I reached for the last box and headed for the door. I was never going to look back.
"That's the last box is it?" My boyfriend Jake smiled as he grabbed it from my arms. I nodded and kissed him on the cheek.
"I just need to do one more thing."
"Are you sure? You seemed to be in a hurry earlier today." He cocked an eyebrow my way before running a hand through my hair. "Take your time okay?"
"I'm okay. I just, I just need to look around one more time." Jake hesitated for a moment and than nodded.
"Whatever you need Lauren. Just call me if you need me. I'll be waiting in the car."
He left and I felt a shutter across the nape of my neck. I didn't want to ever look at this place again. I didn't want anyone to see this place again.
"Lauren, are you sure you want to demolish your parents house? You could at least sell it. You could make a fortune off of that property. As your attorney, i'm telling you this is a huge mistake!"
"My decision is final Bruce. I want it gone by the end of the week."
"But they were your parents! They wanted you to have the house. Think about this Lauren."
"I said my decision was final. Get rid of it!"
I walked across the living room into the hallway, my eyes riveted on the basement door. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It had been years since and nothing had changed. The house was quiet, empty, but not alone.
"Lauren, is that you?" I swallowed a copper taste in my mouth. Blood. As I drew closer to the door I could feel it pooling in my mouth. "You're not going to leave without saying goodbye are you?" The voice was shallow and hoarse. It called out to me from the basement door. Like it had been calling me for years. "Come on Lauren. It's been awhile since we've played. You know I can't play if you leave me here. Open the door."
"Shut up!" I didn't feel as confident as I should have. But she probably already knew that. The voice snickered, it almost sounding like a soft hiss.
I approached the basement door and swallowed my fear. I reached in my pocket and grabbed the blessed salt and oils I wrapped in small baggies and began to place them around the frame. The door handle shook rapidly as the oils dripped from my hold."Lauren? What are you doing? You're hurting me. You don't want to hurt me, i'm your friend remember?" I continued to place the blessed objects around the door and ignored the growing panic in the voice beyond the door. I tore at the baggies trying desperately to finish the ritual and get the hell out of there. "Lauren? Lauren! Let me the fuck out! Don't you do this to me! Let me OUT!!!" The voice grew more furious as I spread the last of the salt. As I finished, the basement door swung open sending pieces of plaster spiraling into the air. The sound of wood splitting echoed through the house with a loud crack as the remains of the door hung by the hinges. A jolting pain rose across my back as I slammed against the wall behind me."Thought you were going to leave me did you?" My head spun as I looked up and took in the horror that had lived beyond the basement door. A body not quite human stood before me. Sickly and emaciated, long tendrils of stringy black hair covered her eerie smile, crooked and covered in black tar like ooze. But her eyes, her eyes I couldn't erase from my memory. They hung there, burned into the very pit of my childhood. She crouched, being careful to stay just beyond the door. Her body seemed to snap and creek as she twisted her neck back and forth before settling her eyes on me. I stared back in fear at large dilated pupils that held the darkest of pasts.
I grasped the wall with my right arm and balanced myself up leaning as far back from the basement door as I could. She snarled and hissed as I tried to push myself past the door. I collapsed half way and she shrieked with laughter. "Dead like me! Dead like me!Dead! Dead! Dead!" I managed to pull myself back up and glare back at her. A little bit of the old Lauren resurfacing.
"I will never let you ruin anyone elses life. You will never see past that fucking basement!" I swung around and kicked what was left of the door so that it sent her flying back into the basement. She screamed a blood curdling screech as I hobbled through the hallway. I staggered around trying to reach the front door as the sounds of her rushing up the stairs reverberated behind me. I glanced over my shoulder as she reached the top step on all fours, her eyes glowing a dark crimson. She paused there and for a second I thought she was going to try to push the barrier, but she turned toward me. She opened her mouth wide and grinned so that the black tar like ooze dripped down her face. And as I reached the door she crawled herself back down the stairs and I never looked back.
It was hours before I convinced Jake I didn't need to go to the hospital. And no I wasn't attacked. And yes I'm just prone to very intense nose bleeds. And yes it's hereditary. By the time I got unpacked and settled he had been long gone and even than it took every bit of convincing that he should go home because I needed rest. And yes I was going to be fine.
I hopped in the shower and grimaced. I could feel the large bruise on my back from the blow and it was going to be awhile till it healed. I sighed and tried to think of other things. I was getting very good at learning to erase terrible images from my thoughts. I had to be. At least that's what my grandmother would tell me behind closed doors.
"Lauren you're going to see all kinds of terrible things you shouldn't see. But remember, it's not of this life. So think of it as a very real movie. Never let the characters come to life. Do you understand?"
I remember my mother always saying how bad it was for grandma and I to have secrets. That we should learn to communicate openly with others. What a load of crock. Grandma and I used to make jokes about how funny it would be for me to 'openly communicate' with my parents. 'Hey guess what mom and dad I can see dead people.' I chuckled to myself but I found no humor in saying it out loud. It was a curse I had to live with since I was old enough to 'see' them. Till I was old enough to understand that I was a medium. As far as I knew only myself and my grandmother were the mediums in my family but my grandmother could only sense the presence of a spirit. She said I was special. That too was a crock.
I climbed into bed and reassured myself that I was safe. I had double checked that the property had no history of violence or otherwise. And I had spent every last penny making sure I built the house from scratch. And I had blessed every door and window right before bed, which I assumed giving my paranoia was going to be a nightly ritual. Nothing was going to get through. I gave a hefty sigh before I turned the light off and drifted into what seemed like a lifelong list of horrible nightmares.
The sun slid past my drapes at around 8am and I could feel the sleep regenerate what little energy I had left since last nights predicament. I sat up and looked around my room. I convinced myself that today was going to be a great day. It was my first official day in the new house and I wanted to relish it. I quickly got myself ready and threw my hair in my usual ponytail. I stared back at my reflection and frowned.
"Well, this is as good as it's going to get." I applied what little bit of lipstick I owned and headed for the kitchen.
As I crossed the living room I felt a wet, sticky substance drip down my upper lip. I stopped dead in my tracks. There is no way. I mentally noted all of my research on the land. The countless hours on my laptop running through all the possibilities of any encounter. Jake's constant sighing on my other end. His speech on 'obsessive behavior' he noticed in some of his patients at the practice. He was a subtle one, he was.
I walked steadily towards the kitchen and mentally prepped myself for whatever was waiting for me in there. These 'meetings' were never easy but this presence was different, it seemed calm and intelligent. Though the strength radiating off it was very strong, almost intimidating.
Curiously I poked my head into the kitchen and blinked. A guy no older than 30 stared up at me from the classifieds section of a newspaper. His eyes were a deep emerald and his hair was a golden blonde. He stood up and I blushed. He was tall, built, gorgeous and more than likely died on the runway.
"Hi Lauren." His voice was very bland as though he often greeted people this way. I managed to notice that he wasn't like other encounters. His body was solid and if I hadn't gotten a nose bleed every-time I ran into one, I would've thought he was human.
"How do you know who I am?" He sighed, briefly annoyed by my question as though I should know this information.
"My name is Hunter. I found you on Springwood Lane. By your parents home." I waited for him to continue on but he sat back down. He grabbed the newspaper off of a coffee spill on the counter and cursed. "Damn luck."
"Um, hello? If you wouldn't mind actually answering my question, Hunter. How do you know who I am?" I got easily irritated by his cool exterior. Again he sighed emphasizing his disapproval to my question. And yet again, it pissed me off.
"All you need to know, is that I found you and now you're stuck with me." I stared at him bewildered.
"What the hell does that even mean?"
"Exactly what I said." Infuriated I grabbed the salt and oils from the kitchen drawer and threw them on the table.
"You've got about two seconds to poof outof here. Now." Hunter stood up and glared, his eyes boring into me.
"That's insulting. I would assume you'd know how useless that ritual would be. But go ahead. Waste your time." He turned around and walked into my living room, leaving me to gape at his aloof behavior.
After about a half hour I walked in after him. I was too curious to stay mad for long and as much as he annoyed me, he was an encounter I had never seen before.
Hunter was sitting on the couch reading one of my cosmopolitan magazines. He frowned at a page and than tossed it back into the basket.
"Are woman really buying into this crap?" I sat down beside him and chuckled.
"Hey, I learned a few tips in there." He cocked an eyebrow at me waiting for me to explain. "It's none of your business." He shrugged and settled back into the sofa.
"Did you spread your salts and oils?" Hunter rolled his eyes. I bit my tongue and relaxed into the recliner next to him.
"Look, we got off on the wrong foot. And I just wanted to start over." I pressed on. "How did you see me at my parents home? How did you get here?" I waited for Hunters usual exasperated look but there was none.
"Have you ever heard of a Wanderer?" I shook my head. And Hunter continued. "A wanderer is an encounter that can physically be anywhere he or she desires. Wherever we choose. But no we can't teleport ourselves to another country. We can roam freely so to speak."
"So you followed me from my parents house to here?"
"Yes. Mediums exude a type of energy wanderers and all encounters are attracted to. We use this energy to track you." Hunter must've seen my discomfort so he pressed on.
"There are not many Wanderers. There are only a few of us in the world so the chances of you running into one are highly unlikely."
"Well that's a relief," I sighed. "So, how come I ran into you? Chance?"
"You can say that." I had so many questions but I knew Hunter wasn't the stay up all night talking and giggling type. I just had one more thing to ask that I knew would bother me if I hadn't.
"What were you doing at my parents house?" Hunter's expression turned edgy and he shifted uncomfortably in the sofa.
"I felt a strong presence there. I thought perhaps it was another wanderer. But as I approached, it became stronger and I realized that it wasn't a wanderer. It was evil. It was demonic." I stared at the ground in silence and Hunter noted my reaction. "I saw you run out. The nose bleeds I know are common but you were covered in blood. You know what's in there, don't you?" Hunter didn't wait for me to answer. He got up uncomfortably. I could tell he wasn't one for consoling. "I'll give you a minute."
"No. It's okay. I'm okay. Its in the past, it doesn't matter anymore." He hesitated but sat back down. "So, why did you follow me?"
"I'm not sure. I couldn't help myself. I'm just here." I blushed but quickly remembered that even though Hunter was as solid as humans come, and drop dead gorgeous. He was dead, and kind of an asshole.
"Well, as flattered as I am Hunter. I can't have a bunk mate. No room, sorry." Hunter cocked an eyebrow.
"I'm not leaving."
"Look, i've been through this a million times. Yes, you can. You don't need me. I can't fufill whatever weird errand you encounters seem to need me to do. Trust me, you're better off mourning in...that spot."
"That spot." I bit my lip so hard I thought I drew blood. I was starting to sound just as insensitive as Hunter. "That spot meaning our place of death?"
"Not necessarily?" Hunter rolled his eyes before standing up and stretching. I looked away trying hard not to show the pink forming across my cheeks.
"Look Lauren, i'm not leaving. So you can either deal with it, or you can spend the day throwing salt and oil around the house like a lunatic." I flushed, mostly outof anger for forgetting how unattractive Hunters personality was.
"Ill have you know that salt and oils work just fine on encounters."
"I'm not an encounter, i'm a wanderer and good luck trying to kick me out." I groaned, feeling a headache coming on.
"I have a life Hunter, I can't have you walking around here. You're a nomad, go find another medium." Hunter glared at me, his emerald eyes blazing.
"This is where I choose. Get over it." I scoffed and headed to my laptop to find something on Google.
"I'm sure the internet has plenty of answers," I yelled back from the kitchen. Hunter padded into the room smirking.
"You are completely hopeless." Just as Hunter was about to see something hurling towards him there was a knock on the door. I looked up at him and gave him a warning look.
"I know how you poltergeist type are. Don't even thin..." Hunter waved his hand towards the door slyly.
"I'll be on my best behavior." The sarcasm just oozed from his comment and made me all the more irritated.
"Lauren? Are you in there?" I stopped dead in my tracks. It was Jake. Dammit. I looked over my shoulder but Hunter was gone. I took a deep breath, and reached for the door.
This just got a whole lot more interesting.