Ava didn’t wake until later that night. Bruce and Beck visited her before she suggested that Bruce take Beck home so they could rest properly and eat good food. They could come to see her the following day. Sara hadn’t been with them as Beck had told her since Ava didn’t know her she might not welcome her presence. Bruce had agreed, mentioning how wary of strangers Ava was.
Anna didn’t go to the house with them; to her it was pointless. She stayed and watched over Ava that night, recalling all that happened since the beginning of the week. Remembering her parents, she wondered if she’d ever see them again. She had promised to go back for them but doubted it now; unless that moment was a good time. But it wasn’t; there was a chance Annika could come back to torture Ava, so she remained in her position, staring at her sister but now thinking of her brother as she was certain her sister was safe now.
She recalled how Bruce was still so lost on what was going on between Beck and Sara. He seemed not to like it, and also seemed very displeased when Ava suggested he went home with Beck. She wished she could read his mind, if that was one of the powers of a ghost, or astral projection as Sara had called her. She wanted to know his thoughts, but no more than Beck’s. If she could, she’d be sure of the real story of how Strangeville got cursed.
Very early the following day, Sara visited. Apparently she had stayed in the waiting room all night. Her anxiousness couldn’t let her wait for Beck to come to introduce her. According to her, the longer she waited, the more time Annika had to find a way to come back to life.
After introducing herself as a friend of Beck, Ava reluctantly gave Sara listening ears.
“I know how to bring your sister back,” Sara had said, “and also know how to completely stop the strange things that happen to you.”
“How do you know about my sister?” Ava asked, looking suspicious like the time she first set eyes on Beck.
“I know everything. I was there when it all started.”
“When did what start?”
“Listen, I recently found out that Beck didn’t tell you what really happened in those woods or even the town nearby.”
“What makes you think I’d believe you’d tell me then? You’re just much as a stranger to me as he is.”
“That’s true. But, you don’t have feelings for me that may cloud your sense of judgment.”
Sara was graced by Ava’s silence, showing how true Sara’s words were.
“It’s entirely his fault,” Sara said when Ava hadn’t talked. “Well, not directly but he’s the cause.”
“What do you mean?” looking as confused as Bruce did the previous night.
“Before the town, Strangeville, got cursed, it was known to be a place where people with different kinds of supernatural powers were either born in or brought to. That way, they wouldn’t have to live in the world where people would see them as freaks. There were still normal people who lived there, though; most times relatives or friends of the so called freaks. Beck’s wife, Annika was one of them though she learned witchcraft, a result of her desire to have supernatural powers. Eventually, I found a way to make her leave Strangeville.”
“How did you? I mean: you just said she became a witch. It’s obvious she’d have obliterated you or something once you tried.”
“I knew she’d do that ’cause I was born a psychic. But after receiving a vision about Strangeville being cursed when I was just a preteen, I had to learn witchcraft to be more powerful to prevent it.
“So, she couldn’t obliterate me, as you put it, because I’m more powerful than her, but in a good way of course.”
“When Annika came back, she came with Beck as her fiancé. They got married in Strangeville but before that, I came across him. I told him—not from a vision but from experience while growing up with her—that marrying Annika was dangerous because she wasn’t normal in a psychological sense. He must have thought I meant in the paranormal sense because told me he knew that she wasn’t normal; he also knew that most people in the town weren’t normal. When I told him that Annika wasn’t someone he couldn’t cope with because of her control issues and narcissistic behavior, and even lust for power, especially dark witchcraft, he insisted that she was good and that he loved her. I left the matter, knowing full well I’d done my part in helping a new citizen of Strangeville.
“About half a year later, he came to me to help him with what was going on with Annika. He explained that since they got married and started living in the cabin you spent the week at, she had become more controlling and jealous that he’d ever known her for. It was so bad that she made him quit his job and insisted she be the one to work while he stayed at home—all because she didn’t want him around other women.
“Knowing that Annika would stop at nothing to frustrate him ’til he came back to her, I suggested he killed her. He didn’t want to. I would have but I didn’t want to involve myself in their business.”
“I think you already did when you advised him before the marriage.”
Sara bowed her head. She got lost in thoughts, her demeanor appearing to agree with Ava’s words.
She made no comment of Ava’s words as she continued the tale: “One fateful Halloween, we were together during a carnival. I had just finished my act and he came to see me. We were together outside, discussing how he’d take action on killing her, as he’d finally decided that when there was a gunshot. We didn’t know it was her until we turned around to see the gun in her hand pointing upwards.
“In the midst of all the chaos—people screaming and running in different directions—she came close to us, pointing the gun at us. She went on and on about how she’d always hated me because I thought I was more powerful than her and that she’d never let me take her man. She also reminded Beck that he promised not to ever leave her or be with another woman aside her.
“She got so close to us that he was able to reach for the gun. They struggled and in the process, he shot her. He was in shock for a while after she’d fallen to the ground before I pulled him away from her. As we were about to go, she made some incantations, binding her and Beck together with the four basic elements. That way, they’d never be apart even in the afterlife.”
“Couldn’t you have just used your powers to stop her? A gun isn’t supposed to threaten a witch.”
“I could have done something but there were innocents around. She would have tried to counter my conjuration, and it would have affected Beck or other people. Unlike her, I’m a good witch. I don’t believe in taking the lives of people.”
“And yet you wanted Beck to that to his wife.”
She stared at Ava deadpan. “She’s not a person, Ava. So long as she lost the conscience to value life she no longer was a person. And the fact that she was a threat to the wellbeing of Strangeville she had to be gotten rid off. One way or another, she would have done something to put Strangeville in danger.”
“Then couldn’t you have made her leave like the first time.”
“I tried, honestly, but she’d grown powerful enough to resist my charms and incantations. The best thing I could do was counter her effort in hurting anyone in Strangeville.”
“So what happened next?”
“After her words before her death, no one could leave Strangeville. But even when people got in, it was also rare because it only happens whenever there is a heavy rainfall at Strangeville, which occurs about two to three times a year. They could never leave so they became part of the townspeople.
“At first we used people who willingly wanted to give themselves to break the curse. When we noticed that didn’t work, we decided that the people who stumbled upon the town would be used instead.
“For years, we’ve been sacrificing people and all failed because they didn’t willingly give themselves. Some did at first, but along the last stages of the ritual to break the curse, they wanted out. Anna was the only sacrifice that seemed to go through with it despite how hurting it was. But at the very last moment, she wanted out. That was why the curse was partially broken and she was somewhat dead.” She sighed heavily like she was exhausted from running a mile. “I can help her get out of coma. I just need your approval.”
“Can’t you just do it without my approval?”
“If I went in her ward, performing rituals on her and you didn’t know about it, would you like it?”
“Actually, no, I wouldn’t.”
“So I can go ahead with the ritual?”
Ava looked away from Sara, appearing to think things through. Anna hoped Ava wouldn’t allow her distrust for strangers prevent Sara from reuniting them again. She didn’t know if she’d ever wake from coma if Sara didn’t do something about it.
Just when Ava glanced at Sara about to say something, Beck came in. Anna was gladdened: now Ava wouldn’t have doubts once Beck confirmed Sara’s tragic story. She understood that Beck must have been haunted by what happened, and that could probably be why he didn’t say what really happened. Nevertheless, he could redeem himself by telling the truth now. Knowing her sister really well, Ava wouldn’t hesitate to help out Strangeville if she could once she was certain the story was true.