Mary stood outside Cy's home experiencing a different sort of nervousness this time: the gut wrenching, heart palpitating, skin crawling type. Actually, it didn't feel that different from the first date jitters. What did she think she was doing? Ricky had nearly got her last time. Going back into the basement seemed an extremely bad idea, but she was the only one who had a chance of helping Cy. He might not want her help, but he needed it. Mary was relieved when Rachel arrived until she saw that her best friend had brought stakes and garlic.
“Uh Rach, you're referencing the wrong horror movies for this.”
“Be prepared for anything, I say,” she replied. Mary shook her head but didn't argue. If they made Rachel feel safe, then Mary wouldn't rag on her about them; maybe they were her occult equivalent of teddy bears. If she held them close, the monster would go away, but then the monster could always view garlic as nice seasoning for human and the stakes as handy toothpicks. Mary put a stop to these thoughts. They were beginning to freak her out.
“Let’s just get this over with,” she said.
Rachel saluted with a stake. “After you, Dr. Van Helsing.”
Mary grimaced. The idea that she was the professor for their little group of monster hunters was not encouraging. The professor was supposed to be the smart collected one. The way her brain kept taking little turns on the mental merry-go-round did not instill confidence. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on Cy’s door.
The door opened as she raised her hand to give it a second rap. Cy looked out at them for a moment as if he’d forgotten that he’d invited them over. Mary wanted to say hi but waited for him to do it first. He didn’t say hi. He just stepped back to give them room to come in. Mary’s stomach did a little twist as she silently went by him. Rachel looked around the house. She took in all the pictures and stuff and said, “Hard to believe this place is haunted.”
“How do I get to the basement?” Mary asked.
“Through the kitchen,” he said, leading them back. A low counter divided the kitchen and living room. The door to the basement stairs was off to the side. Cy opened it for her.
Mary went to the top of the stairs. “You guys should stay up here,” she told Cy and Rachel. Cy shrugged and sat down at the kitchen table.
“Don’t you need back-up?” Rachel asked.
Mary shook her head. “It’s better if I go down alone.” She glanced one more time at Cy to check on him. He was flipping through a magazine. Mary wondered if he would still ignore her when she came back up. Would he ask about Ricky? Would he care?
Mary took the first step down and stopped. It was awfully dark down there. Rachel hovered at her back.
“Where's the light switch, Cy?” Mary asked.
“At the bottom of the stairs,” he answered.
“Perfect,” Mary muttered. She crept down the steps slowly. The last one made a loud creak that made her jump and almost fall. She gritted her teeth and told herself to calm down. Ricky hadn’t even done anything yet. No reason to panic. Yet.
The basement floor was cold cement. The chill crept up through her Doc Martens and made her feet tingle. She searched for the light switch. The wall was rough cinder block. It was making the tips of her fingers tender as she brushed over it. She was about to call to Cy again to ask where the light switch was when she touched it. She flipped it and blinked at the sudden illumination. The basement was stacked with boxes five high. The light hung from a cord in the center of the ceiling. Mary’s arrival disturbed a couple of moths. They fluttered up to dance around the light.
Mary scanned the room, but all her eyes could register was junk, dust, and cobwebs. The space was depressing. Two people had died down here. One of them still haunted it. Why’d Ricky stick around? It was just a plain old basement. Nothing special. It shouldn’t be spooky, but ghosts never seemed to care. They took up residence wherever they liked. Well, time this one got evicted.
Mary moved gingerly around the boxes, attentive for any vibes that might indicate spookiness. She knew how silly that seemed, but it was what she did. Nothing was coming to her. She looked around the room with a little worry. She did not want to call Ricky out, but he wasn’t responding to her presence.
“Ricky?” she whispered. No response. The furnace sat off in a corner. Boxes blocked her way. Mary began clearing a path.
“Where are you, Ricky?” she asked in a quiet voice. She did not want to reach the furnace as Terri Kuwalchek’s face flashed through her mind, but maybe his anchor was near it. Ricky still did not respond.
“Have you found anything?” Rachel called. Mary jumped and knocked over a box. She blew out a breath in frustration and put the box back in its place.
“Nothing yet,” she called back. She was a little over a yard away from the furnace.
“Come on Ricky, talk to me. I’ll listen,” she said. The front door slammed upstairs. Footsteps went into the kitchen. Mary could hear talking but could not make it out. She knew that she didn’t have much longer. If Ricky didn’t show up soon, she’d have to go. She pushed the remaining boxes out of her way and stood in front of the furnace.
“Ricky!” she hissed. She reached out to the furnace, but the heat, coming off of it, made her stop short of touching it. She got on her hands and knees and crawled around the furnace. There had to be something, but all she found were some petrified bugs.
The new person was at the top of the stairs with Rachel. “She’s not doing anything,” Mary heard her tell the unknown person.
“Yeah right, she’s not,” Kyle said. He came stomping down the stairs.
“Ricky, you stupid, unloved, piece of feces, where are you?” Mary said, but the homicidal maniac didn’t answer. Mary blew a strand of hair out of her eyes. What was it, her breath?
“What do you think you’re doing here?”
Mary straightened and brushed off her hands. “Hi, Kyle.”
He stood at the bottom of the stairs with his arms crossed. It looked like Mary was about to be evicted. “What are you doing here, freak?”
She shrugged. “I thought I left something here,” she lied.
“In the basement?” he asked. He tugged at his shirt collar and his eyes darted around the basement.
Mary was already speaking before she thought that maybe it was bad idea to antagonize him. “Don’t worry, I didn’t touch your dirty magazines.”
Kyle’s face twisted in anger. “Get out of my house,” he ordered.
“I was just leaving,” she said. She approached the steps, but Kyle stood at the bottom, blocking the way. She paused for him to move. He didn’t budge.
“If you want me to go, you need to move.” Kyle continued to stare at her coldly. His whole body was tense. Mary didn’t want to touch him. She had the feeling that if she did, he’d lash out. Rachel stepped onto the stairs.
“Hey, what’s up?” she asked.
“We’re going,” Mary replied. Rachel blinked and looked at Kyle.
In a low harsh voice, Kyle said, “Don’t ever come to my house again.”
Mary let out a long breath as she tried to remain patient. “Fine, Kyle. Will you move?”
“I mean it. This is my house, and I won’t have you in it.”
Mary’s eyebrows rose. “Is the deed in your name or something?”
Kyle didn’t reply. He stepped to the side, forcing Mary to brush by him to go up the stairs. “I will make you regret the day you ever met me,” he whispered.
Mary stopped dead on the stairs. She turned back to Kyle in surprise. “What did you just say?” she asked.
“I said get OUT,” he said through clenched teeth.
Cy appeared beside Rachel. “What’s going on?” he asked.
Mary’s mouth twisted into a grimace. She decided that she definitely did not want to be there anymore. She took the rest of the stairs two at a time and brushed past Rachel and Cy.
Cy ran after her and caught her by the arm. “Mary, what’s up?” he asked.
Mary flung his arm off. “I’m leaving. That should make you and your brother happy.”
“Mary, did Kyle threaten you or something?” he asked. His tone caught Mary’s attention. He hadn’t asked lightly. He sounded concerned, and the concern was aimed at her.
“He told me to leave.”
Cy’s persistence was making her nervous. He sounded worried for her, but it couldn’t be that. He didn’t want her in his house either. Why was he insisting on questioning her about Kyle? “He told me to never come over again.”
“And nothing! I have to go. Rachel, come on,” she yelled. Rachel grabbed her garlic and stakes from the kitchen and followed Mary out.
They were halfway to Mary’s house before Rachel spoke. “So how’s Ricky?”
“No clue,” she replied.
Rachel pulled the car over abruptly. Rachel undid her seat belt and turned fully to face Mary. “What happened in the basement?” she demanded.
“Nothing happened,” Mary answered.
“Mary, don’t shut me out on this. Tell me.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Rachel glared at her. Mary hunched her shoulders and put her hands up. “I didn’t hear anything. Believe me I tried to find him. Ricky didn’t want to talk.”
“He talked to you plenty when we sneaked over. He practically hauled you into the basement to ‘talk’ to you.”
“He didn’t make a peep this time, even after I called him a piece of feces.”
"A piece of feces?"
“Where’s the anchor?” Rachel asked.
“I have no clue. If it’s down there, it’s hidden.”
“So why’d you tear out of there?”
Mary scowled. “Because Kyle is a jerk.”
“We knew that already.”
“Yeah well, he really, really is.”
“So what’d Ricky say?”
“He didn’t say anything,” Mary insisted again.
Rachel gave her a hard look. “You’re not going to go over there without me, are you?”
Mary didn’t have an immediate answer. The truth was that she hadn’t thought about going over again. “No, of course not,” she finally stammered.
Rachel hadn’t liked her pause. “Whatever you say, Mary,” she said in a flat tone. She turned back toward the steering wheel and pulled back onto the street. Mary could see her jaw was clenched. What was with people not believing her today? Cy didn’t believe his house was haunted, and now Rachel didn’t believe her when Mary told her that the spook hadn’t spoken to her or that Mary wouldn’t do anything without her.
When they pulled up to Mary’s house, Mary opened her door, but she couldn’t get out without trying to convince Rachel one more time that she was telling the truth. “I really didn’t hear Ricky. I don’t know why. Maybe he knew I was up to something. I’ll have to come up with a new plan to get rid of him.”
“Look, if you don’t want to tell me, fine, but don’t think you’re going to shut me out on this,” Rachel said.
Mary raised her hands up again. “I’m not shutting you out. I swear.” Rachel looked at her for a long moment and then nodded her head once.
“Are we cool?” Mary asked tentatively.
Rachel thought about it for a moment and finally nodded. “Yeah. So what’s our next move?”
Mary shrugged. “I’ll talk to Grandma. See if we can make up some charms or something.”
“Okay,” Rachel said. Mary could tell that Rachel still thought that Mary was holding back on what had happened at Cy’s house, but nothing had happened, except Kyle had majorly pissed her off. She shook her head. She got out and went into the house. She needed to discuss this with Grandma. Mary hoped that she’d believe her.
Continue to Chapter 11