Last week we looked at the intro fiction to Geist’s first edition. This week we do the same, but previewing some of the text from Geist’s 2nd Edition, currently on Kickstarter. This is the Prologue for “A Brighter Morning.”
Two women sat at the candlelit dining room table with their hands on the spirit board, unaware of the figure that hovered above them. Oliver knew them very well. Like all his tenants, Oliver had given them a “grace period,” a time to settle into the house before he made himself known. He took that time to learn all about them. He knew that the older woman in the ponytail and long white t-shirt was named Jade, and that the younger woman in the full pajama set who kept her hair long and untamed was named Trisha. They were the daughters of Hari Patel, who still slept in his room on the other side of the house, where Oliver’s parents slept when they were alive.
The Patels had fascinated Oliver from the moment they moved in. Hari was a single father who lived entirely within Oliver’s walls, running a business from the room that had previously been a nursery and worshipping at a household shrine tucked away in a small closet. Jade and Trish left the house far more often. On bad days, when Oliver felt compelled to wander the house and re-create his own death, he’d watch them leave for school instead. Jade went to a university downtown, Trisha to a high school a few miles away. The schools had names he couldn’t recognize and the subjects the women talked about sounded more like things that belonged in the pages of Amazing Stories than the world outside his window.
What excited Oliver most about the Patels was that Trisha could sense him. He was sure that he saw her looking at him from the corners of her eyes and that she shivered whenever he was near. He broke the grace period early, touching the bathroom mirror while she was brushing her teeth. She saw the imprint of vapor that his hand made. While it was disheartening to see her scream and bolt directly into the bathtub, the makeshift séance before him now was an encouraging sign. After years of reaching out and driving people away, someone was finally going to reach back.
Below him, the women talked.
“It’s here,” Trisha said. “I can feel it.”
Jade rolled her eyes. Trisha couldn’t see it through the dim light, but to Oliver it was clear as day.
Trisha laid her fingers on the planchette. “Let’s get started.”
Jade said, “Trisha, if this is some kind of prank…”
“It’s not a prank. You saw the picture.”
“The hand on the mirror? Anyone of us could have done that.”
Oliver hadn’t breathed in decades but his chest rose and fell as if he were hyperventilating. He grabbed at the planchette. Trisha lifted her hands from it, and Oliver’s fingers phased through the plastic.
“I saw it happen, right in front of me!” Trisha said. “And it’s not just that! Sometimes I can hear things.”
“Like now!” Oliver yelled. “Right now!”
She knitted her eyebrows and looked up at where he was. Jade leaned over the table. The creak of the floor boards caught Trisha’s attention. Oliver stiffened at the sound.
“Trish, it’s an old house. It’s going to make noises.”
Jade moved back into her chair, making a louder creak. Oliver squeezed his eyes shut. He kept saying “No” to himself, each repetition less steady.
“I know what an old house sounds like!” Trisha threw her arms up, gesturing to the whole house.
“This isn’t it. You can’t hear it?”
“What am I supposed to be hearing?” Jade stomped a foot into the floor. “This?”
Oliver clasped his hands on his ears. “Not now!”
Mid-day. August. School’s around the corner. The whole family goes out for a drive but he’s at home. Slept in. Oldest child but just can’t keep routine. Feels bad, wants to make it up, starts making lunch for everyone. Sees a car roll up, rushes out to greet them. Only it’s not the Packard like it should be, it’s the shiniest Rolls Royce he’s ever seen…
Trisha put a finger to her lips. “‘Now.’ That’s what I heard, ‘now.’ Listen!”
Jade stood up. Another creak.
Four well-dressed men come out of the car. He knows them now, recognizes the leader with the grin that’s far too wide. They’re not just here for Father’s money this time. Boy sees the shining glint of silver in the man’s hands, and tries to run…
“It’s just the pipes, Trish.” Jade walked over to the sink with sure, steady strides. Creaks and groans rose from the floor with every step. She turned on the faucet.
“Dad told me about this. We just have to run the water for a bit and it’ll settle out.”
Trisha whispered. “I-i-it’s not the p-p-pipes.”
Jade turned and saw vapor rising from her sister’s mouth. It glowed in the candlelight.
Goosebumps ran up her spine.
They catch him. Beat him down and break all his limbs. They stamp every tender part of his body until he feels bruises forming down his torso, between his legs. The floorboards creak as they pull them up. They bring in a shovel, dig a hole right next to him.
“Your pa squealed about our little arrangement,” the man with the grin says. He’s still grinning, maybe even wider now. “So your kin’s dead. They’re gonna find them, but your pa loved you an awful lot. So I got something special.”
The boy sees the silver thing. A hacksaw…
Jade took a step towards her sister. The dining room table flew into the air and fell over, slamming the spirit board into the wall. The kitchen cabinets all flew open at once and every dish flew towards her. One shattered on her head and she tumbled to the floor.
Every door in the house opened and slammed in a chaotic pattern. Hari ran out of the room, demanding to know what the girls had done. The circuit breaker behind him burst and he was silent. Jade rose from the floor to see her sister staring at a man standing before her, sliced into parts and held together by the thinnest viscera.
Trisha whispered prayers under her breath as Oliver shambled towards her.
“Help me,” he said. “It hurts.”
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