Dimensions is another short story I created after travelling to New Orleans and Visiting the famous ghost table at Muriel’s Restaurant in New Orleans. It is the creepiest feeling I’ve ever felt at a reputed haunting and this is the short story – Dimensions as my explanation for the the heeby jeebies!
“Nikki. Earth to Nikki.” Fingers were snapped under Nikki’s nose as she crashed back to reality with a bump. “You’ve been on one of your astral trips again?” David’s smile broadened to a grin.
His source of amusement was no doubt her blank expression. Nikki and Justin had been experimenting with astral travel since their paranormal investigation company had received a lot of media attention following a recent investigation of a witch coven massacred during a mass ritual. Justin claimed astral travel was part of Nikki’s recovery process. It helped her to feel control in a chaotic world.
“Yet another unauthorised astral trip, I might add.” Her mentor and saviour for most of her adult life, Justin still enjoyed asserting his authority whenever he felt she needed guidance after any wayward behaviour. Justin frowned over his cup of coffee as Nikki looked around to gain her bearings and situate her consciousness back into her physical body again.
The three of them perched on tiny green leather chairs dotted about the outdoor area of the Café Du Monde. Icing sugar from the famous beignets they served coated the red tiled floor. A busker stood by the perimeter green fencing playing a mournful blues tune on his trumpet. This was the French Quarter of New Orleans in all its glory.
Nikki flashed a concerned look as Justin laid his hand on hers. “Hey, it’s okay, we’re not about to throw you in the asylum just because you went for a wander in your mind.” Justin stared hard at her as he sipped his coffee and raised that annoying overgrown grey eyebrow. “Look, Nikki, this is your first proper outing as a fully-fledged member of our team. We all want to forget your little lapse of clarity last year.” He smiled.
“Give me back all of my powers then.” Nikki glared accusingly at David as she picked up a sugary square beignet and mumbled through a mouthful of the French donut. “I need the glucose-sugar rush to re-energise, the spirit world’s exhausting.”
“All those beignets will end up on your hips.” David teased.
“Go to hell.” Her mood was darkening fast.
“I can’t allow your powers back. I spent fifteen years believing you to be someone else.” Justin uncomfortably rearranged his shirt collar. Even in the Louisiana blistering heat, the eccentric psychic and witch extraordinaire still insisted on dressing up like an English country gentleman.
“But that’s just it, I’m not Stella anymore. I’m back to good old dependable Nikki – hard-working, obedient…”
“Not forgetting psychotic and genocidal maniac with more power than she can handle.” David’s incessant grinning was beginning to irritate her. He appeared to revel in wielding his power over her.
“Damn you.” She huffed then aggressively bit off some more of the comforting donut.
“Stop bickering. I can only cope with one evil witch at a time you know.” Justin finally loosened his tie, and unbuttoned his top collar. “I don’t want Stella returning to whisper to you.”
“Stella doesn’t whisper to me, she takes me over.” Nikki sighed.
“And where do you go when she does take over?” Justin’s calm dulcet tones were hypnotic.
“I don’t know, it’s like I go to sleep.” She shrugged.
“Sit down, Nikki, please.” Justin was firm, but polite and calm.
Nikki looked down at her feet, she hadn’t even realised she had risen from her chair. Was that me or Stella who did that? She decided not to admit her fear that her parasitic alter ego may be attempting to resurrect herself. Taking her frustrations out on the poor busker at her inability to control Stella. “And you can shut that pitiful whining up too.”
Nikki attempted to leave as David jumped out of his seat and pulled her back by the elbow. Justin took out his wallet and calmly laid a twenty-dollar bill on the table then dropped a note in the buskers hat before usher them out of the café like a disappointed parent.
They crossed Decatur Street, narrowly missing a horse drawn carriage filled with bored looking tourists and walked through the pretty gardens of Jackson Square. They passed the whitewashed Cathedral as Nikki felt sudden excitement erupt through her at the thought of beginning a new case, she had missed the investigations of late due to her mental illness, and now she was being accepted back into the investigative team. Finally she could prove her loyalty again.
“So what’re we investigating today?” Nikki looked at them both from side to side, but neither responded as they quickened their pace. “What’s the hurry?”
“We have a ‘bona’ on the square.” David mumbled.
“Oh!” Nikki’s gaze flitted suspiciously from left to right. They referred to a ‘bona’ as the real deal, whether a clairvoyant, astral projector, magic manipulator or the worst kind, a mind reader. A ‘bona’ always had a specific talent.
David was a powerful enchanter and mind reader. He also held Nikki’s powers through spell work and a talisman, stored somewhere about his person. Without her full powers she was unable to manipulate the world around her properly leaving her feeling defenceless and vulnerable. Nikki had made a few enemies over the years committing crimes under the guise of Stella. If they discovered she was just a mere astral traveller, she would be under constant vengeance attacks. The dependency on these two men was infuriating.
They stopped at the back gates of a traditional terracotta coloured, Spanish-style, two storey building complete with a decorative cast-iron veranda over the first floor displaying hanging baskets of lush green ferns and brightly coloured flowers. The sign above the front door read ‘Muriel’s Restaurant’.
“What’re we doing here?” Nikki was ignored as usual, Justin had decreed previously, the less she knew the better.
Justin was already walking into the darkened red brick corridor that led out to the courtyard at the back of the restaurant. The only illumination was a traditional Victorian gas lamp that flickered sporadically. Justin shook hands briefly with the establishment’s manager. The man’s eyes seemed wild with fright.
“Mr Lazaire, I’m Justin Jameson, head of the paranormal investigative team. These are my associates Nikki and David Leitch.”
“Ah, a husband and wife team.” Lazaire attempted a nervous smile and spoke with a long Louisiana drawl.
They all exchanged glances, then Nikki finally responded. “Cousins, actually.”
David looked hurt. “Partners, actually.” He exchanged a reproachful glance with her. Nikki knew David had wanted to sort out their relationship issues before travelling, but David always had considered Nikki his life companion and soul mate. No amount of discussions would change that.
“We’re all family at Jameson PI, what surname we use is unimportant.” Justin broke the uncomfortable silence. “Mr Lazaire, please tell us what you know.” Justin was already walking into the deserted restaurant.
He stopped suddenly as his charismatic smile dropped, his face paled, and he stared at a small round table set for two diners with a single flickering white candle, positioned alone at the back of the restaurant. Nikki felt Justin’s shivers down his spine and she knew he’d never felt so spooked about a place in all his life. Even David and Nikki felt the uneasy, the cold sinking feeling of dread and foreboding. Something truly evil was sitting at that table, and they all knew it.
“Two people have disappeared recently after eating at my establishment. Staff told me that in both instances they had asked to see our famous haunted table.” Lazaire wrung out a dry napkin in agitation or fear.
“I see, and this is the area of the disturbance?” Justin walked cautiously towards the darkened corner.
“Blimey, Justin, you can’t help but feel the infected area.” Nikki blurted as Justin turned to glare at her to be silent.
Justin held his arm out at length and waved it gently from side to side as if feeling the air – mere showmanship for Lazaire’s sake more than anything else.
“How long have you had this trouble?” David cut in.
“The stories say Monsieur Antonio Muriel, the merchant who originally owned and built this building two hundred years ago, hung himself from the rafters over this table when he lost his home over gambling debts. We suffered from poltergeist activity until the local Voodoo Queen suggested we lay a ghost table every night for Antonio and his spirit guest. It worked for years, but now the cutlery has started flying across the tables again. Can you imagine the embarrassment when a customer’s hit on the back of the head with a bread roll as she ate her steak tartar?”
Nikki tried to stifle a laugh, but Lazaire looked down his nose at her with indignation.
“Yes, well,” Justin gave Nikki another disapproving stare over the top of his glasses, “If we can be left alone to take some readings, we’ll look at creating a séance or exorcism, depending on our findings.”
David gently but firmly turned Lazaire around and with a light push sent him off out of the restaurant then shut the outer door behind him.
Finally alone, they all turned their attention to the two red and gold tapestry chairs.
“Nikki, take some PKE readings under the table and around the back there. I want to measure the magnetic levels.” Justin threw Nikki a small black box with a metal stick attached to it with a plastic red wire. “Wave it around in the air.” Justin moved his hand in a circular motion.
“I can tell from my empathic powers that this place is teaming with negative, paranormal activity.” Nikki rested one hand on hip as she half-heartedly wafted the black box around.
“I admire your psychic skills, Nikki, but I’d still appreciate some readings I can take back to the team.”
“Why me anyway?” Nikki sighed.
“Because, my dear, you are a petit slip of a woman. David, on the other hand is a large, cumbersome, accident-prone clot.” Justin smiled.
“Hey?” David frowned. “That’s a bit harsh, Justin,”
But the insult worked as Nikki clearly took great delight and shuffled under the table as the reader began to bleep intermittently. “Yeah, you damn conjuring crook. I think we have something pretty heavy going on here, Justin. I don’t like it.”
Nikki didn’t usually fear the supernatural, but recently she’d begun to understand why so many people got spooked by their own shadows.
“Just stay where you are. I’m recording the readings.” Justin’s eyes widened in a fascinated response to what he saw on his iPad. “There’s something very sinister about all of this, even more so than a good ghost story for the tourists. Nikki, be a darling, and sit in the chair.”
“Screw that! I maybe your assistant, but David made me watch Ghostbusters and Poltergeist.” The panic rose in Nikki and another sense of foreboding fell on her shoulders as though the grim reaper himself had graced them with his presence.
“Okay, just move slightly to the right and hover the reader around the seat of the chair.”
Nikki turned her back on them. Before she could speak she sensed someone else leaning over the table. She looked up and saw David lunging at her to push her forcefully into Antonio’s haunted chair. Her scream died out as a gravitational force of vast proportions and strength sucked the air like a vacuum around her. It emptied her lungs and her head felt like it was about to be crushed in a vice.
Instinctively Nikki threw her hands out to grab hold of something to stop the sensation of falling. Her hands gripped a cold marble ledge and she clung on for dear life until the air filled her lungs once more. She managed to pull herself up onto what seemed like a window ledge and peered out through the pane of glass.
“You snivelling bastards.” She roared and banged repeatedly on the window. Nikki felt despair prickle at her spine as she realised they couldn’t hear her and laughed with a hysterical panic. “This is my fate? A dimensional portal!”
Helplessly she watched David and Justin from behind the huge shimmering screen directly in front of Antonio’s haunted chair as they spoke slowly in very low muffled tones like trying to hear a conversation under water. The speed of their speech seemed to have changed to that of a tape playing on the wrong setting, yet their actions were fast like an old black and white movie. The entire scene was inlaid with the eerie hiss of white noise. Thoroughly frightened, she was too terrified to look at what lay behind her.
The scene through the invisible vortex was almost as horrifying. Justin had his tablet on the table and David had now taken Nikki’s place extracting magnetic and paranormal readings.
She glanced over her shoulder and the horror was complete. There was nothing behind, above, or below her except for a black hole – an empty abyss. She banged on the window again.
“David, Justin! I’m here, get me out!” She knew he screams were futile, but didn’t know what else to do.
David stared directly into her eyes at one point, unable to see her through the portal. Nikki was close to tears, but did her best to remain calm. The two people she trusted the most in this unforgiving world had pushed her into a portal or vortex in time or worse another dimension of the cosmos.
“If I had my powers I could’ve sucker punched my way back home, the idiots,” Nikki whispered. Instead she had to accept she was stuck by the glass in front of the gaping chasm for the moment – until Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee get me out. She sighed to herself.
She leaned her head and shoulder against the window, straining to hear anything from the other side of hell by the haunted table. Suddenly she felt hot as perspiration drizzled down her face and back. Her stomach heaved and she wished death would come for her. It would be better than spending eternity watching her soul mate and her mentor from a dimensional window. The fever took hold so quickly there was no time to think about what she could do, and she assumed that being trapped in an unfamiliar atmosphere had caused the sudden onslaught of anxiety.
“So this is home sickness on a dimensional level,” she gulped back the urge to cry.
Nikki looked at David again, and put her hand to the glass in an attempt to reach out to him telepathically. He was pulling out a wand, his pride and joy. He’d told her he made it himself from an old ash tree branch and copper wire with a quartz crystal attached to either end to enhance the energy flow. He began to twist and swivel it through his fingers as he said something to Justin that looked earnest.
Nikki’s fevered convulsions strengthened when she heard a wretched scream to shrivel any human soul, as she felt a strong pull from her heart, so intense she grabbed her chest.
“I’ve died and entered hell.” She realised she was no longer alone in the abyss as she looked over her shoulder again, smelling a foul stench she could not place. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she saw the disgusting creature behind her. Its grey skin felt like wet leather as it touched her. A snake’s tongue lashed out of the creature’s mouth, surrounded by layers of razor sharp, fluorescent green teeth. The thing drooled as it released a blood curdling scream and Nikki joined the creature in the unearthly chorus.
The creature writhed and scratched as it clung to her arms. Nikki stared into the demon’s eyes to see an inferno blazing inside it’s diamond shaped pupils. Nikki understood at that moment she was staring into the face of her own tormentor and parasite, the Succubus Demon that called herself Stella. The being had lied to Nikki and seduced her when she had been in the depths of her despair and madness as a teenager.
The memory of the night her family had abandoned her and left her to rot in the mental institute had always haunted her: The demon had come to her with sensual promises in return for the right to borrow her body and walk through the third dimension of Earth.
She had accepted the offer believing it to be a dream, but slowly the demonic parasite took over most her thoughts. Eventually it had caused her untold suffering as Stella whispered to Nikki incessantly, telling her to do things and at times taking control of her body when she refused the demon’s demands.
All these years Nikki had believed all the evil acts she’d committed had been due to her madness. Countless doctors had told her and Justin she was schizophrenic, a dual personality, and Stella was the side of her personality she’d created to protect herself from the trauma of abandonment as a young witch. She stared at the culprit of all those heinous crimes. Stella was real, a hideous dimensional demon.
The succubus clawed wildly at Nikki’s arms as she desperately tried to throw the creature off her back. She was careful not to let go of the ledge, aware it was her only passage back into her own world. Nikki managed to turn sharply and kick the writhing cold blob hard in what she assumed was its stomach. The creature snapped with a hundred or more incisors, the snake like tongue thrashing within millimetres of her face. She kicked the demon once more as it scrambled to gain another hold of Nikki’s arm and missed. It lost it’s grip of Nikki and began to fall back into the darkness still screeching and clawing at the air.
“Goodbye for ever, Stella.” Nikki watched, shaking with exhaustion and terror until all she could no longer hear Stella’s screams. The red eyes and fluorescent teeth faded into the abyss until there was nothing left. She breathed deeply to gain some control, accepting that this was Stella’s true dimension and the both of them had been pushed through the portal to rid Nikki of the parasitical demon once and for all. The Exorcism had worked now she had to get home.
She closed her eyes tight as if in a wishful prayer and reached out with her mind to David, as a proficient practitioner of travelling to higher dimensions and astral planes, Nikki had a brilliant idea. Since she no longer carried Stella with her, she willed herself to penetrate David’s mind. She had no idea where she was, but she had to try and reach him. “Come on, David, you’re meant to be my soul mate – hear me.”
She gasped with surprise and delight as she began to hear their conversation through the portal.
“I hope she had the sense to stay by the portal,” David worried as he held the meter reader around the table. “God forgive me?”
“Stop worrying, she’ll be fine. I need those readings before we can perform the ritual.” Justin pulled black candles, a chalice, three crystal skulls, and a decorative gold and jewelled dagger out his large brown leather satchel. It was his paranormal essentials kit-bag that he carried everywhere with him.
David stopped playing with his wand and looked directly at Nikki through the invisible window. With a frown he thrust his wand out over the ghost table and towards the chair. “Let there be light amongst the cursed.” He repeated the spell with more conviction. “Let there be light amongst the cursed.”
“David, what’re you doing?” Justin was still reading from the Grimoires he had salvaged from a previous ghost hunt, another essential piece of his kit.
A shimmering, watery mirror appeared on the haunted chair then quivered and liquefied like mercury before them as David’s wand and hand disappeared through the portal. He blindly grabbed Nikki’s arm and yanked her back through the hole.
She landed on top of David as they hit the floor of the restaurant. Nikki was dripping with translucent ectoplasm and mucus from the re-entry. She was already taking great pleasure in watching him cringe as the icky substance dripped slowly onto his face.
“Yurgh, Nikki, get off me. That stuff stinks.”
“Well, you pushed me in there, wherever it was. So it’s only fair to share it with you. I’m not greedy.” Nikki rubbed his cheeks with the dimensional fluid before kissing him hard and passionately on the lips. He needed no encouragement to respond to her affection.
Justin frowned as the kiss continued for longer than he felt was comfortable to watch. “Okay you two, that’s enough.” Justin gave a nervous laugh as David began to wriggle and struggle under what seemed like the dead weight of Nikki’s body sprawled on top of him and pinning his arms and legs to the floor with an intense strength. “Nikki, what’re doing? Let David go.” Justin’s voice rose several octanes.
David began to make choking sounds as an eerie high pitched screech came from Nikki’s open mouth, firmly clamped to her lover’s.
“Dear God -”Justin whispered as he began to back out of the long dark passageway that led to light and freedom of the bustling New Orleans streets. Staring on in horror he watched with wide eyes as David’s skin began to dry, flake and wrinkle to a parched, flimsy, white mass just barely covering his skull and cheek bones.
“What – what the hell have you brought back with you?” Justin rasped as he fell backwards as Nikki looked up, noticing Justin for the first time. Her eyes flashed with emeralds then rubies before she hissed loudly.
The lights from his PKE reader flashed intermittently in the darkness and Justin screamed over the din of the beeps rising louder and faster as Nikki approached him hissing again and baring a mouth of jagged fluorescent teeth before letting out a high banshee-shriek.
“There is no Nikki – There is no Stella, only Belial.” The creature lashed its long blue tongue out and whipped Justin across his chest burning through his favourite tweed jacket and shirt, scorching his skin with an unearthly acid. The acrid stench of burnt flesh and hair filled the air as Justin screamed in agony. His attempts to escape were futile as Belial used Nikki’s old body to contort and stretch to an extraordinary length and curled itself upwards around Justin’s pain riddled torso.
The dimensional demon squeezed Justin tighter like some supernatural boa-constrictor until there seemed no breath left in Justin’s crushed limp body. Belial whipped the blue tongue once more before clamping its lips to the once dapper parapsychologist and sucked the life force left in his body.
Justin crumbled to dust in Belial’s embrace. Nikki’s almost unrecognisable features began to soften and reshape to a human face once more. She looked around at the carnage as her eyes flashed red and green. The demon parasite seemed to be attempting to make sense of the new universe it found itself standing in. Belial stamped on the PKE reader crushing the irritating high pitched bleeps and flashing lights.
Belial moved towards the circle of sunlight leading to the streets of New Orleans and blinked with a childlike inquisitiveness then whipped and lashed the blue tongue with professional dexterity all over Nikki’s soft human flesh until all ectoplasm had been consumed. Belial turned back to look at the shimmering mirror above Antonio’s haunted chair. Nikki’s true soul and spirit rippled from behind the vortex, banging for desperate release from her astral prison.
“And there you can stay.” With a flick of her tongue she whipped the reflective portal until it smashed and imploded into nothingness. Demon Nikki squinted as she walked out to experience the heat of the third dimension for the first time.