by C.M. Eaton
Lila visits Michael in his dreams.
Bryn placed two glasses of sweet ice tea on coasters to keep the moisture from ruining the oak coffee table. She plopped down on the couch beside Michael. Her nerves had settled somewhat since entering the safety of her apartment, which gave room for doubts to creep in.
“Are you sure the house wasn't haunted before you moved in? How do you know it's Lila and not some past tenant or something?”, Bryn said after she took a sip of her tea.
Michael shook his head. “I know the house is old, but it wasn't haunted. It's her. I feel it in my bones. I've heard her voice, too.”
“Even after what I seen tonight, it's still just so hard to believe.”
Michael took his hand and placed it on top of Bryn's and gave a small squeeze to offer her some comfort. “Yeah, well, I spent a lot of time dismissing what was happening in the beginning, until I couldn't anymore. I can't keep going this way. We have to get rid of her.”
Something occurred to Bryn, “One of my neighbors, Mrs. Morales, is really into occult-type stuff. I always thought of her as kinda weird, but maybe she can help us, or at least point us in the right direction.”
He wasn't sure if wanted to involve any of Bryn's neighbors into getting rid of a ghost. “Let's see what we can find out on the internet first.” Michael powered up his computer, “If we come up empty, then maybe we can talk to her.”
“Okay. I'm going to grab my laptop and search, too.”
Three ice teas and a pizza later, they were still searching the internet for a solution. If anyone were to see them, they would think they were cramming for a big test. Papers with various notes were scattered across the coffee table and littering the plush, honey-brown carpet around them. Bryn had changed into her pajamas and clipped her hair up. Michael had come out of his shoes a couple of hours ago. He sat on the floor using the coffee table as a work desk. He gathered up his notes and started going over them.
Michael held up the stack of papers frustrated, “Most of this sounds like nonsense. Burning sage in the house, telling the ghost to go away, ringing a bell in the corner of each room, and this one is my favorite-- wear garlic.”
Bryn snickered, “We have a ghost, not a vampire.” She closed the laptop. “I have most of that stuff in my notes, too. I read something about using a Ouija board to talk to the spirit. Maybe we could figure out what she wants that way.”
“I don't know. Do those things even work? I think it's just a creepy game teenagers play on Halloween.”
“Maybe. It's worth a shot though. I found this website that details how to use the board properly. I could ask Mrs. Morales about it tomorrow. She probably knows all about Ouija boards, she might even have one we could use.”
“Okay, we'll talk to her tomorrow. But right now, I'm exhausted.”
Bryn and Michael mumbled “Goodnight” to each other. Bryn crawled into her bed, and Michael took the guest room across the hall.
Michael threw his jeans and t-shirt on the chair in the corner of the room. He pulled back the duvet and slid on top of the cool sheets. The pillow case smelled of fresh linen and instantly relaxed him. He closed his eyes and welcomed the darkness.
Michael stood on uneven ground, surrounded by rolling mist of gray fog waist high. He let his eyes wander, turning his body in circles to comprehend where he was. All he could see was the thick fog and trees. He had no idea how he had gotten here, or where here even was.
“Michael,” the soft voice echoed through the trees from no known direction.
Michael froze. He knew that voice. He had heard it on several occasions in the last year. His heartbeat began to thunder in his ears, his breathing quickened.
“Michael,” the voice surrounded him from every side.
He backed-up slowly, as he looked around for a way out. The fog had gotten thicker and it encased him. He had lost sight of the trees. He could see nothing but the gray mist. The voice continued to call to him, “Michael”.
He had to find a way out. He busted out into a run. He only got ten feet when he slammed into something hard and cold, knocking his breath from his overworked lungs. He fell to the ground gasping for air. He clenched at his chest and squeezed his eyes tight waiting for his breath to catch and the pain to subside. Once his breathing evened out, Michael noticed it was quiet, the voice no longer calling to him.
He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He could see the ground. The fog was gone. He lifted his head slowly. His eyes met gray stone. He scrambled back quickly using his hands when he realized he was looking at a headstone-- Lila's headstone.
In Loving Memory
LILA JANE MONTGOMERY
March 31, 1985 – January 5, 2011
“Michael! Michael wake up!” Bryn had been trying to wake Michael for five minutes. When he didn't initially awake when she knocked on the door and called his name, she entered the room and called to him again. He didn't move. She had resorted to screaming and shaking him, terrified that something was wrong with him. She was about to bolt from the room and call 911 when she heard him inhale a noisy breath then shoot upright in the bed, knocking her back several inches.
“Michael, thank God! You scared me to death! I was fixing to call an ambulance!” Bryn shouted excitedly, clutching her hands to her chest. She noticed he was pale, and sweating profusely. “Do you need an ambulance?”, she asked in a concerned voice as she approached the bed again.
“No,” he said in a flat voice. “We need to talk to Mrs. Morales right now.”