I Believe in Ghosts!
I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in ghosts. I grew up in a small rural coastal community steeped in low country culture and superstition. Although things were not discussed openly, there were many opportunities for a child to overhear something she was not intended to hear.
My mother and I laugh today when we talk about some of the old stories that I was not supposed to hear. She tells me, that the secrecy was their attempt to protect us, because they did not want to frighten us.
It is true. We were not included in these types of conversations until either we had reached a certain age or we had had our own personal experience. My right of passage came at the tender age of six, and it changed me forever.
Like most people, I cannot remember much about my life before the age of six. I remember my bedroom, and the puppy we got when I was little. I have vague memories of a birthday party somewhere around age four but I cannot remember whether or not I believed in ghosts. I suppose I probably did since the adults in my life were believers, but I cannot say for sure.
My first personal experience was not mine alone. My father witnessed it. His reaction and the fear in his eyes is what I remember most about it. I still have dreams forty years later and still hear that voice in my head from time to time. I say it was my first experience because there were many others while we lived on Hill Lane. Remarkably, I was seldom alone when that eerie voice called me from the woods. Over the years, it occurred randomly and was witnessed by several people. It is a topic of discussion on occasion when we get together as a family. We all would like to know who or what it was and why it called to me.
I was an adult the last time I heard it. In fact, my eldest child, who was only two at the time, heard it with me that day. I remember her turning her little head in the direction of the voice and giving me a quizzical look as if she was wondering, “Who’s calling you Mama?”
I believe that my interest in the paranormal, my own unanswered questions is what inspired me to write paranormal fiction. Many of the accounts that I heard as a child have influenced the characters and events in The Wraith of Carter’s Mill series. I think that having had experiences myself makes me fit to write paranormal fiction. I do indeed believe in ghosts.
The Wraith of Carter’s Mill
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Publisher: Book Authors and Artists
Number of pages:80
Word Count: 25,000
Cover Artist:Sherry Thoman
The Guardians is the second novella in the series titled; The Wraith of Carter's Mill. The series will include three novellas published in Kindle format. A paperback compilation will include a fourth story, which will only be available in the paperback edition, and will be available late 2014.
Shyanne learned in her teens that like the living, the dead would stop talking to you if you ignore them long enough. After the death of her parents, that is precisely what she did. What good was a gift that allowed the dead to speak with her if her own parents could not? For a year after the accident, she waited, waited for one of them to come to her like the others did, longing for just one more chance to tell them that she loved them. They never came.
By high school graduation she had given up all hope of seeing them again and in the place of that missing hope, resentment filled the void. Every time she saw a spirit or heard a voice, she shut it off, refusing it entry like any unwelcome visitor. By the time she finished her first year of college, spirit siting’s were rare, and if she did see one, it usually lurked at a distance, watching her warily until it evaporated. Shyanne was determined to keep it that way.
An incident during her second year at college reveals her secret to an onlooker. Years later, someone who has witnessed her ability to see and speak to the dead, seeks Shyanne out. She must decide whether to use her gifts to help a haunted family. Shyanne must rely upon spectral Guardians to lead her in the right direction, or risk opening the door to a dark entity that has plagued her family for a century.
Available at Amazon
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/vSOU_sYlq-I
PART I - SUMMER, 1985
Shyanne Martin stared back at her reflection. The maroon and gold cap and gown she wore looked foreign to her. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine her mother fussing with her hair on the biggest day of her life. Shyanne had no trouble conjuring up the image of her mother’s face, but she could not make her appear nor could she hear the words her mother would have been sure to say.
Shyanne’s mother would have said she looked beautiful. Her father would have said that he was proud of her, but Shyanne had not heard from either of them since the accident.
Uncle Jack tried mightily to fill the void and had been making a big fuss over her high school graduation all week. Miss Ethel, by then wheelchair bound, had organized a huge commencement dinner for her entire graduating class, but Shyanne had found it difficult to celebrate without her parents. She had gone through all the motions, had been careful to show her gratitude and appreciation, and wore a bright, brave smile, but it had not changed the fact that she was sad and missed her family.
PART II - HALLOWEEN 1987
Shyanne struggled to tune out the sounds of revelry coming from the hallway outside her dorm room and concentrate on the article she was reading. ...
When Sara burst through the door, Shyanne sighed. Giving up, she closed her books. “Shyanne! You’re not even close to ready to go!” chided Sara.
Sara was indeed ready to go. Shyanne could not help but smile at the fairy costume her friend wore. It was the perfect choice for Sara’s willowy frame and flowing blonde hair.
Shyanne glanced guiltily at her own costume, lying on the bed where Sara had placed it neatly. A black cat had been Sara’s choice for her, certainly not her own. She had never really enjoyed Halloween, and college Halloween festivities had done little to improve her taste for it. Sara, however, loved the holiday and insisted on celebrating it each year.
“I know, sweetie. I just really don’t want to go!” Shyanne said regretfully.
Sara darted to the arm of the chair where Shyanne sat and squatted down to plead her case.
“Oh please, please come, Shy! It’ll be so much fun, you’ll see! We don’t have to stay very late, I promise. Jason is going to be there and you know I can’t even talk when I’m around him. I can’t face him alone; he’ll think I’m a total moron. Please, please get ready and come with me,” pleaded Sara.
“Do you even know where this place is? And what about this Drake Monroe guy, do you know anything about him?” reasoned Shyanne.
Sara stood up quickly, and then sat on the edge of the bed, preparing to make her case again.
“His family has an old tobacco plantation on the outskirts of Greenville. Jenny says it’s only a few minutes’ drive and she already gave me the directions. Apparently, he throws a big party there every year. Jenny is the one that got us the invite. Come on, Shy…it’ll be so much fun!”
Shyanne sighed heavily. She knew that Sara would not go without her, no matter how badly she wanted to go. “Alright! We’ll go but you have to promise me that when it’s time to leave, you won’t give me a hard time.”
Sara squeaked happily and clapped her hands. “I promise, now come on, let’s get you ready.”
. . .
Once they were loaded up inside Shyanne’s Volkswagen Beetle, a gift from Uncle Jack after freshman year, Sara fished a tiny slip of paper from her purse and began reading the directions aloud. “Just give me one step at a time, Sara, there’s no way I’ll remember all of that,” Shyanne interrupted.
The few minutes’ drive that Sara described in their dorm room turned out to be more like a forty-minute drive by the time they arrived. . . .
Sara was bubbling over with excitement. The three-story mansion that loomed ahead was more than just a farmhouse. . . .
“Look at that!” Sara said in wonder. “I bet that house is over two hundred years old!”
Shyanne was impressed as well. The towering white columns and sprawling verandas were an architectural wonder, very old south she guessed. . . .
An older gentleman was greeting guests at the door and directing them passed the glorious staircase into a ballroom where a disc jockey was playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The strobe lights mechanized the movements of the people who were dancing in the center of the room, delighting Sara and dizzying Shyanne.
. . .
Although Shyanne was sure that the room contained people they both knew, the costumes made it difficult to recognize anyone. Sara was thinking the same thing.
. . .
The girls walked around for a while and made their way toward the bar. Shyanne had no intention of drinking but thought their chances of running into a familiar face more likely near the ballroom. A tall, dark haired she-devil wearing a long, sequined blood red dress leaned casually against the bar as she whispered into the ear of a southern gentleman. Shyanne guessed him to be Rhett Butler, but she was not sure. Sara seemed to recognize the red beauty right off and exclaimed, “Jenny? Is that you?”
Jenny turned, pulled up her red satin mask, and squealed with delight. “Sara! I am so glad you made it.” The two girls hugged. Shyanne shuffled nervously. They just saw each other a few hours ago.
Remembering her manners, Sara said, “Jenny, you’ve met Shyanne right?”
. . .
“Jenny, are you going to introduce me to my lovely guests?” Rhett finally asked lazily.
The red of her costume prevented the flush that crept up Jenny’s cheeks from being to noticeable, but Shyanne caught it. Sara was oblivious to it, still scanning the crowd for a glimpse of Jason Goodson.
“Sorry, Drake, I forgot myself for a moment. This is Miss Sara Page and her cousin and best friend, Shyanne Martin. Ladies, this is our esteemed host, Drake Monroe, heir to Monroe Plantation,” purred Jenny Caswell.
Hmmm, I thought I was playing the cat. “It’s very nice to meet you, and we thank you for having us. You have a lovely home,” Shyanne stated matter of factly.
Drake stood up straight, politely. Shyanne sensed that the arrogance she had detected only moments ago was simply him playing his character. “Thank you, Shyanne; it’s not really my home. I mean, I don’t live here; nobody does actually―well, except for the caretakers. It serves as a vacation getaway for the family these days. We all use it from time to time but it’s a bit ostentatious if you ask me. It is, however, the perfect setting for a masquerade ball, which is a tradition for the old place.”
Shyanne sensed sincerity in his manner, and felt herself warming to him. It did not hurt that the sultry Jenny was virtually fuming jealousy.
The spell was broken when Jason Goodson approached them. Sara was beaming. Shyanne had always liked Jason. He was shy like Sara but was obviously as taken with her as she was with him. Shyanne found it endearing that neither of them seemed to realize how much the other liked them.
Jason invited Sara onto the dance floor and when the couple departed, Drake extended his arm to Shyanne. “Would you like a tour of the house?” he asked.
The red of her dress did little to camouflage the flush of anger that dappled Jenny’s cheeks that time.
Shyanne smiled brightly and taking Drake’s arm said, “I would love to.”
Shyanne was enchanted. She had never seen a house with so many rooms, or anything nearly so ornately decorated. Drake seemed to know the history behind every antique and every piece of art in the place. He recounted stories about his ancestors as they walked long hallways and even showed her a hidden tunnel behind a bookcase in the study. He explained that the rear portion of the house was called the new addition, even though it was over a hundred years old. Apparently, part of it had burned during the “Potter’s Raid” in 1863.
. . .
Drake explained that his summers in the old house had sparked his interest in history, particularly the Civil War and inspired him to seek a degree in history. Coming from a family of businessmen, his declaration at eighteen that he wished to be a historian, possibly a professor of American history, had caused quite a shock for his ailing grandfather. As they approached the staircase once again, Shyanne was surprised to find that they were going down instead of up. She found herself extremely curious about the third floor. “What’s upstairs?” she asked.
“Oh, there’s not much of interest up there,” answered Drake. “The rooms are empty and never used. . . . They think it’s haunted.”
Drake watched Shyanne’s face when he made the last statement. Shyanne had no doubt that the claim was probably true. There certainly seemed to be a significant number of spirits dwelling on the second floor, but Shyanne understood as well that the presence of spirits and a haunting were two entirely different things. Still, she hoped that her face did not reveal her interest.
. . .
Upon returning to the ballroom, she looked around for Sara but did not see her. Jenny greeted her and Drake almost immediately. Who is this woman?
“Jenny, have you seen Sara?” She asked.
Jenny, who had apparently enjoyed several more glasses of wine after she and Drake left on the tour, waved her arms with a flourish toward the windows on the opposite wall. “Oh, I think she and Jason have gone out to the bon fire with the rest of the moon worshippers. It’s full tonight you know?”
“Why aren’t you out there, Jenny?” Drake asked coolly.
Jenny assumed a look of pure indignation, “Are you kidding me? In these shoes? There is no way I am traipsing across that field.
Besides, I rather like the atmosphere in here.” Jenny leaned in and placed her hand on Drake’s chest intimately.
Drake drew back slightly but continued to smile politely. He turned to Shyanne, whose arm was still linked through his own. “What about you, Shyanne? Do you think your shoes can make the trip?”
Shyanne did not miss the mischief in his eyes, nor the sincere smile that lingered there. “Sure, I’ll walk out there with you,” she answered.
The two turned their backs on a seething red devil woman.
The air outside was cool but not overly so. Shyanne was sure it would be more comfortable by the fire. As they approached, she saw that the large group had broken into several smaller ones. Blankets had materialized from somewhere and clusters of people gathered upon them like tiny islands.
Someone called to her from one such island. Shyanne located Sara and Jason, occupying a blanket alone. As she and Drake approached, Shyanne felt a pang of guilt for interrupting the two of them. They were obviously getting along well. Sara was blushing prettily and Jason was wearing what looked to be a permanent smile. Sara had had a crush on Jason since freshman year. Here it was junior year and the two of them were finally getting somewhere. Shyanne noticed that Sara was wearing a man’s coat, obviously, Jason had given her his.
“Can we sit with you guys?” asked Shyanne.
“Of course you can silly,” answered Sara as she scooted over to make room. “Where did you two slip off to anyway?”
“I gave Shyanne a tour of the house and I’m afraid I probably bored her to death,” answered Drake.
“No, no you didn’t. I found the house fascinating, really,” protested Shyanne.
“What time is it getting to be, Shy?” Sara asked fearfully, afraid that Shyanne might be ready to call it a night.
Shyanne squinted to read her watch by the light of the bon-fire. “It’s getting close to midnight Sara; we should probably be heading back soon. It’s a long drive.”
Sara tried to hide her regret, determined to keep her promise from earlier.
Jason was the next to speak. “Hey Drake, are we still on for that thing later?”
Drake looked at the girls nervously, “I don’t know man, Clay didn’t make it…car trouble, and Jenny…well, Jenny is being Jenny.”
“I know, we kind of came out here to escape her,” Jason responded.
Shyanne was curious about what thing they were talking about. Sara seemed to be too but neither wanted to ask. Shyanne decided it might be best to get going so these two could get on with whatever their plan was. “Come on, Sara, let’s head that way. Drake, it was great to meet you, I had a wonderful time. Jason, it was good to see you again.”
Sara stood reluctantly and gave Jason an apologetic smile. Jason, not ready to see Sara leave, blurted out to Drake. “Hey man, why can’t the girls help us with that? We only need four people.”
. . .
“Shyanne, how would you like to be a part of a séance tonight?” Drake asked.
Everything inside Shyanne screamed NO! She had never participated in anything like that before. Old Isaiah had warned her against such things. “Why are you holding a séance?”
Drake took a deep breath. “Jason and I have been trying to gather evidence in the house, solid evidence of a haunting. If you don’t want to, I’ll understand.” All pretense of Rhett Butler had left him, and Drake was just a regular guy, looking sheepish and slightly embarrassed that his friend had put him on the spot.
Shyanne too felt as if she had been put on the spot. She was not sure how to respond. If she declined at that point, she would have to explain why, or at least she would feel she had to. If she participated, there was no telling what might happen. At least she had the answer to the last question she had asked Drake, apparently, he did believe in ghosts, or at least he wanted to believe.
. . .
Shyanne said the only thing that came to mind to say. “Well, I’ll be honest. I was brought up in a very religious family and we just didn’t believe in séances and things like that. I’m not sure how I feel about it.”
Drake nodded. “Me either, Shyanne, my grandmother would turn in her grave if she knew. We’re just trying to get solid evidence. We’re not trying to disturb the dead or conjure anything up. It is not witchcraft or devil worship, I consider it fact finding…that’s all. If you become uncomfortable in any way, we’ll stop, I promise.”
Committed and not certain how she became that way, Shyanne started the walk back to the house with Drake. “So, how many séances have you held here?” she asked
Drake let out a long breath, “Well, we’ve only actually done it one other time, but we didn’t have any recording equipment. Some things happened, but we have no way of proving it or even proving that the sounds we heard were paranormal. Honestly, there could have been any number of explanations for them, but what made it odd or interesting was that there was so much of it going on at once! That’s why Jason brought a recorder this time. The plan is to review the tapes and attempt to debunk each noise or event. I hope that we can isolate the unexplainable from the coincidental. ”
Shyanne’s curiosity piqued, “So, you’re not trying to get information from these spirits? You’re just trying to prove that they exist. Is that what you’re saying?”
Drake nodded. “Yes, that’s all we’re really trying to do. I mean, it would be interesting to know who they are and why they’re here and if we can find that out, that’s just a bonus, but the main objective is to simply prove that they are here.”
“But why would you have a séance while a party is going on down here? What about your guests?” Shyanne asked.
Drake smiled. “The last time we did this, the house was empty. We killed all the lights downstairs and locked all the doors. The house was silent. We got a few responses…enough to convince us that it could be haunted but not anywhere near as much activity as the Mills have told me about. When I was a kid and spent the summers here, it would sound like somebody was moving furniture around up there…sounded like people walking around. My grandfather said it was raccoons coming and going, my grandmother didn’t want to talk about it. She would tell me to hush if I asked her about it. My Dad and Uncles confessed that they had heard things up there but when I pressed with questions, they would tell me to leave it be. Naturally, that just peaked my curiosity even more. They kept the doors to the third floor padlocked. They said they didn’t want us kids up there messing around, afraid we might get hurt or something. It wasn’t until last year that I even had access to that floor. When the Mills started telling me about the strange goings on, I felt compelled to investigate it. Jason and I have been friends since we were kids, so he always knew what I knew.”
“He has a fascination for the paranormal, he’s a true believer. I, however, am a skeptic…I believe in the possibility but I just haven’t seen enough to convince me.” Drake chuckled but Shyanne sensed that he was not very amused. There was more to his story, she was sure of that. She certainly had the ability to solve his mystery. There were indeed spirits present in the old house, but to what degree they were attached to it, she did not know. None had attempted to communicate with her, not that she would have acknowledged them anyway.
About the Author:
C. Evenfall grew up in a small fishing village in Eastern North Carolina. The area was rich with history, ghost stories and unexplained phenomenon; all fodder for the vivid imaginings of a young girl. She began “collecting” stories at a young age.
At aged six, C. Evenfall experienced the paranormal firsthand and has been seeking answers ever since. Her fascination with the unexplainable and her love for old family ghost stories inspired her to write a collection of novellas. Each inspired by the experiences passed down through her family for generations.
C. Evenfall resides on the Carolina Coast with her husband, a self-proclaimed skeptic. She loves him anyway and the two complement each other perfectly.
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