Dear Old Friends

Amicus was old shoes with the mansions residents.. well, the living challenged ones. The other humans tended to look askance, when they caught him deep in imaginary conversations with the paintings, the tombstones, and even the furnishings. They thought though that these little commiserations were merely flights of fancy. But what they thought, was very wrong. The ghosts did talk to Amicus, though he didn't realize it. Over time, the spirits had discovered a kindred soul in him.. he cared about their life stories, he valued their history, and so, at length, the imaginary conversations in his head had become suprizingly rich, and detailed, to the point that he sometimes had a hard time keeping up with what was being said. He never questioned his own sanity, but accepted each new bit of information as an intrusted gift ..a kind of automatic writing for the mind.

But now, something was very wrong at Gracey Manor , and true to form, Amicus Arcane just couldn't let it go.

He could have sworn that the wallpaper moved under his light touch, as he made his way stealthily from the kitchen to the relative safety of the library.

Footsteps were approaching..

He secreted himself behind the heavy drapes at the end of a nearby hallway.

"Hamish, come here!" he heard Constance hiss under her breath. "Tell Leota to keep them entertained. I've got a splitting headache; I'm going upstairs."

There were a few tentative footsteps.

"And close off the viewing room; they've had a good enough gawk."

Amicus allowed himself a small silent chuckle at the predictability of her routine. The woman who had so long sought after wealth had discovered that it came with its own curse...having to associate with the wealthy. The house shook a little; Amicus pressed himself back against the wall until it passed.

Up in the attic, Constance eased herself wearily onto a comfortable chair, and draped her arm over the side. She lightly brushed some dust from an old trunk nearby ..she hadn't thought about that dusty old thing in years. Suddenly she remembered, and brightened a bit.

She leaned over, and addressed it quietly. "Hello. Are you good in there? It's been a long time since we talked, my old friend."

She put her hand to her mouth, very nearly suppressing an artless laugh.

""Helloo?" she knocked on the top of the trunk.

There was a tiny scrape from a nearby stand, and just for an instant, she could have sworn that an old leather hatbox had turned slightly.

She stared at it a bit ..of course it was nothing. She turned her attention back to the trunk. "Oh, don't be like that ..you aren't still angry at me? Didn't I pay you well enough for all those pretty hats you made me?"

She sat back heavily against the chair, crossing her arms. "Well , whose fault was it anyway? she said indignantly. "I thought you'd gone, and I couldn't have you turning me in. You brought it on yourself!" A sudden , hot flush enveloped her face. She jumped to her feet, and began raining kicks on the trunk.

"You're nothing...but a...damn ingrate ..just ..like ..everyone ..else!"

The last kick must have disturbed the contents of the trunk, because she heard a muffled thump from within.

Constance held her breath, and stood staring at it. A few moments of silence emboldened her, and putting her hands on her hips, she laughed. Then she reached down, and patted the trunk in mock affection, still chuckling a bit.

When she opened her mouth to speak, there was another thump, from within the trunk, louder than the first, followed by a single, weak scratch.

She started, and backed away.

"Missus! Missus!" a chambermaid called from behind the closed door.

Constance hurried across the attic, while keeping one eye on the trunk. She had left it too long. When this little bit of nonsense was over, she would have to find a discreet way to be rid of the old horror.