"In Spirit Shapes, Deputy Tempe tries to solve three crimes that have occurred in the eerie Wilkinson House over the last eighty years. As Tempe is drawn into a battle of good evil, she is confronted with a problem faced by many with cross-cultural backgrounds. What is the best way to recognize the truth? Is it her Indian traditions as represented by Nick Two Johns or Christianity as represented by her husband Hutch or some combination of the two?
Spirit Shapes is a good snapshot of modern America with three-dimensional characters; some of whom just happen to be elderly, homeless, Goths, or kids that fall between the crack in the school system. The plot and conclusion will surprise you. This is a five star book." –Janet Greger
The icy atmosphere settled over Lorna Collins like a shroud; the spirits already making themselves known before they even stopped inside. She shivered but smiled. The haunts in this place, the Wilkinson House, should please her group of ghost hunters. The last two places she’d guided these enthusiasts had been a bust.
The evening began perfectly. Everyone arrived a few minutes before nine. Low clouds settled over the mountains. Looming up from atop a hillock, the two-story structure peered at them through darkened windows. The only light came from flashlight beams as the ghost hunters approached and climbed the rustic steps created from railroad ties.
Lorna gathered the group on the porch to give her instructions. Each person who came on this ghost hunt had been required to read and sign an agreement. The first rule was to keep an open mind. Participants could bring cameras and audio or visual taping devices. Phones could be on, since many used the cameras in their cells, as long as the ring tones were silenced. There were other rules such as carrying proper identification in case someone noticed the lights in what was known to be an unoccupied structure and sent law enforcement to investigate. Since all other houses were located at least a half mile away, Lorna wasn’t worried about that kind of interruption.
“The quieter we can be as we move around, the more likely we are to hear or be able to tape any strange noises or voices. You can take as many photos as you like. There are two types of spirits we may encounter. One, someone who was alive at one time and has remained on this earthly plane for some reason. The ghost might not realize he or she is dead. Or perhaps it has some unfinished business. These spirits could be good or bad, depending on what kind of person they were when they were alive.”
A slight murmur rose from the group.
“Don’t worry. They aren’t dangerous. You might also witness what is called a residual haunting. This is an echo of something that happened at another time. I am obligated to tell you that though I’ve yet to encounter this kind of spirit, there are those that were never human. They are malevolent and some might call them demons.”
Again the group whispered among themselves.
“Because of that unlikely possibility, we’ll take a few seconds to put ourselves in the right frame of mind. If you are a religious person, say a prayer of protection.” Lorna bowed her head and counted to ten. “Okay. Here we go. Explore to your heart’s content.”
In their early twenties, both Oscar Lopez and Andrea Cruz made the sign of the cross. Though they claimed not to know each other before the first get-together, they shared an interest in writing. Oscar said he was a novelist and Andrea a reporter for the local newspaper. An obvious spark ignited between the two.
Keith Sanders and Rachel Bayliss stood together. In fact Lorna suspected the teachers might be romantically involved, though they did their best to hide it.
The only one by himself, Maurice Fraleigh, probably in his sixties, seemed the most unlikely to have an interest in ghostly sightings, but he’d turned up for the last three tours Lorna advertised in the local paper. Like the others, he didn’t seem to mind handing over the $50 charge for each event. Wearing worn overalls, plaid shirt and a straw hat, Fraleigh looked more like a farmer than the local historian he was known to be.
Though Lorna had toured the site several days ago with Babs Tucker, the realty agent, in the daylight, this was her first venture in the dark.
The Wilkinson House had been designated as haunted for a long time. After Lorna had told Ms. Tucker about her reason for wanting to visit the house, the woman opened up.
“We’ve several vacant houses around Bear Creek with reputations of being haunted. I agree the Wilkinson house is the most likely to suit your purpose.”
“Why do you say that?” Lorna had asked.
“It was built in the early 1900s, and it has been unoccupied for long periods of time. When someone does purchase or rent the place, they never stay long.”
“Do you know the reason?”
Though it was obvious the young woman was reluctant to reveal anything that might squelch a sale, she sighed and finally relented. “I don’t know much about the earliest years, obviously I wasn’t around then.” She smiled. “What I do know is a few residents blamed their quick departures on the fact that they had to share their abode with ghostly beings. Enough proclaimed that same reason for the word to spread. After all, what is more fun to talk about than a haunted house?” She dropped her shoulders. “I doubt I’ll ever be able to unload this place unless,” she gazed hopefully at Lorna, “you plan to do something to get rid of all the ghosts.”
Lorna told her, “I’m sorry, that isn’t what I do.” All she intended while on the tour was to see or feel anything that would validate the theory that ghosts inhabited the Wilkinson House.
After unlocking the massive front door, Lorna pushed it open. The hinges creaked eerily as if pre-planned. She guided the group into what she knew from her earlier daytime visit was the living room.
Lorna entered first. The temperature dropped even more, causing her to shiver. She inhaled deeply knowing sometimes you could get a sense of history of the house from the lingering scents. Cooking smells always remained in the walls. Underneath the faint scents of apple pies, cabbage, garlic and onions, she smelled something she couldn’t quite identify. A strange mustiness. “Come on in.”
Lorna held the door open as the five guests entered. “Step carefully. Keep your flashlights on. The real estate agent assured me there are no hazards, but you never know in a house like that that has sat empty for a long period.”
The moving beams from the many flashlights cast eerie shadows and distorted faces as everyone followed Lorna.
Oscar clasped Andrea’s hand and the young couple started toward the staircase.
The others headed off in different directions. Light streaked through the darkness, catching a silvery spider web, briefly illuminating the moving ghost hunters.
Lorna felt an incredible yearning, a palpable sadness. She sensed dreadful events had happened in this house
In minutes, a shrill scream came from upstairs, followed by Oscar Lopez shouting, “Ms. Collins. You better come see. We’ve found something horrible.”