A howling storm was raging outside. A loose shutter was banging loudly causing the echoes of past days to reverberate once more. Only from the flashes of lightning were you able to see the ghosts that haunt the House on Flower Hill. It is an old Georgia mansion with white columns that mimic the White House in Washington D.C...
This was no ordinary storm. This storm was the precursor to a hurricane. This storm was about to test the resolve of a family of vacationers from California who thought it would be nice to visit a real civil war era southern mansion. This storm, surprisingly, was about to save a marriage.
"How could I let you talk me into this. I told you we should of left earlier to drive back to California before this storm hit."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes dear, you are always right."
"I like it, mom."
"I don't know, Lisa. I'm with mom on this one. It is dark, the wind is blowing and the rain is really coming down now."
"Whether I miss calculated the arrival of the hurricane or not is irrelevant now. It will be more dangerous to try and drive through this. We are going to have to ride it out here." Just then there is a giant flash of lightning and from its radiance the mom thinks she sees somebody watching them from the depths of the mansion and she screams. The scream echoes like dying dreams. Piercing at first and then fade to no more than memory. "What?"
"I thought I saw somebody back there." She says pointing down the long dark hallway that is almost directly in front of you after you walk in.
"Let's not start freaking ourselves out yet." He puts the flashlight up to his face so they can see him smile and then he makes an eerie ghost moaning sound.
"Come on, dad, don't."
"Come on, Tommy, think of it as a grand adventure."
"Yeah, I think this house is marvelous."
"At least my beautiful daughter Lisa is on my side."
"Do you think this place is safe? It looks like it has been deserted for years."
"This place has survived around two hundred years of hurricanes, there is no reason to think that this giant mansion is going to choose this one to finally fall apart."
For some reason that doesn't seem to calm the mom.
The Turner family is an average middle-class family from Northern California.
They live in the small community of Sutter Creek and they thought that traveling the beautiful United States would be a good way to reconnect. Even though it is taking the last of their money reserves the cost of it not working is so much higher.
Dave, the father and husband, is a forty-year-old fit man with short brown hair and brown eyes that stands at six foot tall. He remodels houses for a living and because of the housing crises and economy things have been lean.
Kate, the mom and wife, is a thirty-eight-year old blonde haired and blue-eyed goddess who stands at barely over five foot and who works at the local pharmacy. While her husband's business has been sporadic at best she stepped up and has given her all to see her family through this challenge. Not just sacrificing her time and making most of the money, but putting her feelings secondary to that of the family unit.
Tommy is a ten-year-old blonde-haired and blue-eyed average boy who would rather be outside running around or inside playing video games. He is a bit of a momma's boy, but his friends consider themselves lucky because he is loyal to those who take the time to get to know the real him.
Lisa is an eight-year-old sweetheart who is absolutely one hundred percent daddy's little girl. She has long straight brown hair and her dad's brown eyes. She loves fashion and sweet girly stuff, but as long as her daddy is right beside her she is more than willing to explore the curiosities of an interesting world.
Even though they are on vacation Lisa is wearing a pretty red and white summer dress that comes down to her knees. When she looks pretty she feels pretty and it is a reflection of her beautiful aura. Everybody else is dressed in jeans and tee shirts. Dave remembers a time when his wife Kate used to dress pretty for him. Not a single one of them thought to bring winter clothes on their summer vacation. They are a good and kind family with respectable hopes and dreams.
"Actually if you look around this house looks recently lived in. In fact it kind of looks like they left in a hurry."
The place is entirely furnished, but has white sheets over the furniture, the grandfather clock that is at the base of the stairs, and a giant picture on the other side of the living room above the huge fireplace. The way the sheets flutter about are not making Kate and Tommy feel any better because they've seen more than one horror movie start this way.
It is a spectacular home. You come upon its grandeur by way of a circular gravel driveway. As you turn into the driveway the tires crunch like a dragon crushing bone.
Hedges and rose bushes line the outside of the circular drive. Inside of the circular drive is a ten-foot statue of an angel and yet the wings have been broken off and its luster has long since lost its gleam.
Lisa says, "Look momma, the poor angel is crying." They all assume it is an illusion because it is raining, but soon enough they will know the sorrowful truth.
As they get out of the car their feet crunch in the gravel and then they step onto a cement walkway lined on both sides by neatly trimmed hedges. The twenty feet of walkway seems like an eternity as they battle the elements. Like the cavalry coming to the rescue an artisan's dreams of a set of stairs lead up to a welcoming massive covered porch that stretches the whole width of the house. The eight Greek-like white marble pillars that support the second floor veranda are a marvel to behold. This home was definitely built in a more romantic time.
As you walk into the mansion through its two heavy highly adorned front doors with the lion head knockers with the rings in their mouths you come into a grand opening with gray marble floors and just forward and to your left is a grand set of stairs that wind their way up to the second floor. The left front part of the house is a huge living room that is adorned with gifts of older times.
Even though it is hard to pull your eyes away from the grandeur of the living room they turn and shine the flashlight to the right and they see that the front right side is the kitchen hidden behind a swinging door. To investigate further you would see that the right rear of the house is a stellar dining room that any dignitary would feel right at home at.
If you continue to walk straight in and down the hallway, yes the very same hallway that Kate thought she just saw someone watching them from, you find several doors on the left that are storage rooms. However, the very back of the left side of the home is a library where dark rich wood connects it to the world. From there several majestic doors that are highly adorned with colored glass lead out to a huge backyard that is such a spectacular garden that in California it would win many awards, but here in the South it is just another backyard.
Where the beautiful garden ends a wooded area begins. Within the garden many flowers, trimmed hedges, and miniature trees still survive there. In fact if you were to look close enough you would see that the plants and hedges are still relatively trimmed, which gives credence to what Dave said about this place being recently lived in and quickly vacated, either that or there is still a gardener that cares for the place.
Even though they have yet to explore the upstairs they will find it pristine. You wind your way up the carpeted stairs as it quickly takes a ninety-degree turn to the right and ends in a balcony type landing walkway that over sees the entryway from the right, back and from the front.
From the front is how you get to the veranda. From the rear walkway is how you get to the bedrooms and bathrooms and the rest of the left side of the upstairs house. The right side inner balcony leads to the back of the house giving access to the bedrooms in the middle and on the right side. There are outside balconies on the rear of the house, but they are for individual bedrooms not stretching all the way across like the front does.
Everything is white, except the polished gray stone that covers the entire downstairs. There you will find strategically placed rugs that probably cost more than the car they are driving. The only true color is the red and white carpet that goes up the stairs, down the hallways and even invades the bedrooms. Suspiciously the carpet looks very similar to Lisa's dress.
"I'm going to see if I can find some firewood to start a fire."
"I'm coming." Says Lisa.
"You are not leaving us here alone." States Kate leaving no room to argue.
Tommy nods his head emphatically in agreement with his mom.
To start with they walk over to the fireplace and see a little pile there. "That is a good sign." Another good sign is they can hear the wind whistling through the fireplace, which means no animals have made a home in the chimney yet. Unfortunately it is making an eerie howling noise as well.
Lisa takes her daddy's hand and Tommy takes his mom's hand. Even though things have been distant between her and Dave for the last year Kate so badly wants to hold his hand too.
They go back into the entryway and go down the hallway that leads to the back of the house and where Kate thought she saw somebody watching them from. As they pass under the stairs and start heading down the hallway a great gust of wind blows open the front doors and they hit hard making a loud noise. Everybody jumps. Just then a huge lighting bolt goes off and in its flash it appears there are two old people standing in the doorway dressed in formal wear.
Dave shakes his head thinking that he is letting Kate and Tommy's uneasiness get him spooked too. Lisa and he run over to the front doors to secure them and just to make sure he looks around and doesn't see anybody. "I knew I was seeing things."
"Nothing babygirl, I thought I was seeing ghosts there for a minute."
"You mean the old couple in the fancy dress and suit."
Dave looks at his daughter as he turns the flashlight on her. "You saw them too?"
Lisa slowly nods her head. "Don't tell your mom and Tommy or they'll never stop complaining." Lisa takes a firm grip on her daddy's hand.
"Would you hurry up please we don't like being left in the dark." Says Kate really scared.
As Lisa and Dave are walking back over to Tommy and Kate they can see ghostly white wispy fingers coming out of the walls reaching for Tommy and Kate. Dave hurriedly shines the flashlight on them and they evaporate. Lisa and Dave look at each other. Dave is beginning to question his own idea to visit a place like this before they left the South. Luckily neither Tommy nor Kate saw the ghostly fingers reaching for them.
However, they still stick close.
They go out back and find a covered pile of wood. They all take an arm full and go back to the living room and fireplace. Just as Dave is trying to think how to start the fire, Kate hands him a lighter. Dave looks at her, but doesn't say anything. Kate was supposed to quit smoking months ago.
Dave and Lisa get the fire going and then they uncover and move over a couch and a chair closer to the fire. Once the light from the fire engulfs the immediate area they feel better. Dave does a quick check and makes sure all the windows and shutters are secure down stairs.
All of them go out back and get more wood, but eventually Tommy and Kate hunker down around the fire so it is left up to Lisa and Dave to get what he thinks they will need for the night. Finally everything seems to be calming down and warming up.
"I'll be back." Says Dave.
"Where are you going?" Asks Kate.
"I'm going to search the house and make sure we are alone and the place is secure from the coming storm."
"I'm coming." Dave has always been proud of his daughter Lisa.
Neither Tommy nor Kate have any desire to go outside the protective sphere of orange glow from the fire.
As soon as Lisa and Dave reach the top stairs balcony they hear creaking coming from further down the dark hallway. Hand in hand they go now only hearing the howling of the storm raging outside.
They are not even twenty steps down that dark hallway when I light shines from underneath a door off to the right. "That's weird."
"What is, daddy?"
"There is no electricity here. How did the lights come on in that bedroom?"
Lisa stops, wondering if they should go any further. All of a sudden they start to hear what sounds like crying. "Pick me up, daddy."
Dave picks his sweet daughter up and they cautiously make their way towards the door. The floor creaking scarily. With uncertain hesitation his hand pauses before the door. He slowly turns the knob and then the door takes on a life of its own and opens slowly. There in the corner shrouded in a misty fog with a saffron glow is a little girl in a long white nightgown.
As they are standing in the doorway she is looking down at her feet crying, but when they walk in she looks up slowly. "Daddy, look it is a little girl."
"I see. Are you okay?" Dave asks the little girl of saffron glow and sorrow.
The little girl who can't be over ten-years-old smiles at them and then a serious expression comes to her pale face and when she speaks it sounds as if it is coming from a hole or maybe a grave. "You should leave here while you can. Even though most of us ghosts were friendly when we passed and then continued on here, there is a Hell-Opening of dark spiritual energy underneath this land. Not only does it attract dark spirits to here, but it also taints those of us that lived and died here. We must obey its commands.
Because of my innocence when I died it does not affect me, but I can only protect you for so long."
Just then Kate screams from down stairs. Lisa and Dave quickly look that direction and then when they look back the mist is sinking into the floor and the little girl goes with it.
Not understanding why Lisa says, "Thank you."
With Lisa still firmly in his arms Dave starts running up the hallway towards the stairs. Just as they reach the top of the stairs Kate yells out, "Dave!"
"Yeah, right here, honey. We're coming." When Dave and Lisa get back down into the living room he asks, "What's wrong?"
Kate, who is standing on the couch, just points. By the light of the flashlight Dave sees a rat the size of a small cat go running for the shadows. "Daddy, it was so big and it hissed at me." Says Tommy.
"A rat!" Says Lisa shaking her head because she was thinking the worst.
"Did you guys find anything?"
Lisa and Dave look at each other. Dave scratches the back of his head and says,
"Not really." Lisa just rolls her eyes as they go big. "I'm going to check on the storm and see how our car is doing."
"Okay." As Lisa and Dave are heading towards the front door Kate adds, "I really don't want to spend the night here."
"Let me check on how it looks out here." As soon as Dave opens the door the wind rips it out of his grasp and it goes flying open causing a very loud bang.
Just then in the bowels of the mansion the true dark spirits have awoken. If not for the raging storm they would have heard the warning screams from the little girl for them to run for their lives. If not for the battering of the hurricane they would of heard the ominous moaning begin to rise from the depths of Hell itself. Maybe they are unable to hear the growing danger, but they can feel it. It is a feeling deep within their beings and it is setting them all at an unease.
Dave takes a tighter grip on Lisa and they run for the rental car that is a new black Ford Crown Victoria. By the time they get to the car they are soaked. Dave opens up the passenger door and puts Lisa in first and then he runs around the front of the car and climbs in. As they are setting in the car the windows look as if they are going through a car wash. They can't see anything. Dave reaches into his pocket and pulls out the keys.
He puts them in the ignition and turns them and absolutely nothing happens. The car is completely dead. Hopefully it is not an omen of things to come.
"Yeah, baby." Says Dave with his forehead on the steering wheel.
"We're not leaving?"
"I'm afraid not."
"You know what, daddy?"
"What's that my darling daughter."
"I'm not afraid. As long as we are together we can stand up to anything."
Dave looks at his daughter and smiles with great pride. He leans over and gives her a million little kisses on her cheek and ear and she giggles prettily. Even though they can't see it happening when Lisa giggles the dark spirits dim and the little girl spirit glows a little brighter. This gives the little girl ghost hope and she thinks she is finally beginning to see a way out of this endless eternal nightmare of hers. For some unknown reason, to them anyway, they start to feel a little better.
Dave and Lisa quickly run back inside and Dave has to fight to get the door to close again. "Are we leaving?" Asks Kate with great hope.
"I'm afraid not! The car is dead." Both Tommy and Kate let out a sigh of disappointment. "I know things seem bleak, but our beautiful little Lisa just told me that she is not afraid because she knows all will be well as long as we are together. I know things haven't been perfect between us, but I know what she means. If I have to face anything life has to throw at us there is no others I would rather do it with than my family."
Kate nods her head with tears coming to her blue eyes. She smiles and walks over to her husband and she hugs him. Immediately she feels a hundred times better.
Again, though they don't know what is fully going on yet when the love and trust is being felt and shared between them the dark spirits diminish and the little girl's spirit becomes stronger.
That is not to say that the dark spirits and the dark energy of the Hell Opening Vortex are going to stop being what they are. In fact as they are slowly making their way up out of the depths of the soil and eventually the mansion's basement the dark spirits are alive with malice and murder. As the eye of the hurricane passes over all things go eerily silent. From that silence a malevolent chuckle rises from the basement that echoes about the manor.
"What was that?" Asks Tommy scooting closer to his mom.
"I'm sure it was nothing." Says Dave to him trying to keep Kate and Tommy calm, but Dave and Lisa look at each other knowingly.
All of a sudden the basement door starts rattling. "Oh god, what now?" Says Kate truly scared.
"Sounds like something has come loose. Let me go check on it."
Hand in hand Lisa and Dave go over to the long dark hallway and halfway down they can see the glowing little girl holding the basement door closed. Dave and Lisa run over to her. Because Dave and Lisa are showing so much courage and love the little girl ghost gets brighter yet. With one last grand try a huge battle of wills happens at the door trying to get it open or to come through it. Dave may not be able to see what wants through, but he can feel its menacing intent.
One minute the loud rattling noise is going on and then complete and utter silence, except for the howling storm going on outside. "Thank you."
"You are welcome." Says the little ghost girl smiling.
"My name is Lisa, what is yours?"
"My name is Cassia."
"Can you tell us what is going on here?" Asks Dave.
"A battle of dominance is about to take place. For the longest time now has shadow dominated this land as the Hell Gate emanates its dark intent, but every since your family has arrived I have become much stronger. I am at last beginning to understand what is truly happening here. Your life forces has awakened us all once again, but your love for each other is at last making me strong enough to stand up to the dark forces. They out number me greatly and I stand alone, but at last I do not have to hide in their very own shadows."
"You are not alone." Says Lisa as she reaches over to touch Cassia. Even though her hand goes through her the little ghost girl known as Cassia starts to glow even brighter.
"Thank you." Says Cassia smiling.
Just then the house starts to shake with great force. "What's that?" Asks Dave.
"They are coming!"
"Dave, Lisa, where are you guys at?" Yells Kate. "We're are scared."
"Coming mom." Says Lisa.
"Get back to your family and remember the only thing that can save you now is your love."
"Thank you." Says Dave.
Dave and Lisa start walking back into the living room when the shaking starts to get worse. Not only that but now an unmistakable moaning is rising from the floors of the mansion itself.
Dave and Lisa turn around and they see black mist starting to rise from the polished floor. Dave leans over and whispers into Lisa's ear. "Go over by the fireplace and do something to make your mom and brother look that way."
"Okay." Says Lisa starting to walk off.
Dave stops her and says, "I love you."
"I love you too, daddy."
The shaking becomes more violent and angry. The shadows continue to rise.
Lisa walks over by the fire and says to Tommy and Kate, "Have I told you guys how much I love you. I really do. I'm glad you are my brother Tommy and mommy of course I'm proud of you."
Kate looks at her pretty and sweet daughter and smiles. "Thank you, baby. I love you too."
While all that is going on the smoke continued to rise out of the floor until there are six cloaked figures standing there looking at Dave. Dave plants his feet and crosses his arms to stop them from getting to his family. He doubts if it will do any good, but if they are going to go down they are going down as a family and with the defiance of love and strength.
Just then Cassia rises from the floor. It appears she is glowing ever more brightly.
Her light hurts the Shades aura and they flicker in and out of cohesiveness. Then all of a sudden Cassia smiles and opens the front door and the strong gusts of wind blows the Shades into oblivion. The moaning fades to be replaced with a temporary growling sound, but even that fades.
When the doors blow open again everybody turns and looks that way. Dave turns so he blocks Cassia from Tommy and Kate's view. As he is holding the door being sprayed by the storm he smiles and says, "Just checking to see if the storm has let up any."
"Hey, mom." Says Lisa getting them to look her way again.
As Lisa still has Tommy and Kate looking the other way, Cassia says, "That should have them confused for a little bit. Right about now they are trying to figure out the shift in power, but this is by no means over. You must not let down your guard and only love must flow from your hearts."
As Dave walks over to his family Cassia dissipates to shimmering lights and then flies like an angel into the ceiling with a sweet laughter. "What was that?" Asks Kate.
"Our guardian angel." Says Dave smiling.