Bear and Mouse: The Case of The Hungry Seance

Bear and Mouse: The Case of The Hungry Seance

A Story by M.A.Alexander
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Bear and Mouse head up a seance for a grieving family in central London, then things may or may not get out of hand.

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January 2056

Monday, 20:34

Number 12, Chesterton House

London, England

The inside of the house house was all high ceilings and baroque swirls. Though period appropriate doilies and tea sets were almost conspicuously absent, replaced by an instant filtration coffee maker and jet black polyester throws, this was no doubt a Georgian House; both letters of the term capitalized. Jacqueline stared at the crystalline chandelier high above her, examining it’s delicate components hanging like so many glasswork stalactites. She blew upwards, hard, and a moment later the baubles on the light fixture swayed ever so slightly.

“Stop that.” Bear said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Though the sofas in the place were modernly decorated, black filigreed with crimson and silver, they were shaped like their historical counterparts. Too small for a man on the plus side of six feet who was almost as wide as a shed.

“Never!” Jackie exclaimed, her slender physique as at odds with her companion’s as her pink dress was with the dark interior decoration.

“Not so loud.” Bear insisted sitting on the small sofa with his hands awkwardly rested on his knees.

“I always hate these things, they’re depressing.” Jacqueline said, copying her partner’s stiff pose, arms on knees, shoulders straight.

“People always cry.” she added.

“We need the money.” said Bear.

“Don’t I know it.” replied Jacqueline in a posh trill. She straightened her pale hat, pulling it down slightly tighter than was necessary, and sat back in her seat crossing her legs lazily. A large oak clock like she had seen in the movies swung an enormous pendulum in the corner of the room, when it struck nine a holographic display projected its face onto the grey wall opposite it. Its hands were ornate and finely carved, as ostentatious as everything else in the room.

A man dressed in black suit and bow tie entered shortly after and beckoned to the guests curtly.

“You will be seen now.” he said.

“You will be seen now.” Jackie copied nasally, and Bear made a face that was not quite a frown by sucking in the corners of his mouth.

The pair were lead down a long hallway of sconce mounted bulbs and dreary paintings before being ushered into a densely furnished study. Its inside was dominated by black shelves full of books upon books, some so dusty and worn that they exuded history by their mere presence; they went beyond the indie curator or retro collector and belied genuine scholarship. At the back of the study, in front of a vast double window, stood a writing desk thick and heavy enough to be mistaken for a monument and at centre of the room was an equally egregious table; circular and surrounded by four people seated in equally elaborate chairs. Each was dressed in fine, black, outfits and though the air of pretension hung about them like mustard gas the grandeur of their home somewhat justified it.

“Jacqueline Mouse, of Bear and Mouse Investigations.” Lilted Jackie before anyone could get a word in, crossing the room with a hand outstretched to nobody in particular.

“We know,” Said the grim faced young Eustace Chesterton, seated behind the table, his pinprick eyes narrow below well groomed eyebrows, “we’ve already spoken online.”

“Please forgive my son,” Said the mistress of the house seated to his left, “we’re all grieving in different ways.” The lady Chesterton wore a veil below a plain black hat and the rest of her clothing was equally colourless save for a thin trim of white fur on her dress. She was old, though bore few wrinkles to suggest so, and her artificially coloured hair was a lustrous blonde.

“Even the house it seems.” Grumbled her husband. Bear had noticed a faint scent of paint when he had first arrived. The grey of the walls looked a lot less ancient now.

Beside the bereaved Lord Chesterton, a short and square man with wrinkles enough for both him and his wife, was a silent young boy no more than ten years of age, fiddling with the tie of his tiny fitted suit.

“Let's get on with this.”  Said the lord and the buttler waved Bear and Mouse to their seats. Much smaller, less grand, than their hosts’ but still closely akin to mahogany artworks.

Bear remained by the door as Jacqueline took her place at the table.

“He doesn’t participate.” Jackie said, “Not after Prague.”

Lord Chesterton raised an eyebrow, regarding the enormous man standing cross armed like a newly acquired piece of furniture, then nodded to the butler. Bear’s seat was quickly removed and the circle about the table widened as to be equidistant to Mouse. There was a silence, awkward and tense, filled with the agitation induced drumming of Eustace’s fingers on the table. Outside the late winter sun had set and the warmth starved light pollution of the city could be seen through the windows.

“I brought a ‘reactant’, as you had put it, Miss Mouse.” Said Lady Chesterton after a while, her skin pallid and her cheeks sunken as she produced the item; a piece of cloth, porcelain white where it was not maroon with dried blood. She laid it on the table and the butler came to bring it over to Jacqueline; across from her the little boy had gone dead silent at the sight and then began to tear up.

Jackie saw past the fabric, past the dark ruby stains, and saw the rest of the elegant dress which had existed around it. Small and fragile, like it’s wearer, ruffled and cute. Defenseless and easily torn. At the touch of the scrap Mouse heard the ripping of cloth and a roar and a scream and her nostrils became clogged with the smell of hot copper; she dropped the piece involuntarily and the horror of death choked her brain.

“I’m so sorry.” She said, dignified now that she was made to face her task at this Georgian House. Across from her the mother, bereft and exhausted, stared blankly. The father looked angry, though it was unclear at who, and the older brother Eustace was silent and frowning. Edward, the youngest, sobbed quietly, his eyes fixed on the floor.

“Edward was her twin,” Said Lord Chesterton, “we tried explaining it to him but I don’t think the boy can fully comprehend it.”

“We hoped you might help.” Said the lady, her eyes never leaving that frail piece of fabric in Jackie’s hands. Her husband made a sound like grunt or a growl, reproachful and mad, but seemed to restrain himself from commenting, instead looking to Jackie with a scowl of impatience.

Mouse could feel the sorrow soaking into the room now that it was uncorked, she didn’t even need to touch the Chesterton’s to sense it, and it mixed with the terror and violence the piece of the young girl’s dress emanated. The tattered and blood soaked remains of Evie Chesterton’s clothes were found in an alley very nearby, though her disappearance remained a mystery. No cameras had seen her route and no forensics had followed her blood, the minder who had been with her at the music recital was still missing and a month of the finest investigation money and influence could muster turned up nothing of value. All that remained were tatters and fear, anger and tears. Jackie could sense the slicing of skin and rending of flesh from the “reactant” and hated it, hated the world, hated her patrons and herself for being so distraught. Time slid by in a graveyard silence.

Lord Chesterton stared at the woman across the table from him as she grew more and more silent at the weight of the crime before her. He saw the shock of the reality of the murder on Jacqueline’s face, just as he had seen it on his wife’s and his son’s, and it made fury crawl up his throat like a viscid liqueur. Eustace continued to drum his fingers on the table.

“This is ridiculous.” He finally barked.

“I agree.” Added the elder son vehemently.

“She is clearly a fraud, in over her head now that she’s here!” Shouted the lord as his wife began to whisper her protest.

“I’m sorry.” Said Mouse weakly, “I didn’t think.”

“See?” Shouted Eustace, “Dad is right!”

The cacophony of their voices tore the mourning silence which had hung about the house just moments before to pieces. Sorrow was converted to energy which was converted to rage and Jacqueline’s momentary lapse in confidence provided a target for all of it.

“Gentlemen that is enough!” Boomed Bear over the din, his presence suddenly filling the room. Lord Chesterton wiped the rage induced sweat from his brow, his eyeballs still bulging lividly in his skull, but remained silent as Jackie recovered.

“I’m sorry,” She said more assertively, “I’m not used to a death so young.” she fought through the feelings of helplessness and revulsion as she took hold of Evie’s dress scrap once more. A piercing shriek filled her skull, its fervor singing her eyeballs and burning her throat, it’s desperation clogging her breath. Jackie felt the meat being pulled from her bones, not cut but torn in thick bloody chunks, and felt the gorge rise up from her stomach.

Then there was silence, and an abyss so perfectly still Mouse never wanted to return to that world below; where children were abducted and murdered, where ghosts lingered only to haunt and monsters were beneath every bed ready to take her away. She saw stars here, though they were not stars but the phosphorescent mist of a quintillion souls; each sparkling a hue unique to themselves as they traveled in waves and spirals about her. Hot red fury and  bleach white fear radiated from Jackie like a beacon and she spoke to the occupants of the study.

“I can call to her now.” Jacqueline said, the lord scoffed, but she ignored him.

“I can call to her now.” She repeated, “But I need your help. She doesn’t know me.”

Lord Chesterton made to protest but his wife placed a firm hand on his shoulder. Her eyes were pleading, her expression hollow and desperate.

“Just whisper her name, or think of your fondest memory of her, imagine she were here coming home after all that has happened.” Said Jackie. She kept her eyes closed, focused on the void of death her mind occupied, but knew the process unfolding in the study well. At first there was a time of hesitation as her patrons were either too confused or too skeptical to help. Then the thoughts came, slowly at first but eventually flowing unbidden, spurred by desire and sorrow and love. And as they did, the voice of Evie’s father whispering her name, the memories of Evie’s mother tucking her in, so too did Evie’s soul respond in kind. Jackie could sense Eustace’s jealousy of his sister and channeled that feeling into the colourless ocean before her, calling to Evie with the promise of familiar life, calling to her with the unbridled love and extreme dependence that Edward felt for her.

Ahead of Mouse was a young girl, in a porcelain dress all ruffled and cute. Ten years old, her soul a vibrant teal shade, a drowsy expression across her ghostly face.

“Evie?” Asked Jackie. She was not a physical medium, no ectoplasm for her, but an empathic one. Rather than giving the longing souls a shape Jacqueline Mouse instead shared their existence vicariously and as such gave form to their feelings and thoughts but not their appearance. Through her Evie spoke, to her parents and her siblings.

“Edward?” Asked Evie in the voice of Mouse, of Bear and Mouse Investigations.

Edward stared wide eyed at the strange woman across the table for him, he didn’t know what to say.

“Edward?” Asked Evie again, “Edward I miss you.”

“This is ludicrous.” Whispered the lord but once the seance began Jackie’s aura permeated the room, they could sense it regardless of skepticism and they could sense the presence of another soul.

“Edward, Eustace.” Jackie whispered, and she heard that guttural roar from when she first touched Evie’s dress scrap. She breathed a heavy breath at the sound and felt the pain of Evie’s death again. Things were wrong; her muscles convulsed, she gripped the table tightly.

Bear moved across the room quickly, he had seen his partner’s seances before, he knew this didn’t look like one of them anymore.

“Edward I miss you.” Jackie repeated again.

“Mouse what’s going on?” Bear asked.

“I miss you too.” Whispered Edward ever so weakly, as Jackie dug her fingernails into the wood of the table.

Violence rampaged through the medium’s body, clamping on her nerves like a vice. This was wrong, she was past that, she was with the souls now where things were safe and serene. She’d never done children before; was this what it was like? The pain, the confusion, the… the hunger? There it was, lingering across Evie like a layer of grime, a supernatural film of voracious residue; vile and unbridled, immoral and hateful. So hateful. So hungry.

Jacqueline reached out to that feeling for the briefest of moments and felt the towering presence of a gangly monstrosity, the smell of decay on its breath and the stains of rot on its skin. Evie’s ghost began losing chunks of its form; pieces of the little girl’s spirit disintegrated and left behind a skeletal wraith of tooth scared bones and matted hair.

Mouse threw open her eyes, “She was eaten!” she shouted and then her eyes locked tightly to Eustace’s.

There was that hunger, that rage, that occult contagion. It was as ripe as a bucket of compost. Eustace jumped from his seat as if struck by lightning and flung his chair with inhuman force. The wooden thing smashed through the window at the back of the room and cold air flooded inside, the smells of a frosty night following in on its currents. Bear advanced towards Eustace and the man let out an unearthly scream, a roar so profoundly inhuman it made Edward scream and Lady Chesterton faint. There was a pop like crackling kindling and Eustace’s bones shifted visibly beneath his skin. Blood and bile poured from his nostrils and as he backed up his spine straightened, then stretched and then curved; his muscles constricted in rhythm with the sound of his shifting bones and his teeth grew too large for his jaw. What stood in the study of Chesterton House once the transformation was done was not human but an abomination to god. Any god, every god, and any rational human mind in the bargain.

The ghoul’s angular, bony jaw unhinged and it let out another heart stopping cry; then it howled loudly instead as Bear’s fist was driven jackhammer like into the monster’s green and glistening skin. Its muscles bulged, bulbous and too well defined, and it swiped at Bear with a talon armed hand.

“You couldn’t leave it alone!” It screeched, “You couldn’t leave me alone!”

Bear dodged and weaved against a frenzy of rage driven assaults, .unable to find an opening, barely clear of the ghoul’s eviscerating claws.

“You ate me.” Mumbled Mouse, “You ate me. You ate me. You ate me.” The words were a mantra, a grisly prayer and admonition. It grew louder and inside the void, inside that formless space where effervescent souls stirred like comets, Evie’s skeleton ghost tore at the fabric of reality.

Jackie rose to her feet, propelled by a force beyond death, and threw herself at the former Eustace. Her dainty body slammed into the creature and she felt her shoulder snap out of place from the impact. She wanted to scream in pain but instead screamed “You ate me!” so loud her lungs felt like they could burst.

In the confusion Bear made a move to intervene but before he could do so the electricity failed and the lamps, the chandelier and the sconce mounted bulbs burst in showers of glass and energy. In the darkness a midnight blue shade rose up from the medium’s crumpled body and Bear could see the fire in the sockets of its skull. It reached out and the ghoul’s flesh caught fire and then the creature was wailing and roaring and leaping from the window of the Georgian House. There was a noise like a scream and a screech of traffic outside but Bear didn’t pursue, instead he hurried to his partner’s aid.

Jackie lay in a heap on the ground, her dress in a tangle about her frail and limp body. Her chest rose pathetically as little gasps for air came from her mouth and sweat soaked her face like thunderstorm rain.

“It was in the books.” She whispered, her eyes shut, her mind watching Evie’s ghost return to the sea of souls. “He ate her.”

Authorities were called, stories were exchanged and then dismissed as the imagination of the bereaved. Nothing could be proven, nothing could be done. Bear and Mouse were asked to leave by the police. That week Lord Chesterton took his life and Lady Chesterton moved to Spain where the family had a holiday home. Young Edward would stay silent from the experience for almost five years and the book on occult and forbidden practices; a dusty tome full of secrets about demons and death and the power of human flesh when correctly consumed, would remain forgotten in Chesterton House forever. Eustace Chesterton, the cannibal ghoul however, would not.

The End


© 2017 M.A.Alexander


Author's Note

M.A.Alexander
This one went a bit dark. I originally used Bear and Mouse as a release from a novel I'm working on, as a sort of light side project to distract myself with. As of writing the novel remains half formed and I've got several Bear and Mouse stories in the pipeline of varying degrees of seriousness and style. That's just how things go sometimes.

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Added on July 22, 2017
Last Updated on July 28, 2017
Tags: Horror, Medium, Seance, Ghoul, Murder, Georgian

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..

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