Part VI – Chapter 38 – Plans of Widows and Ghosts

The group in the small séance room had been sitting around the table with eyes closed and hands clasped together for several minutes. Brisco opened his eyes growing impatient as he could feel the tension growing outside the mansion. He was beginning to wonder if this was a fool’s errand and potentially a move that could cost all their lives. The doubt was furthered by the smell of marijuana in the booth. His small comfort was the thought of Pete standing guard outside the curtain.

Brisco looked beside him at Socrates who held his eyes tightly shut. Just like Soc, thought Brisco. He never does anything halfway. Brisco’s eyes moved over to Mrs. Winchester. Behind her veil, one could only assume that her eyes were closed but he could see her face lifted skyward. She chanted softly yet authoritatively and seemed to oscillate to the rhythm of her own voice. What a small, old, and odd woman. Brisco’s eyes finally moved to Ellie. Like Brisco, her eyes were open and she looked like she was also losing patience. She locked eyes with Brisco and seemed to say, Are we REALLY wasting time with this? Brisco gave his most charming yet bemused smile in an attempt to relieve some of her stress. In return, she gave him an impish smile and closed her eyes. Brisco’s eyes moved to a woman sitting next to Ellie.

“Who are you?” asked Brisco incredulously. Socrates and Ellie had both opened their eyes upon his question.

“Dear God!” exclaimed Socrates while Ellie jumped and moved towards Mrs. Winchester and away from the strange woman dressed in a nightgown.

“Finally! We need your guidance,” cried an excited Mrs. Winchester, emphasizing every word with her hands.

“We do not have time to waste words,” began the woman in a rushed yet low voice. “Yes, I am a ghost. I am a spiritual guide for Mrs. Winchester. I have been guiding Mrs. Winchester for years and Mr. Adams, or as you know him, James Lonefeather, for the last six months.”

“James is here! Where is he?” demanded Brisco.

“Mr. Lonefeather? That is a much better name than ‘Adams,’” Mrs. Winchester commented aloud. Her voice seemed to be detached, almost pleasant which felt somehow wrong in this fear driven environment. “My sister always was deeply connected to the earth.”

The ghost held up her hands to end Brisco’s questions and to bring Mrs. Winchester back to the present. “As I mentioned, we do not have time for this. As our three newest members can attest, there was a scout flying circles around the house only a short while ago. It is a sign that an army of undead are marching towards the house and we clearly do not have enough salt to encircle the whole house. We will need to do the following. First, to break the power of the curse that was released earlier, someone will need to locate the Necronomicon. In that book you will find a counter curse to change the Kandarian, lord of all the darkness and evil surrounding the house, from immortal to mortal. Second, the Kandarian needs to be killed. While I personally cannot kill him, a spirit can help you find him, but one of you will have to kill him. In taking him down, the darkness will lose its power and the dead will be encouraged to return to their graves. And finally, Mrs. Winchester, you will need to knock out the two windows above the fireplace in this ballroom and have the two stained glass pieces that I commissioned to you months ago put up in their place. It is time to put up those pieces as they will ward off evil tonight and every night moving forward.”

“Breaking a mirror is bad ju-ju and we don’t need anymore of that,” mused Mrs. Winchester.

“What about the others?” sighed Ellie as she ran her fingers through her frazzled hair. “Rachel, James, Lenore, Viva, and Whip?”

“Lenore and Viva are in the kitchen with as much of the staff as they could get and are keeping their group safe thus far. They seem to be the most secure of everyone in the house, so I have sent spirits to protect your family, Mrs. Winchester, and any other human with friendly vibrations. Unfortunately, many spirits have elected to stay out of the battle. Not all spirits have forgiven the Winchester name and many of the forgiving spirits feel that any attempt to assist us will result in torture for them when the humans are ultimately defeated by the Kandarian. So, I was already short-staffed with ghosts and in sending many of my already small defense to protect household members hidden throughout the mansion, I am left with 3 ghosts remaining who I can send to help each of you with your individual missions. One of those remaining ghosts is working to collect Rachel and James and bring them down to this ballroom. Those who will address the Necronomicon and the Kandarian will be guided by Clyde.”

“That leaves Whip,” stated a concerned Ellie.

“I’m sorry to say, none of us could get to him in time.”

“What does that mean?” demanded Brisco.

“He will not make it through the night,” responded the spirit with a sadness in her voice.

“Not on my watch,” said Socrates with a lump in his throat.

The ghost studied him before responding. “I cannot guarantee that you will survive finding him, much less that you will be able to rescue him. It is a hopeless cause.”

Socrates swallowed hard before continuing, “I said that I will get him.”

“Soc-“ began Brisco.

“Brisco, I appreciate what you are about to say. But don’t try to talk me out of it. We know the roles that everyone has to play. Ellie and Mrs. Winchester will hang the stained glass-“

“Thank you for your sexism. Why do you think that I can’t handle something more than the glass?” asked Ellie.

“Because Mrs. Winchester has arthritis. She can’t move quickly, much less reliably place a stained glass into the window, especially if she’s concerned about breaking glass during the replacement process.”

“Humpf,” retorted Mrs. Winchester, clearly unhappy to have her disease announced to a group of strangers or to be told that she cannot do a task by herself.

“Brisco will need to remove the head of the Kandarian and Pete will have to counteract the spell.”

“Any thoughts or questions about that, Pete?” called Brisco.

“Pete?” called Ellie.

Brisco yanked back the curtain and peered outside. The ballroom was empty with Pete nowhere to be found.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Rachel stood staring at James. He really thinks that he’s Mr. Adams! What had the house done to him? Hopelessness began to fill her. Her heart sounded like muffled drums and her anxiety felt like some distant bugler.

“James?” Rachel reached out a hand. “Can you remember anything?”

“It’s Mr. Adams and I can clearly remember the last 6 months,” he said brushing away her hand and taking another step away from her.

“Mr. Adams-“ repeated Rachel as she began to recall the conversation from earlier in the evening. “Tilly mentioned that you were part of her interview.”

“Yes, that’s correct,” he responded harshly. As he thought of Tilly, his voice softened and he changed the subject, “Were you two close?”

“We had barely started working here together but she could make anyone laugh. She seemed like she had a joke for every person and every situation.”

“She did seem to have an impish smile and a far-off look when I met her. Seems like she found a confidant in you.”

“Yes, Tilly trusted me,” Rachel said as she swallowed the sadness that wanted to rise back up. “If Tilly trusted me, could you trust me for a moment?” she asked cautiously.

“In what way?”

Rachel could hear his guard was starting to go back up. “A friend of mine, Ellie, showed me how to remove that bracelet. Ellie is also a friend of- well, never mind. That doesn’t matter,” she stuttered before taking a breath to begin again. “Anyway, there’s EM…” Rachel closed her eyes for a second to collect her thoughts, “EMF here at the mansion and it’s making the bracelets act wonky…”

“Do you mind switching to English?” James eyebrow rose under the light of the flashlight.

“Ok,” Rachel stuttered. She tried to remember how Ellie taught her everything. “There’s a new science out that is beginning to study ghosts. These scientists believe that ghosts may be present, even when not in sight. Those ghosts, both visible and invisible, put out an electromagnetic frequency-“

“A what-“

“Um,” Rachel thought hard to explain. “Radio travels by airwaves enabling us to hear music from New York City or San Francisco. Think of ghosts as playing on a different radio station but one enabling us to see and hear them if we are tuned in correctly.”

“So, what does that have to do with me?”

“I think that when you jumped-“ Rachel had to carefully switch words to “-arrived here. The frequency, or EMF, of the house combined with that the signal from your bracelet is causing a sort of static… Maybe it made you forget who you are and your life before arrival.”

“And this is based on a belief that my bracelet is somehow – what? Magical?”

“Based on the fact that the other bracelet knocked out a friend of ours when he tried to get here. Last I heard, he was awake but weak.”

“How am I supposed to believe any of this?”

Rachel decided to change tactics as the hairs on the back of her neck sensed that the evening was about to get worse and she could not protect the two of them with just a small container of salt. She began again, “Have you been able to take the bracelet off? Ever in your recollection?”

James sighed and looked down at her. He could not recall a single time that he could take off the bracelet. Much as he had tried. If his memories could indeed come back by removing the bracelet, then it would be worth a try. James held out his arm, still suspicious of the validity of the girl’s claims.

Rachel studied his bracelet for a few moments turning it around under the flashlight.

“I thought you knew what you were doing!”

“Give me a moment. Your design is a bit different than Pete’s.”

“Who’s Pete?”

“The friend… oh, I’ll explain in a moment,” she distractedly replied. She then pushed two buttons simultaneously and James felt the bracelet come loose. Rachel slowly removed the bracelet and placed it into her pocket. James felt a weight lift off his arm and his head grew heavy as memories began to pour in. The rush of various images soon overwhelmed him and he was forced to sit.

“James?” Rachel asked while holding her breath. When he didn’t respond, she sat beside him, careful to remain inside the small circle of salt.

“I’m here, Rachel. I’m here and I’m remembering.”

“Well, that’s some positive news anyway-“ interrupted a child’s voice. When Rachel saw the ghost of a little boy she scooted herself backwards, smearing the circle of salt around the floor. The child looked no more than 6 or 7 with curly golden hair and a bullet hole just above his right eyebrow. The child gave her a sly smile and floated towards her at top speed, with the salt spread over the floor, Rachel was not protected. But when the boy was inches away, he paused as though he remembered a greater mission. He floated a foot backwards and begin to toss and catch a red croquet ball into the air.

“Where the hell have you all been?” grumbled James as he stood. When Rachel stared petrified at the ghost, James lifted Rachel up to her feet before asking the ghost, “Well?”

“Believe it or not, there were people in more trouble than you two,” the child ghost retorted. “Honestly, if the man who unleashed hell was not already dead, I would be tempted to murder him myself. Anyway, your handful of spirit allies have all been working hard to ensure that no one else would become ghosts tonight. So far, we have been able to only rescue a select few.”

“So, what’s the plan?” James asked, he tried rubbing the pain out of his temples so that he could better focus on the ghost. It was difficult to concentrate as years of memories were still seeping in.

At that moment, the drums were no longer in Rachel’s head. It was as if someone had removed earmuffs and a large marching band had arrived outside. The drums were accompanied by feet marching and by the sounds of bugles. Rachel tried to look outside but she could not get a good view. Is this the local militia, here to help the richest woman in the nation? She rushed past the child ghost and back towards the bell tower, she was determined to get a better view. But as Rachel quickly moved through the house, she could not remember the way that the female ghost in the nightgown had originally led Rachel. In the darkness, each passage looked more confusing. She opened up a couple doors that led to walls and ran into rooms that ended up being dead ends. The sound of a couple shotgun blasts pierced the air and panic was beginning to fill Rachel as she hated the feeling of being lost in the dark. She started to move faster and faster. Running in and through various doorways.

At last, it sounded like she might have found the correct door to see the outside. She threw herself against the door but when it swung open, it led to open air. This second story door led her directly to the outside. Her toes were barely grounded to the door frame as her uninjured arm hung onto the door handle for her life. The majority of her body was suspended in the air between her tip toes inside the house and her arm and chest leaning against the open door. Rachel looked down towards her toes but with the heeled boots, she could not get any traction to slide them backwards. Rachel tried to tighten her stomach and pull the door back towards the house but she about lost her footing. Rachel scanned the wall of the house but there was not a staircase that she could try to move towards and when she looked down she realized that it would be a straight fall two stories to the ground.

She closed her eyes for a moment wondering if a ghost would come by to rescue her or if they would let her fall to her death. At that moment, Rachel began to feel the salt container start slipping towards the top of the apron. While she wasn’t particularly concerned about using salt as a defense at that moment, it was adjusting the delicate balance in such a way that she wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold on. Apparently, she had not closed the lid properly as salt begin to slowly pour out of her pocket. Rachel glanced down for just a moment to see a handful of maids directly below her. Unfortunately, they were not living allies but looked more like walking corpses based on the corpse-pale skin with yellow hair. Even suspended two floors above the women, Rachel could see a dark black ooze leaking out of their ears and mouths. Just as the strain in her arm was about to give way and let her fall to certain death, she felt a hand grab the backside of her dress and help pull her in. As she got closer, the arms were able to take her waist and pull her the rest of the way inside. To Rachel’s relief, it was James.

“I thought…” she stammered, “that is, I had hoped it was a local militia, or police, or anyone who could help end this nightmare.”

James awkwardly patted her shoulders, unsure how to console a girl that he seemed to only meet in traumatic circumstances. Having been raised by a strong woman, he felt that giving her a purpose might help pull her out of her anxious state and into a more useful ally.

“I’m to take you to Mrs. Winchester and help you get started with that part of our defense,” he explained. He took her by the hand and led her towards the ballroom. Rachel meekly followed but with every step she forced her fears down. Rachel was determined to be her own savior for the rest of the evening. While it was her first experience fighting the supernatural, she had never surrendered or cowered from a fight before.

And damnit, she could fight this war too.

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