"Paranormal Adventures"

Chapter 1
A New England Haunting

By Writingfundimension

The Bellingham Estate
Nobleboro, Maine 1922 

The old woman's screams sent a jolt of pleasure rushing through him as he assaulted her fragile body. Charles Bellingham swiped a finger through the blood oozing from one of the cuts made with his hunting knife and brought it to his lips. His whole body vibrated with anticipation, but the taste proved disappointing. He'd butchered countless animals in his time. This woman's blood tasted no different than the other worthless creatures he dispatched.

Charles enjoyed torturing helpless creatures. For years he'd kept his hobby secret, but all that changed when he met Anton. Of late, he struggled with memories breaking through... memories of the two of them lying in a star-lit field, pleasuring each other following sadistic blood rituals honoring their supreme master, Woden. The memories confused and threatened his upper-crust New England life and he hated them.  

Heat rushed through his body. Focus! 
Looking down on the old woman barely clinging to life, he brought his face close to hers. The smell of urine mixed with blood rising from his wife's maid disgusted him. "I know ways to set your nerves on fire and make you beg to die," he roared, "now, tell me where my wife meets that bastard Frenchman and I'll consider sparing your life."

Margarethe turned her face and spat in his direction. "T... tell... nothing, diable," she croaked.

Charles felt the surge of a hot brand of rage. He raised his arms and slammed his fists into her ribcage. Feeling the bones collapse, he immediately regretted losing control. Grabbing her wrist, he pressed down and found a weak pulse. Red foam bubbled from between her teeth, forming around her lips. Gauging he had mere minutes to achieve his goal, Charles gripped the granite altar and searched his mind for a plan. He jerked upright when Margarethe's eyes fluttered open. As a thin pall spread across her features, the maid addressed a presence he could not see, but whose identity he surmised.

"The pain," Margarethe gasped. "Comme C'est terrible..."  Twisting her face away from Charles, she whispered, "G...get...a...away, Madame..." Charles jerked sideways when her torso shot up and her arms opened wide. "Me're de Dieu, take me home." Falling back, she breathed her last. Quarter-sized bright lights, appearing out of nowhere, formed a bright circlet around Margarethe's face and winked out leaving Charles to deal with the fact the petite French Maid's death thwarted his evil plans.

Charles studied Margarethe's ruined from and resigned himself to this knot in the smooth line of his expectations. Yet, he trusted his innate ability to get what he wanted... always. Good riddance, you traitorous bitch, he thought. 

Getting to work, he wrapped her body in tarpaulin, used a shovel to force it into a hole where his mansion's original foundation crumbled. Then, he removed the surgeon's garment he'd procured and stuffed that in as well. 

Stepping back to the granite slab, he decided not to scrub it clean and, instead, let the blood of this latest sacrifice blend with all the rest forming a pattern of interlocking depravity. He examined the French cuffs of his shirt for any blood drops and, seeing none, extracted a folded white triangle from his pocket. He wiped the moisture from his forehead, then brushed away the dust and debris from his pants.His gaze darted in the direction of scuttling sounds. A line of rats moved in the direction of their next meal. "The Lord of Death be praised," he intoned.

Using a sheepskin cloth to avoid scarring their pure silver finish, Charles cleaned the gore from his tools and replaced them with infinite care. Satisfied he erased all signs of the night's business, he grabbed a torch from its position on the wall and ascended the staircase to his private chamber.


Over the course of the next few days, Charles completed his murderous plans with a manic zeal. He'd no doubt he would succeed; and, in the confusion afterwards, flee to his father's estate in England. 

His ultimate vengeance launched with a dinner party on a warm, summer evening in July. The day dawned fresh with clear blue skies. He managed a few hours of sleep when his fevered mind would allow it, and through the long day, he kept to his private quarters. Now, as he put the final touches on his dinner attire -- a black dinner jacket over a single-breasted silver waistcoat -- he glanced at the hunting knife in its velvet case.

Charles picked it up to stroke its shiny surface, and imagined thrusting it deep into the body of his worthless wife. As he played the scene through his mind, sexual arousal mounted, but the sound of a bell chime signalling the dinner hour brought him back to the moment. He leaned against the dresser to gather himself, and then slid the knife out of sight. 

Everything changes tonight. In time, I will have a beautiful new wife and a son to carry on the Bellingham dynasty.

Stepping to a full-length mirror, Charles admired his taut, muscular body. He felt an uncharacteristic pounding of his heart as he approached the door of his wife's adjoining suite. Without knocking, he entered the room hoping to catch her in a state of undress. The feel of her skin was something he ached for despite her betrayal with another man. I want you more than ever, but I will see you dead before another man can claim you.

Charles' lips formed a sneering imitation of a smile as he crossed to where she sat at the mahogany vanity table, applying the pancake make-up that was all the rage.  

"Shall we go down to dinner, darling? Cook has prepared your favorite dish at my request: Rabbit, Hunter Style. I'm quite proud to say I snared and skinned the rabbits myself. Accompanying the food will be several of my private reserve red Bordeauxs which should dazzle our dinner guests, particularly that young Frenchman staying across the lake." 

"I'm not feeling well. Can't I be excused this once?" Catherine kept her eyes averted as she spoke. "I'm worried something terrible has happened to Margarethe. It's not like her to leave without telling someone."  

Something terrible has, indeed, happened to her. Very soon it will be your turn. 

From his position behind and above her, Charles placed his hands on his wife's shoulders and dug his fingers into the soft bones underneath until he felt her tremble and heard her moan. "That's quite impossible! You will accompany me this evening, and play the part of the perfect hostess. I want every man in the room to envy my most precious possession: a wife both beautiful and virtuous.


Mid-Atlantic Paranormal Team's headquarters in Bangor, Maine.  
February, 2010

"I've got an interesting case lined up for us, guys. It's the old Bellingham estate in Nobleboro.  It's practically in our backyard, so I've told the client we'll get there as soon as we can all clear our schedules."  The speaker was Emma Barlow, an attractive blonde who favored expensive outerwear from North Face and color-coordinated running shoes.

"Sweet," exclaimed Luke, the youngest member of the team. "I've dreamed of getting into that place. A group of investigators I know came down from New York to check it out. When I called to find out how it went, the team leader was reluctant to discuss the case. I found out later they never made it through the night.  After just two hours in the place, they packed up their equipment and took off." 

Emma folded her arms across her chest and shot Luke a hard look. He flushed and sat back in his chair. "Sorry Emma. Go ahead."

"The place has been undergoing extensive remodeling with plans to make it into a corporate retreat. The glitch is they've been unable to keep a complete construction crew. Workers have been experiencing freak accidents and others have simply walked out without giving any explanation. The new owner sounded pretty desperate on the phone." 

She turned her attention to the petite brunette seated across the table. LIke the other members of the team, Emma held trance medium, Mia Langley, in high regard for her unique ability to help them understand and navigate the often dangerous world of the restless dead.

"Picking up anything about the place, Mia?" 

"I'll tune in," Mia responded. She closed her eyes and slumped in her chair. The others present recognized that she'd gone into a light trance state in order to remote view the location. When she looked up, her eyes were dark with worry. "There's some seriously dark energy at Bellingham Manor; but what I'm picking up could be shaded by the little bit of history I know about it. If I'm remembering right, there was a double homicide and a maid who disappeared and is presumed to be Charlies Bellingham's third victim."

"That's correct. The murders took place in 1922, and the house remained empty until being bought by a businessman from Camden, Maine, in the 1950's. He moved his family out of the house within months of occupying it, claiming the house was haunted by something of 'pure evil'  that threatened the safety of his family.  He refused to put it on the market; but, with his death, his heirs put it up for sale.  We'll be dealing, in part, with the estate's caretaker, who is being kept on retainer for the duration of the remodeling project."

"If everyone can work it out, I vote we get this case rolling by going to Nobleboro this weekend,"  Luke suggested.

"Hold up, Luke," Mia cautioned. "I agree we need to get there soon - this weekend works for me. My only concern is that we won't have time to dig into the available archives that could provide essential details. Interviewing the caretaker has to be our priority, especially if he knew any of the principals involved in the homicides."

"That would make him kind of old to be running a large estate," Luke remarked. "It'd be a bonus if he has anything  personal to add."

Emma closed her laptop and stood up. "I'll contact Mike today; and if he's good to go, I'll let the client know we'll be there on Saturday afternoon."

"Great," Luke said. "All this talk about ghosts has made me hungry." He cocked an eyebrow and turned hopeful, granite-gray eyes in Emma's direction. "Up for some pizza?"  

She stowed her laptop in its case and looked up. "You're always hungry for pizza."

"Pretty paleese..."

Emma laughed. "Okay, you pest, but I'm not having any pizza. You know I've got to stick to my protein diet in order to be ready for competition."


After the others departed, Mia sat very still in her chair. Throughout the entire conversation, a female spirit stood behind Emma, staring at Mia from a face that looked like a jigsaw puzzle put together by a blind man. What was left of her sleeping gown hung from one shoulder. Her eyes were deep-set and held a palpable sorrow. She extended her hands outward, palms up. Mia could see broken fingernails and congealed blood covering most of her pale flesh.  

"I can't promise I'll find you justice. But I'll do my best to help you find peace," Mia whispered.

The specter brought her hands to her heart, nodded and disappeared. 




MPS IS A FICTIONAL ORGANIZATION. Though the events are from my imagination, as a paranormal investigator in real life I'll be weaving in my own experiences.

Definition of Terms:

Bordeaux Wine: Any wine that comes from the Bordeaux region of France. The wines range from 'table wines' to prestigious, highly sought bottles. I am referring to the latter.
Comme C'est Terrible: It was terrible (fr)
Diable: Devil
Haunted: Inhabited by a ghost.
Poltergeist: A noisy, mischievous ghost.
Paranormal: Not scientifically explainable.
Remote View: The ability to bi-locate your inner vision.
Trance Medium: Someone who has the ability to communicate directly with deceased persons and, at times, allow the spirits to use their body to communicate.

Thank you much, bretislav, for the use of your wonderful artwork.

Chapter 2
Bellingham Manor

By Writingfundimension

Current Chapter:  The  Maine Paranormal Society's members begin their investigation of the notoriously haunted Bellingham Manor. 


Bangor, Maine
February, 2010
7:00 A.M.

Headquartered in a revitalized warehouse district in the west end of town, Maine Paranormal Society rented space between a framing gallery and a dog grooming salon. All three businesses shared a storefront turquoise canopy, though the signage for MPS was low-key. It was very rare for them to have any walk-in business. In fact, the preferred initial contact was by telephone or inquiries through their website.

Mike Penrod, who'd been absent at the previous day's meeting, took one of two parking spots allotted for their business and entered through the back door. He wasn't surprised to see Emma emerging from the break room as he'd parked next to her Corolla.

“Good morning. I'd love a cup of that,” he said, pointing at her coffee cup. "Did you make extra?”

“We have a Keurig now, remember?"

“Right. I'd completely forgotten. I'm used to a pot sitting all day on a burner. I like the single serving style a lot better. Everyone gets to make their own choice. Ever find out who the mysterious donor was?”

Emma grinned and her eyes twinkled. “I have my suspicions, but I'm not saying."

They turned as the front door opened, and a gust of arctic air blew in through the opening. Luke stomped the snow off his boots, removed his coat and hat and placed them on the rack next to the entrance.

“Mia's right behind me. I saw her parking her CRV down the street. I had to circle a couple of times myself to find a spot close by. The people dropping off their dogs take all the spaces in front of the salon so their mutts won't have to get their paws dirty,” he groused. “I wish they'd just conduct their business without adding on fifteen minutes of visiting with the owner.”

As if on cue, the door opened and Mia stepped inside, pushing it shut with her heel. A rose-hued scarf circled her collar and shielded the lower half of her face from the cold.  Under her arm was a thermos, no doubt filled with her special-blend herbal tea.

Dispatching her outerwear, Mia faced the others with wary eyes. Mike noted her puffy eyelids and gloomy demeanor.

“Rough night?"

“Yes, very bad.” She set her thermos on the table and pulled out a chair to sit. “I only managed a few hours of sleep. My room was like an icebox, even with a heating pad and three blankets. Worse was the smell of a cigar. It actually made me nauseous.” 

She twisted a strand of hair around her finger. “At one point, just as I was finally dropping off to sleep, in my mind's eye there was a hunched black figure shoveling dirt into a hole in the ground. The vision only lasted a few seconds, and the figure was hazy... like it was cloaking itself against my seeing it." 

"Man, I'm glad I don't have your psychic abilities, Mia," Luke interjected. "Think your experiences are connected to the case?"

"I've no doubt they are. I don't need to tell you, a dramatic temperature drop along with mysterious smells are signs of discarnate entities looking for a physical energy source. Let's hope the history we've dug up on the case will shed some light on what's going on."

Mike looked to where Emma was leaning against the wall. “After our discussion last night, what else have you discovered?"

“Plenty. There's no doubt in my mind that if any place is ripe for a haunting, it's Bellingham Manor.” She made a point of checking her watch. “In the interest of saving time, why don't I review the file during our drive to Nobleboro?”

“Good idea,” Mike agreed. “Let's pack up and get on the road.”

He took the lead when it came to packing up the van. Having purchased and donated most of the up-to-date equipment available for paranormal investigating -- EVP, Night Vision Goggles, Thermal Imaging Camera -- he preferred to stow the more delicate equipment himself. The other three packed what they'd individually need, including their laptops. In less than twenty minutes' time they were ready to go.


The night brought four additional inches of snow to Bangor and the temperature hovered in the teens. Due to the early hour, some of the streets still needed plowing, but arrangements had been made to meet Jenkins Porter, the caretaker, by 10 A.M. Mike, the van's driver, was anxious to leave plenty of time to make the ninety mile trip safely.

He was relieved on reaching I-95 to find the salting trucks had been through and the expressway was clear. Since traffic was light, he set the van on cruise control and allowed his hands to relax on the steering wheel. 

"Emma, this would be a good time to share your report. In another half hour, I'll have to be watching for our first exit sign."

Mike relied on the twenty-year-old's keen instincts when it came to researching background on their cases. He'd found her information reliable and admired her ability to encourage the confidence of their clients. He knew well the tendency for victims of hauntings to feel both shame and fear of being judged delusional.

"Brunswick Financial, our client, reports that the carpenters involved in the remodeling of the mansion are mostly local fellows. So there is a possibility of  bias due to long-standing rumors about the place being haunted," Emma began.

"That's always something we have to seriously consider in these types of investigations," Mike conceded. "An abandoned estate with a scandalous past makes the perfect backdrop for ghost stories."  

"Speaking of a scandalous past, what can you tell us about the double homicide that took place there in the 1920's," interjected Luke. “I've only read a little bit online but the gist I'm getting is that it was a love triangle gone bad."

Emma cocked an eyebrow. "You sure have a talent for understatement, Luke. I'd say two dead bodies, a missing maid and a murderer who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth constitutes a love triangle gone seriously bad."

Mia, who'd been subdued since leaving Bangor, spoke up, "Did you say the husband disappeared?"

"Yes, they found a steamer trunk containing his clothes, a single ticket for a ship bound for England and $50k in cash - a very hefty sum of money by today's standards. Deepening the mystery is the fact there were no sightings of Charles in the weeks that followed or any indication he'd followed through with his plan to sail for England.”

She continued, "I got the best information from the archives of the Kennebec Journal out of Augusta, Maine. The story was shocking due to the violent nature of the deaths. The newspaper, no doubt sniffing a good story and a chance to boost subscriptions, took an interest. They sent Claude Fillmore, one of their seasoned reporters, to check out the story." 

Shifting the file's pages, she marked the spot with her finger and met Mike's eyes in the rear view mirror. “I've taken the liberty of paraphrasing Claude's story to give a general picture of what took place.”

“Good. We can always go back and dig deeper if we need to,” Mike responded.

Emma returned to the page. “I'm quoting the reporter now: 'The bodies of Catherine and Phillipe were found in a blood-soaked bed inside a small lakeside cottage on the Estate. The female victim's head had been nearly severed from her torso by the vicious slitting of her throat. Both victims suffered massive trauma about the head and multiple stab wounds. Though the police were reluctant to discuss the details, this reporter has it on good authority that Dacault was castrated, most likely while still alive."

Mia gasped, and Emma reached across to touch her hand. “You okay?

“Um... yes... please continue."

“The sheriff investigating the case told Fillmore that he felt the murders were committed by someone under 'demonic influences' due to their barbaric nature. A sad postscript to the story,” she added, “is the rumor that the autopsy revealed Catherine Bellingham was four months pregnant." 

The gravity of the situation weighed heavy on Mike. It's one thing to reason with an adult ghost, but something entirely different with an infant. How do you make them understand what you are trying to communicate? No doubt Mia is wondering the same thing. He glanced to where she sat in silence, staring at the back of his seat.

"Luke, I'm going to need your help to maneuver the next sixty miles. We have a series of exits and turns to make.” Mike said. “Why don't we all separately process what we've just heard and piece things together after our meeting with Jenkins Porter."

"I agree, plus I could use a short nap after last night," Mia replied. 

Mike observed Mia clasp the gold cross resting on her chest and lean back, with her eyes closed. I'm guessing what you're really planning is to make contact with Catherine Bellingham's spirit. In your weakened physical state, that could be dangerous.

Mike turned his attention to the road. He knew advising caution would go unheeded by his friend. With the mention of a murdered child, Mia wouldn't rest until mother and child crossed to the other side.


By 9:30 A.M., the van was making its way up the rutted, unpaved road leading to the estate which included fifty acres of hardwoods and evergreens. 

"This place must be beautiful in the fall with all these hardwood trees," noted Luke.

"Beautiful and sad," Mia added. "I think that may be our caretaker up ahead. My god, look at that animal with him, it looks like a small horse." 

The man walking toward them was dressed for the inclement weather. At his side was an untethered, graceful hound. As his family owned and boarded large breed dogs, Mike recognized what it was right off. "That's a Scottish deerhound. Pretty rare dog."  

Rolling down the driver's window, he asked the man, "Are you Jenkins Porter?"

"I am," came the reply from deep inside the man's hood. 

When he offered no more information, Mike persisted, "We're the team of investigators Brunswick Financial hired to debunk, or prove, paranormal claims centered around the Manor house. It's our understanding that you've resided here for a number of years and might be able to fill in some of the details of what's been happening here." 

The man leaned in close enough for Mike to smell the liquor on his breath. "If it were up to me, you people wouldn't be allowed to step foot inside the place. But it ain't up to me." The dog growled in response to his master's tone of voice. "Follow me up the road and you'll see my cottage just beyond the gate."  

Mike's concentrated effort to navigate the difficult terrain was interrupted by Luke.

"I think we can consider this guy a hostile witness. We're probably wasting our time interviewing him. Why don't we go directly to the manor and start investigating now since we have the owner's permission?" 

"Mia, you've said it's important that we talk to the caretaker," Mike responded. "Do you still feel that way?" 

"More than ever. That man has much to answer for, and I sense he's being manipulated by some of the energies still present here."

As Mike pulled the van to a stop in front of a decrepit Victorian-style cottage, he announced, “That's our plan then. Everyone, stay on your toes."  



Author Notes Chaper 1: Bellingham Manor, on the coast of Maine was the scene of the double murder of Catherine Bellingham and her lover, Phillipe Mansaur by her husband, Edward, in the 1920's. The estate has been purchased and is currently undergoing extensive remodeling. Poltergeist activity has been causing problems at the Manor; and our Team has been asked to conduct an investigation into the paranormal activities being reported.

Maine Paranormal Society Members:

Emma Barlow: Team historian and college sophomore.
Luke Chadwick: Tech Manager and college senior.
Mia Langley: Professional Psychic/Medium. Co-founder of M.A.P.T.
Mike Penrod: Team founder and leader.
Jenkins Porter: Bellingham Estate caretaker.

Artwork courtesy of Garygb. Thank you!

Mia Langley's experiences early in the chapter, along with her previous vision of a blood covered old woman, are in the realm of psychic phenomenon: mysterious odors, and very cold rooms.
Team Members: Mia Langley, Mike Porter, Emma Barlow and Luke Carpenter.

Remote Viewing: The ability to be project your mind into places and scenes in the past or future.
Gist: The main point.
Haunted: Inhabited by a ghost.
Poltergeist: A noisy, mischievous ghost.
Paranormal: Beyond normal appearances.
$50k: $50,000.00.
Cloaking: Hiding from view.
Psychic: A person sensitive to non-physical forces.

Artwork: Four Arches by DonFofo. Thank you!

Chapter 3
The Puppet Master

By Writingfundimension


The man leaned in close enough for Mike to smell the liquor on his breath. "If it were up to me, you people wouldn't be allowed to step a foot inside the place. But it ain't up to me." The dog growled in response to its master's tone of voice. "Follow me up the road and you'll see my cottage just beyond the gate."

Mike's concentrated effort to navigate the difficult terrain was interrupted by Luke.

"I think we can consider this guy a hostile witness. We're probably wasting our time interviewing him. Why don't we go directly to the manor and start investigating now since we have the owner's permission?"

"Mia, you've said it's important that we talk to the caretaker," Mike responded. "Do you still feel that way?"

"More than ever. That man has much to answer for, and I sense he's being manipulated by some of the energies still present here."

As Mike pulled the van to a stop in front of the decrepit Victorian-style cottage, he announced, "That's our plan then. Everyone, stay on your toes."



Bellingham Estate
February, 2010


Luke was the first one out of the van after it came to a stop in front of Jenkins Porter's cottage. He stepped to where the caretaker waited, taking in the building behind him which looked as weather-beaten as the old man's face. The roof was in dire need of repair and the exterior paint so faded, he could only guess at the original color.

Either this guy's on retainer and hasn't seen a check in a while or he puts his money somewhere else... like down his throat.

Jenkins Porter's dog remained at his side. A low growl came from deep in its belly, but Luke refused to back off. You don't scare me, big fellah. I've been studying Aikido since I was ten. Ignoring the dog's reaction and the angry looks directed at him by the caretaker, he leaned on the doorjamb and watched the man fumble with his keys.

Making eye contact with Mike, he wasn't surprised to see him frowning. In the past, the team's leader had taken him aside and warned of the inherent danger in provoking both humans and spirits. “Luke, it's just a matter of time before you run into something both evil and more powerful than you. I've been there, dude, and things can get ugly really fast." 

Luke's response had been to laugh it off. “It hasn't happened to me yet. You know I get the best EVP's of anyone on the team because I do what it takes to get the spirits to respond to me. Why fix something that ain't broke?" 

The caretaker finally got the door open and his dog rushed through first. The four investigators followed with Jenkins Porter entering last. The animal sat on a white fur rug in front of a fieldstone fireplace where a blazing fire cast heat into the center of the room. Luke looked to where the dog stared and said, “Holy shit, is that who I think it is?”

Above the mantle was an ornately framed portrait of a man wearing a burgundy smoking jacket and a white ascot. The artist kept the background simple, choosing to focus on the hawkish features and hooded, deep-blue eyes of his subject. They seemed to bore their way into Luke's soul. The hair on his arms rose in reaction to the sense of unease this imagined intimacy created. 

“I remember seeing that painting in police photos taken during the investigation of the murders of Catherine Bellingham and Phillipe Mansaur,” he heard Emma say. “It's a portrait of Charles Bellingham, the man who murdered them, isn't it?" Luke glanced to where she stood, noting her rigid features and the hard-eyed stare she gave the caretaker.

"Yes... not that it's any damned business of yours," Jenkins Porter replied. "I've been allowed certain items from the manor, and I have a piece of paper proving it."

“Why would you want the portrait of a brutal murderer in a prominent position in your house?" She pointed to the remains of three black pillar candles. “It looks like a shrine, for heaven's sake!”

Turning its head, the dog snapped its jaws. The sound of its teeth echoed in the small space. Emma stepped closer to Mike and said, “That dog should be muzzled. It's dangerously territorial.”

The caretaker flushed a deep red. “Brody wouldn't harm a flea. He senses you people are here to make trouble for me and he's just reactin' to that.”


Mike decided it was time to take charge of the situation. He closed in on where Jenkins Porter rested his leg on the granite base of the fireplace and waited for a signal the man was listening. Jenkins Porter raised his eyes, stopping at the height of Mike's chin.

"We've been hired to investigate the paranormal happenings at this estate by your employers, Mr. Porter. It's our understanding you've been advised to cooperate fully with our investigation, including answering any and all questions we feel important to the case." 

"Emma, have you got your digital recorder turned on?" Mike said over his shoulder.

Jenkins Porter's voice rose in shrill objection. "You've no right to record what I say. I agreed to answer questions, nothing more; and I ain't sayin' another word until you turn that thing off!" Punctuating the outburst, a loud clattering sound came from the adjoining room. 

Luke, who was closest to the sound, went looking for its source. Lying in the middle of the kitchen floor was a fireplace poker. He took it into the seating area to show it to the others, and all eyes turned towards the caretaker who'd not moved from his spot. 

"Used to these sorts of happenings are you, Porter? You didn't react at all just now," Mike observed.

"If you mean the way my special friend takes care of me, then yes, I am, and you'd better be on your best manners when he's around."

"Are you referring to Charles Bellingham?" Mike asked. The caretaker's response took him by surprise: his head snapped back and his torso twitched beneath his shirt. He fell back against the wall. Grabbing his head, he pulled at the roots of his hair as if he was trying to eject invading insects."Get out before I make you sorry you ever set foot on my property,” he screamed.

Mike was trying to figure out what to do when he heard Mia's request. “Help me get him into his bed in the back room there, will you?"

They each took a side, pulled him to his feet and guided him toward the bedroom. He collapsed across the bed and closed his eyes. The hound, who'd followed the three into the room, sprawled at his feet, laid his head on his paw and expelled a loud sigh.

Leaning over the prostrate man, Mike passed a hand over his mouth. He looked to where Mia stood nearby and said, “He's breathing. Looks like he's passed out. Question is, was it from alcohol or something else?”

Regrouping in the seating area, Mike made a decision on behalf of the group. “I think we'd best get the keys we need for the estate and explore on our own. Emma's gotten some good anecdotal accounts of the paranormal events here. Let's work from those. We won't get much help from Porter at this point.”

Mia agreed. “If this is a demonic episode, and I suspect it is, he'll have no recall at all when he wakes up.”

"Jeez, that was creepy as hell," Emma interjected. "Did you notice how his lips twisted into that horrible smile? And that voice - human but also something else. I don't mind admitting that little scene made my blood go cold.”

"Is there anything we can do to help him, Mia?" Mike continued.

"Probably not. It would take a willingness to be free of the possessing spirit. It appears to me that he's a conduit for Charles Bellingham's energy, allowing him to manifest poltergeist phenomenon like the demonstration with the poker.”

Mike turned to Luke. “Looks like you were right in your assessment that Jenkins Porter will be of little help in this investigation.”

Luke grinned. "I'm also thinking we haven't even reached the main house yet, and already we're experiencing some serious shit. This could be one helluva rollercoaster ride, guys." 



Author Notes Members of the Maine Paranormal Society:
Emma Barlow, Luke Chadwick, Mia Langley and Mike Penrod.
Jenkins Porter: Caretaker of the Bellingham Estate.


Ascot: A broad neck scarf that is looped under the chin.
Aikido: A form of martial arts defense.
EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomenon is hearing something on a recorder (usually hand-held digital type) that could not be heard in real time. Literally a ghost's words.
Poltergeist: A noisy, mischievous ghost.
Possession: The taking over of a human being by a demonic entity.

Thanks so much, EFFfel, for the delightfully creepy picture.

Chapter 4
First Blood

By Writingfundimension

The team arrived at the Bellingham Estate -- scene of a notorious double murder. They were led to believe the caretaker, Jenkins Porter, would be of assistance in their investigation. During their first interview with the man, he was extremely hostile and appeared to be under demonic influence. The team members believe that spirit to be Charles Bellingham. 


Mike closed the fireplace doors after tamping down the logs. He avoided further eye contact with the portrait of the murderer, Charles Bellingham. Rounding the corner for a last look into the room where Jenkins Porter lay, he was struck by the man's ghastly appearance. His mouth hung open and his skin appeared to have melted into the crevices of his facial bones. He looks like a corpse.

A glance to where the wolfhound lay at the foot of the bed revealed the dog looked much the same as his master. Strange that he hasn't moved a muscle or made any sounds.

Startled by a tap on his shoulder, Mike whirled. He expected to see one of the other team members, but they were across the room from him. Shrugging it off as a case of nerves, he strode to where Luke jangled a set of keys he'd taken off the wall near the entrance. “Must be twenty keys on that chain. They're not by any chance labeled?"

“Seriously? Jenkins Porter's a poster child for paranoia. I doubt he'd leave a trail for someone else to follow.”

Holding his hand out, Mike gestured for Luke to toss him the keys. Choosing one, he held it up for the others to see. “This one appears old and well-used. Good place to start.”

"I can't wait to get out of here. This place has bad juju," Mike said as he cast a quick glance over his shoulder.

"Second that." Luke pulled on his wool cap and gloves and was out the door first, followed by Emma, but just as Mia stepped across the doorway's threshold, she grunted and doubled over, lost her footing and fell backwards.


Emma heard Mia's yelp and rushed to her side. Making eye contact with Luke, she said, “Get the first aid kit from the back of the van.”

Using care not to compromise Mia's spine, Emma lifted her head and cradled it in her hands. She laid her fingers over the right carotid artery and felt a rush of relief when she detected a steady pulse. At Luke's approach, she reached for the kit and gasped when she spotted a smear of red on the palm that seconds before had contact with Mia's skull. She dug into the pack and retrieved smelling salts and a gauze bandage for the laceration. At first, the salts didn't appear to make any difference, then Mia opened her eyes and tried to sit up.

“Stay still until we can determine how serious your injuries are, Mia. You've had a nasty fall.”

She turned her attention to Mike who was crouched on the other side of Mia. “You were right behind her. Did you see what happened?”

“I can answer that question myself.” Mia's voice was weak, but determined. “I felt a blow to my abdomen which knocked the wind out of me and, apparently, caused me to lose my balance.” She attempted to get to her feet, but Emma put out a hand to keep her from rising.

“Stop struggling, Mia. You may have a concussion.” Emma pointed through the open door of the cottage. “Let's get her back inside, Mike.”

He gathered Mia in his arms, but before he could step inside the cottage, she yelled, “No, I can't go back in there!"

“You need to be checked out, Mia. Our second option is to take you to the nearest hospital," he insisted. 

“That's not necessary, I tell you. I'm just feeling bruised and a bit fuzzy about what happened after I felt the punch.”

Emma's response was quick and firm. “Exactly. I repeat... you might have a concussion. We're not going anywhere near the manor until you're checked out by a professional.” She examined her friend's closed face and had the impression she'd shut a mental door against further psychic intrusion. I know that's how she copes. I'd probably do the same.

Mike walked to where the van was parked and waited for Luke to open the door. Emma, who was already inside, rummaged around for one of the blankets they always packed when traveling during the winter months. She located one and handed the edge of it across to Mike. “We need to keep her body warm against the possibility of shock.”

"Stop talking about me like I can't hear you," Mia said. "Lacerations of the scalp, no matter how shallow, always bleed a lot. The bandage you placed will take care of that. Furthermore, I am not in shock... just pissed as hell. I underestimated his power.”

Emma was confused. “Are you talking about Jenkins Porter?”

“No. I believe it was Charles Bellingham.” Mia raised a hand to her forehead. “I recall clearly a terrific pressure in my gut. It felt like a solid punch.”

Emma had a strong feeling of deja vu. Often, events taking place in real time seemed to her like she'd seen or done them before. But she had no time to dissect what it meant. A decision needed to be made, and Emma trusted Mike to make the right one.


"Everyone, please believe me when I tell you I feel...okay," Mia finished weakly. "If you insist that I get medical attention, we could just as easily go back to Bangor."

"We can't take the chance of transporting you such a distance." Mike's features were set with determination. "You need to be evaluated promptly in case there's a need for admission.”

“You know I don't have any insurance, Mike. They'll want to take x-rays and, on top of the Emergency Room charge... I just can't afford that kind of bill right now.”

Mike turned in his seat. “Don't worry about the bill. You know I can afford to help you out."

"That's not the point. It's embarrassing to be twenty-eight and not have a steady income.”

“Mia, we're family. It's not your fault people don't want to compensate you for your talents the way they should.” He held up his hand to ward off further argument. “We're going to the hospital and that's that.”

He faced to where Luke sat beside him and said, "Bring up the GPA coordinates for the nearest hospital.”


Once they were outside the perimeter of the estate and en route to Miles Memorial Hospital, Mike willed himself to breathe normally. In the rear view mirror, he could see Emma leaning across the seat to hold Mia's hand, which further calmed him. He pushed the speed limit enough to stay under the radar but still get them to the hospital in less than twenty minutes.

Emma accompanied Mia into the examination area while Mike took a seat and looked around for something to read. “I'm going to look for a vending machine,” Luke announced and took off down the hallway. When he returned, it was with two bottles of Coke and potato chips. Though Mike rarely indulged in junk food due to hyperglycemia, he felt the need for something in his stomach to stabilize his blood sugar. Between bites, the two discussed possible courses of action.

“We need to get into the mansion tonight,” Luke said. "It's obvious we've already stirred up at least one ghost—time to ramp up the pressure. This could be our best chance at making significant contact."

"I hope you're not suggesting that we use Mia as bait."

"Of course not. I'd never do that to her, but I have good reasons for my suggestion.” Leaning forward in his chair, he continued his argument. “You don't like to admit it, but I'm the only one that doesn't treat Mia like a china doll. She's stronger than all of us put together psychically, and she's not going to want to go back home without something concrete.  Especially after this morning's attack."

Mike's attention was drawn to where Emma entered pushing Mia's wheelchair.  She brought it to rest in front of him, set the brake and seated herself. Addressing him, she said, "The doctor confirmed there's no concussion, and he stitched up the six centimeter laceration. I'm trying to convince her it would be best to return to Bangor so she can rest."

Taking in Mia's pallid appearance and the way her eyes drooped with fatigue, Mike was inclined to agree. The patient, however, voiced her objection. “We need to get into the mansion as soon as possible. With the poltergeist activity that we've seen so far, not to mention the attack on me, we have a good chance of getting some solid evidence tonight. We can't let this opportunity pass us by." 

"That's my girl,” Luke said. "I told Mike you'd insist on continuing through with the investigation.”


In order to ward off what looked to be some major head-butting, Emma made an announcement. "I have a suggestion that I think is an acceptable compromise. As you know, I always check out the local accommodations before we set out on a case. I came across a really cool B&B nearby called The Tipsy Butler. While Mia was being examined, I called for information. There's been a last-minute cancellation, which leaves two rooms available for tonight. The Innkeeper, Bernadette, said we'd pretty much have the place to ourselves."

“I admit a nap sounds wonderful," Mia interjected. 

Emma reached for Mia's hand and squeezed. “I also took the liberty of calling the contractor in charge of the manor's renovations. His name is Jim Norris, and he's willing to do a walk-through later today in order to point out the hot spots. I made an on-the-spot decision to accept his offer.”

“Considering Jenkins Porter's compromised state and the sheer size of the house and grounds, I think you made the right call,” Mike said.

"I'm surprised by the man's willingness to meet with us," Luke added. "I remember reading his account of being alone on some scaffolding when he felt an invisible hand push him from behind, causing him to fall off. The fact that it was only seven feet off the ground at the time is the only reason he wasn't more seriously injured."

"I thought the odds were pretty low that he would be willing to help, too," Emma agreed. "Turns out, he's furious about the rumors circulating around Nobleboro that he and his crew are a bunch of overreacting sissies. He says he doesn't believe in ghosts but is open to whatever we find, providing it clears his reputation."

She faced Mia. “You have a say in this too. What do you want to do?"

"I won't be able to really rest until we get to the bottom of what's going on. I say we rent rooms for the night in order to allow for a proper investigation.”

Mike reached forward and tipped her chin up with his finger. “Plan on me sticking to you like a post-it note for the rest of this investigation. I don't care how powerful Charles Bellingham believes himself to be, I will kick his phantom ass if he attacks you again.”

Author Notes Members of the Maine Paranormal Society: Emma Barlow, Luke Chadwick, Mia Langley and Mike Penrod.

Note: The Tipsy Butler is an actual B&B in Maine. I have changed the identity of the owners due to fictional accounts of conversations.

4X4's: Gauze bandage
Juju: Supernatural power
Smelling Salts: A chemical compound used to arouse consciousness.

Thanks much to BirdsEyeView for the stunning artwork: Winter Sunset.

Chapter 5
The Guardians Gather

By Writingfundimension


Bellingham Manor was the scene of a triple homicide in 1917. Charles Bellingham, the wealthy son of a British shipbuilder, murdered his wife, her chambermaid and her lover in a fit of jealous rage. Investigators were never able to arrest Charles, who seemed to have vanished into thin air. After six months, the case was relegated to the files of unsolved murders.


Bellingham Manor, 2 A.M., October 21, 1917

Charles slammed his fists into the bedroom wall. In the adjoining suite, an infant screamed in terror. The screams increased with every blow he struck. When I get out of here, I'll squeeze the life out of that infernal brat.

The numerous cuts about his hands and wrists spit blood with each blow. Red blotted out the pattern of the wallpaper. The hellcat showed more spunk than I'd have guessed. Thought she could block my knife with her flesh, but what's left lying out there in her love nest proves my supremacy.

Sliding his tongue in and out of the wounds, the murderer was distracted by the taste of his own blood. He froze when he heard the approach of footsteps outside his bedroom. As before, they stopped in front of his door. Skirting the golden light streaming through the space beneath, for the hundredth time, Charles grabbed the knob.

Labored breathing announced the presence of something alive on the other side of the door. Maybe it's through toying with me. He twisted the knob to the right and pulled, but it resisted all pressure and Charles's control snapped.

“I'll pay anything you want,” he shrieked. “I have thousands of dollars... you'll be rich. Just let me out for pity's sake!” A blast of heat through the key hole sent pain shooting up his arm.  “Bastard! I'll hunt you down and make you pay for this." 

The light blinked out, and the sounds of the crying infant ceased. Whatever was on the other side of the door released his hand. Charles shredded his shirt sleeve and wrapped his wounds. He lit a candle and waited for his pounding heart to calm. How long have I been trapped in here? I have a train to catch. Retrieving a watch from his breast pocket, he found the glass smashed, the hands forever set on the hour of his heinous deeds. Impossible! It was fine the last time I looked.

Charles shook his fist at the ceiling. “How dare you treat me this way. Don't you know who I am?”

The air grew thick followed by a loud crack and a splitting open of the floor at his feet. As he teetered at the edge of a black pit, Charles heard the pleas of the damned and the seductive calls of those who knew their own.

Defying the magnetic pull of the abyss, he twisted his body and dove onto the surface of his bed. Flinging his arm across his face, he tried to pull himself together. I just need to rest. This nightmare will end, and I'll find myself safely settled in England.

Moments later, his bubble of delusion collapsed. The infant resumed its screaming, and heavy boots walked up and down the halls. Charles gathered his withering energy and cast his thoughts outward, "Brotherhood of Cado, hear me! Come to my aid!"

Each word echoed around him as if spoken from the bottom of a well. Then, at the point of despair, a wind materialized that shook the walls and sent the rooms' objects into a frenzied flight. It filled him with hope; and, like a stone caught up in a hurricane, Charles Bellingham, Lord of the Manor, disappeared into the realm of the unquiet dead.


The Tipsy Butler, February 7, 2010

Innkeepers Bernadette and Wally greeted the team's members in the lobby of The Tipsy Butler Bed and Breakfast. After introductions, Emma handled check-in arrangements with Wally, while Bernadette escorted Mia, Mike and Luke to the second floor.

They followed Bernadette into the first room on the second-floor landing. The Cook's Room was decorated with nautical antiques and sported a color theme of cool blue, warm beige and island green. Luke dropped his bag onto a side chair and approached the beds.

He bounced off the edge of the one nearest the bathroom. A grin lit up his face. "This bed gets my seal of approval.”

Bernadette returned his smile. "I thought this would work well for you two gentlemen. It has a more masculine feel to it and is our most-requested room."

Placing her hand on Mia's arm, she said, "I have a really lovely room at the end of the hallway, called The Crowne Suite, for you and Emma." Leading the way, she continued, "It has an authentic claw-footed tub, and I've decorated it with my grandmother's antiques. Female guests find it soothing."

The room had a Compass Star-patterned Amish quilt on the queen-sized bed, floral needlepoint canvases on the walls and a settee sprinkled with pillows in colors complementing the bed quilt.

"It's beautiful," Mia said. "What a stroke of good fortune it became available."

"Quite mysterious how that came about, if you ask me," the Innkeeper replied. "The gentleman who was supposed to have this room is an auditor for the state of Maine and stays here in February without fail. The audit starts this Monday, so I'm very surprised at his cancellation."

Mia made no response, and Bernadette sensed she wanted to be left alone. "Please don't hesitate to give me a buzz if you need anything. I hope you'll be happy with the room. It's my personal favorite."


Emma, who'd finished the business arrangements, entered the room unnoticed. She quickly read the situation. Mia is ready to drop from exhaustion. We need to give her some space.

Grasping Bernadette's elbow, she drew her back through the doorway with a steady stream of conversation. "I think we'll be very comfortable in this room. I love the way you've decorated it. Reminds me of my grandmother Shaw's house. She filled her home with antiques and quilts. In fact, she was quite well known for her quilting skills."

"I'd love to hear more. Perhaps over breakfast? Not to boast -- well, just a little -- but that's one of the universal comments we get. Folks claim our breakfasts keep them coming back year after year. Tomorrow I'll be preparing carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese frosting." 

"Oh, Lord. That sounds delicious and very hard to resist."

"They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Bernadette chuckled. "At The Tipsy Butler, we aim to make it the most enjoyable one as well."

Mia smiled as Luke whooped at this last statement. He never gains an ounce despite eating enough for three people. Not fair. 

Entering the brightly lit bathroom, she filled the tub, adding bath salts provided by the Inn. The translucent figure of a small woman in servant's attire stood beneath the witch's window waiting for acknowledgement, but Mia would not drop her psychic shields or allow communication to flow until she'd had a proper rest.

No more than a half hour later, there was a light rap on the door followed by Emma's voice, rousing Mia from her contemplation.

"Are you okay, Mia?"

"I'll be right out. Just finishing my bath."

Mia stepped from the tub and dried herself off. She took one of the plush terry robes on the back of the door, courtesy of the Inn, and wrapped it about her body. When she opened the bathroom door, the rest of the suite was filled with the invigorating scent of lavender.  

Emma's eyes revealed her concern. "You look better, Mia. Feel up to going out for dinner with us?"

"No, I'm going to stay behind and rest until you get back. Have you been able to speak with the contractor about meeting us at the Manor?"

"Just got off the phone with Jim. He's seen some TV shows about ghost hunters and was worried about being made to look stupid in front of millions of people. I assured him we are not part of a reality series and work privately. I just hope he shows up tonight as promised." Mia laughed at the chagrined look on Emma's face and soon had her friend joining in. Everyone on the team shared strong opinions about their media counterparts.

Emma continued, "I'm not surprised you don't feel like eating in a noisy, public place after this morning's psychic attack, but Bernadette has offered to fix a tray for you to eat something here in the room."

Mia stroked Emma's cheek with the edge of her thumb and looked into the lovely young woman's green eyes. "I've got energy bars packed in my bag, but I honestly just need sleep, not food, right now. Please don't worry. There's no trace of Charles Bellingham here. I don't believe his spirit wanders very far from the source of his power, the caretaker. Now get going before Luke passes out from hunger."

After Emma's departure, Mia slowly pivoted, looking into each corner of the room, except for the one where the old lady waited. Grasping a worn rosary, she crawled beneath the comforter, pulled it up to her chin and fell asleep.

The old woman holding vigil in the corner moved to the side of the bed and stood looking down at the tiny woman with delicate features and auburn hair that spilled across her pillow.

A second figure, even less substantial than herself, hovered at the foot of the bed. She's so frail, Margaret. How will she manage to defeat Charles? His powers grow with the Brotherhood's help.

She's n
ot the only one with The Gift, Catherine. There's another. Our efforts combined will send Charles Bellingham to hell once and forever.

Author Notes THANK YOU FOR READING. If you read ahead, I must caution you that the story is changed from the original with the new posts.


Cado: Latin for fallen
(The) Gift: Psychic ability
Witch's window: A window in the shape of a casket that is placed in the gable-end wall of a house.
Compass Star Quilt Pattern: One of a series of Star-themed patterns for traditional Amish quilts.
Psychic: Sensitive to non-physical or supernatural forces.
Specter: Ghost
Rosary: A Roman Catholic devotional aid.

Team members: Mia Langley, Mike Penfold, Emma Barlow and Luke Chadwick.

The Tipsy Butler is a popular Bed and Breakfast with superior accomodations in the area of Maine mentioned in my story. The real Innkeepers Sarah and Tony are known for their hospitality and superb breakfasts (including the previuosly mentioned pancakes!). However, I have woven fictionalized aspects of the encounter with the Team in the writing of this chapter.

Thank you, Danigirl021 for the use of your excellent accompanying artwork.

Chapter 6

By Writingfundimension


After Emma's departure, Mia slowly pivoted, looking into each corner of the room, except for the one where the old lady waited. Grasping a worn rosary, she crawled beneath the comforter, pulled it up to her chin and fell asleep.

The woman holding vigil in the corner moved to the side of the bed and surveyed the tiny woman with delicate features and auburn hair that spilled across her pillow.

A second figure, even less substantial than herself, hovered at the foot of the bed. She's so frail, Margaret. How will she ever defeat Charles? His powers grow with the Brotherhood's assistance.

Margaret's figure shimmered, casting a light across the bedclothes. She's not the only one with The Gift, Catherine. There's another. Our efforts combined will send Charles Bellingham to hell once and forever.  


Luke went in search of the Tipsy Butler's chef/owner, Bernadette. Following the scent of orange and spice, he found the Innkeeper standing in front of her industrial-grade stove, stirring a copper pot. The kitchen was an attractive blend of cherry wood cabinets, granite counter tops and decorative tiles reflecting a New England aesthetic. Recessed lighting beneath the cabinets supplemented the natural light streaming through a bank of windows along the room's west wall.

“Sweet. This is the kind of kitchen I want someday.”

Bernadette set her wooden spoon atop a ceramic holder and faced Luke. “I admit it's a wonderful space,” she said. “It took a few years to get just right, but the effort and expense were worth it. It's my favorite place to spend a cold, winter day.”

“I can see why. It's an awesome combination of function and beauty.”

“That's a wonderful description, Luke. I wonder if you'd mind posting that to our website?” Gesturing toward the adjacent seating area, she continued. “Providing you enjoy tomorrow morning's breakfast, that is.”

“Can't imagine I won't. I checked out your website and everyone agrees The Tipsy Butler has the best B&B breakfasts in the state of Maine.”

“Our guests are like family. I love enhancing their travel experience in my own small way.” Bernadette returned to stirring her pot. Luke surmised the movement was a way of deflecting his flattery.

“My normal routine is to prepare breakfast from scratch, but I'm trying a new recipe tomorrow -- orange creamsicle panna cotta. I don't want it to be a flop, so I'm making a practice batch.”

“I'd be glad to give you my opinion,” Luke's wide smile revealed a perfect row of white teeth. “My parents have been taking me to gourmet restaurants all my life. In fact, I came down here to pick your brain.”

“How so?”

“I'm determined to find the finest lobster roll in all of New England. If the ingredients of that pot taste as good as they smell, I'm certain I've come to the right source.”

Bernadette waved him forward. “You've got a deal. I adore a good lobster roll, and there's a local restaurant serving one that deserves to be at the top of everyone's list.”


Emma debated whether to lock the door of the room she shared with Mia. Part of her wanted to be sure her friend would remain undisturbed, but since the Team would be away for several hours, an unlocked door would allow the owners to gain quick access if necessary. Given Mia's propensity for attracting vampiric spirits seeking to drain her energy for their own purposes, Emma felt her concern was warranted.

Mia's capable of taking care of herself. I'm becoming as over-protective as Mike.

She shook off her anxiety, secured the door and headed downstairs where she met Luke as he was coming out of the kitchen.

“Have you seen Mike?”

“No. I've been helping Bernadette fine-tune the recipe for tomorrow's breakfast.” He waved a piece of paper in front of her face. “Plus, I got the low-down on promising local restaurants.”

Emma's reply held a stern edge. “Try to remember we're here because Mia received a concussion during a fall and not because of the food, Luke?”

Luke shoved the list into his jean's pocket. “Sorry. I sound like a selfish jerk, don't I?

“You need to slow down and think before you speak, Luke. Because, yes, you sound like a selfish jerk sometimes.”

“I do care, y'know? How's Mia doing?”

"She fell asleep pretty much as soon as her head hit the pillow. I don't know how she does it. Attacked by a demonic spirit in the morning and lights out just hours later.”

“She's amazing, but not superhuman.” Emma turned to where Mike spoke from the doorway of a small alcove. “How much danger are we putting her in by allowing her to continue with the investigation?”

“That's a question we need to consider,” Emma said. She grabbed Luke's arm, then Mike's, guiding both of them into the room off the foyer. Once they were all seated, she laid out the situation.

"Here's how I see it.” Her eyes darted from one man to the other. “Mia needs to express her abilities just as an artist needs to paint. Exercising her talent makes her whole.”

"She's been through enough today, Emma.” Mike protested. “And she doesn't always admit there are limits to what she can, or should do, in these situations. We all know she has a savior complex. Most of the time, it makes her extraordinarily compassionate. We, as her friends, must be vigilant for the danger she doesn't always recognize.”

Emma glanced at Luke and a knowing look passed between them. The attraction between the two older members, Mike and Mia, was becoming more obvious.

"Mike, you can't keep treating her like a precious heirloom that you place on a shelf for protection. Mia's capable of putting on her big-girl panties and getting the job done." Emma answered in her usual straightforward manner.

Shifting directions, Emma continued, "I've got notes with me about the Bellingham case. Something I saw on the desk in the caretaker's cottage piqued my interest, and I'd like to run an idea past you at dinner."

"Finally, back on track. Let's get a move on... my growling stomach could pass for a fog horn," Luke groused.

Damariscotta River Grill was the unanimous choice after Luke offered up the information the restaurant featured a lobster B.L.T. sandwich. The two men stood up to leave. Emma sat with her arms crossed and a determined set to her jaw. “I'm not going anywhere unless you promise to come back for Mia before we begin our investigation.”

Luke took a sudden interest in zipping up his jacket, leaving Mike on the hook to deal with Emma's ultimatum.

“If she's feeling up to it, you have my word that I won't prevent her from coming along.”

“Great,” Emma said. “Now, I'm ready to go.”


During the short wait for a table, Emma repeated her conversation with Jim Norris, contractor for the Bellingham Estate renovations.

"I could tell that he's still spooked by whatever he and his workers experienced out there. He left me with the impression, though, that he's determined to face his fear by going back."

"Don't get me wrong," Luke responded, "I'm glad the guy is willing to help us out, but the last thing we need is an amateur who'll piss his pants if he gets tapped on the shoulder by a ghost."

Their conversation was interrupted by the hostess who led them to their table. As soon as the waiter took their drink orders and moved away, Mike snapped the menu shut and addressed Luke.

"You can be an arrogant shit sometimes. I remember some of your early paranormal experiences and how all you wanted to do was get the hell out of whatever place we were investigating. Remember the headaches and nausea, Luke? Just as we accepted all of that without judgement, I would think you'd extend the same courtesy to others."

Luke slammed his elbows into the table and leaned forward to respond. Emma, feeling the open hostility that enveloped all of them, intervened. "Guys, listen to yourselves. I think Charles Bellingham's malevolence is affecting all of us. Here we are at each others' throats, and we haven't even really started the investigation."

The waiter returned with their drinks and took their food orders, and all three took the opportunity to get their emotions in check. Luke was the first to speak, "I'm sorry, Mike. This case just feels weird to we're on the verge of opening one of those Russian nesting doll boxes, only to find more boxes to open. Anyway, I promise to play nice.”

“I think Emma may be onto something,” Mike acquiesced. “We need to consider that we're all being influenced by a potent demonic energy.” Turning to where she sat at his side, he asked, "What's the interesting information you alluded to?"

"I need to do further research to back up my hunch, but I think I know how Charles Bellingham made all his millions."

“I thought the money came from his rich daddy back in England,” Luke said.

“Some of it did. But the father was facing financial ruin due to litigation brought about by a series of deadly disasters.”

Emma placed a spoonful of clam chowder in her mouth and murmured with delight. “I'll never understand why anyone would turn down a bowl of this stuff."

Luke jiggled the ice cubes in his water glass. "Really, Emma? You're gonna make us wait for the details while you eat your soup?  

Napkin in hand, Emma dabbed the corners of her mouth. “Just having a bit of fun."

"A newspaper article that came out during the investigation hinted the following was the case: Charles Bellingham made his fortune from bootlegging... a lucrative, tax-free business venture, and one that would make him on par with the likes of Nucky Thompson and Al Capone. 

“Shit.” Luke sat back in his chair. “We've been thinking all along that bastard Charles Bellingham killed his wife in a fit of jealous rage. I wonder now if the murder might have served a dual purpose. What if his wife knew the truth and was going to leave him and join her French lover under the protection of the FEDS...”

“In exchange for information,” Emma finished. “Luke, you may have stumbled onto an angle the police never even considered!”

~~ to be continued ~~



Author Notes Dear Reader: I'm re-vamping this novel and editing each chapter before re-posting. If you read ahead you will be confused due to the ongoing changes.

When investigating the paranormal, certain people can be quite sensitive to the fluctuations in energy. This can manifest in the forms of paranoia, light-headedness, elevated heart rate and nausea. A serious investigator would want to rule out the possibility this could be due to high energy outputs from nearby electrical sources and not something supernatural.

Cast of Characters:
Bernadette: B&B owner
Emma Barlow: Team historian and investigator.
Al Capone: Gangster and bootlegger.
Luke Chadwick: Lead tech specialist and team investigator.
Mia Langley: Psychic/Medium and team investigator.
Mike Penfold: Founder of the Maine Paranormal Society and lead investigator.
Nucky Thompson: Gangster and bootlegger. Recently the subject of the HBO's Boardwalk Empire.

Psychic/Medium: A person sensitive to non-physical or supernatural forces, including the deceased.
Demonic: Fiendish, devilish.
Bootlegging: The illegal business of transporting (smuggling) alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law.
Panna cotta: A custard-based Italian dish, often served for dessert.

The Tipsy Butler is a B&B in the area of Maine mentioned in my story. You can find out about them by going to their website: However, for the purposes of this story I have fictionalized aspects of the B&B as well as the identity of the owners.

Thanks Angelheart for the perfect accompanying artwork.

Chapter 7

By Writingfundimension


"A newspaper article that came out during the investigation hinted the following was the case: Charles Bellingham made his fortune from bootlegging... a lucrative, tax-free business venture, and one that would make him on par with the likes of Nucky Thompson and Al Capone. 

“Shit.” Luke sat back in his chair. “We've been thinking all along that bastard Charles Bellingham killed his wife in a fit of jealous rage. I wonder now if the murder might have served a dual purpose. What if his wife knew the truth and was going to leave him and join her French lover under the protection of the FEDS...”

“In exchange for information,” Emma finished. “Luke, you may have stumbled onto an angle the police never even considered!”


Mike gulped the last inch of his iced tea. Leaning back in his chair, he laced his fingers behind his head. His features had a pulled-down, pensive look as though weighing the possibilities thrown out by the other members of MPS. He turned to where Emma sat at his side. “The article on Charles Bellingham… does it cite any reputable sources?”

“The original article alluded to sources in the police department,” she replied. “I did a cursory check, and there was no follow-up article by the reporter. Which makes me wonder if the man was forced to abandon exploring the allegation; perhaps, by some powerful people who were involved as well.”

“If he was involved, he’d have been in good company,” Luke interjected. “There’s been the lingering suspicion that the Kennedy family fortune came about, in part, through the Joe Kennedy Sr.’s bootlegging activities in partnership with the gangster, Frank Costello.”  

“Never substantiated,” Emma returned. “Kennedy did add to his fortune by securing sole rights to the importation of Scotch whiskey when Prohibition was repealed. And he wasn’t above using insider information on stock purchases. But I can’t imagine he’d associate with a wannabe like Bellingham.”

Luke stiffened in his chair in response to Emma's challenge. "Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to suggest Bellingham and Kennedy were in cahoots.” He planted his elbows on the table, causing his spoon to flip onto his plate. He flicked it sideways on the white table cloth while continuing his line of reasoning, “My point is that rich people never seem to have enough money, in their own minds. One scenario comes to my mind: Bellingham’s wealthy father back in England was tired of his son’s flashy lifestyle and threatened to cut him off. Bootlegging would be a way around the noose that was tightening on good old Charles. His home is less than a mile from the coast. Easy enough to construct a tunnel for illegal activities.”

Grabbing her purse from where it hung on the back of her chair, Emma retrieved a pad and pen. She pointed the tip of her pen at Luke and said, “A tunnel would be also the perfect place for Bellingham to hide until he could escape overseas. Perhaps that's why they never found his body.” She paused to scribble in her pad before continuing, “I’m going to re-visit the research material I’ve gathered and see if there’s any mention of one.”

Mike dropped his arms to grip the edges of his chair. “If there is a tunnel, we’re not likely to find any legal documents verifying its existence. The alternative method is to use infra-red film from an aerial view, looking for heat signatures.”

Luke scooped the last of his sandwich into his mouth just as their waitress re-appeared. She began stacking plates and observed, “Doesn’t look like you’ll be needing any take-out boxes.” Turning eyes artfully made up to enhance their unusual cobalt color, she locked her gaze with Luke’s. “It’s nice to see someone enjoying their food so much.” She shifted the plates so that she could smooth a hand over her flat belly. “My friends can’t believe how much I can pack away without gaining a pound. They don’t realize how much energy you burn on a busy evening here.” Then, in a voice like spun silk, she added, “Can I tempt you with dessert? This evening we’re featuring our amazing banana split cheesecake. It’s large enough to be shared three ways.” 

“Not this time. I think we’re ready for the bill,” Mike said.

“Sure thing. I’ll get that right over to you.”

When she’d disappeared into the crowd, Emma continued the line of conversation.

“An aerial view—that means an airplane. That’s going to take time, not to mention money.”

The waitress returned and set the check in front of Mike as requested, adding, “Whenever you’re ready, Sir.”

Slipping his credit card into the holder, Mike smiled and handed the bill back to the waitress. As she hurried away, he turned his attention to Emma’s comment. “Having a pilot’s license is one of the perks of keeping me around. But none of this may be necessary if the contractor we’re meeting can help. Jim may have knowledge of a tunnel or, at least, have heard rumors of its existence.”

“If one is found, I suppose it’ll be my job to do a sweep with the equipment,” Luke groaned. 
"You seriously have to get over your fear of bats, dude. The best way to do that is to challenge your fear.” Emma’s voice held a note of humor.

“I'm not afraid of them--just don't like them," Luke mumbled. "I consider it supremely wise to avoid any creature that carries rabies and enjoy the taste of human blood.”

"You've been watching too many cheesy vampire movies.” Emma's hands were busy re-working the braid that reached to her mid-back. “The type of bat you're likely to come across in local tunnels would be Eptesicus fuscus, a.k.a. Big Brown Bat. They're insectivores and are, likely, hibernating now - unless the tunnel is warm, then they might be breeding. So, unless they think you're a moth or another bat with the hots, you should be okay."

Luke rolled his eyes upward. “That makes me feel so much better.”

"I'm amazed that you know what kind of bats live in this area, let alone the genus name and their habitats." Mike twisted his torso to face in Emma's direction. "Granted you have a photographic memory... but bats? Why would you research them?"  

Emma's full lips curled into a wide grin. “I’ve done some spelunking in the caves along the coast with my friend, Travis. He hates bats, too, and insists I check out every cave before he’ll set foot inside.”

A cell phone went off, which turned out to be Emma's. Despite the disapproving looks from the couple wrapped around each other at the next table, she took the call.

"Hi, Mia. We're ready to leave the restaurant. Are you feeling well enough to come along to the Manor?" After listening for a minute, she gave an affirmative nod to her partners. "We’ll pick you up in front of The Tipsy Butler in about twenty minutes. Oh, and dress warm. The temperature's already dropped into the teens."

Bellingham Manor, February 7, 2010

On the short drive over to the Manor, Emma apprised Mia on the theory regarding the late Charles Bellingham’s illicit activities. Mia listened without comment, only nodding agreement at the suggestion he’d used the tunnel to make his escape after the murders.

Emma went silent when her seatmate's body jerked, and her head fell back against the seat. Oh, crap, she's going into a trance state.

“I’m getting flashes of scenes—those tunnels were used for more than bootlegging,” Mia whispered. Wrapping her arms about her body, she used the physical sensation to keep from losing herself in the images that came, one after the other, of mangled corpses and men in black capes whose eyes blazed with hatred and lust.

Emma reached over and cupped Mia’s hands in her own. “Come back,” she said, then watched for her eyes to open. When they did, she brushed a finger across Mia’s cheek, adding, “Whatever you’re seeing, now’s not the time to deal with it. You're still trying to re-group your energy after that nasty fall."

Mia looked into her friend’s eyes and tried to raise a smile to her lips. But what she’d just witnessed in trance held her in a grip of disgust and fear. “I wish I had that kind of control. Life would be, at least, bearable.” 

“It's hard to watch you suffer because of your gift--if that's what it can be called. It really bothers me, y’know.”

“I know, dear Emma. And I love you for it.”

At the wheel of the van, Mike strained to hear the thread of the conversation coming from the back seat without success. Due to his divided attention, he almost missed the turn-off for Bellingham Manor. He was both surprised and relieved to find the gates open as the caretaker, Jenkins Porter, had shown utter disdain for the paranormal team’s presence on the estate. 

Mike kept going at a low rate of speed, following the lane leading to the Manor. Someone had plowed it, which was fortunate, as an additional two inches had fallen since their visit earlier in the day.

"Jeez, I feel like a lamb being led to the slaughter," Luke remarked. "Why would Porter clear the driveway for us when it's obvious he hates the fact we're even here?"

“My guess is that Jim Norris called him in advance and ordered him to cooperate. He has the backing of the company that owns the Manor, and if Porter wants to keep his job, he’ll have to start towing the line.”

“Watch out!” Mia’s warning from the back seat set Mike in motion. He slammed on the breaks in time to avoid hitting a large, shaggy animal that leaped onto the lane and ran off across an open area. The van hit a patch of thick ice and skidded forward another five feet before stopping.

Luke pounded his fist on the dashboard. “That was Porter’s deerhound. What the hell is he doing outside alone at this time of night?”

A crunching sound had come from the back of the van with the sudden stop. Before checking it out, Mike turned his attention to the back seat.

"Everyone okay?”

With the assurance no one was injured, he hurried to examine the equipment stowed in the vehicle’s rear compartment. He examined each piece until he found the source of the sound: a shovel had been jammed against the roof of the trunk, leaving a visible scrape mark. That’s going to need repair, but at least our new surveillance equipment is safe.

After reporting his finding to the others, he continued along the lane until they reached the Manor. A Lexus SUV sat in the center of the oval driveway. Behind the wheel was a figure holding a cigarette away from his face through a rolled-down window. His head jerked in their direction as they pulled to a stop behind him.

"Must be our tour guide," Luke said.

“Yup, I’d say you’re right.”

The two men exited and approached the other vehicle, leaving Mia and Emma behind in the van’s warmth.


Mia's eyes searched the façade of the Manor. There was only a bit of light from a waxing moon, but her eyes were drawn to a window on the third floor. Leaning forward, she blinked her eyes to clear her vision and once she was certain of what she was seeing, grasped Emma’s wrist.

“There's a woman standing in a window on the second floor. She looks like she's wearing a high-collard gown of some sort." She pointed to the east wing of the Manor and said, "Can you see her?"

"Yes, I do! But how is that possible.? The rest of the house is black, yet she appears to be glowing. It takes a lot of  energy for a ghost to manifest like that. What could be the source?"

"I don't have an answer for that, but if you want to get a picture, I'd suggest you hurry."

"Tell the ghost to stay put," Emma quipped, then rushed from the van, slamming the door in her wake.

Mia remained in her seat, watching the scene unfold.

An unformed black mass rose up behind the woman's figure, swallowing all trace of her. As if fed by the energy it consumed, the mass's edges coalesced into the figure of a man, and there was no mistaking the image of Charles Bellingham or escaping his evil laugh. His eyes burned like live coals, piercing the darkness and pinning Mia to her seat.   

~~to be continued~~   


Author Notes Dear Reader:

It's Baack, LoL. This chapter is dedicated to Charlie who encouraged me to revisit this novel. Please note, this is a re-edited, and if you read ahead to additional chapters, you'll be confused. Also, this does not mean I have abandoned Stand Strong. A post is coming soon for that novel. Sorry for any confusion, and thanks much for reading.


MPS members: Emma Barlow, team historian; Mike Penrod, group founder; Luke Chadwick, technical support and co-founder, and Mia Langley, psychic/medium.


Bootlegger: Someone who illegally transports alcoholic beverages where such transportation is illegal.
Ghost: The residual energy of a dead human being. Ghosts are not demons.
Infrared: The part of the invisible spectrum that is contiguous to the red end of the visible spectrum.
Psychic/Medium: A person sensitive to non-physical or supernatural forces, including the deceased.
SUV: Sports utility vehicle.
Waxing Moon: A moon that is moving into fullness.

Thanks so much AvMurray for the totally awesome artwork.

Chapter 8
Secret Chamber

By Writingfundimension

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Previous chapter:

Grasping Emma's arm, Mia leaned in to speak. "There's a woman standing in the window on the second floor. She looks like she's wearing a high-collared gown of some sort, and resembles Catherine Belligham." She pointed to the east wing of the Manor and said, "Can you see her?"

"Yes, I do! But how is that possible? The rest of the house is black, yet she appears to be glowing. It takes energy to be able to manifest like that. What could be the source?"

"I don't have an answer for that, but if you want to get a picture, I'd suggest you hurry."

"Tell the ghost to stay put," Emma quipped, then rushed from the van, slamming the door in her wake.


Bellingham Manor, February 7, 2010.

Emma rummaged through the surveillance equipment piled in the rear of the van. Dammit, where is that camera case? I'm losing precious seconds.

She searched for the bag's familiar outline, and panicked when it seemed they'd left it behind in Bangor. Pulling off her gloves, Emma forced herself to slow down. On a second sweep, she found it.

Resting the bag on the lip of the trunk, she retrieved the camera. It was an older print film style that'd belonged to her grandfather--a famous paranormal investigator--and was heavier than most. She thought about grabbing an extra lens, but her mind said to leave it. The lens will add weight, and I don't have time to set up a tripod.

A half-moon, restrained by heavy clouds, provided negligible ambient light. The headlights of the van illuminated the courtyard, but the direction of its beams offered little help. I'll use flash and pray it makes a difference. She realized the weight of the camera might cause picture blurring. The risk is worth it if I capture a ghost on film.

Emma focused her lens on the upstairs window. Thank you, God! She's still there. She snapped pictures in a rapid-fire stream, managing to get a dozen shots before her equipment went dead. Dropping to her knees, she examined the camera--the battery was fried. What the heck? I know I charged it before we left Bangor.

Her gaze flew upwards, and her mood dipped further. The window through which the woman had looked down upon the courtyard was as featureless and dark as the rest of the house. Emma scowled at the camera, as if doing so would urge it to re-group. Crap. I'll have to charge the battery back at the Inn, which means I won't know until tomorrow if I captured anything.

The moment's disappointment was replaced by a positive angle. Ghosts are notorious for draining the energy from electrical devices. That's evidence worth sharing with the client.

Emma stored the camera in its case and zipped it shut. She slung it over her shoulder and turned to face the huddled figures of Mike, Luke and Jim Norris where they conversed alongside Jim's SUV. He was a large, well-muscled man who towered over Mike and Luke. Doesn't look like someone who'd run from a ghost without good reason.

She itched to share her news with her fellow investigators but feared Jim might be weirded out even further. Draining a battery, though significant, was commonplace in hauntings. Jim, however, might view it as further proof of an aggressive presence. Best not take the chance. I'll tell the guys later when we're alone.

Emma hopped back into the car and turned toward Mia. "You won't believe what happened. My battery got drained! I was in the middle of..."

Mia's rigid spine and slack features cued Emma she was likely in an altered state. Whatever is up in that room has her in its grip, she thought.

Experience had taught her not to try to rouse Mia when she was under the influence of an invading spirit. She'd made that mistake once and would never forget the way Mia clawed at her hands. It'd taken her and Luke some minutes to restrain Mia until the invading spirit departed. Later, the medium apologized over and over for the incident.

Witnessing Mia's agony made the rest of the team protective of their gentle friend. Mike insisted they all get up to speed on Mia's abilities and the best way to work with them. After that episode, Emma made sure to have a digital voice recorder handy during their investigations.

She slipped her hand into her pocket and was relieved to discover the DVR. Emma clicked it on, and in a calm voice urged, "Mia, describe what you're seeing."


"The surface I'm walking is packed down dirt. Surrounding me are the sides of a tunnel. The air is thick, and it's very hot in here--I feel like I'm walking in a direct line to hell." Mia flinches and stops speaking for several seconds. "Yuck, a rat just ran in front of me." Her breathing increases and her eyes move back and forth as if searching the floor of the tunnel. Her chin bobs upward, and she says, "I hear a man shouting. Wait, the tunnel opens up into a large chamber ahead." Pressing her fingers to her temple, she adds, "I don't want to look, but I know I'm here to be a witness."

Her voice tight and low, Mia pushes forward. "I see a pedestal in the center of the room. It's granite, I think and stands waist high. There are streaks down its sides and a pool at its base. There's a foul odor in the air, and I think it's coming from that pool." Her voice drops to a whisper. "It smells like putrefying flesh."

Mia's body convulses in a drawn out shiver. "A naked woman is chained, spread eagle, across the flat top. She's dying--I see her spirit hovering above, attached by a thin silver cord."

"A robed figure stands over her. The top half of his face is hidden by a cowl, but I know who he is. It's Charles Bellingham, and he's swinging a knife covered with red chunks." Mia's arm goes up as if she is warding off a marauding bird. "He's slicing into the woman's belly and screaming, 'Where does the whore go to meet him!?"

'Stay away from the Lakehouse, Catherine,'  the woman yells. "She's out of her mind with pain. Her poor body can't take any more assaults."

Swallowing hard, Mia continues, "I hear the woman's death rattle now. Her head falls back--her eyes are open and staring--but her spirit won't leave.
I want to help her understand it's okay to leave, but Bellingham is looking at me now. God help me, his eyes--I can't bear looking at them. They're lidless and black, and there's nothing human about them. He's speaking to me, and I'm drawn to him against my will."

"Come now, my dear Mia. Your talents are being wasted on this nonsense. I can teach you how to use them to gain real power."

"My limbs feel heavy the closer he gets. I have to end this now: You have no power over me, Charles Bellingham. In Jesus name, and by the power of his abiding love, I banish you!"


Slumping backward into the seat, Mia exhaled with force. Her eyes fluttered open. Emma placed a bottle of water in her hands, and Mia downed its contents in several gulps.

Both women remained silent as the Medium struggled to orient herself to the present. Finally, in a voice thick with fatigue, she said, "I saw the murder of Catherine Bellingham's maid. Charles took her to a secret chamber beneath his house. He chained her to a pedestal and tortured her until she revealed the location of his wife and her lover's trysts." Mia wiped an errant tear from her cheek. "The worst part is that I could see that her spirit did not cross over."

She twisted her body to face Emma. "Mike needs to confer with Father Steven as soon as possible. I believe Charles Bellingham was a Satanist, and we're dealing with extremely potent, demonic energy."

~~ to be continued~~


Author Notes Dear Reader,

Please do not read ahead. I am heavily editing these chapters as I go and you will be confused. Thanks for reading!


MPS members:
Emma Barlow: Team historian and investigator.
Luke Chadwick: Technical support and investigator.
Mia Langley: Co-founder and Trance Medium.
Mike Peterson: Group founder.

Other characters:
Catherine Bellingham: Murdered Wife of Charles.
Charles Bellingham: Mass murderer.
Jim Norris: Contractor for estate renovations.
Father Steven Warnick: A catholic priest and diocesan exorcist.

Demon: A non-human entity. They can take on the appearance of a human ghost for their nefarious purposes.
Digital Voice Recorder: A hand-held device used for recording purposes.
Exorcist: Someone who banishes evil spirits.
Trance Medium: A medium who allows their body to be used by spirits in order to communicate and interact.

Artwork courtesy of angelheart. Thanks so much!

Chapter 9
Lean on Me

By Writingfundimension

Dear Reader,

This chapter has been edited from its original submission. If you read ahead to chapters not yet edited, you will be confused. Thanks for reading!




Slumping backward into the seat, Mia exhaled with force. Her eyes fluttered open. Emma placed a bottle of water in her hands, and Mia downed its contents in several gulps.

Both women remained silent as the Medium struggled to orient herself to the present. Finally, in a voice thick with fatigue, she said, "I saw the murder of Catherine Bellingham's maid. Charles took her to a secret chamber beneath his house. He chained her to a pedestal and tortured her until she revealed the location of his wife and her lover's trysts." Mia wiped an errant tear from her cheek. "The worst part is that I could see that her spirit did not cross over."

She twisted her body to face Emma. "Mike needs to confer with Father Steven as soon as possible. I believe Charles Bellingham was a Satanist, and we're dealing with extremely potent demonic energy."


Bellingham Manor, February 7, 2010

Cascading sensations scored through the nerve endings along Mike’s neck and shoulders. An alien shroud burned into his skull and chest, pulling him from the conversation. He brought a hand up to his forehead in an innate gesture of protection even as unintelligible whispering crawled into his ear and spread itself outward. The words were low, hard, and menacing-- that much he knew. Something’s trying to get me to run.

Mike leaned over--palms on his knees--and took some deep breaths. Luke, like every member of the team, was alert to changes in the respiration or appearance of a partner as warning signals of a possible spirit attachment. He scanned Mike, then looked over his own shoulder as if someone had come along and tapped on it. Looking back at Mike, he asked, "What’s happening?”

"I need to go check on the ladies," Mike blurted. "Fill in the details for Mr. Norris, will you?" Without waiting for a response, he turned and walked towards the van where Emma and Mia waited. Luke shoved his hands in his pockets and watched Mike retreat.


Wind shook snow from a nearby tree and swirled around Luke and the contractor. A steam vapor lifted from Luke’s lips. Getting frickin’ colder by the minute. He decided to avoid an explanation for Mike’s bizarre behavior in the interest of time.

"We appreciate you making yourself available tonight, Mr. Norris,” he said. Looking up at the thick gray clouds smothering the moon, Luke shook his head. “Especially in this kind of weather and given what you and your workers are alleged to have experienced.” He paused, hoping Jim would acknowledge the situation, but when nothing was forthcoming, continued. "It's normal for someone exposed to frightening paranormal experiences to avoid the location of such an event."

Jim Norris was yet to meet his eyes. His focus appeared to be on the scene playing out at the van. Short of spinning the man around, there was little Luke could do.

Thrusting a thumb in the direction of the van, Jim Norris said, “Something’s sure spooked your friend.” He flicked the end of the cigarette resting between his fingers, causing red dots to flare and die. His eyes were masked, but Luke could feel the full force of the man’s scrutiny as he added, “Sort of like when you shiver ‘cause someone’s just walked over your grave.”

Startled by the man’s accurate perception of the situation, Luke made the decision to relate the full story of what had been happening ever since they’d arrived from Bangor. He leaned his back into Jim’s SUV which afforded him a view of both the courtyard and his teammates. A sideways glance revealed Jim to be standing pretty much where he’d been ever since stepping from the vehicle.

 “I think you deserve the straight story of what’s gone down since we arrived this morning. We believe a member of our team was the victim of a spiritual assault while interviewing Jenkins Porter at his cottage. The unprovoked attack caused her to fall, resulting in a mild concussion.”

The contractor took a long drag on his cigarette then tossed the butt across the hood of his car. “Porter’s as crazy as they come. Maybe he gave your friend a shove to scare you off.”

Luke bounced the heel of his boot against a tire. “That would be viable were it not for the fact he was passed out in his bedroom.”

Jim pulled gloves from his pocket and focused his attention on getting his hands into them.

"Whether or not you believe in ghosts,” Luke persisted, “you can see why we no longer trust the caretaker to be of any assistance in this case. If he’s under the psychic influence of Charles Bellingham's spirit, as we believe, he'll do whatever he can to obstruct our investigation. That's why we've called you in."

“Look, kid,” Jim said, “I’m here because my employer insisted I help with your investigation.”

Luke didn’t care for the man’s tone nor the inference of immaturity. Play it cool. We need the jerk.
“Furthermore,” Jim continued, “Jenkins Porter is a no-account, miserable drunk--like his daddy and grandaddy before him. But, the idea he's possessed by the spirit of a dead man--well, I can't say I buy into that demonic crap."

Holding up his hand to head off Luke's protest, he continued, "I'm going to tell you the facts of my crew's experiences and what I know first-hand. What you ghost hunters decide to do with the information is not my concern. I'm here to do what I've been paid to do... get to the bottom of what's going on and complete the renovations."

Luke sensed the axis of control was in Jim’s hands. He came across as a man used to giving orders he expected others to follow without question. Rather than provoke an argument with a valuable resource, Luke relented and allowed the contractor the appearance of calling the shots.

"Give me ten minutes lead time before you collect your team and meet me at the main entrance.” He looked toward the house. “I’ll need to get to the main fuse box and turn on the power."


Pain formed a tight band across Mike's forehead. He focused his concentration and called on his ability to produce endorphins at will. He released a deep breath as the pain responded.

Moving quickly towards the van, he was anxious to confirm his intuition that Mia was also under psychic attack. Just as he reached the side of the van, its rear door flew open.

"So sorry, Mike.” Emma gasped. “Didn’t mean to bash you with the door.”

Words tumbled from her in a stream, "I was just coming to get you. Mia's had a vision. Bellingham was a Satanist—she thinks we’ll need the help of a demonologist. Plus we both saw an apparition in one of the upstairs windows--which I'm pretty sure I captured on film.”

Mike nodded his head in response, and moved around Emma to the other side of the van. He pulled open the door and bent his torso to Mia’s height. “I can have Luke drive you back to the Inn. From what I just experienced, added to your vision, we’re dealing with a super nasty entity.”

Mia reached to take Mike’s hands in her own. They held onto each other, absorbing the comfort of their shared faith and affection. “You’re shaking, Mike,” Mia said. “Tell me what happened.”

Squatting down, Mike rested his knees against the van for support. "I was talking to Jim about our mission for this evening, when I felt something slimy on my skin, and then I started to black out. I knew the energy was demonic—for a moment I was filled with utter dread. Thank God I was able to block whatever it was, but I sensed you were undergoing a similar attack."

Mia's eyes assumed a haunted look. “It was horrible. I don’t know that I’ll get a wink of sleep tonight. As bad as it was, though, I've got a better grasp on what exactly we're dealing with here, Mike."

They pulled apart as Luke and Emma approached from different directions and formed a tight circle outside the vehicle. Luke punched Mike on the arm and said, “Dude, you took off like your feet were on fire. What gives?”

Mike's mouth was pinched at the corners and his face was grim. “Felt something trying to take over my mind. Had to get some space to deal with it.”

“That’s what I figured,” Luke said. “Norris thought so, too. You know, he’s a pretty sharp guy. Though he’s not on the same page as we are when it comes to believing in ghosts.”

“Where is he now?"

“He’s gone ahead to activate the fuse box and wants us to join him inside as soon as we can gather our equipment."

"Time to roll,” Mia said, accepting Mike’s hand to help her from the van.

“The offer holds, Mia. Don’t push yourself so far that you’ll do permanent damage.”

“I’m not backing down.” She looked into the eyes of each one of her partners. “We all need to take extra precautions tonight. Remember to call on St. Michael at the first sign of trouble.”

“Yes, Ma'am,” Luke answered for all of them.

The team spread out to complete their respective duties. With a flow smoothed by experience, they gathered equipment from the rear of the van: static night vision cameras, a video camcorder, portable flood lights, and digital voice recording devices. Led by Mike and Luke, they approached the front door of the Manor. 

The gabled roof above the entranceway—lined with foot-long icicles--had kept the snow from gathering on the walkway. Mike turned the knob of the massive oak door and felt it give. Just as he crossed the door’s threshold, a shotgun blast reverberated in the distance. Mike's arm swept up and back, forcing Mia and Emma out of the open doorway. 

"Holy Mother of God!" Luke yelled. "Where'd that come from?"

~~ to be continued ~~

Author Notes Dear Reader,

As I am editing this series from its original format, you'll be confused if you read ahead.

Thanks for your interest and time!


MPS team members:
Emma Barlow: Team historian and investigator.
Luke Chadwick: Technical support and investigator.
Mia Langley: Co-Founder and Trance Medium
Mike Peterson: Group Founder.

Other Characters:
Jim Norris: Building Contractor in charge of the Estate's renovations.
Jenkins Porter: Estate caretaker.

Demon: A non-human entity.
Endorphins: Endogenous morphinelike proteins found in, primarily, the brain
Paranormal: Not scientifically explainable
Psychic/Medium: A person sensitive to non-physical or supernatural forces, including the deceased
Satanist: A follower of Satan
Static Night Vision Camera: A camera used for paranormal investigating at night.

Thanks so much, Angelheart for the use of the perfect artwork.

Chapter 10
Under Fire

By Writingfundimension

Previously:  Jim Norris, the renovation contractor for Bellingham Manor has gone into the mansion to activate the fuse box. Just as the team is about to enter through the main entrance, a shotgun blast is heard coming from within the house.


Bellingham Manor,  February 7, 2010
Emma ducked under Mike’s outstretched arm. He lunged for her jacket hood, but his hands came up empty as she charged through the doorway telegraphing their position to the shooter. Determined to stop her momentum, he circled Emma's waist with his arm and forced her to the floor.

"That hurt!" she complained when her butt hit the hard tile with force. 

Mike brought a finger up close to her nose and said, "You should know better than to pull a stunt like that, Emma.” When the young woman pulled the edges of her jacket tighter, Mike recognized it as a protective gesture. He felt a bit of guilt for chewing her out but knew she had to outgrow her tendency to leap first and ask questions later.

"My lifeguard instincts kicked in," she said by way of excuse. "All I could think of was that Jim Norris might need saving."

"We don't know that he’s injured.”

“Then why aren’t there any lights?" was her tart reply. "Last we saw, he was headed for the fuse box.”  

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out.” He looked to where Luke and Mia sat beside Emma, with their backs to the wall, forming a straight line. Mike zeroed in on Luke and pitched his voice to the immediate vicinity.

"Did you bring the tactical flashlight with this first load of equipment?”

"Yeah, I think it's here in the green canvas bag.”

Mike winced as he heard the sound of metal against metal—calculating the damage to the very expensive paranormal gadgetry inside.

"Found it!" Luke replied and tossed it into his partner’s waiting hands. Mike turned it on to be sure it was working, even though he’d already done so before leaving Bangor.

He’d motioned for the three of them to move in tighter when a second gunshot echoed off the walls. The blast sounded closer than the first one and set the foyer's chandelier in motion. The tinkling of the crystal tones was overshadowed by a violent shouting coming from beyond the massive bulk of the house's main staircase.

"One of those voices has to be Norris, but I can't make out the words," Mike said.

"I can't either," Luke replied, "But at least it sounds like he's still alive."

Mike’s eyes were dark holes in his face, casting him in a slightly sinister light. "Here's what's gonna happen now: Luke, you'll follow me wearing the night vision goggles while l sweep the area with the flashlight. The plan is to pinpoint the location, and it’ll be crucial for you to stay close so we can hear each other.”

"Why don't we call for help? We're not armed and could make matters worse," Mia interjected.

“There’s no time for that," Luke replied. "Remember, we're out in the boonies."

Mike made a patting gesture, urging everyone to lower their voices. “Mia, you make a good point, but so does Luke. So, I propose a compromise.” Indicating the communication device attached to his waist, he continued, "Once we're out of sight, give us another fifteen minutes to assess what's going on. If we haven't made contact with you by then, call the police."

Holding up her cell phone, Mia warned, “Fifteen and not a minute longer."

“Deal,” Mike said. He rose to leave, but Mia pulled him back around.

"Expect the worst!" she said. "Charles Bellingham's ghost is behind this somehow and he's more than capable of causing physical harm."

Nodding, Mike reassured her, “I'm sure you're right, and believe me, we're not looking to be heroes.”

Luke positioned the goggles over his face and quipped, “Heading the top of my paranormal wish list, as of now, is a Kevlar vest, and I sincerely hope that does not end up being a dead man's last wish.''


Once their eyes adjusted to the darkness, the two men zigzagged around the equipment the renovation team left behind. Mike examined the sawhorses and makeshift cutting tables as well as the scaffolding—all of which provided excellent hiding places for a man with a gun. When he was sure no danger lurked there, he signaled Luke to follow. In this manner, they made their way through to the massive kitchen. "Got to be a way to get to the basement somewhere around here," Mike thought.

Luke tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to a door not more than fifteen feet ahead. Alert to the fact the voices had stopped, they picked up the pace hoping the door wasn't locked from the inside. Mike reached it first. Putting a finger to his lips he pantomimed turning the knob and then kicking the door. Luke signaled his understanding.

To Mike’s surprise, the door readily opened. Jim must have left this unlocked. At least we're heading in the right direction.

Passing through he found himself standing on a short staircase. He descended the steps and came up against another door, turned the knob and found the door would only open a few inches. Peering through the bare space, Mike was able to make out a tall figure looking straight at him.

"Jim, thank God, man. We thought you might be lying in a pool of blood. What’s blocking the doorway?"

"It's Jenkins Porter, the stupid bastard. He started blasting away when I came through the door. Lucky for me, he's drunk, or I might be a dead man right now. His gun went off a second time while I was wrestling it from his hands. I’m not sorry to say that he's lying there bleeding all over the floor from where I bashed him over the head with it."

"Move him to the other side of the room so we can help, will you?" Mike said. "Then get us some light so we can assess Porters' condition."

Copious swearing accompanied the sounds of Jim dragging the caretaker’s body across the floor. After a few minutes more of waiting, the lights went on. Mike pushed through the doorway and moved to where Jim Norris stood with a shotgun over his shoulder. He was looking down at Porter when Mike came alongside. “He’s passed out,” Jim said. “I’ve half a mind to finish the job I started.”

“I think I’d feel the same way if someone had just tried to blow my head off,” Mike agreed. Turning to Luke, he said, “Let the ladies know we’re okay, and that Porter has been injured.”

“Should I instruct them to call the police?”

Jim Norris twisted around so Mike could see his face. His eyes were slits of anger and, to Mike's mind, telegraphed a clear warning.

Mike met his look and stopped to assess his next move. Decision made, he added, “Tell Mia to hold off calling the police for now. At least until we can get a better handle on what’s happened here tonight. Also, have her get out the first aid kit and bring it down here.”

Jim grunted and resumed the vigil over his attacker.

Luke retrieved a radio transmitter from his belt and spoke into it. “Mia do you copy?"

"That’s affirmative. Are you two okay? We were just about to call 911. Over.”

“Jenkins Porter tried to shoot Jim Norris. Lucky for Jim, he missed. But Mike says not to call in the police just yet. Over.”

“What was that, Luke? You’re breaking ---" An ungodly screeching sound drowned out the rest of Mia’s response sending shockwaves of pain into Luke's brain and causing him to drop the transmitter. Once the device left his hands, the pain eased up. He stooped to pick it up but fell back as it burst into flames.

“Holy shit, Mike. Are you seeing this?"



This is the latest chapter in a novel re-posting. I ask that you not read ahead as the rest of the chapters have not been edited and you will be confused.

Thanks for reading!


Emma Barlow: Team historian and investigator.
Luke Chadwick: Technical support and investigator.
Mia Langley: Co-Founder and Trance Medium.
Mike Peterson: Group founder.

Boonies: Slang for out in the middle of nowhere.
Kevlar vest: Bullet proof vest.
Night vision goggles: Vision enhancing goggles using lens and light.
Paranormal: Not scientifically explainable.
Poltergeist: Noisy ghost.
Psychic/Medium: A person sensitive to supernatural forces.
Tactical flashlight: A flashlight favored by soldiers and law-enforcement personnel which is easily handled with one hand, leaving the other hand free for a weapon.

Thanks to Len Selement for the use of his artwork.

Chapter 11
Speak of the Devil

By Writingfundimension

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

Previous Chapter Ending:

I think I’d feel the same way if someone had just tried to blow my head off,” Mike agreed.  He turned his head slightly to address Luke. “Let the ladies know we’re okay, and that Porter has been injured.”

“Should I instruct them to call the police?”

Jim Norris twisted around so that Mike could see his face. His eyes were slits of anger and, to Mike’s mind, telegraphed a clear warning.

Mike met his look and stopped to assess his next move. Decision made; he added, “Tell Mia to hold off calling the police until we can get a better handle on what’s happened here tonight. Also, have her bring the first aid kit down here.”

Jim grunted and resumed the vigil over his attacker.

Luke lifted a radio transmitter from his belt and spoke into it. “Mia do you copy?”

“That’s affirmative. Are you two okay? We heard the gunshots and were just about to call 911. Over.”

“Jenkins Porter tried to shoot Norris. Lucky for Jim, he missed. But Mike says not to call in the police just yet. Over.” 

“What was that, Luke? You’re breaking---“ An ungodly screeching sound drowned out the rest of Mia’s response and sent shockwaves of pain into Luke’s brain—causing him to drop the transmitter. Once the device left his hands, the pain eased up. When he stooped to pick it up, the device burst into flames!

“Holy shit, Mike. Are you seeing this?"

Bellingham Manor, February 7, 2010 

Mia clapped her hands to her ears when a sound akin to two automobiles colliding head-on blared from the transmitter. The sound penetrated through her protective barrier and set her eardrums vibrating. Her gaze shifted to where Emma sat a few feet away, and Mia saw shock mirrored in her teammate’s twisted features.

Emma scuttled sideways, plucked the device from Mia’s lap and threw it across the floor. It slid the length of the tile surface and slammed into the wall. Flopping backward, she said, “That noise--I’ve never heard anything like that before in my life! Do you think the guys are in danger?”

"I hope not. Since we haven't got a bead on their exact location, I think blundering in right now might make the situation worse. I say we stay put and wait for Mike to radio their status."

“I don't know... you heard the part about Jenkins Porter having a shotgun. Asking for a first aid kit tells me that someone in that basement has been injured.”

Mia flushed, and a vein throbbed at her temple. “As stone cold as this may sound, I hope Porter’s the one injured. That’s the price you pay when you mess with demonic energy. Jim’s got the physique of a body-builder, and I can see him twisting the little weasel's neck. Especially if he took a couple of potshots in his direction.”

Emma’s eyes and mouth opened wide. “Mia, this is a whole different side to you—I like it!”

“Yeah, well, it’s been a heckuva day so far.”

Mia got to her knees and leaned forward to peer into the farthest corners of the foyer. As her eyes scanned the open door to a room she knew, based on her study of the house plans, to be the original library, she felt the hair rise on her arms. Blocking her view of the book-covered west wall was a sphere of gray. Its center swirled with red and purple lines that overlapped and intertwined.

Grabbing Emma’s elbow, she pulled her from a sitting position and pointed to a spot which, by now, had doubled in size. Emma sucked in a sharp breath and, without taking her eyes from the object, said, “I’m going to grab the EMF indicator to see what kind of energy that thing’s giving off. It’s moving faster than a tornado on steroids.”

“We’ll need closer proximity to get an accurate reading. Are you ready to face whatever it turns out to be?”

"You might say I was born ready. Besides, I’m done being toyed with by the nasties.”

A brief smile flitted across Mia’s lips, and her eyes gleamed. “Your courage is born of innocence, but I admire it none the less.”

They got to their feet and, with Mia leading the way, moved toward the library’s entrance. They stepped around abandoned planks and scattered equipment. Unlike Mike and Luke earlier, they had the advantage of light from the now illuminated chandelier. Despite that, Mia’s feet nearly went out from under her when she stepped onto a pile of sawdust. As she righted herself, she called over her shoulder, “Be careful. The floor’s slippery in spots.” On reaching the doorway, she checked to be sure her teammate was safe.

Emma reached her side, turned the small device in her hand in Mia’s direction and said, “We had a nominal reading of .3 when I first checked. Now it’s at 5.2. That's a significant jump in electromagnetic energy.”

Both women looked in the direction of the menacing sphere. Emma was the first to remark on the sickening stench emanating from it. She pulled the edge of her shirt up over her nose and said, "Yuck…smells like the bottom of a dumpster.”

Mia gathered the strands of her will and pushed back the smell’s assault. She grabbed Emma’s arm, saying, “Hold strong, Emma. We can’t allow ourselves any negative reactions--whatever’s in this room is toying with us.”

Emma straightened her shirt and lifted her chin. “Right. Took me by surprise is all.”

“That’s how these things operate.”

Mia reached through the doorway and felt for a light switch without success. She was aware of Emma inching towards the phenomenon and decided to focus on her.

"Holy shit. It's now at 8.4!” Emma felt a jolt of static electricity and had the urge to run for safety. Instead, she circled the outer edges of the room, ending back at the spot with the highest charge. “Right here is the only spot registering any measurable activity.”

As the air in the room thickened, the smell of gardenias replaced the foul odor and a human shape emerged from the sphere.

Mia ordered Emma to back away, but the girl appeared frozen in place. Closing the space between them, Mia nudged her aside and hissed, “Take cover… now!”

Once she was certain of Emma's safety, the psychic turned to face the apparition.

A woman, whose nakedness was apparent through her shredded nightgown, hung in mid-air. Mia's heart thumped against her breastbone as she recognized the face of Catherine Bellingham, murdered ninety years earlier. The ghost lifted her hand and gestured Mia to approach. A red mist blurred the lower half of her jaw, but the words that came out were clear. Mia lifted her hand and, palm facing the entity, gestured for it to halt.

The look of the eyes shifted from soft and pleading to hard and hateful while Catherine's features faded in and out. A voice with guttural shadings chastised her, “Why are you wasting time? Jenkins Porter can’t help us. What you saw in your vision—the scene in the tunnel—that’s where you’ll get answers.”

“How do you know about the vision, Catherine? Or maybe that’s not, in fact, who you are.”

Thus challenged, the apparition dropped all pretense. Bulging reptilian orbs replaced Catherine Bellingham’s grief-stricken eyes. Mia grasped the silver cross around her neck, lifted it high and raised her voice to its most commanding level. “The blood of Jesus protects me. You will not harm this child of God.”

Guttural screeches whirled about her head, battering the bones of her skull: "Weee--will destroy you-- Weee—do not bow to that one—“ Claws appeared three inches from her face and she had a terrible vision of her eye sockets gouged and bleeding.

Mia held the cross tighter and pulled it to the limits of the chain, trying to ward off the attack. She heard Emma’s cry of pain behind her, but a massive weight pressing down on her head prevented any rescue effort. God help us, she thought.
At the periphery of her vision, a white flash appeared, moving from right to left, and entering into the apparition. In her mind’s eye, it took on the form of an angel, wrapping one of its powerful arms around the demon’s throat. The creature pawed the air and its claws glinted as they caught the light coming through the doorway. When they touched against the fabric of the angel's gown, a hiss and the smell of burning flesh was accompanied by the roars of a wounded beast. 

Stomach twisting in tandem with the struggle, all Mia could do was serve as witness to the event. The battle seemed to rage for hours, and when she felt her mind begin to put up a barrier of unconsciousness, the tide of the battle shifted--the angel bested the demon and dragged it, raging, upward through the ceiling. The pressure on Mia’s body immediately lifted, and she sucked fresh breath into her lungs. Room’s clear for the moment, she thought.

She whirled and gasped at the sight of Emma doubled over. She drew close enough to touch her but hesitated lest it cause more pain. “Talk to me,” she urged. “What happened?”

“I’ve never felt anything like that before,” Emma gasped. “It was like someone tried to rip out my kidneys. God it hurts!”

Mia placed her fingertips underneath Emma’s chin and lifted her face. She felt a twinge of guilt at the pain she saw reflected there. “When you feel you can move,” she said, “we need to get you out to the van at once. This attack tells me you've been targeted for spiritual oppression. We need to get you out of this house pronto.”

Emma tried to straighten, but the movement elicited a moan. She took some deep breaths before continuing, “I’m no quitter. Charles Bellingham, or whatever the hell that was, won’t chase me from this house.”  

“You need to understand something,” Mia said as she grabbed Emma’s elbow and squeezed. “This case is no longer about being brave or stoic. There’s a part of the vision I had earlier that I didn’t mention because I wasn’t sure about the guidance.” She looked into the center of the room where the apparition had been, and her eyes were hard and unyielding. “The reason Charles Bellingham can keep his victims trapped here is because he has human helpers. I’m sure of that now.”

Emma straightened in increments until she was fully upright.  She rested her head against the wall and closed her eyes. “If you mean Jenkins Porter, he’s only dangerous when he’s not drinking, which is rare.”

“We… I… have been misled. In fact, I believe the caretaker is a red herring.”

Emma’s eyes flew open, and she shot Mia a puzzled look. “We all saw how Bellingham took over his body at the cottage. How can you think he’s a bit player?”

“Because, in my vision of the murder in the tunnel’s main chamber, I saw other presences hovering in the background as Bellingham tortured Catherine’s maid. Some were demonic, but others were the etheric counterparts of living human beings.”

“You’re sure?”

“As I can be.”

Emma stuck the EMF in her pocket and stepped away from the wall. “How is what you saw relevant to what's going on right now? Whoever those people were, they’re likely dead.”

The shadows in the room thickened, and Mia felt cold to her core. “I wish that were the case. They're very much alive," she said, "and capable of deeds beyond their ancestors' wildest imaginings." 


Outrage churned in Mike's gut, like the center of a whirlpool, as he watched Luke's radial transceiver melt into a twisted heap on the floor. The young man had dropped to his knees and was examining his hands for burns.

Reaching Luke's side, Mike placed a palm at the base of his friend's skull. He was surprised by the violent trembling he felt beneath his touch. 

"Anything serious, Luke?"

"A little wobbly, otherwise okay. Bellingham fights dirty, even for a demon. Do you think he's working in league with others like himself?"
"I'm certain of it.” He retrieved the transmitter hooked to his belt and informed Luke, “I'll make sure the ladies are safe while you help Norris tie up Jenkins Porter. We can't have that crazy coot running around with loaded guns." 

But Mike was forced to make another choice as the sounds of growling and barking erupted from the other end of the basement. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Where'd that dog come from?

He’d barely had time to register the dog’s presence before realizing, with horror, that it had zeroed in on a target—Jim Norris. Launching itself into the air, it knocked Jim to the ground and sunk its teeth into an exposed shoulder.

Jim screamed, "Shoot the fucking dog!"
Mike grabbed the twelve gauge shotgun discarded by Porter and confirmed he was within range to take out the dog. He steadied his arm, sighted the target and pressed the trigger. In the back of his mind was the prayer he’d not be too late.


Dear Reader,

This is a newly edited chapter in this series. The novel is evolving in a different direction from its original format, and I suggest that you not read ahead because you will be confused.

Thanks for reading!




Emma Barlow: Team historian and investigator.
Luke Chadwick: Technical support and investigator.
Mia Langley: Co-Founder and trance medium.
Mike Peterson: Group founder.

Apparition: Ghost
EMF Detector: Electromagnetic field indicator. It's believed that spirits give off an electromagnetic charge as they manifest.
Paranormal: Not scientifically explainable.
Poltergiest: Noisy ghost.
Red Herring: Something to distract.
Transmitter: Walkie Talkie.

Thanks to angelheart for the use of her great artwork.

Chapter 12
The Tempest Stirs

By Writingfundimension


The Maine Paranormal Society has been hired to investigate poltergeist activity at the notorious Bellingham Manor—the site of the murders of Catherine Bellingham and her French lover. MPS is instructed to meet with the estate’s caretaker, Jenkins Porter where they encounter hostility and veiled threats. Their backup plan is to enlist the aid of the renovation contractor, Jim Norris, and they meet with him on the evening of their arrival in Nobleboro, Maine. Just as they begin their initial sweep of the house, Jim Norris is attacked by the caretaker who shoots at him while in a drunken state. With the help of two of the team’s members, Luke and Mike, the caretaker has been subdued. However, another danger lurks for which they are unprepared.


Last Chapter:

Outrage churned in Mike’s gut like the center of a whirlpool as he watched Luke’s radial transceiver melt into a twisted heap on the floor. The young man dropped to his knees and examined his hands for burns.

Reaching Luke’s side, Mike placed a palm at the base of is friend’s skull and made note of the violent trembling beneath his hand.

“Are you hurt?”

“No, just a bit unnerved. Bellingham fights dirty, even for a demon. Do you think he’s working in league with others like himself?”

“I’m certain of it. Retrieving the transmitter hooked to his belt, he instructed Luke, “Make sure the ladies are safe while I help Norris tie up Jenkins Porter. We can’t have that crazy coot running around with a loaded gun.”

Luke hurried off, but Mike was forced to make another choice as the sounds of an animal ready to strike came from the shadowed end of the Manor’s basement. He pulled the flashlight from his belt and shone a light into a darkened corner. What the hell… that’s Porter’s dog!

He’d barely registered the dog’s identity before realizing it was stalking Jim Norris. Launching itself into the air, it knocked Jim to the ground and sunk its teeth into an exposed shoulder.

“Kill the bastard, Mike!” Jim screamed.


Bellingham Manor, February 7, 2010

Mike fought between his fear of the enraged animal turning on him and the need to save Jim from a horrible death. Grabbing a nearby plank with three-inch nails protruding from its surface, he assessed his advantage. He was acting on pure impulse and conscious only of the need to distract the dog long enough for Jim to roll out of its reach.

He raised the improvised weapon above his head and advanced in the direction of the wolfhound, but before he could strike, it was shoved backward and pinned to the floor.

Mike dropped his arm and stepped closer--utterly confused by what he was seeing. Jim lay against the wall in obvious agony, and Mike hadn’t had time to reach the animal, so who or what was the intervening force?

The dog howled his rage, and Mike clearly heard the crunch of his breaking bones. Further maddened, the dog snapped his jaws frantically as if trying to rip the flesh off what only it could see. In desperation, it used its powerful front legs and the force of its one-hundred-twenty pounds of weight to push aside its attacker, but could not gain ground.

Into the space above and around the thrashing dog a viscous, purple mass materialized. Mike’s emotions went from disbelief to wishing he had a camera to record the whole twisted show as he observed the dog's body levitate upward--reaching the approximate height of a man's chest. It dangled in mid-air, muscle spasms rippling across its hide, bound by the wishes of a spectral puppeteer. An instant later, the dog’s body flew across the room, bounced off a wall and hit the ground with a solid thud. It whimpered briefly and went silent. Blood pooled around its shattered skull.

The mass grew brighter, changed directions and flew at the paranormal investigator. Years of experience helped Mike to stand his ground. He sent out a telepathic message to whatever was at the core of the energy facing him, “We are here for only one purpose - to help rescue trapped souls. Are you one of them?” He kept his thoughts neutral because he’d learned to avoid antagonizing a powerful entity.

Feelings of hopelessness and longing assailed Mike as the shape drew close. Internally, he heard an answering male voice with what sounded like a French accent. You can barely help yourselves, what can you offer Catherine and me? You do not yet understand what you are up against. Amulets and faith have done little so far...the once-Lord of this Manor still wields a great deal of power in your dimension.

Fighting the despair projected by the entity, Mike gripped the plank in his hands. He used the sensation of its rough-cut edges to stay within his thoughts. "We intend to do everything in our power to help you find peace, and we’re not leaving until we send that monster to hell.” Mike's thoughts vibrated with deep feeling, and in response, a wild moan reverberated off the basement walls and built in intensity like ions before a rainstorm. Then the mass compressed into a single line and disappeared. 

The sadness dissipated when the mass disappeared. Mike remained a moment longer looking at the dog and assessing the likelihood he’d just made contact with Phillipe Magret, the murdered lover of Catherine Bellingham. The situation hardly qualified for euphoria, but Mike was as excited as he’d ever been on any of their paranormal investigations. He could hardly wait to share his experience with the rest of the team.

Jim’s grunts reclaimed Mike’s attention. The contractor struggled to get up while using his jacket sleeve to staunch the flow of blood from his shoulder. Mike bent to place a steadying arm across his shoulder, but Jim shrugged him off. “I don't understand. There was no one there—what in God's name just happened?” 

“Explanations can wait. Right now we need to get you to the hospital,” Mike urged.

Just then, Luke came through the door at top speed and stopped just short of where the two men huddled. He studied them a moment then snapped his gaze in the direction of the dead dog. “I don't know what I expected to find,” he said, “but it looks like you two had yourselves a wicked time.”

"You don't know the half, Luke. Thousands of dollars of digital equipment locked in our van, and I'm here without a shred of proof of some of the weirdest shit I've seen in years." Mike’s forehead wrinkled in distaste.

He turned his attention to the injured man. "While I put together a tourniquet, check on the caretaker. There was enough racket in here to wake a whole graveyard, and he hasn’t appeared to move a muscle. Make sure he's still breathing, will you? And tie his hands and feet.” Pointing to the animal, he continued, “That's his creepy, and thoroughly dead, wolfhound over there. If he wakes up and sees him like that, he’ll go ballistic.”

Before Luke could act, Mike grabbed his sleeve. "First tell me... are Mia and Emma okay?" 

"Emma’s bruised up a bit, but nothing serious as far as we can tell.” Luke shifted his stance. “The girls encountered a very nasty entity upstairs and are more than ready to wrap up tonight’s investigation.”

“I completely agree.” Mike pulled a deep breath and slowly released it. He made sure he had Jim’s attention and continued, “We’ll transport you to the hospital in our van, and one of us will follow in your vehicle. I also think it’s time to involve the local sheriff.”

The contractor jerked upright and pressed his good arm into the wall for better balance. “No hospital and no police,” he ordered. His face lacked color, and his eyes had a wild look in them. “I'm in charge here, technically, and I say we bury the dog on the property and make sure Porter is tucked away safely in his cottage.”

Jim’s chin drooped, and he swallowed repeatedly. In a decidedly weaker voice, he continued, “Besides, he’s so drunk he won't remember anything that's happened. Look at him, all the noise and he's over there snoring peacefully.”

Mike looked at Luke and shook his head. “We’re not going to help you transport the caretaker or bury the dog, Jim. Since you were the one shot at and nearly ripped to pieces, it's your call to make regarding the police. But we will not participate in covering up what happened here tonight.

"What possible harm could it do to involve the sheriff?” Luke added.

"I have an excellent reason for why I don’t want to call the man. He’s Jenkins Porter’s nephew and I don’t trust him.”

When nothing more was forthcoming, Mike prodded, "Are you suggesting this... nephew... would be willing to risk his job to help his uncle?"

"That's what I'm saying, young man. Our sheriff has a great deal of money that he takes every opportunity to flaunt in public. Somehow, Porter and his nephew are using this estate for illegal activities." Jabbing a finger in Mike’s direction for emphasis, he continued, “and when I get solid proof of that, I intend to cut the heads off those two snakes!”

Dear Reader,

This has been heavily edited from the original post. Please do not read ahead to the next chapter as you will find it confusing.

Thanks for reading!



Author Notes Members of the Maine Paranormal Society are: Mike Peterson, group founder; Luke Chadwick, technical support; Mia Langley, psychic/medium and Emma Barlow, additional tech support and team historian.

Additional Characters:

Catherine Bellingham: Murdered wife of the wealthy Charles Bellingham.
Jim Norris: Contractor for Bellingham Manor's restoration project.
Jenkins Porter: Estate Caretaker.


Paranormal: Not scientifically explainable.
Poltergeist: Noisy ghost.

Thanks to Angelheart for the awesome artwork.

Chapter 13
Where I Go, Will You Follow?

By Writingfundimension

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.






JULY 20, 1922

Catherine Dupree, the only living child of a millionaire industrialist, was three days into her eighteenth year when she first met Charles Bellingham. Her life, to that point, was insular and sheltered like the hot-house orchids pressed into superiority by her determined mother. From their first dance at her parents’ annual Mardi Gras celebration until their wedding seven months later, Catherine’s future was wrenched from her control by a father determined to arrange a suitable marriage.

The young woman tried to suppress her doubts as the days and weeks progressed at a fevered pace. Even if her betrothed was not the handsome man she’d dreamed of marrying one day, he possessed an unwavering confidence. Her father considered this an admirable trait and, indeed, the reason he’d acquired one of the largest fortunes in New England. But her Poppa was never present when Charles’ eyes bulged and his features morphed into a hateful mask if she dared to disagree.

After their honeymoon in Tuscany, Catherine moved into Bellingham Manor. Though she had sleeping quarters apart from her husband, he warned her to keep the suite’s door unlocked at all times. Night after night he forced her to commit acts of such repugnance she began to retreat into the deepest corner of her psyche.

She never intended to take Phillipe Decault as her lover. His equal reticence was due to the Catholic Church’s belief that adultery was a grave sin. Eventually, they succumbed to their yearnings and entered into a passionate affair. Bolstered by the sense of being half each of a whole, the two made plans to escape to France.

On a hot, humid night in July, the Bellingham's hosted a dinner party attended, primarily, by four couples who pandered to her husband’s every whim. Phillipe’s inclusion gave her comfort. It escaped her notice that her lover’s presence was odd given the rest of the guests were part of a tight-knit group of wealthy industrialists. She was preoccupied with worry over the disappearance of Margarethe. At one point, when she thought herself unobserved, she pressed herself against Phillipe’s body and whispered, “We need to talk. I’ll come to the Lake House when he’s asleep.”

Catherine arrived at the cottage near midnight. She poured out her concerns regarding Margarethe and made a chilling observation. “He’s snatched her, Phillipe. I think he’ll do something terrible to her because of me. I know what he’s capable of--you’ve no idea.”

Phillipe smoothed the lines of worry on her face and tried to counteract her fears. “Margarethe will be back in the morning, Mon Ange. I am sure of it.” They made love, then, with a wildness born out of fear and desperation, and Catherine slept with her hands cradling their unborn child.

Two hours later, with dawn's appearance yet to come, a man bent on vengeance slit Catherine's throat. The number of stab wounds and obvious ferocity behind the attack led investigators to theorize passion was the driving force.

The gentleman lying next to the woman suffered a similar fate. His face was battered beyond recognition, and only a coroner’s examination would be able to establish the exact number of stab wounds. More disturbing to the investigators was the graphic evidence he’d suffered castration.

“I hope he was dead a’fore the butcher cut off his private parts,” the lead detective remarked to the forensic team. But given the level of brutality, down to a man they guessed that was not the case.

After the bodies were removed, a lone investigator lingered at the scene, trying to imagine how the crime had played out. Goosebumps rose on both his arms, and he felt sure he was being watched. ‘God have mercy on your soul,’ he mumbled while crossing himself and exiting the cottage with extreme haste.
Gray filled every niche of Catherine's limbo world, and it was the cruelest aspect of her fate.

While on the physical plane, her soul sweetened whenever her eyes rested on the rich color of the Objets d'Arts acquired during trips to France. Tapestries depicting tranquil pastoral scenes covered the walls of her private quarters. Her sitting room, as well, was filled with tiny treasures of such exquisite craftsmanship, they made her heart ache. She'd linger for hours caressing them, and anchoring her sanity after one of Charles’ sexually depraved ‘lessons’.

Once her murder investigation was complete, an entire life's belongings were consigned to a dark corner of Bellingham Manor’s large attic. For many years following her death, cords of attachment drew her to these objects. Her hands followed the outline of a precious china tea cup or stroked the length of a bejeweled shawl.

Inevitably, Catherine capitulated to the brutal loss of physical sensation and fled to other, less painful parts of the Manor. Malignant sadness shrouded the light of her faith until she grew convinced that Charles' words had been fulfilled: "You think to escape me, Catherine, but you never will," he'd sworn while violently thrusting himself inside her.

The presence of the paranormal team threatened to undo the uneasy truce established by the entities inhabiting Bellingham Manor. Already, opposing energies fed off the new presences and procured increased power. Decades of existence in the gray realm left Catherine Bellingham with only one hope: finding her son and helping him cross over in the hands of God.


Mia followed Emma out of the library and into the relative safety of the foyer. She frowned at what she could see was a pronounced limp.  Crossing in front of her friend, Mia probed, “Did something happen back there you haven’t told me about?”

“It’s nothing, Mia.” But when Emma tried to continue forward, she winced from the effort. Throwing out her arm, she made contact with a nearby wall and leaned on it. “Shit. I think... maybe... I've re-injured my ankle.” She screwed her eyes tight and leaned her head backward. “The Hornets need me in good shape if we’re going to take the title this year.” Rubbing her teeth across her bottom lip, she groaned. “This can’t be happening!”

“Remember me telling you that I’m a Reiki Master?” Mia said. “It's perfect for this kind of injury because it can bring down the swelling. We can then treat it further back at the B&B."

Emma snapped her head forward. “Yes! I remember you saying something about Reiki. I’m not sure what it is, but I believe in you.” Grasping two of Mia’s fingers, she urged, “I'm ready if you are."

Ten minutes later, Mia felt the intense heat fade slowly from her hands. Though her palms continued to tingle, she knew the energy download was complete. She sat back on her heels and spoke to the female spirit drawn to her side.

Whoever you are, may Christ enfold you in his loving arms,” she offered.

A far-off sigh was the only response.

Mia pushed aside her concern for one of the Manor’s lost souls. She turned her attention to Emma who’d fallen asleep under the influence of the comforting warmth suffusing her body. At the light touch on her skin, Emma's eyes opened. She thrust her leg forward and bent her foot at different angles. "Whoa girl," Mia warned. "Let your foot rest in my hands while slowly rotate your ankle.”

Emma did as suggested, a smile forming on her lips. She pulled Mia into a tight embrace. “No pain." she said. "How do I thank you?"

"No necessary, Emma. Reiki is a sacred trust passed down from teacher to student. It's meant to be shared." 

The girls' attention moved to the sound of approaching footsteps. First Luke, then Mike emerged into the light. Mia glanced at Emma and raised an eyebrow. “They looked pissed.” When Mike and Luke were within earshot, she asked, “What’s happened?”

"We're all returning to the bed and breakfast," Mike said, "at which time Luke and I will fill you in on the details." Mike's arms were stiff at his side and his cheeks were flushed. "Jim Norris is staying behind, alone, to clean up tonight's mess."

"What mess...?" Emma started to inquire before catching Luke's chopping motion across the throat. "Um...well...maybe this isn't the best time to get into the details," she backpedaled. "But there's something we need to do before we leave.” Turning to Mia, she said, “Tell them about your encounter.”

Mia quickly filled in the two men and finished by suggesting they do a sweep of the library, including a check of the EMF levels. “Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the event, but maybe the readings will indicate an energy source for the spirit’s manifestation.”

“Good idea,” Mike concurred.  

They formed a single line and proceeded to the Library. Three of the walls had shelves empty of books. Pushed against the fourth wall was a leather-topped desk with strange markings cut into its top. A lone chair sat in the middle of the room covered with a drop cloth.

Mia was stunned by the presence of the desk and chair. Her feeling was confirmed when Emma pulled her aside. “I don’t recall there being any furniture in this room. For sure, that chair was not where it is now.”

Nodding, Mia added, “It’s as if this stuff materialized out of space. I’ve heard of events like this, but never thought I’d personally witness one.”

“Doesn’t surprise me," Mike interrupted. "The paranormal activity in this house is over-the-top. If I didn’t know better, I’d think we were in the middle of a cheesy horror film.” He retrieved a device from his backpack and lit it up while stepping forward, “I’m going to take a look at the desktop through the IR camera.”
The three other members of the team watched him pace around the desk. When he finally lifted his head, he looked like a man sipping a thousand-dollar bottle of wine.

“You've got to see this."

Luke grabbed the camera to see for himself. “Holy Shit, there’s a heat signature around the markings, and they look like fingerprints.” He turned to where Mia and Emma stood. “Did either of you touch the desk earlier?”

“No,” they answered in chorus.

Luke returned the camera to Mike and announced, “I’m going to do an EMF sweep.” Stopping at various points to get baseline readings with his detector, the paranormal investigator looked for fluctuations in energy. Experience had taught the team that readings of two points or higher commonly indicated the presence of a ghost drawing on available energy to manifest itself.

The readings remained consistent until he reached the chair. The gauge lit up as Luke made several passes over and around it. "I'm getting a significant energy spike,” he called out. The group gathered to watch as Luke pulled off the drop cloth. 

Underneath was a chair matching the wood of the desk. Slash marks and carved triangular shapes marred its original beauty. Stacked neatly in the middle of the seat was a pile of books.

"Don't touch those," Mia ordered. "Let Mike get some pictures while I activate a grid of protection.” Luke retreated to Emma’s side as the Psychic stepped forward to build an etheric web composed of lines of energy.  

The oppressive heaviness in the room lifted as soon as Mia completed her task. When she indicated it was safe to touch the pile, Luke grabbed the book on top. He raised it up to eye level, title facing outward.

“The Satan Paradigm: A History of Evil,” Mia read. She crossed her arms in a warding gesture. “What in the name of God are we dealing with?”    

~~ to be continued ~~

Dear Reader,

This is a re-posting of a heavily edited chapter. Please do not read ahead or you will be very confused!
As always, thanks so much for reading.



Author Notes Maine Paranormal Society Members: Mike Penrod, Emma Barlow, Mia Langley and Luke Carpenter.


EMF: Electromagnetic field
EMF Detector: A scientific instrument for measuring electromagnetic fields.
Ghost: Disembodied spirit.
Grid: Network of interlocking lines.
IR camera: A device that forms an image using radiation, similar to a camera using visible light.
Mardis Gras: French for 'fat Tuesday' referencing the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritualistic fasting of Lent.
Objet d'Art: (Fr.) Object of artistic merit
Paranormal: Supernatural.
Psychic: Sensitive to non-physical or supernatural forces.
Reiki: A Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.

Thanks to ClydeLee for the awesome artwork!

Chapter 14
At the Precipice

By Writingfundimension


Using the latest technology, the MPS team has documented phenomenon they hope will provide tangible proof that Bellingham Manor is, indeed, haunted. The four team members, Mike, Mia, Luke and Emma decide to return to their lodgings for a much-needed night’s rest and subsequent evidence review.          



Mike cranked up the heat in the Dodge Grand Caravan, making sure the vents directed a flow of warm air toward the two women huddled in their seats. Mia and Emma were mirror images of each other as they rubbed their gloved hands together to start the warming process. He estimated the temperature at this late hour to be in the single digits, which led him to insist that he and Luke would handle the loading and storing of equipment.

As they neared the open doorway of the Manor where they’d left the equipment bags, Luke clapped a hand on Mike’s shoulder. He lowered his voice even though they were a safe distance from the van. “I’m worried about Mia. She looks shell-shocked.”

Mike nodded and hoisted the tripod’s carrying case unto his back. “We need to get out of here ASAP." 

Less than fifteen minutes later, they were making their way along the drive leading away from the Manor. An inch of snow had accumulated, blurring the edges of the road. Low-lying clouds hid the starlight, and a crescent moon provided bare illumination. Mike’s fingers gripped the wheel as if it was a life vest. I feel like a fly that’s smack in the middle of a white canvas.

The van hit an area of crumbled black-top sloping downhill and lurched to the right, lifting everyone into the air like handfuls of confetti. “Sorry.” Mike slowed to a safer speed. “My fault for driving too fast, but I’m anxious to put some distance between us and that evil-infested house.”

“Understandable.” Mia placed her hands against the back of Mike’s seat to steady herself. “This night ranks plus ten on the weirdness scale for me,” she said. “A good night’s rest is in serious jeopardy at this point.”

Mike grunted as he swerved to avoid another rut. “Hardly anything about this case has been straightforward.” he said. “Besides dealing with a possibly-possessed caretaker, we face becoming involved with a dirty local sheriff and his merry band of felons. According to Jim Norris, the lawman can’t be trusted to assist our investigation in any way.”

The van’s occupants fell silent allowing Mike to focus on keeping the vehicle under control. Once clear of the Manor’s gates and onto solid pavement, Mia broached the subject of what had transpired in the basement.

"This might be a good time to tell us what made you and Luke decide to leave Jim Norris behind.” She leaned into the space between them. “Considering the level of dangerous poltergeist activity we all witnessed tonight, I'm concerned for his safety.”

Luke's reaction hinted at aggression. “If you'd seen the weird shit we did, you’d have come to the same conclusion, Mia. Jim Norris is not the innocent victim he portrayed himself to be. He's up to something, and it involves a combination of getting revenge and making some money, in my opinion.”

Emma flicked the back of Luke’s cap. “Bring it down a notch, dude. We all know the hazards of dealing with the paranormal. Someone unsuspecting like Jim Norris… well… it’s important to remember he may have been adversely influenced.”

She adjusted her seat belt to allow for easier movement. “Tell us what happened, and we'll let you know if we agree with the choice you made.”

“Since the physical attacks were directed primarily at Jim I felt it was his decision to make on whether to call in the cops.” Turning the lights to high beam, Mike continued, “Our first priority is our employer. We have a good reputation in the paranormal community. I let him know we would not jeopardize that by participating in any sort of cover-up.”

"Sounds like you made the right move,” Emma said. “Norris's actions may not quite be illegal but they are suspicious. Makes me question the man's usefulness to our investigation. That is, if we still want to continue with this case?”

Luke twisted in her direction. “Are you nuts? We've all had personal experiences unlike anything we've encountered before. The potential for concrete, physical corroboration for our experiences through what we recorded in the library makes this a no-brainer. We've got to see this case through to the end!”

Mia's fingertips stopped short of Luke's jacket sleeve. “We all need some rest. This day already feels like its forty-eight hours long.” Turning her head in Emma's direction, she added, “We're physically drained and mentally exhausted from being on alert for hours. In the morning our heads will be clear and emotions calmer - a good time to discuss our options.”

Mike shifted his gaze to Luke. "Mia’s right. Today’s experiences are unprecedented, and we need time to process them." He noted the crossed arms and stubborn set of Luke’s jaw, and decided to drop the lecture and let Luke cool off on his own.


Following New England custom, electric candles illuminated the front-facing windows of The Tipsy Butler. The sight brought Mia to the edge of tears. A candle in the dark… is there anything more comforting?

She'd used every device in her psychic tool bag to survive the day, vowing not to show the effects of the darkness sucking her energy like a horde of leaches. Loneliness, doubt and dread trisected her stability, leaving her with the sense of profound isolation. As much as the other team members tried to empathize with her unique situation, not one of them knew the gut-wrenching fear she endured in these situations.

Mia forced herself to focus on the candlelight, and, like the feather-light touch of an angel’s wing, the words of the apostle John came to her: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.

Bowing her head, Mia placed her attention on the midline of her body, willing her spine to stretch and straighten. A slow-spreading warmth filled her chest allowing her thoughts to raise up out of the muck.
Earlier, the team had secured a front door key from Bernadette, the owner of the Tipsy Butler, explaining they might be returning quite late. She’d hesitated at first, saying she was a night owl and likely to be up as late as midnight. This forced Mike to come clean about what kind of work they did. “When we’re involved in a case, we sometimes go into the early morning hours because that’s when paranormal activity ramps up.”

The explanation produced a flicker of interest. “A paranormal team – that’s a first for us. Personally, I’m a ‘show me and I’ll believe’ kind of a gal. Though, in this part of Maine, there are multiple reports of hauntings. In fact, a girlfriend of mine owns a centennial farm at the edge of town. She claims she’s seen disembodied spirits and her dogs refuse to go anywhere near a shed on her property.”

“Animals are particularly sensitive to the supernatural,” Mike said. “If your friend is open to it, perhaps we can check out her shed before we head back home.”

Bernadette beamed. “I’ll run it by her and let you know.” She reached into her pocket and produced a key. “You folks seem trustworthy.” Dropping the key into Mike’s hand, she added, “Just don’t bring anything nasty back with you!”

As promised, the hour was late when Mike slipped the key into the lock. They left the majority of their equipment in the van, in part to avoid the temptation to dig into the gathered material.

Emma was last to enter and felt something brush against her leg. She gasped at the unexpected intrusion and scanned the floor for the culprit. A beautiful Himalayan cat circled her ankles purring like a revved-up engine. Emma was crazy for cats, and wherever the team traveled every feline in the vicinity eventually found its way to her.

She scooped the cat up in her arms and hugged it to her chest. "Where have you come from? I don't remember seeing you earlier.” The cat closed its blue eyes and purred even louder as Emma scratched behind its ears and beneath its chin. Rubbing her cheek across the cat’s head, she mumbled, “You’re just what I need right now. I'll call you Mage until I find out your real name.” 

With Mage resting in the crook of one arm, and her coat and backpack slung over the other, Emma trailed her fellow investigators through the common area and up the wooden staircase. None of them spoke out of deference to the sleeping Innkeepers. But Emma’s brain was in high gear. I’m not a quitter, and I think this case is going to be ultra-challenging. I’m just not sure that I have anything to offer other than the background information I’ve already provided. She stroked the length of the cat and vowed to get Mia’s advice once they were alone in their room.

Emma thought back on how the idea of becoming a paranormal investigator had, initially, been exciting. I'm so lucky to have found paranormal investigators with the integrity of Mike and Mia. Though the psychic world was not a comfortable or natural fit for her, she loved assisting clients in taking back their homes. But the current case was unlike anything she and the team had ever faced, creating a high level of anxiety and confusion.

While Mike and Mia had the support of their Christian beliefs in dealing with the supernatural, Emma had been raised by parents who were psychotherapists and avowed agnostics. The previous summer, they’d staged an intervention of sorts. “You’re associating yourself with a fringe element, and we’re frankly very concerned,” her father said as her mother nodded agreement. “It’s as if you’ve come under the spell of these people. Furthermore, you have a responsibility to the University that provided you with a generous scholarship. Volleyball should be your priority right now.”

The upshot of the discussion was that Emma would seriously consider her parents request to distance herself from the 'sordid lives of clearly delusional individuals'. Yet, here she was, enmeshed in activities her parents despised and wondering if her judgment was clouded by affection for the best friends she’d ever known.

Mike and Luke—they can handle anything that’s thrown their way. Noting Mia’s wobbly gait, she was moved by her friend’s fragility. Mia’s not as strong as she needs to be, especially if we’re dealing with the demonic. I’m in a real bind here. All I can do is present the situation honestly and hope for a solution that'll make everyone happy.

At the end of the hallway in the bedroom shared by the girls, Mia applied cream to her face and neck while Emma took a long, hot shower. Emerging from the bathroom wearing cobalt blue over-sized silk jockeys and a matching tee, Emma perched at the edge of the bed. 

"Um, Mia, this is really hard for me; but being psychic, you probably already know what I'm going to say, right?" Her laugh sounded forced to her own ears. “Sorry, lame joke.” Stretching her legs full length she stared at her toes rather than meet Mia’s eyes.

”I hate the idea of abandoning the rest of you in the middle of a case, but it’s turned out to be much more complicated than any of us thought. The volleyball game next week will decide whether we advance to the semi-finals and I need to perform well. Adding to the pressure, my parents are coming up from Boston to watch me play." 

Mia cleaned her hands with a Kleenex and turned in her seat. "I completely understand, Emma. Your first responsibility is with the University team. Under normal circumstances, we’d have wrapped up the first part of the investigation and be back home in our own beds by now.”

Emma took a deep breath and let it out. “I shouldn’t have agreed to come given my other responsibilities.”

“You’ve provided us with some valuable background information. Don’t discount your contribution thus far.” Mia squeezed her friend’s knee. “Leave everything to me. I believe I have a solution that'll allow you to return home and still be a part of the investigation. We can discuss the details at our group meeting tomorrow, but I think it’s a win-win situation.”

Emma rubbed the soles of her feet across the carpet. “Thanks for understanding, Mia. I just hope everyone else feels the way you do."

"Honey, they'll be putty in my hands, you just wait and see."   


In the middle hours of the night, Mage, who was lying in the warm trough between the two women, screeched like her tail was on fire. Leaping over Mia, she streaked through the previously locked door and down the hallway. Before she’d reached the staircase, the bedroom door swung shut once again and a click signaled the lock dropping back into place.

~~~ to be continued ~~~

Dear Reader,

This chapter has been edited from the original and the storyline is changing as I go. If you read ahead you will confused!

As always, thanks for taking time to read.



















Author Notes I've devoted some time in this chapter to explaining the realities of working in the paranormal field. It is neither as romantic or simplistic as it is often depicted. Over time, it takes a toll on the psyche and emotional health of those who offer their services to the Light. Any interaction with energies from a faster (not necessarily good) vibration, as often happens in dealing with the paranormal, is much like placing a 250 watt bulb in a lighting device wired for 40 watts. Eventually, the device will burn out.

Maine Paranormal Society members: Mike Peterson, group founder; Luke Chadwick, technical support; Mia Langley, psychic/medium and co-founder; Emma Barlow, additional tech support and team historian.


Agnostic: The belief that the existence of a supreme being (God)is unknown and prob. unknowable. (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Full spectrum camera: A digital camera normally senses the visible light spectrum (up to about 750nm). By removing the IR-cut filter, the full spectrum camera can yield images in the range of 750nm to 1200nm - beyond what the human eye can see on its own.

Paranormal: Not scientifically explainable (yet!)

Psychic/Medium: A person sensitive to supernatural forces.

Artwork courtesy of photobeat: Thanks for the use of your awesome image!

The Tipsy Butler is a real bed and breakfast located in the New England area. It is noted for the graciousness of its amenities and gourmet breakfasts. I have added fictionalized elements to my depiction of the owners.

Chapter 15
Beware the Incubus

By Writingfundimension

Previously: The Trans Atlantic Paranormal Team returns to their bed and breakfast, The Tipsy Butler, to get some sleep and to review  evidence gathered at Bellingham Manor.  Mia and Emma share one room and Mike and Luke another. At 3 A.M. a resident cat, who has taken to Emma, is woken by an unseen presence.


The Tipsy Butler, 3 A.M., February 8, 2010

He was borne on a wind that skimmed the frosted fields and ice-sealed ponds of Nobleboro, Maine. A sensation of savage pleasure moved him to howl like a moon-drenched beast. Ahead, through the window, was the target of his lust.

Charles Bellingham's unholy presence was immediately sensed by the cat sleeping in the middle of the bed. Ghostly fingers manipulated the opening and closing of the bedroom door, dispatching the terrified creature.

Sparring with the one called Mia no longer fascinated him. Now, he intended to see what pleasure he could gain through twisting the thoughts and will of her delectable companion. Shudders of energy sparked the edges of his greatcoat as his foul tongue licked Emma's lips.

A claw from one of the creatures that formed Charles Bellingham's retinue of the condemned touched Emma's arm. Immediately the skin swelled and blistered and her features were marred by pain.

Bellingham retaliated by sending a bolt of blue fire into the ghoul and burning it out of existence. Rising from the core of the earth, another demon stood to take its place.

This new demon filled him with terror. Its features were that of an ancient serpent, radiating immense power. 'Who were you?' He commanded, referring to whether it was originally human. But there came no answer.

He was in the presence of a spirit who had never inhabited a body. It could not be exploited or manipulated like those who once experienced emotion. This freshly-risen demon, who would now be his constant companion, came straight from Satan's side.

It was clever and patient, armed with the knowledge of the ghost's plan to seduce human beings into performing a ritual of
re-animation. It would appear to be subservient until, at Satan's bidding, the demon would cast the arrogant fool into the farthest reaches of hell.

Something close to longing came over Bellingham as he bent to whisper in Emma's ear, "You will help me, Emma, of that you can be sure. Like a spider who contorts its body in order to slip from sight, I will enter through the cracks of your fear and confusion. You, my dear, will be the living sacrifice I need in order to once again walk the earth."

He was startled by a large orb approaching rapidly from the corner of the room. It slammed into his chest, knocking him backwards. A web of golden strings surrounded him, trapping his figure inside their light. Dragging him across the floor, they hurled his figure into the darkness beyond the window.

The female apparition standing at the foot of the bed, lifted her hand and repaired the tear in the arc of protection that lay over the sleeping women. She glided along the floor until reaching Emma's side. After tracing a cross on the girl's forehead, the figure in white turned and looked directly into the camera mounted on the dresser and disappeared.

Under the spell of the female apparition, Emma and Mia went on sleeping, unaware of the battle going on in the room and the evidence being gathered by the DVR camera they had set in place before retiring for the night.


At the other end of the hallway, Mike turned restlessly from side to side. Part of his difficulty in getting comfortable was due to the fact that Luke was hogging most of the bed. He got up to use the bathroom and groaned when he looked at the clock and saw that it was 3 AM. - the proverbial witching hour.

He lay awake dissecting the nightmare that thrust him awake: Emma was driving and he was a passenger in her car traveling along an isolated two-lane road. The only illumination was from their high beams and scant moonlight coming through the trees. Even with the ambient light from the car's dashboard, Mike could not make out any of Emma's features - there was a thick cloud between them. Sounding very far away, he heard her say, 'What if we have to spend eternity wandering this road, Mike, never meeting any other souls and unable to escape?'

Mike had goosebumps as he recalled the despair in Emma's voice and wondered what it all meant. At the first opportunity, he planned to get Mia's interpretation of the dream's meaning.

Intent on the process of relaxing his body, he was unprepared for the booming sound that came from the area of the closet. Mike threw back the bedclothes and crept in the direction of the sound's source. Just as he was ready to step inside, another boom - right by his ear - sent him scrambling backwards in alarm.

"Holy crap!" Luke said from the bed. "It sounded like someone shot off a cannon in there. You think that Bellingham's ghost has followed us here?"

"The of us should make sure that Mia and Emma are okay. 
Why don't you do that, Mike, while I make sure there aren't any natural causes for the a furnace kicking on or water moving through plumbing fixtures?" 

"Right, Luke. I'll make this quick and get back to help you sort this out."

Mike crossed the room, released the deadbolt and pulled on the knob. The door did not budge. He pulled again, this time harder, and again the door refused to open.

"What the hell, Luke? I can't get the frikkin door to open."

"Let me try," Luke said. He dug his heels into the floor, grabbed the knob with both hands and pulled with his body's full weight. The door creaked, but did not open.

He stepped back into the center of the room to assess his options and was stunned to see the door open slowly of its own volition. At the same time, the temperature of the room plummetted. "Hurry, Mike, get the EMF detector. Dude, it's freezing right here. The hair on my arms is standing straight up!"

"I feel it too, Luke."  Mike moved the temperature gauge in a spiral direction around both their bodies. Then he compared it to temperatures in other parts of the room. "There's a fifteen degree difference where we're standing. It starts at the floor level and moves straight up to just above our heads." 

"Whoever's in this room with us right now, say something. We feel you drawing on our energy. Use it...use us... to manifest yourself," Luke said in a loud voice. "We want to know who you are and what information you have for us. Please, tell us your name."

"Did you hear that, Mike? I just heard a woman's voice say 'Catherine'." 

"Yeah, man, I heard it," Mike confirmed. "Catherine, we are honored that you are willing to communicate with us. We heard you clearly. Are you here to warn us?"

Mike's face turned ashen at the clearly articulated words coming from the invisible source, 'will kill...Charles will kill...'          


Author Notes Members of the Trans Atlantic Paranormal Team: Mike Peterson, team founder; Luke Chadwick, technical support; Mia Langley, team co-founder/Psychic/Medium and Emma Barlow, team historian.

DVR: Digital video recorder
EMF: Electromagnetic field
Incubus: Male demon who pursues a female human
Poltergeist: Noisy ghost

Image thanks to DonFofo: Four Arches

Chapter 16
The Weak Link

By Writingfundimension

Previously: The Team has split up for the night. The specter of Charles Bellingham has manifested in the room of Mia and Emma with the intention of possessing the latter. He is chased from the room by a powerful female apparition. Simultaneously, Luke and Mike are experiencing paranormal activity of their own. 

The Tipsy Butler, 4 A.M., February 8, 2010

Rage muddied with fear tightened Mike's throat as the ghost of Catherine Bellingham manipulated time and space to issue her warning: 'will kill...Charles will kill...'

"Who will he kill, Catherine? Please, just one word...a it Mia? Mike's voice was thick with tension and he felt ready to throw up.

The two stood motionless hardly daring to breathe and waiting for an answer from a visitor that their logical mind told them could not exist. Mike felt a gradual lightening of the thick air that had been pressing in on him. "She's gone," he announced.

Luke, who had barely managed to keep his excitement contained, was shaking the fist holding the digital recorder above his head. His face beamed. "Holy crap, that voice came from right next to my ear, Mike.That was so weird. It was like...jeez, I don't some freaky cross between mechanical and human. The recorder is running, so maybe we caught it."

He clamped his lips together and his cheeks flushed crimson when he saw the pinpoints of anger in Mike's eyes. In an effort to redeem himself Luke meekly offered, "Emma and Mia...we'd better make sure they're safe."

Mike coldly ordered, "Stay here and think about getting your priorities straight, Luke. I'm going to make sure the rest of our team is safe."

Luke was stunned by the words but chose not to respond. That's not fair, he felt like yelling. I care, too.

Mike turned his back on the young man and slid the spare key-card that Mia had left with him across the shiny surface of the mahogony chest. Heart pounding, he made his way to the other end of the hallway.

Low voltage, recessed lights lined the carmel colored walls of the hallway casting a shadow off Mike's hoodie and giving the appearance he was being stalked by a hunchback.

"Charles Bellingham, I will personally escort you to hell if you've hurt either of my friends." Mike's menacing mumbling was amplified by the absence of any other sounds in the empty hallway.

When he reached the girls' door, he touched his fingers to its exterior and opened his psychic senses to what was on the other side. Within seconds, his scalp tingled and he gagged on the strong odor of rotted eggs that assaulted his nostrils. His gut clenched at the confirmation of his fear that two members of his team were in danger.

An insistent pressure against the back of his legs upset his balance. "What the...where the hell d'you come from?" he addressed a white cat who sat at his feet intently staring up at him. In his frustration he was tempted to kick at the animal demanding his attention. Instead, he slid his leg along the carpet, nudging the cat to move along.

The cat responded by hopping across his leg and rising its full length to lean on the door. It batted the doorknob just as if it were a fat, tasty mouse to torment. It was then Mike recognized the animal as the one that had, earlier, bemused Emma. He knew she had planned to let the cat sleep with them.

In the throes of a full-on panic, Mike jammed the key card into the slot. With each red-dot refusal to let him enter, his dread of what he would find escalated. One more try and then I'm getting the owners up here.

Sliding the key card into the slot, again, more slowly this time, he was relieved to see the green dot flash once. Mike pushed on the door lever, hoping that Emma and Mia had remembered his earlier advice to leave the deadbolt disengaged in case there was a need for emergency access.

She's not dead. I'd know it...I'd feel it. 

Once in the room, a thin line of white originating from beneath the bathroom door enabled him to orient quickly to the room's dim interior. He crossed to the bed and was blessedly relieved at the sight of Mia's dark hair and pale, sleeping face. The opposite side of the bed was empty and Mike surmised that Emma was in the bathroom.

In the few seconds he paused to decide the next course of action, several things happened at once: Mia's foot shot out from the bed connecting with his groin; Emma's screamed for help and a screeching cat flew through the air landing in the center of the mattress.

The bathroom door nearly left its hinges as Emma threw it open and ran for safety. She stopped just short of colliding with a dark mass preventing her from reaching the bed.

Emma reached to turn on the bedside light and was astonished to see the object blocking her path was Mike. Kneeling beside him was Mia.

"Mike, I'm so sorry," she was saying. "I reacted automatically when I opened my eyes and saw something big and black standing beside me."

"It's not your fault." Mike pushed himself upright. "Just give me a minute, here. Christ, Mia, remind me never, ever to sneak up on you again."

"What're you doing in here anyway, Mike?" Mia hid her embarassment in the rebuke.

"Luke and I were awakened by loud banging and disembodied voices in our room. I came down here to make sure you two were okay," Mike shot back.

"Will you two listen to me?" Emma shouted. "Something freakin' crazy has happened and I need you, right now, to come into the bathroom with me so I can show you!"

The two followed her into the bathroom. "Do you see it?" she asked as her shaking fingers pulled the fleshy part of her arm forward. "It burns like someone poured acid on my skin...that's what woke me up."

At first, all that was visible was a red, blistered area of skin roughly the diameter of a quarter. As they all watched, the area appeared to grow in size and a dark brown circle stood out from its center. Mike sucked in his breath sharply at the recognition of what they were seeing.

Emma's arm had been branded with the letter C.

"This seals it." Mia stroked her friend's hair as she shifted into protective mode. "Start getting your things together, Emma. As of now you're off this case." 

Author Notes Members of the Trans Atlantic Paranormal Team: Mike Peterson, team founder and lead investigator; Luke Chadwick, tecnical support/investigator; Mia Langley, team co-founder/Psychic/Medium and Emma Barlow, team historian/investigator.

Poltergeist: Noisy ghost

Mike exhibits a psychic ability in this chapter called clairsentience, or, Clear Sensing. Sulfuric odors frequently accompany spirits.

The Tipsy Butler is a real bed and breakfast in Maine. However all internal descriptions are fictional. To check out the website of this prize winning Inn, please go to

Artwork courtesy of Badger: Polluted Sky Thanks!

Chapter 17
Give the Devil his Due

By Writingfundimension

Warning: The author has noted that this contains strong language.

Previously:  T.A.P.T. met with Jim Norris, renovation contractor, in their first walk-through of Bellingham Manor. Descending into the basement in search of the fusebox, maddened estate caretaker Jenkins Porter attempts to shoot Jim Norris in the back. Knocking out the drunken man, Jim turns to face the man's guard dog who is poised to rip out his throat. Mike Peterson arrives in time to see the animal dispatched by a supernatural intermediary. He insists on calling in the police, but Jim Norris claims the sheriff is Porter's nephew and not likely to believe their wild story. He insists on covering their tracks and keeping the incident a secret. The T.A.P.T. team refuses to participate in the cover-up and retreats to their hotel to rest and reconsider the situation.

Bellingham Manor, 1:00 A.M., February 8, 2010.
Jim Norris dumped the dog's corpse into the wooden crate and nailed it shut. Then he stood over the unconscious caretaker fighting the urge to kick the crap out of the bastard for nearly killing him.

You're damned lucky your nephew is the sheriff or you'd disappear along with your dog.

The old man's shotgun lay a few feet away. Norris picked it up; emptied its remaining shell and tucked the gun under his arm. He switched on his flashlight and raked the darkness spanning the length of the basement.

The general contractor knew the location of the spot he was seeking, but he had an eerie feeling that someone was watching from the shadows. After assuring himself that no intruders were about, he shrugged his shoulders in an effort to relax them and clear his thoughts.

Time to get this mess cleaned up and get the hell out of here. 

Moving quickly to a heap of bricks along the east wall of the subterranean level, he moved them aside and pointed his light into the deep hole. He was glad for the caution as red rodent eyes glared back at him.

Jim's hand flew to the leather sheath clipped to his belt that held his hunting knife. The rat's reflexes barely had time to register danger before a knife impaled its skull to the earth. Norris lifted the carcass and flung the rat's body in the direction of the unconscious caretaker before pausing to clean his blade of brains and blood and replace it in its sheath.

A box rested at the bottom of the hole. He lifted it carefully and sat it in his lap. The metal hinges showed signs of rust from the damp, New England weather, but the lock was secure. Inside were blueprint copies and geophysical maps for the Manor and surrounding property. But most importantly, the copy of a document that held great importance to him. He placed the box on the floor beside the hole; jammed the shotgun into its depths and replaced the bricks.
The document had come into his possession a year earlier and it's potential was stunning. He still couldn't believe that no one else had recognized its importance. After making careful inquiries and dropping a few well-placed hints, he realized that was, indeed, the case. He was emboldened to put his plans into action.   

He'd fired the prick, Matt Noland, that had gone over his head and complained to the development company about the incidents that had hampered the crew's renovation efforts. Unable to talk the rest of the crew into coming back to work or to find anyone to take their places, he had no choice but to go along with the company's decision to contact the paranormal team.

In fact, Jim Norris had been responsible for some of the 'accidents' on the site, mostly to decommission workers who asked too many questions about where and how he was spending his time. Until now he'd refused to consider that there could be something paranormal behind the rest.

He hated being in a checkmate position and having to put off the plans especially now that he felt he was really making progress in his search. But some crazy shit had gone down at the Manor tonight and this might be a perfect time to sit back and let others do some of the fact finding for him.

Let the ghost-hunting freaks do their thing. Their equipment will root out information in half the time it'd take me. Yep, I'll sit back, let them take the risks and bide my time.

Twenty minutes later, Jim Norris pulled his SUV in front of the entrance to the caretaker's cottage. He hoped the crazy coot had left his door unlocked in his drunken state and was relieved when the door opened easily.

He entered the cottage and turned on the light to orient himself to the bedroom's location. As he moved deeper inside, his senses were assailed by a terrific stench that reminded him of a gutted deer carcass. A cursory search of the cottage showed no source for the smell, though it did seem to be emanating from the bedroom.

Carrying the old man from his car, he entered the cottage and was hit with a blast of icy air. The old man's scrawny frame pressed down on his shoulder and the air was thick, like just before a thunder storm, making each step difficult.

After what felt like hours of effort, Norris reached the bed and threw Jenkins Porter onto the jumbled bedsheets. His nerves were on high alert, but he had to cover his ass by making sure that Porter was still alive. Reluctantly, he placed two fingers against the man's carotid artery and waited for the sensation of a throbbing pulse.

A gnarled hand shot upward from the bed and clamped itself around Jim Norris's wrist, squeezing until the bones crunched. He screamed from the pain coupled by terror of the thing that looked up at him.

Jenkins Porter's eyes were half-closed, and the orbs behind the lids gleamed with malevolent humor. A bloated, purple tongue darted from between lips that were forced into an impossible, horrific grin and a hissing sound sent spittle spraying outward. Norris felt his bladder empty at the words that came from the monster on the bed, "Jimmy-boy, got a minute for an old friend?"

Author Notes Members of T.A.P.T: Mike Peterson, team founder and lead investigator; Luke Barlow, tech support/investigator; Mia Langley, team co-founder/Psychic/Medium and Emma Barlow, team historian and investigator.

Poltergeist: Noisy ghosts

Thanks to donFoto for: Four Arches

Chapter 18
Malum Exemplum

By Writingfundimension

Previously:  Jim Norris returns a drunken, unconscious Jenkins  Porter to the caretaker's cottage on the grounds of the Bellingham Estate. There he discovers a very dangerous demonic presence. 


The Tipsy Butler, February 8, 2010

Luke Chadwick had the enviable ability to tune out his surroundings and utterly focus on his tasks. As the Trans Atlantic Paranormal Team's lead technical specialist, it was his responsibility to sift through hours of recorded material from a variety of investigative devices.

During the course of an average eight hours of paranormal investigating, the material gathered required double or even triple that amount of time to review. It wasn't long before the entire Team had come to value Luke's talent for ferreting out such evidence. If there was any doubt whatsoever about the possibility of contamination, Luke stringently eliminated the material.

The young man's contributions were one of the reasons the Team was developing a solid reputation for combining healthy skepticism with an ability to present compelling evidence backed up by emotional and spiritual support when needed. Though they were all under the age of 30, they'd been invited to investigate hauntings at several military facilities in the U.S. and abroad.

Luke firmly believed in his Team's ability to rip apart the nefarious web of bizarre happenings at the Manor. He just hoped, that in so doing, they did not wreck the fabric of trust and affection each member held for the other.

After Mike had disappeared down the hall to check on the girls, Luke decided to watch a portion of the DVR footage from the Bellingham Manor library. His finger was on the forward button and occasionally he paused to replay sections. This was his preferred method of reviewing evidence - scanning quickly and allowing impressions to settle in before doing a thorough study of the material.

He reached the section where he recalled filming a close-up of a book they'd discovered, The Satan Paradigm: A History of Evil. Though he was always careful to steady his hands when shooting footage, the book was blurred. But as he continued to watch the film, sections of the book came progressively into focus until only the title was obscured.

Grabbing a nearby magnifying lens, Luke nearly dropped it when he read the words: Diabolus Paradigm: A History of Malum. "What the hell is going on?" he addressed the empty room. The original title of the book had not been in Latin, he would swear to it.

A ringtone from the device at his elbow caused him to jerk like a prod had been applied to his spine. His hands shook as he answered, "Yes?"

"Everything's under control here, at least for now," Mike reported. "But something has come up and we need to have a meeting, right now, in Emma's room. Can you come right down?"

"Okay, I've got a little weird news myself. It'd be better if I could show it to you, but that can wait. Give me a few minutes to pull on some sweats and I'll be right down."

Luke quickly took note of the time on the DVR footage where the anomoly had occured and was in the process of storing the camera when there was a loud rap on his door.

"That you, Mike?" he called out.

To Luke's surprise, the owner of the Inn, Troy, answered.

"I've got Sheriff Porter on the line, he says it's urgent and insists on talking with someone from your Team."

How did the Sheriff know where to find them?

Luke hadn't been successful in talking Mike out of leaving Jim Norris alone to bury the dead dog and take a drunken, unconscious Jenkins Porter back to his cottage. And now it looked like the police had somehow found out about the situation and become suspicious of their activities. Luke's father was a State Trooper and he knew not involving the police right away tended to make them all look guilty as hell.

He gave Troy his cell number so the Sheriff could call him on a private line. No need to further involve the Innkeepers. Luke answered his phone thirty seconds later.

"This is Sheriff Porter. To whom am I speaking?"

"I'm Luke Chadwick, one of the members of T.A.P.T. Considering it's 5:30 A.M. I don't imagine this call is just to say, hey. Is something wrong?"

"Damned right there is and I don't appreciate your smart-ass tone. I'm at Jenkins Porter's cottage at the old Bellingham Estate. The cottage is empty but there are signs of a bloody, violent struggle."

"Jenkins Porter? That's your uncle, right?"

"Listen, you hotshot ghosthunter. Who I'm related to is none of your business. All you need to know is that I intend to come to the Inn to interview all four of you just as soon as my boys finish working this crime scene. gonna thank me for bein' hospitable and not dragging your asses down to the County Jail?" 

"Crime scene? The last time we saw your uncle he was smashed out of his gourd - you do know he's a drunk, right? He's probably lying in a pile of his own vomit somewhere in the Manor."

Luke's face flushed with anger and his words came out in a rapid, angry burst. The long silence at the other end made him regret his rash comments.

"You don't know squat, punk. And you're in way over your head. Consider yourself, and your so-called Team, persons of interest in the  disappearance and possible homicide of James Norris."

"Jim Norris?" Luke's blood pounded in his ears. "He was very much alive - though no thanks to your uncle - when we left him several hours ago. What proof do you have that we're involved in his supposed disappearance?"

"Ah, I have your undivided attention at last. Do I detect fear in your voice, Mr. Chadwick? The laughter that accompanied these words held a palpable malice. With deadly calm the sheriff continued, "Don't plan on going anywhere, Son," then cut off the communication.


Jim Norris could smell feces and blood mixed with the sharp salt tang of the sea. He was blind to the approaching winter-weakened daylight. His pupils had been seared and he would never see light again. Below, he could hear the familiar sound of merciless water clashing with the empty spaces around the sea rocks where he had been left to die.

He would not beg a god he didn't believe in to save him. But then until a few hours prior he had not believed in the devil, either.

Soon enough, icy water would submerge his bound body, and with a mighty lunge, set his corpse floating free.

Author Notes Thanks, once again, to DonFofo for his great artwork: Four Arches.

Malum Exemplum: Evil Patterns
Paranormal: Beyond normal appearances

Member of T.A.P.T.: Mike Peterson, team founder and lead investigator; Luke Chadwick, technical specialist; Mia Langley, co-founder and Psychic/Medium and Emma Barlow, team historian and investigator.

The Tipsy Butler is a very fine bed/breakfast. All but the name of The Tipsy Butler is fictional in this novel. To check out the real, award-winning Inn, go to

Chapter 19
The Devil You Know

By Writingfundimension

Previously: The Team has gone to the Bellingham Manor to perform a nighttime investigation of the paranormal events there. They are accompanied by the renovation contractor, Jim Norris. A crazed caretaker shoots at him in a drunken rage before passing out. Norris does not wish to call in the local police or press charges against the caretaker. Despite their better judgement, the Team leaves him behind to clean up the 'mess'. 


The Tipsy Butler: February 8, 2010

Luke shoved the cell phone in his pocket. His fingers curled into fists as he imagined their impact against the soft tissue of Sheriff Porter's face. Instinct drove him to call his father before consulting with other members of the Team regarding the latest development in their paranormal investigation. But his loyalty to his comrades prevailed. Time enough to call in the Big Boys.

The door was ajar to the second suite. Luke found Mike sitting in a desk chair facing Mia in a cross-legged posture on the floor and Emma lying sprawled across the bed. He got right to the point. "Jim Norris is missing and presumed dead. I just got off the phone with Sheriff Porter who ordered us to remain here until he can come by and interview each one of us. Says we're 'persons of interest' in the case."

"Jim Norris is dead?"

"He's missing, Emma. An anonymous tip led the Sheriff to Bellingham Estate where he found evidence of a bloody, violent struggle in the bedroom of the caretaker's cottage. Jim's abandoned vehicle was parked in front of the cottage with the keys in the ignition," Luke replied.

"What about the caretaker?" Mike asked. "Is he missing also?"

"The cottage was empty according the little information I was privy to. Sheriff Porter was more interested in issuing a threat and getting my reaction than sharing details of the case."

Emma anxiously chewed her cuticles and Mike sat at the edge of his chair, coiled to spring on an unsuspecting target. Mia leaned back against the bed, released a breath from deep in her abdomen then spoke, "I think it would be a good idea, Luke, for you to talk with your father. The Sheriff must be alerted that an outside Law Enforcement agency is monitoring his actions."

"I'm totally with you, Mia. I plan to call him right after we discuss how we're going to approach the interviews. We should all report the same version of what happened at the Manor tonight."

"Since Emma and I were in another part of the Manor when Jim Norris was used for target practice," Mia responded, "there's little we can relate in our report of the events."

"You make a good point, Mia. Luke and I will make it clear at the outset that you girls had little personal contact with Jim. And Luke came in after the shots were fired. That leaves me as sole witness to what occurred between Norris and the caretaker."

Luke searched the others' faces and stopped at the shadow of terror in Emma's eyes. "Don't worry, Emma," he quickly added. "We've got the Innkeepers, Lisa and Troy to vouch for our whereabouts. With my dad's help, I think we can get this cleared up quickly."

Mia turned to face the young woman. "Come sit by me, Emma." She patted a spot on the multi-hued, braided rug next to her. "Luke's right, we're going to do everything we can to see that you make it back home in time for your tournament game."

Mike was the first to speak, "Emma, in my experience as a paranormal investigator, I believe the demonic attacks against you will end once you've returned home. And, without fabricating evidence, I don't believe the Sheriff has anything connecting us to Jim Norris's disappearance."

"Wait a minute," Luke broke in, "what demonic attack are you talking about?"

Emma bared her arm for Luke's inspection. "Mia and I had a visitor during the night. My arm stung really bad, so I got up to examine it under the bathroom light. It's swollen and red but there's clearly the letter C in the middle of the burn mark."

Luke gently inspected Emma's injury. He felt himself buffeted by a craving for revenge fueled by rage. But, he was also a seasoned investigator and knew that for the safety of himself and his friends, he had to keep the feelings in check. Strong emotions only served the needs of the dark energies, fueling their ability to manifest.

"The good thing," Emma continued, "is that we positioned the DVR camera to face the bed and turned it on before we fell asleep. There's a good chance we caught something on film."

It was comical for his friends to watch the warring emotions play across Luke's face. He struggled to remain sympathetic with Emma while trying to contain his excitement on finding out they had potentially fantastic evidence of a paranormal event.

With this latest information, Mike knew it would be more difficult to reign in Luke's impetuosity. His frustration sometimes led to impulsive outbursts and the local lawman would recognize immediately the Team's achilles tendon.

"Our priority now is getting through to Sheriff Porter that we have no knowledge of what happened to Jim Norris once we left the grounds of the Estate," Mike said as he moved in one fluid motion from sitting to standing. Pointing to his stomach, he said, "I don't need a watch to tell me that it's time for breakfast. While we're waiting for him to show up, let's get dressed and take advantage of The Tipsy Butler's famous breakfast."

"Oh, that reminds me," Luke said. "When you left the room to check on the girls, I decided to do a quick scan of the film I shot in the Manor's Library. In my close-up of that pile of books sitting in the middle of the room - the one on top - the writing is not the way I remember seeing it at the time. The title is Latin. Mia, you were closest to the object, do you recall the book's title?"

"Initially my 'sight' showed the book was wrapped in a dense, black cloud, Luke. As you made your way over with the camera, the cloud dissipated and it became possible to read the title which I'm sure was in English. I believe it was the Satan Paradigm."

"That's also what I recall. When I came across that section in the tape, just now, the title was blurred - though everything around it was in focus. A couple of seconds elapsed and then the title comes into clear focus. And it isn't in English any longer. I've heard of such phenomena, but it's chilling when you see it for yourself."


Thirty minutes later:

"Lisa, these carrot pancakes are superb!" Mara said to the Innkeeper between bites. "I understand you've become famous in this part of New England for your gourmet breakfasts. I can see why."

"Thank you, Mia. I love testing new ideas on my guests - like the melon, mint ginger and lime salad, we offered today. It's disappointing when guests don't have time for breakfast. I think sharing a meal with us is one of the highlights of a stay at The Tipsy Butler."

"The red-checked tablecloths, fresh flowers on the table and the  natural light from all the windows exudes warmth and welcome," Mia offered. "I think it's the perfect backdrop for your food." 

"And I can't imagine a better way to start off a day of cross country skiing, than to carbo load on these glorious pancakes." Emma placed her napkin on the empty plate before her. "If I wasn't on a strict diet for the duration of the volleyball tournament, I'd have loved to try your crabmeat quiche."

A gesture by Mia drew everyone's attention to Luke who was halfway through a second helping of pancakes. It took a few seconds for him to realize he was the object of their amusement.

"Laugh if you want, but I have a finely-honed sense of taste and is more than just 'fuel' for me." 

Mike smiled appreciatively over a cup of coffee from locally produced coffee beans. "I'm the official barista for the group, Lisa. This coffee is terrific - hints of cocoa and cinnamon without the taste of brine you find along the coastline. If you sell it here, I'll take a bag with me when we check-out." 

"I'll be sure to set aside a bag for you, Mike. And you're welcome to take your beverages with you into the adjoining library or your suites upstairs."

"We were planning to return to the Estate today sometime, but just found out a bit ago that your local sheriff wants to talk with us regarding a case he's investigating. Once we've been able to clear things up with him, we'll inform you of our plans for the day," Mike told Lisa.

The pleasant features of the Innkeeper transformed into hard edges and lines when she heard the news that Sheriff Porter was going to be coming by to talk with the group of young people. "I hope that you haven't gotten on the wrong side of that man. He's ruthless and crooked as the path to Hell.  He'll take special pleasure in pulling up front with the lights flashing."

"Lisa, I want to assure you and Troy we've done nothing illegal." Mike said. "It's true we're virtual strangers to you, but please believe me when I say we are respected in the paranormal community because we follow the rules."

"I've a good instinct when it comes to people. You folks are what you appear to be - honest and sincere. And I don't mean to scare you, exactly. But my young nephew, who was a promising athlete and bright student, spent a year in prison after being wrongfully charged with raping Sheriff Porter's granddaughter. He was released when DNA results proved his innocence after his family went bankrupt seeking justice."

Grabbing an armload of plates, Lisa turned toward the kitchen. Before disappearing from sight, she turned to the stunned group. "My advice: Insist on taping your interviews and call a lawyer as soon as possible."    

Author Notes Members of T.A.P.T: Mike Peterson, Team Founder/Lead Investigator; Luke Chadwick, Tech Specialist; Mia Langley, Co-founder/Psychic; Emma Barlow, Team Historian/Investigator

Barista: Someone who makes and serves coffee
Poltergeist: Noisy ghost
Psychic: Sensitive to non-physical or supernatural forces

Thanks to DonFofo for: Four Arches

Descriptions of the Tipsy Butler owners and interior are all fictional. However, they are known for the items mentioned here as part of their gourmet breakfast package. For information on the award winning New England bed and breakfast, please go to

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