Chapter One

An eerie stillness filled the air. The giant grandfather clock in the hallway ticked loudly as the large hand made its way toward the eleventh hour. The wind whistled throughout the house, at times sounding like someone crying, and others like a lone wolf howling to the full moon. Floorboards creaked when a slight shift in weight was put upon it. Within the house, a door banged shut forcefully. The candles flickered in the dark, their shadows casting images of dancing creatures on the walls. It raised goose bumps on Mai's arms.

A few days ago SPR had gotten a call about the strange happenings in an abandoned house on the edge of town. It had been recently bought after fifty years of neglect and was still in the process of being furnished when the owner had had an unfortunate accident. Her body had been found days later by her sister, her head twisted at an unnatural angle and her body coated in blood. Her wrists had been slashed and so were her ankles. It had all seemed so very ritualistic to Mai but when she'd voiced her opinion it was quickly put to death by Naru.

The family that had asked for their help were angry and confused. They had warned their daughter against buying the old Ichimaru place but she had bought it anyway, believing the hauntings over the years to be stories told by parents to keep their kids out of the house.

Naru, of course, hadn't wanted to take on the case because he felt it was too easy for him and he didn't want to waste his time, (the narcissist), but Mai had agreed on his behalf, and that currently had her waiting in the spare bedroom downstairs that they had turned into their base of operations.

She resented the fact that Naru had told her to wait here and monitor the screens for any activity while he and Masako had a walk through the house to see if the girl could sense any spirits.

Mai gritted her teeth at the thought of the pretty medium putting her hands on Naru. For she would because that's the kind of person she was. It wasn't as if Naru was any more interested in her than he was in Mai but it still grated on her nerves.

The girl was stubborn in her pursuit of Naru and to Mai's chagrin they had even gone out a few times. Of course she couldn't really tell from Naru's demeanour what he felt for the girl. He hardly showed what he was feeling. That made it worse.

"If you keep looking at the screens like that they might crack," Ayako said, sailing into the room behind her. Mai groaned loudly, earning her a glare from the other woman.

"What are you doing here? Didn't Naru ask you to make charms for every room in the house?" she asked, slightly amused by Ayako's reaction.

"For your information, every room has a charm," she grumbled. "I don't see you doing anything useful anyway."

Mai rolled her eyes at Ayako's pettiness. "Whatever, as long as you didn't make a fool of yourself by insisting this is an earth-bound spirit…" Mai trailed off at the blush forming on Ayako's cheeks. For the first time since they started working on this case she let out a genuine laugh.

"It's not that far-fetched," Ayako said, crossing her arms over her chest and tilting her chin up. "It shouldn't be dismissed so easily." She stretched and yawned. "I need a nap. This lack of beauty sleep is not helping my wrinkles. I'm going to make some tea. Do you want some?"

Mai nodded, not really wanting to get into a conversation with Ayako in the middle of one of her mercurial mood swings. She would let Monk be the recipient of it. She chuckled again, figuring he would not be so amused. Once Ayako was gone Mai was left with her morose thoughts again about Naru and Masako.

She grumbled about being left behind when a silver substance flashed quickly across the screen. She sat up quickly, the chair rocking dangerously as she stared hard at the screen. Nothing else moved but she swore it wasn't her imagination playing tricks on her, despite the late hour.

She stared intently at all the screens, her gaze flicking to each one, seeing everything. Suddenly her eyes flew back to one screen. She could see something moving deeper in the darkness. The screen showed the upper hallway toward the rear of the house. She knew Naru and the others were nowhere near it because she could hear them downstairs in the other rooms.

She stood up in her chair slowly as something began to move toward the camera. It was a dark silhouette, small and crouched, moving…no…crawling…closer to the camera. It was as if it knew it was being watched.

The blood began pumping in Mai's veins. A cold draft of air whooshed through the room, rustling her hair. She swept the cinnamon strands away from her face impatiently, not wanting to miss the appearance of the silvery figure.

The candle flame flickered, fighting to stay alive, a battle it did not win. Mai spared it a glance as it was going out. The room was plunged into darkness so black it momentarily alarmed her. She took a step toward the door, needing to find a match and bring the room into light again when a slow scratching sounded.

As her heart beat thudded in her chest, she turned to face the screens. The figure slowly, achingly, continued to move forward. A shape began to form, that of a young boy. He was dragging himself across the hardwood floor, the scratching sounds grating on her ears. For the life of her she couldn't tear her eyes away from the grisly sight. His fingernails gripped the boards and pulled his weight forward. Dark splotches covered the tips of his fingers and she soon realised it was blood. She gulped, not truly afraid but scared nonetheless.

When it reached the camera it lifted its head. Mai jerked back violently and bit back a gasp. The boy's milky eyes seemed to stare directly at her. Multiple veins crisscrossed his pale face. Black hair matted his forehead. His lips were broken and chapped. For a moment her world was suspended as she stared at the spirit. His unblinking eyes were beginning to unnerve her. His voice, when he spoke, should have made her feel relief, but instead her hackles rose.

"I've been waiting for you…" came the crackled whisper.

Mai froze sure she was hearing things, but when the whisper came again she wasn't mistaken, for although the image was on the screen, the whisper came from directly behind her.

This story has been re-edited and three new chapters have been uploaded.

I hope you enjoy it :)

Thanks for reading!