TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
After Steve had left, Ghost figured he'd better look in the back room. His and Steve's bedrooms for sure didn't have any hiding places, so that was all that was left to search. He planned on being focused, and go shelf by shelf. He slowly opened the door and stepped in. He took in the aroma of dust, herbs, and the spicy smell of sage and cinnamon. It felt familiar to him. It had always been this way in this room.
"So far, so good," he thought. "I'm not gonna think about spiders and scary voices," he told himself.
He looked down at the floor, with it's faded and stained linoleum. It was curled up in the corners, and there were a few deep gashes, here and there. Boxes of junk were scattered around. He'd have to go through all that, but first, the actual floor. He pulled on the linoleum in one corner to see if it would come up. It did, pretty easy, so he pulled some more. It wasn't glued down. Underneath, it revealed plain, hardwood planks.
Remembering there was a crawlspace below the floor, where the plumbing was hidden, he guessed there was an opening somewhere. He'd have to wait for Steve, though, to help pull up the vinyl. Moving on to the boxes, he gave the nearest one a kick, just in case anything scuttled out, but only a swirl of dust puffed out, making him sneeze.
Opening the cardboard flaps on top, he began to go through the items inside. It was just household goods that his grandmother had stored there, long ago. There were mismatched dishes, blankets, books, and knick-knacks. In another box, he found some of his old clothes and toys. Looking at these got him to remembering. He'd have to show Steve...see if he remembered them, too.
"Well, so much for that," he said. "No journal here." He sighed, "There's too much stuff."
Deciding it was time for a short break, he went out to the kitchen, where he scrounged around for a snack. So far, he'd not seen any spiders, or heard any voices. A few minutes later, he was back in the room, looking again for hiding places. As he stepped into the room, though, something didn't look right...what was different? The boxes he'd gone through were moved around from where he'd pushed them. At least that's what it looked like. But, maybe he'd forgotten exactly where he'd put them. He shrugged, "Whatever..." he thought.
Going to the nearest shelf to his right, he began moving tiny cardboard boxes, and little vials containing strange contents. . The dust that was being stirred up, made him sneeze again. At the very back of the shelf, was just the wall of the room. Not seeing anything strange about that, he knocked on the wood, thinking there might be a secret panel or loose board. Not finding anything out of the ordinary, he went on to the next shelf.
There, he found more of the same...antique inventory from long gone doctors, medicine peddlers, and herbalists, filled almost every inch of the shelf. Books with recipes for curing things, and lists of what combinations of herbs treated what ailments, were jam packed in between dusty jars of spices and strange looking liquids.
His grandmother had usually let him watch her mix them up in little mortar and pestle pots, and label them for her customers. But, sometimes she'd chase him out, saying the next one wasn't for children's eyes to see. Anyway, he didn't know how to mix any of that stuff. He'd just taken whatever she'd given him, whenever he was ill. It always worked fine.
Behind this shelf, more of the wall, but the boards looked a little different...a little bit of a gap between a couple of the boards of the wall. This house was so old, though. It was built long before people used much sheetrock or insulation...just boards nailed up between rooms. More like a tiny cabin, he guessed. So, the boards were probably warped some, but he knocked on it anyway.
What was on the other side of this wall...the bathroom? He thought it might be where the medicine cabinet was hanging over the sink. When he tapped on the boards, it did make a hollow sound, but nothing moved or opened. Still, it was odd. He went out of the room, and into the hall by the bathroom, looking to see if the walls matched up. They didn't...not quite.
Going into the bathroom, he opened the medicine cabinet. Just a normal thing to do, he felt. "I wonder what would happen if I took this thing down? It's just screwed into the wall, like four places are holding it up," he mused. He'd need a screwdriver, but couldn't remember seeing one anywhere, so he jiggled the cabinet a little. The screws were looser than he thought, and the whole thing came crashing down into the sink and floor, breaking the mirror, and making a terrible, loud noise.
"Shit, shit, shit!" Ghost cursed, as he jumped back. "Now what?" He looked at the now empty spot on the wall, and the mess on the floor. Looking closer at the blank spot where the cabinet had been, he at first though it was just plain boards. But, very faintly, he saw words written there. Leaning closer, he could just make out his grandmother's handwriting. It was in sky blue marker ink. The words read, "Look between these walls, Ghost Child."
"Oh, my God!" Ghost wailed. "It's really real, I think it's here!"
He panicked, and ran out of the room. As he paced around the house, he kept saying, "What should I do, what should I do? I'm scared to look. I have to look. I have to get Steve." A thousand other thoughts ran through his mind. "Maybe I should pretend I never saw this. Oh, crap, the medicine cabinet is broke...I can't even hide the words, now. Calm down," he kept telling himself, even as he worked himself up even more.
Finally, he just completely left the house, and started walking all the way into town. He'd go get Steve. He'd know what to do. He didn't even notice, or care, that he'd left the house in such a hurry, that he had on his raggedy sweatpants, and the old T-shirt he'd cut the sleeves out of, that had the iron on peace sign that was flaking off. He'd not even bothered to put shoes on. Later, he would not even remember how he'd gotten to the Whirling Disc so fast. His mind was in turmoil, and it felt like he just appeared at the door.
He came busting in with such force, that the bell hanging on the door rattled loudly. Steve and Terry were behind the counter. They both jumped at the sudden noise. Steve's first thought was that a scarecrow had come to life, seeing as how Ghost's pale hair was sticking out wildly, all over his head, having not been brushed since he'd gotten up that morning. The raggedy clothes he had on, were now covered in dust and sweat. Ghost was panting and red faced from running, trying to catch his breath, and talk at the same time.
Terry's first thought was that he was being robbed. He quickly pulled out the pistol he kept hidden under the counter, and fired a shot into the ceiling, as a warning.
"What the hell!" Steve yelled at Terry. "It's Ghost! Don't shoot him!"
Ghost was still standing there, taking big gulps of air.
"Ghost?" Terry asked. He'd not seen Ghost since he'd been back in town. He still looked like a crazy person to him.
"Hey, Terry, I'm not gonna rob you today," Ghost panted, having heard Terry's first thought.
"Sorry, Dude," said Terry.
Steve had ran over to Ghost. "What the hell is the matter? Why are you all crazy, why are you all the way out here? Did something happen?"
"Steve, you have to come home! I found it! I found it! And, I'm scared to look. Come, now!" Ghost pulled at Steve's arm.
"You found it? Where? Calm down...I can't understand what you're saying."
Ghost was still worked up, and going on and on with details, and talking fast.
"I can't go right now. I'm still at work," Steve said.
Terry had been watching the two of them this whole time. It was so fascinating to see how they communicated...on the same wavelength or something. He didn't have any idea what they were talking about, but he knew Ghost wanted Steve to come see something at their house, right now.
"Steve, go on...we don't have any customers. It's almost time for you to be off, anyway."
"Thanks, Terry," Steve hollered, as he and Ghost left out the door.
Terry watched, as they headed down the road."That was just so weird," he thought. Since he needed a break, he put the closed sign on the door, and went to see Kinsey. He'd want to know about this new drama in Missing Mile.