The frozen grape Niki had just popped in to her mouth instantly stared to thaw as she rolled it around on her tongue; the sweetness instantly curbing her craving for anything and everything in the form of candy. It was a trick taught to her by her sister to help keep the curse of their family’s thunder thighs at bay. It seemed like a never ending fight but a war she would fight the rest of her life; that however was not her immediate problem. The grainy footage on her computer screen was what had her scratching her head. The image was of a room in an old Victorian home on the good side of town. It had been sent to her by the friend of a friend that knew she was into the whole paranormal investigating craze.
For the last few years her specialty was debunking videos and still shots before they were brought to the attention of the rest of the team; and she was really good at her chosen craft. She made sure to keep herself on top of all the latest software and the little tricks of the editing game. Niki could spot a hoax with one eye closed but this one had her stumped. The video had been taken with a cheap point and shoot camera at night which left the video dark and fuzzy. She had worked on the video for a few hours after receiving it and had corrected the file as much as she could but it still left a lot to be desired. As the video came to an end she once again hit the play button and settled in for another viewing. There had to be a rational explanation for what she was seeing, people just didn’t disappear into thin air. There had to be something she was missing and she was determined to find deception. If she didn’t that meant that ghost really did exist and that was not an explanation she was willing to except. Three hours later and she was out of options, she had to call the team. The only way they were going to be able to debunk this recording was to get inside that house.
Niki held the flashlight so tight that the pattern on the handle was being transferred to onto her hand. She had never liked the dark and being alone in the house was making her twitchy. She should have left when the others had given up and called it a night. The team had found what they had come for, evidence of the paranormal. They had captured several static filled EVP’s and a few still shots of “orbs”. This was enough for the armature ghost hunters. After all they were just a group of friends doing this as a hobby but for Niki it was much, much more. They had packed there Amazon bought equipment and headed for home. But not Niki, she had been on a crusade to shine a light on all the fakes out there in cyber space that were taking advantage of the grieving just to boost their numbers on YouTube. She shook her head to bring herself back to the present. There was no use in reliving the heartbreak she had felt when it had happened to her just four short years ago. She shined her light on the wall that the “ghost” had seemed to walk through. There had to be something; a hidden door maybe? No that would have been obvious on the recording. Her skeptical mind would not except that the home was actually haunted. How could it be? Ghost didn’t exist.
She pulled out one of the chairs that surrounded the dining room table and sat down. Staring at the wall she replayed the video in her mind, she had to be missing something. As she sat there a slight breeze caressed her cheek and played with the hair at the nape of her neck. She absently brushed the hair back as she continued her preoccupied examination of the wall. Once again her hair lifted on the breeze. But wait, the air wasn’t moving. There was no breeze; Niki’s spine stiffened at the realization. Her eyes shifted from left to right as if she could identify the case of the occurrence if she sat perfectly still. Someone was playing games and she was going to find out who. She forced her heart to slow its pounding in her chest, forced her lungs to pull in air. She had to keep a level head if she was going to catch the person responsible for of the fraud. She had to appear to be buying what they were selling. Slowly she turned her head to the left and then the right then shook her head as if to clear the cobwebs of confusion. Back to her musing of the wall “that a girl Niki” that little voice in her head cheered her on “play it cool, let them show their hand and then you’ve got them.” She did her best to listen to the little woman in her head. The problem was that her uneasiness wasn’t all an act. She was all too aware that she was alone; there was no one to back her up. “Damn” her inner voice swore. She should have taken Todd up on his offer to stay with her but no she had to pull the whole I am woman hear me roar attitude.
Okay there was no going back she had to handle this on her own. Hopefully this was just one geek out to prove he was better than she was when it came to Photoshop. Okay that took her anxiety level down a few notches. One geek she could handle. Her relief was short lived. It was just a dull thud in the other room, barely audible but her experienced ears had caught it. Her hand automatically went to her neck as her hair once again tickled her skin. Okay when she finally caught this guy she had to find out how he was doing that, it was creepy. A shadow on the far wall of the dining room caught her attention and she quickly turned in her chair; nothing. So what had thrown the shadow? Was it just her imagination or had the temperature in the room just dropped by a good ten degrees? She shook her head again but this time it wasn’t an act. “it’s a good thing were not the hysterical girly girl type” that little voice whispered “or we would be running out the front door screaming for help about now”.
The image of her pulling such a damsel in distress move made her smile to herself but she had had enough it was time to pull the plug “it’s going to take more than a few shadow puppets and a fan to scare me off” She said in a raised voice so that whoever was listening could here. “So why don’t you just show yourself so we can all go home and get some sleep?” She turned off her flashlight and sat in the darkness listening for the sound of footfalls as the hoax-ters came out of hiding… Nope. She knew it wasn’t going to work but she had to try. “Okay we’ll do it the hard way.” She shouted once again. She twisted in her chair until she was facing away from the wall she had previously been examining. Now she had full view of the entire room. “Okay show me what you’ve got” she taunted the unseen future special effects artist want-a- be.
Niki look at her watch, forty five minutes had passed since she had issued her challenge. Her eyes were getting heavy and her butt was numb; time to call it quits for the night. She reached for the right and the thing seemed to roll away from her hand. Okay time to go home and rest she thought as she extended her arm to make a grab for the thing. This time it rolled to the end of the table, spun in her direction and turned itself on. “okay I’ll admit that was good” Niki stated out loud. Her hair once again brushed against her neck as the air around her seemed to roll over her shoulder. The sensation caused her skin to turn to goose flesh. Her throat constricted as she realized that the air in the room was perfectly still. There was no breeze.
Niki pushed herself out of the chair and up against the wall as the flashlight extinguished itself leaving her once again in complete darkness. She made her feet shuffle in the direction of the flashlight feeling along the wall as she went. Slowly she inched her way forcing herself to stay calm as she went. She ran her hand along the chair railing first then her feet would follow. She felt like a complete idiot and prayed that no one was hiding in the shadows catching her reactions on video. Man she would be out of business. Who would want to hire a ghost debunker, a self-proclaimed no believer that was caught on tape shaking in her boots. “Damn, Okay time to pull up the big girl panties and get out of here.” She pushed away from the wall her arms reaching into the darkness searching for the back of a chair or the table she knew was just a few feet in front of her. Nothing, another step then another; this wasn’t right her rational side told her the table should have been right in front of her. The illogical side said forget the light run for the door! She made herself stand perfectly still and take a deep breath. She had simply gotten disoriented in the dark. It happened to people all the time. She just had to collect herself and get her bearings.
“Damn it” she muttered out loud as the non-existent breeze seemed to be stroking her shoulder. She swallowed hard as she realized that she could not feel the air moving around her; the sensation was only on her shoulder. Niki closed her eyes as the sensation careened over her shoulder and traveled down her arm. “I must be losing my mind” she breathed as the breezy sensation warped into a soft caress. She had the eerie feely that if the lights were to come on at this exact moment she would find a man standing behind her as he slowly ran his finger up her arm, across her shoulder as he headed for the soft skin of her neck.
Niki stopped breathing. Had she just heard what she thought she heard?
Dear God in heaven, it was a man’s voice. He had whispered the words into her ear, a breathy request; but for what, and by who? Her head started to swim as if it was drowning in a sea of confusion and trying to find its way to the surface. Niki tried to clear her head but it refused to comprehend what was happening. After all ghost did not exist.
“Please… let me?”
The words were urgent now but seemed to calm her. She was no longer afraid. She was perfectly willing to let this scenario playout here in the dark as she stood in the middle of a stranger’s dining room. The soft touch of the invisible hand was now tracing little circles against her neck.
Niki felt herself nod. She didn’t want this strange hypnotic sensation to end.
“Say it” the disembodied voice whispered in her ear. “Give me permission” the voice nearly begging her to say the words “it’s been so long… Please let me”
“Do it” she whispered into the night. She would have said anything to keep this sensation from ending. What could it hurt to agree with the pleading voice inside her head; after all…
GHOSTS DO NOT EXIST!
A low growl brushed against her skin as she felt lips on the tender flesh just below her ear.
Niki woke up to the insistent buzzing of her phone. “Damn it” she mumbled as she came fully awake. Why didn’t she ever get to finish the good dreams? She looked through haze filled eyes and realized that she must have fallen asleep while reviewing video from the disappointing investigation of the old Victorian home the night before. She closed her laptop and turned on the television to catch the morning news before she headed for the coffee maker. As the little white machine started to produce little droplets of life giving caffeine Niki headed for the bathroom to shower and dress before heading off to another day of mind numbing work. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror she pulled her hair up onto the top of her head. “What the hell?” she exclaimed as she leaned in for a closer look. The mark on her next was somewhere in between a hickey and a bruise with two little marks in the middle. They seemed to be puncture marks that had started to heal. But how could that be possible? The blood seemed to drain from her face as the words he had spoken formed in her mind.
“There is more lurking in the shadows of the night than you can dream my dear Niki… ghosts, angels, and yes even Vampires”.