The following was written at age 18 as part of a Freeborn County Fair creative arts 4-H project. It was meant to be a sort of “Sherlock Holmes” update, but with obvious touches of “Ghostbusters” and the film “Poltergeist.” In glancing over it again, I can also see some elements from the comic book series “The Punisher.”
It was a cold and rainy Wednesday night in Seattle, Washington. Thomas McMillian had just returned home from a long work day and as he slowly entered his apartment, he threw his coat on a chair and lay down on the couch.
No less than a moment later, there was a sudden knock at the door. McMillian let out a groan and as he opened the door, what he found surprised him.
There was a small, middle-aged woman staring up at him sobbing and looking shaken. McMillian invited her in and she took a seat on the couch that he had just been on resting.
“So, What can I help you with Miss…?”, McMillian asked.
“Jorgenson, Denise Jorgenson.” The woman replied.
“Well, Miss Jorgenson, what do you need from me?” McMillian questioned.
“I saw your ad in the newspaper, the one that offered help to those experiencing strange phenomenon. At first, I thought it was a con of sorts, but I am at the end of my rope and need to try to find help.” Denise explained.
“What kind of problem do you mean?” McMillian inquired.
“There have been strange occurrences around my house. I live alone and from time to time I think I see things. You know how that can be, right?” Denise asked.
McMillian Nodded as to signal his understanding.
“Anyway, there have been instances over the last few weeks that have really frightened me. I began to find things in places around my house where I was sure that I had not left them. At first I thought that I was seeing things or that I had forgotten where I had left something. A pen or pencil would disappear or I would think that I was seeing things floating in the air.
I passed all of this off as nothing but my imagination. Recently though, these incidents have happened with more frequency. I came home from work last week and found all of my furniture stacked in a corner of my living room.
However, what made me decide to come to you for help happened yesterday. As I was making supper, several knives flew out of a drawer and almost hit me. I could have been killed!
Ever since last night, I have been staying at the Starlight Motel. I’m terrified about what may be happening to me and I’m begging you to help me Mr. McMillian!”
McMillian sat silent for a moment, contemplating what Denise had just said. Finally, he gave her an answer.
“Will it be all right if I stop by your house tomorrow morning?”
Denise replied. “That would be just fine. let me give you the address.”
Denise took a piece of paper out of her purse and scrawled down the address. She gave McMillian the paper and a key to her house. Then the two exchanged good-byes and Denise left the apartment.
As McMillian closed the door he felt a sense of curiosity come over him. He had some theories on what may be plaguing Denise Jorgenson, but persuaded himself to wait until he could visit the house before passing judgment on any of them.
The early morning sun gave McMillian a sense of energy for the coming day. As he made his way down a crowded sidewalk, he arrived at his destination. “The Book Nook”, a small book store that McMillian co-owns.
This morning though, McMillian would leave the day’s responsibilities on his ever faithful assistant Charles Smith.
Chuck had been the other owner of the store for more than ten years and was usually understanding about assuming the bulk of the day’s work when McMillian had a case.
Coming around a street corner, McMillian made his way into the bookstore. As he entered, he motioned to Chuck, who was at the sales-counter.
McMillian started to explain the events of Denise’s case even before Chuck met him at the door. Once finished, McMillian then asked Chuck for a favor.
“Do you think that you could go over to the library sometime today? I need you to find me some information on the history of a house at this address.” McMillian handed Chuck a copy of Denise’s address.
“Sure,” Chuck replied, “but it may take a few hours to sort through the newspapers and police records.”
“That’s fine,” McMillian said. “I’ll stop by later this afternoon.”
Chuck nodded in response and McMillian exited. After walking back to his apartment, he got into his car and headed in the direction of Denise’s address.
It was still early in the morning when McMillian drove his black Mercedes into Denise’s residential driveway. As McMillian slipped the key Denise had given him into the house’s lock, a chill of both excitement and of fear ran down his spine.
He entered the house slowly, making sure to take in all the characteristics of his surroundings. He took special care in trying to notice any strange marks on the floors, walls, and furniture.
McMillian made his way from the entry-way into the kitchen, where he noticed a large chef’s knife lying stabbed into the linoleum on the floor.
As McMillian approached the knife, it began to quiver. Suddenly the knife pulled itself out of the floor and proceeded to float in the air a short distance from McMillian for several seconds. Suddenly the knife sped toward McMillian’s head, forcing him to duck quickly to avoid the blade, which then struck the wall.
“Stay away from her, I shall get my revenge!” A mysterious voice boomed through the house from seemingly everywhere.
McMillian was about to reply, but the knife pulled itself out of the wall and came hurling toward him again. This time though, McMillian was ready. He grabbed a pan from the kitchen counter and was able to use it as a shield to knock the knife out of the air. As the knife fell to the ground, McMillian bolted for the front door. After slamming the door shut, he ran to his car and sped down the street, trying to make as much distance from the house as possible.
After a few minutes of hurried driving, McMillian thought about the events that had just occurred. He was almost positive of what Denise’s problem was and he decided that if he was correct he would have to get a plan into motion.
The Black Mercedes pulled into the parking lot of “Chet’s Electronics” around two o’clock in the afternoon. McMillian had known Chet since college and stayed in touch even after Chet dropped out.
Early on, McMillian had had trouble getting electronic equipment for his investigations. When, by luck, Chet relocated to Seattle and opened an electronics store, McMillian knew that his prayers had been answered.
Besides selling equipment, Chet also had an extremely profitable side-business working with Hollywood special effects studios. This side-business had become so profitable that Chet made more from it than from his store.
McMillian went into the store and discussed Denise Jorgenson’s case with Chet, then mentioned his plan. Chet told him that he could have the equipment necessary made up in a couple of hours. McMillian said that that would be fine and that he would stop by for it after he had picked up Denise at her hotel.
It took quite a bit of persuasion on McMillian’s part to get Denise to agree to return to her home. She was still very terrified by the incident with the knife.
During the car ride to Chet’s, McMillian described his similar encounter with the strange force.
“When the knife came hurtling at me, I think I heard the voice that you described earlier.” McMillian stated meticulously. “It told me to ‘stay away from you’. Is there anyone you know that may want to keep you from contacting others?”
“I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head,” Denise replied. “My ex-husband has long since remarried and has a family of his own. Besides him, I can’t think of anyone that I have been very close to lately.”
“No friends or relatives?” McMillian questioned.
“I come from a small family and haven’t kept in touch with my relatives. As for friends, I only have slight relationships with my co-workers.” Denise answered.
Just as Denise finished answering the question, the Mercedes pulled into the “Chet’s Electronics” parking lot.
In the time it took to walk to the store’s back room, McMillian was able think about what Denise had said. He was gathering facts in his head, when he heard a loud shriek from the back room.
McMillian bolted into the room only to find Chet with an embarrassed look on his face.
“Soldering tool got the best of me again!” Chet announced.
“What did I tell you the last time this happened?” McMillian asked with a chuckle.
“Yea, Yea, ‘wear protective gloves at all times.'” Chet said sarcastically. “If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times.”
“I know I’ve heard you scream a million times after your little accidents.” McMillian joked.
Chet merely frowned at the comment and decided not to even respond to McMillian’s remark.
“Did you get my project done yet?” McMillian smiled.
“Yea, it’s over on the table.” Chet grumbled. “I’ll send you the bill in the mail.”
McMillian grabbed the package with its small protruding hoses and left the room.
Chet had always been able to take a joke, McMillian thought. However, this latest encounter with Chet may cost McMillian more out of his wallet than it probably did from Chet’s pride, if he held a grudge.
McMillian handed the package to Denise as he got into the car. She looked at it suspiciously but decided not to ask what it was, trusting that McMillian had the situation well under control.
“I have to stop by another friend’s store quickly and get more information on your case before we head back to your house.” McMillian announced.
“The Book Nook” was located almost directly in the middle of the route McMillian planned to take between “Chet’s Electronics” and Denise’s house. Chuck was sure to have found out what McMillian wanted by now.
Chuck waved to McMillian as he entered the bookstore.
“Did you get that information yet?” McMillian asked.
“Yea, I left it on the desk in the back room.” Chuck replied.
McMillian made his way to the store’s rear and through a door that lead to the back office. Because it was a bookstore, there were, of course, books piled everywhere in the room. Hidden in one corner was a small desk. On the desk was the information McMillian had requested. It was in the form of several books with markers Chuck had left in them.
After about an hour of paging through various books, McMillian had found all the information that he required. He thanked Chuck for finding the books and left the store. A plan had now solidified in McMillian’s mind and he got into his car, heading with Denise back to her house.
After a lengthy drive across town, fighting rush hour traffic the whole way, the vehicle pulled into Denise’s residential neighborhood and finally into her driveway. McMillian noticed a sudden terror fill the eyes of Denise Jorgenson. Her face turned a pale white and McMillian could see her hands shaking slightly.
“Do I really have to go into the house with you?” Denise asked with obvious fear in her voice.
“Any hope you have of ending this nightmare begins with you entering that house. If you don’t confront this, you will continue to live in fear for the rest of your life.” McMillian calmly answered.
He hoped that he could try to talk her into a calmer state of mind. She was obviously terrified at this point.
“I think that I can I can honestly tell you that what we are dealing with will not hurt you as long as you follow the instructions that I gave you.” McMillian continued.
“Okay, but please,” Denise begged. “Don’t let it try to hurt me again.”
“No need to worry.” McMillian replied.
Denise stayed to McMillian as they walked along the sidewalk and up the stairs. When they came to the door, McMillian reached out to turn the knob. Suddenly, the shutters on the front windows of the house slammed shut and a ‘click’ sound came from the door handle, indicating it had locked.
When presented with this problem, McMillian did the only logical thing, he took out the key that Denise had given him and unlocked the door. Upon entering the house, he noticed several changes within the house.
The furniture had been stacked in an eerily neat pile in the center of the living room. Covering the pile was wallpaper that had been ripped from the walls.
“Does this look anything like the incidents that you told me about earlier.” McMillian asked Denise.
“Exactly as I said.” Denise responded with a shot of fear in her voice.
The two continued through the house, observing similar scenes of destruction in each room. In the kitchen all the dishes were stacked in neat pile that almost reached the ceiling. In Denise’s bedroom, her clothes were strewn around the room in a circular pattern.
Finally, the two went through the door that led to the basement. As they started down the narrow staircase, the door behind them slammed shut and McMillian heard what sounded like a low laugh.
Going against his better judgment, McMillian continued down the stairs with Denise close behind. McMillian had been in similar situations before, but that didn’t make the present set of circumstances any easier to deal with.
When he got to the bottom of the stairs, McMillian began looking around. For some odd reason, the lights in the basement flickered on and off in an even rhythm. From what McMillian could see, the room he was in was fairly large, but appeared to be completely empty. All that was visible was the flat, smooth concrete floor.
McMillian thought that he could hear a faint voice. Although he could hear words, he couldn’t make out what they were. The voice got louder as it repeated the phrase. Finally McMillian could understand what was being said: “Stay away from her! I will get my revenge!”
The voice continued to get louder and the air in the room began to swirl in a tornado-like way. McMillian began to lose his balance because of the strong forces building in the room and fell to the floor.
At the same time, McMillian saw floating in the air the same knife that had almost killed him earlier. The knife swung away from McMillian’s direction and toward Denise who was kneeling on the basement floor. Suddenly the knife sped toward her neck.
“Denise!” McMillian shouted. “Now!”
It appeared that Denise had successfully dodged the knife as it whizzed past her neck, but suddenly McMillian could see blood flowing from her neck. Denise immediately fell to the floor, landing with a sharp ‘thud’.
The voice again bellowed into McMillian’s ears: “It is done and now I can finally rest!”
The strong winds immediately disappeared. From where he was, McMillian could see Denise’s body lying motionless in a pool of blood.
“It shouldn’t bother you anymore.” McMillian yelled to Denise.
Unbelievably, Denise suddenly stood up, glancing down at all the blood on her body.
“Are you sure we fooled it?” Denise asked.
“Chet Johnson is the best special effects wizard in Hollywood.” McMillian said. “If he can fool millions of movie-goers, he can fool one pesky poltergeist.”
“So that’s what it was.” Denise exclaimed. “But why did it want to kill me?”
“In the beginning, I was just as confused as you are,” McMillian began. “So I had a friend who works at the bookstore I own go to the library and sort through records on your house. I found out that a family named the Randles lived in your house during the thirties. One day the husband came home and tried to kill his wife. However, in a struggle with a knife, she ended up killing him instead.”
“But what does that have to do with me?” Denise asked.
“I took that information and when I thought about what you had told me, realized that the ghost of the dead husband was trying to kill you. He was confused, thinking that you were his wife and wanted to get his revenge.” McMillian revealed. “Having figured out the problem, I had to think of some way to deal with ridding the ghost from your house.
Since my friend Chet specializes in horror movies, I had him make up that device you’re wearing. It gave the appearance to the ghost that he had indeed killed you and the blood everywhere was proof of this. Having seen that, the ghost assumed you were dead and having fulfilled his revenge, left the house to return to the unknown.”
“Do you think it will ever return?” Denise questioned, a hint of fear still in her voice.
“Wherever that ghost is now, he is sure that you are dead and has no reason to return.” McMillian said solemnly.
As McMillian walked up the basement stairs to the front door, Denise thanked him the entire way. He knew, as he got into his car, that there were many more Denise Jorgenson’s in this world. Those people that had some strange phenomenon plaguing them. McMillian knew that it would be his job to help these people…for as long as he could.