The Woman with No Name
Alex lay in bed, her thoughts on the mysterious man and the woman with no name. As she drifted into sleep, her dreams were plagued by visions influenced by the information she’d learned. Upon waking from them, she burned with a desire to find the truth.
“There must be something else,” she decided as she stared at herself in the bathroom mirror.
A movement out the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned quickly, but the doorway between the on suite and bedroom was empty. Curiously, she walked into the room. No one was there. “Hello?” she called.
“Hello!” came the echo from downstairs.
She jumped, her heart racing within her chest from the unexpected response. The workers were arriving. “So dumb,” she sighed. “Who says hello and then freaks out when someone says hello back? Ridiculous.” After chiding herself, she joined the crew downstairs for the day’s work.
Throughout the afternoon, Alex saw shadows flicker at the edge of sight only to disappear a moment later. Her curiosity and anxiety continued to grow throughout the day. She found herself watching for the shadows, hoping to catch sight of their source. The movement of the others in the house, everything had her on edge.
“Are you okay, Alex?” Vanessa’s mom asked.
“I’m just,” she began, then corrected herself with a smile. “Everything’s fine, Helen. I guess I’ve just been thinking too much. Lots on the mind.” She lightly bumped her head with the heel of her hand and laughed.
“You’ve taken on a big project,” Helen said in her motherly tone. “Try not to overdo it.”
Alex nodded and gave her a hug. “Thanks. I won’t.”
“Good girl. Now, I took the liberty of ordering some pizza and I believe it will be here momentarily.”
“Pizza sounds good right about now.” As though to emphasize the point, Alex’s stomach gurgled hungrily.
Helen laughed. “John and the others are leaving now. Us girls will have a nice, quiet meal together. That sound good?”
“I hardly think it’ll be quiet,” Alex said with a laugh. “I’d better go see the guys off.”
John was just walking to his truck when Alex caught up with him. “Oh good, I was hoping I’d get to see you before I left,” he said in greeting. “Dave says his pal can come in a couple days to check the basement for us. I told him that was fine since we probably won’t start down there until next week anyway.”
“That’s great,” Alex said. “The sooner he can come and get rid of the smell, the better.”
“Agreed. Oh, but you might want to look into finding the key. Alfred tried the door, but it was locked, and since its in great condition, I’d rather not see it come to harm.”
“I will check.”
The shadows did not reveal themselves for the remainder of the evening. Or perhaps she had grown too preoccupied to notice them. Either way, she was glad when the house was empty of all but herself. Well, herself and the many mysteries hidden within.
After some investigating, she found a cluster of keys hanging on a hook inside the fireplace of the room to the left of the entrance. “That’s an odd place to put keys,” she said frowning at the fireplace. “Then again, I guess it’s a great hiding spot.”
She placed the keys in her purse before heading up to bed.
That night she dreamt of a faceless man building a house and leaving a young girl trapped inside. In the dream, she stood beside the girl in the front room looking out the window.
The girl was banging on the window in a panic. She looked back over her shoulder, then continued her furious pounding against the glass. When a figure appeared outside, she slid the pane to the side and thrust something into the person’s hand. Then, having shut the window, she ran.
“Wait!” Alex called chasing after her. She found her lying in a growing puddle of blood on the floor of the circular area at the center of the house. Horrified, she stared at the dead girl.
Something stood over the young woman, hands dripping with blood.
She recognized the entity from her other dreams. As it turned toward her, she tried to command her feet to run. They refused to budge, remaining glued to their position.
The entity rushed at her, its bloodied hands reaching for her throat.
Alex awoke with a panicked gasp and she sat upright in bed. She hadn’t expected to come face-to-face with an orb of blue light floating at the foot of her bed, but such was the sight that greeted her. Terrified, she pressed her back against the headboard as though she could faze through it to safety.
The orb drifted toward her, then made its way to the door. There, it waited.
Confused, Alex stared at it wide-eyed. “Do you want me to follow you?” she asked in a barely perceptible whisper.
In answer, the orb disappeared into the hall only to reappear seconds later.
“Okay,” she said thinking this might still be a dream. “I’ll come.” Taking her hammer in hand, she followed the light to the front room.
The light stopped in front of the window. It seemed to be staring at her. Then, where the light had been, a young woman now stood. She said nothing, did nothing, only waited.
“Are you a ghost?” Alex asked.
The woman nodded.
“I’m dreaming, right?”
The woman shook her head.
Alex stared at the ghost, still not comprehending what was happening. This couldn’t be possible. “Are you the woman?” she asked. “I mean, are you the woman who died in this house?”
In response, the woman looked out the window.
Slowly, Alex came to stand beside her, just like in her dream. “Do you like flowers?” she asked.
The woman nodded.
“Who are you?”
The woman’s expression was sad as she met Alex’s gaze.
“You were a prisoner here, weren’t you? Why? How? Could you not have left this place? Didn’t you want to go back to your grandfather?”
Eyes downcast, the ghost shook her head and hugged herself.
“Can you speak?”
She shook her head.
“When you were alive, could you speak?”
Alex tried another question. “I don’t want to sound rude, but how did you die? I know you can’t talk, but maybe you can show me. Please, I want to know what happened to you.”
The ghost stared at her, then motioned for her to follow. She didn’t walk. Rather, she seemed to float or glide down the hall, leading Alex to the door that led to the basement. Here, she stopped and pointed at the door.
Not understanding, Alex reached for the doorknob. Before her fingers could touch the knob, a force pushed her onto her back, knocking the air from her lungs. “What!” she gasped when she caught her breath.
The ghostly woman stood over her and shook her head. There was a pleading in her phantom eyes.
“Ow,” Alex said getting to her feet. “I just wanted to look.”
With another shake of her head, the woman pointed at the door.
Just then, and awful stench reached Alex’s sinuses. “Ack,” she gasped covering her mouth and nose with her hands. “What is that? It smells like rotten food and death.” That was the description Dave had mentioned. She understood now. “What’s down there?”
The ghost pointed to the door and shook her head.
“I don’t understand what you mean. I asked you how you died. You didn’t fall down the stairs to the basement because the records say your body was found on the main floor.”
Seeming frustrated, the woman floated back to the main hall. With Alex at her side, she pointed at the walls.
Alex watched as scratch marks appeared in the wallpaper. “What is that?”
The ghost pointed back the way they had come.
She didn’t quiet understand, but a suspicion formed in her mind. “Are you trying to tell me that there’s something in the basement?”
“And whatever it is, it came out here and killed you?”
The woman opened wide her arms and scars appeared all over her body and face. The markings matched the scratches on the wall.
Alex threw a hand over her mouth as a wave of sadness washed over her. She didn’t know if it was her own or that of the ghost, but it was strong enough to send tears running down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry,” she said.
The scars faded from the ghost’s form. The woman smiled sadly at Alex, then motioned for her to follow once again. This time, she led her outside to the gardens.
Alex knew exactly where they were headed.
The ghost stopped in front of the blank tombstone and pointed.
“This is you,” Alex said.
“Who are you?” she asked again.
Once more, she pointed at the grave.
Alex sank to her knees and gently pulled back the vines to reveal the stone’s surface. There were no carvings and no markings of any kind, just as she already knew. “The woman with no name.” She looked at the ghost who now sat beside her and a feeling of grief she knew to be her own weighed on her. “I’m so sorry.”