Mortimer Pendergast hated his name. He hated haunted houses and security guards, but he hated his name more. Mortimer was fairly certain everything he hated could be traced directly to his name. His name had brought him to the attention of an old downhome-boy, who’d challenged him to spend a night in the family’s haunted house, and that in turn had landed him squarely in front of the police.
He was not happy, but he answered all the officer’s questions and explained to him about the bet. He’d shown the man his I.D. and the key Billy-Bob or John-Boy whatsits had given him.
The officer gave him a dubious look, but everything checked out. When the man tried to warn Mortimer about the house, he’d stood his ground. He had every right to be there, and one million dollars cash was at stake. Come hell or high water; he was going to spend the night.
The officer walked away, his hands in the air as if he was giving up. It should have been a sign, but Mortimer was focused on the prize.
He was surprised when the gate moved without a sound, but his attention was focused on the house. The grounds were overgrown, with creepers climbing up the outside of the house, but the house itself was breathtaking. Three stories tall with a turret and a wrap-around porch, he could imagine what it would have been like in its heyday.
The front door barely groaned as he opened the door and the floorboards squeaked here and there, but he’d heard worse from more modern houses. He moved from room to room, looking at the design of the house.
It spoke of craftsmanship and care from days long ago. There were built in bookcases and enough wainscoting to make any builder proud. While it wasn’t in the best of shape, he could tell someone had been caring for the house.
After a few hours, he picked a room on the second floor as his headquarters. As he rolled out his sleeping bag, he heard a voice call out.
“You should leave…”
He frowned, shook his head and continued settling in. As he stretched out he heard the voice again, “Yule leaves too knight.”
“I’m Mortimer Pendergast,” he answered indignantly. “Yule isn’t for another three months. Now let me sleep!” he yelled before he punched his pillow and flopped down.
“You’ll leave tonight.”
“It’s not even Halloween, there are no knights, so shut up and leave me alone,” Mortimer screamed into the dark.
In the backroom, the ghost sighed as she punched out. She’d tried.
“He’s mortified of fender gas,” the ghost reported to the night shift demons, it was up to them. She’d clean up in the morning.
Winning story of Thursthreads Week 321