On the way back to Moonwood, Bridget told Tom about the rumors about the Elluls and the mansion. "At least two people have committed suicide there. People in town suspect the Elluls and their friends of being Satanists."
"Oh Bridget. Who did you hear this from? Some gossipy old priest?"
"Not all of it. Besides, Father Winters is only in his thirties, I believe. He only told me about the former priest and what people had seen."
"Jesus. Young or not, priests are like old women. The Church should let them marry. As far as what people have seen, they probably saw what we saw. Melody explained that to you. They're pagans or something, not Satanists."
"According to Father Winters, there's not much difference. They're idolaters. Idolatry is a mortal sin."
Tom shook his head in disgust. "So what. It's their souls that are going to hell, not ours. Let this Father Winters save them. That's his job. We should care less."
"Oh, Tom. Sometimes you talk like an atheist. Besides, the
woman at a bookstore told me that there was a woman who committed suicide at Moonwood. After the Elluls left
the place empty when they went to live in
"Bunch of crap. People like to make up stuff about old mansions, especially if they've been empty for a while."
"Well, maybe a lot of it is simply rumors made up by people with nothing better to do. But I think we need to find out more. That's why I went to consult a psychic today."
"Christ. I should've known. Still giving my hard earned money to those phonies. What did he tell you? That we're in danger from spooks at the mansion?"
"It was a she. And she told me nothing. She had me look into her crystal ball." Bridget described the scene she had witnessed.
"You're telling me that you actually saw this?"
"Yes, as unbelievable as it seems."
"Either she hypnotized you, or there was some kind of fakery involved."
"I know I wasn't hypnotized, and I don't see how anyone could project an image like that inside a crystal ball."
Tom gave her a sideways glance, as though he thought she was losing it. "What did this psychic say about what you saw?"
"She didn't know what to make of it either. That's why she's coming to Moonwood Saturday. To find out whether evil spirits reside in the house."
"Oh, for God's sake. You invited her to the house. What's she going to charge to rid the place of devils?"
"Nothing. She only takes contributions."
"I'll bet. How is she going to root out the evil spirits?"
"With a seance."
"A seance. That tears it. I don't know what to make of you sometime, Bridget. At times you're as gullible as ... I don't know what."
"And you're a closed minded bigot. Don't judge until you meet her."
"I can't wait."
The rest of the trip back to Moonwood, the two sat in silence. Each thought that the other was being unreasonable.
* * *
When Saturday evening came around, Tom was in a better mood. He said to Bridget, "At least this seance thing should be entertaining. I wonder whether this psychic of yours does card tricks too."
"I hope that you aren't going to act the skeptic and make fun of everything."
Tom took her chin in his great fist and gazed into her eyes. "Don't worry, Hon, I won't embarrass you. I'll try to keep an open mind unless I catch this seer pulling some kind of con."
"That's all I ask."
He kissed her tenderly. "You know I love you."
She smiled. "And I love you too. When you're not being a pain in the you-know-what."
A few minutes later the buzzer for the front gate to the property went off. The Elluls had a surveillance camera set up at that location. In the monitor, Bridget saw a red Camero parked in front of the gate. She said into the microphone, "Is that you, Morgaine?"
Morgaine stuck her head out of the car window. "Yes. It's me." She waved at the camera.
Bridget pressed the button to open the gate. A short time later, the Camero roared up the driveway. Bridget and Tom waited by the open front door. As Morgaine stepped onto the front porch and into the light, Tom's mouth dropped open. "You!" he cried. He couldn't believe his eyes. The person who had plagued his dreams was approaching. He was sure it was her. The dreams had been vivid. He could not mistake that face.
"Hi Bridget," Morgaine said. She turned to Tom, "Have we met before?"
He could hardly tell her that he had been having nightmares about her for weeks. "Uh no. At first glance I thought you resembled someone I knew a long time ago. But, of course, you're not her. I'm Tom, Bridget's fiancé." He held out his hand.
"Pleased to meet you, Tom."
They brought her into the den. Bridget asked whether she would like something to drink. She named coffee, tea, wine and beer.
"I wouldn't mind a beer."
"Sam Adams okay?"
"Great. It's my favorite."
After Bridget left the room, Tom couldn't help staring at her, not only because she was a beautiful desirable woman, but because of her resemblance to the witch in his dreams. He was especially taken by her eyes which seemed to have the same hypnotic fascination for him in real life as the witch's did in his dream.
"This is a beautiful house," she said, ignoring his obvious ogling. "Are you renting it from the Ellul's?"
"No. I'm a general contractor and
carpenter. Bridget and I are staying here while I make repairs. They plan on
moving back. Have you been living in
"I set up business a couple of months
ago. I'm originally from
With a wry smile, Tom said, "Bridget said she had a vision in your crystal ball." He was waiting for Morgaine to deny it. "How is that possible?"
"The vision was not really in the
"No. Absolutely not. You claim to be a psychic. What if I told you that I dreamed of you?"
"Really? Perhaps you foresaw our meeting in your dream."
"The dreams weren't good."
"Here comes Bridget with our beer. Perhaps you would rather discuss this privately?"
"Yeah. Maybe I'll drop your place of business." Tom wondered why he said that. He didn't believe in any of that paranormal nonsense. Yet, he had to know how and why she had appeared as the witch in his dreams.
After Bridget served the beer, they chatted about the rumors about the house and about the Elluls. Tom confirmed seeing the pagan rituals.
"I wouldn't worry about that. I'm a Wiccan myself. It has absolutely nothing to do with Satanism or devil worship, believe me, regardless of what that priest said."
Tom said, "I agree with you. It's none of our business whether the Elluls want to perform pagan rituals or bay at the moon."
Bridget said, "Okay. But I'd still like to know about this house. Do you feel any evil influences, Morgaine?"
"Not exactly evil spirits, but there is some kind of presence here. I felt that the moment I walked in."
Tom rolled his eyes. He thought, I knew she'd say something like that.
"Would you like to hold that seance now? Perhaps we can contact whoever or whatever is causing these vibrations."
Morgaine told them to set up a small round table with a single candle burning in the middle of it. Tom turned off the other lights in the room, and they sat around the table. Morgaine said, "Now we must hold hands to form a circle. While I try to contact the spirit, the circle must not be broken. Please stare into the candle flame and concentrate on my words. Oh spirit of the departed who has not left this house to go to your final reward, give us a sign of your presence." She repeated the last sentence several times. A low groan emanated from the darker shadows of the room.
Tom thought, I bet she does that with ventriloquism.
Morgaine said, "Speak to us. Show yourself if you can. Tell us why you are here." She repeated the three sentences several times in a chant-like fashion.
The groan grew louder. Tom couldn't believe his eyes. A ghostly image of a woman appeared, wispy and fog like.
Morgaine said, "Who are you?"
The phantasm said, "In life I was called
"Where is your child?"
"In bondage. Free him." It sobbed long and hard, and disappeared.
Morgaine said, "The spirit has departed but will be back. She wants us to find her child. The child she was talking about must be somewhere in this house."
"Impossible," Tom said. "There's no kids here." He got up and turned on the light.
Morgaine shrugged. "Perhaps the child is in a part of the house where you have never been."
Bridget said, "But if there was a child somewhere in the house, we'd have heard it crying or something."
"If it was alive."
"You think a dead child's body might be hidden in the mansion somewhere?"
"It's a possibility. The spirit of this
Tom said, "What do we owe you?"
She stared at him in an almost coquettish way. "Nothing. If you would like to make a small contribution, drop it off at my place of business. I'm sure you and Bridget would like to discuss between yourselves what my services were worth. Goodnight. I'll find my own way out. Just open the gate when I get to the end of the driveway."
They wished her goodnight and walked to her to the door. When she was gone, Bridget turned to Tom. "Okay, my skeptical friend. You saw the ghost. Now tell me that the paranormal is not real."
Tom blushed. He still felt it was an illusion, but for the life of him, he could not figure out how it was done. "Yeah, I saw it. So what do we do about it. Are you going to call in that priest to do an exorcism?"
"I don't think he will. He sort of shrugged off what I told him about the Elluls' nighttime habits and the rumors that had to do with the paranormal. He thinks like you do. That it's all nonsense. Perhaps we should search the house and see whether a child's body is hidden somewhere."
"You can look if you like. I don't have the time. What about this Morgaine woman? What's the going rate for a house call seance these days?"
"I'll leave it up to you. I would think at least a hundred bucks."
A hundred buck, my ass. I'll give her fifty, Tom thought. "I need to hire one more guy for the outside work. I'll drop the money off Monday when I go into the village." And have a little chat with her.
* * *
Sunday mornings Tom liked to eat a big breakfast and read the newspaper. As they were sipping their coffee, Bridget asked, "Did the Elluls give you a key to the east wing?"
"Yeah. But they didn't want me to bother with it."
"Don't you think that's strange?"
"Not really. It's a big house. They probably don't want to spend the money to fix up a part of the house that they're never going to use."
"Give me the key. I'm going to look around."
"The child's body might be there."
Tom practically choked on his coffee. "Okay. They never forbid me to go into it. But leave me out of your detective work." He went to a drawer and took an old fashioned wrought iron key off of a large ring. "If you see anything that cries out for repairs, let me know, and I'll contact the Elluls."
Bridget took the key and climbed the stairs to second floor. The entrance to the east wing was at the end of the hall. After she opened the door, she was glad she had armed herself with a flashlight and broom. Enormous webs hung from the ceiling and on old furniture in the hallway, and a thick layer of dust covered everything. Before she proceeded the down passage, she swept it clean of webs. As she crept along, she opened doors and peeked into each room. Most of them were either empty or piled high with junk. One room was relatively intact as a bedroom. It had a four-poster bed and antique-looking furniture. She entered it and examined the wardrobe, which held clothes from the nineteenth century. She opened a chest. It was empty. There did not seem to be anywhere else a child's body could be hidden. She shuddered at the thought of it. Of course, a murderer might hide a child's body in an opening in the wall and plaster over it. She played her flashlight around the room. The walls were a dull green. No one section looked any different than any other. But that proved nothing.
As the light swept across the bed, Bridget thought she saw something on it. She walked over to the bed and screamed. Lying there was a mummified corpse of a woman who resembled the spirit who had appeared at the seance.
The Morgaine Series of E-books can be obtained at Renaissance Page Turner Editions On Page Turner Editions, click on Futures/Past SF/F/H and then on Fantasy. At other booksellers search on Author - Vadalma. Also available on Page Turner Editions and other booksellers, Raven Lenore, Psychic Investigator, a series featuring the character Raven Lenore from the Morgaine series.