Heinrich adjusted what looked like a printer and he motioned for Marie to join him.
“There’s nothing to be scared of Marie. Please come and take a look at this,” he motioned to a print-out as he turned his attention to plugging cords into the monitor. “This is a frequency meter. In laymen’s terms, it measures differing levels of energy in a location.”
“It looks like a seismograph,” she said keeping a distance from the machine.
“True. You see these numbers on the side? That’s what we’re measuring against. A normal suburban home should be on a scale between one and three,” he pointed to the spikes in the graph. “This room is between five and seven with a nine spike every now and then. The graph goes all the way to twelve.”
Heinrich smiled at Marie as she visibly shivered.
“No need to worry Marie. This is what I was anticipating. There is exceptional energy here which is why people think it’s haunted, but remember, it’s only an echo of what once was. Nothing harmful.”
Heinrich flipped on the monitor and a video loop of himself sitting in the chair talking showed. He pulled the sheet of paper in front of him and his finger slowly moved across the graph, following in time with the video.
In the video, just behind Heinrich, a ball of light flickered into existence and there was a corresponding small spike in the graph. Then the ball folded out and a glowing form of what looked like a woman stood looking down at his head. The graph spiked again. Then her mouth opened and she looked to be screaming. Her jaw opened unnaturally and seemed to melt off her face just before she erupted in a fiery burst which matched the largest spike in the graph. Then nothing.
Marie stood shivering next to Heinrich, but he looked at her smiling.
“An echo of a memory.”
“You never felt it, right?” Vicky said annoyed.
“Well no, but damn. That shook me, Vicky. That was probably the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t need to go any further. I can say without a doubt that this is the most haunted place I’ve ever been to.”
“Of course it is! We know that already, but that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to prove that it’s not dangerous. So far that seems true, I mean obviously, the girl didn’t actually touch you, right? It was all in the camera. Remember what Heinrich says, it’s just energy. The battery of the camera must amplify the energy. Stop being such a pansy!”
They pressed on, but he refused to hold the camera to his face as they headed into the cell block. It was pitch black inside. All they had was the illumination from the camera light and Vicky’s mag light to show the way. The hallway was painted white with doors lining both sides. The doors had view holes cut five feet up with bars across them. The rooms inside were dark and Steve didn’t want to look in. He kept his eyes straight on the hallway, but as they walked the hall Vicky opened doors and peeked in each cell. They were empty but had a veneer of mold and filth. The stench was tremendous.
“Take a look in there with the camera, Steve!” Vicky said, pointing to one of the cells.
Steve held up the camera to appease Vicky, but couldn’t get himself to look through the viewfinder. He was terrified of what he might see through the electronically enhanced lens.
“Let’s set it up here,” Steve said trying to keep his voice from wavering. “There’s all kinds of creepy shit showing up in the camera,” he lied.
Vicky stopped and shone the light around the area. She shrugged and took a bag off her back and began to set up equipment. Steve held his face up to the camera but kept his eye closed, feeling both ashamed and terrified.
“Do you feel cold?” He asked Vicky.
“Yeah,” it was a short answer for her. Steve wondered if she was focused on setting up the equipment, or for once if she was actually afraid.
Steve moved over to a cell and acted like he was filming the room when his walkie-talkie crackled.
“Steve! You’re getting some great stuff! Can you see it on the other side of the lens?” Heinrich said.
“Yes sir!” He lied and looked back at Vicky. “You should see this,” he tried to infuse excitement in his voice.
Vicky clicked something that looked like a black plastic ball on the top of a tripod and connected a wire to the base of it. The wire ran down to another machine that looked like a printer.
“Alright, hold your horses pansy boy. I’m just finishing,” she walked to Steve and leaned over his shoulder as he held the camera out to her.
On the other side of the camera was a man. Its eyes had been scratched out and its lips had been ripped back away from its teeth. Its bare chest shown with concentric circles carved into it.
“Vicky,” its mouth didn’t move, but she heard it.
“I’m telling you Heinrich that was no echo. It knew my name!” Vicky said once they were back in the lobby.
“My dear girl. This is exactly why ghost theories run so rampant. Your mind begins to play with you when you see disturbing things. Especially when you’re alone and vulnerable. Come I’ll play you the tape and you’ll see,” Heinrich waved Vicky over to the monitor.
Heinrich turned it on and replayed the video. It showed them walk into the hallway which was filled with people. There were nurses, patients in straitjackets writhing on the ground, and audio echoed with moaning and laughing. Vicky held herself while she watched the video. It moved from disturbing scene to disturbing scene as Steve moved the camera from cell to cell. Vicky punched Steve as he watched the video in abject horror.
“Why didn’t you tell me you saw all this? It’s like watching a damn movie!” Vicky said fuming.
Steve shrugged in response.
Finally, they got to the end of the recording with the figure. It held its arms out, but Vicky’s name was never uttered.
“You see my dear there are some very heavy energies here and sometimes those energies can play with your mind. Have you ever walked into a room and thought a coat rack was a person standing in a corner? This is the same phenomena. Plus, I’d say you have a very good spook reel Miss Arbetrout. You just might want to outlaw cameras for your guests,” Heinrich finished.
“I am feeling a little better now that they have not been hurt,” Marie said. “My family might not have made a mistake after all.” She said with a slight smile. “Can we go out into the fields now? That’s where I’d like to build the hotel. I want to see what you think of that area.”
“With all due respect, I agree with Vicky. I think this is just a little bit too heavy for a vacation spot. We may not have been hurt, but I felt like we got off light,” Steve said with a slight shiver.
“Don’t put words into my mouth pansy boy! I might have been startled but I never said I wanted to abandon this.”
“Look, just because you don’t want to lose face doesn’t mean we should risk our lives…”
“Stop it!” Heinrich said. “I will not take this bickering. Let’s go where our benefactor wishes. I swear to you that there’s nothing here that can harm us.”
“There is no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going,” an echo of Heinrich’s voice floated through the air.
The group stopped and looked around. Heinrich slowly smiled.
“Fascinating! The energies are so high that they even take recent events and play them back!” Heinrich said and bent to study printing out of his machine.
Marie looked up and saw a man in a doctor’s jacket smiling at her from the balcony of the second story. She walked to the staircase, but by the time reached it, the figure was gone.
“I think I just saw the doctor!” Marie said turning to the group, not noticing a bust which had slipped from its pedestal on the balcony railing.
“Look out!” Steve said pointing at the bust.
Marie turned in the nick of time. The bust grazed her face, slicing her cheek, before slamming into the ground at her feet.
“Marie! Are you alright?” Heinrich asked.
Marie held her hand to her cheek and smiled demurely. “I feel I must renovate before I bring people in, no? Merde, now I match my great aunt!”
“Jesus Marie! You could have been killed!” Steve exclaimed.
“But I was not. There are dangers in renovations Steven. It was a statue, not a ghost. No need to worry. Let us venture to the field.”
“Agreed. I understand your stance, Steve,” Heinrich said. “But as your employer, I must ask you to press on. I feel moderately comfortable that we can say this is not a dangerous place. At least as it pertains to spirits, but I would like to continue our investigations because this island has the highest energies I’ve ever seen. We just need more data.”
“Yeah now pick up the camera pansy boy and let’s get going!” Vicky teased.
As Steve picked up the camera it happened to point to a door with a little window. In the window, the camera portrayed the doctor Marie saw standing over a body strapped to a table. The body had multiple wires attached to it and it was shaking on the table. The man in the doctor’s outfit turned and smiled at the camera, mouthing unheard words before pointing at the group.
The group left the hall, following Marie and as they did so they could hear what sounded like Heinrich’s voice echoing:
“There is no earthly way of knowing, exactly which direction we are going.”