Kane took a deep breath as he finally pulled into the car park at Tipstone Manor Hotel. Once he got off the motorway, the roads had been narrowing, winding and ridiculously hilly.
“You need to be more confident about driving on these roads,” Gina said thoughtfully. “You get called to all sorts of places so you should be prepared. I can hook you up with someone who can give you some pointers.”
“Are they alive or dead?” Kane asked.
“The dead ones don’t charge,” Gina said.
“I don’t want to run into the same sort of spirit I met last week,” Kane said. “That was scary.”
“You talk to dead people all the time,” Gina said. “I mean, you’re talking to me.”
“It’s not the same,” Kane said. He stared up at the grey stone building. “I mean, you’re a person who isn’t currently alive. Last week was different.” The building in front of him was a tribute to Victorian Gothic, with spiked windows and gables over the broad face of the hotel. “That was the bad stuff, the stuff that’s in horror films.”
“Before we go any further,” Gina said, “I need to check something. You’ve never been trained in the ghost stuff, have you?”
Kane swallowed and shook his head. “I talk to dead people,” he said. “Well, mainly I listen. Most of the time they’re like you, needing to make one last push before they go home.” He turned off ignition. “But I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Do you know anyone who could give you training?” Gina asked.
Kane looked at the ghost sitting next to him. “There aren’t many like me,” he said. “Some can hear echoes or sense emotions, some can feel impressions, but very few can actually see the ghosts. That’s why I’m so busy.” For a moment his hands clenched on the steering wheel in the silent car. “Let’s say that there’s some sort of haunting, like the light bulbs breaking all the time. Some poor woman, and it’s usually women, tries to find a ‘ghost whisperer’ to help her. She looks on the internet, perhaps, and has to wade through hundreds of people who say that they speak to ghosts. Some are well meaning but can’t tell much. Some are better but they get confused. Some are con artists. Some are just mentally ill. Then there are the ones like me.”
“You could fill up your diary three times over,” Gina said softly.
“I’m making good money,” Kane said. “But last week…” He trailed off as he remembered the chaos.
“You dealt with it well,” Gina said softly. “I was too terrified to even move.”
Kane pulled himself out of the memory. “We had better go and speak to Mrs Roberts,” he said. “There may not be any ghosts at all.”
Gina looked sceptically at the building. “I’m sure that you’ll find something.”
Kane had a quick look around the outside of the building before he went in. The magnificent façade hid a jumble of wings and buildings that looked a mix of considerably older and modern. Anything could be waiting. He walked quietly into the main lobby and looked around. The carpet was clean and soft, the lights were muted and the décor was elegantly and quietly neutral. Mitch obviously meant this to be a safe haven that was free from spirits. He’d got it wrong, though, and as the receptionist was busy on the phone, Kane made his way over to a spirit in a corner next to the door marked ‘Manager’.
“Hello,” he said quietly. “Are you alright?” He looked closer and winced. It wasn’t a ghost as such. He could feel echoes of utter pain and misery but there was no person inside it, no-one who could speak or listen. Instead it was a bundle of phantom emotions trapped in this corner.”
“Can you do anything?” Gina whispered behind him. “It’s awful, so awful, like agony that can’t die.”
Kane glanced back at her and the horror on her face shocked him. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.
“You can’t see what I can see,” Gina said. “It’s awful. Please, do something, please!”
Kane crouched down and carefully extended his hand. “Hello?” he repeated. “Let me help you.” He could feel waves of pain and sorrow rolling out from the shade. “It’s okay now,” he said. “You can rest. You can go home.” He looked over his shoulder at Gina. “You may want to stand back. I’m not sure how this is going to work.” He waited until Gina had scampered across the wide lobby and was clinging on to a luggage rack before turning back to the shade. “Hush, it’s okay,” he said again. He had seen enough ghosts fade into the next part of their journey and he held the image in his mind of that misty veil hanging next to the sobbing shade. “It’s time to go,” he said, and gently pushed with his mind.
As his imagination pushed at the shade, it seemed to make a contact and agony swept over him. Pain raked through him with every nerve on fire as it felt like his skin was peeling under the utter rejection of everyone who had ever loved him. Forcing himself to keep the contact, Kane pushed again. “Come on,” he whispered, his voice breaking. “It’s time to rest.” Then he found himself lurching forward as the shade slipped forward and was gone.
Exhausted, Kane slumped to the floor, sweat running down his face. Every muscle ached and his head was ringing with the overload from the shade’s emotions. He forced his eyes open as Gina came rushing over.
“You need to get liquid now!” she said. “You need cola with all the sugar. Come on, get up.” Kane forced himself to his feet as the receptionist raced over.
“Sir, can I help you?” she asked. “Are you okay?”
Kane nodded and checked the name tag. “You must be Dawn, Mitch’s wife,” he said. “I’ve come to see Mitch about a ghost.”
You can find Chapter One here
It’s Day Two of the October Frights and that means the start of loads of goodies! Check out the October Frights Giveaway 2023 for some great reads and there are more books at the October Frights Mini Book Fair if you’re looking for more. And that’s not all – on all of these blogs you can find more stories and spooky goings on so feel free to drop in. And while we’re talking about goodies, my ebook collection of short stores, Whisper in the Shadows, is free until 15th October, so now is a good time to snap up a bargain.