In the Dark

Posted: January 2, 2015 in Magic
Tags: ,

Image courtesy of thephotoholic at

The street lights were rather dim. I stopped my car in front of a gloomy old house, built of blackish stones, mostly covered in ivy. There was no bell, thankfully the gate wasn’t locked. It slightly screeched when I pushed. It took me seconds to reach the front door which was ajar, revealing an eerily bluish glow. “Hello?” There was no answer, so I turned right and entered the old lift. ‘Get out, fast!’ My hair stood on end, at hearing this whispered order. There was no one in sight. I stepped out, the door closed, the lift rumpled downward. I felt nauseous, when I turned, the front door was gone. There were stairs leading either upwards or to the cellar. My feet led me downstairs. The silence was choking, I had trouble breathing. When touching a doorknob, I heard a hum, increasing in volume and intensity. I fell to my knees, covering my ears and…

“Martin, for heaven’s sake! Switch your alarm clock off!” I woke from this nightmare with a start, hit the alarm clock and enjoyed the silence. I was drenched in sweat, exhausted. I fell back and dozed off.

“Martin, you need to get up!” My brother patted my shoulder. “You told me that you and Don were having an appointment at 10:30. And it’s already 9:45.”

I shot up in dismay. The shower didn’t really lift my strange mood. I’m still astonished that I didn’t cut myself when shaving. I put on my best suit, verified my shoes were clean, grabbed my attache case and headed to the door. Brad stopped me in my tracks by shoving a coffee cup in my face. I gulped the coffee down obediently, feeling a little better.

I drove over to our offices to pick up Don. Being the youngest civil-law notaries, it was our duty to cover external appointments together. This appointment had been arranged on very short notice. Our secretary had prepared the paperwork, following the instructions on the note she had found on her desk the previous day.

“Old Merrion Road! And there’s number 10 – Pemberton House!” Don’s voice showed his excitement. I looked up. It was the house I had dreamed about. It was less gloomier by daylight. The lawn and the flowers were cared for and the gate didn’t screech at all. Despite that I was glad to have Don with me. Slowly we walked the few steps to the front door. Before we could ring the bell – unlike in my dream, there was one – it was opened by a butler in livery.

“Messrs. Adkins and Gavin, please do come in.” We entered and I saw the lift to my right. Following my gaze, the butler apologised. “Unfortunately, this lift is no longer in use. If you please follow me…”

We followed the butler up a steep, narrow staircase, turning left when he did. He knocked at the third door to announce our arrival. “Lord Pemberton, Messrs. Adkins and Gavin.” Lord Pemberton had been sitting behind his desk. Now he got up to greet us. “Please get us some tea, Reginald.”

We exchanged some pleasantries until the door opened. Reginald held the door for a young woman carrying a tray with fragrant Earl Grey. She nodded shyly. “My daughter, Emilia. She has lost her hearing in an accident.” Emilia set the table without a further glance in our direction and vanished.

Lord Pemberton was all business. He explained that a pharmaceutical company planned to buy all properties in Old Merrion Road for some shady purposes. Apparently other residents had also been approached and even threatened. “You see, as Emilia cannot defend herself properly, we need to set up an unimpeachable will to protect Emilia and our property.” As we had come well prepared, this was dealt with in minutes. Lord Pemberton thanked us profoundly.

Back at the offices, I left the paperwork on our secretary’s desk for typing. Five days later, she left the completed Pemberton folder on my desk. Don and I sat together to check the details once again. “Now this is weird!”, Donald suddenly exclaimed. I looked up, raising a brow. “Look at that date and number!”

Now I was shocked as well. The date was three years old. The number referred to one of the set printed for our legal correspondence for three years ago. We decided to revisit Pemberton House. We went to the entrance. The door was locked, we didn’t hear a sound when ringing the bell. We still stood wondering when a greengrocer came around the corner. “Excuse me, sir. We are looking for Lord Pemberton.”

The greengrocer, a young man about our age, shook his head. “You are three years too late. He died in an accident, as did the family butler. You’ll find Lord Pemberton’s daughter in the garden over there. She is deaf since this horrible accident. We can only communicate in writing.” Having told us this, he climbed into his van and drove off.

We walked to the garden where Emilia was weeding a flowerbed. It was quite cold, gusts of wind shook the trees and the old swing. Thunder rolled, however, Emilia had only eyes for the flowerbed. We carefully approached her. Don tugged at my sleeve. “Look,” he whispered. Lord Pemberton and his butler were behind the swing. They waved at us and smiled. I closed my eyes in disbelief, opened them – both were still there. Why had the greengrocer lied?

I turned toward Emilia. Again, thunder rolled and a bolt of lightning struck the tree behind the flowerbed. “Emilia, get away!” A futile attempt – considering her deafness. The tree was split in half, the major part pinning Emilia to the ground. We were rooted to the spot. While still taking in the lifeless body beneath the tree, a nearly translucent copy of Emilia rose from her corpse, sending an endearing smile our way. She turned, floating toward Lord Pemberton and Reginald. They hugged, waved at us, and dissolved.

We were thunderstruck. As a torrential rain set in we woke from our trance and sprinted to the car. “I need a hard drink.” Don agreed and we drove to a pub at the market place. As we were soaking wet, we opted for an extra strong Irish Coffee.

“I don’t know about you, Martin. I need to see the newspaper’s archive before returning to the office.” Don was right. We needed to find out what this was all about. Indeed, there had been an accident three years previously. Lord Pemberton and his butler had not survived. The then 18-year-old Emilia had suffered a severe head trauma, resulting in her being deaf. Our papers stated the evening before the accident. I got curious and checked the more recent papers. A pharmaceutical company planning to take over Old Merrion Street had indeed tried to bribe the owners out of their homes. We finally understood the clause regarding Emilia’s eventual death. Handing over Pemberton House for a good cause made it impossible for the aggressive company to lay their hands on this part of our beautiful town.

Having decided not to tell anybody about the ghosts, we headed back to our office. “Where have you been?” Our secretary greeted Don nervously. Your next clients are waiting for you in your office, they were here a little early; I served them tea.”

Don entered his office and I took the Pemberton folder out of my attache case, thanks for filing this. She looked at the folder with a frown. “Why did you take this with you? An hour ago, our boss received a phone call regarding Emilia Pemberton’s demise. He asked me to get him the folder and – it wasn’t there! He was furious!”

“You left this folder for us last week, to prepare our meeting at Pemberton House!”

“Why should I have done this? You handled this case three years ago. Since then it’s been gathering dust in a filing cabinet.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. She wasn’t actually the type who lied – not in the least. I remembered now: Initially I had found the folder on my desk with a note to take care of this case. After the appointment, we hadn’t met the secretary. I had left the folder on her desk with a thank-you-note. A few days later, I had found the folder on my desk…

I guess that I don’t really want to know how all of this happened. Presumably Don and I imagined all of this. Would you want to work in a haunted office building?


  1. macjam47 says:

    Wow! I was holding my breath.

  2. Outstanding! I loved this.

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