Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Spotlight Book Feature - The Beldam's Eye by Jennifer Rainey
When Erasmus Bramble finds the recently-deceased Angus Heyer rummaging through his kitchen cabinets, he knows he has a unique case on his hands.
As paranormal investigators in rural Ohio, Ras and his business partner Antony Yeats tackle ghostly problems on a daily basis, from poltergeist exterminations to troubled spirits just looking for a shoulder to cry on. Angus isn’t looking for ghost therapy. He needs Ras and Yeats to help him retrieve a pocket watch stolen from him after death, a pocket watch that is said to be cursed: The Beldam’s Eye.
The skeptical Ras and Yeats agree to take Angus’s case, but they soon find themselves in over their heads, facing murder, theft and perilous dark magic. Is it all just backwoods superstition or is the curse of The Beldam’s Eye grisly reality.
There was a whirlwind on the other side of the door, and Ras and Yeats were the lucky guys who got to open it.
The doorknob rattled, and there was cacophony just beyond the shuddering plywood. Occasionally they heard something like a shriek. Bloodcurdling shrieks were always good. The more vocal these things were, the better.
Betty Ann Walsh tisked as she flicked on the light in the upstairs hallway. She adjusted her stretch denim and chewed on her bright pink lips. “You hear her in there making all that racket? Throwin’ things around, of course. I can’t hear a damn word she says herself. I got a dinner party tonight, for Chrissake. I can’t have all this.”
“Not a problem, Mrs. Walsh,” said Ras, a tall and thin man who was frequently told he didn’t talk like he was from around here. “But you’ll have to tell us where she is in the room. We won’t initially be able to see her.”
“Puh! She ain’t a looker, I promise you,” Betty Ann said, and her hands tended to her floofy blonde ‘do. “Black hair all over the place. Scary-looking eyes, too.”
Yeats, a man who definitely talked like he was from around here, said, “Like something out of a Japanese horror film, I reckon.”
“Exactly!” Betty Ann breathed in air-headed awe. “That’s outstanding. How did you know?”
Yeats smiled coolly. “This is not our first rodeo, ma’am.” He fiddled with assorted buttons on a boxy camera around his neck, and the machine started to hum just as a loud thump came from inside the room. A portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Walsh, five kids and at least half a dozen dogs fell to the ground. It was all right; there were ten others just like it on the hall’s pink walls.
Ras held another frame with an old photo of a farmer in it. The grubby young man in his overalls stared intently from behind the glass. He passed a machine over the photo, and it gave a reading of forty-eight. “That’s quite the EMF spike. This is almost certainly what she’s tied to.”
Betty Ann shrugged. “She sure as hell wasn’t around before I bought it. Now, I’ve got a theory,” Betty Ann said severely. She pointed at Ras as though that made her opinion more valid. “I reckon she knew that man somehow.”
“One more question,” Ras began. “Has she ever tried to physically harm you?”
“Well, she tried to throw a mini-fridge at Colton, my oldest.”
Ras cleared his throat and buttoned his jacket. “Well. I suppose it could be worse, couldn’t it? Lovely. Ready with the spirit box, Yeats?”
Yeats nodded once and gripped the camera tight. Ras drew a deep breath and threw open the trembling door.
A pillow with the words God Bless This Mess stitched across the middle immediately flew at his head. He ducked and charged into the wind tunnel that was supposed to be a guest bedroom. The windows were shut, but curtains billowed into the middle of the room and cutesy Americana-flavored decorations rolled across the floor like tumbleweed.
“Where is she?” Ras yelled over the roar of the wind.
“Over there in the corner!” Betty Ann answered.
Yeats immediately snapped a picture of the corner. The spirit box spat out a photograph, and he waited for the image to develop, throwing one arm up to protect himself from a flying quilt.
“Mrs. Walsh, you might want to wait downstairs,” Ras said. “We don’t want you to get hurt.”
Betty Ann was halfway back down the hall when Yeats yelled, “Ras, we’ve got a rogue here.” A portrait of Jesus Christ, the kind where the eyes were always on you, tumbled to the ground.
Ras dodged a potted plant and examined the image. Something that used to be a young woman in a red dress stood in the corner, her long black hair flying in all directions as though she’d been struck by lightning. Her skin was mostly chalky, save for just around her eyes where the flesh was bloated and black. Her fingers were smeared with dried blood.
She had no pupils, just black marbles where eyes should be, and yet Ras could still tell she was staring straight at the spirit box.
He could also tell she was pretty pissed off.