The Barrier: Case Two- Chapter Ten

Riley was standing in the ditch, looking around, desperately searching for any way to get herself out. She used the flashlight on her phone and scanned to see if there was anything nearby she could climb, but realized it was a wasted effort. She started to scan the ditch to see if anything stood out, but all there was, was a few graffiti symbols on the walls. They were curious to her, seemed to be in a pattern, and they almost felt familiar, but she couldn’t be certain. It wasn’t important, though, she reminded herself.

She could tell that what remained of the bruises from the last case were now likely worse, and new ones were going to form. She tried to calm herself but began to panic the longer the wait lasted. She was scared, this is where the kids had been found, she did not want to be here.

“Riley?” a voice called.

Riley turned and saw the kids and slowly began to limp over to them. “Jose, I’m sorry I can’t help much right now, but Ethan is going after whoever pushed me. They are connected to your death, yes?”

“Are you okay?” Jose asked quietly.

“Yes, don’t worry about me,” Riley quickly brushed it off, “The team should be here soon to help me. I need more to go on Jose, can you give me another hint? I know it was people who killed you, but we need more proof.”

Jose studied her for a moment and then exchanged a worried look with his sister. “You aren’t okay,” he said, moving closer.

Riley tried not to let her fear build, but she wasn’t used to spirits, even as kids, it was disconcerting. Adding being trapped where they had been found only made it worse. Still, she didn’t want them to notice her fear. Spirits or not, they were kids, and she was the adult.

“It’s okay to be afraid. I was too when I saw us,” Jennifer squeaked, looking at Riley.

“You do talk,” Riley said with a small smile.

“Only when she thinks it’s important,” Jose agreed.

“Alright, I will admit it, it’s a little scary. But as scared as I am, I want to help you so much more. I hope you both feel that.”

“We know. We didn’t at first, it’s why we didn’t talk to you at the place with our bodies. We do now. You are close but not in the right spot.”

Riley was confused, but before she could say anything else, they started to fade. “No!” she yelled out. A wave of sadness and desperation overtook her, and she collapsed to her knees. She couldn’t sort which feelings were her own and which were the kids. It was almost painful feeling so much emotion running through her.

“Riley, we are here!” Emily called down to her.

Josh quickly set up the rope ladder before he gave Emily’s shoulder a gentle squeeze and started towards the direction Ethan had run.

Riley remained slumped over and crying, repeating something that Emily could not understand.

“Riley!” Emily tried again. “Riley, snap out of it!” She then pulled out her walkie-talkie. “Gabrielle, she is not responding to me, it’s not like she’s ignoring me, though.”

“She is probably being taken over by the emotions and experience. You need to get down there and snap her out of it,” Gabrielle said, slightly panicked, which did nothing for Emily’s own.

Emily carefully made her way down the ladder and over to Riley and tried to shake her. Still, she would not respond. After a while, Gabrielle finally joined them, shining a light in.

“Emily, you have to snap her out of it,” Gabrielle said urgently.

Emily felt extremely uncomfortable and let out a low apology under her breath before shifting Riley’s head up from her hands and slapping her. Riley’s eyes focused for just a moment before seeming to fade off again, so Emily slapped her harder. This time did the trick, Riley’s head jerked, and when she came back, her eyes were clear, and her breathing had slowed.

“A clue,” Riley said quickly and got up, instinct took over, and she moved roughly five feet to the south. “I need more light,” she called out.

“What?” Emily asked, the abrupt change in her friend throwing her.

“Light!” Riley demanded.

Emily was a bit shocked but let it go. The water was only up to just passed their calves but was murky and filthy, and Riley was bent over moving around in it. Emily figured the best way to get her out was to do what she asked and hope it would pass. Emily held up her own flashlight to add to the light from Gabrielle’s on the edge.

“Oh god,” Riley said as she finally stopped.

“What?” Emily asked, but her eyes widened as Riley began pulling up a long length of rope.

“They must have been tied down and then released somehow before the cops could find them.” Gabrielle said from the edge. Josh joined them at that moment and took over for Gabrielle, shining the light in while she went to call the police.

Riley handed the rope off to Emily and started to dig around again.

“Riley, we need to get out of here, the police will search again.”

“No, I need to find something else. I have to help them. They trust me,” Riley said and began to repeat herself again. Emily moved her light back to her friend’s face and noticed her eyes were going hazy again.

“Josh!” Emily called out with tears building.

Josh noticed Emily’s panic and Riley’s frantic digging and started to put two and two together. “Shit,” he cursed under his breath and joined them in the ditch.

“It’s not enough we need more!” Riley demanded as he made his way over to her.

Josh bent over and carefully grabbed Riley around the middle, and they both hissed, and Josh dropped her. “That’s going to make this difficult.”

“What?” Emily asked and began to reach out, but Josh quickly stopped her hand.

Ethan finally jogged back up, angry that he hadn’t caught whoever was out there or found any real clues, but that quickly turned to confusion when he saw the scene playing out.

“Riley?” he asked.

“No, there has to be more!” she yelled.

“I can’t get her out, boss,” Josh admitted, slowly pulling Emily away.

Ethan climbed in with them and watched Riley for a moment. “Riley,” he said softly, walking towards her.

The woman jerked sharply, looking at him. “We need more.”

“We can get more later,” he said calmly, walking towards her. “The police are on their way, Gabrielle is on the phone with them.”

“No!” Riley yelled at him, turning back to her digging.

Ethan wasn’t sure what to do, but he knew they had to get her to snap out of it and come back to herself. He walked slowly closer to her and could feel the pressure of all the emotions around her. It started to sting even just walking towards her. Something told him, deep in his gut, that this was the right thing to do, though.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered right before grabbing her arm and pulling her up to face him. The pain was sharp and hot for both of them, and Ethan hated himself when he saw her face screw up. He shifted and grabbed her upper arms and gave them a squeeze before trying to catch her eyes. She was distant and unfocused, and Ethan felt himself starting to panic. He had seen that look before, he could not go through this again, especially not with her.

He wouldn’t.

“Riley!” he yelled sharply and gave her a little jerk. When her eyes started to unglaze a little, he softened his tone and squeezed her arms again. “I need you to focus on me,” he said, “I need you to come back.”

Riley gave a shuddering breath, and then her eyes mostly cleared.

“Thank you,” Ethan said calmly, “We need to get you out of here, the police can help with this, but you need to get out of this ditch.” Riley didn’t answer but nodded a little, her brows furrowing. “Can you climb up the rope ladder, then I will take you back?”

Riley started to look around again, but Ethan once again called her name sharply, and she nodded. They walked over to the ladder, and Josh went up first. Ethan stood beneath as Riley slowly made her way up, and Josh grabbed her when he was able to pull her the rest of the way wincing through the pain. Ethan was shortly behind her, and the two supported her weight to walk back. They needed to do this quickly, she was going to pass out soon, which was for the best, but they needed her back at the base first.

“What the hell Ethan?” Emily said, following behind.

“Later,” Josh answered for him quickly.

When they got closer to the house, Josh left Riley with Ethan and ran to the base, and covered the couch in blankets. They would need to wake her to bathe soon, but right now, they needed her to just lay down. Josh let out a sigh of relief when they were able to get her on the couch, and she instantly fell asleep.

Ethan slumped on the floor and put his head in his hands. “One of us will have to meet the cops at the ditch.”

“I will do it,” Gabrielle quickly said. “You all need to shower, Emily go now.”

Ethan nodded sharply but otherwise didn’t answer.

“How does she live like that?” Josh asked.

“It is not all the time, but I imagine it is more often than we realize if not as painful. It would not be an easy life, though, even just reading the emotions, let alone the pain.”

“It explains a lot though,” Gabrielle said.

“How did you get her back? Emily slapped her, and it only worked for a bit, and I couldn’t get through at all,” Josh asked.

“I am not sure. I just felt an instinct,” Ethan said, holding back the part where he had felt certain in that moment that he would be able to reach her even if nobody else could. “We need to try to wake her up enough to get her cleaned off. No telling what is in that damn ditch.”

Emily and Josh both quickly took their turns to rinse off and change, then Ethan. After that, it took some time, but they were able to get Riley awake and focused enough to shower quickly, with Emily supervising her.

When he was finally alone, Ethan felt his control slip a little. The fear he had felt since Emily mentioned Sarah had just ratcheted up tenfold. The fear of her leaving, though, something that had been on the backburner, came rushing forward. He had been a fool. His hands shook a little, and he thought about how he had been able to bring her back. He had no clue why or how it worked, and he had never seen it before, but he was so thankful it had.

He closed his eyes and willed himself to calm down. They had to finish this. Then he needed to get Riley back to the office and call Timm in so they could all get help and figure out what was going on. She needed to start training to control her powers, he had no idea how far along they had already developed or how susceptible she was to them. He doubted very much that even Riley realized.

Even as he tried to keep himself collected, he came to a conclusion. He needed to try to stop distancing himself and letting fear dictate how their relationship developed. He also prayed to any and all gods that he would do a better job this time.

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