'The Echo' - Chapter 28

by Jaime Heidel 5 months ago in fiction

Emma Speaks

'The Echo' - Chapter 28

The Echo - Chapter 27

“Honey, hand me those green beans?” Kimberly asked as she turned on the burner.

Lynn was standing on a chair by the counter, helping her mother wash and cut vegetables for dinner. She wrinkled her nose as she grabbed handfuls of the requested vegetable and handed them over.

“Don’t worry, I’m making you a side salad,” Kimberly promised with a laugh. “I know you like ‘crunch’.”

Lynn grabbed one of the baby carrots out of the strainer and popped it into her mouth.

Crunch.

She grinned.

When Kimberly opened the oven to check on the meat loaf, a pleasant odor of various spices greeted her.

“Mommy, do you need help with anything else?”

“Um…” Kimberly replied, casting around. “Yes, can you set the table?”

Lynn jumped down from the chair, and grabbed the two plates her mother had already had set out on the countertop. Tucking them safely under her arm, she rummaged through the silverware drawer to find utensils.

As Lynn set the table, Kimberly went to work cutting up the rest of the vegetables Lynn had washed.

“Lynn, when you’re done with that, look to see if we have any olives left in the fridge.”

“OK!”

As she grabbed a bowl from the cupboard and threw in the lettuce, her thoughts returned to her earlier conversation with Amelia.

After dropping the startling news of having a twin sister, Amelia had collapsed onto a chair as though all of the energy had left her body.

Kimberly noticed how she’d pulled the locket back and forth along its chain for years. It was a habit Amelia always had, and now, because of the constant tugging, the chain had worn down to the point where it had just broken entirely.

Just like Amelia when she told her story.

“My parents, sister, and I were on vacation in Connecticut. We had cousins who lived out there, and every summer our parents would take us out to their beach house. We would spend all day playing, building sandcastles, and swimming.

"Our parents had this speedboat they took out. We used to watch them from the beach, always begging and pleading for them to take us out on it, but each summer, they told us we were too young.

"Our seventh birthday was coming up, and Mom and Dad surprised us by saying we were old enough to join them on the speedboat.

"They put us both in life jackets and we were out there for hours, just the four of us. It was such a beautiful day. I remember it like it was yesterday.

"It was about ninety degrees, but there was a cool breeze on the water. There were so many seagulls flying overhead, and Amanda and I were trying to count them.”

Kimberly swallowed hard. She thought she knew what would come next.

“Something went wrong. We still don’t know to this day what happened. There were several other speedboats nearby, and we were motoring among with them, laughing and waving.

"Then, all of a sudden, my father yelled. It was unlike any other time I’d heard him yell. I remember thinking his voice sounded different. It must have been panic. The next thing we knew, the boat shot forward like a rocket. It took off so fast, it launched both my sister and I off the back and into the water.

"I can still see the look on Mom’s face. She dove in after us, screaming.

"I started paddling to Amanda, but my life jacket got in the way. She was thrashing around in the water, and at first, I thought she was in trouble, but then I realized she was trying to wrench out of her own life jacket.

"She was crying, and Mom kept screaming for her to put it back on. She’d taken her own life jacket off to come after us, and she was swimming, sputtering, and screaming for Amanda.

"I watched her swim right past me, and I'll never, as long as I live, forget the look on her face.

"Then, I saw the boat we’d been on.

"Dad had managed to turn it around and get control of it, and he was heading our way, intent on picking us up. Then I saw his face go white as it jerked again and threw him off.

"Then, the boat was speeding toward us, on a collision course with my mother and sister.

"I screamed and started swimming toward them.

"By this time, Mom was diving underwater in a spot where Amanda had gone under. She kept popping up beside my sister's abandoned life jacket, screaming her name.

"My mother was treading water, her back to me and the boat.

"I heard my father screaming for us to get out of the way as he swam toward us. I couldn’t reach my mother and sister, and the sound of the boat was drowning out Dad and I.

"Suddenly, Amanda’s head popped out of the water and she saw me. Our eyes locked and she smiled. I’ll never forget that smile. She opened her mouth to say something, but…”

Tears had begun to stream down Amelia’s cheeks as she stared at the countertop, her mind twenty years in the past.

Kimberly didn’t realize that she too had been crying until she felt a teardrop fall into her hands where she’d crossed them on her lap.

Amelia had glanced up, a look of mingled embarrassment and pain etched across her young face.

She hastened to dry her eyes, and clearing her throat, concluded her story.

“I don’t remember much after that. The rest of it is pieced together from what I was told. I woke up in the hospital with my father beside me.

"Apparently, I had been knocked out by the boat and suffered a concussion. Then the boat just ran me down. I got stuck under the motor and needed ten stitches in my head, back, and foot. The worst of it was my hip fracture.

"They took us both to the hospital by Life Star, and Amanda was dead on arrival. Mom got away with only a few cuts and bruises, and I think that bothered her more than anything.

“They didn’t have to tell me Amanda was gone. As soon as I woke up, I knew.”

Kimberly was out of her chair and crossing the room before she even realized what she was doing.

In another moment, the two women were holding each other, sobbing quietly.

“Mommy, are you OK?”

Lynn’s voice broke into her thoughts, startling her back to the present moment.

The little girl was standing by her side in the kitchen now, peering up at her, her gray eyes filled with concern.

Kimberly took a deep breath and forced herself to smile. “Yeah, I’m OK, sweetie. I was just thinking of something.”

“Something sad?”

Kimberly nodded. “Yeah, it was something sad.”

Lynn frowned. “Amelia was sad when she left here today.”

Kimberly raised an eyebrow, “You were asleep, honey, how did you know that?”

Lynn shrugged and opened the refrigerator, grabbing the jar of olives from the lower shelf.

The doorbell rang just then, and the olives slipped from Lynn’s grasp, falling to the floor with a crash.

“Crap!”

***

“That was a really good dinner, Mom,” Paul said, winking at his sister. “Although I think the salad could have used some olives.”

Lynn scowled and stuck her tongue out at her uncle, “If you hadn’t scared me, I wouldn’t have dropped them.”

Paul wrinkled up his face and leaned over, mimicking Lynn’s gesture, adding a pair of crossed eyes.

They stayed like this for a full ten seconds before Lynn burst into giggles, causing them all to break up with laughter.

“I thought both of your faces were going to freeze like that!” Kimberly said, poking Lynn’s belly.

She squirmed and giggled some more.

When Kimberly asked Paul why he had arrived a full two hours earlier than expected, he’d given her a typical 'Paul answer'.

“I’ve got nothing to eat in the house!”

When Lynn had excused herself to go to the bathroom, Kimberly quickly informed her brother that she hadn’t had a chance to tell Lynn he was bringing the camera and equipment over. He’d waved away her concerns and assured her he’d explain everything.

“Mommy, are we having dessert?” Lynn was asking.

“I don’t think we have anything for dessert sweetie,” Kimberly said. “Wait, I do have some of the chocolate frozen yogurt left it you want it.”

Lynn grinned and nodded.

“Alright, well there should be four little cups in there,” Kimberly said. “Will you grab me one? Paul?”

“I’m used to real ice cream, but I’ll give this a shot, I guess.”

Kimberly rolled her eyes and smiled. Lynn doled out the dessert cups and three spoons, like an efficient waitress.

Kimberly took a few bites of her frozen yogurt before getting up to start a pot of fresh coffee.

“Lynn, don’t eat so fast, you’ll get a tummy ache.”

Lynn muttered something around a mouthful of chocolate, but Kimberly couldn’t make it out.

The little girl swallowed and Kimberly swore she could see a lump of dessert, the size of an Adam’s apple, slide down the child’s throat before she spoke.

“Sorry, Mom,” Lynn mumbled, opening her mouth wide to take in another fist-sized bite.

Kimberly shook her head.

It was a small wonder the child didn’t choke herself the way she plowed food down. She wondered where she had gotten the habit. Both Daniel and Kimberly ate slowly, chewing their food, and relishing in its taste. Even Paul was the same.

Lynn had always been a ‘shoveler’. It must have been a trait she’d picked up from one of her biological parents.

As she watched her daughter take yet another huge bite, all but unhinging her jaws to get her mouth around the food, she had to wonder about the nature versus nurture concept she’d been taught when studying psychology.

“Lynn, slow down,” Paul said.

“Sorry…” Lynn said, putting the cup down. She looked hurt.

“You must have been hungry,” Kimberly said, giving her daughter’s back a gentle pat.

She’d been demanding seconds at almost every meal lately. Then again, after a couple of weeks of seeing her look as though Lynn might be losing weight, Kimberly wasn’t all that concerned with this new trend.

At least she was starting to look healthier and more filled out now.

“So, Lynn,” Paul said, “can I tell you a secret?”

Lynn turned, “Sure.”

“Well, I know that in a few hours, something very special is going to happen,” Paul said in a tone Kimberly was sure he reserved for some of his more skittish four-legged patients. “I hope you don’t mind that Mommy told me. I heard Emma is coming to talk to us tonight.”

Lynn shot a look of confusion at her mother, and Kimberly she felt a sudden pang of guilt. She’d figured on being the one to break the news to Lynn that Emma’s appearance was going to be recorded. She had a sudden sinking feeling she had somehow betrayed her daughter.

To her mother’s relief and surprise however, Lynn smiled. “No, I don’t mind.”

“Mommy has been telling everybody about what’s been happening to me so they can try and help. The only thing is, I wish that Claire’s gram didn’t know because now I can’t play with her.”

There was that small fist to the gut again.

“Well, something happened over at the house that was kind of scary, huh?” Paul asked, putting a hand on Lynn’s shoulder.

Lynn nodded, “Yeah, I didn’t mean to scare anybody.”

“Well, I was thinking tonight, we might be able to help you remember what you say and do when Emma comes. I know you’ve been remembering things, and that’s great, but I brought some stuff that may help us even more.”

Lynn’s face, which had been set with a kind of resolute determination, making her look far older than her years, brightened into a child’s wonderment.

“Really?”

Paul returned the grin. “Yeah. I have a video camera that can pick up all sorts of things.”

“Like ghosts?”

Paul raised an eyebrow.

“Do you think Emma is a ghost, honey?” Kimberly asked.

Lynn shrugged, “I’m not sure.”

“Well, I have some microphones that can pick up sound you can’t otherwise hear, and if Emma is a ghost,” Paul explained, “we’ll be able to get her voice on recording.”

Lynn frowned in puzzlement for a moment, and then her face cleared. “Oh, you mean if she’s not talking through me? Not using my voice?”

Paul and Kimberly exchanged startled glances.

“Well, yes,” Paul said.

Lynn nodded, studying her hands for a moment, “Can I see the equipment?”

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Paul and Kimberly exchanged puzzled glances. Behind the curtains, Kimberly could see her sister-in-law’s form in the window of the kitchen door.

“She’s brought the exorcist,” Paul muttered.

Kimberly shot him a warning glance and opened the door. Cheryl was there, minus a priest.

“Hello,” Cheryl said, holding out a card. “I was on my way home from work, and thought I would drop this off in person.”

Kimberly stepped back so Cheryl could enter, and frowned at the square of cardboard in her hand.

Kimberly hadn’t figured on a priest having his own business card.

“I think you should call Father…” Cheryl faltered when she saw Lynn and Paul sitting at the kitchen table.

“Oh, hi, Paul,” Cheryl said with a smile that looked forced. “Hi Lynn, how are you doing today?”

“Good, Aunt Cheryl. We’re having dessert. I’d offer you some, but Uncle Paul just ate the last one.”

“Oh, that’s alright, sweetie,” Cheryl said. “I’m not hungry anyway.”

“Well, now that you’re here, you can at least stay for coffee,” Kimberly offered.

“Sure, why not?”

“Are we still going trick-or-treating?” Lynn asked, smiling up at her aunt. “Mommy found a pair of angel wings to go with my princess dress, and she painted them! They look so pretty!”

Cheryl stared at Lynn, her eyes lingering just long enough to make Kimberly feel uncomfortable. Was it her imagination, or did her sister-in-law look a bit frightened?

“Well, yes!” Cheryl gushed. Her somber expression of moments ago took on an almost comical animation now. “Of course, that’s what we do every year, isn’t it?”

Lynn nodded and got up, “Can I show Uncle Paul and Aunt Cheryl my costume, Mommy?”

Kimberly’s looked at her daughter’s sticky hands.

Lynn followed her mother’s gaze, “Oh, I’m going to wash up in the bathroom first. I won’t get chocolate on it, I promise.”

“Sure, go ahead then,” Kimberly said.

“Wait till you see it, it’s beautiful!” Lynn gushed, eyes shining.

They all heard her as she took the stairs two at a time, feet thumping on the carpet.

“How does somebody that little make so much noise?” Paul asked.

“I love it when she does that,” Kimberly said, a smile forming on her lips as her gaze flitted to the ceiling. “She doesn’t have to be quiet the way we did growing up.”

“So, is Danielle still going as a witch this year?” Kimberly asked Cheryl as she set a steaming mug of coffee in front of her.

Cheryl's eyes stayed glued to the ceiling. Her brow furrowed momentarily as though she'd seen a spider or something.

Kimberly and Paul exchanged a quick glance.

“Cheryl?”

She jumped and gave a little laugh. Smiling, she picked up the mug and took a sip of her coffee. “She insists on it.”

“Oh, well, it’s just a costume, right?”

Paul’s eyes darted from one woman to the other. “I went as a drag queen one year,” he offered. “You should have seen the look on Dad’s face.”

Cheryl coughed.

“Oh, God!” Kimberly cried. She laughed, “I remember that!”

“Yeah, that did not go over well,” Kimberly said, wiping at the corners of her eyes. “George just about disowned him.”

Cheryl smiled and shook her head.

“Bet he never thought I’d turn out to be a real queen, huh?”

Kimberly giggled and gave her brother a playful shove.

The sound of pounding footsteps barreling down the stairs checked their laughter.

Within moments, Lynn was standing in the doorway in an ankle-length canary-yellow dress that shimmered as she moved. A pair of matching wings, and a sparkling tiara completed the ensemble.

Cheryl gasped, “Wow! You look beautiful!”

As Lynn twirled and attempted a curtsy, the tiara fell off, and Lynn's hand shot out and caught it just as she came back up.

The look on her face as she stared at the tiara in her hand was enough to break everybody up again.

“I didn’t even do that on purpose!” Lynn breathed, her eyes wide with wonder.

All three of them clapped.

“Well done, well done!” Paul exclaimed, beaming at his niece.

“Mommy said she’s going to paint my face with glitter, and I may even get to wear mascara!” Lynn gushed, the last word coming out in a conspiratorial whisper.

Kimberly laughed, “Alright, go take that off before you get it dirty.”

Lynn’s face fell, “OK.”

“It looks great, honey,” Paul offered.

“Thanks, Uncle Paul. Mommy, after I get into my jammies, I’m going to go hang out in the studio and draw if that’s OK with you.”

Kimberly nodded, “Sure, fine by me.”

Cheryl waited until she heard the door to Lynn’s bedroom close before she spoke.

“I spoke with Father Payton today, I told him about what’s supposed to happen tonight,” she waited a beat before adding, “In fact, I told him everything.”

Kimberly sighed, “I figured you would.”

“I do think you should call him,” Cheryl’s tone held a pleading note.

“I'll think about it,” Kimberly said. “Honestly, I’m actually kind of surprised you didn’t bring him with you.”

Cheryl flushed and turned to Paul, “So, Paul, what brings you by tonight?”

“Oh, just thought I’d intrude on my sister’s hospitality. She makes the best meat loaf in the world. I could smell it from my house, so I came over.”

Cheryl raised an eyebrow.

“Plus, I’ve been concerned about Lynn. Gary’s gone now, and I don’t want Lynn thinking nobody wants to be around her.”

“Speaking of Gary,” Cheryl said, distaste in her voice, “has he called since he threw himself out?”

Kimberly chuckled. Paul and Cheryl exchanged glances.

“What’s so funny?” Her brother asked.

Kimberly repeated the story of the phone call Gary had placed earlier trying to make up. When she got to the part where she had told him about her “hot date with a ghost,” all three of them were bent double at the table.

“Welt,” Paul said, effectuating an exaggerated southern drawl, “I just better git on outta here befer the ghosts come’n git me!”

He walked his fingers along the tablecloth, clicking his tongue as he pantomimed a horse gallop.

“Oh, my!” Cheryl cried, covering her mouth.

She was blushing scarlet now.

“Wow, so I guess it’s really over then, huh?” Cheryl asked.

“I guess so,” Kimberly said when she’d caught her breath. “I don’t even know what to make of him these days.”

“Can’t see what you ever saw in him?” Paul asked, a triumphant look on his face.

“You know what?” Kimberly replied, looking at her brother, “No, I can’t.”

A knowing look sparkled in Cheryl’s eye.

“Well, don’t get smug about it, you two,” Kimberly admonished, looking from one to the other. “He’s not a bad guy. He’s just not my type.”

Cheryl nodded, “I know. I’m sorry Kimberly. I wasn’t trying to say, 'I told you so'.”

“I was.”

Paul’s comment was rewarded with a slap to the arm.

“You are so mature,” Kimberly said, rolling her eyes.

“So,” Cheryl said, taking a deep breath, “what’s going to happen tonight? With Lynn, I mean.”

Kimberly glanced at the clock. “I don’t know.”

The room grew quiet again, and Paul took the opportunity to steer the conversation to lighter topics.

After 20 minutes of idle chit-chat, Cheryl announced she needed to leave.

“Thanks for the coffee. Give me a call tomorrow, OK?”

Cheryl glanced back at Paul. A question formed on her lips, but it appeared to die away unasked. Instead, she made Kimberly promise once more to call Father Payton before she departed.

“Uncle Paul, can I see the equipment now?”

Both Paul and Kimberly jumped at the unexpected voice coming from the doorway.

In one fluid motion, he scooped Lynn into his arms.

“I didn’t even hear you come downstairs, you little sneak!” Paul cried, tickling her.

Thirty minutes later, Lynn’s bedroom looked like the set of a small, independent horror film.

There was a camcorder set up on a tripod at the foot of the bed, and a smaller camera, equipped with a night vision lens on the dresser. Two corded microphones ran to a digital tape deck on the floor.

For her part, Kimberly had brought a flashlight, a small battery-operated clock from the studio, and her journal.

Paul had pulled out a piece of red cellophane from the camera bag and fitted it over the lens of the flashlight, so when Kimberly used it, the light wouldn’t be bright enough to trick any of the cameras into focusing on it.

Lynn had looked a little intimidated by all of the gadgets in her bedroom until Paul let her try out each piece of equipment, explaining what each instrument did as he showed them to her.

Now, Lynn was showing off in front of the camera, jumping up and down, and doing tight somersaults on the bed.

A quick glance at the clock told her it was 8:45 PM. In just fifteen minutes, Emma would make her appearance. Kimberly sat down in the kitchen chair by the door and sighed. She felt helpless all over again.

Had it been only an hour ago they'd all been sitting downstairs laughing and making jokes?

Kimberly’s stomach was beginning to tie up in knots as she watched her little girl at play. She was seized with a sudden urge to grab Lynn and call the whole thing off. Tell Emma, whoever or whatever she was, to leave them alone forever.

She’d hire a shaman if she had to. She’d get a priest to say prayers over her child. Whatever it took. She just didn’t want this… being, to speak through her little girl. She’d seen what Lynn referred to as ‘Emma’ before. She’d heard the horrible, raspy voice, and seen the cold, dead eyes.

But ever since Kimberly had confronted Emma in the studio that night, the being and Lynn had seemed to be in some kind of reciprocal communication.

Kimberly had held this being in her arms, knowing that although it was her daughter’s body, somebody or something else had been inhabiting it in those moments, crying into her shoulder. It had been only then that she had not felt hatred or fear toward this intruder, but had instead become overwhelmed by a desire to protect it.

Which ‘Emma’ would they see tonight? The frightened little girl who only wanted to be helped, or the menacing being that leered out of photographs and spoke in that inhuman voice?

Would the bed sheets move again? Would they try to wrap themselves around Lynn’s throat this time?

Kimberly shook herself out of her frightened thoughts and looked once more at Lynn. She was now peering into the camera, her face inches from the lens.

“Should I get my camera?” Kimberly asked.

Paul looked up, “No, I think you're better off just taking notes.”

“It’s almost time,” Lynn said, her voice serious.

She climbed up onto the bed and got under the covers.

“Are you scared?” Kimberly asked, getting up off the chair and settling in beside her.

Lynn nodded, “Kind of.”

“Do you have any idea what’s going to happen?”

Lynn shook her head, “I’m not sure. I just know she can talk through me, and that’s what she’s going to do.”

Kimberly was seized with a sudden panic that almost made her swoon.

What if Emma planned to take over Lynn’s body? What if that was her reasoning for finding Lynn in the first place? After tonight, would it forever be somebody or something else looking out at her from Lynn’s eyes?

“Kimber, are you alright?” Paul asked.

When she felt him place a hand on her shoulder, she jumped. “You’ve gone white,” he said, peering into her face.

Kimberly looked up at him, wide-eyed, mouth agape. She couldn’t bring herself to speak.

“What is it?” Paul asked.

“I… Oh God…” Kimberly cried, lurching off of the bed and staggering toward the doorway.

“Mommy?”

The room tilted and swayed as she stumbled into the hallway and slid across the wall to the bathroom.

She made it just in time.

***

“Are you sure you’re OK?” Paul asked, handing his sister a bottle of water.

Kimberly was sitting on the closed toilet lid. She was still shaky after losing her dinner, but a few splashes of cold water, and some deep breathing helped to calm her.

She sipped the water, “I just had the most horrible thought.”

“What?” Paul asked, his face a mask of concern.

She took another long swallow and looked at her small clock, which she had somehow kept clutched in her hand throughout the entire ordeal.

“It’s time, Paul,” Kimberly said by way of reply.

Paul helped her to her feet, and, without another word, they re-entered Lynn’s bedroom.

The lights had already been turned out, and Kimberly could hear the slow steady hum of the cameras and tape recorder as Paul guided Kimberly to her chair.

Picking up her cellophane-covered flashlight and pen, Kimberly turned to a fresh page in the journal and wrote in the date.

“It’s nine-o-clock, Lynn,” Paul whispered from his post by the bed.

Lynn was still sitting up in bed underneath the covers, her head propped up by pillows.

She closed her eyes and took a series of deep breaths.

Kimberly’s eyes adjusted to the darkness. She could see every detail of the little girl’s face as she rested there.

From across the room, she could see her brother staring down at Lynn, arms folded, the muscles in his jaw working as he ground his teeth.

A sudden noise to the left made Kimberly jump, but it had only been the smaller camera’s auto focus lens whirring into position.

Does that mean it's picking up on something?

Paul glanced at the machine. When their eyes met, Paul gave his sister a reassuring smile and shook his head. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening... yet.

Kimberly was wound up like a spring.

A minute went by, then two, with Lynn still on the pillows, eyes closed in what appeared to be a peaceful sleep.

Kimberly began to wonder if her daughter, in fact, had fallen asleep when she noticed a change in the atmosphere.

Had the room just grown colder?

Kimberly could tell by his movements that Paul had noticed this change, too.

He squinted at Lynn.

What was he seeing?

Lynn’s body went rigid.

Kimberly had to stifle a gasp as Lynn’s eyes opened.

Lynn’s head moved mechanically, and she looked over the room as though she’d never seen it before.

Then she looked down at her body, her head titling to one side as she examined her outstretched hands.

Paul’s shiver didn’t fill Kimberly with confidence.

He was a lot closer to Lynn. What was he seeing and feeling right now?

“Emma?” Kimberly whispered.

Lynn turned. This time, when their eyes met, Kimberly did not feel the chest-clenching fear she expected.

Lynn nodded.

Kimberly rose and approached the bed, setting the journal down.

She glanced at the equipment, and it dawned on her that since everything was being recorded, there was really no reason for her to write.

Paul had only assigned her the task to give her something to do!

“Emma,” Kimberly whispered. She was standing over her daughter now. “Can I sit by you?”

It seemed odd to ask her daughter for permission.

Then again, this was no longer her daughter she was addressing.

Lynn nodded. Her gray eyes studying her as though she recognized her from somewhere, but wasn't quite sure where.

The look of unrecognition was unnerving.

“You told Lynn you were coming tonight,” Kimberly said, keeping her voice low and even. “Can you tell us what you want or need?”

Kimberly swallowed the lump in her throat as she sat down on the mattress beside Lynn. Her movements were so careful, she could feel each spring give under her weight.

“I am Emma.”

Kimberly started.

It was Lynn’s voice, yet it wasn’t.

As it had happened in the park, two voices came from one mouth producing a strange kind of harmony.

Paul backed up a step. She couldn’t blame him. He had never witnessed any of the events that Kimberly had, by now, become almost accustomed to.

He cleared his throat and spoke.

“Emma, can I ask why you’re here?”

“I am lost.”

“Where do you come from?”

“I am alone.”

“Alone where?”

“In the dark. I am in the dark, all the time.”

“Is somebody hurting you in the dark?” Kimberly asked. “Is that why you’ve contacted Lynn? Do you think she can help you?”

“She is the only one.”

The intensity in the child’s voice made Kimberly flinch.

“Lynn is the only one who can help you or the only one you can contact?”

The little girl seemed to be confused by the question, so Kimberly tried something else.

“What can Lynn do to help you?”

“Find me.”

Kimberly frowned, “But... you already found her.”

Lynn’s eyes rolled, and she took a deep, shuddering breath.

“Are you OK?”

“Yes. This is hard… hard to get here.”

Kimberly glanced at Paul. He shook his head, eyes wide.

“Hard to get here?” Kimberly repeated, “Where did you get here from?”

“I don’t have much time.”

Emma suddenly looked very afraid.

“Tell me whatever you can right now then.”

“My name is Emma Baker, and I’m seven years old. I am in the dark. They are hurting me.”

They?

“Who is hurting you, Emma?”

“Two old people. They hurt me here in the dark. I’m always in the dark.”

Kimberly felt as though they were talking in circles. “Can you tell us where you are?”

The little girl shook her head.

“Why did you contact Lynn?”

“She can hear me. She’s special. She’s just like me.”

What did that mean? Did this child or ghost have psychic powers of some sort? Was that the link between them?

“Are you a ghost?”

The child’s eyes filled with tears, and she nodded.

Kimberly felt her heart go out to Emma. The poor child was caught somewhere between this life and the next, and had most likely found Lynn because of her daughter’s sensitivity to psychic phenomena.

“What can we do to help you get back home?”

The child’s face took on a puzzled expression once more.

“I am home.”

Kimberly felt a lead ball drop into her stomach as the fear that had caused her to be sick earlier gripped her afresh.

“You can’t stay in Lynn’s body!”

The words came out before Kimberly could stop them.

The child was silent for a moment, eyes rolling again.

Suddenly, Lynn’s face became alive with terror. She sat up in the bed, gripping the sheets. She gasped and stared at a point just above Kimberly’s head.

Kimberly turned to look, but she could see only the mirrored reflection of the bedroom and its occupants.

Wait. Something in the mirror moved!

One moment it wasn’t there, the next it filled the entire span of the glass. Kimberly heard Paul gasp as he tripped over the chord to get to the first camera.

He turned it to face the mirror, and Kimberly turned back to the bed.

“He’s coming!” Emma/Lynn cried, the strange harmonic voice rising to an odd lilting pitch, as though somebody had just hit both the fast-forward and play buttons on a cassette player.

Lynn looked into Kimberly’s eyes, and the intensity in them made her heart freeze.

“Find me!”

The last two words came out in a harsh whisper that bounced along the walls.

Lynn collapsed onto the bed. Paul cursed. Kimberly turned back to the mirror, but the shadowy figure that had been headed for them, as though it were about to come through the reflective glass, had disappeared.

The room was silent.

Kimberly’s body was bathed in a cool sweat. She turned to Paul.

“What was it?”

Paul shook his head, lips tight.

Kimberly turned and sank back down on the bed. She pulled Lynn into her arms. “Baby? Honey, wake up, it’s OK.”

Lynn didn’t stir.

“Lynn?”

It was then Kimberly realized with a flood of renewed horror that her daughter wasn’t breathing.

fiction
Jaime Heidel
Jaime Heidel
Read next: Run Necromancer
Jaime Heidel

I'm a freelance writer with a passion for truth, justice, and the equality way. I write about health, wellness, chronic illness, and trauma. I'm also publishing my horror novel chapter by chapter on here. 

See all posts by Jaime Heidel