Chapter 29. Time to call Ada
Maeve shooed the others out of the room. Adam went back to work at his Heath-Robinson attempt at a workstation in the box room.
Marianne and Orla had said that they wanted to join in the conversation with Ada as soon as it was okay for them to be there. Maeve agreed to give them a shout.
Ada was sniffy. “Of course you know what I think, I think you overreacted. What’s wrong with a bit of publicity?”
Maeve had already apologised even though she thought that Ada was in the wrong. However if she was waiting for Ada to come around to that idea, then she would be waiting a long time and Maeve had more important things to sort out, things that were now urgent. Struggling not to allow herself get sucked into an unnecessary argument she changed the subject.
“Hmm. Well that’s as may be. We can debate that another time, right now we need to move on and quickly.”
The girls miraculously appeared at the right time, before Maeve had remembered to give the signal, the dividing doors were clearly not soundproof.
Anne having raised the stakes when she guessed someone was in trouble now, put Maeve on a mission, and she needed this sorted so that she could plan the trip to Scotland where she thought they might get some information.
“Let’s pretend that I am interested, why would I go on Tik Tok?”
This was the best way to get information out of Ada, get her enthusiastic, and she would tell you everything.
“Well, you will be, when I tell you what’s going on. There’re plenty of people making a lot of money on it. Sure, Charli D'Amelio makes over fifty thousand dollars a post. That means fifty thousand dollars for a sixty second video. God Almighty, isn’t that massive.”
Ada had certainly got their attention. Silence, as each of them started looking at Tik Tik on their phones, then a cacophony of exclamations, as they all talked over each other.
“This is a monkey opening a parcel and playing with zips!” Marianne.
“Oh my God! It’s our friend Andrew falling out of a hammock in the garden. With five hundred thousand views! Shit! And Nathalie made the video, she must be a star like you...” Maeve.
“I get it Ada, I’ve landed onto the paranormal activity, big numbers here too. Well into the millions.” Orla.
Ada was sitting back, somewhat smug,
“You see. Interesting isn’t it.”
Maeve had put her phone down, watching the others carrying on finding more stuff, with more exclamations of incredulity. In a measured tone,
“But you see Ada, this is where we are different.”
Ada sat up waiting for what was coming next as Maeve continued,
“I never wanted to have anything to do with your ‘events’ seances, sessions whatever you want to call them. I always hated the dressing up, the drama, the candles.”
This was a old argument, Ada had her arms crossed defensively,
“Look at, I was only trying to help people too. All the atmosphere does is helps get them in the mood.”
“I’m not having a go at you in particular. But there are plenty of cheats out there selling hope to the desperate. I don’t know what videos you have put out there but my guess is you are right on the edge this time.”
This wasn’t the way that Ada wanted it to go, she really needed Maeve’s help, but at the same time it raised her hackles.
It was Marianne who stepped in between the two of them.
“I think we need to deal with the issue of the child in the woods, after that you can agree to differ.” She was being calm, knowing Maeve needed help to work out the best plan, went on.
“Ada, I’m not sure if Maeve has already told you the details but we might be onto something more urgent than we thought. So tell us about the story in your videos?”
Ada’s ruffled feathers now somewhat smoothed,
“I said that there was a child looking for help.” She wasn’t feeling expansive so they had to ask for more detail.
“Okay so. Like that young one Orla just saw with the ‘haunting’ in her house. I thought it would be good to put something out that made people listen. Then I discovered that if they ‘engage’, meaning answer you, your ranking goes up.”
The three around the table were silent, fully engaged in Ada’s onscreen presence.
“So I told them there was an old crime, made a bit of drama with only candle light on my face.” She was getting carried away with her own story again, but a quick glance at the serious faces on the other side of the screen got her back on track.
“Well then I said I needed their help. I got loads of ‘hearts’ and messages.”
She shifted in her chair, this was the uncomfortable bit.
“So then, TikTok sent me a message saying I could do a ‘live-stream’ and there’s no time limit on them. It’s a big deal to be able to do one.” They could see that she was conflicted, “I didn’t stop and think. I was so excited I put out a message saying who wanted to join a live spirit calling. I was deluged in hearts and messages.” She stopped here, she had been so excited up to this point and now she hung her head deflated.
It was Orla who was first to react,
“So wait, you have said that you will call a spirit to communicate with you ‘live’, as people are watching?”
Ada nodded, Orla continued.
“But you can’t talk to any spirits at the moment. What was your plan? And when is it supposed to be?”
By the time Maeve called Steve to deal with their trip they had agreed there was nothing for it but to help Ada out. If they didn’t then she really would be a charlatan and Maeve hated the idea of that, so had reluctantly agreed.
Maeve had to explain their plan to Steve because if it worked then it might help them figure out what had happened in the woods.
Ada was going to do the ‘live’ session, which the others would watch, if any spirits got in touch with Maeve or Orla, then they would send the message over to Ada by text. Ada would leave her phone in front of her so she could read out the text as if the spirit was talking to her. It was risky but at least it was a plan.
While on the phone to Steve, Maeve was unequivocal, “It’s completely insane, totally ridiculous, how can you call a spirit through a screen?” Maeve had to go along with it to help Ada but was very uncomfortable. “I mean I am only just working out how to call a spirit that is connected to the place where I am physically standing. This is completely beyond me. I have no idea how it will work.”
Steve didn’t need to be near Maeve to feel the exasperation. He liked Ada but he also knew that she could cause trouble, usually unintentionally. He was about to say ‘she means well’, and then thought better of it, he wasn’t sure what she was thinking of, or if she really did mean well.
“Is there a time and a date for this event?”
“You won’t believe it. She, Ada, the cat’s mother, whatever you want to call her, only went and set it up for tonight!” Maeve didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Steve laughed. “There’s no time like the present. And she is impatient.” He didn’t add, like mother, like daughter, but thought it all the same.
“Anyway, anyway, anyway” Maeve was dismissing her irritation. “Is there a specific question that would help you? Or Us?” She was using Steve to help her think through any possible positive outcome from this debacle.
Steve, never one to be rushed, took a while.
“If I could ask a question what would it be? Hmm.”
Maeve could almost hear the cogs whirring in his brain as he considered this.
“I want to know if the deaths are linked, hmmm, how would I ask that?” Another pause, “How about, ‘Do you know any other spirits who have come from the woods?’ Would that work?’ Steve was pleased with himself.
“I mean that way if they are linked they should know each other shouldn’t they?”
He was still running through ideas, another thought crossed his mind,
“Can you ask them directly about their death? Like, ‘who killed you?’”
“You can ask the question, but so far they don’t seem to remember the point of death. Only Anne did, and that had something to do with her dementia.” Maeve wasn’t certain about anything so could only go on what she had experienced.
“Well then, if it works, and there is someone you can talk to, try for any links to see if they are connected. You put it whatever way you think best.” Steve was still pretty sceptical so he didn’t take it too seriously as a way of getting information.
“Moving on. Cromarty.” He was looking forward to having time with Maeve and being away from the station.
“I have booked us train tickets for first thing tomorrow morning. We may as well take our time on the train. It’s too far for the bike. And flights are tricky. Then we pick up a car in Inverness. ”
Maeve was enjoying having someone else sort out all the logistics, she wondered if she should put together a deluxe picnic as her contribution, a treat for both of them.
Steve had more.
“I have spoken to the lady in the B&B, she will sort dinner for us so that we can have a nice meal when we arrive.”
This really did sound like a holiday rather than an investigation.
Maeve thought it was a bit like skiving off school which made it more exciting but she was a little nervous. “You are sure that this is going to be okay? I mean no one is travelling much because of COVID and I am sure it’s going to be a tighter lockdown after Christmas.”
“Good thing we are going now then, isn’t it?” He had a cheeky tone in his voice.
“Seriously though, I booked us first class from London to Inverness to make sure we get the space. The trains from Canterbury to London are empty. I get tested regularly.” He paused, “I was thinking, why don’t we get a rapid test for you today? We have some in the station, if you can get here before 3pm we’ll know within the hour.”
Planning for the trip the next day meant Maeve did a quick dash to the Good Shed, to pick up some special cheeses, and ended up with the cheese plus Parma ham, the freshest sourdough bread, a bottle of Sancerre and a bottle of St Emilion as it was a long journey, plus they could finish anything left over at dinner.
Sorting the picnic and packing an overnight bag required a lot more thought that she had imagined.
Scotland is likely to be cold and Cromarty is pretty far north even for Scotland, and she didn’t trust the tourist information’s view of a ‘warm microclimate’, they might be right but it was better to be prepared. On the other hand she didn’t want to carry too much. She packed and repacked at least three times, finally deciding that she couldn’t carry multiple outfits so ‘comfort and practical’ rather than any notion of glamour would be best. She might not look her best, but she would enjoy it more.
In what seemed like a flash it was time for the ‘live stream’.