wall, while an avocado fridge and enormous matching stove, right out of the seventies, lined another. Gray painted cupboards gaped open, exposing their cache of rusted cans and remnants of mouse…rat?…chewed boxes. Cobwebs drifted like wraiths from the ceiling and festooned the window corners. The mummified remnants of some long ago meal had hardened on the chipped plates scattered on the wooden table that dominated the center of the room. A pot still sat on the stove. Meg lifted the lid and peered inside, then wrinkled her nose at the dried residue. “Looks like someone just stepped away in the middle of dinner a very long time ago. What do you make of it?” Charlie looked around slowly. “I’ve got the funniest feeling that the Hensley’s didn’t die as ‘peacefully’ as we’ve been led to believe.” “I wonder why no one in. what…three years?…has bothered to clean this place up a bit. Especially if they had any hope of selling it.” Suddenly, the kitchen seemed to grow darker, as though the presence that had followed them through the house had been listening and decided to make itself known. Both sisters felt a sudden chill wrap around them and settle to their very bones. “We’re leaving now to get some lunch,” Charlie said as calmly as she could. “But we’re coming back! You wanted us here … I think …and we’re going to stay! This is our home now, too!” Meg looked around to see what would happen next. An ice-cold finger stroked her cheek and she emitted a small shriek of surprise and horror. “We’re leaving!” she called, shrilly, to whatever was listening. Grabbing Charlie’s hand, she dragged her to the outside kitchen door, which thankfully opened without difficulty and closed, even more thankfully, behind them!
*** Charlie pointed the truck down the drive and headed for the main road as fast as she dared go. Neither sister spoke till they slid between the gates and then both sighed. “Okay, we met your ghost, or whatever that was, and it sort of got the better of us, but we won’t let it happen again,” Charlie told Meg, as soon as her heartbeat was close to normal. “Kicked our butts, actually, and the word is ghosts! Not ghost. There’s definitely more than one and I think they’re just bluffing. Having a bit of fun at our expense,” Meg replied as lighthearted as she dared go. Charlie was nursing a bad mood. “You’re saying what? That they’re testing us?” Charlie asked with a frown. “Well, something like that. You said that our being here seemed ‘fated’ and for you, of all people, to say something like that it had to be, didn’t it? Who would have thought we’d win? But we did. I think we’re meant to be here and they know it.” “And you’re willing to go back there? Live there? Sleep there?” “Try and stop me,” Meg said with the stubborn thrust of her chin her sister knew all too well. “What was that shriek all about just before you dragged me out the door?” Meg smiled brightly…perhaps too brightly. “You told me that you felt the house wanted something from you. No, that’s not how you put it. It ‘needed you’. That came out of your very mouth. I felt the same thing when it touched me. I guess I might have given a teensy shriek of surprise.” “Hah! Sounded like you were scared stiff to me, ” Charlie said, pulling into the convenience store they had passed earlier. Leaning back in her seat, she reached for Meg’s hand. “Let’s both not get too crazy here. We’ll get some lunch and find a nice motel, where we can lick our wounds and make our plans. It’s too late to get out of this now no matter how many second thoughts I have at this moment.” Meg squeezed her hand and smiled. “First and foremost we’ll need the power turned on and then a phone. Mitch smashed my cell phone and you never carry one. I’ve always meant to ask you why?” “Had one until I threw it in the Bosporus about three years ago.