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|Created by:||Madi23 Talk|
|Number of chapters:||8 for Part 1|
|Status:||Complete (Part 1) May Evolve Over Time|
|Succeeded by:||Fanon: Spectral: Part Two|
My name is Embry Alder. I am nineteen years old and have recently finished recovering from a near death experience a year ago. The accident caused myself, my boyfriend Royce Vale, my close friend Adrienne Levine, and two other students to be burned to the degree where we have more scars than flesh, though our facial structures have remained. Now we are being haunted by the ancestors of our town, and their spectral apparitions appear at any time or any place, whenever we are alone.
Hey guys. Leave a comment if you notice any inconsistencies within the story, and please feel free to provide and constructive criticism :) And, if you're looking for Chapters 9 +, you can find them on this page. And, as of TODAY, September 13th, there will be a few changes to the story, involving small details. If you have already read them, I suggest you skim through it to see the changes that may be important in Spectral: Part 2 :)
Changes from 9/13/11Edit
****You do not need to read this if you are reading the story from the beginning****
As of today a few key things have changed in the story. Sorry for the inconvenience!
A few of the changes are:
-Bry, Jon, Nick, Royce, and Adrienne were in the hospital for ONE year, NOT two
-It is Spring, and they will be graduating with the senior year in June, NOT after Christmas like before.
- Embry 'Bry' Alder (Protagonist, Narrator)
- Adrienne 'Dri' Levine
- Royce 'Roy' Vale
- Henry Alder
- Catharine Martinez
- Nicholas 'Nick' Brooks
- Jonathon 'Jon' Blake
- Dr Hilroy
- Ophelia Nigmos
For the next upcoming chapter...
Those characters that no one likes, but get to be mentioned, even without a fanon page:
- Ms Brittany Hale
Other (Don't even bother reading this)Edit
Some Sims and places will be a strange mix of The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. Yes, it's weird. Ex, Bry mentions living a couple hours away from Bridgeport , while she is going to Sim State University the next year. Please forgive the intensely confusing timeline I've created between the games :)
Also, Flaxen County and all of its lots are all part of a totally random town I made up, and have not actually created in CAW (though it would be pretty sweet). So if anything sounds familiar, it may be because my characters for this story do not exist, so I use other pre-created info to fill in some blanks (if that makes any sense whatsoever).
And yes, most of these events could and would never happen in a Sims game, but this was inspired by some crazy Sims idea I got one sunny day while my power was out this summer, and never actually did in-game. Soo..yep. Read onward.
Chapter I - Gilded HillsEdit
Flaxen County is not a large community. The name, horrifying as it is, pertains to the fields of lush golden wheat and dwindling mineral deposits that once produced gold and palladium.
Just residential lots near a small, unadorned mountain and, distantly, a sprawling industrial city.
The only thing that makes this place interesting is the multiple cemeteries dotting between houses and parks. Seven in total, all containing at least a hundred graves.
But the masses of these graves are hundreds of years old. The Gilded Hills Cemetery in the east of the town contains graves dating back to the sixteenth century. So old are these ancient tombstones and mausoleums that most remain undated.
I wander now through the Gilded Hills, listening to my history teacher lecture on the past that has been drilled into our heads since preschool, when our grandparents would warn us of the walking dead before we went to bed.
Ms. Hale, a fluttery thirty-so-year-old woman, guides us along the stone paths that wind irregularly through the rows of graves. We all know that death clearly disturbs the woman, and a couple boys joke about dead people innocently to her. She looks flustered and her manicured hand flies to her throat.
I’m trying to ignore here. I don’t want to be here either, though not because I’m squeamish.
“Some believe there was a brutal war here, centuries ago…” trailed the uneasy professor.
I sigh in annoyance and Royce glances over at me. I smile and he tightens his hand in mine. Great, he probably thinks I’m a flighty redhead, too. I run my hand through my long, dark hair.
Knox’s auburn bob swishes as she looks around to place our location. Several other students are hiding behind mausoleums and family tombs, chatting and eating junk food.
- I roll my eyes when she trips in her high heeled boots and nearly tumbles over.
- “Welcome to Flaxen,” crows James Barnet, “we have corpses for the entire family!”
Our teacher scolds him, but he just grins and earns a glare.
I will be glad when the torture of these kids ends. This should have ended a year ago.
Maybe maturity is more important to me than brains or brawn.
Both Royce and I would have graduated last year, but us and a few others were in a major accident in twelfth grade, and were in and out of the hospital for a year.
I shudder and scratch the scars on my arm through my turtleneck.
“Bry” he says the nickname like “Bree”. “Are you feeling okay?” Royce asks, nodding at my rolled sleeve with a concerned expression on his face.
“Yeah,” I mutter. “Just irritated.”
“Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“No. I was just…”
“Embry,” calls Adrienne Levine, falling into step beside me.
Adrienne is the only person who knows me better than my father and Royce. We already plan on going to university together.
Adrienne rests her elbow on my shoulder, sipping from a pop bottle. “Hello my friend,” she says, enunciating a fake French accent she saves for when addressing me. Both of her parents are French, and though she has ditched the faint accent she once had, all three of her sisters speak with a slightly foreign lilt.
“Hey, Dri,” I smile, shoving her elbow off me. Royce artfully exits to join the group trailing Ms. Hale, stuffing his hands in his jean pockets.
She lowers her voice. “Are you okay? Being here?”
She relaxes, zipping up her jacket and shivering. “It’s freezing out here,” she declares. “How are you still warm?”
“I can’t feel my fingers,”
“Ah,” she says wisely. She turns to grin at me. I roll my eyes and stuff my hands into my pockets, mostly from the cold and partially to stop myself from absentmindedly touching my scars. We laugh and weave our way through the poorly-tended paths of the Barren Hills, as Adrienne calls it.
Adrienne looks over at me. It’s hard for anyone not to notice the threading scars traveling up her left cheekbone and disappearing under her thick hair.
“Finally, we’re leaving.” She says, making an atrocious sound. Her voice softens, brows furrowing in disgust.
“I hate this place.”
Chapter II - ConversationalEdit
When I get home from school, my father is in the kitchen cooking. I smell baked chicken and seasoning.
“Hey, Bry, did you have a good day at school?” My dad asks as I step into the kitchen.
“Yeah. We visited the Gilded Hills: best field trip ever.”
He laughs, blue eyes pinching at the corners. “Glad you had a good time.” He sighs, chopping some carrots. “It’s Catharine and Peter’s anniversary today. I’ll be staying in Bridgeport with them, and I have to go back to the restaurant soon. I’ll be back around six, and I’m leaving at seven,”
I’ll be alone tonight. He’s wondering if I’ll be okay.
“Okay. Chicken and potatoes?”
“Your favorite,” he grins as he slides the pan of chicken and vegetables into the oven. “Think Cat’ll mind if I show up without you?”
In my room, my cat, Celia, stares at me uncomfortably. I roll my eyes at the cat and she slinks away. I sit down at my laptop. The minutes pass but I only sit and think.
I talk to Adrienne, who hasn’t been sleeping well. She tells me she has to take sleeping pills to get any rest at night. I worry that she might get sick. She was the worst of us after the accident, and she seems to be taking it the hardest. She says goodbye as her little sister Isabelle begins to cry in the background. I’m beginning a history paper when my phone rings again. Telemarketer.
I smell dinner broiling when I answer Catharine’s call a few minutes later.
“Hey,” she says, and I can tell by her joyous tone we’ll be settling in for a long chat.
“What’s up? I must be popular tonight. Dad’s just getting us some dinner,”
“Bry, are you coming tonight?”
A wave of guilt and longing hits me square in the chest. “I’m sorry, Cat. I have school tomorrow.”
She hears the distaste in my words before they even register. “Tomorrow’s Saturday!” she exclaims belatedly. “Did you get in trouble?” she sounds disapproving, but I can imagine her grinning. She adores Adrienne and swore that one day I would be just as rebellious and headstrong as she.
“Uh, no.” I laugh, “I have school on Saturday’s. It’s the only way we’ll graduate this year.” We’ve only been in school since Christmas, when Adrienne and the other one who was critically injured (one of the guys) got out of the hospital.
“That sucks,” she says, and sighs after a pause. “Embry, are you feeling okay?”
“Yes,” I lie, my fingertips tracing the scars on my forearm. “So are you guys throwing a party for your anniversary or what?”
That stops the worry in its tracks. She excitedly gives me all the details about her and Peter’s first anniversary.
“First dinner with the family,” she begins. I add appropriate agreements and toss in my opinions and even make a couple jokes, but I’m still at my scars and eventually I lie and tell her dinner’s ready. It felt so good to talk to my sister, but I’m too anxious to be very conversational. I don’t mention anything that could possibly upset her. She says goodbye and I pick the phone back up, clamping my hands around my pen to stop myself from scratching.
I call my doctor, who works at the hospital in Bridgeport, the closest big city, where Catharine and Peter live. I tell her my scarring is bothering me, and that I need more cream for the extensive blemishes.
Royce calls while I answer all of Dr. Hilroy’s questions about my health. After I hang up, I call him back.
“Bry?” he guesses.
“Roy?” I ask softly. He pauses. When he answers, his voice is anxious. I must sound miserable.
“Well, it’s just…my dad is staying in Bridgeport tonight and…”
“It’s okay to be afraid, Embry.” My heart jumps. He almost never calls me Embry. He’s always called me Bry.
Tears sting my eyes. I control the hitch in my voice. “Yeah.” is all I can manage.
“Would your father let me come over?”
I laugh uneasily. Even at almost nineteen years old, neither of us is used to the idea of being grown up.
“Sorry.” He amends. “Old habits die hard.”
I smile, even though he can’t see it. “It’s fine. You can drop by later, but I need to try being alone.”
“It’s okay to be afraid,” he says again, voice calming, reassuring.
“I’ll see you later?” I blurt, trying to dodge the pathetic reply I would have said.
His voice sounds a little less worried. “Of course,”
Chapter III - Spectral
Later that night, I’m wrapped up in a quilt when a rustling makes my pulse race. Royce left two hours ago, at around midnight. I was dozing off on the couch, listening to the ticking of the kitchen clock.
Royce had arrived shortly after our phone call, surprising both me and my father and bringing desert. Dad smiled the whole meal, slyly complementing Royce when the opportunity arose. True, they get along well, but I know where I’m going to school, and I don’t know how we’ll work it out after graduation. Adrienne and I have already been accepted into Sim State University, which is the largest university in Sim Nation. Royce has been accepted with full scholarship into La Fiesta Tech, to per sue a science career. He immediately wanted to turn down the offer, as LFT is far south, but he’s been talking about a scholarship transfer. I don’t know why he would want to study at a science facility – he’s always been interested in business.
I kick the blanket away, planning to lock myself in my room.
A creak echoes from the staircase, just before I take the first step.
A tiny scream escapes my lips. I’m stumbling backwards when Celia appears at the foot of the stairs. She looks up at me before trotting across the room to lounge on the carpet.
I mutter about stupid animals before jogging up two flights of stairs to my room. I twist the lock and jump onto my bed, scrambling under the covers. I feel like a child, but fear holds me in place.
A whisper breathes against my cheek. I shudder and bite back another scream.
I bury myself in the soft pillows and cool sheets.
Blue light presses against my closed eyelids.
I tell myself not to open them.
A breeze wafts through the room. Chills crawl up my spine.
My eyes open, two pale blue pools in the dark room.
I gasp and shout, confused as to what I should do.
I’m shaking violently. A haunting voice drowns me out; musical, childish laughter sings in the background. I begin to sweat. I blink and suddenly the room is dead.
Crimson shadows float amongst the walls, some with long, waving hair and kind eyes while others have burned clothes and angry expressions.
The seven ghosts levitate around my bedside. They are all an angry red, orange fog and thick smoke rising from their spectral bodies.
I’m panting and my vision is blurring. I’m consumed with terror.
A girl a few years younger than me is sitting on my window seat, staring out the curtains when a little girl around five years old plays with her hair.
The fiery little girl looks at me, and her translucent body glows bright. Her eyes, like the others, are just white lights. The outline of her long flowing dress moves as if under water.
She opens her mouth to speak and a raspy whisper envelopes my ears. I’m staring at the child so intensely I feel tears spring to my eyes.
More hissed words.
I imagine her real voice, soft and sweet, laughing in my ear.
Her hand reaches out to me. I recoil, hurrying away and backing through another apparition. A flash of heat passes through me and I inhale smoke. I cough and see a young man gazing, irritated, over his shoulder at me.
“I – I’m – “
I trip over my bed and fall onto it, the coolness making me shiver. The voices halt and I cough as the scent of smoke and burning flesh thickens. I see the annoyed ghost snarling at me, smoke pouring from his outstretched palm.
I press the heels of my hands to my eyes. I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to hear them.
I shove a pillow over my face so I can’t smell the fumes. I hear glass shatter and my nightstand turns over, knocking into my closet door.
I’m rocking and shivering and sweating, and finally all is still.
I cry for an hour before suddenly falling unconscious at nearly four am.
Chapter IV - Jon
“This school is going to kill me,” Adrienne moans, smacking her head down on her desk.
“If only,” grumbled Nicholas Brooks, using a Sharpie to draw on a desk.
Adrienne’s voice was muffled by her desk, but she proceeded to flip him off, furthermore explaining her unintelligible answer.
He chuckled, still looking down at his graffiti.
“Hey guys,” Royce grinned half-heartedly, taking a seat next to me.
“Hey, Bry!” Nick called from the back of the room. “You get any sleep last night? You look like shit.”
Adrienne muttered more profanity. Royce’s expression dropped to aggravated, and then to an annoyed glare, directed at the blackboard. “Hell.” Adrienne continued. “I think I was up until past four.”
My eyes shifted away from them. “Yeah. Me, too.”
Royce glanced at me, and then looked away nonchalantly. “Where’s Jon?”
Shrugs from Nick and Adrienne, who has sat up and is beginning to examine her nails.
“I haven’t seen him since Thursday,” I say, checking my watch. “Where’s Hale?”
Royce sighs. “Knowing that woman, she probably had to get towed after swerving a leaf lying on the road.”
“Or OD’ing on her anti-anxiety pills.” Adrienne chuckles.
I notice how her gaze keeps flickering around the room.
Traveling from ghost to ghost.
Her eyes lock on mine. “Bry?”
Everybody looks at me. My pulse races, blood hammering in my ears. We almost never directly address the ghost situation. I mentally hit myself. Situation? More like –
“Bry, you’re losing it.” Nick snorts, but he glances pointedly at the door. I look and a second later Hale scurries into the room.
“Hello children,” she breathes, unloading a ton of supplies from her book bag. Adrienne snorts and whispers to me: “Children? She’s like four months older than us,” She snickers. That’s an overstatement. Brittany Hale isover thirty, and seems to think of us as her volunteer assignment. None of us respond.
“Hand in your papers,” she says, turning to face us. Her wacky indigo glasses are glittery and the frames are shaped like sideways leaves. I roll my eyes and pull out a two-thousand-word essay on the French Revolution I finished – and started – last night with Royce. Hale opens her glossy lips to begin the days lecture.
Jonathon explodes into the room, his scar-damaged face red from exertion.
“The French nobility–,” Hale begins, gesturing for effect.
“Call help!” he shouts. I jump at the furious pitch of his voice.
“Jon! “ Royce exclaims. Ms. Hale is confused. She glances at the doorway.
“Jon?” Nick questions from the back of the room.
“Call help now! Someone’s been murdered! Call the police!”
He disappears back into the hallway. Chairs crash to the floor. Adrienne is already on her cell phone, hyperventilating as she is put on hold for a brief moment.
I’m racing down the corridor as fast as my heels will take me. Nick is ahead of me while Royce is right at my right.
Jon rounds a tight corner and Nick dashes after him, but his leg gives out and he hits the ground. “Nick!” Adrienne shouts, pushing forward to see if he’s okay. Nick’s leg was badly damaged during the fire, and he’s had to drop all sports. Royce flies by me, catching up with Jon. He’s screaming his name.
“Jon! Jon! Where are you going? What happened?”
I’m running out of breath. I drop to the ground as if someone shoves me from behind. Smoke curls down my throat and I gag, vomiting on the floor. I search for the source of the putrid air, but find nothing.
Nick and Adrienne are near me. I crawl over to them, and sirens are blasting down the halls. Nick is on his back, gripping his right leg and grunting in what must be extreme pain. Adrienne has her hands over her ears, tears falling from her eyes. She falls to her side, curled tight around her legs. I scream her name, but I’m choking and my vision is failing. Just as my eyes drift closed, I get a clear view of a hundred roiling, pale, contorted shapes converging on Adrienne. An invisible dome seems to surround Nick, where he is still fighting the pain in his leg. Like a force field, the spirits pour around and over it, but the hallway is startlingly overcrowded.
A single red-gold form towers over me, malice glinting in his eyeless sockets.
It mouths something to me, but all I hear is distorted sirens and the wail of a thousand spirits.
I black out.
Chapter V - Recovery
I open my eyes. The hospital room smells heavy, like too much bleach was used to clean the lush white carpet. I don’t have to wonder where I am, the room is identical to the one I lived in all last summer.
I’m at the hospital in Bridgeport.
Screaming startles me out of my drugged daze.
“Adrienne!” I call instinctively. I hear doctors rushing past my door and medical carts gliding across the polished flooring in the corridors.
I begin to panic. A single bluish tube is taped into my wrist. Afraid of what may happen, I don’t touch it. A call button, round and red, is lit up on the wall by my bed.
I hit it three times. A nurse glides in, as if in no hurry to check on my health.
“Hello, Miss Alder. Are you feeling well?” she looks at the IV, then glances at the flashing call button. “Is there an emergency?” she raises a perfectly sculpted blond eyebrow.
“I was just wondering if I could transfer – “
“Miss Alder, I believe you know that we do not allow patients to choose their rooms.” She gives me a hard stare. “Just imagine the chaos.” She turns on her heel. “That button is for those who need medical attention, Miss Alder.”
She disappears into the hallway, closing the door behind her. I blink at the door. Did that really just happen?
I lie back in my bed like a good girl and await news, getting more and more annoyed as the clock continues to tick loudly.
Doctor Hilroy comes in an hour later, and smiles when she sees that I’m awake.
“Good morning, Bry.”
I shift uneasily in the bed. The room is designed like a comfortable, one-room apartment, built for permanent patients. A dresser and TV stand are beside the bed, with a couple counters and cabinets along the opposite wall, along with a small fridge and a stove. If not for the curtain dividing the room and the starched white hospital bed, the area would seem almost normal.
“A friend of yours called in a 9-1-1 report. Police arrived on the scene, expecting a dead body. Paramedics found you and three others blacked out in different sections of the building.”
A soft smile. “Royce is fine. He woke up in the ambulance. He left earlier.” She sits down beside the bed. “Your father left a short while ago. Adrienne saw him walk by and demanded to see you. She was refused, and…”
“She got angry?”
She nods sympathetically. “She was very shaken. That was about an hour ago. We calmed her down, got her off the medications, but she had ripped out all of her needles and her tests need to be resubmitted. I believe no one has been able to make her cooperate since. She’s locked in her bathroom now, but I made sure she would not be disturbed.”
I look away from the kind doctor. My eyes are stinging. The only thing Adrienne is more afraid of then being trapped alone in a hospital. It would seem like she hates authority, but really the painkillers and medications they give her make her unable to block out any ghosts, and cause her to lose her grip on what’s real. And with her friends also trapped and her parents looking after three other girls’ ages nine, six, and two, she feels detached from the world.
“Nicholas Brooks is still unconscious. His scarred tissue is rejecting our painkillers. He was not supposed to be doing anything remotely exerting for weeks, even months yet.”
“What happened to us? Why are we here?”
She hesitates, having one of those moments where she realizes that even if she is my and Adrienne’s doctor, she feels more like close friends, and the feeling is mutual for both Adrienne and I.
“Well, Nicholas, his leg, of course. Royce left earlier, after being checked by his doctor this morning. Adrienne is having fits of dementia. You were unconscious and your pulse was so low they thought you were dead, too.”
Too? I think, and I realize she hasn’t told me about John yet.
“What about Jon? Jonathon Blake?”
She frowns; a worried expression crosses over her face that makes me shiver.
“Jonathon passed on. He had been dead for over an hour when police and paramedics arrived.”
Chapter VI - Ophelia
- Jon has been dead for three days.
The four of us attend Jonathon’s funeral. The hospital has left us all uneasy, and Adrienne is a zombie. She stands next to me as Royce recites Jon’s epilogue. Her face is emotionless, the dark circles under her eyes plastered over with foundation. She was released after her last dose of medication wore off, when she stopped screaming about ghosts staring at her and whispering in her ear. I wasn’t allowed to see her while this was happening, but I could hear Nurse Blondie complaining loudly in the hallway about “that crazy Levine girl” who “won’t let the drugs do their jobs”. Heaven forbid she get off the phone with The Boyfriend, and take care of a patient.
I gaze at her with worry. Her hair is glossy and wavy, but only because she knows that the more she looks the “Crazy Levine Girl”, the more people will talk about her.
Royce finishes; his voice is even and he’s smiling sadly. He was so damaged from the loss of his closest friend; I can only imagine myself in his state if it had been Adrienne.
“Jon died of a heart attack,” Adrienne whispers softly to me, her voice shaky.
“Yes,” I murmur, thinking she was asking a question.
She shakes her head and looks straight ahead. “It’s not right.”
Royce stands with his and Jon’s family on the other side of the room. He hasn’t talked about what happened to any of us, and I feel shunned.
Nicholas nods, hearing Adrienne’s statement from her other side, but she is walking away swiftly, and I hear her muttering low condolences to Jon’s parents before leaving.
I’m about to follow her when Nick motions me toward him.
“I think we need to talk. All of us.”
I nod. Rarely does Nick ever want to casually hang out. I understand the situation and agree. I tell him Adrienne and I will stop by on the weekend.
In the parking lot, I wait for Royce, who is my drive home.
My father had still been in Bridgeport when we arrived simultaneously just before eleven, and had been called immediately.
He was a nervous mess when he arrived back at hospital after Hilroy’s visit. He hugged me tight and made me promise to talk to Catharine, who was in a state of devastation when she heard I was back in the hospital. I hadn’t gotten to speak with her for long, because she and Peter were flying to Africa for their anniversary.
I start at the sudden voice, losing my train of thought.
“My name is Ophelia Nigmos,” she continues. Ophelia is a beautiful young woman, slightly younger than me, maybe sixteen or seventeen. She has long caramel blond hair and smooth dark skin. Her posture is casual, and she’s wearing dark jeans and a gray striped shirt. Silver chains are wrapped around her waist like belts.
“Hi.” I say kindly, recognizing her. “You’re in my art class, aren’t you?”
She smirks, but gives no answer. Her hands remain buried in the pockets of her leather coat.
“You’re recovering well, I see.”
“You were discharged from the hospital in Bridgeport two days ago.”
I study her face, which is now frighteningly serious.
“Yes.” is all I can manage.
She nods, gaze distant. “I saw you at the high school Saturday. The Ancients were flooding around your friend Adrienne.”
My thoughts run blank. Is she talking about ghosts?
“You…” I swallow. “Are you talking about ghosts?” I try to sound incredulous.
She gives me a strange look. “I’m not talking about photosynthesis, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Intently, I look deep into her emerald eyes. She gazes back.
The car rumbles to life at my back, and I see Royce watching me silently over the roof of the car.
“I – have to go.” I say apologetically, opening the passenger door.
She smirks at me once more. “Yes.”
Her smile fades. She is staring at the empty space to Royce’s left, fear flickering in her eyes right after understanding. She nods to herself.
I close the door. Royce backs out and even as the car pulls out of the lot and onto the road, Ophelia’s eyes stare after us, and her expression has turned collected and mirthful, as if she knows our deepest secrets and fears.
Chapter VII - Scars
I jump, dropping the hot frying pan back onto the stove. It clatters across the burners.
“Dad?” I call toward the front door.
Royce enters my line of vision.
“Oh, hey Roy. You want some lunch?” I grin, gesturing to the deformed mush of scrambled eggs on the pan.
His eyes are sullen. He doesn’t smile.
He grabs my hand and pulls me closer. He kisses me lightly and rests his forehead against mine. His eyes are downcast, a dark and ominous blue.
“Royce,” I say. “What’s wrong?”
He looks down at me. His eyes are tired and sad. He reminds me of Adrienne, without the heavy makeup.
“Are you okay?”
“No.” he says flatly, gaze flickering. “Embry, I need to…move on. I’m sorry…”
Seven Hours Later
I stare at myself in my mirror, face twisted in disgust. Standing perfectly still in my sleeveless black dress, my eyes are glued to the scars. I tug my hair into a bun, and finally walk away from the mirror. Doctor Hilroy gave me a liquid cream that helps scarring fade. She warns me not to use it on my entire body, only my face, and that the chemicals contained in it can be poisonous if absorbed too quickly. Since I don’t have much facial scarring, I’ve almost never used it.
I grab the bottle and squeeze half of it into my hands. I slather it across my chest and arms, reaching to lather it into my shoulder blades. Not a moment of remorse enters my mind. I never want to see them again.
I slide out of the dress I wore to the funeral, and slip on some sweat pants and a t-shirt. I sit on the edge of my bed, scratching the stinging scars. I grab the phone from my bedside table.
“Bry?” is the first word from Adrienne’s mouth when she answers her phone.
“Dri,” my voice cracks.
“Bry? What’s wrong?” there’s a worried edge to her tone.
“I’m in the drive way. Will you…come to my place?”
“I’ll be right there,” she says, and I hear her car start.
When she gets to the house, I must look horrible. I had been crying earlier and was experiencing a strange numbness, as if nothing I cared about mattered right then. Adrienne is herself. She curls up next to me in my room, where we’ve lugged a TV so we can watch bad TV. She cracks jokes, makes a couple jabs at me, and grins through four irrevocably idiotic movies.
She is wonderful. Like nothing’s changed. And nothing has.
As soon as Adrienne’s eyes drift shut at two am, a gust of wind rustles through the room. My eyes are closed and I breathe deeply.
I’m asleep, I tell myself. I’m imagining it.
A raspy voice in my ear makes me gasp. I cough, choking on the powerful aroma of smoke.
I shift away from Adrienne. Words are whispered in my ear. I cannot understand them.
A face suddenly materializes in front of me. The young man, face screwed in distaste. Though his lips are pressed in a tight line, voices dance around me. I try to hold my breath, but after only moments I inhale sharply. The apparition looks down at me. His waist and legs are in my bed, his torso rising from the blankets, as though he walked through it.
He grabs my wrist. I bite back a scream.
He’s the only spirit here. I don’t know how he’s here – I’ve never had a ghost appear when I was not alone.
I am terrified. I had no idea they possessed the ability to physically touch living things. He looks more solid; his color and frame less gaseous. His eyes are no longer white shapes, but clear and distinct, though they are still the golden red color of the rest of his spectral body. His face falls, becoming unmasked of emotions. His thumb presses into my palm. A burning sensation bursts from his touch. I frantically try to pull away, like a rabbit in a trap.
Flames spread across my flesh, searing up my arms and across my shoulders and back. I try to tell myself it’s the medication. I curse myself for using it, but I was aching inside…I couldn’t look at the scars that caused this, caused Royce to change, caused this…
I force myself to ignore it until the realization of the pain hits me like a ton of bricks.
Now I scream.
But there is no sound.
Only a shiver-inducing whisper.
I scream and scream and scream. My body is consumed with flames.
My back is arched off the bed in agony.
Adrienne hasn’t so much as twitched.
The ghost has vanished.
I can feel it - the flames preying on my scarred flesh, burning deep to the bone.
Chapter VIII - The Last Specter: Part 1 Finale
I awake to nothing. Nothing. A very blatant term that is overused by most, but it is the only way to describe the empty space I consume right now. My awareness spikes and I am mega-aware of the blackness that surrounds me.
I can’t see or hear anything, though I sense rather that feel my body, lungs still breathing and heart still pumping.
I’m experiencing a most profound sense of emptiness and loss. Totally stripped of all senses, I feel violated and relieved at the same time.
Some cosmic light switch ignites and I’m standing on an icy sidewalk in a neighborhood I don’t recognize. The overwhelming realignment of my body and senses makes my head spin. Mountains of snow cover the roads and lawns, as if anyone has not yet awoken to notice the mounds of cold precipitation.
I shiver, feeling a sleek white wool jacket coating my arms. A fur-laced hood wraps around my neck, and I realize that I saw this jacket once, in the catalogue last winter when I was in the hospital.
A cold breeze brushes my face, making me shudder. My breath wisps from my lips in a cool cloud, and I pull up my hood. I ache for the warm Spring weather that has recently blossomed these last couple of weeks.
I look down the powdered sidewalk and see a figure come up the hill with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He’s wearing a long jacket and dress pants with a starched white shirt and sage green waistcoat. A short top hat hides his slicked dark hair.
I stand and wait for him autonomously, without thinking.
He comes to a stop a few feet away, straightening and adjusting his coat. He clears his throat, eyes darting to meet mine. They are forest green, with flecks of blue. He holds my gaze steadily, and I eventually recognize him as the last specter from that night.
“Is this a dream?” I’m surprised by my question. I barely even questioned whether I should say anything – just as the thought to ask occurred to me, the question blurted from my lips.
“Yes,” he replies. “Your dream.”
“Why is it so cold here?” I ask, voice shaky in the chill air. Again, the question asks itself. I press my lips together.
He gazes at the snow, as if only just noticing it. He shrugs lightly. “Seems you dislike the heat as much as I,”
“Because of the Eternal Flames,” he says simply, returning his eyes to mine. They seem to glow briefly, a flash of his ghostly self. “They bind me to you,”
I stare at him. He watches me intently.
“Why do you ask?”
I scowl at him. He frowns at me, irritated. “I cannot answer all of your questions. There is specific meaning for everything.”
“What is the meaning of this dream?”
“To show you that I am real.”
I concentrate of his face, his clothing, trying to memorize him for when I wake up. “I know that.”
“Then why are your thoughts doubtful?”
I blink at him. I don’t have time to think before I blurt out a retort. “Because you told me this was a dream.”
His frown remains, unimpressed by my response. Suddenly, the blank sensation is back. I hear myself gasp before my senses are detached. I feel suspended for a moment, and then my eyes are open to a window streaming dull gray sunlight. My vision clears. I’m laying on my back in my bed, staring out my window.
I shiver at some forgotten dream and pull the blankets over me.
I realize Adrienne is gone. It’s eight am. Probably just getting breakfast or using the bathroom; I don’t remember turning off the DVD player until at least three, so she still has to be dead tired.
I toss more blankets over me as a chill runs up my spine.
My eyes snap open. I stare at the dim light, trying to stop the prickling tears that sting in my eyes. I couldn’t stand to let Adrienne see me cry again.
“What?” I say, incredulous.
“I’m sorry, Bry…but, I can’t deal with this,” his voice becomes angry. “These ghosts.”
I stare at him, backing out of his arms. “Royce.” I say sternly, as if he were being foolish. But I know he isn’t.
“This problem isn’t going away, Embry,” The way he says my name stings.
“I…” I can’t think of anything to say. I just stare at him. He looks at me and knows I’m hurt. He has to.
“Embry, I just –,”
“Don’t call me that!” I shout, turning away from him, from his shocked expression.
Reality sinks in when I’m not looking at his face. I had never associated Royce with hurt or loss. We weren’t supposed to be some high-school golden couple. We had been through everything together.
“I hope you find someone you can live through ‘this’ with.” I say, tears flooding my eyes.
I hear his voice, soft: “I hope you find someone better than me.”'
Bry tries to move on without Royce, but strange occurrences are happening in Flaxen. As Bry deals with pain, loss, and raw fear, how will she cope with the unnatural elements, a young woman named Ophelia, and strange, forgotten dreams, with seemingly no one on her side?