Lil watches as Brian the tech guy for PN Associates sets up electronic equipment throughout her townhouse. Lots of wires, tiny boxes, scopes that look like cameras, microphone, the words smoke and mirrors come to mind.
Josh has a canister of salt and she eyes him, skeptically. “Are you going to cook?” she asks.
“Purification circle. Do you mind if I pour some in a circle on your vinyl floor?” he asks.
She shrugs. “Knock yourself out.” Mumbo jumbo is another phrase that pops into her mind. But maybe with all of this she’ll sleep better. Five nights without sleep was definitely catching up with her.
He explains to her that the purification circle will keep the evil entity from harming them as they try to banish it.
Brenda has walked through every room in the house, making verbal notes into her phone. She arrives in the kitchen and watches Josh pour the salt in a circle.
Arturo arrives with pillar candles that he places at four directional spots slightly within the circle. Lil watches as he lights them and then wonders how easy it is to get candle wax up from vinyl. All of the electronics just seem so crazily disparate from the candles and salt. Perhaps there’ll be a priest and an exorcism next.
“I thought ghosts stay in the place where they died,” Lil says.
Brenda shakes her head. “That’s a popular misconception. Many do stay because they’re confused. Many evil spirits tend to move. They’re not so confused.”
Lil nods as if this all makes perfect sense. Nothing makes sense. None of this. She is a pragmatic person. No spirituality. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Well, of course, she could see the image of Jess. That was no comfort.
Josh gestures for Lil and Brenda to enter the circle with him. Arturo joins Brian to monitor the equipment.
“Lil, I’m going to start talking to you like I did at our offices. I want you to just speak honestly and let whatever emotions you feel come through. This is what we’re working with. The spirit is feeding off of your negative emotions kind of like a succubus.”
“S-u-c-c-u-b-u-s. A being that feeds off of emotions.”
Lil stands next to Josh, her arms wrapped around her torso. Suddenly she feels nervous. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. It feels definitely creepy. Dusk has fallen and the wind’s picked up. The dogwood branch in front scratches her bay window.
“Lil, what happened to Jess?”
“My Uncle killed her.”
“He didn’t want us there. He called us leeches. He killed my Aunt. My mother’s sister.”
“Why wasn’t he in prison?”
“The police couldn’t prove it. They never found her body. Jess and I think he threw her body over the Corgan Bridge and that the river took it out to sea.”
“Did you say anything to the police?”
The flames on the candles sway rapidly and Lil feels a cold draft swish across her face. Her eyes widen at Josh who merely continues to stare at her. He nods. He points to his eyes as if to tell her to just focus on him. Brenda starts to chant something. It sounds like Latin, but Lil wouldn’t really know Latin from Greek or Aramaic or pig Latin, for that matter.
The lights flicker out and then the candles hiss into darkness. Josh grabs Lil’s hand. Brian yells and then there’s a loud thump as though someone has been thrown against a wall. If Lil were the screaming type, she would be doing that now.
“I’m okay,” Brian yells.
Brenda continues to chant. Nothing happens for several moments and then Arturo appears with a battery-operated lantern.
“Weirdest damn thing, Josh,” Arturo says. “I don’t think it’s a single entity.”
“My readings showed two energy surges from different parts of the house.”
The lights come back on. Lil supposes that Brian must have flipped the breaker. She tries to focus on what Arturo’s saying, but it’s nonsense to her. She glances down at the salt circle, notices that it’s been rubbed away.
“I thought the circle was supposed to be impenetrable.”
They all glance from the break in the salt to the black hand print shadowed with red next to Brenda’s boot.
“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” Brian says.