What's in a Name? (finale)
Purge and Redemption
Alex glanced from Trevor to Vanessa. “This is not going to be easy,” she said.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Vanessa spat, unease evident in her tone.
“Everyone’s going to be here soon,” Alex continued. It was much brighter in the house now, evidence of the morning now being in full swing. Within a few hours, the house would be filled with people. “We don’t know if Luther’s spirit is able to escape from the room, or if it is dormant with the door closed.”
“I’d say we should just seal it so no one can ever open it again,” Trevor suggested.
Alex shook her head. “If we do that, I don’t think she’ll ever be able to escape. She’s trapped here because of him and whatever control he has over her. That’s why she’s so afraid of him. I want to help her. I promised.”
“I don’t think he’ll go quietly,” Trevor said.
“We know his name now,” Vanessa said quietly. “Maybe we have some control over him now? At least, that’s often how it is with hauntings in movies.” Her voice trailed off in uncertainty. “This is real though.”
“Maybe we need to destroy the room,” Trevor suggested. “If he’s tied himself to that space, with it gone, he’ll be forced out, don’t you think?”
Alex frowned. “That might not be a bad idea, actually,” she said slowly. “This whole time, his story has been a mystery. He hid himself in secrecy. I think he’s somehow able to stay because no one knew about him. If we expose him, he might not be able to stay. It’s crazy, but I think we should tear down the wall.”
“What?” Vanessa said.
“But we should wait for everyone else to arrive. If we all take down the wall together, and share his story with everyone, he’ll have no secrets left to hide behind.”
Trevor grinned at her excitement. “I say let’s do it.”
She grinned back. “Great! Then would one of you be willing to pick up something for us to eat? I need to go clean up. Badly.”
“That you certainly do,” Trevor said with a laugh. “I’ll go get something. Are either of you picky eaters?”
“No. And if you’re gonna make fun of how I look, then just get out of here,” Alex said shooing him toward the front door. “And don’t take too long! I’m starving!” When she turned back, Vanessa was giving her an odd look. “What?”
“You two seem close,” she said with a knowing smirk.
Alex rolled her eyes. “The guy did save my life. And since I’m still wearing yesterday’s events, I’m going to take a shower.”
“Do you mind if I just hang out in your room? I don’t want to stay here by myself knowing there’s a monster in the basement. Gosh, I sound like a child.”
“You can come,” Alex said with a laugh. “I’ll feel better knowing you’re close anyway.”
Within half an hour, Alex was clean and changed. With her hair tied back in a tight braid, she felt ready for the battle to come. The breakfast sandwiches Trevor brought helped as well. Since she wanted to be able to address everyone of the plan, they ate their meal outside on the front porch.
John was the first to arrive, but soon everyone had gathered in the front yard. With all the workers present, Alex told them the story of the house’s history. She held the diary, reading certain entries as she explained the dark secrets she’d uncovered. When she had finished her story, she told them their plan of tearing down the wall to set the spirits free.
“This all sounds like some crazy nightmare,” Dave said. “Spirits?” It was obvious he didn’t believe her. Nor did many of the others.
“I know it’s not something you can believe,” Alex told them. “And it doesn’t matter. I’ve told you what the room looks like. If you want proof, help us tear down the wall and you’ll see for yourselves. If it was all just in my head, the evidence will be there.”
Helen was playing with her earrings anxiously. “And what if it is real?” she asked. “What if we expose a monster and set it loose?”
“Then we call a priest,” one of the other guys said with a laugh.
Alex looked at Vanessa and then at Trevor. Each of them nodded their support. “If you’ve got a sledgehammer, grab it now. We’ve got a wall to tear down.”
The basement was a large enough space to accommodated everyone. Not everyone could be near the wall, however, unless they wanted to get hit. Six guys, including Trevor began the work of tearing the wall down. Everyone else stood back to watch.
With each blow of the hammers, tension rose. Whether they believed in the paranormal or not, everyone wanted to see what would happen.
John was the first to break through. The hole was small, but it was a start.
The men cheered and raised their sledgehammers.
A piercing shriek cut off their excitement and each of them took a step away from the wall as something banged against it.
“What is that?” someone shouted.
Alex caught Trevor’s gaze.
He nodded at her, then turned to face the wall. Ignoring the angry screams, he continued the work of demolition. After a few swings of the sledgehammer, the other men joined in once more.
A large section of the wall collapsed inward in a could of dust. This swirled, taking human form in the gap. The strange phantasma screamed and rushed outward, hands extended toward Alex’s throat.
Alex thought to scream, but the dust caught in her throat and she fell to her knees in a fit of coughs. She felt a surge of hatred and anger, then it passed. Her limbs were like noodles; heavy noodles.
“Lex?” Vanessa asked worriedly.
“Finish clearing the wall,” she coughed.
If anyone had doubted before, they believed now.
Soon, the last of the wall was removed. The men worked quickly to clear away the debris to expose the room beyond.
With the lights on, Alex now had a proper view of what the room looked like. It was a dismal space, even more so with the furniture overturned from her scuffle the night before. Pushing herself to her feet, she was the first one to step into the room, even though her heart felt ready to burst out of her chest. Her gaze was drawn to the skeleton lying in the middle of the room. It didn’t move. Staring at it, she was expecting it to jump up and try to strangle her, but the spirit had already left. The room no longer felt as it had the night before. Even the stench of rotted eggs and death was mostly gone, replaced with the scent of dust and chemicals.
Trevor came to stand at her side. “I thought he’d put up more of a fight.”
“I thought he fought well enough,” she shuddered. “It’s just that there were no secrets left for him to hide behind.”
“Like you said.”
There was a collective gasp behind her, and she turned to see the ghostly woman looking at her. The woman was smiling.
“He’s gone,” Alex said. “All his secrets were revealed. You’re free.”
The ghost nodded her thanks and vanished.
Alex met Vanessa’s gaze and smiled. They had done it.
“What do we do with him?” Trevor asked.
“A part of me wants to say that we should just toss him in the garbage heap and be done with it,” Alex said glaring down at the bones. “But I suppose the noble thing to do would be to see he gets buried properly. He was still a man, after all. A bad man, but a man nonetheless.”
“I think that’s best,” John said from behind her. “I’ll see it done.”
She nodded at him. “Thank you.”
A few months later, the bulk of the house renovations were almost complete.
Alex and Vanessa walked through the gardens that were now prepped and ready for next spring. The exterior of the house had a fresh new look, bringing it into the modern century while keeping its historical charm.
“You did good here,” Vanessa said looking at the house.
“Thanks. I’m happy with how she’s turned out.”
“You sure you want to sell?”
Alex smiled and nodded. “I think so.”
“Because, you know you could turn it into a hotel of sorts. People would gladly stay in a place like this. Especially if they knew it had been haunted. You already have the museum set up downstairs.”
“I guess I still have time to decide,” Alex said admiring the house.
The basement she had decided to convert into a mini museum. The original blueprints were hung on the wall, and the secret room had been cleaned and set back to its original state. This she then blocked off with a glass wall so that it was no longer secret. The diary was also down there, locked in a display case. A few entries had been printed off and framed so the house’s history could still be known.
“It has been in the family for generations. But do I want to stay in this town?”
Vanessa laughed and nudged her in the arm. “I could think of a certain someone who would like for you to stay.”
Alex pushed her friend playfully. “You’re a hopeless romantic, you know that?”
“Are we going to go see her or not?”
They walked the path to the place where the woman with no name was buried. The tombstone remained blank.
Alex knelt at the grave and placed the flower she carried at its base.
“You never let me read the diary,” Vanessa said kneeling beside her. “Are you ever going to tell me her name?”
“What’s in a name?” Alex said mysteriously.
“That’s not fair,” Vanessa said pushing her. “You made sure to put Luther’s name on his tombstone!”
Alex laughed. “It’s more exciting this way, isn’t it? Besides, I didn’t want him to have any secrets left to him. For her, it’s different. She’s the woman with no name. It’s her story that will draw people to this place. Everyone will know who she is by not knowing who she is.” She stood up and smiled down at the grave. “Maybe I will stay.”
She nodded. “Who else would understand her like I do?”
Vanessa smiled sweetly and took Alex’s hand in hers. “I’m sure that would make her happy.”
“So . . . should I tell Trevor, or will you?”
Vanessa laughed and ran, Alex giving chase.
Alex paused to glance back at the grave. She was sure she saw a blue haze floating just behind it. With a smile, she turned to face the house. Somehow, everything had worked out.