My face hurts like hell. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to pick a fight with Jude. I should know better. I’ve seen him in a fight before, and I’ll tell ya, it did not turn out well for his adversary. Based on his bleeding lip, and bruised cheek, I must have gotten at least one punch in. Good. At least I’m not a total failure.
Halfway to the van, I feel like I can walk by myself, but I want Jude to feel like a jerk, so I continue to hang on to the girls. Jude follows far behind us, looking at the ground thoughtfully. I hope he’s thinking about how he can make this up to me. Jackass.
Back in the van, I sit in the front passenger seat, Maria gets in the driver’s side, and Jude and Hazel sit in the back. Probably Maria’s idea to keep us separate. Not that we plan on doing that again. I don’t think either of us feel like fighting again. Honestly, I don’t think either of us wanted to fight to begin with. I mean, we did… but we also didn’t. It’s hard to explain. And I’m too tired to try right now. I glance at the clock; 4:43am. I can’t imagine any hotel letting us check in at this ungodly hour, but we try anyways.
We find a place to stay at a crappy, rundown hotel, with stains on nearly every surface. I don’t even want to think about what kind of things might have happened on the two available beds. Instead, I volunteer to sleep in the back of the van on the spare mattress. Maria and Hazel can share a bed and Jude can sleep all alone because he’s evil and deserves no one.
“Tomorrow, we need to talk to the family,” Jude says to no one in particular. Everyone agrees. Even me. I know it wasn’t technically Jude’s fault that he beat the crap out of me. He’s very protective of Hazel. I learned that a few years ago, when we were all hanging out at a bar after a tiring job.
One of the bartenders had had a few too many drinks, as had Jude. The bartender started flirting with Hazel and tried to subtly but not so subtly grab at her chest. Jude grabbed the guy’s wrist and snapped it over his leg all in one swift motion. He then proceeded to beat the living shit out of him, until Maria hit him over the head with a pool ball, knocking him unconscious. We dragged him to the van and took off as fast as we could, before the cops showed up.
Jude blamed it on being drunk, but we all know better. I saw his aura the moment he decided that he was going to break the bartender’s wrist. It was a wild mix of emotions, and he had no control over his own body. He loses himself when it comes to protecting Hazel. As far as I know, they have never been in a relationship. I think he’s protective of her because, without her, he’d end up in a mental hospital again and stay there for the remainder of his life. A life that probably wouldn’t last very long.
The others head into the hotel and I climb back into the van and fall into bed. I’m asleep within seconds, dreaming of being hit repeatedly in the face by dozens of invisible entities. When I finally awaken from my fitful sleep, my face is throbbing. I look in the van mirror and wince. I didn’t bother to wash off any of the blood last night, so now my face has spots of dried up blood, covering bruises and small cuts where Jude’s fists broke my skin. I can’t imagine how I will look to the Harrisburg’s when we go to meet them today. Maybe I should just stay in the van. I don’t want anyone to see my beautiful face so ruined. Stupid Jude.
I find a bottle of water and a napkin and do my best to clean up my face. I’m almost finished when I hear the others voices. Hazel and Maria are laughing about something and Jude is on the phone with someone.
“…get a better idea of the extent of the haunting if we… yes, I do understand that you are a bu… I understand. But we can’t finish the job if… Listen, even if just your wife and daughter are willing to speak with us, that would work. Otherwise, we can just leave, and you can try to find a new home that isn’t haunted. How’s that sound?” Jude does such a good job of convincing people to like him. That’s sarcasm, by the way.
I open the back of the van and hop out. Hazel and Maria stop laughing, and they both have pained expressions on their faces. Hazel even touches her own face as though she can make mine feel better that way.
“I’m glad we came to an agreement, Mr. Harrisburg. We will see you and your family soon to discuss the abnormalities that we encountered last night. Thank you. Bye.” Jude hangs up the phone and looks pleased with himself. “Told you I could convince him.” He elbows Maria and jogs around the van. He doesn’t even bother looking at me. “Your face looks like shit, Toby.” And there it is. I can’t help but grin. I think we’re all in a better mood now that we’re away from that house and got some rest, and it’s not often that I see Jude actually happy. This is a very rare occasion.
We all pile into the van and Maria drives us to our destination. Which is apparently a super high-end fancy pants restaurant called Prodigus. The Harrisburg’s must have a lot of money, because I am currently looking at their menu, and the prices are outrageous. $95 for a steak smaller than my hand. I close the page on my phone in disgust.
As we pull into the parking lot, Jude decides to take full advantage of our awesome sound system and blares Wannabe by Spice Girls. He and Maria roll down the windows and sing along as loudly as possible. When we come across rich pricks like these people, we kind of like to piss them off by embarrassing them as much as possible. No one wants to be associated with people who act like this, but they have no choice.
Hazel rolls her eyes, but her aura tells me that she’s enjoying the show. We pull up next to the Harrisburg’s, who are standing outside their shiny car. We wait until the song ends to turn off the van and get out. Hazel is trying hard not to laugh at the look on the parents faces. The girl, Sarah, is laughing hysterically, not trying to hide it at all. Jude steps out of the van and bows. “Seventh Sense, at your service.”
Mr. Harrisburg’s face is beet red with anger and probably embarrassment as well. Jude specializes in pissing people off. I only specialize in pissing Jude off. Mr. Harrisburg holds a hand out to silence his daughter. Now I get why she would hide her emo side.
“Oh, was that… was that not up to your standards? Should I do a different song?” Jude asks sarcastically. Hazel elbows him and he stays silent, but smirks at the parents.
“I apologize for my coworker’s behavior, Mr. Harrisburg. We’ve had a long, sleepless night. Humor makes us all a little more relaxed. Just think of Jude as the class clown,” Hazel says. She sounds only semi-sincere. “I’m Hazel, by the way.” She reaches out to shake his hand, but he stares at it in disgust. Instead of being offended, she swings her hand to gesture to the rest of us during introductions. “This is Jude, Maria, and Toby. Jude is the one you spoke to on the phone.”
“That certainly explains the rudeness. What is he, 16? He looks barely older than my own daughter!”
“I’m actually 23, but thank you for the kind compliment,” Jude smiles. Mr. Harrisburg looks like he doesn’t believe him for one second, and even moves Sarah behind him protectively. “Don’t worry, I’m not interested in girls who have an overly obnoxious love for the color pink. I prefer darker colors.” He winks at Sarah, who smiles back shyly.
“Jude, honestly,” Maria says in exasperation. “I promise, he means nothing. He’s an idiot. Ignore him. If he wasn’t useful, we would just fire him. Unfortunately, we need him.”
Mrs. Harrisburg shifts uncomfortably. “Perhaps we should just go inside so we can get to business.”
“Excellent idea!” Hazel says. We follow the Harrisburg’s inside, and I look around in awe. I feel like I am not worth enough money to be in here. Everyone is wearing clothes that probably cost more than our van, and here we are in worn out hoodies, jeans and sneakers. When were finally seated at a table, the waiter examines us with repulsion. He doesn’t even give us menus. Instead, he turns to the Harrisburg’s and offers them a wine sample, which they politely decline. He then hands the three of them menus, glances at us again, and walks away with his ugly snout in the air. Pretentious jerk.
“Oh, I’m sorry, did you want a menu?” Mr. Harrisburg says with a smirk, as though he’s laughing about the fact that we can’t even afford the water here.
“No thanks, the food here smells like vomit,” Jude replies. The smirk vanishes and Mr. Harrisburg closes his menu. “So! Sarah, have you ever experienced any odd behavior after being in your room, or perhaps after using your computer?”
“I’d prefer it if you did not directly address my daughter, Mr…”
“Just Jude is fine. I’d ask you, but I doubt you pay that much attention to your daughter.”
Mrs. Harrisburg gasps and places a hand on her chest, and Mr. Harrisburg slams his hand down on the table. We all jump, not expecting the sudden loud noise in the middle of such a quiet restaurant. “How dare you make assumptions about my family! I refuse to speak to this imbecile any further!”
“Oh, that’s fine. I’ll ask him to leave. Toby, would you be so kind as to leave?” Jude asks me politely. As much as I’m enjoying this hilarity, we do need to get down to business.
“Enough, Jude. No more talking. I mean it,” I say sternly. He rolls his eyes, but he shuts up finally. There was actually a purpose to all his annoyances, but the Harrisburg’s don’t know that. If you piss off a person who’s possessed, they will usually exhibit an unusual aura. Unfortunately, but also fortunately, none of them revealed anything unusual. Although, the main person we were going for just found the situation entertaining. Sarah’s aura stayed the same for the whole absurd exchange; happy. Which seems kind of odd considering she’s supposed to be a closet emo.
“Mr. Harrisburg, last night we encountered some… odd sensations. Both me and Jude ended up so angry that we got into a fight. Over practically nothing. Hazel and Maria didn’t show any similar behavior, but they also didn’t go into Sarah’s room for an extended period of time, like both of us did. My point being, we need to know if Sarah or any of you have experienced anything similar after being in her room or being on her computer.”
“Wait… you used my computer?” Sarah asks in disbelief, her cheeks blushing.
“It was interfering with our equipment, so we just tweaked a few settings,” I lied. “Nothing that will have an impact on your future use. The changes will be reset after the computer restarts.” Sarah relaxes and nods in understanding, believing my lie.
“That explains the… injuries on your faces,” Mrs. Harrisburg says. “I have actually noticed a slight change in Sarah’s behavior since moving into that house.” Sarah glares at her mom. “Maybe we should speak privately.” She turns to her husband. “Dear, would you please take Sarah out to the car?”
“Absolutely not! I will not leave you in here with this trash heap!”
“Sarah, I like your necklace,” Jude says randomly. I look at him oddly, then realize he may be on to something. I look at her necklace and notice the aura coming from it is quite different from her own aura.
“Thank you,” she replies quietly. Her parents are still arguing in hushed tones.
“May I see it?” Jude hold out his hand, and Hazel grabs his arm, shocked. He would use his psychometry, right here, in front of everyone? Is he crazy? He gently pulls his arm away from Hazel and continues to hold his hand out.
Sarah looks confused and holds her hand over the necklace protectively.
“I promise, I’ll give it right back.” The parents have stopped arguing now and are looking at him, just as confused as the rest of us. I’m confused for several reasons. How did he know the necklace was out of place? He can’t see aura’s like I can. Also, seriously? Anything could happen once he touches that necklace. The colors coming off of it are so bright that I’m shocked that I didn’t notice it sooner. The brighter the colors, the more emotional history there is behind the object.
We all hold our breath as Sarah slowly unclasps the necklace. She balls it in her fist, still unsure, but Jude smiles reassuringly at her. She sets her fist slightly in his hand. Even at this contact, Jude’s body turns rigid, but he still smiles. She lets the necklace fall into his hand, which instantly clenches shut, trapping Sarah’s fist. She shrieks and tries to pull away, and Mr. Harrisburg yells, wrenching her hand from his. He starts to yell at him, until he realizes that Jude can’t hear him.
Hazel grabs Jude as he slumps in his chair. I look on in shock. He actually just did that, the crazy bastard. We quickly get him out of the chair, onto the floor and on his side just in time for the seizure to start. His entire body starts to convulse. I shove the chair away from him so that he doesn’t hurt himself on it somehow. I remember the first time I saw him do this, he ended up smacking his head on a table and got a concussion.
Sarah is bawling and the Harrisburg’s are watching the scene in horror. Mrs. Harrisburg grabs Sarah and holds her face to her shoulder so that she can’t see. It’s not like he’s dying, but I definitely understand it being scary to watch if you’ve never seen it before.
Jude must have bitten his tongue, because blood and drool starts to drip out the side of his mouth.
Basically, what’s happening in his mind is that he’s reliving the last moments of life that the person experienced while wearing that necklace. The seizure will continue until the person dies completely. We aren’t really sure why he has seizures when he does this, but I would probably go into a seizure if my brain was being fucked with like that, too.
After a full minute and thirty-three seconds (yes, I timed it) Jude finally stops convulsing and his hand unclenches. Hazel snatches the necklace from his limp fingers and sets it on the table. We wait for him to regain consciousness. It takes a few more seconds, but his eyes flutter open and he coughs. He’s out of it right now, and probably will be for a while.
“Jude, look at me,” Hazel says gently. He blinks rapidly before looking at her, and even then, his pupils are huge and unfocused. “Can you stand up?” I have to practically drag him to his feet. Once up, he looks like he’s about to throw up, so I pull him toward the exit. We barely make it outside before he pukes. All over my shoes. Great. This is why none of us wanted him to do something so reckless in public. It’s a lot easier if we’re all prepared for it. I drag him the rest of the way to the van, Hazel right behind us.
“Sorry,” Jude slurs. I grunt and pull open the back of the van and force him into a sitting position. I grab a bottle of water and hand it to him, then shine a light into each eye to make sure he doesn’t have brain damage or something. I went to nursing school for a while, so I’m sort of the one in charge of him after his episodes. His hand trembles as he tries to open the water, so badly that he gives up immediately.
I open the bottle for him and help him take a few sips. “What the fuck were you thinking?” I mumble. I doubt he really understands that question right now. I turn to Hazel. “Maria?”
Hazel looks like she’s about to cry, but she holds it together. “She stayed inside to explain things to the Harrisburg’s.” Her voice is shaking, and she keeps her voice low. “Why the hell would he do that without warning us? He’s never done that without any preparation before!”
“Heck if I know. He’s crazy!”
“Mnot crazy,” Jude slurs. “Thnecklace… slilgirls.” I can barely understand him.
“Yeah, Sarah’s,” I say. He shakes his head slowly. His face pales and he looks like he’s going to be sick again.
“Lilgirls. One whwas killed.”
“The ghost girl? That was her necklace?” He nods. “She was wearing it when she died,” I say, realizing why he wanted to get it away from Sarah.
Jude started to stand up and almost fell, but me and Hazel grabbed him and made him sit back down. “Where exactly do you think you’re going in your condition?” Hazel asks.
“Gotta gettit,” he mutters. “For shputs it back on.”
“Maria is handling it. You just lay down and rest,” I tell him. I look at Hazel questioningly.
“I’ll stay with him. You go help Maria,” she says. She sits next to him and he leans against her, closing his eyes. Confident that he’s in good hands, I head back inside. I get close to the door before I remember that my shoes are covered in vomit. I sigh and chuck them into a garbage can. I go in barefoot. Maria is still explaining things to the Harrisburg’s when I arrive. They look up at me as I approach.
“Is he okay?” Mrs. Harrisburg asks. To her benefit, she actually sounds sincere. Even after Jude’s incredible rudeness, they are still worried about him.
“Yeah, he’ll be okay. It’s not the first time it’s happened,” I wave my hand in dismissal. “I’m assuming Maria told you everything?” They nod, Sarah still attached to her mom’s side, in tears. “Sarah, where did you find the necklace?”
“It’s mine,” she says defensively. “I bought it.” She is a terrible liar.
“If you tell us where you found it, it may help us solve your problem much quicker.”
She sniffs, but nods. “I found it in the back of my closet. It was between the floorboards.” That makes sense, considering the girl’s body was found in a closet. Also, the computer is very close to the closet. But what doesn’t make sense is the fact that Sarah has had the necklace this whole time, away from the house, but Olivia’s spirit remained in the house. If not the necklace, what is she attached to?
“Thank you very much for your time, and I’m sorry you all had to go through so much. Our methods may be… odd, but I promise, they are effective. I hope we can have your house ghost free by the end of the week.” I offer my hand to Mr. Harrisburg and he actually shakes it.
“I… I’m sorry for my behavior earlier. I didn’t really believe…” He stumbled over his words. I nod. I understand what he’s trying to say. He was a skeptic. Now he’s not. Maria grabs the necklace off the table, and we say our goodbyes.
Now we can get to work.