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Authors: Anabell Martin

Tags: #Horror

Harbinger in the Mist (Arms of Serendipity) (24 page)

BOOK: Harbinger in the Mist (Arms of Serendipity)
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“Mr. Grayson, a new family is in the house now and having the same issues you had.” Marissa sounded hopeful that he’d have some advice. She was wrong.

“Well, good luck to ‘em. And please don’t contact me again.” Jack sighed and hung up the phone.

Marissa clicked the recorder off and tossed it on top of the papers in her bag. “We tried to find out who the witches were, but there’s no record. Jack hadn’t recognized them and didn’t know their names or how his mother found them. Now he could be lying, I don’t know. But then I remembered something Sadie mentioned in passing. That painting that hangs in your living room, well I asked Darby it. All she knew was the name of the artist. I just had a hunch that there was something significant about it if the ghosts of the innocent were able to use it as a barricade from Milton. So I did a search for the artist, this Lorrie Gunn. I found her a link to her blog.”

Marissa shuffled through her papers once again and pulled out a several sheets that were stapled together. Across the top of the first page, in mock blobs of paint were the words “The view from Calvin’s Cavern.” Below the kidlike script were a blue paint paw print and a paintbrush.  The blog posts took up two thirds of the width of the page below the title. The last third showed several things – links to the author’s favourite sites, a chronological list of all the woman’s posts, a tag board, and such. But at the top of the column was a picture of a pixie-like woman, in her 40’s, maybe early 50’s. She was smiling brightly and her short, spikey hair was light brown with burgundy tips. In her lap sat a massive white cat with a brown on its ears and muzzle. Just below it, an ad blinked: “Visit Calvin’s Cavern on Main Street in Strasburg, Va.! Click here to visit the website, to get directions to the shop, or to schedule a sitting for your pet!”

“There are 358 posts on her blog and all of them are about her various works of art, what inspires her, and tips on using different mediums. All except for two.  This one was posted just before Christmas two years ago.”

Marissa cleared her throat and began to read out loud.

 “
My mother was a witch. (How often have you heard a daughter say those words?) Now I’m not trying to subtly say she was a bitch. If you follow my blog, you know that I don’t beat around the bush like that. What I mean is that she was indeed a bona fide witch.

“When I tell people that, they automatically get one of four images in their heads – Elizabeth Montgomery with her black pointed hat and broomstick, Harry Potter and Hogwarts, the cartoony hag with the warts and cackling laugh, or the Fundamentalist bride of Satan.  A real witch is neither of these. They look like your sisters, your friends, … your mothers.

“My momma was a great woman, full of understanding, courage, and constant patience. She never turned a blind eye to any person or animal in need and she was never one to judge others. Peaceful. Yes, she was peaceful.

“She met my dad when she was 21. He was in the military and stationed in Charleston, S.C. The fell in love and married. He was reassigned to Virginia Beach and they moved two months after their marriage. She found herself pregnant a month later. Not wanting the stigma of her lifestyle to fall upon her new family, my mother converted to Christianity. I was baptized Methodist as were my twin brother and our baby sister.

“Even though we were a good, church-going family, we were still raised with a keen respect for the ancient rede.

“Right now, a small Fir tree sits in the corner of my living room, decorated with twinkling white lights, glittered streamers, and hand-painted ornaments. Granted, my tree is potted and will live on to see a couple more Christmas inside before having to be planted outside. (True to my roots, I would never be able to kill a tree just to decorate it for a holiday and then throw it away.) We always had a tree, and Easter baskets, and the like. But momma always reminded us that ‘All Christian Holy days have roots in the Old ways.’ We knew why we were celebrating and what all the decorations and festivities meant.

Marissa stopped reading and ran her finger down the page. “Yadda, yadda, yadda. She explains that Christmas is celebrated at the same time as the Winter Solstice, not the time of year Jesus was actually born. Then she talks a little more about her mother’s life and how she just died from a heart attack… let’s see. Ok, here we go.” She began to narrate once more.


As a rule of thumb, I don’t post about family matters here, so why am I blogging about this instead of the comparison of Monet’s planned, perfect Impressionist style verses Van Gogh’s unique explosions of vibrant colors and quick brush strokes?

“Well, I hope that you will follow me on the journey to celebrate Momma’s life light, painting the places she loved the most. I hope to remember her with joy instead of falling into a visceral stupor, sitting at my laptop in my PJs bumbling on and on about the traumatic aftershocks of death and loss.

“There will be those who, upon reading this blog, will post comments offering prayers, which I greatly appreciate. But there will also be those who will ponder about the fate of her soul, about her heart, and if she’d really accepted Christ as her saviour before she died. If you are one of those holy rollers, my first inclination will be to simply say ‘Fuck you.’ But that would be mostly emotions speaking. Instead, let me say this to you – I honestly believe that the Jesus Christ that is the Lord and Saviour of so many is also the Lord of her life. And everyone else’s life on this earth even if He is known by different names.

“We were created with the freedom to choose the path for our lives. God gave us variety in everything from the types of dirt on the ground to the numerous species of birds in the sky above. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t give us various routes to find a love affair with him, too. This great earth that we all call home is his great creation and no one loved it more than her. So how can anyone dare to assume that she wouldn’t be in his loving arms now?

“When I log off here, Daddy and I are heading to Wilmington, N.C. to join my sister and her family. From there, we’ll hop in their RV and venture south to Myrtle Beach, S.C. to pick up my brother and his wife. And from there, we will caravan as a family in mourning to the tiny town of Walterboro, S.C., the place where Momma was born and raised, the place to which she always wanted to return.

“I hope all of you who take the time to read my ramblings and to comment on my art have a Merry Christmas and happy New Year. I will be back online soon with a post about the spreading of her ashes and to see the place she so dearly loved through the medium of paint and canvas.  Love and Paint Smudges, Lorrie

“But why does any of this matter?” Lindsey asked. “What does she have to do with any of this?”

Marissa flipped the page and handed the papers to Lindsey. “Here, see for yourself.”

Lindsey looked through the post written on New Year’s Day. She read silently, Eli doing the same over her shoulder.

Before her health began to decline, Momma and I talked about going on a road trip back to the Lowcountry of South Carolina. She missed the wild swamps, the briny air, and the places she had trod throughout her youth. I hate that I never made time to do that with her. While there last week, I took my time retracing her memories, walking the same paths as she. The place is beautiful, primitive even in some places. As I hiked alone, I often felt as if I’d stepped back in time, that I might perhaps encounter a younger version of Momma around a bend.

The tangle of trees and sound of swamplands echoed the sound of the creator of the world. Yes, God lives in such a place. It is no wonder my momma loved it so, no wonder she lived to nurture it. There I understood her Wiccan nature and embraced the part of it that resides in my own soul.

Momma had a list of the 15 places she wanted to revisit stuck to her fridge with a magnet for years. I brought it along and took time to paint each of them.  I have posted an image of each with a short description of the place. They are in no particular order. I hope you enjoy them. They will be on show at the shop in a few days. Love and Paint Smudges, Lorrie.

Lindsey scanned through the list, looking for the painting that now hung in her living room, reading the list out loud softly. “Fifteen, Main Street in Walterboro, fourteen, the Little Library at Bedon-Lucas House, thirteen, the Great Swamp, twelve, the Edisto Trail and River, eleven, Pon Pon Chapel, ah, ten, the Marla Rae Retreat House.”

The picture was the same one. Lindsey knew it would be but the shocked gasp still escaped her lips. The description below the painting read:
In 1943, at the age of 19, Momma and her best friend offered their services to a local widow who had been complaining of paranormal activity in the house in which she and her son resided. They cleansed the place of a dark entity but Momma, being slightly sensitive to the dead amongst us, said she sensed the spirit of children in the home, too. They seemed relieved when the dark force was expelled so Momma and Ruthann left them be. She admitted to returning to the grounds of the house several times to see what she could sense from the outside. To her, the place was always peaceful. My visit found the house empty with a feeling of depression around it. The neighbors, who also let me paint their rare Mustangs (more on that amazing adventure at a later date!) said that the woman who lived there recently had died and left the house to family members. They weren’t sure who these family members were or why the owner even cared enough to leave it to them as they had never bothered to visit her even when she was battling cancer. She died the way she had lived – alone. Perhaps that is the reason it felt to sad to me and the reason my vision of the house is darker than what most people would have seen. Momma said she’d smudged the house with sage. Knowing how she felt about the house and the children who still played inside its walls, I felt the need to project another form of protection. I burned fresh sage on the front porch and mixed the ashes with my paints. (This also explains the earthiness in the colors.) I hope that in some way, painting the place with sage will send a little light to the Marla Rae and her little residents.

“That is why Olemargaret and the kids hover around that painting – Milton is so angry and depressed that the sage keeps him at bay. They are safe there.”

Eli leaned against the banister and gazed over the water. For several moments they were quiet, each lost in thought.

“But I still just don't get it ... if the spirit of Milton Walker was banished, what had the power to pull him back into the house?” Eli pondered.

Marissa stood up and dusted the seat of her pants off. “I don't know. Hopefully we’ll find out soon. The others should be wrapping up. One of us will call you tomorrow sometime. If you need me in the meantime, feel free to call me. Until then, blessed be.”

Lindsey and Eli watched her walk around the house and out of sight. Eli sat in Marissa’s vacated spot and put his right arm around Lindsey and pulled her closer to him. “We’ll take care of this somehow, I swear it,” he whispered, his lips close to her ear. 

Lindsey turned to look at him. Their faces were precariously close to one another. Lindsey looked up into Eli’s eyes, surprise written all over her face. But his face was calm, intent. He began to lean toward her.

Sara, one of the psychics, poked her head out of the back door, unaware that she was interrupting them. She stopped and stared.

“We are – on my gosh. Elion? Is that you?”

Eli stood and smiled. “Sara. How wonderful to see you. It’s been so long!”  He stepped forward and embraced the woman.

“And you. I have to say that I am thoroughly surprised to see you here.” Her gaze moved to Lindsey, then to Eli, and back to Lindsey.  “Do you two, um, know each other?”

“Not until just recently,” Eli said.

Sara looked at him for several heartbeats then nodded. She shot an icy look at Lindsey as she conveyed the message that the group was done and heading out.  She reiterated Marissa’s instructions to call if they needed anything.

Lindsey straightened up, took a deep breath, and smiled at her. “Thank you. Can I come back in now? I want to put my pajamas on, make something for dinner, and send an email to a friend.”

Sara nodded her head yes, waved goodbye, and left. Lindsey stood up slowly and headed to the door. As much as she wanted to sit out there by Eli, the misty night closing in around them, she knew that it was wrong.
He’s going to be a priest, leave him alone!
She kept telling herself.

Eli followed her in, but not before he noticed a blurry figure move across the porch and through the wall, as if in pursuit of her.

Lindsey went straight to the stairs, replaying it all in her head. This house had a limited history, but what a history it was! As she reached the landing, a snarl echoed in front of her and a force pushed against her chest.

She stumbled backwards, clawing in vain at the railing. She was going to fall, and it was going to be bad. Her foot slipped off of the top step and she screamed. But just as she should have toppled backwards, Eli’s hands were around her and he was whisking her safely down the stairs and into the living room.

A moan echoed through the house and the door to Lindsey’s room above slammed. The entire house shook briefly, making the floors and walls vibrate.

Then everything fell silent. She and Eli stood there, looking up at the ceiling, waiting.

Seventeen

BOOK: Harbinger in the Mist (Arms of Serendipity)
10.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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