The Barrier: Case Four- Chapter Five

When Riley woke and saw that she was safe, the feeling of sadness, her own as well as Grace’s and the others, overwhelmed her. Riley could feel her body being wracked with sobs and desperately wanted to get it under control. She felt a blanket settle over her and closed her eyes to try to count her breathing. She wasn’t even fully in control of her crying, and it was difficult fighting against an emotion she knew was not entirely her own. She could feel the spirits easing off her a bit, and it helped a great deal. It took longer than she would like, but Riley was finally able to get control of her emotions and stop letting the emotions of the spirits take over.

Gabrielle pressed a cup of tea in Riley’s hands when she had more control over herself, and Riley smiled weakly. Working with two British people seemed to have made tea a natural go-to for the whole team.

“What happened?” Ethan finally asked.

“Grace, the eighth, she showed me what happened. I thought I might die in that dream.”

“It wasn’t really a dream,” Miller interrupted.

“I figured,” Riley admitted. “Although it’s not something I have read much about. I had something similar happen when Abigail touched me, but not nearly as intense, more like flashes of memories.”

“Likely a similar skill but applied differently,” Miller replied.

“When we get back, I will inform Timm, and give you some reading materials. For now, though,” Ethan replied and gestured for her to continue.

Riley told everybody about the dream and the awfulness of the man she had confronted. She realized that she had somehow picked up an innate understanding about who he was, at least about what he was.

“He is the byproduct of a lifetime of evil that bled into his death. He cannot be helped, and he will not stop what he is doing. He said that I would be the ninth, but I assume after that is done, he will just continue on his next project. Once he has all nine of us, he will cannibalize us.”

“Did you find anything about him in life though?” Emily pushed.

“Very little. As I said, he told me before he was a lord, and he had already been dead when he took Grace in the early 1900s. She was his first after death, but I highly doubt his first overall,” Riley answered. “I don’t think we need to know much though. He turned into a shade immediately after death. He draws people here and then kills them. He likes their youth and innocence, which I do not fit.”

“Shade?” Mike interrupted.

Gabrielle sighed and thought over how to reply. “Spirits are the byproduct of a lost soul, unable to move on. Shades, demons, entities, are something else entirely. They can be created from nothing, or in the case of this man, started as a spirit but disconnected from their soul and turned into something else, something darker. There is no, or very little, soul left of the man he once was and is instead just turning into malevolent power. Because he once was human and then spirit before turning, it is continuing to take the form of who he was, but he is just a shadow of his former self, hardly connected to it at all. He would have had to have been evil in life though to turn into a shade in death however.”

Mike nodded in understanding.

“To address your point, Riley – Youth and innocence are powerful in the spirit realm. As for you, your powers as an empath override any other consideration. You could be even older and still a better source of power for him,” Gabrielle continued.

“Wait, are we really talking about this like Riley is going to be a victim?” Emily asked.

“Yes, because I will be if he has his way. That’s why we are here.”

“Wait,” Ethan interrupted, “What do you mean why we are here?”

“He knew that the team would be bringing an empath. Who gave us this case?”

“It came through all the board, and nobody outside the team should know we have an empath working with us. News travels fast but not that fast,” Ethan replied.

“I don’t know what to say then.”

“I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves,” Gabrielle interjected, “When the case is done, we should look into the people that assigned it. It might simply be that once we took it on, he was able to sort it out for himself that we had an empath.”

Miller and Riley exchanged a look, but Riley eventually shrugged. “Either way intentional or not, the second I stepped into this house, his plans were set. The eight he’s keeping trapped here are for a ritual for him, and he needs another, me.”

“How has he maintained his power in the meantime?” Josh asked.

“I am guessing he called other spirits and cannibalized them,” Ethan suggested.

“Yes,” Riley replied.

“How do you know this?” Emily asked.

Riley shrugged in reply. “When I woke up, I just got this sense, and it was like the answer just came to me. He won’t willingly give up anything concrete. He also feels threatened.”

“He knows we might be able to stop him,” Miller suggested.

“Yes. Any information that can be used against him, including what I now know, won’t be given easily, if at all.”

“That limits our options on how to deal with him,” Ethan admitted. “But not entirely. I am going to look into different rituals we might use. Once Daniel gets here, we will have to come up with a game plan. We will also have to be careful about how much of that plan we speak out loud. In the meantime, I am deadly serious when I say Riley cannot be alone, not even for a moment.”

Emily seemed to finally snap out of her daze and sat down at her computer again. “I will look into Grace, see if any information on her can tie back to him. We at least know she lived in the town, so I have a starting point.”

“I am going to give Daniel another call, make sure he understands we need him here quickly,” Gabrielle said, moving away from the group a bit.

“Riley?” Miller asked.

“I am shaken up, but I need to work, need something to focus on.”

“You need to know that he will try to make you miserable while we are here. He has likely started to do it to all of us. Doubts, confusion, fear, insecurity, all those negative emotions we are prone to make us easier targets,” Miller told her and hoped the team understood as well. While Riley would be the focus, they would all feel it, and likely had already started to.

“I know.”

“You should give Timm a call,” Miller urged.

“Probably,” Riley half agreed, “I need a moment though.”

Miller and Ethan reluctantly agreed and moved away to give her some space. Riley sat and began to slowly count her breaths while trying to relax. She knew she wouldn’t be able to completely.

Ethan moved to Gabrielle, who confirmed that Daniel had been aware it was important he make it here quickly. “I didn’t think it would happen this fast,” Gabrielle admitted.

“Neither did I,” Ethan said sadly.

Riley finally pulled out her phone and looked at Timm’s contact, unable to bring herself to make the call. She looked over at Ethan talking to Gabrielle, and the sense that she had had that they were hiding something from her came flooding back. She tried to remind herself that the shade was likely playing tricks on her, but something remained, telling her it wasn’t just that.

“Because you know they are liars empath,” the voice told her. “Still, I would do what your friend said, the call will help.”

Riley was surprised that he gave up the information. “It’s just more fun when the hunt presents a challenge. The other eight were so easy, I’ve gotten bored.” She heard the grin in his voice again.

Riley felt herself shaking a little but quickly hit call on her phone before she talked herself out of it.

“Hello,” Timm’s voice answered.

“I am being targeted by a shade,” Riley replied back coolly.

“Just like that, Riley? No panic, no actual question, no asking for advice, no emotion?”

“Getting emotional won’t change anything, and I have a feeling I won’t be controlling them much anyway, so might as well skip it for now. As for advice, if you have it, you are going to give it.”

Timm paused. “Riley, what’s happening?”

“I am having issues with my trust in you and Ethan right now. Before you ask, I don’t know if it’s real or the result of being toyed with.”

“I suppose we can get to that later then,” Timm said with a defeated sigh. “I need Emily to forward me any information she finds on this shade as she gets it.”

“She’s not going to get much.”

“Okay, then anything on the case in general. Don’t wait for a full write-up. I want everything she gets as she gets it. I can sort what is relevant or not for myself.”


“Now, what do you mean by toying with you?”

“Attacking me and getting in my head mostly. He wants to kill me as part of some ritual. He needs a ninth victim and the fact that I’m an empath.”

“By winding you up and tormenting you physically and emotionally, it will make the eventual blow much easier for him.”

“He said it was because he was tired of easy hunts.”

“He’s lying. He may enjoy the game but ultimately, what he is attempting to do is to make it easier on himself. It will also make manipulation of your powers more likely if he manages to succeed. Do not trust anything he is saying or making you feel, Riley. Even if there is a grain of it that you think is true, like that you can’t fully trust Ethan and me, he is making it all so much larger. Whatever you think about us, we can sort it out later. He wants to prevent that.”

“Was Sarah manipulated into killing herself so that a spirit could use her power.”

“I cannot answer that for certain, but it is my belief that no. In her case, the spirit in question just didn’t want to deal with an empath. You will find that to be the case as you continue in this line of work. Some spirits don’t want to pass on, they don’t want to give up this half-life in this world. Empaths, by their very nature, are here to help spirits move on to whatever is next and to make that transition easier. Spirits that wish to cling to this world don’t appreciate that.”

“Because we can persuade even them?”

“It is in your nature and part of your gift to connect with, understand, and sway spirits. This is a blessing for most spirits, and even those that wish to cling eventually seem grateful. You just have to get over the initial hurdle with them. In that case, Sarah was not able to. We are getting off-topic, though.”

Riley felt a tightening in her gut at his attempts to change the subject but ignored it. “Advice?”

“Go nowhere alone. Try to block it whenever you can. Mostly the best thing you can do is destroy it or its source of power.”

“Not that helpful.”

“No, the best I can offer you is moral support.”

“Okay then, offer that.”

“You are with an amazing group. While the shade might be messing with you, he is still allowing more of himself and his powers to show. You are a smart woman Riley, use what you have and help the group to use their skills too. Pay attention to not only what he is saying but not saying, and follow your instinct in how to decipher it. This will not be the last time you are targeted, but I have the utmost faith in you and the team to overcome it.”


“Riley, I know you are hurt, it hurts me too, but I believe in you, and you can trust me.”

“Even if I can’t trust Ethan.”

“You can trust Ethan too, but even if you couldn’t yes. I would follow you anywhere, Riley. We’ve discussed this. Loyalty to each other is not a choice in our case, but I would still choose you. My students matter to me.”

“Fine. But when this is done, I think we need to have a long talk about whatever you and Ethan are hiding from me.”


“No, I know there is something,” she said and quickly hung up. She didn’t want to hear his further placation. She had known it from New Mexico that Ethan was holding back, and had known it wasn’t just Sarah. She was tired of it being pushed off, especially now that it was being used against her.

If she couldn’t trust Timm, she would be lost. She glanced over at Ethan, studying her with his brows furrowed. If she couldn’t trust Ethan, she didn’t know what that would do to her.

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