Tuesday, May 2, 2017

All in a Day's Work Part 5

And finally...the conclusion.  Next week we will return to our previously scheduled animal antics.

Something else, however, stirred the air, and as Eric watched in horror, several forms of young women began to materialize. The whispers echoed throughout the room to the background noise of the screaming chimpanzees. The girls floated translucently in the air before them, their features blurring around the edges, their hair undulating around their bodies in constant motion. Their eyes were black and they all wore long, colorless nightgowns. The girls held hands as if engaged in some demented game of Red Rover. They floated towards Eric and Sam, kept at bay by the salt border. Eric added more salt to keep the border uncompromised, but Sam seemed to have other ideas. He edged towards the salt, and before Eric could reach out and grab him, he stepped out of the circle and extended his palms towards the girls. The wind buffeted against Eric harder as the girls formed a circle around Sam, each one reaching out to touch him gently with her fingers. As they touched him, they slowly turned corporeal. They danced around him, their hands cemented to his body, and Eric could see the evidence of their mistreatment glimmer almost imperceptibly over their bodies. Bruises flickered across their faces, burn marks on their arms, cuts and scrapes on their calves as the hems of their nightgowns fluttered around their ankles. One haunting beauty who appeared to be the ringleader kept her hand on Sam's shoulder, using him like a human battery to maintain her energy. The rest of the specters dropped their hands from him and linked hands with each other, creating a chain. They moved towards the doctor, the ringleader holding firmly onto Sam and pulling him along.
“Stay away from me!” Doctor Goodenough screamed, backing away. “Don't you touch me! I was only trying to help you.”

The girls hissed wordlessly and continued to stalk him. Eric raised his voice as he recited his incantation. Sam was out of his hands now. The young man would either perish in the ghostly rumble or be spared for his ability to power the incorporeal.
The girls reached Dr. Goodenough and surrounded him. At the same time the ringleader released Sam who collapsed to the ground. Dr. Goodenough screamed, a human sound at first that dissolved into a chilling wail, and finally blended with the howling of the wind as the girls consumed him. The spirits melded together, swirling together in a cyclone and sucking up some of the debris that still blew about the laboratory. Eric wanted to run to Sam and pull him back into the circle, but he didn't know if he would survive it. Sam powered ghosts to become corporeal and that seemed to make him an asset to the spirits. All Eric had to protect him was the sage, salt, and book of incantations.
“Sam!” Eric yelled over the screaming of the spirits and the howling of the wind. Sam lay still on the ground where the ghosts had dropped him.
An unearthly screeching arrested Eric's attention. From the other room five or six hunched shapes barreled towards him. The chimpanzees screeched as they bore down on him, and Eric raised his voice, reading a passage from his book over and over. The pack of creatures parted around the circle, leapt over Sam, and jumped into the chaos of poltergeists spinning in a mess of debris. With a loud crack the debris split apart, pieces smashing into each wall of the room. The wind died down. The lights flickered above, then went out completely, leaving only Eric's pile of burning sage to light the room. Eric sat frozen for a moment, eyes wide, his heart hammering in his chest. Of all the exorcisms he and Holly had ever performed, he'd never experienced anything like this. He'd battled vampires, werewolves, demons, and witches, but nothing had ever rattled him so thoroughly.
One more reason to hate ghosts.
“Sam?” He whispered into the darkness. He waited another moment. Nothing stirred or made a sound. “Dr. Goodenough?”

The heavy feeling of presence in the room had lifted, though the stench of death still lingered. Eric waited a few more beats before scraping up his courage. He stepped out of the salt ring and approached Sam.   He checked for a pulse and felt relief at the strong beat in Sam's wrist.
“Sam, Sam, wake up. It's over, I think?” He patted Sam's pale cheeks gently.

Sam's eyes fluttered and he muttered something. Eric reached in his pocket and pulled out a small vile filled with liquid. He dashed the contents over the young man's face.
Sam's eyes flew open and he rose halfway, wiping his face with his wrist. “What the hell?”
Eric held up his vial with a sheepish smile. “Holy water.  I don't have smelling salts. Are you okay?”
Sam groaned and placed a hand against his forehead. “Ugh.  Ghost sickness always makes me feel like hell. What the fuck happened?”
“I was hoping you could tell me. The girls sort of...ate Dr. Goodenough. And then the chimpanzees came, and everything sort of exploded.”
Sam squeezed his eyes shut as though his head pounded with pain. “Dr. Goodenough did unspeakable things to those girls. So they got their revenge.”
“Did he torture them?”
“He thought he was helping them."  Sam tried to get to his feet and stumbled. Eric supported him with an arm around his shoulders.
“Easy, kid. Don't get up too fast.”
“He developed that drug that was supposed to help them with their symptoms,” Sam said. “And he experimented on the chimpanzees.”
“The girls said something about it was his fault they were dead?”
“Did you see what was in those cages in the other room?”  Sam rubbed his temples with two surprisingly long, elegant fingers. “Got any aspirin?”
Eric dug some out of his bottomless messenger bag and handed it over with a bottle of water.
Sam took them with a soft snort of laughter. “You've got everything in that pack, don't you?”
“Helps in my line of work,” Eric said.
Sam swallowed two tablets before continuing. “I guess when they shut this place down they didn't bother to check in the basement. The chimpanzees were left down here to starve to death in their cages.”
Eric's eyes widened. “That's terrible.”
“As for the girls, well, they all went stark raving mad from the experimental drug. They committed suicide by cop, basically. When the place was shut down they went after the authorities like a pack of ravenous wolves. They couldn't be contained.”
“How do you know this?” Eric asked.
“I get visions from the ghosts. When they touched me, I made them corporeal and they dropped me right in the middle of their nightmare.”
Eric shuddered at the thought, grateful that he didn't have Sam's abilities.
“So what happened to Dr. Goodenough?” He asked.
Sam got to his feet shakily. “The chimpanzees tore him to shreds when he came sniffing around here the other night. He was trying to make amends with the girls, tried to get them to move on. Instead of waiting for me, the girls that haunted him got into his head and manipulated him into coming here. So they could take their revenge, I assume.”
“He told you that?”

They told me that,” Sam said. “You have to listen to the whispers. Even insane ghosts occasionally make some sense.”
“So they're gone?” Eric asked as he started to pack up his stuff. He left the salt on the floor where it lay, undisturbed, in its perfect circle.
“They're gone,” Sam said. “At peace, I hope. I can't say for sure about the good doctor. He's probably stuck in a whole new nightmare.”
Sam headed for the stairs, a hitch in his gait the only indication that he suffered any injuries from his ordeal. Eric hurried after Sam, making sure not to look too closely at the cages lining the back wall, the shadowy lumps within testimony that they did not stand empty.

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