††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† Zephrum Gates and the Mysterious Purple Haze
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† By Tricia Riel
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††† Chapter 1
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †The House of Mystery
††††††††††† Towering on top of the steep and narrow heights of Nooseneck Hill Road stood the
most feared and avoided house in Haversville.† The old, dilapidated Victorian mansion and its
adjacent carrige house had been left to rot on their foundations for years.† Paint curled and
peeled off of the narrow boards of the giant house, and almost all of the windows were
blackened or boarded up.† Dark, thick pine trees surrounded the edges of the mansion, like
guards to an evil fortress.† Crows cawed and peered from the branches of the weighty trees.
As people passed by at the base of the hill down below, crows would sweep down close to
them.† Most of the time, the birds would just stare with fierce and piercing eyes.† No one had
dared to go anywhere near the monstrosity for years.
††††††††††† Then, one day, everything changed.
††††††††††† The old mansion was owned by a crotchety older man, named Strasidous Rowpe.† He
had inherited it from his grandmother, Eunice Seelie.† He really didnít care about the older
structure at all.† Over the years, he had allowed some of the letters on her mailbox to fall off,
so that they only read "_____un____ . . . Seelie."
††††††††††† Strasidous never spoke much, but neighbors had witnessed him muttering misgivings
under his breath to himself from time to time.† They heard him scream things like, "I hope you
rot there in your own stench for an eternity!"† and, "Serves you right, you old bat!"† Strasidous
had a very difficult childhood.† People say that he was often babysat by his Grandmother
Seelie, who was less than sweet to him.† It seemed that Strasidous was still harboring some ill
willed feelings about his upbringing.† Needless to say, Strasidous was an unusually miserable
old man.† The neighbors recognized him for exactly what he was, a peculiar and angry old fart.
††††††††††† One day, Strasisous' closest neighbor, Mrs. Fliffle, was craning her neck over her
overgrown fence to better hear Strasidous.† He was going on and on, in a particularly long and
loud rampage.† She had observed Strasidous scream and mutter ever since he was little, but
she had never seen him be very happy about anything.† What she then saw surprised her more
than anything sheíd seen Strasidous do in all of the years sheíd been watching him yell at the
empty air.† He slammed the door to the old carriage house behind the main house and
screamed at the top of his lungs, "Now youíll never have power over me!"† Then, Strasidous
skipped down the hill to his car with more happiness than he had ever possessed in his entire
life.† "Strange," thought Mrs. Fliffle, as she peered through one eye at his car as he sped down
††††††††††† The next day, there was a real estate sign out in front of the house.† Mrs. Fliffle theorized
that Strasidous must have come to some kind of peace.† Rather than continue to let the house
completely disintegrate, it seemed that Strasidous had come to his senses and put the old
eyesore up for sale.† In fact, what Mrs. Fliffle didn't know yet was that he had already
scheduled to have it shown to a young couple and their two-year-old baby girl when "it"
††††††††††† No one knows for sure what really went on the day that the couple came t o take a look
at the house, but rumors spread like wild fire themselves.† Shortly after the couple arrived,
there was a gigantic explosion on the property that thundered for miles around.† An
unexplainable fire erupted in the old carriage house behind the main house.† This fire came
about under such unusual circumstances that people buzzed on and on about it long after it
††††††††††† By the time neighbors got to the scene, all that could be seen was a towering inferno too
massive to be tamed.† Onlookers watched as enormous flames licked the air with roaring
ferocity.† The crackling and snapping of wood and flames from the carriage house kept the
bystanders at a distance.† Just before the first fire truck got to the scene, a couple of the
neighbors "swore" that they had seen the baby girl thrown from the fire of the building, "as
though she was being born from fire and ash," one of them said.† Another neighbor said, "I
could have sworn I saw wings on the kid as she flew and landed in that there pile o' leaves."
††††††††††† No one really knew how she escaped.† One thing was certain: The little girl was an
incredibly lucky soul to have survived the inferno without even a scratch.† To this day, the
remains of the childís parents were never found and the real estate agent lives in a muted state
of shock.† She stares blankly into space, repeating the same words over and over:† "Purple
haze . . . purple haze . . . "
††††††††††† After the fire, a young reporter interning with a small area newspaper, The Diurnal
Journal, came into town.† He was looking for a feature to add to his collection of small-town
point-of-interest stories.† The reporter was a well-meaning and very intelligent fellow in his mid-
twenties, but he had a number of odd peculiarities.† Dexter Droudy had a horse's overbite and
was as thin as a pencil.† He was a bit clumsy and wore thick eyeglasses with frames that were
pieced together by tape and paper clips.† He wore an inordinate amount of plaid, and he had an
interest in practically everything.† His mind spun with curiosity during every hour of the day,
even while he slept.† He always carried a small notebook and a pen, and he frequently wrote
down what people said during his casual conversations.† Social skills and tactfulness were not
his strong points.† Try as he might, he couldnít keep himself from interrupting people while
they were in the middle of telling him a story.† He blamed it on his talkative nature and insatiable
curiosity, but the truth was that Dexter Droudy was also so imaginative that he could barely
wait for the thoughts of others to leave their mouths before heíd interject with an explosion of
his own ideas.† Sending him from town to town was one way that Archibald Greevy, Dexter's
editor at The Diurnal Journal, kept him busy and out of his hair (so to speak).
††††††††††† Naturally, as editor of the area's most popular small newspaper, Archibald Greevy had
interest in making sure that The Diurnal Journal ran smoothly.† The day that the unexplainable
fire broke out in Haversville, Archibald had been hoping to find some kind of remote
assignment for Dexter.† Archibald was a very busy man.† Although he appreciated Dexterís
contribution to the journal, he just could not bear to have Dexter's high energy in the office.†
Archibald was a squat middle-aged man with a bald head that was so shiny it looked like it
would blind you in the reflected light of the moon.† He had a chest that was as big and round
as a barrel, and he was always gnawing on an unlit cigar.† He gave up smoking years earlier to
protect his health, but he felt like he needed something to do with his mouth in times of stress.†
Nobody ever dared to tell him, but the soggy thing hanging from his mouth strangely
resembled a cat turd.
††††††††††† Regardless of his idiosyncracies, Archibald had a very strong and commanding
presence.† Though he wasn't a very tall man, he orchestrated the publication of his weekly
journal with the confidence of a fine musical conductor.† He managed all of the various people
on his staff and produced a weekly journal that was read by people for miles around.†
However, Archibald needed a certain amount of peace and organization in the office to
accomplish this task.† With Dexter around, peace was the last feeling he ever felt.† Archibald
had a big heart and was very generous, but he was a little short on patience with regard to
††††††††††† On the morning that the fire erupted over at the old Seelie house, Dexter had been
fiddling and fumbling around in the newspaper office with more nervous anxiety than usual.†
He just didnít know what to do with all of his undirected energy.† He knocked over a number
of half-empty coffee mugs near the coffee maker and he created a terrible brown puddle of a
mess on the floor.† He also knocked over a giant office plant while trying to clean up the coffee
puddle.† The loose dirt from the plantís pot, combined with the puddle of old coffee, looked
like a giant elephant poop.† Agnes, Archibaldís needle-necked secretarial assistant, intervened
just as Dexter was about to scoop the giant mass of brown goop into the paper recycling.
††††††††††† "Dexter," she breathlessly said as she handed him a stack of papers, "Why donít you go
make copies of these for me, and Iíll have Gladice deal with this mess."
††††††††††† "Oh, yes.† Iím pleased to help," said Dexter, as he took the stack of papers and
promptly scurried over to the copy machine.† Agnes was very relieved to have distracted
Dexter from putting the mess in the wrong place.
††††††††††† No more than a minute had passed and papers were jammed up in practically every
orifice of the copy machine.† The flashing light beneath the glass cover sped up with increasing
voracity as Dexterís anxiety rose to a level that had him completely at a loss for what to do.†
This is when Archibald Greevy entered the room and looked upon the chaotic site and saw
Dexter furiously trying to spare papers from entering the mousetrap of a machine that he really
should have never put his hands on to begin with.
††††††††††† "Dexter!"† Archibaldís thunderous and gravelly voice came as a shock to the nerdy
copy machine wonder boy.† Seeing Dexter jump in fear, Archibald then tried to control his
temper and slowly said, "Iíve heard that thereís been a fire over at a historical landmark in
Haversville.† Why donít you go and check it out?"
††††††††††† "Oh, uh, right away, sir," said Dexter as he fumbled with a stack of papers in disarray.†
"Iím right on that.† Canít wait, sir.† Iíve been waiting to go and explore new territory, sir, and .
. . . ."
††††††††††† Archibald pushed a map into Dexterís chest.† With his face as purple and round as a
ripe summer plum, he said, "Just go, will ya'?"
††††††††††† "Yes, sir," said Dexter with nervous enthusiasm.† "Iím very happy to have this new
opportunity, sir, and___"
††††††††††† Archibald interrupted him, with steam practically seething from his ears as he bellowed,
"And stay out of my hair, will ya!'?"
††††††††††† Dexter very politely began to back out of the room, saying "Yes, sir, Whatís left of it,
††††††††††† At that ill-timed comment (which seemed to touch a sore spot), Archibald pointed to the
door with the force of an exploding cannon and screamed, "Now go!"
††††††††††† Dexter bit his lip to stop himself from saying another word.† Then, he silently tiptoed his
way out of the office, delicately walking backward as though he were avoiding fragile eggshells
placed on the floor beneath him.
††††††††††† As Dexter entered the main strip of Haversville in his rusty, nearly broken down jalopy,
he noticed a strange tinge of purple haze hovering over the heads of everyone in the town.† He
couldnít believe his eyes, so he sputtered to a stop and pulled over to the side of the street to
clean off his eyeglasses with his favorite handkerchief.† After breathing some hot steamy air
onto the lenses and fastidiously cleaning them off, he placed his glasses back upon his face
and admired his hanky for a moment.† Embroidered on one corner of it were the words:† "To
Dexter...my favorite and only son . . . Love, Mommy-kins." Seeing this lovely sight, Dexter felt
re-assured that his vision had been restored.
††††††††††† When he looked up at the people still meandering on the main street of town, he
expected that his clear vision would set him straight in his mind again.† Instead, what he saw
was not only a purple haze floating around the heads of the people, but some black energy
forms as well.† They were dark and oddly shaped, kind of blob-like, floating like ethereal
specters and hovering near the shoulders of the people.† Some of the towns people were only
surrounded by the purple haze.† Other people seemed to be enveloped with the dark energy
forms as well.† Unknowingly, it looked as though they were wearing ethereal shrouds and
translucent mink stoles of burden.
††††††††††† Dexter was now sure that he must be seeing all of this due to being car sick from the
long drive.† He peeled himself out of his old junker and cautiously went into the nearest diner,
The Stew & Chew.† As he walked up to the counter and sat on one of the bar stools, a red
headed waitress with a bee hive hair-do handed him a lunch menu.† Chewing a big wad of gum,
she said, "What can I getcha?"
Dexter replied uncertainly, but said, "Well, um, some water would be nice."
††††††††††† "Big spender, eh?,"† she said as she went to get him a glass of ice water.† When she
came back and placed the tall palstic cup onto the counter, she said, "Donít worry, honey. †
Iím just a kidder.† Take your time.† When you figure out whatcha want, just call me over.† My
name is Beatrice."† Dexter nodded, mouth agape as she walked away because he noticed that
Beatrice was not covered by the looming presence of the purple haze he had seen over the
††††††††††† He glanced at the menu for just a micro-second when he knew exactly what he wanted.†
"Excuse me, Beatrice...," he anxiously called her over to him.
††††††††††† Beatrice sauntered over with a sway in her hips that made him feel like she was walking
on the deck of a boat that was sailing on big ocean waves.† "Yeah, ...whaddya want, honey?"†
she asked as she pulled out the yellow pencil that lived behind her ear.
††††††††††† "Iíd like a grilled cheese and roasted tomato sandwich, please.† Itís my favorite, you
know.† I used to eat them all of the time when I was little, and Iím so glad you have them on
the menu because___"
††††††††††† "O.K. honey,"† she interrupted.† "Iíll be right back with one for ya'."† Beatrice turned
around, put the order up at the kitchen window, and screamed into the kitchen, "Make me a
GC with a roasted T!† And make it snappy.† Iíve got a talkaí here."† She turned back around
and smiled at Dexter as a big hunk of her gum jutted out of the side of her mouth.† She leaned
over the counter, with her cleavage showing prominently, and said, "So, what brings you into
town?† I havenít seen you around here before."
††††††††††† "Well," Dexter said importantly, "Iím a reporter for The Diurnal Journal, and Iím here
to do an investigative feature story on the fire that happened here in Haversville.† Do you know
anything about it?"
††††††††††† Suddenly, Beatrice stood up very straight and got a strange and uncomfortable look on
her face.† Very seriously, she said, "If I were you, Iíd keep my nose out of it.† Anyone whoís
been anywhere close to that house has been acting mighty strange . . . forgetful . . . and even a
bit dazed.† You best leave it alone, Mr. Reporter, Sir."
††††††††††† Excitedly, Dexter began to squirm in his seat.† "Oh, now this is great!† I love stories that
have an edge of mystery to them."† He said, "Tell me more."† He began writing things down on
his note pad.† "Forgetful, you say . . . and strange . . . "† Beatrice plumped her flat hand over
Dexterís pen and pad of paper and stared into his eyes with a gravity that gave him the chills.
††††††††††† "Donít,"† she said.† "Donít even start.† For as long as I can remember, things have been
mighty strange over at that house.† If you value your life, your sanity, and your soul, stay as far
away from it as you can."
††††††††††† A yell came from the cook inside the kitchen.† "Order up!† GC in the window!"
††††††††††† Beatrice turned around, picked up Dexterís grilled-cheese sandwich, plunked his plate
down on the counter in front of him and said, "Hereís your sandwich, honey.† Remember what
I said.† Iíve been here in Haversville a long, long time and I know what Iím talkiní about.† If I
were you, Iíd stay away from that house and stay awake in your soul.† Get too close and
youíll be sorry you ever set your feet on this earth.† I got nothiní more to say.† Now, I hope
you enjoy your lunch."