Essence

Essence

A Story by Sarah J Dhue
"

Submitted to the Lulu Halloween Anthology Contest. Unfortunately, my story was not chosen, but I am sharing it here with you all and it will also appear in 'Timor: Volume II'

"

“You have tainted it!” Petunia protested.

“Tainted it?  I didn’t do anything,” Charlie held his hands up defensively.

It was just like Petunia to snap at him, especially these past few weeks.  Ever since they had discovered the house, she had slowly become more obsessed �" and irritable.  While Charlie was also excited about their findings, he sometimes wished they had never found this place.

“You walked in front of the camera, Charlie!  You disrupted the whole environment… really Charlie, you should realize that now I lost anything that was going on besides you parading through.”

“Look, I’m sorry.”  He had no fight left in him; he could never win an argument with Petunia.  “What did you get?  That is, before I walked through.”

“Let’s see…”  She irritably set the camera to replay everything from the past ten minutes.

The camera had been set to pick up temperature changes.  Most of the room was yellow-green, but suddenly in the back corner by the easy chair, a portion of the room turned blue, descending into a deep navy.  This indicated a drastic drop in temperature.  Then a large red and orange figure filled the screen.

“D****t Charlie!  I really had something there!”  She gripped her hair, screaming at him.

“Sorry…” he meekly replied.

The house was one of those hidden gems, an untouched relic that had not been disturbed for decades.  While one could tell the house was old and had not been lived in for some time, there was an odd feeling that it had never been truly abandoned.  Petunia had found it while hiking, and �" being Petunia �" decided to trespass and explore it.  She had become instantly enamored with it and taken Charlie back for an afternoon hike and picnic.  They had gradually begun coming back every few days and, finally, daily.  Now they camped in the upstairs bedroom, sleeping bags and all; there were beds, but they somehow felt like it would be too invasive to sleep in them.  Charlie frequently feared that the police would show up and arrest them for trespassing, but the house seemed to be completely unknown to everyone except them.  One thing was for sure: studying paranormal activity could be a very disheartening job.

Charlie had always had an interest in the paranormal, and had invested a lot of money in thermal cameras, EMF meters �" the whole shebang.  Then he had met Petunia, another paranormal enthusiast.  He had fallen for her, but as time went by, Charlie wondered if she had fallen for all of his high tech equipment, and not he himself.

 

~

 

Charlie slowly walked down the stairs into the living room.  He was trying not to disturb Petunia since it was about two o’clock in the morning.  He had one ear bud in, listening to what his EMF was picking up, but also wanting to be aware of what was going on around him.  He walked over to the easy chair and listened closely.  The rating on the screen suddenly began to fluctuate.

“Charlie!” a voice whispered, but it was not through his headphone; he had actually heard it.

He jumped, looking around.  “Petunia?”

“Charlie.”  This time he was better prepared and could tell it was definitely not Petunia’s voice.

“Who are you?” he asked, looking around.

“I see how she treats you, Charlie,” the voice continued to whisper, but she spoke to him with a certain familiarity, as if she had known him for a long time.  “It’s just not right.”  He felt a cold pressure on his shoulder.  “You deserve better.”

Despite the coldness he felt, he began to sweat, “You didn’t answer the question,” he tried to steady his voice.  “Who are you; what’s your name?”

“Come on, Charlie �" touch me; feel me.  I know you want to; I know you can.”

He slowly brought his hand up to his shoulder, and sure enough, he could feel a hand.  Not a flesh and blood hand, but the essence of a person.  He looked over his shoulder, but still saw nothing.

“Elizabeth,” she breathed in his ear.  “My name’s Elizabeth.”

“What happened in this house?  Why are you trapped here?”

“I’ve been waiting… waiting for someone like you.”  Her words sent a chill down his spine.  “You know Petunia will never love you for who you really are.  But I �" I can give you what you have been looking for.  And I don’t need any fancy gadgets.”  His EMF suddenly fizzled out and a small spark cracked the screen.

He removed the ear bud and looked in the direction the voice had been coming from.  As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he could make out a slight blue glow, a small stream of the ‘energy’ extending up to his shoulder from the main mass.

“See, I knew you would be able to see me,” she said happily.  A smile slowly spread across Charlie’s lips.

“Charlie?” Petunia’s voice came from up the stairs.  “Is that you down there?”

Charlie’s head snapped up, then he turned to face Elizabeth again, but she was gone.  “Yes… it’s me,” he hesitantly replied.

Petunia appeared at the top of the stairs in her pajamas.  “What are you doing down here?  You do know what time it is, right?”  She walked down the stairs as she scolded him.

“I, uh, was just checking the equipment.  Seeing if there was any new activity.  You know sometimes ghosts can be more active at night.”

“Well?” she demanded, her eyes landing on the ruined EMF.  “Charlie, what the hell did you do to the EMF!?”

Charlie had completely forgotten about the broken device in his hand.  “I didn’t do anything to it.  It was picking up something over here where you caught the cold spot on the camera, and then it just shorted out.”

“Sure it was,” Petunia snatched it out of his hand, examining it.  “Charlie, of all people, you should know this equipment has to be handled with care.”

“I-” Charlie began, but then he thought about what Elizabeth had said: “You know Petunia will never love you for who you really are.  I don’t need any fancy gadgets.”  He shoved his hands into his pockets, “You’re right… I dropped it.  It was just so clumsy of me, I didn’t wanna say.”

Petunia pursed her lips, tossing the broken device onto the nearby sofa.  “Let’s go back to bed,” she said tersely, heading back up the stairs.  Charlie let his gaze linger on the easy chair for a moment before following her up.

 

~

 

Charlie watched Petunia leave the room and then made his way over to the easy chair.  “Elizabeth?” he hissed.  No reply.  He was starting to wonder if what had happened the night before had been some kind of strange dream.  But he also knew that he had not dropped the EMF, so if it was a dream, how had it gotten broken?  “Eliza-” he felt a cold prickle run up the back of his neck, causing his hair to stand on end.

“I heard what she said to you last night,” Elizabeth breathed.  “She doesn’t think you know what you’re talking about.  She cares more about that little toy than you or what you have to say.”

“No, she’s just…” Charlie wanted to defend Petunia, but he knew that Elizabeth was right.

“I’ve been watching you �" both of you �" since you came here.  The first time, when it was just her, and then every time after.  You’re gentle and understanding… and you can see us.  Her I could do without.”

Charlie swallowed, fighting back tears.  “Do… do you mean that?”  He could sense her nod.  “Nobody has ever said anything that nice to me… not since my mother died, anyway.  But I don’t understand…  You say that I can see you, but we have been here for weeks, and I never saw or heard or even felt you until last night.”

“Think about it, Charlie.  What made you buy that first piece of equipment?  What made you choose the unrewarding life of chasing ghosts?”

Charlie paused, thinking.  He had been much younger �" just a boy �" when he had seen something: an apparition.  He’d never doubted that it was real.  But he had felt a want �" a need �" to be able to explain it.

“Don’t you see, Charlie; you never needed that equipment.  You’ve always been in tune.  They’re what made you deaf and blind.”  She paused.  “Get rid of them.”

Charlie looked at the makeshift workstation they had crafted from his equipment: the thousands of dollars he had invested, for little to no results.  She was right.

He picked up a broken table leg, brandishing it like a bat.  He brought it down on the equipment, sending sparks flying, a terrible crash echoing through the house.  Petunia burst into the room, staring wide-eyed at Charlie violently smashing his life’s work.

“What’re you doing!?” she shouted, scared to get any nearer to him.

“We don’t need these!  I don’t need these!”

“You’ve lost your damn mind,” she declared, eyeing the shattered pile.  “I-I’m outta here.  I jus- I can’t do this.”  She quickly went upstairs and came back with her things sloppily thrown in a bag.  She looked at the ruined mess one last time before leaving, not so much as sparing Charlie a glance.  As soon as she was out the door, Charlie felt a peacefulness he had not felt in a long time.  He felt… content.  He walked across the living room, sinking into the easy chair.

“Welcome home, Charlie.”

 

~

 

Several years later…

            The young man carefully opened the dilapidated door.  Who’d have thought, a big old house out in the middle of nowhere?  He clicked on his cellphone’s flashlight, shining it around the decaying interior.  He suddenly gasped, putting his hand over his mouth.  Sitting in the corner in an old easy chair was a skeleton.

© 2017 Sarah J Dhue


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Added on October 30, 2017
Last Updated on October 30, 2017
Tags: SarahJDhue, Sarah J Dhue, Dhue, essence, ghost, story, fiction, Lulu, contest, Halloween, Timor, volume ii, #ShareYourScare

Author

Sarah J Dhue
Sarah J Dhue

In the author's lair, IL



About
I am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author, as well as a photographer & graphic designer, currently going to school for web design. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My f.. more..

Writing