Day 1 – 9:30 am
Martin got out of the car and breathed in deeply. "I love Scotland." He said, expelling it with a happy sigh. "It's so… wild." He stretched, reaching up high above his head and lifting his face to the sun. Last night's storm had abated, leaving everything with a fresh, clean feel to it. The sky was a clear azure blue and the sun blazed brightly.
"Stop daydreaming, Martin, and help us with this map!" Breeze and Jack had gotten out too, and had spread a map over the bonnet of the car. Martin wandered over and wrapped his arms around Breeze's waist. "I thought you said Geistkalder would be easy to find."
"I thought it would be." Breeze flicked her long chestnut hair out of her eyes as she traced their route with her finger. "So we came down here… and turned here… that means it must be somewhere about here." She stabbed the map triumphantly. Martin peered at the place she had pointed out.
"And that's Geistkalder, is it?"
Jack snorted and made a face. "Typical. Why do we always bag the jobs that are miles from anywhere?"
"Because the only other mediums willing to do them are the insane ones!" Martin folded up the map and threw it back in the car.
Jack frowned. "Does that mean you're insane?"
Jack rolled his eyes, grinning, and got back in the car. Breeze sighed and was about to slide back into the drivers seat when she noticed Martin had not moved. He was staring down the road ahead of them, his eyes narrowed and brow furrowed in thought.
"Martin? What's wrong?"
He blinked, coming out of his dream, then turned back to the car. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong."
Wheels crunched on gravel as they pulled up outside the building called Geistkalder. Jack whistled. "Wow. This place is huge!"
Even though it was mid-morning and the day was bright and clear, a dark cloud seemed to be hanging over the house like a permanent shadow. It felt chilly, unwelcoming, unloved. Martin shivered as he ran his hand over the cold stone of the fountain that stood in front of the house. It depicted an angel, knelt down beside a young boy, its hands cupped as if was pouring water into a small bowl the boy was holding. No water ran through it now however; the liquid than sat in the pool around the bottom was from last night's rain, green and slimy. The boy's face could have been full of innocence and hope once upon a time, but now it simply looked scared and lonely. The angle too had lost all its heavenly appearance, and sadness had crept across its immobile features. The stone they were made from was stained and cracked, and moss and ivy had all but swallowed up the two pitiful figures, encasing them in a shady tomb.
The house itself was the same, if not worse: a lifeless, dead place with as much warmth as a dagger in the back. At least the fountain had once been alive, even if it wasn't now, but the house looked as if it had been born in the grave.
Breeze gently slipped her hand into his. "Nervous?"
Martin gave her a sidelong look and smiled wryly. "Who? Me? Since when am I ever nervous?"
She shook her head, smiling slightly as Jack clattered about behind them, unloading their equipment. With a sigh she turned towards the front door. "I guess we'd better go introduce ourselves and apologise for being late."
The front door was a thick, fortified affair, looking as if it belonged in a medieval castle rather than some Scottish Hotel. Breeze took the heavy knocker in her hand and let it fall against the door.
A heavy, dull knock resounded, sounding much louder than it had any right too. It cut through the sounds of the bright morning – birds twittering, a soft breeze, wildlife calling to each other, – bringing with it a deep sense of foreboding.
Martin shifted uneasily from foot to foot, not liking how long it was taking the owners to answer.
"Do you think they've gone out?" Jack said hesitantly.
"I don't-" Breeze started, but she was interrupted as the door opened. Martin almost expected it to creak with Hollywood creepiness, but to his relief and slight disappointment it swung inwards soundlessly, revealing a dim, shady interior.
"Hello! We understand you need some ghost…" The words died on Breeze's lips as she realised that no one was there. The doorway and the space beyond were empty.
"Uh… hello?" Her voice echoed slightly, sounding suddenly very small. She stepped inside, looking around. "Heeeelllloooo?" No one replied. Everything was silent.
Jack entered too, but Martin remained on the doorstep, looking anxious.
"Are you coming Martin?"
"I guess." He sighed unhappily, and followed Jack. The moment he crossed the thresh-hold, a spate of angry tapings and rattling kicked up, so suddenly that Breeze shrieked and ran back from where she'd been standing by the front desk. Jack whipped out a Dictaphone that he kept in his pocket, delight spreading across his features as he recorded their first encounter with what they had come for.
Then, abruptly as they had started, the noises stopped and lest a ringing silence in their wake. Martin took a few hesitant steps forward, and when nothing happened, he joined Jack and Breeze in the centre of the chilly entrance hall.
"Somebody doesn't like us." He said, so quietly Breeze barely caught it.
Jack, however, was happy. "I caught at least half of that on tape!" He waved the Dictaphone around expressively. "This place is going to be great!"
Breeze grinned. "I hope so."
"Oh my god!" All three looked up as the cry rang out across the hall. A woman had appeared in the doorway behind the desk. She was petite; wavy dark hair cascaded over her shoulders and a pair of sweet brown eyes stared at them, wide with surprise.
"Oh my! I'm so sorry!" She said, rushing over. "I heard the sound and – oh dear oh dear! How long have you been waiting?"
"Not long." Breeze gave her a friendly smile. "I'm Breeze Thatch, this is Jack Monrow and Martin Darkthorn. I spoke to Mr. Cain on the phone about some ghosts?"
As Breeze said the word 'ghost' a tremendous crashing sound came from the room the woman had appeared from. Breeze gasped and glanced at Martin who was looking in the direction of the noise, his eye narrowed.
"Uh, I'm sorry but we don't say the 'g' word here. It tends to set them off."
"I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"It's quite alright. Just be careful." The woman held out her hand. "My name is Rosaline by the way. I'm Richard's wife."
"Nice to meet you." Breeze said as she shook her hand. "So you have a problem with some gh-spirits?"
"Yes, but come, I'll show you to your rooms first. We can talk business after."
She led them across the entrance hall and through a corridor before showing them up a set of stairs. Their rooms were on the east side of the house, looking out over the garden and hills beyond. They were richly furnished: soft drapes adorned the walls, all wooden furniture was stained a luxuriant mahogany and the beds were large and four-poster. The floor was wooden, but covered with plush rugs that were patterned with pictures of varying animals.
As Rosaline opened the door for Martin, she smiled at him, almost sympathetically. "Ignore anything you hear in here during the night. They usually stop if you don't take any notice."
Breeze and Martin were sharing a room, with a big double bed, and Jack was just opposite them in a similar set-up. Breeze dumped their bags on the bed and looked around the room as Martin and Rosaline stood by the door.
"Nice rooms." Martin said.
"Yes, I thought so too. It's a shame they don't get used very often."
"You don't get many visitors then?"
"Not as such. We've had maybe one, two groups since we opened. This place has earned a bad reputation."
Martin gave her a sidelong glance, but she didn't notice.
Breeze swept over, all smiles and sunshine, having fully checked out the room. "Wow, Rosaline! I really love what you've done with this place!"
The hotel owner grinned prettily. "I gave you one of the quieter rooms. Some of the others are nicer, but you won't get a decent night's rest in them."
Breeze opened her mouth to ask why, but at that moment a phone rang downstairs and Rosaline excused herself hurriedly.
Martin sat down on the bed with a sigh, prompting Breeze to sit down beside him and wrap her arms around his neck.
"What's up, Hun?"
Martin fidgeted nervously. "This place doesn't feel right."
How could he explain it? He'd first felt it when they drew up into the courtyard, and hadn't been able to shake it. Wherever they visited, be it on business or for other reasons, there was always a sense of life. This place just felt dead. Stone cold dead. Martin shivered. The very air felt chilly and unnaturally heavy, almost overwhelmingly so. It just felt so alien and so… vengeful. Yes, that was the word. Vengeful. Almost as if everything was holding its breath, waiting for the moment the mad axe murder to jump out and massacre everyone. But in the mean time, it made you know you were being watched.
Martin sighed and shrugged. "It doesn't matter."
Breeze studied him closely for a moment before deciding to drop the topic. She gently tugged him to his feet and hugged him. "So you think we'll find something good here?"
Martin shrugged again, looking at the floor.
Suddenly he found Breeze pulling his mouth into a pathetic attempt at a smile. "Turn that frown upside down, Hun! It might never happen, you know!"
"Mmph!" Martin couldn't help but laugh as she pulled his mouth even wider. He flapped her away, chuckling. "Alright, alright, I get the message! I'll smile!"
"Good!" Breeze pecked him on the cheek and skipped out of the room.
Martin let the smile fade from his face and glanced around the room. He wasn't sure he was going to like this place.
"Are you coming?" Breeze poked her head around the door.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming."
Jack was waiting for them in the corridor, grinning like a madman with his camera clutched in one hand and notepad in the other. He was hopping from foot to foot, making impatient little noises and looking pointedly at his watch.
"C'mon! We've got some ghosts to interview!"
Breeze snorted, punching his shoulder. "Shut up, Jack."
"Heeeey! That huuuurt!"
"Quit whining you big wussy."
"Maaartiiine! She's being mean!"
Martin chuckled and pulled Breeze away and into his arms. "Who's being mean now?"
She squealed and fought to get away, pounding his chest playfully and plucking at his hands. "Let go you great big lump!" Martin didn't and held her tightly, laughing as she struggled.
Someone coughed politely. Rosaline stood at the end of the corridor, watching them with barely concealed amusement. Martin kept his arm firmly around Breeze's waist, still grinning, but let the rest of her free.
"Sorry to keep you waiting." Rosaline said. "Shall I show you around then? My husband will be waiting for us downstairs."
"Yes, yes… fine. I'll tell her. Goodbye." A man was standing by the front desk, a toddler balanced on one hip as Martin, Jack and Breeze followed Rosaline down the stairs. He put the phone down, glancing up at them. "Rosy, that was your mother. She wants you to know that they're going up to Glencliff for a few days so if you phone her use their mobile number."
"Ma!" The little kid squeaked, reaching out to Rosaline with small, podgy hands. She laughed, taking him in her arms and bouncing him up and down. "Thanks Rich. This is Martin, Breeze and Jack by the way."
Richard shook their hands warmly, his eyes glinting. "Ah, yes, yes, the mediums. Well, I hope you can fix our little problem. We've tried everything, and nothing worked. We thought it was time to call in the professionals."
"We'll try our best." Martin said, returning the shake with a small smile. "So then, down to business?"
"Alright then." Richard grinned at them, then turned to Rosaline. "Could you go make our guests some drinks? I'll take Damien."
"Da!" The boy screeched in delight as he was handed back to his father. "Da! Choo-choo!"
"Ssh now Damien. Daddy will play choo-choo later." He smiled at them apologetically. "Sorry, he's terribly noisy."
"It's alright. He's so cute. How old is he?" Breeze tickled Damien under the chin, electing a happy little gurgle from him.
"He was three in February." Richard's smiled faded. "Just before we moved here."
Jack and Breeze glanced at each other but Martin furrowed his brow and kept looking strait at Richard. "And the noises started when?"
"The very first night, although I expect it went on even when we weren't here."
Martin made a mental note of this. "And do they only come out at night? Any particular times? Anything that sets them off?"
"Well, er… they're more active at night. The "g" Words sets them off as well. But poor Rosaline gets it worst."
"What do you mean by that?"
"They do things, to her, around her. Pull her hair, scratch her, and throw things at her. It always gets worse when she's around."
"We have our focus then." Martin muttered.
Richard frowned this time. "A what?"
"A focus. Someone who the entities focus their attention on. Usually it's a female, and usually a teenager, but anyone will do. Is there anywhere in the house that they're particularly active?"
"A few places. Do you want a tour?"
Martin, Breeze and Jack nodded in mutual agreement, then Breeze stepped forward. "If it's alright, could you tell us a little about the history of the house first? It's easier to go in prepared."
"Of course, of course. We haven't found out a lot. No one's really willing to talk about what happened here. Let's go sit in the living room. Damien can play then."
The living room, although as well furnished as the rest of the house, had a much more cosy feel to it. There was a fire blazing merrily in a small hearth. It gave off a soft orange glow; giving the room a warm, snug feeling. Richard put Damien down on a play mat and sat in a chair. Damien gurgled and promptly put a building block in his mouth.
"Oh, Damien, don't do that!" Rosaline appeared in the doorway, carrying a tray of drinks. She shoved them in her husband's hands and pulled the slobbery brick from Damien's mouth. "Now now, honey! What have I told you about putting things in your mouth, you silly little boy!"
Jack smiled as he sat down beside Breeze, accepting a cup of tea from Richard. "My little brother used to be like that. He'd put anything in his mouth."
"We're hoping he'll grow out of it." Said Rosaline as she replaced the block with a small fluffy bear.
"He should do." Jack flipped opened his notebook and sat with his pen poised above the page. "So what do you know about Geistkalder?"
"As I said, not much. Only what we learned from the estate agent. Apparently there was a fire here. I think it was something like 1796. About two hundred and ten years ago. I think. Anyway, despite that, most of the original house was left un-damaged. The owners of the time were all killed, and the house remained empty until Aydon Estates picked it up and tried to sell it. We're the first owners since the fire."
Jack scribbled this all down in his own peculiar shorthand as Breeze asked another question.
"Do you know who the previous owners were?"
"We're not entirely sure. All the records in the archives mysteriously disappeared."
"They did?" Jack looked up in surprise.
"Yes. We tried looking all over the place but anything related to Geistkalder had either been lost or destroyed, yet no body new why."
Damien grumbled something and got to his feet, bumbling across the floor to where Martin was sitting, looking a little distracted. He tugged on Martin's trouser leg, staring up at him with serious blue eyes, his cornflower-yellow hair slightly tousled. "Robin likes you." His small little voice suddenly managed to create a vacuum of silence. Richard paused mid-sentence and looked at his son.
"What was that, Damien?"
"Robin. She likes him." He sat on the floor at Martin's feet and tried to put Jack's camera in his mouth.
Martin gently pulled the camera away and sat the toddler on his lap with an odd expression on his face. "Has Robin said anything to you, Damien?"
Damien didn't answer, his eyes focused on something slightly to the left of the fire. Martin followed his gaze, and his eyes opened wide in surprise. Breeze, Jack, Richard and Rosaline spun around.
There was nothing there.
"What?" Rosaline cast her gaze about, trying to find something, anything. "What are you looking at?"
Breeze shushed her gently and watched Martin. His eyes had a slightly glazed look about them and he was intent on the same spot Damien was.
He opened his mouth, and for a moment no sound came out, then he breathed quietly, "Robin."
He cocked his head to one side, as if listening to something, then beckoned Breeze over. "Robin March. Check it up." Breeze scribbled it down obediently. A slight frown creased Martin's face. "Oh, what? Yes, yes, they own the house now. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"
Richard and Rosaline looked at each other. Jack caught their look and winked at them. "Don't worry." He whispered. "I know he looks insane talking to thin air like that, but trust him, okay?"
"So, Robin. That is you? Yes. You seem sad. What's the matter?" Martin seemed to listen intensely for a while. "Oh Robin, I'm sorry. Was he ever caught?"
He glanced at Breeze who was sat tapping her pen against her pad and watching him, and then turned back the empty space. "Are you the only one here? Or are there others that are causing this chaos?"
He nodded, listening again. "Okay, thank you very much, Miss March. We'll try to help you."
Rosaline shivered as the temperature in the room dipped slightly, then returned to normal. Martin sat back in his chair with a heavy sigh. "She's gone."
"What did she say?"
Martin rubbed the bridge of his nose. "She was… sad. Very sad and in pain. She said she'd lived and worked here as a maid."
"She didn't say. It must have been only a little while before the fire though. She told me that there was a man… I think she said Charles or Charlie or something, but he stayed here for a while. He seemed to be the source of her pain, although she didn't say why. But he apparently got what was coming to him."
Rosaline frowned. "What do you mean?"
"She seemed to think that he burned to death, probably in the fire that you mentioned, Richard."
"Urgh, what a horrible way to die: burning to death!" Rosaline made a face and scooped Damien into her arms. "What did he do to deserve that?"
"I don't know." Martin said with a shrug. "I think I'll come back and talk with Miss March later. First we'll see what the others have to say. I don't think Robin moves around much, so the all this trouble probably isn't her. She struck me as a rather sweet and innocent soul."
"Did she say who the others were?" Jack hefted his camera and fiddled with a few buttons.
"No. Only that they were angry, and that this Charlie/Charles person was still around." He turned to Rosaline and Richard. "Would you mind showing us the rest of the house? I think we'll need to do some more investigations."