No Light

Deirdre walked up the path towards the house. The agent’s For Sale board was still there, the windows curtainless. In the front window a man nodded to her. She waved a greeting. He turned from the view as she neared the door.

“Come in, come in,” he called. Deirdre pushed at the door and entered the dark interior.

“Mr Redcliffe?”

“Yeah. Hi. Come in to the kitchen. No furniture anywhere else, see?”

He led the way into the back of the house. The kitchen seemed desolate. The surfaces were bare. The only furniture was a garden foldaway chair at the breakfast bar. Deidre bet the cupboards were all empty too. Mr Redcliffe nodded towards the chair and leant against a work surface, his hands stuffed into his jean pockets.

Deirdre unbuttoned her coat and sat. Mr Redcliffe was not at all what she had expected. He was a good twenty years or more younger than her usual clients. A man too. She wondered what sort of experience would make a young macho man call on someone like her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “There’s nothing in the house I can offer you. We don’t even have a kettle.”

Deirdre smiled. “That’s all right, dear. Tealeaves aren’t my sort of thing. I’m not a fortune teller.”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean – I’m sorry. You’re the first, um….”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve been called much worse than fortune teller, I can tell you. No, you just wanted to be hospitable, I understand. It’s what makes us human, the drive to be social. Every culture meets over a shared drink, did you know that? We’ll pretend we’ve shared a nice cuppa, shall we?”

“Ha, yeah. Never did play much at tea parties, though.”

“Well, maybe we’ll pretend we’ve shared a drop of something stronger. So, just moving in?”

“Yeah. Alice saw this place and fell in love with it. Started planning her dinner parties and the nursery and everything on the way back from the viewing.”

“Your first house?”

He nodded.

“And how can I help you?”

He swallowed hard. He looked like a man desperate for more than just a drop of something stronger.

“There’s this ghost.” He shrugged and smiled apologetically.

“A departed spirit? Really? That’s unusual for such a modern property. Was there a death here, do you know?”

“Not here, not in the house. But the guy that owned it before, he committed suicide.”

“And you think he’s still here.”

“No. I don’t think he’s here, I know he is.”

“And why’s that?”

“What?” He looked confused, as though she’d asked him why he thought the grass was green. “Because he is. I mean, I’ve seen him. Heard him. He’s here.”

“Please, Mr Redcliffe, I’m not the enemy here. I believe you. Most people wouldn’t, but I do. I’m just trying to understand, that’s all. When you saw him, how exactly did he appear.”

“How do you mean?”

“Was it a shadow? A reflection? A movement in the corner of your eye?”

“No, it was him. Just like you, sitting there. He was just like, you know, a person.”

“Really? How wonderful.”

“Wonderful? How is it wonderful? He’s a ghost. He shouldn’t be here. He should be, I don’t know, wherever they’re meant to go. He shouldn’t be here, haunting a house he doesn’t own anymore.”

“I understand. I just meant, well, it’s unusual, that’s all. People see objects move, hear noises, experience cold spots, but to see a spirit fully manifest, that’s so rare. You must have a gift, Mr Redcliffe.”

“It’s not a gift. I just want him to go. Move on, that’s the right phrase, isn’t it? Move towards the light. Go through the door. Join the happy hunting ground.”

“That’s a tad more difficult, Mr Redcliffe. Spirits that retain a presence on this plane are often troubled. Unresolved issues, unfinished business. They’re torn by a desire to make things good, to complete their lives. It’s not simply a matter of serving them a spiritual eviction notice.”

“But you can exorcise them, right?”

“Me? No. And I’m not sure the church exorcises the spirits of the departed. It’s more demons and evil spirits. Have you tried talking to the local priest?”

“He won’t listen to me. Could you try talking to him for me?”

“I’m afraid not. They don’t exactly chat to me either. I’m not in their favourite profession. Listen, I can communicate with this spirit, at least I can try to. Ask him what he wants, see if there’s some way we can resolve this.”

“No, that’s no good. I’ve talked. He needs a shove. He can’t move on by himself. He needs a kick up the backside, otherwise he’s going to mope around here forever.”

“Goodness. Mr Redcliffe, if you can do all that, then you really don’t need me. Genuinely talking to the departed is a rare gift. There are so many charlatans around.”

“Tell me about it. I tried dozens of mediums before I found you.”

“Really? I’m flattered. That you think I’m not a fraud, I mean.”

“No, I know you’re genuine, but if you can’t get rid of him, what good are you? No offense, but I need him gone.”

“How did he die? If you know, I mean.”

“Cut his wrists. His fiancee ran off with another guy, just before their wedding.”

“Oh my. That’s terrible. But you still bought the house? Didn’t they tell you about it?”

He shrugged and kicked at an invisible mote on the floor. “The point is, he’s here, and he shouldn’t be. He needs to get his arse booted up to heaven or hell or wherever, and let the living carry on with their life. But the miserable sod is so mired down he won’t move.”

“Mr Redcliffe! A little sympathy for the departed.”

“He has enough -”

“Who are you?”

Deirdre turned. In the kitchen doorway stood a middle-aged woman sporting a clipboard and a scowl. Behind her stood a young couple.

“I’m sorry?”

The stranger marched into the kitchen. “This is private property. You shouldn’t be here. Get out.”

“I’m here at Mr Redcliffe’s invitation.”

“What?”

Deirdre waved a hand in Mr Redcliffe’s direction. “Mr Redcliffe invited me here.”

The intruder ignored him. “Get out, or I’ll call the police.”

“Sorry?”

“Mr Redcliffe is – well, he’s no longer the owner of this house. How did you even get in?”

Deirdre looked towards the young man in confusion. He shrugged and slowly pulled his hands out of his pockets. The wounds on his wrists gaped open.

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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