The séance had been going pretty well. The five of them had gathered in an upstairs room, the one that felt the spookiest, and set up their Ouija board. George had done a lot of research into séances beforehand – how to conduct them, their history and scientific explanations – and so he had been allowed to lead. He was the master of ceremonies. He was electric. And she was enjoying it too. At one point, he caught her staring at him, and she blushed and her eyes flicked away, and she was smiling. What confused him about that was that what he was saying at the time was something about body decay after death. Given a moments reflection, he decided that at best she was only affected by him looking at her when she blushed. At worst she could have some kind of love of horror, or the taboo, or that it reminded her of stories about romance between the living and undead. Probably vampires. Yeah, must be. He could easily forgive that.
Encouraged by the creepy setting, their knowledgable conductor’s introduction and their teenage spirit, they began. George asked the empty room whether there was anybody there, and eventually the upturned glass moved under their hands, crossing the board to rest on the word ‘Yes’. The room exploded with disbelieving laughs and incredulous questions. How would they react later when things got really freaky? George was loving it. It was just after they’d learnt the name of this spirit that the glass seemed to jump from the board and they all started to shout. As the shouts began to wane, the girl in trousers screamed. And not long after, as the shouts were dying down again, two strangers broke down the door. The shouts began again, joined by the unknown man, and the pale boy stopped laughing to yelp girlishly. With the initial shock gone, the man’s shout turned into a happy hum.
Lyra stayed out of the room, looking in from beyond the doorway while the Doctor hummed showtunes at a room full of frightened and very confused teenagers.
“So, kids, how are we all today? And who are you?”
“WHO ARE YOU?”
The short boy had recovered his baseball bat and now held it trembling towards the Doctor. Lyra had absolutely no intention of going in that room now.
“I’m the Doctor”
“…I’m not dangerous, drop the bat, I’m here to help. Please.”
He lowered it slightly. “Who. Are you?”
“I’m the Doctor, this-”
“Doctor What? What’s your NAME?”
“Who are you?”
“We’re paranormal investigators.” Lyra strode into the room, suddenly an image of professionalism and charisma. She gestured casually at her partner who flashed them a paranormal-investigations license and a showman’s grin.
She continued, “I’m Agent K, this is the Doctor. We’re here investigating claims that this house is a potential HOPA, or Hub Of Paranormal Activity.”
“But, no one knows about this place”
“No one except you all, a few locals and us. We’re very good investigators. I don’t suppose you happen to know why this place is so little known?”
Silence for a moment.
“Didn’t think so. Probably best it stay that way. Now our investigations here are strictly confidential so I’m afraid I’m going to ask you all to leave the premises and return to your respective homes.”
The Doctor had broken character a while back to grin happily at Lyra’s patter, and had been enjoying it enough that he had allowed her to do all the talking, but at the last comment he snapped out of it.
“What? No! That’s not true, you can all stay!”
Lyra turned to him and asked sternly, “Are you sure, Doctor?”
“It could be dangerous.”
“Then let them decide. You’ve done a heck of a job selling it to them – paranormal, Agents K and Doctor, confidential… danger.”
He turned from Lyra and pointed at the girl in the trousers.
“You there! Well, all of you really but you especially – why were you screaming?”
“I wasn’t…” was all that was heard before they all started giving their own, entirely different answers and fighting each other to be heard.
Everyone stopped and looked at the Doctor – the professional paranormal investigator who was now standing in the middle of the room, arms raised above his head and yelling “AaPAPAA” to a tune only he knew.
“Now that I have your attention,” He turned to the girl, “what’s your name?”
“Oh, that’s almost a perfect name. I knew a girl called Amy. Not much scared her really…” He crouched down to talk to her at an even height. “What scared you?”
“Just James doing a stupid prank”
“I was not! It was just you being stupid!”
“What was it Amy?”
“There was someone in the mirror”
He followed her gaze over his shoulder and leapt up to investigate the mirror – a wide, slightly hazy glass with gilded, dusty framing.
“Yeah! Yeah, ha –“
“-Shut up James!”
“You shut it, it –”
“Who did you see, do you remember what they looked like?”
“–It was that guy!”
Following the pale boy’s outstretched finger, the Doctor turned around to face the opposite wall and jumped a little at the massive painting he had missed. Then he grinned so broad. It was a portrait. A grand old man, decorated in some combination of officer’s finery and school teacher attire, all held together with a scarlet coloured dressing gown. He was clean-shaven, but his face showed the pride of a man with a large moustache. The Doctor leant in to meet the man’s satisfied gaze and laughed happily to himself. Lyra went to his side and asked quietly, “Do you know him Doctor?”
“Oh? Me? Him? No. But that face? Could be anybody’s Grandpa!”
“Not with those clothes, he couldn’t.”
He paused for a moment as he ran a finger down the golden frame. Lyra never knew what to think in these situations. A silent Doctor was an unnerving companion.
“What’s wrong here Lyra? In this house, this house where everything is bleak and rundown, where there’s hardly any furniture, but this right here. It’s gilded. And huge. A pompous old man who cared more about his own appearance and status than having an impressive house? Noooo, those two go together. You wouldn’t live in a house without a kitchen, why would someone like him live in a mansion and not kit it out properly?”
“He might not have been living here. Could be a family heirloom or just something they bought.”
“Oh no Lyra. This man lived here.”
“…How do you know that.”
“Because she saw his ghost in the mirror.”
He winked, and she knew she had to play along for now and ask him questions later.
“So… we can stay?” The short boy had recovered from his earlier confrontation, and now stood before his team with resolve in his eyes.
“YES! You can all stay!”
At which point the door burst open, and a second Doctor ran into the room.
“You’ve all got to go. Get out, now.”
<The above is part 3 of a 7-part piece of fanfiction. No copyright infringement is intended>
Part 1: http://hobbyharri.com/2012/02/27/the-hollow-room-part-1/
Part 2: http://hobbyharri.com/2012/02/28/the-hollow-room-part-2/