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The Pontefract House

Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by Atrus, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Atrus

    Atrus Hooked on a feeling Moderator

    ((Originally written as a case log for Knightsbridge Consulting. 30 East Drive, Pontefract is a real 'haunted' house that inspired a book and a movie.))

    One of Britain's most famous cases was documented in the summer of 1966 in Pontefract's, West Yorks. The Pritchard family moved into a house at 30 East Drive and soon began encountering a malevolent spirit. It was described as a black robed spirit, and was seen by the family and numerous paranormal investigators at the time. This half a century old case is in the news again, because a few new photos from the house are starting to be circulated.
    The property is now open for bookings, and has become a bit of a tourist attraction. We've been asked by the Vicar of the area to investigate this discreetly. Exorcism and the use of spirit boards are banned from the property -- but that doesn't necessarily mean that someone's not up to something there.
    I'd like someone to go check this out, and if there is an evil spirit there that may cause trouble -- evict it.


    *​

    Diane, I arrived at 30 east drive earlier this afternoon. The groundskeeper gave me a short tour, then gave me a key to the house and explained to me the rules - again. Couldn’t meet with the owner, as he was busy out of the region.
    Was greeted by the neighbours. They seem to be a friendly type, and regard the visitors to the house with mild amusement.
    I’m also trying a voice-activated recorder, both to keep notes while keeping my hands free to man the equipment, and also so I don’t go stir crazy with no one to talk to around here.
    As you might have guessed, the activation word I chose for the recorder is-

    Diane, this place is a mess. It’s like someone got old catalogs for council properties in the ‘70s and tried to replicate all the worst traits of the aesthetics. I mean, there is a grill heater with fake-wood panelling in front to make it sorta look like a fireplace. There’s even fake logs on top. I hope there’s a good pub nearby because the kitchen is- what’s that?

    Diane, it appears the neighbor’s kid likes to peer in from the windows. Said hi. He didn’t reply, just stared at me a little longer then walked away. I think he might be on the spectrum.
    I installed equipment all over the house. IR-triggered cameras, EMF detectors, sound recorders, thermometers, and of course the tuning forks. If there’s anything here, they’ll find it. If not, well, it’s not a good vacation but at least it’s paid for by the company.

    Diane, there’s not only a pub, but also a pizza and kebab place. I am saved.

    Diane, I’m about to spend my first evening here. For the time being, I’m keeping all lights off on the upper floor and all lights on here on the ground floor. I’m gonna read some Bujold and wait for the detectors to ping, or for a shadow to appear in the mirror.

    Diane, either this house is already getting to me, or someone moved the tape recorder from the coffee table and onto the mantelpiece. Gonna tentatively mark this down as occurrence number one.

    Diane, next time remind me not to read a book about the haunted house you’re currently staying overnight at while also investigating the house.

    Diane, one of the thermometers sent a notification to my phone. Temperature dropped about 15 degrees Celsius in the small room. I’m gonna check it out.

    Diane, a summary of what happened in the small room. When I entered the bedroom I couldn’t feel any change in temperature from before, so I thought for a moment that the thermometer might be on the fritz. However, when I turned on the lights, I could feel immediately a sudden and intense chill on my fingertips, as if the electric current itself was being frozen. I know this doesn’t make physical sense, but that is the sensation I felt at the time. I turned for a moment to look at the light switch, and when I turned again to the bed, there was a shadow sitting on its frame. Not like an actual shadow, or a man wearing a black body suit. More like a figure-shaped translucent darkening, as if someone had rubbed a dirty rag in the middle of a photograph, except the photo was what was in front of my eyes. The shadow seemed to raise its head to look at me and… something… moved where it mouth should have been. I know it talked, something like muffled, distant words, but I could not understand what it said. After that, it jumped to its feet and started walking toward the opposite wall, fading with every step. I followed the shadow to the adjacent room, but found nothing. I hope the camera got it all.

    Diane, the camera has been filming a close, blurry zoom of that ugly statue of a saint I told you about before. Which is very interesting, because the statue is on the drawer of the master bedroom, not in the small room with the camera.

    *click* Dammit, where did I leave my book? It’s not in the living room. Did I leave it in the bedroom?

    Diane, I’m feeling slightly sorry for any ghost that has to live in this dreary town. Even the sky and the grass are sad.

    *click* (distant) Seriously, if there’s a ghost, I’d really like that book back- ow. Ok, geez, didn’t need to drop it on my head. (a few seconds of silence, followed by walking) Oh hey, recorder’s on. I wonder how long it’s been going-

    Diane, I recorded what I think is my first occurrence in the house. Two light-azure globes appeared in the shadow of the stairwell, making their way slowly toward me and the living room. As they got closer, two brighter, tiny lights appeared inside each globe like eyes. The blotchy shadow appeared to encompass them as they got under the doorframe, and they vanished. I have it all on tape. Incredible!

    *click* Diane? Casey? Guys? Anyone?

    Diane, someone stacked all the cans in the kitchen in a precarious tower. I’m not even sure there were cans in the pantry before. Half the cans are wet.

    *click*-den, is that you? If you can hear me-

    New entry, evening of the second day. Found the boy again at the kitchen window. He was scribbling number and equations on it with a white marker. There was a flash outside, like lightning, and the boy screamed and ran away. The numbers and equations had turned to an odd language. Like enochian, a bit?
    I tried to talk to his mother about it, but she said it must have been some other kid, because her son has been away on holiday all week.
    The word-equations taunt me.

    Diane, I must say that I’m really loving Pontefract. Such a lovely place and such lovely people.

    *click* ...just arrived at the house. I decided to make my base in the master bedroom, but there’s this ugly ass big statue of a saint on the drawer looking directly at the bed. I think I’ll move it to the small room, and if the owner complains, I’ll just say it was the ghost. Now, the living room is...

    Diane, the front door has disappeared. I can’t open the windows, I can’t break the glass. The scenery outside is painted. I’m stuck inside. I feel like I’m in a doll house. I’m going crazy. I will never leave here. If I see an opening, any opening, I’m throwing myself out and never coming back again.

    *click*-pass, I repeat, unearth the well and-

    Diane, the front door reappeared. I’m going out for dinner, and then coming back here to finish the job.

    *click* I found Casey. A shadowy hand has dragged her all the way to the bedroom. She’s dripping water, like she’d been dunked in a pool. She’s passed out and really needs some blankets and a change of clothes, but otherwise OK. Thank God.

    Diane, I understand. I understand now. This place, this house, it’s not haunted. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a nexus. It’s built over… something. An artifact, a crossing of ley lines, I don’t know. But it’s not here. It’s… over there. In an adjacent reality. Another dimension. A parallel world. That’s where it all comes from.

    New entry, night of the fourth day. When an object moves, when a shadow appears, when the heater goes cold or pools of water appear on the linoleum, there is nothing strictly supernatural at work. It’s simply the house swapping places of itself with the version of itself that exists somewhere else. Maybe in some places it’s not even a house. Maybe a bog, or a den of thunder children.

    Diane, you might rightly ask how I came to this conclusion. The fact is, I didn’t have to. I saw myself, last night. Eyes sunken, face pale, clothes too old by a decade, but unmistakably me. He was tearing holes in the walls, in the floor, with what looked like a sledgehammer, raving about a soft spot, a distortion, and a source. A source he could feel, like static in his head, like a tinnitus inside his neurons. I don’t think he saw me. But eventually he broke through a wall, and what looked at him from the other side was… me. Again. They gasped. I blinked. They were not there when I reopened my eyes, and the walls were intact again.
    There was a piece of brick on the floor, though.

    Diane… Diane…. Is this working? Oh, ok-

    Diane, it’s in the well. In this reality, the well was outside, covered by the semi-detached building. But in another one-

    *click* I see myself. I- he is in the kitchen, frying something in a pan, humming happily. And he is glowing. Instead of the usual, blotchy shadow that covers all apparitions in the house, he is like a beacon of honeyed, golden light. The tremors seem to shy away from it. I am talking rather loudly, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. I will try to approach him with professor Luntz’s vial. If I can get some of that light...

    Diane, I’m going in.

    Diane, I found this recorder on the floor. It seems to be filled with recordings by someone who sounds just like me. Given the last few notes, I suppose that, in a way, it was me. I have just arrived here at the house, no more than thirty minutes ago. I should probably leave before I get stuck in whatever loop-

    *click* Too late for me. I’m giving another me the vial.

    Diane, how many times do you think this recorder changed hands? How many voices are narrating this?

    Diane, I found how to move. I can cross when the house shifts. I can hunt it down. I’ll find the source and I will destroy it.

    *​

    Hadden’s note: I found this tape on the bedstand the morning of my third day in the house, along with an old, brass pocket compass that had been smashed in the middle. The readings from all my instruments went flat after this. Make of that what you will. I consider the case closed, at least for now.
     
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