TITLE: LGFIC: Don't Call Me Francois 3/6
DISCLAIMER: Carter & Co. gave them life
SHADET HOUSE CASE: AUDIO JOURNAL OF MELVIN FROHIKE, TAPE 1
It's Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Langly is working in the van, getting everything ready for Jimmy. Byers
has suggested, after analyzing the house floor plan, that we set up two
exterior cams, and three interior cams -- one in the living area, one in
the bedroom, and one in the kitchen/utility area. This is more input
than Jimmy's used to sorting through; but I'll take the time to make
sure he gets how to work the program. We've got a nice, easy user
interface with big colored symbols that will tell him what to do. A
10-year-old could run surveillance with our gear.
I called Yves and told her the vote fell in her favor. She said thanks,
and she'll meet us at the house tomorrow, 8 a.m. at the front gate. Why
do I get the feeling that she's not psyched to do this, either? It isn't
reassuring; the woman's a risk-taker, but she's got built-in radar
detection for dangerous situations. I hate that we've decided to go. I
hate that the money sounds so good.
Note to future generations: if you want to be rich, steer clear of the
Langly and I haven't thrown stuff into our duffels yet, but Byers has
moved his neatly packed suitcases near the front door next to our
growing equipment pile. He's sitting at his desk right now, poking at
one of the pieces of -- I'm not sure what to call it -- that we unpacked
from the green trunk. It looks like some kind of measuring device, a
meter. There was a greasy, stained, crumbled sheet of notebook paper
laying loose on top of everything, and Byers is trying to figure out
what it means. The words are readable, that's not the problem; but PKE
valences, Classes 1-10 vapors and apparitions, ectoplasmic ionization
rate ...? Give me a break. The damn thing looks like half of a karaoke
machine with a circuit tester attached. Another contraption reminds me
of an old radio mike, with spring-loaded arms; there are little lights
on the arms, like the landing lights on an airplane strip. Byers is in
love with this bit of junk. He's already scoped out the entire office
with it, pointing it into the corners. He even found a spot in the
darkroom where the arms give a little jump, near the sink. The damn sink
still drips, even though I've replaced the faucet unit about once a year
since we've lived here ...
Pretty useful device, if it detects leaking sinks, I told him; Byers
didn't even take time to acknowledge the sarcasm, just kept walking and
Anyway, on the to do list: pack a few clothes, take out the garbage ...
or we won't have an atmosphere left in the kitchen when we get back ...
call Scully, and get everyone in bed at a decent hour so we can face
whatever comes in the next few days with at least one good night's sleep.
Why do I keep putting off the call to Scully? I'd better do it now,
before it gets too late. I hope she's getting lots of sleep these days,
but I've seen the final stages of pregnancy go either way -- constant
zees or insomnia.
It's Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.
I swear, if I didn't love the man like a brother, I'd go after Pet
Cemetery Mulder myself with a stake. He finally got his ass bounced out
of the Bureau. I guess it's good to see him succeed at something he's
been working on for years. At least now he's got the time to do Lamaze
with Scully ... she waited long enough to start, for god's sake.
Why are all the woman around us in such need? And why can't we do
anything to help? I heard Scully's voice and wanted to get in the van
and drive over to her place and ... and I don't know what. She sounds
older, more mature on the phone. She still laughs a little, but the fire
is out. It isn't unhappiness I pick up on, exactly. She won't say much
about herself, and the baby, and Mulder. She's had a few medical
moments, but everything seems to be under control right now. So much for
the transcendent joys of motherhood.
I called her because I wanted to hear her voice, and wish her well, but
I also called to ask a few questions about an experience with a
so-called haunted house she'd mentioned once or twice. Scully seemed
reluctant to talk, but when I told her what we were going to do, she
talked a lot. The whole story spilled out, fast and furious. I think
from what she said, she's been mulling over it ever since it happened. I
can see why she would.
The bottom line in the Christmas ghost story, Scully says, is that it
isn't only the good or evil men do that can live on after they're gone.
Strong intent and the will to accomplish can also leave a mark that may
affect those who come after. She called what Maurice and Lida left a
"psychological maze." Although she wasn't forthcoming with all the
details, I gathered she feels both she and Mulder were particularly
susceptible to this kind of manipulation as a couple. "You go in wearing
blinkers," Scully said to me, "but you think your peripheral vision is
just fine. It makes it easier for whatever's doing the directing to
point you down a certain path. I'm aware of the blinkers now, but I
don't know how to remove them ... And I'm not sure I'd have the courage
to do it if I knew how."
Sweet lioness Scully, questioning her own courage. Lots of things she
could question about her life choices, her inability to quit a dead-end
job, her taste in men for instance; but her courage?
Our talk has confirmed my deepest misgivings about this project. If
Shadet House is manifesting paranormal activity, the worse dangers we
might face may be the hardest to guard against. I wish I could dismiss
any such possibility, but it strikes me this attitude may be potentially
more disastrous then maintaining a cautious, but open, mind.
SHADET HOUSE CASE: AUDIO JOURNAL OF MELVIN FROHIKE, TAPE 2
It's Thursday, 8:00 a.m. We're sitting in the van at the front gate,
waiting for Yves to show up. To be more precise, Byers and Langly are
sitting the van. I've stepped out for some air. Jimmy pulled up right
behind us in his car -- there wasn't room for another body in the van,
with all the baggage and equipment we've got. He's walking along the
front of the grassy hill near the gate with me, cheerful as ever.
(Jimmy's voice in background: "It's a berm. See? Artificial. They pushed
a whole bunch of dirt and rock up to make it.")
Thank you, Mr. Wright.
Am I ever going to get a handle on what Jimmy knows, and what he doesn't?
I'm checking out the gate set into the berm, which is devoid of
electronics, and has what looks like a keyhole for an old-fashion
skeleton key. No one has ever tried real hard to keep people out, I
guess. Even Jimmy could probably pick this lock. I push on the gate, and
it opens to a long, plain dirt driveway that disappears between thick
flowering bushes and oak trees.
It's a beautiful piece of property, the kind of place you'd want to go
for a Sunday picnic, with a basket full of chicken, a couple of bottles
of wine, a pretty lady, and a roomy blanket.
There's Yves ... I can hear her car coming fast down the road, kicking
gravel every which way. She's wearing leather and sunglasses; I have no
problem with her fashion sense. If my ass looked that good in leather,
I'd go for the complete ensemble, too. I'm going to prop the door open
with a rock, give Jimmy his last minute instructions, load the equipment
and baggage from the van into the two cars, then we'll follow Yves up to
the house in Jimmy's car.
It's 8:45 a.m. Yves is talking to the caretakers. What a pair. Roger
Brown bears a striking resemblance to Marty Feldman, and Reenee Brown
looks like Mama Cass toward the middle of her career. Jack Sprat and his
wife, except they're brother and sister, and according to Byers, never
married. They were waiting near the front door when we drove up,
standing side by side in American Gothic formation.
Up close the house is even stranger looking than it seemed in the web
pictures. The bottom tier is cut fieldstone, the middle tier is a series
of glass rectangles, but the reflective angle is weird, and depending on
where you stand the windows look either clear or opaque like black
lacquer. The third tier is more windows, horizontal instead of vertical,
set into what looks like rusty sandstone. Bushes and flowers crowd right
up against the foundation, and vines cover one end all the way to the
top tier. When Byers first showed us the floor plan, he pointed out that
the house was shaped like a truncated question mark, with a round pond
on the other side of the river putting the finishing touch to the
Byers is standing several feet away, just looking up at the house.
Langly is taking video equipment out of Jimmy's trunk, muttering to
himself. I'm turning off my com when I make these tapes, so I'll keep
the segments short, especially after we get the place wired. I want
*all* of us in pretty much constant communication with the van.
I'm still struck by the beauty of the site. It's quiet. I can hear
insects in the grass, the hum of honeybees in the flowering shrubs, and
a few birds chattering. After the city, this is a step back in time to a
more gracious, simple existence.
Wow. Nothing outside prepared us for what the house is like inside.
Sorry. It's 9:30 a.m. The Browns bailed after talking to Yves. I can't
say I feel that's a bad thing. If Roger Brown was hanging around, I'd
keep expecting him to sidle up and inquire if the master needed any
We're standing in the living room, looking out toward the mouth of the
waterfall, about 60 yards distant from the house. From here you can't
really tell that it's a waterfall ... the stream just disappears around
some boulders. The middle of the floor really is glass. Fortunately,
standing or walking on the glass is a choice; the area is only the size
of a large rug, perhaps 10 by 10 feet.
I don't know if I can adequately describe the scale of the interior, and
the way it *feels.* When we stepped in the front door, the thought came
that we'd found an abandoned church. I can't explain the impression,
because nothing here looks even faintly religious, or vaguely like a
conventional church. You shut the front door behind you, turn around and
your eyes seem to be yanked upward by the lines of the place, and
everything is white and glass and sunlight. Then a blink of intense
color drags your attention back to living level.
There are no walls between the front door and the living room, if that's
what the designer would call it. The back wall is a continuous curve of
white, and reaches a height of maybe 25 feet before it humps outward
toward the windows into a half ceiling, then once again curves upward to
meet the glass in the skylights over the half of the living room near
the windows. It's like an enormous, upside-down infinity wall in some
upscale photographer's studio.
The color is coming from objects on the floor, arranged in groups around
the glass inset over the river, and away from the windows, toward the
wall. I thought the stuff was some kind of modern art at first, like
statuary made of Murano glass. The colors are intense, but all in the
blue-green spectrum. The first thing Langly did was sit down on one, as
Byers automatically protested ... but the things appear to be chairs. I
tried one. Even in direct sun it's strangely cool to the touch, and no
more uncomfortable then your average waiting room chair. Since there is
a total absence of anything else that looks like furniture, either the
place has been emptied, or these things are the furniture.
(Langly's voice in background: "Anyone says Beetlejuice even twice in a
row, and I'm down that driveway.")
Yves has walked along the curve of the wall, and disappeared. The
curvature must be more severe than appearance suggests. Let's see ...
I'm walking just under the line where the ceiling turns to skylight,
looking backward and forward ... Yes. Here's the place. I can see Yves
ahead, staring upward at a cascade of glittering glass, and the guys
behind, still examining the glass lounge chairs. I take a step, another,
and I can't see the guys anymore.
There are mobiles here, hanging from the ceiling, like an abstract
representation of Indigo Creek's waterfall. Where'd I get that idea? I
haven't actually seen the waterfall from below. The artist must be on
the money, I guess. The colors are ice. Blue and green, frosted ghost
colors that stab the eyeball with diamond-shard intensity. Yves looks
like she's hypnotized.
We can gawk later. I thought Yves might take point on this expedition,
but I can see if I don't do the organizing, nothing will get done
properly. We need to recon the rest of the rooms, then get the place wired.
It's 1:00 p.m. We're in the kitchen, eating sandwiches, looking out the
windows at the Japanese-style garden that surrounds the round pond at
the tail of the house. Even from here we can see the horizontal rake
marks on the sand around neatly trimmed dwarf bushes.
We've got the cameras working, and Jimmy verified reception is 100
percent. He was bitching in my ear a minute ago that we're eating roast
beef and cheddar 'wiches, and he's stuck with baloney. Hey -- I told him
he was responsible for packing his own chow.
Acting on Mrs. S&M's instructions, the Browns have left us groceries
that would last well into next week. I figure they didn't know what we'd
like to eat.
Note to self: take all the leftovers with us.
Most of the food is either canned or fresh. No nuke-box in this kitchen.
Although it was designed in a simpler time, the modernity of the place
strikes me. It's spacious, open, the gas range has a built in grill top
... it's really cook friendly. The color scheme is still running to ice
green, but copper-bottomed pans and bright peach-color enameled
mouldings give the whole area a happier, more intimate feeling. I can
imagine doing some power cooking in this place. The fridge looks like
it's original to the house, kind of cramped, but adequate and still
frosty; it's full of deli cartons, juice boxes, milk and beer. That was
Byers has only eaten half of his sandwich. He's standing by the stove,
waving his toy mike around. As soon as he turned it on, the little arms
twitched. It doesn't matter where he points it, the arms stay steady.
Which tells us squat, but he seems delighted with the response. I can't
figure it out, since the sink here isn't dripping.
Yves hasn't eaten anything. She finally took a juice box that Langly
kept nagging her to drink. She looks unhappy, like she's wondering why
we're wasting time here. Once again, it's up to me to get our butts in gear.
<Part II - Part IV>