Electric Blue, страница 1
Books We Love Ltd
(Electronic Book Publishers)
192 Lakeside Greene Drive
Chestermere, Alberta T1X 1C2
Copyright 2012 by Janet Lane Walters
Cover Art Copyright 2012 by Michelle Lee
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication can be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
To Allen, who electrifies my nights.
A New House
Poppy looked at the sun shining through the living room windows and shivered. She could see her breath in front of her. August was still holding on fast, the sun was bright and hot and fall looked a million miles away. And it was minus ten degrees Celsius in her house.
Alicia and Poppy had moved into the House on Harrow Hill at David's urging. There was a presence still in the house that needed to be guarded, watched. David's late husband, Jethro, had come back from the dead on Valentine's Day. Poppy remembered that day, would continue to remember it. It was fused into her head, burnt into her brain. The things she had seen that day had changed her.
It seemed to stretch on in her mind, bending and shaping itself. Always replaying the same images. Jethro, standing there, Roz and Chip bloody and almost dead, the light that had shot out of her hands that had blinded Jethro. How Jethro's mother, Anna, had taken her son in the end, sucked him dry. She didn't want to think about that now. The light was something she didn't have an answer to and that bothered her more than she would let on.
It was David's theory that the house itself was alive, not a mere ghost rattling chains. Poppy could believe it. Since the moment they had moved in, the house had been playing practical jokes on them. She would find her panties on lampshades, her bra in the microwave. Alicia had once found a potted fern inside the toilet. How it got there was anyone’s guess, as no one actually seen the house do anything. But they could feel it. It was almost as if there was a hum around them, a cocoon. For some odd reason, it made her feel safe. The house never caused them harm; it just had a terrible sense of humor.
She looked up at the ceiling. "Hey!" she called up. "Could we make it a little warmer in here? It's not summer anymore, you know." There was a sigh from the house and a gentle sound of laughter. The house began to warm up until Poppy could no longer see her breath. "That's better," she said. She looked around the living room, bored with her novel that sat on the large oak coffee table in front of her. She was seated in a deep, brown leather couch. Large picture windows dominated the front wall and painting and portraits hung on all three remaining walls. The ceilings were high, at least ten feet. Poppy sometimes dreamed of floating up on the ceiling, like Mary Poppins. "Hey," she said, "a girl can dream can’t she?"
There were large bookshelves on the wall behind her and on either side of the entrance to the dining room, and little end tables with Tiffany lamps and knickknacks galore. Everything had come with the house; Honey and Jose hadn't wanted a thing from it after the events that had happened last Halloween. Having a ghost try to possess your body, as Anna had tried to do to Honey, would put anyone off a place.
Alicia and Poppy were comfortable here. It was an odd house, but they didn't mind. Oddness suited both of them. And they didn't mind the house so much; it was easy to live with a house that might be alive when you already lived with a ghost.
Moe, a friend of David's who had rented a room in the house across from him, had died on Valentine's Day when Jethro decided to send them a message. Thankfully, with a little faith and magic, Alicia's friend Lucia had brought him back. There was a catch though: he could only live in this House on Harrow Hill. The high concentration of supernatural energy kept him alive. As alive as a dead person could be, that is.
Despite her neat living arrangements, however, she was a little bored with her life. She felt as if she was drifting in a world that didn't really understand her. She had been working at the same art gallery, Spandoosh - Fine Art and Design, for years and still hadn't been promoted from floor girl. She wanted to do her own work, not sell other people’s.
"I wish something would happen to me," Poppy said out loud. "I'll be bored out of my skull otherwise.”
“Be careful what you wish for," Alicia said, coming into the living room with two cups of tea and a plate of cookies and plopping herself down beside Poppy. "You might just get what you want."
* * * * *
Poppy kissed Alicia on the cheek as she sat down. "I hate when you say things like that." Alicia looked at her.
"Like what?" She reached for her tea and took a small sip.
"Oh, I don't know, all that mumbo jumbo stuff.”
“That wasn't mumbo jumbo, that was an old wives’ tale. Didn't your mother ever tell you that one?”
“The closest thing my mother got to a wives’ tale was `If you gotta rubber and you're not doing it, they make handy water balloons.'” Alicia laughed, spilling tea. “My mother wasn't much for motherly advice.”
“No kidding," Poppy said. "You got to stop calling it that, though.”
“Magic is not mumbo jumbo. It's an energy." At this, the house began to emit large sparks from the outlets around the room. The lights dimmed and they were treated to a mini light show in the partial darkness.
"Nice," Alicia said, "but it needs more oomph." The house responded by making the sparks larger—small bits of lightning that made the shadows disappear.
"You shouldn't encourage the house like that," Poppy said.
"I thought you said it was all mumbo jumbo."
Poppy smiled. "I stand corrected." They both fell into silence for a while, enjoying the morning sun and the quietness in the house. Sometimes, they would hear chains and moans, typical of a haunted house. Sometimes Poppy heard laughter and sometimes nothing. She relished the quiet in this house, breathed it in. The quiet was a welcome break from all the noise.
Poppy and Alicia fell into silence more often lately. Rather than make them further apart, their shared silences seemed only to make them stronger, to pull them together. It was as if, Poppy thought, they didn't need to say anything to each other, like they could communicate with their minds what they were feeling. Considering that she lived in a haunted house, this wasn't such an odd idea.
"When are you working today?" Alicia asked after the silence had stretched on for a few moments.
"One to four. It's only a half shift today.”
“At least you won't have to see the Dragon Lady today.”
“Yeah, that's some consolation at least."
Poppy had worked at Spandoosh since its opening five years ago. Unfortunately for her, Daphne McGowan owned the place. Poppy worked on canvases, mostly doing abstract stuff with mixed media: pencils mixed with charcoal, pastel mixed with paint. Objects from around the house were also known to find their way on to Poppy's canvases. Two years ago, Daphne had come to Poppy asking her to do a show. It had been a dream come true for Poppy; she had had her work displayed in galleries, but never had she had her own show.
She worked for months preparing canvases. Her show had had a theme: The Goddess Within. All of her friends had loved it; the critics trashed it. One woman had called it the most awful thing she had seen since the Second World War. Poppy had been crushed and had lain in depression for months, existing only for
Poppy still painted, still did her art. It called to her. Alicia called it her magic and Poppy agreed with her. She felt more whole whenever she worked, more connected with the world through ties she could not see but could only feel. She still worked at the gallery as it was all she knew how to do. Daphne and Poppy barely tolerated each other so it was always a relief to work her short shift alone, without the commanding gaze of the Dragon Lady. Alicia had given her the nickname after she had met her earlier this year.
"What are your plans for today?" Poppy asked.
"Not much; we have some new shipments of crystals, some Book of Shadows to unpack and I get to work on the new Fall display." Alicia owned and ran Strange and Unusual, an occult shop specializing in anything bizarre. Alicia took her Paganism seriously and had made a living out of it. "I'm getting a new employee later on this week."
"New employee? I thought Orlando was working there already." David's partner, Orlando, had taken on a part time job at the store to supplement his income from his fortune telling business. He didn't really need to, he was loaded. Fortune telling was very lucrative. Besides, Alicia enjoyed having an old friend around; it made the work day easier.
"Yeah, but this is more a favour to a friend. You know Lucia?"
Poppy nodded. "How can I forget? Bringing someone back from the dead isn't something everyone can do."
"Well, she got fired from her last job, soooo. . . .”
“Could be fun," Poppy said. There was a loud POP from behind them. They both turned to see Moe pass through the wall. When he was through, they watched as his skin resumed form and he became solid again. "Morning ladies," he said. "You might not want to hear this, but we have a problem."
Poppy rolled her eyes. "What kind of problem?”
“There's blood all over the walls in the kitchen. . . ."
Built In Amnesia
Honey often wondered about her life. Like, if she could go back now and change something, would something in the future be different? She had read novels where people time traveled and changed the future. She wished that women had been given the power of time travel instead of the power of carrying children. She felt bloated, she was as big as a house and she had not seen her feet in months.
Her due date was in twelve days and all Honey could think about was popping these children out so she could walk again. Jose came into the kitchen, where she was sitting by the window enjoying the same sun as Poppy and Alicia and sat down across from her.
"You look beautiful," he said.
"I don't feel beautiful. Make yourself useful, Darling. I am dying for a cup of tea.”
“The doctor said no caffeine, remember?”
“There is some herbal in the cupboard. Please, Jose." She closed her eyes. "Tea."
Jose smiled at her and leaned forward, kissing her cheek. "Yes my love," he said. "You are anxious to give birth?"
Honey rolled her eyes at him.
"What do you think?"
Jose chuckled. "So cranky," he said, smiling. He kissed the top of her head and busied himself at the kitchen counter preparing tea. He put the kettle on to boil, took out two large mugs from the cupboard and placed two Earl Grey tea bags at the bottom of each cup. "Interesting that your due date is Friday the 13th, don't you think?"
"I haven't paid it the slightest thought," Honey said. "I don't remember pregnancy being so bothersome with David. I don't know why woman would choose to do this to themselves."
"You're carrying twins now; David was just one baby.”
“Yes, but I don't remember much about his pregnancy.”
“I think the brain blocks the bad parts of pregnancy out so you don't remember them when you get pregnant again."
"Must be," she said. "Like built-in amnesia. Well, even if I don't remember, this is still horrible for me, Darling! I haven't seen the outside of the house in months!”
“How about we go out to dinner tonight then? It's feels like years since we've been out.”
“Oh, Darling. We could try that new Vietnamese restaurant that opened up down the street. Vanessa says it's wonderful."
Vanessa was their next door neighbour. She lived alone and had an amazing rose garden out front of her house. When Jose and Honey had bought the house from Elgin Street, on Tecumseh Avenue, Poppy and Alicia had lived next door to them. When they left, Vanessa moved in, bringing her roses with her. The scent of them filtered through the open window now, reminding Honey of Summer.
Sipping her tea, she stopped and put her cup on the table when the babies began to kick. It felt as if her gut would fly out across the room. "Do you want to feel the babies?"
Jose came to her and put his hands on her large, round stomach. "Certainly is a miracle."
"The miracle will be giving birth to them and remaining in one piece. We haven't even named them yet, Darling. We have a big task ahead of us; it's hard enough to think of one name. Since we're having twins, we have to think of two!"
"It would have helped had you wanted to know their gender."
"Where's the fun in that? I want it to be a surprise. It may be two girls or a boy and a girl or two boys for all that matter. It will be like Christmas!"
"How is having children like Christmas?”
“Because you don't know what you're getting.”
“Not if you don't ask," Jose said, sulking. Honey smiled and patted his cheek. "You're upset. . .”
“Yes, you are. You're upset that I didn't let us find out the gender of our babies when we had the ultrasounds."
Jose nodded. "Well, maybe a little. Forgive me?”
“There is nothing to forgive. Besides, I think we may know the answer to their gender sooner than we think.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because my water just broke."
Working Nine to Five
Poppy rolled her eyes. "What kind of problem?”
“There's blood all over the walls in the kitchen. . ." Moe said.
Poppy and Alicia ran into the kitchen. Moe just sort of glided along and materialized on the other side of the wall. Poppy envied him this talent; she had long wanted to be able to walk through walls. It was easier to get away that way. When she was a child, she had wished she could walk through walls as that would have made her special. It took her years to realize that she already was. The kitchen was drenched with blood. Great waves of it flowed from cracks in the ceiling and poured down the walls in sheets. The air smelled of it, hot and salty. It made Poppy think of hot summer days.
"Hey!" Alicia yelled. She looked up at the ceiling. "Hey!" she called again. "Stop this! Did you hear me? I said stop!"
The blood flow began to slow, the torrents losing speed. Soon, only drips and long marks of blood decorated the walls. They watched as the house sucked all the blood back within its walls, watching until the last drop had been absorbed into the walls in front of them.
"That was fun," Moe said. "Want to try that again?" He smiled at them. Alicia growled at him. "Why did the house do that?" Poppy asked. "It's never bled before.”
“I don't know." Alicia looked up. "Why are you bleeding?" she asked. "What caused the blood flow?" The only answer she got from the house was the sound of crying coming from the attic.
"You're losing it, you know. Talking to a house and all that." Moe said. "You know," Poppy said, "that's what normal people would say about talking to a ghost.”
“Ouch," Moe said, "I've been hit.”
“Haven't you got some attics to haunt?" Alicia said.
"Well, with a real live haunted house on your hands, I doubt very much that I need to go to the attic. There's something crying
"We don't have a satellite dish." Alicia said.
"I know. But we get the channels. See, haunted houses ARE good for something." He flew through the kitchen wall. "How're we getting satellite channels?" Poppy asked.
"Through the high energy of the house I expect.”
“Hm," Poppy replied. "I wonder if we get HBO?"
* * * * *
Poppy just managed to catch the 12:35 bus that would take her to Spandoosh's front door for her three hour shift. She hoped that it would go quickly; she didn't like to spend too much time in this place anymore.
She didn't hate work, just the atmosphere. She had tried working 9 to 5 and that just didn't work for her. She was too much of a free spirit to be boxed in by an office in regular hours, a place where she would have to sign over her soul. She had tried some light secretarial work out of high school, decided it wasn't for her and went back to school to get her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Art History. She was going to go for her Masters until she realized that true art wasn't in the schooling, it was in the doing.
She let herself into Spandoosh's gallery and turned on the lights.
It really was a beautiful place to work: large open spaces, big bright windows and more hardwood flooring than you could shake a stick at. The gallery section was all open, painting and canvases displayed subtly, artfully, so that nothing looked crammed. The office was in the back, behind a desk that faced the front door. She would be sitting at the desk today, as Daphne was off today. She was alone, blissfully alone, and she loved it. The gallery was only open from 1pm to 4pm on Fridays as most people did their gallery viewing on Saturday and Sundays. She would be home in the blink of an eye, she thought, smiling.