"Mr. and Dr. Osmani have given their approval for us to call an exorcist." Alana announced as she walked into the dining room.
Looks went from person to person. Everyone was silently asking if they should tell Alana about what they'd just been through.
Finally it was Charity who said, "The four of us have just been through a mass delusion."
Alana was startled by the announcement, and cautiously asked, "What are you talking about?"
Derek looked up from his work, trying to salvage what he could of their equipment and said, "We've been wandering around this house for hours, lost in a maze of rooms that didn't connect and doorways that went to the wrong places."
"When we finally snapped out of it, we were back in the entry hall, talking with you and Mrs. Batton." Kerry added.
"So this entity was able to put you into a shared dream state?" Alana asked slowly.
"Yes. It wasn't until Kerry remembered what Mrs. Batton had said about seeing past the lies that we were able to throw off the illusion." Charity said seriously.
Alana thought about that for a moment, then shook her head dismissively.
"We can't let that distract us. Time is too precious for us to be wasting it." Alana said firmly, then turned to Derek and said, "I need for you to call Merryl and ask her to come over as quickly as possible."
"I think we should call Christoph and Father Francis, too. This thing is too big and nasty for us to deal with on our own." Derek said frankly.
"I'd really like for us to pin down what we're dealing with before calling in anymore outside help." Alana said honestly.
"I'd like that, too." Charity said seriously, then added, "But this thing is too big and powerful for that. We should call for the help that we might need while we still can."
"Alana, please think about it. This thing just swept four of us up into an illusion and we were barely able to break out of it. If it gathers its strength and does that again, we might not be strong enough to find our way back." Kerry urged her to understand.
After a moment to consider, Alana turned to Derek and quietly said, "Call them."
Derek immediately took out his cellphone, relieved to find that it wasn't melted, as he remembered.
"While we're waiting on them to arrive, I suppose that we should do our best to gather whatever evidence that we've been able to collect so that we can present it to them. Even if we don't have all the answers, we can still do our best to provide as many clues for them as possible." Alana said thoughtfully.
A sudden ::thunk:: caused everyone to turn at once to find a small hatchet embedded in the table, right beside Charity.
"Check yourself." Kerry said immediately.
When she looked at Kerry with question, he explained, "Just about every time we've seen one of these weapons appear, it's been followed by one of us getting a fresh wound."
"Oh, no." Charity gasped as she began patting herself down, searching for any sign of injury.
"I'll help you." Alana said in a weak voice.
"We should check, too." Van said from Kerry's side.
"Right." Kerry agreed.
Charity gasped as she located a freshly opened wound on her hip, just above her waistline.
"Let me check your back." Van said in a rush.
"Thanks." Kerry said as he raised his shirt.
"You're clear." Van said seriously.
Kerry turned to find Van turning away and raising his shirt.
After a brief inspection, Kerry said, "You're fine, too."
"It's trying to distract us." Charity said in a warning tone.
"Yeah. It's doing a pretty good job of it." Derek said frankly, then turned his attention back to his cellphone, "Oh, hi Ash, is Merryl available? We're on a case and it looks like we're going to need her services."
"I need to get Dr. Osmani to look at this." Alana said anxiously.
"I think she needs to be with her husband right now. I'll get the first aid kit and take care of it." Kerry said decisively.
Alana seemed to be about to object, but finally nodded in his direction.
"Do you want to come with me?" Kerry asked Van with a quick smile.
"Yeah." Van whispered, then with one last concerned look back at Charity, followed Kerry out of the dining room.
* * * * *
"It sure is nice to have the dining room connecting to the hallway again." Kerry said with a smile as they hurried toward the front door.
"I think I'm more scared than I've ever been." Van whispered nervously.
"If it's too much, I can call my wife and she can come and get you. You've been incredible and helped us out a lot, but you don't have to stay. Alana's calling in the experts, so there's probably not going to be much for the rest of us to do." Kerry was saying as they walked out the front door.
"No. I'll stay. As long as I'm here with you, I know that I'll be okay. Besides, I want to see how they get rid of this thing." Van said honestly.
Kerry walked to the curb, then stopped when he realized what he'd forgotten.
"What's wrong?" Van asked cautiously.
"I forgot to get the keys from Alana." Kerry quietly admitted.
"I'll go get them." Van said immediately.
"No. None of us goes anywhere alone." Kerry said firmly.
Van looked back at him with question.
"I'm not going to let anything happen to you." Kerry said as he looked into Van's eyes, then continued, "Let's go."
* * * * *
As Kerry and Van walked into the dining room, they found Derek talking on his cellphone while Alana was kneeling beside Charity, carefully inspecting the wound on her hip.
"I forgot the keys." Kerry quietly admitted.
Alana fished in her pocket, then tossed her set of keys at Kerry.
"Is she okay?" Kerry asked cautiously.
"Get the first aid kit." Alana said as she spared Kerry an anxious glance.
"On its way." Kerry assured her, then hurried out of the room with Van at his side.
* * * * *
Once Kerry and Van had collected the first aid kit and delivered it to Alana, they stood back while Alana disinfected and dressed Charity's injury.
Derek had been on the phone the whole time, but neither paid attention to what he was saying on his side of the conversation.
"Good news." Derek finally said as he put his cellphone away.
"We could use some." Charity said frankly.
"I talked to Merryl, Christoph, and Father Francis. They're all on their way over here." Derek said happily.
"Thank you." Alana said with a smile of weary relief.
"I guess we'd better get this place cleaned up, if we're going to be having company." Derek said as he looked around at the chaotic mess of electronics.
"If you'll tell us what to do, we'll help." Kerry said immediately.
"I was hoping you'd say that." Derek said with a smile, then pointed at a stack of damaged equipment and said, "All of that can go in the back of the van."
"You up to it?" Kerry asked the teenager at his side.
"Let's do it." Van said seriously.
* * * * *
"Are you okay to continue? We can call Max to come and get you if you don't feel like going on." Alana asked Charity cautiously.
"No. I'm good." Charity assured her, then added, "Besides, I want to be here, just in case there's a chance for me to get some payback."
"That's the Charity we all know and love." Derek said from his place at the dining room table, a few feet away.
"How are things going with the tech?" Alana asked as she reluctantly left Charity's side.
"I've been able to get the wireless feeds back up. Nothing seems to be going on, out there." Derek said as he gestured toward the monitor, then added, "We lost two of the external hard drives. I won't know until we get back to the office if they're a total loss, but either way, it looks like the internal drives on the laptops have a copy of everything we need."
"Good." Alana said with an approving nod.
"Unless you have some plan that I don't know about, we should probably start breaking down the cameras and collecting the DVRs. Depending on how things go, there might not be a good time to do it later." Derek said frankly.
"Yes. Let's do that. We don't have much time." Alana said decisively.
"Do you want to wait here while we get the cameras?" Derek asked Charity cautiously.
"You're not leaving me here, alone." Charity said firmly.
Derek smiled at the response, then said, "Good idea."
* * * * *
Alana, Charity and Derek went about the business of gathering cameras upstairs while Kerry and Van retrieved those on the ground floor.
"Do you know what's about to happen?" Van asked quietly as they worked together to put one of the cameras back into its messenger bag.
"Are you asking me if I'm clairvoyant?" Kerry asked cautiously.
"No! I'm asking about the people that they called in. What are they going to do?" Van asked with a smile.
"Oh? I really don't know." Kerry said honestly, then added, "I know Father Francis. He helped out at my house, when we were having a problem. He's a priest. He does blessings and stuff like that."
"Do you think that'll help?" Van asked cautiously.
Kerry looked around, verifying that they'd collected everything that they needed to, then motioned for them to start walking before responding, "From the way Alana and the others talked about it, I get the feeling that Father Francis is kind of a 'jack of all trades' for spiritual stuff. He's good at a lot of things and is able to help a lot of people. But when it's something really big and complicated, we need an 'expert' to deal with it."
"Look." Van whispered as he pointed at a weapon that looked like a cross between an axe and a spear, deeply imbedded in the floor of the hallway, just outside the dining room door.
"Ignore it." Kerry said as he continued past it, toward the front door.
* * * * *
"Your ghost is really starting to piss me off." Kerry said frankly as they stood outside the van.
"What's wrong?" Van asked with concern.
"The keys are missing." Kerry said frankly.
Van patted his pockets and was surprised to find Alana's ring of keys.
"I really hope that we can get things put right for you and your family. I hate things being like this." Kerry said honestly as he opened the back of the van and started loading the messenger bags inside.
"I guess it's been going bad for a long time. But until it got so bad that we couldn't ignore it, that's just the way we lived." Van said frankly.
Kerry slammed the back door, then checked to verify that it was locked before starting to walk back toward the house.
"Do you think Malika's okay?" Van asked cautiously.
"She's fine. If there were any problem at all, Toni or Lorra would have called me right away." Kerry assured him.
"It's good that you trust your daughter, like that." Van said quietly.
"She's a good kid. But she's also been studying like crazy trying to learn everything she can about the paranormal so that she can join the team when she's old enough." Kerry said proudly.
"Are you okay with that?" Van asked cautiously.
"Not entirely, but she has to be free to make her own decisions. And, if she's determined to do paranormal research, I'd rather that she take the time and put in the effort to learn everything that she can about it." Kerry said as they walked into the house, then added, "I'd have a lot more of a problem with it if she were just dabbling and not putting in the work to do it right."
"She's lucky to have you as a dad." Van said thoughtfully.
Kerry slung a casual arm around Van's shoulders as he said, "I may not be your dad, but I can still help you and be there for you when you need me."
"Yeah." Van said quietly as he timidly put his arm around Kerry's waist and briefly returned the hug.
* * * * *
When they walked into the dining room, Kerry patted his pockets, then held out his hand, palm up, to Van.
"What?" Van asked curiously.
"Do you have the keys, again?" Kerry asked with a smile.
Van quickly patted his pockets, then retrieved the keys and handed them to Kerry.
"Here are your keys. But if they turn up missing, check Van's pockets. They seem to like to hide there." Kerry said playfully as he handed the ring of keys to Alana.
"What do you mean? Are you talking about apportation?" Alana asked cautiously.
"What's that?" Van asked curiously.
"That's things disappearing from one place and appearing in another." Kerry explained to Van, then turned to Alana and answered, "Yes. Things have been disappearing around here since we first walked into this house."
"I haven't seen any instances of that." Alana said thoughtfully.
"I just naturally assumed that that was what was happening with all the weapons." Kerry said frankly.
"I suppose that it could be apportation." Alana said thoughtfully, then continued, "But that begs the question, where are they coming from?"
"The basement." Van said simply.
"What do you mean?" Alana asked suddenly.
"I guess that when we moved in, there was one wall in the living room covered with all kinds of weapons. I don't know where my parents put them when they took them down, but I always figured that that's where the weapons were coming from." Van said honestly.
"Do you want us to go to the basement to see if we can find them?" Kerry asked cautiously.
"Let's wait for everyone to show up. I'm not sure what difference it would make, and there may be other things that need to be done first." Alana said consideringly.
"Good. I didn't want to go down there, anyway." Van said honestly.
Kerry smiled at the statement and gave Van another quick hug around the shoulders.
* * * * *
Van and Kerry ended up carrying the remaining equipment out to the van, leaving only the first aid kit and the things they might need to present their collected evidence to their guests.
A gray SUV pulled up in front of the van and came to a stop.
Two older women and a teenage boy got out and started looking around.
"Is Alana here?" One of the women asked cautiously as she approached.
"Yes. I'm Kerry Hinton and this young man is Van, he lives here. Alana's inside, we'll show you where." Kerry said pleasantly as he led the way.
"I'm Merryl Huntsman and this is my wife, Ashley. This young man is our son, Kyle." Merryl said with a smile at the boy.
"Hunter." The boy corrected firmly.
"Kyle's a perfectly good name, but he refuses to use it." Merryl said dramatically.
"My name's really Irfan, but I go by Van. The name Irfan just doesn't feel like who I am." Van explained.
"Yeah! That's it! That's how I feel, too!" Hunter said with a smile at Van.
Kerry led the way into the house as he smiled at the fact that Hunter and Van seemed to have already found some common ground.
* * * * *
"What have you got for us, Alana? From the way Derek was talking, it sounds like you've got a bad one, here." Merryl asked as she walked into the dining room.
"We do." Alana confirmed, then added, "And I'll understand if you want Ash and Hunter to leave before we begin. This one is nasty."
"You've got my attention. What are we looking at?" Merryl asked firmly.
"We're still waiting on Christoph and Father Francis. But I think we can give you a little hint of what we've been facing." Alana said, then rolled up her sleeve to reveal a deeply infected wound starting at her wrist and running halfway up the inside of her arm.
"Alana! Why didn't you tell me about that?" Kerry asked disbelievingly as he automatically picked up the first aid kit.
"It just happened a few minutes ago, while you were out at the van." Alana said frankly, then looked to Merryl and Ash and continued, "Whatever we're dealing with seems to expand its power by infecting its victims with these injuries. Mrs. Batton suggested that each injury is its own low level possession, sort of linking us to the... entity, feeding it our spiritual energy."
"Hold still." Kerry said as he worked to disinfect the deep gash on her arm.
"So, that's why you're calling on an exorcist?" Merryl speculated.
"Yes. Mrs. Batton also suggested that we shouldn't try to do this ourselves, that we should call in a professional." Alana confirmed as Kerry started wrapping her forearm with a bandage.
"Yes. Probably a very good idea. If you were being somehow influenced by the possession, the demon might be able to cause you to interrupt the exorcism at a crucial point." Merryl said seriously.
A loud ::whump:: sounded as a dagger appeared, sticking out of the wall, right beside Van.
"It's been doing that, a lot. And usually one of us has a fresh injury right after that happens." Derek explained.
Most of the members of their group started doing self-inspections to see if they'd received any new wounds.
"It's me." Kerry finally said as a bloody spot appeared on the upper arm of his shirt, near the shoulder.
"Let me help you." Van said as he hurried immediately to Kerry's side.
"Where do you want to start?" Merryl asked seriously.
"I think we should begin with Mr. Osmani, upstairs. His feet are so infected that he can't walk, anymore." Alana said decisively.
"Shouldn't we do one of us, first? Just so we can see how it works?" Charity asked cautiously.
"Yeah. If this thing puts up a fight, we don't want it to attack the weakest one of us. We need to know what to expect." Derek interjected as he watched Van helping Kerry to remove his shirt.
"That might be best." Merryl said consideringly.
"You can do me, if you want. Mine's fresh, so it shouldn't be too deeply rooted. And if it knocks me out or something, you guys can keep on going without me." Charity said bravely.
Ash stared at Kerry as his undershirt was raised. The patch of angry boils on his stomach were emitting a putrid odor and appeared to be ready to burst.
"Ash, Hunter, we need to get the supplies in from the car." Merryl said decisively.
Both Ashley and Hunter had to fight to look away from the fresh horror being revealed as Van pulled the tee shirt off over Kerry's head.
"This isn't too bad." Van said as he inspected the wound.
"We're almost out of antiseptic." Kerry warned Van as he picked up the tube from the first aid kit.
"Don't worry. Mom's got a truckload of that stuff, upstairs." Van assured him as he applied the ointment.
* * * * *
"Are we ready to begin?" Merryl asked as she looked around the dining room.
"Just tell me what I need to do." Charity said bravely.
"If this truly is a form of demonic possession, then I'll need to exorcise and inviolate each of the wounds in turn. Do you have any other incursions?" Merryl asked carefully.
"Um... No. I don't think so." Charity said uncertainly.
"We need to be sure." Merryl said firmly.
"I can help her with that." Alana said as she knelt at Charity's side.
* * * * *
"There. I think that's it." Van said as he taped the gauze bandage into place.
"Thank you, Van." Kerry said appreciatively.
"Let me help you put this back on." Van said as he picked up Kerry's tee shirt.
"Leave that off. It's been rubbing my stomach." Kerry said frankly.
Van set the tee shirt aside, then helped Kerry put on his button up shirt.
"I think we got everything." Hunter said as he led the way into the dining room, carrying an armload of boxes.
"I've just realized that some of what I might have to do may be embarrassing for Charity. When I begin, I'm going to ask all the men to leave the room." Merryl said firmly as she took the first box from Hunter and opened it.
"Where do you want us to go?" Hunter asked his mother cautiously.
"Do you want for us to go to the basement to see if we can find where the weapons are coming from?" Van cautiously suggested.
Alana thought for a moment, then carefully said, "Only if all of you go. And at the first sign of trouble, I want you to drop everything and come right back up here."
"Are you alright to go?" Van asked Kerry quietly.
"Yeah. I'm fine." Kerry assured him.
"Everybody, make sure that you've got your walkie-talkies." Alana said firmly.
"Except Van. We had enough of that, earlier." Kerry said with a gentle, teasing smile at him.
"It wasn't my idea! The radio just kept appearing in my hand." Van said in his defense.
"Call us if there's any problem." Derek said as he moved toward the door.
"Count on it." Alana assured him.
"Ow!" Derek exclaimed as he grabbed his side.
"What happened?" Van asked as he grabbed Derek to steady him, since he looked like he was about to pass out.
"Mom?" Hunter asked in a trembling voice as he looked at the bush axe embedded in the floor, inches from his left foot.
"I think that means that it doesn't want you to go." Merryl said frankly, then looked her son in the eyes and added, "You're sixteen. You decide what you're going to do next. Whatever you decide, I'll support you."
"You know, sometimes it'd be great if you just told me what to do." Hunter said indignantly as he continued to stare at the weapon.
"Get out of here so that I can work." Merryl said with a smile at her son.
Kerry picked up the first aid kit, then walked with Van, Derek and Hunter, out of the room.
* * * * *
"Are you alright?" Kerry asked as he examined the infected tear on Derek's side.
"Honestly, I've been better." Derek said in a pained voice.
"Do you want us to go downstairs and start while you're doing that?" Van asked cautiously.
"Absolutely not." Kerry said without diverting his attention from his work for an instant.
Van smiled at the answer, then looked to Hunter and said, "You don't have to do this. You can leave, if you want to."
"The only way I'll leave is if you guys leave, too." Hunter said seriously.
"I probably would, but my mom and dad are both upstairs. They're really sick, and getting worse. This is the only thing that I can think of that might help them, so I've got to do it." Van said honestly.
"Then I'll help you to help them." Hunter said confidently.
"How's that?" Kerry asked as he stepped back.
"I'll be okay. It's not too deep." Derek said consideringly.
"We'd better get this over with, soon. The first aid kit is out of bandages, gauze pads, tape and antiseptic." Kerry said as he set the mostly empty first aid kit aside.
"My mom's got all that stuff, if you need it." Van assured him.
"So, are we all okay with going to the basement, now?" Kerry asked cautiously as he looked around.
"To be honest, I can think of a few things that I'd rather be doing." Derek said wearily, then continued, "But, since we're here..."
Kerry smiled at the words, then bravely took the first steps toward the basement doorway.
* * * * *
"If something happens that doors start disappearing or the rooms start rearranging themselves, just close your eyes and surround yourself with light. When you do that, you can see through the lies that this thing puts out." Van told Hunter as they walked down the stairs.
"You mean, it really did that? It moved the doors and switched around the rooms?" Hunter asked in amazement.
"Yeah. It was freaky. But now we know how to break out of it, if it does that." Van assured him.
"What's that smell?" Hunter asked as he covered his nose.
"Rotting. Disease. Death... something like that." Van said frankly.
"You'll get used to it." Derek added.
"I've seen a lot of freaky stuff, tagging along with my moms on exorcisms and stuff, but I don't think any of them were as bad as this." Hunter said frankly.
"Welcome to my life." Van said wearily as he turned left, toward where the majority of the discarded furnishings were stored.
* * * * *
"What are we looking for?" Hunter asked as everyone started digging through boxes.
"Weapons, like that thing that almost chopped your toe off." Van answered frankly.
"You think they're down here?" Hunter asked cautiously.
"Yeah. I mean, I guess we could ask my dad, but I really don't want to bother him and besides, I doubt that he'd remember where he put one box of things from seven or eight years ago." Van said honestly.
"Uh, oh. This isn't good." Derek said as he backed away from a box.
"What'd you find?" Kerry asked with concern.
"A body... I think." Derek said as he covered his mouth and nose.
"Ooh, that's ripe!" Kerry said with a wince at the smell.
"How come no one ever noticed that smell before?" Hunter asked as he backed away, fighting the urge to gag.
"It didn't start smelling... until I unwrapped... the altar cloth." Derek said between fits of choking.
"Wrap it back up!" Hunter said from several feet away.
"No. Wait. If this was a sacrifice or something, it might be what we need to end this." Kerry said in an urging tone.
"How do you figure that?" Derek asked as he took a step forward and tried to put the altar cloth back the way he had found it.
"From the research that I've done, there's been a constant theme. If there's something from another world that's intruding on this one, then there's a 'thing' that's making it possible. It can be like a gateway, a conduit or an anchor. If we can find out what that thing is and destroy it or bind it, then we might send whatever's in this house back to where it came from with no path for it to return." Kerry said thoughtfully.
"Well, we've got a demonologist on the way over here. If this... whatever... is what he needs to make this stop, then he's welcome to it. But, for me, I need to get out of here and get some fresh air or I'm going to throw up." Derek said seriously.
"I'm with you." Hunter said immediately.
"Yeah, let's go." Kerry said, then looked at Van to be sure that he was coming along.
* * * * *
"Do you think that was something really important, or another distraction?" Van asked as they stepped out the front door.
"I have no idea, but either way, we're going to need to go back down there and see if we can find anything else." Kerry said frankly.
"Why would your father put something like that in your basement?" Hunter asked Van curiously.
"He wouldn't. Either he never opened the altar cloth to see what was inside, or maybe that's something that wasn't there before. It could be that the ghost created the illusion of it, to mess with us, or he could have moved it there for us to find, so that we'd stop looking." Van said thoughtfully.
"Do you think a ghost would really do that?" Hunter asked cautiously.
"This one, yes. He's really good at distracting us. He's done all kinds of things to throw us off the track." Van said frankly.
"If that's the case, then why do you think that he's always using the weapons when he hurts us? Isn't that giving us clues about how to stop him?" Derek asked cautiously.
"Maybe he doesn't have a choice." Kerry said thoughtfully.
Derek looked at him with question.
"I'm not sure how it works, but the evidence suggests that for him to hurt one of us, he has to pop a weapon in at the same time. The injuries don't seem to be related to the weapons, but maybe the... apportation, that Alana is talking about is required for him to infect us with his possession." Kerry said speculatively.
"Then what about the radio and the keys... and your audio recorder?" Van asked as he looked at Kerry uncertainly.
"I think that because you're already infected, that he's already here, with us, in a sense. So he can do little apportations to mess with us. But to infect someone fresh, he can't go through you, he has to do a new apportation that sort of draws a direct line from him to the person he's infecting." Kerry said thoughtfully.
"How do you know that?" Derek asked cautiously.
"I don't. I'm just trying to put together all the pieces that I've seen and find some scenario that makes sense of them." Kerry said frankly.
Derek took in a deep breath of the chilly winter air, then slowly asked, "Van, how sure are you that the weapons that we're looking for are in the basement?"
Van thought about it for a moment, then quietly admitted, "I'm not sure at all. When we moved in, Dad stored stuff in the basement, the attic and out in the garage. I guess it could be any of those places."
"What are you thinking, Derek?" Kerry asked curiously.
"Just that this all might still be part of the misdirection. It's showing us things that we're expecting to see so that we'll go on a wild goosechase." Derek said frankly.
"If I get a vote, I say we check the garage. It sounds like the least spooky place to start." Hunter interjected.
"I'll have to get the key from my dad. He keeps it locked." Van said quietly.
"I have no problem with that. Let's do it." Kerry said simply.
"Is everyone okay with that?" Derek asked as he looked around.
After receiving nods from the others, Derek led the way back into the house.
* * * * *
"Dad?" Van asked cautiously as he walked into his parents' bedroom.
"He's asleep. What did you need?" Dr. Osmani asked quietly.
"The key to the garage. We've figured out that what's happening might be from some of the stuff that was here when we moved in. You remember all those weapons on the walls, don't you?" Van asked carefully.
"Yes. I hadn't thought about that... why didn't I think about that?" Dr. Osmani asked confusedly.
"What's happening may be messing with your mind, making you not think about things that might help us." Van said frankly.
"Demonic oppression." Derek said suddenly.
"What's that?" Dr. Osmani asked curiously.
"What Van's saying, he could be right. When a demon gets a hold on you, he can influence your mind to notice or disregard things. That might be what happened." Derek said thoughtfully.
"What did you need, again?" Dr. Osmani asked distractedly.
"The key to the garage." Van said with concern at his mother's mental state.
Dr. Osmani walked to the dresser and picked up a ring of keys. As she handed them to her son, she quietly said, "I don't know which one it is."
"We'll figure it out." Van assured her then, on impulse, gave his mother a quick hug.
She gasped in pain as his arms went around her.
"Are you alright?" Van asked as he quickly backed away.
"No." Dr. Osmani said simply, then went back to her husband's bedside.
* * * * *
"Do we want to stop in and check on the girls before we do this?" Derek asked as they walked down the stairs.
"They haven't given the 'all clear', yet. I wouldn't want to interrupt." Kerry said frankly.
"Good point." Derek said simply, then turned to Van and asked, "Which way?"
"Let's go out the kitchen door." Van said as they approached the bottom of the stairs.
"Which way is that?" Derek asked as he stopped and looked around.
"Over... I don't know." Van said in puzzlement.
"Guys. What's wrong?" Hunter asked with concern.
"I can't remember where the kitchen is." Van said helplessly.
"We were just there a little while ago." Kerry said as he was obviously also struggling.
"It sounds like the demon is confusing you, like you were talking about before. How do you stop it?" Hunter asked anxiously.
"Draw in the light. Let it surround you and protect you. Let the lies fade in the light of truth." Kerry said distantly.
Hunter looked at the people gathered around him and could see their expressions ease as the confusion melted away.
"It's over here." Van finally said.
"Thanks, Kerry." Derek said gratefully.
"Let's just get this done." Kerry said tiredly as he followed.
"Thanks, Hunter." Van said in nearly a whisper.
"Yeah." Hunter responded with a smile at Van's acknowledgement as he followed the group through the kitchen.
Oh dear, I think I need some of that light. Where is the kitchen? I was thinking about having a sandwitch. Then I thought of all that nasty smelling stuff and had a change of mind.
I like Hunter. He's a good kid. I hope he and Van can become friends. It looks as if they might have quite a bit in common.
I keep expecting to see someone presenting Spit pee soup.
Yeah, I know, I'm using puns. I figure we might need to lighten up the situation a bit.
MM has been spitting out chapters at a pretty fast pace, lately.
I'm not suggesting that he slow down, mind you. I would be happy if he were to speed it up.
I will be waiting not so patiently.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher