When the sun set, Heinrich gathered the foursome together in the baroness’ private parlor. Although the room had obviously been recently cleaned and deodorized it still smelled of ancient decay. An ornately framed mirror covered the wall above the fireplace. Heinrich lit the candles placed on the mantle providing some little light to the room. It felt unseasonable cold in this room.
“Is just it me, or is it cold in here?” Melinda asked cupping her hands in front of her mouth to capture a little warmth. “Look I can see my breath.”
“It’s not you, I feel it too.” Ozzie replied.
“It is a cold spot!”Heinrich exclaimed with joy. “The spirits are with us here already.”
“Spirits or not, I’m going to get a fire going in the fireplace.” Jake said ambling over to the fire place looking for wood to burn.
“Suit yourself, Jake. I want you all to be as comfortable as you can be tonight.” Heinrich replied. “Please take a seat at the table. I’ve arranged the chairs for the four of us.” he continued. Jake busied himself carefully placing split wood on the grate in the mouth of the fireplace.
“Heinrich, do you have any paper or something I can use for kindling to get this fire going?”
“Sure, sure there is paper. Here take this.” Heinrich said handing an old newspaper he had grabbed from an end table next to a delicately embroidered wingback chair. “This was her favorite chair. Theodora would come here late at night sometimes to read, sometimes just to be alone with her thoughts, and of course for her seances. I’ve been told that on one occasion she had that table dancing about the room like a gazelle, but that of course is only hearsay. Although, it is, something I wish I was here to witness.”
“After my mother burned our Ouija board, our home was plagued by poltergeists, doors slammed, furniture moved, the lights came on and went off by themselves, it wasn’t fun.” Melinda replied gazing off into space.
“You didn’t by any chance bring any liquid spirits along to prime the pump and lubricate our little séance, did you Heinrich?” Jake asked.
“Maybe later, Ozzie afterwards maybe. I’m sure we all will want to have our wits about us for the next few hours.”
Jake held a match to the crumpled paper under the grate and waited for the paper to ignite. The paper blossumed into warm flame under the wood he had found neatly stacked next to the fireplace and had carefully placed on the fireplace grate. The wood had waited years for this night and was thoroughly dry and responded to the flame of the newspaper in kind and quickly lit providing both warmth and comfort to the little band of paranormal explorers.
“There.” Jake said pleased with himself at taking at least a little control back into his own hands and lighting the fire. The room now basked in the warm glow of the flickering fire and shadows danced across the walls. Jake ambled to the table and seated himself next to Melinda. Ozzie sat across from Jake and to Melinda’s left. Heinrich walked stiffly to the book shelf and took an engraved mahogany box down from one of the shelves. He held it gingerly in both of his hands and carried it to the table before he took his seat.
“The box, my friends contains Theodora’s planchette.” Heinrich said grimly placing the box on the table. He lifted the little brass latch that held the lid closed up and opened the box, Jake could see the box was padded and lined in white satin, the thought of an open casket came to mind. Heinrich gently lifted the planchette out of the box. One could clearly see that this planchette had been carefully made to provide the least resistance to any movement. It was in the traditional heart shape, yet instead of being made of wood or of plastic as later planchettes have been it was carved out of ivory. There was a place to insert a pen of pencil to assist in spirit writing, and of course the tip of the heart would be used to point to letters painted on the table top. Beneath the ivory three tiny brass wheels had been mounted in such a way that they would rotate in any direction under the least pressure. Heinrich carefully, gently placed the device on the center of the table within easy reach of everyone.
“Now if everyone would please put their fingertips, just the fingertips mind you, on the planchette, we can begin.” Heinrich invited, placing his own fingertips ever so lightly on the carved ivory. Melinda was next resting her fingers as light as a breath on the planchette. Ozzie rested his fingertips on the device.
“Not so rough, not so heavy, Ozzie.” Heinrich’s scolded. Jake lightly placed his fingertips on the planchette and felt an odd tingling rise up his fingers. Heinrich looked up to the ceiling and took in a deep breath, held it for just a moment then let it out slowly before he began.
“Theodora, Theodora, can you hear us Theodora?” He paused, took another long deep breath, then continued.
“Baron, are you here? Can you speak to us?” Heinrich waited for a reply. Jake felt a growing unease fill the room. He closed his eyes. The smell of cordite wafted in his nostrils, the sound of mortar fire echoed in his ears. He opened his eyes, the flickering light of the fire welcomed him back to Theodora’s private parlor.
“Baron, can you hear us?” Heinrich repeated somberly. “Baron Frederick, are you here? If you can hear me, let me know.” Heinrich pleaded into the darkness. The parlor door slammed shut with a bang, Melinda let out a little shriek of surprise, Ozzie’s mouth hung open as he gaped at the door.
“There must have been a draft.” Jake commented.
“Baron, is there something you want to tell us?” Heinrich continued ignoring Jakes disbelief.
“I’m so cold.” Melinda whispered shivering.
“I can see your breath, Mel.” Ozzie replied.
“This must be one of those cold spots they talk about.” Jake opined.
“Baron Frederick, do you want to communicate with us? Can you move the planchette?” Heinrich intoned. Whoosh the planchette flew from the table and smashed into mirror above the fireplace’s mantle.
“Damn!” Jake muttered.
“The baron is here.” Heinrich was saying when Melinda yelled. “Look at that! In the mirror, look!” A deep gray figure moved from the back of the reflection in the mirror forward towards the parlor, this parlor. Jake didn’t believe his eyes, then it floated out of the mirror towards the table. Jake stood up, startled.
“Sit down Jake! Don’t disturb the spirits.” Heinrich commanded. The table began to rock on two legs tapping out a strange dance. Jake backed away from the table feeling his heart rise in his chest.
“The baron is here, Baron Frederick, is there something you want to say?” Heinrich implored above the din of the pounding table.
“No shit Sherlock, he is telling us to get the hell out of his house!” Ozzie yelled backed against the fall wall as far from the table as he could get while still in the parlor. Only Melinda and Heinrich remained in their chairs.
“Don’t be frightened gentlemen, The baron means us no harm. In fact I think he is welcoming us into his home as guests.” Heinrich said attempting to sooth his young friends fears. Ozzie went to the door grabbed the doorknob and pulled, a gap between the door and frame appeared and let a little warmth seep into the room, but the doorknob slipped from his hand and the door slammed shut.
“Come back to you seat, Ozzie. He is not going to hurt you.” Ozzie reluctantly shuffled back to his chair and sat down.
“you too Jake, there is no point in standing there when you have a comfortable chair waiting for you.” Jake sat down, with his hands in his lap.
“Now everyone, firmly place your hands on the table palms down and push, hold it to the floor.” Heinrich instructed. “I think we have had enough for tonight, dear Baron, thank you for your warm welcome into your home.” He intoned softly, patiently waiting for the table to end its dance.
Moments later the warmth from the fire could be felt again and the table settled down to a soft tap now and then. Jakes eyes remained wide open scanning the dimly lit room for any movement of shadow. Melinda sucked in a deep breath and slowly let it out.
“I wonder why the planchette didn’t work.” She asked.
“Sometimes it does, sometimes the spirits wish to communicate in another manner.” Heinrich replied.
“Next time, I think I’d prefer a telegram.” Ozzie commented regaining his composure.
“Are we done then?” Jake asked.
“For now, I think.” Heinrich replied, pushing his chair from the table. “Would you care to join me in the library for some brandy?”
“If you think the baron will let us out of the room, I’d be glad to leave.” Ozzie replied getting up from his seat.
“Oh, I’m sure the door won’t be a problem for you now. Why don’t you give it a try?” Heinrich suggested. Ozzie didn’t move.
“Oh gee, Ozzie.” Melinda said getting up from her seat and opening the door allowing them egress to the corridor.
“I would have opened.” Ozzie said to Melinda. “If you gave me a little time to get my mind around it.” The little group made their way through the dusty hall to the library, where Heinrich had brought brandy snifters and brandy earlier along with a small covered platter of cold cuts cheese and crackers.
“I suspected we might work up an appetite during our experiment so I prepared a little snack for us.”
“Heinrich, What was that we experienced in Theodora’s parlor?” Jake asked, “You certainly can’t call that communication, can you?”
“Maybe not clear communication, but certainly we can call it contact.”
“Contact, okay, but contact with what?”
“With the baron, of course. Don’t you see that, Jake?”
“Frankly, no I don’t. I don’t know what I saw. Whatever it was didn’t seem welcoming to me at all.”
“Now now Jake it wasn’t all that bad, was it? A little unusual maybe, but no one was hurt. Just a little noisy table tapping that’s all it was. We may experience more than that before we are through here. That is if we are lucky.” Heinrich opined.
“Really Jake, when I was little we had worse than this at our house. When my mother burned the Ouija board all hell broke out.” Melinda shared.
“You’ve told us that, but you never got very specific. What happened when you were a kid?” Ozzie asked pouring himself some brandy.
“It was a poltergeuist, it moved things, it threw things, broke things. It was mean to us. Tonight was nothing, but a little noise, a little table tapping, like Heinrich said.”
“It tried to lock us in! That seems on the mean side if you ask me.” Ozzie replied, And what on earth was that thing that came out of the mirror? Was that the baron or was that one of the Nazis, or some kind of demon or something else?”
“Maybe it was baroness Theodora.” Heinrich replied.
“The baroness as a black wisp of shadow?” Jake asked.
“Yes, why not.”