TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Ghost took a shuddery breath, but didn't say anything. He was having a weird feeling in his head, a precursor of something bad going to happen...like he might go into one of his freak out spells...and never come out of it, even if Steve tried his best to drag him back to reality. He was trying hard to prevent this happening, to push his mind in another directon, and he couldn't talk to Steve right now. It would scare him too much. So, he was silent on the outside, but on the inside, he was fighting the rising panic he could feel he was on the edge of falling into - a dark, dark place he may never come out of. He tried to get a vision of how he and Steve would get out of this mess they were in, but he just couldn't quite see it. It was covered with a gauzy film, out of focus.
Maybe they wouldn't make it out of this, not whole, anyway. Maybe a part of each of them would be lost forever...a subtle change in them...that they could never recover from the strangeness...forevermore...forevermore...
He needed to write that word down on his wall...but his wall in the bedroom was gone. It was gone forevermore, too. He cried for all that may be lost.
Steve could tell that Ghost had gone into a weird place...sort of asleep and dreaming, and sort of awake and muttering strange words, and crying. He kept hearing Ghost say forevermore, over and over. He was scared for him. He was scared for himself, but he held onto Ghost tight, and hoped that would help keep Ghost in this world, and not lose him to the other world...the one of Ghost's visions. That was all he could do right now. He began to think of the old house - practically cut in half by the tree, and full of water...and who knew what else, whenever they next would see it.
Well, we could fix it up, he thought. Put off our road trip, or just forget it and buy a new house. But, he knew Ghost would never go for that. So, to occupy his mind, he made a mental list of things they'd have to do. Then he started talking about the work out loud. Maybe Ghost could hear him, wherever he was right now, and it would ground him to the present.
"Hey,Ghost, guess we'll have to wait awhile on that trip. Gotta get the old house back together, ya know." He didn't know if Ghost heard him, he gave no sign he did, and the wind and rain were just as loud as it was before. But, he knew if Ghost wasn't totally lost in space and time, he could hear his thoughts, anyway.
Then he laughed at himself. Just awhile ago, he'd wished Ghost couldn't always read his mind, and now he hoped he could. "I can't even make up my own mind," he thought. So, he continued to talk and share his plans out loud, just in case.
Back in town, the storm was causing problems too, for Kinsey and Terry. They, of course, had known the hurricane was coming, and it was a big one. Still, the water rose just as high into the streets in town. They did use sandbags to prevent some of the water from coming into their businesses, and taped and put plywood up over the windows. Kinsey had his generator running. The power was the first thing to go. He also, had his battery weather radio on, too. He could kind of estimate how long the storm would last. He'd been through them before, so wasn't overly concerned, even though they'd urged everyone to evacuate.
As the eye passed over, Terry made his way to the Sacred Yew to check on Kinsey. He'd done all he could for the record store. It would either make it or not, but he needed company. He banged on the front door of the club, and finally Kinsey opened it. Terry was glad to see Kinsey had made coffee, and his lights were on, thanks to the generator power. They discussed the storm, and the damage they'd see when it was over. Kinsey related the updates, from the radio. Then, Kinsey wondered how Steve and Ghost were, out at the old house.
"Yeah, that old place is kinda rickety, anyway. It could have blown away," said Terry.
"Damn, Terry, don't even think that," Kinsey said. "Steve and Ghost were probably in there...it's the middle of the night. I hope they're ok. I'm going to go check on them as soon as I can."
"Yeah, guess we better," said Terry.
Eventually, the storm moved on up the coast, and as morning arrived, the people of Missing Mile came out to see their town. It would take a lot of work for the community to recover, and clean up the streets, repair roofs, and get back to normal. Kinsey went out to check his car, and to see if he could drive it down the road. It didn't look good. The streets were littered with branches and downed power lines, and someone's roof was in the street. Some people already had their chain saws out, clearing debris.
His car was blocked in, but didn't look too bad, and it started up ok. He'd have to wait till the streets were cleared a bit more. The sheriff was out taking stock, and as he walked by the club, Kinsey asked if there was any way to go out and check on Ghost and Steve. The sheriff said as soon as he could get through, he would. So, Kinsey and Terry began cleaning up around their places of business.
Later that afternoon, the sheriff came back by to speak with Kinsey. "Kinsey, one of my deputies went out there...said the house was pretty much demolished. A big tree fell on it, and it's also flooded really bad. He said he couldn't get too close, but he didn't see anybody...or any bodies. He hollered for Steve and Ghost...got no response."
Kinsey thanked him, and now was even more worried. There had to be some way to get out there.
Back at the little cave, Ghost was still in a weird, dazed condition. Steve could feel that he was burning up with fever, again, and his broken hand was swollen, bruised, and bloody. He, himself, had passed out for awhile, too. When he regained consciousness, it was getting dark again. They'd been out here forever, it seemed...a whole day, so far. He was hungry, too, but there was no way he could manage to get himself and Ghost back through all the trees and debris, in the dark. He'd just have to wait until morning.
He had not heard the deputy calling out earlier, and even if he'd been awake, it was too far...over a mile away. He did get up and move around outside the cave, and let Ghost stretch out awhile. They'd been cramped up in there too long already. After the rain, the heat came back. It was oppressive and heavy with moisture. The bugs were feasting on them.
"You nasty bloodsuckers," Steve said, as he slapped at them on both himself and Ghost. Then he realized they were both naked. They'd not had time to find and put on their clothes that night, during the storm...didn't even think of it. So now, he hoped when they got back to the house, they'd have clothes...that they didn't all blow away; and that they still had a house to get back to. He knew if someone did find them out here, he'd be embarrassed to be naked out here in the woods, but at least they were alive.
"Guess I'll deal with that when the time comes," he muttered.
He paced around outside the cave, keeping an eye on Ghost. He wasn't doing very good, he noticed. Still hot with fever, talking nonsense, and shaking, and he'd still not woke up.
The next morning, the streets in town had been cleared enough, that Kinsey knew he had to go find Steve and Ghost. He got Terry, and they started down the road. They still had to go slow, dodging branches here and there. Finally, they were at the old house. They just sat a few minutes in the car, staring at the big pine tree lying on top and in the houe. The roof was completely split in half, and there was still about two feet of brackish water, standing in the yard, and into the ravaged house. They could see how high the water had been, by the dirty marks on the outside walls of the house. They estimated it being within two feet of the roof.
"My, God, Terry," said Kinsey. "If they were in there...how could they have come through it alive? I'm scared to look."
"We have to, Kinsey," said Terry. "This is worse than I even imagined, but we have to do everything we can for them...dead or alive."
Kinsey nodded. They walked through the stagnant water, toward the house. With no need to use the door, as it wasn't there anymore, they went inside...afraid of what they'd find. The inside of the house was as they expected...total chaos. They searched everywhere, and called out for them, and were relieved when they didn't find them in that mess.
Terry shrugged, "Well, where did they go? Steve's car is still here...what do we do now?"
"Well, let's go out back. Maybe they made it to the graveyard," Kinsey said. They sloshed through the debris filled water, calling out as they went.
Steve knew he had to get back to the house as soon as possible. Ghost needed medical treatment, or he might not make it another day. They'd had no food or water, since before the hurricane. He couldn't even remember how long that had been. His mind was fuzzy about details now, as the whole situation sank in. Lack of food was making him weak. He tried to wake Ghost, and managed to get him on his feet. Ghost was sort of awake, and looked like hell...didn't seem to know what happened or where he was, but at least he was putting one foot in front of the other, while leaning on Steve. Carefully making their way to the house, as they got closer, Steve thought he heard someone calling for them.
"Hey, Ghost, they're looking for us. We're almost home," he said.
Ghost just stood there, looking confused. Steve hollered back as loud as he could, several times..."We're here...over here!"
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing