Friday, August 28, 2020

Lightning Jenny

The estate of Mr Bowdler rose in close proximity to its moldering predecessor. Those stately halls played host to a vengeful spirit reluctantly inherited by each new generation. The current owner figured it time to opt out of the arrangement.

We finished our tour in his spacious kitchen. A few domestics lingered, though they clearly would not pass the night here, and would bolt at the coming of a storm. That, I understood, was the spirit's preferred milieu--the raw power of nature.

My host paused next to a scarred prep table. "Things took a sinister turn when a cook was stabbed last month. The blow was high in the back, perhaps amateurish, but lethality was assured by a sharp butcher knife. It had lain on this very work surface."

"Then the spirit," said I, "is capable of handling solid objects, and must use those close to hand." Having decided to engage, I proferred my card.

"M. Galwaith, Paranormal Instigator," the host read. "An unusual title."

"One might say that I bring things to a head."

Bowdler exited to a brick patio overhung by dripping trees. A servant laid out a table with tea and biscuits. Even on so fresh a morn, the nearby ruins proved daunting, enshrouded by clutching trees.

"As you may expect," Bowdler began, "it all started with a storm. Jenny stabbed an unfaithful lover on such a night in a ballroom, and was later hanged for it. Thus we live in dread of storms."

"How do you cope?"

"There is nothing in my chambers more dangerous than a pillow. I keep the shutters closed so I don't have to see the specter, keeping a lantern close by. But she makes her presence know when some object shifts to a phantom hand."

"The shutters?" I queried.

"Ah yes. She becomes visible in the glare of lightning. That would prove opportune if there were some weapon for use against spirits."

"I believe there is such a weapon."

The host leaned forward. "Excellent! I timed our interview based on a weather report. In two days, we shall have an electrical storm of prodigious magnitude."

I set down my cup to ponder the decrepit manor. "Then I shall intrude on that very ballroom. It's an affront she won't let pass unchallenged."

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