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Bloodlines – Part 4 November 7, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Virgil walked back to the bedroom, weighing the need for a cigarette against the brutal cold outside. It ended up being a moot point. His pack of cigarettes was empty, the package turned inside out and left on the middle of his bed. He spat out a curse, wondering if one of Alex’s little thugs-in-training had been through his luggage. Everything else was where he had left it though, so he decided to just dash out to the car to grab another pack of smokes. Things were tense enough in the house without him raising a fuss over something so trivial. He immediately regretted the impulse however, having forgotten to wear a coat. By the time he got back inside his teeth were doing their best impression of castanets, and his temper had worn down to a thread.

The shadows nipping at his heels did not help matters any, and when he got back to the room he had no patience left for what awaited him there. Desiree, draped across his bed, in a negligee that was so transparent that she might as well not have been wearing it. Virgil looked away and held the door open.  “Get out.”

“But you look so cold! I could –“

“Get. Out.”

Desiree dropped her voice. “I’m frightened. I just thought you could, well, you know…” her voice faded off.

Virgil rolled his eyes at her. “Play the big strong man to protect you? Sorry, honey. I spent a lot of time out in Hollywood and trust me; you can’t pull off the sweet ingénue.”

Desiree slithered out of the bed and posed. “If not that, then what do you want me to be?”

“About two floors away from me,” Virgil grumbled, and backed the message up with a telepathic suggestion to leave.

Desiree recoiled, all out of proportion to the mild contact. This time the fear in her eyes was not feigned. “I should have known you weren’t normal. No one in this house is normal!”

The brief contact with her mind gave Virgil an unpleasant picture of her past. Someone had abused her, very possibly using a psychic Talent. That explained a lot about her behavior, and completely changed the nature of her unexpected visit. She really did need his help. “Look, I won’t hurt you,” Virgil said, “and if you ever truly feel threatened by something in the house, let me know. I won’t turn away an honest request.”

Desiree gathered the tattered threads of her dignity around her, along with the gauzy negligee. She swept past him into the hall.  “Why should you care? It doesn’t want you.”

“What do you mean by “it?” Virgil asked, but she ran up the stairs out of sight, and he was not about to chase a nearly naked woman through the house.

He shut the door to the room and stripped the covers off his bed. They reeked of the cheap eau-de-toilet Desiree had doused herself with. Sadly the replacements he found were nowhere near as warm, but he wasn’t going to sleep anyway. He had too much to think about.

If he was right, and someone in the house was using their Talents to harm others he was going to have to call this in to HQ and make it an official case. His partner was not going to be happy about that. Sophie wanted a nice, dignified funeral for her aunt.  But if there were civilians in danger from the paranormal, he couldn’t turn a blind eye. All he had were guesses though. He needed to find out what exactly happened to Sophie’s aunt, and track down who was riling up the ghosts. One thing was for certain, it wasn’t Desiree. There had been no reaction at all from the family poltergeist when he used his Talents on her.

Virgil wandered out to the parlor to find Sophie. If he could rule out foul play with Auntie Honora he could chalk the rest of his concerns up to paranoia and get some sleep.

There were no shadows waiting for him in the hall, and the parlor was dark. He stopped just inside the door and felt around for the light switch. “Sophie? You in there?”

A strange, hoarse sound came from somewhere inside, followed by scratching and thumps.

Virgil found the light switch and slapped it on, blinking in the sudden glow. Sophie was lying on the floor with one of the shadow people crouched on top of her chest. Her hands were clawing frantically at its wrists as it strangled her. Her feet thumped on the wooden floorboards as she struggled.

Virgil launched himself at it, hoping it had materialized enough to grab onto but his hands passed straight through it. “Damn it! Hang in there, Sophie!”

He looked around the room for anything that could be used as a bell to disrupt the ghost, but the only things nearby were the coffin, and a rocking chair knocked over beside Sophie . The ghost must have caught her nodding off while she sat vigil with her aunt’s body, and then kept her locked in sleep. Her struggles became more frantic, and Virgil cursed again. His Talents ran toward the living – he was going to have to go into her mind to wake her up, so that she could banish the spirit herself.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounded. She was already on the defensive, and any break in her concentration could give the ghost a hook into her psyche. He had seen enough cases of possession to know how bad that could be. The victim was never quite right afterwards. He knelt by her head, his hands resting on her temples. Every instinct screamed at him to hurry, that she was running out of time, but he had to go slowly. He let his thoughts slip in through the landscape of her dreams, dodging blocking walls and carefully avoiding getting sucked into memory pools. He took every punch she threw at him without trying to stop them. Any defense he put up could hurt her, so he took the blows and hoped she didn’t break anything important. After what seemed like an eternity, he got past the last barrier and found the image she had of herself standing in an empty space, eyes closed. He called out her name, sending the thought ringing through her consciousness like a bell. “Lares. Lares. SOPHIE.”

Her eyes snapped open, and she tossed him and the ghost out with a violent blast of psychic energy. Virgil’s consciousness arced back into his body, sending him flying backwards into the rocking chair. Lares plunged her hand into the ghost and tore something out of it. The thing let out a wail that set every hair on Virgil’s body on end, and it exploded in a shower of ectoplasm.

He slipped and staggered through the mess to her side. “Are you okay? What happened?”

She coughed and held a hand to her throat. Her neck was purpling with hand-shaped bruises. “I tried to talk with the ghost, to get it to calm down, but it attacked me,” she said, her voice wheezing. “I should have paid more attention to you, Virgil. I saw that something was wrong at dinner, and you never get twitchy without good reason.”

“Well, you know me, the canary in the psychic coal mine,” Virgil said, with a wry smile. “You hit like a girl, by the way.”

She let out a hoarse chuckle. “I recognized it was you. But the ghost kept trying to look like you, so I wasn’t always sure who to hit.”

“Are you sure it was the family ghost?” Virgil asked. “You did say this place was a psychic locus. Maybe without your Auntie to regulate it, some less-than-savory entities are getting pulled in.”

A frown put small lines of worry across her brow. “That is possible. I may have to cleanse the house before we go.”

“I think you had better plan on it,” he said. The shadows were gone but the silent rage still prowled the hallways. Virgil had a nasty feeling that his intervention here had just painted a large target on his back…

—-

<–Bloodlines #3  ~~~|||~~~  Bloodlines #5 ->

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