Chapter 38: Put to rest
Chloe moved aside as the three men reentered the house. Alex reached into the box, retrieving the last of its contents. Their excitement and trepidation overshadowed all else. Chloe tried to smile encouragingly as Alex explained what was happening. “I swear it worked. There were all these sounds, screams and crying, then…I don’t know…peace, I guess. I could just tell it worked.” Alex’s face was so hopeful that Chloe was sure he was right.
Aaron thundered through the hall grabbing jackets. “Come on, we should do this together.” He tossed Alex his coat; Arthur was already struggling into his. “Remember, this lady is already angry.”
Arthur called to his youngest son, “Come on; we should check on the girl in the lake as soon as we are done here.” The door slammed, followed by heavy footfalls on the wooden porch.
“Are you OK?” Alex asked. Chloe smiled, shaking off his concern.
“I’m fine. You go set them free.”
“We’ll find your necklace. I promise.” He apologized. The door swung open. His brother was now beckoning. “We’ll figure this out,” he promised. Chloe nodded her understanding, not trusting her voice to cry or shout in anguish. The door shut, and the footfalls faded as they disappeared into the increasing darkness. Chloe stood listening to the steady thumping when she realized she was alone in the house.
Alex hurried after his brother, pulling the ring from Aaron’s hand. The beam from their father’s flashlight bounced ahead of them. “Come on! We can’t let Dad get there first,” Alex warned, increasing his pace. On the edge of the small clearing, he skidded to a halt. The howl of the wind increased while the leaves whipped at his face.
Brenda stood in the middle of a tempest. Around her swirled deadly missiles of bone, branches, and stones. Arthur’s flashlight illuminated the specter. Her hair floated out around her, her arms outstretched, tattered clothes flying in the tornado’s winds. Over the howl of the wind they could clearly hear her wailing anger.
“OK, how do we do this?” Aaron called to his brother over the noise.
“No idea!” Alex shouted. He had caught her attention.
An emaciated finger pointed accusingly at him. “You! Where is my ring!” she cried, flying to the edge of the swirling mass.
“I…I…I have it here.” Alex held out his hand; the ring lay in his palm. Silence filled the dale punctuated by only the sounds of detritus hitting the earth. Alex took a tentative step forward, hand outstretched. Brenda’s fingers shook as she reached toward the small piece of jewelry.
“My ring.” Her ghostly hand shook as she reached out. “It’s been gone so long,” Brenda whispered. Aaron’s hands grabbed onto Alex’s shoulders, ready to pull him back. Brenda’s finger brushed the gold. The ring lifted, weightless, from Alex’s hand. Brenda slipped it onto her finger. Immediately she began to glow softly. A warm, kind smile spread across her face as her body began to solidify. Voices called from the distance.
“Brenda! Brenda, where are you?” Brenda stared around in a frantic search, trying to find the source of the calls.
Tears sprang to her eyes. “Dad?” she called. “Dad! I’m here! Help me.”
“Brenny, it’s your mother. Where are you?” Two spirits appeared at the tree line, a woman and a man holding hands, beaming across at Brenda.
“Oh my God, we found you.” The spirit that had to be Brenda’s mother spoke as she sunk to her knees.
“We’ve been searching so long.” Brenda’s father smiled at her through his tears. Brenda crossed slowly to her parents.
“You were looking for me?”
“We never stopped,” her mother explained as tears streamed down her face. Brenda walked into their arms. There was a flash of pure-white light. Blinded for a moment, Alex slowly lowered his arm from covering his eyes. The three men were alone. As the realization of what had just occurred sank in, they stood smiling at one another. Suddenly all three dropped to a crouch. A scream of unholy anger boomed overhead.
“W…was that Edgar?” Aaron asked shakily.
“I hope so,” Alex replied with a satisfied nod. “Come on; let’s get this back to Patricia,” he exclaimed, holding out the bracelet. “Let’s hope this one hurts that bastard even more.” Twenty minutes later found them standing on the shore of the lake. Alex had found the rock he had been sitting on when he had spoken to Patricia. Now he was standing in front of it, shouting her name. Something was creeping over them. Arthur could feel it, and by the looks his sons were giving him, so could they. A feeling of helplessness, of despair, crept into their souls.
“Why isn’t she answering?” Aaron whispered. “Oh man, this is hopeless. We should just call it a night and go home.”
Alex looked over at his brother, his shoulders slumped. “Yeah, maybe you’re right; I mean, what can we do?”
Arthur was nodding in agreement and then suddenly became angry. “Damn it, boys; snap out of it. We can’t give up.” He pulled Aaron over to Alex and held both men on the shoulder. “Don’t give in to despair. We have to help Patricia.”
“What can you do?” Patricia asked as she rose slowly from the water. “I couldn’t stop him. He killed me, took my bracelet, and left me to rot down there.” She pointed to the smooth surface of the water. “I’ve tried so many times to help others since then,” she said sadly. “Sometimes it worked, like with you, Alex. Most times I think I just made it worse.” She was crying now. “I didn’t want to die. I had plans.” She slowly glided over the water toward them. “I didn’t want anyone else to die unfulfilled, but when someone did…” She was right in front of them. “When someone did die here”—she looked back over the glassy surface—“I hoped they would stay here. So I could have a friend.” She looked imploringly at them. “Does that make me a bad person?”
Alex stepped forward. “No, no, it does not. It just makes you lonely.” A spark ignited in his chest as he rummaged in a pocket. “I have something that might help.” His fingers finally grasped what he was searching for. Carefully he produced the fine silver bracelet. He held it out to her. She, in turn, held out her wrist. When it was clasped in place, the call of many voices met their ears.
“My friends!” Patricia gasped.
“Pat! Where did you go?”
“We couldn’t find you.”
“Come on; we have so much to show you.” Patricia disappeared, surrounded by a group of happy laughing people. They seemed thrilled to have her back. The feeling of joy was infectious. Once the flash faded, a pained angry howl broke overhead.
“Edgar.” Aaron smiled.
Alex’s satisfied smirk changed instantly to a frown. “Chloe!” he shouted, sprinting for the car.