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Title: Spook
Author: batgurl88
Rating: T
Pairing/Characters: Reid, Prentiss, Morgan, JJ
Summary: Morgan took off his sunglasses, eyeing the dilapidated house with no lack of disdain. "Reid, I can't believe you dragged us all the way out here."
Spoilers: Set sometime in early season three.
Disclaimer: Any recognizable characters belong to CBS

Notes: Hey, remember when I used to write Criminal Minds fics? *sigh* Me neither... This was supposed to be last year's Halloween fic, but I didn't finish it in time. It may see later revisions, but in the meantime, Happy Halloween!

P.S. - If you want the extra experience, read while listening to Marilyn Manson's 'Sweet Dreams' or John Carpenter's 'The Fog Theme'.

*
Spook
 
"Reid, I can't believe you dragged us all the way out here."

Morgan took off his sunglasses, eyeing the dilapidated house with no lack of disdain. The dirty and broken windows were mostly shuttered, the wood siding weathered and worn. Out front, a tall skeleton of an oak tree had seen better days, and from the state of the lawn, no one had bothered tending to the grass in years. A rusted wrought iron fence surrounded the property, keeping intruders out - or perhaps keeping inhabitants in.

Reid stared up at the real estate nightmare in unabashed fascination, his eyes gleaming with a childish joy.

"This is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the eastern United States," he informed them, his fingers twitching towards the latch on the gate in excitement. The house had been on his mind ever since they'd arrived in Cedar Grove, Maine, for their latest case, thoughts of being in the home town of one of the world's most renowned haunts captivating him. He'd restrained his eagerness for the duration of their case - putting their work before his innate curiosity - but with the case solved and their UNSUB in custody, there was little keeping him from exploring the mysterious house. "It's been a well-established site of supernatural occurrences ever since the townspeople found the entire Ramsey family murdered in their beds in 1906."

"Could you try not to sound so excited about that?" Emily teased, amused at her teammate's reverence for the epicentre of countless local ghost stories. He was admiring the house the way some people would a religious site or historical monument.

The cool October air bit at their skin, causing leaves to shake their hold on the old tree in front of them, drifting carelessly to the ground. JJ shivered, her eyes on the uppermost window of the house. The late afternoon sun was sending a strong glare back at her, causing her to squint as the tree casted moving shadows across the pane of glass.

"I feel like we should be humming the theme song to 'The Addams Family,'" she joked, masking her uneasiness beneath a light-hearted tone.
"Did you know the Addams Family's address - established in the 1960's television series as 0001 Cemetery Lane - was changed for the new series to 1313 Cemetery Lane, as a reference to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, home of rival series, 'The Munsters'?" Reid prattled off distractedly, his fingers twitching again in the direction of the rusted latch.

"Reid, I know you're not actually thinking of going in there," Morgan frowned, eyeing his friend's non-too-subtle body language with disapproval. "That place is a death-trap. The whole thing could cave in on you."

"Oh, come on, Morgan," Emily countered, some small bit of fascination taking hold as a large black crow swooped down to perch on the roof. "The city would've had it condemned if it was that bad."

Reid rolled his lips, steeling his courage. A long-fingered hand reached for the latch, forcing the rusted contraption open.

"Spence, come on," JJ pleaded, a cold feeling in the pit of her stomach as she watched the crow preen itself. "You don't have to prove anything."

Reid ignored her, starting down the path, the pat pat pat of his footsteps against the weed-riddled stone matching the thump thump thump of his fast-beating heart. The wooden steps creaked with age as he tested his weight on them, hurrying up to stop before the large, brown door. He felt the absurd urge to knock, before reminding himself that it had been over a decade since the house's last inhabitant. Instead, he lifted a bony hand to the doorknob.

The knob turned easily in his palm, almost as if he'd been expected. He stepped inside, pulling a small flashlight from his messenger bag and letting the door fall closed behind him.

The foyer was large, the faded paper on the walls speaking to a former wealth and privilege. Dust-coated rugs covered the floor, a ring of cobwebs dangling from the chandelier. His eyes wandered up the winding staircase, the beam of his flashlight disappearing into the darkness of the second floor.

He tiptoed forward, cringing at the slightest noise. It felt wrong to disturb the oppressive quiet of the house with his footsteps and heavy breaths, but he could do only so much to conceal them.

Making his way up the steps, his mind rapidly recalled the specifics of the Ramsey case - embellished by legend and time. By all accounts, the Ramseys had been a quiet family; good citizens and kind neighbours. It was early in the morning when Edward Ramsey and his wife, Mary Anne, had been found in the main bedroom by Mary Anne's sister, who had come by for her weekly visit. Both had been stabbed to death in their sleep. Their eight-year-old daughter, Lucille, and infant son, Charles, had been found in the nursery in a similar fashion.

The murderer had never been found, and the house had fallen into the possession of Edward's cousin, Henry, who took to leasing it out to various lodgers. After a series of unexplained occurrences befell the home's occupants, the townspeople began to whisper of a curse, blaming the Ramsey's deaths on supernatural circumstances. Eventually, Henry grew tired of the rumours and accidents, and abandoned the house altogether. Since then, it had remained largely unoccupied, passing from owner to owner for brief periods of time, each inhabitation marked by a litter of disturbing events.

A step creaked beneath his foot, and Reid flinched as a shadow darted across the landing. He pointed the flashlight in the direction of the movement - his heart thumping loudly in his chest - but the landing was empty.

He took a breath, slowing his heart. Thirty-two percent of Americans believe in ghosts, he thought silently, the familiar territory of statistics calming him. Twenty-three percent say they have actually seen a ghost or believe they have been in one's presence.

Reid continued his inner recitation of trivia as he made his way onto the second floor, his eyes falling on a closed door directly in front of him. He took another deep breath, reaching out to grip the handle.
 

--BOO--

"We're not really going to let him wander around that place by himself, are we?" Prentiss questioned, crossing her arms as she turned to the others. The afternoon sun had faded behind a cloud some minutes ago, leaving a chill in the air.

"You wanna go in?" Morgan countered, meeting her stare head-on.

"Reid does have a tendency to get into trouble," JJ noted quietly, shoving her hands in her pockets in a futile attempt to stave the bone-chilling cold.
Derek eyed the house with uncertainty, checking his watch with a sigh.

"Alright, let's go find ghost-boy," he agreed, pushing the gate open again.

The trio entered cautiously, wary of rotting floorboards and weathered footholds. The foyer was empty but for a stale whiff of dust-infested air that left all three agents coughing.

"Reid?" JJ called cautiously, eyeing the long, winding staircase before them with apprehension.

"Maybe he went around back," Prentiss whispered, glancing at the entranceways on either side of them. She felt as though they were in a tomb, the overwhelming silence weighing heavily on her chest.

The rugs were worn beneath her feet, each step unsettling years of dust and dirt that puffed into the air to mark her path. Eyeing a large painting on the wall of a sad-eyed woman, she walked around a corner of the hallway.

When she looked back, she was alone.

"JJ?" Prentiss turned quickly, her eyes scanning the empty room. Hadn't the other female agent been just behind her? And Morgan?
Typical, Emily noted dryly. We come in to keep Reid from getting lost and end up losing each other.

The sound of music being played interrupted her musings, the notes of Rachmaninoff's Prelude drifting through the stale air. Emily frowned, wondering if Derek or JJ had found an old piano somewhere in the depths of the house. It had been years since her own lessons, but she still recalled the piece she'd spent months practicing for a recital as a child.

Rounding the corner of the entranceway, she found herself in an old sitting room, the notes of the song growing louder. A pale blue settee - its fabric faded with age - stood in the centre of the room, its cushions indented from use, as if an unseen person were sitting on it. Her eyes flickered to the dusty stand-up piano at the rear of the room, its musician conspicuously absent, the keys and pedals depressing of their own accord in time with the notes.

She blinked. A player piano - it had to be. She'd seen them before. One of the others must have turned it on for a laugh.

"Morgan? Where are you?" she called, looking around the piano into the next room for her teammate.

The music stopped suddenly, the keys smashing down as if someone had struck them. She jumped at the noise, her heart stuttering in her chest.
She forced a laugh, turning uneasily to survey the room again. They must have rigged the piano. Probably Reid – he’d know how to do something like that.

"Okay, Reid, you had your laugh. Knock it off."

Her eyes flickered anxiously back to the settee. The indent had disappeared.
 

--BOO--

"Reid?"

The steps creaked beneath her feet as she walked, her uneasiness growing. Surely he should have heard them by now? The house was big, but not so big that their presence should have gone unnoticed.

She rounded the stairs on the second floor, spotting another set that seemed to lead to the attic.

"Maybe we should check up here," she said, glancing back over her shoulder to find herself alone. "Morgan? Prentiss?"

There was no answer.

JJ felt her throat tighten slightly at the realisation that they had, in fact, split up. Considering how well that had gone the last time...

She shook her head. She was being ridiculous. They were in a dingy old house, not some UNSUB's hideout. Reid and the others had obviously gotten lost, but it wasn't as if she wouldn't find them.

A rustling noise sounded from the stairs, capturing her attention. Slowly, she made her way up the steps, wishing she had a flashlight.

"Reid? Is that you?"

The attic was as musty as the rest of the house, dust particles floating in the air. There were crates and steam trunks scattered throughout, a child's rocking horse resting alone in one corner. The room seemed to span the full width of the house, but there was no sign of the others.

Turning, she found herself looking out the same grimy window she had stared up at earlier. From up here, the tree resembled more of a skeleton, its branches scratching against the glass. When had it gotten so dark outside?

The dim light from the window shone on a row of framed paintings, their pictures hidden by years of dirt.

Curiously, she knelt before one of them, wiping away the thick layer of dust to get to the image beneath. It was a family portrait - a mother, father, and two children - the clothes dated but fancy. She frowned, clearing away more of the grime. The faces had been scratched out, leaving distorted white clouds where each of the heads should have been. There was something unnerving about it...

A soft sound like wind whistling through the woods made her freeze, a chill going up her spine.

It's just a draft, she assured herself, her breathing uneven. It's nothing.

The screech of a crow outside the window made her jump, her hand twitching at her belt to the gun that wasn't there. They hadn't brought their weapons along, though she irrationally wished for the comfort of her sidearm.

To protect you against what? she berated herself, rolling her eyes. A bird? She was letting Reid's ghost stories get to her, that's all. As soon as she found the others, she'd be fine.

Somewhere in the depths of the attic, a music box began to play.
 

--BOO--

Morgan squinted through the shadows, his fingers brushing along the wall for a light switch. The cellar was dank and musty, the darkness stretching out before him. He found the switch, flicking it, a small hum accompanying the soft light it released.

What a piece of junk, he thought, surveying the old cellar with disdain. The past owners had been right to abandon such a dead-end project. Even all of his considerable handyman prowess couldn't hope to make the house liveable.

He turned quickly, catching sight of movement out of the corner of his eye. His heart skipped a beat as he glimpsed a human shape in the shadows, watching him.

He froze.

His own face stared back.

Derek let out a sigh of relief, feeling stupid. A mirror.

His heart was still racing as he shook his head. He'd had about enough of this place. The sooner they found Reid, the better.

He looked away, hoping to find the genius crouched over a pile of antiques in the corner somewhere, his irritation growing when he found no such luck.

The light bulb flickered and dimmed above his head before going out completely, leaving him in the dark.

"Dammit," he cursed, trying to focus on his annoyance rather than his unease. It felt like someone was watching him, a prickly sensation on the back of his neck.

A loud bang sounded from behind him and he startled, alertly scanning the darkness.

"Reid, if you're playing with me, you're gonna regret it," he cautioned loudly, his eyes searching the cellar for the source of the disturbance. The shadows seemed to move of their own accord, the uneasy feeling of being watched intensifying. Ghost stories or not, something was off about this place.

Hadn't the stairs been over there?
 

--BOO--

Reid surveyed the nursery curiously, his flashlight ghosting over the faded walls and empty beds. The others didn't know what they were missing - there was something about this house...

Catching sight of a bookshelf, his eyebrows quirked in interest. He moved forward, pocketing the flashlight in favour of selecting a grimy book from the top shelf. Poe's Cask of Amontillado. He smiled fondly, the spine creaking as he cracked its yellowed cover open.

Something red and sticky oozed from the pages, coating his fingers.

"You don't belong here."

He whirled around, eyes wide at the little girl glaring back at him. As quickly as he glimpsed her, she was gone, only his eidetic memory providing him with the image of her faded turn-of-the-century nightgown and her cold dead eyes.

The book dropped from his hand, clattering to the floor, its pages falling open. All of a sudden, the other books began flying from the shelves at an alarming speed, slamming into the walls.

Reid gasped and ducked, using his messenger bag as a shield as he ran from the room, the heavy tomes chasing him, pages fluttering. This couldn't be happening! Actual paranormal activity had never been accurately documented--

He stopped short at the blood on the floor, the drag marks to a closed door at the end of the hallway.

"You'll kill them all."

"It's not safe."

"You'll kill them."

"Get out. Get out of here!"

The voices seemed to come from all sides, whispering in his ears like his mother's voices until he could barely hear himself think beneath the flood of noise. Reid turned quickly, his breath coming in short gasps as he searched for the source, but found none.

The blood was gone, leaving silvery footsteps in its wake.
 

--BOO--

"Anyone? Hello?"

Prentiss sighed. She'd worked her way through the entire main floor, but there'd been no sign of her team. Walking back towards the entranceway, she froze, finding herself once again staring at the interior of the sitting room. She was sure the door had been over this way.

Emily frowned, turning in a full circle.

Something crawled along her neck and she jumped, her fingers scratching at the unwanted touch, brushing across something small and furry. She flicked it off just as another one made itself known on her arm, creeping along her skin, making her twitch.

Spiders. She was covered in spiders.

Letting out a small yelp, she knocked them off of her, more appearing out of nowhere, their thin legs climbing through her hair, on her face, until her skin felt like it was crawling. They were everywhere, inching across her eyelids as she cringed- she couldn't breathe- their bodies wriggling over her clothes like--

It stopped.

Prentiss opened a cautious eye, holding her breath as she looked down at herself. She breathed a sigh of relief - there were no spiders in sight, though the memory of them on her skin remained. She shuddered, trying to rid herself of the sensation.

Logically, she knew she had little to fear from them, but she'd harboured a dislike of arachnids ever since she was a child. She flushed slightly, thankful that no one else had seen her small freak-out. They'd never let her live it down.

It's an old house, she reasoned. Spiders come with the territory.

All the same, she'd feel a lot better once they left.

A baby wailed from the next room, its unexpected cries making her jump again, alert.

Her eyes widened. Was there someone else here after all? A mother with her child - squatters, maybe?

The crying intensified, and Emily felt something clench inside of her. What if it had been left here, abandoned? No baby should have to be alone in such a place.

"Hello?" she called soothingly, rushing into the next room. "It’s okay. I’m coming."
 

--BOO--

"Is someone there?"

JJ stood quickly, her hand still at her belt, flexing unconsciously around her absent sidearm. The sounds from the music box drifted slowly through the heavy air, the notes creaky and out-of-tune, as the whistling of the wind increased, making her shiver. It reminded her of the woods near her aunt's house, the looming trees that had always frightened her as a child.

Swallowing past her anxiety, she dug out her cell phone - she'd had enough of this. She was an FBI agent, not some scared five-year-old - perfectly capable of handling herself in this situation. She'd just call the others and they'd meet up at the entrance.

Flipping the device open, her eyes flickered down to the screen, frowning as it listed no bars.

Split up and no cell signal. She closed her eyes.

The music from the box wound down to a stop, a prickly feeling running across JJ's neck. She wasn’t alone.

"Screw this," she muttered, heading back down the steps at a jog, refusing to turn back as a loud crash sounded from behind her. She rounded the corner of the stairs, running full-on into another body. Yelping in surprise, she shoved them away.

"JJ!"

Reid's eyes wide and frantic, his breathing irregular as he darted looks back over his shoulder.

"Reid," she breathed a sigh of relief. "We need to get out of here." She grabbed his arm, choosing not to wait for his responding nod before dragging him down the next flight of stairs.

Loud banging greeted them, causing both agents to jump, their nerves already on-edge.

"Hey! Anybody out there?"

"Morgan?" Reid called cautiously, eyes landing on a shut door beneath the stairs.

"Reid? Is that you? The door's locked - I can't get out!"

JJ grabbed the handle, twisting it and giving it a good pull. The heavy door flew open, Morgan stumbling out to land in front of her. He frowned, getting to his feet.

"I don't understand. It was locked."

Reid shook his head, looking pale. "Believe me when I say, that's the least weird thing to happen in here so far."

Morgan sighed, rubbing a tired hand over his face. "Let's just find Prentiss and get the hell out of here."

The sounds of furniture scraping caught their attention, the three of them jogging around the corner to what looked like an old sitting room. 

Prentiss was there searching frantically, peering under an ornate table, her eyes filled with anxious worry.

"Emily?"

Her head darted up, her relief evident. "JJ, thank god." She stood, looking around the room again. "I can't find it anywhere. Did you search upstairs?"

"Prentiss, what are you talking about?" Morgan frowned, stepping forward.

The other agent shook her head, still scanning the furniture for something. "The baby. I've looked everywhere, but I can't tell where the crying's coming from. How long do you think it's been here?"

"Emily..." Reid began, concern in his gaze. Suddenly, the table in the centre of the room began to rattle by an unseen force.

"GET OUT!"

The disembodied voice shook the foundations of the house, sending all four agents racing toward the exit.

JJ made it there first, tearing open the old door to race across the dead lawn, the others in fast pursuit. Only once they had left the confines of the fenced-in property did they stop, panting, a safe distance from the Ramsey house.

"That--" Emily gasped, leaning on a neighbouring fence to catch her breath. "That was--"

"Amazing!" Reid finished for her, a slow grin working itself across his face.

Morgan glowered at him. "Excuse me?"

Reid waved him off, his grin growing more excited by the minute.

"You guys - you realize that we actually witnessed paranormal activity in its purest form? There are maybe a dozen people in the world that are lucky enough to experience something like that."

The other three stared, their faces betraying varying degrees of disbelief. Finally, Morgan turned to the women.

"All in favour of never listening to another one of Reid's ideas?" he offered, raising a hand.

"Agreed," JJ said tiredly, mirroring the action, Emily nodding behind her.

Reid spluttered, following after them as they made their way to their parked SUV, still offering weak arguments for how lucky they'd been.

Behind them, the front door of the Ramsey house creaked closed, a crow glaring protectively from its perch on the roof.
 

The end.


 

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
shinealightonme
Oct. 31st, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
Hee! This was great. Morgan's line at the end has me grinning, but throughout most of the story I was feeling quite on edge. Very good job at building up the suspense...I think the creepiest bit might have been Emily and the piano because it was the little details that were so creepy (noticing that the indent on the bench had disappeared).
batgurl88
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it was actually suspenseful - my judgement of it was a bit biased because I was writing it at 3 o'clock this morning in my empty house (I freaked myself out a little lol). I'm glad you enjoyed it.
(Deleted comment)
batgurl88
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad it managed to creep you out a bit.
citymusings
Oct. 31st, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Great fic! All in favor ... haha!
batgurl88
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
lol Thanks! :)
jujuberry136
Oct. 31st, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Great story- just in time for Halloween too :)

Thanks for sharing!
batgurl88
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
techbychance
Oct. 31st, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
Happy Halloween! Great, scary story, very suspenseful! The part that creeped me out the most where the spiders. Seems like everybody was confronted with their deepest fears in that house, glad they made it out of there unharmed. Your story really gave me goose bumps, kudos to you.
batgurl88
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Yeah, I creeped myself out a bit with the spiders - I'm terrified of them, so it was really hard to write that part. And now I'm grinning because I actually managed to give someone goosebumps lol :D Thanks for reading!
fabrisse
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
Everyone was very in character. I loved JJ with her cell phone thinking. Rationality is sexy.
batgurl88
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! lol Yeah, I figured the team would be pretty good at avoiding the horror-movie cliche of never doing the smart thing. Glad it worked for you. :)
nuclearxsquid
Oct. 31st, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
Aw, this was awesome. Perfect for Halloween festivities!!
batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
nebula99
Oct. 31st, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
*shudders* that was verrrry creepy.
batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
XD Glad to hear it! Thanks.
antoinettemason
Oct. 31st, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
oooh, very spooky and suspenseful! i love it!
batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)
sallymn
Oct. 31st, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
Oh that was wonderful! The spookiness and humour were beautifully judged and worked together well, and the characterisation was great (I especially love your Reid, you write him beautifully :)

And a good ghost story in itself...

batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
andalisays
Nov. 1st, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
This was super creepy, I loved it.
batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you found it creepy.
annadelko
Nov. 1st, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
I hope you had a great Halloween (:
this story was awesome, creepy but awesome .
Love it ♥
batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
I did, thank you - it was a lot of fun. :) Hope yours was good as well.

I'm glad you enjoyed the fic. Thanks for reading!
katewallace
Nov. 1st, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'm glad I'm reading this in the daytime! Awesome story..though a little part of me wondered if Rossi and Garcia had somehow gotten into the house and were responsible for all the 'paranormal' activity..but they weren't! *shudders* (And your Halloween BAU icons are made of win..especially Hotch and Reid!) Thanks for sharing this with us!
batgurl88
Nov. 1st, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it and that it managed to creep you out a bit.

And your Halloween BAU icons are made of win

lol Thanks! I had a lot of fun making that batch last year.

Thanks for reading! :)
empressnan
Nov. 3rd, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
Wow. Just...WOW. That's the best creepy story I've read in forever - and kudos to suggesting playing "The Fog" while reading it. Fantastic job!!!
batgurl88
Nov. 3rd, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
lol 'The Fog' is my go-to soundtrack for writing creepy fics - I can freak myself out every time.

And thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
_nextboldmove_
Nov. 4th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
That was awesome!!!! As a real-life paranormal investigator myself, I always love me a good ghost story! And Reid being excited was a bonus!
batgurl88
Nov. 4th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This was actually my first time writing a ghost story that wasn't complete crack, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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