Journey's End... Part One

Nicole yawned as she stretched, the blankets rumpled from a good night's sleep. The slim redhead slipped out of bed, her hair standing up a bit as she padded along in oversized T-shirt and panties to the bathroom.

Teeth brushed and feeling relieved Nicole headed downstairs, smiling slightly as she caught the scent of freshly brewed coffee. She walked through the living room to the kitchen, walking over to pull the curtains by the sink open and take in the day.

"Good morning," the pleasant voice came from right behind her.

"Ack," Nicole jumped up, whirling around to glare at the young woman who had appeared a foot away from her back, "I wish you wouldn't do that, Laura!"

Laura only looked amused at that, her blonde hair flowing down her back as she reminded her, "It sort of goes with the job, you know." Her old fashioned dress swirled around her as she continued on, "Besides, I like to keep in practice."

"Gee, thanks," she said, but Nicole had to smile anyway. She poured herself a cup of coffee, carrying it over to the dining table and sitting down. "Thank you for turning on the coffee pot this morning," she added as she took her first sip.

Laura walked across the little kitchen, passing right through the dining table as she settled herself cautiously into the chair, adjusting her skirts like any gentlewoman would. "You're quite welcome," she smiled happily.

Nicole smiled back, taking another long drink of her cup of coffee. If a few months ago someone had told her that she'd be sharing a house with a ghost, she wouldn't have believed a word of it. Still, here she was...

The jeep bumped and rattled as the black haired realtor continued on, "It's secluded, as you had requested. This road is the only way to get up there, and it's been wired for television, electricity and phone service." He gave her a curious glance, "I understand you're a writer?"

"Something like that," Nicole said dryly, the look on her face discouraging any further attempts at conversation..

'More like I used to be a writer,' Nicole thought to herself glumly. Since her lover had left her a few months back she had been quite thoroughly blocked, all the pleasure that she had associated with writing gone. Selling their old house had been hard, but after living there alone she had been forced to accept she couldn't write there anymore.

On a lark she had come out to this remote town for a few days, secluded in the forests of the British Columbia coast. Once a lumber town it was reinventing itself as a eco-tourist spot, and she was entranced by the peaceful aura of the place. It had everything she needed, but even if the town had been deserted, she would have tried to move there.

Returning to the town a few weeks later Nicole contacted the local realtor, having him take her around to look at the homes that were available for purchase. The first three were all nice looking places, but they didn't grab her, somehow. When he had hesitantly mentioned a house called 'Journey's End,' she was intrigued.

The jeep bounced around a curve, and she winced. "Mr. Davis, This road always been this bad?" Nicole asked him dryly.

"Pretty much," he agreed a bit sheepishly, "and call me Simon." They gradually slowed to a stop and he nodded just ahead of them, "We're here."

The house sat not far from the edge of a pretty steep drop, but far enough from it that she felt reasonably reassured. It was an turn of the century house, three stories, and had a comfortable, lived in look. A bit of paint peeled off the walls, but other than that it was in good repair.

"Not the gothic mansion I was expecting," Nicole noted as Simon looked nervous, then she smiled, "Good."

Before even going into the house itself she went around back to the cliff, standing there and gazing out at the water far bellow. She wasn't an expert, but the stone looked solid enough. Simon cleared his throat, "We had the place checked out by a geologist. Unless there's a significant tectonic event, the cliff should be fine."

"I'll have that checked myself," Nicole answered as they headed for the house. He unlocked the door, waving her in first. She looked around, the entrance way's walls all paneled wood as she took in the surprisingly pleasant scent of the place.

"I'll take you around, give you the tour," the realtor smiled. Simon showed her the spacious living room and kitchen on the first floor, the bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor and the gigantic open attic that made up the third floor.

"This place is lovely," Nicole admitted as they stood in the kitchen together, "it's spacious, very well maintained, and except for a bit of repainting on the inside and exterior it doesn't look like it needs any work." She paused, "Which makes me wonder why you haven't been able to sell it already. What's wrong with this place?"

The realtor hesitated a moment, then Simon smiled grimly, "Because it's haunted."

"Haunted," Nicole repeated dubiously.

Simon nodded to her glumly. "According to reliable witnesses the house has been haunted since at least the thirties," he explained, "she seems to appear shortly after the person moves in, and continues to appear until the person leaves."

Nicole looked out one of the kitchen windows, taking in the view, then her eyes widened. "I'll take it," she said as she turned back to him.

The realtor blinked, clearly unsure of what she said. "What?" Simon asked weakly.

"I'll take the house," Nicole said to him firmly, "I'll take my chances with the ghost." She decided not to even mention the vaguely transparent figure she had seen when she looked out the window, he was nervous enough already.

The young man returned with the paperwork, and after a bit of haggling and a short cellphone call to the current owners, she was officially the new owner of Journey's End. "I hope you'll be happy here," Simon smiled, offering her the keys.

As Nicole took them she felt an odd chill. Looking around her as casually as possible she saw a young woman standing in the kitchen they just left. Her long blonde hair flowed down her back like a cape, glowing in the sunlight, while the old fashioned dress swirled around her legs.

Meeting the girl's eyes Nicole gave her a little nod of the head. The ghost looked just a bit surprised, then she nodded regally in return. Turning, she saw that Simon had bolted and she sighed, "They don't make men like they used to."

The ghost's lips quirked upwards, then she laughed, her voice like a whisper on the breeze before she simply disappeared.

The realtor was sitting out in the jeep, Simon's face bone pale. As she walked up he smiled at her weakly, "I'm sorry." A nervous breath, "You aren't going to change your mind?"

"No, I don't think so," she said quietly. Nicole climbed in beside him, "Let's get back to town, I need to pick up my car and start making arrangements to move my stuff here."

Simon shook his head as he started up the battered jeep, "Then you're a braver man than I am." They backed up, and it almost looked like a figure was watching them from an upper window. "You might have some trouble getting movers."

"I'll manage," Nicole murmured, lost in her own thoughts. "Does the town have a newspaper archive, or a records office?"

Simon looked at her curiously, "Yes, both of them are housed in the town library."

"Point it out to me when we go by," she murmured as they went through the small town center. They both climbed out of the jeep at his realty office, and she reached out to shake his hand. "Thanks for all the help, Simon," she smiled.

"You're welcome," Simon smiled. He looked much more comfortable once they were away from the house. "If you need any help, just call," he added.

"Thanks," Nicole repeated as they went their separate ways.

The town had a fair amount of traffic as she drove, pulling into the library's small parking lot. She locked up her car, striding inside before she quickly assessed the place. She knew libraries pretty well from researching her novels, and this looked like a good one. She walked through the reference and nonfiction sections, nodding thoughtfully at the selection, then smiled at the computer terminals. Some experimentation found a on-line index of newspaper reports, and she went to work.

Nicole set the search parameters for the address of Journey's End, news stories for the last 100 years, the oldest articles first and set it to work. It took a few moments, and Nicole began to crave her favorite writing fuel, coffee, but finally the information came up.

"An accidental death there," Nicole murmured, "then a few month's later a suicide." The photo of the woman who killed herself back in 1920 was grainy, but it looked very familiar to Nicole. Except for differences in the clothes and longer hair, it was the girl she had seen up at Journey's End. She searched the article for a name, finally finding it buried near the end of the article.

"Laura Reid," Nicole said to herself softly, and printed up the pages.

To be continued...