Chapter Five – Above
A LOUD CRASH followed by a bloodcurdling scream jolted Allison awake.
“Randy!” She felt for him in the dark. “Randy, did you hear that? Randy?” She rolled over and turned on the light. “Randy?”
Randy was not in the bed. From what she could see, he was not even in the room. “Randy? Where are you?”
There was another crash; this one hard enough to shake the light fixture above the bed. Allison jumped out of bed. “Randy? Where are you?”
A door slammed down the hall. Allison whirled around and stared at the darkness.
Heavy footsteps approached the room.
Allison stood, frozen. That was not Randy.
“You gonna take that crap?”
Her father’s voice pierced through her fear. “I didn’t raise no wussy girl.”
A vision of her father, back on the farm, carrying a lost calf on his shoulders. Her father had been the strongest man she’d known, stronger than anybody, stronger than Superman. Before the cancer ate him alive.
“You have to face it, kid. You got to look it dead in the eye and face it. Otherwise, it’ll grab you by your throat, and it won’t let go. Face it.”
Whatever it was. Face it. Deal with it. Win or lose, it’s better to do something than nothing at all.
This was not the life she wanted for herself or Randy. The renovations were estimated to take at least a year. I will not waste a year of my life being dealing with this mind-fucking bullshit.
“Remember, kitten. Courage was not the absence of fear, but acting despite it.” Her father, straightening his FAA cap before lighting a cigarette.
Allison whipped on her robe, shoved her feet in her slippers, and went to investigate. “Randy, where are you?”
A movement in the room opposite from theirs caught the corner of her eye. “Randy?” She flipped on the light.
A man dressed in a tux stood in the middle of the room, a woman on her knees in front of him. Allison backed out of the room and slammed the door shut.
The faint sound of music played downstairs. “Amazing party, isn’t it?” A woman wearing a beaded dress and a feather in her hair bounced by her. “Gregory Talbot is the cat’s meow.”
Allison watched the woman dance towards the stairs. “Oh, hell to the no. I am not doing the Shining.”
“Come on!” The woman waved at her. “He’s about to give the toast. You don’t want to miss that!”
“Oh, shut up, dead girl.” Allison pushed passed her and marched down the stairs.
Whether it was a haunting or some time travel bullshit, Allison did not know. What she did know was that there were a ton of people in her house. The lights were blazing and the music roared a 1920s song that sounded vaguely familiar. A waiter handed her a glass of champagne.
Allison dropped the glass and did her best taxi whistle. The room quieted down as all eyes turned towards her.
She waved. “Hi, everybody, I’m Allison. I’m the new owner here. I live here now, so you need to get out.” She waited. “Go on. Get out. Now.”
Nobody moved. Something started to growl.
Allison stood her ground. “I’m serious. There’s the door. You’re all trespassing, and you need to get out. I am not doing any bullshit redrum, weird dead girl twins who want to play, and off limit rooms with unhappy dead people. We’re going to fix this dump up and then move on. Find someone else to mess up, because it’s not going to be me or my family.”
“This is our house,” a partially decomposing woman in a ratty fur hissed at her. “Our house.” The crowd murmured in agreement. “We’re not leaving. You are.”
“Maybe you can join us.” A ridiculously handsome man in a white tuxedo jacket floated toward her through the crowd. “Stay and dance.”
“Did you not hear me? ” Allison pointed at the door. “I said, get out.”
The man’s eyes narrowed. “You have no power here.”
“I have good title,” Allison shot back. “I am a rightful owner. Now Get. Out.”
The lights went out. A bone-chilling cold washed over her. Rushing wind… hands… teeth… Allison closed her eyes and clenched her fists. I have a right to be here. I have a right to be here.
Allison looked up. Randy stared down at her from the landing. “What’s going on, baby?”
Something glimmered at her feet. Allison bent down. A broken champagne glass. “Just setting some ground rules.”