by Crow and Laesë
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead,
is strictly coincidental.
The character of Xena belongs to her creators and anyone who may have
obtained the legal rights to this character. No attempt to infringe upon the
copyright is being made with this work of fiction.
This story portrays women in love, and yes, physically loving each other. (Sorry,
no sex in this one we just couldn't fit in this story . Maybe next time!),
There is a lot of affection so if you're squeamish about that sort of thing,
you may want to avoid this story. J That's about it - there are no graphically
violent scenes described in this story. Oh, yeah - there is wee four-letter
word or two in here. <G>
Several references are made to various religious beliefs about the afterlife.
These are made with all respect to those who hold these beliefs and no offence
is intended. Any path which edifies the believer is a valid one for that believer.
This story is a sequel to Ghost Writer I don't think you have to
read that one first for this one to make sense, but it would help.
Feedback is welcomed encouraged, even! Just be nice in other words,
if you hate it, you can tell us, just do so gently, please. If you love it,
please tell us that, too! J Comments and suggestions can be made to:
Thank you for reading!
The drive back to the motel was a quiet one. Lisa was worried about Celine, she
hadn't spoken a word since they left the sight of the firemen combing over the
smouldering ruins of the tavern behind.
Honey? Are you okay? Lisa asked as she looked over at her precious
love sitting quietly in the passenger seat.
Celine's eyes were fixed on the road but they were looking beyond the highway.
Lisa, what happened to those two men? Do you think they made it out?
Celine asked in a whispered voice. Guilt began to settle in her stomach.
Lisa took a deep breath. I don't know honey. When we were down in the basement,
I looked around to see if they were there, but I didn't see anyone. Just,
She took another deep breath, The other stuff. Goddess, I hope they got
out okay. She turned on the radio to try and change the atmosphere a bit.
Celine relaxed somewhat as she heard the song on the radio playing. Settling into
the seat she closed her eyes and tried to get some sleep.
The song ended and the disc jockey began announcing the news.
Fire has destroyed yet another historical landmark, The Old Witch's Brew
Tavern early this morning. In spite of a well attended Halloween party, hosted
by the tavern's owner Emmeline Cassidy, who was not available for comment, there
were no deaths. However, two of the night's revelers were found near the scene
of the fire. Hospital authorities report that one of the young men suffered only
minor injuries and was released. The other has been admitted and no further details
of his injuries have been reported at this time. Investigators refuse to comment
on whether this fire is linked to another recent apartment fire that occurred
just two nights previously.
Celine opened her eyes and looked at Lisa who had a relieved smile on her face.
Thank goodness. They got out.
The truck drove along the highway as the sun rose higher in the sky. Let's
go home Lisa said.
The sun found its way past the closed drapes and tickled gently on Celine's eyelashes.
They began to flutter open. Celine looked around the room a bit disoriented at
first, shaking off the vestiges of a disturbing dream. She turned to face the
warm body which housed the other half of her soul. Snuggling closer she wrapped
her arms around Lisa and nuzzled her neck.
Mmmmm. Lisa moaned and began to stir, heat rising from the center
of her chest and working it's way down.
Morning love, Celine whispered.
Good morning. Goddess, I love you, Lisa said as she pulled Celine
in for a tight embrace. Lisa's hands immediately began roaming and caressing the
softness that was Celine.
RING RING! The sound of the phone startled them.
Shit! Lisa exclaimed, starting to get up.
Ignore it. Celine said pulling Lisa back down towards wanted lips.
If I don't get it, it's not gonna quit. Lisa said as she got up to
get the phone.
Celine lay back down and released a frustrated sigh as Lisa walked into the other
room and picked up the receiver.
What? Lisa said impatiently.
May I please speak with Lisa or Celine? A woman's soft spoken voice
was on the other end.
This is Lisa, who is this?
You don't know me, said the woman hesitantly. My name is Anne
Smythe. Emmeline Cassidy told me that you two may be able to help me.
Lisa listened absently, waiting to get back to Celine until Em's name was mentioned.
It had been two weeks since the fire at the tavern and she and Celine had heard
nothing from the older woman until now.
Em told you to call? she said. Celine came out of the bedroom and
stood behind Lisa, wrapping her arms around the taller woman's waist.
Yes, you see my brother Todd and his friends were at the Halloween party
that night, said Anne.
Oh, said Lisa, quietly.
Yes, said Anne. I've spoken with Andy. I guess he and Todd had
too much to drink. They went to find someplace to lie down and stumbled into the
cellar of the tavern. Andy says he passed out. When he woke up, he was wandering
around outside and the Tavern was, well, gone. He and Todd were found by the firemen.
Andy doesn't remember how they got out and Todd
? asked Lisa, afraid to finish the question.
He's alive, but catatonic, said Anne, Lisa heard her sniff.
What do you mean
catatonic? Lisa asked not understanding.
The doctors say that his body is working fine but his mind, Anne paused
for a moment.
Hello? Lisa spoke not hearing the other woman.
I'm here. The doctors say they think he might be in some kind of shock or
something. There's more, but I can't tell you over the phone. Is it possible we
could meet somewhere? Anne sounded nervous.
Um, yeah sure. I
um, let me tell Celine and we'll set it up okay.
I'll call you back in a while. Lisa said. She got Anne's number then hung
up the phone.
Celine saw the expression on Lisa's face. What's wrong, Honey?
I don't know, that was the sister of one of the guys. You know from that
night. Lisa paused waiting for Celine's reaction.
? Celine couldn't finish the sentence, fearing the worst.
No, something else. We have to go meet with her and she'll tell us the rest
Celine nodded in understanding. Fear began to creep it's way into her heart. I
knew it wasn't over, she said quietly.
Take it easy, Love, said Lisa, burying her own trepidation. I'm
sure she's just trying to make sense of what happened to her brother. She probably
just wants to talk to us to cover all the bases damn Em for telling her
to call us, though. She knows we can't tell her what really happened down there!
what are we going to say? asked Celine as Lisa led
her into the bedroom to dress.
I don't know, said Lisa, frowning as she pulled on her clothes.
Two and a half-hours later Lisa and Celine sat down at a small café not
far from where the Witch's Brew once stood.
They sat quietly going over the past events in their own minds when a medium height
woman with long ash-blonde hair approached the table.
Hi, I'm Anne, I can see by the Xena shirt, you must be Lisa. Mrs.
Cassidy said you liked to wear them.
She sure does. Celine laughed. Hi, I'm Celine. Please sit down.
Anne pulled out the chair and sat opposite the two women. I asked Mrs. Cassidy
what happened that night and she really didn't tell me much. I told her about
a couple of dreams I've had recently involving Todd and she said she really didn't
know much about that stuff so she gave me your number and said I should talk to
the both of you.
Dreams? What kind of dreams? Celine sat up a bit. She had been having
some dreams about the events over the past two weeks herself, but she hadn't mentioned
them to Lisa because she didn't want her to worry.
First let me tell you about Todd. He liked goofing around in a lot of things
that people shouldn't get involved in. You know 'witchy' stuff, demons and the
like. He's always talking about vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. Anyway that
night he heard about the party at the tavern and wanted Andy to go with him because
he had heard the tavern was haunted. Andy said they were drunk, which is most
likely true, but he also said that Todd wanted to go down to the basement to call
upon the ghosts that lived there. Anne was interrupted by the waiter who
took her order for coffee.
Lisa looked at Celine and shook her head already anticipating what was coming.
First of all, witches and demons have nothing to do with one another,
I'm sorry, said Anne, dropping her eyes from Lisa's intent gaze. I'm
afraid I don't know much about
It's alright. Go on - what else did Andy say? Celine asked nodding
Well, he said he doesn't remember much after that, just that he must have
passed out. Anne took a deep breath. Over the last couple of nights
I don't know how to describe it, but it feels like I'm not merely
dreaming. It feel so real, this place I've seen. I don't know this place but I
sense Todd there. He can't speak and I don't hear him but I know he is calling
for help. I can feel it. Anne looked at both women worriedly, afraid they
would think she was crazy or something.
It's okay Anne. Celine said as she patted Anne on the forearm. Go
Mrs. Cassidy said that you might be able to help me. She said you both would
somehow understand. I know it sounds crazy, but I don't know what else to do and
I honestly believe that he's trapped somewhere.
What do you think we can do? Lisa asked.
I don't know, I just feel that there is something more going on. How do
you explain how a twenty-two year old man can go completely catatonic from being
pulled out of a fire. He just sits there, his eyes fixed on the wall. He's just
not there, his mind I mean.
Shock? said Lisa, raising one eyebrow at the woman.
No he must have seen something that made him withdraw like this. I don't
know. Anne rested her chin in her hand wearily.
Celine smiled sympathetically, she reached out and touched Anne again, this time
on the shoulder. Suddenly she was pulled forward. Her mind began to travel past
the café toward the tavern beneath the rubble, deeper into the earth. Pulling
farther until she was slowed by a gray fog. She looked around seeing nothing but
gray, bleak figures, forms, bodies, without color, indistinct in the fog, standing
in lines and lines, waiting ... but for what? She stood in the middle of the crowded
area but was completely alone, as if encased in a protective bubble. She looked
beyond the forms and a splash of color caught her attention. She saw a lone man
crouched behind a fence that was also dulled and lacking in color. He wore jeans
that had just a hint of blue left in them and a bright yellow T-shirt. He looked
up and saw Celine. His hand reached out toward her and silently mouthed the words,
Celine? Lisa gently shook her lover.
Celine pulled back so quickly she felt her neck jerk. What the
Celine spoke and shook her head trying to clear away the vision of what she had
Honey, are you okay? Lisa knew what just happened but she didn't know
what Celine saw.
Yeah, yeah, fine, said Celine, her hand to her head. She felt dizzy
and a little sick. The sulphurous smell of that place still lingered in her nostrils.
Suddenly the table began to shake and the half-filled cups of coffee grown cold
flew in the air, showering their contents over the three women.
Oh, man! cried Lisa, jumping back and looking at her soiled
shirt. This is my favourite one! Lisa rolled her eyes, wishing her
hero was there right now she'd know how to handle this mess. Probably
just kick ass and ask questions later, she muttered.
What? asked Celine, dabbing cold coffee from her lover's favourite
Nothing, said Lisa, grinning.
Xena again huh? Celine smiled knowingly. It was a game they
played when faced with a difficult situation. What would Xena do?
Anne looked at the women now like they were crazy. What the hell's going
Ignoring the woman, Lisa temporarily forgot about her shirt, concerned for Celine.
It wasn't like they hadn't seen flying objects before. Where were you just
now? Lisa asked Celine.
I don't know
a gray place lots of people, I think but gray, like
and then I saw a young man, blonde in a yellow shirt
In a yellow shirt? OH MY GOSH, that's Todd! Anne interrupted, excitedly.
It's the place in your dreams isn't it? Celine spoke to Anne already
knowing it was.
Anne felt the chill run up her spine and little bumps rising on her flesh.
Celine, did you
? began Lisa.
What? asked Celine.
Did you bring anything back with you? asked Lisa, looking warily around
No, said Celine, shaking her head. I'm sure of it.
Then what was this? asked Lisa, gesturing to the now-still
I don't know, said Celine, troubled.
Spatial displacement, Honey.
The women turned to see a very tall, colorfully dressed older woman.
I know you, said Celine. You were at the tavern that night
The woman pointed her unlit cigarette at Celine and winked, snapping her gum.
You got it, Sweetie, she said.
Lisa sighed, rolling her eyes and feeling her irritation with the newcomer growing
by the second. Everything about the woman annoyed her, from the heavily applied
make-up to her incessant gum-snapping and clunky costume jewelry which adorned
every visible part of her body. Her glaring bright clothing was an assault on
Lisa's eyes. Worst of all was the cloying, rose-scented perfume she must have
bathed in moments before entering the café. Lisa felt a serious headache
So what's spatial displacement? Lisa asked, trying to sound civil.
Well, the fortune teller started, see, what spatial displacement
is, she paused to light her cigarette and take a deep drag, exploding into
a fit of coughing. She looked at her cigarette as if surprised then shook her
head I really gotta quit these someday.
The waitress approached rather quickly. Excuse me ma'am, this is a no smoking
establishment, she whispered apologetically. The woman looked at her for
a moment, then took a deeper drag, this time without coughing, and blew the smoke
in the waitress's face. Yeah, yeah bring me a bourbon, no rocks,
will ya? she said, squinting through the cloud of smoke.
The waitress found Lisa's glare for the woman galvanizing and straightened her
shoulders. We don't serve alcohol here, she said firmly. And
it is a no smoking establishment.
The woman rolled her eyes. Then just bring me a coffee! she said,
Annoyed, Lisa took a deep breath. Will you put that damn thing out?!
The fortune teller debated a moment and decided it wasn't worth arguing about.
She chuckled and took one last drag, before dropping the cigarette into Lisa's
Oh you're going to be fun to work with, I can tell, she said grinning
Celine put one hand on her nose and her head down so not to show the laugh that
she was trying so hard to contain. She tried to disguise it with a cough instead,
but Lisa was not fooled. Celine really liked this very odd woman.
Spatial displacement? Lisa said through clenched teeth.
Yeah? What about it? asked the older woman.
You were about to tell us what it is? Lisa felt her voice getting
louder and struggled to control it.
Why don't you already know? I mean your sweetheart here caused it, I figured
you know already, the woman said shooing Anne over a bit so she could sit
in the empty chair.
Lisa put her hands down on the table and leaned forward bringing her face mere
inches from the fortune teller's. Now, look lady -
I'm Barb, the woman interrupted then smiled warmly and put out her
hand in greeting to shake Lisa's.
Lisa folded her arms and sat back down in her chair, her attempt at intimidating
answers out of the woman thwarted. She looked to Celine for help and realized
there would be no help from that corner as she saw her love trying desperately
to suppress a bad case of the giggles. Anne sat at the other end of the small
table equally afflicted, her face growing red with the effort of trying not to
laugh out loud.
Barb looked at the women, baffled by their behavior and held out her hands, What?
she said. Not having a clue to the source of their amusement, nor the effect she
had on Lisa, Barb shrugged. She took the overly used piece of gum out of her mouth,
sticking it under the table, then smiled at the waitress who brought her coffee.
See, no cigarette sweetie.
The waitress smiled back then walked away.
Okay, Barb, why don't you tell us what spatial displacement is? Celine
Oh yeah that's right. Barb said then took a drink from her black coffee.
She reached in her bag and pulled out a spiral notebook, a pencil and lastly a
flask. She poured a hefty amount of the contents into her coffee, then took a
swig from the flask for good measure. She took another sip of her coffee. Ahhhh,
much better, they make good coffee here. She spoke to no one specifically.
Barb, spatial displacement? Celine asked again.
Ah, what the hell, it's not important anyway. What's important is that you
wait, let me find it here
Barb said as she paged through
the note book. Oh, yeah, here we go No, that's a recipe for chocolate
fudge brownies. Ah, here it is.
What? said Lisa, her fists clenched, fingernails digging into the
Barb looked up at her and frowned. You know you really oughta do something
about that anger problem of yours.
Look, lady, do you have something to tell us or not? Lisa asked.
Barb looked blank for a moment then slapped the notebook closed and stood up.
Not here, she said looking around. She picked up her cup and drained
it then grinned.
I hate to waste good coffee. Come on let's go to my place where we can talk
She dropped the pencil and notebook back in her bag and started towards the door,
leaving the women staring after her. She turned You coming?
Lisa slapped some bills down on the table to cover the check then followed. Celine
and Anne came after. They headed toward the parking lot following Barb. Lisa stopped
at her truck and pulled out the keys. She kept her eyes on Barb to see what car
she would get into so they could follow.
Barb walked past the parking lot and headed across the street. I live over
there. She pointed to the purple cottage across from the café.
Lisa and Celine both shook their heads, the three followed the older woman toward
the cottage. There was a sign 'Palm
Reading' posted in the front
yard which was surrounded by a white picket fence. The yard was well-cared for
and the scent of rosemary, thyme, and other herbs greeted the women as they walked
up to the door.
Barb led them into her office. The women were shocked that such a
disorganized-looking woman had such an immaculate space. She chuckled, knowing
what they were thinking. The spirits can't abide clutter, she said,
indicating that they should sit. Barb took her seat across the table. Folding
her hands in front of her. She looked at Celine. You have the look,
What look? asked Celine, worried.
The look of one who has traveled to one of the Lands of the Dead,
said Barb. Which one was it?
don't know, said Celine, frowning worriedly. She described
the place she had seen, including the young man and his silent plea for help.
Ah, said Barb, nodding, knowingly. Didja see the Red-Coats?
who? asked Celine.
Well, they're not really wearin' coats, said Barb, frowning.
They're sorta more like capes with hoods, hidin' their faces thank
goodness those are the guards. Keep the souls in line there is what they
There were people standing in lines, said Celine, remembering.
Lots of people.
Barb nodded. Yep, those are the souls waitin' for bodies so they can come
Wait are you telling me that Celine went to a
a sort of a waiting
room for re-incarnated souls? said Lisa, frowning in disbelief.
Well, they're not re-incarnated yet, but yeah, pretty much that's what it
is, said Barb, nodding.
You said one of the Lands of the Dead, said Celine. Are
Oh, good heavens yes! laughed Barb. That one you were in, that's
the place where folk who think that when you die, you just become worm food go.
There's the Wiccan Summerland, and there's the Christian Heaven and then there's
that funny Nirvana place I think Valhalla's still around somewheres, and
the Elysian Fields, too. Wherever a soul thinks it's gonna go when it crosses
over is almost always where it ends up.
Lisa rolled her eyes. Oh, come on, she said. How do you know
all this stuff?
Barb fixed her with a stern look. Listen you Miss High an' Mighty Knows
Everything, she said. I been in this since I was little and I been
called on by a lot of the folks in all of those places deliverin' messages to
loved ones left behind and such. I know 'cause I been to most of these places,
but that one Celine was in today, that's the worst of 'em. Those Red-Coats don't
call on people in this world very often, but if they do you better listen.
It wasn't them, said Celine, softly. It was Todd. I don't think
the Red-Coats even knew I was there and I'm pretty sure they don't know
he is, either.
Well, that's good, said Barb, nodding. Then there's still a
chance. You just keep that bubble around you when you go there and you'll be just
A chance for what? asked Anne, hopefully. Barb smiled and gently patted
To get your brother back, Honey, she said. That's what you want,
Oh, yes, said Anne, tears welling up in her large brown eyes.
What happened at the Witch's Brew was an accident, said Barb. And
your brother was accidentally pulled into that place before his time. But he brought
that on himself by actin' stupid.
Now wait a minute, said Anne, angrily.
You know it's true, said Barb, firmly. Part of his problem is
you always takin' up for him even when he's wrong -
Hold on now, said Lisa, eyeing Anne's renewed tears.
And you, Missy you need to take up for your brother a little
more, said Barb, eyeing Lisa intently.
What the hells are you talking about? said Lisa, momentarily startled.
You know what I mean, said Barb. You think I'm an old fraud,
do you? I know what really happened that night.
She leaned close and whispered in Lisa's ear. Lisa grew terribly pale and Celine
worried that she was close to fainting.
How could you know that? Lisa whispered, glancing quickly over to
Celine. No one
no one living knows about that except Adam and me.
Barb smiled triumphantly. No, no one living and no, your brother
and I have never met, so he didn't tell me, she said.
? asked Lisa.
How do you think? said Barb, rising and leaving the room.
Celine looked questioningly at Lisa. Lisa, still pale and shaken merely shook
her head so Celine let it go
Barb returned to the room, her arms full of stuff. In the center of the table,
she placed a large quartz crystal ball. Then she placed white candles around it.
Lastly, she lit some incense. Then she sat back down and pulled the crystal ball
lovingly to her.
Are you ready? she asked Celine.
What? For what? asked Celine.
To go get that boy back here, Barb said.
Hold on a sec, Lisa began, What do you mean 'go'?
Your honey here is the one who's gotta go and get 'im. Me and her's the
only ones that've been there with the power to bring him back and I have to stay
here and guide her, Barb said as she rose and began closing the heavy drapes,
darkening the room before she lit the candles.
Anne looked around the place and began to get an eerie feeling about the whole
thing. Suddenly she wanted to get out of this place but was held there by the
love she had for her brother.
Barb felt her fear and apprehension. Don't worry dear, we'll get 'im back
she reassured the distraught young woman.
Celine sat down at the table and took a deep breath. She had no idea that she'd
be the one going back there to perform or at least try to perform a rescue.
Lisa did not like this idea at all. She did not want her love to have to deal
with this nightmarish mission, but she could think of no other way.
Listen baby, Lisa whispered to Celine, If you have to do this,
I want you to get in there get him and get back, fast.
The faster the better, said Celine, trying to smile.
Lisa hugged her and kissed her gently on her shoulder. Be careful and come
home safe to me please.
Barb clapped her hands together excitedly. We ready?
Celine hesitated a moment then nodded.
Okay everyone hold hands
Oh wait. That's for séances, never
mind. She laughed. Celine, you know where you're going right?
Celine shook her head no.
Damn, that complicates things, Barb said as she tapped her long red
fingernail on the table. Okay, I want you to look into the crystal ball
until you see the place you're going. Honey, you've been there before, you can
go back. Just remember whatever you do, stay inside your bubble.
Celine nodded her understanding and began to focus on the ball. Lisa's eyes automatically
locked on to the crystal ball as she tried to see anything in the blurry sphere.
Celine sucked in a breath and felt the pull. Suddenly her head was thrown back
and her body went completely limp, but she remained seated in the chair. Barb
looked up at Celine and then into the crystal ball.
Good, she's on her way. She turned to speak to Lisa whose body was
in the exact same position as Celine's. Barb frowned and scratched her head. Well
that wasn't supposed to happen. She reached for a silver case sitting on
the table next to the crystal ball. Anne, who had no idea what to expect next,
looked on wide-eyed.
Barb pulled out a cigarette and lit it from one of the candles. She looked over
Damn, this really complicates things.
Celine and Lisa felt themselves rushing through a long dark tunnel. Sparkles of
light passed them by. They travelled through the tunnel for what seemed like an
eternity, but was actually less than a few seconds. At last they saw a brilliant
white light coming up fast.
Hey, aren't we supposed to stay away from the light? Lisa yelled
to Celine who was slightly ahead of her.
Celine shook her head thinking, She watches way too much TV. They found
themselves tumbling through the clouds, then suddenly they were standing in the
back of what seemed to be a classroom of sorts. People of all descriptions were
sitting on cushions on the floor discussing the lives they had just left. At the
front of the room stood a man in a shining white robe with a long hair and a beard.
On either side of the room, was a door. As each person finished his or her turn
speaking, the man would either nod and point to one door or shake his head and
point to the other. At last the room was empty except for him and the two women.
Celine and Lisa approached him cautiously. He smiled and gathered them both in
What are you two doing here? It's not time for you to come back yet,
Celine frowned. Have we been here before?
The man nodded. Ah, you're still alive then, that explains it. Have you
come here in a dream little sisters?
No, said Celine. Briefly she described their mission.
Lisa, looking around, spoke up, What is this place?
This is the place of enlightened souls, the man said. When you
truly cross over, you will remember. Here we decide if you have completed the
lessons of this life time and may move on or if you have to return to a similar
life until you learn the lessons you were supposed to.
Lisa nodded as if she understood but Celine could see that she was just eager
to get to where they were supposed to be going. How do we get out of here?
Lisa asked the man. He pointed to one of the doors and said, That one should
take you where you need to go.
Both women nodded their thanks and started walking toward the door.
The man stopped Lisa and handed her a feather, This may come in handy,
he said with a wink.
Uh, thanks, said Lisa tucking it into her pocket.
They opened the door and stepped out falling through the tunnel again.
Barb sat staring into the crystal ball, shaking her head. I wonder what
the feather's for? She looked at Anne.
What feather? Anne said also staring into the ball but not having
a clue to what Barb was seeing. Where the hell'd they go now?
Celine and Lisa found themselves walking on clouds.
Oh, shi um, crap, said Lisa, gazing up at the immense pearl-encrusted
gates and the man standing there with a great book in his hands.
? said Celine looking up at her.
Oh, yeah, said Lisa, her eyes widening at the man who was rapidly
approaching them his face bearing a stern look. Trust me I'm a recovering
Catholic and this is the best excuse for a relapse I've ever seen.
She grabbed Celine's hand and ran back the way they'd come. Let's get the
hell out of here. She winced Poor choice of words, she thought to
The women found themselves in a neutral place.
Where are we now? asked Celine.
Limbo I think, said Lisa, looking around.
Okay, said Celine. I need to focus.
Yeah, said Lisa, frowning. Focus that's a good word.
Hey, what would the Warrior Princess do?
Celine looked at the other half of her soul. Don't go there uh!
Suddenly they were rushing through the tunnel, tumbling out onto a lush green
field. They stood and brushed themselves off, noticing the happy people who wandered
about, looks of pure bliss on their faces.
Hey, you know where this is?' said Lisa, excited.
Let me guess, said Celine, wryly. Elysian Fields?
Yeah! said Lisa. I wonder if
Celine grabbed Lisa and pulled her back as Lisa started forward eagerly looking
around at all the people, searching for that one familiar face.
This obsession of yours has gone way past cute, Lis, said Celine.
It's fiction for crying out loud!
Aw, come on it could be based on truth like the stories of
King Arthur you know
Yeah, and Elvis is still alive, said Celine rolling her eyes.
Barb sat back and took out another cigarette. Jeesh, what do I have to do,
draw them a road map? Celine you need to focus. She took a deep drag then
wondered if maybe she should go in after them Aw, hell. She opened
her flask and took a swig then offered some to Anne. Anne just shook her head
bewildered by it all.
Celine held tightly to Lisa's hand and closed her eyes focussing on the place
she'd seen earlier at the café. Once again they found themselves being
pulled, falling toward the gray clouds which slowed them down.
This is it, Celine said as her stomach nervously flipped.
Lisa looked around as far as her eyes could see and all she saw were figures of
gray shadowy forms. Where is he? she hissed.
Hiding? Celine shrugged. I don't know. Maybe we should look
Lisa felt the bubble that encased them for the first time. It felt heavy and oppressive,
almost suffocating. What is this? she said, pushing with her hands,
touching the strange oily substance that surrounded them. This wasn't on
We didn't need it before. It's the bubble, it's a shield. We need to stay
in it like Barb said. Celine looked at Lisa and gasped, their bodies had
begun to meld together like Siamese twins, skin and bones melting into each other.
One soul reuniting the two bodies which housed it.
Well, Jeez-Louise will ya look at that. Soulmates - that explains why Lisa
was dragged with her, said Barb, stubbing out another cigarette in the now
Okay, this is just too weird, said Lisa. She looked at Celine. Baby,
you know I need to be close to you, but I still need my space now and then.
Lisa focused on their arms and sides that were melding. She pulled slightly away
and began to see them separate once again.
How did you
I just thought about it and it happened. Like in my dreams. This feels sorta
like the dream world, and you know, I play around in there a lot.
Yeah, I do know You have those special powers in the dream world. Didn't
you change into an owl or something once?
Yeah, that gives me an idea. Lisa looked at her hand and brought it
up to the bubble she felt her fingers and a burning sensation. Closing her eyes
she saw the nails grow into a talon. Grinning she looked at Celine who didn't
seem too thrilled about this.
Lisa what are you doing?
Lisa took her taloned hand and sliced through the bubble then with her other hand
pulled at the oily substance until it gave way and oozed down to the ground.
Oh, shit! What did you just do? Celine asked, alarmed.
I'm sorry love, I just couldn't take being in that thing. Come on let's
go look around.
Damn it! said Barb. I told her to stay inside that bubble!
What the hell are they thinking? She took a long pull from the flask, then
found it empty. Shaking her head, she rested her chin in both hands and watched
the crystal intently.
They looked around and saw shadowy figures in lines and lines being herded but
they didn't see any herder. Like waves of smoke the shadows continuously stepped
forward keeping the lines moving.
We have to get around them, Lisa said looking every which way.
Celine walked right up to the line and thought she might just say excuse me and
go through, but just as she got closer to the line of shadowy figures they disintegrated
into gray misty smoke and cleared a path for the pair to pass through.
That'll work too. Celine said.
She turned to look at Lisa and bumped right into a figure wearing a hooded red
robe. She looked inside the hood and saw only darkness, her finite mind unable
to comprehend the face of the being.
Red-Coat, Celine said as she started backing up. She didn't know if
it would hurt her or not, but from what Barb had said she'd rather not wait around
to find out.
Lisa saw the Red-Coat walking toward Celine. She tried to pass through the shadow
souls like Celine did but they wouldn't budge. Celine! she shouted
but it was too late, the Red-Coat wrapped its long cloak around her soulmate and
Lisa couldn't see either of them anymore through the line of shadow souls moving
Celine found herself in the midst of grayness, the shadowy forms milling all around
her. She felt nothing, her mind completely devoid of thought, memory, or emotion.
She made her way through the line with the rest of the shadows.
Then, from the deepest recesses of her mind came a familiar voice, calling, echoing
through her head, pulling memories to her consciousness.
Celine! Celine was startled out of the fugue. Lisa!
she called back, leaving the line of shadows. As Celine hurried back to her soulmate,
she felt the shadow souls behind her becoming mist.
Hot damn! said Barb, leaping to her feet. The woman paced furiously
for a moment, then flopped back down in her seat, rubbing her temples, her eyes
closed. That is exactly why I told her to stay in the damn bubble!
Lisa grabbed Celine and held her close, then pulled back at arm's length, looking
for any signs that Celine had been harmed if she was, there was going to
be one less Red-Coat in this place!
Good Goddess, Celine, what happened to your feet? cried Lisa, alarmed.
Celine looked down and gasped. All of the color had been leached out of her shoes
and the bottom of her jeans, the grayness extending all the way up to her knees.
I don't know, said Celine, biting her lip. Just then she
saw a flash of yellow out of the corner of her eye. Hey it's Todd!
Lisa turned to see the young man running from three of the Red-Coats. Half of
his body was now completely gray, only the yellow of his T-shirt remained.
Come on, she said, pulling Celine behind her as she ran after the
group. Lisa intercepted the young man, placing herself and Celine between him
and the pursuing Red-Coats. She had nearly snagged the yellow shirt when suddenly,
the two women felt themselves being encased in a thick oily substance and there
stood Barb, extending her personal bubble shield over them. In the blink of an
eye they were back in Barb's place.
What the hell did you do that for? Lisa yelled, furious.
I almost had him!
And the Red-Coats almost had you, said Barb, calmly. She wagged
one long, red-painted fingernail at Lisa. I told you to stay in the
bubble. You didn't listen.
Shit! This is just great! said Lisa. Now we have to do
all that all over again.
No, no, said Barb, shaking her head. Now Celine has a better
fix on where you're supposed to go, don't you Dear?
What? No way. I'm not going back there! Celine said, firmly. She shook
Lisa noticed the weary look on Celine's face. Sweetheart, are you okay?
No, I'm not okay. Lisa those things they tried to take my soul. My whole
life, everything I have ever done, or thought, or felt, they tried to take from
away from me. I've never in my life felt such complete emptiness. No way am I
gonna let them do that again.
But, what about Todd? Anne said sadly.
I can't Anne, it's just, I
Celine was terrified of the Red-Coats,
but her soft heart just didn't give her a choice. She let out a sigh. Alright
Honey, are you sure? Lisa asked. You don't have to do this.
I can go back alone.
Barb shook her head. No, you can't, she said. If one goes, you
both go. There's no help for it. It's a journey of the soul and you two share
Celine looked at Lisa and smiled weakly. Thanks, but I wouldn't want you
to go alone anyway.
Lisa raised an eyebrow and grinned. Let's go back and get Todd.
Not so fast, you two, said Barb. First of all you both have
to rest. This work takes a lot out of a person even if you don't feel it right
now. Second of all, I'm not having you two go in half-assed like you did the last
time. You're both gettin' separate bubbles and this time you better stay
in 'em. She glared at Lisa.
Lisa glared back, then sighed, Alright, she agreed.
Okay, said Celine, wearily. I could do with a nap, but first,
do you think we could order take out or something? I'm starved.
Barb chuckled. Yeah, that's part of it, too, Sweetie, she said, patting
Celine's shoulder. You two go on in the guest room, right through that door
over there. Lie down for a bit and rest and I'll just rustle up something in the
kitchen. Go on, shoo!
Lisa rolled her eyes and shuddered, imagining what culinary catastrophe would
come out of Barb's kitchen. She took Celine gently by the arm and led her to the
room Barb had indicated. The two women collapsed on the soft bed, more tired than
they had realized and fell instantly to sleep.
Lisa awoke first, sniffing appreciatively. The savory scents of onion, garlic,
thyme, basil, oregano and others filled the room. She arose and followed her nose
into the warm kitchen where Barb and Anne were busily chopping and stirring.
Ah, you're awake! said Barb, smiling warmly.
Yes, said Lisa. What is that smell? Andouille?
Yep, said Barb, proudly. One of my clients was a Creole lady
who didn't have much money, so I traded her cooking lessons for readings. She
wanted to ask her dead husband where he stashed
well, never mind that.
Let's say I saved the poor thing years of hunting through the swamp and learned
how to make a pretty mean Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. And I do mean mean.
Hope you like spicy.
I love spicy, said Lisa, taking a spoon and tasting of the
fragrantly bubbling contents in the big black pot on the stove. Oh, Goddess,
Barb, this is sensational!
Aw, go on with you, said Barb, blushing with pleasure at the hard-won
compliment. It's nothing, really I grow the herbs myself you
really like it?
I love it, said Lisa, smiling at the woman.
Well, it's about ready why don't you go and wake up that Sweetie
of yours and we'll eat? Barb said, pulling some bowls from the cupboard.
Lisa went to the bedroom where Celine still slept. She thought for a moment. Except
for Em, Barb was the only one in this town who hadn't given a second thought to
her and Celine's relationship. Had simply taken it as the fact that it was
even recognised the soul-bond between them not only recognised, but respected
it, as well. And she makes a truly mean gumbo, thought Lisa, smiling
to herself. Just the way I like it.
Lisa looked down at Celine, her fair head resting on her arm, eyes closed in deep
slumber. And she likes her, Lisa whispered to herself, shaking
Celine's green eyes fluttered open at the sound of Lisa's voice. She blinked a
few times, then focussed and smiled at her love, standing there in the doorway.
Hey, you still hungry? asked Lisa. Celine sniffed, then smiled.
Yeah, she said, sitting up. Is that what I think it is?
Oh, yeah,' said Lisa, grinning. And it is good!
You've eaten already? said Celine, frowning.
Just a taste, I swear, said Lisa, both hands held out before her.
The women went to the table where Anne had already set the steaming bowls. Barb
gestured for everyone to sit and they began the meal, silently enjoying the simple
When they finished, Barb led them back into her work space. Alright,
she said when they were all seated. Now, I don't want anymore of that popping
around the Lands nonsense from you two. She looked at them sternly. And
this time leave the bubbles on. It's very important especially now that
the Red-Coats are aware of you.
Why? said Lisa. What is it that they can actually do to us?
They can take your soul, said Celine, quietly. When they had
me, I forgot about everything. I felt nothing. I don't ever want to feel that
You won't, said Lisa. I'll stay right by you
No! said Barb. You two have to stay apart. If they catch you
What? said Lisa.
They have both halves of your soul. Separate, they can't keep you there,
said Barb. But if they get you both, you'll be stuck there.
For how long? asked Lisa.
Until your bodies both die in this world, releasing your soul to move on,
said Barb. And you both look fairly young and healthy that would
take a loooong time.
Celine shuddered. Okay, she said. We stay apart. We each look
for Todd. When one of us finds him, pull him into the bubble and
Get back here, said Barb. Don't worry about leaving the other
behind You'll both just know when it's time to come back ... I think.
What do you mean you think? You don't know? Said Lisa
Barb looked up and smiled at her.
Lisa sighed. Let's get this over with.
Okay, said Barb. Look into the crystal and this time,
Holding hands, both Lisa and Celine looked into the swirling fog in the crystal
ball. They found themselves again rushing through the tunnel towards the bright
white light until they hit the resistance of the grayness. They slowly floated
down to the ground, encased in a pale blue bubble of protection.
So, um, how do we get our own bubbles? Celine asked.
Not a problem. Lisa pulled away from Celine. She looked at the oily
substance that held them, and held her hands out to the sides, feeling for the
material behind her. She concentrated on the image of a cell dividing. Slowly
the bubble began to separate into two pieces until both she and Celine were encased
in their own separate bubble shields.
That's pretty awesome Lis. I love how you're able to do that, Celine
Yeah, it's really cool. As long as I know dreaming, I can pretty much do
anything, Lisa said. Especially when I'm confronting demons on my
own turf, I can really kick ass.
Celine remembered how Lisa had come into one of her nightmares and battled the
demons which were attacking her there. When Celine woke up she saw Lisa sleeping,
a grin on her face, very aware and proud of what she had just done. They talked
about it later and that was when they began to realize the powerful bond they
You know this really is a boring place. Lisa looked around at thousands
of 'shadow souls' walking in line but not interfering with them. Off in the distance,
she noticed a black tower, stretching far up into the gray sky. With a shrug,
she dismissed it as unimportant to their mission.
I really wouldn't want to be stuck here, Celine said, shuddering at
Let's do what we came to do and get the hell outta here. Lisa said
looking at Celine through the waves of the oily bubble.
The women slowly moved away from each other, looking for the tell-tale flash of
yellow. That was the only color besides the Red-Coats and each other they had
seen in this place. Lisa worriedly glanced back at Celine, remembering the grayness
that had been creeping up her legs and sighed with relief when she saw that it
was no longer there. She remembered that the grayness had been half-way up Todd
and she hoped that they weren't too late.
Lisa caught a flash of color out of the corner of her eye and headed towards it.
It was not yellow, however, but green. A lush grassy field in which sat dozens
of beautiful, glossy black crows. Drawn to them, Lisa moved closer, shedding the
oppressive bubble as she walked. She was surprised when the birds did not rise
up, flying away from her as she approached. Instead, they gathered closer to her
as she sat down in the soft grass among them.
I see you managed your way back here.
Lisa turned to a deep voice and saw nothing but the crows. She looked at the black
bird standing next to her. Nah, she said out loud.
Where is your feather?
Lisa looked again at the crow next to her. Did you just talk?
As a matter of fact I did. Do you have your feather? the crow asked
Lisa reached in to her pocket and pulled out the shiny black feather that was
given to her in the place of enlightened souls. She was somehow not surprised
that the crow could talk here; dreams were like that, she knew.
Have you used it yet? The crow asked as the other crows began to gather
closer to look at the feather.
She held it in her hand and flipped it over a few times. For what?
Well, to shift of course. The crow began to stretch upwards with its
The transformation began with the feet, moving up the legs, torso, chest, neck,
head. Lastly the wings became human arms and hands, one feather held between the
fingers of the left hand. At last a very fair-skinned man with hair as glossy
black as the feather he held stood before Lisa, smiling. He was clothed in robes
equally black as the feathers he had just shed. With a flourish, he placed his
feather gently in a pouch which hung from a belt around his waist.
I know you, said Lisa, eyes narrowed as she tried to remember where
she had seen him before.
Of course you, do, Little Sister, said the man with a chuckle. You
have flown with us many times.
Lisa thought back for a moment, realizing the truth of his words, though she couldn't
quite remember the specifics.
Another crow joined the group and landed on the man's shoulder, cawing loudly
in alarm. The man looked grave and nodded.
Thank you, Little Brother, he said. He looked at Lisa sympathetically.
Your friends have been captured by the Enforcers.
Who the hell are the Enforcers and where are they? asked Lisa, jumping
to her feet. The man turned and pointed to the black tower.
They are in there. They know you do not belong here, he said. And
they are very possessive of the souls they gather. They know you came here to
take one back with you.
One that also doesn't belong here, said Lisa.
The man shook his head. No, we did not bring him here any more than we brought
you and your friend, he said.
You you bring people here? asked Lisa.
We are Soul Retrievers, said the man. As you are, though you
don't know it yet. We take the souls crossing over and bring them to whichever
of the Lands of the Dead they are supposed to go. This is just one of many.
What do you mean, 'as I am'? I'm not one of these 'Soul Retrievers',
You just don't remember, yet, said the man, smiling. Before
this lifetime, you chose to do this work. Why do you think you have been given
the powers you have? In your dreams, you are all powerful. Sleep is the 'little
death' and dreams are one doorway between the Land of the Living and the Lands
of the Dead.
I don't have time for this right now I need to get to Celine,
said Lisa, looking up at the tower. How do I get there?
Gently, the man placed Lisa's feather between the fingers of her left hand. Instinctively,
Lisa began to wave her arm and more feathers appeared. Gradually the knowledge
came to her, as if in memory and Lisa expanded her movements into a graceful dance,
then lifted off and flew towards the great black tower.
Several of the crows in the field started to fly with her, but the man shook his
No, Friends she must complete this task on her own, he said.
They settled back to the grass to watch and wait.
Lisa had never felt so free, except in dreams. She flapped her wings harder, then
stopped, gliding along, riding on the air currents, then flapped again, feeling
a sense of urgency, needing to get to Celine.
Lisa came to the Tower and flew into a window, landing on a shelf on the wall
high above. She looked down to see Celine and Todd standing before a line of beings,
clad in robes which were diagonally cut half black and half red. She listened
for a moment trying to hear what was being said. No sounds were uttered, but Lisa
heard Celine's voice in her mind, apparently addressing the hooded beings.
You don't understand, she said. He doesn't belong here.
Celine cocked her head to the side, listening. It's not nonsense!
I don't know how he came here, but he's alive!
Celine listened for a moment, then sighed in frustration. Well, someone
made a mistake and we're here to correct it.
Lisa stretched her wings and glided gracefully to the black marble floor. She
shifted back to human form, her feather tucked securely between the fingers of
her left hand. She flipped it deftly between her finger and thumb and carefully
tucked it back into her pocket. As one being, the hooded figures bowed their heads
slightly in recognition.
Lisa heard the voice of the leader now, speaking directly to her mind.
Welcome, Soul Retriever, it said. Celine looked at Lisa in surprise,
but said nothing. Have your duties now expanded to include this realm?
Lisa shook her head. No, I have merely come to retrieve these two and return
them to where they belong, she said.
That will not be permitted, said the being. Once a soul is here,
it cannot leave except through the Doorway of Re-birth.
That's not true, said Lisa smiling. We were here earlier
and we left.
The being leaned towards one of the others, apparently whispering something. Two
of the hooded figures quietly left the room.
This is unprecedented there will be an investigation, said
the being. This one, he pointed to Todd, who was almost all gray now,
has been trying to leave since he came. He is very resistant to the process.
Because he does not belong here, said Celine, insistently. None
of us do.
Who brought him here? asked Lisa.
Don't you know? asked the being, surprised.
I told you, it wasn't a Retriever, said Lisa feeling more confident
in her authority.
The two who had left earlier returned and the beings conferred silently for a
moment, then looked back to Lisa.
We now know how this soul came to be here, said the hooded being.
The door was opened to allow several souls to move on. Apparently he wandered
in here before the door could be closed.
So, now you understand, said Celine, relieved. We have to bring
I'm sorry, said the being shaking his head. This happens sometimes.
We still cannot allow him to leave. You two, however, are free to go we
cannot bind a Soul Retriever. And you, he nodded to Celine, are bound
to her. We have no authority to keep either of you here. Just then two Red-Coats
entered and took an unresisting Todd by the arms. They started to leave with him
when Celine shouted, No! and grabbed him, pulling him within her bubble.
The Red-Coats tried to reach inside, then jumped back as if their unseen flesh
had been burned by the oily substance which composed the shield.
Lisa looked at the hooded beings and smirked. I think we have a stalemate
here, she said. Any suggestions?
Can't you control her? asked the being, angrily, pointing at Celine.
Nope, never tried, and I really don't want to, said Lisa, looking
at Celine with a mixture of pride and adoration. She's beautiful when she's
angry, thought Lisa.
Very well, said the hooded being. We will trade. A soul for
What do you mean? asked Lisa. If you think I'm going to bring
another soul to you, think again. This place is
In your world, there are bodies without souls, wandering among you,
said the being. Come, I will show you what I mean.
Lisa followed one of the beings to a chamber. She frowned at the sounds of misery
and torment, shrieks, howls and groans of sheer agony emanating from beyond the
What is this place? she asked.
Those that have not yet crossed over through the Door of Rebirth,
said the hooded figure, sadly. They are trapped. Many have been here hundreds
of your years now.
Why? asked Lisa, horrified.
Their bodies still walk the earth, inhabited by soulless entities,
said the being. Creatures over which we have no control. They are neither
living nor dead, but something between. These poor souls must remain until this
earthly connection is severed.
What do you want me to do? asked Lisa.
You and your mate must find one of these creatures and destroy the body
so the soul may be released.
Lisa thought for a moment.
And if I don't agree? she asked.
Then the young man will become one of these creatures, said the being,
shaking his head. Even now, one of the body stealers is sniffing about his
Why don't you just let him go, then? said Lisa. The being sighed.
There is a balance which must be maintained, it said. A soul
for a soul I cannot compromise this further.
You will let him go first? asked Lisa.
Have we your word? asked the being. If so, then yes.
I can give my word, but what's to say I will keep it? asked Lisa.
You are a Soul Retriever and thus honour-bound, said the being respectfully.
Lisa thought a moment longer. Okay, but I have to ask Celine first
this will involve her, too, she said.
The hooded figure nodded once in understanding, then led Lisa back to the other
room where Celine waited in the bubble with Todd.
Lisa walked into the shielded bubble and hugged Celine tightly. It's going
to be okay, my Love. We have to do something for them, though, in order to get
What? Celine asked.
We have to give them a soul to replace Todd's, Lisa said as she held
tightly to her love.
Well, not exactly give them a soul. They already have it, we just
have to free it up for them."
How do we do that? asked Celine.
I'm not sure, said Lisa. But I think it's one of those things
that we'll know what to do when the time comes. We can only do this thing together.
What's this 'Soul Retriever' thing? Celine asked curiously.
I'll explain that later. In the meantime, we have to get Todd back
he's fading fast, said Lisa, looking in alarm at the young man he
was almost completely grey now. What do you say?
Celine looked up at her and smiled, her green eyes crinkling in the corners just
the way Lisa loved. What do you think? she said. Can we get
out of here now? This place gives me the creeps.
Lisa laughed, Yeah, let's go. She looked at the hooded figures and
nodded. We'll do it.
The hooded figures nodded once and waved. Celine suddenly felt lighter. She reached
out and took Lisa's hand, smiling at her as both grabbed hold of Todd. Celine
closed her eyes, focussing, and brought them back to Barb's. The two jolted out
of the spirit realm.
Anne, take us to Todd, said Celine.
Now wait a minute, you two, said Barb. Where the heck did you
go? I couldn't see a thing once you landed there and separated.
Long story, no time to explain, said Lisa, rising and taking the older
woman by the arm, pulling her to the door. We have to get to Todd before
something else does.
What? said Barb, suspiciously.
Never mind can we just go, please? said Lisa, impatiently.
I I don't think we'll all fit in my car, said Anne, hesitantly.
Come on, said Barb, leading them out back. There, parked in the backyard
was a vintage Cadillac from sometime during the 1940's. Sometime later, it had
been treated to a custom purple paint job. Lisa eyed the car, then grinned as
they got in. Barb got behind the driver's seat. Where to? she asked.
Anne spoke up. Lake Street Hospital, she said.
Buckle up, Barb admonished, and they were off. Barb brought the Cadillac
to a screeching halt before the front door of the hospital. You three go
on, I'll park and meet you up there, okay?
Room 313, said Anne, as she and the others raced to Todd's room.
The three women entered the room quietly. Todd sat in a chair, staring blankly
at the wall.
Oh, cried Anne, kneeling beside him. It didn't work.
Yes it did, said Celine, pointing to a shadowy corner of the room.
There stood a translucent Todd, a look of terror on his face.
What's wrong with him? Lisa whispered to Celine, who merely shrugged.
They turned at a sound in the doorway and saw Barb ducking quickly out of the
room. Lisa followed her, meeting her in the hallway, the older woman trying to
control the gagging and retching which shook her body.
Barb, what is it? asked Lisa.
Didn't you feel it? asked the older woman. No, of course you
didn't those senses are dulled for you right now, just coming back and
no rest. That
that thing in there it's evil aw, jeez! There
goes Celine again!
What? cried Lisa, turning back to the room. She saw Celine kneeling
before the young man, her green eyes glazed over in trance. Suddenly, Lisa saw
the young man's handsome face change as the lips were pulled up in a grotesque
grin, the eyes holding something ancient and evil.
Celine! she cried, running back into the room. Celine arose, her eyes
still looking through the young man's body.
Begone! said Celine, her voice ageless and powerful. She pointed at
Todd's body and Lisa watched as something dark and formless arose from it with
a shriek. Celine reached for the shadowy Todd and pulled him into his body. He
blinked a few times then smiled. It was an incredibly sweet smile, holding nothing
of the malice Lisa had seen in the grin that was there before. She relaxed and
looked at Barb. The older woman poked her head in cautiously. It's gone?
she said. The sighed. Of course it is. I felt it leave.
You two, said Todd, looking at Lisa and Celine. You're the ones
who pulled us out.
'Us? said Lisa.
Yeah, Andy and me there was a fire and you two showed up right before
the building collapsed and pulled us out weren't you two dressed like pilgrims
Something like that, said Celine, smiling at the young man. Anne looked
up at them tears in her eyes.
How can I thank you? she said.
Don't worry about it, said Celine, smiling warmly.
keep this whole thing between us, huh? said Lisa, raising
an eyebrow. Including the Tavern thing.
Humble heroes, chuckled Todd, kissing his sister's tear-wet cheek.
Yeah and you, Kid, said Lisa looking at him sternly. Stay
out of stuff you know nothing about.
What do you mean? asked Todd innocently.
If you want to learn about magic or witches or ghosts, find a reputable
teacher, said Celine, gently. You could end up getting terribly hurt.
Or worse, harming someone else, said Lisa, very quietly.
Oh, said Todd, looking down. You're right. From now, I'll stick
to just reading about that stuff, okay?
Yeah, okay, said Lisa. Come on I want to go home now.
Anne had elected to stay behind with Todd, so Barb drove Lisa and Celine back
to her little purple cottage, offering them the guest room for the night.
It was a quiet drive, all three women sat up front. Celine looked at Lisa intently.
What? said Lisa, finally.
What you said in there to Todd about harming someone else,
said Celine, gently. You sounded like that was from experience.
Go on, said Barb. You might as well tell her.
Lisa glared at Barb, then sighed. When I was thirteen, my brother Adam and
I were the best of friends. He's a couple of years younger than I am and he looked
up to me. I was really into all that monster stuff you know ghosts and
vampires, zombies, werewolves all that stuff.
Yes? said Celine. Lisa sighed again.
You know that I have been able to see spirits all my life, but up until
recently, I've never been able to actually communicate with them. I wanted to
know why I could see them, what they wanted from me, Lisa said. One
night, Adam and I decided to sneak out. There was a condemned house up the street
from us. All the kids said it was haunted. We figured it would be the perfect
place for a séance. We took candles and matches and set it up. I don't
think Adam expected anything to really happen, but sneaking out of the house in
the middle of the night was really cool to him.
It would be to any kid, said Celine, smiling encouragement.
Not to me, said Lisa, shaking her head. I was dead serious about
this. I needed to know why
anyway, we broke into the house and lit the
candles. We sat on the floor and I called to the spirits
. Her voice
trailed away and a single tear traveled down her cheek.
Lisa, said Celine, gently wiping away the tear.
They came not one or a couple, but
dozens, all wailing and
scared the holy hells out of both of us, said Lisa, trembling
at the memory. I don't know exactly what happened next both Adam
and I wanted out of there, fast. Somehow, the candles tipped and caught the house
on fire. I got out, but Adam was trapped. I tried to get him out
was very old and it started to collapse. I guess a beam fell on him, crushing
his spine. I ran and called the fire department, then went back. They got him
out. Luckily he wasn't burned, but he
he never walked again. He's in a
wheelchair, because of me.
Oh, Lisa, said Celine, holding her close. You can't blame yourself.
It was my idea I knew he'd go along because
he always did,
said Lisa, quietly. He never told our parents or anyone else. Just
took the blame himself. He forgives me, but
But you can't forgive yourself, said Barb, gently. And you should
it's past and you can't change it. Even if we all had time machines, we'd
still have things to regret.
Lisa shook her head. We don't talk much anymore every time I see
him, I just
feel sick inside, knowing that
if only I hadn't
ah, what's the use?
Lisa, your brother forgives you, said Celine. It could even
have been him that started that fire you said yourself you don't know for
sure just what happened.
Lisa shook her head. I'm tired can we talk about something else,
Barb turned on the radio and they rode the rest of the way to her house without
talking. Lisa and Celine decided to spend the night and avoid the long drive home.
Celine was showering and Lisa sat on the bed, mulling over things. At last, overwhelmed,
she looked out the window and to her surprise, saw a crow sitting there.
What the they don't fly at night, she said to herself, rising
and going to the window for a better look. The crow was gone and Lisa shook her
head. Remember your promise, she heard, and looked around, startled.
I must be tired, she muttered to herself. Seeing and hearing
With a sigh, she crawled into the bed and fell instantly into a deep sleep. Celine
followed immediately after her shower.
Sometime later, Barb looked in on them. Tsk, tsk, she said shaking
her head as she saw the two women, whimpering and struggling in their dreams.
She looked up and spoke. Knock it off already they need their rest.
Suddenly, the two sleeping women relaxed and slept dreamlessly for the rest of
Lisa awoke first to the sun streaming in through the window and the sound of the
phone ringing. She got up and showered, then came out into the sitting room where
Celine was already having coffee with Barb. Celine looked up at her and smiled,
her green eyes sparkling with excitement.
Guess what? she said.
What? said Lisa, not sure if she really wanted to know anything before
her first cup of coffee. Barb poured for her from a silver coffee pot and Lisa
sat down next to Celine.
Well, I have this friend, a very nice gentleman, said Barb. In
fact, I think he's some sort of foreign nobility. Anyway, we met through a mutual
friend who had this poltergeist and, oh what a mess it was making! She couldn't
Barb, said Lisa, raising one eyebrow.
Oh, yes, of course, said Barb, smiling sweetly. Lisa noticed how much
younger she looked with her face scrubbed clean, despite the generous sprinkling
of silver strands running through her black hair. Well, Vlad has a daughter,
'Vlad'? said Lisa, the eyebrow shooting back up. She looked over to
Celine. Did she just say Vlad?
Lisa, just listen you know I've been looking for a job this
is a fantastic opportunity and it's an awful lot of money, said Celine.
Lisa smiled. Okay, go on, she said to Barb.
Well, Vlad has a daughter, Victoria, Barb continued. She's a
bit younger than you two. He's been having some problems with her
What does this have to do with a job for Celine? asked Lisa, sipping
Well, nothing, actually, said Barb, frowning. Oh, I mean, yes
Vlad is looking for someone to translate some very old documents for him
he seems to think that what's written in them can help Victoria.
And you remember that I studied ancient languages at the University,
said Celine, excitedly.
Honey, that's great, said Lisa, smiling.
Yes, and do you know what? said Celine, grinning. The very best
part you are going to love this, Lisa we get to travel all
expenses paid to his castle. Isn't that exciting?
Lisa's smile faded. Castle? Where is this castle?
Celine giggled. Guess, she said.
Lisa groaned. I don't want to guess, Celine, she said. Where
Aw, you're no fun, said Celine, good-naturedly. It's in Transylvania!
Lisa started to open her mouth to protest, then looked at the hopeful sparkle
in Celine's eyes. She felt herself start to waver and looked at the window. There
sat a crow, looking at her as if in amusement. Lisa's eyes narrowed and the crow
tapped the window twice with its beak, but to Lisa it looked like the bird was
nodding encouragement. Lisa sighed, then turned back to Celine and smiled.
Then I guess we're going to Transylvania, she said, wondering what
could possibly happen to them next
(To be continued in Ghost Writer III:
(We still need a title!)
fiction index | xena
homepage | what's new |