Part VI - Chapter 29 - The Amnesiac in the Ballroom

Year 1912 – Winchester Mansion in San Jose, CA

Our hero awoke lying on a hard wood floor with a pounding headache. As he slowly opened his eyes, he took in the dark iron chandelier above him which hung below an ornately paneled ceiling. As he studied the chandelier, he noticed that it had a 13th candle added in, almost as an after-thought. As he slowly sat up, he took in the gorgeous fabric on the walls, a maroon color with ornate flowers. There was a pipe organ set against one wall and a fireplace between two big, plain windows. He processed the décor and realized that he was in the middle of an empty ballroom. Something about it felt more than unpopulated, it felt like it was abandoned.

After a few moments, he realized that the pain was not limited to just the headache which had originally awoken him. The pain was searing through his whole body and it was sharpest around his wrist. As he lifted his sleeve, he found a leather bracelet with buttons surrounding it. Try as me might, he could not remove the bracelet or determine why it caused any pain. He pressed a couple buttons but it seemed to only send painful electrical charges through his body instead of releasing his wrist.

Studying his wrist to determine a way to remove it, he noticed that a shadow had passed across the floor. Our hero turned to catch a glimpse of the figure who owned the shadow but had missed it by seconds. He slowly stood to his feet and began to move towards the windows. The unshaven face of a workman peaked around the corner and stared through the window at our young man in pain. After a few moments, the workman ran away shrieking in terror screaming that a ghost had manifested in the ballroom. At the sound of the frightened man’s alarm, the room was soon filled with other carpenters, roofers, and landscapers. The air became stifled for our hero as the demands were shouted out by the growing mob. Based on what our poor migrained man could gather, they seemed frightened to find a strange man, alone, in a ballroom that had been blocked off by the household residents. Unfortunately, our hapless hero could only shake his brown eyes and run his hands helplessly through his black hair. He could not recall his name, how he arrived in this location, or anything else for that matter.

In all of the commotion, the crowd had not initially noticed a veiled woman dressed in all black was slowly sauntering into and through the room. At she passed through the crowd, every man immediately became silent and the room parted before her like the red sea. The fear and awe that each man felt for this woman in mourning was palpable.

She came to stand directly in front of our amnesiac and lifted her veil to better look at her unexpected guest. As she studied him, the young man tried to rack his brain on whether or not he knew this woman. She was an older woman with thick hair that surrounded her long face with dark and grey waves. Based on her face, it looked like she was an extremely thin woman wearing a padded dress to give the allusion of being large. She placed her arthritic ridden fingers onto his chocolate cheeks to pull his face closer to hers as she searched his eyes.

Finally, her thin lips smiled mischievously before saying aloud, “You’re the one that we have been waiting for.”

“Excuse me, Ma’am?”

She waved her arms as she spoke to better emphasize the words, “You’re an architect with amnesia here to help me to build additional rooms and to help keep evil souls at bay.”

The shock filled our amnesiac, but he felt an inexplicable hope that this woman might be able to help him find a way home. “I can’t remember anything - who I am or how I got here. Are you able to help me? Do you know who I am? And, my apologies, but how do we know each other?” The questions poured out of him all at once in desperation to understand his identity.

“Hang on there,” she began while waving a hand to stop him. “Aside from seeing your aura on a spiritual plane during a séance, we have not physically met in this world before today. At least not in this lifetime.”

As he stared open mouthed at her, she continued, “Don’t worry, the gentler ghosts told me to expect you. Lately, we haven’t had much trouble with the dark spirits.” And then as if she had spoken a bad omen, she stomped her foot twice and spit in the air in a superstitious attempt to ward off evil.

“Don’t worry, my forgetful friend. You’re still young enough to believe that people are all sane and live within social customs and roles. But when you reach my age, you don’t give a damn anymore.” She patted his hand while grinning.

She then seemed to remember that the room was filled with workmen so she rolled her eyes before whispering, “Have to keep up the mystery!” She lowered the dark veil back over her face. When she was sure that her thin face was hidden from view, she turned back towards the group while hooking her arm through his to lead him out of the ballroom. “We’ll have a smoke upstairs and I’ll tell you about my latest inspiration to appease the spirits,” she whispered to him as they took the first couple of steps.

She then spoke aloud and authoritatively, “While we wait for further direction from our guides of the spirit realm, we will call you Mr. Adams. Afterall, Adam is a good name from a numerology standpoint.”

As they continued to pass through the group of workmen, the newly named Mr. Adams watched each man straighten as though she were a majestic queen. She leaned in as though conspiring something private but instead pulled down his sleeve to hide the bracelet.

She then straightened before stating, “Yes, we will keep each other’s secrets. Did you know that the spirits stated that in past lives we were the daughters of Alexander the Great. As we are sisters, you will be treated as part of the family. But in this world, dear sister, I am Mrs. Winchester, builder of this house and host to the spirits whose lives were ended too soon by Winchester rifles.”

Even though her face was now hidden from the small crowd, he could feel her relishing the confusion of the men and her joy of furthering a cloud of mystery. While he couldn’t remember his name or life, he was pretty certain that he didn’t believe in any kind of spiritual existence. Even if he did, he doubted that many individuals would be as forthright about the supernatural as this widow. She seemed to outwardly live as a mysterious and grieving woman but shared her true self with only a select few. In his short conversation, he could see that she was free spirit who fervently believed in other planes of existence and enjoyed laughing at people who tried to define her due to her advanced age or status as widow.

Mr. Adams paused walking for a second to look at her. To observe and understand her so well in a matter of minutes, he almost believed that he had known her before this life. Then again, maybe it was simply a time from before today that he failed to remember. She gave a slight tug and the two stepped out of the room and stood outside, admiring the gorgeous garden of plants and sculptures before them.

“Oh! Before I forget –“ she began but then seemed to blush beneath the veil, “Sorry, if that’s insensitive my dear sister-but I have to show you the gate to the house. It’s famous, you know? Teddy Roosevelt tried to come in here in 1903 but he was only allowed as far as my gate.”

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