The Sparkling Drop Hotel
“Jameson.” I called out into the empty room.
“Say it.” A fragmented voice responded flatly.
“I don’t want to.”
“Well, maybe I don’t want to make the walls bleed.”
“I don’t want you to make the walls bleed. The clean-up is a nightmare.”
“Then I won’t entertain the ghost hunters.”
“Don’t be so dramatic.”
“Dramatic? I’m sorry, did you get your skull cracked by a jealous John?”
“That was a hundred years ago. Wait. A hundred and seven. As of tomorrow.”
“Say it. Or I tell the governor’s mistress to keep her head on. “
“Fine. OH, GREAT LORD BRYANT OF THE TOWERS EAST. I SUMMON THEE. KNOCK THREE TIMES IF YOU ACCEPT MY HUMBLE REQUEST. Happy?”
“More enthusiasm next time. But it’ll do.” Three rapid fire knocks came from the top of my desk. A translucent figure rose from within the oak, its shimmery face staring at me with a smug look.
“Thank you. The tour starts in a few minutes. Is everyone ready?”
“The manic milkmaid is in the kitchen. The gunshot twins swapped spots with the butchered butler.”
“Is that gonna work?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Keep talking like that, and I’ll cross over to the other side. You’re lucky your uncle isn’t here. I’m surprised he didn’t stick around.”
I glanced at the tear-away calendar on the wall. Tomorrow would mark the one month anniversary of my uncle's passing. “I’m not. Uncle Jess wasn’t exactly the lingering type. And apparently not one to divulge certain kinds of information.”
“I found your uncle to be quite thorough.”
“Yeah, well. Would have been nice to know that I was inheriting a staff of specters.”
“'Staff of specters'? That’s good, Tom. You should put that in the advertisements.”
A rush of cold air swept through the managerial office of the Sparkling Drop Hotel. The glittering figure of a buxom young woman materialized in front of me.
“Master Tom! Master Jameson! We have a terribly worrisome situation in the basement!”
“What’s going on, Dahlia?”
“Some girls slipped away from the tour group. They’re toying with some sort of strange board-”
I felt Jameson’s cold eyes settle on me.
“-then one of the girls fell to the ground and began shaking violently-
I met the ethereal gaze of my specter-in-command. He grimaced– as well as a ghost can grimace, anyway.
“-speaking in some tongue I’ve never heard!”
"I see. Thank you, Dahlia."
“Everything is so dark and menacing!”
“They must have really summoned something terrible.”
“I was speaking of their attire, sir.”
“...right. I’ll call down and stop the tour. Say there’s a gas leak or something. Dahlia, warn the others.”
The comely spirit gave me a shimmery nod and slipped her translucent body back through the wall.
Jameson's lofty voice wafted through the thickening air. “Very good, Tom. I’ll gather the haunts.”
“Hey, Jameson. One thing. Before we go down.”
“Why does the milkmaid talk like that and you speak…normally?”
“Well, Tom. I’ve always been one to keep up with the trends. Now. Are you ready to descend?”
I opened the door to the lobby, diaphragm prepped to bellow falsehoods aimed to spare the living.