"Derek, do you have an infrared camera that you can set up in Mr. and Dr. Osmani's bedroom?" Alana asked thoughtfully.
"Yes. I didn't set any cameras up in there before because I felt funny about intruding on them." Derek said quietly.
"They're desperate to see an end to this, so I'm sure that they won't mind. While you're setting that up, also give them each a handheld so that they can document any activity that might occur. I don't know if they'll catch anything, but it might give them a feeling of empowerment to be able to do something." Alana finished in a grave tone.
"I'll do that." Derek said firmly.
"Since we haven't had any auditory phenomena, I don't think we'll need to shut off the power. We'll just turn off the lights and take our investigations wherever they lead us. Kerry and Van, would you like to investigate the main floor of the house?" Alana asked hopefully.
"Sure." Kerry answered immediately, then looked at Van with question.
"Yeah." Van said in nearly a whisper.
"Good. Then Charity and I will investigate the bedrooms, upstairs." Alana said decisively.
"Do you need any help, Derek?" Kerry asked cautiously.
"No. I've got it. How about I get you and Van your night vision cameras and you can show him how they work?" Derek asked with a smile.
"Sounds good." Kerry said with a grin at his teenage companion.
* * * * *
Once Derek had finished getting things settled upstairs and returned to the dining room, Kerry and Van walked around the first floor of the house, turning off lights.
"Why does it have to be dark?" Van asked in a timid whisper.
"The spirits are stronger and better able to manifest in the dark. I don't know exactly why that is, but maybe it has something to do with light being energy. Without light, maybe there's less competing energy, so they're better able to come into being." Kerry said speculatively.
"What do we do now?" Van asked, since the last of the downstairs lights had been extinguished.
"We just walk around, looking at things through the night vision cameras. If we hear a movement or see something odd, we investigate." Kerry said simply.
"Do you do this a lot?" Van asked quietly, unable to hide his nervousness.
"Just since Halloween." Kerry answered simply as he led the way into the living room.
"What's that?" Van asked suddenly.
"What did you see?" Kerry asked as he moved close to Van's side, so that he could see the video screen on Van's camera.
"I thought I saw a face, there, in the TV." Van said nervously.
Kerry brought up his own video camera and didn't see anything.
"Like I told you before, this is a recorder. If you did see something, then it'll be there, in the recording, when we review the evidence." Kerry assured him.
"Maybe I was just seeing things." Van muttered quietly.
"That's possible. It happens to all of us. That's why we're so careful in the evidence review." Kerry said frankly.
* * * * *
After a complete tour of the living room, the pair made their way past the closed dining room door and into the kitchen.
The quiet in the house was eerie.
Neither spoke a word as they slowly made their way around, trying to spot any indication of something out of place.
"Do you want to go down and check out the basement?" Kerry asked quietly.
"Absolutely not." Van said immediately.
Kerry smiled at the reaction, then gently said, "Good. Neither do I."
* * * * *
"How long are we going to do this?" Van asked as they returned to the living room.
"Until Alana calls an end to it. It's possible that we could be doing this all night." Kerry said frankly.
"How long does it usually take before something happens?" Van asked cautiously.
"Honestly, from what I've seen, usually on the first night, nothing happens. We roam around in the dark for a few hours, then we get together and review the evidence, and decide that there wasn't anything there." Kerry said frankly.
"So people tell you that they've got ghosts in their house, when they don't?" Van asked curiously.
"Sometimes. But there are other times when the ghosts don't reveal themselves while we're there. On the first night of the investigation, we usually do something like this, to see what the ghosts are going to do on their own. On the second night, we take steps to encourage or provoke a response." Kerry said carefully.
"How..." Van began to ask, then suddenly asked, "Did you see that?"
"What did you see?" Kerry asked quickly.
"Over there, by the front door. I think it was that little black thing from my closet." Van said with more than a little fear sounding in his voice.
Kerry quickly scanned the area with his own night vision camera, but saw nothing out of place.
"Did you see where it went?" Kerry asked quietly.
"Toward the couch, I think. But it couldn't fit behind there." Van said cautiously.
"It may not have any physical substance. It can probably go places that we can't." Kerry said as he started slowly surveying the area around the couch.
As he was about to say something more, a flash of movement caught his attention.
"I think it moved over to the chair, by the fireplace." Kerry said quickly.
"You saw it?" Van asked with surprise.
"I think I saw something." Kerry said honestly as he slowly inched his way toward the winged back chair.
A sudden ::CRACK!:: sounded behind them, causing both to jump.
Van and Kerry turned and were shocked to see a two foot long machete embedded in the coffee table, just a few feet away.
"Screw this!" Kerry declared, then grabbed Van by the arm and pulled him toward the door.
When he reached the doorway, he let go of Van long enough to turn on the overhead light.
It seemed that the switch not only turned on the light, but also chaos itself.
Just as suddenly as the light came on, things all around the room erupted, launching themselves in every direction. A deafening wind seemed to rise up out of nowhere.
Couch cushions and decorative figurines took to the air, seeming to have no apparent destination. Then the couch and chairs started sliding, moving closer and closer to Kerry and Van at the door.
Kerry once again took hold of Van's upper arm and dragged him out of the room, moving as fast as he could toward the assumed safety of the dining room.
* * * * *
When Kerry opened the door, he was shocked at the sight of Derek, hovering about three feet above the dining room table, flailing his arms and legs, and in an absolute panic.
Various pieces of equipment that had been neatly organized on the dining room table were now on the floor around the periphery of the room.
"Alana! Derek is being attacked in the dining room!" Kerry called into his walkie-talkie.
"What can we do to make it stop?!" Van screamed to be heard over the rushing wind.
As Kerry was about to answer, one of the pieces of equipment that had once been on the table, launched itself from its new position on the floor and impacted the wall, right beside Kerry's head.
"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name!" Kerry bellowed at the top of his lungs.
Derek dropped heavily, landing on the dining room table with an 'oof!'
"What happened?" Alana asked as she rushed into the room with Charity and Dr. Osmani following a step behind.
"I don't even know." Kerry said honestly, then added, "This is a whole lot worse than anything I've ever seen before."
"This thing is bad." Derek said weakly as he fought to bring himself to a kneeling stance on the dining room table.
"I need to get upstairs and make sure that Qaiser isn't being attacked." Dr. Osmani said fearfully.
"You've got your walkie-talkie, right? Just call us if anything at all happens." Alana told her reassuringly.
Dr. Osmani absently held up the walkie-talkie in her hand, then dashed out of the room.
Kerry turned suddenly as he noticed the presence of a weapon embedded in the table, right beside Derek. He was certain that it hadn't been there a moment before. It was old and crudely made, but Kerry couldn't decide if it were a large meat cleaver or a small axe.
"Alana, this is too big for us. We need to call in the reinforcements." Derek said as he tried to gather his emotions.
"Agreed. But I won't know who to call until we've determined what this is." Alana said frankly.
"What I saw on the monitor from the living room screamed out 'poltergeist' to me. It was textbook." Derek said frankly.
After a moment to consider, Kerry reluctantly said, "He's right. I don't know as much about it as you all do, but from the research I've done since joining you, that was exactly what a poltergeist haunting looks like."
"But when Jack and Kyla were here, everything they encountered pointed to a textbook active haunting..." Alana said consideringly.
"Derek, check your leg." Charity said suddenly.
There was a moment when Derek fought to understand her words, but once they finally registered, he followed her gaze and found a blood stain on his lower pants leg.
Everyone watched as Derek carefully rolled his pants leg up to expose a two inch long gash in his leg, which by all appearances, seemed to be inflamed and massively infected.
"I'm going to get Dr. Osmani. Everyone, check yourselves." Alana said decisively before dashing out of the room.
"Are you alright?" Van asked as he started patting himself, up and down his arms and legs.
"I think so." Kerry said, as he started to do the same.
"Would you check my back?" Van asked quietly as he finished his self-inspection.
"Of course." Kerry said as he also finished.
Van turned away and pulled up the oversized tee shirt that he was wearing.
"You've got a cut here, but it doesn't look fresh, like Derek's." Kerry said cautiously.
"Yeah. I've had that for a few days. I've got another one like it, on my thigh. But that's it? There's no new ones?" Van asked to confirm.
"No. That's all." Kerry assured him.
"Okay. Turn around and I'll check you." Van said as he lowered his shirt.
It took a moment for Kerry to get his button up shirt and his undershirt untucked, but finally he was able to get them pulled up so that Van could inspect his back.
After a moment, Van said, "I don't see anything."
"I do." Kerry said, then turned to reveal a patch of festering boils on his upper belly, just below his sternum.
"Malika's been getting those, too. Mom has something that works on that. Don't worry." Van said reassuringly.
"Look at this mess. This is going to cost thousands of dollars to replace." Derek said as he looked around the dining room in despair.
"Focus on what's important. The equipment can be replaced. You can't." Charity said firmly.
"I'll be fine. A little antiseptic and I'll be as good as new." Derek assured her.
* * * * *
Dr. Osmani rushed into the room and went immediately to Derek.
"Yes. This looks much like one of the injuries that my husband has sustained. Just give me a moment to disinfect it." Dr. Osmani said carefully as she opened her medical bag.
"Kerry's going to need some of that salve that you use on Malika." Van told his mother seriously.
"It will just take a matter of minutes for me to attend to this young man's wound." Dr. Osmani said, obviously trying to maintain her professionalism.
Alana saw a movement out of the corner of her eye and turned suddenly.
"You can't be in here!" A woman said angrily. She appeared to be a nurse, but her clothing suggested that she was a nurse from a time long past, perhaps from the 1940s.
"Who are you?" Alana asked the woman seriously.
The woman turned and angrily stalked away.
Alana followed immediately behind, but when she entered the hallway outside the dining room, there was no one there.
She returned to the dining room, wearing a puzzled expression.
"Was that a residual?" Charity asked cautiously.
"I don't know." Alana said honestly.
"Ouch! That hurts!" Derek said as Dr. Osmani applied an antiseptic salve to his wound.
"It will hurt far worse if you get blood poisoning." Dr. Osmani said firmly.
"Mom. If you'll give me the salve, I can help Kerry." Van said urgently.
Dr. Osmani pulled a tube of ointment from her medical bag and thrust it in Van's direction as she said, "Here."
Van took the tube from his mother, then quietly said, "Just put this on and you should be okay."
"Thank you, Van." Kerry said appreciatively.
"So, what do you want to do next?" Charity asked in the ensuing silence.
Alana thought about the question for a moment, then reluctantly said, "What I'd really like to do is call in a psychic to see if maybe they can get some insight into what this is. Until we've figured that out, there's not much more that we can do."
"Can't you just get Father Francis to come over and do like he did for us?" Kerry asked cautiously.
"Try thinking of it like this, if you're having an electrical problem in your house, you wouldn't call a plumber to try and fix it, right? It's the same idea. We've got something powerful and devious, here. But until we have a better idea of just what it is, we can't call on a 'specialist' to deal with it." Alana said firmly.
"So, you're calling a psychic?" Charity asked cautiously.
"Unless you have a better idea." Alana said anxiously.
A knock on the front door caused all in attendance to look up.
"I'll get it." Van said automatically.
"I'll go with you." Kerry said immediately.
* * * * *
"Mr. Hinton. How good to see you again."
"Mrs. Batton?" Kerry asked with surprise.
"I asked Aunt Felicia if she'd come over. I hope you don't mind." Max said timidly from behind her.
"No! Not at all. I'm sure Alana is going to be happy to see you." Kerry said with a relieved smile, then thought to add, "Mrs. Batton and Max, I'd like for you to meet Van. This is his house."
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Irfan, is it?" Mrs. Batton asked cautiously.
"Yes, Ma'am. That's my real name... but you can call me Van, if you want." Van said with surprise.
"Please, come in." Kerry said as he guided Van to stand aside.
"I see what you mean about this place, Dear." Mrs. Batton said in a low voice as she passed through the door.
"It's too much." Max said past gritted teeth.
"Remember what I told you, draw in the light, let it surround you." Mrs. Batton told her nephew carefully.
"I'm trying." Max said as he forced himself to walk into the house.
"This isn't right." Mrs. Batton said distantly as she slowly surveyed her surroundings.
"I think everyone in this house would agree with you." Kerry said honestly, then added, "They're all in the dining room, right over here."
Mrs. Batton stood still for a moment, then turned to Max and said, "What you're sensing is false. It's a lie. It's being projected to keep sensitives from digging and finding what's underneath."
"It's too much for me, Aunt Felicia. I can't see past it." Max said anxiously.
"Give yourself a few minutes to acclimate, and you may have better luck." Mrs. Batton suggested, then started walking toward the dining room that Kerry had indicated before.
* * * * *
"Look who decided to stop by." Kerry said with a smile as he led Mrs. Batton and Max into the dining room.
"You came back!" Charity said happily and ran across the room to greet Max.
"Whatever's going on here is too powerful for me to handle on my own. But I thought you might need help, so I asked Aunt Felicia to come back here with me." Max explained as he happily returned her hug.
"It's good to see you, Charity. I hope that you are doing well." Mrs. Batton said with a gentle smile, directed at her.
"Yeah. I'm alright. Thanks." Charity said as she continued to hold Max.
"Mrs. Batton, I'm glad that you're here. I think you know everyone else, allow me to introduce Dr. Osmani." Alana said carefully.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Doctor. And please call me Felicia." Mrs. Batton said amiably.
"Yes. And you may call me Zuny, if you like." Dr. Osmani said distractedly as she gathered her supplies back into her medical bag.
"Felicia, Is there any way that you could do a walkthrough and give us your opinion of what's going on here?" Alana asked hopefully.
"No. At least, not just yet. You've got a nasty one, here. Let me sit down and take a few minutes to collect myself, then I'll tell you as much as I can." Mrs. Batton said carefully.
Kerry immediately picked up one of the fallen chairs in the room and checked to see that it was unbroken before setting it up and offering it to Mrs. Batton.
"If you will excuse me, I need to get back to my husband." Dr. Osmani said reluctantly.
"Make sure that you keep your walkie-talkie with you and call us if you have any problem at all." Alana said seriously.
"Yes. Thank you." Dr. Osmani said before rushing out of the room.
* * * * *
Everyone in the room was silent as they waited for Mrs. Batton to sort through what she was sensing.
The sound of a cellphone ringing made most of the people in the room jump.
Alana took the phone from it's carrier, on her belt and looked at the caller ID.
"It's Jack." Alana said with a smile, then accepted the call.
"YOU'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" Sounded from the phone, then it exploded in her hand.
Fortunately, she hadn't brought the phone near her face, yet. So the damage was only superficial.
Everyone was silent for a moment, allowing what had just happened to register. Finally, Derek cautiously asked, "Wrong number?"
Apparently, that had been just the right thing to say to break the tension. Alana chuckled slightly, then said, "Yeah. Wrong number."
"I think I'm ready." Mrs. Batton said quietly.
"Do you know what it is?" Alana asked hopefully.
"No. Not precisely. But I think that I've attuned myself enough to be able to see past what it's projecting for me to see. If I walk around the house now, I believe that I should be able to get a sense of what's real." Mrs. Batton said carefully.
"Just tell us if there's anything we can do." Alana said quietly.
"I'm going to need for Max to walk with me. I'm somewhat vulnerable in this state, and his 'light' can help protect me without obscuring my vision." Mrs Batton said as she slowly made her way to standing.
"Derek, can you walk?" Alana asked cautiously.
"Yeah. I'm fine." Derek assured her.
"Come with us. We're not leaving anyone alone in this house." Alana said firmly.
"You'll get no argument from me." Derek said honestly.
Kerry looked to Van, to see how he was doing. Van gave him a brief smile, then fell in at his side as they left the dining room, following Mrs. Batton.
* * * * *
The living room was in the same state of chaos as when Kerry and Van had left it earlier.
The furniture was scattered haphazardly around the room and there was still a machete embedded in the coffee table.
"It's here." Mrs. Batton said absently as her distant gaze seemed to look past the room, to something beyond.
"What's here?" Alana asked cautiously.
"It's old..." Mrs. Batton trailed off, as though she were about to say more, but instead, she turned and walked past those who were following her and out of the living room.
* * * * *
"Do you smell that?" Max asked from Mrs. Batton's side.
"Yes. With all the other falsehoods facing us, that is one of the few things here that is 'real'." Mrs. Batton said carefully as she and Max led the way up the stairs
"What does that mean?" Van asked cautiously.
"I don't know." Kerry whispered in response.
"It means that it might be a significant clue as to what we're really facing." Mrs. Batton said instructively, although Kerry was ready to swear that she had been too far ahead of them to possibly hear Van's question.
* * * * *
The sound of a child crying drew the attention of everyone in the group as they crested the flight of stairs.
At the opposite end of the hallway, there was a young girl, dressed in late nineteen hundreds attire, sobbing inconsolably.
"That's false. Ignore it." Mrs. Batton said a bit irritably.
The child's crying became louder as the group approached.
"There is no child's spirit trapped in this house. This is theater, appearing solely for the purpose of deceiving us." Mrs. Batton warned.
Following her words, the child's crying escalated again.
"Shut up!" Mrs. Batton snapped.
The child ghost looked at Mrs. Batton with a sneer, then evaporated into nothing.
"I never could stand sniveling whiney children. I'm certainly not going to put up with one that never existed!" Mrs. Batton said as she walked directly toward Malika's bedroom.
Van looked at Kerry anxiously, afraid of what Mrs. Batton might be about to discover.
* * * * *
After a moment of looking around the bedroom, Mrs. Batton finally said, "Another false trail."
"We've had poltergeist activity, and this bedroom belongs to a young teenage girl." Alana explained.
"The girl was convenient, an easy scapegoat. Had things unfolded differently, she most certainly would have been blamed." Mrs. Batton said before retreating from the room.
Van's look of apprehension increased when she left Malika's room and continued on to his.
"Plans within plans. No wonder they call it being 'devilish'." Mrs. Batton commented absently as she entered the bedroom.
"What do you see?" Alana asked carefully.
Kerry could tell that Van was anxious and draped an arm around his shoulders to help reassure him.
"I see lies." Mrs. Batton said simply, then turned and left.
* * * * *
"Have you found anything?" Dr. Osmani asked hopefully from her husband's bedside as Mrs. Batton led the way into the room.
"Very little that's real." Mrs. Batton said simply, then gestured toward Mr. Osmani's feet and asked, "May I see?"
"If you think it will help." Dr. Osmani said cautiously as she moved to the foot of the bed.
"I don't think it will hurt. And it might serve to give me more insight into what we're dealing with." Mrs. Batton said frankly.
When Dr. Osmani drew the blanket away from her husband's feet, she revealed a grotesque twisted mass of infection.
"I'm so sorry." Mrs. Batton said sincerely.
"Is there anything you can do to help?" Dr. Osmani asked hopefully.
"Perhaps. This gives me an idea, but there's a chance that it's yet another falsehood that's being presented to me." Mrs. Batton said wearily.
* * * * *
When they returned to the dining room, Mrs. Batton took her previous seat and pondered what she had been able to discover.
"Do you know what we're dealing with?" Alana asked cautiously.
"No. Not precisely. But I think that I may be able to point you in the right direction." Mrs. Batton said carefully.
"Any help you can give us would be appreciated." Alana said honestly.
"Irfan, would you come here?" Mrs. Batton asked hopefully.
Van cautiously took the three steps to stand before her.
"You have an injury on your back, don't you?" Mrs. Batton asked knowingly.
"Yes. How did you know?" Van asked cautiously.
Mrs. Batton smiled at the question, then motioned for him to lean down so that she could whisper, "I'm psychic."
Van smiled at the admission as he returned to standing.
"May I see your injury?" Mrs. Batton asked hopefully.
Van turned and lifted his shirt so that Mrs. Batton could see.
"Max, come over here." Mrs. Batton said as she carefully inspected the wound.
"What did you need me to do?" Max asked as he approached.
"Open yourself up and tell me if you can sense anything from Irfan's wound." Mrs. Batton said seriously.
Max looked at his aunt uncertainly for a moment, then focused on the wound on Van's back before closing his eyes.
"Let go of what you expect and tell me what you sense." Mrs. Batton said in a low, coaxing voice.
"Wait. This doesn't make sense." Max said as he took a step back.
"What is that, Dear?" Mrs. Batton asked in a leading tone.
"He's inhuman. How can he be here, like this with us, if he's an inhuman?" Max asked anxiously.
"Look again, but this time pull back a little." Mrs. Batton urged him.
It took a moment for Max to work up his courage, but finally he approached Van again and did his best to focus his second sight on the wound.
"Pull back and look at the whole being, not just the injury." Mrs. Batton said carefully.
"Oh! I see. It's just the injury that's inhuman, but it's inhabiting a human being." Max said in a voice of wonder.
"Yes. That's exactly right." Mrs. Batton said with approval.
"What does that mean?" Kerry asked anxiously, worried on Van's behalf.
"It means that each of these injuries is a form of low level possession. The... entity... that inhabits this place seems to derive its power in this manner." Mrs. Batton said carefully.
"We're possessed?" Derek asked in panic.
"Technically, yes. But more in the sense of a parasitic infection than anything else. I don't think it could influence your thoughts or control your actions until it had gained a more significant foothold." Mrs. Batton said seriously.
"But eventually, it will." Alana said thoughtfully.
"Yes. If left untreated." Mrs. Batton agreed.
"What's the treatment?" Kerry asked anxiously.
"What is the treatment for any form of possession?" Mrs. Batton asked simply.
"We're going to have to perform an exorcism?" Derek asked dubiously.
"Yes and no." Mrs. Batton said carefully.
She looked around to find that everyone was waiting expectantly for her explanation.
"Yes, an exorcism will need to be performed, but no, I don't think you should go about doing it yourselves. In this instance, I believe it would be best to call on the services of a professional." Mrs. Batton said seriously.
"Is there anything else that you can tell us about what's inhabiting this house?" Alana asked hopefully.
"It's old." Mrs. Batton said thoughtfully.
Although she had said that earlier, in the living room, anxious looks still flashed around the room.
Many of those present were aware that the existence of inhumans tended to be nothing less than 'survival of the fittest'. For an inhuman to achieve advanced age usually meant that they were that much more dangerous.
"It's powerful." She said as she seemed to be looking off into a distant place.
"How powerful?" Charity asked cautiously.
"What you've seen so far isn't even a flicker of its true power. It's just been playing with you." Mrs. Batton said gravely.
"Do you know what kind of demon it is?" Derek asked carefully.
"No. It's too vast and disbursed for me to be able to label it. I get the sense that it's more 'there' than 'here'." Mrs. Batton said with difficulty.
Everyone waited for long silent minutes as Mrs. Batton seemed to be trying to focus in on something more.
Finally, she took a deep breath, then slumped slightly in the chair as she let her concentration go.
"I think Max and I should be leaving. We can't shield ourselves from something like this for very long." Mrs. Batton said wearily.
"Is there anything else you can tell us? Anything at all?" Alana asked hopefully.
Mrs. Batton stopped for a moment, then looked Alana in the eyes as she said, "This didn't happen by chance. It was summoned."
It looks as if summon wanted it there. Grin. Sorry, I just couldn't help it. I do puns.
Oh god, I do have a fifty foot tower, and I have long hair, so maybe I'm Rap puns L.
Ok, time to get serious. This case is certainly serious. I wonder who could have summoned it, and when they did it? Was it already in the house when this family moved in?
If it were summoned before they got there, was it directed at them personally, knowing they would arrive? There are so many possibilities. I certainly hope it won't take too long to get this case solved.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher