Read an Excerpt
‘Let me know when you’re done setting up the equipment,’ he whispered to Brenda. Although the old New England home was abandoned and falling into disrepair, Marley didn’t want to make too much noise. They hadn’t secured permission from the legal owners to be on the property. At best, they were trespassing. At worst, police would consider it a break and enter.
Ah, the legal ramifications of fame and fortune! Well, perhaps not fortune. He and Brenda were out of pocket on travel and equipment, but they saw the fruits of their labour more and more with every broadcast. Marley and Brenda hosted a self-created, self-produced web-only paranormal investigation programme called Ghost Hunting on a Shoestring. As the name suggests, they conducted their explorations of reputedly haunted houses with as little gear as possible. All those EMF devices and thermal cameras cost big bucks, and they knew most viewers couldn’t afford that shit. Hell, neither could they!
The show developed a cult following early on, but ratings sky-rocketed after they caught on film what seemed to be a shadow figure in his great-uncle’s guest bedroom. Ever since, consumer demand insisted they seek out the mysteries of the unknown in more prestigious locations. Problem was, they couldn’t seem to get permission for entry. They’d done a few B&E’s on dilapidated buildings back home, but when viewers started e-mailing them about Stately House, they knew they had to check it out with or without official authorisation.
In a hushed voice, Brenda said, ‘Everything’s set to go. We’re coming on dusk. Let’s try to do the intro in one take, OK? Keep to the script. No screwing around tonight.’ Brenda was especially tense on investigations, particularly now that their veiwership was on the rise. Before, it was all fun and games. Now, it was business. And if there was one thing Marley knew about Brenda, she was ruthless in her business pursuits.
Brenda pressed the record button on the tripod cam as he powered up his handheld. Plastering a huge smile across her face, Brenda started the intro. ‘Hello and welcome to another great episode of Ghost Hunting on a Shoestring. I’m your host, Brenda Walluschuk, and this is my partner in crime, Marley Grieves.’ Turning to him with an unnatural grin, she went on, ‘Marley, why don’t you tell our viewers about tonight’s investigation?’
‘Thanks, Brenda.’ In truth, he hadn’t looked at the intro script. He preferred to wing it. ‘We’ve been getting tons of emails from you guys, telling us we have to check this place out. To prove we actually listen to you, here we are in beautiful New England to investigate Stately House.’
With a glare, Brenda asked, ‘And what kind of activity can we expect to see out here tonight?’
Marley ignored her and turned his handheld camera on the still-furnished attic room. ‘The big claim revolves around the room we’re standing in right now, on the third floor of Stately House. This is called a widow’s walk. Many New England houses were built with rooms like this for the wives of men who’d gone out to sea. If I turn the camera out this window, you’ll note the ocean on the horizon. All across the territory, women would stand at windows like these, watching for their men’s boats to come in safely, and then waiting for them to come traipsing up the path back to the house.’
Brenda always claimed he was hogging the spotlight. She took over. ‘This very room belonged to one such New Englander – a young woman named Lottie Stately. Lottie’s fiancé was a seaman named Walter. Just after their engagement, the young man set sail, promising his vessel would return two weeks prior to their wedding date.’
Marley finished off the story. ‘A fortnight before the wedding, Lottie set herself down by this window and stared out to sea. A week went by, and then two, and then three. There was no news about Walter or his vessel. After a month, it was presumed lost at sea. We know of Lottie’s despair from her journal and records kept by other family members. The girl stopped eating and wouldn’t take any water. At the tender age of 21, she died of a broken heart.’
‘Since then,’ Brenda continued, ‘the figure of a woman has been seen in this very window. Common belief is that it’s Lottie on her widow’s walk, still pining for her lost love. There are also reports of being touched or breathed on, especially from male visitors.’
Marley clicked off his camera, and Brenda followed suit. ‘Nice job,’ he said to her. ‘I think we can cut it.’
‘Fine,’ she snapped. ‘Don’t think I didn’t notice your total disregard for my script.’
‘So noted.’ He knew his way was better, and Brenda must know it too or else she’d convince him they needed a second take. ‘How do you want to work this? Call out to the spirits and see what we get?’
The idea of making contact seemed to improve Brenda’s mood, and she clapped her hands, then wove her fingers together. ‘Can you imagine if we get a response?’
With a genuine smile, Marley turned on both cameras and their digital voice recorder. They started with the basics. When they got no answer introducing themselves to any spirits present, Brenda went on trying to engage any entities by reading Lottie’s doctor’s medical report in the days leading up to her death. When she went on to cite passages from Lottie’s journal, Marley felt a breath on his neck and turned fast around. Nothing there. His bare arms went goosepimply as he looked all about the widow’s walk.