Esmeralda turned to Mark and spoke, “She is alone and unarmed. I checked when I kissed her and planted the tracker. See to the man, and how badly she has injured him, and I will deal with her.”
Mark holstered his gun and walked to Rodovan. While he examined him, Esmeralda came to them and requested, “Hands behind your back, please.”
Cathenne accused, “First tend to the abuser, then the people who discovered him, and lastly the victims, naked, chained on the floor of their place of torture, I think not.” Using her strength and increased speed, they turned the tables on Esmeralda, took her gun, and used her as a shield.
Cathenne warned, “Mark, please, do not go for that gun. I was a good shot, trained from age five, but I have not practiced for a long time. So I will have to go for the center of mass, for your protective vest, and shoot at least three times to incapacitate your strong body.” To emphasize her intent, Cathenne flicked the safety off, then back on, and continued, “Would you be so kind as to put your gun down on the ground and remove your handcuffs and give me your cuff’s keys, now, please?” Once Mark cuffed himself on the fuck-horse, he cuffed Esmeralda, who also handed over her key, attached to her house and car keys. Cathenne set the safety and put the guns out of their reach.
Ignoring their efforts to reason with her, they went to the girls and snapped the locks on the neck chain. As they did, Esmeralda hid a hand from view, so Cathenne warned, “I hope that you are reaching for your mobile and not for a second gun, Esmeralda. By all means, call an ambulance, and you may want to hold off on the reinforcements. I will release you as soon as the girls have some clothes.
Pointedly looking at Cathenne, Esmeralda withdrew her phone, showed it to them, then dialed. She did call for an ambulance, and when asked why, she explained what she found without mentioning them. Then, understanding that Esmeralda was willing to cooperate, Cathenne asked, “If I release you, can we trust you to take care of the girls rather than chasing after us?” Esmeralda looked at Mark, then both nodded.
Giving them their guns and keys, Cathenne suggested, “We have to find clothes for the girls. Let’s spare them any further humiliation when the paramedics arrive,” but that was as far as she got. Mark held his pistol pointed at Cathenne.
Esmeralda chided, “Mark, don’t break my promise!”
Mark argued, “I do not keep my promise to criminals!’
Esmeralda countered, “First, you either keep your promise or not, unless under threat, and second, there is no indication that she is a criminal. So far, all she did was use herself as bait and is now helping free the girls. Don’t be a dick, Mark,”
As she spoke, apparitions of naked bedraggled girls formed around Cathenne, one, two, three, five, eight, eleven in all. Transparent, the bruises, cuts, breaks stood out. One even looked burned, and all had a black lightning storm inside them.
Mark pointed his gun at the apparitions and called out, “Stop, don’t move, or I shoot,” and then shot. The bullet went right through one of the apparitions, ricocheted twice before Esmeralda slapped his gun down. She exclaimed, “Stop before you kill us, you fool.”
Not all resembling a human being, the apparitions stood around Rodovan and clawed, slapped, kicked, and bit at him, without anything occurring, except it was getting cold, frigid. Rodovan looked about as much as his restraints allowed and twitched at every ghost’s touch.
Esmeralda came to Cathenne and asked, “Are you a ghost whisperer or something?”
Cathenne informed, “If you do not get out of here, you will freeze to death. They are draining your body heat and vitality to become visible. They will draw on this until they are solid and can exact their revenge.”
As Cathenne spoke, the specters stopped, turned to Cathenne, and walked, floated, and apparated around her. She felt cold but not as cold as Esmeralda, Mark, and Rodovan. Mouse was protecting her. The women looked at Cathenne, pleading, some praying; one dropped to her knees and put her forehead to the ground. Some just looked.
Cathenne knew what they wanted, and with Mark already laying on the floor shivering violently and Esmeralda crumbling to her knees, Cathenne requested, “Mouse, let them in, but one at a time.”
Mouse warned, “You will feel all their pain as they channel it through you into Rodovan.”
Cathenne confirmed, “Yes, I thought so.”
Mouse stepped out of Cathenne as a fully formed, translucent person, and Cathenne almost froze on the spot, absent her spiritual protection. Mouse guided one of the girls, ’Beverly-Anne Masters, to possess Cathenne.” It took her a moment, but she took control, stepped to Rodovan, and slapped him across the face with such might that she broke his jaw. She was going to do that again, but Cathenne prevented her. A small struggle ensued before Cathenne knew what was needed.
Beverly-Anne took Rodovan’s head between her hands and looked him in the face. Scared, angry, spiteful, but proud, Rodovan stared back. A stream of black and green fire streamed out of Beverly-Anne and into Rodovan. It streamed and streamed and streamed for a century, but for a few seconds.
Beverly-Anne stepped out of Cathenne and became a fully formed, translucent young woman, no longer burned, with long red haior and in a latex swing dress. The best you could say about her was that she was cute but otherwise unremarkable except for her goth makeup. She looked at herself, nodded, came to Cathenne, and embraced her.
Cathenne could feel the embrace, and she could hear the, “Thank you, Lady Cathenne, and God bless you. I am free of his hate and fear.” Beverly Anne glowed brightly, blindingly so. Ghostly human figures surrounded her, embraced her, welcomed her. They all turned to Cathenne and bowed, nodded, and even blessed Cathenne as the light gradually winked out.
Teresa Hernandez, Julia-Amanda, Fatima, Shravya, Baozhai, Meher, Istas, Ikuio-Elu, Maria, and Kallik Nanouk all stepped through Cathenne and unloaded all their pain, suffering, hate, and fear into Rodovan. When finished, encircled by white light and human silhouettes, they thanked Cathenne. Once done, the light faded as if into the distance and was gone.
Rodovan looked like he lost fifty pounds. His darkish skin was ashen, his face resembled a death mask, but otherwise, he was unmarked aside from his broken jaw. Mark was on the floor curled up, but Ezmeralda was almost frozen still, witnessing the whole event. Cathenne crumbled to the floor. Mouse repossessed Cathenne and stood her up. With Mouse inside her, Cathenne could stand.
Cathenne spoke, “You too, Mouse. You have to unload the darkness inside you before it grows stronger.”
Mouse argued, “Being with you has weakened the darkness. Your love and care have lessened their hold on me. So I want to stay with you, please, Cathenne!”
Cathenne countered, “What if I die and there is no second chance? I will not be responsible for your imprisonment on earth; no, that is stupid. Mouse, you know the truth. If you love somebody, and you have to push them away because it is better for them, you have to do it!”
Mouse shot back, “Don’t tell me what is better for me, Cathenne, please, no. I don’t want to leave you alone. You have nobody.”
Esmeralda spoke, “You have a spirit inside you, and it does not want to leave? Do you love your ghost? Is it one of the deceased? Mouse?” Cathenne nodded.
Esmeralda suggested, “Mouse, if I promise to look after Cathenne, will you be happier?”
Mouse stepped out, and Esmeralda had to support Cathenne. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and she looked like she had not slept for weeks. Mouse took Cathenne’s face between her hands and demanded, “Promise that you will continue to keep warm and take care of yourself? Promise you will continue to make fresh meals at least once a day? Promise that you will not be overly sad?” Cathenne shook her head but then nodded.
Esmeralda asked, “What did Mouse say?”
Cathenne told her and explained, “I can do all that, but I can not truthfully promise that I will not miss Mouse until the end of time. It would be a lie.”
Then Cathenne spoke to Mouse, “You have to, or this will be between us. I will have doomed you to be an eternal spirit, and once I die, what then. Mouse, get back into me and start, please, before I am too weak to stand even with your help.”
Mouse embraced Cathenne and stepped into her. Cathenne could feel the sorrow and hurt much stronger than the underlying pain of her torture and death. She almost weakened in her resolve to let Mouse go, but no, that was selfish. Cathenne walked up to the semi-conscious Rodovan and put her hands on either side of his head in such a way as to push open his eyelids with her thumbs. As soon as she did, a small stream of blackness flowed out of her eyes into Rodovan and the small weight lifted from Mouse’s spirit or soul.
As bright white light surrounded her, Cathenne stepped back with Mouse standing in the center of the white light, crying, looking at Cathenne. Human shapes, even children, surrounded Mouse. They looked happy to see her.
Esmeralda was still supporting Cathenne and offered her a shoulder to cry. It was a strange sight, as she still held her automatic in the one hand as she hugged Cathenne with the other. Mark stood and made his way towards the former captives, but they backed away from him, frightened. Outside several ambulances arrived and waited while police secured the manor house. Cathenne, though, could not stop crying and folded to the floor, taking Esmeralda with her.
With paramedics behind them, police rushed in but froze on the spot. The basement prison was filled with bright white light. At the center stood Mouse, all alone, smiling. She stepped to Cathenne and Esmeralda on the floor and spoke, “Hey, lover-girl. With the anger and pain lifted from me, I can go anytime I want. Even my ancestors pushed me back out to you, so stop balling because you are dehydrating yourself. I have to seal the deal and possess you else I will continue to look like a lighthouse. Now get up, lover-girl.”Cathenne shot up and embraced Mouse.
Everyone was still, except Esmeralda, who stood, but her gun away and commanded, “Get the girls some clothes and arrest that man on the X-cross. He murdered twelve people. Get moving people, now.”
Everyone stayed clear of Mouse and Cathenne, both glowing brightly. They remained so for a while until Esmeralda interrupted, “I am sorry, Mouse, Cathenne, all but one of the girls unloaded as the ghosts. One has not moved and will not allow us to approach. Can you help? They are all in bad shape, and we need to get them to the hospital.” Mouse merged into Cathenne, and the light went out.
They turned to the girl, cowering in the corner, and tried to approach her. She squeezed herself into a ball and closed her eyes. Cathenne suggested, “Perhaps, you could talk to her?” Mouse stepped out, and nobody noticed it. She was a regular ghost again, well, as regular as a ghost can be. She walked to the girl and merged into her.
For a moment, the girl became frantic but then settled. She looked to be listening inward, then looked at Cathenne. Cathenne extended her hand to her, smiling. Hesitantly, the girl raised her hand to Cathenne and allowed her to draw her up.
Mouse returned to Cathenne and spoke, “This is Mei-mei. She is only sixteen and is full of guilt because she was underaged and had a forged identity to get into the nightclub. We need to unload her paralyzing fear and self-recrimination into Rodovan.”
They took the girl in their arms, collected a blanket from a paramedic, and ran upstairs to where an ambulance was just about to take Rodovan to a prison hospital. Mark was with him and looked questioningly at Cathenne with the girl in her arms. He looked to protest, but Esmeralda called him down and out of the ambulance.
Cathenne/Mouse went in and sat, and Mouse possessed Mei-mei and had her step to Rodovan. She put her small hands on either side of his head and opened his eyes. A massive stream of black, tinged with a sickly purple, streamed into Rodovan, and he shook violently during the transfer. But by the time the attending paramedic could stop them, it was over and the abuser was just a shell of his former self.
Mei-mei sagged and staggered to Cathenne when Mouse exited her and returned to Cathenne. Mouse revealed, “She cannot go home anymore. She is dispossessed. She has no family and no home; at least, that is what she believes. She wants to come with us.”
The paramedics wanted to put Mei-mei on the second stretcher, but she clawed at them. With a blanket around her, Cathenne lifted her into her arms and kicked the door open. Outside stood Esmeralda and Mark.
Mark asked, “What are you doing with her.”
Cathenne spoke, “Mei-mei Wang wants to come with us for now. Because she is no longer pure, she believes that her family will not have her back. Anyway, she will fight you if you try and take her, so if you try, we will fight you too.”
Mark tried to reason, “You can’t just take a crime victim away from the scene.”
Cathenne offered, “I can give you the names and burial locations of twelve victims, which should make your investigation and closing this case complete.”
Esmeralda commanded, “Mark, manage the site until I come back. Just do it. You saw what I saw, so just let it be. We will find a way to word this in our reports. Perhaps speak to some of the people who saw, well, the show. I will take them home.”
Mark’s forehead creased, but then he nodded and walked off.
Esmeralda bundled them into her service vehicle and drove them home. Once there, she said she would come and take their statements in a few days but had to return to the crime scene to manage things and ensure that the report was written in the right way...