Under the Ashes

The 8th of June 1994. Exactly fifty years since Mrs Kaplin’s death.

The police were so baffled by the events of that 1944 night that they brought in a medium to go over the house. Unofficially, of course; if they had been seen to be using public money to hire fortune-tellers there would have been some hard questions to be answered at the upper levels. There were ways, however, to do these things, and practitioners who were known not to be charlatans. In those days, people with one foot on the other side were given more credibility.

The medium was a quiet, thin man who took only two steps inside the grounds before nodding to himself and turning to leave. He rubbed a finger on the rim of his glasses as he gave his report.

The house was dangerous, he said, but it couldn’t be demolished. Doing so might unleash forces which would work great evil among the community. Better that the house stood, and the forces be contained. His answer was simple: let it be. The building would stand for many years, and over time the darkness that festered there might ebb away slowly.

The authorities took heed of his suggestion. The file and the deeds to the ho use were suspended in a manner which would have meaning only to bureaucrats, consigned to back shelves with several safeguards to prevent premature tampering with the house.

The medium made one final observation before he departed for other affairs. The circumstance within, he said, was wholly due to Mrs Kaplin’s death. (He had not, in fact, been told her name.) As a consequence, there would be weaknesses in its fabric at certain points. Perhaps exactly fifty years after her death, on the 8th of June 1994, and certainly a hundred years hence, on the 8th of June 2044.

By 1992, we knew the first of those dates was ours.