The Captain of the Manor
Aiden looked around while he tried to figure out an answer. Did he see what he thought he saw? What did it mean? There’s no way a physical ghost/spectre/paranormal whatever is possible.
The handsome male turned, crossed arms over his chest, and gazed upon him. Ever patient and watchful as Aiden tried to figure out what to say that wouldn’t make him sound like a total idiot.
“I don’t know what I saw. It’s been a long day.”
“Perhaps you should take a nap and relax. Your room has a soothing garden tub to stretch out in or you can leave out the back door, over the bridge, and lay out on the beach. There are several lounge chairs and awnings around the area.”
“It’s the last week of October. Who would want to lie out or go in the water? I’m sure it’s freezing out there.”
“The waters run a little warmer down here than up north, not as much as Florida, but I’m amazed the amount of out-of-state guests who enjoy the water and beach.”
Aiden shuddered. “No thanks. I’m not a beach goer.”
“Perhaps the bath, nap, and visit to the library are in order. Dinner is served promptly at six for those guests who wish to join. The dining room is down the stairs, turn around the short hallway behind the counter, and it will take you to the double doors. Brunch is also served there, buffet style, from eight am to eleven am. Lunch is on your own, there are several decent places to visit within a walk.”
“Thank you for the options. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.”
“Very well, enjoy your stay, Aiden,” Edmund said. Since Aiden didn’t take the folder from the counter, he held it and the card to him.
“Oh, thank you, I forgot to take this.” Aiden shuffled his bags until he had a hand free. He took the card, looked at it, and swiped it through the lock. The light turned green on his first time.
“You’re lucky, most people fight with those cards. I prefer keys myself, but security insisted on the change,” Edmund said with a shrug. He stepped away as if to head downstairs.
“Will I be seeing you around?”
Edmund turned at Aiden’s question. “I’ll be around the rest of the week. All Saints’ Day is when another family member will take over as manager.”
“Oh, you’re not here full time.”
“No. This is one of my rare visits to the manor. I don’t prefer staying here at Trident’s Rest, you know the ghosts and haunting and all that nonsense,” he said with a flap of his fingers.
Aiden chuckled at the quiet joke. “Perhaps we’ll meet again at dinner.”
With a grin, Aiden fixed his glasses, and entered the room. He dropped down the bags. “Crap… Forgot to ask about a car.” He opened the door and stepped into the opening. “Excuse me, Mr…”
The hallway was empty.
“He’s fast,” Aiden said as he went back to the room.
* * * *
Having to relinquish his corporeal form and returning to ghost form, Edmund leaned against the wall to hide the wavering shadow he sometimes left behind which people said was the Carslyle pirate ghost.
He never was a damn pirate. He was a privateer with rights to plunder under the care of the newly formed Americas. With a scroll as proof, he could attack all ships sailing under different flags and plunder their goods for the benefit of the Americas, him, and his crew. Pirates were a bloodthirsty lot who made their berths in the Caribbean. Edmund preferred berthing around his family’s home and lighthouse as he patrolled the waters.
After watching the bewitching young man, Edmund disappeared through the walls until he stood within the master suite which hadn’t changed since his last voyage. The voyage he didn’t return from, at least not in the normal fashion.
Lacing fingers behind his back, Edmund paced across the thick Turkish rug he plundered from a ship. His knee-high polished black boots didn’t make a sound. Neither did his tight pants, loose silk shirt, and long black coat with polished silver buttons. These were the clothes he disappeared off his ship centuries ago. Every time he returned to this insignificant cursed form, these clothes appeared upon his body.
Not quite a ghost, not quite immortal, he was something completely utterly different. He was cursed. He was forced to take this ghost form throughout the year except from the night of the Autumnal Equinox to the evening of All Saints’ Day. Those few weeks he could partake a more corporeal form with various clothing and interact with humans, eat, enjoy sex, but unable to step into direct sunlight. Sunlight would shine right through his form and reveal his secret. Taking this form was taxing and he couldn’t hold it for long hours before returning to his ghost form.
All of his troubles started after crossing the eerie ship, Calypso’s Mystery, and her pirate captain, Bartolomeo de Soto, in the waters of the upper Lesser Antilles. While the captain flew under an unknown flag, sailing deep on his keel, and Edmund knew his ship could attack and plunder this under his written proclamation.
Though he tried to prevent the deaths of the captain, this time it didn’t happen. The captain was severely injured, bleeding on the deck when he boarded to oversee the situation after the quick, fierce battle. The rest of the crew was tied to the masts before his crew began to plunder the cargo holds. It was later, when he released the second mate, who rushed to his captain’s side. He learned who the Portuguese man was and his protect. De Soto was under the protection of his mistress, a powerful voodoo priestess. This lady was a wise and powerful priestess well known throughout the Caribbean. Her name was Marie Gedeon. Anyone who attacked her lover would be found and cursed by her protective spirits.
Sailing throughout these waters and visiting the ports, Edmund knew all about this ancient African practice which came here with the slave market. Many believed in the magic and mysticism of voodoo and their houngan and priestesses. He didn’t return the plunder for it would make him appear weak in front of his crew. When this priestess learned of her lover’s death at his orders, Edmund knew he would face her wrath and spirits. He sailed away, headed toward home before the Calypso could reach the priestess.
He wasn’t lucky. Problems soon began amassing during this fateful voyage home. Several barrels of fresh water became contaminated. More containers of food were decimated. Multiple crew members died with unknown factors and causes. The voyage lasted three times as long once the full moon of the Autumnal Equinox rose and fell in the dark sky.
The week of All Hallows’ Eve, he watched the skies darken with a rush of deep black-gray clouds rolling across the sky. The wind whipped around them, tugging and pulling at the sails until three ripped. He ordered the crew to the rigging to take down the rest. They would be at the mercy of the current and waves, but there wasn’t another choice. He stayed at the wheel, issuing orders, and watching the skies.
In a flash of lightning, a dark-skinned woman in colorful fabrics, a scarf around her neck, and items in her hand which she waved in his direction, her mouth forming words, as she danced around him. The final curse came through the darkness along with dust and power:
Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust Twist and bend the bones to dust I scatter these bones, these bones full of my rage Take them as an offering to bring thy enemy pain I see thy enemy before me now I bind him, crush him, and knock him down With these bones I now do crush Grind thy enemies into dust With the eternal fires out of control With this curse I take thy soul Take the form as a ghost for eternity Betwixt the time of the autumnal equinox and all hallows’ eve thy will become corporeal Learn the will of thy heart This is my will let it be done
As she finished the curse, Edmund lost feeling in all his limbs. He stared at his feet as they faded to invisibility and gradually climb up his body. As he screamed against her, the spirits, and into the wind, he disappeared completely from life.
After All Saints’ Day, he reappeared in this suite in his current form and figured out what the priestess did to him. The following autumn, he learned about the corporeal state, disguising his appearance from family and friends. He couldn’t leave the manor except to reappear at the lighthouse. He was connected forever to this manor, it recharged his energy and held him in this life between worlds.
Adjusting to this ghost form and half-life, Edmund accepted his fate. He integrated the changes of the manor to a B&B after the last of his family passed and he adjusted the name on the deed to whatever current one he chose. He took a lover, preferably a male, when his body craved the sensation during this short reprieve and entrance into the physical world. Over the last few years, he didn’t bother, hardening his mind to his empty fate.
For those reasons, he was intrigued by the temptation of the gorgeous young man inside his home. This man saw both of his forms and didn’t flee. He recognized Aiden’s mind was troubled, the loss of his job, no ride home, and little available funds. With this last week available to him, Edmund wondered how he could connect to Aiden before he lost his chance this year.
TO BE CONTINUED