Gabriel thought that they wouldn’t have to leave the house that night. He craved some rest, it had been an extremely busy week, and almost every call they received either ended up being a prank, or some hallucinating maniac who claimed that they could see ghosts. There wasn’t much to do for paranormal investigators in the town of Grimhollow, despite the name that sounded like the place housed creatures from fairy tales.
However, his dreams of enjoying a quiet weekend were shattered when Maura stepped in, announcing her plans loudly, there wouldn’t have been a point in doing so if the message didn’t reach Gabriel.
Her words were precisely : “I wanna go hiking in the deeper parts of the forest this weekend.. I sure do hope I find something paranormal there, it has been a rather boring week, honestly."
and what she meant by her words was : "I'm going to go hiking, and YOU, Gabe, are coming WITH me, no excuses. I don't care if we find anything creepy, I want to have fun, and I'm going to force my idea of fun onto you whether you like it or not."
Years of living with her had taught him how to translate words from what she said, to what she really meant. It had also taught him to try and disagree with her as less as possible-the number of guilt trips had been more than bearable- but this time, he felt like he had to refuse.
He carefully planned out his words as she came to sit next to him on the couch and was just about to give a detailed list of reason he couldn't go hiking, when the phone rang. Maura sighed, rolled her eyes and went to pick up the 'damn' phone as she called it.
Gabriel sighed in relief, which, unbeknownst to him, wasn't going to last long.
Maura took her time, and returned about twenty minutes later. She was full of energy, and Gabriel was soon going to know why.
"There's a case Gabriel, get out of those pajamas and wear something decent. I'll be driving so don't worry too much."
She turned, making her way to her room as quickly as she could, because she could see that Gabriel had a lot to say, and she didn't want to let him say a thing.
Before he could get a word about how much he would love to be left alone at home in peace, and how this could be another of those stupid cases they'd been involved in the whole week, the door to her room was shut in his face.
It opened a while later, and there she was, her black hair tied neatly, wearing a white shirt and black pants.
"I think I told you to change out of your pajamas."
"I'll do that when you tell me the details of this case."
"Ah, well, Odette called, and she's currently at the house of the client."
"Who is the client? What is her or his problem? Maura, don't play around, tell me."
"It is an old woman who says that she hears weird sounds from her neighbor's place at night."
"Damn, this is one of those cases where an old person claims to hear ghosts and we go, and in the end it turn out to be a rat infestation. Let's not go, just tell Odette to reassure her, and things will be fine."
"Put on your work clothes, Gabriel. If we don't attend to every case that we get, we night end up missing some real action."
The tone was sharp, and in those red eyes there was annoyance. He knew better than to annoy her and he sighed, walking off, grumbling to himself. He was back in a few minutes, not too crisply dressed, but Maura didn't mind.
Maura had promised that she'd drive, and she did. Thankfully, most of the residents of Grimhollow were asleep, so there wasn't an accident on the way. She had noted the address, and though it took her a while to find the house, the speed made up for it.
Going up to the door, they exchanged pleasantries with the old woman who invited them inside after learning who they were. Odette was sitting inside, a cup of tea in her lap, dressed impeccably as usual.
They were an odd trio, a pretty, blonde girl with two seemingly sober hooligans, but the old lady didn't seem to mind. She seemed rather preoccupied, and began her story.
"It started about... a few weeks ago, forgive me if I forget some details dear. The thing is, I haven't had a good night's sleep ever since that man next door started harboring some sort of... animal. If you could even call it that. I have never heard theses... these kinds of sounds before, they are absolutely terrifying. Definitely not an animal. It's a monster I tell you! Some sort of horrible, dreadful monster!"
At this point, her voice became slightly hoarse, which stopped her. Thankfully for Gabriel who seemed like he was ready to burst at any point now.
"So ma'am, you say that you suspect your neighbor of... of owning or having summoned some sort of otherworldly creature?"
Odette's soft spoken voice was calming, and things seemed to be moving forward when Gabriel just had to interrupt.
"Or, it could just be some sort of endangered species, in which case you should call the animal department, NOT paranormal investigators, ma'am."
While Odette calmed the old lady, and shot Gabriel some dirty looks which made him distraught enough to keep quiet, Maura observed the woman. She didn't know why, but something about the entire thing seemed off. However, she had a feeling that tonight was not going to be as boring as Gabriel thought it would. And she smiled, wide.
"Don't you worry yourself ma'am, we'll just run a check on the house and if we come across something akin to what you described, we'll act accordingly." She said, the smile not leaving her face, while Odette and Gabriel both looked at her, questioning her abnormal enthusiasm.
The old woman smiled, gratefully, nervously.
"Thank you dear, but...but what will you do?"
"That is entirely our job ma'am, and I assure you that after tonight, you wouldn't have a reason to worry."
With this, she took Gabriel outside with her, while Odette sat with the lady. Field work was up to the two of them, while Odette handled the clients, the adverts and the paperwork if any.
She glanced at the house next door, the problem house which they had to 'check'. The windows were dark and it seemed that the inhabitant, or rather, inhabitants, were asleep.
"Alright, so let's go back inside after five minutes and tell her that we found an endangered animal, and the activists are on their way."
"Pfft, Gabriel, we're not doing that. Let's go have a look. We can enter through the vents, or the chimney or something."
"Maura, breaking and entering could get us into a lot of trouble, and dealing with the human law force is the last thing I want to do."
"You phrased it wrong Gabe, it isn't breaking and entering, we're embarking on an investigation."
It took them a whole half an hour to stop their bickering and decide upon entering through the chimney. After which, it took them another ten minutes to actually get inside the house, onto the fireplace, coughing and cursing softly, half-covered in soot. It was eerily quiet, and pitch black. But for them, the darkness wasn't an issue, they could see perfectly.
After all, there are some perks of being monsters.
Things were quiet for a while, and the two stood there in silence, Gabriel passing annoyed glares at Maura who chose to ignore them. The silence was broken by a faint clinking sound.
And then, it was followed by a louder one.
A thudding sound, followed by something that sounded like metal on cemented floor. They looked at each other and wondered where the sound rose from, and what could be causing it. Another loud thud confirmed their suspicions and they looked at each other with equally triumphant smirks.
"To the basement." they whispered in unison, and crept out of the room they were in, making there way cautiously, soundlessly to the source of the sound which repeated itself almost every ten seconds. Soon, they found themselves in front of a door, which would hopefully lead them to the basement. They stood quietly and listened for the sound. And sure enough, the eerie sound repeated itself, sounding louder and clearer this time.
"I hope it isn't locked.." Maura whispered as she reached forward, gripping the knob. And it turned with a gentle click. From inside the basement, there was a faint, rotten odor and the scent of sulfur. Maura stepped inside, there were stairs that led to the bottom and Gabriel followed, a little hesitant. This was starting to feel slightly odd.
"Oh boy, am I glad you came here yourself..."
A husky voice, that belonged to neither Maura, nor Gabriel. Nor did it come from inside the room.
The voice belonged to a figure that stood outside the room.
They could only catch a glimpse of it, as the door shut on them with a loud bang. And then there was a click.
"What the actual..."
"We've been locked in, Maura!"
That in itself wasn't a problem, but the loud sound of the door shutting was enough to wake up what lay inside the room. For as soon as they were shut in, inhuman groans filled the room.
A thud here, a moan there, it seemed as if the place was filled with zombie rats, the voices emanating from every single corner, the source was indeterminable. And then, the shuffling sound grew louder, followed by loud clinks... there was something in that room and it was coming dangerously close.
And in that overpowering darkness, where the thudding of the heart was deafening, a strong sense of foreboding pervaded. In a matter of a few seconds. the sounds stopped, the thing had stopped moving, it had reached where it wanted to. Maura's voice broke the silence.
"Damn Gabriel, things like these make me wish that I couldn't see in the dark."