(The Mason County ghost story continues . . . go back to read parts 1-4 if this is your first time here!)
Ella was their closest neighbor, just a short hike by foot to the west. She had blonde hair and big hips and a loud laugh. She was up on current events, funny, and independent.
She’s everything my wife isn’t.
Sera was spending more and more time in bed alone and disconnected from the world, from his world.
I need company. No crossed lines, no harm.
Webb crossed onto Ella’s property. They had a regular coffee date Saturdays to talk about soil amendments, horticulture, politics, and county gossip. There was a woman missing from Point Pleasant, she’d last been seen buying limestone pellets and a seed spreader at Southern States two days prior. Her husband reported her missing when she never came home as expected, and now everyone was a-buzz with what could have happened. Her abandoned car was found on the side of the road, but there was no trace of the woman. Oddly, the receipt from her purchase was on the front seat, but the items on the receipt were not in the car, nor were any personal affects.
I’m not the only one who feels a rush thinking about what might have happened to her. I know I’m not. Everyone thinks mysteries and missing people are exciting. They do. If they say they don’t, they lie.
He called to his neighbor through the screen but there was no answer. He opened the door and called again, but still no answer. Cautiously he went to the top of the stairs to the second floor and loudly said her name. No one was in the house.
Webb walked around to the back of the house and that is when he heard the sounds.
What he heard was unmistakable. It was where he heard it and its ferocity that stopped him in his tracks, his spine suddenly rigid with a hard cold that seemed like an instant paralysis. He wanted to move. He wanted to move fast, to turn and run back to his farm as fast as he could, but his mind was so confused it wouldn’t allow any decision or action. He pictured Sera at home.
She must be awake by now, making eggs and waiting for her roses. What am I doing here?
A woman’s screams vibrated in his ears. There was a pattern to her voice, and it paralleled the pattern of the crashing sound against an interior wall of the shed. Webb saw a side wall shudder violently as something or someone slammed against it again and again. He heard other sounds too, like heavy tools hitting the floor and large pieces of gardening equipment rolling around and knocking against each other and the doors of the shed. He wanted to open the door of the shed, to save her, to make it stop, but he was frightened and not even entirely sure it was her or what was happening inside the building. Whatever it was, it was bad.
He heard a few more tools fall over, and that’s when he found his legs.
He was across Ella’s acres and back on his own in a third of the time it had taken him to get to her house. He ran up the stairs to the porch and straight into the house. Sera must be up, the door was wide open. He tried to stop his heart from beating through the walls of his chest, but he couldn’t calm down. He heard Ella’s voice screaming in his head, the pick axe and shovels falling off their hooks, the creak of the shed itself as it groaned against the weight of whatever assaulted its walls.
Sera, Sera, Sera………….where is my wife? Why did I ever leave her, ever, for one minute? I said never again. I lost the roses. Should I call Ella, the police?
He had no idea what to do next. He walked through the dining room to the kitchen where he hoped Sera would be.