Bear and Mouse: The Case of The Ghostless Haunting

Bear and Mouse: The Case of The Ghostless Haunting

A Story by M.A.Alexander
"

Bear and Mouse, a paranormal investigation duo, respond to a request to examine a haunted farm in rural Ireland.

"

April 2055

Tuesday, 14:32

A Train bound for rural Athlone.



Jacqueline, a constant passenger, was always disappointed that trains sounded nothing like they did on t.v. or in movies. There was no deep chugging or repetitive thud-thud, just a constant humming rhythm, a kind of background whoosh, like having wind stuck in between the ears.

         “We should invest in a car.” she said, her accent some sort of aristocratic drawl; the sort which pronounced drawl with extra vowels.

         “One in every country?” replied Bear across from her, all six foot three of him inside a bespoke suit, as always.

         “A helicopter then, it’d be all thuk-thuk-thuk and we’d be there already.”

         “Windy in a helicopter I’d say,” said Bear staring out the window, “and I’m too heavy.”

         “A private jet then, those go nyoow.” Jacqueline earnestly furrowed her brow and pursed her rose painted lips when she made the sound, rolling her head with the imagined motion of the jet.

         “I like trains.” said Bear.

         “They’re boring.”

         “Things are going to get less boring soon.” said Bear.

         Jacqueline went silent and spent the rest of the journey doodling airplanes on her napkins as the train continued with a steady murmur towards its destination, heedless of her boredom.



Tuesday, 16:43

Mahony Farmstead.



         "Jacqueline Mouse, of Bear and Mouse Investigations.” Jackie was shaking the hand of a rough and tumble country man. She could tell the exact roughness of his tumble by the calluses on his hands; scraggy, gnarly things that they were. He did it old school, only minor automation, all crack-of-dawn and elbow grease and gumption.

         “This is Bear.” said Jacqueline, pointing at Bear. Bear nodded.

         The man and his wife, both in the Irish farmer chic of pickle coloured woolen sweaters, stared at the formal behemoth who seemed, easily, half a foot taller than them.

         “You lot seem overdressed.” said the farmer, scrutinising Jackie’s pale pink dress.

         “Oh it’s just for appearances sake, don’t worry about us.” chimed Jacqueline.

         “All clothes are for appearances sake.” said Bear. Jackie elbowed him sharply.

         “He’s as smart as he is large.” noted the farmer’s wife, leading them inside her manor.

         “Thank you.” said Bear

         “I don’t think that was a compliment.” said his partner.

         The inside of the house was the epicentre mess of traditional and modern clutter. The corridors and living areas were warm and carpeted in rug which looked older than the mobile phone but all the lights were wall-inlaid halogen, energy efficient and voice activated. The living room was equal parts books and electronic tablets. An antiquated fireplace took up most of the west wall, coal stained but functional, and walnut coloured throws adorned every aged chair and sofa.

         “We had the priest 'round, though nobody has the priest 'round anymore. We figured this would be one of the few things they’re good for.” said the farmer once everyone was seated, the customary tea and biscuits having been set up with preternatural efficiency.

         “No luck?” asked Jackie, removing her cloche hat and shaking out her short, wavy hair.

         “None,” the lady farmer grumbled, “you’d think he’d know what to do but he was insulted we even asked, if you can imagine such a thing.”

         “‘No time for fairy nonsense’ he told us, as if we were making it all up.” the husband added.

         “He stayed one night and saw the thing for himself, then fecked off back to the parish as if he’d seen nothing.” said the wife.

         “Feck'm.” the husband added.

         “We got your details off the internet, might as well get yous over if it's free.”

         “Free if we don’t solve your problem.” Jacqueline said happily.

         “Ah yeah, so what’s the harm?” replied the farmer.

         “We’ll spend the night, see the phenomenon for ourselves.” said Bear.

         “They don’t believe us Cathal,” exclaimed the wife and before either of the investigators could reply she added, “they’ll believe by the morning though.”



Tuesday, 23:50

Mahony Farmstead, by the fields.



April in Ireland might as well be September. It was all fog and chill and moisture on the air, the rain clouds holding the sky hostage under precipitous threat. Bear and Mouse had joined the farmers by their largest field, a short walk from the manor as the building was just a focal point to many such fields. The animals were all in their respective barns and stables, midnight was approaching hungrily, and Jacqueline regretted her outfit choice of dress and cardigan.

         “I’m cold.” said Jackie to nobody in particular.

         “I am not.” replied Bear.

         “Shush you, it’s your own fault.” said one of the farmers, warm in boots and jacket herself.

         “I’m not complaining I’m just…” Jacqueline trailed, trying to justify her whinging. Her slender arms were wrapped about her, her skin the colour of pale limestone and sylvan with cold-raised hairs, “I’m just observing the climate. Those things matter sometimes.”

         Bear grunted, a sound somehow sarcastic, then there was silence for a while.

A few minutes past midnight the fog lifted on the field, and just the field, and a translucent blue mist descended to replace it. Wisps of hazy vapor trailed along the ground and wound into rolling swirls at the bidding of a ghostly breeze, there was a sound like a rushing brook in the distance, and Jacqueline got warmer.

         “Alright.” said Bear.

         “Here we go.” added the husband farmer.

         Jackie closed her eyes, though before her the field remained visible in a sapphire relief. The shades of horses, trailing like the mist itself, appeared out of the darkness far across the grass and began cantering lazily, their whinnying and stomping eerily stuck on the periphery of audible sound. The noise got into your head, and sat there like an earworm song, it scuffed and scraped like dirt beneath your fingernails.

         “Ghosts?” Bear asked of his companion.

         “I think so, I’m not sure.” She replied, staring across the field, though her lids were shut. “It doesn’t feel like ghosts, or at least not like restless dead. I don’t know how to describe it, it’s a new one.”

         “What’s she doing?” asked the farmer. Bear shushed her.

         “They’re not angry.” Jacqueline said.

         “They’ve got a funny way of showing it.” The husband chimed in. “The fields are trampled by the morning, and the animals won’t graze on there. Can’t make the land into crops even if I wanted to and God knows what would happen if I tried to build on it.

         “Trust me, this could be much worse.” said Bear.

         “Aye, but it could be better too.” said the wife.

Jacqueline shushed everyone this time, her long, delicate fingers stretched out towards the field.

         “I’m getting recognition. I think they know we’re here.” she said.

         “Nah, they’ve paid us no mind before.” the farmer replied, though even as he said so he was proven wrong.

         The horses, half a dozen at least, turned from their capering and rushed across the field towards their audience. The whoosh of sound which had been so distant before was now fast approaching and the spectres were approaching with it. Jacqueline was reminded of the trains, then a wave of phantom force threw her violently off her feet.

         The farmer and his wife retreated, swiftly as it were, and Bear was left alone to face the oncoming stampede. He saw his partner launch a few feet across the ground and decided maybe the farmers had the right idea. Rushing to her side and hoisting Jacqueline onto his shoulder he made a retreat towards the manor the waterfall sound of charging hooves swelling behind him. No matter how fast he ran he felt his impending trampling growing nearer, growing louder.

When the sound reached him Bear shut his eyes and dove to the ground, his body protectively domed above his charge. There was a loud bang inside his eardrums as the crescendo peaked and he thought he felt hooves slamming into his spine, bending and snapping the bone, but then he looked up again. The ghostly horses were still standing by the fencing, each glaring with their hollow, haunted eyes.


Wednesday, 12:17

Mahony Farmstead Manor.



Mouse had been awake for over an hour but still felt drowsy, as if her head was stuffed with cotton balls. Inside the Mahony manor, under the energy saving halogen bulbs and surrounded by picture frames filled with strangers, she watched Bear pour over online records of the household’s history.

         “We already checked,” Jacqueline said, “before we came here. No records of previous hauntings, no murder, no crime of any kind.”

         “Maybe there are physical ones somewhere, more thorough ones.” said Bear, closing the lid of Cathal Mahony’s laptop.

         “There’s a county council office aye,” said Cathal, “though I don’t know if they even have records of the sort.”

         “And you’re sure there’s nothing you forgot to mention? No ancient Celtic burial grounds? No family history?”

         “We’ve owned the land for centuries, in one form or another, and the parts we didn’t we know who did. This place is as quiet as it gets.” the farmer’s wife said. “It’s Athlone for Christ’s sake, not Kilmainham.”

         “I’ll go check the council office,” Bear said getting to his feet, pulling up his suspenders and putting on his jacket, “you stay and recover.”

         “Yeah, I’ll stay here,” said Jacqueline, “and touch things, I suppose. Bring me a change of clothes.”

         “I’ll see what I can do.” said Bear and left the room.

         Jacqueline’s mud stained pink dress hung on a line outside, as clean as it will ever get, forever dyed a shade of caramel. She looked strangely elegant in a farmer’s shirt and trousers, both a few inches too short.

         “Alright,” she said, still disoriented but decisively donning her hat, “let’s touch some things.”

         For the next two hours Jackie paced about the house, placing her tender palms on random objects solemnly. Each time she did she closed her eyes and breathed in deep, concentrating on the vibrations of the thing and the air around it. She sensed the decades in the wood, inside the bits of concrete not replaced over the centuries, and caught wafts of memories of baking, gardening and autumn rains. Outside she watched the flicker of a thousand thousand souls belonging to the animals who came and went here but though the tapestry of life was wonderful, et cetera, none of it was new to her and she was more frustrated with it all being so ordinary. Nothing to rile up angry spirits, to stir the mournful dead.

         “You have a wonderful estate.” she finally said after the touch of mud behind the manor showed her echoes of children’s feet, energetic but long gone.

         “It’d be nicer without ghosts.” her hostess opined.



Friday, 23:05

Mahony Estate Manor.



Nothing in the county council helped, “as usual” in the words of one of the farmers, and all other avenues of research were running dry too.

         “No trips, no foreign visitors, no petty thefts, nothing at all?” asked Jacqueline for what felt like the hundredth time.

         “We told you, none of that around here. We haven’t gone away in a few years now, but the haunting only started a month ago. We breed and sell our livestock so there isn’t even a butchers that we’re in contact with, other than for what we buy for dinner.” Cathal explained, obviously exasperated.   

         The farmers had been obliging, kind even, most likely optimistic by the earnest diligence Bear and Mouse were putting into their case, but three days into the investigation with no results would wear on anyone, regardless how convivial.

         “We’ll have to go out again.” said Bear matter-of-factly.

         “I know…” said Jackie, trailing off.

         The duo hadn’t faced the apparitions since the first night, wary of the adverse reaction Mouse had had. This wasn’t the first, or even the most dangerous, predicament they’ve been in but in their line of work it was never a good idea to be reckless. The undocumented was usually a sign of something either obscure or exceptionally vile, and these spectral horses were proving to be a bigger mystery than expected.

         “What about your horses specifically, all treated and sold humanely?” asked Mouse.

         “Sure you saw them yourself,” exclaimed one of the farmers, “they’re healthy and well, there’s no business in abusing animals here.”

         The investigators had indeed seen the horses, all the animals in fact, and it was as humane as a modern stud farm could get.

         “We sell ‘em to jockeys, caravans, what have you, and breed them ourselves. When studs go out of prime we use them to work or sell ‘em cheap. Rarely we buy in new stock.” The farmer rattled on, the same information he had given several times before, though Bear and Mouse were only half listening.

         Jacqueline in particular was distracted, a nagging dread at the back of her mind over the thought of going out to the ghosts. It wasn’t that she was afraid, she had seen enough bleeding skulls and malevolent intellects, but more that she didn’t like how these spirits refused to communicate. Ghosts were, by nature, needy, lonely or unhinged. They leapt at the opportunity to express rage or confusion, or the desire for a gravesite that was tended to just so.

         “...mostly it's Ireland, other breeders and the like, sometimes the U.K. This one lad we got out of Bulgaria but he’s been here for a while so it can’t be him causing the trouble.”

         Bear perked up, “Bulgaria?”

         “Ah yeah, got a good deal on that one. We didn't actually fly a purebred all the way over, it's a Bulgarian breed I got off a closing farm in Meath. Synthetic conversion and all that.” Cathal explained.

         Bear tapped at the computer on his lap eagerly while the farmer went into more detail than was strictly necessary. Jackie nudged her partner inquisitively but he only grunted in response. He had read something! Somewhere! There was a loose rock of knowledge rattling about his brain, ready to crystallize under the pressure of more scrutiny.

         “The horse!” Bear exclaimed and jumped to his feet, fixing his suspenders as he was wont to do, stomping out of the room eagerly. Jacqueline shrugged at her hosts and made to follow, not wanting to spoil the surprise.

          Bear, the farmers and his partner in tow, marched to the stables with a purpose. His boots sunk slightly into the still moist mud with every step, it had rained earlier as was the country’s prerogative and the large man’s oxfords were gathering dirt like the were greedy moles.

          He sloshed to the door of the stables, the horses going about their horse day within, and threw the double doors open hard enough to provoke an annoyed squeak from the hinges. Bear was onto his prey, it was a moment for theatrics.

         “Horse!” he proclaimed, in Bulgarian, and one of the equines looked up, startled.

         The chestnut skinned and coal haired animal stared at the bulwark of a man; the moment hung in the air. Then the horse made a face, it’s flappy horse lips skewing comically, revealing the rectangular enamel pillars behind them.

         “F**k.” it said simply, in the throaty voice of a man, and bolted with the force of a semi truck.

         The animal, or more accurately the animal impostor, broke out of its pen with a crash and made for the back of the barn. The creature smashed through the wooden wall and ran for the fields in the distance, faster than any human legs could catch up.

         Not that Bear was one to give up easily, sprinting after the thing as he did, bulling through the splintered gap it had made as his shoes did their best to stay on his feet in the sloshing dirt.

         “Horse!” he cried out again across the field, once again in Bulgarian, and his quarry slid to a slippery stop.

         “No!” it called back, making to escape again.

         “Horse I know your name!” shouted the six foot three brick of a man, his trousers thoroughly sodden, his shirt beginning to stain with his sweat.

         “Damn you!” responded the horse and turned on the spot to face him.

         Jacqueline had ushered the farmers outside to watch. The horses inside the barn neighed wildly to make their agitation known and stamped their hooves rabidly, their frenzy rattling the stables which contained them.

          Bear had time to roll up his sleeves before the horse-thing began its charge towards him. It trailed dirt and grass in his wake, churning the already amply churned field beneath its steel clad hooves, spraying plumes of damp earth into the air. There was a sound, again like rushing wind and rolling thunder but this time Bear stood his ground. This was one horse, not six, and it was not even a ghost; he knew what was what in a scenario like this. He cocked back his fist.

         With an impact not unlike a hammer slammed into cake Bear drove his fist into the charging beast’s face right before it could trample him. The creature’s forward momentum was ended abruptly but energy cannot be created or destroyed and the horse was sent careening furiously sideways, landing explosively in the dirt. Bear raised his fist triumphantly, it’s skin was torn and bleeding, his knuckles like the points of a very recently used mace. Off to the side lying in what could only be described as a crater was the horse-creature, struggling to get up, shuddering in the filth in pain. It jerked its smashed face around trying to find the strength to rise but failed, steam trailing from its exhausted, demolished, jaw. Then, as if on cue, it began to rain.



Saturday, 11:47

Athlone Town train station.



“Losh, a minor Bulgarian demon, said to prefer the shape of a horse or donkey. They congregated at markets and fairs hoping to be bought after which they would drive their buyers mad, eventually killing or chasing them off their land in order to turn it over to higher ranked demons for favors.” - Sidenote in an entry on minor demons on HeartyZealotry.com


Bear and Mouse stood by the train tracks, ready to leave, the Mahonys keeping them company. In Jacqueline’s hand was a bag of home baked treats, prepared early that morning by a grateful farmer, and in Bear’s wallet was more money than he had arrived with.

         “I’m sorry again about the barn.” he said to Cathal as they exchanged farewells.

         “Nonsense, it was due an upgrade anyway. Johnny Flynn down south has himself one of those plasteel things…”

         “Good to know.” cut in Bear and turned to watch for the train.

         The Mahony’s soon departed from the station with assurances that if anything came up again, anything in the vein of phantom cattle or demon pests, they had someone to call.

         Jacqueline Mouse watched the train to the city pull in with a screech, sliding noisily across the tracks as it came to a stop.

         “You think we have enough for a jet yet?” she asked Bear, still dressed in her farmer lent clothes save for her beige, bell-shaped, hat.

         “I like trains.” Bear asserted, his shoes and trousers caked in soil.

         Jacqueline frowned as they boarded their carriage, the pair of them thoroughly disheveled but composed as if they were not.

        “I’m bored again Bear.” Jackie said eventually.

        “It’s ok,” Bear replied, “things are going to get less boring soon.”



The End


© 2017 M.A.Alexander


Author's Note

M.A.Alexander
The first time I wrote for Bear and Mouse as they are today, it was an experiment at making serialized news paper style short stories with a quick build up, pay off and a bit of fun language. I'm not sure how well it worked out but I've been writing Bear and Mouse ever since

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

133 Views
Added on July 22, 2017
Last Updated on July 27, 2017
Tags: Horror, Spooky, Skeleton, Farm, Paranormal

Author

M.A.Alexander
M.A.Alexander

Dublin, Ireland



About
M. A. Alexander is a struggling writer of zero renown and probably negative talent. Follow his page to witness his newest failures and inevitable break down more..

Writing