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Where The Spirits Dwell

Madame Leota.  Educated by gypsy mother and voodoo priest father in nothing but the occult.  Worked as a medium at the same carnival where George and Lilian met.  Used George as an opportunity to get to the Mansion, which she recognized as the most powerful spiritual hub in the South, possibly the world.  Played parts in the deaths of both George’s wives.  Mothered George’s only offspring, a daughter she named after herself.  Planned to trap George in her crystal ball and take the Mansion for herself but was undone by his suicide and trapped herself, by accident, instead.

Vivienne Tilton.  Museum curator.  Hired by the hoteliers to run the Mansion’s small, tourist-trap of a visitor’s center.  Used to run an alleged haunted historical home museum in Southern California.  Alarmingly and unsettlingly aware of her past life, but not as completely as she would like to have most believe.  Plans to use this, the Mansion, and all its guests to her advantage, at every turn.   

Lilian O’Malley Gracey.  First wife of George Jr.  Joined the circus as a tight-rope walker at fifteen to be with her “true love”, a performer who she followed the troupe, cross-country, in order to be with, only to find him dead, by the time she caught up.  Left carnival life for the Mansion, soon thereafter falling into a deep depression.  Never bore children.  Hated Madame Leota for stealing her husband’s attention and for birthing the Mansion’s only child, a daughter whose father was “unknown”, though often assumed to be George.  At a garden party in 1937, was tricked by “friends” Constance Hatchaway and Mme. Leota into performing her tight-rope routine over the alligator-infested river near the Mansion.  The frayed rope used snapped and she fell to her death.

Annemarie De Witte.  Troubled actress.  Suffers from anxiety disorders and, occasionally, bulimia.  Thrice divorced.  Impulsively quit current project to visit the Mansion.  Well-liked by most of her fellow guests, but has trouble forming meaningful attachments, despite her best attempts to maintain a friendly disposition.  Pointedly and overtly does not care for more than a few guests.   

George Gracey, Jr.  Last rightful owner of Gracey Mansion, acquired after his father’s murder.  Obsessed by the occult and the idea of using spiritual means to contact his deceased father.  Fell in love with and married circus performer Lilian O’Malley.  Met Madame Leota at the same carnival and promptly moved her, too, into the Mansion, as his personal medium and, eventually, mistress.  After Lilian’s death, married Constance Hatchaway.  Locked Constance in the attic and attempted to sever ties with Mme. Leota, later, claiming Lilian’s ghost had informed him of their part in her death.  Consumed by anger and grief, hung himself in 1943.

Alex Giselberhat.  Journalist/professional skeptic.  Hosts web series about debunking popular “haunted house” myths.  Sees stay at Mansion hotel as work, not play.  Has a remarkable sense of direction.  Natural leader.  Not fond, at all, of the cemetery.  Finds making friends an easy task, but is not quick to trust anyone.  Definitely a favourite among the female (and some male) guests of the hotel.      

haunted mansion: a ben interlude, as things start to heat up

Despite the return of the apology notecards from the management, Ben couldn’t be bothered to wait one more day to take a shower. In his experience, thus far, the cold spells came and went as they pleased, no matter what handymen the hotel brought in to take care of business. The temperature wasn’t such problem; the apartment building in Maine had frequently done something similar and, even if it hadn’t, he had been here long enough to get used to it. Cold water was fine. 

Brown water shooting at him from the showerhead, however, was definitely not. After nearly losing his balance trying to get away from it, Ben knew it was high time to give in and get out. Dirty splotches covered the formerly white bathmat he stepped onto and he knew what had to be done. Most of the drips could be prevented with a quick sweep of his towel, but his trunks would have to be wrung out if he wanted to avoid soiling his bedroom carpet. 

It shouldn’t have been a problem. “Weirdo,” he sneered at his reflection in the mirror. “You’re strange,” he told himself, but wouldn’t have, if he hadn’t finally confessed the habit to Evan, who, in turn, assured him it was definitely weird to wear swim trunks in the shower. “Stop being weird.” So he relinquished his hold on the sink bowl and shrugged the cloth off his shoulders so he could wrap it around his waist while he removed the offensive, soaked-with-dirty-water bathing suit.

The trunks dropped to the tiled floor with a wet plop! and, for five whole seconds, Ben thought he could breathe a little easier. But then, with absolutely no reason to, his spine emitted a sickeningly loud crack and something inside his stomach shifted. The hair on the back of his neck prickled, although he couldn’t know what was happening, this was the nameless Thing he had been terrfied of since childhood.

He gripped the sink with white knuckles. “The towel counts,” he whimpered. “It counts,” he insisted. But whatever was causing the shift of colour in his eyes seemed to disagree.

Before the sensation got any worse, he bent in half and yanked the swim trunks up around his waist again. No sooner had he tied them, he felt embarrassed. His stomach was in knots and, for the life of him, he didn’t know why. Standing erect, he made a face at himself in the mirror. “Very weird, you,” he told his reflection.

"Oh dear," he muttered, as the sound of a particularly large drop of liquid on tile startled him out of his silence. A mote-shaped puddle of brown water ran around his feet and the splatters seemed to be falling from his trunks. "That’s a mess. Suppose I’d better put on a shirt so I can take these off and wring them out."

Richard & Elma Belle.  Gracey Sr.’s younger sister, happily married to Belle in 1879.  He supported her artistic endeavours until his death in 1891.  Art became a means of income rather than a hobby, after that, for Elma.  Hard times forced her to move into the Mansion, which only fueled both her talents and eccentricities.  Richard returned to her, reincarnated as a raven, though no one believed the truth of it.  They adoped a stray wolf cub, who became their son, Daniel.  Elma’s last work was a ghastly portrait of her nephew, George Jr., completed on the day of her death in 1920, the same day as her son.  Despite attempts, Richard, as a raven, was never captured nor seen again. 

Harry Waldhramm.  Ex-pilot.  Enjoys keeping tabs on everyone at the Mansion hotel.  Prefers the graveyard to the building.  Refuses to sleep in a bed, but rather standing up or perched in an armchair.  Slight disdain for animals, especially birds, and revels in the joys of humanity.  Often butts heads with…

Rose McCrae.  Art history major who cannot draw to save her life.  Part-time animal rights activist.  Spends too much time studying the Mansion hotel’s portraits, to the point of feeling haunted by them.  Compulsively refuses almost anyone’s help.  Has developed a particular fondness for Ben, based on mutual preference for animals over humans. 

Constance Hatchaway-Gracey.  Black Widow Bride.  Married four times before meeting George Gracey Jr.  Plotted with Madame Leota to do away with Lilian, the first Mrs. Gracey.  Accidentally fell a little in love with George, but preferred his money.  Locked in the attic by George before she could strike, after he discovered her part in Lilian’s death.  Went mad and perished, days after George killed himself.  Died 1943.  Was the last to die in the Mansion until the 1970s.

Braedan Haywood.  LOL, wedding planner.  (That just occurred to me as hilarious.)  Claustrophobic and, to a much lesser extent, a little agoraphobic, as well.  Awkward fascination/obsession with pearls.  Terrified of relationship committment.  Skeptical of everything.  Prefers to be left alone, for fear of developing attachments and what might happen because of it.   

Noah Stevens.  Son of a madman, temporary owner of the Mansion.  Husband of Emily.  Lost most of his family to the Mansion, including his wife who was carrying on a ghostly affair with a dead pirate captain she had known in another life.  Shot himself in the head after discovering her body in a trunk, a week after a game of hide-and-seek took a turn for the worse.

Sam Montgomery.  New Orleans native.  Magician’s assistant, former ballerina, dance instructor.  Likes girls.  Definitely in love with a stripper she only “just met” at the beginning of this story.  Hates guns, loves swords.  Can hold her breath for over a minute.   

Daniel Belle.  George Gracey’s adoptive cousin.  REVERSE WEREWOLF.  Not really.  Biologically a wolf, though.  Can be a man when he dresses like one.  BFFs with Hellhound, George’s dog.  Was wrongfully blamed for Hellhound’s death and shot, as a wolf, by George.  Died 1920.

Ben Blevins.  Veterinarian.  Chocolate Fondue Fountain Lorax.  (I hope I’m not the only one who remembers that joke.)  Has a paralyzing fear of being naked and, thus, has refused to ever be completely so for most of his life.