“Love, oh Serenity, j’étais tellement inquiet, you have no idea what’s going on, nous ne reviendrons.” Henri kissed me about twenty thousand times then clung to me, crying. He was speakin’ so rapidly that I couldn’t understand his French but I just hugged him back and waited for him to quiet down. I kept one eye on the bathroom door wondering if he was going to pop out and hurt Henri.
But the door remained shut. I didn’t relax but moved so I could see into his face. “What happened?” I asked, touching his cheek.
“I found out what’s going on,” he said, nuzzling my hand. He proceeded to tell me they had a prisoner down in the labs, a psychic ghost that was very dangerous. He told me about the strange anti-ghost stuff that prevented him from goin’ anywhere. He told me he had been caught on the stairs, Professor Redding saved him, they had to hand out helmets, and then he told me about what they found. “The ghost killed two people, Sen. I saw the bodies. It was awful. It was–it was horrible. There was so much blood. He–the ghost–he–he killed them I can’t even… I don’t want to…”
This news surprised me since I had figured the ghost had come directly to my room but I guess he had taken a pit stop for murder. “How come Doctor Redding was with you?” I asked, glancing momentarily at the door. Still shut.
“Professor Redding and I were in the room with the… the… bodies…” Henri shuddered and I knew to had to have been that bad to make him look that sick. “Sang… le sang… He called his sister to report the deaths and she showed up in an instant it was like teleportation. She was en colère, so angry, and started going on about how dangereux it was for him and essentiellement lui ai dit to go to his room, and he à crier.” He was still talking fast, his English and French mixing together. At this point I completely lost him so I stopped his words with a fierce kiss.
“Calm down, darling. Breathe, even though you don’t need to. I don’t know what you’re saying. Speak slowly, and use less French.”
Henri nodded and then sucked in a deep lungful of air. “She was very angry with him and was telling him it was very unsafe for him to be there. She told him to go to his room, and he began arguing with her. He told her about Jareth–oh, Jareth is… was the son of the Greysons, the ones who were–attacked. And there was another employee who was trying to watch over Jareth. And–and the Reddings were arguing, and finally Doctor Redding just knocked him out. She had this… pen thing and–and hit him with it. Well, touched it against him. He collapsed and she caught him and just lifted him up over one shoulder. I thought she was just g-going to leave me there with the bodies so I made sure she knew I was there and she was not happy about it. So I had to wait in an empty room as she took him somewhere. I wasn’t sure if she’d return but she did and then brought me up here.”
I put my arms around him, kissin’ his cheek. I was so glad he was okay but still anxious for the monster to come out and attack him. I knew he had to hear all this, and knew what we were both feeling. Was he going to just wait…? Why wasn’t he doing anything? Not that I minded his absence, but it made me even more suspicious. “You’re okay now, darling. You’re okay…” I kissed him again, tryin’ to push aside my fears.
“They’re still searching for him,” he said. “Doctor Redding originally thought he was down in the labs until she found out about the Greysons. Now she’s searching the living quarters.”
“Will she be searching up here?” I asked stiffly.
“Uh, probably not. Why? Don’t be scared,” he automatically said, assuming that was the problem. “He’s not anywhere near you.”
It was all I could do not to snort and laugh. He was only a few feet away. But I said nothing and just held him tightly. We were very quiet for some time and then he told me what had happened, that their throats had been ripped out. I remembered that smell of blood I had gotten from him and shuddered. Then I had an overwhelmin’ feeling that he didn’t do it. I wanted so much to defend him but managed to keep my mouth shut. Finally the feeling faded and I was able to comfort Henri some more. I didn’t even want to think about what he had seen. His death was one thing, knowin’ his father died was one thing, but seeing whatever it was he had seen was something so completely different.
“We have to go home tomorrow, and never come back, please Sen. Please.” Henri ran his thumb over the back of my hand, his head on my shoulder. “I just can’t. I don’t want you here, either. Ever.”
“We’ll leave and not come back,” I assured him. I no longer cared about findin’ a cure because it wasn’t worth it putting myself at risk like this. How could Professor Redding not tell me about this? The reason he wanted me gone, was because of the monster? After quite some time Hen told me that Redding–Professor Redding–had worried his sister would make me interact with the monster. He had no idea who the monster was exactly. He didn’t know that it was my genetic father. I wonder what he’d think of I told him the person who killed those people is his sort of father-in-law. Except he wasn’t because the monster was not my father at all. Period. End of story.
We curled up in bed, so I rubbed his back and after some more time, Hen fell asleep. The alarms were no longer blaring but the lights were still out. I thought about goin’ into the bathroom to see what he was up to but Henri was leaning against me so I didn’t move. I kept my eyes on the door but eventually fell asleep as well, slumped against Henri.
I woke up to someone stroking my hair. It was a ghostly hand, different than my husband’s hand. The second I realized who it was, I cringed back. He grabbed hold of me and pulled me up to my feet, a hand over my mouth.
“Shh,” he whispered then pulled me into the bathroom, shuttin’ the door. “Don’t want to wake up your lovely husband, do we? After all, that might make me angry. Good morning, by the way. You need to find a way to get us out of here. I can get out of this room now, but cannot leave the building. I need you.”
“What time is it?” I asked sleepily, still mostly asleep.
“Just after seven. You were only asleep for about three hours. I didn’t want to wake you up, you looked so peaceful. But, of course, all things must come to an end. I need you to get me out of here. I’m sorry, but it’s true. They will find me soon so we need to do this now. If I am still here within half an hour I might be so angry I might take it out on another ghost. I would have tried last night when your husband was brought back but I knew I could not fight against that bitch. So now… you must find a way.”
“What do you expect me to do? I cannot do anything! The door is locked.” I knew it didn’t matter to him. I would have to find a way. So I pulled away from him and requested he stay in the bathroom as I changed. I took off my nightclothes and put on my regular clothes, tryin’ to figure out how to get out. Maybe if I could get me an’ Henri out, we could get the door shut and–no, he could go through walls. Maybe I could warn Henri and get him out of the room then the monster wouldn’t have a semi-hostage? No, he could go through the walls after Hen.
I didn’t like the thought of leavin’ him in a room alone with Hen but I had to pee. The monster shrugged and said if he did anything to Hen right now, he wouldn’t have anything left to threaten me with. “I will hurt him later if I have to, of course, but I want to give you a little bit of time,” he said before I shut the door. “I’ll be under the bed,” he added with a wink.
When I came back out he wasn’t there. I looked at the bed but decided not to check. I needed to focus on gettin’ us out of here. After I thought of several different things, I found my phone and tested it. I had signal again so I called the Reddings. Professor Redding answered, sounding exceedingly unhappy. “S-Serenity? I’m sorry b-but I cannot do anything r-right now. We are st–“
“I have to get out of here, Professor,” I said. “I know who it is. I know what you weren’t telling me. And I want out of here now. Me and Henri, let us out.” It was at that moment I realized that the monster couldn’t leave with us. He’d be seen. Hah! Professor Redding would let us out and see the monster and… and well, the monster would be stopped.
“Serenity…” Professor Redding let out a long sigh. “I… d-d-d-don’t think now is the b-best time. I’m s-sorry. At least wait until w-we find the ghost.”
Yes, I thought. “No,” I said. “No. I need to go now. I don’t feel safe here, Professor. I don’t feel safe with this ghost being possibly near me.” Would he get it? Henri was wakin’ up at this point from me talking and was looking confused. “Let us out now, Professor. If you care about me, please come and let us go.” I felt guilty for treating him like this but between snappin’ at Professor Redding and risking the non-life of my husband, there was no question about it. I turned off the phone then began packing, acting as if I wanted to leave. Henri rubbed his eyes and then got up out of bed, yawning loudly.
“Everything okay?” he asked, lookin’ at me with worry.
“No. I want to leave now. Right now.” I avoided looking in his eyes for fear he might guess and I needed to play this out as long as possible. I felt despair that Henri might not survive this but I knew that it was just the monster making me feel this way. It will work out, everything will be fine, and he’ll be caught as soon as Professor Redding tries to let us out. I snapped my suitcase shut and then waited for Redding to come up. The monster was still under the bed so I had no clue what he was planning.
There was a knock and then Professor Redding swung the door open. He looked as unhappy as he had sounded. “I’m s-sorry about everything th-that’s happened,” he whispered, stepping aside so we could both go past him. I cast a look back at the bed then shrugged and stepped out so the door could be shut again.
“I’m guessing you didn’t find him,” Henri said as we went down the hall.
“N-not yet,” Redding mumbled. “We’ve been s-searching the l-labs again, and the lower l-living quarters.”
“If you haven’t found him, how come you turned off whatever it is that keeps ghosts from going through things?” I inquired casually.
Redding blinked behind his glasses. “W-we haven’t,” he said as we got to the iron bars Henri had told me about. Henri proved to me that the monster had lied to me yet again by tapping his hand against the bars. Redding unlocked the bars and we began the long process of goin’ down to the ground floor. So many iron bar gates, at the top of each flight of stairs and at the bottom. The entire way I was so completely confused at what was going on. Where is he? Maybe he realized he’d be caught. But then why was he letting us just leave like this…?
“Serenity, I d-didn’t know how to explain it t-to you,” Redding said when we got to the front doors. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay… It’s in the past, now. But we won’t be coming back. I just can’t do this anymore. I just wish I had known about this before.”
His eyes were full of guilt. “I kn-know, I’m s-sorry. I sh-should have told you b-but I was… I didn’t… know how t-t-to… wh-which is n-not a good excuse…”
“I would give you a hug but, it hurts my powers,” I said and he nodded, givin’ me a small smile. I did not like the fact he didn’t tell me the whys, but I understood it some. I personally didn’t know how I would be able to tell someone something like that. But it was over now. The monster would be stuck in this building, and I’d never come back. I would just have to do my best to help Miracle go through the pains of being a psychic, if she was one. And if we had other kids. It would be hard and hellish, but it’s what I would have to do. And I could also call Professor Redding and keep in contact with him, possibly. I knew Doctor Redding would be so mad but I did not care, I just didn’t care anymore. If she thought it was fine to keep someone like the monster around then I just didn’t care I was sort of breakin’ my word with her.
We said our goodbyes with Professor Redding and then we left, steppin’ out into the early morning sunshine. Henri was quiet as we went to the parking lot and then we were in my truck. I tossed the suitcase in the back and then sat in the driver’s seat, gripping the steering wheel. We had gotten out. But why had we gotten out? It didn’t make any sense whatsoever. “Let’s get home,” I said, turnin’ on the truck.
“Yes, my dear, let’s go,” said the monster.
I turned and stared, my jaw droppin’ clear to my lap as Henri shimmered and then the monster was pulling away from him. Henri jerked and then slumped down in his seat, eyes closed. I was unable to scream as the monster was covering my mouth, his grinning face right in mine terrified one. “Ghosts are ever so good at possessing things. I’ve practiced quite a bit with inanimate objects in my cell and even managed to possess a living person. I never was able to try another ghost before but it seems to work. Now, drive. Now.”
“Don’t worry, he’s not dead. At least, I don’t think he is. I’ve never possessed a ghost before. He may have died.” The monster knocked against Henri’s arms a couple times with his fist. “No clue, really. But if he’s not dead, he will be soon unless you drive. I do want to get out of here, as I am sure you do as well.” He pushed Henri up against the door and then sat down, partially in my husband with one hand tightly on my arm. I could practically feel the emotion flowin’ from his body into mine. The need to save him.
I began driving, going past the unguarded entrance. There were never guards here that I had seen but there were gates that could close if need be. I continued driving down the gravel road, occasionally glancin’ over at Henri. He was still slumped and I was scared he might go through the door at any moment. If he was really dead-dead surely he wouldn’t be there. He’d be a pile of ghostly stuff, or not even there… right? Right, I assured myself. Hen was fine. I would be fine once I was able to get away from the monster. And I’ll have to warn my dads and–and tell the Reddings wherever I manage to get away from the monster and maybe they’ll hunt him down.
I felt his fingers grip my arm tighter. “Pull over here,” he said and pointed at a little dirt road heading into the woods. We were less than a mile away from the lab. I looked at the monster and he jabbed his finger towards the road. “I said turn!”
I obeyed him, going down the dirt road a little ways until he ordered me to once again pull over. There wasn’t a path but he didn’t want me to drive into the woods, he just needed me to stop on the grass. I turned off the car and he slid even closer to me, reachin’ around to unlock the door. He told me to open the door and get out, which I did, my heart about to be thrown up. He pushed me a little ways from the car and then stood there, glancing around at the trees. We weren’t far from the road, and not far from the lab, but we were quite isolated. He let out a happy sound and then grinned at me.
“Such a lovely day! It’s been so long since I’ve been outside! Since I saw the sun, felt the breeze on me!” He lifted his arms and spun around, laughing. “It feels so good! You have no idea, Serenity! No idea.” He put a hand under my chin, forcin’ me to look into his eyes. “I’m sure you can sympathize, being cooped up now and again in the lab, imagine those few days going on for years. A couple decades. It’s unnatural.”
“Why did you w-want me to stop?” I whispered, foldin’ my arms around myself. It was fairly warm but I could not stop shivering. “I figured you’d want me to d-drive to… Sunset Valley or something.”
“Nonsense, my daughter. We’d get pulled over and then where will we be?” He leaned in even closer and once against there was the smell of blood. Ripped the Greysons’ throats out. I started to back away but he took one of my wrists, clenching so hard that it hurt. “Where do you think you’re going? I’m not done talking to you. Do I frighten you? Don’t bother answering, I already know the answer. There is no need to be frightened, what do I have against you?”
“Th… then let me go… If you don’t want m-me driving you anywhere then… then let me go. If we wait until sunset… someone c-could find us.” He was getting blurry from the tears. I had no idea what was going to happen, what he had planned but whatever the reason for us pulling off here was not good.
“Oh. My dear.” He laughed, his fingers strokin’ up my cheek. “That would be so nice to let you go. But, you see, I can’t.”
“You s-s-said you had n-nothing against me,” I whimpered.
“I don’t, Serenity. I don’t. I don’t even have anything against that slutty father of yours anymore. You see, I am a changed man. I know you do not believe me, but it is very true. I am changed and there is absolutely no point in hurting you, or hurting him, or hurting anyone. If I did hurt your husband when I entered his body, well–I am sorry. I hope he’s not dead-dead. I suppose I could have possessed your suitcase or something but… well! You know me. I love possessing men.” He laughed loudly at that and I flinched back. “Your husband has quite a delightful body. I rather wish I had more time to explore it. But… as you said, someone might find us soon. So I must be off.”
Realization bubbled up inside me but I fought panic. My body tensed though, and he strengthened his grip. “Let… me… go…” I forced out of my nearly closed throat. “You s-said you were changed. You said…”
“I did say, and I am,” he answered in a silky soft voice. “I am changed. In fact, I am so changed I want to show Sebastian how changed I am. Stop panicking so much, Serenity. I am not going to anywhere near him. I have no desire to see him.” I was strugglin’ as hard as I could but I could not get free. I also tried hitting him but my hands just went through him. He merely continued talking. “You see, I had always planned on kicking him to the curb when he got all wrinkly, old, and ugly. I don’t even want to see him anymore, it would ruin my beautiful memories of his perfect, young body. So don’t worry, your father will be safe. I am going to actually do him a favor. Oh yes, I want to prove my changed ways.”
“What am I going to do?” he asked and I gave a teensy nod. “Well I know he probably has… undesirable memories of me. So I am going to remove some of those memories. One, in particular. After all how hard it must be to see his genes and my genes mixed up, even so though it is… quite a beautiful result.” I was trying to pull free but he was too strong. His other hand went on my chest and I screamed as loudly as I could. “Maybe when I am done with this I will remove another memory of his. He did adopt Duncan, didn’t he? And perhaps it would help him to remove yet more memories. Does Duncan have children? I know you do. How hard it must be for poor Sebastian seeing my genes in his grandkids. See? I have changed. What a good thing I’m doing, yes?”
“I’m your daughter!” I wailed. I was unable to even think properly. Blood was rushin’ in my head as I tried to figure out how to get away from him.
“That you are,” he said, his one hand pressing against my chest and then sliding in. “But you see, Serenity, I just don’t care.”
And then the hand inside me began solidifying.