I woke up with a start, sweating and shaky. I threw off the blanket and got out of bed, going over and opening the window to let the warm breeze hit my face. I leaned on the windowsill and stared at the night sky. Another nightmare… I wondered when I would stop having them. Probably never.
I had seen so much of Doug. So much I should have never seen… so many memories and thoughts the second time he had been in me, to keep me weak. My mother… that was what gave me nightmares most the nights. The image of my mother’s murder, from the murderer’s view. Other times it was the things he did to my grandfather, Sebastian. And sometimes it was what he was going to do with Specter–shoot him in the face. Plus so much more. So much hatred, and evilness.
I rubbed my forehead and then turned as Specter woke up. “Hey,” he said, getting out of bed and coming over, holding me close. “You okay?”
“I guess,” I murmured, burying my face in his chest. “It’s been a week.”
“It’s only been a week,” he said, rubbing my back gently. “Don’t expect to get over such a horror after only seven days.”
I sniffled and shrugged. “I suppose.”
That day I had held Specter for an hour before he finally came to. He was very weak and in a lot of pain, and his arm–where the gun had hit–was partially useless (and it still was, his right arm didn’t work very well anymore. He had a hard time moving his fingers properly and was beginning to learn to use his left hand more now). He had no idea who, or what, had possessed him. He wasn’t even aware anything possessed him. It was all blackness to him. Nothing. I spent a long time assuring him it was over and it wasn’t until I physically destroyed the stolen item that he believed what I was saying.
We went to the labs later that afternoon because we needed to take back the stolen… now broken thing. I told Specter everything I could remember about what happened. When Doug possessed me, we ordered a taxi to go to the labs. We brought a taxi back and then went out in the woods to get the gun. I also confirmed that Doug was my grandfather biologically, and Specter had not taken that well. I didn’t blame him. After all, apparently it was Doug who had the Greysons… killed. We had spent the rest of the trip in silence as he mulled over that. I thought he might hate me now, but he didn’t. He promised me over and over that night that he didn’t hate me.
At the labs I got to see with my own eyes that Uncle Kay was alive. Asleep, but alive. The doctor was furious with me and I was scared she might just strangle me on the spot but she took the broken thing and told me to leave and never come back. Specter and I left, and I cried almost the entire way home. We called Gretchen to see if the kids could stay the night and thankfully she agreed. So Specter and I just held each other, not letting go, occasionally me crying, him reassuring me… both of us just trying to cope with what had happened.
We faked it over the next couple of days around the kids. We pretended everything was fine. We told the kids that Specter was just taking some time off, and whenever the kids went to school I’d spend the day curled up on the couch, just weeping. Specter took over taking care of the house but that was his way of dealing. I cried, he busied himself.
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the heck had taken over Specter’s body but we pretty much had come up with nothing. Something powerful enough to make the ground shake and turn a ghost into a living human and then a rat. Maybe aliens (well, I thought so. Specter didn’t.). Personally I thought it was the same person or people who put in the barrier (which didn’t work if the ghost was possessing someone) and also put the thingiemabob in me. That was my theory.
Uncle Kay had called me about three days after the event, and I cried for ages, apologizing and then apologizing again. He promised me he didn’t blame me at all for what happened, and he asked if I could come in sometime. I explained his sister didn’t want us around and he assured me that it’d be fine, he’d take care of that end of things. We’d be going in the next day and I was pretty nervous about seeing him, as well as nervous to be anywhere near the doctor. I had hurt her brother and broken the soul-thing. I knew she had wanted to kill me. Specter had let that slip the day after my call with Uncle Kay, when I spoke about my fears of the doctor. Honestly it didn’t surprise me.
Then on the fifth day we had gotten rid of the real gun. We went out into the woods and buried it several feet under the surface. We would be returning the ghost guns to the labs when we went, and I was looking forward to seeing the last of them.
Then on the sixth day I realized that Vilkas was still shook up about something. I felt guilty I had barely noticed for six days. It scared me that he still felt like something was coming. I felt like the big, bad scary thing had come. Doug and the… the black-eyed thing possessing Specter. What could be worse than that? Maybe it wasn’t even anything bad coming, maybe it was just some weird upset in the magic/alien/thing world.
And now it was day seven. I was holding onto Specter, wondering if he was right and one day I’d be able to sleep well. It felt impossible. Every time I slept Doug’s memories kept resurfacing and Specter said it happened to him, too. Having a murderous, sadistic (Specter had to explain to be what that meant), evil rapist’s memories inside of you was… well, no words could ever describe it even for someone who was good with words.
“I love you.” Specter kissed me and I nuzzled against him.
“I love you too. I was so scared of losing you…”
His finger went against my lips. “Don’t even think about it.”
“I shot you… or tried to.”
Specter squeezed his arms around me. “I wanted you to. I thought it would kill me, but I wanted you to shoot those ghost guns at me to get rid of him. You fought him with everything you could, everything you had. You did what was right.”
I didn’t say anything to that. I didn’t feel it was right. I was too powerless to stop Doug from hurting Uncle Kay, and then I was powerless to stop Doug from everything else. He almost shot Specter. If that black-eyed thing hadn’t shown up…
I clung tightly to Specter. No. I wouldn’t think about that. At least, I would try not to.
In the morning we got the kids off to school and then headed off for the labs. I watched the scenery go by, heart pretty much in my throat. Don’t blame yourself, you were possessed, I kept saying but it didn’t really help. I felt way too guilty. Specter took me into the labs and to Uncle Kay’s rooms. I held onto Specter’s hand and leaned into him as we got to the door. I almost didn’t want to go through… and when we did go through, I just stared.
“No,” I said. “Oh. No. No.”
Uncle Kay gave me a smile as he sat in a wheelchair. “Hey Ch-Chance. It’s not s-so bad…” I started to go over and the doctor stood up from where she had been sitting on the couch. I hesitated but Uncle Kay said, “It’s okay, you c-can come here.”
I went over and crouched down in front of him. “Uncle Kay? It’s just… like, for a few days, right?” I asked, looking at his legs.
“I… I’m afraid n-not,” he said.
“You paralyzed him,” the doctor said viciously. I winced and began to feel fifty times more guilty. “This is your fault, Danevbie, and you–“
“This is n-not his fault,” Uncle Kay said, interrupting his sister who didn’t look at all pleased she couldn’t finish her threat. “I am not… entirely paralyzed. It’s j-just very difficult and painful.”
“As good as,” the doctor snarled, looking like she might bite me.
Uncle Kay shook his head. “I w-wanted to make sure you were all right, Chance?”
“I–I don’t know. Not really. Your sister’s right, it is my fault.” I bowed my head, squeezing my eyes shut. “If I had kicked him out of my body sooner…”
“You… got h-him out of your body?” Uncle Kay asked, amazed. “From wh-what I understand, it was D-Doug, correct?” I nodded and he gave a low whistle. “Chance, he’s… he was pow-powerful. When we knew him. I thought he l-lost his powers but I suppose I was wrong, and if I was w-wrong that means… well, he was still powerful. It took a l-lot of strength to expel a spirit, especially one of h-his strength.”
“It is?” I sniffled.
He reached out and took my hands. “If it were s-so easy, there w-wouldn’t be such complicated and difficult rituals to remove a spirit from someone’s body.”
“I couldn’t do it,” Specter spoke up. We all looked over at him. “I tried. I tried very hard. But I couldn’t.”
I didn’t know what to say to this so I just remained all quiet. Uncle Kay just nodded a bit and said, “We’re all safe and alive, th-that’s the most important thing. Yes?”
“Yeah,” I agreed a bit reluctantly. “I guess so.”
“Brother, you need to tell him what you insisted on telling him so they can leave,” the doctor spat out.
Uncle Kay frowned then reached up to adjust his glasses. “I–I suppose I sh-should. I wanted to say g-goodbye, in person. My sister and I are… l-leaving–“
“Moonlight Falls isn’t safe,” she said icily. “I am taking my brother somewhere where he can heal. Away from all this. Specter, I did not have the time to officially strike your name from our records so… you still work here and as I will be gone, feel free to continue working here.” Then she turned her gaze to me. “As for you, I am happy to be as far from you as possible. You are nothing but trouble. Bad luck, and trouble.”
I swallowed but couldn’t really argue with her words. “So I won’t see you anymore?” I asked Uncle Kay sadly.
“I d-don’t know, hopefully one d-day we’ll meet up again. And I will e-mail. As well as c-call when I can,” he assured me and then his arms went out for a hug. I bent down and hugged him tightly. I was about to apologize and got the ‘sor’ out but he whispered in my ear, “Don’t apologize, it’s n-not your fault at all.”
After our hug, Specter came over and they shook hands. “I hope you get better,” Specter said gruffly.
Uncle Kay settled back in his wheelchair and smoothed his pant legs down. “Maybe I w-will. You never know. M-my sister is a genius.”
The doctor slid closer to Uncle Kay at that and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll find a way to fix the mess he made,” she said loudly, side-eyeing me.
Uncle Kay shook his head. “D-don’t listen to that, Chance. And s-send me loads of updates abou-about the kids! And p-pictures!”
“I will,” I said and then we hugged again. I felt like weeping but managed to hold it in until Specter and I were back in the car. I slid down in my seat and pressed my head against the door. Doctor Green-Eyes was right, it was my fault. Because I had been so, so, so stupid to think the barrier was where Doug pretended it was.
When we got home I wandered around a bit and then got on the computer because I wanted to write an e-mail to Uncle Kay. Apologizing again. Explaining to him about what I had done that made it my fault. But when I opened my e-mail there was already a message from him, sent just a few moments before.
Chance, I know you’ll never stop blaming yourself and nothing I say can change that. I know what it’s like to live with guilt you can’t shake off. It’s hard. It’s awful. But please, I beg of you, remember this: we are alive. The only person who died that day was the one person who deserved it. So what if I can’t walk? I’m still here. I’m typing this message to you. Don’t think of the coulda-shoulda-wouldas. Think about what is. And if you do think about what was just keep in mind you fought off a powerful spirit. you. YOU! You were able to do what others couldn’t. Doug was a powerful psychic. Remember discussing that psychic abilities run in your blood? It’s from him, and he was very powerful. He could bend someone’s will to do as he wished. He manipulated so many people… he controlled them. And from what I understand… He couldn’t do that to you. Since you’re about to argue you couldn’t do it in time to help me, just think of it this way: a wave hit you and dragged you out to sea. You struggled and fought, and began swimming. Did you manage to get to shore immediately? No. But you got there. You were strong enough to get to shore on your own. Never forget that, Chance. Now. I need to go, my sister wants to finish packing up. She’ll be furious if she knew I told you but we’re going to be going to Hidden Springs for a while since it’s rumored to have special healing powers. I’ll e-mail you as much as I can.
Thank you for being with me, Chance. These past few years have been wonderful. I love you, and am immensely proud to be your ‘uncle’. Your parents would be proud too, of the man you’ve become. Love always, Uncle Kay.
I thought about that e-mail a lot. I saved it. I printed it off and kept it in my bedside drawer and when I woke up from nightmares, I took the letter into the bathroom and I reread it. By the time school let out and summer vacation started I pretty much had the entire thing memorized. I had thanked him, but no words could really express how that e-mail had made me feel.
Hey Uncle Kay, I wrote one evening, a couple weeks into the summer vacation. There have been lodes of changes done to the labs. Theyve become a place for suppernatioral beans to live. Specter says since you guys left alot of the reserch has fallen through. But it is becoming a place so suppernatiorals can live and grow and be together. Like in Xmen the school for mutantes but its not a school but it kinda is cause some of the olders are teaching some of the youngers. but its not very crouded yet and Specter says it probable wont be cause alot of them just want to stay in hiding. but Villy is going sometimes and has met a coupl that are close to his age. but he says when reguler school starts up again he wants to stay there so thats whats going to happen. Oh and he keeps sayin something is coming like they all did before he is still saying it but dosnt know what. i really hope nothing else bad happens. well I gotta go. I love you! Chance.
I went over the message and right-clicked all the words with red squiggly lines to fix them. Thank Watcher for spell check! I sent the e-mail off and then joined Specter on the couch, curling up against him. I was starting to finally be able to relax some, and it was such a nice feeling to do so. I closed my eyes, and put my head against Specter’s chest, enjoying the sound of his heartbeat, feeling so thankful that I still had him.
Of course things couldn’t just stay calm. About halfway through the summer, our lives were shaken up. Not just Specter and mine, but the kids too. The day seemed like a normal kinda day. I fixed a big breakfast, Specter and I broke up some fights, and then he and Villy left for the ex-labs. It was still called Moonlight Falls Supernatural Research And Guidance Facility but it was now much more focused on the ‘guidance’ part of the whole thing. Specter was one of the people in charge which he really loved. He’d never admit to loving it since he preferred complaining about all the idiots he had to deal with, but he loved it and I knew Villy was really enjoying being around other supernaturals close to his age. He had even made a friend, a ghost that was just a year older than him.
Anyway, the day went as it normally did. The kids and I went to the park at one point and at lunchtime we were all home, even Specter and Vilkas since Specter had only taken a half-day since he wanted to spend as much time as he could with the kids.
I was at the TV, playing a racing game with Villy, Presea, and Glados. Lumie and Zaid and Specter had been playing a board game and when someone rang the doorbell, it was Zaid who scrambled up shouting that he’d get it. He ran to the door and opened it. “Hello?” he asked.
“Hi,” said a girl’s voice. “Oh, uh, is your daddy home?”
“Yeah hold on. DAAAADDDY!” Zaid screamed.
Specter got up and went over to the door. “Hi, can I help you?” he asked.
“Oh.” The girl sounded disappointed. I couldn’t see her cause of the wall and stuff that was in the way and the curtains by the door were closed, but there was no doubt she was disappointed. “No. I–I’m sorry, I must have the wrong house. I thought–well, sorry to have bothered you.”
“Bye,” Specter said and shut the door. He and Zaid came back in. “That was weird,” Specter said, shaking his head. “It was like a wrong number only for a house call.”
I giggled at that and turned back to my games. It was Glados who said, “Maybe she meant Papa and not Dad?”
Specter and I looked at each other and I paused the game since Glados was probably right. I went to the door and opened it, peering out. There was a woman walking to a car parked alongside a road, pressing the buttons of her phone as she went. “Hey!” I called, going outside and down the steps. “Were you maybe looking for me?”
The woman turned around and her eyes slowly got bigger and bigger. There was a super sharp pain somewhere in the back of my head cause this woman looked kinda familiar but I had no idea where I had seen her before. The back of my head began aching though as I tried to figure it out.
“Oh Watcher,” she said, dropping her phone. “Oh Watcher. Oh Watcher. Chance? Chance?” Her voice was high and squeaky, and tears were beginning to stream down her face. “Chance!”
I knew her, I knew I knew her but I couldn’t figure out how I knew her. “Y-yes?” I asked, dizzy. “Do I–know you?”
Her mouth dropped open and one hand went over it. “It’s me,” she said, stumbling forward. “You don’t… remember me?”
“No… I’m–I’m sorry, I don’t.”
“Oh Watcher. You’re alive. You’re… a human…”
I stiffened with shock. “What?” I asked as she looked me up and down. “You–knew me… before? When I was… a ghost?”
“Chance,” she said, and came forward even more. “It’s me. It’s Miracle. Your sister. I’ve been looking for you for fifteen years!” she cried and then her arms were around me, hugging me so tightly as she sobbed. “I never gave up, I knew I’d find you, I knew it, I knew I’d see you again!”
The people in the car were getting out and Specter and the kids were all coming out to stare. The teenager was shouting, “Mom is that him?” and Presea was going, “Papa, who is that?”
And Specter came up as the woman… Miracle… pulled back, hands still on my shoulder. “Who are you?” Specter asked, sounding all in charge.
She looked at him then back at me. “You don’t remember me?” she asked.
A tall, muscular man came up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder almost like a mirror of me and Specter.”Show him the picture,” he said.
“The–the picture. Yes. The picture.” She began fumbling in her purse and dropped the whole thing as she pulled an old photograph out. It was faded a bit with age and all wrinkled, but there was no mistaking the little girl in the picture was her. And the little ghost boy in the picture was me.
“Chance?” Specter asked, staring down at it.
“Chance Danevbie,” the woman said. “That’s your name. Oh my Watcher, you have our dad’s hair. And mom’s eyes. And nose. And you’re alive!… with… kids!” she exclaimed, looking over the group of kids hovering behind me and Specter. “Dad’s hair. Everywhere. Oh Chance…”
“That’s me,” I said, looking at the picture. “That’s me…”
The pain got super spiky and sharp, and I nearly dropped the picture. And then… a memory. A really super fuzzy memory. “You were… yelling,” I whispered. “At… at… a woman. Another blonde woman. Aunt… something… Kay… no. Yes. Aunt Kaylee?” I asked and the woman, Miracle, was beginning to nod. “Because–owwww.” I rubbed the back of my head. “Because I wanted to stay. Where I was. And not go home.”
And then with another blast of sharpness the memory came into focus. More memories began pouring into my head. “Are you all right?” Specter asked, seeing the pain on my face.
“Yes. Yes, my hippo-thing is just–yeah. I remember… I remember now.” I looked up into Miracle’s face. “I remember you. My… my big sister…”
“Yes,” she breathed and then wrapped her arms tightly around me, hugging tightly as she cried and I began crying too because I felt so bad about not remembering her at first and then I felt bad about not going to her sooner, and she had never stopped looking for me and I had just been a terrible person this whole time and she was my sister, my sister and now she was here and I remembered her.
She pulled away and cupped my face in her hands. “Oh Chance. Chance.” She kissed my forehead then began studying me closely. “How come you’re alive?”
“What, you expected him to be dead?” Villy demanded hotly.
Miracle looked down at him then back at me. I gulped and glanced at Specter. “I think–I think there’s a lot of catching up to do,” I said. “For everyone? Do you think the kids…?”
Specter nodded. “We should tell them everything.”
“Tell us what?” Lumie asked, pouting.
“Why don’t we all go inside,” I said and took Miracle’s hand, looking up at her. “And your Aunt Miracle and I will tell you a ghost story.”
She smiled, holding onto my hand tightly. I smiled back, still feeling a bit guilty, but beginning to feel a little better. I had made so many mistakes in my time… I did so much wrong. But Uncle Kay was right. We were here, safe and well. And maybe my mistakes could be forgiven. Really, everyone makes mistakes.
And after all. I was only human.