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14. The Nice Girl


As the front door shut close, Anna said, “I don’t like her,” with her eyes narrowed at the door.

“She’s a nice girl,” her mom said.

She faced her. “She seems so, but there’s something about her I can’t pinpoint. I just don’t know what it is.”

Her mother glanced at her father. Both of them shrugged at each other before he stood. “We have to find Ava. She’s the only one that can help you get back.”

Her mother stood as did she too.

“How can she,” Anna said, “when she thinks I’m already dead since she supposedly saw my ghost, which was only for a brief while? There’s no way we can get to her.”

“We’ll find a way somehow,” her mother said.

They all held hands as her dad said, “Let’s go find our Ava.”

In a blink of an eye, they all stood outside. Anna frantically glanced around, wondering how they had gotten out so quickly without leaving the house they were in. Then, it occurred to her that it was what ghosts did. She thought it was her parents responsible for the vanishing as she had no idea how to do what ghosts do, unless it was inborn and didn’t have to be learned.

Her parents let go of her and began to walk. She trailed behind as she watched her environment. Some of the people who were around seemed ghostlier than the people of Strangeville while others seemed just as pale as them. It was when she set eyes on someone she thought was one of the women that groomed her did she wonder if she was actually seeing the happenings at Strangeville.

Her dad must have known her thoughts because he said, “Not everyone you see is actually dead.”

“The paler ones were once sacrifices,” her mom added.

She looked ahead, settling her eyes on her parents. It was unnerving that her parents completed each other’s ideas. They never did that; usually one person would start the conversation with probably her, Ava, or Bruce—sometimes the two or three of them—and finished, and if they couldn’t the other would help out without being interrupted.

Again, it was as if they knew what she was thinking because they stopped and turned to face her. “Being in this state has helped us learn things we could never do as humans,” her mom said.

“And as soul mates too,” her dad added, removing his eyes from Anna and setting them on his wife. There was a smile on his face and passionate look in his eyes—one that was too familiar as she had seen it countless times.

Then, he looked at Anna, saying, “You’ll get to learn some before you get back to your body.” He gave the look he usually did whenever he encouraged her on something she was afraid to face. Seeing him this way reminded her how much she missed him. At that moment, she wished he and her mom could be alive again.

Just then, something caught her attention at the corner of eyes. Immediately, she glanced to her right to see Beck some distance away with a lady in his arms. When she looked closely, she realized it was the same dress she wore for the ritual.

Concluding within herself that it was herself he carried, she pointed at him as she said to her parents, “There’s Beck. It’ll be better to follow him. He’ll lead us to Ava.”

They took her hands as her mom said, “Let’s follow him then.”

Beck walked with Anna in his hands into the woods while the three followed behind closely. At some point, Anna looked around the woods, wondering why they hadn’t reached the cabin yet.

“Isn’t he supposed to have reached the cabin by now?” she asked her parents.

“I don’t think he’s going there,” her mom said.

“He didn’t follow the path to the cabin,” he dad put in. “It’s as if he’s on the way to the main road.”

“But why is he?” Anna asked, still not understanding the situation.

Just then, she saw Ava running towards them. Anna stopped in her tracks, gasping horrifically. The sight of Ava was more repulsive than when she broke down over their parents’ deaths. Her face was swollen and deeply pink. She had huge eyebags, and when she got close to Beck, Anna noticed that her sclera was blood red.

Anna took a few steps back as she watched in horror what she had done to her sister who tried to protect her. Guilt filled her as Ava took her body in her arms and broke into tears. She knew this was her fault, and if being somewhat alive was going to help her fix Ava’s state then she’d do whatever she could.

Then out of nowhere, she heard the cherry voice of Annika say, “What are you guys doing here?” causing Anna to jump in fright.

Anna and her parents turned around to where her voice came from. As they did, Anna saw that Annika’s gay face immediately turned into that of an irate one. She stared at Annika quizzically, wondering why she was so upset.

When Anna noticed Annika’s gaze wasn’t on her or her parents, she followed her gaze. It met the sight of Beck sitting behind Ava who still had Anna’s body in her hands. Beck’s arms were around Anna and Ava as Ava still wept. He whispered something into Ava’s ears, causing her to glance at him with shock. He nodded his head repeatedly as if to confirm to whatever Ava was thinking.

“Then we have to get her to a hospital quickly!” Ava screamed. She gently laid Anna on the ground and pushed Beck off her. Then, she wrapped her arms around Anna and tried to stand up. Beck helped her to her feet with Anna still in her arms.

As they headed for Ava’s car, Annika walked in front of Anna by her right. Anna shifted her gaze from her sister to Annika. She looked down to the lady’s left hand and saw it had formed a tight fist, her veins popping on the back of her hand. “What is he doing with her?” she said, her voice low and malicious.

Anna could swear she felt shivers at that statement. She didn’t understand how fear could suddenly have gripped her like that. Could it have been that she knew Annika was dangerous then?

“What is he doing with her!” she screamed this time. “He promised! He promised me!”

As Anna glimpsed at the car, it zoomed off. Annika walked towards the direction it went. “I’m going to destroy her,” she said as her right hand now formed a tight fist. “She can’t have him; he’s mine.”

“Annika,” Anna’s dad said, his voice shaking, “that’s our daughter. He probably just wants to help her out. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong.”

Anna stared at her father, dazed at why on earth he would talk to Annika in that manner.

“She took him away from me!” Annika yelled as she turned to meet him. “How dare she! How dare she take what’s mine!”

“She doesn’t know,” Anna’s mom said. “I’m sure she doesn’t know.”

“I’ll ruin her,” Annika said, her voice malevolent and eyes wide and furious. Thereafter, she zoomed off in the direction of Ava’s car, floating in the air.

Her parents shouted, “No!” as moved after her. They suddenly hit the ground as they had fallen from hitting an invisible wall.

Anna rushed to them. She knelt beside them asking if they okay. They ignored her and stood to go in the same direction. Again, they bounced back to the ground while ripples filled the air as if there was a barrier.

“Mom, Dad, what was that all about?”

Her mom looked up at her with pleading eyes. “Ava . . . She’s in danger, Anna.”

Anna stared at her mother both confused and scared. Confused: because she still didn’t grasp why Annika was so upset and decided to go after Ava and Beck despite her parents’ pleas. Scared: because she and her father usually don’t say their first names except around other people; for her to had use the name Ava really was in trouble.

“You have to save Ava, Anna,” her mom continued. “Go! Go; otherwise you might remain this way ’til your body gives up!”

Her dad held her hand. She glanced at him to see that he was on his knees. “Go, Anna. You have to go.”

She wanted to protest that she couldn’t leave them; however, seeing as they didn’t want anything from her but to go she stood and ran. I will come back for them, she thought. If they believed she could save Ava then she would.

Not long after she was on the road, she caught sight of Ava’s car. Anna turned back to look at her parents far away. When she didn’t see them, she turned around quickly.

Right away, she saw Annika’s form turn into something dark and creepy. It looked like an evil ghost or demon, resembling a dementor like in the Harry Potter movies.

Then, Annika moved to the front of the vehicle and covered the entire windscreen. The car swerved to the opposite lane of the road. Anna was more frightened at the sight of that, knowing that the next thing to come was an accident.

She wished she could float in the air and move as swiftly and smoothly as Annika. Ava’s car had been increasing its pace since Anna sighted it, making it difficult for Anna to get there and prevent Annika from causing any harm to the vehicle or its occupants.

Relief soon washed over Anna when she saw the car moved back to its rightful lane. But that soon disappeared as she saw Annika—now in her ghostly self—float beside the car at the passenger’s side. She stretched her hands towards the car and moved it forward in a way that seemed she was pushing something. That action must have been the reason why the car went back to the opposite lane.

Annika didn’t stop there: she went to the driver’s side and demonstrated again, making the vehicle to return to its lane; she went behind the car, and even though Anna couldn’t see her stretch her hands towards the car Anna was sure Annika did so because the car moved forward drastically as it’d been doing.

Annika waved her hands from down to up in the direction of the car. Its speed increased, moving faster than she’d ever known the car to move. Anna put more effort in running towards the car as it was getting out of her sight.

Just when she almost couldn’t see it, it stopped abruptly. At that moment, Anna felt a blow to herself. She moved backwards onto the tarred ground, feeling her strength leave her.

When she glanced at where Ava’s car stopped, she saw the hood on fire. Honks soon filled the air as her vision became blurred and her senses seemed to weaken too. She slowly placed herself on the tarred road as she watched Ava’s car burn more and more. She became more and more unconscious as if she were fainting.

Right before she couldn’t feel or hear anything, the faint sound of sirens was in the atmosphere as she thought, And my mom said Annika is a nice girl.
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