Fiction logo

Mrs. Ackers' Gift

At the Beginning of the Emotion War

By Roy StevensPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 9 min read
Mrs. Ackers' Gift
Photo by Glitch Lab App on Unsplash

*** Violence and Restraint depicted***

“The mirror showed a reflection that wasn’t my own!” The old woman looks more frightened than an octogenarian should ever have to appear.

“Just now, dear?” Your question hangs in the space between solicitous and manipulative. You swallow hard on your guilt; time is fast running out and you’ve no way to hobble it.

She looks at you from her armchair, “Moments ago, just when you held the mirror down a little so the light wasn’t shining right at it. Am I doing all right?” More swallowing at this gentle old woman’s palpable effort to be of use: to someone, just once more in life.

“You’re fantastic, Mrs. Ackers, especially when you consider that we woke you up in the middle of the night to try once more. Who did you see in the mirror, dear?” The clock keeps ticking. Your partner Finn moves a little closer so that he’s sure he gets as much of the detail as he can, you only have one chance at this.

“It was a young man, a boy really, in his mid-teens maybe. He had curly red hair and freckles- of course… “She pauses to smile at the practically inevitable freckles on his face and another two seconds tick by. “It looks like he’s strapped in a big chair like this one. He’s wearing a blue t-shirt with ‘Go Red Sox’ on it. Why is he tied up?”

You can’t afford to explain just now, her brief emotional resonance with the victim is a tenuous link at best and the grim, hard-to-believe details would only muddy her reception of him. Finn looks at you nervously. You suspect he’s still marveling at how this process works at all. He’s only seen you try this three times and it’s only worked once before. You don’t even understand it fully. One more push with your feelings, trying to squelch the vital urgency and emphasize the empathy both you and Mrs. Ackers; blessed, wonderful, talented Mrs. Ackers, have for this frightened kid, out there somewhere on the other side of the haunted mirror through the murky Massachusetts night.

Did you see anything of his surroundings Mrs. Ackers?” Finn asks. With you straining to help her project her feelings far out into the dark world and around the mundane horrors of so many nightmares going on in so many dreams, its better if Finn does the rest of the interview.

She looks at him, still uncertain of the big, blonde guy with the forever pain in his eyes. She looks back at you. She’d rather talk to a woman about this, but she can see that you’re quickly wearing down from the strain of your effort to help her feel for the boy in the night, and she understands. This poor woman is nothing if not profoundly sensitive to others, like all of you are, and you can see the understanding growing as she feels the urgency in Finn’s voice and gestures. If only she’d been discovered earlier in life, but there was no one organized enough to find her and, really, the threat was only minimal until just a few years ago.

She looks once more at the mirror, now in Finn’s hands, and her eyes open wider in surprise. “I see him again. He’s in a very dark place and there’s only the sound of whirring motors like in a big air-conditioning system.” The mirror’s only a tool to focus the mind on emotional sensory data so the apparent and creepy dissonance of ‘hearing’ things through a mirror doesn’t surprise you. “There are a few lights that seem to be coming from the floor.” Thank god she’s a retired air traffic controller, her focus is still phenomenal. “Oh, it’s gone again.”

Finn leans in, desperate. “Did you see anything else in the background ma’am, anything at all unusual?”

“Just one thing. Above his shoulder was a long green tube with a round ball-object on its end. The ball had a hole in its side and I’m pretty sure there was another one on the opposite side… I’m so tired…” No doubt, remote emotional projection is absolutely exhausting at the best of times, but in the middle of the night, under stress and when you’re eighty-two years old…! Finn understands too. A look of worry for Mrs. Ackers crosses his oh-so-easy-to-read face as he looks at you, acknowledging it’s better for you to help her down from the intensity she’s experiencing. It’s always better for the projector and the generator if they’re the same gender.

“Close your eyes dear. Breath as rhythmically as you can, you’ve done more than enough tonight.” From behind you hear the snap of Finn’s fingers as some kind of metaphorical light bulb goes off for him. His sudden gasp of hopeful inspiration has both you and the old lady opening your eyes and looking to where he’s rummaged out his phone and is rapidly calling up something in a search engine.

One last gesture as he expands an image of something before holding the phone up to the woman’s eyes. “Did it look anything like this, Mrs. Ackers?”

Her eyes widen yet again, “Yes, that’s it exactly! What is it?” She looks at Finn as he stands up to tower over the two of you.

“It’s the end of a gun barrel. Did it look exactly like this, color and all?” She nods affirmation. “It’s the tip of the barrel of a tank gun at the American Heritage Tank Museum in Hudson. It’s out past Sudbury.” He looks at you with anxiety sweat already growing on his upper lip. “We gotta motor Dani, that’s a ways outside of town!”

You nod back. Damn, these monsters never do their vicious emotion-draining in the city we’re working in. Some army museum out in the boonies is a new one though, and now we get to add the stress of distance to the ticking clock. Whoever this kid is, the vampire who has him strapped to a chair has had too much time already to work through harvesting the easier, more pleasant emotions that can easily be re-built, the ghoul will be getting to the evil stuff soon, if not already.

There’s no time for easing Mrs. Ackers down but she understands. Already after only four sessions she’s got the routine down and gestures to you and Finn. “Go get him team. Save a life tonight!” Her head falls back to the cushion Finn has already carefully placed to catch her gray, troubled head. You vow to let her know how it goes and race out the door for the rental car. The clock ticks.

On the road your weariness is melted by the heavy, rapid swish of the wipers as they sweep away the downpour. As always, you drive because you’re better at it and also because the activity beats waiting in the passenger seat. Finn occupies himself with his chosen weapon, an ice-chopper intended for breaking up sidewalk ice into removable bits. You hope he doesn’t end up using it, the last time was too gory for words and beyond anything memories should be made to bear. The total failure of that first almost success is a burden you and Finn will carry to your grave. The plan was to save the victim before it was too late for her and subdue the Emotion vampire long enough for four of the other Hunters to join you and Finn. Then the six of you would blast the abomination psychically until he or she would never again be able to feed off of the emotions of their victims. The victim and the vampire both died instead, spectacularly.

The much weaker Psychic projectors haven’t learned to control their feelings in the strange ‘reality’ where emotions and perception travel between individuals, so they’re easy picking for the monsters. It hurts you most that the vampires are no different from you in any sense but the moral one. Your ability to read distant feelings and even sustain yourself from the intense ones is no different from theirs. But you don’t mine the powerful emotions of the weaker ones, the victims, until they become mere husks of emotionally shattered and empty vessels, willing themselves to die in their never-ending despair. Instead, you and your fellow Hunters just take what you need to keep going, and you try to protect the weak projectors. The vampires feed to the death.

“We forgot the damn mirror again,” Finn says as he stares at the rivulets on his side window. They pour upwards in the slipstream.

“Mrs. Ackers will take care of it until we get back. She knows how important it is to us.”

Your partner blinks back his rage at a world that heaps so much responsibility on a tired, sick old woman, but he says nothing. Beside the road, a sign lets you both know you’re only a mile from this museum, looming out there somewhere in the velvet black.

And then you’re there. With no time for daintiness, you smash the front floor to ceiling window with your chosen weapon, a baseball bat bearing the logo of your team, the Padres, and rush through the lobby. Finn knows exactly where to go. He was here only two months ago taking his army obsessed nephew on an outing to see the tanks, and that’s why he immediately recognized Mrs. Ackers’ description of the barrel of the British Comet tank. His nephew had fallen deeply in love with that particular old artifact and Finn had spent the better part of an hour trying to get Marshall to move on to other exhibits. The bulbous muzzle break was burned in Finn’s recall like the strange miracle of coincidence that it represented.

Rounding the bulk of what you oddly recognize as a Sherman tank standing silent in the half-dark of the walkway strip lights, you see the red-headed teen still strapped to the chair. Sure enough, behind him is the barrel of the British tank sticking out over the walkway. You cover as Finn runs up to the kid. “He’s alive… he’s coming back from the ‘other place’. I think he’s gonna make it!”

Your knees almost give out. This is why you and the others started up this thing in the first place. This is the first time it’s worked; hopefully! Pulling yourself together, you start a methodical search around the place for the vampire, but you can already sense she’s not here, she ran at the sound of the breaking glass. You can identify a few other details about her, though not enough to be able to track her down yet. But there’s hope. Finally, there’s a small taste of hope. And the kid will live. Mrs. Ackers will be delighted. You can’t wait to tell her.

If you're interested in this world, please see my "Razing the Forest" for a look from a different angle. Thanks as always to anyone willing to read my work.


About the Creator

Roy Stevens

Thank you.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (4)

Sign in to comment
  • L.C. Schäfer5 days ago

    Brilliant original idea and so well executed - I was on the edge of my seat 😁

  • Naomi Gold2 months ago

    This is such an original story, I will definitely check out that link later. I immediately thought of using a mirror for clairvoyance with this challenge too, but I went in a different direction with it.

  • Traumatic Storytelling ❤️✨😉

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    I like this kind of mystery/adventure horror 😁. I also liked the point of view you chose for this story! (I’m glad you put the part about her being a retired air traffic controller, makes sense why she is still so observant at her age!)

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.