A Cold Spot

Part 2: Some Disturbing Discoveries

Saturday, April 13, 1929:

After their somewhat troubling night, the party heads to Peter's house for breakfast. Unfortunately, the eggs are a bit off, and Peter, Esme, and Eddie all suffer from food poisoning. Esme and Eddie recover after a few more hours of sleep, but Peter declares himself under the weather for the day.

Roderick suggests that the group might attempt a séance - because the ghosts are all immediately nearby, there would be no need of a medium! (There is a brief suggestion that Mattie might be a medium, but no one seems convinced that they could talk Alison into letting her participate). Of course, if one were to hold a séance, there would be the problem that this might well channel the Large Scary Ghost instead of the more peaceful Man in the Closet or the Pilgrim Lady, and this would probably not be productive.

Gerti heads over to the Episcopalian church, and Reverend Connolly lets her into the basement to let her look through the records. She starts happily indexing boxes and attaching little file tabs to everything, which impresses the Reverend to an extent that he plies her with tea and wonders if she's planning to move to North Ashfield - they do need helpful church volunteers. Gerti says not at the moment, considers the future, but decides there's not a lot of opportunity for dock workers away from the water.

Esme asks if anyone knows Latin? She's curious, because she thinks Mattie was speaking in Latin last night. Esme remembers the words fairly well, but none of the party's Latin scholars are sure what they say. Should they ask Mattie? Does she actually speak Latin? Probably not.

Eddie corners Alison, and tries to convince her that the explanation for all this is ghosts. She's not having any of it. No, she won't allow the kids to stay elsewhere for the night. No, she doesn't have any tests for "alternate explanations" which include the wind, operator trouble, and the fact that old houses often have creaky noisy floorboards. Kids just think haunted houses are cool, they're always making up stories about the house! After being pressed at length about this, Alison grows more and more irate and ends by asking Eddie if they wouldn't mind detectiving elsewhere.

Tommy takes Mattie for a plane ride; they fly over the house and wave.
"Look, that's Dr. Schreber!"
"He's so small!"

Mr. Bellesby talks to Amelia about holding a séance to try and contact the spirits in the house. She's a little worried, but says that they're the experts in this sort of thing and if they think it's a good idea, it's in their hands. Mr. Bellesby, Dr. Schreber, and Charlie start moving anything flingable out of Mattie's room, only to be discovered by Alison, who throws a fit and then throws the three of them out of the house.

Upon discovering the party lurking dejectedly on the lawn, Amelia inquires whether séances are particularly untidy ("usually not very"), and then says that she and Alison should really be going shopping, since they need groceries for eight more now, and that she trusts nothing untidy will happen while they're gone. The group kills a bit of time until the shoppers (including Mattie, but not, obviously, Julian) leave, and then dashes to Mattie's room. The group (Esme, Roderick, Tommy, Charlie, and Juergen) starts moving things out, and Charlie discovers a pair of pliers and some bent silverware under the bed. Eddie, who's been talking to Julian, comes to see what's going on, and Eddie joins in the séance while Julian looks on.

Mr. Bellesby tries to reach the spirit in the closet, and has a near brush with the Large Angry Spirit. ("It tried to get at me, and missed, probably because it was unfamiliar with me. It's familiar with me now. I don't think we'll be doing this again.") The first sanity of the run is lost! The ghost gives its name as James, and says that the Pilgrim Lady is Maria. Maria was bright and beautiful and lovely and they held her underwater until she died. Children are nice - he likes the children. Which children? Mattie and Julian. (Julian looks a bit irked by this description). There's a dark one in the house, and James and Marie don't want it to get anyone. They've been doing some of the noises ("So that people don't think it's all Mattie?" prompts Eddie. "Yes"). Dr. Schreber tries to get some more detail about how James and Marie met and what Marie looks like, but everyone else thinks this is vaguely inappropriate and glares him into discontinuing this line of enquiry. Mr. Bellesby considers trying to contact Marie, but, upon further thought, realizes this would again give the Large Angry Spirit the opportunity to go after him, and decides not. The spirit of James is released, and shortly thereafter Charlie hears the women talking outside (Amelia is particularly loud) and the previously evicted séance-goers decamp out the back door. Everyone else adjourns to the library, where another few pieces of bent silverware and a child's noisemaker are found tucked between two books. There's a great deal of discussion about whether Marie could have been an Apcott, but the only Marie listed in the family tree died in 1820, which seems a bit late for witch trials.

Gerti finishes going through the church basement. Marriage and death records for various Apcott family members are about as expected. Various mentions of the Apcott house go back at least to 1801, when the first church building burnt down. In the few boxes of pre-1801 stuff, Gerti turns up the journal of Reverend Witherspoon, the Episcopal reverend from pre-revolutionary times, and starts looking through it for mention of Apcotts.

The rest of the party heads over to the cemetery, where they turn up a potential gravestone for Marie dating from the 1600's, but not James. Would a suicide (as they suspect James of being) have been buried in consecrated ground? Probably not, at least not during the religious frenzy of a witch-trial time period. Whether he would have a marked grave on someone's land probably depends on how much family he had left, and how willing they were to be disapproved of by the church.

Gerti asks Dr. Schreber and Mr. Bellesby what precautions are commonly taken when burying Satanists. This question causes a bit of stir, but the answer appears to include "bury them face down, nailed to the coffin, and with a Bible." Why is Gerti bringing this up? It appears that Reverend Witherspoon believed that Ezekiel Apcott was a Satanist, though he thought his wife and child innocent. He dithered for some time as to whether to do anything about this, but then Ezekiel died of pneumonia and the reverend "took precautions" when burying him.

Dr. Schreber notes that Ezekiel died exactly two hundred years ago, as of April 30th. This announcement is greeted with much consternation and worry.

Esme talks to Julian about Mattie's Latin phrases, and he helps translate them; there seems to be some "I am coming" and some "Thou art mine" and some calling on some proper nouns that aren't Latin. Mr. Bellesby looks at the translation and confidently pronounces it as quotes from a Mass, and the proper nouns are the names of archangels, but nobody really believes him.

Eddie and Gerti start searching the attic more thoroughly, moving and opening boxes and looking for anything that looks like very old records. Gerti stumbles upon a hidden compartment in the attic floor, containing a knife, which she promptly cuts herself badly on. She bandages her hand with a handkerchief, and calls Peter's house, but once Mr. Bellesby gets on the line, a booming voice curses them out and tells them to get out before their blood is burnt from their bones. Gerti is quite put out that Mr. Bellesby was so rude, but Mr. Bellesby is more sure that this means something is wrong, and the group heads over to the Apcott house. Gerti and Tommy are waiting at the front gate, and explain what happened. Dr. Schreber examines Gerti's hand, and cleans the wound. Eddie finds Alison and Amelia in the lounge, and asks if he can have a word with Amelia. Meanwhile, Tommy and Esme chat up Alison, saying that they've come to realize Alison is right, it really is the wind and childish pranks and so on. She mentions some other instances, such as the time Mattie dripped red paint from the walls. Mattie runs in, looking for clothes-pins. What is she doing? Building a house. Where is she getting the clothes-pins? From the box of clothes-pins and the laundry and the downstairs. Alison goes dashing out after the laundry on the clothesline, which is now flopping about haphazardly.

Meanwhile, up in the attic, Gerti shows people the dagger; the blade has a thin smooth coat of fresh blood. It is gingerly bundled up (Mr. Bellesby isn't able to psychometrically determine anything from it) and then taken back to Peter's house and locked in his rolltop desk. It has an ebony handle and a bronze blade, and Dr. Schreber identifies the black gunk on the blade (underneath Gerti's blood) as probably very very old blood.

Tommy, Eddie, Esme, and Gerti stay at the Apcotts' for the night; Gerti and Esme fall asleep straightaway, while Tommy spots a strange blue light in the hallway. Peeking out, he sees wet footprints appearing down the hallway and heading into the guest room where Gerti is sleeping. He taps on the door, Gerti wakes up and the light fades.

Meanwhile, at Peter's house, Dr. Schreber is having a bad dream...

you are standing in the hallway of the Apcott house, looking at a calendar on the wall. the pages turn backwards, backwards, flying off the wall and away. the pages move faster and faster, years passing and then decades. finally, the last of the pages flies away and there is only a dark pane of glass underneath. a hand, gnarled and bony, with nails like claws, pounds on the window, harder and harder. a second hand appears in the darkness and both hands pound. the glass begins to shake beneath the assault. the pale oval of a face is visible in the darkness, approaching the glass. it has not yet seen you, but you know if it does, nothing good will come of it. the face looms closer to the glass, eyes peering intently forward...
... and he awakes with a shout.
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