The phone rang in Philip Hillstorm’s office.

“Hello, Hillstorm Paranormal Investigations, how may we help you?” he said after picking up the phone.

“Hello, this is Ms. Alice Sheridan, forgive me if I fade in and out. I am not used to possessing a portable electronic phone,” the female voice said.

“That’s okay, what do you need my services for?”

“I wish to make an appointment to see you,” she said. “A phone is so informal.”

“Sure,” Philip said as he took out his iPad and scribbled a note in his electronic planner “I’ll see you tomorrow at ten o’clock.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hillstorm. I’ll see you tomorrow.” And she hung up.


The next day, Philip met with Ms. Sheridan at his “office,” which was his apartment. He had just been resurrected as a free-willed undead, or a revenant, and was trying to get his life back on track.

Ms. Sheridan walked through the door and walked up to Philip.

“Hello, Mr. Hillstorm,” she said, solidifying her hand and shaking his.

“Hello, Ms. Sheridan, what do you need my services for?”

“My case is a rare one, I must admit, but urgent. For you see, another ghost ejected me from my haunt,” she said.

“I must admit, it’s a little unusual but not rare.”

The ghost faced Philip. She was a woman with very long, stringy brown hair, who wore a long-sleeved dress.

“And so you say, Ms. Sheridan, that another ghost kicked you out of your house?” Philip Hillstorm said.

“Yes. Usually, it’s well-meaning exorcists who do it,” she said.

“Do you know anything about the other ghost at all?” Philip said.

“No. I only felt the being; a hard force pushed me out of the second story window and I had to use my wings to hover down.”

“What do you want me to do?” Philip said.

“I want you to find out who is in my house and what they want.”

“Do you want an exorcism?”

“Not necessarily; I was hoping to talk to the being.”

“What if it’s dangerous?”

“Then you have my permission to exorcise.”

“Okay, I need your marker on these forms,” he said as he handed her a bundle of papers.

Ms. Sheridan, who had been given a blood offering and was now solid, signed her name and smeared a bit of ectoplasm on it. It glowed and formed a sigil.

“Now that we have all the papers signed, when do you want to schedule the appointment?”


Philip expected a rundown 19th century house. He didn’t think she would stay in a

modern gated mansion.

“If you’re wondering how I get in, I go into the keypad and unlock it from within.”

“Okay, why don’t you do that?”

After it rolled open, they walked up the hill.

“So why don’t you stay in an older house?” Philip asked, typing the interview on his BlackBerry.

“Because the former owner bulldozed my old haunt.”

“Oh! So this is the infamous Beckenridge house! Tell me about it before we go in.” Arthur Beckenridge bribed the city officials to destroy the Sheridan house, despite the fact that the Historical Society fought to get it on the Historical Buildings list. As a result, Arthur Beckenridge became the most hated man in town. He could easily escape the living by hiding in his gated mansion. But when the ghost of Alice Sheridan refused to budge, that was when the real trouble started. Arthur Beckenridge would not be cowed by the supernatural, so he hired exorcists to drive the rebellious ghost out.

However, Alice was more than a match for them. As an older ghost, she turned out to have quite a bit of power herself and used every trick in the book to scare Beckenridge out.

Still, he wouldn’t budge.

Most of the townsfolk hoped Alice would push the asshole upstart out of his home. In a way, it happened. Arthur died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage while sitting in his chair by the fireplace getting drunk on brandy.

His family, who never liked the old prick anyway, were all too happy to give the house back to Alice.

For a little while, there were no incidents. Alice happily haunted the nice mansion, exploring every nook and cranny.

She was expecting Arthur’s spirit to attack her. It was not uncommon for ghosts who were cheated out of something to fight back using their powers. But Arthur Beckenridge never appeared. It was as if he moved on. She relaxed and proceeded to explore the new home she had acquired. Alice fiddled with the modern equipment, pleased as punch that she could try out the “electronic theater” they called the television and the “electronic library” known as the Internet.

Busy with all of these wonders, she barely noticed the pressure that settled around her, not unlike air pressure settling in her ears.

She shrugged it off at first; ghosts were made of sterner stuff than the living. It was nothing more than a light scratch.

However, the pressure started growing stronger. It started getting more troublesome as ectoplasm started leaking a bit from her ghostly wounds.

Alice pushed back with a pressure of her own. The other force responded by breaking things. It wasn’t the ghostly cliché of things being flung about and hitting the wall. Instead, it was the same squeezing that Alice felt. The objects in question would slowly form cracks. A loud plastic cracking sound could be heard. The cracks traveled the smooth surface before shattering inti a million pieces.

Alice raised up her shield and decided to confront the force. Maybe all she needed to do was force it out.

She started pushing back. The force responded by starting a tug of war.

It lasted for days on end, both opponents locked in a desperate wrestling match. However, the invincible force gained the upper hand by shoving Alice out of the second story window. She fell through the window and onto the ground, landing on her butt.

Alice stood up and dusted herself. She proceeded to go to the door.

Just as she was about to pass through, she hit an invisible wall.

Alice tried to pass again. Smack! It was still there.

This is ridiculous! Whoever heard of a ghost locked out of their own haunt!

She turned into mist, hoping to get under the door crack. She pushed against the wall again.

I’m going to have to get help, she thought as she formed back into a woman. She used some of her willpower to leave her haunt, as any ghost that stayed at the place of their death found it hard to leave.


“And that’s the whole story,” Alice said.

“Hmmm, that is unusual,” Philip said. “Do you mind if I go into the house? It may just have wanted you out of the way.”

“Go on ahead.”

Philip walked up to the door and produced a key that could open any lock. To his

surprise, it opened easily and let him in.

The house was silent. The only sounds were Philip’s footsteps. The lights were turned on.

Philip decided to explore the house before he chose a course of action.

He faced the living room. Philip saw a flat screen TV, two sofas facing each other, and a recliner facing the TV.

Looks normal enough, he thought before leaving the room.


The rest of the house looked okay, a typical new rich person’s house. Philip took out the black handbag which held his tools and started unpacking when a prickly feeling ran up his spine.

It felt literally as if someone was sticking cactus needles into his body like a pincushion. It wasn’t too bad since he was a revenant, one of the free-willed undead, but it still was annoying as hell. He continued to unpack his tools, which ranged from the normal, such as holy water, to unusual, such as the skull fruit, a plant that grew by sucking the blood from a corpse, as the prickly feeling sped up as if someone was now rapidly jabbing him with a pin.

Philip calmly ignored it and pondered about which tool he should use.

He took out the ectoplasmic reader in order to find out if the thing he was dealing with really was a ghost.

Philip turned it on and went from room to room. A loud crackling noise could be constantly heard.

Well, it’s a ghost, all right, he thought. Philip returned to the living room.

He would attempt to talk to the being to see what it exactly was and find out why it wanted to torment Ms. Sheridan.

Philip returned to the living room and sat down on the couch.

“Okay, mysterious being, there’s no use hiding from me, so you better come out.” He didn’t know if it was human, as some of the ghosts who haunted building were actually flora and fauna native to the world of the dead. Some of the haunters were forces and things humans couldn’t fully understand with their limited senses.

Philip placed a ward around himself. It was an invisible shield in which spells and objects would harmlessly bounce off.

“I can wait all day.”

The force stayed silent. Philip was annoyed, but was secretly grateful that it didn’t try to attack him.

Philip got up to stretch his body when he noticed an opaque force covering his shield. It seemed to be pressing against it.

Ah, so I’ve finally drawn you out, he thought.

Philip decided to speak again.

“I’ve seem to finally gotten your attention. Now, can you tell me who you are?”

Still no answer.

He walked to the kitchen and brought out some skull fruit from his bag. Philip cut it into slices and popped one into his mouth. “Mmmmmmmm, I bought food you actually can eat. I don’t want to hurt you. I just want to know why you kicked Ms. Sheridan out of her home.” The force ate one of the skull fruits in one bite and turned the rest of them into mini bone skulls.

“I’m a paranormal investigator, so I’m used to this sort of thing.”

Philip turned on the radio on the kitchen table, dialing in a 70’s-90’s retro pop station only to hear classical music instead.

He looked at the radio; it was tuned to the right frequency—97.3—so the force must have done it.

Oh, well; it beats flung vases, Philip thought as he collected the skulls and threw them in the trash.


Philip walked back to the living room and dropped his shields.

“Okay, maybe if I let you possess me partly, we can let Ms. Sheridan in and you can settle this.

The force went in him like a ton of bricks.

“Good,” Philip said, “Perhaps now we can—“

The force started wreaking havoc with his skin. It started breaking out and peeling. Rotting ooze bubble out and poured down his body.

Philip raced to his handbag and took out some bandages. He quickly wrapped them around the wounds. The rune inscribed on them stopped the bleeding.

“Okay, since you refuse to talk with me in good faith. I have no case but to cast you out,” Philip said.

He started to push the being out of his body. The force got wind of that and snagged onto his body like a metal fishing hook. Any attempts to push it out made the hook go in deeper.

I gotta stop, he thought. I push any more and he could well and truly possess me.

Ms. Sheridan was waiting patiently outside when she saw Philip running outside.

He came up to her and said, “The force is locked within me. I don’t know if I can leave the area or not.”

“Have you tried getting it out?”

“Yes, it’s not working.”

“What do you plan to do next?”

As soon as she said this, Philip’s eyes grew dark and his voice grew old.

“If you think you can take my house, you’re sorely mistaken, you little bitch.”

Philip and Alice were shocked by the words, but not completely by who was saying it. In the back of their heads, they figured Arthur Beckenbridge might try to come back and try to get rid of Alice.

“Well, Mr. Beckenridge, you did destroy my old house without asking,” Ms. Sheridan said.

“No ghost is going to prevent me from living where I want,” he replied.

“We could have worked out an agreement,” she said.

“Like hell I’m going to do that. You’re just like my family; a bunch of grubby, greedy little parasites.”

“Okay, okay, now that I know that the force is really Arthur Beckenridge, we can finally start solving this problem,” Philip interrupted. “Arthur, I’d appreciate it if you don’t try to control me.”

“Fine,” he said.

I’d rather have Mr. Beckenridge throw things at me, Philip thought as the two ghosts argued with each other. He couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

“Everybody, calm down. We’re not going to solve this problem by hurling accusations at each other.

“Shut up, you stupid corpse!” Arthur shouted.

“You leave that nice young man alone!” Alice shouted.

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, you stupid ghost bitch.”

They resumed their arguing. Philip pushed himself to repossess his body for a short while. Sorry, Mr. Beckenridge, but this has gone far enough. He successfully rose up the surface.


Both of them snapped to attention.

“We’re not going to get anywhere with the both of you arguing, so why don’t we all find a way to solve the problem.”

They both were quiet as Philip talked again.

“Now, the problem is that Arthur feels he has a right to the house more than Alice does.”

“Yes, what the hell are you implying?”

“I’m saying that maybe you two could share the house.”

“She was the one who tried to push me out!” he accused.

“I’m sorry I didn’t try to talk to you first, but you did bulldoze my home,” Alice said.

“I’m not going to let some two-bit spook dictate where I must live.”

“Okay, okay,” Philip said, “Why don’t we all go inside and reach an agreement.”



Both Philip and Alice were surprised that Arthur agreed to it.

“Okay, Arthur, but you need to get out of me first,” Philip said.

“Fine.” A white ectoplasmic trail leaked out of Philip’s eyes, nose, and mouth and formed between them.

The figure looked like your typical WASPy millionaire with a three-piece business suit, grey hair, wrinkles, and a stern countenance.

“Okay, I’ll release the wards, but I need to go in first. You two might lock me out of my own home,” he hissed.

Philip relented, a plan forming in the back of his head should Mr. Beckenridge go back on his word.

They followed him up to the door, Arthur clearly used to taking the lead. He placed his hand on the doorknob. A rune shimmered before turning black and crumbling to dust.

He opened the door and motioned them to come in.

“Be my guest.” He said.

They entered the living room.

“Have a seat, I have some important business to attend to.” He said.

Philip and Alice sat down while Arthur walked out.

“Can we trust him?” she said.

“Not really; I have some spells in case it doesn’t work out.”

They waited for several minutes. The living room was eerily quiet.

Philip drummed his fingers on his knee. They continued in silence.

Alice spoke up.

“How long does Mr. Beckenridge plan to keep us waiting?”

“I don’t know; I’ve had clients show up two hours late because they couldn’t find a babysitter.”

A black drop fell on Alice’s hand.

“Oh.” She wiped it with her spectral handkerchief and looked up.

A tiny hairline crack appeared in the ceiling. Black drops came down in a slow and steady rhythm.

Philip saw the drops and immediately took out something from his bag. It looked like a wooden spyglass. He then took out several chemistry laboratory slides. Then, using a little levitating power, he took an abandoned ashtray and collected a few drops.

He picked up an eyedropper, took the liquid, and carefully placed it on the slide. When he was done, he took the spyglass and studied it.

Alice saw a worried look on his face. He studied it for a bit more before he put the spyglass down and spoke.

“This is void-tainted magic. Mr. Beckenridge means to trap us.”

In response, the black fluid started to spread out through the cracks which soon grew bigger. The droplets started to rain on them both…

The black liquid soon covered the whole room as it became a black mass. Their legs sank in the goo. They tried to phase through it by becoming intangible, but it stuck to them instead.

“I think we’ve got Arthur’s response,” Philip said. “We better flee before he drags us into


The living room was now a dark cave of black goo; giant drops splashed down on the two.

They both tried to walk; it felt like tar. When either Philip or Alice tried to lift their legs,

the suction pulled them down.

Alice attempted to hover; she was only able to move a little bit, the black goo sticking to her. All Philip could do was pour some holy water, which made it a little easier to walk.

“I’m afraid we may have to walk like the living,” he said.

“It’s okay,” she said. “If I try to phase, though, I might get trapped.”

They went slowly, inch by inch. Alice held up a ball of ghost light and scanned the goo cave for a way out. There were no visible doors. The goo covered everything. It moved, making little waves and lumps that splashed at their feet. She pointed the ball at an angle.

“There,” she said, using the ghost light to make an outline of the door. The silver outline popping out in a room of black.

They started trudging towards the door.

The blobs started making growling sounds, as if Arthur gave them life. They bubbled and plurped.

As soon as Philip and Alice went near the door, a giant black blob blocked the way. Philip grabbed a tiny sword charm from his bag and willed his sword, Oblivion’s Lament, to grow. He caught the handle and started to move like a ballet dancer, jabbing and feigning. The blob ducked and split, although Philip was able to land a few blows in by faking some. Alice decided to use her ghost light in an attempt to hurt the creature, despite the fact that she wasn’t much of a fighter.

Here goes nothing; may God be with me. Her hands glowed with white fire, a sort of foci for her spell.

The blob burned; instead of a scream, it started bubbling all over. Philip pulled back from the sight as it blazed like a star. It merged with the rest of the room to escape the pain, revealing the door outline.

Philip plunged his hand into a gelatinous door knob. His hand got stuck, but he turned it anyway.

It opened.

“Now we’ll see what’s on the other side,” he said as they ran through it.

Arthur Beckenridge must have done some serious remodeling, because the duo found themselves facing a long hallway. An eerie robin’s egg blue light surrounded the passageway. The door showed as a bright white light. As soon as they stepped on it, the door moved away from them.

Running didn’t help as the door retracted from them faster.

They both stopped. Alice’s back started to ripple. A loud tear accompanied two straight lines in her back opening. A pair of raggedy gossamer wings popped out.

“Mr. Hillstorm, sir, you better take my hand.”

And she lifted into the air, Philip dangling below her.

The door still tried to retreat from them. But Alice’s wings could reach speeds that mere walking could not. She tied an invisible line to make sure Philip didn’t fall off.

It seemed to work; they were able to start to catch up to the door with every push from her wings. A spectral wind screamed at them as it whipped through their faces. They caught up inch by inch to the door, which soon stood stock still. Alice stopped a few feet before the door and folded her wings. While she could probably become intangible and walk right through it, she wasn’t so sure about Philip’s ability to do it.

They landed and stared at the door. Philip opened it.

“No magical locks,” he said as he saw the outside. “It looks like we’re safe.”

They both stepped outside and fell into the void.

Instead of the typical black or grey color, it was a white-blue void.

Alice quickly got her wings out again and grabbed Philip. They glided through the weightless void.

Philip took out a silver-colored crystal.

“I’m going to find a way to force open an exit. Whatever you do, don’t let go.”

Alice nodded and put some fast drying ectoplasm where their hands were locked together.

He pointed the crystal into the void, using his willpower to try to force an opening to the outside world.

The invisible force came back again. The force that led to so much trouble was now making sure that it would be impossible to make a hole. It put pressure on the duo; Philip could almost feel the words getoutgetoutgetoutGETOUT on his skin. Philip’s hand trembled; the force pushed against the crystal, attempting to break it. Philip yanked it to his cheek and cut it. Black blood ran down before it got absorbed by the crystal.

He stuck it out again; the force shrieked away from the revenant blood, allowing a hole to rapidly open.

Alice and Philip flew into the hole.


They tumbled out onto the grass, rolling down until they stopped near the gate.

“Could you please get off of me?” Philip said, for Alice had caught some of Philip’s blood and materialized.

“Sorry about that,” she said as they both got up and dusted off. They looked in the direction of the house.

Black tarry tentacles curled out of all the windows and doors and reached the roof. They pulled down the house like how a person would crush an aluminum can. The debris and dust spreading out as the house collapsed.

“Well, I can’t say that was unexpected.” Philip said, “But you don’t have a home anymore.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said looking at the wreckage. “I can always go into the ghostly realms and find a new haunt.”

Still, a pang of sadness laid where her heart would have been.

As for Arthur Beckenridge, not a trace of ectoplasm could be found amongst the ruins, even though the paranormal investigators searched every inch of rubble. It was sad, but not surprising. He was just another soul consumed by void magic.

The public read the story in the papers, shrugged and went off to work.