What Eye See
Matt A Byron
Table of Contents
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, government agencies, events, or locales are purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Matt Byron
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be stored in a database or retrieval system, or transmitted in any form without the prior, written consent of the author. For more information on obtaining permission for use of this material, please visit mattbyron.net.
ISBN – 10: 1491262834
ISBN – 13: 978-1491262832
To my sons Nick and Evan for all your love and support. I love you with all my heart.
The sun peeked through the drapes, and she pulled the blanket over her head. She heard the drapes being pulled back.
Feeling the brightness of the sun beating on the other side of her blanket, she held the edge of it just over her eyes to shield the direct beam but enough to see that the room had gotten brighter.
“I hope the world has been taken over by aliens, and that’s why you are waking me up,” she shouted from under the blanket.
“Sis, come on you gotta get up. Remember, we have that appointment today.”
She moaned. She was hoping the appointment was only a dream. She had no desire of talking to anyone or giving any interviews, but that is what this appointment was an interview. She knew she had a gift or a curse or something that other people just weren’t aware of. She hated talking about it because most people looked at her as if she was crazy or delusional while others didn’t understand anything except that she could see the dead and they all wanted to know if their Uncle Walter or Aunt Janice were still hanging around.
Of course, her gift as it were, was nothing like that. She could see the dead, but they didn’t talk nor could they interact with her. She believed that the dead didn’t have the ability to use cognitive reasoning since that was a trait associated with the brain. Spirits had no brain, therefore, had no ability to think. Least this was her logic and to this point, she hasn’t had any experiences to prove differently.
She pulled the blankets lower and saw her Sister Melissa standing at the foot of the bed, looking perky, awake and dressed for the day.
Melissa was 27 years old, three years her senior. Their parents have killed in a traffic accident over nine years ago and since then it had only been the two of them. They had inherited their parent’s estate which wasn’t much but enough to get by. Melissa’s economics teacher at the time had helped her invest some money, and now the two of them were comfortable financially but not what one would consider wealthy.
Melissa worked as a freelance photographer. She loved the independence it gave her and felt the camera was an extension of herself. Melissa was the outgoing type, loved to eat in crowded restaurants, was always interested in casual conversation and felt comfortable in any situation.
Emery Hallindale, by contrast, was the polar opposite. Emery worked from home on website optimization which she was really good at it. She had written a program that did the work for her; accepted payments for new customers and analyzed websites to better optimize them for search engine ranking. All she would have to do was approve orders, finalize statements, and ensure her program was running smooth which gave her the flexibility to explore other endeavors.
Emery could have worked for any company as a programmer or not at all since she had the means to fall back on but she liked the challenge computers presented. She worked from home because she felt uncomfortable around people. She didn’t socialize much and had very few friends because she didn’t like to deal with people’s’ emotional hang-ups as she called it.
Where her sister would embrace the occasional random conversation with a complete stranger while they were out, Emery stared at the floor, felt her palms getting sweaty and always looked for the first exit and planned her escape.
The differences didn’t stop with social behavior. Melissa had wavy blond hair which she wore to her shoulders; Emery had straight black hair that hung down to the middle of her back, but she always preferred it back in a ponytail. Melissa wore dresses and skirts loved yellow and white and green; Emery wore jeans in basic colors of black, gray, blue and occasionally shorts and tee shirts or sweatshirts. On hot days, she wore tank tops with imprinted designs. She rarely wore dresses and hated skirts.
Emery also spent a lot of her time watching the spirits around her, wondering why they didn’t talk to her and tried to figure why she would see them when no one else could.
Despite their differences, they were inseparable, always going to different places together, finishing each other’s sentences and both had an appreciation for Mathew McConaughey. Emery felt at peace and comfortable with Melissa, whatever discomfort she had in restaurants and or in large crowds was quickly dissolved if Melissa was with her.
Emery slid out of bed and stepped past Melissa on her way to the shower.
“I hate you, sis.”
“Hey, somebody better washes the grumpiness off of them. We should leave in about an hour,” Melissa called back to her.
Emery turned on the shower, adjusting the water, so the mirror began to steam up. She loved the water hot enough to sting her skin.
As she lathered up, she thought about the interview. She owed the world nothing and she was tired of seeing the same shocked reaction that people always gave her when they first learned of her ability. Why should she do this interview anyways? Melissa told her it would help to show the world that there are things after death, that there is hope. No matter how much the naysayers’ call her a fraud or a nut cake, there were far more people that believed in her. The countless emails were proof enough. Emery never took people’s request for readings or séances. She was neither psychic nor pretended to be, she just saw what other people couldn’t.
Living in a small town in northern California, people were aware of her. She wasn’t a celebrity by any standard, and most people were a little afraid of her when they met her. She had a couple of friends she could turn to, but the only one she truly confided in was Melissa.
Freshly showered and dressed, Emery made her way downstairs where Melissa stood at the counter pouring a cup of coffee. She turned around when she heard Emery’s arrival and a look of disappointment crept over her face.
“M,” that was a nickname Melissa had given her when they were kids, “we are doing an interview today to possibly open people’s views on the whole spirit thing and you are dressed like the Goth chick from hell. The Black Sabbath shirt and Doc Martin’s can stay home. Please M, just one day.”
“Fine, just wanted to be comfortable. I’ll change, but I am not wearing anything yellow.”
“You don’t own anything yellow. Grab the blue sweater in my closet, and I have a pair of white jeans you can wear too.”
Emery went upstairs and changed. She was not a fan of white, but when she looked at herself in the mirror, she had to admit that white didn’t look that bad on her. She towel dried her hair, brushed it out before tying it back into a ponytail. After brushing her teeth, a morning pee, and tossing the damp towel in the hamper, she was ready.
They left the house but decided to walk. The appointment was only eight blocks away, and they still had some time left before the interview. The sun was out, the air was cool, and it was a beautiful spring day.
They walked down the street with Melissa’s left arm looped into Emery’s right. Emery’s lack of trust in people was overshadowed by the immense love and devotion she had for her sister.
When their parents were killed, it was Melissa that kept her sane and protected her. She never took the time to grieve but tried her best to help Emery after the accident. As Melissa told her, it was the fact that they were together that got them through that dark period.
As they walked, Emery saw a woman standing by a tree. The woman’s skin was gray, the clothes seemed tattered, and her eyes were empty. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and people walking past her were oblivious to her presence because she was dead.
A spirit left behind perhaps mulling about as if she were part of the living world. The spirit seemed oblivious of her or anyone else for that matter, and she just stood there looking around with no particular point of interest in mind.
Melissa noticed Emery was focused on something as they both stopped. She didn’t see what her sister saw.
“I wonder why you see them, and I don’t. And what’s the point if you can’t communicate with them or help them. It seems creepy.”
Emery looked away from the lost spirit and turned to her sister.
“I don’t know. I have had this for as long as I can remember. Why do I see certain spirits and not others? I never saw mom or dad. I don’t get what this is.”
“Maybe it’s like a radio to where you need to angle the antenna a certain way to get better reception.”
“Like I only see part of it, and the audio is not in tune. I don’t know. There definitely seems like there should be more to it.”
They walked a couple more blocks. The appointment was with a television news producer. She had never done a television interview before. The only interviews she had done, which were only two, were for magazines where the articles that were published had a rather negative pointed narrative.
This at least, as Melissa told her, would give her a chance to share the experience from her perspective without worry that someone else would be shaping her words as they saw fit.
Emery saw a small convenience store and tugged Melissa’s arm to direct her towards the door.
“Mel, I need some gum and maybe an antacid,” Emery chuckled.
“You don’t need an antacid you nut ball, but some gum probably wouldn’t be a bad idea,” she poked her sister’s arm.
They walked into the small store as a bell rang announcing their arrival to the clerk behind the counter. The store was small with four aisles to their left and the front counter to their right. A young curly haired kid with larger than face glasses sat behind the counter and briefly looked up at them before returning his attention to a comic book he clutched in his hands.
The antacid was in the first aisle. Scooping up the small box Emery moved to the third aisle as the second one was filled with cleaning aides, batteries, and things, not of the chewing variety. Melissa stood by the glass cases along the back wall where all the beverages were contained.
Emery knelt down looking at the gum on the bottom shelves. She rarely chewed gum, but it sometimes helped her in uncomfortable situations. She heard the bell ring announcing another customer as she was deciding between spearmint and peppermint. She heard someone’s voice begin to shout at the front of the store when something grabbed her from behind.
She felt a scream starting to rise in her throat as something quickly covered her mouth. Melissa leaned over her left shoulder and held one finger over her lips. Melissa moved her hand away from Emery’s mouth and whispered the word “GUN” while pointing to the front of the store.
She followed Melissa’s lead and scooted towards the end of the aisle furthest away from the front of the store. Safely out of the aisle and sight of the front, knees on the linoleum floor, she watched her sister pull out her cell phone.
Her heart was racing, and she couldn’t stop shaking. She looked up at her sister, tears in her eyes when she heard a man shout from the front.
“Open the damn drawer, you shit!”
The shouting lasted a few seconds maybe, but it seemed like an eternity. She heard Melissa on the phone saying something about a robbery. Things seemed to go by slowly; then she saw a boy standing by the cooler where the soda was kept. The boy had brown hair, brown shorts, and a dirty red t-shirt. His eyes were what struck her as they stared right at her; a look of profound sadness consumed his face. Streaks of tears ran down his cheeks. He looked no older than ten. He shook his head and then disappeared behind the first aisle as he headed toward the front.
She lunged forward and felt herself being pulled back as a small yelp escaped her throat. They both stopped. The voice that had been bantering on in the front had stopped. They looked at each other and moved slowly to the end of the fourth aisle, which was the farthest corner of the store.
“Come out here damn you!”
Was he talking to them? He must be. Something crashed against the cooler at the end of the second aisle, a pack of batteries landed on the floor after bouncing off the glass door.
Thoughts of the boy hung in the back of her mind, but something about him seemed different, like a dream. Maybe the man was talking to the boy, perhaps he brought him along.
“Open the drawer now!” then “Come out here damn you!”
She felt a tug on the back of her shirt and saw that Melissa was pointing to the other side of the aisle towards the back door.
“There’s an exit door right there,” she whispered.
She looked back over her shoulder when she heard a loud deafening boom. Shards of glass exploded from the second to last cooler nearest her, sprinkling them with debris.
Staring at the cooler door that housed the milk, glass and white liquid spread all over the floor. Melissa tugged at her harder, and she pushed herself off the floor. They stopped at the front of the aisle with the exit door just ten feet away to their left. Emery peeked around the corner to her right and saw a barrel of the gun two aisles away pointed at the counter.
“Give it to me now!”
A small bag was thrown over the counter and landed on the ground.
Fire erupted from the barrel of the gun followed by smoke, the loud blast shook the walls, and she heard a scream that was cut short. The blast was followed by a hard thump which was probably the clerk hitting the floor, she thought.
Melissa grabbed her, and they stumbled to the door. Melissa pushed at the door, turned the handle but it did not budge. She felt a heavy weight in her throat, a sudden gloominess overcame her as she turned around to see the barrel of the shotgun pointed at her not more than five feet away.
The brown eyes that peered over the barrel of the gun lacked life, not in the spirit sense; this man was definitely part of the living world, but his eyes revealed nothing but death. Moments passed, and Melissa took to her side pushing her back gently. It wasn’t until she tried to hold her sister back that she caught sight of the boy at the front of the store. He was crying.
She felt tightness in her throat. Her sister was saying something to the gunman, but nothing seemed real except the boy. He just stood there, tears down his face shaking his head slowly. The man obviously noticed that Emery wasn’t looking at him and barked at her.
“What’re you looking at?”
“The cops will be here any moment now, just leave us alone,” Melissa shouted.
Still transfixed on the boy, he took a step towards them. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t move. She tried to speak; only a small grunt like sound escaped her throat. Looking back at the man as he waved his gun at her, she wasn’t aware that Melissa now stood completely in front of her.
Sirens were approaching but still seemed too far away. The man, sweat beading along his forehead, his eyes narrowed as he pulled the trigger.
The man stepped away from them, the boy walked toward them only a few feet away. The man lowered the shotgun, tears leaked from her eyes. Melissa was yelling something, and she felt herself being pushed towards the door. The boy stopped, the man stopped, Melissa turned around to face her, her eyes were wide open dancing from her to the door behind her.
Sounds seemed muffled; her legs felt like lead. Melissa pushed her towards the door once more, and she saw the man raise his left hand, a silvery glint caught her eye.
“Run M, run.”
She felt the door at her back, she reached behind her and nearly fell through the door as it pushed open. The boy held his arm up, with one finger pointing towards her. Her sister was a few feet from her moving closer, the man pointing something large at them, another gun she wasn’t sure.
She heard the boom, saw the smoke and then another boom and her sister screamed. A searing pain ripped through her as she felt herself being knocked back. Her head hit something hard, she couldn’t breathe, and there was bright light everywhere. Edges of Darkness crept in like rain clouds moving in front of the sun. Her head rolled left, darkness coming faster still, but her eyes were open. Screams voices coming fast echoed in her head. She couldn’t see anything, darkness everywhere, voices now fading, fading, darkness, silence.
She opened her eyes, whiteness glared back. She closed her eyes; there were sounds, something but not loud as if she were under water. Silence again.
A voice. Gentle. She tried to open her eyes. Open. Closed. A flash of light. Open slightly, small light, blurry. She blinked a few times and opened her eyes. She was in a room, white walls, white ceiling. She was in a bed; wires were connected to her left arm. The voice again, familiar, calling to her.
She bobbed her head to the right and saw Melissa sitting next to the bed. She tried to speak, but she hurt.
“Don’t try to talk. You made it sis.”
Melissa leaned forward.
She took a breath, tried to clear her throat, a few sounds came out.
“You,” Emery more mouthed than spoke.
“I will always be here. I’m so glad you made it. It wasn’t your time yet, M.”
“Boy. The boy in the store.” Her voice was shaky, a faint whisper.
Melissa leaned closer.
“The boy? I didn’t see a boy. Maybe he was a spirit.”
Emery tried to shake her head but only managed a slight tilt to one side.
“There was a boy,” she took a breath, “he was crying, but he wasn’t gray. He saw me.”
“I think you have fine-tuned that antenna we talked about. You can interact with the spirits now.”
Emery closed her eyes for a moment and then looked at her sister. Melissa looked radiant, glowing almost. She felt safe with her here.
“I want to go.”
She tried to move, but a flaming pain shot through her midsection.
“Don’t move. You were shot, sis. You’re very lucky. Hey, I’m going to let you get some rest.”
Emery reached up to grab her sister’s arm, but her sister was already up and out of the chair.
“Don’t reschedule that appointment.”
Melissa looked at her for a moment, her eyes unblinking.
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
Emery closed her eyes and fell into the dark abyss one more time.
A little while later she opened her eyes and saw a woman in a pink outfit walk past the foot of the bed and check the machines on her right. The woman wasn’t immediately aware that she was awake. She had a coppery taste in her mouth, and her lips felt cracked.
“Hey welcome back,” the nurse said turning towards her.
She hated hospitals. The last time she was in the hospital was when her parents were clinging to life. That didn’t end so well so hospitals always reminded her of that feeling of loss. That feeling hung close to her now.
“Here you go,” handing a cup towards her, “have some water.”
She reached up quicker than she thought and almost bumped the Styrofoam cup out of the nurse’s hand.
“Sorry.” Her voice cracked but carried a higher volume than she was expecting.
“It’s normal. You may feel a little disoriented, and your depth perception will be out of whack for a little while, but everything else looks pretty good.”
Clutching the water she tried to sit up but instantly felt the pain on the lower right side.
“Don’t try to move too fast. You are still very tender. Let me adjust the bed.”
The nurse pressed a button, and a motor came on lifting her upper body three-quarters of the way to where she could see the room more clearly.
She sucked on the straw, and the water rushed into her mouth and splashed down her throat. The coldness was refreshing. She looked around the room, the empty chair to her right, the nurse was writing something down on her clipboard. She felt dizzy, a tight searing flame burned in her abdomen.
“On a scale of 1 to 10 can you describe your pain level? 1 being no pain at all and 10 being extremely painful.”
She reached over to put the cup back on the tray and her lower half ignited causing her to shut her eyes tight. She let out a deep breath and opened her eyes and placed the cup back on the tray.
“When I don’t move I would say it is about a 7,” she spoke through clenched teeth, “when I do it’s about a 20.”
The nurse scribbled down some more notes on her clipboard.
“I will get you some medication to help with the pain. The doctor will come by shortly to speak with you.”
The nurse placed the clipboard in a slot at the foot of the bed and turned towards the door.
Emery raised her arm to get her attention, “What day is it?”
She stopped and took a step towards the bed.
“It’s Friday. You’ve been out for four days. It’s good to have you back.”
The nurse then turned and left the room. The light in the room wasn’t too bright, the septic smell was nauseating, and her head thumped a little behind her eyes.
She thought about Melissa, she felt so alone and couldn’t wait for her to return. She kept on seeing the images of the gunman in her mind, recounting what happened as if a movie was set to loop mode on a particular scene. Everything happened so fast, parts of it were a little hazy. She thought about what happened just before she blacked out.
She was shot, that part she knew. Melissa pushed her towards the door, but it had been locked or stuck when they had first tried. Why had she forced her back to the door? They had never opened the door. Somehow the door opened, and Melissa must have seen it and pushed her towards it.
How was the door open when before it wouldn’t budge? Then she remembered the boy. Had he been a spirit? He couldn’t have been. Spirits always appeared to her a little out of color, a gray tint and they were always oblivious to everything, including her. The boy seemed as real as the gunman, and he saw her.
The nurse returned and helped her to the bathroom, assisted her back to her bed, refilled her water cup and gave her some pain medication. Emery disliked medication, she didn’t like how it made her feel, but she hated the pain of being shot even more and indulged one evil over another.
She dozed off for a little while, opened her eyes looking at the chair next to the bed that remained empty, closed her eyes once more. She wondered why Melissa hadn’t come by. She was in a peaceful slumber when she heard a set of three beeps.
Her eyes sprang open, and she saw a nurse different from the one before flipping a couple switches on the machines. She wasn’t aware of anyone else in the room until she heard a man’s voice from the foot of the bed.
“Ms. Hallindale, how are you feeling today? I am doctor Loeshen.”
She turned towards the voice expecting to see an older man due to the baritone voice that announced his arrival, but he was younger tanned skin, brown eyebrows, brown hair cut close to the scalp, thin rimmed glasses looking no older than thirty. He wore a white coat with his name badge clipped onto the outer breast pocket and a blue dress shirt underneath it. She assumed he was wearing pants, but they were out of her view.
She sat up; this time, the pain was not as severe as earlier.
“I’m feeling a lot better. Do you know when I can get out of here?”
He glanced down at the open folder he held in his hands and then closed it. He placed the folder on a small table at the foot of the bed and adjusted his glasses up to the bridge of his nose.
“You have gone through quite the ordeal. You were shot in the abdomen with a high caliber bullet. Fortunately, no major organs were hit, and the bullet passed right through. I would like to keep you here another day or so as a precaution. It may be pretty painful still moving around, and you need your rest.”
The words echoed in the air. High caliber, abdomen, passed right through. This made it real, she had been shot, and she had almost died. She wished her sister was here.
“Has my sister been here?”
The doctor looked away and exchanged a quick glance with the nurse.
“Can I call her?”
The doctor took a breath.
“You should probably get some more rest; your body has endured a tremendous amount of shock and needs the appropriate time to recover.”
She noticed that the doctor gave another glance to the nurse then looked down and picked up the folder again.
“I have had plenty of rest; all I have been doing since I’ve been here is sleep. Has my sister been here?”
“Do you remember what happened to you?”
She felt her throat close up a moment, and she tried to take a deep breath to get air back into her lungs. Her chest tightened a little bit. What was he talking about?
“My sister saved my life. She pushed me out of the store. She saved both of us.”
The doctor looked at the folder again; he took a breath and then looked up to meet her eyes. Something did not feel right; perhaps her injuries were more severe than he was letting on.
“You took a high caliber bullet in the stomach at relatively close range. Your sister saved you by shielding you from the bullet and pushing you to safety.”
Her sister did push her out the door, but she still was shot. If she was shot and her sister was in front of her, how did her sister escape uninjured? She was about to ask the doctor when he moved to the side of the bed and leaned over.
“You have been through a lot, your body has endured a tremendous stress and your mind is going to have to cope with the psychological effects of such a horrible event.”
She hated hospitals and doctors. Hospitals were a nexus for pain and suffering, and doctors were the ones trying to allude to brighter days and happy summers when all in all they were the ones who administered the pain when you least expected it.
“Where is my sister? What are you not telling me?”
“Emery,” the doctor paused, “when you were brought in here, you had lost a lot of blood. We didn’t know if any major organs were damaged and your chances of survival in the early stages looked very slim,” he paused, “when your sister came in, her condition was much worse.”
Her eyes stung, her heart was knocking fast, she heard the words, but they didn’t seem real.
“What do you mean; she was here yesterday or the day before, sitting right in that chair.” She said pointing to the empty chair beside the bed.
“I worked on your sister for eleven hours. She suffered two shots to the back. One bullet hit her spine while the other bullet passed through her lung and that is the one that struck you. I tried everything I could Emery, I really did.”
Looking at the chair again she felt the tears converging along the brim of her eyes. The air seemed hot and thick, her heart beat thumped loud in her chest.
“But she was here, she was fine.”
“She had lost too much blood. The bullet in the spine was enough to cause permanent paralysis not to mention the damage done to her lungs. There wasn’t anything that could have been done for her, I am so sorry.”
His words echoed in her ears. She swallowed hard, gasped, she felt the air grow shorter, tried to suck in a breath, nothing. She looked up at the doctor who shouted something to the nurse. Her head went back; she felt her chest tighten, even more, no air. She couldn’t breathe. The doctor held something in his hand, a needle. He said something to her that she couldn’t hear; he did something to one of the tubes attached to her arm and she felt her eyes close, open, close, and then nothing.
Trevor Atkins stood by the open hospital room door as an orderly brought in a wheelchair. Emery objected saying she didn’t need one, but he stated it was policy, and she reluctantly sat down and let him wheel her out.
Trevor was Emery’s friend and fellow computer geek. They had met while playing an online game. They had become good online friends, the only kind she would allow herself to have as people in the physical sense always made her uneasy.
They had known each other online for a couple of months when they learned that Trevor lived in the same town as her. Her initial reaction was to cut all contact with him but Melissa, trying to play matchmaker, insisted they meet. Through much banter and bickering, she finally relented and agreed to meet him.
Trevor was five foot nine, had short spiky blond hair, a pierced lower lip, and dressed like a male version of her. It was uncanny how much they had in common although much of that was discovered through their online interactions because when they met in person neither one of them spoke much.
She thought of him as a friend, but they had grown close in the time they had known each other. He knew of her ability although she made him promise never to talk about it and he never did.
The orderly wheeled her out to Trevor’s blue Honda Civic. Trevor popped the trunk and placed her backpack which he had picked up earlier from her house containing a change of clothes. Emery moved from the wheelchair to the front passenger seat still feeling a little discomfort in her abdomen, but the pain was more tolerable than it had been at any time earlier.
She stared out the window as Trevor drove her home. She didn’t know how she felt. Nothing made sense; she still couldn’t believe her sister was gone. How would she survive, she wondered?
They came to a stop light, and she noticed a man standing on a street corner staring at her. He tilted his head to the right as his eyes remained focused on her. He wore a rumpled gray suit; his hair was brown, but a skewed as if he had just run his hands through his hair. His eyes are what caught her attention, they were as dark as night. His stare was so intense; she felt that he was looking right through her.
She turned away for a moment and then looked back. The man was moving towards her, stepping off the curb reaching out with his left arm as he moved closer. She couldn’t look away, the anger in the man’s face seemed to be directed at her. Reaching for the car, she raised her hands to her face letting out a small scream as the car moved forward.
She felt something tap her shoulder, and she jumped back in her seat. Looking over at Trevor, he moved his hand back.
“You okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Ignoring him, she turned around and looked out the back window as the man stood in the middle of the street staring back at her.
“What are you looking at?” he peered in his rearview mirror.
She turned around in her seat; her hands were shaking, and she couldn’t talk. Checking the side view mirror, she could still see the man, his arm no longer outstretched.
Looking down at her hands, she swiped them a couple of times on her jeans to dry them from the sweat that had built up. She took a breath and no longer wanted to look out the window as they turned onto her street.
Trevor pulled the car to the curb, threw it in the park and turned off the engine. Emery remained buckled in looking down at her hands. She felt her breath come back and could see Trevor looking at her from the corner of her eye.
She couldn’t get the man’s eyes out of her mind. The deep, intense stare, the hatred she felt she knew was not imagined. Something was wrong, different but she couldn’t put her finger on it. It was a feeling, and she knew she could never ignore her feelings.
She couldn’t tell him about the man or about how she felt because she didn’t want pity and refused to let anyone think of her as weak. She had been shot, her sister had been killed leaving her all alone, and the last thing she wanted was to be someone’s charity case. She trusted Trevor to a point, but she didn’t want her friendship to take on the added weight of grief or pity.
“I’m fine. Just a little tired.”
“Want me to come in?”
She looked at him, and a part of her wanted him to stay, but she quickly pushed that thought away. She needed to be alone, to deal with what lay ahead.
“No, I think I just need rest. Thank you for the ride home, Trev.”
They exited the car and Trevor opened the trunk and handed her the backpack. She hugged him, holding onto him a little longer than she was used to but it felt comforting.
She stepped away and headed for the front door when Trevor called out to her. She turned around.
“Hey, if you feel up to it, I’ll be in the mythical lounge tonight,” he said referencing the online chat room they frequented.
She nodded and went inside. She placed the backpack on the couch in the living room and then looked around. She listened to the utter stillness. It was unnerving how quiet the house was, like how she imagined it would be floating in the middle of a black hole.
She moved to the bedroom and slid into bed. With her head resting on the pillow, she closed her eyes. She was afraid to walk around the house or look at anything too long as her sister’s essence was everywhere, and she was in no rush to test her emotional strength at the moment.
She couldn’t get the man’s image out of her mind. Something was wrong. What was it? Why was he looking at her? Why was he angry? How come Trevor didn’t see him?
“You okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” She remembered Trevor asking.
A ghost? He didn’t look like any spirit she had ever seen. He had looked just like anyone else. He saw her, he knew she was there; he tried to reach out to her. Spirits didn’t see her; it was always the other way around. No one else on that street corner reacted to him. Trevor didn’t see him.
She sat up in bed, a sharp pain ignited from her gut and traveled up her spine. She was supposed to take her pain medication every 4 to 6 hours which she had already exceeded that by two hours, but she wanted to have a clear head, she was on to something and didn’t want to muddy her mind with the effects of any drug.
She moved slowly, adjusting the pillows so she could sit up in bed. She reached over to her nightstand, grabbed a notepad and pen so she could make some notes. Sometimes when she was faced with a problem, she would write out the problem on paper and work out a solution.
She wrote on the top line, ‘Emery losing her mind!’ On the next line, she wrote hallucinating sister in the hospital. The pen dropped from her hand. She looked around; shadows were starting to grow in the corners of the room as sunset approached. The quietness in normal circumstances was always a welcomed occurrence, now the silence seemed more of a warning, a sign of things to come. She shivered but not due to any change in temperature, the air was warm, but she didn’t feel alone.
She looked down at the paper again. Hallucinating sister in the hospital. She picked up the pen and put a line through the word hallucinating and wrote above it, Saw. Saw sister in the hospital. Why didn’t she see it before? How could she be so stupid, she thought. She spent most of her life seeing spirits and when one of the spirits was her own sister; she dismissed it as a hallucination.
“I think you have fine-tuned that antenna we talked about. You can interact with the spirits now.”
It wasn’t a dream; her sister was telling her she could see them and communicate with them now. But how? Why now? Where was her sister? She felt dizzy; she took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She tossed the pen and notebook back on the nightstand and gingerly moved off the bed anticipating the oncoming pain. Surprisingly, the pain was only a slight pinch.
She moved from the bedroom to the living room and switched on a light as the dark shadows quickly danced away from the source of the light. She stood in the middle of the room and closed her eyes. She didn’t feel any different. She opened her eyes, and she remained alone.
Maybe her sister moved on. She wasn’t sure how it worked, but she was never able to see every spirit, she never saw her parents she reminded herself. Her sister was in the hospital, it wasn’t a dream. Her sister had to be around, she had so many questions. She walked over to the sofa and sat down. She looked down at her hands and wondered if this is what other people go through who had lost a loved one, clinging to the hope that they were still around. Despite her unusual ability, she wasn’t sure if her newfound hope was cemented in the grounds of her reality or just a wisp of faith of a grieving heart.
Three loud knocks on the front door brought her out of her haze. She looked at the front door, its looming presence disturbed her for some reason. Had someone actually knocked on her door, she wondered.
Three more knocks confirmed that she had visitors. She got up from the sofa and walked to the door and looked out the peephole. She could see two men wearing suits standing on the porch. She took a breath, wiped her hands on her pants and then opened the door part way.
She felt a lump in her throat. She fought to swallow it down and managed to nod her head.
The two men wore similar colors, dark blue or black but she couldn’t really tell. The man speaking appeared younger, short brown hair parted in the middle, a slim nose, deep set eyes and a small chin that had a divot in the middle. The other man stood off to his left, had a shaven head and wore dark sunglasses.
“I’m Detective Saunders,” said the brown haired man holding up his badge, “and this is my partner Detective Wynchet, can we come in?”
Her hand gripped the inner door handle tighter in case she had to slam the door quickly, “What is this about?”
Removing his sunglasses, Wynchet’s voice was deep and void of any feeling she surmised, “It’s in regards to the shooting. We need to speak to you now!”
“If this is a good time,” Saunders interjected.
She could already see that these two were the epitome of good cop and dickhead.
She pulled the door open and waved the two detectives in. They sat on the couch, and she took up the chair opposite them. She didn’t offer them anything to drink and clasped her hands between her knees. She always felt uncomfortable around people she didn’t know, and cops made her feel that she was in a room full of a hundred people she didn’t know.
Her eyes darted from each of them then to her hands and back again. There seemed to be a long silence before Saunders spoke.
“Ms. Hallindale, I apologize for stopping in on your first day home, but we do need to ask you some questions regarding the events of that day, to see if there is anything that you can remember to help us catch this creep.”
The thought had never occurred to her that the shooter was still roaming free, leaving her the only surviving witness who could identify him. Maybe Detective Saunders read her mind or something on her face revealed her fear, as he leaned forward.
“We don’t think you are in any danger. If we did we would have units stationed outside your home, we still can for a couple of days if it would make you feel safer.”
She shook her head, “No. I will be fine. I don’t know how I can help. It all seems like some sort of nightmare. Not sure what is real or not.” Her voice was low, and she did her best to avoid eye contact, but she could feel the eyes of both detectives upon her.
They asked her when she first became aware of the shooter and what she could remember of his appearance. Did he have an accent, any tattoos, or any noticeable words he may have spoken? She did her best to describe him but did not notice any markings or anything else that would make him distinguishable.
She tried to remember anything about him but all she could remember was his eyes. The eyes that lacked life, that was drenched in death, the eyes void of feeling or remorse. His head was shaved, light skin, Caucasian she remembered. There was something else about him too that she thought that she should share.
“He wasn’t there for the money, he had the money already before he shot the kid behind the counter, and he could have left. It was personal I think, he was going to kill the kid whether he got the money or not.”
“Are you a detective now?” Wynchet had said before his partner interjected, “What makes you say that?”
She thought about the boy in the store, how fragile he looked but she couldn’t tell the detectives about a ghost boy, that wouldn’t go over very well.
“He just seemed like he knew what he was doing, he had it all planned out and was going to kill that kid anyways.”
“Jacob Lomas. The kids name was Jacob Lomas, he was seventeen years old.”
Hearing the name hit her in the pit of her stomach, it made him real. He wasn’t just a kid behind a counter; he was someone’s son, someone’s brother.
“I’m sorry, seventeen; I don’t even know what to say.”
“It’s okay, you have been very helpful Ms. Hallindale,” Detective Saunders said.
Wynchet shifted in his seat, folded his hands on his lap and leaned forward.
“So how does it work exactly?” His dark brown eyes seemed to be watching her every move. The question hung in the air a moment as she was trying to understand what he was asking her. She looked at Saunders and then back at Wynchet.
“How does what work?” Her voice cracked a little. She didn’t know what he was getting at but rubbed her hands together and took in a breath.
“Dead people! You see them, don’t you?”
Saunders snapped his head towards his partner.
“For Christ sakes, enough! This is not why we are here,” and then to Emery, “I am sorry for this, this is completely inappropriate.”
She stopped rubbing her hands and folded her arms across her chest. She was used to the question. The insinuation and skepticism in his tone should have alerted her to what was coming, but nevertheless there it was. His eyes searching hers as if he was trying to see if he caught her off guard or was about to lie to him.
She unfolded her arms and rested her hands on her legs. She met his glare and looked directly at him when she spoke. Her voice was slow and steady, she tried not to let out any hint of anger that was building up inside.
“I see spirits. Not all the time but I see them. I don’t know why I can, it’s something I discovered when I was younger. I will see someone, but they do not look like everyone else, their color is darker, grey-like, and they seem lost that’s how I know they are not part of the living.”
When she finished, she noticed a slight smirk grow across his face, again another facial expression she was accustomed to. Before Saunders had a chance to speak, Wynchet responded.
“Do you see your sister?”
“We’re done,” Saunders said as he got to his feet while Wynchet’s eyes never wavered from Emery’s.
“She is sitting right beside you,” she said, her voice was flat, and no smile crossed her lips. She continued to stare at him, and he tried not to look, but he gave a glance over to his right.
“Outside, now!” Saunders said to his partner.
Wynchet looked away; the expression on his face had changed as he looked at her, it wasn’t as smug as it had been just moments ago. He then gave one final glance back at the couch before walking out the front door.
Saunders apologized for his partner’s behavior and handed her his card stating if there was anything else she could remember or if she needed anything to give him a call.
She closed and locked the door. She returned to the chair across from the couch where her sister waited for her.
She stared at her sister in disbelief. She was as real to her as the detectives who had just left. She appeared solid, blinked her eyes, and seemed as colorful as anyone else. For a moment, it was like her sister had just returned from a trip but she knew the unfortunate truth.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, M. I didn’t know myself at first. Let me tell you the transition is overwhelming.” Melissa said.
Too many questions flooded her mind she didn’t know what one to ask first. Her whole life she had this ability but never had a chance to speak to someone from the other side. Now faced with a chance to get answers to all the questions she could possibly think of, she stared at her sister in silence.
“M, you have been dealing with this your whole life; this shouldn’t be new to you, now I can share it with you. Well, not the way I would have chosen to share it, but here I am.”
“You see me, Mel, spirits have never seen me. Why?”
There was a warmness in the room she wasn’t aware of before, a comforting feeling she couldn’t explain. Melissa looked around the room and then looked back at her.
“I think something happened in that store. The boy that you say saw you. I think the intensity of your feelings that day did something to complete whatever connection you have with the other side.”
She thought about that for a moment. Could it be true?
“The door? We tried the door, and it was closed, but you pushed me back towards it, and it opened, how did you know it would open?”
“I saw the door was open. I don’t know how but it just was.”
She remembered the boy holding out his arm pointing a finger at her. Maybe the boy somehow opened the door. She felt dizzy, the pain was starting to flare up again, but she tried to push that aside. She needed answers and wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away.
“I thought spirits were thoughtless, without reason or judgment as those are traits for the living, what do you feel?”
Melissa was silent. She moved off the couch and walked around the room as if her physical being was still there. Emery waited as her sister circled around the chair and sat down on the armrest.
“It’s more of knowing, absorbing, being. Our spirits, I believe, have our life code embedded in it, whatever we were in our physical life is carried over to our spirit side.”
Emery shook her head, “That makes no sense. You don’t think, but you know or absorb. I don’t even know what that means.”
“Perhaps it’s something one can only experience when their time comes and accept that there are some things that are not meant to be understood.”
Emery stood up from the couch, a small fire ignited around her abdomen as she winced in pain. She moved to the kitchen and retrieved a bottle of water from the refrigerator. She had more questions, but she felt weak in the knees and held onto the counter to steady herself.
“Did you see a bright light, Mel? That’s usually what happens is a bright light appears that you walk through, and you find yourself in heaven. Why aren’t you in heaven?”
Melissa stood beside her as if she was always there. Emery looked over at the chair where she had been just moments ago and then back to her sister.
“No light. I was in the hospital and saw myself lying on the table. I screamed, I shouted, no one would hear me. Then I was in your room watching you. Things started to become familiar I suppose, is a way to put it. The initial shock went away,” she paused, “I don’t know how it’s supposed to work or why I am still here, maybe it’s to help you.”
Emery told her about the man she saw earlier, the look of anger on his face and how it seemed that it was directed toward her. She felt different, she felt vulnerable and afraid.
“They can see you now. There are some spirits out there that are not good, that long for their previous life, and they may resent you for the fact that you can see them, and you are alive.”
“How do you know this?” Emery seemed puzzled over her sister’s astute knowledge.
“You should be careful M, there may be some things coming soon that you may not want to deal with, but you’re gonna have to.”
What was she talking about? She knew something, but she was holding back. She felt her grip loosening from the counter and made her way to the couch and dropped down on top of it.
Melissa appeared in the chair opposite the couch. Emery looked over, “You really need to stop doing that, it’s freaking me out a bit.”
“I sometimes don’t realize it’s happening. I think of a spot, and I’m there. I’m sorry.”
Emery held her left hand over her eyes, the wave of dizziness almost subsided.
“What’s coming to Mel? What’s going to happen?”
There was silence. Emery moved her hand and opened her eyes, but her sister was gone. The warmness quickly faded, and the room seemed less bright. She sat up on the couch biting her lower lip. She looked around the room again, and she could feel that the whole ambiance of the room had changed. Her sister was gone.
What was going on? She didn’t know what her sister was trying to tell her. Why not just tell her? The room seemed to grow colder by the minute, and the shadows were growing in the corners as night loomed near. She stared at the far corner and thought she felt something staring back at her.
A chill ran up her spine, and she flinched up her shoulders quickly. She didn’t feel alone. She got up from the couch and walked back to her bedroom switching on the hall light as she passed it. She didn’t look behind her but felt something closing fast. She quickened her pace, and when she reached the bedroom, she closed the door behind her abruptly causing it to close with a loud thud.
She stood still and listened at the door when she realized she was out of breath. She felt foolish for getting worked up. She wasn’t the type to be scared easily. What was wrong with her? She took a couple deep breaths and gripped her hand around the door knob and stopped.
“There is nothing to be afraid of you wussy,’ she told herself.
She turned the knob, flung open the door and stared at the empty hall. With her breathing under control, she felt satisfied that she had just let her nerves get the best of her. After a few moments, she was able to put aside any nonsense of something lurking in the darkness.
She stepped away from the door and moved toward the bed. She sat down and as the last grips of panic faded she laughed. She couldn’t believe her behavior. No one was there with her, and there was no reason to be scared. She thought about it, her of all people, should not get spooked. Besides, if something were there, she would see it. She didn’t know why she was letting her nerves get the best of her. She rubbed her eyes and eased back on the bed.
She thought about what her sister told her that something was coming, something she would have to deal with. What had she meant? Surely nothing could be coming, spirits couldn’t hurt her. She wondered if what her sister told her carried any truth. She glanced over to the door, shook her head and began to close her eyes when it suddenly slammed shut.
She stared at the bedroom door. Any feelings of fear slowly turned to anger. All the windows in the room were closed, and there was no air flow to account for the door closing as it did. Something was in her home, and it was toying with her. She knew not to let her fear get the best of her and besides she had grown up seeing the spirit world so she shouldn’t be afraid of it.
She walked over to the door and without a moment’s hesitation pulled it open. The hallway was dark but empty. She moved down the hall turning on the lights as she went.
“I’m not afraid of you. Show yourself, you coward,” she yelled.
Nothing moved. Feeling invincible with anger, she moved through each room shouting the same words until she came back to the front room and realized nothing was there. The dark corner she looked at earlier did not seem to occupy the same darkness she saw earlier, but she still felt like she wasn’t alone.
She felt that something was there with her, taunting her, watching her. Never before had she felt any fear because of the spirit world, they seemed complacent to mull around their way, but now this was different. She had read stories about evil spirits, possessions, and demons but had never encountered anything like that. She didn’t think anything that malevolent was playing hide and seek with her, but she knew that this encounter was not like anything she had been through before.
“What do you want? Why don’t you show yourself?”
Nothing moved. The room was deathly silent. She moved through the house as a feeling of uneasiness coursed through her veins but still she could not find anything or anyone looming in a dark corner ready to say “boo.”
Thinking of everything that had happened the past few days, her thoughts were like a whirlwind inside her head. She knew that her ability would someday have unwanted consequences. The day, she assumed, had finally arrived. The walls felt smaller, the air seemed thicker, and she needed to get away from whatever thing occupied her house. She knew she wasn’t alone but whatever was there didn’t want to show themselves. She only had one alternative, leave. She wasn’t leaving in fear, she was not easily spooked, but more so out of frustration. She needed to clear her head, to figure out what was going on.
She went back to the bedroom to retrieve her purse, looked inside to make sure her cell phone and car keys were inside, they were, and headed back through the house.
When she reached the front door, she stopped suddenly when a wall of cold air blew across her face. The air in the home wasn’t on, and she hadn’t opened the door, yet the cold air was unmistakable. When her fingers touched the brass door knob, she felt the coldness had encompassed the entire surface, and she quickly moved her fingers away.
She took a breath and a vapor trail escaped her mouth. Something wisped by her ear once and then again. She held her breath as it happened again. This time, it sounded like words. She strained to listen, as she was able to make out the word “Get.”
A few moments later it happened again but this time, it was clearer and sent chills through her whole body. She grabbed the doorknob and threw the door open as the last words faded from her ears: “GET OUT!”
Her sisters red Ford Mustang was parked in the driveway and as she pressed the unlock button on the remote. Looking over her shoulder back at the house she arrived at the car when something moved upon her from her left.
She spun around quickly as a woman’s voice began speaking really quickly. It took her a moment to realize what was happening. She first saw the blond hair then the woman’s eyes which appeared over shaded with makeup and then was the microphone that was pushed in her face. Looking for the microphone, there was a big man behind holding a camera over his shoulder looking into a viewfinder.
Glancing between her and the cameraman she couldn’t understand what the woman was saying as the microphone danced in front of her. The car door was successfully open. The woman stood not more than two feet away from her, the camera guy’s left eye squinted at her, she wanted to run back inside or jump into the car, but she did neither as all she was able to do was stand there motionless.
“Susan Ramiro, channel 3 news coming to you live here with Emery Hallindale, as some of you may know her better as the spirit woman.”
Living in a small town as Emery had her whole life, everybody knew her business. When news of her ability first became public, the finger pointing and name calling began. Spirit woman was a name a newspaper reporter gave her and in a town of 3500 people, you stand out pretty quickly if someone gives you a unique moniker.
“You have been through such an ordeal this past week, with the shooting and the loss of your sister, are you worried that the shooter is still at large?”
“I can’t do this,” Emery said.
She turned away, hurried into the car and slammed the door shut. She rammed the key hard into the ignition and turned it. The reporter remained at the driver’s side window which was rolled up. She was still talking as she peered in at her. She threw the shifter into reverse and pulled out of the driveway, switched it into drive and sped off leaving the newswoman and cameraman behind in her front yard.
She made it three blocks when her cell phone rang, the theme song to the pink panther. She plucked the phone from her purse and answered.
“I am so sorry, I just saw it. Are you okay?”
She didn’t immediately recognize the voice.
“This is Detective Saunders; I’m placing a call over at channel three and putting a stop to this.”
“What if this creep watches the news? Jesus Christ, I can’t do this right now,” she rang off and tossed the phone on the passenger seat. She hit the steering wheel hard with her right hand and screamed. She was breathing heavy, tears welling up; she pulled the car over and threw the shifter into park.
She took a couple deep breaths and then looked at herself in the rearview mirror when she noticed her sister sitting in the passenger seat.
Turning to face her, “Why did you leave? What the hell is going on Mel?”
“There are things that I just know, I don’t know how but I do.”
“What kinds of things. You have to tell me, I feel like I am losing my mind.”
“Remember that woman we met last year, the one with the funky name who owned that spiritual shop?”
Emery thought about it for a moment and then, “Renna?”
She had met Renna Abigail Brooks last year when they happened to come across her store when it first opened. She was an older woman in her mid-fifties who loved to talk about New Orleans, where she grew up. She was the only person other than her sister that seemed to understand her and accept her for who she was. She embraced her gift as she called it.
“She can help. She would understand.”
Help with what she wondered. What was she talking about? She knew that Renna was a spiritual person, and she had a warm heart, but she wasn’t sure if Renna’s beliefs were grounded in reality or blind faith. Witch doctors and voodoo priests were a little much to believe in, but then again she saw dead people and who would believe that.
“How can she help? You’re doing it again Mel, just tell me already.”
Her sister said nothing for a few moments but instead looked out the back window. When her sister turned back to look at her, she saw a frightened look come over her face. Emery felt her chest tighten. She had only seen that look on her sister’s face one other time so she knew something was wrong.
She threw the car in drive and headed to Renna’s shop. She saw her sister glancing out the back window a few times but never said a word. The fearful look on her sister’s face was the same one she had the day of the shooting. Something scared her, something real. Something was coming.
The sun had begun to set with perhaps with just under an hour of daylight remaining. Renna’s shop was on the east end of town which also featured a gas station to the left of the shop and a small flower shop to its right. No other businesses occupied the block. Across the street from the shop was an old tire store that had gone out of business years ago and remained deserted. Etchings of words of the previous business were still visible in the storefront window.
Renna’s shop wasn’t what one would expect, it had a red brick facade, a big window in front proclaiming in big bold white letters, “Renna’s Spiritual Journey”, and a white glass door that depicted two angels outlined in yellow holding hands and smiling.
She parked the car in front of the shop and stepped out. She looked through the big window but didn’t see any movement. They walked up the few steps that lead to the front landing. The sign on the glass door was turned to closed. Melissa stood beside her quietly but looked less frightened than she did earlier.
“You’re going to tell me what’s going on Mel.”
Melissa moved up to the glass door and turned to wait for Emery to follow. Before she could raise her hand to knock on the door, a shadow moved from within the store that caused her to pause. No lights were on the inside, and the sun was settling down beyond the mountain horizon making everything harder to see. A large form moved to the other side of the door, and a moment later the door swung open, and a booming voice erupted.
“Emery Darling, Oh my dear it is so wonderful to see you. Come in darling, come in.”
Her voice echoed a sentiment of kindness and assurance. She knew in this first moment that her sister had been right, whatever was going to happen, Renna would be able to help.
Renna led her to a room she referred to as the parlor. Two high back chairs with floral lining sat on one side of a vintage oak table. A sofa and love seat with matching floral design as the chairs angled at an L shape along the other side of the table and end furthest from them. The chairs were angled towards each other so when they sat down they were facing one another.
The room was dark as shadows danced along the walls from the many burning candles within the room. She didn’t know if Renna’s electric bill hadn’t been paid or maybe she just had an aversion to manufactured light. In either case, Emery would have opted for more light as the events of the past few hours seemed to coincide with the dark shadows that danced at the edges of the room.
Renna offered her something to drink, but she declined. She shifted nervously in her seat and Renna leaned forward and patted her leg with her right hand.
“Something isn’t right, there’s a darkness hanging over you, I can feel it.”
Emery looked toward the couch where Melissa sat quietly before turning her attention back to Renna.
“I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t want to bother you, but I didn’t know where else to turn.”
Renna glanced over at the couch and then back at her. The woman’s big brown gentle eyes, even in the shadowy room gave her some comfort.
“There are things in this world we don’t understand. There are things in the other world we don’t understand but if we open our minds to what is out there we might be able to see a moment of clarity that would enlighten our souls of what’s to come.”
She didn’t understand what she meant. Renna leaned back, looking at the couch but this time, her eyes lingered a little longer before returning her gaze to her.
“Did she see me?” Melissa asked, “She looked right at me.”
“I knew from the moment I answered the door child, I felt the immense sadness both of you carry,” she continued, “and I can feel your energy child and hear you but I cannot see you.”
Looking back at Melissa and then to Renna she said, “Something has happened, the spirits are aware of me, and I fear something might be coming for me.”
“You told me when we first met that you could see the spirits, but they couldn’t see you, I had trouble understanding what that meant. Never in my years had I come across a situation such as yours,” she paused, “I cannot see spirits like you, but I can feel them and communicate with them so my path has always been different from yours.”
She remained quiet and let her continue, “I believe you have always had this gift in you, but the portal for some reason wasn’t completely open. Your path is unique in that you can see them; some force is allowing you to be aware of them for a greater purpose that is not yet realized. Now it seems that your path is clear now, and your true journey can finally begin.
“You think some unseen force is using me for a greater purpose? Why me?”
“Somebody must make the journey I suppose. I believe that something is guiding you, helping you to see what others cannot but for what purpose I do not know. That is part of the journey, the discovery.”
“I stopped believing in imaginary friends when I was six.”
“Every one of us has a guide, an unseen spirit that helps us throughout life and with it brings unique experiences.”
“So the guide that was looking out for my sister must have called out sick that day because he sure as hell didn’t help her.”
Renna’s voice was gentle and soothing, “These guides cannot interfere with our path, they can only assist us while we are on it. They cannot decide our destination nor can they change it.”
“So they stand by and watch us but cannot truly help us. I don’t get it,” Emery continued, “I found myself in the middle of a robbery which I was shot, and my sister was killed. There was this boy there I think was a spirit, but he saw me and then something spoke to me in my house, and now I think the spirits are coming for me.”
“Slow down darling, let me get my cards,” Renna stood up and started to leave the room before stopping and turning back to her, “I don’t feel that they are coming for you, darling, oh no.”
Renna left the room.
“You never said something happened at home, what happened to you M?”
“You weren’t there. You left me, you just left me Mel and when did I have a chance to tell you anything. There seems to be a lot you’re not telling me.”
“You two shouldn’t fight, you’re going to need each other dear,” Renna said from the other room.
“I don’t get it,” she said to Melissa, “she said nothing is coming, but you said something was, to come here, that she would be able to help.”
“M, listen to me, I know I shouldn’t have left. It’s complicated. You still should have told me you were in danger. I still feel that something is coming.”
The older woman returned and sat back down holding a deck of Tarot cards.
“Oh, I didn’t say nothing was coming dear, just they aren’t coming for you. Now, let’s see what the cards say.”
She felt the air rush out of her lungs. She tried to suck in as much air as she could, but she felt a heaviness in her chest, tightness in her throat that blocked any air from finding her lungs. After a minute or two, she was able to draw her breath more easily.
The flicker of lights continued to dance along the walls as if they were demons in some ritualistic ceremony waiting for their chance to take her.
“You’re safe here. Nothing evil can come inside these walls, so clear your mind of such things.”
Her mouth hung open, speechless. She looked at Melissa, who shrugged her shoulders and watched as the woman began placing cards on the table.
She watched as Renna placed the cards on the table one by one looking at her facial expressions but if she saw anything in the cards it wasn’t’ revealed in her face. She would place one card down, look at it for a moment and proceed to place another card and repeated the process.
Once she was done with the cards she studied them for a moment, the stillness of the room was unnerving. She felt a lump in her throat and she swallowed hard to get it down. She wanted to ask her what she saw but did not want to know at the same time.
The Pink Panther tune rang from Emery’s purse causing her to jump. She fumbled it out of her purse and hit a button that muted the tune. The caller ID field showed Trevor was calling her. She apologized and dropped the phone back into her purse. A minute later the tune started again, and she retrieved the phone but this time, it was an unknown number. She hit the ignore button and switched the phone to vibrate before dropping it back in her purse.
Renna lets out a sigh as she stared at the cards that were laid out before her. Emery thought a sigh was not the type of sound that proceeded good news and felt her stomach begin to tighten.
She told Emery that there was negative energy around her. The spirits were not at rest.
“What do you mean, not at rest?” Emery questioned.
Renna clasped her hands to her mouth and let out a deep breath before moving them back to her lap. She looked over at the couch and then back to Emery.
“The spirit world knows that something is out of order. Even in death, there is a certain order to things. It’s a cycle much like life, and something is definitely wrong.”
She looked over at the couch again and then back to the cards before resting her eyes on Emery.
“She means me, M,” Melissa blurted.
“No. No. No. she doesn’t,” and then to Renna, “What are you saying?”
“Your sister knows. She’s known it all along. That is why she brought you to me.”
“What are you saying? What does she know?”
She looked over at Melissa, who stared back at her quietly and then faded away before her eyes. One moment she was as solid as the couch and the next moment she seemed to evaporate like something you would see in a science fiction movie.
“Darling, your sister doesn’t belong here. Her being here has left a door open that is disrupting the spirit world. The spirits aren’t after you, they are after her.”
“I don’t understand.”
“They see a door that is open that they cannot go through but she can, they see life and want a life which puts you in danger. The two worlds were not meant to co-exist.”
“I have seen spirits since I was a child, they have always co-existed. I’m sure others have opened the door before and found a way to close it, what are you saying?”
Renna leaned forward, her voice was low, but her eyes focused on Emery when she spoke, “You see spirits darling that have never closed the door. The longer the spirits linger with the living their essence dissolves, they lose themselves. You have seen it; they seem lost, defeated. They die all over again but this time is worse because their spirit becomes trapped in this world and they are lost forever with no chance to ever cross over again.”
Nothing made sense; she didn’t understand what Renna was trying to tell her. She remembered the woman she saw the day of the shooting, the helplessness she felt watching her staring at nothing.
“The spirits I see are ones who can’t leave this world, and they are stuck staring at a tree or something for eternity.”
“Some of them, yes, but not all of them.”
Emery saw her first spirit when she was seven years old. Her mother had taken her and her sister to visit their grandfather in a nursing home. Her grandfather was sick, and her mother was upset. She stood in the back of the room while her mother and her sister stood by her grandfather’s bed. She felt nervous, and the sight of her grandfather in that condition upset her so she kept her distance. That’s when she saw the woman sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. She stared at her grandfather but never looked at her or said a word. She seemed sick, her skin was loose and gray like, she remembered, and her eyes never moved from her grandfather.
Melissa had gestured for her to come next to the bed so her grandfather could see her. When they were leaving the room, Emery looked back at the chair; the woman remained transfixed on her grandfather. Emery asked her sister who the woman in the chair was in which her sister replied there was no one else in the room, and she should stop making up stories. Her grandfather passed away that night, and Emery always believed the woman in the chair was her grandmother.
Shaking away the remnants of the memory of long ago, Emery looked back at Renna, who was now holding her hands with both of hers. The woman’s eyes looked deeply at her, almost looking through her. She tried to pull her hands back, but the woman’s grip did not relent.
The room felt different, the air held a musty odor she hadn’t noticed before. The room was dimmer as the flickering light no longer danced along the walls but instead had succumbed to the lingering darkness. Only a trickle of light remained in a sea of consuming darkness.
“Your sister cannot stay,” the voice was wrong, a sharp bite to the words made her try to pull away again.
Grabbing her hands, Renna spoke again, “Great suffering will follow, they will come for her, they will come for you, and there will be no escape.”
She had seen spirits most of her life, and she knew the person that looked back at her was not Renna.
“What do you want?”
Renna chuckled a moment before letting out a long sigh as her eyes remained focused on her. Chills ran down her spine as she looked back at her. The room had gotten colder as the grip around her hands tightened, Renna leaned closer to her.
When she spoke, her voice was flat, devoid of emotion and it appeared that the eyes that fell upon her were filled with hatred.
“To warn you.”
Emery attempted to pull back her hands but Renna’s grip was too tight, she smiled at her struggle.
“Warn me about what?”
The smile faded, “A trial of death has commenced, the passage has been opened, and that passage leads to you.”
“Is this because of my sister?”
The Renna thing nodded.
“Leave my sister alone, leave me alone!”
Finally pulling free, she sprang up from the chair as Renna’s eyes followed her. Renna or what resided in her remained seated but followed her with her eyes as she made her way to the door. As she looked back, her face formed a big smile. Not a smile of someone that was happy to see you but more like a smile of someone you don’t want to ever see again telling you in a single gesture that they will see you soon.
She sprinted out the door and down three steps when she stopped suddenly as she realized she had left her purse inside. She took a breath and turned back toward the door as the spirit inside Renna stood on the doorstep, two feet away, holding her purse.
The smile was gone from its face thankfully. The thing that pretended to be Renna held out its left hand, fingers curled around the straps of Emery’s purse, the purse dangled in the air, its unblinking eyes transfixed on her. Renna no longer resided in the body and what looked back at her gave her chills as she could feel the darkness that hid behind those eyes.
She watched as the purse dropped at her feet and when she looked back up she found herself alone on the doorstep. The door was open, but the spirit inside Renna was no longer in sight. She scooped up her purse and ran down the walkway and jumped into her car.
She locked the doors, turned on the ignition and gave a final glance back at the house and saw the smiling spirit inside Renna gazing at her from the front window.
The first street she made a right and then a left at the next street. She came to a red stop light and made a quick right, nearly sideswiping a late model Nissan Sentra that blared its horn as it swerved to avoid her. She kept her eyes in front, not wanting to look in the mirror. She wasn’t afraid of finding a face looking back at her as much as focusing on the road ahead of her. She needed to get home, a need more than a want she realized but she didn’t know why.
She glanced at the passenger seat where it remained empty. Her sister was still somewhere else. She didn’t know why her sister disappeared again or what that thing inside Renna wanted. She felt that time was running out, that if she didn’t do something soon her sister would be trapped as an empty spirit or the thing inside Renna would be free to roam this world expressing less than best intentions on whoever would end up crossing paths with.
The sun had surrendered to the western horizon, setting past the mountain ridge just over an hour ago. The night was clear and the stars were bright. The moon, in the three-quarter phase, illuminated the sky.
Any other time, she would have thought the night was tranquil, peaceful, and beautiful. Not tonight. The darkness seemed more ominous; the shadows concealed creatures of the night as their preying eyes looked upon her as she drove by, she thought.
She turned down a small street and then realized in her haste it was the wrong street. She stopped and looked behind her shoulder to back up when she thought she saw something dart past the rear of her car. She didn’t see anything except a shadow of movement. She surveyed the area but saw nothing from the side mirror or out the side window.
Houses lined the street on either side; most of them with glowing windows and a man walked his dog on the farther end of the street moving away from her.
She took a breath and exhaled. She let her foot off the brake, shifted into reverse and backed out of the street. Before shifting the car into the drive, she looked at the street, the houses, and the shadows that lingered just beyond the street lamps reach. She didn’t feel as if anything hid in the shadows seeking the cloak of darkness to conceal them from her as much as the shadow themselves were looking back at her in plain view, taunting her.
She turned the wheel to the left, switched the gear to drive and jumped on the accelerator. She felt a chill go down her spine as she tried to push back the events of the past couple of hours out of her mind. The passenger seat remained as empty as the hope chest she held in her heart.
She fished out her cell phone from her purse and saw that she had six missed calls and three new voicemails. Four of the calls were from Trevor, and two were from an unknown number.
She looked back at the road and tried to navigate her phone to dial her voicemail. The first message was from Trevor at seven thirty-two in the evening, about an hour and a half ago. It had been only twenty minutes since she left Renna’s, a few blocks from her house now but as she got closer, she grew more apprehensive.
Perhaps Trevor had an important quest waiting for her in the mythical lounge. Trying to retrieve the messages now had become more important than rushing home. The closer she got to her home the less inclined she was to see what was waiting for her.
She pressed the voicemail button as she turned into her driveway. She put the car in park but left the engine running. She listened to the automated voice telling her she had three new messages. She waited a moment and then heard Trevor’s voice.
“Hey, I just saw the news, are you okay? I can’t believe they showed up at your house. Well, call me okay? Talk to you later. Bye.”
The phone beeped and announced the second message. She waited until the voice began.
“Ms. Hallindale, this is Detective Saunders. I wanted to check in with you. We weren’t able to stop the story before it was repeated in a later broadcast, I am sorry. My captain made a call to the network, and they have since pulled the story. I don’t think there is any cause for concern but to be safe if you happen to see anything out of the ordinary or anything suspicious please call me anytime day or night. Take care and again I am sorry this happened.”
The whole day had been filled with things out of the ordinary and suspicious, but she knew Detective Saunders could not help her.
She switched off the ignition and pulled out the keys. She opened the door when the automated voice announced the third message. It was from Trevor again but this time, he sounded panicked. She took a deep breath, pressed the phone tightly against her ear, exhaled and waited.
“Emery, where are you. A detective called me wanting to know if I heard from you. He said you’re not in any danger, but I should get in touch with you and now I am worried,” he paused to take a breath and then continued, “I’m coming over. Why won’t you answer. Anyway call me, I’m on my way, please call me and let me know you’re alright. See you soon.”
She clicked off the phone. She looked around and found Trevor’s car parked at the curb. She didn’t notice it when she pulled in. She engaged the lock, and the lights of her car flashed twice. She walked up the front path and stopped just short of the front door. It was open ajar, and the house was dark except a small light she guessed was coming from her bedroom at the back of the house.
The house was a three bedroom single story, approximately 1800 square feet. They had converted the third bedroom into an office since Emery and Melissa had done a lot of work from home. The house also had an attached garage that they had used for storage.
She pushed open the door enough to let in the light from the outside porch, but it seemed like the pale yellow glow did very little to penetrate the darkness inside. She stood on the front porch and listened for a moment. If Trevor was inside, she should have heard him. She thought of calling out to him, but she had seen too many movies where the girl called out just in time to find a machete slicing through her abdomen. She had wanted to keep her abdomen together and based on the day’s events, a quiet approach seemed to be the safest way in keeping all her body parts unsliced.
She entered the living room and stopped after taking a few steps. She knew she wasn’t alone and she wasn’t meaning Trevor, something else waited for her. She had always seen spirits, but now she had uncovered a new talent, sensing them. Perhaps she always had this talent, but it was a subtle hair raised on the back of the neck type of feeling. This new feeling was an intense in your face, heart racing, cold to the bone chill that screamed, “We’re here!”
If spirits were in the home and they most certainly were, walking around in the dark only put the burden on her as she was sure the dead didn’t have problems seeing in the dark. She snapped on the lamp closest to the front window and was surprised that the light wasn’t as bright as it should have been.
The light appeared bright when met directly, but as she followed its path out into the room, it seemed to dim quickly and almost completely fade before it crossed the middle of the room. She wasn’t sure what she was seeing.
Moving across the room, she switched on another lamp that sat directly diagonal to the one she had just turned on and the light splashed outward chasing the darkness from the far wall out towards the hallway and kitchen area, but it dimmed as it reached the middle of the room which made no sense to her. The light on one side of the room and the light on the opposite side lit up almost all the areas but left a darkness in the center, almost a complete circle of blackness that seemed as thick as fog but as dark as night.
She walked around the couch, back towards the front door as the ball of darkness remained in the center of the living room. The darkness didn’t quite reach the floor but hovered just above it and seemed almost as round as a circle, not huge but not small either. She had walked entirely around it and couldn’t determine how deep it was. From any angle, it seemed as if she were looking directly at it.
The more she stared at it, the more it baffled her. She found herself inches away from it without any memory of walking towards it. It seemed to have a shimmer to it, a wave of motion that she didn’t detect before. The light that cast from the lamp behind her did nothing to penetrate the darkness before her. The more she looked at it, the more at peace she felt.
She raised her hand keeping it a few inches from the dark mass. It didn’t let off any heat, and it made no sound to identify what she was looking at. Somehow she sensed that it saw her, it yearned for her, and it needed her. She realized she was referring to the mass as a living thing but as bizarre as it was to her, it also seemed right.
This was not what waited for her, this felt more comforting, safe. Whatever the cause of it, she felt glad to be in its presence. She wondered if she could walk through it if it would take her somewhere overwhelmingly peaceful.
She could no less look away from the mass than look through it. She leaned closer; her nose was only an inch or two from the mass as a ripple began from the top and quickly rolled down. The room began to grow darker; she could see nothing more than the complete blackness before her, around her. She felt neither warm nor cold, and the utter silence was soothing.
Movement of something caught her attention. She didn’t see it nor did she hear it but more sensed it. The entire room was dark, but as she gazed deeper in front of her, she could see a small dot of white, a light perhaps growing in the distance. She wasn’t sure if she was reaching out in front of her but she felt that she should be as the light either moved towards her or grew larger from a stationary location.
As the light grew so did the realization that she was no longer in her living room, the room had vanished, and she saw darkness all around her. She took a breath but couldn’t feel it, couldn’t sigh or stutter, or scream. She tried to scream, but the saturation of complete silence overwhelmed any sound she tried to make.
She couldn’t tell if she was standing still or moving in circles. She looked towards the light, no heat radiated from it, but it scared her. Shadows crossed the path of the light as it moved towards her, she couldn’t make out any shapes, but she heard them, voices, whispers, faint cry’s echoed around her. The voices spoke in a murmur, so faint she couldn’t make out any words, so quick she felt like a timer was counting down to zero, an anticipation of nothing good. The peacefulness that once brushed alongside her quickly turned into a blind panic the more she watched the light. Closing her eyes, wishing she was anywhere else, a voice, a single word erupted out of the darkness, echoed through her ears, loud and clear, her name.
She kept her eyes closed, letting out a breath, she felt her hands over her face. She opened her eyes and peeked through her fingers to find her living room once more. The blackness was gone, no longer hovering in the center of the room. Unsure if she felt safe enough to lower her defenses, she kept her hands over her face when she heard her name once more. Lowering her hands, she turned around and found her sister standing a few feet in front of her, tears in her eyes.
Tears streaked down her sister’s cheeks, the woeful look in her eyes almost brought her to tears. She walked over to her sister who stood by the front door. She wanted to reach out and hug her sister and although she appeared as solid as anything else in the room, she knew she couldn’t.
“What were you thinking? Don’t do that, ever. You hear me?”
Her sister’s words seemed to swell up in her ears, echoing each syllable into a steady ring. She clasped her hands over her ears to ward of the ringing. It was as if she were in a tunnel and the lasting echo bouncing off concrete walls lingered until the words slowly faded. She lowered her hands as the last remnants shrank to a whisper.
She never knew a spirit could cause a physical reaction; furthermore, she had no idea what she did to cause such a reaction from her sister. Looking up at her sister, she seemed to be just as shocked as her wide open eyes and hanging mouth suggested.
“What the hell?” Emery shot out, still puzzled over her sister’s actions. Melissa stood quiet, her eyes glared at her. Melissa seemed to be sneering at her which made no sense. What was going on? When a crash erupted from behind her, she realized that Melissa wasn’t looking at her but behind her.
Turning around, no one loomed behind her. The crash which sounded like a dozen of books falling to the floor came from an open door at the end of the hall, her room.
She took a step towards the room when her sister said, “Someone is here.”
She had forgotten about Trevor, with everything that had happened in the last few minutes, she realized that Trevor must be in her room. She was going to kill him if he messed up her room. Leaving her sister behind, she marched down the hall.
“Relax sis, it’s only my soon to be dead best friend.”
She stopped just before the open door when her sister appeared in front of her. She had almost walked right through her. The sight of seeing her sister appear and disappear still unnerved her.
She could have easily walked through her, but she felt that would have been a type of disrespect and the last thing she wanted to do was disrespect a spirit, especially if the spirit was her sister.
“It’s not safe here.”
She wished her sister could just spit it out if she had something to say. She was still in befuddlement over the episode in the living room now with her cryptic warning, her patience was drawing thin.
“If you want to tell me something then say it. I don’t have time for this, and don’t think I have forgotten about you leaving me at Renna’s because I haven’t. And back there in the living room, you better tell me what is going on.”
Melissa stood looking back at her. She could see her sister wanted to say something, her mouth opened partially and then closed. Her eyes looked away, and Emery walked through her sister.
When she entered her bedroom, the first thing she noticed was that the dresser had toppled over. Contents that once sat on top of the dresser, candles, and books, were spewed across the floor. Her heart dropped to the pit of her stomach when she saw legs protruding from beneath the dresser. The dresser had fallen face first and now rested directly on top of the upper body, while legs extended back towards the bed.
She yelled Trevor’s name as she tried to move the dresser off of him. The dresser was solid oak, with the drawers full, this only added to the weight as she attempted to push it up. Her fingers found a hold on each side but then slipped off as she tried to lift it. She didn’t want to it to fall back on top of him if she lost her grip so she tried to tilt it to one side, away from the bed but the bottom corner of the dresser was nudged up against the wall which made it difficult to maneuver.
She called out to him again, but he remained motionless. She bent down at the knees; using both her hands gripping on one side she pulled the dresser from the wall and then lifted the dresser a little while the drawers and all their contents spilled onto the floor and over Trevor. Void of the drawers, the dresser, was easier to move, and she heaved it away from him and landed on its back towards the closet.
She looked down at Trevor and then stopped. The closet door was open. Her heart began a cadence in her chest as she looked back towards the closet. She saw the shoes, black smudged boots that were as foreign to her closet as a yellow sundress. The boots took a step forward and then a barrel of a shotgun raised to greet her.
She unthinkingly took a step back as the man stepped out of the closet. Not any man, a familiar one. The smile, the shaven head, the dark, deathly eyes sent flashes in her mind of the day of the shooting, the same eyes looked upon her now as they did that day.
“Tell your friend to come out, let’s have a party.”
She met his eyes as they narrowed on her.
“I’m not playing around, your friend in the hall.”
Was he able to see her sister she thought as she looked towards the hall and she saw her sister standing in the doorway? He couldn’t see her, but he probably heard her talking out loud to her sister. Perhaps she could use that to her advantage.
“My friend ran to call the police. So you better just go, they will be here any minute now.”
He laughed as he lowered the barrel of the shotgun. Keeping one hand on the gun, he rubbed his chin with his other before motioning her towards the bed. She looked at the bed and then back at him as a flurry of anger was swelling up inside of her.
“Get over there,” he said while using his gun to point towards the bed.
She moved slowly and stood at the foot of the bed.
His voice was rough, tired, and scratchy.
“What do you want from me?” she asked as she sat on the edge of the bed.
Keeping his eyes on her, he took a step towards her and then kicked a large drawer off of Trevor.
“M, don’t do anything stupid, okay I will think of something,” Melissa said from the door, but the man paid no attention.
When she looked toward the door, he quickly glanced over and then back at her.
“Is someone there?” Then towards the door, he shouted, “If you are out there, people are going to die unless you get your ass in here.”
“No one’s there.”
“Are you fucking with me? Why do you keep looking over there? Oh, you’re thinking of jumping up and running out of here. Ah, sweet little thing, I would blow a chunk out of your back before you made it down the hall.”
He smiled revealed his yellowed teeth. It reminded her of the smile the thing inside Renna had given her before she left, the smugness, the reassurance, the arrogance.
Trying not to look down at Trevor, she focused her gaze on the man; the barrel was pointed at the ground a few feet from Trevor’s head.
“What do you want you sick son of a bitch!”
“I love your spirit sweet thang, I do have to say I have never shot the same person twice, so this will be a first. You saw me, you are the only witness, Jesus you are cute but you ain’t too bright.”
Melissa moved around the room and swiped at the shotgun only to see her hand move through it. She moved behind the man and started punching him but the blows landed harmlessly through him.
He continued, “When I saw you on the news, and they said they were outside your house, well damn I thought, it was a sign. A town this size wasn’t too hard to find your house. Hell, the news damn near drew me a map to it.”
“The police know who you are; it’s only a matter of time before they catch you. There is a video showing the shooting.” She said although she didn’t really know for sure and the police had never volunteered any aspects of their investigation with her.
Kicking another drawer off Trevor as it banged off the far wall with a deep thud, he rested his foot on Trevor’s back. As his foot seemed to press down, Trevor moaned underneath.
“The police don’t have jack. That market ain’t got no cameras. Jesus woman, you know a boy got locked up in that market, his daddy just left him, and somehow the piss ant shit bag who owned the place never saw him when he closed the store,” he paused as he wiped the spittle from his mouth then continued, “the boy got hungry being in there all night and found something to eat. A giant gumball, like one of those you get in those coin slot things, well this one was on a bottom shelf, and he ripped open the bag, shoved it in his mouth and choked to death. No camera in the store, no one took the blame. The boy died, and the owner just went along his day as nothing ever happened.”
She knew the boy he spoke of was the same one she saw the day of the shooting. She remained silent and waited for him to continue.
“The owner said the boy must have snuck in, but the boy’s father, the dirtbag that he was, forgot about him because he was high as hell. So I told my brother just before I shot him that I wished him a good journey to hell and I would see him there soon.”
Her fear was giving way to anger. She watched the man as he sneered more than smiled at the retelling of his story as if he was reliving the moment of shooting his brother. She was breathing through her mouth, blowing hard. Her fist clenched tightly, her nails digging into the palms of her hands.
“Did I say something to piss you off? I’m done with this shit.”
He moved the barrel of the gun over Trevor’s back. He grasped it in both hands, the butt of the gun resting against his shoulders as he seemed to be taking aim.
She didn’t remember moving from the bed, but she was on her feet only a few feet from the man and the words wouldn’t stop coming out. She was yelling at him, he turned around stunned by her sudden charge.
“You killed my sister! Why, because you were upset. You were unhappy. You have a fucked up family so you destroy others.”
He cocked his head sideways, keeping the barrel of the gun trained on Trevor. His face flush red as his eyes burned through her. Small wrinkles formed at the corners of his eyes and his lips parted slightly.
“The little boy, I saw him, and he was sad. He was miserable, crying, and I don’t know why if he had a family like you, he is better off dead.”
In an instant the man was on her, he swung the butt of his gun around and struck her hard in the left temple with such force that it knocked her backward onto the bed and then off the side until she landed face first on the floor. The side of her head slammed hard against the wall. Pain ignited in her abdomen, throbbing jolts of pain shot behind her eyes.
She remained motionless for a few moments and then felt herself being lifted up, pulled by her hair. The fire in her gut and the pulsating currents of pain in her head made her nauseous, dizzy, and disoriented.
She landed on the bed, her feet hanging off the side and then a second or two later he jumped on top of her, straddling her. His weight was pressing down on her, she couldn’t breathe, and the room was getting darker. She tilted her head to the side, and he gripped her under the chin and forced her to face him. She looked at him and then tried to move her head away, but he kept his grip firm, fingers pinching into her skin.
He muttered something, but the words weren’t clear, spittle sprayed her face as he continued to rant. Through all the commotion and yelling she was able to determine one thing, he no longer was holding the gun.
“Bitch, I am going to gut you like a pig. You didn’t know my nephew, you’ve never seen him, you’re just trying to get into my head.”
She choked, gagged, fought to swallow some air as the force of his body on top of her was crushing her stomach. He pressed his fingers harder against her chin, feeling that at any moment her chin was going to crumble beneath his grasp. Tears spilled from her eyes, and she took small, shallow breaths.
He released his grip from her chin, but he remained atop of her, his brown eyes piercing down at her.
“You don’t know my family, you don’t know me. You stupid bitch, you have anything to say before I kill you like I killed your sister.”
His words were muffled; the room stopped moving, and she struggled for air. Her mouth was dry and when she spoke she could hear the unsteadiness in her voice. Her words were barely louder than a whisper. As she spoke, he strained to hear her, he leaned closer, his rank breath blowing against her check.
“Red shirt, stained, brown shorts, brown hair maybe about ten years old. Big brown eyes. He was in the store that day, he knows what you are.”
He leaned back, his eyes widened. He looked at her for a moment or two without saying a word. He shook his head, looked away from her.
“You don’t know who I am; you don’t know what I can do,” she said as her voice grew a little louder.
“M, stop it! I can’t stop him, you’re only making it worse,” she heard Melissa’s voice from somewhere in the room.
He leaned closer, his mouth was a few inches away from hers, she tried to move her head, but he grabbed her chin again. His fingernails dug in deep, enough to puncture the skin as slivers of blood rushed to the surface and trickled down her throat.
“Yea, I know who you are, I saw you on the news. You’re one of those crazies, nothing but a fake. Don’t sit here and try to mess with me, it ain’t gonna work.”
She struggled beneath his grip; his eyes bore down on her with intense hatred. If looks could kill, she would have been dead the moment he laid eyes on her. He released her chin, and she turned her head to the side although he remained straddled on top of her.
Her hands were pinned beneath his legs. She remained still afraid any movement might ignite his rage once more. Her sister appeared at the side of the bed, tears streaming down her face. So many thoughts ran through her mind. How could her sister be crying? Do spirits feel emotion? Why is it so cold in here?
The last question troubled her more than any other one because it wasn’t cold a few moments ago and now it felt frigid. It wasn’t just her as the man shivered too and cursed under his breath about the damn effing cold. When she turned to look at him, she saw that he was looking in the other direction.
She let out a deep breath which caused him to focus his attention back to her.
“Enough with this, we need to end this,” he grunted through clenched teeth as he began to move off her.
She was relieved when his weight lifted from her but also feared what would happen next. She looked over at her sister who was no longer looking at her but seemed focused on another part of the room. Her eyes were mesmerized it appeared, wide-eyed and mouth gaped open as if something horrifying had her attention.
The man reappeared in her field of vision, muttered something and raised his gun toward the floor where Trevor lay; she saw something move in another part of the room. No one else was in the room, but she knew it was the same part of the room her sister was focused on. The man was oblivious to any movement which concerned her more.
She tried to peek over to the side of the room where she glimpsed movement, but the man stood in front of her blocking that part of the room.
Her sister mumbled, “Oh no!”
She looked over at her sister when the bedroom door slammed shut with such force that it caused the window on the opposite side of the room to crack. Her sister didn’t react, but the man snapped his head to his left as he cursed in surprise.
She pushed herself up, warding off the pain in her gut and head. She moved to her knees looking around until she saw her sister now by the cracked window but she wasn’t looking at her, still her focus was on the other part of the room, the bedroom door.
The man held the gun out in front of him and aimed it at the door. He muttered something and then the closet door slammed shut. He turned and squeezed off a shot sending shards of wood flying in the air upon the impact of the slug. The sound of the blast echoed in her ears.
The man kept his aim on the remnants of the closet door; spit dripping from his half-open mouth. Emery looked over at her sister who seemed oblivious of the gun blast as her attention remained on the bedroom door. She remained on the bed; Trevor moaned from the floor and began to move his head.
She looked down at Trevor who had his eyes opened; he looked up at her as she put a finger over her lips, and moved her eyes to the man. Trevor got the hint as he remained motionless and quiet, trying not to draw attention to himself.
She shifted her weight and slowly slid off the bed where her feet met the wood floor. She stood at the edge of the bed furthest from the man. She watched the man as he stood unmoving, yelling at the closet for whoever it was to come out or he was going to shoot again. When her sister suddenly appeared beside her, she gasped but fortunately it was not loud enough to be heard.
Her sister remained quiet, but there was something in her eyes that revealed more than she wanted to know. Terror. Her sister looked at her and then slowly turned her attention to the bedroom door and then back to her. In other words, look at the damn bedroom door, she surmised.
She looked away from her sister towards the door when the man turned around in the same instant and smiled. He took a step towards her but movement from the corner of her eye caught her attention and she turned to her left, towards the bedroom door and she felt all the air leave her lungs.
A dark figure stood in the corner of the room, black hair lying flat against its face, eyes peering through the strands of hair. The figure wasn’t tall but wasn’t short perhaps maybe five foot nine wearing what appeared to be a gray robe the kind a monk would wear, the hood was pulled back. The figure smiled the same smile she saw on Renna’s face only an hour or so earlier. She knew this was the same entity.
“What are you looking at?”
The bedroom window suddenly imploded sending shards of glass everywhere, Emery turned from the blast covering her face with her arms. The man wasn’t as quick as a piece of glass embedded in the flesh of his right cheek causing him to scream. Blood flowed down the side of his face, the gun no longer in his grasps as both hands tended to his wound.
The figure looked at her; she saw a fleck of red shine through its eyes as the figure stepped towards her. Looking at the man who moaned in agony, the gun on the floor, Trevor scampering to his feet, the figure stopped and stared at her.
The figure was a man, but she couldn’t see too much of his features beneath the robe and hair. She noticed the fingers on each hand were long and bony but not like a skeleton just minimal flesh causing the bones to show through.
Trevor tugged at her arm, urging her out of the room but she couldn’t take her eyes off the figure, this time, it wasn’t smiling.
“Come on, let’s get out of here!”
She couldn’t move, her feet were numb as she couldn’t shake the gaze of the figure, the red eyes unblinking back at her. She saw Trevor bend down, reaching for something when the man, bleeding from his face charged sending both of them into the far wall.
Stunned by the sudden motion, she was able to break her gaze long enough to see the man, red-faced, spit splattering wrestle control of the gun from Trevor’s hands. The shard of glass still protruded from his cheek, the gun came free and spun onto the floor beside them.
Emery moved towards the gun and kicked it away. The man turned and looked up at her, his eyes bloodshot, and his face was swelling from his injury. He had one knee on Trevor’s chest but didn’t appear to be applying any pressure as he stared at her.
“Who else is here, come out and show yourself.”
Her head still throbbed, and she felt a warm oozing from her gut, perhaps the stitches had been torn. The pain wasn’t as prevalent as it had been and she was able to move around with little difficulty.
“It won’t let us leave.” she shouted at him.
Moving to his feet, he clutched Emery’s throat with one bloody hand squeezing it hard. She started to choke and cough.
“I’m leaving for a moment, right after I finish this.”
She felt the room move, get darker. The figure moved behind the man. It smiled, eyes brightened. It hissed. She moved her hand and grabbed the piece of glass and pushed it deeper in the to the man’s cheek. The glass cut her hand, and he instantly let go of her throat as he screamed. She fell backward and landed on of the drawers from the dresser striking her tailbone.
The lamp on her nightstand suddenly turned on. The light began as a soft glow and steadily grew brighter, growing in intensity dispelling any shadows that hid in the room.
Emery moved away from the drawers and got onto her knees. She shielded her eyes from the immense light, the man cursed, but she couldn’t see anything except the brightness that illuminated by the small lamp.
Suddenly the lamp on the other side table turned on and followed the same illuminating pattern as the first one. Both of them continued to brighten with the second one soon matching the first one’s luminosity. She looked away from the lights as an immense field of white filled the room. She first heard the sound of the popping transmitters before the glass exploded. She expected to be showered with shards of glass but luckily it was contained within each of the lamp shades.
The room was cast in shadows once more, the only light now emanated from the hallway. It took her a few moments for her eyes to adjust. She looked around the room, she felt disoriented. The man stood a few feet from her holding his cheek with his right hand.
“What the hell is going on? What are you doing?” he yelled at her. She got to her feet. Blood flowed between his fingers as he attempted to clutch the wound in his cheek. She glimpsed her sister who stood next to her but trying to keep her focus on the man. Trevor yelled something, the man screamed as he lunged at her. She felt her body lift off the ground and fell sideways toward the shattered closet door. She heard an agonizing scream, looked up toward Trevor, his mouth draped open.
She knew the scream had not come from him, she whirled around saw her sister and her face had taken on an ashen color, beyond her she saw the man. His upper body was through the window, his legs twitched, and the wall surrounding the window was sprayed brownish red.
She couldn’t take her eyes off of him as he slowly slid backward from the window and came to rest leaning against the wall; his head slumped onto his right shoulder. A long shard of glass protruded from his throat, blood spilled out and flowed down his chest. His eyes rolled to the back of his head, air bubbled through the blood in his neck. He gasped, gurgled and then his left leg stopped twitching as a loud gasp transitioned to cold silence. She felt her legs go numb, and she fell to her knees, finally looking away from the dead man.
Trevor called out to her, saying he was going to get help, he begged for her to come with him but she felt more like she was in a tunnel, sounds were funneled, and everything seemed to move slowly.
Melissa knelt down next to Emery. She said nothing. Neither one of them spoke a word for what seemed like an eternity. Only when she turned to look at her sister did she see the dark mass in the corner of the room by the bed. The dark figure moved toward the black mass, eyes staring at her.
“M, I have to go. I can’t stay here.”
Tears clung to the rim of her eyes, “But I already lost you once; I can’t do this without you. Please, don’t go.”
Emery thought back to that black mass she encountered in the living room, the peace she felt from it. It was a passageway, one that was meant for her sister.
“The longer I stay here, there’s more of a chance something else will come back. I can’t stay M, I love you nutball, but this is my time.”
“It was you, you pushed me out of the way,” her sister put a hand on her shoulder, “you did, didn’t you?”
“M, it’s my time; you have to let me go. We both know that I don’t belong here.”
The figure moved closer to the dark mass. She knew her sister was right, it was her time. The figure was here to collect her sister.
“I don’t know if I can go on without you Mel, you have been my whole life. How do I do it?”
Melissa placed her hand under Emery’s chin.
“Like you always have. I will always be here,” she said moving her hand to Emery’s heart. “
“Earlier, in the living room,” she glanced at the black mass in the corner of the room, “what would have happened if you didn’t pull me out?”
“I never pulled you out; it just wasn’t your time.”
Melissa stood up and walked toward the black mass. Tears spilled from Emery’s eyes. The dark figure looked back at her before he turned and disappeared into the mass. Melissa stood motionless looking back at her as the mass grew around her and slowly both faded away.
She heard the sound of approaching sirens, the room felt empty as she couldn’t look away from the corner of the room where her sister had vanished forever.
A few minutes later police officers arrived with their weapons drawn. One officer was yelling something at her but she couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t move her eyes from the corner of the room. A female officer arrived and brought her to her feet. She took Emery by the arm and led her outside. She saw Trevor waiting by a police cruiser. Splashes of Red and blue lights lit up the night. An ambulance pulled up, the roar of its siren slowly faded as it came to a stop. She saw Detective Saunders and his partner arrive. As they approached, tears exploded from her, and she had to be held up by the female office. All the anger, all the grief, all the fear and all the sadness that had been pooling inside broke loose, and she no longer tried to hold back, the barrier surrounding her emotions had been broken.
She had later found out that the man was identified as Morten Briggs, an unemployed contractor who had a history with the police. Detective Saunders did confirm a boy was discovered at the small market by the owner, he died from choking. The owner was not seen as negligent. The clerk who was working in the store that day was the owner’s son.
When the police went to notify the little boy’s father of the incident, they had found him dead with a gunshot wound to the head.
The mother of the child could not be located and had been absent for some time. The boy was nine years old. Emery told Detective Saunders the events of the night, including what Mr. Briggs had told her about the boy and how he had killed his own brother because of what happened.
She was kept at the police station for a couple of hours before she and Trevor were released. She repeatedly refused to go to the hospital since her injuries didn’t appear to be serious and rather opted to be taken to Trevor’s home. Her house was still a crime scene, and all she wanted to do was sleep.
Over the next couple of weeks, she encountered more spirits. Although she still occasionally ran into the gray looking spirits, most of the spirits she encountered retained their color and looked to make connections with her. Knowing that the gray spirits were the ones who had stayed too long and had become trapped; she felt deep sadness for them. No matter how much she would try, she never could communicate with them.
At first, it all seemed overwhelming. She was consumed with her own grief, constant reminders of her sister every time she was home; heard a song on the radio or just closed her eyes and thought.
It was Trevor who first urged her to consider communicating with the spirits she encountered. She was thankful that none of them visited her home; they more or less seemed to be confined to a certain location. Or as she thought about it, not confined but lingered.
The locations always held a point of significance for the spirit, a clue on how they came to pass. She learned that in some instances when a person died, their passageway didn’t immediately appear. Sometimes it appeared days later or even weeks while other times it was immediate. She didn’t know why this happened just that it did.
Not all the spirits needed help, some just lingered a little longer holding on to the life they knew before their passageway appeared. Others wanted help in some fashion. Emery didn’t understand at first how she could help them. She learned that each time was different. Some spirits couldn’t accept they had passed, some refused to move on and needed to be encouraged while others sought justice for events that happened to them.
She couldn’t help all of them. She knew she had more to learn. She still carried the grief of her sister’s passing in her heart but it no longer consumed her like it had which allowed her to focus more on her gift.
She found herself out of her house more often, and large crowds no longer seemed as suffocating as they used to be. She still would not go out looking for them, but she also didn’t try to avoid them. If she found herself in a room full of people, she no longer spent her time looking for an exit.
Her friendship with Trevor had become closer, but she refused to take it as Trevor put it, to the next level. Although she had accepted the fact that she was attracted to him and becoming involved with him on a more personal level was something she could see herself doing, she wasn’t emotionally ready for it.
A lot had happened in the nearly three months since Morten Briggs broke into her home and almost killed her. Nearly three months since she had last seen her sister. She never imagined being able to live without her, to tolerate a life without her laughter or her beautiful smile. She realized though that her sister’s imprint was felt all throughout her life, and she was a better person for having had the time she did with her.
The more she interacted with the spirits, the more she understood how to help them. She was still learning, but she felt more confident each day. She did encounter spirits on occasion, whose intent was more sinister than others, but she kept her distance from them. They would generally regard her with bitter contempt but eventually would move on. She never had reason to believe that they could do her any harm, and she didn’t know how to help them so she tried to do her best to ignore them.
On a Friday morning, she decided to take a walk, and she found herself outside the market. She had not been there since the day of the shooting. She looked in the window and almost walked away until she caught a glimpse of the boy in the store. She felt her stomach drop, how could she have forgotten about him?
The boy stood by the ice cooler, looking at her through the window, tears clinging to the brim of his eyes. This was the same look she remembered seeing the first time she saw him. She knew she had to go in there. She took a breath, decided she needed some gum and an antacid anyways and stepped in the market as the bell rang signifying her arrival.
She walked past the counter as an older woman nodded at her behind the thick glass that shielded her from behind the counter. She moved down the aisle and stopped when she reached the coolers. She reached out her hand, the boy placed him in hers, and the two of them turned toward the black mass as it appeared at the back of the store.
The boy seemed reluctant at first as they approached the mass. As they stood just outside of it, she could feel a soothing warmth from it, and when she looked down at the boy, he was smiling. She let go of his hand, and he looked up at her revealing wonderment in his light brown eyes.
She had learned how to use her energy along with the spirits energy to form a bond which allowed her to do things as hold their hand or even hug them if the situation ever arose.
The boy stood there smiling as the mass moved toward him and slowly enveloped him. Before he disappeared, he waved at her.
She thought it was funny that in all the stories ever told about after life experiences it was always described as a bright white light showing the way when it, in fact, it was the opposite. It was always a thick dark mass; the light people saw was at the end of the passageway. She thought of the black mass as a representation of death and once you have accepted your passing by walking into it, only then would you see the light at the end of the tunnel that would lead you to the other side.
Matt Byron lives in Southern California. He starting writing short stories when he was younger and took an interest in Thrillers, Paranormal, Suspense, Fantasy and Mystery.
A student of the written word, he loves to read as much as he can. He loves to write stories that take readers on a journey.
Matt is also a big sports fan following Baseball, Football, and Hockey. In addition to writing and sports, he also loves the outdoors and music.
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Pine Brook Falls
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For Emery Hallindale, seeing spirits of the dead has always been a part of her life. Despite the fact that she cannot communicate with them, she has never stopped trying to understand why. One fateful day her life as she knows it changes forever. She must face a darkness from beyond and confront a sinister threat that plunges her into a fight for her life.