The academy moving in se.., p.6

The Academy (Moving In Series Book 6), page 6

 

The Academy (Moving In Series Book 6)
 


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  “Come in,” he said.

  The door swung wide, and a man stood in the doorway, nearly filling it from side to side. The man wore a suit which would have looked good in a Bogart film, and he had a gray fedora placed rakishly on his head. The man grinned at Mitchell.

  Mitchell was about to smile back at the man when he realized the man wasn’t quite in the doorway. It was as though Mitchell could see the occasional bit of hallway through the man.

  The stranger smiled maliciously. He pointed a thick finger at Mitchell and said, “Don’t come downstairs. It’s mine. Got it?”

  Mitchell nodded dumbly.

  “Good,” the man said. “Keep everybody out, or else I will deal with them the way I dealt with the janitor. Tell ‘em I said so.”

  “Who are you?” Mitchell asked, dazed.

  The stranger chuckled. “I’m Greg Weston.”

  The man turned, and as he did so, he faded away.

  Mitchell sat in his seat, shivering. He looked out to where the man had been and started to shake uncontrollably.

  Chapter 20: The Messenger

  Herman had not gone home.

  He’d rather deal with some sort of punishment from Principal Roy than go home. Instead of leaving the school grounds, he had gone to the Academy’s small chapel. It was barely big enough to fit thirty kids in the pews, but it was always unlocked. While he would have preferred to hide in the library, he thought it might be pushing his luck. And he was still trying to figure out why he had been in the Admin building.

  Herman was terrified of the administration, as most freshmen were. It didn’t matter he was only a few weeks away from officially being a sophomore at the Academy. He could still get in trouble.

  Herman sneaked into the chapel, made his way to the front and laid down on the first pew on the left-hand side. He made himself comfortable and tried not to think about how he had made it from his house to the school. Herman closed his eyes, yawned and relaxed as best he could. He was tired.

  Within a few minutes, Herman was asleep, and he dreamed again of Nathaniel Weiss.

  Chapter 21: The Academy’s Graduates

  Brian put a bookmark at the end of the chapter on Gregory Weston before he closed the book and set it aside. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. After a few moments, he released his grip, stood up, and stretched. Brian walked down an aisle, turned around, and walked back. His knees popped, and his back ached.

  Definitely feeling my age today, he thought. He scratched the back of his head and looked at the Academy’s book. This isn’t good.

  For several hours, Brian had read the history of the Academy and gone over the section on Gregory, twice.

  Once more, he reached out, picked up the book, opened it and read the last section again.

  Despite his remarkable service in the war against German aggression, Gregory Weston could not return to peace. His previous life as a criminal was too alluring. Within a matter of months, Gregory was once more working as an enforcer for the Italian gangs seeking to take control of New London and Groton. He was known for his disturbing preference to use his hands as a quick method for ‘convincing’ people.

  It happened several times that he was nearly apprehended by the police, but he proved far too skilled at close quarters fighting. It wasn’t until 1923 that Gregory Weston was stopped. He was not apprehended. The Groton, New London, Northfield, and Connecticut State Police had cordoned off an entire neighborhood in an attempt to capture him. Gregory Weston was killed in a gun battle with Naval Shore Police after he had slipped through the dragnet and fled to the submarine base in Groton.

  After the confirmation of his death, the police discovered the house where Gregory Weston had been hiding. The house had been in Northfield, near the Academy where he had graduated from, and it had housed a gruesome collection; the police had found seventeen mason jars filled with human teeth. Disturbing evidence of not only the man’s brutality, but of his fascination with the grotesque.

  Brian closed the book again.

  Well, he thought, at least he’s not homicidal.

  He sat down and tried to collect his thoughts.

  I still need information on Nathaniel Weiss, Brian told himself. I also need to get the letter to a safe place.

  Brian straightened up and said, “Safe.”

  He grabbed the book, stood up, and hurried out of the library, not bothering to lock up. Long strides carried him across the quad and back to the Admin building. A cruiser was just leaving the parking lot. Frowning, Brian climbed the stairs and found Mitchell. His cousin stood in front of the display case, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his pants.

  Mitchell nodded at Brian.

  “Everything okay?” Brian asked. “I just saw a cruiser leave.”

  Mitchell shook his head. “No. The janitor, Larry, someone attacked him in his office. He was badly beaten and transferred to the hospital.”

  “Jesus,” Brian said softly. Then, a little louder, he said, “Do they know who?”

  “The police?” Mitchell asked.

  Brian nodded.

  “No,” Mitchell replied, turning back to the display case. “They don’t.”

  Brian hesitated before he asked, “Do you?”

  “Yes,” Mitchell whispered.

  “Who?”

  “Greg Weston,” Mitchell said, sighing. He walked away and into his office. Brian followed him past the secretary’s desk and into the room where Marilyn had hung herself. Mitchell gestured for Brian to sit, and Brian did so. Mitchell paused and looked up at the light fixture above the desk before he sat down.

  “What happened exactly, Mitchell?” Brian asked.

  “Exactly? Well, that I don’t know. I found Larry downstairs. He’d been beaten severely. It almost didn’t look real. There was,” Mitchell’s voice caught for a moment and then he continued. “There was so much blood. His face was extremely swollen. The paramedics say he’s lost most of his teeth. They think he may have swallowed them, so they’ll have to check when they x-ray him.”

  Brian shook his head. “He didn’t swallow them.”

  “How do you know?” Mitchell asked.

  Brian opened the book and read to his cousin the section on Gregory Weston.

  “How is that even possible?” Mitchell asked in a low voice. He stared down at his desk. “How can a ghost attack a man? How can he steal teeth?”

  “Ghosts can do all sorts of tricks,” Brian said grimly. “Many of them aren’t nice at all.”

  “This Gregory Weston,” Mitchell said shortly. “He’s a bad man.”

  “Yeah,” Brian said. “That’s one way to put it.”

  “I,” Mitchell hesitated before he said, “I spoke with him.”

  Brian looked at his cousin and waited for the man to continue.

  Mitchell nodded. “It was only ten minutes or so before you came in here. He knocked at my door. Knocked, for heaven’s sake, Brian. He told me to stay out of the basement. He told me to tell everyone to stay out of the basement.”

  “Then that’s what we do,” Brian said. “Close it off. Don’t let anyone down there.”

  “Do you really think so?” Mitchell started.

  “I know it,” Brian said. “He’s laid his claim, and he’s shown us what he can do. There’s no reason to risk anyone else. Not yet.”

  “Alright,” Mitchell said, “if you think so.”

  “I do,” Brian said. “I was wondering, Mitchell, can I see the safe that the ambrotype was in?”

  “Of course,” Mitchell said. He looked around the desk and frowned.

  “What?”

  “The ambrotype, did you take it?” Mitchell asked as he opened his desk drawers.

  “No,” Brian said. “It’s gone?”

  “Disappeared,” Mitchell said. A note of anxiety entering his voice. “Brian, it’s gone.”

  Brian resisted the urge to curse. Weiss is bound to the photo.

  “Listen,” Brian said, “let’s not worry
too much about it right now. What I need is to see the safe. Then we’ll worry about the ambrotype and what’s happened to it. Fair enough?”

  Mitchell nodded as he pulled open the last drawer. Angrily he closed it, stood up, and said briskly, “Come on, Brian. Let’s go see the damned safe.”

  Brian followed Mitchell out of the building, back across the quad, and over to Deer Stag House. Mitchell let them both in and soon they were down in the cellar. A large, industrial blower was running, drying the room out. Several work lights illuminated the farthest wall and the safe which had been hidden there.

  Mitchell gestured at it, and Brian walked closer.

  The safe was small, and lined with lead.

  Brian sighed.

  “What’s wrong?” Mitchell asked.

  “It’s lined with lead,” Brian said, turning away from it.

  “Is that important?” Mitchell said.

  Brian nodded. “About the only way you can contain a ghost, is to place whatever it's bound to in a lead container. Evidently, Nathaniel Weiss was bound to his photo. Someone who knew enough about ghosts made the effort to lock Weiss away, and then hide the safe.”

  “That’s good, though, right?” Mitchell asked. “All we have to do is get the photo back into the safe.”

  “Sure,” Brian agreed. “We just have the one problem of finding the damn photo.”

  “It can’t be that hard,” Mitchell said. “It must have been moved to someplace in my office.”

  “Maybe,” Brian said. “But you had a janitor break the display case, and then a student summon a ghost.”

  “So?” Mitchell said, confusion in his voice.

  “So,” Brian said, sighing, “Nathaniel may have gotten someone to remove the photo.”

  Mitchell’s face paled. “Are you serious?”

  Brian nodded.

  “Why?” Mitchell asked softly. “Why is this happening?”

  Brian walked to his cousin, put an arm around the man’s shoulders, and gently said, “Don’t ask why, Mitchell. What we need is to figure out what to do next, okay?”

  Mitchell hesitated, and then he nodded.

  “Good,” Brian said. He led the man out of the cellar. They had work to do.

  Chapter 22: Eddie Fina Loses Some Time

  Edward James Fina had been a teacher for exactly ten months. His position as the youngest member of the foreign language department at the Academy was tenuous at best. He had a little bit of an attitude when it came to students who didn’t want to learn Spanish, and the kids knew it. They definitely knew how to push his buttons.

  Mitchell Roy had already called him into the office once for an informal sit-down. The second time, Mr. Roy had informed him, would require the presence of Eddie’s union representative and a compelling reason as to why the Academy shouldn’t terminate his contract immediately.

  Eddie had appreciated the man’s honesty, and he had worked hard to keep his temper under control. A few of the kids continued to try and get him wound up, but he had sent them down to guidance to cool down for a while. Life was getting better.

  And then the world had dropped out beneath him. The senior prank had cost him all of the personal items he had brought to show the class for the last week of school. His antique prayer beads, carried to the New World by a Franciscan, with the etching of the Alhambra in Spain. The water from the burst pipes had destroyed the etching, and caused the old, twisted hemp of the beads to swell and break.

  Then, Marilyn’s suicide had been devastating. She had helped him get in touch with Mr. Roy when he had trouble with the kids. She had made certain the guidance counselors wouldn’t bounce them right back to his classroom.

  And now, Larry, Eddie thought. Larry had helped him retrieve his keys when the kids had hidden them in an air vent, when his briefcase had been tossed onto the roof of machine shop.

  He walked in through the back door of the Admin building into Mr. Roy’s office. He needed to talk to the man, try and find out which hospital Larry was in and if he could have visitors.

  Eddie walked into the lobby and paused. The display case was broken, and there was yellow tape hung around it.

  What the hell happened? he wondered, shaking his head.

  With a shrug, he turned to the office and hesitated, his hand floating above the doorknob. Marilyn had killed herself in the room beyond the door. Eddie’s throat clicked audibly as he swallowed dryly and let himself in. Mr. Roy’s personal office was open and empty.

  Damn, Eddie sighed. He started to turn around and stopped. He looked back at Mr. Roy’s desk. There was something under it. A small square.

  Pick it up, a voice whispered. It wasn’t Eddie’s voice, and for a second, he was going to ignore it.

  Yes, Eddie thought, walking into Mr. Roy’s office. I should pick it up.

  He dropped down into a squat, reached out, and picked it up. It was a curiously carved box, no bigger than a wallet. The wood felt cold beneath his hands.

  It’s alright, the voice said. Don’t worry about the cold.

  Eddie smiled, nodded in agreement, and straightened up. He turned the box over in his hands, saw it was hinged, and opened it. An elderly man with a noble expression looked out at him.

  This should be put somewhere safe, the stranger said. Where would a safe place be, my friend?

  My house, Eddie thought, grinning.

  No, no, came the gentle reply. Where in the Academy?

  Eddie thought for a moment, and then said, “The library.”

  Of course, the library, what an excellent idea. Perhaps you should take it there now?

  Eddie nodded, closed the frame, and left the office. He whistled and left the building the way he had entered. He nodded to a few other staff and faculty members he saw, but he remained focused on the library.

  When he neared it, he wondered, What if it’s locked?

  It’s not, came the answer. Okay, Eddie smiled. He went up the stairs and wasn’t surprised when he found the door unlocked. The alarm, he saw, was unarmed.

  Where should I put it? Eddie asked, looking around.

  Upstairs, came the suggestion. There’s a small room on the left. They use it for a broom closet now.

  Eddie went up the stairs and found the room. Cleaning supplies were stored there, as were extra metal shelves and book stands.

  To the right. Do you see the odd-colored piece of wainscoting?

  Eddie squinted, spotted it and thought, Yes.

  Go and press upon the left edge.

  Eddie did so. A soft ‘click’ sounded, and the panel swung out slightly. An empty space was revealed. Without being told, Eddie took the photo and placed it in the cavity.

  Close the door, Edward, the voice said. And forget that you were here. Will you do that for me?

  Yes, Eddie answered. He returned the wainscoting to its place.

  Several minutes later, Eddie stood in the quad. Frowning, he wondered where Mr. Roy was, and when Larry could have visitors.

  Chapter 23: Waking Up

  When Herman woke up, he didn’t feel rested. His back ached, and his head had started to throb again. With a grunt, he grabbed the top of the pew and pulled himself upright. His stomach rumbled, and his mouth was dry. Beyond the stained glass windows of the chapel, he saw the sun had nearly set.

  Man, he thought, groaning. Herman pulled his phone out of the side pocket of his shorts. He checked it and then sighed with relief when he saw there weren’t any texts or calls from his parents.

  The sigh ended abruptly, though. It wasn’t like his parents to leave him alone. And while Herman didn’t particularly like either his mother or his father, he still loved them.

  He sent a quick text to his mother, telling her he was with his friend, Bob Pelt. For several minutes, he watched his phone anxiously.

  She didn’t respond.

  Herman sent a nearly identical text to his father.

  His dad didn’t answer either.

  All of his sores and aches were forgott
en as he stood up. He grabbed his bag off the pew, pulled out a granola bar and wondered where his parents were. He ate the hard snack quickly, washed it down with some warm water and checked his phone again. Briefly, he thought he might have turned the volume down. He hadn’t.

  His parents weren’t answering him.

  What if they can’t? Herman wondered. What if there’s something wrong?

  He pushed the thought away and went to the exit. Cautiously, he pushed the door open half an inch and scanned the grounds. Herman couldn’t see anyone.

  As quietly as he could, he slipped out of the chapel, eased the door shut and stole through the evening’s shadows along one wall. He didn’t know if the Academy had a security guard, or if they depended on a surveillance system. All Herman knew was he didn’t want to find out.

  Not at all.

  “Herman.”

  Herman stiffened and looked around nervously. In the shadow of the Groton building, he saw the old man, Nathaniel Weiss. Mr. Weiss smiled, and Herman returned it. He forgot all about leaving the grounds and finding out what was going on with his parents.

  I want to talk to Mr. Weiss, Herman told himself. He walked over to the older man.

  “Hello, sir,” Herman said cheerfully.

  “Hello, Herman,” Mr. Weiss said, sounding equally pleased to see Herman. “I’m surprised to see you here so late in the evening.”

  Herman blushed slightly. “Well, to be honest, sir, I fell asleep in the Chapel.”

  Mr. Weiss chuckled, saying confidentially, “That’s alright, Herman. I used to fall asleep in church when I was younger.”

  Herman felt a smile creep across his face, and he felt better about having fallen asleep.

  “Where are you off to, young man?” the older man asked.

 
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