The Barrier: Case Four- Chapter Four

When Riley woke up, she was not surprised to see that Ethan had already left. She noticed that Josh was lying in the other bed looking as though he were half asleep.

“Josh,” she said softly, “did you just come in?”

“I did, but Mike is on his way with Gabrielle to escort you to the base.”

“Thanks,” she said moving closer to the door.

“Don’t go outside the room!” Josh shot up, suddenly alert.

“I’m not,” she quickly placated. “I meant to stand by the door so you could go to sleep, that seems to not have worked.” She smiled apologetically.

Josh relaxed with a chuckle and lay back down. A few minutes later, Mike and Gabrielle showed up. Mike waved to the two of them, and the women turned to walk back to the base.

“I hate making everyone do this,” Riley admitted.

“Honestly, we aren’t just doing it for you, this way will keep us all safer,” Gabrielle replied.

“Sort of makes me feel like a pet.”

“Well, you do look like you might be good to cuddle, although finicky like a cat and not willing to all the time.” Gabrielle smirked.

“Thanks.” But it did work, and Riley smiled while shaking her head.

When Riley got to the base, she sat with Ethan, who was going through the footage from the night before. They hadn’t seen anything, but he was hoping they might have missed something, also just passing the time. The spirits were still with Riley but not giving her anything extra. She could only feel them hovering and staying close. She hoped they hadn’t given up on their quest to try to get the eighth to reveal itself. She could also sense they were concerned to leave her again though. She had nearly died yesterday, and she knew they were afraid that losing her might mean losing their chance to move on.

The late morning and early afternoon were fairly boring. The group used the kitchen in the lodge, the owners had come long enough to stock it, to make sandwiches, but mostly they just filled the time. When Riley went to do research, she realized that Emily hadn’t shared what she found yesterday and was a bit taken aback. Ethan reassured her she had simply forgotten in the stress and was not used to having such an active helping hand.

By late afternoon Riley was getting a bit desperate. She could feel herself starting to get weighed down by the case and being in the lodge. Her skin felt like it was crawling again, and her nerves and anxiety about being confronted by ‘it’ again were starting to build. She tried to reach for the eighth at one point, hoping Ethan wouldn’t notice, but all it did was strengthen her bond with the others.

Finally, she dropped to the couch with her head in her hands and called to them, “Please help me.” Then she titled her head back and closed her eyes.

“How do I know you are serious about helping?” A female voice entered her head.

Riley jumped back up and looked around. When her eyes locked with Miller, Miller simply shook her head which confused Riley. Still, she focused on answering. “You know I am serious because they can feel my intentions. You also know whatever it is wants to kill me because of my desire to help,” Riley called out.

“You might exorcise us. You called for a priest after all.”

“No!” Riley said quickly. “We called for him to help protect me and in case he is needed for the other. He would not do that to you, and we would not allow him.”

There was a long pause, and everybody watched Riley carefully.

“I might trust you,” the voice finally conceded.

“Please do.”

“If you help us, he will do his best to make sure you do not survive.”

“It’s not about me,” Riley answered.

“I hope you mean that,” the voice replied. “This will not be pleasant for either of us.”

Before Riley could fully register what she had heard, her eyes widened as she felt like her body was invaded. Some part of her could tell that she had passed out again, but she still felt conscious on some level.

She looked around and didn’t recognize where she was, it wasn’t the lodge. In front of her was a young woman, around twenty, with ice-blue eyes and long black hair. Beside her, a less corporeal version of the same woman was by her. “Hello,” the voice from earlier said.

“This is a memory?” Riley asked.

“Yes. It is not an easy feat to join someone in their memories, and I have heard it is rather unpleasant. I apologize for that. If it helps at all, I have no desire to relive this either.”

“Alright,” Riley said with a nod. “I am ready.”

“No, you aren’t,” the spirit replied sadly, “But you need to know.”

Everything seemed to swirl around for a moment, and Riley got a dizzy, sick feeling, but then things settled. She could tell that they were in the early 1900s. A man approached the woman they were watching.

“Grace, I need you to go to town; we are expecting a delivery.”

“Yes, father,” Grace from the memory answered. Once again, everything shifted, and they found Grace reading a letter, brows furrowed and unhappy. Riley looked over at the spirit of Grace, but she seemed completely lost to the memory, or maybe she had to be to keep it moving. Riley didn’t know the specifics of what was happening, so she would have to learn more about it after this case. If there was an after.

The swirling came back, and they were outside a house that seemed to be in a different area based on the little Riley had seen.

“I am so glad you came,” an elderly woman told Grace when she answered the door.

Riley could sense a sadness in Grace, but it was pushed aside as she greeted the woman warmly. The elderly woman escorted her to a room, explaining that her job as a tutor would begin in a few days. When Grace was left alone, her smile dropped, and a tear slipped, but she focused on unpacking. All three stiffened at the same time when they felt a presence and memory Grace called out.

“I thought he wasn’t from here?” Riley asked, confused. Knowing that they were near the lodge and knowing exactly who that presence was.

“He wasn’t. He was already dead by the time I got here,” the spirit of Grace said sadly. “For weeks, he called to me. It nearly drove me insane. I also began to experience doubts that I had never before. Doubts about myself, the world, my beliefs even. Things that I had always known, that I truly believed, suddenly didn’t feel right. It was as though everything that made me, me was under constant attack from my own mind.”

Time seemed to move forward, and Riley got flashes of Grace crying, or being angry, losing control of herself, all the while trying desperately to find out who was in the room with her and what they wanted.

Then it slowed. It was night and memory Grace, as though she had no control over herself, got out of bed. The other two followed as Grace made the long slow trek up the mountain, the path not nearly as worn. Riley could sense part of Grace’s mind calling out to her, telling her to stop, but it seemed like she was unable.

They were at the lodge. It was different, smaller, and more appropriate for the times, but Riley could see some of the same features. Grace continued to mindlessly walk in. When Riley made to follow her Grace’s spirit grabbed her stopped her.

“You do not need to see.”

Riley opened her mouth to reply when she was interrupted by a blood-curdling scream from in the lodge. She froze and stared wide-eyed as the screams repeated over and over, and she could feel pricks and dragging on her skin, knowing it must be connected to the screams. She turned to Grace to find out what was wrong and instead found the spirit frozen, eyes filled with terror, mouth opened in a silent scream, covered in blood.

“Let me out of here!” Riley yelled at the spirit of Grace, but Grace simply pointed at the cabin.

A man, well, what could almost be described as one, moved out of the cabin. He was at least 7 feet tall, had long black, unkempt hair and beard, and dead black eyes. His limbs were elongated, and his gait was unnatural, and he was hunched. His mouth was in a twisted smile with long pointed teeth dripping with blood. His nails much the same. He moved toward her, and Riley was overcome by the scent of blood and decay, she felt like she might be sick.

“Hello, empath,” his voice croaked, the unnatural echo behind it. “You will be the last I need for my next transition.”

Riley knew she needed to move, she needed to wake up, something. She was certain if she had a body, she would have wet herself as he kept moving closer. The presence of him, the scent, the fear, had completely overwhelmed her. “Riley, wake up, wake up right now,” she began telling herself over and over.

He reached out his arm, one long nail extended as though to touch her. Suddenly the swirling started again, and Riley woke in the lodge screaming.

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