Monday, November 13, 2017

Series 8/Chapter 4: DR. SILVA AND MR. McGUIRE

It was a gloomy morning after a powerful storm ripped through the Maine fishing village of Collinsport. The sea had yet to calm and crashed along side the jagged shoreline like an angry salt water beast thrashing it's body on the side of the a rocky coastline; hard enough that the sound could be felt deep inside a person's gut. A wind howled like a wolf in mourning that broke through a terrible chill in the air that stabbed like a thousand daggers. To the residents of Collinsport, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

It was a feeling that oppressed the atmosphere just about everywhere in town, including inside small secluded cottage in the outlaying forest.

Ezrabette, the town mystic who relatively kept to herself in this old cottage paced in her living room. Her black cat cuddled on the corner of a sofa eyeing her master; back and forth back and forth, like the pendulum of grandfather clock ticking away the time.

Ezrabette's mind clung to dead man she brought back to life, and the story of the fire that killed her ancestor Marie Clotilde who was burned to death by the mentally unstable and jealous Judith Collins Trask. .

"You worry too much." An echoing voice said as a frosty breeze brushed Ezrabette's cheek.

"Show yourself." Ezrabette demanded as a cloudy and misty substance began to form just in front of her. It churned and swirled like an icy morning fog, grey and blue in color like ash. It continued to form slowly in clouds into the shape of a translucent woman who's eyes were missing but still seemed to have the ability to look deeply into a person's soul.

"Our journey is just beginning, you're the key to it's success." the ghost of Marie Clotilde answered now in full form to a disgruntled Ezrabette.

"I brought a man back to life, that goes beyond the laws of nature and against everything that I stand for in this realm. What I've done has defied everything that I believe in, in the name of something dark and evil! I not sure how I can live with myself after this." Ezrabette said as if confessing and pouring herself a glass of brown liquor that swirled in a small tumbler that clinked with ice.

Ezrabette's gift of speaking to those who have died was something she was always aware of since she was just a small girl. Her family had always know she was special, they called on her often because she was what they called: "open." She believed she was gifted these psychic abilities to offer good in people's lives even if she did make her living off of it.

This gift  from god and nature helped her reach the dead in their family's time of need; by breaking these most powerful laws of nature the way she had by bringing Jason McGuire back from beyond the grave  went directly in contrast to those believes and it was starting to weigh on her.

"Murder is against these laws too. I was killed and my child, your grandfather, taken from me never to know his true identity. This wrong needs to be made right or I can never reach the other side of the veil. You have done the right thing." Marie Clotilde said.

Ezrabette stepped forward, her eyes fixated on the spirit in front of her. She could see the fog that created her body swirl around as if a cloud in the shape of a woman was standing right in front of her. It was a fascinating vision, and she reached for her misty great-grandmother but her hands went through the smoky body as if there was nothing there. She could see her own hand inside Marie Clotilde's translucent chest. She gasped and turned around covering her eyes.

"I am real, this is not a dream." The spirit said, sensing Ezrabette had still yet to believe all this was happening.

"I just want to wake up from this. I just want this all to go away like it never happened!" Ezrabette said. She had always heard the spirits speak but never had she seen them, never had they materialized like this. It was a frightening sight.

"It will end....once my mission is complete." The echoing voice from the spirit replied.

"I can help you go to the other side without any of this, we wouldn't have to deal with any of the Collins family. They don't matter! I can help you!" Ezrabette exclaimed offering up a different way to end Marie Clotilde's ghostly suffering.

Marie Clotilde's empty eyes seemed to grow deeper like two pools of black water, just two black holes showing nothing on the other side.  Her voice spoke again, this time forceful and deep.

"The days where alternatives are over, ma chere. I've spent an eternity waiting for this moment and it's time for it to happen. You'll do as I ask of you, or the consequences will be dire." The spirit replayed.

"What do you mean? What would you do?" Ezrabette said stepping backwards.

"For the rest of your days, no one you love will ever find happiness. No one you love will ever find peace. I will make sure that this curse rings true for all of your loved ones if this deed is not done according to my plans. I promise you this." The spirit warned.

"Instead of fixing things in a decent way, you'll continue with more pain and more suffering then? You're cruel. You'd continue Judith's pain through me." Ezrabette replied cynically.

"Hush!!!" The spirit said, her head tilted to one side as if listening for something. "Someone comes." She said again.

"Who?" Ezrabette said looking out of a side window facing the road.

"Margaret Evans....your friend. Your dearest friend who has found peace just these recent months." Marie Clotilde said snidely as Ezrabette slowly caught on to what the spirit was planning.

"Don't you hurt her, she's done nothing and has nothing to do with the Collins family!" Ezrabette said of her best friend.

"Hasn't she? Margaret's daughter is Collins by marriage, she has everything to do with them. She is your first test." Marie Clotilde said.

Ezrabette heard the sound from Maggie's car slowly pulling up in her rocky driveway. She reached over in side drawer to a table and quickly took a drink of her dark liquor she had hidden there and looked over at the spirit without eyes standing in her living room, she worried that if she didn't do what Marie Clotilde wanted, Maggie would again begin to feel the terrible wrath of the supernatural that had plagued her life for so many years.

Ezrabette remembered how Maggie suffered so much pain from her past that she faked her death hid away at Windcliff Sanitarium for 30 years just to rid herself of it all.

It was a horrible place to be put in, do the right thing and deny Marie Clotilde her revenge and curse your closest friend and all she loved to a lifetime of pain and suffering, or do as Marie Clotilde wished and curse another set of friends to unknown horrors.

But Maggie had suffered enough and was now in a good place; Ezrabette's choice was clear.

"What do you want me to do?" The town mystic asked of her dead great-grandmother.

"The mistress of Collinwood, Carolyn Stoddard-Thorne, is slowly being drawn into madness, she'll need a confidant, so to speak, to help her through these days. Plant the name Dr. Jonathon Silva in Maggie Evans' mind. Jonathon will help this woman through ...to end of her life." The apparition ordered as she quickly disappeared into the walls as if she had never been there at all.

Ezrabette stood in the center of her living room almost in a trans. Her eyes were closed. Her lips parted allowing a small amount of air creep in.

A knock on her door broke this trans.

"Bette? You home, hon? Its Maggie!......Bette?" Maggie said from the outside.

Ezrabette shook her head as if to shake water from her ears and took a deep breath. She flattened the crease in her pants and at the same time wiped her sweaty palms then walked over to the door and opened it with a great big grin.

"Hi love! Come in! Come in!" She said as Maggie smiled back.

"You're in a great mood. That storm didn't take too much out of you did it?" Maggie said noticing Ezrabette looking around the room as if she were looking for someone else. "You ok?" She added.

"Sure! Yes, have a seat." Ezrabette said, her voice sounding strained.

"I just wanted to come and check on you. I wasn't sure how well this old house held up with all that rain. They say more is coming, you know, if you ever need to you can come stay out the cottage." Maggie said offering her family home.

"Oh, it's fine, everything is fine." Ezrabette answered shortly.

Maggie could tell something wasn't quite right about her good friend, but she knew that often times Ezrabette's work seeped into her own life, she'd grow distant and distraught. Managing the lives of the living and the dead was exhausting and a lot of times overwhelming. Ezrabette's physic abilities were a draining experience that Maggie had witnessed first hand, it was something she knew would be brushed off if she worried too much.

"Well you look as tired as I feel, last night was quite distressing for everyone. You should see Carolyn!" Maggie said speaking of her other friend.

"Carolyn?" Ezrabette questioned, the name perking her interest when she realized Carolyn was also the mistress of Collinwood--the person Marie Clotilde had mentioned in her plot.

"I spent the night at the Mansion because it was just too rainy to drive home, you know how these old streets can flood, so as I'm sitting there getting ready for bed all this commotion comes up. Now, let me tell you, I've been around Collinwood practically all my life, I've seen commotion but this time it was really jarring. I haven't seen Carolyn this manic in a very long time." Maggie said.

"What was wrong with her?" Ezrabette carefully inquired.

"You won't believe it---she thought she saw Barnabas standing in the rain outside The Old House. We all know he's gone. We saw him vaporize. We saw him go...it's insane. I feel so bad for her." Maggie said, her voice turning from gossipy tone to concern.

This was her window of opportunity. Ezrabette could feel the blue icy fog of Marie Clotilde creep into her mind reminding her of her task, it was now or never.

"You know, I have a friend that could probably help her, I mean if she really needs it, and I think it sounds like she does." Ezrabette said softy, each word coming out of her mouth a red hot lie.

"A friend?" Maggie asked.

"A psychiatrist. He's fantastic. I'll give him a call and send him over to Collinwood, he'll work wonders for her. I promise." Ezrabette said, her smile tense and forged.

"Bette! You're the best! You really are. The family would be so grateful. But I think Siobhan is going to take care of that, I mean that's what she does." Maggie said reminding Ezrabette that David's new girlfriend was the cheif psychiatrist at Windcliff.

"No!! No...Carolyn has to meet with my friend. Trust me, just one session, on the house." Ezrabette insisted.

Maggie saw Ezrabette's eyes, she was breathing shallow, with a look of panic on her face and instead of continuing the awkward pushy conversation Maggie let it go.

"Ok, ok. No problem. Send him over later today, I'll call David on the way home and let him know." Maggie said with her feelings of concern  now bleeding from Carolyn to also Ezrabette.

Maggie's antennas were up...something was amiss.

****

At the Collinwood estate, the family tried to make sense of everything that happened during the storm. Carolyn's sudden breakdown in the middle of the rain was shocking to them all. She was always the strong one. She was always the member of the family that everyone saw as their rock. And now, something had stirred her emotions, something had caused her to break in a way that very uncharacteristic of her. No one knew what to do.

Felling refreshed after a long trip back from London, David's ex-wife Kimberly found herself in the drawing room alone with his new girlfriend Dr. Siobhan Morgan, a woman who's pedigree was as old as walls of The Old House, that small detail was left out of her introduction to Kim.

"Good morning." Siobhan said as Kim walked into the room.

"Hi." Kim answered shortly, pouring herself a cup of coffee from a small coffee bar the housekeeper had set up.

"David said you'd had a long trip back from Europe and that you'd stayed the night. I don't really know why he felt like he had to let me know. It doesn't bother me that you're here." Siobhan said confidently.

"Well that's very big of you, thank you." Kim said, her lips tight with a snob's bite. "Where is David?" She continued.

"Upstairs checking on Carolyn. Maggie just called and said that a friend of her's is sending over a psychiatrist to check up on her." Siobhan replied.

"From Windcliff?" Kim asked.

"No, he doesn't work for me, I've never heard of him. Someone from out of town I guess." Siobhan said looking down at her news paper slipping into the conversation that she was the new head of Windcliff, the position Kim's late sister Joanna once had.

"I don't understand. Work for you?" Kim questioned.

"Oh, I'm a doctor and the new head of Windcliff." Siobhan answered.

"So, you're a doctor. How did you meet David? You know he used to be a patient there. He's had a lot of mental health issues over the years." Kim said attempting to drop a bomb.

Siobhan noticed Kim's snarkiness. It was obvious she had issues with Siobhan being in the mansion and being with David. This wasn't exactly the Brady Bunch, the jealousy was palpable.

"I know." Siobhan said with a grin. "Listen, Kim, David has been very honest with me about everything. I know why he was at Windcliff, I know that your sister was my predecessor, and I know that she died there violently. I know everything. What David and I have decided is that staying open and honest with each other is how good relationships last. Lord knows he deserves that." Siobhan said, sending back her own snarky remark.

"Well isn't that good. I'm happy for you. I really am, and David too. You know I don't see what the big discomfort is for me being here." Kim replied.

"Oh! There isn't any! I told you that." Siobhan retorted.

"Good. And  besides, I'm not here for David. The University of Maine reached out to me while I was in London and they have some experimental tests they'd like to me handle.

"That's right, David mentioned you were a doctor too." Siobhan said with a kind smile.

"It was so good to get to know you better, really, but if you don't mind I have a thousand things to catch up on." Kim said, smiling back reluctantly as she headed to the rooms that that Julia Hoffman once used as laboratory.


She opened the office door, the smell was the same from the first time she took over Julia's office: old books and old leather. She quickly flicked the desk light on the shined a green light from it's tinted glass shade. Her blood was boiling. Her mind was in a jealous and angry cycle that kept seeing Siobhan's face smirking with delight. She could hear her rival's voice over and over again saying how comfortable she was to have Kim in the house no matter what history she and David had.

"She can't do this to me. He can't do this to me." Kim said as she sat at her desk chair. "I want my family back." She added.

Kim began to feel helpless. She had returned to Collinsport in hopes that she could salvage whatever love, whatever happiness, whatever emotion she could from David and get her family back together. It was her dream. She had atoned for all her past sins from cheating on David years ago with Victor Reed to wrongly imprisoning David at Windcliff for 2 decades, how could she let another woman stand in her way?  She shook the thoughts from her mind and stood up and began to read over the forms she received from the University of Main on her new research project.

The forms listed several different plants that needed to be tested. They were all going to be delivered that day for her to run the tests in part to find out if these newly discovered plants could be used as alternative medications for cancer patients. As she was reading about one of the several plants on their way to her, she saw something very interesting.

It was a plant called the Folha Dormente, or the Sleeping leaf. It came from the far reaches of the amazonian rain forest. As she contained to read it's active ingredients and what it did to people and their pain, she realized how powerful it was.

She read:
"Foilha Dromente, consists of powerful proteins that when extracted and incorporated into the human blood stream in low doses can help the releif of pain in some patients. The amount of the dose is important, if taken too much, the potent protiens could render the patient incapacitated to the point of near death. Breathing shallows and the body falls into a death like coma." 

"...death like coma?" Kim read out loud. "Death like." She repeated. An idea slipped into her creative dark brain.

She quickly ran over to her lap top and opened it up. She clicked into a series of email passwords and scanned. She opened an email that read
TO: DR. KIMBERLY COLLINS
FROM: THE UNIVERSITY OF MAIN, SCIENCE DEPARTMENT

She opened it to read the delivery time of her new project, she looked up at the clock and grinned. Her plants would arrive soon. Just a few hours.

"Well, I've seen that grin before, nothing ever good comes from you when you grin like that." Kim and David's son Caleb joked from the door.

"Oh Caleb!!" Kim said rushing over to her son leaving the papers on her desk.

They made small talk, he welcomed her back and she smiled and kissed his cheek. There was always a warmth between them even though his childhood was mainly memories of her rushing off to different places around the world for work.

"You're always working." Caleb said, his childhood sadness seeping through.

"You know how I am. Can't keep still." She said.

"What's this?" He asked picking up the papers to read.

"Oh just some things I have to take care of for the University. Nothing major." Kim said taking the papers from  his hand. "Listen, let's go up stairs, I wanna see that grandson of mine!" Kim said changing the subject.

She flicked the lights off in her office leaving the papers describing the plant on her desk. It wouldn't be long until she had the real leaf in her hands to begin what she hoped was the first step on getting David and her whole family back and Siobhan out of the way. Forever.


****

Upstairs, Carolyn was recuperating from her night out in the storm running after the phantom she swore was Barnabas Collins. David had spent the morning in her company making sure she had her breakfast and kept warm in her bed. Carolyn's mind had quickly returned to her regular self, she was in bed pouting at the notion from her family not to move an inch.

"This is completely unnecessary, David, really." Carolyn said dusting off the top of her comforter. ''

"Well maybe if you'd been a good girl last night and not had us all out in the storm running after you, I would agree, but here were are." David said, pouring his older cousin a glass of orange juice.

"You still don't believe what I saw last night do you? You don't believe I saw Barnabas outside The Old House. I swear to you, I wouldn't lie about that." Carolyn said frustrated with her situation.

"Don't put words in my mouth, I never said I didn't believe you,. I believe you saw what you saw, but Powell and I didn't see it. Carolyn, in the past two years you've had so many things happen to you. Its only been a few months since Alex left to London and, well, we think that maybe you're under a lot of stress. That's why I think it's a good idea you see the doctor Maggie's friend is setting you up with later." David explained.

"Why can't I see Siobhan?" Carolyn questioned.

"Maggie says Ezrabette really trusts this doctor. What's the worst that could happen?" David said patting his cousin on her head purposely trying to annoy her as a younger cousin would.

What David and Carolyn didn't know was that the doctor that was on his way to see Carolyn was deep in a revenge plot orchestrated by the vengeful spirit Marie Clotilde. Jason McGuire had been risen from the dead, and taunted Carolyn the night before in the storm and now was set to arrive at Collinwood, the scene of some of his most infamous schemes to not only to complete the destruction of the Collins family for Marie Clotilde, but also to get his own set of revenge on everyone who wronged him 50 years ago.

His craving for cruelty had not dulled while he slept in his cold, cement lined grave in the depths of the secret room at the Collins family mausoleum where Barnabas and Willie Loomis buried him. He was truly a vicious monster that only wanted to take from everyone around him no matter what the cost. The Collins family especially.

There was no love lost between Jason and Carolyn when they first knew each other, her hatred for the man the blackmailed her mother into almost marrying him went to the bone. She would never forgive him for the lies he told about the so-told murder of her father that never was. But this Jason, or Jonathon Silva as he would be called, would be disguised thanks to the special charm Ezrabette had bewitched that changed his face and body for all who looked at him.

To Ezrabette and the spirit, this was the dead body of Jason McGuire, to the rest of the world, the new man was the handsome Dr. Jonathon Silva.


The door bell rang, Powell pulled the large wooden door and standing there was the doctor. His smile beamed like two strings of white pearls. His face perfect and chiseled.

"Hello there. I'm here to see Mrs. Throne." Jonathon asked of Powell.

"She's resting." Powell said in a stern voice, unhappy with the whole situation.

"Is she? Well I was asked to come by to see her. No one mentioned she'd be asleep." Jonathon replied trying to peek into the mansion as a frosty breeze from the still damp outdoors blew in. "Usually by this time people welcome in the doctor who's making the house calls." he joked as Powell moved aside.

"Perhaps you should return another time?" Powell suggested.

"Nonsense!" David's voice said from the top of the stairs. "Carolyn is fine, she's expecting the doctor,  Powell."

"I was only concerned with---" Powell began before being interrupted by David.

"I know, old man, don't worry. I'll make sure Carolyn is fine. Doctor, please follow me up stairs." David said patting Powells shoulder.

As they walked down the long corridors toward Carolyn's room, Jonathon remembered his many years in Collinwood. The schemes, the plots everything he almost had when  he lived there as Jason McGuire. This was his second chance, if he could get his hands on everything he wanted this time, he would live out the rest of his un-dead life happy and free. But the key was to work on Carolyn. She had to be the only one to give him what he wanted, and by doing so, he'd also finally fulfill Marie Clotilde's revenge. In the end, Jonathon would have the Collins fortune, and Carolyn would be dead, an easy eye-for-an-eye.

"It smells the same." Jonathon said to himself softly, but loud enough that David heard.

"I'm sorry?" David said stopping in the center of the hall. "What smells the same?" He asked confused.

"Oh, Uhh....the same as my own...uh...old family home. We have a mansion similar in size." Jonathon said stammering to cover his tracks.

David smiled, knowing Jonathon was lying but didn't really have the time or patience to dig further as they were just about to walk into Carolyn's room.

"Hi, Carolyn, Dr. Silva is here. Dr. Silva, this is my cousin Carolyn Stoddard-Thorne.

Jonathon's eyes twinkled at the site of Carolyn. He hadn't seen her since she was a young woman of 20. Her hair was still the color of golden sun, her eyes still blue as a wild Maine sea, her skin still as pale and fresh as it was 50 years ago. He walked over to her and grabbed her hand and lifted it from the bed to kiss it.

"It is my very sincere pleasure Mrs. Thorne." Jonathon said.

"Likewise Dr. Silva." Carolyn said feeling awkward.

"I'll leave you to it." David said as he left the room.

"I hear there was an incident last night. What would you like to tell me about it?" Jonathon said knowing full well what had happened as he was the cause.

"You mean no one has told you?" Carolyn questioned.

"I'd like to hear it from you?" Jonathon said.

Carolyn sighed deep and breathy, frustrated she had to one more time tell this story. She knew people were worried about her mental state, but this, to her, happened and was all true.

"It doesn't make sense to me, but then at the same time it does. I know what I saw, I know who I saw but as soon as I got to the edge of that cliff, he was gone and then all of a sudden I was on the floor right at the edge, I could have fallen off, I almost feel as if I wanted to fall off. Like I was being led to jump." Carolyn explained confused about the last moments on the cliff.

Jonathon grinned. He pulled a note pad from his bag and started to write down everything she said even though he had no intention of really helping her. He was, in fact going to hurt her. Carolyn was a victim of his own scheme to drive her mad enough to fall off the edge of Widow's Hill. His first attempt failed, but his next one may finally prove to be a success. He just had to gain her trust.

"I want you to know that whatever happens here in our meetings, I will make sure that your wishes are understood, and taken into account to all that it will concern. Do you understand that?" Jonathon asked.

Carolyn opened her mouth to speak but stopped herself from answering right away. She thought about what he was saying, and in a way she didn't understand it, but she looked into this handsome face, his kind brown eyes, his sweet grin.

"Yes. I understand." She said.

"Good. We're going to make you better Carolyn. We really are. And when you are, you'll be free as a bird. You'll see." Jonathon said, his grin still plastered across his face with a devilish plan for Carolyn still hidden behind it.

****

Later that cold morning grew into a gloomy and overcast afternoon. Standing in Founder's Square park in front of a giant copper statue of Isaac Collins, the founder of Collinsport that had turned greened with age and the touch of the salty sea air, was the new Collins family governess Sasha Beaufort on a walk with baby Canan Collins.

Her mysterious past had caught the attention of the baby's detective mother Kat. Canan, too, had grown so fond of his new governess. He looked at her like she was someone that he had know since the day he was born, she too quickly knew all his quirks as if she had been around this baby before.

As the two played near the statue, a man, with dark black hair, pale blue eyes watched from across the park as he sat and read the paper on a bench. He folded the paper and stared over at the young governess and smirked.

Like Sasha, who took to Collinsport and her new job like a duck to water, this new mysterious man was no stranger to the things of this town. He had just arrived the night before on the same train as Kimberly, he was ready to connect the dots of his own life, and Sasha would be his foot in the door.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Series 8/Chapter 3: FAMILIAR STRANGERS

A storm churned and twisted over Collinsport. There was something in the air, a crisp freeze that one could feel down to the bone. It was ice cold, bitter and familiar to all who lived in the small fishing village. The rain poured down over the village washing away the day leaving only slick roads and matted ground. It was washing away the old and bringing in the new.

At the estate, Kat and baby Canan's new governess Sasha, prepped him for bed. The thunder roared outside the nursery window and made everyone but the baby nervous.

"He's not unnerved by the storm outside, is he?" Sasha remarked.

"It's Maine, if it's not raining, it's foggy, so he's used to it by now." Kat smiled as she put the baby in his crib. She was dressed for along night at the prescient as she was back to work. "So tell me more about yourself?" Kat asked.

"Oh there's not really that much to tell, really. Small family, just out of college. You know, nothing major." Sasha said as she folded Canan's tiny clothes.

"What are were studying before you cam here?" Kat asked curiously prodding.

Sasha thought for a second which to Kat, seemed to last hours.

"You know, just the regular stuff. I really just tried to dabble in everything. I think it's really important to find yourself and learn about everything you can learn." Sasha said stammering.

"But you had to have been interested in one thing to be in school right? What was your major?" Kat continued to ask, her detective instincts starting to feel there was something more going on than Sasha was telling.

"Literature. I studied literature." Sasha responded with satisfied with a satisfied tone.

Kat smiled politely as she could tell Sasha was starting to feel awkward. The Collinsport detective decide to drop the subject...for now.

"Great." Kat answered equally as awkward. "Aanyway, I should get going. Don't want to be late for my first night back, right? Take good care of my boy." Kat said smiling as she kissed her baby good bye to a relived Sasha.

Sasha crept over to the nursery door and opened it slightly to make sure the coast was clear. The hall way in the easy wing was empty. Nothing but old paintings of Collins family members hanging in the dimmed hall and house plants that cast shadows on the luxurious carpet that lined the hall. She closed the door again behind her and walked over to the cooing baby in his crib.

She smiled at him and tickled his nose with a soft plush toy bunny. The baby laughed. He had just met Sasha and was already incredibly comfortable with him, as if he knew her already, as if Sasha had known the baby already.

"You're just as I remembered, little one. You're just as I remembered."  Sasha said in a whisper.



*****

Kat quickly made her way down stairs and as she got to the bottom she quickly reached for her coat that was carefully hung in the corner of the foyer. Her mind was a nervous bundle of emotions. Leaving her baby for the first time and going back to work was going to be so hard, but even stranger was her curiosity about Sasha. For some reason, Sasha's seemingly secretive exterior was raising Kat's detective flags, and in doing so Kat already knew the first thing she'd do when she got to the police department: re-doing the background check on her new governess.

"On your way out?" David said from inside the drawing the faced the foyer.

"Oh! Yes! First day back, I hope I don't drive everyone crazy showing them photos of the baby." Kat said in her proud mother voice.

"Go on, show off that gorgeous Collins baby. Make them jealous." David, the proud grandfather, told his daughter-in-law as he walked into the foyer.

Kat grinned and opened the front door and to her shock standing in the rain with three suitcases was Dr. Kimberly Collins. David's ex-wife who  had left town earlier that year for London with her son Christopher and Carolyn's daughter Alexandra.

"Kim!" Kat said in total shock.

"What are you doing here?" David asked, his face, stone cold as he walked in from the drawing room.

"Well, that's a surprising welcome; shock and awe!" Kim joked. "I needed to come back. I needed to be here. I missed my home." Kim said rushing through the front door and past Kat.

"This is really a surprise, I mean, welcome back!" Kat said giving a nervous laugh knowing Kim and David's past history and also knowing that David had moved on from her. "I'd love to catch up later, but I gotta get going. Work calls." Kat said after their hug. Her escape was awkward, the reunion between David and Kim would be just as strange.

Once Kat crept away and closed the front door behind her, a lightening flash lit the room. There was silence between the former lovers that felt like it lasted for hours.

"David? Say something." Kim said putting her soggy suitcases down.

"I don't know what I'm supposed to say. You should have told us you were coming back. You should have ....... I'm just surprised, is all." David answered, his words tripping out of his mouth.

"Well, I was hoping you'd be happy. I was in London this whole time and you never once called or wrote. Even in my conversations with Caleb, he seemed to be hiding something when the topic turned to you. I began to worry something was going on, but here you are, handsome as ever." Kim said with a bright grin.

"It's just that, look Kimberly, a lot has happened since you left. A lot." David said.

"You don't have to explain. I've lived in Collinsport for long enough to know that nothing ever stays the same, but at the same time not much ever really changes." she replied as someone came in from the other side of the foyer.

"I was wondering what you wanted for dinner, I asked cook and she.....oh...." Siobhan, David's new fiancee said entering the foyer from the kitchen. "Hello." she continued cordially.

Kimberly looked at David confused, who was this? She had not heard of this new resident at the mansion.

"Kim, this is Siobhan, Siobhan this is Kimberly, Caleb's mother." David answered awkwardly as the two women shook hands never breaking each other's gaze. His past and present colliding like two thunder clouds smashing into each other.

Kimberly, who had left Collinsport with her son Christopher and Carolyn's daughter Alexandra on a trip to London months ago, had hoped her return would spark a romantic twinge in David again. They had parted ways on good terms after years of an unhappy marriage. Kimberly, after all, was the one who had David committed to Windcliff for close to 2 decades under false pretenses. Their marriage suffered long before that even, with her infidelity with the now dead Victor Reed.

Now that David  had moved on with Siobhan, Kimberly was in a peculiar place. Where would she fit in? And would she even be welcome back into the fold of the Collins family.

"I've heard so much about you." Siobhan said.

"I wish I could say the same." Kimberly answered looking directly into David's eyes.

"Would you mind if we had a talk, really quickly." David asked his Siobhan as she nodded politely and moved into a different room leaving the two exes alone.

"So you've moved on." Kim said, her lips pressed tightly together.

"What was I supposed to do? I couldn't just sit here and wait, and what would I be waiting for? You and I have been over for years, or did you forget what you did to me and why we split up all together?" David answered.

"We've moved past that, at least I thought we had. We're in such a different place now, we're both grandparents and ...and....David you should have told me. Maybe I would have never come back at all." Kimberly said angrily.

Kimberly felt humiliated. She calmly patted the side of her hair that had been tussled but the storm outside and grabbed her things and motioned that she was about to leave.

"Now, wait a minute, Kimberly. Come on now." David said grabbing her arm that had grabbed her suitcase.

"No, no listen, I really don't thinks its appropriate now, I mean first of all this is incredibly embarrassing." Kim answered.

"Stop, listen, Caleb will be getting back from the office any minute now and would love to see you.  The house is obviously big enough for everyone. We're all adults here. There's no reason why you can't stay." David replied.

Kimberly's heart felt like it was in a engulfed in flames. She had such high hopes that after all the time that had passed that perhaps, somehow, David would have felt the same she had. Now, things were different and Kim was back on the outside of the Collins circle looking in.

David grabbed Kim's things and helped her into one of the cozy rooms in the east wing hoping that everything would work out. As reality started to set in that she would not be settling into the room she once shared with David again, it was apparent, that these changes were going to be permanent.

Kimberly's mistakes in her life, the betrayals in her past were gone and done. And now she had returned to piece together her family again. Once and for all, but again there were going to be hurdles.

Kim was now alone in her room that David had set her up in. She carefully unpacked her things and memories of her past filled her mind: her wedding to David, their romantic and passionate wedding night, Caleb's birth and first words. This was her family, and no new girlfriend was going to take it away from her, not now, not ever.

Over her dead body.

*****

The storm was blasting a cold and vicious rain down on Collinsport. It was the first of the many that would swirl in from the icy north this autumn and a prelude to the winter to come.

Carolyn sat in her room in a comfy chaise, plush with pillows and a dimmed over head light that brightened the pages of the book she was reading that was interrupted by the tapping of the strong rain on her window. Frustrated with the pesky noise of rain, Carolyn got up from the comfort of her chaise and went to her large window to pull the drapes as to muffle the sound of the rain.

As she did, her view of the large gardens below that separated the main Collinwood mansion from the old house became illuminated with a bright flash from the stormy sky. In that split second of brightness she saw a man dressed in all black standing in the rain.

"What the devil?" Carolyn said to herself as the fire in her fireplace crackled and burned.

There was another thunderous clap, again she saw the man in the rain, his short black woolen jacket must have weighed 100 pounds now with all the water pouring down on him. To Carolyn, in her mind's eye, this could be only one man, he who walked the night. He who prowled in the storms as if nothing bothered him.

"It's him. He's come back again." She to herself, her voice too shaky to speak his name.

Carolyn quickly grabbed a rain coat and tied it's sash around her waste. She tied her hair up in a small tight bun and put on a veil to guard her from the pouring rain then dashed down the stairs to find the cousin she believed was gone forever.

David and Siobhan were in the drawing room, Carolyn's quick rush down the main staircase startled them.

"Carolyn? Are you ok?" Siobhan asked, quickly going to the door of the drawing room to meet Carolyn who was too fast for her.

Siobhan walked over to the front door that was left open and David followed. His face was plastered with concern for his beloved cousin Carolyn. They both peeked out past the doorway to see if they could see where Carolyn had run off to in such a hurry.

"What is she doing?" Siobhan asked warming her arms with her hands as the rain fell down.

"I have no idea." David said cautious to even let his mind go where it would inevitably go.

David began putting on his coat to go after her.

"I'm going after her." David said.

"David, be careful." Siobhan said worried.

Carolyn rushed through the gardens that were now starting to slightly overflow with excess water from the storm. Her mind raced. If it was who she believed it was hiding in the dark and rain, she wanted to be the first to find him.

He had come back, he had survived the terrible attack of the phoenix Laura Collins, and somehow found his way once more to the only home he's ever known. Though Laura's flames vanquished the life of Barnabas' wife Jacqueleen, he had somehow made it through, and Carolyn was not going to let him hide away.

She ran as fast as she could. The wind blowing her small body to the ground time and time again. She ran with a determined fever to find this man, this man she in her heart loved like a father, Carolyn would not give up and nothing a storm as powerful as the one that night would throw at her would stop her.

 She sloshed through the mud and muck of the saturated ground and searched every shadowy corner of the wooded areas around the two Collin's family mansions with David hot on her heels.

Then suddenly, there he was again. The man standing at a distance. His silhouette in a darkened thicket of tress just standing there staring at her.

"Barnabas!!!!!" Carolyn screamed as she rushed over to where she saw him, but then like a millisecond of time clicking away he vanished.

It was as if Barnabas was playing a strange game of now you see me now you don't. One minute she would see him, the next he would be gone. Carolyn's frustration began to burn hot like fire, her mind began to wander and panic and fight itself on the prospect of this actually happening in front of her!

Then again, there he was, black coat silhouette. By a tree, then gone.

And again, same coat, same silhouette by more thickets of Collinwood trees...then gone as soon as the lightening flashed gain.

Why was he hiding from her as if he did not want to be found, or seen? Carolyn was beginning to tire, she couldn't catch up to him, the man she admired so much, the man she had come to see as a father figure in her youth, even as damaged and as dangerous as he was continued to allude her.

"Carolyn! Carolyn!!" David screamed from behind, trying to catch up to his cousin who seemed to be going mad. Carolyn did not hear him over the thunder claps and rain. She continued her search.

Over and over again, she would see the figure of the man she believed to be Barnabas in the wooded areas around the old house and over and over again he was gone. Carolyn stopped suddenly. Her head filling with images and memories. She began to feel dizzy. Her heart began to feel heavy and sad, her mind began to fill with the sounds of the crashing waves of the ocean on the rocks.

In Carolyn's frantic search of the illusive shadow figure, she had neglected to see where she was, and now, as the storm continued to pound the seaside town, she found herself literally on the edge of Widow's Hill.

Carolyn looked down at the water, it seemed to be calling her name. It seemed to be wanting her to touch it, and there laying on the rocks as the water flowed over him was the shadowy man. Was it Barnabas? What was he doing at the bottom of Widow's Hill? Why was he letting the water cover him and pull him into the sea?

"Barnabas!!!!" Carolyn screamed.

She began to take off her coat, and her shoes. She was going to jump.

"Carolyn NO!!" David said, finally reaching her and pulling her back from the edge of the cliff, the rain slapping their faces like tiny little rocks.

"It's Barnabas. He's down there David, we have to help him!!" Carolyn screamed over the sound of the ocean's crashing waves.

Still gripping on to Carolyn tightly, David looked over the edge. There was no one there.

"No, Carolyn, it's not Barnabas, there's no one down there. You didn't see him, he's gone!" David said in a sympathetic voice.

"What? No! I saw him, he was just there, David, he was there. He was here. I saw him early this evening outside the old house and I saw him from my window and I saw him in the woods. Barnabas was down there, I swear it." Carolyn explained wiping the rain water from her face.

"Look," David said holding on to Carolyn as  he showed her the bottom of the ledge. "There's no one there." He finished.

"The waves must of taken him into the sea, we have to get to him, we have to help him!" Carolyn said.

"Carolyn, he's gone! Listen to me, gone. You're burning up, we have to get you back to Collinwood and into bed. Please, just come along with me, please!" David pleaded.

Carolyn, shaking and confused, nodded her head in agreement and put on her coat and shoes. David held on to her and walked her safely back to the mansion where Siobhan and Powell waited for them.


Down at the bottom of Widow's Hill, where the water crashed up against the rocks with remarkable strength, where the sea and land met in a giant thunderous pound there was a body. A person. A man in black. He was on the rocks facing up when Carolyn looked down. He was hiding in the shadows tempting Carolyn to follow him in the rain.

But when David arrived, the shadowy figure jumped up and hid up against the cliff side as to not be seen, and there he stood still, grinning evilly with an amulet that the voodoo mystic Ezrabette gave him to carry around his neck, the amulet, changed his face to protect his identity, the identity of Jason McGuire with a new face.

He was the one tricking Carolyn, he was the one trying to trick her to jump from the cliff. His first attempt failed, but there were more tricks up his sleeve. He and Ezrabette would eventually end the Collins family, once and for all.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Series 8/Chapter 2: THE BALLAD OF MARIE CLOTILDE


In a small cottage home just outside Collinsport surrounded by woods bloated with the dark fog of night, a spirit had come to reconnect with her living ancestor; a great-granddaughter who possessed the power to speak and deal with the dead. A 120  year curse had blocked this spirit from ever passing through the veil between the living and dead to contact her to seek her help. Now that curse was broken and the spirit was free to shed this deathly veil and reach out from beyond the grave.

The clouds that surrounded the dark spirit of Marie Clotilde filled Ezrabette's room like the fog from the sea creeping into the village from the salty shore. It was thick and mystical and engulfed Marie Clotilde like a misty cloak dripping with the dew of another time.

Ezrabette sat up in her bed, the smell of soot ash filled the space around her as if her own home had burned down. Her mouth agape with fear and eyes open wide she took in the sight of something forming in front of her. What was she seeing? What was she feeling? What was this translucent figure saying to her in the middle of the night, it was sure to be a dream...or a nightmare! As the smokey fog formed into a crude ash like person it spoke in a voice that came from the depths of an abyss.

"I have traveled over centuries and of time to find you and send you on this mission to avenge your family's most guarded secret." the ghost of Marie Clotilde, Gregory's murdered mistress said in an echoing voice.

"This is a dream." Ezrabette said to herself.

Ezrabette was a mystical woman herself but never had a spirit appeared to her in such a clear form. She had seen then in visions in her mind, she had heard their voices echo in her head with messages to their family members, but never, ever had they appeared to her in this manner.

"I am not a vision or part of your subconscious, believe what you see, believe what I say. Come....touch my hand." Marie Clotilde said extending her ghostly hand that was thin and grey almost alien like.

Ezrabette got out of her bed slowly and inched her way closer to the spirit in the corner of the room still swirling in a cloak of foggy mist. She stood there staring not knowing if she should get any closer, the fear was rushing through her veins like a river of anxiety.

"Touch my hand." The spirit requested again.

Ezrabette slowly lifted her own hand and reached for Marie Clotilde's. Slowly the two generations hands came closer and closer, Ezrabette's hand trembled with nerves at what she was about to touch, and as they came together Marie Clotilde's hand firmed and Ezrabette felt her as if she was there in the flesh, in person alive.

"How can ...how can this be happening??" Ezrabette questioned, still in disbelief of what was happening.

"Ezrabette Baptiste, I am your great-grandmother Marie Clotilde. 120 ago I was burned alive in my own home by a woman who discovered a secret I had shamefully carried." The spirit spoke.

"My god." Ezrabette whispered to herself still in disbelief of what was happening in her room.

"In life I made a terrible mistake, but what that mistake gave me was a child, your grandfather. The night I was killed, the woman who killed me took my child and gave him to the Baptiste family. This family became your family, and you became part of them the day you were born. But you are not part of them by blood. Ezrabette your ancestor was a man by the name of Gregory Trask, a man that I was cursed to have met and fallen in love with. I paid the price for that love, and now I need you to right the wrong of my murder of curse me to an eternity in purgatory." The spirit spoke.

"This can't be happening!" Ezrabette said, her eyes wide like two giant dark pools.

"Your humanity is blocking you from understanding the truth, Ezrabette, tap into the part of your mind that connects you to the dead, listen with that part of your mind and realize that I am REAL!" Marie Clotilde's voice thundered.

Ezrabette closed her eyes, the smell of a fire and smoke filled the air, but there wasn't a fire. In her mind, the ghost of Marie Clotilde took her back 120 years and showed her what happened. There were flames everywhere. Ezrabette gagged on the stench of smoke. There was thick blackness all round and the sound of a baby cry, then the neigh of a horse galloping away.

Ezrabette stood in the middle of a burning room, the walls filled with fire. She looked at the ground and saw a dead body steaming with heat and flames and suddenly from above her head the sound of cracking and cashing...it was a giant beam of fire falling to the ground from the ceiling.

Ezrabette screamed then opened her eyes and she was back in her own bedroom, the smell of the fire and singe still filling her bedroom.

"Who did this to you" Ezrabette asked holding herself close as the icy fog from her dead ancestor continued to chill her room, tears streaming down her face from her vision.

"Gregory's wife discovered our affair after it was already over. I had ended it. I could not raise my son, your grandfather, with a man like him. I discovered his cruelty and could no longer continue the sin I was committing." Marie Clotilde answered. "She was merciless. She was cold. And her anger and rage caused her to do the unthinkable to me.  My death came in form of flames and heat. I burned alive on the floor of my own home. Then...she took my child!!!" Marie Clotilde  added, the pain in her voice echoing in the air of the room and shaking Ezrabette's house so much so the pictures on the walls shook.

"I don't understand what you want me to do? This person, Gregory's wife is long dead, I'm sure! What could I do to help?" Ezrabette asked.

"She is dead. Her soul raising to heaven, and wrongly so. But her decedents live on Ezrabette, and until this wrong is made right, I too, cannot make my way to the other side. I have been trapped in this purgatory for 120 years, I finally found my way to you and I need you now!!" Marie Clotilde answered, her voice again echoing through the bedroom.

"Who are these descendants?" Ezrabette asked.

Marie Clotilde's eyes changed from the milky blue to a dark red in anger knowing she was about to speak the name of the family who's long lost ancestor had destroyed her life and put her in the twisting flames of purgatory until this very moment.

This 120 year old murder could finally be made right by opening the door between the living and the dead and allowing Marie Clotilde to speak her truth but her own salvation would only come to pass if the plot of revenge was successful; as Marie Clotilde's instrument among the living this was Ezrabette's plight.

"The name of the woman who took my life was Judith. Her cold and ill life was spent for many years after mine in a home on Widow's Hill, she belonged to the family Collins." Marie Clotilde explained.

Ezrabette gasped and covered her mouth in shook, her head hung in disbelief that she would have to involve herself with the Collins family again. The story of this damned family was not over and now the voodoo mystic of Collinsport would be again entangled with the Collins family drama.

"There's darkness that resides over them and this town like a storm cloud that never dissipates. I know them well. But they're innocent of what happened to you." Ezrabette asked.

"None of them are innocent. None of them do you understand me?" Marie Clotilde chastised.

"I don't know if I can help you...I don't know if I'm the right person to do ....." Ezrabette said pausing in mid-sentence before she realized that Maire Clotilde as someone in need, even though she was dead she was someone in need and Ezrabette had promised only to use her powers to help those in need. Was this a special circumstance? Possibly, but how could she turn her own family member away after a century of suffering. "What is it that I would have to do?" She finished.

"Go to the grave of a man who was once as close as humanly possible to destroying this family as anyone has ever been. He has contacted me on this side of the veil of the dead and has comforted me by saying if he is raised from his grave he will avenge this wrong and also fulfill his own murder. He too was taken by a member of this family too soon over 50 years ago. Promise me you'll fulfill this task." Marie Clotilde explained.

Ezrabette looked deep in to the ash filled dark eyes of the spirit that was lived in these very same woods and who murdered by the jealous Judith Collins for being the mistress of her husband Gregory. Ezrabette felt the only way to keep her friends safe was to do what this betrayed spirit asked of her and her powers. She closed her eyes and agreed to help.

"Who is this man? Who killed him?" Ezrabette asked confused.

"Find this man in an a centuries old mausoleum where the Collins family lies. He was buried there by one of the darkest figures...killed by one of the undead. He is there, laying in bones, but with your powers you can raise him from this grave." The spirit instructed.

"To call upon the dead I need his name. I cannot raise him, even if I tried, without it." Ezrabette informed her spirit relative.

The spirit of Marie Clotilde swirled around in her cloudy form, floating closer to her great-granddaughter, her smoky cape pulling Ezrabette in close for so that the name of this dead man soon to be raised from the ground from his unmarked grave to help avenge the the fiery death of this woman in ghost form. The woman got close enough for the spirit to whisper the name...

"Jason McGuire."
*****

It was a bright new day. The remnants of a summer green Collinwood lawn was was freshly cut, the aroma of fresh autumn gardenia's and the buzz of busy bees filled the crisp air around the glorious great mansion. A car was slowly making it's way up the long snake like drive way from the village. It was one of the Collins family's many black sedan's with blacked out windows they used to keep their distance from the ogling town's people as they drove along the sea side village's many cobble stone streets.

This car, driven by the family's personal drive Jude Powell, carried a new employee that had just arrived at the train station across town.

"You'll enjoy the family. They're a very gregarious bunch." Jude said, his white hair sparkling in the summer light that poured through the windshield.

The employee, a young woman from Bedford, Massachusetts looked up from her cell phone at Jude who was looking back at her from his review mirror. She smiled politely to the old man's small talk.

"Have you been up this way before miss?" He asked, begging for a reply.

"I have. Maine is sort of like my home away from home...away from home." She said with a grin, her green eyes now locked with this.

"Is that so? When was the last time you were here?" Jude asked again.

She seemed flustered by his many questions. She was nervous and googling ways to impress you new bosses and didn't feel like entertaining the old drive's small talk. She looked out of the blacked-out car window as the gigantic front lawn continued it's rolling cascade upward toward the main house.

"It feels like centuries." She said softly.

"Well, like said miss, you'll love it here. The Collins family will do all they can to make sure you feel welcome and comfortable. I've been working for them off and on for years myself. Mostly with Miss Carolyn. I drive her around almost everywhere." He said continuing his story that trailed off into the new comer's mind as she closed her eyes and hoped everything would work out.

She was worried. Coming to Collinsport for the new job as Canan's nanny was her way out; out of some of the worst experiences of her life that was littered with terrible episodes that a very few select people could understand. This new life of hers, in Collinsport, would hopefully  start her off fresh and free; free of her demons, her past, and all the curses she felt plagued her since the day she was born.

The car began to move around the circle drive way then stopped directly at the front door of the great mansion. The fountain in the center of the circle drive way sprinkled it's water out of a giant copper fish's mouth that had gone green with age.

The front door opened and out poured members of the family she would be working for. They had been anxious to meet their new governess. They all lined up in front of the house smiling and welcoming in the rocky drive way.

"Miss Sasha Bauxfort." Jude said picking up her bags and stepping aside for Sasha to see the family in all family.

"Welcome to Collinwood!" Caleb said extending his hand. "This is my wife, Detective Kathryn Collins, her mother Maggie Evans, my father David Collins and his fiance Dr. Siobhan Morgan and of course, our little baby. This is Canan." Caleb said introducing his relatives.

"It is very good to meet you all." Sasha replied, her light brown curls shining in the autumn sun. She extended her hand to shake Kat's who awkwardly had to juggle Canan in her arms to reach over and shake the new nanny's hand. They giggled and all walked inside.

"Powell, you can take Sasha's things to room 8, thank you." David requested as he placed his hand on the small of Siobhan's back and lead her inside..

Sasha smiled politely and looked up at the west wing. The windows reflected the light of the day but something shadow obscured one of the windows. It was a figure that loomed in the distance in silhouette, staring down at the family and at Sasha. Sasha kept staring, a chill ran up her spine, the house seemed dark and gloomy. And as soon as she blinked the shadowy figure in the west wing window disappeared as if it had never been there in the first place.

"Don't worry, you'll get used to it." Maggie said in a whisper to Sasha.

"I'm sorry?" Sasha asked not realizing Maggie had seen what she saw.

Maggie winked and followed the family inside with Sasha. David, and Siobhan went on there way and left Kat, Caleb and Maggie in the foyer with the resident.

"It's a very large house, with a very large household. We also have a staff that comes in and cooks and cleans on a certain schedule, but you wont have to worry about any of that. I'm just glad you're here! I feel so much better knowing I'll have live in help while I go back to work." Kat explained.

"Has it been hard being home on leave?" Sasha asked.

"Yes and no. The department has been a bit quiet lately. You know, Collinsport isn't New York City, the crime ..." Kat said with a pause remembering the bizarre string of crimes that began her career just a few years ago. "...the crime is here different. I'll just say that."

They all looked at each other as if hiding a secret from Sasha, who noticed.

"I hope you find everything you'll need in the house, Sasha. Carolyn has kept up this old mansion quite well. She's made a few renovations over the past few years to this house and the old house and I'm sure you'll love it here." Maggie said from behind.

"Yes! Especially after that fire." Sasha said looking around the room to the family's surprise.

"The fire? How did you know about the fire?" Caleb asked referencing the fire set by Alexandra under one of Claudia's evil spells.

Sasha stammered a bit and shook her head. She felt embarrassed for confusing the family who were so used to being in constant red alert that they questioned everything to the very last detail.

"I'm embarrassed to say but when I got the job, I....well, looked up the family history and information on the history of the house before I got here. I just wanted to know what I was getting into." Sasha answered to the group.

"Well these houses have been here since the 1700's in one form or another honey, there's so much more you'll learn as you go along, trust me." Maggie replied.

"Right, well, whatever I can do to make things easier for all of you, that's what I'm here for. In fact, if you wouldn't mind, why don't I start now. I can take the baby and let you all go on about your day. I would love to get acquainted with this little guy." Sasha said brushing Canan's light brown hair with her hand.

"Oh! Ok! That would be great!" Kat said handing off the baby surprised in the gesture.

Canan was all but 1 year old. He had already gotten used to being held by other people that weren't his family members, but being that this was his first nanny, the family was expecting him to cry and reach back for his parents who had never given him to anyone else.  After Canan's kidnapping last winter they were exceptionally careful who their precious baby boy came in contact with. For Kat herself, it was almost impossible to pry her baby out of her hands. But she did, even if reluctantly.
The baby himself went into Sasha's arms and never made a single noise. He even smiled. He grabbed her golden brown hair and started to pull, he coo'ed and gaga'ed and put his tiny little hands on her porcelain face.

"It's like he knows you!" Laughed Maggie.

Sasha smiled.

"If you need anything just ...." Kat continued as Sasha began to walk up stairs.  "Sasha, Caleb can show you were to go...." Kat added, noting Sasha would spend hours searching for the nursery in the giant house if she just went off alone.

"Oh, right." Sasha said stopping on the staircase.

Caleb looked over at Kat and furrowed his brow as if to signal a mutual confusion of Sasha's eagerness to start watching the baby so soon. But he shook it off and dashed up the stairs after her.

"Right this way!" He said with a friendly smile as the three went together.

"She was just going to walk around until she found Canan's room?" Kat said in a hushed voice to her mother Maggie.

"She's just nervous. I'm sure it's nothing. What did the agency say about her?" Maggie asked.

"I don't know. Carolyn handled all of that." Kat answered.

"She does seem a little...too eager," Maggie continued, "Just give her some time to get acquainted with how everything works around here. If the bumps in the night don't scare here off, you in mama-bear-mode will." Maggie joked.

"I guess, but you thought that was odd too right? How she knew about the fire Claudia set and then just going up the staircase like that?" Kat questioned.

"I can see the detective in you sure hasn't relaxed with maternity leave. Darling, go into the drawing room, drink some tea and relax. Your nanny is here and it's time for you to refresh yourself. You start work again tomorrow!" Maggie said to her daughter.

Kat agreed and went into the drawing room arm in arm with her mother Maggie. 
  

*****

In the evening of this autumn day, Carolyn was sitting in a green garden just outside of the main house. The garden stoop overlooked a long patch of lawn and trees and in the foreground stood the old house in it's newest renovated form. Carolyn sipped on a small minty drink and stared at the old house thinking of everything that had happened there, past and present. Her mind drifted into the chill of the air and fell into that dark space of her memory that lead her to the terrors from the past.

Murder. Lies. Mayhem.

All of family secrets she held inside of her for decades had eaten away at her. She and David were the last two alive from her immediate family, but Carolyn seemed to be the one with the lasting memories, David was lucky. He was younger than she, and in all the years he was trapped in Windcliff, he had somehow repressed most of his childhood nightmares and somehow survived unscathed.

Her eyes continued to be closed. The darkness around her now brightened like a candle in a dark hallway illuminating a red haze. In the blackness of her mind, with just the glowing of the red light around her and the room she was in that she recognized as being from The Old House.  There in the red haze was a coffin engraved with the initials B.C. She could hear foots steps coming towards her, faster and faster they walked, harder and harder the sound came. Carolyn looked all around her but there was no one there, no one around her. Just her and the coffin.

Her mind pushed her towards the coffin like a magnet dragging her across the darkness. She could feel her throat tighten she could feel a pinch that burned and a heat that felt like scolding water. She grabbed her throat with one  hand and when she pulled the had away, two wounds appeared perfectly spaced just below her jaw line linking to her jugular vein with two rivers of blood pouring out.

The wounds continued to bleed down her neck and onto her chest dampening her white shirt. Her breathing shortened. Her mind foggy with this twisted memory, she opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. Then out of the coffin a bubbling sound. She carefully walked over and opened the coffin's lid only to be slashed in the face with a fountain of red blood. it poured and poured like an over flowing pot, the crimson liquid flowed over her. The sound was like a rushing river but suddenly a voice from the outside came.

"Carolyn?" the man's voice said softly.

Carolyn's eyes flipped open  and she was still sitting on her porch outside in the garden, her day dream had become so real she thought she had literally transported to the old house.

The voice belonged to her trusted driver Jude Powell.

"Are you alright?" He asked as he sat down next to her.

"Yes, fine, I must of nodded off for a second..." Carolyn answered looking around for the blood she could still smell, clearly still suffering from the decades of real life nightmares suffered at the hands of the supernatural.

"Not enough sleep?" Powell asked cordially.

"I guess." Carolyn answered keeping her secret nightmare to herself. "How are things inside? I was told the new nanny for Canan has arrived from Bedford." Carolyn said looking out past the law at the old house.

"That's right, the young Miss Beaufort. She seems to have already take up with the boy. They're getting along quite well." Powell said.

Carolyn smiled politely.

"Are you sure that is all that's bothering you? Is there something I can do to help?" Powell asked still noticing Carolyn's mind wondering.

Powell and Carolyn had known each other for decades before she moved off to London and became married to her late husband Jack. He was her mother's driver while in his 20s; a small town Collinsport boy who then moved to Boston in the late 70's when Elizabeth died and Carolyn moved to London.

When he returned to his hometown in 1987, she was long gone, and married with an infant daughter. His fondness for her, however,  never wavered all these years no matter how distant they were in proximity, or who they were married to. Powell was always thinking of her even during his own marriage of which he had been widowed for 20 years.

When Carolyn came back to Collinsport in the fall of 2015 in search of her missing husband, Powell had heard. Eventually, the following spring he was re-hired as her driver and has never left her side since. He loves her with the sense of a man who would do anything for someone no matter what they've done in the past. Carolyn, too, could feel this from him, and for a woman who had been through the things she had, it felt good.

Carolyn looked out onto the great thicket of trees that separated Collinwood and The Old house. Her mind was not at ease, her day dream of blood and neck wound still lingered it didn't matter who was talking to her.

Powell grabbed her hand and squeezed.

"Maybe you should go inside and lay down, you seem a little tired." Her kind driver said.
She looked at him and patted him on the hand and agreed. She stood up and they both walked back into Collinwood leaving the lush garden and Carolyn's awful daydream behind. Carolyn had been around long enough to know that just that nightmares had a very interesting way of becoming reality. She knew that they were a way to tell the future; they were omens.

Carolyn's daydream, of shadowy figures coffins and bleeding throats was telling her something was coming, something dark, something evil and something, perhaps familiar.

*****

Later on that evening Maggie Evans took  a drive out to see her friend Ezrabette Baptiste. Earlier that spring the two old friends had re-connected over old secrets and painful memories of Maggie's now decease former husband Thatcher Banning. It was a painful secret that Maggie had been holding for over 30 years, Ezrabette, who discovered the truth about Maggie faking her death in 1987 and the terrible abuse by Thatcher through her psychic abilities, had grown even closer to Maggie after the truth was revealed. Their friendship and bond was stronger than ever.

However, this evening Ezrabette's conscious was still recovering from the ghostly visits by her ancestor Marie Clotilde.  The lack of sleep and stress was throwing Ezrabette off but she still remembered her promise to Marie Clotilde. The promise to find Jason McGuire's body and bring him back to life to ruin the Collins family and keep Maggie and her family safe from harm.

Maggie happily bounded up the wooden porch and knocked on the door. The screen door creaked open. Ezrabette let Maggie in and instantly noticed a change in demanor of her usually optimistic friend.

They sat down in the quaint living room. A black cat lay licking it's paws on the sofa like a lounging queen.

"Ssssss, Marigold." Ezrabette said to her cat, shooing her off the sofa so that she could sit with Maggie.

"You look tired, whats the matter?" Maggie asked taking a sip of tea Ezrabette had made.

"Long night. I didn't sleep much. So tell me, how are things going with Sebastian and Kat? You seem so much lighter. There's a glow about you." Ezrabette noticed of her old friend.

"Things couldn't be better. I never thought I'd be a mother again, much less a grandmother. It's wonderful being around my children, Bette, you just wouldn't believe how wonderful it is Kat is back to work, and Sebastian is doing great in Bangor. He decided to go back to his old place there." Maggie beamed.

"When are Caleb and Kat moving out of Collinwood?" Ezrabette asked.

"Moving out? They're not. Not that I know. Why do you ask?" Maggie questioned.

"They're staying in that house? How could they stay there after everything that's happened over the years. Maggie, you have to convince them to leave. Its not safe there." Ezrabette said, knowing full she herself had a plan to rid the town of the cursed Collins family. Her hopes were to at least keep Maggie's daughter and grandson out of the way of whatever was to come.

"It's their home, honey! I can't insist on them leaving where they want to live. Besides, what's this about anyway? You've never mentioned any concerns about being at Collinwood before." Maggie noted.

"Are you saying you're not worried that something else could happen? I don't think it's out of the question to worry." Ezrabette said.

Maggie paused before she responded. She had been best friends with Ezrabette for years and knew her every move, this was a sign that Ezrabette, the all knowing medium had possibly seen something, or knew something she wasn't telling Maggie. That secret, of course was, the pact Ezrabette entered with her murdered ancestor Marie Clotilde.

Maggie was cautious with her words.

"Is there something you're worried about specifically? Something in your cards?" Maggie asked nervously.

Ezrabette knew she had to play it safe, but it was hard to especially to her best friend who's own family was now so entangled with the family in her mystical cross-hairs.

"No, never mind, forget I said anything. I have't read my cards in a really long time so, don't worry about it. You know what I did read though, in the paper the other day. This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the disappearance of someone that used to live at that estate." Ezrabette said half lying.

Maggie giggled through her sip of tea.

"Bette, that could literally have been one of so many people; which I guess is sort of your point to why Caleb and Kat are still there...but anyway, who did you read about?" Maggie said with her classic sarcastic Evans wit.

"Jason McGuire." Ezrabette said clearly to a shocked Maggie.

"Oh my god!" Maggie hissed. "That monster. He was horrible. The things he did to Carolyn's mother, the lies---god---all those lies. You know he made Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard believe she was responsible for her own husbands death, and then made her believe she had buried him in their basement. He almost blackmailed her into marrying him. It was a whole thing, trust me no one missed him when he went missing." Maggie explained.

"What do you think happened to him?" Ezrabette asked.

"With Jason?" Maggie said pausing again to think of an answer. "There's not telling. Jason was involved with a really bad bunch of people. There's really no way of knowing where or what happened to him." She said sipping her tea.

But Ezrabette knew. Ezrebette knew he was killed by Barnabas Collin in 1967.  She knew the man was a horrible human being, she knew the hell he placed on the Collins family especially the woman, Elizabeth and her daughter Carolyn. It was all explained to her by Marie Clotilde. But Ezarebette needed confirmation. She needed to hear it from someone she trusted.

The man that would play a huge part in Ezarabette's plot had been long buried and forgotten, but not for long.

*****

Night had finally come to Collinsport. It was a regular autumn night, chilly air with the hint of the misty freshness of the see. Ezrabette had been left to herself after Maggie's visit for a few hours now, and the sun had set, but Ezrabette's night was just about to begin.

The town mystic was no stranger to bridging the gab between the living and the dead. In her practice she had often conjured spirits of patrons' dearly departed as to help them ease into the reality of their passing. It helped the living move on and it helped the dead go into the light. But her job this time was not just to conjure Jason's spirit, her task was to bring him back from the dead.

As the fog rolled into town, and the city's light sparkled in the distance a small grey car rolled around the snake like side streets that twisted around Eagle Hill Cemetary. Ezrabette could still hear Marie Clotilde's haunting voice in her mind say "Find the man you seek in the family's mausoleum."

Ezrabette got out of her car and clicked on her flashlight and carefully walked across the damp grass to the Collins Family mausoleum. Her light lit her way casually passing grave stones as she went. 
The old graves looks like moss covered river-rocks that were perfectly carved into the scenic old oblong stones ancient grave yards are known for. Her long coat easily passed over the long uncut grass dampening the hem. She felt a chill cross her cheek and touch the exposed skin of her neck.

A storm brewed in the sky, lightening and thunder crashed int he clouds above striking bright light across the cemetery like flash bulbs snapping photographs every 10 seconds.

She tightened the sash around her long coat and pushed open the rusty iron gates of the old mausoleum.

From deep in her coat pocket Ezrabette pulled out wire-cutters and carefully squeezed around the lock of the mausoleum door. She squeezed and squeezed and just as the sweat beads began to crown her forehead the lock broke. She pushed open the now broken locked door and took a deep breath. 
"One foot in front of the other." She said to herself as lightening flashed behind her.

Inside the mausoleum it was as peaceful as she had expected. The tombs had not been disturbed in years, and they had not been visited either.

"Where do I begin?" She wondered to herself as she flashed the flashlight around to look.
As she continued to inspect the inside of the mausoleum something kept telling her to look at the center panel on the walls. There were three lion's heads each on their own wall panel, but only the center one had a ring in it's mouth.

She walked over to it, slowly, the lightening striking in the sky illuminating the room within eclipsing her flashlight for a few seconds at a time. Ezrabette got to the center panel and grabbed hold of the ring inside the moth of lion and pulled.

Nothing happened.

She pulled again, this time harder, something in her mind kept telling her, the answer was behind this wall. Something in her body was making her believe that this ring in the lion's mouth was the key to discovering what this was all about and why she was told to come here. Something instinctively made her do this and as she struggled with the ring, it finally clicked; a sound that echoed in the chamber.
The center panel opened to complete darkness.

Ezrabette grabbed her prayer beads and flashlight and walked in slowly. 
She was careful as not to disturb the dead that were not of her concern. Naomi. Joshua. Sarah. Elizabeth. Roger.

As the light from her small flashlight made it's way into the hidden chamber, she saw what was there. Her gasp echoed too inside at the site of a singular coffin sealed shut in the center of the chamber.
Was this the coffin of Jason McGuire?

With a hand over  her mouth in shock, she Ezrabette carefully walked over to the coffin and looked down, it was carved with the letters BC. She shook her head confused, she did not understand what was going on. She was sent there to retrieve Jason McGuire but the coffin she found didn't seem to belong to him. 

She grabbed her beads and closed her eyes.

 It was time.

"I come for you, from where ever you lay, in the depths of the darkness, or in the light of day. Come out from the deep or from where ever you reside, Jason McGuire, a command you to reveal where you hide!!" Ezrabette said to a thunderous lightening strike.

And as she stood there, the ground began to shake. The walls began to crack and move, the thunder outside got louder the wind got stronger and up from the ground, as the cement cracked and broke apart, a body slowly lifted up from the ground.

Ezrabette screamed and fell backwards on to the floor in total fear.

The body, green, molded, rotting from 5 decades of laying in a shallow cemented over grave was facing away from Ezrabette. It slowly turned in her direction, Ezrabette inched her way back on her backside until she was how sitting up against the chamber wall. The body's eyes were gone. It's skin was mostly gone just hanging on by the grace of time and strands of whatever ligaments and tendons  remained.

"Who are you!! Speak your name!!" Ezrabette said in horror of what she say her face have obscured by her hand.

The decayed body tilted it's head. It lifted it's hand over its face and moved it down. As his hand began to pass his face, the flesh began to return. First the muscles and tendons. Then the cartilage and missing bone fragments, then the eyes, hair and cartilage of the nose finally creating the face of the man Ezrabette had come for.

The face of Jason McGuire.

"I'm the one you've been looking for lass. I've been waiting for you for 50 years, and 50 years has been a long, long time!" Jason said with his trademark Scottish accent.

Ezrabette got up from the floor, still unsure of what had just happened. She had spoken to spirits before but never brought one back from the dead. It was something she had no idea she could do, her powers were indeed stronger than she had ever believed them to be.

"What have I done?" Ezrabette said, the thunder clapping in the background.

"You? You've only opened the door, lovie, it was your sweet great-gran that set this all up, you were just the living conduit that we needed. It took a long time for us to get to you, you know. But don't you worry, when I get what's mine, and she get's what's hers, you'll be rewarded too. Everything your own sweet family has suffered will finally be set right. You'll be very grateful to be apart of it, I can assure you." Jason explained.

"No, no.... I have to reverse this! This goes beyond the rights of nature!" Ezrabette said starting to make her way out of the secret room hoping it would just all go away.

Jason, who's body was solid to the touch but his spirit was as supernatural as they came, jumped to the exit and blocked her like a flash of light passing over her in just mere seconds.

"Now, now, don't you go getting cold feet. This is a team effort, and I've been waiting 50 years to get my hands on what I'm owed by this Collins family." Jason hissed as his new lips slowly formed over this scull.  "Don't go getting your knickers in a twist. You know what we have to do." Jason said moving Ezrabette's hair out of her face.

"And what's that?" She asked.

"Let's get out of here, huh? I'll explain over a good cup of coffee....I've been waiting 50 years for a good cup of coffee." Jason said putting his arm around Ezrabette as they left the darkened mausoleum.

As they left a coffin, that Ezrabette hadn't even noticed, was left  again to a lonely slumber in it's murky secret room. Just as Ezrabette's car drove off from Eagle Hill Cemetery, the coffin inside the secret room began to shake and rattle and move around. Then suddenly it stopped.

There was silence again in the darkness of the secret tomb.

Perhaps Jason McGuire wasn't the only one awakened by Ezrabette's spell.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Series 8/Chapter 1: NO REST FOR THE WICKED

COLLINWOOD
COLLINSPORT, MAINE
-1897-

"Just a little of this.....mix it well. Mix it all." A woman said to herself standing in a large 19th century kitchen pouring a strange bright liquid into a tumbler of brandy. 

She mixed it and put it on a silver tray and  brought it to her husband who sat smoking his pipe in the drawing room of the Collinwood mansion. This was her home, no matter what he tried, no matter the scheme or the plot to take it from her, no matter how many times he tried to destroy her life by locking here away in insane asylums and driving her out of her mind. 

She stepped into the drawing room surrounded by plumes of smoke from his pipe, the noise of her her puffy purple dress brushing up against the door frame got his attention and he turned from the paper he was reading and looked up. His wife, Judith Collins-Trask stood there with her silver tray and his late night brandy. She smiled at him and extended her harm with the tray perfectly centered in the palm of her hand. 

He took a sip. The cool refreshing liquid slid down his throat coating it like honey from a bee hive. It didn't take long after that. As he looked back down at the paper, the letters began to lift from the pages, they began to swap places on the page and move in a dizzing dance. He shook his head as if to stop them from moving but it was too late. The liquid had entered his blood stream, then within seconds of a single taste of brandy his eyes closed into a blurry darkness.

The sound again of her purple dress shuffling across the drawing room floor was the last thing Gregory Trask heard in that moment. .

****

"What is this? Where am I?" Gregory thought as he lay face down in blood red carpet in a room he did not recognize at first. 

He was on the floor unconscious for hours. The room he was in was dark and had been prepared for his stay, a stay that would last for eternity, except he didn't know that yet. As he came to on the floor, he stretched his strained neck. His shirt collar felt like a noose, tight too from being dragged across Collinwood's many hallways and staircases to his resting place in the west wing.

He slowly got to his feet, still dizzy from the tainted drink that knocked him out in the first place. He looked around in a blurry fog and there was nothing he could make sense of. Just a sparsely decorated small bedroom with bricked up windows. Then the fogginess in his mind started to dissipate and reality of what was going on seeped in; slowly the panic set in.

"Judith. ...Judith?? JUDITH!" He screamed as he ran to the door, clumsy and awkward the drugs in his system from a spiked cocktail still wearing off. 

He tried to pull the door open but it was locked. He remembered this room, he remembered there had to be another key. He moved about the room tearing books from book cases, drawers from dressers and finally found the second key. He twisted the key into it's lock then pulled the door ope.

On the other side, not an opening to a hallway but a brick wall with  two layers already built and just one small opening in the center ...for the final two bricks. He went to the window--another fresh layer of crimson bricks. He could still smell the cement that bound them. 

"JUDITH!!!" he again screamed at the top of his lungs to his wife.

"Let that be the last time you scream at me Gregory." A strikingly beautiful raven  haired woman in a dark purple dress said from the other side of the wall. The free side.

"What have you done? Get me out of here at once!" Gregory screamed at his wife.

Judith stepped back from the wall. She looked down at the mounds and mounds of bricks she was about to lay over the already build wall. A second and maybe third layer of bricks to block his screams. She picked up a mettle tool and slathered the cold grey sealant on the long side of the brick and began the second layer of Gregory's tomb. 

This abused, mistreated wife had had enough, her mind was mad, her heart was cold and her intentions were vengeful. He was to suffer. Suffer more than she had when he locked her away in a mental hospital to further his plot to take all her money and her power of the Collins family empire.

Gregory's greed and vicious treatment of his second wife was just the tip of the iceberg. His betrayals ran deeper than the monetary, they ran of the flesh. There was another woman, someone who kept his bed warm when he locked Judith away in a sanitarium, forcing her to believe she had lost her mind. He made a fool of her once, but now, as the last brick was placed, he would be the fool. 

"There was a time I thought we could have been happy here. I did all I could to make sure my family accepted you, but....it was never enough. Nothing I ever did was ever enough." Judith said out loud as she continued to build the second layer of bricks.

"Woman, I demand you stop this at once! Get me out of here!" Gregory said, his head still spinning from the medicine in the drink he was given just hours before at dinner she had so lovingly prepared.

"You'll start to feel sleepy again soon. It's not the kind of medicine that wares off, you see. I wouldn't allow that,  no, I wanted you to wake up where you were and realize what was happening to you just before you fell back in a final sleep...I can thank you for that knowledge. All those months trapped in that hospital with the mentally infirm helped me understand the uses and perfect mixes of sedatives. Yours was a special blend. Tasteless and masked by the gorgeous smooth feeling of your nightly brandy." Judith said coldly explaining her process for added cruelty.

"You're mad!" The entombed husband yelled, his eyes going blurring.

"Mad." she whispered to herself as she pulled a folded paper from the slits in her skirt that formed large pockets on the front.

"JUDITH!! JUDITH!!!" Gregory continued to scream from behind the thick layers of brick. But no one could hear him. "People will come looking for me, you'll never ever get away with this." He added.

She stepped backwards from her work of cruel karmic brick art; a small tear fell from her eye. She slowly turned and unfolded the letter, one Gregory had written to her.

"No, they've already forgotten you. You see, once they all see this letter they'll discover your infidelity. They'll assume you've ran off with ...." Judith explained before she began to get choked up.

"You're wrong. They will come for me and when they discover what you've done, they'll bury you right next to me. Is that what you want? Eternity next to the man you hate so much?" Gregory threatened.

"No one will ever look for you. There aren't enough people in this town much less this family that care enough about you to go looking for you after you leave." Judith said cryptically.

"Leave?" Gregory questioned, the heat from the sedative beginning to swell up again in his veins.

"You're going away Gregory, at least that's what everyone will think after they discover what you've done." Judith bristled.

"I swear to you, if you don't release me..." Gregory said, the fogginess returning slowly into his brain. "I'll....if you don't.... I'll..." he continued, the words just not spewing from his mouth. The drug rushing around in his bloodstream clouding his motor skills.

"Sleep Gregory. Sleep. It's all your good for." Judith said, filling in the final brick in her wall.

She dusted off her hands and opened the letter again. Her devastation manifested like a pricking feeling all over her hands. She opened the letter, and like read it again to make sure remember what why she had to do what was coming next. 

...find her, his lover....Marie Clotilde. 

****

There was the crack of a whip! A gate flew open and down a dark grassy knoll in the middle of the night Judith rode on horseback, clutched tightly in her hand at her chest, her philandering husband's letter to his lover, who was not a stranger to her. In fact, Gregory's lover Marie Clotilde had once been a house servant at Collinwood many years ago, but left as soon as Judith returned from the insane asylum. 

The horse rode through the thickets and down the slopes of Collinwood at such a speed that the tight pearl pins holding in Judith's hair in it's bun fell out and onto the grass. Her dress flowing behind her like a maroon cape flapping in the wind. She wanted to confront her husband's lover. She wanted to show this woman the kind of pain that Gregory had inflicted on her for so long. She wanted to show Marie Clotilde the face of the woman who's husband she had stolen. 

As the continued to ride through the village, the towns people gasped at the speed the woman was riding. Her face blurring in the misty night as she passed them only leaving the sound of echoing clomps on the cobble stone streets.

Judith was getting closer now, so close she could taste the revenge on her tongue like acid burning it's way into her body. She would not be made a fool ever again by anyone. 

The fog slowly melted away in a small cottage across town. The warm night air slurred it's way into the cracks and crevices of the cottage , the house Marie Clotilde lived in. Marie Clotilde quietly made her away around to the front room and lit some candles, then the silence of the night was broken with the neigh of a horse from outside.

"What the devil? Who comes at such an hour?" Marie Clotilde said to herself as she looked at the tall grandfather clock near the door. 

Before she could go to the door to check, it burst open. There, standing in her thick purple dress, her hair fallen and disheveled from the brutal ride was Judith Collins-Trask, the letter from Gregory to Marie Clotilde still clutched at her chest. 

Marie Clotilde gasped and stepped back from the vision of Judith's angry face in her door way. The candles beat down an orange glow on Judith's face reflecting a woman who was on the verge of self-destruction, her expression cold and evil, like something Marie Clotilde had never seen. 

"What do you want?" Marie Clotilde asked needing no introduction. As much as she hated to admit it, she had been waiting for this face-off for a long time. 

"Perhaps the question should be what did I want? I wanted love. I wanted trust. I wanted so much, but none of that came to me. Maybe I'm unlucky. What say you? Is love a matter of luck or fate?" Judith asked as she made her way into the house slowly one step at a time. 

"Judith, I don't---" Marie Clotilde began before being interrupted.

"You will not speak, no, not until you read this letter. I'm here to hand deliver it to you. He would have wanted you to get it as soon as possible after all." Judith said releasing the clutched letter in her hot hand.

Marie Clotilde, shaking in her stance, stepped forward and grabbed the unsent letter addressed to her from Gregory. She knew all along that Gregory would never leave Judith for her, and after all, she knew he was a bastard too, but for what it was worth, he gave her protection, he gave her security and he gave her one special gift she had been wanting for years and years. A gift she had kept secret from everyone, even Gregory himself.

Marie Clotilde crumpled the letter in her hand.

"You must think me ill, or vial. The things you must think of me Judith, but I assure you, I...I wished this not on any of us." Marie Clotilde said as tears welled up in her eyes.

"No? What did you wish for then? For him to whisk you away like some fairy-tale princess to some far off place where you'd live happily ever after....with my money! That's what you wanted, wasn't it? Money, lord know that's what he wanted." Judith scolded, circling Marie Clotilde. 

"I never asked for any money, ma'am. None." Marie Clotilde insisted. "What he gave me, what I wanted from anyone that somehow Gregory was able to provide was something so much more personal, something priceless." She added.

"Spare me the details of your love affair with my husband, none of it really matters now. He's locked away forever. He'll die alone in dark room with only his thoughts and the rats as his company. And what should I do with you?  Hmm? Should I lock you away too? Should I put you on the next ship to some God forsaken land so that I never see your face? What should I do! Tell me! I'll allow you to pick your punishment." Judith screamed. .

No words came from Marie Clotilde, only sobs.

"Speak Adulteress!" Judith again screamed pointing at Marie Clotilde. 

Marie Clotilde knew she was in the wrong, but the truth was Judith had no power over her. She thought she did, after all being a Collins gave her authority in name only, but that was it. No one in this town would allow Judith, a woman who's mind was so obviously ill, to seek revenge as a means of justice. 

"You can't hurt me." Marie Clotilde said, eyeing a door that was on her right side, to which Judith noticed.

"What's in there? Did Gregory give you things of mine that you are hiding in that room that you're so interested in? Are you a thief as well!??!" Judith said grabbing hold of Marie Clotilde's arms.

They began to struggle. Pulling and pushing each other. Marie Clotilde's arm became free and she reached back and landed a large slap to Judith's face, the shock of the blow shaking Judith out of her decent into madness. Judith grabbed Marie Clotilde's cheek, her eyes wide like saucers then the madness grabbed returned and Judith  began screaming in her rival's face.

They continued to struggle in the living room, their large dresses dragging and pulling on the floor. Judith's bustle knocking over knickknacks and books..

"Please stop this!!" Marie Clotilde screamed as she broke free from Judith's grasp.

Judith's face changed, her heart blackened and she lunged for Marie Clotilde one last time, the two women fell to the floor knocking over another table with lit candles. The candles quickly lighting the a near by table cloth on fire. Judith jumped up to her feet from the ground. She stomped on the bottom seam of her dress to put out two attaching flames. 

She looked down and Marie Clotilde had been knocked unconscious in the fall.

The fire gained mass quickly and was already crawling up the wall and creating a canape of flames on the ceiling. Judith had to get out before she too was swallowed up by the fire.

She quickly made her way around in the burning living room but then remembered the door that Marie Cotilde was looking at while they spoke, surly whatever was in that room was stolen goods from Collinwood. 

Without thinking twice, Judith pushed open the door of that room and found not items taken from her or given to her by Gregory, but a small baby boy crying in a crib. 

The boy, who's eyes were clearly his father's blue sparkled like two tiny lakes was Gregory's son with Marie Clotilde. Judith realized this child was her husband's, a child no one knew of, a child kept secret. This was the gift Marie Clotilde talked about that no one else had been able to give her.

Judith snarled and began to close the door on the boy as the smoke began to fill the room. Her mind told her to leave him, leave him to burn like his adulteress mother. But then she realized, her was just as innocent in the events of their affair was she was. The boy did not wish to be born from this illicit romance, the boy did not wish to have been the son of that monstrous man Gregory Trask. Judith rushed over and picked up the baby and went back into the living room that was now engulfed in flames. 

Marie Clotilde's body now a mound of fire just across the room.

Judith hid the baby's face from the fire and dashed out of the burning house. Her horse was wild with fear as the fire burned in it's sight. She wrapped the baby up in a make shift bundle from the blanked under the horses saddle and wrapped it around her body. Then she jumped on the horse and looked back at the fire she started. The house was crumbling, the fire had eaten the house and now just the skeleton frame remained.  

 Judith called to the horse and pulled it's reigns up tight around it's mouth, a signal to quickly dash out of the way of the burning house. The horse lifted his front legs up, neighed a neigh that echoed through the woods around the area and they rode off into the darkness.

****

Judith and the baby rode through the darkened Collinsport woods until they came about a large rushing stream that's banks snaked into the blackened distance in the shape of an S where she carefully jumped off her horse. Tears were streaming down her face the child cooed and reached up for her, his little hand trembled in the chilly air. 

She was desperate. What would she do with the baby she saved? The desperation turned to frantic panic, once she was discovered with the baby that belonged to the woman she had just burned alive it would be curtains for her. Judith took a deep breath and pulled the shall off of her shoulders and wrapped the child and the other blanket in it tightly and then twisted the slack around her fist. 

The water from the stream swished over the black rocks quickly rushing the dark liquid past the panicked woman on it's banks. Judith lifted the bundled baby over the forceful river and turned her head away, she could not bare to see the child fall out of her shall and into the ice cold river. She would drop this child into the river and let him wash away into an abyss never to be seen again. 

Judith closed her eyes and she turned her face away from the sin she was about to commit; even in her anger and vengeful state she could not bare to see a baby fall into the water from loosely twisted shall. As the child dangled there moving back and forth like a pendulum, Judith open her eyes, and in the distance behind her,  another small cottage with it's lights on. Judith had never seen this home before, in fact she had no idea anyone else lived so far into the woods. 

She pulled the baby back close to her body and away from the river's edge. She quickly wrapped the shall and walked across the grassy paths that lead to this small house, her horse following slowly behind.

As she approached the house, she could see inside, a small family sat at a table. A mother. A father. A sister. Judith, carried the child carefully over to the front door. She set him down, he was now sleeping peacefully cuddled in her shall and blanket. As she walked slowly from the tiny porch leaving the baby on the door step she picked up a large rock from the ground then jumped back on her horse. As the horse quickly turned toward it's retreat back to Collinwood, Judith pulled her arm back and through the large rock up against the wall near the child.

The loud noise shook the little house and startled the family inside.
.
"What was that?" The little girl inside said as her parents quickly stood up at the table.

"It came from the front porch." The mother replied to the fast moving father. 

The father grabbed a fireplace poker and looked back into the small dining room where his wife was now standing holding her curious daughter back in protection mode. 

He put out his hand in a silent gesture as if to say "stay where you are." 

The woods were a dark and mysterious place, and this family, known as the Baptistes had come this far north from heavily crayfished banks of the Mississippi in search of a better life. Their daughter, the first born out of slavery, had never known a different home.

The father, a strong prideful man name Jean, crept through their tiny living room, never keeping his eye off his wife Antoinette and 10 year old daughter Pauline. He slowly turned the door knob to the front door, and quickly pulled it open, fire poker in hand. 

Nothing there but the fog. 

He stepped out side onto the porch, to his left the large rock that had battered the side of the house, to his right, a small baby wrapped in a silky, black and embroidered shall. 

"Nette! Come here!" He said loudly as he picked up the baby in shock.

"Que es-que c'est?" She asked in her creole French. 

"A child." Jean answered in confusion.

Antoinette grabbed the child and saw his warm golden brown skin and pink lips. He smiled up at her as if he had not just lost his birth mother only moments ago in a deadly fire set by a mad woman.

"It's a baby boy!" Jean said with a sparkle in his eye.

"The good lord has brought us a son." Antoinette answered as she looked around in disbelief.


The fog in the forest that surrounded their home soon thickened. The cold air swirled around their small little cottage like storm clouds, and from out of those clouds stepped the spirit of the child's birth mother, freshly burned to death only 5 miles from this family's home.

The spirit of Marie Clotilde, now in death and only shaped by mist, wept for her child, wept for her life, wept for the things taken from her. 

The Baptiste family cuddled the new baby and took him inside leaving the spirit of Marie Clotilde to wallow in the shadows. She lifted her hands and covered her eyes, the smokey clouds covered her and she disappeared to the same night, in the same spot, in the same forest 120 years ago.

**** 

 EZRABETTE BAPTISTE'S COTTAGE
COLLINSPORT, MAINE
-2017-

Collinsport's resident psychic medium and voodoo enthusiast Ezrabette Baptiste slept peacefully in her room on a balmy summer night. Her windows were open allowing a fresh sea breeze to seep in through the screens and saturate Ezrabette's pillows and sheets with soft coolness that relaxed her whole body. The moon was full and bright.

With this breeze and plume of fog that followed, curling and turning like a sea snake slashing through the underwater sand pulling and churning it's way through the tiny wire grates of Ezrabette's window screen. The fog mystic and centuries old, floated not only up from the ocean's currents bur from another time, it carried the spirit of a woman long forgotten, long dead, and long left behind in the ashes of another cottage not far from where Ezrabette lived herself, on this very night 120 years ago. 

This was the spirit of Marie Clotilde, the murdered mistress of Judith Collins' philandering husband Gregory Trask. The woman who's baby was taken from her and left on a stranger's doorstep by her own murderess just as she breathed in the flames that would carry her into the other dimension. She had finally risen from the ashes in spirit form to reclaim what was  hers taken from her. The moon and stars had aligned in the exact way 120 years ago releasing her soul to reach out to the living, and Ezrabette's gift of connecting to those behind the veil of the dead was a perfect way for Marie Clotilde to do so.

It took Marie Clotilde's spirit 120 years to finally reach Ezrabette, and as she was the destined choice of the living to retrieve this message from beyond. 

The plumes of mist clumped together and began to form the shape of a woman. The shape molded and twisted and turned until all the elements of a person stood out, gray and white shapes of clouds and fog. Then the spirit began to break free from it's foggy hold and in a translucent state stood on it's own. There she was: Marie Clotilde starring down at the sleeping Ezrabette.

The cold and icy touch of the dead started to creep over Ezrabette's exposed skin as she slept. She turned over in her sleep to pull the blankets back over her but Marie Clotilde lifted her transparent  hand and the blankets flew off Ezrabette's body. The pulling sensation from the covers startled her awake. Ezrabette jolted up, her breath visible in the ice cold room.

"There's a presence here." She said to her self, puffs of white breath coming from her mouth. "What do you want!" She questioned, at first not seeing Marie Clotilde's ghostly figure. 

Then from the corner of the room a grey being pushed forward showing itself. The spirit, the cold angry soul of Marie Clotilde.

Ezrabette gasped in shock. In front of her was an ash like creation of a person staring down at her with eyes made of white and black. Marie Clotilde smiled a wicked smile and bowed her head.

"There's not rest for the weary, my sweet great-Granddaughter, waken. There is much I need from you." Marie Clotilde said in a voice that echoed through Ezrabette's chest like the blast of a cannon ball leaving the mystical woman stunned and terrified of what was in front of her. 

Ezrabette was frozen in fear. Her eyes locked on the creature made of ash and fog. Her mind unable to break the gaze from the dead woman looking back at her from beyond the grave.

Marie Clotilde's murder by a member of the Collins family was a story that would soon shake loose the dead leaves of this family tree; secrets that would unravel before a family that perhaps was unprepared for yet another storm, a storm that would most certainly wake the dead.