Pulling up the driveway, Bache Manor loomed ominously in the distance. As beautiful as its façade was, with tall, white pillars flanking the front portico, it was also sad. It was obvious it was in desperate need of some TLC.
“Oh, wow,” Shannon said from the back seat.
“Yeah,” Jenn agreed, slightly in awe. “Look at it.”
“I told you this would be a good one,” James reminded them as he pulled up to the front of the manor. “And there’s Deb.”
Deb was the woman who’d invited them to investigate the manor. She, along with her daughter, Traci, and husband, Dave, had been commissioned to clear it of the former owner’s things. However, they’d not been able to do so, since their fear kept them from wanting to go inside.
“Hey, James,” Deb called. “Glad you all could come.”
“We’re glad you asked us,” James replied as he walked across the yard toward her.
“Honestly, we didn’t know what else to do. It was either get your team out here to see what’s going on or tell the bank to get someone else.”
“Do you know any history on this place?” Chad asked, since he was the one who researched the history of locations they investigated. “I wasn’t really able to find anything.” He took a few pictures of the manor as he spoke.
“That’s one of the strange things about this place,” Deb explained. “Its history is not well documented, even though there are… well, you’ll see once we get inside,” she said with a knowing smile. “Anyway, due to the lack of documentation, not a lot is known about it or the past owners. However, there’s a lot of things left inside, so you may be able to get some information from something he—Mr. Bache—left behind.”
“So, he just up and left all his belongings?” James asked.
Deb nodded. “Clothes, pill bottles, and a lot of valuable things. There’s even food in the fridge.”
“Ew, I bet that smells nice,” Shannon interjected.
“It’s just one of the many odd things you’ll find inside,” Deb said.
“Okay, then,” James said, “let us get some of our equipment and we’ll meet you inside.”
“And you’re sure it’s okay for us to be here?” Jenn asked, feeling uneasy.
“Oh, yeah,” Deb assured them. “It’s been turned over to the bank. We have full access to it while we clean everything out.”
“You do plan on staying during the investigation, right?” Jenn questioned.
“Traci and I will be here. Dave had to leave.”
“Okay, as long as one of you stay.” Even with them staying, Jenn was hesitant. “You sure this is all legit?” she asked James once Deb and walked away to go unlock the door.
“As far as I know. If not, we wouldn’t be here.”
Jenn and the team grabbed some of their hand-held equipment and started to head inside. “If you say so.”
Despite her reluctance, she had to concede that the estate and its surroundings were quite remarkable. Aside from its desolate state, with spider webs blanketing the statues and landscaping that flanked the manor, it was breathtaking, sitting on several acres that were surrounded by a large lake.
“What the hell?” they all heard Chad say from around the back of the house.
“What?” Shannon yelled, heading to where he stood, just inside the back door—which was barely still hanging. “What did you do, break in?”
Deb laughed. “No, that’s been like that. Dave has tried to fix it, but it looks like the door is going to have to be replaced.”
Jenn gave James a questioning look, to which he just shrugged, too occupied by what he saw to care about the door. “Look at all this stuff.”
We were standing in the kitchen, which was a filthy mess. Aside from the fact that it was cluttered with all sorts of cooking utensils, there were still dirty dishes in the sink.
“Oh, man,” Shannon said with disgust as she closed the door of a fully stocked refrigerator, fanning the smell away from her face.
“What are these?” Chad asked as he unwrapped newspaper from around a rock.
“We don’t know,” Traci, Deb’s daughter, replied, speaking for the first time. “They’re all over the house, though. There are bricks, too, all wrapped in either newspaper or just plain white paper.”
“That’s weird,” Jenn admitted as Chad took pictures of them. “I’ll have to try to look that up, see if it has some sort of significance or meaning.”
“There’s also a lot of these laying around,” Deb added, pointing to a box of shotgun shells that sat on one of the counters.
“Oh, that’s nice,” Jenn murmured, her hesitancy growing.
“Come look at this,” Deb said as she led them up a tiny set of stairs at the back of the kitchen, which was hidden by what looked to be just a cabinet door.
“This is like some secret passageway,” James said as they squeezed up the stairs and into a small room above the kitchen.
Once they were all inside, Deb sat down on the foot of the bed that was in the center of the room. “We assume this was once servant’s quarters, but not it’s the owner’s bedroom, or at least where he slept.” She pointed to a TV that was sitting on a small table behind Chad. “It appears he monitored the manor from up here.”
“Monitored? There are security cameras here?” Chad asked.
“There were, but only one remains, that we’ve noticed, and that is the one in the attic,” Deb replied. “And if you’ll look here,” she added, getting up and pointing out yet another string that was tied to the doorknob, “this was used to alert him of someone entering.”
The team followed the string with their eyes, which was looped through a hook on the adjacent wall and tied to a brick that sat on a small ledge by the door. There were bells tied all along the end of the string, which Chad couldn’t resist jingling.
“So, if someone came in, it would pull the brick down and wake him up,” Chad noted, taking more pictures. “That, right there, is proof that Mr. Bache was paranoid, but of what?”
Deb shrugged. “I don’t know, but he was prepared to take action, it seems, if need be.” She pointed to two more boxes of shotgun shells that sat on the nightstand by the bed.
“That’s crazy,” Jenn said with a slight shiver.
“You’re not kidding,” Shannon agreed as they headed back downstairs.
“Come check this room out,” Deb said. “I think you’ll find it very interesting.”
The team followed her back through the kitchen, out another door, and down a short hallway. When the team entered the large room, three times the size of the kitchen, they were silent, amazed at what they were seeing.
Along each wall were beautifully painted tapestries, some torn down with holes in the walls where they once hung. Each scene depicted what appeared to be Victorian socialites, some lounging in gardens, while others were being fed grapes.
Jenn walked over to one of them to get a closer look. “Dupree?” She quickly turned around, shocked. “The Dupree? Alexander Dupree?”
Deb and Traci both smiled. “Yes, the one and only.”
“But… that would mean… that this room, alone—” Chad stammered as he took several pictures.
“Could be worth millions,” Jenn finished.
“And here are some of the pieces that were torn down,” Deb said, retrieving a large piece of rolled-up tapestry.
Jenn took it and gently unrolled it on the floor. “This, alone, is probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars… if it’s really an original, which it looks to be.” Her mind was racing.
“Jenn’s an artist, too, just not this good,” James teased.
“I wished I was half this good,” Jenn admitted, laughing. “I just can’t believe I’m actually touching a painting by Dupree, one of the greatest artists of the eighteenth century.”
“What are they doing here and not in a museum?” Chad asked.
“Who knows,” Deb said. “Just one of the many mysteries that surround this place.”
“Why were they torn down?” James asked. “It’s obvious they’re old, even though they’ve been well preserved, but you can tell this was intentionally ripped from the wall.”
“Well, that leads us to another mystery,” Deb said as she walked over to one of the holes in the wall. “There are holes like this all over this place. Not just in the walls, but also on the floors; floorboards pulled up. There are photos upstairs that are dated as late as a couple of years ago, and it doesn’t even look like the same place.”
“So, someone intentionally knocked holes in the walls?” Chad asked as he took a picture of it.
“It appears that way.”
“Mr. Bache?” James asked.
“I’d say so. Several unanswered questions were left behind when he disappeared, and this—” she motioned toward the torn tapestries “is just the beginning. Come look at this and see what you make of it.”
As they walked out into the foyer, their eyes were immediately drawn to the grand, spiral staircase.
“What the—?” Chad immediately started taking more pictures.
Hanging in the center of the staircase, from the high ceiling up all the way to the floor, were strings. Each one had been tied to a spindle on the staircase, and once the stairs ended, the strings continued in an invisible circle around the foyer.
“What in the world is that even for?” Shannon asked.
Chad pulled out his EMF detector and walked toward the strings, scanning them up and down.
“That could be something as simple as finding the center of the staircase,” James said.
Shannon gave him an odd look. “But for what? I’m sure there are easier ways to do that, for whatever reason.”
Jenn walked around the strings, racking her brain as to why someone would do this. “Yeah, maybe it’s some sort of measuring tool. Or maybe it’s a portal to Hell.” She laughed, even though she wasn’t kidding.
“I’m not getting any readings,” Chad said. “Not anything worth noting.”
There was a loud noise that echoed down the stairs.
“Is Dave up there?” James asked.
Deb shook her head. “No, he left. He doesn’t like coming in here.”
James laughed. “So he sends his wife and daughter in?”
“He’s sort of… sensitive to things,” Deb replied. “He almost passed out in the attic, saying some kind of force came over him. And since he’s one of the main ones to help us get this stuff out of here, that’s why we called you.”
“That noise is some of the stuff we hear,” Traci explained. “We hear thumps and bangs, voices when no one is here but us.”
“Voices?” Shannon asked. “What kind of voices?”
Traci stepped closer to her mom before answering. “It sounds like mumbling. You can hear someone talking, but can’t understand what they are saying.”
The same noise floated eerily down the stairs, but this time it almost sounded like someone was dragging something.
Jenn rubbed her arms, which were now covered in chills, causing her hairs to stand on end. “We should go see what that was, don’t you think?”
“Yeah,” Chad agreed as he headed up the stairs, messing with his phone. “Let’s go.”
Finding no source for the noises, the team turned their attention back to the manor and the strange things that littered the inside of it. From odd knick-knacks, a spooky-looking doll, and some old cloche hats with feathers, to a razor, toothbrush, and pill bottle still sitting on the bathroom sink, there was no shortage of interesting things, which only added to the mystery of Bache Manor.
“I’m gonna go do an EVP session in that blue room down the hallway,” Chad said.
“Okay, we’ll yell if we need you.” James picked up a stack of photos. “Jenn, Shannon, look at these.”
“What are they?” Jenn asked.
“Different rooms in the manor.” James flipped through a few more. “And these are of this hole right here.”
“Why would someone take a bunch of pictures of a hole in the wall?” Shannon asked.
“Look,” Jenn said, “they all have different dates, even though a lot of them are of the same thing. And look at this one. What’s that?” In one of the pictures, there was a sliver of white near the edge of the hole—inside it.
“Just a reflection, maybe?” James suggested.
A few minutes later, Chad returned. “Guys, check this out.” He held out his voice recorder and hit play.
“Is there anybody here that would like to communicate with me?” Silence. “What is your name?” Silence. “Are you stuck here?” Silence. “If so, who are you looking for?” He pointed at his recorder as a girl’s voice said, “Mama.”
“Class-A, baby, plain as day,” Chad said proudly.
What sounded like a distant scream caused all their heads to jerk up.
“That sounded like it came from outside,” Chad said. “Come on.”
Sitting the photos down as they rushed downstairs and out the door, they were once again left standing in confusion.
“Maybe it was an animal,” James, the ever-skeptical one, said.
“Probably was,” Chad agreed, but unsure.
They were all unsure… about a lot of things.
Soft music came from inside the house, causing them all to look at each other.
“Oh, that’s my phone,” Traci said. “I left it on the kitchen counter.” She grabbed her mom by the arm. “Come with me to get it. I’m not going in by myself.”
“Do you want me to come?” Chad asked, knowing the woman and her daughter, who barely looked twenty, were afraid.
“No, it’s just right inside,” Traci replied with a smile. “But thanks.”
Once they were gone, James jabbed Chad in the ribs. “Don’t be hitting on the clients.”
“I’m not,” Chad lied. “Unlike some, I’m a gentleman and was simply being polite.”
“Is that a greenhouse?” Shannon asked, pointing down the yard toward the water.
“It looks like it,” Jenn said. “Let’s go check it out.”