Monday, April 22, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 13 (UNEDITED)

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-PART 2: Chapter 12 before proceeding to PART 2: Chapter 13.
Otherwise, read from the jump :)


Carl, Dorothy, and Reginald could only remain silent as they still tried to comprehend what had just occurred.  Reginald still sat on the floor with Gail, holding onto her as she softly sobbed against his shoulder.  Dorothy glanced over to the doorway into the dark hallway Linda had run to and to where Jimmy had run after her.
“I’m going to look for Linda,” Dorothy suddenly said, “and see if Jimmy found her and if she’s alright.”
“Well I’m coming with you,” Carl said.
“I’ll be fine,” Dorothy said.
“I’m not having you run around here by yourself,” Carl said, “I’d wager it’s very easy to get lost here.”
Dorothy looked to Reginald and Carl followed her gaze.  Reginald looked up at them and said, “You two can go find Jimmy and Linda.  I’ll stay here with Gail.  We’ll also stay if Jimmy and Linda come back before you are able to find them.”
“We’ll try not to be too long,” Carl said.
Dorothy gave her friend one more quick look before she would take Carl’s hand and they would leave the room in search of the other two members of their group.
Poor Gail…Dorothy thought.  But she couldn’t stop the shudder that traveled her body.  What had happened to Gail in that room?  What had caused her to say such things?
“I think Linda and Jimmy ran in the direction of the stairwell,” Carl said.
“Well that’s a start.  But I wonder if they went up or down?” Dorothy asked as they made their way through the hallway and to the stairwell.
“My guess would be down as that’s the way we came from.”
“Should we begin down on the first floor or start with the third and work our way down?”  And not take too long anywhere…Carl’s probably right about this place being easy to get lost in.
Dorothy and Carl ended up on the third floor and another thought crossed Dorothy’s mind.
We came in Jimmy’s car.  What if…?
Then Dorothy scolded herself for even beginning to think of such a thing.  Jimmy and Linda would never leave the rest of them behind, especially not over a misuse of words.  Words that were typically out of character for Gail unless someone had made her really angry.  But Linda hadn’t done anything to warrant anger from Gail…
But Jimmy could have gotten angry over what was said to Linda…and Linda could have…
“Stop it,” Dorothy said in a loud whisper, attempting to cease the scenario that kept invading her mind.
“Stop what,” Carl said.
“Oh…nothing…I just thought…well, it’s silly.”
Dorothy drew in a breath before saying, “You don’t think Jimmy and Linda would be so angry with what happened in that room that they would just leave and take the car, do you?”
Carl halted his step as they stood in the doorway of another dormroom.  “Jimmy?  No way!  He wouldn’t just leave us.  I’m sure he’s comforting Linda somewhere and everything will fine.”
“Sure,” Dorothy said with a nervous laugh, “I’m certain you’re right.  I told you it was silly.”
“Well, this place has been known to have imaginations run away with them.”  Carl then flashed Dorothy a confident smile.  She loved his smile more than anything.  Dorothy smiled back at him and then turned back to peer into the room.  All the rooms had the same basic setup that Maxine’s room had had.  Dorothy turned her gaze over to the mirror above the sink.
“Well, this is the last room up here and no sign of them,” Carl said, “I say we head down to floor number two. Or maybe we should just go down to the first floor.  What do you think, baby?”
But Dorothy didn’t answer him.  Instead, she stood staring at the mirror trying to make sense of what she just saw. 
“Did you see that?” Dorothy asked.
“See what?”
“The mirror…I thought I saw…”  She wanted to say that she saw a silvery glint followed by a brief outline of what looked like a face that was only there for a second…
But instead, she shook her head and said, “Nothing.  Probably just the moon, this place, and the fact that it’s Halloween playing tricks on me.”
Carl and Dorothy continued on to the stairwell and began to make their way down the staircase.
“Too bad Jimmy’s the one with the flashlight,” Carl said, “we didn’t come very well prepared for this.”
“Well we weren’t exactly anticipating having to run through a dark building in search of our friends,” Dorothy said.
They were almost down to the first floor when a beam of light blinded Carl and Dorothy.
“Whoa!  Easy there with the brights!” Carl said.
“Carl.  Dorothy.”  It was Jimmy’s voice.  He lowered his flashlight and to Carl and Dorothy’s relief, Linda was with him.  Jimmy held onto her hand and Dorothy could see that Linda’s eyes were still a little red and puffy from crying.
“Is everything alright?  We were looking for you two,” Dorothy said.
Linda kept her eyes lowered to the floor and Dorothy wasn’t sure if it was because her friend was still hurting over what was said to her or if Linda didn’t want any of them to see her with most of her eyeliner wiped away.  Or both.
Jimmy said, “Yeah.  I caught her just as she was running out the front door by the dining hall.”
Dorothy reached out and gently touched Linda’s arm.  “Linda, why don’t you come back up?  I’m sure once you and Gail talk, everything will be fine.”
“Why would she say that, though?” Linda asked.  Her eyes were still lowered and Jimmy put a comforting arm around her.
“I don’t know,” Dorothy said, “but I saw Gail before Carl and I came looking for you and I know she’s terribly sorry.”
Carl nodded in agreement.  Linda turned her eyes up, peering at her friends.
“Baby,” Jimmy said rubbing Linda’s shoulder, “let Gail explain.”
Linda looked back down at the floor.
“Linda, please,” Dorothy said, “the three of us have been friends since we were all children.”
The four of them stood in the stairwell for a few moments without saying anything.  Then, Linda spoke up.  “Do I really come across as vain, self-centered and a head full of air?”
Jimmy, Carl, and Dorothy couldn’t help exchanging amused glances at one another.
“Linda, you have high standards for yourself,” Dorothy said, “that’s not a bad thing.”
After saying that, she began to feel a little badly about some of the snide thoughts she had toward Linda at times.  Overall, Linda was a good friend despite some of her shortcomings.  It was thanks to Linda that Dorothy had the nerve to acknowledge and act on her feelings for Carl, even if she had gone about it in a bolder way than Dorothy would have liked at the time.
“She’s right, baby,” Jimmy said, “I know I consider myself a lucky guy to have you.”
“And Gail and I both appreciate you as a friend,” Dorothy said.
Linda remained facing the floor for another second as she took in the words of Dorothy and Jimmy.  Finally, her lips curled up into a small smile before she uttered a small “thanks.” 
Jimmy stepped aside as Dorothy gave Linda a hug before Carl suggested they return to the room where Reginald and Gail were.  Jimmy shone his flashlight as they ascended the stairs back to the fourth floor.  Jimmy pushed open the door and they stepped into the hallway.  They could see the flickering light from Linda’s candles coming out from Maxine Fleming’s old room.  Carl and Dorothy stepped into the doorway of the room first with Jimmy and Linda behind them.  Reginald and Gail had moved over to Maxine’s old bed.  The two of them sat on the edge facing the doorway with Gail resting her head on Reginald’s shoulder.  Reginald had his arm around Gail and rested his head on hers.  They were so still and the combination of dim light and shadows from the candles danced over their features, distorting them a little.  To Dorothy, they sat almost too still.  So still she could feel her stomach beginning to do flip flops.
Why do I feel so nervous?  But she was and couldn’t help what she felt.
Holding onto Carl, Dorothy took a step forward and called out to Reginald.  She was very relieved when Reginald and Gail both looked up in response.  They rose from the bed as Jimmy, Carl, Dorothy, and Linda stepped into the room.  There was a nervous tension between Gail and Linda as they both stepped toward one another.  Finally, Gail said, “Linda I’m so sorry!  Really.  I can honestly say that I have no idea what came over me!  Please, I’m so sorry.  You know I don’t really think those things of you.”
Then why would you blurt it out in the first place…it had to come from somewhere…
Linda studied Gail for a moment.  Linda sighed and gave Gail a small smile.  The two girls hugged eachother and Linda said, “It’s alright.  I know you didn’t mean it.  It just really hurt my feelings that you would say that.”
“I really don’t know where it came from,” Gail said, still mystified over where such a thing could have come from.
“This place does seem to have a way of doing crazy things to someone,” Carl offered.
“Yeah,” Reginald said, “look what happened to the original residents.”
Everyone stood, relieved and happy that the situation had been resolved when Linda’s eyes widened with alarm.
“My dagger!” she exclaimed.
“What about it?” Jimmy asked.
“It’s gone!  I still had it when I ran from the room!  Oh no.  I must have dropped it somewhere!  Did you see it at all, Jimmy?”
“No, baby.  I was more concerned with making sure you were alright than I was with paying attention to whether or not you dropped your dagger.”
Linda turned a questioning gaze over to Carl and Dorothy who both shook their heads.  They hadn’t seen it either.  Linda sulked at the idea of having lost the dagger. 
“Where am I going to find something like that again?” Linda wailed.
“Honey, calm down,” Jimmy said, “let’s head back out.  That way, we can retrace our steps and maybe locate it.  Linda just ran out into the hall and down the stairwell, so it can’t be that difficult to find.”
Jimmy looked at his girlfriend and how worked up she seemed to be getting over the dagger.  There was truth to the reactions of Gail, Carl, and everyone else at Linda obtaining such a thing.  It did seem out of character for Linda.  But he shrugged it off.
People take on different interests all the time.  Linda shouldn’t be any different.
The decision was then made by all present to leave the building and keep a look out for Linda’s dagger on the way out.
“So does this mean we’re leaving the property?” Dorothy asked as she, Linda, and Gail blew out the candles and returned them to Linda’s bag.  A pang of hope was inside of Dorothy (and even Linda and Gail) at the thought of leaving the old orphanage. 
“We don’t have to,” Jimmy said.
“Yeah, we still have at least the main building to explore,” Carl added.  “Unless, of course—“
“No, no,” Dorothy interrupted, “I’m fine.  Just wondering what the plans were.”
“I’m fine with staying for a little longer,” Linda said.
“As am I,” Carl said.
“I am as well,” Jimmy said.
They all turned to Reginald and Gail.  Reginald said, “Gail, are you alright?”
Gail quickly nodded.  “Yes.  Yes, I’m alright.  Now that I’m here the place has sort of grown on me.”  She gave her friends a reassuring smile and her usual dry, but good-natured sarcasm was back.
“Then I’m alright with staying too,” Reginald said.
“I’m sure we won’t be too much longer,” Linda said, “just enough to at least explore the main building.”
“Yeah,” Jimmy said, “there obviously are a couple other buildings, but then we’d be here all night.”
“Hey I’d be fine with that,” Carl said grinning, “but the main building is supposedly where all the action took place.”
“Carl, don’t be sick,” Dorothy scolded her boyfriend.
Carl frowned.  “What?  That’s the truth, isn’t it?”
Dorothy shook her head at Carl’s ignorance and said, “Let’s just go.  Find Linda’s dagger.”
The six were back together and traipsing down the hall to the stairwell.  Though no one mentioned it, there was a pronounced air shift between Maxine’s old room and the hallway.  In general, there was a thick chill to the air on the property that wasn’t present down in the rest of Plains, but even Maxine’s room seemed different than even the rest of the Fleming property.  The sadness that Maxine had carried with her through most of her life remained in that room and perhaps that had an affect on Gail, hence her outburst.  As Dorothy continued down the stairwell with her friends, she remembered one of the last entries in what was at least one of James Livingston’s last journals.  While he hadn’t come and said anything right out, there was a hint of regret in James’s tone when he reflected upon the old property and showing the land to Cedric.  He also clearly wasn’t fond of Cedric’s nephew, Jared, and worried over how his presence at the orphanage affected Maxine.  Even in her early to mid thirties, which was around the time of her parents’ deaths, Maxine was still a very impressionable woman.  Like her brother, Nathaniel, Maxine had been adopted and depending how Cedric and Margaret had gone about breaking such a thing to her, the news could have rolled off of Maxine without a hitch or had a devastating affect on her, even if she didn’t necessarily show it.  Maxine also had been dealt with the death of her brother at a very young age, then her hidden pregnancy to Christian Andrews and having to give her child up, followed by the untimely deaths of both of her parents.  Given the circumstances, it was understandable that she had found solice in Jared, according to rumors of the time.  And then when Jared died, well, that had been the final nail in the coffin for Maxine.  It all apparantely become so much more than she could handle.  In fact, when Dorothy had read James’s entry on Cedric and Margaret’s daughter along with some of the old periodicals from the time, she found her self questioning her own stability and just how much of what Maxine had gone through would she herself be able to handle before completely breaking…especially in the time in which Maxine had grown up. 
Those were different times…
There was also another part to the story that hadn’t been in the periodicals, but passed along in the town’s folklore.  According to some, when Maxine had been found wandering the orphanage grounds following Jared’s death, she was not only claiming that she saw her deceased brother, but the color in her hair had left, leaving her hair completely white.  It was also said by some that in addition, the pupils of her eyes had dilated thus coloring her blue eyes black.  Dorothy had read of several similar cases of a person’s hair losing their pigment in a time of stress, fright, or shock.  One of the earliest she had read was that of Marie Antoinette of France whose hair had gone from it’s auburn color to white the night before her execution at the guillotine.  There were also similar cases with Mary Queen of Scots and Sir Thomas More.  Even some medical records told of such a phenomenon, so perhaps that wasn’t so far-fetched.  As for her eyes turning black, there could be a few factors with that.
“Here it is!” Linda cried, shaking Dorothy from her thoughts.  Dorothy turned to see Linda picking up the dagger.  It had been shoved into a corner on the first floor across from the stairwell.
“I don’t know how I manged to drop it here and not notice,” Linda continued as she placed the dagger back in her bag with her candles and matches, “but at least I found it!”
“Well now that that’s solved, what do you say we head over to the main building,” Carl said.
“Sounds good to me,” Jimmy said and looked to the girls.  “Ladies?”
The girls all nodded in agreement and the six of them passed through the dining hall and out the front door. 
The main building sat in front of them, empty and silent.  Jimmy, Carl, and Reginald immediately began heading toward it’s front door.  The girls looked to one another, exchanging nervous glances, before following their boyfriends.  They ascended the steps up to the front door and slowly entered the first building that was built on the property.  They were amazed by what was inside and it was far more opulent than the building they were just in.  The main hall was spacious and the interior matched the Victorian era in which it was built.  Rooms and offices lined both sides of the main area and there were two winding staircases that led up to the second floor.    
Jimmy, Carl, and Reginald grinned at one another.
“Now this is what I’m talking about,” Jimmy said.  Carl and Reginald nodded in agreement.
The girls looked at one another and actually felt more relaxed than they had in the other building.  Suddenly, Carl reached behind Dorothy and tickled both sides of her waist.  Dorothy screamed and began chasing Carl as he ran around the hall.  The rest of them followed suit and were all running around, hiding, and jumping out at one another.  The oppressing sadness that had been present in Maxine’s room had changed and here, the kids actually felt a high energy rush. 
After slowing down to catch their breath, they ascending the winding staircase up to the second floor.  They walked down the hall passed some other old classrooms and finally came to the small chapel.  The stone work of the room and the paintings that hung on the wall were breathtaking and each wondered how they had been overlooked in being collected for any auctions.  As they walked down the aisle of the chapel, they noticed the cobwebs and dust that had settled on the heavy, wooden pews after decades of no use. There were still some worn Bibles and hymnals in the compartment shelves of the pews.  Carl and Jimmy both took a hymnal. 
“Jimmy,” Linda said.
“What?” Jimmy said, responding to Linda’s glare, “souveniers.”
“Yeah,” Carl said, “it’s not as though anyone’s using them.”
“Stealing from a church.  I’m sure that’s wonderful for karma,” Linda said to Dorothy and Gail.  Dorothy shook her head and shrugged.  She looked at Gail and the two of them exchanged glimpses of agreement.
Linda’s full of surprises tonight. 
That had also been the first time either of them had heard Linda use the word ‘karma’ in a sentence.
The group continued on, making their way to the front pulpit where the minister would have given his service.  The preacher’s alter stood behind a rail that guarded the area.  Hanging on the wall at the very end of the chapel was a large, wooden crucifix.  The wooden figure of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross was illuminated by the moonlight coming in through the stained glass windows.  They all stood, almost mesmerized by the site and could almost feel the eyes of the Jesus figure, looking down at them as if giving off a warning.  The six exchanged rather uneasy glances, each of them with a feeling of dread brewing up in the pits of their stomachs.  Perhaps they had had enough excitement for one Halloween.  But before anyone could say anything, Carl noticed a door on the left side of the pulpit. 
“Say, check that out,” Carl said heading toward the door.  The group hesitated before following Carl.  Carl tried the door, but it was locked.  He turned back to the group.  “Does anyone have something I can pick the lock with?”
“This might work,” Gail said and handed Carl a pin from her hat.
“Thanks,” Carl said.  “This just might work.”  Carl began picking the lock until a click was heard, signaling the possibility of the door coming unlocked.  Carl tried the door and it opened with ease, with the exception of a couple boards in front of the door.  He shoved the door open the rest of the way and kicked the boards aside.  The group entered to find that the room had been an office.  Obviously the preacher’s office.  The room had an oak desk and chair, a book shelf, and a small restroom.  The boys found two fountain pens, and a small paperweight that was a miniature version of the entrance sign that welcomed outsiders onto the property.  The three boys each kept one of the items:  Carl kept the paper weight while Jimmy and Reginald kept the fountain pens.  It was also then that they noticed another door at the other end of the room.  This door had long lost it’s knob, so Carl’s lock-picking skills weren’t needed.  The door opened to reveal a hidden, dark, winding stairwell.
“Jackpot,” Jimmy said with a wide grin.  No one could disagree and each was finding the main building to be much more exciting than building with Maxine’s old room.  The group ascended up into the darkness with the stairs creaking beneath their shoes.  The stairwell was dusty with a musty smell to it.  Linda yelped when she ran into a large cobweb and they all had to pause as a disgusted Linda picked the pieces of cobweb out of her hair. 
“I’m going to have to wash my hair three times when I get home!” Linda exclaimed.
After that, they continued up and came to another door.  Carl did end up having to pick the lock this one before it opened to a small apartment where the preacher must have lived in.  It was very simple with a sleeping area, a small kitchenette, a sitting area, and a restroom.  There was also a door leading out into the hallway on the third floor.  The group stepped out into the hallway which was lined with the old bedrooms of the children. 
“Plenty of rooms for us to get lost in,” Jimmy whispered to Linda.
Linda smiled. “Jimmy!”
Jimmy gave Linda a devilish, lustful grin and put his arm around her as the group made their way to the staircase that led up to the fourth floor.  Finally, they were on the fourth floor standing at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the fifth floor, the living quarters of the Flemings. 
“Well, what are we waiting around for?” Reginald said. “Let’s go on up.”
“I’m with you,” Carl said. 
A wide grin spread onto Linda’s face.  She held up her bag containing the candles, matches, and dagger before she said, “We may be able to have our séance after all.”

Read on to CHAPTER 14.

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