The Haunting of Mercy Moreau: Pt Six

 

(I changed the title as the MC is no longer possessed)

The main street of Hallowell consisted of three traffic lights, two donuts shops, an old town hall, and more antique stores than should be allowed for a small town. There were a few ‘Mom and Pop’ stores along the strip, mixed with chain retail outlet stores, a couple parking lots and a central park. Most of the side streets held refurbished homes and there wasn’t a building over two stories anywhere to be seen. The streets angled off in odd directions and black wrought-iron street signs gave the town a historical feel.

She pulled into a vacant parking spot along one of the side streets. Already the morning was heating up and she dreaded the thought of returning the mansion. With the construction she’d have to keep the windows closed to keep the noise out, and without an air conditioner the heat and humidity would become unbearable.

She browsed a few store windows, but didn’t see much in the way of anything she wanted. She stopped in front of a small department store, looking over the summer ware. A strong gust of cool wind brought some relief to the growing heat . . . and the sense she was being watched.

Mercy looked up into the reflection of the street from the store window. Nothing out of the ordinary, until her gaze fell on the reflection of a young woman on the other side of the street. Her hair was long and dark, with an intense stare focused directly on her. A chill through Mercy.

She turned to the street but the woman was gone. Mercy searched the crowds around her but with all the pedestrians, it was hard to pinpoint where the woman went. She turned back to the window and gasped. The woman stood on the curb direction behind her.

Mercy turned again, and again she was nowhere in sight. Her heart raced. “What the hell?

She hurried down the sidewalk. On second thought, a stuffy, overly hot mansion sounded really good right about now. A quick glance in a passing window revealed the woman’s presence again. This time much closer than before. Mercy twirled frantically, trying to find this stranger, but with each turn she saw nothing, until she looked at the reflection in the window.

She tripped over a sidewalk sign out front of one of the smaller stores and a pair of hands steadied her from falling.

“Are you okay?”

Mercy glanced up and into a familiar face of her waitress from the night before. “I’m fine. I didn’t see the sign there.”

Suzanne let go of her and pointed one finger. “I served you last night, didn’t I? Out at the Lennox Inn?”

Mercy’s hands trembled slightly. “Yes.”

Suzanne took her by the hand. “Are you sure you’re okay? You looked like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Mercy smiled and tried to calm herself. “No, I’m fine. Thanks.”

“Did you want to come inside for a moment? I can make some tea to calm your nerves.”

Mercy looked into the shop through the window. Rows of books, candles and stones lined shelves on the wall. “No, I need to get back.”

She stepped away from Suzanne and continued on down the street, taking a back glance to make sure…make sure what? That she wasn’t being followed by a ghost? She didn’t relax until she was sitting in her car with the doors locked.

The drive back gave her time to rationalize the experience. There was no way that woman could have disappeared so quickly. She must have been standing on the other side of the road and followed her. Mercy was just too spooked to see her. It had to be her imagination.

The afternoon sun beat down on the car as her car pulled up to the house. Mercy held her hand above her eyes blocking out the light so she could get a good look at the front of the mansion. Old turrets poked up from the roof and looked in desperate need of repair. Most of the siding was stained or pulled down exposing the lath underneath. The wood frame windows were brown with rot and there were some serious sagging in the roof. The house looked like something that would be haunted by a ghost.

Estelle appeared on the porch, and looked somewhat irritated as she approached the Mustang. “Good, you’re back.”

“Why what happened?”

The older woman waved in the direction of the outside renovations. “Another delay. Furnace won’t be here until tomorrow. Something about traffic delays on the 401.” She let out a heavy sigh and brought out her cell phone. “Another company to put on my ever-growing list of bullshit.”

Mercy got out of the car. “That doesn’t put us too far behind.”

Estelle kept here focus on her phone. “I know, but it’s a major job and I wanted it complete before I left for Wasaga Beach.” She glanced up at Mercy. “Charlie’s up-to-date on the change in plans. With his experience he knows exactly what needs to be done.”

“Where is he now?”

Estelle’s eyes lit up. “Oh that’s right. You haven’t been introduced.” She turned and motioned her to follow as she walked out past the front porch. “Sorry, with everything going on, I should have done this earlier.”

She followed the Estelle back around the side of the house where the underbrush came close to the foundation. They stopped near a group of men standing around by a pile of grey bricks.

Estelle cleared her throat. “Charlie, might I have a word.”

Two men turned and faced them. The first, an older looking man gave Estelle a frustrated look, while the younger male-the same blonde man who confronted her earlier about her car-nodded.

The blonde stepped toward them. “What can I do for you, Mrs. Macintyre?”

Estelle turned to Mercy. “This is Mercy Moreau, the owner of the property. Mercy, this is Charlie Sandell. The contractor I told you about.”

Charlie smiled and nodded to her and some of his sandy blonde hair fell in front of his eyes. “Nice to meet you.”

Mercy gave a slight, awkward wave. “You too.”

“I just wanted to introduce you both,” Estelle said, as she turned and headed back to the front of the house. “So I’ll let you two get acquainted.”

An awkward silence filled the area between Mercy and Charlie as the other woman hurried away.

Mercy crossed her arms. “I parked closer to the other side of the house. I hope that’s far enough away.”

Charlie smiled awkwardly. “Yeah, about that. Sorry for the whole moving your car without permission thing.”

“No, I appreciate it. Thanks.”

He smiled and looked away. “Well, you shouldn’t have to park there for long. Furnace should be here tomorrow and we’ll have it installed the day after.”

She tried not to stare, but she was captured by his smile. Her face went hot and she forced herself to look at the mound of brinks lying off to the side on the skid. “How much brickwork has to be done?”

Charlie looked a little taken aback. “I’m hoping not a lot.” He glanced at the house and then motioned her to follow him. On the far side of the backhoe stood a gaping hole in the foundation. “Right now we’re trying to keep the house from collapsing.”

Shock consumed Mercy. “What happened?”

“The last construction crew decided it would be easier to tear the whole side down to install piping and duct work.” He looked back at her. “This house was built good enough, but those assholes cracked the foundation and weakened the whole structure.”

“Are you re-enforcing the foundation or just rebuilding?”

He paused for a moment. “A little of both.” He smiled. “Estelle said you own a construction company. Why aren’t your guys out here working on it?”

“Because my ex is an asshole.”

“Ah.” More awkward silence.

The older man stepped up behind his boss. “Charlie’s one of the best restorers in the province.”

A look of embarrassment came over Charlie. “Paul, stop.”

“It’s true.”

“Well, you can’t do a good job unless you love what you’re doing.” He looked at Mercy with the same intense stare as before. “I love bringing new life back into old things.”

Mercy felt her face grow hot again and looked away.

“Well, I’ll let you get back to work.”

Mercy smiled, gave another quick wave, and hurried away. She couldn’t help but grin and rubbed her top lip with her finger to hide her smile.

(To be continued . . .)

© 2018 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt One https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bm
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Two https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bo
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Three https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bq
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Four https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bD
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Five https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bI

We Do Not Die

(I found this on a witch Facebook group. I tweaked the original to make it more personal. The original is posted below.)

We Do Not Die

I do not stand at your grave and weep,

For you are not there; you do not sleep.

You are a thousand winds that blow,

You are the diamond glints on the snow,

You are the sunlight on the ripening grain,

You are the gentle autumn rain,

When I awake in the morning hush,

You are the swift uplifting rush,

Of singing birds in circled flight,

You are the stars that shine at night,

I do not stand at your grave and cry,

You are not there,

You did not die.

 

Samhain poem.

The Possession of Mercy Moreau: Pt Five

TPOMMThe late morning sunlight gave the old manor house a completely different feel. The shadows that stretched out across the property the night before were replaced by defused sunlight and the sound of a soft breeze playing with the trees. Mercy did her best to push the frightful image of the arm from her mind, but one look at the yellow backhoe and the memory returned. The metal clip tapped gently against the arm of the bucket and she felt a little foolish. Being frightened by something so harmless.

She gave the excavator a wide birth and waited for Estelle by the front porch. The daylight illuminated almost two acres of thin saplings and dense underbrush. The grounds had grown wild with weeds and other native plants, and made the property look desolate and lonely.

Estelle’s Bonneville pulled up next to Thomas’s baby. A little too close and Mercy clenched her jaw as the Bonneville’s side mirror just missed the side of the Mustang. The woman looked out of place here with her fancy pant outfit and heels. Mercy looked away to hid her smirk as the woman carefully navigated the uneven ground to the house.

She held out her arms for balance. “I though Charlie’d have this flatten by now?”

“Maybe I should have a word with him about it?

Estelle gave her a sickening sweet smile. “No worries. I’ll do that.”

The approached the main door together, and for a moment, a sense of anxiety washed over her. She hadn’t bothered to check out the place last night, and was in too much of a hurry this morning to do it, so in reality, she was seeing this place over for the first time.

The old wooden door groaned as Estelle forced it open. The main foyer was partially gutted with the lath and parts of the frame exposed and led to two separate rooms and a hall. Mercy’s make-shift bedroom was straight ahead of the front door with the kitchen and dining area off to the left. Most of the floor had been insulated with just a plastic cover over top. The only rooms she could see that were ready to use was the room she was using and the kitchen.

Estelle eyed the bottle of wine as they walked toward the back of the house. “How did you sleep last night?”

“Fine. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. I don’t sleep well in strange beds. Never have.”

“I had no problem falling asleep.”

Estelle smiled. “Good to hear.”

The kitchen had been partially finished but without cupboards or proper counters. Drywall was on most of the walls downstairs as well as new windows. A small area had been cut into the counter by a back-facing window where the stove would sit. The room was a lot smaller than she expected, and the set of stairs leading to the second floor didn’t look very sturdy.

Mercy eyed the room carefully. “It’s going to take a miracle to bring this place up to code.”

“Not a miracle, just lots of money.” She turned to Mercy. “I’d take you upstairs, but Charlie said it might not be safe just yet.”

Mercy glanced at the tarnish ceiling tiles. “He’s checked it out?”

“The whole property. It was the first thing he did when he took over the project.”

“Still,” Mercy walked past her and to a set of stairs at the far end of the kitchen. “I’d like to see what’s up there.”

“Be careful.” Estelle touched her shoulder on the way by. “I don’t trust these floorboards.”

Each step creaked under Mercy’s weight. If it wasn’t for the large boot prints in the dust, she wouldn’t have felt safe heading up the stairs. The second floor wasn’t in any better shape with several rooms gutted to the frame. Chunks of plaster and old wood lay in piles scattered throughout the floor, with a second set of stairs leading toward the roof.

She leaned toward the stair. “Is there an attic in this place?”

Estelle’s face appeared at the bottom. “Attic or a spare room. The previous owners used it for storage, but you can make it whatever you want.”

Mercy took a few steps forward. The hall was stripped down to the old lath and plaster, and the musty smell was strong and mixed with a hint of rotting wood. The floor was sturdy enough to the second set of stairs, but a gust of warm air halted her approach. She glanced up at the ceiling, and through cracks in the board, could just see several holes in the roof.

“He knows about the holes in the roof tiles?”

Estelle’s heavy footsteps echoed off the walls. “And the plumbing, and the furnace, and the dozen or so other things that still need work.” She carefully made her way to Mercy’s side. “I know it sounds like a lot of work, but Charlie’s put this place back on schedule. It should be ready by winter at the latest.”

Mercy nodded and they headed back downstairs. She followed Estelle into the kitchen and rested against the old counter. The room was limited for lighting with just a couple small windows that overlooked the back patio and lawn. Tarnished tin tiles were centered in the middle of the ceiling right below an island counter  with two large gaps cut out.

Estelle did a short twirl in the center of the kitchen. “It’s not very big but you can get all the modern amenities in. New fridge and stove. A dishwasher and that area behind the stairs would be perfect as a laundry area.”

“It’s too dark.” Mercy glanced up at the ceiling. “It needs more light especially with the window being so small.” She walked over to the counter and looked out into the yard. The view was incredible. A perfect overlook of the lake and the mainland. Mercy stared off into the picturesque landscape. “I’m beginning to wonder if this place is worth putting money into.”

“You could always sell as is. Even without the house, you could get a lot of money just for the property.”

“Would the Historical Society allow that?”

“They’re pretty strict on things like that, but this place is still in bad enough shape that they could sign off on it.”

“No, I’ve seen worse places in Kingston.” Mercy’s face lit up. “Unless the foundation or structure-“

“Forget it. It’s solid. That was the first thing I asked Charlie when he came on.”

Mercy exhaled. “Damnit.”

Estelle ran her hand along the dusty counter. “I’m not sure when Charlie will have one of the upstairs bedrooms ready. You may have to spend the summer down here.”

“From the looks of it, I’ll probably be living on the first floor for a while.”

“All the heating ducts are in, but they still need to install more outlets on this floor.”

“What about the furnace?”

“I believe he said it was being delivered today.”

The slam of several car doors echoed from the front of the house. Estelle brushed the dirt from her hands. “That must be the workers. Let’s hope they get that furnace by the end of the day.”

Mercy nodded. “I’m going to run into town and pick up a few things for here.”

Estelle headed toward the living room. “I need to have a word with Charlie. I’ll see you later?”

Mercy nodded. “I’ll buy some alcohol.”

“It’s a date.”

Mercy let out another heavy sigh as she stepped out onto the front porch. Thomas never mentioned once about all the problems this site was having, but then, she doubted he cared. Too wrapped up with his mistress and whatever other bullshit he was doing.

She stepped down and stared at the empty space where Thomas’ Mustang used to be. Panic set in as she scanned the front yard. There were several pick-up trucks, and a small backhoe. Even Estelle’s Mercedes was parked, but apart from that, no other cars. Taking Thomas’s pride and joy as retribution was one thing, but having it stolen right from under her? He’d never forgive her and she’d be in debt to him even more. He’d use this against her somehow. Use is as evidence of how irresponsible she was. First stealing his car, and then letting it get stolen.

“Are you the owner of that sweet, red Mustang?” A tall blonde man strolled across the gravel driveway from one of the backhoes. He was as scruffy looking as they come with a strong jaw and deep set eyes, and wearing the unofficial work clothing of a construction worker.

“Yes,” she said, trying not to sound too panicked. “Please tell me you know what happened to it?”

He stopped a few metres from the steps. “Yeah, one of my guys found the keys inside and moved it around to the far side of the house.”

Mercy’s anxiety melted away with a long exhale. “Thank you.”

“Didn’t you see all the construction going on around here?”

“I know but I didn’t think you’d be here this early.”

He turned and walked away toward the side of the house. “Whatever. Try not to park in front of the house for the next couple of weeks. I’ve got some big shipments coming in and it’ll just get in the way.” He stopped a few feet away and turned back, running one hand through his long bangs. “Unless you want to pay for damages to that too.”

Mercy took a few steps away from the porch. “Okay.” She glanced back a few times as he yelled at the crew of men standing around. “And thanks again.”

He waved without looking back.

She snorted. Well aren’t you friendly.

(To be continued . . .)
© 2018 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt One https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bm
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Two https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bo
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Three https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bq
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Four https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bD

The Possession of Mercy Moreau: Pt Four

TPOMMIt was early the next morning when the sun peered through heavy curtains and straight into Mercy’s face. She blinked a few times and opened her eyes. For a brief moment the unfamiliar surroundings caused her to panic. Her room at the inn was larger than the bedroom she shared with Thomas at the condo and waking up in a room that looked more like the real bedroom than a hotel room was slightly jarring.

She stretched out under the light blanket draped across her body. It smelled like the outside, and a gentle smile crept across her lips. She turned to the window, and the half empty whiskey bottle that stood on the cheap, metal table next to the bed. She squinted to read the label as the foggy memories of the night before filled her mind.

She relaxed back onto the bed and covered her eyes with her hand. “Oh yeah.”

A throbbing in the back of her skull increased with each moment, until her entire head felt as though something wanted out, fast. She drank more last night than she had in the last five years, but it was the only way to settle her mind after that scare at the backhoe. The image of the arm flashed in her mind. It had been an arm, she was sure of it, but there was no one on the property.

She pulled the blanket back and swung her feet out of bed. Nothing but rough corkboard for flooring and she put her socks and shoes on before heading to the window. A hangover she could deal with. A splinter, not so much.

The curtain-less window overlooked the Bay of Quinte, and sparkled a warm blue in the morning sun. Set against a backdrop of pine and forest green, this was not the sort of sight she was used to. Several boats drifted lazily on the water, gently bobbing up and down on the waves. The rotting window sill barely held flakes of paint, and she was careful as she pushed open the glass by the metal handle. The warm air rushed past her, bringing more sounds and scents from the nearby woods. She rested her forehead against the frame. The view was spectacular. She would get a good price for this place once it was fully restored. It might not have been her vacation place, but she was sure someone would scoop it up.

Her cell phone rang from across the room. She moved toward her purse she’s dropped in the corner, ad caught a glimpse of herself in the small ornate mirror on the wall. Her hair was parted to one side and the remains of lipstick were smeared around her mouth. Mercy swiped to answer the call. Just how much did she drink that night?

She ran her finger along the red smear as she answered her phone.

“Good morning, Miss Moreau. It’s Estelle McIntyre,” a woman’s voice said on the other end. “I hope I didn’t wake you up?”

Mercy wiped at the corners of her mouth with the shoulder of her shirt. “No, I, uh, forgot to set my alarm.”

“Well it was pretty late last night when you called.”

“Again I’m sorry about that.”

“Not to worry. I’m usually up late with paperwork anyway.” There was a pause on the other end. “I know it’s a bit early, but I thought we could have breakfast together and talk about the history and your plans for the manor.”

Mercy rubbed her forehead confused. “Manor?”

“Corley Manor.” Another pause. “You do know it’s protected under the Heritage Society. They want to know what you’re plans are for the house and property.”

Mercy sighed heavily. “I don’t know yet.”

“Don’t worry. I was surprised it’s still listed with them, considering the state it’s in. I told your husband—sorry, I mean your ex-husband about it last week. I thought he would have passed the information on.”

“No, he didn’t, but it explains why he was so willing to let me have it.”

“I’m afraid the Historical Society is going to be strict about this one. The original house was built in the early eighteen-hundreds.” There was some paper shuffling from Estelle’s end. “Why don’t we get together in about an hour and talk it over. We can meet at the Lennox Inn. It’s right by the ferry. You know where it is?”

“The place I was at last night?”

“Yes.”

“Sounds good.”

“Perfect. I’ll be there in the hour. They have a wonderful breakfast menu.”

Mercy ended her call and dropped the phone back into her purse. She hadn’t counted on the Historical Society weighing in on this project, but it didn’t surprise her either. It wouldn’t be that much of a hindrance. She knew from past experiences what they wanted and what they would accept. It might cost more for supplies and labour. She might need more than just Thomas’ car. She ran her fingers through her hair and scratched her head. A good shower would help her focus.

***

The Lennox Inn was surprisingly empty considering the parking lot was full of cars. She took a peek inside the main restaurant as she passed by the front desk. Her table from the night before was vacant and a shiver ran through her as memories from her encounter at the back hoe came to her mind.

The morning room was just off the main dining room and had a breathtaking view of the lake. The warm aroma of freshly baked goods filled the air and her stomach growled. Flowing plants lined the length of the window ledges and complimented the decor. Several white wicker tables draped in fine linen sat scattered across the room occupied by just a few people. The matching chairs were lined with cushions in a colourful spring-like pattern that matched somewhat to the table setting. It was very reminiscent of the Victorian era; a theme the inn apparently relished.

She sat at a small table near the large picture window. A young woman came over and offered her some coffee. Mercy nodded as she dropped the folder of the house on the table and pulled out a couple pictures. In the daylight, the pictures revealed more detail around the crumbling property. The foundation at side of the house needed some serious parging and the mortar in some of the brickwork would have to be replaced before she lost the entire wall. She stared at one spot in the image; the place where the backhoe stood when she visited the night before. Her mind drifted. How could she think that safety belt was an arm?

You could hear Estelle Macintyre before you saw her. The older woman’s boisterous voice echoed from the front lobby, and it was clear she was upset with someone. A robust middle-aged woman in a white business suit stepped up to the entrance of the dining room. Her salt and pepper hair was done up in a bun and she looked older than she might want you to think with the small amount of makeup she wore. Mercy smiled and waved. The woman nodded and dropped her cell phone into her handbag.

“That sounded intense,” Mercy said moving her folder from Estelle’s spot on the table.

Estelle let her purse and a manila envelope drop on the table. “Do I have fool written across my forehead?”

Mercy smirked. “Not that I’m aware of.”

“Then it must be visible only to middle-age men.” She flopped herself down across from Mercy. “Do you think they serve alcohol in here?”

“It’s eight in the morning.”

“Maybe not.”

Estelle calmed herself and turned to the picture window. “Isn’t this place beautiful? This was one of the first buildings on Hallowell Island. It served as an inn for a hundred years, until a fire all but demolished it.” She turned her coffee cup right-side up as the young waitress came back. “The entire community came together to rebuilt it.”

“It’s incredible.” Mercy motioned for more coffee. “I’d like the house to have this same feel to it. Beautiful way to wake up.”

“It’s a big business. People are looking for a connection to the past. More so as they get older.” She picked up the small breakfast menu. “I’ve had three middle-aged couples in the last week all ask me to find them older homes on the island.” She glanced over the top of the menu. “Too bad your property wasn’t ready. With its location and history, you’d make a fortune.”

“Yeah, about that.” Mercy picked up the photo of the crumbling house. “We’ve been at this for two years. How much more do you think I’ll need to complete it?”

A remorseful look washed over Estelle. “This is the most problematic project I’ve been involved with.”

“In what way?”

“For starters, I can’t keep workers on the job.”

“Why not?”

The older woman shrugged. “I wish I knew. Things go good for a couple weeks, and then out of the blue, that’s it. They’re gone. I’ve overseen other renovations to old buildings and I’ve never come across the problems like this.” She pulled out print-out from the folder and handed it to Mercy. “Plumbing leaks in new piping, equipment malfunctions, over-loaded electrical outlets, materials and tools go missing.”

Mercy lowered the sheet. Her heart sank as she read over each of the itemized incidents. “Why didn’t you inform Thomas or myself about all this?”

Estelle’s mood went dark. “I told your ex said he’d take care of it, but I never heard back on what I was supposed to do. And then I heard you two were having problems and I thought it was because of this place, so I kind of kept some of the reports back.”

Mercy rubbed her forehead. “He just decided to screw me around in other ways.”

Estelle stirred her coffee. “Anyway, when I didn’t hear from either of your for a few months I assumed you were working things out, so I took matters into my own hands. I don’t know if it was the company sending me their worse employees or what, but I’ve managed to find a contractor who’s a lot more competent than the others.”

“I hope so.”

Estelle waved to the entrance. “As a matter of fact, I was just speaking to a worker from the last construction company. Reminding him why he and his cronies weren’t allowed on the property.”

Mercy sighed. “More problems?”

“One of Charlie’s men caught them stealing copper fixtures for the pipes. Threw them all off the property.” She took a sip from her cup. “Don’t worry. Charlie’s local and he knows all the good workers on the island, and he’s put himself together a good crew.”

“So why didn’t you hire him in the first place?”

“You know the union rules. First on the list.” Estelle brushed away Mercy’s comment. “Things have been good since. As a matter of fact, we might get this project complete before the winter.”

Mercy chewed on her bottom lip. “I don’t know if I can finance it for that long. If Thomas doesn’t sign off on my share of the company soon, I may have to stop construction.”

Estelle raised her coffee cup. “Then let’s hope he’s a smart man.”

(To be continued . . .)

© 2011 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt One
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Two
The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt Three

The Posession of Mercy Moreau: Pt Three

Mercy sat dumbfounded as Suzanne disappeared into the back kitchen. Was she serious? Or was she just told a ‘tall tale’ the locals retell to keep the tourists interested?

Her phone rang and she quickly grabbed it and glanced at the small blue screen.

“Estelle, hello! I hope my call didn’t wake you?. . . Good, I was worried that it was too late. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to meet up with you earlier. This whole mess with Thomas is, well, a mess. . . . No, don’t worry. We’ve both agreed you should stay on as property manager, no worry there. Whatever we decide to do, we want you to be involved. You know this area better than either of us, so your input on the market here is invaluable. . . . I’m at the inn in Lennox right now, and thank you again for putting a bedroom together at the house on such short notice. I stay at a motel in town, but everything is a bit beyond my price range at the moment.” She grabbed the ketchup from the condiment holder. “While I have you on the phone, do you have those estimates for me on the new furnace? Are you sure we have to purchase-“ Mercy nodded her head vigorously. “Yeah, I understand. I’m just looking at ways to save money. Thomas said he’d keep paying, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to get out of him so I need to watch what we spend-I’m sorry, it’s late. Come by the house in the morning and we’ll discuss it. Have a good night.”

Mercy dropped her phone it back into her purse. She stretched her neck and shoulder muscles. Some of the tension had lifted and she bit hungrily into her sandwich. Another reason she wanted to keep the mansion. Thomas said he’d keep paying for the renovations as long as he could recoup his expenditure on the sale. At first she agreed, but it would be ironic and somewhat satisfying if she got him to pay for it all and then kept the house?

She took the odd glance out the window as she ate, watching things in the diner through the reflection, imagining the response Thomas would have to her idea. She left Suzanne a nice tip and quietly headed out the door. The night turned cooler as crossed the parking lot to her car. She glanced up the cliff. A dim light twinkled in the night, blocked by the thick canopy of trees. The ferry worker was right; it was quite a way up the side, but it was definitely a light. She paused for a moment contemplating again the story he told her, and then shook her head. It had to be another tall tale. That incline was too steep to climb.

Her overnight bag lay on the backseat of the Mustang, along with some papers dealing with her divorce and the renovations sprawled out over the seat and floor. She’d thrown them all into the back in a fit of anger when she left the lawyers office, and cursed herself now as she had to gather them all up and put them in the right folder. Under her carry-on lay a bottle of red wine. She had planned on sharing the bottle with Thomas after their appointment was over; a sign of good faith and no hard feelings. He didn’t even give her the chance to be the better person. She picked up the bottle and carefully placed it inside her bag. Maybe she’d open it when all this was over.

 

There were few street lights on the road into Hallowell. Mercy kept switching her gaze from the road ahead, to the rear-view mirror. There was something about this road she didn’t like It felt darker here than it did on the mainland; an unsettling darkness that seemed to penetrate the car. She shivered and focused on the road ahead. All she wanted was to curl up in a soft bed with a bottle of wine and forget this day happened.

A bright light deep in the woods on the water side caught her attention. It was strong enough to penetrate the brush and cast shadows along the highway. At first she thought it was coming from one of the occupied homes, but the security light lit up some construction vehicles and material. Her heart skipped a beat. This was it. Her house. She flipped the blinker on and maneuvered the car to the other side of the road. The driveway was better lit than the other houses with several replica gas-lamps lining the dirt driveway along the property. Mercy slowed, eyeing the replicas as she drove along the gravel driveway. She remembered buying those at the outrageously expensive boutique last summer. She cocked her head to one side. They looked better than she thought they would.

She pulled up to the huge two-story Victorian home and let out a deep exhale. In the daylight, the mansion was large with three levels and gothic accents that had seen better days, but at night, it was a dark shadow that haunted the landscape. A number of small construction vehicles stood silent off to one side and from the looks of the torn-up ground, work had begun on something. Mercy rested her head on the backrest. Was it the furnace or septic bed? She couldn’t remember and her mind was too groggy to think.

She took a deep breath as a cool breeze that blew in the car window. Mercy shivered at the chill, but the faint hint of something flowery mixed with the musty scent of the night fought off her exhaust. Something caught her eye, just off to the left. Against the backlighting of a nearby house, she saw the outline of someone in the woods. They stood just past the construction equipment, back behind the treeline. She couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman from this distance. The breeze drifted across the lawn and into the underbrush behind the construction equipment. The thin branches swayed gently, and the outline disappeared under the movement of leaves. Mercy exhaled. She really needed this day to be over.

She opened the car door. The air was warm and muggy with a musky scent that mixed with the smell of flowers. The few lights from the house were too bright for her tired eyes and she squinted as she looked over the landscape. It was quiet with only the sounds of crickets and a few frogs.

Help!

She shut the car door. The groan of metal on metal overlapped a faint sound of something that sounded like a woman’s voice. Mercy paused and listened again, but only the chirping of crickets and the sound of bugs impacting the lights were audible. A rustle of sound echoed from the side of the house. Mercy scanned the crumbling building from just in front of the car.

“Hello?” Plastic coverings over two huge skids of brick flapped in the night breeze. She carefully eyed the front steps, focusing on the black mailbox next to the front door. Estelle said she’d place a key inside and Mercy ran scenarios of how quickly she could get to it and inside in case she wasn’t alone “Is someone there?” She paused. “Estelle?” No answer. She headed for the front door and flipped open the mail box lid. A sense of relief washed over her as her fingers gripped the small metal object. Not very secure, but then this was a small community.

She inserted the key into the door and turned. The door opened with a loud groan.

No!

Mercy froze. It was definitely a woman’s voice. It was a desperate, fearful cry that pierced her soul. She glanced over her shoulder to the skid of bricks. She knew the dangers of a construction site. Someone could be hurt, or worse. She let go of the door handle. Her palm was sweaty as she drew closer to a small back-hoe just in front of the porch. The backhoe loader blocked her view to the side and the bright security light barely penetrated that far to the side. Her heart pounded in her ears and she forced a swallow to relieve the dryness of her mouth. Carefully she stepped out from the bucket of the machine and peered into the darkness.

“Hello. Anyone there?”

Silence. An owl hooted somewhere off in the woods but not another cry for help. Mercy rested against the lift arm on the tractor and exhaled in relief. Maybe she’d switch the bottle of wine for whiskey. She looked out over the side yard that faced the neighbour. Through the multitude of saplings she could see into the kitchen window of the house. An elderly couple stood finishing up a load of dishes. A little too close for her liking but nothing a good privacy fence couldn’t fix. She took another deep breath and inhaled some of the musky dampness that came with living on the lake. A sudden thud from behind was followed by something touching her shoulder. She glanced to one side and an arm dropped into her view.

Mercy let out a scream and jumped back. The arm vanished. Her heart raced as tears streamed down her cheeks. Shaking, she searched for the appendage and a possibly body to go with it, but the cab of the tractor was empty. She hurried to the front of the house and peered into the small area between the building and the machine, but there was nothing but dirt and some discarded cork board. The clink of metal on metal echoed from the other side of the tractor. A yellow safety harness strap bounced off the frame of the cab right where the arm had touched her.

Was it an arm?

Mercy hurried back to the porch. Maybe she wouldn’t feel so bad selling this house after all.

(To be continued . . .)

© 2011 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

The Possession of Mercy Moreau: Pt One
The Possession of Mercy Moreau: Pt Two

The Possession of Mercy Moreau: Pt Two

Mercy nodded and stepped away from the railing as a dock materialized out of the darkness. A long limestone building stood silent next to the landing. It’s perfectly spaced paned windows that faced the water held small light that gave off an unnatural glow. Mercy was struck by the grandeur of the building; the placement of stone and how it hadn’t change in the couple hundred years since its construction. She speculated about the mansion. The property manager Thomas hired was her only connection to the renovation contractor and Estelle Macintyre had sent a few pictures of the mansion, but the last one was months ago. The mansion wasn’t even ready to be put on the market as a fix-me-up. Their construction company had done enough historical renovations that she knew what to expect. The old limestone houses in Kingston were drafty and damp. This one would probably be worse. The ferry jerked as the engine whined and coasted into its moorings. She’d find out soon enough.

She pulled into a small parking lot beside the dock. With her unscheduled appointment downtown and the rush to catch the boat, she’d left a brief explanation on the agent’s voice mail. A lone streetlamp gave her enough light as she rummaged through her purse and worked over her phone.

“Five bars. Perfect.” It was nice to see that even this far out from the city she could still get decent cell service. She scrolled through the list of names in her contact file, pausing at Thomas’ number. She forgot she still had it listed. Her hand trembled as the overwhelming urge to call him surfaced. What would he be doing? Would he be with her?

Of course he’d be with her. Where else would he be?

She thumbed through her contact list until the name Macintyre appeared. Two quick touches and her cell was ringing up the other end.

Mercy slumped back into her seat as her call was routed to voicemail. “Hi, Estelle, it’s Mercy. Sorry I’m calling so late. I got delayed in town and just got off the ferry now. I’ll rent a room for the night and see you in the morning. I’ll be up until around midnight if you want to give me a call. Thanks. Bye.”

She threw it back into her purse. So much for starting off on the right foot. Her gaze drifted across the road to the limestone building by the dock. A bright neon VACANCY sign flickered as bugs dashed back and forth in a suicidal frenzy. Damn Thomas for making her late. His tricks were costing her money she couldn’t afford to spend.

The parking lot was well worn with pot holes and only a few empty spots. She pulled into one right near the main road and about as far away from the entrance as anyone could get. The smell of food was strong and her stomach protested the fact she hadn’t eaten in a while. The small restaurant located at one end of the building was still open with a few patrons inside, and she immediately became the center of attention as she stepped through a set of double-doors made of barn board. Her palms were clammy as she gripped her car keys tight and headed across the floor to a small table tucked in a corner near the front window. A quick rummaged through her purse provided her cell phone and she placed it on the table.

Please call me back.

A middle-aged blonde woman sauntered up to her table, she focus on the bill book in her hands, and didn’t make eye contact as she scratched something on her bill-pad. “Just so you know, our kitchen closes in fifteen minutes. You can look at a menu, but you can’t order anything big.”

Mercy focus on the contents of her purse. “Uh, okay thanks.” She stopped fiddling with her wallet and reached for the menu.

“Coffee?”

“Please.”

The waitress placed a bill on an elderly couple’s table and then doubled back with a pot of coffee and a mug.

“Not to rush you, Hon, but I gotta get your order in soon.” She poured the coffee almost to the rim of the mug. The strong aroma made Mercy’s stomach ache more.

Mercy took a quick glance at the woman over the menu. Her blonde hair made her think of Thomas’s mistress. She clenched her jaw as her anger rose. Thomas said he hated blondes. “Can I get the Western?”

The waitress still didn’t look at her as she scribbled on the bill pad. “Sure. Do you want fries with that?”

Mercy closed the menu and pushed it across the table. “No, thanks.”

The waitress nodded. “Be about ten minutes, okay?”

“That’s fine.”

It was a typical looking small restaurant with a décor that tried to make it look like the early nineteenth century. The island was a big part of the War of 1812, and from the décor of the dining room, it seemed the owner wanted to keep the connection to the Empire Loyalists and the early days of the colony. She stirred her coffee and studied the antiques hanging on the wall. Old dinner plates and small items from farms mixed with pictures of turn-of-the-century townsfolk and of what she assumed was the town of Hallowell. The more she examined the decorations, the more confident she became in the renovations. She’d have no problem selling the old house.

She lazily stared at an old photo of three soldiers standing in front of a limestone building. From the appearance of their uniforms, it had to have been taken during World War One. The soldiers looked so young and full of promise; unaware of the horror they were about to dive into. The more she stared, the more transfixed she became with their faces. The curve of their lips, the structure of their cheeks, but something didn’t look right. Holes began to appear in their skin; deep holes that spread out and dissolved the flesh on their bones before her eyes. Blood poured from gaping wounds and their smiling faces dissolved into the macabre grin of skulls, and their perfect uniforms turned bloody and torn; ripped apart by the brutality of the battlefront and death.

Horrified she pulled her gaze from the picture. She jumped at the sight of the waitress standing at the side of her table.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.” The woman carefully placed a plate on the table with a look of concern. “You okay?”

Mercy’s gaze quickly peeked at the picture on the wall. Three young men smiled back at her. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you. I was caught up looking at this photo.”

A sad look washed over the woman as she nodded. “The Mary Street Boys. Best of friends and neighbours since childhood. They joined the army together, got split up into different regiments, and were killed on three separate battlefields on the same day.” She tilted her head to one side and mournfully gazed at the picture. “Friends in life, and forever in death.”

Mercy faced the picture again. “That’s so sad.”

The waitress leaned in close. “Town lore says there are certain nights you can hear them up on the street, laughing and talking.”

Mercy’s brow rose. “Seriously?”

An ominous look appeared on the waitress’s face. “Got a friend who lives up that way. Said she heard them plenty of times.”

“Did she see them?”

“Nope. Nothing more than dark shadows moving down the street.” The waitress pointed at her name tag and her disposition turned lighter. “My name’s Suzanne. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask. Enjoy your meal.”

(To be continued . . .)

© 2011 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

The Possession of Mercy Moreau: Part One.

The Possession of Mercy Moreau; Pt One

Nothing said angry female like driving at insane speeds in your soon-to-be ex-husband’s muscle car.

The twisting stretch of highway thirty-three along Lake Ontario was close to pitch black as thirty-five year-old Mercy Moreau pressed hard on the accelerator. She didn’t care if she was doing twenty or even thirty clicks over the eighty kilometer speed limit. There weren’t any cops on patrol to pull her over, and the only thing that might slow her down was if one of local wild life held a death wish. Other than that, the road was hers and she liked it that way, especially as she was trying to catch the last ferry to Hallowell Island.

Damn Thomas for making her late! She went all the way downtown to his lawyer’s office on the pretense that he wanted to play nice. She should have known better. Thomas Seville never did anything that wasn’t in the best interest of Thomas Seville, and he would buy her out or this divorce would get real messy.

Mercy clenched her teeth as she tromped on the gas pedal. Thomas owed her that much. He ended their ten year marriage for a cute blonde with perky boobs and the I.Q of a gnat. Half of the construction company was hers. She put in as much blood, sweat and tears into it as he did, and her lawyer agreed. He’s the one who cheated and if he wanted out, he’d play it her way.

She relaxed her grip the steering wheel as the dock came into view. She promised herself she wouldn’t do this; she wouldn’t let that asshole get under her skin, but it was easier said than done. Especially when everything she did now was because of him. She was sleeping in a motel because of him. Angry and sad all the time because of him. Lonely . . . because of him. She blinked several times to hold back a tear. How did it end up like this?

She eased up on the accelerator and slowly pulled up to the dock. A few streetlights lit up the loading area and the car slowed to a stop in front of the white line. She exhaled deeply and looked over the boat sitting idle. She felt like it looked; run-down, old and empty. A young female dock worker waved to her and she slowly drove up the metal ramp and onto the deck of the ship. The worker waved her to the far end and placed her right at the front of the boat. Mercy shut off the engine and slumped back into the seat. She had to put Thomas out of her mind once and for all. She didn’t have to be the bitter ex-wife. Correction; she didn’t want to be the bitter ex-wife. She was better than that.

The ferry jerked forward as the engines whined, and slowly the barge drifted out into the blackness of the lake. Lights from the island across the bay pierced the dark in a straggly pattern that reflected off the water. The last weak rays of sunlight turned the edge of the horizon a deep blue against the shadowed trees. Hallowell Island was world renowned for its wine and sandy white beaches. She’d been ecstatic the day Thomas told her he’d bought an old Victorian home there. It was dirt cheap and needed a pile of renovations, but once it was done, it would be their summer get-away. A place to relax and unwind. A place to maybe raise a family. God! She even thought about having kids with this asshole! The renovations took longer than either of them expected and it was felt more like a money pit than a vacation home. She’d over-seen most of the work done from Kingston, but hadn’t visited the property in almost a year and a half. Now, three years after the purchase it was the only place she could call home. She didn’t want to sell it, but she would need the money to start over again. She’d done her homework too. There was a strong market for old buildings on this island, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to keep something that reminded her of Thomas.

She picked up a sheet of paper from the seat next to her and held it close to the window. The image of a crumbling Victorian mansion was barely visible in the dim light from the outside. Renovating this place was going to be expensive, but she’d get the money from him one way or another.

Mercy leaned her head to one side and looked out into the darkness. There was an upside to this; she would finally be on her own. In thirty-five years, she went from her parent’s home, to sharing an apartment with friends, to moving in with Thomas. She needed this. Being on her own was a good thing. Her vision blurred and she sniffed and blinked away a tear. Who was she kidding? Living alone was making her miserable. His cheating stung, and brought out old feelings of insecurity. If he wanted another woman, why didn’t he leave her?

She turned her head and spoke to her reflection in the side mirror. “Because he’s Thomas Seville and he thinks he can do whatever the hell he wants.” Her hazel eyes narrow with anger. “He’s going to make this right, one way or another.” A sly smiled crossed her lips as she ran her hand along the dash. “That’s why I have you, sweetie. Either he pays me, or I sell you.” She stared straight ahead. “Nothing personal.”

Her smile disappeared. Thomas was the first real relationship she’d ever had. He made her feel comfortable with her lack of sexual experience. He found her naivety refreshing, or so he said. The idea of starting over with someone new . . .

She blinked back another tear. She had to put him out of her mind and start fresh. “Okay, apart from getting out of the city and away from Thomas, name another good reason for coming to the island.” Silence met her question. She stared out over the hood of her car and took a deep breath. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.”

The minimal breeze from the ferry movement punctuated the air with odd stagnant burst of hot, humid air as she left the car. This summer was going to be a hot one and if she read the property assessment right, her dilapidated mansion was waterside property. A good selling point.

She strolled toward the metal railing at the side of the ferry. The railing was cool and damp from the spray as water crashed against the hull. She glanced down at the dark murky water as it rippled along the surface. Farther out, the lake was as smooth as glass with the reflection of a few bright stars and the dim lights from the houses on the other side twinkling in the pitch black. Mercy shuddered at the coldness of it all. She truly was a stranger in a strange land.

One of the deckhands walked past and checked over some safety gear. “Is that Hallowell?” Mercy asked.

He looked out over the lake. “Where? Those lights up ahead?”

Mercy nodded.

“No ma’am. That’s Lennox. Hallowell is a ways father down the road.”

“Do you live there?”

“No Ma’am. I live in Napanee.”

“But you’ve been to Hallowell?”

“My wife shops there from time to time. Says it has some unique stores.” He fiddled with the equipment. “But me, I like to stay as far away as possible from that island.”

Mercy frowned. “Why?”
“Well, according to what my wife says, the whole island is haunted.”

Mercy had a blank look. “You’re joking.”

“Not really. She says ghosts and all kinds of creepy things happen all over that island.”

“You don’t believe her?”

He shrugged. “Got no reason not to. Besides, I know people who’ve had weird things happen to them over there.” He looked up into the night sky. “Something to do with invisible lines intersecting right over the island, or some stupid thing like that.”

Mercy looked skyward. “Invisible lines?”

“Whole island is some kind of spiritual dumping ground. I’ve seen some weird stuff over there myself.” He pointed across the lake. “Like that there.”
Mercy squinted as into the darkness. “You mean that bright light?”

“Yup. Can’t tell at night, but that light is on the rock face that overlooks the bay. Locals say that light sits out front of a cave where there’s buried treasure, but if you go looking for the cave during the day, there’s nothing there.”

The light twinkled and faded slightly. Mercy frowned. “That’s just…weird.”
“I know. The whole island has stories like that. Restless spirits, evil entities.” He paused looking apprehensive. “All sorts of supernatural crap like that.”

She hid the small grin forcing itself on her lips. “Thanks for the warning.”

He gave her a curt nod. “You should get back in your car. We’ll be docking in a few minutes.”

(To be continued . . .)

Part Two; https://wp.me/p1AAW6-1bo

© 2018 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

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