The Banker and the Geist
Eric Cole turned the key to lock his bank. The sun had set, and already the lamplighters were out. He pulled his jacket closed as he stashed he keys. The night air was brisk, unseasonably cold.
The street lamp flames danced as he passed. When all at once those at the end of the street snuffed out. Within the shadows Eric could make out the outline of a man. Lamps behind him extinguished. Then more. Then the final lamp, right outside the bank flickered and went dark.
Eric stood in darkness. He stood breathless, fearful to move, to breathe, to think. Slowly, a voice whispered over the wind,
“Avacyn, the strong and pure
Take my troubles from this world”
“Jacob?” Eric gasped trying to pull the word back in. But the words were gone, echoing supernaturally down the street. He felt a claw reach into his chest and twist his heart. The sharp pain brought him to his knees.
And then the icy hand loosened its grip and let him free. Eric felt his chest to find no blood. He stumbled home and locked the door.
He removed his jacket and collapsed into his arm chair. A fire was already roaring as he examined his chest. The only mark upon it was frost bite, right above his heart.
“Is this a bad time Mr. Cole?” said Mrs. Putnam, the housekeeper.
“No, come in.” Eric buttoned his shirt.
Mrs. Putnam placed Mr. Cole’s dinner on the side table and turned to leave.
“Mrs. Putnam, please sit with me a spell,” he said softly.
“Yes your lordship,” Mrs. Putnam sat by the stool near the fire, “Is there something you’d like to discuss?”
“Mrs. Putnam, what do you think about geists?”
Mrs. Putnam sat quietly, “Well I guess I think about them like a think about people. Some are good, some are bad.”
“You think geists are like people?”
“Sure, I’ve heard stories of fathers dragging their families out of burning buildings, and I’ve heard stories of geists murdering people. It seems to me that what a person is like in life, that’s what he’ll be in death.” Mrs. Putnam stoked the fire.
Eric spoke, “I was attacked tonight. Outside the bank. The lights went out and something reached into my chest and grabbed my heart. I could sense so much… anger.” He trembled. “I thought it was going to kill me.”
“Mr. Cole these things are not uncommon. Just last week her ladyship Mercy had a vagabond ghost in his basement, breaking bottles. You should really come home before sunset.”
“The anger was directed. The geist wanted me,” Eric said.
“Perhaps it was Mr. Timely, he was very angry when you closed his account.”
“It was Jacob,” Eric admitted, “Jacob attacked me.”
“Your brother!” Mrs. Putnam said, “That man was a saint. He would never harm you or anyone else. You’ve just had a traumatic experience, you’re not thinking straight, sleep on it, you’ll feel better in the morning.”
“You’re right,” Eric said, getting up. “I’m sure it was just a stranger.”
Mr. Cole walked up the stairs and settled into his bed. He snuffed out his light and rested. At midnight the windows flew open. Eric sat up in bed, as the wind whipped the sheets from him. A shadowy figure loomed over him, grabbed his throat and lifted him into the air.
“Jacob, don’t do this,” Eric gasped, “Don’t do this Jacob, don’t.”
The geist opened its mouth, but all that came out was a howl and dust. Its grip tightened.
The door swung open as Mrs. Putnam walked into the door. She threw a silver necklace at the geist. It howled in pain and released its grip. Eric reached into his nightstand and pulled out a blessed dagger, slashing at the spirit. It retreated out the window.
Eric got out of bed, “Mrs. Putnam, I want you to get packed and stay in the guest house. I will have a cathar come tomorrow. Until then, I don’t want you in the house.” He placed the dagger next to the pillow.
“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Mrs. Putnam asked.
“That thing is after me. I don’t want you to get hurt.” He ushered her out the door.
In the morning he sent a message to the local church to send out a cathar. At noon the man came dressed in a heavy cloak, decorated with blessed silver.
“Mr. Cole,” the main said, “I am Hast, a trained specialist in the removal of geists, and the slaying of werewolves. May I come in?”
Eric ushered him into the foyer, “Thank you for coming Hast.”
“I am told you have an especially troublesome geist,” Hast said, “It attacked you outside the bank, and again in your bedroom. Is there anyone who might have a grudge against you?”
“No, no one I can think of. A few angry clients, but no one who would try to murder me.”
“You’re brother died two weeks ago, did he not?” Hast said. “What were the circumstances of his death.”
“He died at sea, on a trip. It was very sudden.”
“And what was your relationship with your brother?” Hast pried.
“It was fine. I loved my brother.” Eric said adamantly, “I don’t know who this thing was, but it wasn’t Jacob.”
Hast stared coldly at Eric, “I find this level of aggression is normally a reaction to an extreme act against the geist. Something like a murder. Are you sure you don’t have anything to confess?”
“I didn’t murder anyone,” Eric said.
“We will set up in your bedroom and wait for nightfall.” Hast motioned towards the stairs, “Lead the way.”
Hast finished preparing himself to excise the geist. Night had fallen, and both men prepared for the spirit to arrive.
“How do these things normally go?” Eric asked.
“It depends on the ghost. Some go peacefully, some lash out. I’ve seen many cathars die by the hands of geists.”
The candles dimmed, as an unseen force began knocking at the window. Hast moved towards the center of the room, putting himself between the window and Eric. “Be gone vicious spirit, this world has nothing to offer you. Leave this man and his house, come no more.” The knocking stopped. Then dust began falling from the ceiling. Hast looked up to see the ceiling cracking.
In an instant the cracks spread out across the ceiling, down the walls. The floor shuddered tossing Eric to the floor. Hast kept his stance.
A black mass manifested above Eric. Hast threw a silver amulet at it, causing it to reel back in pain. It retreated out of the bedroom and into a closet.
Hast flung open the door and peered up a staircase leading up, “Where does this lead?” he asked.
Eric got up, “The attic. But there’s nothing up there.”
Hast pulled a torch from his belt and lit it on a candle, he mounted the stairs leading up to the attic. The torch banished the clinging darkness, as he carefully picked around the room, a keen eye for unnatural shadows.
“What is this?” he said gesturing at the objects covered in sheets.
“Furniture mostly,” Eric hesitated.
Hast grabbed a sheet and pulled. Beakers, flasks, burners, and tubes came into sight. Forbidden chemicals, and equipment. “Alchemy!” Hast snapped.
The door to the attic slammed shut, and the air chilled.
“Of course.” Hast said, “it all makes sense.” He pulled a dagger, “You killed him. You killed your brother and now he’s after you.”
“That’s not true, I loved my brother!”
“What happened?” Hast asked, “Did he find your laboratory?”
“Did he tell you he was going to the authorities?”
“You had to kill him. It was the only way out.”
“No, that’s not true.”
“What is the truth then Eric. What’s the truth!”
“It’s his. The lab…. It’s Jacob’s.” Eric collapsed. “He was sick… he had problems. I covered it up. It seemed so harmless. He just experimented on animals. But then he tried to recreate vampirism. It was poison. He died and I panicked. I couldn’t let anyone know what he did, what he was. It would ruin me. I buried the body and made up the story of how he was lost at sea. Oh Avacyn help me, I didn’t mean for all this.” Eric broke down sobbing.
The light of the torch began to wane as the darkness forced itself towards the men. “Eric,” Hast said, “this is very important. Where did you bury the body?”
“The basement, I buried him in the basement.”
“We have to get to the basement on consecrate that grave. His spirit won’t rest until we do.” Hast grabbed Eric’s arm. “Eric, snap out of it. I need your help. We can’t lay your brother’s spirit to rest until we sanctify his grave.”
Eric stumbled to his feet, as Hast kicked in the door. At once the room exploded as glassware flew across the room. Eric and Hast shielded their heads as they ran down the stairs. In the hallway, furniture flipped over, and walls cracked, the banister going down the stairs lashed out, throwing Eric against the wall. But both men endured and reached the first floor. A supernatural howl began and grew louder as the men ran through the house to reach the basement stairs. Eric felt invisible hand reach out to grasp him, but he wretched free and continued on. They had to get to the basement.
Hast was the first to reach the basement door, and flinging it open was hit by a blast of darkness. Blinded the cathar felt his way down the stairs. Eric followed slamming the basement door behind him.
“I’m blind,” Hast said as he placed his foot on the dirt of the basement.
“Can you still purify the grave?” Eric asked.
“Yes, just bring me to it,” Hast said. Above the basement door rattled as if a strong wind were gusting just on the other side.
Eric guided Hast to a corner of the basement freshly dug up. “It’s here” he said.
Hast pulled a vial of water and sprinkled it on the spot. “Avacyn, whose light shines both day and night, I ask you to sanctify this ground,” at this the basement door was wrenched from its hinges and thrown down the stairs. A sickle on the wall three off and lodged into Hast’s back. The cathar grunted, and collapsed, but continued the prays.
The spirit manifested over the fallen cathar, hand clutching the sickle. It twisted the blade, taking pleasure in the grunts of the cathar as he continued his prays.
“Stop it!” Eric said, “Jacob this isn’t you. You were sick, but I know there’s good in you. Remember when we were children? The song? You were singing it alone. Sing it with me now.”
“Avacyn, the strong and pure
Take my troubles from this world
Take this veil from my eyes,
Help me see the truth from lies.
Protect my soul when I am to pass,
And let my soul forever rest.
Avacyn, the strong and pure
Take my troubles from this world”
Hast finished the pray. Eric could see his brother vanishing. “Good bye Jacob” he whispered. The spirit vanished completely.
Eric helped Hast to his carriage. “Mr. Cole, your brother’s body will have to be buried in a sanctified graveyard. I will send someone to recover it.”
“I understand” said Eric. “I don’t suppose you could say his body was found at sea.”
“No,” Hast said, “But I don’t see any reason to mention his experiments.”
The driver flicked the reins and the horses began trudging down the street. Down the street Eric could see the sun rising on a new day.