More than Meets the Eye

Carol lives in the Richmond,Virginia area in the United States with her husband and rescue cats. Besides her writing, Carol tutors reading for adults, sings in a rock band, and investigates the ... [+]

Image of Short Story
“Under the blood-red Moon, it towers over us. Without a voice, it makes itself understood. The front door, to the denizens of the unknown, creaks open...”

“Really, Phil?” David was regretting his decision to have Phil and Lily with him.

“I’m just setting the mood.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Why thank you, Dave, I didn’t know you cared that much.”

“Listen you two, against my better judgment, I agreed to lead you on an investigation. This is no game.”

“You’re right, David, I apologize for my stupid brother. I’m sorry. Aren’t you Phil?”

“Dave, I am too—whooooo.”

“All right, that’s it. We’re leaving.”

Lily attempted to persuade David, “No, please. Let’s go inside. Phil, knock it off! Marnie said the renovation crew will be starting in two days. Her parents are moving the furniture out tomorrow and want to fix her grandmother’s house to get it on the market as soon as they can. The place is over two hundred years old. Marnie told me about strange things happening when she stayed here visiting her grandmom—knocking, footsteps, and sometimes she thought she even heard voices. We’ll be good. Right, Phil?” She punched her brother’s arm.

“Yeah, I’ll behave. I don’t believe in ghosts anyway.”

“Then why are you here? I wouldn’t have had to put up with all your aggravation.” David was almost at his last straw.

"Hey, I could always be wrong. I am curious, Dave.”

“Okay. But, you’ve got to listen to me, and do what I tell you. I’m not kidding. Got it, Phil?”

“Yeah, Dave, got it. So touchy.”

“Before we go in, let’s hold hands and invoke some spiritual protection to keep us safe.”

Despite his promise, Phil couldn’t keep a straight face. David and Lily noticed, but ignored him.

Tonight, Earth’s shadow crawled across the bright, full Moon, slowly transforming it into a dim, eerie, sanguine orb. The trio climbed the steps of the porch with Phil in the lead.

Lily dug in her pocket. “Here’s the key.”

Phil turned the doorknob. “It’s unlocked.” He pushed the door open. “Hello in there. We’re coming in. Do your worst. We’re ready. I don’t think you can do anything.”

David grabbed his shoulder. “What is wrong with you? I told you no provoking.”

“Just couldn’t help... ” Phil’s reply was cut short when he was ripped from David’s grasp, crashing to the floor. “Ow!”

Lily, bringing up the rear, yelled, “Phil, are you okay? Is he okay?”

Her brother heard the alarm in her voice. “I’m all right. There’s a bench or something in the way. I fell over it. Where’s the light switch?”

“Don’t you remember me saying the electricity is off?” Lily asked.

“That’s why, when we met yesterday, I told you both to make sure you bring a flashlight. You should always have a flashlight on investigations anyway.” Quite annoyed, David clicked on the bright LED beam to find Phil still facedown with his legs propped up on an old, worn ottoman. “Turn on your light before you try to get up. Can you reach it?”

“I got it. There’s nothing else in the way. Weird.” Phil righted himself, shoved the ottoman to the side, and let David and Lily enter.

“Are you going to start taking this investigation seriously now?” David asked, still irritable.

“Oh, c’mon Dave, do you think I tripped over that piece of furniture because of some ghost?”

“I think it’s very likely, and they went easy on you—this time. People have been bruised, scratched, and pushed down staircases because they were being disrespectful. We’re on their turf. Show some manners.”

“Okay... jeez.” Phil rubbed his elbow.

“Let’s go sit on the sofa and do an EVP session. We’ll see if anyone wants to say something to us.”

“This is exciting, David. Do you think someone will talk to us?” Lily asked as the three of them sat down.

“If they want. It’s entirely up to them.”

The group’s flashlights revealed nothing out of the ordinary. A delicate chandelier sparkled above them when the light caught in its crystals’ facets.

David took out his recorder and began the session. “Would anyone like to communicate with us? Just speak into the red light on this little device I’m holding. We’ll be able to hear you when I push another button. We don’t mean any harm. We’d like to know more about you. Are you a man or a woman?” David paused between questions. “What’s your name? Why are you here? How long have you been here? How many people are here not counting the three of us?”

“People?” Phil laughed.

“Yeah, people. They just don’t have bodies anymore.” David was losing his patience with Phil again. “I explained this to you.”

“Oh, right.”

“Phil, please.” Lily was hoping her brother wouldn’t continue to cause friction.

“Let’s see if someone answered.” David stopped recording and hit the play button.

The only voice they heard was David’s. At the very end of the recording, under Phil, David, and Lily’s conversation, they heard a whisper.

“There! Did you hear it?”

“Yeah, Lily, I’ll replay that part.” David increased the volume.

The voice sounded like a man, but they couldn’t understand what he said.

“Play it once more, David. I still can’t make it out. Can you Phil?”


David adjusted the sound. Replaying the recording and listening closely, they heard a soft, breathy whisper, “Lily...”

“Lily! It’s saying your name!” Phil exclaimed.

Frightened, a shiver slithered down Lily’s back. “Why is he saying my name, David?”

“I don’t know. This has happened before on investigations. It means we’re likely dealing with a sentient spirit—someone who’s aware. Don’t be worried. We’ll be all right.”

“Are you sure?”


Her eyes widened. “Reasonably?”

David tried to calm Lily's nerves, “I’ve never seen anyone hurt, since I’ve been doing this, when everyone is respectful. Investigating always comes with some risk. I’m as certain as I can be that we’ll be okay... Do you want to leave?”

“I don’t know,” she turned to her brother, “What do you want to do?”

“Whatever you want, Sis.” Phil’s concern displaced his cavalier attitude.

“I guess I’ll stay. I’d like to find out why he’s saying my name.”

David did one more recording in the front room, but there were no more whispers when he played it back.

“What now?” Phil’s attitude about the paranormal was changing.

“We can walk around with the K-II. We should get good readings since the electric is off and there aren’t power lines nearby. We’ll take some pictures in infrared and full spectrum when the meter’s lights flash.” David took the K-II out of his bag of equipment, turned it on, and gave cameras to Phil and Lily. “They work like regular cameras. They just use the light spectrum differently.” He set up his recorder, on the arm of the sofa, to catch noises or voices while the group explored other areas in the house. “Remember, no one goes anywhere alone.”

Roaming room to room, aside from the power indicator, the lights on the K-II remained dark.

“The meter isn’t working, Dave.” Phil sounded letdown.

“It is.”

Their eyes on the instrument, they found themselves in a study furnished with an ornate ebony desk surrounded by book-lined walls. The meter fully illuminated. It stayed lit.

Lily whispered, “The lights.” She looked up at her brother and David. They stood frozen. Suddenly, the flashlight beams went dark.

“You have come back.”

Fear anchored her to the spot. Lily sensed a presence moving toward her.

“I knew you would, my darling, if I just waited long enough.”

Someone reached out, caressing her hand. At the touch, the room grew brilliant, as if dozens of candles burst into flame. A man, wearing clothes from centuries past, stood before her. His gentle, blue eyes melted Lily’s dread.

“Bennett...” She remembered.

“I held you whilst you were drifting away, dearest. I vowed I would never leave our home until we were together again.”

Dropping the full spectrum camera, Lily flew into his embrace. The couple gradually evanesced, and like them, the radiance of the room dissolved.

Soon, the morning sun “woke” David and Phil.

“Lily? Where’s Lily? Where’s Lily, Dave?” A necklace, with an open antique silver locket containing portraits of Bennett and Lily, was wrapped around Phil’s right hand.