Lil sits at a conference room table with three executive-looking types on the other side. She feels like she is at a job interview rather than in the office of paranormal investigators. Thanks, Bill, for sending me here, she thinks as she sips dark roast coffee from a Styrofoam cup.
Brenda, the petite woman with a dark bob, stares at Lil with unnerving, unblinking blue eyes. “So when did all this start again?”
“Last week, last Monday night. I had this nightmare and it felt real. Since then I’ve been seeing black shadows in my peripheral vision.”
Arturo, a skinny man with dark stubble on his face and a bowl haircut, shrugs. “Gotten your eyes checked? Could just be a reflection off your glasses.”
“I see it even when I’m not wearing the glasses. And, no. I haven’t gotten my eyes checked. Listen, I appreciate your time,” Lil begins to say, exasperation setting in as their disbelief had been apparent for the past twenty minutes.
The third man, Josh, who’s been quiet up until now, raises his palm, his eyes, an unusual shade of amber and hazel, almost hypnotize Lil. “Give me just a second,” he says. “What happened last Monday? Did you get upset with someone? Have an accident?”
Frowning, Lil shakes her head as she settles back in the gray leather chair. “I don’t remember being upset. My life, up until a week ago, was just ordinary. I’m ordinary.”
“Nothing’s upset you?”
Lil thinks back to last Monday and remembers how Sarah Chevalier bragged about how upper management loved her ideas for the EarthTones account, ideas and work that had been Lil’s, except she had no way to prove it and if she had said something about how adorable, young Sarah Chevalier had taken her ideas and used them as her own, she would have looked like the miserable hag that some of her colleagues called her behind her back.
“You’ve thought of something?” Josh asked.
“Yes, I got upset over something at work. It was minor.”
Josh shakes his head. “But it didn’t feel minor to you.”
“No. It was important to me and there wasn’t anything I could do.” Lil takes a deep breath. “It made me want to drink.”
“That’s a problem?” Josh asks.
“It was a problem. I guess it’s still a problem, but I’ve been sober for two years.”
“So when you got home, your emotions were pretty strong and then?”
“Nothing really. I made a cup of herbal tea and tried to go to sleep. I had insomnia. It took a couple of hours and then I fell deeply asleep and had this nightmare and I was terrified.” Lil could feel the emotions, the cold terror, her ears listening for steps that she knew she’d heard. She’d closed her eyes because she knew that she would see Jess’ face if she kept them open. Jess who would accuse her of abandonment.
Even now, sitting in this office, she feels the terror again. She feels the hairs on her arms rise as if an electric current passes through her.
Brenda glances around. “Shit. Do you feel that?”
Josh stands up and approaches Lil. “Lilian, could you open your eyes?”
Lil shakes her head. “I’m a little afraid to. Jess is here.”
The temperature in the room drops significantly. Lil feels warm fingers on her wrist and opens her eyes to look at Josh. Over his shoulder she sees Jess and her eyes widen.
“We’re not alone,” Brenda says in a singsong voice.
Slowly Josh turns toward the shadow of darkness that weaves between opaque and transparent.
“How did Jess die?” Josh asks.
“Our Uncle killed her.”
“She’s your sister?” he asks. Lil nods. “She blames you?”
“I blame me. I wasn’t there to protect her.”
“I’m not liking the feel of this,” Brenda says.
Josh nods. “Can you ban the ghost?”
Brenda glares at him. “I’ve got nothing on me. Arturo get my pack. Josh, you’d better get her out of here.”
“I don’t think we have that option,” Josh says.
Lil watches as the dark shadow shapes into her older sister and then swirls like smoke to something amorphous, something evil. Jess had never been evil. Jess may have had evil thoughts, but those were directed at their Uncle. Jess had always loved her, hadn’t she?
Lil feels fingers entwine with hers and sees that Josh is now holding her hand. She looks up into his eyes, which are green now, the shade of emeralds. She feels softness, peace, light suffuse through her. The coldness enveloping the room dissipates.
“It’s working,” Brenda says softly.
The specter disappears and Lil feels the anxiety she’d been carrying around with her evaporate. “It’s over?” she asks, certain that the answer will be “yes.”
Brenda laughs, a crackling sound without humor. “Oh, no. Not by a long shot. What you felt was Josh’s internal beacon of goodness as we like to call it. Evil reacts to it, but it doesn’t disappear. The spirit has to be banned.”
end 10/26/2016 (2)