The Haunting, 4

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Boston 18th November 1920, early evening

Cold rain poured down on the wealthy neighborhood of Back Bay where, in an exclusive private art gallery, Isadora Carmichael is exhibiting a small collection of her paintings. Despite the foul weather the gallery is well attended, which may or may not be due to the influence of her wealthy husband. Isadora knows this, yet due to the sale of one of her works she is genuinely confident and satisfied with the event so far. She realizes that her artwork may not appeal to the majority of the people present, but the atmosphere is convivial and relaxed. Many of those present are associated with the Theosophical Society, and wine and spirits flow freely as many conversations turn to esoteric matters.

The buyer was one John Willeford, a successful local businessman and accquintance of her husband, with an interest in philosophy and Theosophy. A tall and handsome man in his late 40s, although slightly stoop-shouldered, he is rational and competent in business but is open minded in terms of matters of the spirit, and is open to “alternate” ways of thinking. As yet he belongs to no particular society or group. After discussing art with Isadora, their talk moves to more spiritual topics and eventually to discussion of the supernatural and its manifestations among the living.

“Isadora, I’m curious. What are your thoughts concerning the transition to the afterlife? Do you think it is possible that some vestige of the living remains with us after death?”

The first half of the evening goes by in a haze, with Isadora walking around the gallery, pale as a ghost. She could not sleep for a couple of days before the exhibition. A persistent image was imprinted in her mind, and she had to “get it out.” The result now can be seen hanging on the walls, the paint still wet in some places. It is a medium-sized mountainous landscape executed in vibrant colors, with two moons hanging in the sky. During the evening a business card appears tucked next to the frame: a sign that somebody present has an intention of buying it. George, Isadora’s husband and companion, and Mr. Holden, the secretary of the gallery handling the sale, introduce Isadora to the new owner of the piece.

There are two types of people who buy Isadora’s works. There are those who see them as quirky ornamental pieces (sometimes Isadora’s dreamworld manifests itself in whirling spirals, with small figures hidden in the lush chaos of colors and shapes). Isadora had to turn down ludicrous offers because of this in the past. Then there are those buyers, who seem to grasp the more profound meanings that lie deep inside each piece. Luckily, John Willeford belongs to this second type. He is a newcomer to the Boston occult scene, but the conversation reveals him to be a receptive, open-minded person. The topic he touches upon is something Isadora is interested in, especially in her current sleep-deprived state of mind.

“I firmly believe in reincarnation. We all, always, all the time, carry with us our previous lives and the anticipation of another one. This is the natural cycle of things… There is no transition to an ‘afterlife’, just a constant flowing.

What is left behind, I think, is not a vestige, not a part or fragment of the eternal soul, but an imprint. A trace in the mind of others, in memory, and also traces upon things and places.”
“I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body,” she gasped. “I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?” – The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Willeford nods thoughfully as he considers Isadora’s reply. He’s very impressed with the depth of her thoughts on the subjects they’ve been discussing.

“I think I understand Isadora. Perhaps in the same way that we leave traces of our passage in the physical world, say through our fingerprints. But fingerprints and memories are passive remnants…” he pauses, looking down while he runs his hand over his remaining hair at the back of his head. He suddenly fixes Isadora’s eyes with his own. “Could these traces sometimes manifest themselves in a more active way do you think? And could they be less than benign?”

“Yes, very much like fingerprints… ”

Isadora gradually becomes more immersed in the conversation (although in the beginning it was only her body and voice that was present). She registers the sudden change in Willeford’s posture and mimic and now understands, that the conversation they are having is not strictly in the theoretical realm.

” A lingering malevolent presence, yes, I’m afraid, is more than possible. Some fingerprints belong to innocent people. And some are left by murderers. Astral traces, unlike fingerprints, sometimes become active themselves… George has books in his library with many records of such manifestations since ancient times… And Lady Blavatsky talks about them in her popular books as well, though the title seems to elude me now…”

She finally raises her clouded eyes and returns Willeford’s gaze.

“Are we talking about a haunting, Mr. Willeford?”
“I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body,” she gasped. “I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?” – The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby HoneyDog » Sat Nov 19, 2016 3:21 pm

John Willeford
Willeford lowers his gaze as he takes a sip of his scotch. His tone is lower and more intimate.

“You seem quite perceptive in regards to these matters Isadora, which is why I would like your perspective. To be frank, there is an issue regarding this type of occurrence which has been on my mind lately.”

His eyes drift around the room as he collects his thoughts.

“A business associate of mine owns a property, a residential abode to be precise, which over the years seems to have acquired a reputation. It cannot be occupied for any length of time without the residents leaving, and their reasons for doing so defy all rational explanation. I don’t have the full details, but I’m told it concerns phenomena such as moving objects, odd sounds and strange visions. Whatever the explanation, there has undoubtedly been several disturbing events concerning the occupants.”

He takes another sip form his glass.

“My associate is at a loss about how to deal with the matter. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is not a matter for straightforward enquiry. The property is in Copp’s Hill, and so is potentially very desirable, but due to the problems he is very reticent to let it. All in all, it’s most perplexing.”
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby evil_scientist » Sat Nov 19, 2016 4:19 pm

Isadora Carmichael

At the words “business associate — property — residential abode” Isadora’s attention drifts off. She is still facing in the general direction of Willeford, but really she is looking at a picture behind his back. Those blue tones should definitely be deeper. The shape of the mask depicted is slightly off, the edges must be accentuated with more shadows. The words “moving objects — odd sounds — strange visions” reach her ear and mind, and she remembers an old idea of hers, a possible combination of cinematographic projection (she and George are avid movie goers) and paintings…

“…All in all, it’s most perplexing.”

Isadora snaps back, right at the end of Willeford’s monologue. Ghosts, specters, yes, that’s what they were talking about. She takes a deep breath and tries to piece together the words she heard, but didn’t process straight away. A haunted house.

“Yes. Yes. Most perplexing. Are these… You say there are more occupants? Are these phenomena experienced by all of them, in the same way? How can I put this better… Do they same the same visions, apparitions? Do they see the objects moving with more people in the room? You said that there were moving objects.”
“I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body,” she gasped. “I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?” – The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby HoneyDog » Sat Nov 19, 2016 4:37 pm

John Willeford

Willeford doesn’t really notice Isadora’s lack of focus. He is preoccupied with his thoughts.

“Honestly Isadora I only know what I’ve told you. Perhaps if you’d like to learn more I can introduce you to my associate. His name is Harold Jordan, he owns several properties around Copp’s Hill and the better parts of the city. I know that he would like this matter resolved but doesn’t really know whom to approach. It might well need a mind which is attuned to less … conventional ways of thinking.”
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby evil_scientist » Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:07 pm

Isadora Carmichael

Isadora thinks for a while. It’s an interesting case. A haunted house– or haunted people? She usually has enough on her mind as it is, her own little hauntings. But for some reason this story resonates with her. Maybe she could get a break and leave her studio for a while.

“Yes. I would like to meet your associate. Tomorrow, maybe… or better yet, the day after tomorrow. Not earlier. I feel awfully tired. I need sleep.

Do you think Mr. Jordan will be open to my, so to say, non-conventional consultation?”
“I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body,” she gasped. “I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?” – The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby HoneyDog » Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:55 am

George Auden.jpg
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At that moment they are joined by George Auden and another man.

Auden is a handsome, confident man in his 40s. He is very attentive to Isadora and supports her in her artistic ventures in any way possible, and so is very pleased with the way the evening has progressed. However he is aware of Isadora’s recent sleeplessness, and his elation is tempered by his concern for her. Knowing about how sensitive she is, he seeks to exercise a degree of control over anything which might influence her in a negative way.

He kisses Isadora on the cheek and addresses Willeford cordially.

“Let me congratulate you on your purchase! A very wise choice”.

Willeford inclines his head.

“I’m well aware of my good fortune George” he smiles.

The other man bows slightly to Isadora and turns to Willeford. “Let me add my congratulations. I’m glad that Isadora’s talent is being recognised by Boston’s elite.

Auden indicates the new man.
“John, this is Professor Putnam of Harvard’s Anthroplogy department. He’s a member of our society”

The two men shake hands as Auden turns to Isadora. “You’re having a meeting? I overheard the last part of your conversation – forgive me my rudeness”
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby evil_scientist » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:37 pm

Isadora Carmichael

Off topic:
Spoiler:
Isadora greets the two men with a faint smile.

“Good evening, Professor Putnam, how do you do.”

The Theosophical Society, although consisting mostly of upper middle and upper class people, doesn’t adhere strictly to high society manners. Lucky for Isadora, because she couldn’t simulate small talk with the Professor right now. She vaguely remembers that he studies Mid-Western Indians or Far-Northern Inuits. Something about body painting, or shrunken heads. He might have brought them a small ceramic bowl with geometric patterns as a housewarming gift last year. Or was that another bearded gentleman from the Society?

“Yes, possibly. Mr. Willeford here has been telling me about a peculiar case of haunting,” she explains to George.
“I’d like to take a look at it. And first meet the owner of the house, a Mr. Jorrel.”
“I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body,” she gasped. “I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?” – The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby HoneyDog » Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:57 am

OOC: Yes, Putnam and Isadora know each other, but they are not particularly close.
Willeford

“It’s Jordan actually, but yes, he’d be very glad of the assistance. I believe he’s actually seeking to hire somebody to investigate the mystery”.

He stops when he sees a look of alarm on George Auden’s face. “Unless you have an objection, George”, he says a trifle sheepishly.

Auden

Owing to his concerns about Isadora’s mental state, Auden is not enthusiastic about what he is hearing.

He turns to face Isadora. “My dear, I don’t think that you’re in a suitable condition to running around haunted houses, no matter how intriguing they might be. You haven’t been yourself lately”.
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby evil_scientist » Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:59 pm

Isadora Carmichael

“George, I plan to go into deep sleep for two days — following Dr. Klaesi’s instructions. That will restore my depleted strength… You know his system works.”

Isadora is slightly annoyed: it’s not the first time George’s over-protectiveness comes between her and mystical self advancement. It’s good that there is a fellow Theosophist present. She nods towards Professor Putnam.

“I’m sure the Professor here would agree that one must always follow their instincts and pursue intriguing paths.”
“I feel as if my soul would be torn out of my body,” she gasped. “I am being drawn into a whirlpool. What is happening? What does it mean?” – The Secrets of Dr. Taverner
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby HoneyDog » Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:42 am

“Well, yes, I suppose…” Putnam doesn’t want to upset Auden, an important contributor to his upcoming expedition. But then he notices Isadora’s glowering expression, which intimidates him more.

“Actually, perhaps I can help with this matter. I have an associate, a very brave and resourceful young man, here in Boston waiting to join my expedition to James Bay. He’s basically cooling his heels at the moment and I’m sure he’d be glad of a diversion, especially if it’s compensated. I can call him tomorrow.”

He turns to assuage Auden. “Don’t worry, although he’s not a particularly spiritual person he has a first-rate mind and has already proven his resourcefulness. I can personally vouch for him. At least he can accompany Isadora to meet Mr. Jordan”.

Auden knows that he cannot resist his wife for very long. In the end, he will always give in to her demands, and at least this time she has agreed to rest before she takes off on her adventure. Still, he can’t help but feel a little uneasy. “Very well, Professor” he sighs.

He turns to Isadora. “Fine my dear, you can have your investigation. But promise me you’ll be careful”.

Willeford looks relieved. “I shall call Jordan tonight and arrange your meeting for the 23rd. I’m sure he’ll be very grateful for your assistance.”

Spoiler:
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Re: Chapter 1: Introductions (Isadora Carmichael)
Postby evil_scientist » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:32 am

Isadora Carmichael

Isadora would like to learn more about her future companion, but she is too tired. She just nods, acknowledges the plan.

“Let’s go home, George.” She says goodbye to some people, thanks them for coming. This last effort takes out the rest of her strength, and she leans on Auden’s arm and lets him gently guide her.

Spoiler:
—Back at home—

At their home, they will consult a small book titled “Dauernarkose”, written in German, but helpfully annotated in English in ink by Dr. Klaesi. Isadora will lay down in her darkened room, George will administer a dose of Somnifen, the barbiturate advocated by Klaesi… Sweet dreams, Isadora!

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