A story (scifi) about a woman who's life has been hacked by evil spirits.
Mary F Carruthers (pseudonym of Mary Faderan)
The morning light came through the windows and fell on the bed. The bedclothes were rumpled. A slight figure lay silent under the duvet. There seemed to be life in that figure, as she began to flail as though she were in a dream. Shadows were in her mind. It was so lifelike this creeping darkness that seemed to overcome her. Then out of the darkness her mind perceived a figure that seemed like it was her making her way through a fog. The figure became more familiar and took on a female form. The woman was a former church friend. But in her hand she held a sword. The dreamer was transfixed and then she struggled with this phantasm as the woman lifted the sword and plunged it into the woman in the bed. A dull ache spread over Merry's chest, while she beheld the church woman bend slightly over her. Merry tried to say something. It seemed so difficult to speak all of a sudden. Her body trembled in a silent scream and then finally, Merry spoke. The words came out of her mouth, her voice sounded guttural, and then she kept trying to make words come out, "Get out of my mind! Go to Hell! I want Jesus to help me! Jesus help me! God help me! Satan leave me alone!"
The vision disappeared and yet the pain in Merry's chest stayed. Merry finally got out of bed and unsteadily stood on her feet. She felt afraid and fled to the bathroom where she sat on the toilet seat, her breathing ragged. "I don't know what I'm going through," she thought to herself. "I'm all alone in this city. I can't help but think I'm going to die before I need to." An alien thought came to her saying, "We want you, Merry." A shiver went through her and Merry felt the freezing fingers of death grip her arm. She shrieked and got up. Finally she got to the kitchen and tried to dispel this bad dream that came after her after she awoke.
A languor came over her and Merry was drawn back to bed. There she put the covers over her face. It was so difficult to stay awake, all of a sudden. A warmth came over Merry and then she fell asleep. She awoke again when a knock came on the door. Merry didn't get up and hoped that visitor would leave. It was well into the morning when the visitor knocked. They kept knocking. Finally, to her shock, someone put a key into her lock and the door opened. Merry sat in bed and saw a familiar figure enter, and after him, a team of hospital personnel arrived with a stretcher. "Merry, you remember me, don't you?" Asked the man who got in first. "I'm Dr. Bunny, you know from work, remember? People at work are afraid for you. They want you to get to the hospital to get checked. You've not been to work for days. We think you aren't eating at all either." Dr. Bunny surveyed her frail figure and saw that she was clad in a slip of a gown. Merry had dark hair and looked pale. Her eyes were large, which seemed unnatural to him. He knew he had come at the right time, for if they didn't get there in time she would have been dead. She allowed them get her into the gurney and then watched as they covered her up snugly with a blanket. Merry felt sad and embarrased that she was being carried out in the stretcher and bundled into an ambulance. "What would the neighbors think of me?" She thought sadly. Then she said aloud to nobody in particular, "I can't go to the hospital, please! They'll never let me out of there! I'll die there!!!" Nobody listened to her. All of the team were busy doing their work. The ambulance sped off with Merry inside.
The hospital was nearby the place she worked. She never set foot in the real hospital but she ate there at the cafeteria sometimes. In her room, Merry was alone. The staff didn't speak to her much in the first two days of her stay. One aide stayed to watch at the door, reading, but not speaking to her. Merry tried to sleep as much as she could. She was in some sort of denial. It was better for her, she thought, to avoid anyone by sleeping, or pretending to sleep. But on the second night, she felt a phantom pain in her chest again. Merry had her eyes closed and sensed that the same figure was looming over her. The woman from church had plunged a long sword into her chest in her thoughts. That made Merry jump and she took off the blanket. The pain was not going away, it seemed to stay and make her feel faint.
"What is it?" The aide asked her. "I am in pain. Do you have something for it?"
"I can get you a Tylenol." The aide replied.
"Yes, that will do."
The aide left her and Merry paced the floor. The pain was still there and became intense. Merry finally said in a low voice, "Begone Satan." Then the pain left her. The aide returned with a glass of water and a small plastic cup that contained the Tylenol. Merry received both and took the medication and consumed the water.
"Thanks," Merry said as she handed the glass to the aide.
"You ok?" The aide asked, her eyes looking at her with solicitude.
"Not at all."
"No. I had a - a waking dream, if you can call it that."
"A waking dream, how do you mean?"
"It's happened to me before. I see someone in my mind's eye and that someone is a person I used to know. Then this woman is stabbing my chest. I can feel the pain radiating across my chest and it's so painful and I can't get rid of it," Merry replied. "Let's go sit. I think you should feel warm in bed, Merry," the aide suggested Merry went to the bed and got in under the covers. She looked more calm. But an inner tremor kept her tense.
"I think we need you to take something for this nervous tension you have," the aide stated. "I'll tell the doctor about this."
"I don't know what else I can do about it. Do you think this is weird. Has anyone else had the same sort of dream state that feels like it's real but it's not?" The aide was unsure what to say, from her stance. "I'm not sure. I'm a student in Psychology. I am a volunteer. I sit with the patients when they start their stay in the hospital and then when the patient is stable someone else comes to talk to her and they start the therapy."
"Oh," Merry answered. "I want to talk to a doctor, please."
"You will," the aide said with a smile that was sympathetic.
Merry settled back in her bed but kept awake. She was getting more anxious. Her eyes watched the aide go back to her station and settle back as well to read her book.
The clock on the wall said it was 5 o'clock in the morning. Merry watched it intently until it read 6 o'clock. She was afraid to look at anything else. The tormenting visions, if one could call them that, had seemed to intensify in frequency. It came to her mind that she needed help and it was good of Dr. Bunny, she thought, to come and do an intervention. The morning crew came in with such a lot of noise. Nurses and aides, and doctors started to filter into the halls outside her room. The aide left for the day without saying anymore to Merry. She waited for someone to come in. It didn't really happen for her and she decided it was best to pray in her mind to keep the feelings from happening. Merry was raised a Catholic, but she had no longer gone to church since she started working for a new company in town. She was so overworked there that it made everyone in her family wonder if she was being punished for being too industrious, saying nothing or not complaining at all. Her mother had died and her father remained. He was living in another town and didn't really talk to her much. Merry did not have a close relationship with him. It was her mother that she missed. Her friends were few. She had a boyfriend but he and Merry split up because she found out that he was dating someone else other than her. It was a bad split and Merry had such a great deal of sadness that this man she thought seriously about was not thinking the same about her. It was that which made Merry feel as though she was being so fucked up. Her work life was all she had and her supervisors were not too displeased that she worked and did a good job for them. But her physical state suffered and Merry started feeling so overwhelmed every day. She frequently had a meal and then lay on the couch and slept all the way till the morning. She did this so many times that it made her feel that all she ever did was work. Then she decided one morning that she didn't want to go to work. And the same the next day. # Her ex-boyfriend called once or twice. His name was Ronan McGill. He was one of the guys from the office and when they started dating, he quit suddenly. Once he called to say hello. She was in the middle of cooking her dinner.
"What are you doing tonight, Merry?" She felt sad at the sound of his voice. A longing came over her but she had a thought of him with his other girl.
"I'm making dinner." She replied with a cool voice. Then she thought she'd ask him the same thing. "What about you?"
"I'm just here. I hope you're ok," Ronan said in his quiet voice.
"Well, I thought maybe you'd like to go for a cup of coffee. Sometime."
"I'm ok with that, I think," Merry replied, feeling a pang of anxiety spread over her chest. "Well, what about tomorrow?"
"I'm not working tomorrow afternoon." They made plans then and met for a short while. It wasn't a successful date and both were disappointed. It seemed to Merry that they had issues that never seemed to surface - never seemed to come to a decent discussion. Merry wondered whether he needed to find some space from their relationship.
Ronan heard that Merry was hospitalized several days after the fact. He heard this from a group of women who sat next to him in the Starbucks coffeehouse. He was reading a book - Ronan was a writer - and then he heard Merry's name. Ronan didn't look up but he stopped reading. He let himself listen to the conversation.
"Oh, Merry Smith? Yeah," spoke a girl in a red sweater aloud. "She's in the hospital. They carted her off sometime this past weekend. The poor woman, she was so fucking thin. And they said she barely weighed anything. "
"Oh wow, how sad!" said another girl in a beanie.
"She isn't a good one, I think. People said she was so screwed up. They said her Dad was crazy. Her mother was a bitch. That's what I heard about her."
"Really?" asked a third girl. "I don't know but she acts too high and mighty where they see her. I heard once she hadn't enough cash to pay for a few items she got at the grocery. The credit card was declined too. I think she's in over head. I know they hated she didn't take back the stuff she wanted to buy, either. Think she's a queen or something, anyone?"
They all laughed.
Ronan was fuming and he snapped his book shut. The girls jumped at the sound but they didn't put this together with the topic of their conversation. Ronan hated this and left in a fury.
After he walked a few miles down from the coffee shop, Ronan was almost hit by a car. He jumped easily to avoid the car but he saw the person driving and thought he looked like a piece of shit. Ronan told him off in his mind and then sprinted off to get to his car.
The night of the first day Merry was drowsing in her hospital bed. She felt a twitch on her leg. She opened her eyes slightly. In front of her, at the foot of the bed, a Druid-like Person stood. His long sleeved arm lifted to touch her leg with his unseen finger as if to prod her. Then she drifted off to sleep and didn't remember it any more until later when she would have the same sensation that happened during her waking moments.
That morning they put in a woman of some indeterminate size in with her room. Merry instinctively felt unease with this woman. She, the woman, had dark hair and was taller than Merry. She looked slightly Asiatic but wasn't exactly an Asian. She looked at Merry before going to the bed next to hers. Merry left the room, fleeing, and went down the hallway and got into a chair where the patients would relax in between lunch, dinner and group therapy. She looked around. One of the people there was a slight man, whose face looked bad - he had lots of pimples and his overall physiognomy was of someone who wasn't really Anglo nor was he Asiatic nor was he any real nationality. He had a habit of crossing himself every other minute and yet not really formally crossing himself. Merry thought it seemed like a habit or some sort of way to ward off an evil spirit. Another patient there was a very tall Amazonian-like woman who had a fringe and dark hair. She would walk around unseeingly, her mouth open in an oval O. It was quite disconcerting to see her walk in the hall way. The nurse came round and checked how the people were. Another woman, who was their Art Therapist, with long sandy hair that wasn't fashionably cut, came round as well. She went to the patients who were there and smilingly told each of them that she was going to hold Art Therapy in a few minutes, and would they want to come. Nobody really nodded but they looked at her as she walked away with a rather hapless look in their eyes. Merry shrank in her chair and tried not to look at anyone in the eye. The roommate she got walked in and wandered about, and got into another chair where she was toying with a delicate necklace round her neck. She stared at Merry with some interest and then settled down in her chair. The Art Therapy group started and one of the other women called her, "Hey, want to go to do some art work?" Merry decided to go as she hated being in the same room as her roommate. It was a very difficult thing to think of settling down for the night with that strange woman in her room sleeping in the room next to her. The Art group classroom was as what one would expect. Lots of drawing and paper materials. The art therapist held forth and told everyone that they had an assignment to draw a picture. Merry thought it might be interesting. She got a sheet of drawing paper as did everybody. Then she got a set of crayons and she got to work. Her art work was of an island with tropical trees which were graceful and the palm branches going over and around. The there was the bright yellow sun and the rainbow over all of it. Merry looked at her art work with some amusement and then looked around the others work. She was quite surprised to see that everybody had the same idea of what to draw. She thought that rather interesting but then she decided they were thinking she had a good idea and nobody was interested in being unique and artistically inclined to do what they might wish to make on their own. The art therapist did not seem to remark on this uniformity of thought within the group. They dismissed everyone and it was time for dinner.
They served chicken barbecue. Merry disliked barbecue sauce. She decided to skip dinner and went to her room. It was awful to her to think she'd have to even talk to this roommate. As it happened, the roommate came in and Merry decided to hide under her blanket and feign sleep.
The next morning, Merry awoke and the roommate was on her feet looking at the looking glass trying to put on her necklace. She saw Merry stir and said, "Hi, could you please help me put on my necklace?"
Merry said nothing in reply. Then the woman repeated her request. Finally, Merry got up her courage and went to take the necklace from her profferred hands. The woman turned around and waited expectantly to have the necklace put around her neck. Merry held her breath and put the necklace round the woman's neck, and painstakingly put the necklace to join in the clasp. Then she stepped back.
Suddenly, the roommate asked, "Why don't you like me? You don't talk to me. What's wrong with me? Can't we be at least be friends?"
Merry felt a very difficult stress rise up in her. She couldn't even look at the woman in the eye.
"I'm not sure why. I don't wish to talk to you."
She turned and left. The woman looked at her retreating back with a slight smile on her lips.
Merry left the hospital and went back to work as much as she could. She worked for a company that dealt with medical equipment and her job was to get people to buy it by writing content on their website. Merry didn't feel good there since she returned from the psychiatric unit. Her coworkers weren't as friendly. Her being away for over a month had made somebody else take over her work and that woman was so evil to her when she saw her come back to work that she merely said in an offhand way: "Here's your stuff. I've made some logs to have you see what's been published online. Go have a great time with it. I wish you'd never come back."
"Great to see you too, Mrs. Bullacre." Merry said under her breath as she settled in her chair and started to log into her computer.
The rest of the people avoided her as she came down the hallway. One man who was one of her more affable coworkers actually went up to her and put a cross with his two finger at her and then ran away. Merry looked at him with wonder and then realized these people were thinking she'd been somehow possessed by some evil spirit. She kept to herself and did her work as she was required. One day, her boss came by and talked to her in the middle of the office.
"Merry, I'm not sure that you are our point person to do this work for the Xanadu Project." He said with a frown. "We're giving that to Roswell, he's good and has a degree in Engineering and he'd be a great one to get into the specs of our product."
He tried to look away from her direct gaze. Then, he flicked a spec off his shirtsleeve, waited for her response and the when he didn't get one he walked away. Merry was very unhappy at this news. It was not a good omen and she began to think of trying to find another job. She had no real desire to write copy and content and decided instead to find a job at her computer. Her LinkedIn page was not working right. She couldn't scroll down to see what the page said had 255 jobs listed. She could only do one job at that moment. Heaviness settled onto her bones and she felt unable to move. The phone rang and she answered it.
"Hello?" "It's Ronan. How are you?" His voice was a welcome sound to Merry despite the resurrection of all the emotions it had for her.
"Oh, Ronan," she was feeling a swell of relief. The heaviness left her body. "I'm well enough. How are you?"
"I heard you were in hospital. Are you better now?"
"No, well, yes, well, uh, not really." He laughed a bit. "No, I don't think you're better. Can we meet for a coffee somewhere in town?"
Merry was quite happy to accept, "Yes of course." He told her where to meet him. "When?"
She asked. "Now?" "Now?" She glanced at the clock on her desk. It was only after 9 am.
"Yes, now." He sounded quite serious. Merry decided to obey him. Something in his voice made her feel it was important to meet him now. "I'll be there in a few minutes. It's not far from here." She rang off, then she got up and put on her coat and took her purse and walked out of the office. She got into her small car and motored off.
Somewhere in the bowels of the office she was in, a few of the people conferred.
"Where's she going to?"
"She's gone off - a call from some guy."
"Can you triangulate where she's going?"
"She's turning into Corrigan road. Then, ok, she's got a quarter fuel left."
"I've been told - yeah, I'm here walking into the coffee shop. Don't worry, I'll find her and see who the guy is."
"It's gotta be that bastard Ronan. Find him and see if you can make him die after they have their coffee,"
"Hell, why not kill them both as they look into each other's eyes!"
"I am going to do just that."
"Why not a collective radiative energy flash to make her die as she's going down the road?" "Great idea!"
"Why the hell did we even have her come back to work? Didn't someone kill her at that hospital?"
"We couldn't kill her, somehow it was tough to do!"
Merry heard all these chattering words in her mind. Her consciousness told her these were all hallucinatory thoughts. But it made her so upset and she was beginning to tear up. She drove into the parking lot of the coffee shop and parked. A shot of pain went through her back and it almost made her drop to the ground. Merry faltered in her footsteps but she put on her shoulder bag on her left shoulder. The shot of pain seemed to diminish. Ronan saw from the interior of the coffee shop. He was a tall man with dark penetrating eyes. A Latin American mix in his features. A bit of Irish as well. He saw her stumble and then he realized she was in some pain. He kept his station and then watched her walk to the door. Ronan willed her to be able to keep walking. Then she got into the coffee shop and looked about. They saw each other and she smiled, relief washing over both of them. "Hi," Merry said as they got to be near each other. "I'm glad you called."
Ronan resisted the impulse to touch her and then said, "I've not ordered any coffee. What will you have?"
"Oh, I don't know. You choose for me," Merry said with a slight tremor in her voice.
"You don't sound well."
"I'm not. I've had a rather bad morning. People there are quite awful."
"Why don't you take the rest of the day off?" He went with her to the counter. The clerk there glanced at them both and frowned slightly. Ronan caught this.
The voices came back on.
"Damn that woman is here, where is the assassin now?"
"Here. I'm making her. She's with a bastard who I've no idea who he is."
"Crap, then make him and then make everyone see his image in your minds."
"I'm making him. Can you see his image in the thoughts?"
"I can. Oh, I can't remember."
"Oh, I can. But I'm way across town."
"Heck, that's not going to work."
"I'm sorry but I can't seem to find them now."
Ronan turned to Merry and said with a smile, "I've ordered us both something. They'll come and serve it where we sit."
The voices in the thoughts came back again.
"Shit, she's got an order!"
"Shit, how the hell - why don't that bastard at the counter poison the damn thing!"
"Don't worry, I've got a little dab of that peach pit thing I've made to put in her tongue and his too."
Ronan tasted something bitter and then realized Merry had that look in her face. "What's wrong?" She shook her head.
"I'm not sure. I feel like I'm tasting something bitter."
"Don't worry. It's nothing." Ronan said. "Why don't you tell me what happened at work today?"
"No, it's nothing. I've been getting the signs that that place is not good. I'm looking for another job."
"I might have to leave town. I don't feel good even at night."
"And the hospital, what about that? Why did you get hospitalized?" Merry shook her head. "I've had a bizarre week before they staged an intervention and took me to the hospital."
"Oh, some sort of breakdown?"
"I wasn't eating enough and I felt so lethargic, couldn't do anything and didn't go to work for a few days."
"I see. Is that because we broke up?" Ronan's eyes were gentle on her face.
Merry looked up at him. Her face was immobile.
"I am so sorry. I don't want you to feel guilty about it. It's just been too difficult."
"Well, I don't want us to break up and I want us to be back together, " Ronan said with a firm tone.
"That's it, kill them both now!"
"Hell, that I'll do with pleasure."
There was a great bang in the back of the coffee shop and the counter clerks looked around and at each other. It was quite a big commotion and suddenly somebody came out of the back and looked horrified, "There's something wrong in the back there - we're having a stove fire!" The alarms went off and everyone in the coffee shop fled.
The voices came on in a flurry:
"Damn, I'm on fire!!!"
"Who said that?"
"I'm the guy who's supposed to kill these two bastard lovers off!"
"You're on fire?"
"I'm on fire! Get someone to take me out of this idea! It's a damn bad thought!"
Ronan and Merry went out and then both got into his car. They drove off and went out of sight.
"Did you make them leaving?"
"No, I got distracted."
"Damn! Why -How about Angela, did you see where they went off to?"
"I'm not sure. I thought they left. I think they left but I'm covered with soot!"
"Shit, I hate that!"
"Did you make the guy?"
"No I can't say it was my lover Ronan. I think that it was but I could not recognize him. He sounded like himself, though!"
"Make his voice, damn it!"
"I'm good at mimicking voices, I can sound like Ronan if that's his."
"Ok, find that voice out there!"
The voice was new and commanding. It sounded like an old man's. Ronan heard them all and realized that the old man's voice was his old nemesis Merwyn. He looked over at Merry and saw her eyes look a bit glazed. "Let's see if we can get some work for you, Merry Girl. I'll take care of you somehow."
Merry and Ronan drove off and sped onto the highway. They were silent and tried in their thoughts to absorb the implications of their rekindled romance. Merry felt guardedly happy that she had a strong manly shoulder to lean on when she was quite tender from the hospital, and the sad treatment she was getting from her superior. Ronan was chewing his lower lip as he cruised the car through the seemingly standing traffic next to them. "Damn!" Ronan exploded. A red sportscar cut in front of his car. Ronan made an expert evasive movement of his car and then left the sportscar breathing Ronan's car's fumes. "That's a sick idiot," Ronan declared. Merry roused from her reverie looked back as much as was able. There was a smell of acrid smoke that came to her senses.
Behind them the red motorcar was on fire. "Oh, that looks quite ghastly," Merry said and then turned to look forward and settled back in the car seat. She watched Ronan as he kept speeding ahead, his eyes looking darkly at the road ahead.
"I'd like to ask," she ventured timidly, "Should I put on my seatbelt?"
Ronan laughed and then spoked, "Sure, Merry girl, I'm sure you can, but I can take care of us in my car."
She looked about for the seat belt. Then she decided not to bother.
The voices in Ronan's thoughts were a-clamor with fear, hate and sadness:
"God, how I hate that asshole and his bitch!"
"I'm on fire, damn!"
"Oh forget you now! I'm on his front windshield. I'm trying to get inside!"
"Can you do that?"
"Easy peasy, Glendish girl."
There appeared in front of the windshield the holographic image of a girl in her twenties peering into the car. Ronan saw a glimpse and roared the engine.
"Oh, heck I can't get in! What the hell?"
The girl's image flattened against the windshield and then peeled off with the wind shear.
Ronan didn't say anything. The car cruised through the highway and there wasn't a police car in sight or in hindsight. When the voices in his thoughts spoke:
"Get that cop over where he's heading! Dammit!"
"Oh my God. Where the hell is he anyway?"
"I'm not sure. Let me get into that bitch's stuff."
"Oh, damn. I hate this she's lighting up."
"Ok damn just git that moron on the highway to heel, I want that man arrested."
"He's now on Merritt Parkway, people. I think it's gonna be easy now. These cops are on the prowl. They can see. Someone's taken a look at his license and shit."
"Oh good. Go on. Find that moron. Tell that bitch she's mine. I'm gonna be a happy man forever!"
Ronan heard that and he said, "Fuck! That's about all I need!"
Merry looked up at him. "What happened?"
"Merry, hang on for your life. I'm going to New York city now."
She held on to her seat and started saying prayers in her mind.
"Oh, don't even try to pray Merry." He laughed darkly.
"Ronan, I'd like for you to take me home. I need to go home now."
"Sorry, kid, I'm going to take you away from that asshole place called New Canaan."
"I am not sure I want to leave - there's a job waiting for me there and these people are going to be firing me if I don't get back to work, please, Ronan!" But she realized he was serious. "Oh, my God, Ronan, what have you got planned for me?"
"Plenty, Merry," he reached over and grasped her left hand. "Just relax."
Soon he heard the sirens go behind them. He didn't have to look at his rear view mirror and he gunned the engine. Merry started to pray aloud: "Oh, My Father in Heaven, help!"
A voice came to both of their minds: "Don't you worry, little Ones, I'm getting those bastard cops right now!"
The cop cars began to cough and then they stopped on the spot where they were. The first cop car driver came out and saw that smoke was coming out of his hood. He lifted the hood. He shook his head. The other officer in the other car just sat there looking stunned. Traffic starting piling behind them. Soon the whole of Merritt Parkway was jammed on one side.
They sat in relative quietude in a small out of the way bar. The night was starting and Merry felt a shiver in her body. He came to their table and served her a stiff drink. She thanked him and leaned back, the firm cushion of the seat back in their booth gave her some support.
"How are you doing?" asked Ronan with a smile hovering over his lips.
"I'm fine. But," Merry sighed. "You're taking me away from my home, my job. What are you doing to me?"
"It'll be fine. You'll return after a while, if you want to. But I need some background. What happened to you - how did you get into the hospital?"
"I was stressed out. That's their final diagnosis." Merry replied woodenly. She stared at her drink.
"Yes. I was first told I was shy. I thought that was a stupid diagnosis. I think the doctor was being a comedian."
"It sounds like he was. Nobody goes to the hospital and gets told that."
"He said it in front of all the patients."
"Oh, so it was a big grandstanding thing."
"When did you get told you had too much stress?"
"Sometime later before I got discharged." He was quiet for a moment. "I heard some women talk about you a few days ago."
She stiffened. "Oh?" Merry looked at his face. "Who were they?"
"Some women at the restaurant that I worked in."
"So you work in a restaurant now?"
"No. I was working on job search. I left my job."
"But you loved your job."
"It's not a great job." She fell silent too.
What about telling me more about how you got into the hospital."
"I felt like I wasn't happy. I felt like," she tried to find the right words. "I was having some sort of an affair with a guy - at work."
"Oh Merry!" He sat back and stared up at the ceiling. "While you dated me?"
"I'm sorry Ronan. It happened - almost sneaked up on me."
"Did you fuck him a lot or what?" His words were almost spat out. His face was dark with anger.
Merry squirmed. "Well, not exactly."
"Oh, my god, what do you mean not exactly? Was it like a crush or what?" Ronan started to get even madder.
"Merry you're going to be killing me someday with your silly - what do you mean an affair? Was he real or what?"
"He was. He worked in the office. He was a visitor - well, he stayed a while. He's not there anymore. He got married to somebody else." This was all said in a soft voice, rushed, and she stared at Ronan with eyes that were scared.
"I'm very sorry Ronan."
"Is this guy - well, what do you mean not exactly? Was it a few moments stolen somewhere in the office out of sight?" Merry started to feel more unhappy and her insides felt awful. This man was her forever love and she confessed she was in love with someone else at some time in the past.
"Look, we were having our problems, Ronan."
"Ok so it was while we weren't seeing each other."
"It was around that time we decided not to date each other, yes."
"Oh, so you and I were still having our relationship and then you were - damn, you were two timing me, is that what you're saying?" His voice rose with each word. He made a fist with his hand. "Oh, Merry I'm not happy with you. I have this idea to leave you here stranded!"
"No, no don't leave me here. I'm glad you took me away. This guy - the one at work - he wasn't really able to have an affair. He was already married to somebody else I mean he was engaged but before that he was married and he was getting rid of someone else."
Ronan looked up and then sighed. "Oh my god."
"I'm sorry I sound like a flake, don't I?"
"Yes you do."
"So - he was kind of someone who grew on me. I had a few conversations with him. But he never really touched me. I merely got into a dream world with him. That's how it started. And it seemed so real."
"So it was like a fantasy?" Ronan sounded relieved.
"Are you lying to me, Merry?"
"No." They stared at each other intently.
"Ok. Then what happened? Did you fall for him. And did you talk about it with each other, face to face?"
"No we never talked about our 'affair' if you can call it that."
"So words weren't exchanged."
"So why did you get carted off to the hospital then?" He sounded exasperated.
"I can't say why, I mean, all of a sudden these people came to my apartment - and the psychiatrist that worked in the office was there. He told me that the people in the office were all concerned about my welfare because I didn't go to work for five days straight."
"So they took me in a stretcher and put me in an emergency vehicle and I ended up in the hospital, that's all."
"That is what happened then?"
"And why did you never tell anyone you were in the hospital?" "I - I called this guy. But he sounded like he was just being polite, and it made me even more unhappy."
"Oh I see."
"I am glad to be out of the hospital, Ronan. Please let me get back to my home and try to get back into my work."
Ronan took a long draught of his beer. "I'm not going to let you back yet. I need some explaining from you. I want you to be happy and out of this sick place you call your home and that atmosphere."
"You forgot we got chased by the cops?"
"I know we did but," Merry tried to think but her mind seemed to be in a prison. "I'm sorry, but I'm blanking. I need to rest, Ronan. Where can we get some sleep somewhere here?"
He sighed and tried to quell the growing din in his mind. The people who were thinking about making them die seemed to be at a distance but the aura of them started to get on his nerves. "We need to leave now." Ronan got up and took her hand. She tried to keep up with him and then finally matched his steps as they went out the back and into the car he drove.
"I want you to be quiet ok?" He said to her almost wordlessly.
She nodded and then they drove out of the restaurant parking lot, into the growing gloom of the night.
They came upon a hotel after about an hour of driving. Ronan was silent. So was Merry. Each of them with their thoughts. Merry looked around and wondered where they were. She didn't seem to want to ask him. Somehow it was important not to ask. Ronan reached for a cigarette from his pocket and then expertly lit it with one hand on the wheel.
Merry watched him with admiration. "I can't do that well."
"I've had loads of practice," he took the cigarette off from his lips and gave it to her. "Here have a puff."
She took it and took a deep puff. It made her feel much better. She handed it back to him. "And whne you and I get somewhere I'd like it a lot if I had my own room, please."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why do youthink we're going there to an hotel?
"Just thought that was where we were headed to."
"No, we're not. We're going out of this stupid state."
She wasn't happy to hear that. Merry looked at the surrounding area. Then she had a bad thouhgt and looked at Ronan. "You are serious."
"But - "
"No buts - "
"I have no clothes to take along and I need to have a change - "
"Why are we leaving the state?"
"I'm going to tell you but you have to trust me implicitly."
"Ok, tell me."
"I"m not sure you are safe in this state. It's not a good place. These people got you into the hospital on false pretences. They might be in collusion with some of these assholes who are trying to use women to become their - "
:OH, ou mean their into sexual trafficking?'
"Got it in one!"
"Oh, Ronan, that's ridiculous."
"Ok, well, I think I have a lot more evidence to this fact. I don't think you need to go back there.:
"SO you'll be my protector and everything, is that it?'
"I don't think that's a bad thing. We were going together before. You weren't happy with your job. I have a free life for the time being. I'm sure you and I can get along well enough."
He stopped. The voices were back.
"Hey, who's this guy?"
"He's not bad looking."
"He's talking shit. Let's listen."
Ronan pursed his lips and tried to find another exit and then he took it and he sped without another word to Merry.
"Here, Merry. I'd like to ask you. Will you marry me?"
Something in his tone of voice made her wary. She looked at his handsome profile. What would it matter if she say Yes. He was handsome as she noted, and he seemed to be so very capable of taking care of her. And there was another thing. He seemed to have become more polite and less disregarding of their position. Merry glanced at the dashboard to see that it was after midnight. Then she said, "Yes."
He looked at her briefly. "Are you kidding?"
"No, are YOU kidding?"
"No." INwardly he felt a sinking sensation that he got himself into a difficult situation. Ronan felt a few of the niggling worries that he felt stab at his back. "Look, Merry, we'll drive out to New York and find ourselves a place to stay in. What do you say?"
"I hate the idea of walking into a hotel and telling them we need a place to stay. I think they'll say we're doing something illegal."
Ronan frowned. "We'll have to talk about how we're running away from your family. Because you're marrying me."
Merry laughed without humour. "Oh, I see. Why not then? Let's do it!" She rolled her eyes. "Last time I checked we were both way out of high school."
"No, true, it's high school to do it. But we're allowed. I'm in love with you and I think you're in love with me."
"Oh my God."
"Oh don't worry." Ronan smiled and then settled back, yet still plagued by that sinking sensation. There were other thoughts that came to him:
"What about that cute redhead from the coffee shop?"
"And what about that job that you left so quickly?"
"How the heck are you gonig to support this woman? Is she worth it?"
"Hell, Ronan, get back to the office right away! I don't know what you're doing/!"
That last thought made Ronan feel even more uneasy. Was this part of the plan to marry Merry? It made him even sadder and he looked at the gasoline gauge. He had a few more miles to drive until it read empty.
In her own silence, Merry sighed. She wasn't happy. This was supposed to be a happy occasion. Being proposed to was not quite like this in her mind. Why is he wanting to marry her so soon? Didn't they just break up or what? She leaned back and sighed again. She tried to close her eyes. Then she felt uneasy. There was a presence in her thoughts that loomed into view. It was her boss. He was so dark and angry in his appearance.
As if he could notice, Ronan reached over and touched her hand. She let him hold it after a second. "Ronan, I'm afraid."
"I know. You're getting paler. I think we need to check into a hotel, what do you think?"
Merry said almost instinctively: "No, keep driving. There's a terrible thought that's making me sick."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm thinking of my work. I - mean - my - Boss."
"Oh that shithole. I wouldn't do that, don't think of that bastard."
"I'm getting this awful thought that he's going to kill me someday."
"I'm wondering whether you're getting a direct thought from this guy. What's he saying to you?"
Merry tried to feel calmer. She held on to his hand. "I'm not getting anything now. I think that thought has gone away."
"Good. I'll be taking care of you now forever, Merry. Don't you worry."
Merry liked this and felt a warmth from his hand. "Good. I'm not going to worry."
Ronan kept on driving and then he communed with his superior.
Mike, I'm driving into a new state - I'll need a backup. I can't stay in this CT place. I have our source with us. She's not doing too well. I'm going off line unless you need me.
I understand. Don't go too far into the city. Find an outside place. You know where it is.
Yes. Got it.
The gasoline gauge didn't dip too well into the range where it would read 'red'. They crossed the state line and then Merry fell asleep in her seat. Ronan looked confidently ahead and then he finally stopped hearing the thoughts who were going after them. It was good that Merry slept. There was a soft snoring sound that came out of her parted lips. Ronan smiled again at that.
They checked into a small hotel. They registered as Mr. and Mrs. Ronan Grass. Merry smiled at him as he led her to their room. The hotel keeper seemed too sleepy to notice them. NObody else was awake. it was after midnight. Ronan put on the light in their room. A huge bed stood at the middle of their hotel room. Merry went to the bathroom and heard while she bruhsed her long hair Ronan making coffee. Ronan took a good look at their room and tried to see if there was any thing outside their window. The night was pitch black. He looked up as she got back to join him.
"I'm tired out. I'll be joining you in bed. I'll just do some washing up." He said in a calm voice.
"I'm tired out too. I think I might skip the coffee."
"I'm not sure why I made it. I thought it would keep me from being too tired, I guess."
She laughed at him. "You like to do that a lot, don't you, Ronan?"
"I do. We need to remember a lot more things."
He went to her and gathered her into his arms. She softened against him. They kissed, at first, tentatively. Then his hunger came over him and then they were making love standing up. Ronan tried to control himself. "Look, we need to rest, shall we do this later?"
She felt a bit disappointed. "Ok. I really love you, Ronan."
"I do love you too, Merry."
SOmething in his voice made her wonder if he was saying it truthfully. He took her to the bed and tucked her in. She took off her jacket and tossed it on the chair next to the bed. "I'll probably take some coffee."
"Whatever you want to do." Merry said, feeling still a bit sad that he didn't want to make love.
He told her in his thoughts. I'm watching over us. We need to be vigilant.
She looked blankly at him and then she nodded and rested her head on the pillow.
Ronan said little after that. He went to do something in the bathroom but he really tried to examine the gun that he had in the small of back. It was a good and reassuring thing that kept him from feeling totally isolated. Mike thought to him again. I'm sure it won't be too bad in the city, don't feel like you can't talk to me.
She needs to get somewhere we can't keep going like this.
I understand. I'm heading a fleet of people. You won't know them but it will be good to act like you're engaged. I don't think she'll be sad if you got her having you.
Oh my God you had to be with us.
Oh you fool.
I'm sure it would have been ok if we were really going to get married someday.
What makes you think you're not getting married, fool?
I don't know. I guess I felt she was going to be with her people soon. I don't know why I can't see myself with her there.
Oh my God you are such a fool. No I think it will be good if you were with her.
Ronan sighed. I'm so fucking sad. I don't know why that is.
I see a bad campy person with you. I think you need to shrug that person off. Get to bed. Don't dawdle. Turn off the lights and just try to smoke a few and then see if you can't make more coffee.
Ronan nodded and tried to shrug his shoulders. The campy person that tried to ghost him slid off. Ronan could see her. It was a woman whom he knew in a past life. It wasn't agood sign. They're still after me, Mike. After all these years.
I see she was someone you thought was good then, is that it?
I knew she was after me. She's an ugly bitch.
The campy person tried to claw at him in the shadows of his pyschic being.
Mike appeared suddenly - a powerfully built person. Who are you?
The campy person stared at him with terror in her blue eyes. She reminded Ronan of a Viking with her blond plait of hair.
I don't care to tell you, she replied.
I know who you are. Get away from these people.
I hate that!
She ran away. Finally Mike gave a nod to Ronan. You have to always tell me, Fool.
The coffee pot was on in the office where Merry worked back in Bilgewater, CT. The people came straggling in. The thoughts were rank with disturbing comments about the weekend.
"What happened to Glenda this weekend?"
"She flew off that bastard's car. She's in traction."
"Oh my God. I hate that now."
"Hey what happened to my sandwich. I left it in the fridge."
"Go to hell."
A more authoritiative voice came into focus. "Men and woman of my army, don't get too unhappy. These bastards are gone. They're going to the dimmest place in the world. They'll go to hell there."
"What about Merry? Who's going to do her job?"
"I'll take care of. Now go off and get some work done or else I''ll sic the bad police on you."
Then in a lower voice that only one of them could hear: "Reese, can you talk to me for a moment?"
"Of cousre, sir."
The man was in his office. He looked distinghuished and seemed to be relaxed and enjoying his first cup of coffee. Reese McCall came into his office. he scanned her outfit and deemed it approporiate. "What do we do with Ms Merry's desk? Is she calling to say she's sick or what ever?"
"No," Reese drew in a breath. She looked goregous in her new Liz outfit. "I'll be happy to call her cell. If you wish."
"I'll be glad if you did. I don't wish to have to find another person to replace her."
"Ok is that all?"
"No. Find out what her people are saying."
"I don't think she has people. We wanted it that way, didn't we?"
"Yes, so we did."
"I'll talk to some of her friends here."
"I'll be interestd to see if she had friends here."
"There's that nice Hispanic girl n ame Alana. What about her?"
The door opened abruptly. It was Sisa, that woman who headed Human Resources. "I'm sorrybut Sisa Taylor got a bad turn - she's quit her job."
Reese and the boss looked at each other. "Ok, well, tell her she needs to have a post employment interview before she gets her last paycheck. That way we can get some idea why she's not happy here."
"She's always been so happy especially with Merry as a friend."
"Exactly." The boss said with a meaningful glance. "Dismissed."
As they filed out of the boss' office, he got on the phone. "This is Burgerness, I'm needing to talk to someone in the police force."
There was a pause. Someone who was passing by heard it and signaled to Michael. Michael's thughts came to look into the Burgerness office. he saw it was his old enemy Charles Burgerness. "I'm sure thisman has to be dead many times over." Michael thought to himself.
Michael, who really walking down the street in New Orleans, was thinking of what was happening in Bilgewater, CT. It was a bit of a stretch but Michael was very big in his reputation. he lit a cigarette and watched the ships as they passed on the Missisisippi. He sighed. What do I do with these people, God?
"Don't worry. It'll sort it self in time."
There was a current of thoughts that passed through between him and God. Finally he went off to work where he ran a restaurant in the area. It was still too early. he had no real company at the restaurant. The usual workers came in. They all thought he was an ordinary joe. "Hey, Boss. I'm on this coffee problem. Don't you worry about it." Called out the bartender.
"Ok, fine. I'll be doing today's recipe. I need to make sure Rosie comes along to learn it. I need to go to see my chemotherapist today."
The bartender stared at Michael and sighed. "You sure look awful."
"I am. i feel it." Michael reached for a saucepan and started to find his ingredients. He was a tall spare man, tanned and had long dark hair, cut out into a small ponytail. "I will survive, I guess."
"Did they tell you how you're doing?"
"OH, I'll have to die someday. I am going to have to face it. Three ex wives and five kids. They all want my money, most of them."
"Yeah, it is."
Finally the bartender left and yet when he looked back at his boss with sympathy he saw a rictus of pain cross his boss' still handsome face.