Alicia turns right around to see Kiara respectfully holding distance. Kay is so eager to speak, to say something, to say any word at all but she has no handle on what Alicia is thinking or if she believes anything Marko just told her. Desperately she keeps her peace sensing that it must be Alicia that speaks first. In a low dry whisper Alicia asks, “Her stuff. Where is…?” the unfinished sentence is left in the air as Alicia struggles to avoid any direct eye contact. “Her room?” Asks Kiara. Alicia nods, her arms crossed. Kiara walks slowly towards the stairs internally willing Alicia to follow since for some reason she is losing her strength to speak a word. “This… way…” Surprised that she managed even two, she now leads on to the master bedroom.
“What the hell was that?” Asks Eliot. “That was a true story. So her sister is dead and you want me to come up with what, some fairy tale?” The irony was not lost on anyone in that the “true story” as it were, was more akin to what anyone else in the world might consider a fairy tale, and a grim one at that. Something in Eliot makes him sick at the thought of having this argument. In part he doesn’t understand what happened to Marko well enough to judge the way he was acting. A lack of understanding that was in and of itself a source of great disturbance to the group.
Before more words could be exchanged Marko tilted his head straight back in a quick whiplash motion staring at the ceiling right above him. Nick snapped out of his reverie and looked to the others before asking, “Is it suddenly colder in here?” This is a question that is an ill omen in their line of work. Marko motioned to the fire place before making a dash for the second floor. Nick grabbed three iron instruments of the hearth and passed two to Eliot. Eliot in turn jumped over furniture calling out to Sean who burst through the double doors of his room holding a throwing knife in each hand. The rhythmic beat of footsteps meeting the hard wood stairs was enough to rouse him from sleep, the call from Eliot had him on edge.
At the top of the stairs Kiara, eyes wide in terror, had grabbed a hold of Alicia and pulled her back to the railing of the stair well. Downstairs the temperature drop was subtle but it was Kiara who opened the door and revealed the source, blasting her with a chill wind. No one had set foot in the room for quite some time and somehow it had become haunted. Alicia tore away from Kiara, her face hot with anger from the unprovoked yanking. “You could have sent me over the rails or down a flight of stairs! Are you kidding me right now?” No one paid any attention. Marko could hear the salt being poured at every entrance below, a good start to dealing with a ghost, only he wasn’t sure yet that this was in fact otherworldly. “Nothing could have gotten in there without help.” He says.
Kiara was shaking; for all that she knew about what the band did, she herself had never experienced it. She felt a hand take her own. The touch nearly scared her out of her skin, but she turned to the owner to see it was Marko. “It’s alright Kay,” he says over his shoulder, “Take the girl downstairs. Slowly.” Kiara takes a few deep breaths. It was natural for Marko to be calm, the others too. They had done this a thousand times. Still, even she knew they were all terrified at their first encounter. Alicia cursed at them all before stammering off towards the open door of the bedroom. It took one intense glare from Marko to stop her dead in her tracks. It was occurring to her that it didn’t matter in the slightest how insane these people were because they believed it, and they might just believe it enough to harm her for interfering with this episode.
Nick shouted from below, “Everything is in place here. There is no way something is in the house.” Sean offered him a sardonic look before saying “Naturally. Come to think of it, this is starting to remind me of all our other plans; you know the part where things don’t go according to them.” Eliot moved from room to room with the salt and was making his way up the stairs. Nick was watching the kitchen and the living room stealing glances out the windows, while Sean kept vigil in the hall connecting the rest of the first floor. As soon as Eliot reached the top of the stairs Kiara made another attempt to bring Alicia down. “Please, Alicia. Believe me, right now, the downstairs is the safest place in the house.” Alicia looked back at Marko who was still glaring in her direction. I suddenly don’t doubt that… Still she didn’t move, didn’t speak. Before Eliot could make the salt barrier at the door Marko waved him off. “I got this one covered start with the others.” Eliot complied but asked, “What do you know that could get through the safe guards?” Marko responded, “Nothing,” all while never taking his death stare off Alicia who, at the moment, went white as… well… a ghost.
He was still watching Alicia when her lips moved; in them he saw the frame of a single word. Even if he couldn’t read lips he wouldn’t have had to. For as she said it, and even before Eliot dropped the salt container and Kiara nearly fell over herself in shock, Marko felt her. He turned around to see the lights of the room flicker on and catch a pale white figure casting a silhouette.
His teeth did grind as his fists did clench but no anger, if he felt any, escaped him. “Rebecca.” He said it not in surprise but in cool awareness. And he said it loud enough for all to hear as matter of fact as you could imagine. Her apparition smiled with all the warmth of the sun despite the cold air, and then her lips twisted and her head tilted to the side. She spoke slowly and carefully, “What is on your face…”
Marko laughed, “I thought you would like a man with a beard.”
“No, get it off. Get it off now.”
“I can’t, they make me keep it. It’s a vicarious experience for those that can’t grow their own. I can’t really explain.”
“If they wanted to jump vicariously off a… never mind. I doubt I have a lot of time.”
The exchange left everyone else breathless. Not a one of them had fully accepted her ghost standing before them (as they all moved upstairs on the rather crowded second floor walk way), and not one could rationalize the character of tone the conversation was taking. Had she not been gone for months? How are they so casual? Had Marko purposefully not set foot in their old room? What the hell did she have against beards? The answers would have to come one at a time.
“First, Alicia. Sis I’m so sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye and all the little sisterly things that I was overdue on, they’re gonna have to be left the way they were since I wasn’t supposed to come back. I also wasn’t supposed to be found this late in the game. They must have figured me out and kept me from finding peace. Marko, you know what that means. I couldn’t leave; a small set back in a pretty much perfect plan. I just couldn’t leave you guys. But somehow sensing you this entire time, being this close and knowing you were ok, mostly ok, I was about ready to move on into the afterlife. So no one blame anyone for this next part.” Rebecca stopped and looked over her shoulder. The air seemed to leave the lungs that she didn’t actually have in her ghostly form. She took one look at the group. They managed to huddle in clumps with Marko standing, (his toes not even crossing the frame into the room) in front of Alicia, (mouth almost cartoon status on the floor) followed by Eliot, Kiara, and Nick (dumbfounded behind her), and Sean who was caught between his eyes steeling a glance at Rebecca and searching for what hell was coming.
Rebecca didn’t say another word. Instead her eyes went wide sharing a pleading stare with Marko. She became ever more transparent until the light seemed to break her into dust and then she vanished entirely. The sight of this sends Alicia into a frenzy. Pushing past Marko she lands on the very spot her sister was last seen, knees crashing onto the carpet. Her sobs were animalistic, in minutes she would undoubtedly succumb to her fatigue and confusion. This, Marko thought, would make it easier to move her out of the room but in the meantime he took a survey of the others. Eliot was exchanging words with Sean, and Kiara was crying on Nick’s shoulder. No doubt reeling from her first paranormal experience. “Take Kay downstairs please.” Nick didn’t respond he just helped her down. Eliot looked at Marko and shook his head. “You caught what she meant right?” Sean was asking Marko. “Pretty sure. She accepted death, but it wasn’t enough to move on so she hid in her room possessing one of our things. Because it was both hers and mine it tied her to me so whoever just summoned her didn’t know where she was only that whatever they’ve got wasn’t strong enough to pull her away.”
“Meaning they probably gave up and figured she was in heaven, until they sensed her from the open door. Now they have her,” Sean had finished for Marko. “No,” said Eliot. “The house is sealed they couldn’t feel her without…” His eyes sparked with recognition and landed on something in the room. When Marko and Sean followed Eliot’s gaze they saw Alicia was at its center still heaving from her sobs in a curled up bundle on the floor.
“Miss Alicia here signaled them,” said Marko. “How very unfortunate for Rebecca. How very unfortunate for us all.”