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Bloodlines – Part 8 December 5, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Virgil took the lead and checked the hallway before heading up to the second floor. A moth-eaten runner carpeted the stairs, its faded flowers muffling their steps. He glanced back down to where the door to the root cellar should have been. It was still veiled, but he could hear the poltergeist’s guttural growl coming from somewhere inside. It was restless, pacing; it wanted to be let out.

“Are you hearing that?” he whispered to Sophie.

Sophie nodded and raised a trembling hand to her neck. The bruises from where the haunt had tried to strangle her stood out, livid against her skin.  “I still can’t hear any of the other ghosts, but that one is loud and clear now.” She let her hand drop, visibly pulling herself together. “Where is everyone else?”

Virgil let his senses sweep through the house. Fear hung thick in the air, like a cloying fog. “They’re in their rooms. No one is sleeping though,” he said, “It’s like they’re all just lying there, waiting for something to happen. Except for Linda. She’s having a nightmare.”

“Night terrors, emotional outbursts, that’s what’s been fueling the ghost! The attacks were involuntary!” Sophie said. “If so, that changes everything. No premeditation means she gets therapy instead of jail time.”

“Maybe,” Virgil replied doubtfully. Something about this still didn’t seem right. He ran a hand across the door to Linda’s bedroom. “She may come up swinging. Keep an eye on that poltergeist.”

The door wasn’t locked. The room inside could have belonged to a child; there were piles of stuffed animals on the bed, glittery stickers on the ceiling and photos stuck in the frame of a mirror. Dirty clothes were strewn about the floor and spilling out of a closet, the piles dotted liberally with candy wrappers. Virgil had seen teenagers with cleaner rooms.

An even bigger shock was Linda herself. She lay on her bed, still fully clothed, and curled up in the same fetal position Virgil had gone into to defend himself from the poltergeist. She even had her arms up to protect her head and neck. She was talking in her sleep, a pitiful, desperate litany. “I don’t want it. I don’t want it anymore. Please don’t do this. I don’t want it anymore.”

Virgil eased quietly into the room, not wanting to wake her yet. He took a deep breath and let it out, preparing himself for the unpleasant task of going into an unbalanced mind. Sophie closed the door behind them and stood on guard.

Linda started to thrash about, as if wrestling an opponent who was trying to pin her down. The similarities to his own attack were too many to ignore. Virgil took another deep breath and slipped into her nightmare.

They were back in the hallway that led to the root cellar. Honora beckoned to them, and they walked eagerly to the trap door. This was what Linda had waited thirty long years for: the day her mother would finally show her the secret to her family’s power over ghosts.

Honora walked slowly down the stairs and took off her amethyst necklace. “It is time for you to meet your ancestors, my dear.”

Linda hesitated at the top of the stairs, a vague fear settling into the pit of her stomach. She had never liked the root cellar; it had an ugly feel to it. A sour smell of rot wafted up at her, but her mother was still calling to her.

“Come down, Linda.” Honora held out the necklace. ”You wanted power, and I can give it to you.”

Linda ran down the stairs before she could think better of it. She reached out and took the necklace.

A cold smile touched Honora’s withered lips. “Hold it up to your eye, dear. Tell me what you see.”

Linda looked through it, and ghosts appeared all around, bathed in amethyst light. Generations of women, all with a strong family resemblance: brown hair, a motherly physique like Linda’s though some were a little taller, and all of them had the gift for working with ghosts. Whoever held this necklace would have a wellspring of knowledge to draw on that ran back centuries.

Then she looked closer, and saw what lived in the dark.

Virgil recognized it. Anyone who worked with ghosts knew there were malevolent spirits, old ghosts that wanted nothing more than to keep a hold on the world of the living. They could bend other, lesser ghosts to their will and use that gathered power to torment anyone unfortunate enough to enter their domain. The necklace worked just like the specially insulated microchips the Agency used to transport ghosts. The crystal must have had a similar structure to silicon, storing all of the ‘data’ of a person’s psyche. Who knew how long the old haunt had lurked in its depths?

Linda only knew that it terrified her, and she kept reliving that first, traumatic contact.

She ran up the stairs with her mother close on her heels.

“You must seal yourself to the well of souls, Linda!” Honora shouted. “Look through the gem, and let the spirit consume you! Our bloodline made a deal, and the pact must be kept!”

Linda ran, but the entity flew out of the cellar and landed on her back. It clawed at her, trying to reach the necklace she held clenched in her hand, and force her to look through it.

Honora hadn’t counted on her daughter fighting back. Desperation gave Linda the strength to send a telekinetic blast down the hall, and her mother fell backwards, down the stairs, and hit her head. The entity shrieked and retreated after her.

Linda threw the necklace down the stairs and locked the trap door. Then she ran out of the house… Later, after her mother’s body had been removed, she did everything in her power to trap the evil presence in the cellar, even veiling the doorway so no one could wander down there and get caught by it. But it kept getting out, and every time she failed, her fear made it a little stronger…

She woke up, sat bolt upright in her bed, and screamed.

Virgil was physically thrown back, but he managed to keep his hold on her mind.  He scrambled back onto the bed and grabbed her hands, forcing her to look him in the eye. “Linda, listen to me. It’s over. We know it was self-defense. I need you to calm down.”

Outside the room, the entity howled and battered against the bedroom door, setting Linda into a fresh bout of screaming.

Sophie had her shoulder braced against the door, and Virgil could feel her straining to shield the room against it. She yelled out, “It’s gotten too strong! I think it’s feeding off the rest of my relatives. I’m going to need some ghosts to combat it.” She pulled the necklace out of her pocket and held it up.

Virgil and Linda screamed in unison, “NO!”

The entity’s howl turned triumphant. It burst through the door and knocked Sophie into the wall. A stench of rot filled the room, and the entity stalked over to the bed. “Time for you to join your ancestors, Linda…”

<–Bloodlines, Part 7  ~~~|||~~~  Bloodlines, Part 9 ->

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