back next week for more Story Time With Tim! I look forward to your presence. And don’t forget to leave a comment below about how you feel about this story.
So, without further ado, ‘Recurrence’:
Written 2005 CE
Why did it have to be this way? I never asked for much, just the chance to live a peaceful life. Yet, there I was sitting in the hot seat under the spotlight… er… well, interrogation lamp. I had three detectives around me. One of them, a man in a simple white shirt, tie, and suit pants glowered at me from his chair on the other side of the table from where I was sitting. If I remember correctly, that jerk’s name was Thomas Masterson; a five-foot-ten-inch tall, two-hundred-thirty-pound slab of hostile meat. I wondered if he’d ever been laid. While Thomas glared, there’s this other man steadily walking around the table in the center of that plain room asking questions. Honestly, the questions he asked were just completely redundant.
How many times can you be asked things like, ‘How’d you get there?’ ‘Why were you there to begin with?’ ‘How well-endowed are you?’ Oh, all right, he didn’t ask that last one. But he might as well have, because Michael Nielson was probably the most probing individual I had ever met. Yet, I had more respect for him than Thomas.
“Like I said before, I bought the house through Wendelson Realtors. I had been negotiating a contract with them for two months. Today was the first day I even had possession of the house.” I said, feeling a throbbing headache trying to fire my eyeballs from their sockets. “I can’t believe you haven’t heard of them. That you can’t even find them!”
Sure, I was a little agitated. Who wouldn’t be? You go buy a house and see how you feel when it turns out the Realtor never existed, the house harbored some weird secrets, happened to already be owned, and, oh yeah, a cop ended up dead and you’re the ONLY one that had any answers! Problem was, no one believed me, not even the gorgeous, long haired brunette standing quietly against the far wall near the door taking notes. Some of the lighting in the room reflected off her glasses making it nearly impossible to determine where she was looking.
Emily Tyson. A woman with legs that went all the way up. Not that I’m some pervert or your standard issue man. I have a lot of respect for women. Especially ones that can tolerate being in a room with two testosterone boosted hardcases and one potential murderer. That’s just speculation, of course. The murdering issue, that is. I’m more than certain on the testosterone point. What I’m really trying to say, though, is that I’m an admirer of fine beauty. And she struck me as the most analytical of the group. She stood five-foot-eight making her my height. I couldn’t tell her age, though.
“So, when did you murder the officer, Kevin!?” Thomas leaned forward in his chair across from me and slapped his hands on the table. It felt like he was trying to play good cop, bad cop and he was the doughnut chewing fat cop. This prick just wouldn’t listen. How many times did I have to tell him that I didn’t murder anyone? I guess they had a right to be suspicious, though. It was hard for me to believe my own story. Which, I suppose, I should go over from the beginning. It must be a little confusing to come in on a scene with a man surrounded by detectives who think he killed someone. I mean, how often has that angle been exploited!?
Let me first introduce myself. Kevin Dalton. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and an artist; perhaps even starving. But an artist nonetheless. Everything had actually begun earlier this particular morning around seven. I had finally gotten all the paperwork in order for the home several days before and felt that I should get a good feel of where I was going to put all my belongings. Now, I had been in the house before. It was older, probably built in the sixties, and had three stories and an attic. There was the basement, which counted as one of the main floors since it had plenty of space and accessibility from the first-floor kitchen. Aside from the main floor, where the living room, kitchen, and den were located, there was the second floor where three bedrooms and two bathrooms could be found. A railed balcony encircled the second story, though I guess technically it was ‘squared’ since the house wasn’t circular. The attic I’ll get to in a bit.
The morning was bright and sunny and rather warm when I pulled up in my old Camaro out front. There was no driveway, but the road was two lanes wide with plenty of room to park along the sides. The neighborhood wasn’t a bad place and had a low crime rate. However, it was still relatively rundown and almost ghetto looking. To top that off, there were very few trees. Certainly, none were on my property. Fortunately, though, the balcony would make for good shade during the full force of summer.
I looked up to the roof which was virtually flat. There was still an incline to it, of course. But I hadn’t been to the attic and I imagined it to be pretty small and one probably had to bend over doubled to get inside. That seemed logical given the fact that I had seen a trap door in the second-floor ceiling near one of the bathrooms.
The walkway up to the front door wasn’t much to look at. Cracked concrete with a few weeds sprouting out of it made walking up the path potentially hazardous, but I walked it just the same. The grass on what passed for a lawn was wilted and I swear I saw some junk popping up out of the dirt. The properties on either side had been demolished, strangely. Which meant that the two closest houses had a wide berth from mine. Of course, I had heard that they were going to rebuild those homes since they weren’t up to code and not livable. Now, my house on the other hand, passed all of its inspections. Therefore, two vacant lots didn’t bother me.
I noticed two kids, boys if I’m not mistaken, across the street staring at me as I removed the keys from my pocket and reached to unlock the door. I don’t know what they were thinking but I wasn’t dressed fancy. Just blue jeans and a yellow T-shirt, tennis shoes and my denim jacket. Ignoring the two I entered the abode and was pelted by a stifling heat. Good thing there was central air.
There was a light-switch beside the doorframe so I flipped it on and took a look around my new home. This was the living room. Very little outside light was filtering in as the shades were drawn shut. What was strange, though, was that the room was completely furnished. The last I remembered it had been empty.
“Huh? What the hell?” I spoke to no one in particular as I took the scene in and walked to the middle of the room. It looked lived in, which shouldn’t have been the case as I was now the sole owner. Yet, here were these materials that hadn’t been there weeks before. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Realtors had set me up with some new furniture. But that didn’t seem right. Did the neighbors chip in and then use the home first? Of course, that was completely ludicrous as well. Then I considered squatters. For those not in the know, these were people that lived in abandoned buildings. However, there was no indication that anyone had broken in and besides, squatters weren’t known to furnish and decorate a place. Unless you counted cardboard boxes, barrels, urine and feces as decorations.
I checked out the rest of the house. It was all furnished. The kitchen had plates and silverware, a working fridge, and full cupboards complete with storable food items. Strange. There were three bedrooms on the second floor and a den on the first. All of it had the appropriate furniture and accessories. One room even had children’s play things.
“Uh-oh. Did I get the wrong house?” Suddenly I felt like a thief in the night and was rushing back towards the front door when I realized my key had opened the damn door to begin with. “Something is definitely not right.”
I was on the second floor looking for a phone, since I couldn’t seem to find one downstairs, when an open hallway window caught my attention. Or rather, the glare off the object outside it did. My mouth hung open as I approached the door at the end of the hall that led out to the balcony. Going outside, I took in what seemed to me quite impossible. A brand new and completely mint condition nineteen seventies model GTO sat there gleaming in the sun. There is no way this could have got up here! Or so I thought. Yet, there it was. I even walked around the vehicle. The railings along the sides were intact. Nothing gave away the secret to the GTO’s presence on my balcony. Now I knew I needed to call the Realtor’s.
It was nearly seven-thirty and things weren’t adding up as I continued my search for a phone. It was then I wished I had a cell.I sat down on the couch back downstairs and looked around the living room once again. Noticing a few pictures, I got up to take a look. Now, I’m not the nosy kind. My father always taught me to mind my own business, keep a neat home, mow the lawn-and incidentally grow some grass… the, uh, lawn kind that is, and to respect another person’s property. However, I wasn’t sure if any of that could be applied to a house I owned but seemed to be lived in. Regardless, the pictures showed a family; two kids and their parents were smiling happily. They were well dressed and seemed fairly wealthy. Not rich, mind you, but well off. They had dark skin, I don’t know if ‘black’ is appropriate to say anymore, and all seemed to have short, curly hairs. Except for the mother with her golden earrings. She had long and luscious black hair that shined with seeming purpose and was quite beautiful. Lucky man. Whoever you are.
I was a single man myself. Never had children. Never had a wife. Never thought I needed them. At least, not until I looked at those pictures and felt very lonely and very out of place. Being an artist, I just tended to keep to myself. Still, the longing was there. Wait a sec! A thought struck me then and I remembered the two kids outside. Those are those kids out front! The two boys! I think…
It didn’t take long to rush to the window and pull the shades open. However, the two boys were gone. To say that I was immediately unsettled would be an understatement. I really wanted to run and not look back but something made me stay there. A feeling, I suppose. I went to sit back down to wait and see if whoever the occupants were would come back.
There was a coffee table by the couch which I had barely paid any attention to before. But now that I was, I noticed some golden coins on top. I picked one up and twirled it in my fingers trying to figure out what it was. Then I paused having realized that they were old Spanish doubloons. Counting them up I noted thirty-five coins and was astounded. Wow. These have to be worth a fortune.
Providing they were real, then these people weren’t the brightest. To leave such priceless relics just lying around…
“Who the hell are you!?” I immediately jumped to my feet dropping one of the coins on the table. I turned around to see the man of the house, it would seem logical at that point to assume such a thing, standing with his family and staring at me angrily. I hadn’t even heard the door open. It was like it just poofed open and there they were. The wife held her youngest son in her arms and looked panicked as she backed away and rushed towards the corner of the room where she promptly picked up the receiver to the phone. Phone!? What the…!? I just looked over there!
“I just asked you a question, mister! What are you doing in my house!? I already told you people I am not selling this house!” He approached me then, looking like he wanted to deck me. The eldest son stared at me curiously as I found myself bringing my hands up in a surrendering gesture, backing slowly away from the gentleman.
“I assure you, sir, there is some misunderstanding,” I pleaded and put the couch between me and him.
“Misunderstanding? You’re in my house,” he said a little calmer but no less menacing.
“I… I bought this house from Wendelson Realtors, sir. They assured me it was unowned. In fact, two weeks ago I was here and it was empty…” I replied trying to keep the panic out of my voice.
“You bought it!? Those sons-of-bitches! Two weeks ago!? We’ve been here for twelve years! I’ve never seen you before and I assure YOU that we’ve been here all along! So, don’t go making lies up!” He shouted, making a downward thrusting motion with his hand.
Twelve years meant the eldest son was at least eleven. Maybe. I couldn’t help but think about him as he just stared at me with that strange smile. He didn’t even seem taken aback by all of this. It was creepy how that boy just stood there looking at me as if he understood what I was going through.
“Jim, the line’s dead!” His wife said, standing in the corner cradling her youngest son, probably five years old, and the receiver.
“This house isn’t for sale! Isn’t for sale! So just get out!” The man, Jim, said to me wagging his finger in the air.
“Look, maybe we can talk about this. I really don’t have anywhere to go right now. What exactly is going on here? So, we can get to the bottom of this…” I stated simply, trying to figure it all out.
Was he crazy? Or was I? Jim seemed to be just as exasperated and shook his head in disdain. I realized that I didn’t know enough about everything and suspected that somebody was lying to me so I spoke softly. “How about I begin. My name is Kevin Dalton. What’s your name?”
“James Olsen. But people just call me Jim,” he said in reservation and sat down on the couch. “This is my wife Arlene and our two boys. Jason and David.”
David, the oldest, smiled as his father mentioned his name and motioned towards him. Arlene seemed to calm down a little, realizing things weren’t going to get violent. At least, I imagined we both hoped. She sat down near her husband and let out a barely audible sigh.
“So, what do you do, Kevin?” Jim cordially inquired bringing me out of my own mind.
I knew it had to be tough on him. I know I would be pissed off if I found someone in my house and it seemed that the Realtors had screwed me. I sat down on the nearby love seat and glanced down at the coffee table. It had already been an unnerving day but it was getting even more so. Those Spanish coins… were gone. This didn’t sit well with me and I was tempted to say something but I saw Jim looking at me in edgy caution. Since he didn’t seem to notice, I decided to leave it alone for the time being.
“Well, I’m an artist.”
“An artist? So, you sell paintings or what?” Jim inquired trying his best to be patient, I’m sure, with everything.
“Well, I’m more of a graphic artist. I do images using my computer: logo designs, layouts for magazines, and the such,” I replied still feeling extremely uncomfortable and getting worse.
Jim looked like he didn’t understand. Like, somehow, I was speaking a foreign language or something. I remembered the words of my mother then, ‘If things aren’t going the way you anticipate, change the subject.’
“So, what do you do, Jim?” I smiled pleasantly.
“I sell stocks and bonds,” He said evenly, watching my every movement.
“Ahh,” I responded not knowing what else to say.
I was never one for the stock market. It always struck me as too much of a gamble. A dangerous one at that. The global economy seems determined to gamble on it, though. Which fills me with a certain fear. But Jim was selling bonds, too. Which, I guess, is just investing in the government. Certainly, if there was anything to invest in, it was the government. We ended up spending several hours just discussing the problems with the house. Apparently, the Realtors had been trying to forcefully evict them for over a year. Jim even got a visit by members of the Klu Klux Klan. I didn’t think a Realtor would sink to such a level. Especially given that they weren’t really involved with the upkeep and zoning of the home. They just sold it. At least, I think that’s the case. Terrorist tactics from a group of people selling homes was a little too far for me to wrap my mind around at that particular time. Jim, though, sure found it believable.
I asked him why he didn’t just find somewhere else to live. Surely, he could afford a better piece of property. I got it for well under market value after all. However, Jim responded that it was a matter of principles and if he wanted to move he would. Not to be forced out. Which, I understood.
“Still, Jim, your family deserves a better environment.” I wasn’t trying to be rude or pushy or even trying to convince him to just get the hell out. Really, I only wanted to avoid any unpleasant confrontations. “And what’s with the GTO on the second story balcony?”
I couldn’t help but ask about the vehicle, which I hadn’t inquired about earlier because, well, it really wasn’t my business. If they wanted a GTO on their balcony, more power to ’em. Besides, I thought I may have phrased myself wrong by suggesting he move and wanted to get off subject as quickly as possible. Jim looked like he was about to respond when his lips and eyes froze in a ‘huh?’ type of way.
Several minutes later, we were standing on the balcony. No GTO. What in the world!? What is with this house? It was just here! I was on the verge of just saying ‘fine’ and leaving the place far, far behind me when Jim patted me on the back and smiled.
“It’s been a long day for all of us. When we got here this morning, I was really angry. I had to pick up the kids from school since it got closed for the day, I was about to go downtown and cuss out the Realtors, and then you were in our house. But now… To tell you the truth, Kevin, we are going to move. We were planning on it this weekend. Hopefully.” He looked at his watch. “It’s almost noon. Let’s get some lunch.”
We went downstairs to the kitchen and fixed, or rather Jim fixed for us, some leftover lasagna from the previous night’s dinner. I’ll have to say that Arlene was a helluva cook. I don’t know what it was made with, outside of the standard stuff of course, but she added something that made it difficult to put down. One bite and you were hooked, at least so I thought. Which caused my memories to haunt me.
I hadn’t had a home cooked meal since before my mother passed away. Sitting there, at that table in the kitchen talking with Jim and his family, made me miss the times I shared with my own family.
My father is a bit of a recluse these days, but back when I was a kid, he was a very skilled blacksmith and sold his wares and creations at local Renaissance festivals and through an online website. I used to want to be just like him. I even started carving wooden mockups of swords and shields, which weren’t very good but dad loved ‘em just the same. He always told me that I’d go somewhere someday. So, I kept at it and started drawing down my ideas. I became much more proficient at actually designing the things rather than making ’em.
My mom, though, she was the world’s best cook to me. Dinners were always something to look forward to when she started preparing them. I never could figure out, though, how she found time and the desire to go through the effort. Especially given she was a cook for a living. She worked at a local restaurant as the lead chef, had gone to college and majored in the culinary arts. How do you cook all day and then go home to do the same thing? Yet, she did it and I had the highest respect for her as a result.
It’s not like we led a perfect life or anything. I had two younger sisters, and between the three of us carrying on and mom always fighting with my dad over something or another, it was a miracle that we even sat down for dinner. Yet, every night we did and it was so serene. Just like with Jim’s family.
This got me thinking about my sisters and what they were up to. We sort of just lost touch after mom died of cancer a few years back. We knew she’d been battling it and had to quit cooking for chemo. But it was like the three of us couldn’t handle it. So, we all sort of stayed engaged in work. Because I was a graphic artist, there weren’t as many jobs coming my way-that’s the problem with the graphic industry, they want the art but they don’t want to pay you to do it.
The girls were following a different route all together. One became a born-again Christian minister-funny how she never came to help mom, y’know? And the other was… well… a stripper. She makes a lot of money, but I was never one to congratulate her on her career move. Talk about your completely divergent paths! A minister and a stripper… and a graphic artist. You know, there’s a joke in there somewhere, I’m sure.
I haven’t talked to either one of them for a few years. I should call them sometime. When things aren’t so insanely demented, that is. All this was going on in my mind as I sat there enjoying the family atmosphere. Still, things didn’t feel right. There weren’t any answers about what they were doing there and why the Realtors had sold me an occupied house. I kept thinking back to several weeks prior when I had actually been to the home and no one was there; not even their furniture. And what about the coins and the GTO? How about that phone? And I was certain the door was squeaky when I’d entered, yet, when they came home… not a sound.
“…Which is why we need to go talk to that Realtor,” Jim was saying, lulling me from my thoughts and to the current events at hand.
“I agree. After we’re done here, we should go down there,” I replied happily, wanting to put this mess behind me.
“I think I’ll stay here with the kids,” Arlene offered, looking rather tired all of the sudden. “I just don’t feel like getting out right now.”
Jim nodded in understanding. I, however, had a sudden urge to answer nature’s call. I politely wiped my mouth with my napkin and made to stand.
“I think I should hit the head first,” I said with a smile as Jim seemed slightly confused.
“Hit the head?”
“It’s an old expression… means I need to use the bathroom,” I smiled my best smile, finding his response to that phrase amusing.
“Oh, well, ok. You know where it is?”
“Yes, thank you.”
I excused myself and went to attend to business. Thoughts about what they were thinking permeated my mind and made me a little antsy. Lord only knew what they were saying about me in my absence. When I left the bathroom, I found myself staring up to the trap door leading into the attic. What is up there?
This was a curious thought for me since I really didn’t care, but found myself desperately wanting to know.
“We don’t go up there.”
My gaze shifted down quickly from the door on the ceiling to the young man, David, standing nearby. How did he do that? I hadn’t heard him approach. Again, it was unnerving to see his knowing smile staring at me.
“Why?” I inquired to the statement.
“Something’s up there,” he said calmly; too calmly.
“What kind of something?” My frown must have amused him because he laughed.
“Who knows. We haven’t gone up!”
“Aren’t you curious?” I pointed to the door.
“Sometimes. But you know what they say about curiosity,” he spoke evenly and kept his arms at his sides.
“I also know what they say about ‘satisfaction’,” I countered.
It’s interesting to note the expression that we were referring to. You see, curiosity killed the cat. Logically, one shouldn’t endeavor to be curious about things they have no business in. However, somebody, I don’t know who, was obviously a wiseass about it and offered up the reply, ‘Yes, but satisfaction brought him back.’ Implying that finding the knowledge behind the curiosity was its own reward. Which left me wondering how many of my nine lives did I have left?
David smiled ruefully as if he knew the complex thoughts riddling my brain. He knew I wanted to go up there. But he also knew that I was too respectful to push the issue. So, the both of us let it be and returned downstairs.
Now would be around the time that things started getting weird. These are events that, no matter how many times I tell them, the detectives refuse to listen, to believe in, or even acknowledge what I am saying. Sure, it’s strange, but it still happened.
David and I walked down the staircase. He hung back a little, about half way up. I got almost to the bottom when I looked into the living room and saw… me. I was sitting there on the couch looking over some Spanish doubloons. I don’t know if I could’ve looked any more surprised but the universe has a weird way of topping itself. I witnessed myself look at me and stare in shock. Then the front door swung wide in absolute silence and Jim and his family entered.
“What the hell are you doing in my house!?”
I turned around; the other me since I just stared in disbelief. Jim saw him and then me, the both of us that is, and entered the living room with a bewildered look.
“What, identical twins, trying to push me from my home?”
“I assure you, sir, I have no idea what’s going on!” the other me said and looked over to where I stood speechless. “Don’t look at me! I have no idea what’s going on, either!”
I finally input with my hands up in a surrendering gesture. The door shut behind Jim as he stared at us and Arlene rushed to the phone holding her youngest son. She was dialing the number to I’m guessing the police when she looked at me and dropped the receiver. I realized then that she had to be looking past me at the second David still on the steps. I turned towards the broadly smiling boy who only shook his head. I was about to say something when another me walked down the stairs.
“Didn’t we already do this scene?” The new me said and I could only shake my head in response.
“What the hell!?” I heard another voice shout and I looked back towards the front door only to see a second set of Jim’s family arrive inside.
The second Jim stared in shock and looked at the congregation of people within. I witnessed yet another me walk out of the kitchen with a third set of Jim and his family, minus David. I could only guess that this was the current set of Jim and his family that I had met. The second set stood there numbly looking at their other versions. Everyone looked to the second set, who for some reason was wearing tight leather clothing. Very strange.
“Kevin… what is going on?” My Jim inquired and was obviously trying to figure out which Kevin was real.
“Didn’t we already do this scene!?” I heard a dual unison response say from above me.
I looked up and saw two more Kevin’s joining the second ‘other’ me on the staircase. By this point, my mind was on vacation.
“Uhm, David, what the hell is going on?” I asked the boy I came down the stairs with.
“It happens a lot,” He cryptically replied with a shrug. “I haven’t figured out yet why it happens. But I usually just go with it.”
“David! What are you doing up there!?” Jim number two shouted up to the stairwell.
The David beside him smiled in amusement. I started to see why he was always smiling. Somehow, someway, this was all slightly amusing. When you could wrap your mind around it that was.
“Don’t strain yourself, Dad, you’ll only give yourself another heart attack,” David replied casually as my Jim, Jim number one, stared up at him.
“Another…!? I… I don’t get this! Why are there so many of… us!?” My Jim stumbled over to sit on the couch by the first, second me who had appeared and was sitting as well.
“And why am I wearing leather!?” The second Jim stared at the third and inquired in an irritated voice.
“Well, why am I wearing a blue-suit!?” The third questioned the second in response.
My Arlene sat down beside the Jim whom presumably was her husband. None of the other me’s said anything as they watched the interaction.
“I like blue-suits,” the second said firmly.
“Well, I like leather!” the third replied with equal firmness.
It was right about then that the cop dropped from the ceiling and landed on the coffee-table. He wasn’t moving so I would say that was a good indication to think the worst. Me two (funny eh?) went to check his pulse.
“He’s dead…” I, me, whoever, said.
“Figures. They finally send a cop and he’s a stiff,” I couldn’t help but put in.
Nobody else thought it was funny. I have this uncanny way of silencing a room.
“So that’s when you killed the cop!?” Thomas shouted at me in anger.
Bet you forgot about him, eh? He glared at me intently, hoping to get me to confess to something I didn’t do. This is always the spot he interrupts the story and tries to be the badass. I generally try to ignore him and continue, but I was just annoyed by this point.
“No. He was dead when he arrived,” I replied and was going to continue my umpteenth million reiteration, since I knew they were looking for holes in my story, when he cut me off yet again.
“You mean when you arrived.”
“No. I mean when he arrived. Like I said, he fell from the ceiling… I don’t know how. He just sort of… arrived.”
It’s extremely difficult to describe something like this, when this just sort of happens, and you have no idea whatsoever how it happened, why it happened, and certainly no clue as to where it was going.
“You’ll have to forgive us if we find it hard to believe that a bunch of people, duplicates of you and the Olsen family that is, just magically appeared,” Micheal stated bluntly from where he paused at the table-side and looked back at Emily, who said nothing.
“Tell me about it. I found it incredibly difficult to follow myself. But, really, all you have to do is face the facts. Do you know who the cop is?” I ventured, feeling fairly confident on the metaphorical ground I stood on.
“That isn’t the point. The point is you killed a cop!” Thomas shouted and I could tell he wanted to reach over to throttle me.
“I didn’t kill anybody. And I know you know that. Cause if I had killed somebody, then where’s the murder weapon? Why is it there are no obvious markings indicating an attack? Are there any wounds consistent with your theory at all? While we’re at it, how come his gun was still holstered? If I’m such a big, bad threat, why didn’t he pull it and have immediate control of the situation?” I questioned rationally.
“Maybe you didn’t give him time?” Thomas answered with a smug expression.
Micheal lit a cigarette and I could tell he knew that things weren’t adding up; that I was telling the truth; an illogical truth but truth just the same. However, in all my retellings of the tale, nothing ever changed. It was always the same. Not because I memorized it or practiced, it was all true, but because I lived it.
Inabilities to believe the unbelievable aside, the cop laid there on the coffee-table lifeless with all of us staring at him in relatively dull shock. Even David was taken aback… all of him.
“Does this happen a lot, too?” I asked my David who was leaning against the railing looking at the corpse; which, strangely enough, looked to be smiling.
“No. I would say this is new,” David replied.
I frowned and turned back towards the living room only to see that everyone had disappeared, with the exception of the smiling, yet still dead, cop on the coffee-table laying there blissfully unaware of the insanity enveloping him.
“So now everyone’s gone? How do you deal…?” I said to David and looked towards him again and received yet another surprise.
He too had disappeared and I was left alone on the staircase. I wasn’t unnerved like I had been before, since I’d gotten used to weird events at this point. Still, I was rather lonely and wishing that I had decided to live a fruitful life on the west coast instead of traipsing around the house of the dead. This thought being because I was offered a rather lucrative position for a graphics firm in California. I was never one for that state and had, consequently, turned the job down. Who woulda thunk?
“I think now would be a good time to check out that attic.” These words slid from my mouth as I looked up the empty stairwell.
Step by step, I walked back up to the second story and entered the hallway that would take me to the trap door leading into the attic. For some reason, there was a blueish light filtering through the windows, giving the environment a surreal feel. I ignored this perplexity and continued on towards the end of the hall. It took little effort to reach up and yank the trap door open. However, I was forced to think fast when the ladder inside lurched out towards me.
It’s a good thing I have such quick reflexes, elsewise I would’ve been taking a little nap. There was dim lighting pouring from the space leading into the topmost level which meant there were probably only a few windows. Hesitating no longer, I began my ascent up the ladder.
I peeped my head up through the opening and looked around. Streams of light illuminated particles of dust floating around aimlessly through small windows located at each end of the room. The attic was much larger than I had anticipated. I could tell where the slight slant of the roof met its other half in the center. A few bracing beams were located at even intervals down the center of the area.
Interestingly enough, there was more than enough room for me to stand up within the spacious quarters devoid of furniture or other items one might commonly store in an attic. I hadn’t expected an empty room. With everything going on downstairs, I had thought that maybe the seventh layer of hell might be located up there. At the very least, a spirit or two. There was, though, one large full-length mirror on the far wall. I almost missed it, and if not for a slight beam of light bouncing off its reflective surface, I would have. It was weird, too, seeing a strange kind of misty cloud in front of the mirror. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but it looked like some pinkish-green haze as if gnats had gathered in that one spot. Of course, though, there were no gnats or any other type of living thing.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I guess I expected something a little more exotic than a mirror and pink-green haze. Having no more desire to be in that musky attic and its brewing heat, I returned down the ladder, closed the trap door and headed back to the living room.
“‘Something’s up there…’ My ass!” I said out-loud, feeling gypped. “I must have been hallucinating everything.”
I slowly walked down the stairs wondering if the heat in the house hadn’t given me some sort of stroke. Looking at my watch told me it was five-thirty in the evening. I had spent all day in a hot house talking to ghosts about nothing real. Wonderful.
Color me pink and call me Suzie if I didn’t find Jim and his family waiting for me in the living room when I got down the stairs. I stood at the bottom of the stairwell staring dumbly.
“That took you a while. You ready to go?” Jim casually asked me as if I had been up in the bathroom the whole time.
I however, was unable to respond. David looked over at me and smiled… again.
“So, did you find what you were looking for?” David queried with that knowing grin.
Kid’s ’bout as funny as a bleeding hemorrhoid…
“I… I’m still just as lost as when I first arrived,” I replied with a helpless shrug and gesturing of my arms. “Where’s the cop?”
I went to the coffee-table and stood at the head looking down. Bending over, I ran my hand over its smooth surface. Nothing was there. Just flat, varnished wood.
“What cop? Kevin, are you smoking something?” Jim questioned, which caused me to laugh.
“You know, Jim, I’m beginning to wonder that myself.” The reply issued from me as I straightened to my upright posture and turned for the kitchen hoping to find a beer or something along those lines in the fridge.
“Freeze! Put your hands on your head and kneel down!” I heard a voice say firmly from behind me.
Now, generally you should probably do as your told when a very serious and commanding voice tells you to ‘freeze’. However, logic escaped me then and there and I found myself turning around in a stupor to stare at four officers pointing lethal looking guns at me. I looked around and couldn’t see Jim or his family.
“What the hell!?”
My response wasn’t illogical, though the police thought it was uncalled for and ever so politely immediately informed me to cooperate fully.
“I told you to put your damn hands on your head and kneel down, now!”
Looking down at the coffee-table, I began to see why he was a little edgy. Laying there, still with a smile plastered to his face, was the dead cop. Certainly, it didn’t look good that I was the only one in the house standing over an officer of the law who was in a less than flattering state-of-being.
“I assure you, there is a perfectly logical explanation for all of this.” I squeaked out, blinking and silently cursing my life as I found myself inexplicably kneeling in acquiescence. “…Did I say ‘logical’?”
That’s when they cuffed me, read me my Miranda, and dragged me to their precinct. I sat in jail for several hours before being pulled into the room with the two vicious probers and the quiet observer.
“You do realize that nothing you have told us can possibly be taken seriously, right?” Micheal questioned sympathetically.
Well, I took it for sympathy. It could have been that he just thought I was nuts and was on the verge of calling in the paddy-wagon. Though, Emily looked less than skeptical and seemed deep in contemplation over my little story. I was really exhausted by this point and was ready for bed or even a nice metal cot in the jail cell.
“Besides, you can’t make up some unbelievable nonsense and expect us to take your word for it, do ya?” Thomas crowed maliciously.
“No, I expect you to follow the facts to its logical conclusion, no matter how illogical it all may seem,” I retorted and sat there feeling as if the world were against me.
“I’ve heard enough. Will you gentlemen join me outside?” Emily stated and went to open the door. “Mr. Dalton, if you would be so kind as to wait here.”
“Well, it’s not like I have any other plans,” I replied a little bit more sarcastically than I intended.
She smiled at me nonetheless forcing me to nod politely and the three of them left the room. There was a mirror to the one side in the room and I was pretty sure someone was watching me through it. Hey, I’ve seen the movies and shows and I know they watch your reactions. That, of course, didn’t really help my nerves any. Things were really messed up and it was working against me. I was innocent. They had to realize this. What madman would make something like this up?
Regardless, it felt like I was in there for an eternity. I don’t know what they were discussing, but Emily eventually returned to the room minus the two detectives. She stood beside the table and smiled.
“Congratulations, Mr. Dalton. You’re a free man.”
“Eh? And how did that come about? Not that I’m ungrateful or anything, but those two didn’t exactly warm up to me, y’know?”
She gave a quick laugh as I stood up. She went quiet and gave me a serious expression.
“Well, it would seem that a cause of death has been determined.”
“Really? What happened to him?” I inquired earnestly, having been wondering about that issue myself.
“He had a heart attack after having overdosed on PCP. All indications point to the fact that he was engaged in strenuous sexual activities. His heart just gave out.” She shook her head and glanced at her paperwork.
“That would explain the smile…” I commented wryly, not sure how to take the news.
“He really didn’t look that old.”
“He was in his fifties, apparently. Probably about to retire and attended a party where one thing led to another.”
“Who was he?” I looked at her as she stared at the paperwork before her.
“That I couldn’t tell you. His fingerprints weren’t on file. A curious thing, to be sure. Anyhow, there isn’t any evidence to suggest your involvement in his death and we can’t legally hold you for his murder. And, certainly, we can’t hold you for trespassing since we managed to find the copy of your house deed. Though, it wasn’t under Wendelson Realtors but rather Henderson Realtors,” She elaborated and looked me over, I’m guessing to gauge my reaction.
“So, then you believe me about his falling from the ceiling? …Henderson Realtors? But, I swear it was Wendelson…” I stared at the tabletop trying to wrap my brain around the day’s events. “This has been a very long day.”
“I imagine so. There’s still an ongoing investigation into how the officer got into your residence. Which means you won’t be able to move in just yet since it will still be considered a crime scene.” Emily shuffled through some notes looking like she was trying to find something, but I could tell she was thinking about another matter.
After a moment, she stopped shuffling and kept her eyes focused on the papers in front of her.
“I… have a theory on what’s going on, Kevin.”
She finally spoke and then glanced at me. I was ecstatic. “Really? Cause I would very much like to know what the hell went on.”
I leaned against the chair with my hands braced on its back.
“Let’s take a trip to your house.”
“What? My house? The deranged house where unknown cops and families materialize without warning? You know, I would like to, but I’m thinking about just selling the damned place.”
“I think you’ll find it enlightening. Just… trust me.” Emily stared at me with deep, hazel eyes and I couldn’t say no. I had a feeling I was going to regret this.
Night time had settled in across the ghettoish neighborhood and the street lights cast the house into a supernatural glow. Well, it didn’t literally ‘glow’ but it certainly was creepy.
Emily led me inside and past the police tape. She tried to turn on the light-switch but it didn’t do anything. So, she brought forth a flashlight from her pocket.
“Stay close,” she instructed and we climbed the stairs to the second floor.
As we walked through the eerie darkness of the place, I looked for any sign of Jim. I felt a certain sorrow at not finding him. I stopped and heard a strange sound as I was looking. It was hard to describe. Sort of a ‘hoc’ing ‘oop’ing sound. Only it was long and drawn out. Emily seemed quite determined then and turned to me.
“Let’s go.” She pulled open the trap door and let the ladder slip down.
I reluctantly followed her up, her flashlight showing the way, and tried not to look up her skirt. Tried. There was enough auxiliary light to show me the finest set of legs I had ever seen. Of course, it was too dark to see much else but vague outlines. Which was probably a good thing. I think.
She helped me up after getting a good footing in the attic and we both stared into the darkness. That strange sound was louder up there. I don’t know why I didn’t hear it before in the day. Emily flashed her light around and found a light switch.
“I don’t know why you’re bothering. It won’t…” She flipped it and the lights came on demonstrating that I was better off not saying anything. “…work?”
We both saw the mirror and the hazy cloud in front of it. For some reason, she pulled a small paper bag out of her suit-coat pocket and went behind the haze. With a quick glance towards me and a wicked smile, she inflated the bag with her mouth and then held it in front of her with both hands as if to pop it.
“Here goes nothing,” she quipped and slammed her hands together.
Even though I knew what she was going to do, I still jumped at the very loud sound echoing forth from that tiny bag. What surprised me most, though, was the flailing, screaming form of an old man in his seventies falling from the haze. The haze was gone, but the old man lay there panting.
“By the Gods, woman! Warn a man next time!” he shouted at her after rolling onto his side.
Emily helped him to his feet.
“I’m sorry, sir, however, you were causing quite the disturbance there.”
He nodded kindly and we escorted him back to the living room where, miraculously, the lights were on and a whole lot of people were gathered, chattering noisily in confusion. I saw Jim and his family surrounded by individuals I had never seen before but who Emily didn’t seem surprised to see. The old man went to sit down on the couch as everyone stared around at each other and us.
“Wait, what’s going on? I know Jim, but who are all these other people?” I wondered. “And how did you know this would happen?”
“First thing’s first, Kevin. These people all owned this house at one point or another.”
“I see…” I said as I stared at her grinning visage.
“Before I joined the police department’s Special Cases Division, I was a paranormal investigator. I specialized in cases that couldn’t be solved by conventional means.” Emily related as she stood beside me at the bottom of the stairs and everyone else paused to hear what she had to say. “It’s a little complex, but the skinny on the whole matter is based on what I had heard once. There used to be an old man who, when he hiccupped, caused strange things to happen. Vases would vanish, people would disappear and reappear inexplicably. Well, according to the local legends, he had decided to spare people this particular difficulty and went up into his attic when he got the hiccups and stared into a mirror hoping to scare himself silly, so the bothersome convulsions would go away.”
“Scare himself?” I looked over to the old man who smiled as everyone stood looking at him in bewilderment. He was, in fact, a little scary.
“Yes. Anyway, the legend goes on to say that one day, forty years ago, he just disappeared himself. His family tried to find him, but it was like he just vanished into oblivion. Eventually, they sold the house. Over time, those that owned the home, would have weird things happen to them or they themselves would simply disappear. The thing is, this is the house that it is said he lived in. I heard several officers at the precinct talking about your tale and how they didn’t believe you…”
“Yeah, go figure,” I replied as she laughed and continued her narration.
“I decided to get involved with the investigation, since the Captain gives me a pretty decent amount of free reign when it comes to the abnormal. I figured that I would hear you out and see what you had to say. When you started describing the attic and the events that were happening, I realized that you may have purchased that very house.”
“Wait, what about little David here? He always seems to remember the events when no one else does. I sort of thought he may have been the cause,” I said, thinking back to David’s reactions through all of this. David smiled at us, looking like he was curious about that as well.
“That is odd, but it would seem David was only caught in one of the wakes. Who knows which family is really his, though,” she replied with a scientific demeanor. David held his head down slightly in seeming thought.
“So, all this because of some old guy having a case of the hiccups?” I asked incredulously, as murmurs of disbelief rumbled through the room.
“They were very serious hiccups.”
“I’ll say… to distort the space/time continuum?” I whistled. “Damn! I should have asked you out before you scared the crap out of him!”
“Huh? Why?” She questioned, looking at me with an odd semi-smile.
“Because, anything was possible with him like that.” I shook my head in disdain.
“Hmmm.” Emily looked to be trying to suppress a smile and a blush. “We’re still here. You can pick me up tomorrow at eight. I’ll give you my address after we help these people out and find you a place to stay for the night!”
“Cool,” I replied with a broad grin.
No matter how weird, demented, freaky, or what have you it all was, I guess the day wasn’t so bad after all. At least, I hoped there’d be no further hiccups to have to deal with.
Thanks for reading and come back next week so I can read to you some more! Also, if you’re interested in supporting the cause and like to purchase this story check out the following links:
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See you all next week!
~Timothy S Purvis
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