The crumbling crenellations of Castle McGlone are the perfect setting for our ongoing investigations of the unknown. We’ll go into the heart of a dark fortress that has been the site of unexplained activity for more than one thousand years. Tonight...on a special live broadcast of The World’s Most Haunted.
“Turn that off.” Ed Willis sipped from a can of Natural Light without looking at his wife. He didn’t really want the television off; that would mean silence which Lorraine would be compelled to fill. Once upon a time he felt obligated to listen to her mindless chatter. Not any more. Better the TV than gossip from her network of harpy spies.
Lorraine sighed. “There’s nothing else on.”
Ed held out his hand without taking his eyes off the 19-inch screen. “Here.”
His wife rose from the couch and placed the remote in Ed’s hand. She moved mechanically, as if she herself was operated by remote control.
With a practiced thumb, Ed began cycling through the channels, muttering just loud enough for Lorraine to hear. “Stupid...”
Seventy-four channels of nothing. Who were the programming geniuses that decided every channel on the cable needed a ghost hunter show? Even on Halloween night, there had to be a football game somewhere, didn’t there?
Something must be wrong with the cable again. Half the channels showed static and the rest were shopping channels, documentaries, or - or this.
“Hell, this is better than nothing.” Better than listening to Lorraine, anyway.
Welcome back to our special live broadcast of The World’s Most Haunted. The team has prepared for this night by loading the Most Haunted lorry with the latest in electronic gear.
The camera swung from a box truck painted with the show’s logo to a buxom young blonde with an expression of desperate sincerity. Well, Ed thought, at least she’s worth looking at. A tight sweater with a high collar emphasized her assets. He stayed his thumb over the channel-down button.
“The equipment we’ve brought will let us detect what our eyes can’t see. We have a range of sensors and cameras that will scan for unexpected changes in electromagnetic frequencies beyond the reach of our human senses.”
The camera pulled back to reveal a distinguished looking man with white hair cut close. He wore a black t-shirt beneath a stylish tan sport coat, and his face looked younger than his white hair implied.
The blonde woman continued, “Except, of course, for the Most Haunted team’s psychic, Devon Ballentine. Hello, Devon.”
“Good evening, Alice. I sense that we’re in for a busy time tonight.”
Ed grunted. Of course. If these shows didn’t find anything, people wouldn’t watch. So even if they didn’t find anything, they’d find something.
“I didn’t think you liked this kind of show,” Lorraine said.
“Shut up,” Ed said.
“Are you sensing anything here, outside Castle McGlone?”
The man closed his eyes and frowned, his face a mask of concentration. “I...yes, yes, I do feel a presence. Someone...a great deal of anger here, I think.”
The woman nodded soberly. Ed rolled his eyes, but kept his thumb off the channel button.
“Can you tell us anything about the source of this anger?”
Ballentine’s eyes remained closed, his face drawn. “I...no, nothing. Not yet.”
Ed snorted. What kind of name was Devon, anyway?
The woman turned to the camera. “Very well. Let’s meet the rest of the team and begin our investigation.”
The next few minutes featured some high-tech graphics as the rest of the show’s cast was introduced. It reminded Ed of the introductions at the beginning of network football broadcasts--and football was starting to look good again, if he could only find a channel with a game. Just as Ed was about to hit the button and start the search, though, the hot blonde with the tight sweater reappeared onscreen. Ed set the remote onto the table next to his recliner and picked up his can of beer. Empty.
He held up the can and shook it to get Lorraine’s attention. “Get me another.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Lorraine lifted herself from the couch and disappeared around through the doorway into the kitchen.
“We’re now inside Castle McGlone,” the blonde said. The picture was grainy, black and white but with a green tinge to everything, like the camera was shooting through night goggles. Of course. That added to the creepy effect for the idiots who really believed in this stuff.
“For generations, residents nearby have reported bizarre, unexplained sights and sounds. Tonight, on our special All Hallow’s Eve broadcast--or Halloween, for you Yanks--we’re taking you inside what may be the most haunted castle in all of Britain.”
Ed glanced down and found a fresh can of Natural Light on the side table. Lorraine had returned from the kitchen without breaking Ed’s concentration on the TV. Good.
“Devon, while the crew sets up the equipment, can you tell me whether the impressions you received outside are any stronger here, inside the castle?”
The white-haired guy was back. “Yes, Alice, they are. I can’t...great anger, great distress. I don’t...Hello? Can you speak to me? Can you tell me your name?” He looked around what looked a large entry hall. It was hard to tell because the room was so dark. The blonde was totally focused on the older man, hanging on his every word. If she didn’t believe this guy’s act, then she was a damn good actress. She almost had Ed believing that Whitey really could hear ghosts.
Whatever Devon was looking for, he was obviously confused. “Hello? I want to help you. Can you tell me your name?”
“Devon? Are you sensing anything we can investigate? A date or a reason for the anger you felt?”
“No, not...I don’t...” The white-haired guy frowned. He looked really lost. Ed smirked; this guy was really good. He was building suspense, but no doubt he’d have a full biography for his ghost by the end of the show.
The man on TV closed his eyes in concentration. “There. It’s...” His eyes flew open, startled, and he staggered back as if he’d been punched in the gut. “This is almost overpowering, Alice. I’ve not felt anything like this before. An anger so intense, it’s...it’s...”
A flicker of shadow in the corner of Ed’s vision drew his attention away from the television screen. He turned and looked up. Lorraine stood next to the recliner. She held one of the knives from her cutlery set.
The big one.
“What the...” Ed Willis was physically unable to finish the question.
On the aging television set across the room, the white-haired man closed his eyes and furrowed his brows. “How odd. The sense is...gone. Completely gone, in a flash. Most unusual.”
Lorraine Willis carefully washed her slicing knife in the kitchen sink. She had to hurry; the commercial break was almost over.