|Note: This story is a part of a larger series of short stories and flash fiction. You can find these stories on the Oubliette home page.|
Linda knocked on the wooden door with an opaque glass window. On a small sign next to the door, it read “West Virginia Paranormal Society.” There was no response and she tried the door. It opened and she stepped inside. A pair folding tables sat in the room surrounded by several folding chairs. The only indication that she was in the right place was the photographs of spirits on the bulletin board. Some of them were obvious fakes especially the one where someone dressed in a bedsheet holding a sign saying “Boo.”
To one side of the bulletin board, she saw a yellowed photograph in a wood frame. It was a black and white picture of a couple priests in a wooded area. They stood for the picture with neutral expressions dressed in their black robes with a white stole around their neck. She could not help but notice that they held loaded crossbows.
“It was a different time then.”
Linda spun around to see an office desk that she absentmindedly walked past. Behind the desk, an elderly gentleman sat in an old black vinyl office chair. She noticed that not only he was about 80 years old but also, he was a priest. He smiled as she took a couple deep breath to settle her nerves.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Motioning at the photo, “What’s with the crossbows?”
“Would you believe we were hunting Big Foot?”
The elderly priest laughed as Linda looked at him with a furrowed brow and wide eyes. She studied the priest and she could not tell if he was joking. She began laughing too.
“I’m sure that you didn’t come here to talk about my youthful adventures. I’m Father Berger, the faculty advisor. How can I help you?”
“Well… Father. It’s my paranormal group from high school. We are in over our heads.”
“I see… tell me about it, maybe I can help.”
Linda started from the beginning where they first investigated the Wellington farmhouse. When she described the séance, his interest was obvious although he remained silent. She showed him the first video and a video from that night that Pete sent her. He studied the shadowy figure as it attacked Griswold.
Father Berger had a way with words and he made it easy for her to say more than she intended. She told him about Pete’s visit by the FBI and showed her notes that she made from the library reference books. He leaned forward and put his hand over his mouth as she revealed this information. When she finished, the priest sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. It creaked as he thought for a bit.
“Your friend, Griswold, got himself into trouble. It’s best to let law enforcement to handle it especially since the FBI is involved. Those videos are fake… just like all of those pictures on that bulletin board over there… and those books you found.”
The priest pointed his finger in the direction of the bulletin board. Before he could continue, Linda interrupted, “I saw it…”
“He must have used some sort of illusion. I’m sorry but it does happen. We don’t always know who people truly are until it’s too late.”
Linda took a step back, “He’s not a killer.”
The priest shrugged, “They say that about most murderers.”
He crossed his arms and looked her in the eyes, “I have to advise that you and your friends stop with the ghost hunting… before it’s too late and someone gets hurt.”
Linda did not know what to say. She could not understand how the priest could be so cruel to not only accuse Griswold of being dishonest but also a murderer. She came to this place to find help for Griswold and the faculty adviser of a paranormal group (of all people) did not believe her.
Linda shook her head and took some steps back to the door of the room. When she reached the door, she apologized and left. As she walked down the hall, the words of the priest echoed in her head and the memory of that thing in the basement of that house flashed through her mind. She needed a plan.
By the time she climbed the stairs and left the building, she had formulated the beginnings of a plan. If she was not going to get help, it was up to her to help herself and she changed her direction and headed towards the library.