From the moment that John Campbell took over my case it was handled as a different kind of investigation. Campbell found “experts” to explain that the massive thunderstorm and the way the spell was worded would have opened a portal to a dark spiritual realm. The investigation into the making of the dolls proved that what it was stuffed with were the herbs and bones asked in an ancient spell, one of the Enochian Keys, to draw a djinn to the person saying the spell. All of this was presented in a manner that the probability of something paranormal actually occurring at the VonMurkin home left little room for doubt. Even before my eighteenth birthday I was moved from the ward to the “day patient” section of the hospital; a part of the hospital where the patients slept in, but could leave the grounds during the day with a pager/GPS.
The first place I went was to see Catherine.
“She is in no shape for visitors, Miss.”
“Look she’s my only surviving relative. Even if I can’t be with her, I want to see her!” I pleaded with the desk nurse.
“She has a no visitors order from her psychiatrist. I can’t let you go to her room.”
“Would you please contact her doctor or let me have his number so I can call him, myself. If he thinks isolating her from me is going to help her he’s very wrong. Cat knows I didn’t do any of this.”
The nurse gave in and gave me the doctor’s phone number. “The best time to try to get him in his office is between nine and eleven in the morning.” She said in confidence.
“Thank you. Would you please tell me how she’s doing?”
“Her legs are healing, they had to replace inches of bone they were so badly shattered, but I can’t speak to how her mind is doing. She’s still catatonic.”
“How are you keeping her body alive?” I was stunned.
“Electronic stimulation is keeping her muscles from deteriorating but it isn’t perfect. She’s been bedridden for two years now, she’s very weak. If this lasts too much longer, she’s never going to be able to get up.”
“I’ll call … or have my doctor call this guy tomorrow.”
I fought tears all the way back to my own hospital. When I got there, I asked the desk nurse to call Dr. Campbell for me and I went to my room and lay on my bed bawling like a baby for over an hour. It was Campbell’s touch on my shoulder that brought me out of a light sleep.
“I wanted to see Cat but they wouldn’t let me. She’s still catatonic.” I managed to say before I burst into tears again.
Campbell held me and crooned softly until I got control again.
“I know this is crushing, Elizabeth … do you want a calmative?”
“No. I’ll deal with it. I want you to call this asshat and make him let me talk to Cat.” I answered with some invective.
Campbell took the doctor’s name and phone number from me. “I agree with you since the two of you managed to get that thing in the furnace, together, you probably could pull her back from whatever place in her mind she is hiding.”
“I know being alone is why she’s still hiding. She needs to hear my voice.”
“I agree. I’ll call him first thing in the morning.”
“Thank you, John; I’ve been so much better able to handle this just because you believed me.” I said very softly looking him in the eye.
“Well, if you decide differently, I’ll leave a script for one calmative and one sleeping pill with your nurse.”
Two days later Dr. Campbell and I were at Catherine’s hospital to see her.
“This child is responsible for the trauma; I disagree with your assessment Dr. Campbell. I don’t want my patient to withdraw further!”
“She is not responsible for what happened! She’s as sane as anyone. These sisters survived that trauma together and keeping Cat away from her sister is what is keeping her isolated within herself. Cat needs Elizabeth!” Campbell not only hissed in his face but pushed the other doctor out of the way with a court order to allow me to see my sister.
Catherine VonMurkin was lying in a hospital bed with electrodes all over her body. She looked small and lost to me, in a bed of wires it was something out of a horror movie! The nurse who was monitoring Cat’s “exercise” period was the desk nurse who had given me the doctor’s number and she smiled when Campbell and I walked in.
“Give me just a few minutes and I’ll get her left arm free for you to hold her hand.” She said softly and began pulling electrodes off Cat. When she was finished with that, she pulled a chair close to the bed for me to sit down with my sister.
“I wouldn’t advise trying to kiss her right now; you’d probably get a shock. She has forty more minutes of stimulation.” The nurse apologized before she went to the other side of the bed to monitor her computer screens.
I sat on the chair and took Cat’s hand in mine. I just held Cat’s hand against my cheek for a while.
“Cat? Cat, it’s Elizabeth. I’m here sis.” I spoke clearly even though it hurt my throat.
“Talk to her some more, tell her how you are.” The nurse said, excited, as hearing my voice had started Cat’s heart rate to rise.
“Cat, I’m OK. Two years of bullshit and then they gave me Dr. John Campbell who finally believed me about the doll. I’m in a ward now where they let me out in public during the day. That’s how I managed to get here. Dr. Campbell is with me, too. They tell me your legs are mended but because you’ve been catatonic your body is weak. You have to wake up, Cat. I’m here now. They can’t keep me away. Together we’ll get you well.” I managed to say all that without my voice faltering but my face was soaked in tears.
Then Cat squeezed my hand! “She squeezed my hand!” I told the nurse who unplugged Cat from her exercise machine.
“She’s waking up!” The nurse was excited. “Keep talking to her, Miss.”
“Cat … come back to me, please. Wake up so I don’t have to feel alone.”
Cat moved on her own, rolling her head toward me. She squeezed stronger on my hand.
“I’m right here, Cat. They can’t make me go away. We have a court order and when you wake up, if you are medically well, we’ll take you back to my hospital where Dr. Campbell can help you, too.”
“Bess?” Cat whispered.
I stood up and laid my free hand on Cat’s cheek. “Yes … I’m here, Cat, I’m here now.”
Cat’s eyes flickered and opened, staring at the ceiling for a moment, then she turned and looked at me.
“Th …” She licked her dry lips and started again, “They’re really all gone? It wasn’t a nightmare?” Cat spoke only in a whisper but the hurt in her tone wasn’t lost, nor were the tears starting to stream from her eyes.
I hugged her to me and let Cat wail on my shoulder. The nurse went to get Cat’s other doctor.
It took half an hour to get Cat calm enough to deal with the hospital staff. Her attending psychiatrist gave over her care to Dr. Campbell without so much as a cough, totally mystified by the girl’s recovery. She was medically released but now that she was awake she’d need a lot of physical therapy. The other hospital could handle that, however, and she was transferred by ambulance to the sanitarium.
Because Cat’s recovery was going to depend so much on my presence they put us in a double room. That first night no one was surprised that I slept in the single bed with Cat, the two of us wrapped together like twins, even though Cat was three years older.
It was a slow and agonizing recovery, both physically and emotionally for Cat but she always had my strength on which to rely. I was her physical therapy coach and I was getting quite an education in physical therapy, enough so that I decided that was what I would do after finishing high school, which I did while in the hospital taking care of Cat. Cat had to learn everything over again; how to walk was the least of it, she had to learn how to feed herself again, how to brush her own hair, how to use the toilet, everything. It was a little embarrassing for the twenty-one year old but I was always there for her. Finally the day came when Cat was being released, I was officially released six months ago but they kept me in the hospital for Catherine’s sake.
“Time to leave the hospital but where are we going to go? I don’t think we should go back to the old house, if it is still standing.” I spoke to Dr. Campbell.
“Actually, going back and salvaging the house is something I think you should do. Not much of it was burned; the fire in the chapel was put out before more than the back wall of the house was scorched. However they had to tear out the wall to retrieve all of Freddy.” Campbell told me.
“Where are my family interred, if they were?” Cat asked softly.
“Your father had a cemetery plot for the entire family. They were interred in Pineview Cemetery next to the Baptist Church in town.”
“So there are two empty graves, for me and Cat?”
“There are two empty plots, Elizabeth, not empty graves. They aren’t graves yet.” Campbell corrected me.
“Whatever.” I dismissed the subject.
“Some renovation needs to be done to the house, now that you are also an adult; you and Cat have inherited everything. Your parents had trust funds for each of you and you and Cat get to split all of that as well as all his other investments and the house. Here is a card with his lawyer’s information on it. You’ll need to talk to him.”
“And officially I’ve been exonerated of any crime in this event?” I wanted reassurance.
“Yes, officially you have no criminal record … unless you had one before this event.” Campbell smiled crookedly.
“Yeah, sure. Not bloody likely, Dr. Campbell. I was the “good” sister.” I smiled at him.
“Well, if you don’t mind, Elizabeth, I’d like to check on you ladies now and again. Not as your psychiatrist but as a friend.”
“I think we both would like that. But I’m thinking to myself that maybe we’ll fix up the detached garage as a small house and live in that until we can sell this beast. I really don’t want to be fumbling around in that … mausoleum, just the two of us.”
“Afraid of ghosts?” Campbell asked seriously.
“Not so much as just it’s too big a house for just two people. And, yeah, Cat is afraid of the ghosts of horror that may still linger there.”
“OK. Shall I drive you to the lawyer’s office now?” Campbell asked and dialed the number.
“We need money so, probably. Yeah, thanks.”
The business with the lawyer only took an hour and he took us right in. The main bank account for the family was signed over to Cat and I, jointly, and he got to work on the trust funds to divide the money equally for the two of us. He gave his condolences in a perfunctory way; apparently he didn’t know the family at all and only by letter knew our father. There was a huge insurance benefit from the death of all the rest, each of the children having been insured for five hundred thousand each, Adriane was insured for a quarter of a million and Jason VonMurkin was insured for over a million dollars between his own policy and a policy opened by his employer. We were very wealthy indeed. But money was no compensation for losing everyone you loved in one night. I was almost angry when we finally left the lawyer’s office.
“Why do people think money compensates for losing loved ones? I’d much rather have my annoying little brothers than their insurance!” I complained to Dr. Campbell and hugged Cat.
“We’ll get over this, eventually, Bess. I know it hurts now, but we have each other and that’s what saved me.” Cat told me, but she was in tears as well.
“Once we sell this dinosaur, I want to move all the way across the country.” I told her as we finally got back in the car.
“How about Hawaii, can’t get farther than that!” Cat suggested.
“No one says we have to stay in America, how about New Zealand?” I responded, still a little angry.
“Do you ladies want to pick up your dad’s truck from the house or do you want me to take you to an auto rental place?” Dr. Campbell asked from the front seat.
“Stop in the first car dealership you come to. I want to see their faces when I pay cash, up front, in full, for a car.” I answered.
It was a Nissan dealership and they bought a two year old Rogue for just under twenty six thousand dollars and the face of the salesman when Cat forked over a check for the full amount of the car was priceless.
“Where do you want it delivered?” He asked after he took the check to his manager.
“The Holiday Inn on Grant, we’ll be staying there until we can get the little house fixed the way we want it.” I told him and handed him the hotel business card with the room we were renting written on it.
“Your car will be there by ten am day after tomorrow. We’ll take care of everything except the taxes. You have to pay that yourself at the county.”
“No problem.” Cat smiled and we giggled our way back to Campbell’s car.
“I swear if his jaw wasn’t attached to his skull he would have dropped it on his shoes!” Cat laughed.
“It’s not every day you hand over twenty six thousand dollars to someone.” Campbell responded.
“I’ll remember that look forever.” I laughed.
“You ladies have an efficiency at the hotel do you not?”
“No … we’ll go shopping tomorrow. I’m tired.” Cat said sadly.
“You’ll get your strength back, Cat. It will take time, but it will come.” I said softly and patted her hand.
“I always was a little delicate but this feels terrible. I can’t wait to get back to my fighting weight.” She responded and curled her fingers in mine.