The Ghost Girl Chronicles

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Not With My Sister

Chapter Twenty Five: Not With My Sister

“Dude, dude--hey Mikey! Where’s Thea?” Short Round had sobered up sufficiently with the help of three cokes and looked around, searching for Thea. Everywhere he looked, nothing. He was done being irritated with Mikey, and now all he wanted was to help find Thea. He ran, puffing, up to Michael’s side. “Didn’t you hear me, man?”

Michael seemed to come out of a dream. “Isn’t she here? I saw her a while ago, but I think it was when she first got here. Haven’t you seen her?”

Short Round scratched his head, then pulled at his mohawk. “Okay, I saw her for a while, wandering around. She didn’t look too happy, but I figured she’d get over it. It’s Dewey’s party, for crying out loud. And then I got involved with the beer.” He hung his head, no more need be said.

“Look,” said Michael, “We take off in opposite directions and look for her, then meet back here. Whoever finds her brings her with him, whether she wants to come or not. We don’t find her, we still meet here. Take half an hour—we should be able to cover the party and see if she’s still here.”

They high-fived, and Short Round took off. Michael stood, hesitant, wondering if Thea had done something dangerous, like go to the house on his street, just because he had told her not to. If something had happened to her, it was his fault, and he’d never forgive himself.

“Michael.” There was no mistaking that voice. He turned around and saw the Mariah-thing, watching her slowly re-arranging her features into the Mariah that he knew.

“What?’ he asked rudely. He tried to hide what he was feeling. Anger, yes, but the sight of the girl in front of him melted some of the ice that had become his heart. For a moment he forgot the creature and took in the now-blue eyes and sheaf of black hair.

“Don’t,” he said, “It’s not really you. I know what you are now. You made me fall in love with a lie.”

“I’m doing this so you’ll listen to me. Your friend is in danger, she’s gone to the house. He also has your sister. He caught her while she was walking home from the bus.”

“Kit, he has Kit? I gotta go, I gotta find a ride.”

She changed back into red-skinned, coal eyed Fury. “Someone is leaving right now. If you run you can catch him before he leaves. He’ll give you a ride, but you have to go now. Hurry, Michael—run!”

Michael turned on his heel and ran towards where a group of cars were parked. Thankfully, the person Mariah had spoken of was someone he knew from the skate park. It was no trouble to say that he was tired and needed a ride home. His friend agreed and let him off at the corner at the top of his street. When he asked Michael why he didn’t need a ride directly to his house, Michael told one of his few lies and said he wanted to walk a little and clear his head. His friend let him out, then waved and sped away.

Michael waved back, then took off down the street at a run. He didn’t know if the stalker was waiting, hidden in the bushes, but he didn’t care. He had to get to the house. He didn’t know what he’d do once he got there, but he’d improvise. He wasn’t going to let that S.O.B. get his sister or Thea.

He was panting, his hair hot on the back of his neck, when he finally reached the house. He stood a moment to catch his breath, then heard glass crunch underneath his feet. He looked down to see the remains of an old window—a window like Mariah had described to him what now seemed a lifetime ago. He swore and stepped off the glass, walking carefully around it.

The window was barely visible in the dark, but it was exactly where Mariah had told him it was. A black, empty hole against the side of the house—so dark that it appeared to absorb light. He wanted to run, call Kit and Thea’s names, but in spite of his rising panic, he forced himself to be silent. His Vans made no noise as he walked slowly and carefully across the grass.

When he finally found the empty opening in the wall, he knelt down, peering in the dark, trying to distinguish a shape, anything, hoping the girls were all right, and that the occupant hadn’t played out the grisly game he had planned.

“Kit?” He called out softly, hoping that she heard him. This house made him nervous, here were the graves of Crazy Girl and Mariah. God only knew what could happen if the monster had an appetite that day.

“Michael!”

Kit was overjoyed to hear her brother’s voice, but she didn’t know what to do. Thea was curled up in a tiny ball, not speaking, holding on to her bloody knife, muttering, “I killed him. I killed him. I didn’t mean to, but I killed him.” Then she had lapsed into silence and said nothing since.

It was thanks to Thea they were alive at all. Kit and Thea had sat for what seemed like hours in the darkness, waiting to see if anyone would come to rescue them. The silence had assured Thea, she hoped they were alone in the house and could find a way out. The owner could have satisfied himself with locking the basement door, confident his prey wouldn’t escape. Maybe he fell asleep, assuring he would remain upstairs. Best of all was the possibility he had left, and the guys would notice they were missing and come to the house looking for them. Michael would know, Michael would come, but would he really care that she was missing and come to look for her?

And, if all failed, she had her knife. Her brother had shown her vulnerable places on the human body and then warned her never to use them. The things her brothers had given her had been their way of taking care of her, but they never planned on her actually putting them to use.

The door suddenly opened, and Thea pushed Kit further back against the wall. She put her hands on Kit’s mouth and looked around with eyes that were now used to the dark. Footsteps sounded as he came down the stairs, then paused when he saw his captive was gone.

“I know you’re here, girlie, there aren’t many places to hide that I can’t find. As a matter of fact, I bet you’re under the stairs. That was a real stupid choice, the first place I’d check. Get ready because I’m going to drag you out now!”

He knelt down and reached out an arm, straining to reach for Kit, but Thea was ready. She slammed her knife into his arm, then backed away, shielding Kit. He howled, holding onto his arm, blood dripping through his fingers.

“You bitch, you bitch, you aren’t the one, who are you?” He peered into the darkness under the stairs and reached out with his left arm and grabbed at Thea, but she pulled Kit out from under the stairs and shoved her into a corner near the window.

She then did the most foolhardy thing she had ever done in her life. She ran beneath the window, waiting for him to find her. His useless arm dangled at his side and she counted on, prayed, that he would come at her from the front. The spoiled, youngest daughter was preparing to sacrifice herself if she had to, but as far as she was concerned, it was not going to happen that day.

She watched him stumble around in the dark, holding onto his bad arm. It must hurt, he had it pressed tightly against his chest. That left him one good arm to try to grab her. If she could coax him to her, she’d use her knife on his upper thigh. He’d be in enough pain that she could grab Kit and run out of the house. By some twisted streak of fate, he had left the basement door open. There was no worry now about one getting out of the house while the other waited for help to arrive. This was lucky, too lucky. Thea suddenly felt in icy streak run down her spine. This had suddenly become too easy, and easy meant that something could go wrong.

He was taking too long to come to her. She took a deep breath, then made a decision. “Hey, numb nuts,” she taunted him, “What’s the matter, can’t find one little girl?” She was counting on him coming to her, but if he got anywhere near Kit, she’d shove her knife in his kidney. She didn’t plan on killing him, she couldn’t, she didn’t have it in her. Her brother had given her his knife strictly as a present, but if she used it in self-defense, he would be okay with it. Well, defending someone else wasn’t so different from that. All she really wanted now was for him to get close enough to shove her knife in his thigh. She and Kit would escape from the house, then call the police on her cell. Simple.

“Come on,” she called, “I’m by the window. Want to see if I can do your other arm?” In and out, in and out, her breathing was heavy and her heart pounded so hard she thought it would jump out of her chest. She tried to control her breathing, she couldn’t afford to hyperventilate and faint.

He roared and suddenly he stood in front of her. She could smell his foul breath and saw a bald, middle-aged man standing in front of her. He reached out for her throat with his good arm, but she didn’t try to elude the hand that reached for her. She chose instead to stab him in the groin, praying that she only crippled him, and had not hit his femoral artery. She didn’t want him to die, she wanted to see him arrested and taken away.

Suddenly he let go of her. Thea tore away, grabbed Kit and ran up the basement stairs. She froze when they reached the living room. She looked up at the flat-screen television in horror and pushed Kit back. She did not want her to see what she saw. “No, wait,” she told her, and dialed 911 and told them that the two of them were being held against their will, were too frightened to leave the house on their own. She gave the location and description of where they were, then glanced around nervously as the operator held her on the line and asked questions she could not answer.

Wanting to get away from the living room, she pulled Kit with her down the stairs. She shone her flashlight beam on the figure of her captor, watching as a dark spot slowly grew, staining the earth of the basement. “Oh, no,” Thea was now close to tears, “No, no, no, no, no. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” She knelt at his side, out of the reach of his arms. She reached out and gingerly checked his pulse. She dropped his arm, finding out what she had feared. “You weren’t supposed to die,” she moaned, “I only meant to hurt you so we could get away.” The tears came and she curled up in a ball, sobbing It was all her fault for letting things get so out of control.

“Michael!” Kit said again. He poked his head through the window shone his flashlight beam in her face.

“Are you all right?” he asked. He flicked the flashlight beam around and saw Thea sitting on the dirt floor, quietly moaning, her head in her hands. “What’s wrong with Thea?” He pointed the beam back at Kit.

“She hurt that man, I think she might have killed him. The police should be getting here any minute, but I’m worried about her.”

Michael slid through open window, landing with a quiet thump in the soft earth. “Why aren’t you out of here if he can’t hurt you?”

“She wouldn’t let me. It’s like something she saw scared her. Oh Michael,” Kit put her arms around him, holding me tightly, “Get us out of here, please.”

“Okay, hold my flashlight. I’m going to carry Thea.” He handed his flashlight to Kit and lifted Thea, who seemed to weigh no more than a feather in his arms. “Hang on Thea, I’m getting you out of here. Kit, stay close behind me, don’t look at anything.”

He led the girls through the living room and out the front door. Not wanting to be any nearer the house than necessary, he took them around the side to the side street. He lay Thea down on the grass parking strip and felt her pulse. It was racing, and she could be in shock, but the cops would be there soon and they’d call for an ambulance.

“Michael, come quickly, there’s not much time.” It was not hard to recognize the voice. He would come to her for this one last time. He had to, he did not know if he would see her again.

“Kit,” he took her hands, “I have to do something. You need to stay here with Thea and keep an eye on her. The cops will be here soon, and he can’t hurt you anymore. I’ll only be gone a minute or two. Okay?” He shook her hands, “Okay?”

Kit nodded miserably and he took off. He ran around the house, running up the stairs. Mariah stood in the living room, the girl, not the Fury, and when he saw her he took her in his arms. They kissed, one last farewell kiss, then stood looking at each other for a moment that seemed to last an eternity.

“I’ve got to go, Michael, forever. My sisters and I have to do one last thing. Don’t be anywhere near the house. Now go, please go. I love you, I’ll love you forever, I promise.

“Me, too,” he answered. They shared one last lingering kiss, and he ran out the door and down the stairs. He found Kit keeping her vigil next to Thea. He put his arm around her, holding her tightly.

“Michael, what’s happening? Where are the police? They should be here by now.” Kit’s eyes welled with tears and she threw her arms around him.

He started to say, “I don’t know,” but the word stuck in his throat as he watched a tongue of flame shoot through the roof of the house. Successive windows began to light up with an orange light, then heard the sound of exploding glass.

“They’re burning it down,” he thought, “They’re taking out the house, along with the owner. They’re getting even. They had to wait a long time, but they’re getting revenge for Mariah and Crazy Girl.”

When the cops arrived, Thea was their first concern, followed by the fire. They started to ask brother and sister questions, but Michael brushed them off, saying that Thea and Kit had narrowly escaped death, couldn’t questions wait for right now? Their parents lived down the street and he was sure that they would be worried, would they mind calling them?

In the end, it went smoothly, more than Michael dared hope. He was afraid he would be suspected of arson, but there was no evidence to link him to the fire. Thea was committed to in-patient alcohol treatment. When queried as to what happened that night she said she wasn’t ready to talk about it. She insisted that she couldn’t remember, the only clue to her ordeal was the persistent nightmares that would not go away.

A social worker recommended therapy for Michael and Kit to help them cope with the trauma of what they’d experienced that night.

What had happened was worse for Michael. Every day he would go to the smoldering ruins of the house and wonder if there really were skeletal remains beneath the dirt of the basement floor. What would they find when the debris was cleared away? He liked to think that Mariah’s bones really were there, along with Crazy Girl’s. He would imagine that he’d retrieve Mariah’s bones and send them to her parents, along with a letter saying that he knew that this was what she would want so she wouldn’t be lost to them forever.

One day, he didn't go back.
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