The Barrier: Case Three- Chapter Two

Riley began going over the case notes with Emily. They had done a little pre-research, especially as this case was much closer than the last two had been. But this was also part of why the case was so confusing. The location was a B&B in a small town with no other experiences as far as they could tell. The B&B seemed to be the first location to experience something in years and hadn’t until relatively recently. Things had started slow then, in the last two months drastically ramped up.

Much like with the New Mexico case, there was nothing in the town to explain the sudden rise, which worried the women that they were dealing with something similar. There had been small communities that did start to experience the paranormal after The Event, but it had been so long since The Event and the B&B’s first instance. There were no unexplained deaths, and nothing tied directly to the B&B to account for why it had begun.

Riley kept reading over the case notes and doing what extra research she could, but the team was already stuck. Once again, this would be a case where the location guided their investigation.

When they pulled up, Riley made a bit of a face. From the outside, she could already see that this place was going to be kitsch overload. The paint was bright and overly colorful, and the garden, while it had beautiful flowers and plants, was filled with cutesy decorations.

“Oh, this is going to be fun,” Emily snarked, looking around with much the same dismay as Riley.

“Do not be judgmental,” Ethan told both of them, but even his insistence was a little half-assed. When they walked in, Ethan had to bite back a groan. The inside was even worse than the outside. Keeping the team from commenting was going to be a challenge.

“Okay, honestly, it’s a bit fascinating,” Emily said with a slight laugh as she looked around at the overabundance of figurines and statement pillows.

“Emily,” Ethan said quietly but sternly.

“Oh, hello!” an older woman greeted them. She had a kind smile but was clearly nervous. “I’m Dorothy.”

“Hello. I am Ethan Hill, and these are my assistants Riley and Emily. The rest of the team should be arriving shortly.”

“Oh wonderful, wonderful. I can’t thank you enough for coming. I am so worried that if we don’t work this out, I will have to shut this place down. My granddaughter, Tracy, she normally lives with me, she seems to think that is the smart idea, but I am not ready to give up just yet,” the woman began to ramble. Riley could sense a lot of nerves coming from her, but it wasn’t just the haunting causing it.

The woman led them to a room upstairs that had been set up for them to use. A lot of the furniture had been moved to allow the team to set up the best way possible. She then explained they could use the guest rooms for sleeping. Ethan examined the space and came up with a game plan when he heard the other van pull up. Emily swiftly left the room to see the other’s reaction and also warn them the B&B owner was in hearing range.

“Oh, my,” Ethan heard Mike begin.

“It’s cute isn’t it?” They heard Emily’s voice quickly interrupt, and Riley hid a laugh.

Ethan quickly ran over a plan with the group, and they all began to unload and set up. They had to use some of their folding tables, but thankfully the place had enough chairs for them. Once the base was set up, Ethan sent them around to place cameras. Each room would get one, and then the sitting area would have one in each corner as most of the activity had happened there.

“Every room is open but my granddaughter’s,” Dorothy said when she saw them preparing.

“We might need access to her room,” Ethan replied quickly.

“There has never been any activity in there, and I don’t feel comfortable letting you in while she’s not here,” Dorothy insisted.

Ethan wanted to avoid a fight, so he agreed, knowing that it might come up later. For now, he was willing to let it go, though. It bothered him when clients got like this; he wanted as much control as possible. Still, he had to understand that they were in her home, and people have a right to privacy. Hopefully, she was right, and there was nothing linked to the granddaughter or her room, and it would be a nonissue.

He noticed Riley watching the woman carefully as the conversation unfolded. Her brows were furrowed, and she seemed to be thinking over something before shaking her head and moving on. Now Ethan was curious.

“Riley, can you come here for a moment,” Ethan said as the others began to work.

“Yes, boss,” Riley quipped.

Ethan rolled his eyes but pressed forward. “What is going on?”

“She seems nervous, but not just normal nervous. I thought maybe she was anticipating blowback from not allowing us into her granddaughter’s room, but it’s not that.”

“You cannot pick up on what it might be?”

“Not without actively trying to read her.”

“Alright, well, hopefully it will come out naturally. I would prefer you avoid reading people unless it is entirely necessary.”

“Me too,” Riley agreed quickly. It felt like a violation of their privacy, and she had discussed with Timm that using her abilities too much left her vulnerable. It was best to save it for the spirits alone. She also couldn’t read people’s minds, so there was still guesswork even when reading people.

As the group worked around the house setting up cameras, they could see their host nervously looking outside. When they heard a car pull up, Riley was hit with a wave of nerves and looked toward Ethan.

“Are you expecting somebody?” Ethan asked the woman.

“Yes, I called a priest,” Dorothy answered.

Ethan stiffened at this, and the group turned toward him. Riley was confused by the exchange. “Excuse me?”

“I noticed you didn’t have one on staff, and I feel more comfortable with a priest here.”

“There is a reason I don’t have one on staff, madam.”

“Hello!” a friendly-looking man around Riley’s age said as he walked in. His smile dropped when he noticed the tension.

“I do not work with priests,” Ethan said firmly.

The man looked taken aback but pressed forward. “I wasn’t aware that this would be an issue, but if it helps, I am not actually a priest, as I explained to Dorothy.”

“But you were trained as one,” she insisted.

“I was trained in areas of being one,” the man replied. “I am Daniel, by the way. Perhaps before we make any big decisions, all of us could sit down and talk about this.”

“You may talk all you want, but I do not work with priests,” Ethan said more firmly. Riley was surprised at how angry he was, and more than a little confused by it.

“Could you perhaps make us some tea?” Daniel turned to their host. “And which room will be able to accommodate us all?”

Our base will do fine,” Ethan spoke over their host before she could answer. “That way, we can pack up quickly when the conversation goes how I expect it to,” he said, moving quickly to the other room.

“What is happening?” Riley asked the team, confused.

“Ethan has a problem working with priests,” Josh said with a smirk. Riley rolled her eyes but appreciated the attempt at humor. “He considers exorcising spirits to be a last resort, and in our experience, it is the first thing most priests want to do. However, the more we talk away from Ethan, the more frustrated he is likely to get.”

The group made their way to the base and saw Ethan had already taken his seat and was not pleased. Riley went to go near him, but was instantly hit with a wave of emotions and a bit of pain as though she had touched him. Riley sucked in a breath and backed off a little, Ethan’s brows drawing in as he watched her.

Riley sat a few chairs away from him and noticed that his shoulders tensed. This was not good.

“I would like to apologize before we begin. I had no idea that you were not aware that I would be joining,” Daniel said, taking his seat across from Ethan. “I also feel the need to reiterate that I am not actually a priest, nor have I ever been.”

“What do you mean?” Josh asked, noticing Ethan was defensive and studying Daniel, thus unlikely to be the best to continue the conversation.

“I was raised Catholic, but never felt I truly belonged in the church. My mother was not Catholic herself, only my father, but she allowed him to take over most of the religious part of my upbringing. However, she taught me Korean Spiritualism traditions in private. I showed signs of being able to perform various rites and rituals. One of our local priests knew of a few who have been more open-minded about teaching people outside the church, even more so since The Event. They signed me up, and I agreed. I learned how to do spirit exorcisms as well as a few other rituals, but had no intention of taking the orders or even staying part of the church. I thought it was rather clear on my website and in my communication with our host.”

“My issue with priests is not one of faith, but with exorcism itself. Too many are too quick to use it,” Ethan replied.

“I agree. As I said, it is not the only thing I am capable of. I can also offer various protections, and am skilled at working through hauntings. My ability to exorcise can be helpful, but you won’t find me pushing it as a solution unless absolutely needed.”

“I am confused,” Dorothy interrupted, alerting the group she had joined. She set down a tea tray and looked around nervously. “Why wouldn’t you want to do an exorcism?”

“As far as we know, exorcism completely destroys the spirit. Nothing is left; they do not get to go on whatever is after. It is an extreme punishment perpetrated on those that have already lost their lives and are usually stuck here because of pain and suffering,” Ethan said darkly.

“Really, it should only be used on demons or the most malevolent of spirits,” Daniel added.

“You are not going to convince me we can work together by simply agreeing with me,” Ethan said. “You would not be the first to make these claims only to act differently.”

“I am not going to agree with you to convince you we can work together. Are you against exorcism in all cases no matter the circumstances?” When Ethan didn’t reply other than to tighten his jaw, Daniel continued, “Then you understand the need for those who can, to learn how to do them. I am here because I was requested, and I saw no reason to turn down this job. I can count on one hand the times I have actually had to perform the rite even though I work regularly. Yes, many people in the church can push the use of it and find the notion of spirits unsettling, so it only makes them want to drive them out more. You can assume I am one of those people, but it does not make it fact.” Daniel took a sip of tea and turned to their host. “I will bless the place and allow them to debate if I am staying or not, then we will go from there,” he said, swiftly leaving the room.

Ethan let out a deep sigh and rubbed his forehead.

“For what it’s worth, I don’t really sense anything off or dishonest about him. But then he’s not really projecting much of anything,” Riley said softly.

“You could read him.”

“We just talked about this Ethan.”

Ethan groaned and leaned back in his chair. “You are right.”

“I think we should give him a chance. If he starts pushing exorcism, we don’t have to be involved.”

“If we help him discover the spirit, then we are involved regardless,” Ethan countered.

Riley paused at that; it was a good point, and one she had not considered. Ethan looked at Gabrille, who was deep in thought.

“I know we have had bad experiences with some priests, but our experience is pretty limited. And he seems pretty serious about not being part of the church or their stance on exorcism,” Gabrielle finally said.

“I am with Gabrielle,” Josh added.

“Then I guess I am outnumbered,” Ethan said. “However, I am still in charge, and the moment I start to suspect he is not true to his word, we leave.”

Gabrielle watched him for a moment, she could tell it was not just Daniel’s presence that upset him. She turned to the group. “How about you all finish setting up and let our host know that we are going to stay for the time being. I want to talk to Ethan.”

The group agreed, and the two were left alone. “What’s wrong? And not Daniel.”

“We talked about Sarah, and Riley thinks I do not trust her.”

“Do you?”

“Yes, how can you ask me that?” Ethan said, affronted.

“Because if she is picking up on something, there is likely a reason.”

“Empaths are hard, you know this.”

“Sarah was hard. Timm has never given you any issues, and you trust him implicitly.”

“Riley is still learning and does not really understand the full extent of what is happening to her. It worries me that I might fail her.”

“Which is why she has a trainer and should have a boss and friend to support her, not just filled with doubts and insecurity.”

“I am doing my best, Gabrielle.”

“No, you aren’t, and I want to know why.”

Ethan sighed heavily. “I have already grown so attached to her, and I cannot seem to stop it or explain it. There is part of me that believes I would rather lose her now than get in any deeper.”

“Do you really want that part to win? For her to leave, you may never get her back.”

The pit in his stomach that he felt every time he realized that might be the case came back. The fear of having her around was slowly eating at him, but this feeling was worse every time.

Gabrielle watched his face then nodded. “Then you need to get yourself together.”

“I know this, Timm has told me, I have told myself. It has just proven harder than I thought it would,” Ethan sighed and attempted to ignore the headache that was forming.

He turned on the monitors and watched them finish with the camera set up. Mike joined Gabrielle and Ethan to give them advice on any cameras that needed to be moved and fixed a few of the settings. However, for the most part, it was a fairly easy setup. Dorothy seemed content to stay away from the base, likely noticing that she had upset Ethan.

When they had set up, Emily printed out a brief case overview for everybody. “So roughly five years ago, our host converted her home to a B&B, which as we know was about five years after The Event. For the first several years, there was no activity, or at least not that anybody had noticed,” Emily began.

“Once business started to slow down, however, our host and her granddaughter, and a few of their guests, noticed things moving, pictures being switched around, small things of that nature,” Riley continued, “However, things were so minor that Dorothy doubted it was happening, and a few even questioned if she was faking it to bring in more business, using the new found belief in the spiritual world to her advantage.”

“There was eventually an escalation. Dorothy even sent us a video of a picture being moved. Mike did all the usual tests, and it has been confirmed as real,” Emily added.

“It could still be related to her business failing,” Daniel suggested looking through the notes. “If it was a wandering spirit, it might have been called by her fear over the failing business.”

“There is also the possibility of telekinesis or something else,” Emily added.

“Or just a spirit that was not able to do much when it first arrived, but now that it has settled in the house, they are growing in strength,” Josh said.

“There are a lot of possibilities, so I will need you to stick with the mantra of keeping an open mind,” Ethan said to the group.

“We really can’t do much of anything until we actually see something happen to get a feel for if it’s a spirit or not,” Riley said, giving Ethan a small reassuring smile. “The granddaughter, Tracy, has also seen a few signs of activity, but is not nearly as open or willing to talk with us.”

“Will she be gone the entire time we are here?” Josh asked.

“I think that is the plan, but we need to find a way to work around that,” Emily answered. “I did some snooping on her social media, and if need be, I think I found a few people we could try to talk to her or spots to scout her out.”

“We just need to be careful about either Dorothy or her granddaughter finding out,” Riley added.

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