ghosts in the burbs

A blog about the people who live in Wellesley, MA and the ghosts (and monsters) who haunt them.

Welcome back to Lilith, a tale I’ll share a few chapters at a time until her story is complete. If you’re new to the blog, Lilith is a great place to start (you don’t need any background information to enjoy this account of demonic possession) but do go back to January 7th’s episode and begin with chapters 1-3.

 

Chapter 21

The family left the house around ten o’clock. Laura looked exhausted, the younger children confused, Lilith haunted.

Noc waved to the family as they pulled out of the driveway then, fighting the urge to get into her own car and drive away, she gently closed the mudroom door. Her team was waiting for her in the dining room.

Typically on an investigation they would sleep in shifts. Taking turns leaving the haunted location for their homes to rest and wash up before continuing the investigation.

“We’ve decided that we should all stay here today,” Tyler announced as Noc slumped into a chair.

“What? Why?” Noc had been looking forward to a shower and a short break from the oppressive house. A chance to regroup.

Her husband and teammates exchanged looks.

“None of us want to miss any of the action, for one thing,” Maurice said.

Patricia said, “More importantly, we think it’s safer to stick together if we are going to continue the investigation.”

“Safety in numbers,” Tyler added.

Noc rubbed her eyes considering. “If we don’t all get some sleep we’ll be useless.”

The team nodded their heads in agreement. She realized they’d already made a plan.

“I talked to Michael and he said we were welcome to the twins bedroom-”

“Ah. The room where they are hearing the dead boy whisper jokes and stomp around in the attic above their heads.” Noc clarified sarcastically.

“No one would be in there alone, we’ll sleep in teams,” Patricia suggested.

Noc took in her teammates eager faces. She realized the decision had been made. “Fine, then I call first shift, but I’m not sleeping in that fucking creep show of a bedroom. I’ll take the couch.”

“Well, I for one am too wired to sleep for some reason,” Patricia said.

“Not me,” Maurice stifled a yawn. “But I can’t sleep in some chair down here. I don’t mind sleeping up there alone.”

“Alright then. I’m going to make a quick Starbucks run,” Tyler announced. “What does everyone want?”

Patricia ordered a black tea. Noc and Maurice said they’d grab something when they woke up in a couple hours. The team dispersed. Patricia sat at the dining room table, a legal pad in front of her as she cleared her mind for an automatic writing session. It was a practice she often used in haunted locations to help herself tune into the underlying vibrations around her. Patricia assured Noc she would take precautions. Noc was too tired to argue with her. She fell into a dead, dreamless sleep seconds after she closed her eyes.  

Upstairs, Maurice tossed and turned atop Rosemary’s floral comforter unable to fall asleep. He would be close to drifting off when a tap would sound above his head or on the wall next to him. As hard as he tried to ignore the tapping, it seemed the tapping would not be ignored. He finally gave up of the idea of sleep, took out his digital recorder and attempted an EVP session. The ghosts or whatever it was in the house were silent save for more of that incessant tapping.

After a time Maurice heard the mudroom door open and close downstairs and headed down to tell Tyler and Patricia what had been happening in the girl’s bedroom. He planned to suggest they bring up some equipment and investigate the attic.

He was looking down at his digital recorder when he came around the corner to the dining room. “Hey, man, there’s weird tapping going on upstairs. Let’s grab some equipment and-” He stopped mid-sentence when he looked up and saw the look of terror on Tyler’s face. Maurice followed his friend’s gaze and his eyes fell on Patricia.

She sat, her posture unnaturally straight, her chair pulled in so close to the table that it looked painful, pushing her stomach against the table’s edge in an unnatural way. Her hands rested on either side of a legal pad, clenched in tight fists. She was so still Maurice thought for a moment that she might be dead. From where he was standing Maurice could only see the back of her head. She looked to be staring straight ahead. Her chin slightly raised.

Maurice looked back up at Tyler, who was staring directly at Patricia’s face. A look of concern mixed with horror on his face.

“Ty, man, what is it?” Maurice asked, true fear gripping his body.

Tyler’s gaze broke away from Patricia for only a moment. “Her eyes,” he whispered. Then he took a tentative step forward. “Patricia?” He said softly. The woman didn’t stir at all. “Patricia?” He said again, with more force.

Maurice moved to stand next to Tyler, giving Patricia and the table a wide berth as he did so. Once at his friend’s side he saw why Tyler looked so terrified.

Patricia sat, unblinking, tears streaming down her face. Her face was a mask of sheer terror. Her jaw clenched as if she were enduring severe pain.

“Jesus Christ,” Maurice said. He pulled Patricia’s chair back from the table and took her clenched hands into his. “Patricia, wake up!” He said firmly. “Wake up, come on Patty, come on back.”

Patricia’s eyes, unfocused moved to Maurice’s face. She blinked several times then let out a scream like none of them had ever heard before. It was full of sadness and horror, pain and loss.

Maurice jumped back so quickly that he fell flat on his ass. Tyler backed himself into the wall, knocking down a framed family photo.

Noc stumbled into the room, obviously startled awake by the scream. “What happened? Patricia! What happened?” She said, taking in the scene.

Tyler, Maurice and Noc all stared at their teammate. Tears still flowed freely down her cheeks though she gave no other sign of crying, it was as though a faucet had been turned on behind her eyes. She wiped at them with her hands and breathed, “I don’t want to see anymore.”

 

******

 

Sleep was out of the question.  

Once Patricia had pulled herself together the ghost hunters filed into Maurice’s Suburban and drove to Maugus, a small diner nearby.

Once they were settled in a booth, coffee orders in place, Noc said, “I just want to go on record and say that I think we have plenty of information, hell proof to bring to the church at this point.”

“You can say that again,” Patricia said closing her eyes for a moment, they’d burned ever since she’d lost herself to the automatic writing.

“Are sure you’re alright?” Maurice asked her.

She nodded. “Yes, my eyes just feel really dry but it’s subsiding.”

“And you still have no idea what you saw?”

Patricia shook her head. “None. I was scribbling on my pad of paper and the next thing I knew the three of you were there looking completely freaked out.”

“Shit, you scared us,” Maurice said in a low voice. “It was as if you were somewhere else. I wish we knew what you saw.”

“Me too,” Patricia agreed.

“You said exactly what Lilith said last night. You said ‘I don’t want to see anymore,’” Noc pointed out.

“Well, then maybe I actually don’t want to know what I saw,” Patricia said with a small laugh.

Shaking his head, wishing he could erase the memory Maurice said, “The look on your face was terrifying.”

The team sat in silence, each member lost in their own thoughts.

“So, what are we going to do?” Noc asked finally, breaking the silence.

“Let’s get some food in us, and regroup,” Tyler suggested.

“I honestly don’t know if we should continue on in that house,” Noc admitted.

“We just had a bad scare this morning. Taking some time away from that house will help to clear our heads for tonight’s investigation.”

“Look, you guys know I don’t scare easily. I’m not saying this because I’m spooked. It’s that I’m afraid we’re going too far. I have this terrible feeling about that house. I’m afraid someone is going to get hurt,” Noc said.

“That’s what they want you to think,” Tyler said, dumping sugar into his coffee. “They can’t do a damn thing to us other than frighten us. If you have that bad of a feeling then it means we are on the right track. They’re trying to scare you off. They want us out because they know we’re the ones who will send them packing.”

“When you say ‘they’ you’re referring to demons, Ty. We can’t send them anywhere. We need a priest. Actually, probably need fucking boatload of priests to get rid of what’s in that house. Everyone in that family probably needs an exorcism. Our primary goal is to help this family, not to document evidence. We should focus our energy on getting these people help as quickly as possible.”

“We will,” Tyler said, his placating tone making Noc want to kick him in the shins. “But we committed to seventy-two hours and that’s what we should do. We should gather as much evidence as we can. Then we’ll get an exorcist in here ASAP.”

“What about attachments?” Noc asked.

“What do you mean?” Tyler replied.

“Well, I seriously doubt we’re just going to be able to leave everything behind us in that house at this point,” Noc said.

Tyler brushed the idea aside. “We’ll do a cleansing ceremony when we leave the property for the final time, we always do.”

Patricia spoke up. “Whatever is in that house is extremely powerful. We might want to schedule a blessing at St. John’s Monday morning. We don’t want to bring anything back to our own homes.”

“Excellent idea,” Tyler said as though that put an end to all concerns.

Though Maurice and Patricia seemed less convinced than they had before Patricia had channeled God-knows-what visions of horror, they were still firm in seeing the investigation through to the end. The ghost hunters ate breakfast and returned to the home despite Noc’s protests. Their defenses were down from lack of sleep. Dread at the thought of another night in that God-forsaken house weighed heavily on them all.

“We haven’t really investigated this part of the basement,” Maurice pointed out as he and Patricia ran an equipment check at basecamp.

Patricia shrugged and looked around the room, taking in the wood paneling. “I think that’s where one of the construction workers got trapped,” she said pointing to the door closing off the stairs that lead to the bulkhead.

“EVP session?” Maurice suggested.

They unlocked and opened the door revealing a short set of wooden steps. A set of rusty bulkhead doors loomed above.

“How long did they say the guy was trapped in here?” Maurice asked taking in the dank, spider webbed space.

“At least two hours I think,” Patricia replied.

“Geez,” Maurice breathed. He held out his digital recorder and said, “Is anyone here with us? Jason, is your spirit here?”

Patricia added, “Can you give us a sign of your presence?”

They waited in silence. Rewound the recording and listened.

“Nothing,” Maurice commented.

“Let’s try one more time,” Patricia said. Once the recorder was rolling she asked. “Is my old friend here? The girl I played with as a child?” She paused. “Do you have a message for me?” Maurice and Patricia fell silent. Allowing the recording device to run in hopes of catching a response. After a long moment, Maurice turned it off and played the recording.

To Patricia’s first question came the reply, “Yes.”

“Shit,” Maurice breathed after they’d re-listened to the recording of the disembodied voice of a little girl.

“I’m afraid to hear what comes next,” Patricia admitted.

The recording continued to play. “Do you have a message for me?” Patricia’s voice asked. The answer was chilling.

The same voice, this time with an edge of anger responded, “We almost had you.”

Maurice and Patricia looked at one another. Without a word Maurice closed and locked the door to the small space beneath the bulkhead.

Nighttime came too quickly and with it a sense of impending doom.

Noc was jumpy and nervous while Patricia felt completely drained from the day’s events. Tyler had crossed over from exhaustion to a feeling of manic excitement. Maurice wished they’d taken Noc’s idea of leaving the house seriously. He was washing his hands in the upstairs bathroom a little before five o’clock just as the sun was going down when the shower curtain twitched behind him. He caught the reflection in the mirror. He was immediately overcome with a level of fear he’d never known. An irrational fear that told him that if he pushed the curtain aside he would see the devil himself.  

He stood frozen, his mind racing, wondering if the horrible thing, whatever it was was about to leap out and kill him. He couldn’t find his voice. He slid along the wall as far as he could from the bathtub, grabbed the doorknob and yanked the heavy old wooden door open. Rushing out into the hallway he banged into Noc who had been checking the camera in Jack’s room.

“What is it?” She demanded.

He could only shake his head, still certain the thing was after him. 

Noc went into the bathroom, Maurice reached out a hand to stop her but it was too late.

She flipped on the light switch and glanced around, then flung the shower curtain aside, revealing nothing but an empty bathtub. She turned and took in the look of sheer terror on Maurice’s face. He was sweating and breathing heavily.

“What the fuck just happened?” She asked.

He shook his head, doing his best to calm down. Finally, he said, “I don’t know, I thought I saw something. But maybe this house is just getting to me.”

“Let’s go downstairs,” Noc suggested. “We need to make a plan before it gets dark. I don’t think any of us should be alone at any point tonight.”

It was decided that after dinner (take out from The Local) Tyler and Patricia would conduct an investigation of the second then first floors while Noc and Maurice manned command center and kept an eye on the camera footage.

After hearing of Maurice’s scare Patricia and Tyler started their investigation in the second floor bathroom. They conducted EVP and spirit box sessions and monitored the temperature of each room on the top floor, but found nothing abnormal. In the attic Patricia claimed she felt something touch her back, but nothing was caught on camera and whatever had touched her had left no mark.

Around nine-thirty Patricia and Tyler got their first real hit of the night as they attempted to make contact with the dark entity in the home. Noc and Maurice watched as their teammates listened back on the EVP session they’d just recorded. Noc had almost allowed herself to be lulled into thinking that the house may have gone silent for the night when her husband said, “Got it,” he fiddled with the recording device then held it up to the camera in the kitchen so that his teammates in the basement could hear the disembodied voice captured by the digital recorder.

Noc and Maurice leaned towards the computer screens in front of them.

In the recording Tyler said, “We would like to speak to the dark entity affecting the family in this home.”

A raspy voice, presumably the dark entity’s, replied, “Where is the scribe?”

“Oh, shit,” Maurice breathed.

Noc began, “The scribe, isn’t that what-”

“Lilith asked about it at the dinner table, yeah,” Maurice said quickly, wanting to hear what Tyler said next.

They watched as Tyler began to record again. “Who is the scribe?” He asked. He let the device record for a minute before he and Patricia listened back for a response. Again he held the recording device up to the camera so his teammates could hear the response.

The same raspy voice growled, “Elizabeth….. Sower.”

“Who the hell is Elizabeth Sower?” Noc said.

“What was the last name of the family who lived here before the Arnolds?” Maurice asked. “Could it be one of them?”

“No, that was uh, Butler,” Noc replied.

“Weird. Well, make a note of it anyway and we can ask Laura and Michael if it rings a bell,” Maurice said with a shrug.

The night wore on. Having no luck in capturing further evidence it was decided that Patricia and Tyler would sit upstairs quietly observing the house in hopes of witnessing the shadows Jack had described. Tyler was eager to capture evidence of the phenomenon. Maurice and Noc would remain in the basement continuing their watch over the camera feed.

At around eleven-thirty Noc and Maurice were studying the footage before them. Tyler sat on the couch in the living room and Noc was trying to determine if the shadow she’d seen over his left shoulder was a trick of the light or perhaps one of the shadow figures they’d been hoping to witness. She was pointing to the screen, describing what she’d seen to Maurice when they both heard Tyler call her name from the other side of the basement, the area near Lilith’s bedroom.

Maurice and Noc’s eyes met. “What the hell?” She breathed.

They sat, silently listening.

“Maybe there’s a delay in the feed,” Maurice suggested.

“We would have heard them come down here,” Noc whispered. She stood. Besides an electric lantern on the table in front of them and the light from the computer screens the basement was bathed in darkness. It was standard protocol to turn off all the house lights and conduct investigations in the dark. Noc grabbed a flashlight from one of the equipment bags and walked towards the stairs. She shined the light revealing no one, just as she’d expected.

“Is anyone there?” Maurice called from the table.

Noc shook her head. She continued past the stairs and shined the flashlight into the laundry room, again seeing nothing out of the ordinary. She walked down the hallway, her flashlight settling on Lilith’s door.

“Ty?” She called, her voice shaky. There was no response. With every part of her being she wanted to turn around and go back to the illusion of safety at the command center. To sit back down next to Maurice and continue watching the computer screen, a perceived safe distance from the darkness in that house. But she’d heard her husband’s voice call to her from that room. That terrible bedroom. Maybe he’s concentrating on something, she thought to herself. Or maybe he’s in trouble, maybe he needs my help.

She intended to say Tyler’s name out loud again, but it only came out as a whisper. She forced herself to reach out and push the door open and as she did something growled in her ear. It said, “He’s dead.”

Noc screamed and rushed into Lilith’s bedroom, away from the growling voice. She spun around so that her back wouldn’t be to the door and heard Maurice call to her. It felt as if he were miles away.

She opened her mouth to yell back to him when she heard a low and menacing growl coming from the hallway outside of Lilith’s bedroom. Noc screamed again and scrambled backwards, backing into the bed which caused her to fall down and drop the flashlight. It’s beam lit up the closet across from her. She thought she saw movement, perhaps a shadow.

She grabbed the flashlight and shined it at the doorway, somehow more frightened at whatever had growled at her than what could be lurking in the closet. Then Maurice’s flashlight came bouncing down the hallway.

“Maurice!” Noc screamed. “Be careful!” She gathered her courage and bound out of the bedroom, grabbing Maurice’s arm and dragging him up the stairs. The whole time screaming Tyler’s name.

Tyler met them at the top of the stairs. “What’s wrong? What happened?” He asked, grabbing his wife by the shoulders. She fell into his chest, overcome with relief at the sight of him and unable to stop shaking.

“What the fuck just happened?” Tyler demanded staring at Maurice over his wife’s shoulder.

Maurice put his hands up. “I honestly don’t know. We heard you call her name from the Lilith’s room. She went to investigate, and-”

“You let her go alone?” Tyler demanded.

Maurice let out a breath. “I’m sorry, man.”

Noc took a step back and extracted herself from Tyler’s grip. “It said you were dead,” she breathed, wiping tears from her face.

“No, honey. I’m right here, I’m fine.”

Patricia appeared suddenly by his side. “There is a fucking goat in the middle of the backyard. I just saw it out the window. It’s just standing there staring up at the house. ”

 

Chapter 22

They had all of their belongings packed when I got back to the house. I left Michael and the kids at the hotel, they were just about to go to the pool. Lilith had even shown interest, her mood had brightened a bit since we’d been at the hotel. I wasn’t about to bring her back to that house.

The psychiatrist and the so-called demonologist were sitting in his fucking car when I pulled into the driveway.

“We’ve seen enough,” Noc told me. “We won’t be staying another night.”

“But you said you would be here three full nights and that you would get rid of whatever is in this house,” I said, trying desperately not to sound as desperate as I felt. If they weren’t in the house then that would mean we’d have to come back a night early. If they weren’t in the house figuring out what was there then we would be left alone again with whatever was tormenting my family.

In a business-like tone, Noc’s husband said, “We feel that we have documented enough evidence and that we can begin to reach out to the appropriate people who can help you-”

“You’re passing us off on some other group?” I demanded, cutting him off.

“No, not at all,” Noc said, her voice irritatingly placating. “We aren’t equipped to remove anything from this house, we need to-”

“But you said you would take this case and now you’re leaving and asking someone else to help us?”

“We believe there is a demonic entity in your home,” Tyler said.

“No shit! That’s why you’re here, and you can’t even make it three days in my house! What am I going to tell my kids?”

“Laura, we are still going to help you. I am reaching out to a contact in the church today and-”

“The church won’t help us, we’ve tried!” I yelled.

I admit it, I was good and worked up and I wasn’t really listening to what they were trying to tell me. But the fact that these seasoned ghost hunters couldn’t make it more than one night alone in my home terrified me. I wondered what exactly they had seen, what evidence they’d gathered, what had pushed them to leave early. At the same time, I didn’t want to know any of those things. I just desperately wanted get back to that budget hotel, swim in the pool with my children, and try to lose myself in the fantasy that we were just on a vacation.

I slumped down into a chair at the dining room table. “What exactly did you see?” I asked.

The couple exchanged a knowing look that made me want to throw them out of my home right then.

Instead of answering the question Noc asked, “Have you or the kids seen a goat around the house at all? Maybe in the backyard?”

“Do any of your neighbors keep goats?” Tyler added.

“Goats?” I said, well actually screeched. “No. I haven’t seen any goats in the neighborhood. Is that what you saw? Goats?”

Again, my question was met with a question.

“Do you know anyone named Elizabeth Sower?”

“No, I don’t. Is that who you’re shoving me off on?”
“No, no, no,” Noc said, “It was a name we caught during an EVP session.”

“The scribe,” Tyler said.

“Scribe? Like Lilith said? What does that even mean?”

“We don’t know, that’s why we need to consult-”

I cut her off. I couldn’t help it. I was overcome with panic and disappointment that they were leaving. “Is that why your bailing on us. An EVP?”

“We are not bailing on you,” Tyler said in a firm voice.

His tone set me off even further. “If you’re leaving just leave.” I said, terrified that they would actually go. But they did, leaving a string of meaningless apologies and reassurances behind them.

I sat alone in the house for too long. It was completely silent, as if leaving me to soak in the reality of what had just happened. There were none of the usual taps or footsteps from adjoining rooms, no bits of whispers barely heard. Just silence. As though the house had no need to prove it’s little points any longer. It had won the round. It chased off the ghost hunters. Scared them right out the door.

It was several brutal, terrifying weeks later when I saw the posting on the community board in the library. I had the opportunity to reshelve books just once more, though the announcement had been made that they were hiring someone internally for the library aid position. The news hit me harder than I thought it would. I hadn’t realized how much I’d wanted that job.

I was leaving the library when a notice caught my eye. It was a simple half sheet of paper bordered by cute little black and white ClipArt ghosts.

I scanned the text. A blogger in Wellesley was collecting ghost stories. When I saw her name a shiver of recognition ran through me. Liz Sower. The blogger’s name was Elizabeth Sower. The scribe.

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