Chapter 16 – Teaming up
Friday, October 7th, 2016
Annika has been staring at Angie curiously ever since we woke up this morning and she found Angie seated at the window sill, staring outside and deep in thought.
“Is she always this quiet?” Annika leans towards me, whispering to not disturb Angie. It’s too early to go to hospital to visit Sid, who hasn’t woken up so far.
After Annika called an ambulance, they also dispatched a police car since the whole story screams mystery and they assume Sid has been attacked.
There’re lashes all over his body and they needed to give him extra oxygen at first since his breathing was weak, but then it stopped overall, he went in to respiratory arrest, and they’re now fully controlling his breathing through machines.
I’m surprised Annika isn’t crying right now, because she has been crying none-stop ever since Sid’s parents informed us about his poor physical state.
She cried herself to sleep, and she woke up on several occasions throughout the night. After three times, she asked me why she still couldn’t see Angie, scared, angry, upset all at once.
And Angie simply told me she couldn’t scare Annika right now. How she felt she couldn’t bother her in her dreams.
Annika – in return to me explaining Angie’s decision to hold it off – demanded for Angie to appear, for she had questions that needed to be answered and she was sick of needing me to transfer answers from Angie to her.
I guess Angie listened and is now fully attached to Annika, which made me nervous a bit.
Especially because I already knew Sid is probably possessed by something really evil, and I knowingly withheld that information from Annika so far.
Angie and I informed her about it together, and she took it surprisingly well. Just said we need to keep investigating to find a way to help Sid. But I know deep down inside, she’s completely freaking out and scared to lose him for good.
He wouldn’t be the first one to die because of this, as Angie simply stated about an hour ago.
According to her, every round of six kids gone missing, started with someone getting possessed by the dark entity that was haunting Sid. None of those – who had all been adults, or teens, lived to tell the tale, but none went missing, but died through natural causes. Even though the natural causes couldn’t be explained.
They all died in their sleep, and no doctor has been able to explain why their hearts just stopped beating one night.
“She is usually hyperactive, but I think she feels guilty for what happened to Sid…”
“How do you think I feel?” Annika cries out. “If I wouldn’t have woken you up, she wouldn’t have left him…”
“Anni, Angie and I would’ve woken up at some point anyway. Sid wasn’t here physically, so I guess as soon as his mind wasn’t with Angie, he was vulnerable. It’s not your fault, it’s not Angie’s either. It’s mine. I should’ve never suggested going into those woods in the first place.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t blame ourselves and focus on finding a solution.” Annika whispers.
“Starting by getting Cory involved.” Angie is suddenly right in front of us, and I jump slightly, while Annika grasps for air in shock, covering her chest, staring at Angie in shock.
“O my god I totally get why you and Sid kept jumping because of her!” Annika scowls towards Angie. “I nearly had a heart attack, it’s bad enough one of us is in hospital, let’s keep it at one, okay?”
Angie scowls, but shrugs nonetheless. “We need Cory.”
“Why? I’m pretty sure Sid said Cory didn’t want anything to do with this. And Sid was the only one of us who Cory really trusted.” Annika plucks the comforter of her bed nervously. “I don’t think Cory’s going to jump in all of the sudden when we ask.”
“That’s the whole reason he might,” Angie answers casually. “The only one who really befriended Cory, really befriended him and even agreed to stay over the night so that Cory wouldn’t be alone, is temporarily in hospital.”
“Temporarily? He’s fighting for his life!”
Angie pulls a face, telling me she hasn’t told us everything she knows so far. “He’ll wake up once they remove the machine.”
“Why didn’t you say so!” Annika calls out angrily. “We have to get them to stop the artificial breathing…”
“He’ll get worse first, stops breathing, and then he’ll be at his most vulnerable.” Angie floats circles around the room seemingly acting nervous. “That’s when it’ll really take over. It’ll take over the breathing, the beating of his heart, his mind…” Angie turns. “He either stays in this vegetative state, or he’ll be dead for a short time and then wake up because the entity took over. As long as he doesn’t die, it won’t be able to take over his body fully.”
“So, what you’re saying is that he either stays like this forever, or he’ll die, and wake up only to be taken, and then die again after the cycle is finished again?”
“Which might take a while, since the last cycle was two years ago…” Angie drawls. “Or he has to finish the cycle, shifting them two years ahead. Maybe, if he is the one who’ll be responsible for the next cycle, we have another eleven years to fix this before he starts.”
“Which would be the best case scenario?” I frown, staring at Angie in wonder. “You know, for a nine-year-old, you do know a lot.”
“I was nine when I died. I’ve been learning a lot ever since. I’m not bounded to the woods, I’m just not strong enough outside the woods to attach myself, or to haunt someone I haven’t been attached to yet. But I got to observe for years and years. For starters, by following those who I came across in the woods, without attaching. Then, by following investigators, doctors, anyone who could give me information.” Angie shrugs. “I may look like a nine-year old, but in my mind I’m 63, which is how old I would’ve been if I would still be alive…” She sounds a bit sad, but perks up again soon. “I’m going to visit Sid for a second…”
We both nod and watch her vanish into thin air.
“So, does she know where to find us when we leave home and go over to find Cory?” Annika asks curiously. “Or should we wait?”
“We can go, she’ll locate us easily.”
“Cool…” Annika smirks, but then looks sad again. “If it wouldn’t be for Sid in danger, I could actually get used to Angie… or the fact ghosts actually do exist.”
“Same, Anni.” I nod. “There’s this scary, shitty side to all of this. But I can’t help but think this is pretty cool.”
“But for now, we need to find a way to help Sid.”
“And for some reason, Angie thinks Cory could help us.”
“So, visit Cory?” Annika already got up, putting on a sweater that belongs to Sid, causing me to sigh sadly, yet get up nonetheless.
“Yes, and since he’ll be in school, I guess we should head over there.”
As soon as people notice Annika and me, carrying our backpacks, ready to go to class, the whispering starts.
We got a day of to process the events of this night, since we found our best friend and Annika’s boyfriend after he got attacked. And we’re the only ones who know how badly the attack is.
As soon as those whispers reached our friends, all of them hurried over – including Amber, who I haven’t seen around for a while. Not ever since she claimed Angie was a fake and Cory was fooling us.
Cory was the last to reach us, and until then, Annika and I didn’t tell the rest anything. Angie joined us in the mean time, telling us Sid’s situation didn’t change so far.
It’s currently lunch, and we’re seated at the same table as always, which now feels eerily empty without Sid and his witty comebacks.
“What happened?” Edward nervously fiddles with the string of his hoodie, Amara is biting her nail, and Amber seems uneasy. Cory is silent, and I can’t read the expression on his face. “Was it that ghost?”
Annika and I both shake our heads.
“Why is everyone always blaming me?” Angie pouts, leaning over towards Edward to blow into his ear. “Tell them I’ll hunt those who blame me until they scare themselves to death.”
“Could you do that?” I chuckle, nodding towards Amber.
“Well, She can’t hear or see me. But she can see the things I can do, like move things… write on her mirror…” Angie lolls her head and smirks, Annika and me chuckling, while Edward, Amber and Amara stare towards the empty spot besides Edward, confused and curious in the same time.
“Annika too?” Cory’s eyes widen, and he leans in to check out the scratch in her neck. “You guys went back into the woods,” he hisses in anger. “That’s what happened to Sid. You were in the woods.”
“Now, hold the judgement until we tell you why we were in the woods.” I hold up my hands defensively. “A dream-trip went wrong, okay?”
“Dream-trip?” Amber sounds sceptic. “What does that mean?”
“It means that Angie is visiting them in their dreams. It’s why Edward and I haven’t seen her in a while. Sid became besties with Angie.” Cory sounds mocking, and I frown at him.
“Jealous much?” I pull up an eyebrow, getting a scowl in return. “Sid found out that Angie isn’t evil. She’s been helping us to get to the bottom of this. For starters, she showed Sid his way around the woods in his dreams. That way, he wouldn’t have to physically go into the woods, but still knows where to find what…”
“And why is that important? We’re never going back in there, ever again. So what’s the use of knowing your way around a forest that is forbidden to enter anyway?” Edward sounds annoyed and angry. “Was Sid planning on going back?”
“He was, and so are we.” I share a look with Annika, who nods encouragingly. “Angie asked us to help her. Or mainly, she had a deal with Sid…”
“Help her? With what?”
“Locate her body, and bring peace to her parents, who are still alive and never found out what happened to her.”
“And why would we risk our lives to do so?” Amara frowns, and I notice she choose to address us as a group, not Annika and me as a duo, or with Sid as a trio.
“At first, we didn’t really find a reason to do so, but Sid has been having trouble with another entity that followed him…” Annika’s voice falters. “He described it as a dark mass and it was drawing him in whenever Angie wasn’t with him…”
“Or Annika.” I send her a look, telling her we need to tell them the whole story. “Angie and Annika have been able to act as a shield between Sid and the entity.”
“But…” Amber seems shocked and I stop her protest by holding up a hand.
“Let us finish the story and then ask the questions.”
“Right, let them finish.” Amara nods and Edward shuffles in his seat, shuddering because he feels cold by Angie’s close presence, though he doesn’t see her. I can tell he knows she’s there.
“Sid and Angie made a deal. She would protect him, and he would start to help her to find her body.” Annika sounds calm, but I see her trembling hands. “Davy decided on helping too, since he could connect to Angie in the same way, while I couldn’t.”
“This is all nice and scary…” Amber drawls, lolling her head. “It still doesn’t explain what happened to Sid and why you suddenly see a ghost, that was haunting Edward for longer. He still doesn’t see her, or hear her. This is bulls…”
“I swear I will scare her to death if she won’t stop whining.”
“Then let us finish.” I send her a stern look. “And Angie says she will haunt you into believing she exists if you will interrupt us again.”
“I said scare her to literal death, but I guess this works too…” Angie chuckles, now flying towards Amber, sitting down next to her and leaning to her arm. The goose bumps on Amber’s arm a physical sign of her presence.
“Angie was guiding Sid through the woods, and since a couple of days, I joined them. Last night, she was showing us how to get into the woods, via an… -”
“-old tunnel.” Cory finishes my sentence before he sighs deeply. “Sid sleepwalked, didn’t he?”
Annika and I both nod.
“I was in the same room as Davy and Sid, and I woke up, not finding Sid next to me. Davy was still sleeping, and I went to see if Sid went to the bedroom. I couldn’t find them, so I woke Davy up because I panicked.”
“At that point in our dream, Sid and I were already in the tunnel, and Annika woke me up. Angie was with us in the house, and Sid wasn’t.”
“He was in the tunnel, for real.” Annika shudders at the thought.
“That’s why we hurried over there. We needed to get him out of there because Angie went to look and found him there, unconscious. She wasn’t able to connect or communicate with him in any way, so we needed to get to him physically.”
They all stare at us in silence, shocked, sad, worried.
“So… what attacked… him?” Amber squeaks nervously.
“It’s assumable it was the dark entity that was following him around. Angie wasn’t with him to act as a shield, and neither was Annika.”
The latter swallows hard next to me. “When we found Sid, we saw clear signs of him being attacked by something evil. I tried to touch him…” She’s mumbling now. “But I can’t… because I’ll burn myself…” She shows her hands, placing them flat on the table, showing the blisters on her fingers and palms.
It creates a wave of gasps in shock, Amber covering her mouth while she stares at Annika in disbelief.
“I carried Sid out to the public road and we called an ambulance. We left the story at sleepwalking and finding him like that, in that spot.” I wrap up the story, while they stare at us confused, shocked, in disbelief still.
“And how is he doing right now?” Cory asks calmly.
“He’ll either stay like this, or we allow him to die, so the entity gets to take over his full body…” Annika chokes over the last word, starting to sob as the reality of things seems to hit her hard.
“But then he dies?”
“He’ll live… until the next cycle is finished…” I mutter. “Then he dies…”
“So…” Amber stares at us with tears in her eyes. “He’ll die either way?”
“Not if we find a way to help him…”
“Is there a way to help him?” Amara asks unsurely. “If this had been going on for so long, then how are we going to stop things?”
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out.” I sigh deeply, suddenly feeling exhausted. “And Angie says we need Cory…”
“Why Cory?” Amara leans forwards, curiously searching the air around us. “Why not any of us? Why not all of us? Sid is our best friend and he has been for ages now. I think we owe it to him to do everything we can to help him.”
“I agree.” Edward nods, sending us a weak smile. “We need to help him.”
“Why me?” Cory grumbles annoyed. “Indeed, why not anyone else? Why not you?” He nods towards me. “You already see her, and I guess Annika does too. Why not you two?”
“Because they never lost a family member, and Sid and you did.” Angie whispers close to his ear, surprising me and Annika.
But then I remember I clearly saw the last name “Hayes” by one of the kids who went missing during the second cycle. It’s one of the kids who hasn’t been found, and it’s one of the three I so far haven’t found the location they went missing at.
Hannah Hayes, George Roberts and Marissa Smith.
I don’t think I’m ever going to forget those names.
Cory sits frozen in his spot, and I think, by the looks of it, this is one of the things he hears Angie say. He heard her, when she addressed him directly.
“So, why Cory?” Amber pushes us for an answer, and I suddenly realise only Annika, Cory and I heard Angie answer the question.
“Because I lost a family member in the woods, just like Sid.” Cory whispers, slumping down in his seat a bit. “Because I’m… attached… to the events.”
“Well, I don’t know about you… but I’m adamant to find a way to help Sid.” Amara sits up with a determined look on her face. “We can do this, together.”
“Right.” Edward nods firmly. “As friends.”
“For Sid.” Amber smiles weakly.
“Now what, group hug?” Cory scowls, but then rolls his eyes. “For Sid, and all those who fell victim to whatever the hell is haunting those damned Miller Woods.”
Angie smirks at him but seems pleased with the outcome. “Amen.”