It was a short while later, after the gym had been deserted, when the figure sitting in the darkest shadows of the top bleachers, finally spoke.
“Well, that was uneventful,” said Cameron, pouring a few Skittles into his hand, which was covered in a leather biker glove. “The bang was hardly worth my buck. But, I guess it was the girl’s first exorcism so I guess I can’t judge her too harshly.”
He popped his handful of Skittles into his mouth and then raised the bag over his shoulder as if offering it to someone. Behind him, the shadows of the dark gym grew even darker and a human-shaped mass of darkness with staring red eyes appeared behind the boy’s shoulder. Another Entity.
“The Entity had latched itself to a living body,” the Entity said. “That is no small feat. Even advanced clairvoyants would struggle greatly with so severe an exorsism. The girl seems to have a natural talent.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” said Cameron, still munching on his candy. “It just wasn’t much to watch, that’s all. What with all that time I’ve invested in Gina since I got here, I was expecting a little more…oomph, y’know?”
“You knew what she was from the start?” asked the Entity.
“Well, that ghost brat ogling at her in the back of that pizza place was just a little bit of a giveaway,” Cameron replied. “And the fact that she kept looking back at him was even more of a giveaway. This place…this town…for a dinky little Nowhere this place has got a lot of activity. Gina, for starters, and that Doppelganger…this place is rich with activity. That’s why I picked it for the start of my domain, after all.”
“Yes, you were very wise,” said the Entity. “I must admit I was surprised that you would dare set foot in a place where the Shadow Life can so easily recognize you. It is good that the girl is only beginning down the path of a clairvoyant. Otherwise, she would have recognized you as a kindred spirit.”
“Well, that two-bit Entity that just bit the dust down their recognized me, didn’t it?” Cameron said, conversationally. “That’s why it went around pulling all of those stunts. It was fun to watch Gina struggle with it, though. The horrified look on her face was pricelessly cute! Ah, it’s been so long since I’ve had something to play with like this,” Cameron sighed, reminiscently. “Wish she’d gotten on a little sooner though. Might have prevented the glass bit. That really hurt.” He glanced at his gloved hands and sighed.
“I’d have thought you were beyond physical pain at this point,” said the Entity, coolly.
“Hanging around you this long has definitely gotten me further than any normal person,” Cameron admitted. “More so even than most puny clairvoyants that only ever hang around ghosts. But still, I just can’t stand pain. It’s just so…unpleasant.”
The Entity laughed. It was a hollow, echoing sound that was cold as Artic ice. Even Cameron, who’d been followed around by the Entity since he was eight, still got goosebumps when he heard it.
“A great deal of unpleasant things lie in wait since you chose this as your starting point,” the Entity said. “You are still ready to move forward, are you not?”
“Hey, I moved here, didn’t I?” said Cameron, crumpling up the empty Skittles bag. “Things are going my way at last. Just you wait. Soon this place is going to be crawling with Entities, and not the second-hand crap that took over that Doppelganger’s body. I mean the real deal, like you.”
“You’re too kind, Cameron.”
“Think nothing of it. I owe all my power to you, don’t I?”
“You do,” the eyes of the Entity traveled to the center of the gym. “The girl, though…she may become a problem.”
“She might,” Cameron agreed.
“Shall we deal with her?”
Cameron glanced down at the gym floor as well, staring thoughtfully at where the exorcism took place. After a little thinking, his face pulled into a grin.
“I’ll let her live, for the time being. I’m not done playing with my new toy, yet.”
“As you wish.”
“You okay?” Corrine asked, tentatively. “I’m so sorry you got hurt back there.”
“It’s fine,” I insisted. My back was still killing me from being thrown clear across the gym, but other then that, I was fine. When I tried to sit down on the coach in Corrine’s house, pain had spiked up my back. I readjusted the hot rice bag that Corrine had offered me.
After the incident in the gym, I’d taken Corrine back to her house…or rather she’d taken me there. It was closer to the school then my house was and we both needed a place to get ourselves together after the confrontation with the Entity. She seemed to be doing really well considering that she’d been outside of her body for days. She just seemed to be lacking a lot of energy and said that her arms and legs felt really heavy, like they would after a really long day of extra hard work. But, as I said before, my back was killing me, but it wasn’t a big deal. I was bruised up pretty badly, but nothing was broken. I felt we’d both gotten out of that pretty lucky.
“I never thought that something like this would happen,” Corrine admitted after a bit. “I’ve been leaving my body a lot since…well, pretty much since I learned I could do it. I never had a problem with it before.”
I frowned at Corrine. I could tell she felt guilty about what had happened. “How long have you been doing it?” I asked. “Leaving your body?”
Corrine sighed and didn’t answer right away. Rather than pressure her, I glanced nervously around the room. Corrine’s house was small and in slight disrepair. There was a slight crack in the wall opposite us and the coach we were sitting on had holes with bits of stuffing coming out. But it was also tidy and organized and smelled nice due to a few lit scented candles on top of the mantle.
“Dad doesn’t think much of home improvement,” Corrine said, noticing that I was staring at the crack in the wall. “He says it’s overrated. Instead of spending money on fixing the house, he spent it on getting me into private school…which is why he was really ticked off when I got kicked out.”
“Oh,” I said, then I felt dumb. All I had to say was “oh”? I’m so lame!
“Yeah,” said Corrine, reminiscently. “It drives Mom crazy. She’s a real estate agent, you know. She’s obsessed with things being clean and perfect, especially houses and most especially our house. Dad’s a teacher at the private school I used to go to but he teaches gym and coaches soccer and baseball, so he’s not taken very seriously. It stresses him out.”
I could see the meaning behind this last sentence. “Is…everything okay here?” I asked.
“It’s better then how it used to be,” Corrine admitted. “When I was in middle school…Mom and Dad would fight, a lot. They would find just the smallest things to argue over. I used to be terrified that they’d get a divorce.”
Corrine’s gaze was distant. I didn’t interrupt her. I knew I was seconds away from getting the answer to my initial question.
“I would get so upset when they would fight,” Corrine went on. “I wished they would get along more than anything. Whenever they started fighting again, I would go to my room and try to sleep. I hoped that, when I woke up, it would be over. But that’s when…when it happened.
“It was back in seventh grade. I came home from school one day and there they were, Mom and Dad, at it again. I went up to my room and shut the door, but I could still hear them shouting. Finally, I thought I was falling asleep because I suddenly felt…lighter, I guess. All of a sudden, I was sure I was dreaming because I was suddenly looking at myself asleep in bed. I could still hear Mom and Dad but the world seemed…different. There was like this…ultraviolet look to everything and I could see things like flashes of black and white kinda zipping by. I moved downstairs through the floor and there was Mom and Dad in the kitchen arguing. I remember feeling really upset and angry. All I wanted was for them to stop. That’s when…”
Corrine took a deep breath and her eyes sank to the floor. “I pushed over a glass fruit bowl on the counter. I was so angry. I wanted them to stop so bad that I just…pushed it. And it actually moved. It fell to the floor and shattered into pieces. They finally stopped yelling at each other and looked at the bowl on the floor. That’s when I kinda floated back upstairs and then…I was awake.”
She looked over at me and gave me a humorless smile. “I couldn’t hear Mom and Dad arguing any more so I went downstairs to see what they were doing. They were picking up the pieces of the bowl that had somehow flown off the counter and shattered.”
I stared at her. “You moved it? I mean, your Doppelganger moved it?”
“Yup,” said Corrine. “I almost couldn’t believe it either. Like I said, I thought it was all a dream. Until…” she drifted off.
“Until you did it again,” I finished for her.
She bit her lip and grinned like she was embarrassed. “Yeah. When I realized what I could do…I thought it was awesome. I could go anywhere I want as long as it wasn’t too far from my body. I could zone out during classes and explore the school and courtyard rather than listen to the lecture, then when it was time for the test, I would slip out and see the answers on other people tests and it just looked like I’d fallen asleep during the test. It was great, at first.
“But then my teachers started complaining and my parents had to take me to the doctor. They said the only thing that would explain my constant falling asleep was narcolepsy and they started prescribing me all these meds. I threw them all down the drain, of course. I didn’t really need them. When my teachers didn’t see any improvement, I got kicked out. Dad was really disappointed. I got sent to your school instead.”
“You didn’t notice the Entity at all?” I asked, curiously. “You didn’t see it or sense it at all?”
“Well, kinda,” Corrine admitted. “I told you about the black and white mists, right? I noticed there was one black one that didn’t move around like the others did. I would hang around my body, sometimes getting really close to it. It made me nervous, so I would always slip back in before it got too close. But then I noticed, whenever it got too close, it got harder to get back to my body. It was harder for me to wake up. Then, the other day…my body got up without me.”
“I guess that was it,” I said, nodding in understanding. “That ultraviolet world is how ghosts and Entities see our world. You’re seeing our world like a ghost would and those black and white things are ghosts and Entities moving around.”
Corrine stared at me. “If that’s the case then there’s a heck of a lot of ghosts hanging around this place. They’re always there when I leave my body behind.”
A small clock on the mantle began to chime. I gasped.
“I didn’t tell my parents I was gonna be this late,” I realized. Mom was gonna kill me! I left the rice bag and thanked Corrine. “I’m really glad you’re okay,” I told her.
“I have you to thank,” said Corrine, smiling.
I grinned. “Take care of yourself…or better care of yourself from now on, okay?”
I turned and was about to leave the room when Corrine suddenly spoke again.
“I saw them around you a lot, you know!” Corrine called after me. “The mists of ghosts and Entities, they cloud around you. I saw them whenever I left my body. That’s why I was always so nervous around you. They recognize you. Every day, more and more show up. They’re just taking their time to manifest themselves.”
I looked back at her, and her expression was grim.
“Now that they know you can see them and they know I can leave my body, I don’t think they’re gonna leave either of us alone. You’d better be ready, because what happened today was only the beginning.
“They’re coming for us.”