Soul Bringer

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The Pis Aller Protocol

Death is a peculiar and mysterious event to most people. For the greater population, it is understood to be the end of the mortal lives we’re currently living, and for many people, we believe it’s not necessarily the end of our spiritual selves - that there is something more on the other side of the living world we currently inhabit. No matter what each of us think happens after death, we all plan for this inevitable moment in different ways, depending on what we believe and who we’re leaving behind.

In the event of a terminal illness and the prospect of nearing the end of one’s life, some prepared folks have health care directives and instructions on final arrangements to help guide their surviving loved ones on how they wished things to be handled. Typically, these instructions detail the desire for life-prolonging procedures, organ donation, what to do with the remains, and other unpleasant, yet critical details.

When Abraham McCray died on May 5, 1975 – the day Grayson was born, he, too, had directives as well as for instructions for what he wanted to be done after his death. As a World War I vet and a Purple Heart recipient, Abraham had the privilege to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Still, his heart was back home, where he chose to be buried in Spring Hill Cemetery amongst his neighbors and friends. It just felt like the right thing to do.

Being a single man with no children of his own, Abraham’s spirit took to Grayson immediately. Walking the halls at that hospital in Baton Rouge the day he died, his soul came upon the newborn wing where Grayson lay sleeping and garnered an immediate attachment to the child. From that day onward, Abraham would guide young Grayson Montgomery, helping him understand his extraordinary gift of talking with the dead and to watch over him to ensure his safety from the evil spirits that lurked in the netherworld.

About the time they cut the ribbon at Montgomery Studios, Abraham sat his protégé down to talk about safeguarding him should harm ever come to Grayson that could put his life in danger. Abraham instructed that he wanted Grayson brought to his tomb, even if, God forbid, he had already passed. Abraham never elaborated more as it related to this directive, and anytime Grayson attempted to dig into the topic, his mentor would quickly dismiss the conversation. Given his deep respect for Abraham, Grayson never challenged him on this instruction, and it became one of those unspoken, unbreakable commitments he made with Abraham. Perhaps, a small price to pay for a lifetime of guidance and friendship.

Sometime in the first week of production at the studios, the billionaire gathered in his executive office with Andreanna, Tommy, Paul, and a couple of trusted others to discuss, among other important matters, the requirement made of him by Abraham. Recognizing that the Soul Bringer talk show was going to make him a public figure and quite possibly raise the prospects of harm coming to him due to his gift, Grayson believed the time was right to discuss the bizarre request. For some in the room, it would be the first time they would hear Grayson mention Spring Hill Cemetery and the name Abraham McCray. While it was true, that being part of Grayson Montgomery’s world was fantastic enough, what with his ability to talk to the dead and all, still, it was even more of a mind-blower to hear him speak of his long-dead spiritual mentor who he regularly visited at the old cemetery in Lecompte, Louisiana, as if he was alive and well and living down the street.

“No matter what harm may come to me, no matter how dire my medical condition, it is paramount that I am brought to Abraham’s tomb in Spring Hill Cemetery,” he instructed the small gathering.

Of course, there were additional crucial instructions that Grayson added, being the critical taskmaster that he was, to be sure he had all of his bases covered. One of which was calling in a favor with one of the local EMTs who he generously donated to annually to request that they be on standby should he ever require their services. Another included support from the authorities both in Miami and in Lecompte to ensure minimal interference as he and his team made their way to Spring Hill Cemetery. Again, his yearly donations to their various fraternities and foundations helped to initiate and continue these contingencies should the time ever arise that required their support. Also, Grayson’s assorted personal aircraft would always be on the ready to scramble to his location to get him in the air and to Spring Hill Cemetery in short order.

All of these efforts became Grayson Montgomery’s Pis Aller Protocol. Tommy admitted that he thought it was spelled, “Peas Allay” until he was informed that it was a french word meaning a last resort plan of action. An advanced directive of sorts, this mandate was shared with the people closest to Grayson in the event his life was ever to be put in jeopardy. For most, the idea of going to a cemetery first, rather than an emergency room, was a tough concept to swallow, especially for Andreanna. Still, given his faith in his mentor, Grayson assured them that it was what he wanted, even if it meant the chance of death. Needless to say, he signed a waiver releasing all parties from legal responsibility should his Pis Aller ever be initiated. Freedom from legal jeopardy in the event of Grayson’s death was the furthest thing from Andreanna’s mind, however. She didn’t like talking about the prospects of losing him, and his Pis Aller Protocol was rarely ever discussed after this initial meeting.

It was a tumultuous and brutal, two and a half-hour flight from Downtown Miami to Lecompte, Louisiana, which included the quick stop at Jackson Memorial Hospital to pick up the emergency technicians. While the prospects of surviving were slim from the moment Felix shot him, as always, hope continued to be the one thing everybody held on to until even that ran out. Performing an in-flight blood transfusion and using all of their capabilities they had at their disposal, in the end, nearly about mid-flight, Grayson Montgomery ultimately passed away from the gunshot wound to his abdomen.

Andreanna was utterly in shock and a total wreck. Tommy was too, looking out the window of the tiltrotor, pondering if following Grayson’s advanced directive was a mistake. At this point, Andreanna was unsure why they were still going to Spring Hill if only to present Grayson’s lifeless body to the spirits that walked the cemetery. She began mulling over the last visit she had with Dr. Wheeling and how she told Andreanna that she needed to figure out what was more important to her: the relationship she had with Grayson or her insecurity of being married to him. As the regret of turning down his first marriage proposal rewashed over her, it was challenged only by the desperate desire that so wanted another chance to say yes to the man.

“One minute to touchdown,” Pilot Joe’s voice came over the intercom. Joe never sounded more somber.

On the ground below, Louisiana State Police troopers blocked the sleepy, two-lane Highway 112 in both directions to give Grayson’s aircraft safe clearance for a vertical landing in front of the dirt entrance to Spring Hill Cemetery. There was also an ambulance and awaiting the medical team in the dirt parking lot from nearby St. Frances Hospital.

Andreanna’s mind kept swirling with thoughts of Grayson, and her emotions were getting the better of her as she sighed loudly, “I can’t do this. Why are we doing this?” she shouted, her eyes welled up with tears, looking at the EMT’s and Tommy while Grayson’s body lay still with the intubation tube remaining in his mouth.

At first, there was no response as the EMTs looked back at her with blank faces. They were only there because they had been instructed to be there by their superiors to carry out this odd request by the billionaire. Tommy finally chimed in with some reasoning. “It’s what we agreed to do, Andi,” he replied softly. “It’s what Grayson asked us to do.”

As real as it was, it wasn’t enough to put her at ease as she was still processing the concept of living her life without her best friend and soulmate.

“We have touchdown,” the pilot confirmed with the wheels tiltrotor gently kissing the highway asphalt in front of the cemetery.

Throwing open the side doors, the EMT’s readied Grayson’s body for transport while the med team from St. Frances rushed to the aircraft with a gurney in tow. Andreanna remained still, watching it all unfold, feeling like she was in a dream. It felt unreal, and she remained dazed from the shock that seemingly draped over her.

She remembered the first time Grayson had proposed to her. It was one of those typical picture-perfect sunsets on the sundeck of his Ocean Alexander. Grayson spent some time thinking about how he was going to do it. He had the chef prepare her favorite dish, Petto di Pollo alla Valdostana, and hired a piano man to play light tunes while they enjoyed their meal with a couple of bottles of stupidly expensive wine Grayson had flown in from Tuscany. As dinner moved to dessert and then to drinks under the stars, Grayson signaled the piano guy to play, “Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever” by one of Andi’s favorite bands, Journey, before getting down on one knee, taking her hand and asking her to make him the happiest man on earth.

The romantic glow of the tiki lights hanging from the roof of the sundeck along with everything that led up to this moment - the dinner, the dessert, the drinks, even the years of some of most breath-taking moments of her life with this man, was not enough for her to say yes that night. It broke her heart to rebuff his proposal and while the regret she felt even to this day ate away at her like some starved disease, years of therapy and endless days of soul searching still wouldn’t reveal the truth as to why she couldn’t find peace with becoming Grayson’s wife. With the days turning to months and then eventually to years after Andreanna said no to Grayson, she continued to regret her decision and ultimately felt like she had let him down, despite him never treating her differently or making her feel bad for saying no to him.

“Why would you want to marry a billionaire?” her mother asked her when Andreanna called her in the days after she turned him down. Her parents never liked the idea of their intellectually gifted daughter chasing around a wealthy playboy anyway. “In the long run, Andi, you probably did the right thing,” she added, hoping to console, if not to perhaps persuade, her only child on the phone.

To most and especially to Andreanna, Grayson Montgomery was a great human being, and it was evident to everybody around them that the love he and Andi had for one another was incredibly strong and pure, and yet, there was that stigma of marriage that cut her like a steel knife to her gut. Was it the voice of her independent and professionally successful mother in her head? Was it that stigma that marrying a wealthy man would lead her to not being taken seriously as a woman and a professional? Could a man with all the money in the world really, truly love her for all time? It was too late to know that now. That regret had only darkened, deepening that old wound now that Grayson was gone.

“Andi?” Tommy softly called her name, standing outside the aircraft. “It’s time to take Grayson to Abraham’s tomb.”

Andreanna stared at Tommy for a moment. She wasn’t in the moment. Her mind had drifted off, and who could blame her? Her life had been turned upside down by a monster from the netherworld. All she could feel was numb, and her mind continued to churn with confusion and disbelief.

Reality could sometimes be a cruel beast.

“Right. Grayson,” she said, returning to reality. Even saying his name now was unreal, but there were important matters that needed her attention. “We’re going to need to carefully wheel the gurney through the dirt parking lot and into the cemetery,” she announced, and just like that, Andreanna was suddenly in business mode. “I’ll need one of the EMT’s to accompany me as I don’t think there will be anything but grass and dirt to work with here.”

“Do you want me to come with you?” Tommy asked, offering his hand to help Andreanna out of the tiltrotor. He was happy to join her but didn’t want to intrude on what was likely to be a very personal moment for Andreanna and Grayson.

She turned to him as she stepped out of the aircraft, lowering her voice, “I don’t think so, Tommy, but thank you. I think I should do this alone.”

“How do you know where to go? Have you ever been here before?”

How would she know where to go? Grayson never brought her to Spring Hill Cemetery. Did they have the time to scour the grounds for Abraham’s tomb?

Just then, she remembered Grayson’s soul stone in her pocket. He tossed it to her while Felix was possessing Vander’s body. Reaching in and gently pulling it out, Andreanna lowered the platinum chain around her neck slowly to get acclimated to the change in vision she expected, much like the first time when Grayson put the necklace on her aboard the yacht. Just as before, her view suddenly changed, leaving her a bit unsteady on her feet. Putting her hand on Tommy’s shoulder, she stood still for a few moments to adjust to the change.

“Are you alright, Andi?” Tommy asked.

“Yeah,” she said, sounding unsure at first. “I just need a moment or two.”

The EMT’s and first responders stood still, watching with curiosity while trying to remain patient. The whole ordeal was bizarre and out of the ordinary for them. It’s not every day a person’s last request is to be brought to the cemetery before going to the hospital or morgue.

“All right,” she said, looking up at the towering hardwood trees and then back at the EMT manning Grayson’s gurney. “What’s your name?”

“Charlie, ma’am,” he replied softly. Charlie was a young man in his early twenties from the small town of Lecompte. Never before had he seen so much excitement and exception for a patient, but being a polite, Christian man, raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to support their low-income family, he had the patience of a saint and the manners of a gentleman.

“Charlie,” she confirmed with a small smile. “We all appreciate you doing this for all of us today. For Grayson.”

“No problem, ma’am. It’s my pleasure to be of service.”

“Great,” Andreanna replied, looking at the entrance to Spring Hill as she let out a long sigh. She couldn’t believe this day had come. It was bad enough even to have to think about this day when she reluctantly signed the waiver as part of his Pis Aller, but, to be there now, it was far too much for her brain to process. A few moments passed when Andreanna finally looked back at Charlie, who had been patiently waiting. “We can proceed,” she added.

The two made their way under the old wrought iron archway at the entrance to the unpaved parking lot, while the wheels of the gurney fought the rocks and stones in the dirt, making the Charlie’s job that much harder. With Andreanna leading the way, the two crossed over to the grassy cemetery, leaving the others behind on the quiet highway.

The soul stone did not give a perfect vision of the dead that walked the cemetery like Grayson’s gift did, however, it did give Andreanna the ability to see the spirits and hear them, albeit in a ghostly, echoing way. Immediately, as the gurney made its way through the cemetery, distraught souls approached Andreanna, shocked to see Grayson’s lifeless body in tow. Many expressed their deepest regrets while others simply stood by and wept. It seemed even the ghosts of Spring Hill Cemetery knew that it was far too soon for Grayson Montgomery to be gone.

Josephine, the spirit of the seventy-something women who fancied Grayson, approached Andreanna with what appeared to be tears in her eyes. She, too, was visibly distressed to see Grayson’s body in the cemetery.

“You must be Andreanna,” Josephine said softly. “Grayson had talked so fondly of you during his visits to Spring Hill. I am so very sorry for your loss, darlin’. We all so very much loved Grayson, and to see him like this simply breaks the hearts of so many souls walking this cemetery this day.”

Andreanna held her hand up to halt the EMT from proceeding with the gurney. “Thank you,” she replied to the spirit of Josephine. She has never spoken to a ghost before and to the EMT Andreanna appeared to be talking to nobody.

“He was a kind, and gentle soul who helped a lot of spirits here find their way home,” Josephine added. “He will certainly be missed, but surely never forgotten, honey. You must always remember that.”

“Thank you again. Your words mean so much,” Andreanna added.

“If you don’t mind me saying, darlin’, it is rather odd, however, to see you here today with Grayson in this manner. I mean, shouldn’t you be at a hospital or perhaps, a funeral home?”

It would seem that Grayson’s Pis Aller Protocol was apparently a little out of the ordinary even for the dead of Spring Hill Cemetery.

“One of Grayson’s final wishes was to have his body brought to the tomb of Abraham McCray,” Andreanna explained. “I was wondering if you could tell me where that was?”

The expression upon Josephine’s face went from anguish to an odd smile, suggesting that all of the pain had swiftly lifted from her shoulders. “Of course, Abraham,” she said with a laugh, clapping her hands together. “Pardon me, darlin’, but I should have known there was a reason why you brought Grayson here today.” This response puzzled Andreanna. Josephine turned and pointed to a dirt path a couple of yards away. “Follow that path, and you will come upon a large crypt with a white stone above the door that has the name McCray engraved on it,” she instructed. “There, you will find Abraham.” Her smile could not be any bigger.

Andreanna thanked her again, but before she could proceed, Josephine had one more hopeful note for her. “Everything is going to turn out alright, child. Just you wait and see.”

With that confusing comment, Andreanna turned to Charlie and signaled him to continue toward the dirt path. Before long, whispers were making their way through the cemetery, and the feeling of despair and sorrow was quickly changing to belief and anticipation. What it all meant was confusing to Andreanna and intriguing her to meet up with Grayson’s mentor.

After a few minutes and some yards down the path, Andreanna and Charlie reached the tomb of Abraham McCray. Approaching the wooden door, she tugged at the handle to confirm that the crypt was indeed locked just as she thought it would be. With no key, she was unsure of what her next step would be.

“Now what?” the EMT asked, standing next to the gurney with Grayson’s body.

“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I was only told to bring him to this tomb.”

The late morning sun warmed the grounds as the tall trees surrounding the area moved their branches around in the gentle breeze. Aside from the spirits in the distance that only Andreanna could hear, the cemetery was peaceful with nary a visitor to be found, other than the two of them.

Turning to the crypt, she called out, “Hello? I am seeking an audience with Abraham McCray. My name is Andreanna Fallbrook, and I have,” she struggled to get the words out, “the body of Grayson Montgomery with me.”

Barely two seconds passed before the mahogany door to the concrete tomb burst open, revealing Abraham McCray standing at the marble entrance. To the EMT, the door opened by itself to show nothing, but he was startled just the same. Only Andreanna could see and hear Grayson’s mentor.

“Andreanna. What has happened to my protégé?” Abraham asked, approaching the gurney to inspect the body.

“Abraham!” she remarked. He looked just as Grayson had explained him to her: a tall, handsome looking, elderly man with a white beard and mustache, and with barely any hair on his head. He had gentle eyes and he appeared all-wise and kind, yet commanding and fierce at the same time. “He was shot in his stomach,” she answered him, getting teary again.

“What? Who would do such a thing to him?” Abraham was genuinely appalled.

She let out a long sigh and replied with just a single word, “Felix.”

The name haunted him even in death. An evil being so wretched and foul, Abraham worked tirelessly through the years to be sure that he kept Grayson safe from ever coming into contact with the monster.

“What? How could that be? I banished that beast to the netherworld back in…,” he rambled on, only to stop himself when the truth revealed itself before his very eyes: Grayson’s soul stone that dangled around Andreanna’s neck. It was the absolute last thing Abraham wanted, and he warned Grayson as such. “This is horrible,” he said as he turned to look over Grayson’s still body.

Andreanna didn’t need confirmation of that fact. She was already well accustomed to the horror of losing her best friend and the love of her life.

“Felix found his way back to the world of the living with this?” he asked, turning back to her to hold the necklace gem in his hand. “Grayson’s soul stone?”

“Yes.”

“And where is Felix now?”

“I don’t know. He left us after he shot Grayson.”

“Felix von Holton walks among the living once again,” Abraham muttered, trailing off as he released his grasp on the stone, staring down at the ground. So much effort was spent keeping that demon locked in the netherworld only to see him live once again.

“Abraham?” she called. “What about Grayson?”

“Grayson?” he asked, looking back up at her.

“Yes. You requested that he be brought here in the event of his death?”

“Yes, of course,” he said, re-engaging as he turned to look at the lifeless body of his protégé once again. “I see you have a medical person with you?”

“Yes, but…”

“Good. Grayson followed my instructions well,” he replied, closing his eyes and raising his arms.

“What? What’s happening?” she asked, instinctively taking a couple of steps back.

“What’s going on?” Charlie asked.

“I’m not sure. Just hold on a sec,” she whispered to him.

“Why are we whispering?” he whispered back.

“Shhhh!”

The act was familiar, looking much like what Felix did when he raised two dead soldiers to possess the bodies of the McDougal brothers, and while Andreanna was hysterical at the time, tending to the mortal wound that Grayson had just received, she did remember seeing something like this just before Felix left the scene. The big difference here was that Abraham’s body started to glow - something she didn’t recall seeing with Felix.

Could it be that Abraham possessed the same power that Felix had?

The once-still body on the gurney began to flinch and convulse. Charlie looked over at Grayson and could hardly believe his eyes. Stepping over to investigate, it seemed to him like the deceased was coming back to life.

“What the hell?” he said, attempting to put his hands on the agitating body. “I don’t know what’s going on,” he added, looking over at Andreanna.

Was it true that Abraham was resurrecting Grayson?

Finally, just before the storm of electricity that was ravaging the previously lifeless body came to an end, Andreanna could have sworn she heard Grayson call her name in that same ghostly way she heard the spirit Josephine speak to her.

“He has a pulse!” Charlie shouted. “Holy shit, he has a pulse! He’s unconscious but he’s alive!”

Andreanna turned to Abraham in disbelief.

“What did you do?” she asked, grabbing Grayson’s hand. It felt warm. He was alive and the tears started welling up in her eyes again.

“I didn’t do anything. I was standing next to you,” Charlie replied, looking at the patient as he marveled at the miracle that just unfolded.

“I raised him from the dead,” Abraham replied. His body no longer glowed and his arms were now down at his side. “Grayson’s injuries should be healed and within a couple of days, he should be back to normal. Now, quickly, get him to a hospital. He’s going to need medical attention.”

How could it be that she was granted her wish of a second chance with the man she so desperately loved? What did she do to deserve this gift? The reality of it all was almost too much for her mind to accept. Was it true? Was Grayson really alive?

“I don’t… I don’t know what to say, Abraham,” she replied.

He smiled as genuinely as he could, knowing that Felix was alive once again. “Please, just take care of Grayson. I’m sure he will have a lot of questions for me once he’s back to full health.”

Dumbfounded, she looked over to the EMT and shouted, “Charlie!”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“We need to get Grayson to the ambulance right away!” She shouted again, wiping the fallen tears from her cheeks. It was all surreal and in the back of her mind, she was ready for the alarm on her phone to wake her from the dream she believed she was having.

“Roger that!” Charlie replied, pushing the gurney on the dirt path, back toward the entrance of the cemetery. “Buck? This is Charlie. Come in,” he spoke into his radio transceiver to the other EMT that waited outside the cemetery.

“Hey, Charlie. What’s up?” the voice came through the small speaker in the unit on the EMT’s belt.

“Fire up the rig, Buck. The DOA, umm, he’s alive!”

There was a pause and then, “Please repeat, Charlie, I don’t think I heard you correctly,” Buck replied.

“It’s Mister Montgomery,” Charlie struggled to catch his breath as he raced down the dirt path with the patient. “He’s alive!”

“Wait. He’s what??”

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