I know what you are
I know what you’ve been doing
Meet me in the gym after school
When everyone is gone
This has to stop
This is what I came up with after about twenty other scribbled notes that were crumpled up and tossed into my trash can last night. After talking with Aaron and Corrine, I knew that I had to confront the entity that took over Corrine’s body. Aaron told me that it would definitely rise if challenged. Well, my note, if nothing else, was the challenge that it would need.
Corrine’s spirit told me where her locker was in school, so that’s where I slipped the note the moment I got to school. Then I ran over to the hall and watched as Corrine’s body came to the locker and opened it. She found the note in seconds. I didn’t stick around long enough to see her reaction when she read it. I hurried to my own locker to get my stuff and hurried off to class.
I knew for a fact that I was worrying my family. Mom and John kept asking me what the matter was this morning when they noticed that I had shadows under my eyes and was hardly talking to any of them. I tried to shake it off as stress at school, what the mystery prankster who kept causing trouble and all, but I’m not sure I still had them entirely convinced. Even Maggie had realized that something was wrong with me.
“You’ve been quiet and not speaking to anyone for awhile,” she told me this morning at breakfast. “Are you okay?”
I couldn’t answer too honestly. I hated lying to my family so much, especially Maggie, but since the truth was out of the question, lying was my only option. “I’m fine,” I told her. “Don’t worry, everything’s gonna be fine.”
“Are you sure?” said Maggie. “Mommy says someone’s playing mean tricks at your school and that’s why your hands got hurt. Are you worried about the mean tricks?”
“Well, yeah,” I answered, glad to be honest even if it was only part true. “But, they’ll stop soon. After…well, after today…they should stop.”
“Oh!” said Maggie. “Are you helping to make the mean people go away?”
“Sorta,” I said, loftily.
“Is Gina’s friend going to help you?”
I sighed. “No, Maggie. Ria can’t help me with this one. Seriously, you’ve gotta try and remember her name. But, no. Ria can’t help.”
Maggie had opened her mouth to say more, but that’s when her school bus arrived and she took off for school.
As I thought back on this morning, I realized that I hadn’t said anything significant to anyone before I left to come to school and confront an evil spirit and try and force it out of a fellow student’s body. I’d tried so hard just to make sure they had no idea of what I was doing that I never said anything to them. No “goodbyes” in case things didn’t work out as well as Aaron seemed to think they would. Probably better that way, though. If I got too emotional over this, I might panic and lose control when I try and banish the Entity like Aaron told me.
The day went by too fast. The clocks worked double time so that my meeting with Corrine was almost upon me. I spent every minute that I had until the end of school trying to psych myself up for this.
Remember what Aaron said. The living can beat the dead! I am stronger than that thing. I can do this! I’m a clairvoyant!
The final bell rang. There was the general rush of students to get out of the building as quickly as they could, so I had to fight my way against the current of students to get the gym. Would the Entity be there, waiting for me? Or would it show up later, like I’d instructed it to?
I didn’t see Ria on the way to the gym when I opened the door; I found it just about empty. Only the coaches remained, cleaning up after today’s P.E. classes. I hung around by the locker rooms, waiting for the sound of the coaches to disappear either outside with the after-school teams or into their offices. The school was full of the rumbling sound of people hurrying to get out, the happy chatter of carefree students whose only concern was whether or not they’d failed all of their finals. I waited there and listened as the sounds grew fainter and fainter as people started disappearing into the world beyond school. Finally, I heard the jingle of keys as the custodian locked the doors from the inside and heard the clicking of light switches as the lights turned completely to darkness, then the opening and closing of a door. I was finally alone.
I felt around in the darkness for the light switches but only turned on of them on. The very center of the gym lit up, but the walls and bleachers were still completely dark. I wandered toward the light and looked around, half-expecting Corrine’s curly haired body to show up at any moment. I braced myself, tried to psyche myself up again, getting ready for what was to come.
Five minutes went by. Then five more. Another five. Next thing I knew I was standing alone in the gym for a half hour. Then forty-five minutes. My fear had given way to boredom and I sat there in the only lit part of the gym, stewing in the feeling of stupidity and wondering if the Entity took this at all seriously.
“This feels…kinda stupid,” I murmured to myself. I was sitting alone in school, waiting for some psycho-exorcism-fight-battle-thingy that, at this rate, didn’t look like it was going to happen. I ought to have waited to see how the thing in Corrine’s body reacted to the note. Then again, the note itself was kinda dumb. Sure, I knew what it was, but what was I gonna do about it? Tell on it? Yeah, right. That would….
My signal was the chills. The now-familiar chills, that had been happening so frequently since I met Aaron, had come back again just as I heard a door open and close. I could feel the presence of ghosts now in the air of the gym. I looked around but outside my little circle of light, there was too much darkness.
“Aaron?” I said, quietly. My voice echoed through the empty room, bouncing off the walls and reverberating back to me. Nobody answered, but that didn’t matter. I knew I was no longer alone in the room.
“Corrine?” I stammered, my teeth chattering with anticipation and fear. I cleared my throat. “Corrine!”
Corrine…Corrine…Corrine…the naked gym walls echoed back at me. I strained my ears, listening as hard as I could for sounds of footsteps, anything that would give me proof that someone alive was in here with me. But I still couldn’t see or hear anything. As far as my sight and hearing were concerned, I was still as alone as I had been before. I sighed and turned around, thinking of turning on the lights and looking around the bleachers.
But the moment I did turn around, I found myself almost nose-to-nose with the possessed body of Corrine and the Inhuman Entity with her.
I screamed and jumped back at least a foot. I lost my footing and nearly ended up falling on my butt. I backed away from her, the thing, with me, scared of being too close.
“Just following your instructions,” said the Entity, mimicking Corrine’s voice perfectly. She held up my note between her first two fingers of her right hand for me to see. “I wondered who it was who wrote this. So? What do you want from me?”
The Entity’s voice was calm, toneless…normal. It was waiting for me to make the first move. I was trembling all over, still shaken by what her sudden appearance. I straightened up and tried to control my breathing. Then, I focused my eyes on Corrine’s expressionless face. I tried to channel any inner strength I may have had, strengthening myself through the power of being alive. I glared at her, as thought trying to hypnotize her with my strength, took a deep breath and then…
…held out my arms and crossed my two index fingers and cried out in a loud voice. “BEGONE FROM THIS BODY, DEMON!”
Once again, my voice bounced off the walls of the gym, filling the room with the word “demon”. The Entity looked at my crossed fingers then her gaze traveled up my arms until they landed on my face. She raised an eyebrow. “Really?” was all she had to say.
I squirmed, starting to tremble again. “I…I’m new at this so back off!” I snapped.
The Entity smiled with Corrine’s face, making her look unnaturally cruel. “Silly little clairvoyant, you actually thought you could kick me out of this body? I’ve been hovering around this girl for years, waiting for the time when I would become strong enough to keep her Doppelganger spirit out and make a permanent home for me. I noticed, you know, the way you kept an eye on Corrine when you saw all my little pranks going on.”
“Yeah, I noticed!” I yelled, trying to sound brave but I couldn’t stop shaking, my heart pounding in fear. “You’ve been using her body to do all kinds of damage! People are getting hurt!”
The Entity laughed, and her voice seemed to be losing some of it’s humanity as she spoke again. “That’s right. I hurt them and guess what, little miss,” she leaned in closer to me. “I had fun doing it.”
We both turned. Corrine’s Doppelganger had appeared at my side, looking distressed. A small bit of my fear went away. I had an ally!
“I want my body back! Give it back!” Corrine shrieked.
“Now, why would I do that?” said the Entity. The light above my head, the only light in the gym was starting to flicker. The hair on Corrine’s body started to ripple like it was in a low breeze. The room was getting colder. I understood. This is what Aaron had been talking about when he mentioned ghosts taking power in from around the room. “You never cared about this body much anyway. I saw you, you know. Every time you left it, I was there. The days I spent hanging over it, slipping inside from time to time, keeping it in check until the day came when your soul was weak enough and I was strong enough to steal it from you. You living people…you have no idea what you’ve got until it’s gone, don’t you? I watched you flitting out of it all the time, escaping school or floating across the room to get a look at another student’s test. My kind would never abuse such a wonderful body like this. Now that it’s mine, I’m not ever letting it go.”
“Oh yes you are!” I said, trying to keep the tremor of fear out of my voice. I was terrified, but I couldn’t abandon Corrine! “I’ll make you get out!”
The Entity laughed again and it did nothing to put an end to my fear. “Are you? Please, girl, I can see upon your face. You had no power over me from the start! It was over the moment I took over little Corrine’s body. Now that I’ve got it…I’ve got the power…to do…this!”
She reached out and shoved me, but I didn’t just fall to the ground. I felt my feet leave the floor and I went crashing into the opposite wall. My back smacked into the wall and I felt all the air crush itself out of my lungs. Pain shot through my back from my tail bone all the way up to the back of my head. My ribs seemed to rattle from the impact and I slid unceremoniously to the ground. Moaning in pain and crying in fear, I looked up and saw the Entity had turned its attention to Corrine. I could feel it getting more powerful. I could feel the Entity’s power increasing somehow, taking power, not from the surrounding area anymore, but from within Corrine’s body.
“Living bodies have all the power we could want,” the Entity said, stepping closer towards Corrine’s ghost. “We have no restraints, no restrictions when we get a hold of one. But there aren’t always ones who are so willing to give up their bodies as you were, Corrine dear. Now that it’s mine, I might just have all the power I need…to erase you.”
The Entity pointed a finger at Corrine and she began to scream. Her image was flickering, something I’d never seen it do before. She was struggling, moving as if to pull away, fighting as the Entity tried to suck her in.
“When your soul is destroyed, this body will completely be mine,” the Entity gloated. “Never again will I stew in the darkness; never again will I fear the clairvoyants. Nobody will be any the wiser. They’ll all just think you’ve gone insane.”
The Entity was laughing. Corrine was screaming. I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to get up but my body trembled in protest. The pain in my back was too intense, not to mention that I was frozen with fear. I couldn’t stop this horrible thing from happening. I was too weak, too scared, that thing was too strong. I couldn’t do it! I couldn’t save Corrine!
But then the chills came back and something appeared behind the Entity. Aaron, looking as strong and solid as any living human being, materialized behind the Entity and stuck both his hands into (literally into) the back of Corrine’s possessed body. The Entity jerked and seemed to lose its hold on Corrine’s spirit, which hurried away, flickering weakly.
“Gina!” Aaron yelled, not taking his eyes off the Entity. “Get a hold of yourself! Beat this thing!”
“Impertinent little dead boy,” snarled the Entity, as thought Aaron was nasty bug that had crawled onto its shoulder. “Stay out of this!”
“The living are more powerful than the dead!” Aaron roared, still addressing me. “They always have been! They always will be! You’ve got to believe that you’re stronger. You’ve gotta find your faith in your own power! USE THE FORCE FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!”
Of all things, it was the Star Wars reference that got me to control my terror enough to move my legs. I moved to stand up but my body still ached terribly from the impact of being thrown clear across the room. Suddenly I felt something slide out of my pocket onto the ground next to me. I looked down and recognized it was my Dad’s bracelet. My lucky bracelet.
The old, familiar, friendly object did something for me in that moment as I picked it up off the floor. Something finally clicked inside my head. At last, I got what it was that Aaron had been trying to tell me. I believed in the power that this bracelet had to always give me luck when I needed it. A tiny bit of my absent father, the only thing I had to remind me that he still loved me wherever he might be, was what gave me the strength to go on without him. If I could believe in my own strength, my own will to survive as much as I believed in the power of my dad’s love, then the Entity, this ugly creature of darkness that lived for the suffering of others, didn’t stand a chance.
I managed to get up to kneeling position. The pain of being thrown had subsided by now but my body still didn’t want to move further than this. I held the bracelet out in front of me, like a priest would with a crucifix, for the Entity to see. “Hey, Ugly!” I snapped, wanting its attention on me.
The Entity, who had been frozen the moment Aaron had grabbed it but was clearly trying to regain control, glanced over at me. It saw the bracelet and the eyes of the stolen body widened. “That’s…”
“It’s a present from my dad,” I told it, spitefully. For some reason I wanted it to know that it was a tiny keepsake like this that would be its undoing. I managed to put one foot on the ground. “And now, with all the power I have in me, the power to see the spirits of the Shadow Life, I command you…LET HER GO!”
I didn’t mean to sound cheesy, but the words were coming to me before I could put much thought behind them. The best part was, though, that it was working! I could feel something inside, a kind of fire burning in my heart; my own power growing stronger within me! It flowed from within my chest up across my arm holding out the bracelet. The bracelet worked like a kind of targeting device, because I could feel this power, my inner strength, reaching out toward the Entity. My power was making it weaker, I could feel it. It’s like I had it under some kind of trance, I could sense my power was weakening the Entity. I was making it lose its grip on Corrine’s body.
“No…it can’t be!” the Entity said. I could feel it fighting, but I kept in control. I wasn’t going to let my fear diminish my hold on it again. “You can’t…no! NO!”
Aaron, who had kept his hold on the Entity this entire time, heaved and pulled as I kept the Entity in my trance, making it weaker. Then, the eyes of Corrine’s body rolled upward, her jaw dropped lifelessly and it collapsed onto the ground. The body was empty once again. From the corner of my eye, I saw a flicker of color encircle the body. Corrine’s Doppelganger had slipped back inside.
“Corrine!” I cried, delighted, distracted.
I looked back toward Aaron and let out another scream. The Entity was still there and, for the first time, I saw it for what it truly was. It was shaped like a human, but clearly not one. A human-shaped glob of shadow and vapor with pupil-less red eyes yet no other distinguishable features, twisting and writhing, struggling to get free of Aaron’s continued hold on it, reaching and clawing with shapeless hands in an attempt to recapture Corrine.
“Don’t lose focus!” cried Aaron. He’d been so solid when he first arrived, but he was started to fade. It seemed to be taking all the energy he had to keep hold of the ugly, terrible thing. “Use your power and banish it! BANISH IT!”
He didn’t need to say it twice. I turned my attention back on the Entity, no longer scared, just more ready than every to be rid of it. My new found courage made me forget the pain and I finally found myself completely standing again, tall as ever and feeling powerful. I held out my bracelet again and cried out as loud as I could. “I command you to leave! Get out of the Realm of the Living! Never come back!”
The thing wailed and snarled tried to fight my will, but I had more courage in that moment then I ever had in my life. “I command you to get out!” I said again. “Get out! Get out! In the name of life and death…GET OUTTA HERE!”
Something snapped then, like someone had brandished a whip in front of my face. I blinked and, just like that, my connection with the Entity was gone, as was the Entity itself. The air was warm now, the lights had stopped flickering. Behind me, I could hear Corrine groaning.
“Corrine!” I cried, as I saw the girl getting to her feet. I stepped toward her, but then all of the pain I’d been ignoring came back in spades. I fell back on my hands and knees and groaned in pain.
“Gina?” said Corrine, her voice completely back to normal. She hurried over and tried to help me up. I looked over at her.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Yes! It’s gone!” she said, tears in her eyes. “I don’t feel it near me anymore. It’s gone!”
I looked over at Aaron. I could barely see him anymore. All I could make out was the right side of his face and part of his arm. “Good…” I heard him say. “That was…pretty good….”
With that, the last of Aaron’s energy diminished, and he disappeared.