Under His Spell - MINK
I love ghost stories. Always have. The autumn wind blows through my hair as I cruise along the country road with my windows open and the radio turned up loud. The trees are bursting in oranges and reds, leaves falling in the breeze as I round curves and gun it down straightaways.
Hilltop Manor sits high up on a ridge to my right.
I can see the dark roof in faint glimpses. Lucifer snoozes comfortably in the back window, his body all flopped out in the sun. He’s an excellent ghost-hunting companion—well, not so much, to be honest, but he is good at keeping me calm when things start to get creepy.
“You ready to investigate the ghost of Raven Ridge?” I ask him.
He keeps napping.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” I see the entrance to the winding driveway, the old gate long since busted and ivy crawling up the stone and metal.
Pulling out my phone, I snap a few photos. This is the seventh haunting I’ve investigated. It’s not really a job, per se, just a hobby. Though one time a lady paid me to check her basement when she heard some creepy sounds. Pipes. It’s always the pipes.
“I hope this place doesn’t have noisy pipes.” I peer up at the top of the ridge, but the vibrant trees block my view. “I hope the ghost is finally real this time.”
With a little maneuvering, I pull into the drive and start the bumpy trip down the hollow where a small stream crosses, then up the other side. My old Honda is doing its best on the overgrown weeds and loose gravel, but I do have some touch-and-go moments. Even Lucifer wakes up when my back tire spins out on the edge of a particularly steep cliff.
But then I wrench us back onto the narrow track and keep climbing.
“Almost there,” I tell him as he jumps to my well-clawed headrest and holds on.
Another gate looms ahead, this one closed.
“Crap.” I pull up to it and stop, my stomach a little queasy from the rough trip.
The place is abandoned. Has been for years. So why is the gate closed and in what appears to be good repair?
I grab my phone and open up the internet, intending to go back to the ghost hunter chatroom where I found out about this place. But there’s no service. Of course not. I’m out in the woods in the middle of nowhere investigating ghosts at an abandoned estate.
Walking to the gate, I look through it, past the grown-over fountain covered with moss and vines, and to the three-story home behind it. The white paint has faded to an ugly gray, several areas of it peeling and covered in ivy. At the top above the attic windows are a pair of gargoyles, their concrete dark with age. Definitely creepy.
I wiggle the gate. It’s not locked. There’s give to it. With a shove, I push it open. It swings easily, as if recently greased. I frown. Clearing my throat, I yell out, “Hello?” I don’t want to get shot as a trespasser even though the property records for this place are so old that no one’s entirely sure who owns it anymore.
Waiting, I stand still and listen for a response. There is none. Not from the dilapidated mansion or the small carriage house beside it.
I return to the car and pull past the fountain, parking in front of the double doors. Reaching back, I scratch Lucifer behind the ears. “You ready?”
He nuzzles my palm, then jumps into the front windshield to look at the house.
I open my door and step out, then jump back inside when something lands beside me. “Whoa, what the—” It’s a piece of concrete that shatters on the cobblestones.
“Shit.” I breathe a sigh of relief and look up at the roof just in time to see one of the gargoyles falling straight down.
“Lucifer!” I shriek and yank him out of the front windshield right as the gargoyle lands on my hood.
I stare at the beauty whose wide eyes are filled with fear for her cat. She presses that fluffy thing she called Lucifer to her chest. I immediately feel jealous of the damn thing.
I’m not going to even try to lie, I let the gargoyle fall on the hood of her shitty car. I hoped that little devil of a cat would move. There was no way a mere stone was going to take him down. Of that, I was sure. But this solved the whole