Haunted Steel Adventures: Love Among The I-beams

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Matthew and Sally were together in the dark on his squeaky narrow dorm-room bed in Stern Hall. They were enjoying one of the great benefits of co-ed dorms, making-out after studying together. Matthew had been chasing Sally since April, and finally, for the first time, had her full attention for the night.

So this was Azur. The visitor wasn’t sixty as he had expected from the formal voice on the phone, she was more like twenty, remarkably pretty, and dressed in expensive clothes. Her beautiful blue eyes glanced at her gold Piaget watch in obvious annoyance as he stared in disbelief.

“You would be very surprised to know that some aspects of parapsychology are subject to verifiable, repeatable, scientific experiment. More is being learned every day. It is probably the fastest-growing branch of science, at least in terms of percentage growth, and is an extremely exciting field in which to work. For example, teams at MIT, Cal Tech, and the University of Washington are doing formal double-blind experiments on long distance telepathy right now.

Marti smiled, “See Matthew, fate has sent you here at just the right time, and with the right skills. You’ll never leave. The house will draw you to it.

“It’s odd, but as you say, not many people would expect to find all this down here: quite a secret and private location, not known to the public, perhaps very much on purpose. At any rate, that’s not the critical part. The important bit is over here, by the fireplace. These books right here aren’t real. See, they’re just bindings glued to wooden blocks. This is a door, and you open it by pushing here and here at the same time: you have to push pretty hard,

Mathew began to sense something almost unreal about Azur and Marti and their version of past events. He was certain that ghosts and spirits didn’t exist, and he recalled Azur’s comments about her studies of parapsychology. Perhaps both of them were delusional, imagining tons of far-fetched baloney in Floris’ and Rick’s history.

She entered the main house and saw Matthew in the distance, playing by the light of a single flickering lamp, which cast long dark shadows in the cold rooms. The music echoed off the hard surfaces. It was a scene from another era: it could have been a few centuries ago with almost no change. She walked over to the piano and sat nearby on an old embroidered chair.

With another squeeze of his hands, she smiled and floated away, leaving the scent of her perfume behind as a reminder. A very nice perfume, not too different from Azur’s. After she left, Matthew could not stop thinking about the seduction scenes in the film, THE GRADUATE . He had a strong feeling that he had just met a beautiful and active version of “Mrs. Robinson”.

As twilight faded, he started back to the central hall, then stopped as he heard a strange scratching squeaking noise. The hair on the back of his neck seemed to stand on end, and goose-bumps rippled over his skin. Thoughts of Rick and Floris at the funeral, as well as Marti’s and Azur’s allusions to his ghostly grandparents living in this house added to his lonely apprehension. However, he noticed that Phil was not in the least disturbed, so it must be a normal noise, or at least normal to a cat. They walked around the small library. The noise seemed to be in the far corner. He examined the wall, and realized that a small doorway was concealed by the moldings. He opened it slowly, revealing an old wooden spiral staircase going both up and down.

“Well, you won’t believe what I seem to remember, as it was so strange, and you’re right, talking about it is embarrassing. I’m sure it was just a dream, but so odd. I felt, that is I think I felt, that I was inside your body, not outside looking at you, but inside literally. I was straining all of your muscles, every fiber of your body trying to be you and to control your movements, to ease your pain and your wounds and bring you back to life: I couldn’t tell what was wrong or how to heal it, but I so much wanted to save you, to give you my own life. You were in so much pain.”  “What part of my body were you inside? Could you see my naked body and feel its textures?”  "No, it wasn’t like that, I didn’t see you from the outside, it was such a beautiful experience, I was you, really you, from your toes, through your legs, your pelvis, your body, your breasts, your lungs breathing, I was inside your lungs as they breathed, I saw the air move through your mouth, your face, your hair: I could feel it all, I was a girl and it was so different, I can’t explain it. I could wiggle your toes, really, I saw them move through your eyes, and I moved your fingers moved too. Your lungs were breathing too fast, so I breathed slower to calm them down, to relax your body, then I smiled beautifully and slowed your heart, such a warm feeling flowed completely over me, like warm water. I could feel your belt around my waist, your pants around my legs, your shoes, your bra around my chest, I could feel your soft clothes from the inside. I was all of you for just a moment, looking up at me, and I could see myself from outside, from under my body, and I could feel what it is like to be you, but it was all a dream or auto-suggestion, or something in my head: so lovely, but so unreal.”

Rick was often at his side, whispering instructions to him mentally, rather than through his ears, urging him to feel the rock and stone as he worked. “Relax your mind. Focus on the tip of the drill. See it moving against the rock. Feel the rock, see how it is now hard, but there is a soft layer just an inch below. Imagine yourself as the drill bit. Look around, see the stone you are passing,”

He was down at the bottom, painting a piece of freshly-welded steel with marine protective paint, when the floor on which he was standing collapsed. Julian just managed to grab the edge of the rock as his feet fell out from under him. Very slowly he crawled back up as stone rumbled over his body. He slowly stood up, then fell back down in pain. Something was wrong, and he was completely alone. It appeared that the fall had damaged one leg, and blood was coming from his head. Damn, what a fool he had been for working without a safety harness and hard hat, especially when all alone.

APPENDIX: Details Of House Stabilization:  An appreciation for the design and installation of the steel under the house can be obtained with a little high school math and a few practical approximations. The following material describes how Matthew analyzed the situation then designed a workable solution. The problems are presented first, then his design and the logic behind it, and finally the implementation details.