“So what are we up to today, fearless leader?” Cadence quipped as she left her apartment the next day to find Snow waiting for her in the hall. She offered him a smile, and he relaxed. He had been worried about any lingering animosity she might have had about him using her brother to force her to deal with her feelings.
“Well, first things first. How do you feel?” he asked.
“I’m actually doing alright I think. I feel much better than yesterday. Still a little… I don’t know… soft? I’m not sure if that’s the right term for it or not.”
“Right term or not I do understand what you mean by it,” Snow said. “For what it’s worth I am glad you are doing better. It’s good to see.”
Cade smiled and nodded a bit, feeling a little self-conscious. “So,” she said as she tried to move the focus of the conversation off of her and onto something else, “what’s the plan for the day?”
“A little training if you are up for it,” he replied as he offered his arm. “We’re going to go out into the breathing world to teach you how to operate within it.”
“Field trip, nice.” She nodded, taking his arm so he could teleport them to wherever he had planned.
They arrived in the living room of a nice, middle class home. It was obviously lived in, although it seemed no one was home right now. It had been decorated in light colored wood, cream, peach, and blue. The walls were painted a peach color that seemed to glow in the sunlight that the windows were letting into the room. The cream colored sectional had decorative throw pillows and blankets on it as it faced the wall-mounted television. It looked as if it had once been a pristine, almost showroom like home. However, that pristine home décor had given way to a bit of brightly colored plastic chaos; the couple that lived there had a baby.
There was a bright blue play pen in one corner of the room. Right next to two toy boxes filled to overflowing with stuffed animals along with all kinds of colorful bits of plastic and wood. A motorized baby swing with a happy jungle animal pattern was near the couch. A couple of pacifiers sat on the end table between the couch and the swing.
“So we’re here because…?” she asked as she looked around.
“You’re going to learn how to move things and manipulate items,” Snow said.
She took a deep breath then nodded. “Sure, okay. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?”
“Sometimes learning to control your energy can be tricky. Let’s start small. Try to move the pacifier.”
Cadence arched an eyebrow and debated on being insulted for a moment. At length, she shrugged and moved around the end table to where the nearest pacifier was laying. She reached down and tried to grab it. Her hand passed right through the pacifier without making it so much as wiggle.
“A good effort,” Snow said, “but you need to put some energy into it. Not all of it, of course, we don’t want to send it sailing across the room. Just a little bit. Focus on your finger. I want you to try to focus just on that and to really feel it. It’ll start to tingle a little when you’ve got the energy there. Then try to just use that finger to knock the pacifier to the floor.”
Cade closed her eyes and did as he instructed. She focused on the pointer finger of her right hand. After a moment of concentration, she actually could start to feel it tingling a little bit. Once the sensation was steady, she opened her eyes. Snow intently watched as Cade reached down and knocked the pacifier off of the table and onto the cream colored carpet.
“Very good!” Snow complimented as Cade smiled. “Now you just need to pick it up and put it back.”
“Don’t people notice when you move things around on them?” she asked as she hunkered down to the floor, concentrating now on her entire hand.
“Most of the time they don’t. They chalk it up to having a faulty memory, or that they must have bumped the item or some such thing. People do tend to go out of their way to find perfectly rational explanations for things that are out of the ordinary. Even when they are faced with how improbable their rationalizations are.”
“Such as?” Cade asked as she tried to pick the pacifier back up. She made it wiggle a bit but couldn’t get a solid enough hold on it yet to pick it up.
“Let’s say for instance that we were to move their television remote and put it in the freezer.”
“The freezer?” she asked, as she picked the pacifier up a few inches off the floor before her concentration faltered and it fell back to the floor.
“The freezer,” Snow repeated. “They would tear the living room apart looking for the remote, of course. Toy boxes emptied, couch cushions are strewn about. Now they know they left that item on the coffee table because they always do. It’s a carefully constructed habit, you see, so that they don’t lose the remote.”
“Do you know these people?” Cadence asked. She took a moment to look at him as she asked the question, before once more returning her attention to the pacifier.
“That is perfectly beside the point,” he replied, side stepping the question. “Now when they find the remote later that night they may wonder how it got there. They may construct false memories of being very tired and putting it in the freezer when they went to get ice for their drink. They may accuse the other one of playing a practical joke. But neither of them will come to the conclusion that it was a ghost. Especially as this house is not haunted by anyone other than us right now.”
Finally, Cadence was able to pick up the pacifier and drop it gently back onto the end table. “There, back where it started. You should really see someone about your freezer fixation,” she said to tease him.
“I’m merely illustrating a point. These people could be home, and if we turned on a toy they would simply think it was a glitch in the wiring. Most of the time you have to do something big to get them to start thinking that they may have a ghost around. The exceptions to the rule on that one is the ghost hunters. Depending on the depth of their interest or obsession in the topic, they might make even the most mundane of occurrences a ghost’s fault.”
He gestured for her to try the pacifier again. This time, she very easily knocked it off the table on the first try. She bent over where it landed and it only took a couple of tries this time before she had picked it up. Once she had put it back on the table again, he gestured to a colorful, blocky toy remote on the coffee table.
“Now try to make that work,” he said. “The same principles apply. You’ll focus your energy and reach out to the toy. For this first time, I simply want you to set it off by pushing a button on it.”
Cadence nodded and knelt in front of the coffee table. “Hey, what about toys?”
Snow blinked, not following her line of conversation as she jumped topics. “I’m sorry?”
She shook her head for a moment, aware that she had jumped tracks on him without warning. “Sorry, working with the toys made me think of one of those ghost shows I saw once. They were claiming that a doll was possessed by a spirit. The show was going over haunted items. There was an old piano and I think an old wine rack or something. Can items be possessed or haunted?”
“They can, actually. As I said your first night here, sometimes people can have such strong attachments to items that their haunting is tied to that item. Wherever it goes, they go. Wonderful!” he said as she managed to set off the toy on her second go at it. “Try again, a different button this time.”
“Is there a difference between possession and haunting?” she asked as she continued to play with the toy.
“Yes, there is. Let’s say you were tied to that stuffed bear on the couch. You would have to be in the general vicinity of it always. It is here in this house so you might have free range over the home, but your energy would be stronger the closer you were to the bear. If the child takes the bear out to the store, you would be compelled to go with it. If the child loses the bear, you would have to stay where the bear was. Now if you possessed the bear, you would be in control of the bear. You could animate it, make it walk, wave, turn its head, etcetera.”
“That makes sense for the doll and the hypothetical bear. What about the wine rack and piano?” she asked as she set the toy off again on the first try - while holding it above the table. She had gotten the hang of it so she was showing off. She grinned at him then set it back down.
“Show off.” His tone was one of admonishment, though his admonition was lessened by the fact that he was smiling and trying not to laugh. “The furniture pieces might have been items that the spirits were banished into if it was indeed an actual possession. Breathers have a tendency to have the wrong information where the spiritual world is concerned. Sometimes what they assume is a possession of an item is simply a very strong spirit, usually ill-natured in those cases, that is attached to the item as a haunter.”
“Okay, well, I’ll use the piano as an example. This family said the piano had an effect on the mother. That she started obsessing over restoring it, then playing it. It got to the point where she ignored other responsibilities, even the kids, over it. They said her personality changed and she got mean, even vengeful. The whole family would have nightmares. It was also said that anyone else other than her, who touched the piano would wind up attacked by something they couldn’t see. They had pictures of the kids and dad with scratches and bruises, and it wasn’t the mom attacking them.”
“Ah. I think I know of the piano you’re talking about. This took place in Ireland, yes?” Snow asked, so absorbed in their discussion now that he forgot they were there for practical training.
“Yeah, I think so,” she said.
“That piano was not possessed, it was haunted. The spirit was a wife and mother who was betrayed and murdered by her husband. She had lived a hard life and her only solace was in the music that piano produced. Somehow she identified with the woman and actually began trying to possess her. When she felt that her possible possession or attachment to the woman was threatened, she retaliated. See? Simply misinformation.”
“So what happened to this piano then?”
“I believe a paranormal collector has it now.”
“A what?” Cade asked as she moved over to the toy box and began randomly making toys go off.
“A paranormal collector,” Snow repeated. “They are people who, for whatever reason, have the unique ability to handle haunted or legitimately possessed artifacts. A rather famous one is that American bloke, John Zaffis.”
“Never heard of him,” Cadence replied with a shrug and a shake of her head.
“Ah, well, you could say he comes from a line of those who are paranormally gifted.”
“He is a nephew to Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigated that famous New York haunting. Amyville or some such?”
Cadence laughed. “You mean Amityville?”
“That’s the one. But we are getting off track. We’re here so you can learn to manipulate things. I want you to reach into the television and turn it on. No remote this time.”
“I’m not an electrician, Ozzie,” she said, protesting. “I have no idea which wire to tug on to make it work.”
“You don’t need to. Just concentrate and you’ll feel where the power builds up in the set. You just need to manipulate that power.” Sadly, this was something that was a little harder to explain and nearly impossible to show.
Cadence reached into the television with her brow furrowed. “So was that real anyway?” she asked.
“Was what real?”
“Amityville.” She frowned as she felt around in the television set, trying to concentrate on feeling for power.
“In some respects, yes. There was a non-human creature influencing people there. However, it was not what Hollywood made it out to be.”
“It usually never is.” She sighed in frustration. “Ozzie I don’t feel anything.”
“That’s because you’re busy talking and not concentrating. Try again.”
She made a grumbling noise and tried once more. Five minutes passed, then ten. After fifteen minutes Snow called a halt to the exercise.
“God that is frustrating,” she said.
“Relax. We don’t all have the same talents. Some of us are better at manipulating the electronics, others are stronger at communication. Just like breathers, we all have different strengths. One last exercise and then we’ll call it a day.”
The light coming in from the windows had changed from the bright white light of morning. The shadows had stretched across the room as the sun changed position in the sky and now the light coming in was the warm golden glow of late afternoon. Cadence shook herself out as she tried to release the tension that had been building as she had continued to fail at the television experiment.
“Do you see the plants up there on the ledge?” he asked. She looked and nodded, seeing the silk plants on the ledge of the wall that divided the living room from the kitchen. “Good. I want you to focus your energy and create a ball. It doesn’t have to be very big, perhaps the size of an orange. This will just be a ball of your energy. Once you have that in hand, I want you to throw it at one of those plants and knock it off the ledge.”
“They aren’t going to notice that?” she asked.
“Breathers rationalize things,” he said.
She shrugged and figured if he was fine with it, she would be too. As she closed her eyes, she cupped her hands in front of her. Snow began to smile as he saw the faint silvery white light begin to flicker in her cupped hands. At first, it was a wisp, but after a few moments it was the size of a rubber ball, then a few minutes after that it was roughly the size he had asked for.
Cadence opened her eyes and blinked in surprise as she saw the ball of light in her hands. It felt smooth in her hand but had almost no weight. She lifted her hand up over her shoulder and threw the ball. It sailed across the room and into one of the dusty silk plants, knocking it off the ledge. They heard the wicker basket that the plant was in land, first on the counter, then on the floor.
“See?” Snow said with a smile. “You might not have as much of a touch with manipulating electronics from within, but you seem to definitely have the touch with using your energy. You got that on the first try in just a few minutes. And that is a very useful skill. You can manipulate your energy to make all kinds of things. The more energy you put into something, the more real it becomes in our plane of existence. Just be careful, you don’t want to drain too much of your energy at once.”
“Okay.” she nodded and looked happy that she had managed to get it right on the first try that time. “What happens if you drain too much energy at once?”
Snow paused, thinking about the best way to explain it. “It can have detrimental effects. You have to rest long enough to regain the lost energy or it can put you out for a longer time.”
“Gotcha,” she said. She was still miffed about not being able to figure out how to work the television, but she was pleased she had managed the rest of it as well as she had.
“Let’s check in at the office now, make sure all is well, shall we?” Cadence nodded and they teleported back to the office.