Nick grabbed his radio and clicked the button,
“GARETH?” he screamed into the microphone “GARETH??” all he heard was static, the button was being pushed at the other end but Gareth wasn’t speaking, or couldn’t..,
“GARETH, PLEASE!” Nick ran to the back door and tried to open it, but it would not move, he tried the window he’d been smoking through all night, but again the latch was stuck unable or unwilling to move. Nick pushed his head as close to the window as possible and tried to see into the papers parking lot, he could just make out the transit van in the dark, Gareth had certainly not driven away.
Nick ran from the dining and straight for the glass boxed greeting hall, he grabbed the front door handle and tried to open the door, but he and Gareth had been told this door would be locked anyway, and they had not been given a key. Nick decided the best course of action would be to search the house, each and every room, without fail, he had to find his friend. First stop was the drawing room, Nick picked up his camera from where it hung by his chest and flicked the power back on, the warning light on the battery display was flashing, he would only have about an hour left before the battery died completely, he checked his watch, mid-night.
Nick opened the drawing room door and stepped in, holding the camera up to his eye, he turned his head slowly, taking in the whole room, as far as he could tell, there was nothing present but empty desks and filing cabinets. Nick strode into the middle of the room and picked up the dangling temp reader, he checked the display and found the power off, he tried flicking the switch off then on and off then on, but got no response from the device. He dug a pack of fresh batteries out of his pocket and popped the old one out, replacing it and trying to turn the reader back on, still it refused to work,
“Not the battery then” he said to himself dryly, looking around the room with his naked eye as if expecting something to just jump out of the shadows at him,
“Stop playing with me” he told the house, then wished he hadn’t, tempting fate did not seem the best idea right now. Nick pulled the radio off his belt and tried again,
“Gareth if you can hear me, please just click the button a few times or something”
“click, click click, click”
“Oh my god, Gareth? Are you OK?” this time there was no response at all, “OK, listen to me, stay where you are, I will come for you, just stay where you are” Nick reattached the radio to his belt and strode out of the room. He was about to cross to the kitchen when he felt a vibrating in his pocket, thinking it was his mobile telephone, Nick pulled the little black box out and checked it, but it wasn’t his phone, it was the useless PKE metre, the needle had jumped across the display and was vibrating so violently the box was shaking.
Nick held the little box in front of himself, trying to get some kind of fix on the whereabouts of so much psychic energy. He ran the metre across the stairs, over the kitchen door, then turned to read the dining room door, and nearly dropped it. She came right at him, lamp aloft, eyes burning white and a look of pure menace over her face, the white lady was to quick, he had no time to get away, all Nick could do was stand there and watch as she reached him, then passed right through his body, sending a jet of freezing air up his back. It was so intense Nick nearly doubled over, his hair was standing on end, his heart booming like a drum with each beat and he was covered in head to toe in cold, wet perspiration.
Nick slowly turned to watch her as she walked across the hall behind him, she walked for the kitchen then stopped, not quite standing, not quite floating in front of the door, blocking his way, Nick was terrified beyond reason, all he knew was his friend needed him, and this white witch, was the only thing in his way,
“Move” he tried to command in a quiet, but stern voice, the ghost did not move, “I said, Move” he repeated in a louder voice, anger overtaking fear quickly,
“LET...ME...PASS!” he screamed at her, then the kitchen door lurched in its frame, from the inside out, Nick jumped back as the white lady vanished,
BAM BAM BAM
Nick ran for the stairs and climbed the first two, he looked back at the kitchen door,
BAM BAM BAM
Nick took a couple more steps up, walking backwards, unwilling to take his eyes or the camera off then door, then, it smashed open, slamming back into the wall so hard it made Nick jump, and then a figure stepped out of the darkness, silhouetted in the gloom, but quite clearly a man,
“Jesus Gareth” Nick exclaimed, then began descending the stairs to his friend, “Where the hell have you.....” his words trailed off as he realised the man standing before was not Gareth, he was to tall, to well build, and he was carrying a bloody axe.
Nick stared down at the figure of the game keeper, standing in the dark watching him. Very slowly, the keeper turned to look up at Nick, shifting the weight of the axe slightly, and raising it to waist height. Nick watched, so scared he wasn’t able to move, the over cast of the houses shadows made seeing the keepers face in any detail impossible, then Nick remembered the cam around his neck, he picked it up quickly and held it in front of his eye, there was no question, the keeper was most definitely dead.
His face was moldy, green and black blotches covering his whole body, his eyes were black and bloody, bulging in their sockets, his skin seemed to be pulled over his face, place’s had torn, exposing bone and skull. His hair was almost completely gone, tiny, clumped threads were all that was left. He moved strangely, his body twisted as he moved, as though he had been trapped in a box made to small for him. He tilted his head up towards Nick, and Nick saw rage and horror staring back, there was question that this thing wanted him dead. The smell was unbelievable, that was when Nick realised that what he had been feeling and smelling all night, was not because of the white lady, it was he, the keeper, the killer.
“It’s you, isn’t it” Nick wasn’t utterly sure where the voice had come from, something inside him wanted answers or at least, the chance to ask the questions,
“It’s been you all along, hasn’t it, breaking equipment, making the house cold, that smell!”
The keeper’s face changed slightly, the rotten, toothless mouth was contorting, then, Nick knew he was smiling at him, it could hear him, not just hear, but understand him to,
“Where is my friend?” the keeper was getting closer, only three steps away and already raising the axe higher,
“I ASKED YOU A QUESTION!” Nick was losing it, his nerves were shot, his brain terrified outside the realms of rational thought. The figure kept looking up at him, the nasty smile growing as he got closer to Nick. This was not working, if the ghost could understand him he wasn’t going to answer, if he could answer at all, Nick would have to find Gareth on his own, then get them both out of this house.
Nick turned and ran up to the landing, he had no idea where to go from here, the second he stepped into the corridor he was cut off from the rest of the house, if he went into one of the rooms he would be even more trapped,
“Come on, man, Gareth could be hurt” he told himself, Nick took a look up the corridor and saw something right at the end, on a small table by the third bedroom, glowing in its eerie way, was the white ladies lamp. Nick dashed for it, deciding he would rather take his chances with her than her dead husband. Nick had taken just one step into the corridor when the axe ‘swooshed’ past his head, he turned back and watched as the keeper stepped off the top step, his creaking, disjointed body shifting as he tried to follow Nick down the corridor.
Nick ran for the last room, as he reached the door he noticed the lamp had vanished again, but the door was open, he jumped in and kicked it closed, hoping to slow his pursuer while he tried to think what to do next, then it hit him, the thought he’d had earlier when the PKE metre had started vibrating, why hadn’t he thought sooner, he reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out his mobile phone, but who should he try and contact, the police would never believe him, BIPI was too far and no one would be at work now, then it really hit him, the fire brigade, by law they would have to check the entire house if an alarm went off. Nick flipped open the phone, breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he saw he had full signal, then dialled ‘999’,
“Emergency, which service please?” the operator asked,
“FIRE!” Nick shouted back at her, panicked that he wouldn’t be in time,
“Which area, please?”
“Hold on please”
“.............” Nick waited for what felt like an eternity, from behind the door he could already hear the sound of bones clicking and cracking as the keeper stalked him through the hall, the smell and cold was getting worse too,
“Fire brigade” a man’s voice suddenly came over the phone,
“YES! Please help me, I’m trapped in the manor house at the Observer newspaper, the building is on fire, please come as quick as you can!” there was no answer for what felt like a very long time,
“I’m sorry, sir, that particular building is connected to an automatic alarm and we are not reading a fire or alarm sounding at that property?”
Nick was really panicked now, he had no idea how to convince them to come to the house, his eyes flickered up to the ceiling and his heart skipped a beat, sprinklers, he dug down deep in his pocket, pulled out his light and igniting the flame, held it high to the alarm sensor by the sprinkler, two seconds passed, then a jet of freezing cold water splashed down hard in his face and the fire alarm went off,
“OK? Got an alarm now have we?” he asked the fire fighter on the other end of the phone,
“We do have a red light on our monitors” he replied, fire rescue is being deployed now, however I must warn you if this is a prank call you may well be arrested, prosecuted and fined up to....”
“FINE, COME NICK ME, JUST HURRY UP!”, Nick hung up then ran to the window, almost expecting to see a couple of engines and police cars turn up straight away, then came the steady, hard thumping he had heard coming from the kitchen just moments earlier, the keeper was outside, he was trying to get in.