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The Lowenthal Case

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Aug 19th, 2014
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  1. Imogene Lowenthal had some problems. This was very uncommon for the wife of a banker. One or two problems? Manageable. Some problems? Unthinkable. First was the fact that the hot water had been out for days, and she and the children had not had their weekly bath yet. Second was the poltergeist. Third was that the riots a few blocks over had been keeping her from getting more tea from the Chinaman's stall down the lane.
  2. Normally the tea would have been a bigger problem. But the poltergeist kept screaming that this was all Imogene's fault, and she felt an angry ghost had priority over green tea. It was also scaring the children, which was also a problem, but the terror of the poltergeist had been helping keep them in line. A little fear was healthy.
  3. So petite blonde Imogene Lowenthal, the banker's wife, mother of three, sat on the couch across from the parapsychologist and the exorcist. The parapsychologist was a heavyset immigrant (Russian?) woman with dazzling blue eyes and a wide smile. The brightness of her face clashed with the grimy rubber armor and overalls. Her friend was thin and limber, clad in smoked goggles and a long scarf, his body obscured with a patchwork oilskin.
  4. Imogene shifted quietly. "So how does this work."
  5. The exorcist stroked his chin. "I can feel it. She can find it. Together we can get rid of it."
  6. The parapsychologist nodded eagerly. "No danger to your house or home, we promise."
  7. Imogene nodded. "The children are at school. Michael is at work. If you can do this without upsetting either of them that would be much appreciated Mr..."
  8. The exorcist cleared his throat. "Jacob."
  9. "Zlata."
  10. "Right." Imogene nodded and walked from the sitting room to the hall to the stairs. She unlocked the basement door and motioned to the professionals. "We keep seeing them down there. Never looks the same twice."
  11. The basement lead down twenty steps to a concrete floor and wooden walls. The aetheric light flickered from the ceiling. From the top of the stairs they could see the water heater, a wine rack and crates of stored goods. Jacob walked down the first three steps and paused. "Yes."
  12. "Are you sure?" said Zlata.
  13. Jacob sighed and nodded. "Absolutely. It's overwhelming." He rolled back the sleeve of one arm, revealing the pale, scarred flesh beneath and the rows of raised hairs. He walked back upstairs and Zlata walked to the door.
  14. "Where are you going?" Imogene said.
  15. Zlata stepped into the airlock. "Back in a minute."
  16. Imogene glanced at Jacob. He shrugged. "She needs to get our supplies. You ever see aethertech in the field? It's not light."
  17. The basement rattled beneath them as Zlata returned, followed by three shuffling ghouls, each one hefting a load of machinery and equipment. They leered up at Imogene with their beady little eyes. Imogene frowned. "Assistants?"
  18. Zlata grinned and nodded. "Best in the business. Meet the boys." The trio lined up with a salute. "Scar, Flay and Theodore."
  19. "...Theodore?"
  20. "He's a Christian, that one."
  21. Theodore grinned, his dirty teeth gleaming in the light as he pulled a grubby crucifix from the folds of his robes. Imogene shuddered. Jacob pointed to the basement and the ghouls nodded, carrying their gear downstairs as the humans followed. The hot water heater rattled violently.
  22. "Are you sure it's a poltergeist?" Jacob said.
  23. Imogene shrugged. "I'm not entirely sure. It's a spirit, I know that much."
  24. Zlata counted on her fingers. "Physical disturbances, cold spots, interference with technology..."
  25. Scar coughed, his throat rattling as he spoke. "Smells like dinnah in heah."
  26. Jacob frowned and sniffed the air. "Mm. I don't smell anything."
  27. "D'you mind if the boys look around a little, ma'am?" said Zlata.
  28. Imogene bit her lower lip and nodded. The ghouls sniffed the air, homing in on the rattling water heater.
  29. Scar smiled wide. "Theah's dinnah. In thah heatah."
  30. "Oh yeah, smells fresh." said Flay.
  31. Theodore shook his head. "I smells moah." The other two looked at him and he nodded. "Yeah. Theah's moah. Pass me the hammah." Flay handed a small mallet to Theodore. He scuttled forward, gently tapping on the wooden wall.
  32. tap tap
  33. tap tap
  34. thunk thunk
  35. "Mind if we open 'er up, miss?" said Theodore.
  36. "I don't think that's fully necessary..." said Imogene.
  37. Zlata gave the woman a firm pat on the shoulder. "I will fix the hole, I promise."
  38. Imogene sighed as she nodded. "Go ahead..."
  39. Theodore motioned the others over, two more mallets joining him. The wood splintered easily as the temperature plummeted, the air thick with a miasma of rot and meat. Imogene gagged loudly as Jacob pulled the scarf higher over his mouth and Zlata pinched her nose shut. The ghouls worked faster, spurred on by the smell of food as they tore a wide hole into the wall. Zlata started assembling her gear as Jacob mumbled prayers through his scarf. The rattling water heater tore free from its foundations, pulling piping through the hole in the wall before collapsing over on its side. A gaunt, ethereal hand clawed at the air through the heater's body.
  40. The hand was twisted and gnarled, the white spectral skin hanging off of its bones like it was degloved. The hand grabbed and lifted, pulling the rest of the ghost free from the metal. She was dressed in a low cut provocative evening gown, the dress torn and stained with blood. Her jaw hung from her face, the skin sagging like her tongue. She might've been pretty once, but now who could tell.
  41. Imogene screamed loudly as she fell backwards, crawling on her back as she moved behind Jacob. Zlata worked on the controls to the squat machine on the floor. "Eh. Seen worse."
  42. "No, not a poltergeist at all. Is this her?" Jacob asked.
  43. Imogene shook her head. Jacob nodded and strode forward, past the machine and the ghost. He looked at the hole that the ghouls were crowded around. The trio were rubbing their hands and cackling to themselves. That was never a good sign.
  44. Inside of the hole was another chamber, the hole itself through a hidden door. Inside were the corpses of nineteen women hanging from the ceiling by shackles on their wrists. Each woman had a set of piercing irons on their head, their bodies all in various states of decay and destruction. Jacob sighed as he saw the empty shackles in open spaces. This one was smart. Very smart. "Zlata?"
  45. The parapsychologist looked up. "Mm?"
  46. "We probably won't need your tools." Jacob said.
  47. " many?" Zlata said.
  48. "Nineteen." Jacob replied.
  49. Zlata rubbed her face with a dirty glove. "Miss Imogene? Does your husband stay up late at night?"
  50. Imogene stared at her blankly. "F-for work, mostly."
  51. Zlata tucked a wrench into her pocket. "Of course he does. Do you have a phone I can use?"
  52. Imogene nodded weakly. "In the upstairs parlor."
  53. "I have to make a few calls." Zlata said as she walked back upstairs.
  54. Imogene crawled onto her knees and started to get up, cringing as the ghouls gave her a hand. There was a thump upstairs. The thump of familiar boots.
  55. Michael's boots.
  56. The look on Imogene's face said everything. Jacob nodded and shushed the ghouls. "Stay right here, okay?" Jacob drew a revolver from his coat. Before Imogene could speak, Scar covered her mouth with a finger and shook his head.
  57. She wanted to tell the exorcist that Michael carried a shotgun.
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