The Barrier: Case Three- Chapter Three

The rest of the afternoon was as expected for the first day of a case, boring. Emily and Riley continued to dig into the history of the house and the town, but it only confirmed what their earlier research had, there was no apparent reason for the haunting. Emily was also doing more research into Dorothy’s granddaughter, Tracy.

“She seems to be a believer,” Emily said quietly. “Although not a committed one.”

“Fairly average response to The Event,” Gabrielle said. “Hard to deny what was shown so bluntly to us, but a lot of people hold on to a bit of their skepticism.”

“Hard to gauge if it’s the entire truth or not,” Riley added.

“What do you mean?”

“Just that some people aren’t entirely honest about their feelings after The Event. Some people seem like they believe but don’t, and don’t want to admit it. Others downplay how much the experience impacted them. I’d say all we know for certain is that she thinks this is how people should respond. Logic dictates it’s likely at least a little true, but we don’t know what she’s hiding or how deep her feelings are.”

“That’s a good point,” Gabrielle agreed.

“Well, I am getting ready for a deeper dive into her online activity, it should be more illuminating,” Emily said.

Gabrielle hovered a bit, watching Riley and Emily continue to do research. Despite it being the first day, everybody had a lot of anticipation for the night. Given what Dorothy had shown them, there was something happening, but they could already sense this was not a normal situation.

Dorothy set out a decent dinner for them later that night, and everybody took turns grabbing something to eat. Riley brought back a plate for Ethan, who had been sitting in the corner alone, glaring mostly as he read and glanced at the monitors. She could feel unpleasant feelings rolling off of him. She didn’t think it was just Daniel, but didn’t know how to ask or how hard to push.

“You should eat.”

“Thank you,” Ethan said quietly, then took the food. but immediately let out a disappointed sigh as he watched her walk away. It was his own damn fault, he had to admit he made it perfectly clear that he was not in the mood for company. Still, he wanted her to chat with him, he didn’t want the heaviness that weighed over them since she had brought up Sarah, since the case in New Mexico really. He felt his headache get worse and sighed again.

When they had finished eating and cleaning up, Ethan addressed the group. “Activity tonight is unlikely, so we should start the shifts early. I want people to get a decent night’s sleep because we do not know how the rest of the case will unfold,” he said quietly while rubbing his forehead.

“Are you okay boss?” Emily said with concern.

“Yes,” Ethan answered gruffly, but they could tell it was not the truth. His face was pinched, there were sweat droplets forming on his forehead, and he seemed more unsettled than he had before.

Riley’s eyes narrowed, and she walked over to put her hand on his forehead. She yelped, and Ethan jerked back with a harsh exhale. Emily jumped up, and Gabrielle walked over to Ethan.

“What the hell was that?” Riley hissed, holding on to her wrist while her hand shook. Daniel approached her and grabbed her arm, rubbing the back of her hand a little.

Ethan stiffened, and Gabrielle grabbed his shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. “That was rather odd, you should not be that sensitive currently, nor to one person,” Gabrielle agreed, but wanted to focus on making sure Ethan didn’t explode. “I think you should call Timm tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Riley said slowly, trying to catch her breath. “Thank you,” she said softly to Daniel but still pulled her hand away. She was surprised at how effective he was in helping to calm some of the shocks and pains. Normally more touch was the last thing she needed when she had that type of reaction.

“No problem, just sharing a bit of calming energy with you.”

“Oh,” Riley said, surprised but grateful.

Ethan also looked a little shocked at this.

“I keep telling you I am really not a priest,” Daniel said with a smirk. “I will let you discuss without me.”

“Are you okay?” Riley asked Ethan when Daniel left.

“I am more concerned for you.”

“It might have hurt me, but that was coming largely from you. I was trying to see if you have a fever, I think you might be sick.”

“No fever,” Ethan said, pulling away when Gabrielle tried to feel for herself. “Just a very bad headache and discomfort.”

“Maybe you should go to bed?” Emily suggested. “Like you said, tonight will likely have no activity, so maybe you can get a longer break tonight and maybe have a normal day tomorrow.”

“A bit of a headache, and suddenly I am not in charge anymore,” Ethan snapped.

“You know that’s not what we mean boss,” Riley said calmly.

Ethan huffed but agreed. He knew he was being sensitive and defensive, and he hated it. “Yeah, sleep is probably for the best.”

“I am going to go check on what Daniel is doing,” Riley said, leaving, not realizing it was only adding to Ethan’s distress.

Riley caught up with Daniel and watched him as she slowly moved around the living room. She wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing, so just observed. He walked to various parts of the room and was mumbling under his breath. Finally, he sat down in one of the chairs with a heavy sigh and confused looked.

“What are you doing?” Riley asked from the door.

“Trying to see if I sense anything. Dorothy said this was one of the more active rooms. Can you feel anything?”

“No, but I mean, it’s early yet, and I am not really reaching.”

“Do you have to?”

“What do you mean?”

“Reach,” Daniel clarified. “You are an incredibly powerful empath, are you not?”

“How can you tell?”

“Because you are an incredibly powerful empath.”

Riley huffed. “Yes, well, it’s not as though other random people can just sense it.”

“I am also fairly certain your powers only recently awoke.” Daniel noticed Riley stiffen a little and realized he was on the right path. “It is one of the gifts my teachers always told me I had. Put me in a room with a dozen people, one of them having supernatural abilities, and I will be able to pick them out almost every time.”

“Oh,” Riley said and relaxed a little. “Still a bit disconcerting that you just knew.”

“My apologies. I won’t be the last person you’ll meet with this ability, though, and you are pretty easy to pick up on.”

“Lovely,” Riley said with a sigh.

“Just because people can tell doesn’t mean you are required to give them any more access to yourself or your gifts than you feel comfortable with. Hell, if you wanted, you could probably convince your trainer to teach you to block spirits and not even share your gifts with them. Though I have a feeling, that’s not really an option for you.”

“No,” Riley said emphatically.

Daniel gave her a small smile. “My point is as much as you feel like your privacy is violated when people are able to sense your abilities, you still choose who you are and what you do with your gifts.”

“Until somebody tries to force the issue.”

Daniel sighed heavily at that. “There is a belief that due to the nature of their abilities, empaths are easy to manipulate. My experience has shown me that while a dangerous gift, yes, empaths that are trained and not alone are much harder to do that with.” Riley was a bit surprised by what he said about manipulation, Ethan hadn’t specified that, but let him continue. “Your training may be new but only by virtue of your powers awakening also being so. As for being alone, I have a feeling you will never be again unless you choose to,” Daniel said and glanced at Ethan, who had made his way downstairs. Daniel nodded at both and left the room.

Ethan walked slowly toward her. “Did he sense anything?”

“No.”

“Did you reach?”

Riley shook her head and turned away, looking at the various pictures in the room. Most of them were of Dorothy and a girl, then later a woman, who Riley assumed was Tracy. A few of them had another woman, and Riley guessed it was Dorothy’s late daughter.

“I am sorry I am so out of sorts. I apologized to Emily.”

“It’s fine, we are just concerned for you.”

“Yes, I am not the best at dealing with my team needing to be concerned. I do not like feeling unwell on a case, and I will admit that Daniel’s presence has thrown me off more than I would like.”

“As you said, you are still in charge, and if he gives you a reason to doubt him, we will leave with you. You can trust us, Ethan, we are your team.”

He felt reassured by her words but still angry with himself for their conversation earlier. He felt his headache grow with the pain in his gut. A few months, it had only taken him a few months to hurt them both and start to drive her the hell away. He knew that part of his worry was him not feeling well, and he needed to get control of himself to stop this from getting worse.

“You all were right,” Ethan said, changing the subject, “I am going to rest for a few hours, then I will relieve you. Since it is just you and Gabrielle, I want to make sure you are both well-rested if we experience anything.”

“Seems wise,” Riley said softly. The two looked at each other, wanting to say more but having no reason.

Ethan exhaled deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose. Finally, he found the room that was meant for him. His mind was spinning, and he felt completely defeated as he lay down. He could do this, they could work it out, he could learn to deal with his feelings. He fell into an uneasy sleep not long after.

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