Illya and Napoleon investigate a photo found in a dead agent's hand.
“Gentlemen take a seat,” Waverly told his two top agents who were watching the people going by out of the only window in UNCLE’s headquarters.
As the men sat, Waverly sent a folder around to them. “Mr. Behrs has been located in the Rosedown Plantation.”
Looking inside the folder, Napoleon and Illya saw the mutilated body of the agent with only his face recognizable. “What happened to him?” Napoleon took a big breath.
“That Mr. Solo is what you and Mr. Kuryakin will be finding out. He was looking into some strange going on in the small town of St Francisville, Louisiana. Known as the most haunted small town in that state. The people who found him were from the Restoration society who believes it’s the ghost of William that killed him.”
Illya huffed, “Surely we do not believe whatever killed Behrs was anything non-human, sir.”
“Well, the town is haunted,” Napoleon teased, making his partner shake his head with annoyance.
“That Mr. Kuryakin is what you will investigate. Also, find out where Mr. Behrs hid the information that he was able to remove from the Thrush operation in the area. The next picture in the folder is the only thing we recovered that was crushed in his hand when he was found. Be careful, gentlemen. I don’t need two more of my agents dead.”
As the men left the office, “Surely, you really do not think a ghost killed Behrs, do you, Napoleon?”
“We’ve seen stranger things.” Napoleon reminded him.
“Possible things. Yes, I heard it many times before. However, we never really examined other explanations once we returned as we were always away on another assignment.”
“Is there nothing that can convince you that science is not the answer to everything?” A frustrated Napoleon asked.
With a devilish grin, “Do you really want there to be?” He teased. Illya did know somethings were not always explainable but would prefer to believe they were all realistic if there was enough time to work on it.
Napoleon rolled his eyes, “Someday, Kuryakin, you’ll encounter something for which no scientific explanation can be found.”
“When that day comes, I will apologize to you for doubting your belief in ghosts.” Illya's grin widened, causing his partner to slump down in his seat and close his eyes.
The two agents pulled up in front of the old building where Behrs was found dead. As they exited the car, an older woman dressed in clothing from the 1800s stood at the bottom of the porch. “You are the two from New York?”
“Yes, madam,” Napoleon answered, using his most charming voice, wondering who told her they were coming.
“Just so you gentlemen know, I am not happy about you fumbling around my house. It’s over 200 years old and never a scandal until your man died here.” She complained as if Behrs died to upset her. Sighing, “I supposed you gentlemen would need rooms?”
“One would be fine,” Illya said thinking about the accounting lectures about expenses.
“There will be none of that in my house, you two gentlemen will each have your own room,” she huffed.
“Thank you,” the agents answered together as they started up the porch steps.
“Before I forget,” Illya began turning around to find no one there. “Where did she go?” He looked over at his partner.
“Boohooooooo,” Napoleon whispered in his ear.
“Not funny, where did she go?”
“Well, she couldn’t disappear, Mr. Science,” Napoleon teased. “The sun was in our eyes so probably just a door we couldn’t see. Come on, let’s put our suitcases up before we look around.”
“I don’t like this,” the Russian grumbled, heading upstairs.
“You always don’t like something. Now let’s check out the room and enjoy Southern hospitality.”
A few minutes later, a knock on the door pulled him from his examination of the room. “Come in.”
Sitting on Illya’s bed, Napoleon asked. “Any idea where to start?”
Taking a seat, “I would like to look at the clocks, something must be important about them.” As the men talked, they found themselves becoming exhausted.
“Guess that ride tired me out.” Napoleon stretched out on the bed.
“The innkeeper will not be happy to see you there, but now that I think about it, a small rest before searching would be nice,” Illya said, laying down also.
A loud knock woke the men in the darkened room. “I told you two gentlemen, no-nonsense in my place. Now come downstairs immediately and eat supper.” The woman yelled outside their door.
“We’ll be there in a moment.” A huff could be heard as she stepped away from the door. “How did we sleep this long? I didn’t feel that tired.” Napoleon asked.
“I did not either. We better go downstairs before she comes back. I suggest, my friend, we watch our backs very carefully.”
Lit candles led the way to the only room with light. Inside old farmer’s lanterns lit the room. On a long wooden table, food was ready. “Now eat up. If I catch you two again going against my rules, you will need to leave.”
“What may we call you?” Napoleon asked as Illya filled his plate.
“I would think men from the big city would have looked up who lived here. You may call me Mrs. Tumbull. Now I’m busy. You two eat up so I can clean the room afterward.”
As Napoleon sat down, he elbowed Illya and pointed to a small table he could see in the next room. It was the source of the photo Behrs had left for them. After eating and ensuring that Mrs. Tumbull wasn’t around, the men headed toward the room. Just as Illya touched one of the photos, a fly swatter hit his hand.
“I told you not to mess around in my house. Now leave the room so I can clean it up,” Mrs. Tumbull stood before them hands on her hips. The men left intending to come back later to search the room better.
Illya read the history of the Trumbull house that he had found out loud to Napoleon. “This plantation house was built in 1835 and remained in the Trumbull family for more than 100 years. The house is still filled with luxurious furnishings from Europe and the Northeast, many of which survived the ravages of the Civil War. It says that today, you can walk the same garden paths that the Tumbulls once enjoyed. The home itself features interior decorations that have remained largely intact, including elaborate wallpaper and imported architectural details. Behind the house, you can walk into the milk house (where dairy was stored) and the detached kitchen, whose enormous hearth is still used for cooking demonstrations.” Placing the book down, “If there are tours of the house, how were we able to get a room here?”
“Must have been something New York arranged. I don’t know about you, but I’m still tired even after the nap. How about we rest for a bit until Mrs. Trumbull goes to sleep then search the clock room?”
Agreeing to rest until three a.m., the men once more fell asleep, not hearing their alarms or waking till the sun was up all the way the next morning.
Meeting in the hall, they looked at each other confused. “I missed my alarm,” Illya said, “I never do that. I would say we were drugged, yet don’t feel that way.”
“I don’t either. It’s time to find out what is going on here, as this is not normal for either of us
As they arrived in the dining room, Mrs. Trumbull was there with breakfast waiting. Napoleon smiled at her, “After breakfast, we’d like to look at the site where our agent was found.”
The woman stopped glaring at them. “If you must, it is in the next room. But I assure you, there is nothing there. Eat, then I’ll take you in,” she ordered.
Being led into the room by Mrs. Tumbell, they felt a difference. The area was colder and darker even with all the lights on than the rest of the home. Walking to the table with the clocks, Napoleon's eyes floated to the pictures of the women. “They’re beautiful,” he murmured.
“William Tumbell had the picture on the right done of his friend Eleanora Hatterway who wanted to marry him, but he refused her as he was in love with her younger sister, Maribelle. He wanted to marry Maribelle, the one on the left, but it’s said that he died accidentally before he could ask her to marry him. She soon followed him in another accidental death. It also is said that Eleanora haunts this house, waiting for William to return.” She looked at Illya, “He looked a lot like you.”
“William was the Tumbell who drowned as a young man, and people claim he haunts the house, correct?” Illya asked. Turning to look at Napoleon to discover, he looked as if he was in a trance. “Napoleon. Napoleon, NAPOLEAN!”
Blinking, the American shook his head. “What?”
“Could you keep your mind on the case?” Illya was annoyed.
Mrs. Tumbell said, “You should never have come here. You look too much like William.” Before heading to the dining room to clean up from breakfast.
“Now that is one strange lady,” Napoleon said as he examined the clocks in front of him. “Any ideas?”
Illya lifted each clock, examining it both front and back. Nothing came to him. Next, he took out paper and wrote down the times. After a while, he threw it down, “Nothing.”
“The picture must be important otherwise Behrs won’t have held on to it so tightly as he died,” Napoleon looked around the room. “Something about these clocks must be the answer.”
The men took one by one. Wrote down the time, type of clock, and where it was located. Next, Napoleon opened the face or back of those he could. In the meantime, Illya began to examine the information. The men worked all day until Mrs.Tumbell entered the room and shrieked. “What have you done to my clocks?”
“I’m sorry,” Napoleon explained. “Our friend left something behind, and the only clue we have is a photo of these clocks. Our employer will pay you for the cost of them.”
She unexpectedly calmed down, smiling at him. “It’s not that important, Wil….I meant Mr. Kuryakin. Come dinner is on.”
Looking up from his papers and at his watch, Illya was surprised. “Where has the day gone? I have to admit that I am hungry.”
“And that is nothing new,” Napoleon mumbled before throwing a kiss toward the women's photos.
“And that is not either,” Illya responded, heading toward the food.
After the men ate, they headed toward their rooms. Within a few minutes, they fell asleep.
In one room, Napoleon was twisting and turning, causing him to entangle himself in the covers. He began to dream with someone whispering, “Get out.” The order kept getting louder each time it was said. The whispers turned to screams and loud crying. He could feel cold fingers trying to yank him out of the bed.
Trying to wake up, he could hear and feel the furniture moving and sensed the lights flicking on and off. Doors began to slam as they opened and closed. Suddenly he was choking as the voice screamed, “He’s mine. I won’t let you take him away from me. He always was meant to be mine. Get out of my house now.”
Something jerked off the covers that he was trapped in, causing him to fly out of bed. He felt as if he was awake, yet there was an eerie fog that covered the room. Through the fog, he could see that the blankets were no longer on the bed, but against the far wall falling to the floor. Forcing himself to shake off the dream, he found himself tangled in the blankets and still in his bed. There was no fog, the blankets were covering him, the furniture was where it was when he fell asleep, and the lights off. “What the hell?” he complained, shaking his head. Rising, he used the washbasin to rinse off his face and dressed.
In another room, Illya was also dreaming. The smile on his face showed how much he was enjoying it. He was sitting on a bench next to Eleanora as they watched Maribelle collecting flowers from the field. “But William, she is but a child. I can do so much more for you.” Eleanora told him.
llya was surprised to hear another voice instead of his own, coming from his mouth. “Eleanora, I adore you truly, but my heart belongs to Maribelle. She is only a year younger than you, but she is what I need. I have already asked your father for her hand.”
“You can’t be serious, William. It was always expected that we marry.” Eleanora turned on him in anger. “There is no way you can marry her. Our families have awaited us to wed.”
“I’m sorry Eleanora, but I love Maribelle, and our parents know this and have given me their blessing,” William explained calmly.
“They would never agree to this,” she screamed.
“Your father has already given me his blessing as has your mother. You were the only one who expected us to wed.” William stood, “Now excuse me, I need to escort Maribelle home. You may come with us or not.”
Grabbing his arm, she pulled him back, “You will not marry my sister. I will see to it.”
The dream changed to a dark night. He felt himself walking over a field until he reached the Mississippi River that ran in the back of his father’s property. Suddenly he was hit with a rock causing him to tumble into the river. Hitting another rock, he sank to the bottom, “If I can’t have you, no one can.” could be heard.
Illya woke, feeling as if he was trying to get air but couldn’t. It took him a few minutes to shake off the feeling and wake up completely. Rising, he used the washbasin to rinse off his face and dressed.
Meeting in the hall, Napoleon commented. “You look like hell.”
“You do not look much better,” a crabby Illya responded.
“Da. You also?”
“You guessed it. I don’t understand something, Illya. I wasn’t tired at all but fell asleep last night right after eating, yet I don’t feel drugged.”
“I do not either. Something is going on, and I plan to find out what it is. But first, I am starving and need to eat even though I stuffed myself last night.” He headed to the dining room.
Helping themselves to the breakfast laid out, “You’re not the only one starving partner, it feels I haven’t eaten in a few days.”
As they ate, Illya stared at the clocks. His eyes began to drift toward the pictures of the two women. “Napoleon, what if we are wrong?”
“What if it is not the clocks but the pictures that are the clue?”
Joining his partner in staring at the pictures, Napoleon left the table and moved toward them. What felt as a sudden strong wind tried to push him back. Once more, he took a few steps toward them. This time it was invisible hands that push him into the table.
Jumping up, Illya raced toward the pictures fighting the wind all the way. Reaching for the picture, the clocks began to shake, causing them to fall off the table while a scream of “NO” pierced the abrupt quiet of the room. Napoleon was able to join his partner and grabbed the picture on the left while Illya grabbed the one on the right.
Turning the pictures over, they found an envelope taped on the left one, Maribelle’s. Ripping the envelope open, a small microstrip fell into Napoleon’s hand. Illya smiled as he placed Eleanora’s picture next to the far wall. “We can leave now?”
“And none too soon,” Napoleon agreed.
The wind picked up, and the screaming began at ear-shattering levels. Mrs. Tumbell appeared before them, a knife in her hands. As they watch, she transformed from the older woman into Eleanora.
“You won’t take him from me,” she screeched, heading toward Napoleon. “He is mine.” Looking at Illya, “William, you can’t leave me again.” She declared.
Moving toward Napoleon, she bared her teeth and raced toward him. The sheer anger and desperation made her stronger than normal. Napoleon grabbed her arm, trying to disarm her but found himself on the floor with her kneeling on his stomach all the time screeching at him that he couldn’t take William away from her again.
Meanwhile, Illya was attempting to reach him, but the wind was holding him back. For every step he took forward, he was pushed back two. A whisper began in his ear-‘the her picture, destroy Eleanora’s picture.’ It took almost a full minute before the whisper became clear. Turning from Napoleon, he ran to the wall finding the wind didn’t stop him and lifted the picture.
“NO,” came a scream as the knife hit Napoleon’s shoulder, and Eleanora rushed toward Napoleon.
“Illya, watch out!” Napoleon screamed. But as he looked toward his partner, he saw a flickering man who seemed to be covering him. Next to the man was the shimmering Maribelle.
Eleanora stopped, “William, my love. You came back to me.” She whispered.
“No, Eleanora. I didn’t come back to you. I’m here to stop you. I love Maribelle and always will.” William's voice echoed through the room.
With a scream of fury, Eleanora ran toward the glowing couple.
William held the picture up as a shield. Lifting the knife to stop him, Eleanora brought the knife down, slicing the picture in half. A scream of pain echoed as Eleanora faded away.
Maribelle and William turned to Illya, “Thank you and your partner for setting us free.” Before they also faded away.
The room changed from the charming old fashion designed to peeling wallpaper, rotted fabric, and a table full of empty dust-covered dishes.
The men nodded as they hurried to the door while Napoleon was holding his arm. Once they reached the car, they looked back at the house. The outside was no longer well-kept but falling apart and deserted. In the upstairs window was the aged face of Mrs.Tumbell. The rage on her face had them jumping into the car and Illya stomping on the gas.
“I’ll check-in and let Mr. Waverly know that we have the information,” Napoleon volunteered after they had stopped to dress his arm.
“And what are you going to tell him?”
Thinking about it, “I’ll tell him that we’re sorry it took so long, but we had trouble finding it.”
“What about the rest?” Illya asked.
Napoleon offered him his communicator, “Would you like to give him that information over the air?”
“I think we should wait for the written report.”
Smiling, Napoleon opened the link.
“Sir, we have the information and on our way home. Sorry, we took so long.”
“It took a while to find it.”
“Mr. Solo, you reported that you arrived there three hours ago. I know that I expect a lot of my agents. However, I hope I’m not that unreasonable.” Waverly said.
Napoleon raised his eyes in question. “No, you don’t sir. We’ll be back this evening.”
“I’m sure your report will be interesting. Waverly out.”
“Three hours?” Illya questioned. “No wonder I am hungry.”
“That’s all you have to say?”
Grinning Illya turned back to driving.
Once they were far enough away from the house, Napoleon asked. “Well, Mr. Science, do you believe in the supernatural now?”
“There always is a scientific cause for what we saw,” Illya refused to admit that it could be a ghost.
“And that knife wound is just a hallucination?” Napoleon’s asked, frustrated.
Napoleon, who was rubbing his arm, saw the perplexed look on Illya face. A whisper was heard in the car, “Good-bye my love.”
“Perhaps,” Illya admitted, “There may be things than we cannot prove.”
Knowing that is the only confirmation he would receive, Napoleon turned toward the window, wondering if the lovers were now free of Eleanora.