“I should have made the coffee,” Alex said as Trevor placed a steaming mug in front of her. The diary was on the table next to where she sat. As her glance fell on it, she remembered her harrowing experience in the basement and shuddered.
“That’s why I made it,” Trevor said taking the seat beside her. “Whether or not you’re willing to admit it, you’ve been traumatized. Are you sure you’re okay?”
She looked up to see his concerned expression. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. “But I’m sure I’ll be fine. Once I know the truth, and this all makes sense, I’ll be okay.”
He nodded. “Alright then. Besides being shaken, are you hurt anywhere? You look pretty banged up.”
Alex glanced down at her arms to see that she was covered in filth and scratches. The blood was already dried, so she hadn’t been cut too deeply. She wondered what her hair and face looked like and felt a flush heat her cheeks. Biting her lip, she turned away so Trevor wouldn’t see her embarrassment.
“I didn’t realize,” she said quietly.
“After what you went through, you must still be somewhat in shock. There’s no need to feel ashamed. But please, if you’re hurt, don’t keep it hidden. What if you need to go to the hospital?”
She shook her head. “It’s not as bad as that, I don’t think. The adrenaline has worn off by now and I don’t feel nauseous or searing agony. I’m sure I’ve got a goose egg at the back of my head from when I hit it, and my left shoulder is sore. Everything else is minor.”
“Is your arm dislocated? Can you move it?”
With a grimace, she lifted her arm to the side. It hurt, but not too badly.
Trevor nodded and sat back in his seat, satisfied. “Good,” he said taking a sip of his coffee.
Alex picked up her cup and took a sip as well. The comforting beverage eased the tension in her body, and she sighed in relief. “It was really stupid of me, wasn’t it?” she said half to herself.
“Yes,” Trevor said without hesitation. He smiled at her and nodded at the diary. “When did you want to start reading?”
“You don’t have to force yourself to stay,” she said.
His face took on a serious look as he leaned forward. “There’s no way in hell I’m leaving you alone with that thing still down there. Understood?”
“Understood,” she said meeting his gaze. She was relieved to know she wouldn’t be alone. With that creature still in the basement, she hated to think what would happen if Trevor chose to leave. Though she didn’t know him very well, she was grateful for his company. “Thanks. I guess we should start reading then.”
The account in the diary was both similar and different from what Alex already knew. By the time they had finished reading, it was almost morning.
“Wow,” Trevor said when Alex closed the diary. “That’s some story.”
“It is,” Alex said, the gears in her head whirring. “I need to tell Nessa.”
“I thought you didn’t want her to know what happened.”
Alex ran to the counter where her phone still sat. “She was going to find out sooner or later. Just look at me.”
Trevor laughed. “True. You might want to consider taking a shower.”
She stuck her tongue out at him as she called Vanessa. Though it was early, she knew her friend always kept the sound for her phone on. Sure enough, the line wasn’t ringing for long when the call was answered.
“Lex?” Vanessa asked her tone worried. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
Alex rolled her eyes. “Why does something have to be wrong for me to call you at odd hours of the night?”
“Barely, but yes.”
Alex glanced out the window to see that dawn was already turning to day. “Listen,” she said bringing herself back to the conversation, “I found the ghost’s diary. When can you get here?”
“Are you kidding? I’m already on my way!”
The call ended abruptly and Alex laughed. “She’ll be here soon.”
When Vanessa arrived, she took one look at Trevor before taking in Alex’s appearance. “What happened?” she demanded in a quiet yet dangerous tone.
“I’ll tell you after. Do you want to hear the story of the diary or not?”
Vanessa frowned at her and crossed her arms. “You will tell me right after,” she said without room for argument.
“Of course. Take a seat.”
“Would you like some coffee?” Trevor offered.
Vanessa nodded though she didn’t take her eyes off Alex. “Well?”
Alex laughed nervously. “Well, as I told you, this is the diary of the nameless woman. She wrote down her story.”
“Are you going to tell it?” Vanessa asked, sparing a brief glance at the diary.
“Well, as we already knew, she was the granddaughter of a lord from a distant land.
This lord had only one child; a daughter. When she was of marrying age, she was impregnated by a man deemed unfit for their family status. This man demanded that she be made his wife as she already was bearing his child, but the lord refused him. It was shameful for his daughter to be pregnant out of wed lock, but it would have been greater shame for her to marry her rapist.
“Because this man dared to challenge the lord, he was thrown in prison. There he remained for a number of years. However, once he gained his freedom, he returned to claim what he believed to be his by right. The lord, who obviously hates this man by this point, refuses again.”
“I would hope so,” Vanessa said accepting the cup of coffee Trevor brought for her.
“Well, this man went behind the lord’s back and asked the daughter to marry him. Rather, he demanded she run away with him. She refused. There was something of a struggle that the child witnessed, but the result was simply that in his rage, the woman was murdered. He decided to take what he thought belonged to him, stealing away with his daughter and the dowry of the woman. Now that he’s been listed as a thief, kidnapper, and murderer, he runs away to a place where no one knows him.”
“Here,” Vanessa said. “What a monster.”
“You have no idea,” Trevor said. He cleared his throat awkwardly at the looks from the two women. “Go on.”
“Did this murderer have a name?” Vanessa asked.
“Luther Canning. That might not be his real name, but it’s the name the girl heard her mother call him by.”
“Sounds like a creep.”
“Anyway. Luther has this house built. From what we know, he disappears at this point, but that’s only partially true. In reality, he only made it seem like he left when he actually stayed. He makes a secret room in the basement where he hides himself away, while maintaining a tight grip on his daughter. She isn’t allowed to leave the house, and quite frankly, she’s terrified to disobey.”
“Who wouldn’t be?” Vanessa said sympathetically. “The poor girl.”
Alex nodded. “Naturally, she despised her father. So, although she feared him, she refused to go anywhere near him. This angers Luther and he drags her to his secret hideaway where he tries to kill her.”
“Those were the screams the people heard from town?”
“No,” Alex said with a secretive grin. “She desperately tries to escape and while fighting for her life, kills him instead. This whole affair leaves her terrified and badly shaken. In her fright, she closes the door to the hideaway, locking the body inside to rot.”
Vanessa made a disgusted face. “I don’t blame her, but ew.”
“Exactly. It was around this time that she wrote her diary.”
“Why didn’t she leave?”
“It wasn’t so simple. She had no idea where she was. And she couldn’t exactly ask anyone.”
“She was mute.” Alex watched the understanding dawn on her friend’s face. “It’s all falling into place, isn’t it?” she said gleefully. “Well, it seems Luther’s spirit remained, and he tormented the girl. She tried to escape, but he made it so she couldn’t.
“On the day the groundskeeper saw her through the window, she already knew she would never be free. Since she couldn’t call for help, she gave the key to the groundskeeper hoping that he would someday free her, whether in this life or the next.”
“That’s so sad.”
“And that’s all that’s in the diary. The rest is just speculation. My guess is that Luther’s violent and angry spirit killed his daughter and stole her diary so that the truth would never be found out. I’m guessing the screams people heard that day were the roaring of a monster hunting its prey. And he’s still here.”
Vanessa stared at her blankly. “Come again?”
Alex glanced at Trevor.
“I met him. Tonight. I went down into the basement to find the hidden room. The ghost helped me.”
“Wait. You what!?” Vanessa said rising to her feet. Her chair clattered to the ground. “You went down into the basement with some angry spirit down there!? I knew I shouldn’t have given the key back to you! What were you thinking!? What if you’d been killed?”
“I told you I didn’t want to tell her,” Alex said to Trevor.
“Honestly, I’m on her side,” Trevor replied with a smirk. “I mean, you did almost get yourself killed.”
“What!?” Vanessa shrieked. “Lex, tell me what happened. NOW!”
Alex held up her hands in surrender. The sun had fully risen now, and though it was still early, at least there was natural light filling the house again. “Alright, just calm down,” she said launching into her tale of what had transpired that night.
Vanessa stood the whole time Alex spoke. When the story reached its conclusion, she was as white as a sheet. “So, it’s still there? I mean, there’s actually a demon in your basement?”
“That about sums it up,” Alex said.
“Oh,” Vanessa sighed shakily.
“The question now is,” Trevor piped in, “what do we do about it?”