The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Ch. 27

“Go home, Tommy!” Lisa gently advised him. “Don’t listen to the gossip on social media either! It’s not always correct, so let those select few who spout it doubt you! You have plenty of fans who adore you, and you need to be there for them! Write them some songs, go sign some autographs, and share some teasers about your wedding- pay more attention to them than anything else! Then, the rumors will disappear, or at least it’ll feel like that ‘cause you’ll be having too much fun living your best life! You’ll be fine, just don’t let the lies destroy you!”

“What are you doing?” Ezekiel asked incredulously. He went up to the post she was tied to and stared at her in disbelief. “What game are you playing here?”

Lisa very calmly answered him, “No games! I genuinely wish him well!”

Ezekiel contended, “No, no, no! That’s not possible! This guy broke your heart, lied about you to the entire world, and gloated about your execution! You can’t possibly wish him well!”

“Oh, yes I can!” Lisa differed. “I wish him well! I wish for his good health and abundant happiness! I wish for him to do so well that he leaves me alone and lives out his future quite nicely without me in it!” Lisa glanced up at the sky, and she could see the shadowy clouds start to dissipate! She smirked knowing that her plan was already starting to work!

“You are lying!” Ezekiel’s tone reached a nearly hysterical level. “It’s impossible for you to have meant that! You hate his guts!”

Lisa acknowledged, “It’s true, I don’t like him at all anymore! But a lot of people do, so if I wished ill on him, I’d hurt a lot of decent folks out there. Besides, his fair fortune doesn’t have to impede mine! Him achieving success doesn’t mean I’ll fail, so why not spread some love whenever I can?”

Tommy’s blank face indicated that he still felt stunned by her remarks, but his demeanor appeared to have softened pretty extensively as he drank in her words. He eventually threw up his hands and humbly regarded her, “I hate to say it, but you’re right! I’ve had vicious comments about me before, and I will again in the days to come! I guess I was just worried that this time it’d stick and ruin my career, but it won’t as long as I keep honing my craft! Gosh, an apology really won’t suffice in this situation, will it?”

“Not really,” Lisa admitted with a slight grin. “I think time is the only thing that’ll mend these wounds! Of course, I don’t have a lot of time left…”

“Hey, I can’t do much to make up for my mistakes, but I can get you out of your bind!” Tommy walked over to her and began untying her restraints.

Ezekiel bellowed, “Oh, no you can’t!” He pushed Tommy out of Lisa’s range, and he yelled, “These fiends will die tonight!”

Abby pointed out, “How are you gonna call them fiends? They’re over there wishing well to individuals they don’t like, and you’re trying to kill them!”

“They’re tricking you!” Ezekiel shrieked. “They wanna make themselves appear so innocent so we’ll let them go, and then once they’re out, all hell will break loose! If you even consider their release, you’ll be falling for their trap!”

“Maybe they’re telling the truth,” Ann piped up. “Lisa apparently wasn’t lying about dating Tommy Dane, so maybe she’s not lying about the ghost too!”

As Ezekiel howled in frustration, Lisa noticed that Tommy had loosened her knots up a little. She shimmied her wrists around, and she could sense the ties relenting, so she kept repeating this process while Ezekiel addressed the crowd, “She has him under a spell too!”

Beth brought up, “If she had that kind of power over him, then she probably wouldn’t have let Tommy Dane say that awful stuff about her in the first place!”

“Shut up!” Ezekiel barked.

“No! Speak up!” Delron vociferated. “This malicious spirit feeds on our bitter anger, so express some kindness to your enemies so that we can get rid of her and save our city from certain doom!”

The masses seemed reluctant at the notion, so Adam articulated, “You don’t have to like the person in order to wish them well! Like, I’m not real fond of my rival pumpkin farmers, but at the end of the day, I know they’re simply trying to make a living like everybody else, and I’d hate to picture how many families and communities would suffer if all of my competition suffered!”

After contemplating this concept briefly, the stocker from the grocery store Lisa previously visited remarked, “I never cared for our competing chains either, but I’m glad they were around when Dullahan’s was forced to close so our shoppers could still get food!”

“I found my neighbor’s kid to be super annoying, but I visited him in the hospital to make sure he’s doing alright,” John related. “You know, that combustion actually made him wanna become a firefighter? Imagine losing a rescuer over my silly dislike!”

“I don’t enjoy every single resident of Bayside Estates, but if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have employment!” the receptionist observed. “I appreciate their company, and I hope they will all return when we rebuild!”

Soon, nearly the entire congregation erupted in kind tidings towards their neighbors, and it was a beautiful enough spectacle to practically bring Lisa to tears! She could almost see their vitriol vanishing from their thoughts! As moving as this scene felt, she didn’t lose sight of her other goal. She tossed and turned her hands around, and her ropes buckled significantly! She grew close to freedom, but then…

Suddenly, everyone present sensed a dramatic shift in the energy above them! The atmosphere got colder and darker, and while this confused the spectators, the triad on the scaffold knew exactly what was occurring! Lisa anticipated this transpiration from the top of her plot, but a part of her hoped that this newfound aura of benevolence alone would have defeated this adversary! Since it had not, she braced herself for this battle…

“You wretches!” Rebecca shrieked as her virtually translucent form hovered above the platform. The collective gasped in fright, but she ignored them as she rebuked the trio, “How dare you interfere with my foreordination! Do you realize what it took for me to have these abilities? Do you have any idea how much I sacrificed to have a presence here? No, you don’t care! You are no different than your despicable ancestors! You’re perfectly content with me spending an eternity in torment! They didn’t give any regard to my fate either!”

“Listen, no one forced you to make a corrupt bargain in order to return to Earth!” Lisa shot back. “Maybe generations ago, our citizens reached some terrible conclusions, but none of them had the capability to require you to do this- you did this on your own! Any grim fate you endure going forward stemmed from your own choices!”

Rebecca asserted, “I had to find a method of reemerging onto this soil! I could not let that grave evil go unpunished!”

Lisa exclaimed, “We are not our ancestors!”

“Oh, please! Times may have changed, but people haven’t!” Rebecca disputed. “Humans will always operate with the same, self-serving modus operandi! They will do whatever it takes to appease their sinful desires, and if they have to step on their fellow man to gain victory, then so be it! The degenerates of yore passed their blood onto their next of kin, and so defeating your concourse will eliminate their wickedness from this planet once and for all! You may have the delusion that you’ve won, but so did your ancient grandmother! Her book didn’t trap me forever, and neither will your novel alliances! I shall get my revenge at last, and there is nothing any of you can do to stop me!”

“Gee, you’re right! There’s not a damn thing we can do other than surrender! Gosh, what rotten luck!” Lisa conveyed with heavy sarcasm.

Rebecca’s eyes flashed with white-hot rage, and she lowered herself down to Lisa’s line of vision with an intimidating stance. She snarled at her, “Do you think I’m a fool?”

Lisa clapped back, “No, but you’ve been fooled!” She held out her arm, and Adam tossed her the witching bottle! Rebecca attempted to escape, but Lisa uncorked the vessel faster than she could move! Lisa felt a tremendous push against her as Rebecca’s soul got sucked in, but she compelled herself to remain upright during this phenomenon! Within seconds, the blusterous wave vanished, and the area grew still! Light prevailed onto the terrain, and the only bout of frigidness was in the icy vial! It took everyone a minute to register this development in their brain, but once it sunk in, their hearts burst in jubilee- it was over!

Before Lisa or the others coil do anything else, dozens of well-wishers rushed the stage! Lisa found it odd to have so many doting people surrounding her, especially after all of the recent revile they doled out to her and her two closest allies recently, but she had to admit it was refreshing! Amidst this celebration, Ezekiel made another bid for a win on his claims, “This was all a sham! They’re  trying to coerce you into believing they’re heroes so they can go back out and cause more mayhem!”

“Get that man out of here!” JT’s voice echoed over the din of boos that emanated from the populous. He approached the stage as a few people ran Ezekiel away, but since he was dressed as a witch, they recognized that Fredwina was present. Fredwina very solemnly discoursed, “On behalf of the Harlow County Board of Government, I’d like to formally apologize for the mistreatment you underwent! If you decide to forgive us, we’ll do what we can to make it up to you!”

“You can start by honoring the victims of both tragedies!” Lisa threw out there. “Both the human beings and the animals! They were casualties of hate, and they deserve to get remembered!”

Fredwina glanced down at her getup rather guiltily, and then she obliged, “I’ve got a draft proposal for a memorial monument written in my head already!”

Everyone murmured in agreement of that intention, and Lisa beamed with pride. Following a lengthy stretch of admiration for this feat, the gathered group grew saddened upon the reflection of all of the losses from the current and the past upheaval, and the three protectors were unsure of how to proceed from there. They survived, but so many others did not! Lisa was clueless as to how to comfort them, and Adam seemed at a loss for verbage over the weight of it all. Delron, however, glimpsed at his watch and then announced, “Um, we still have a few hours of Halloween left! Let’s go have some fun!”

The entire flock concurred with that sentiment, and they merrily dispersed themselves. Abby curtly told Lisa, “I’ll see you around!”

“See you around!” Lisa reverberated to her. Abby gave her a half smile, and Lisa could tell that while neither of them would probably ever befriend each other, cordiality would befall upon them from that point on.

“Denis, hi! No, everything’s fine! Why do you ask?” Delron’s visage contorted in a way that implied he couldn’t fathom how to explain any of this to his husband before he vacated the vicinity.

Adam and Lisa giggled, but then Lisa’s expression grew more serious. She didn’t know how to account for her behavior towards him, but since  they got a second chance, she had to at least try to make amends for her actions! “I’m so sorry, Adam! I didn’t mean to hurt you! I care for you so deeply, but I got so guarded against falling for anyone else ‘cause of my ex! I was trying to shield myself from pain, but I ended up with more than  could stand by pushing you away! I’ll regret it for the rest of my life!”

Lisa craned her neck downwards due to the magnitude of her emotions. She couldn’t bear to watch him leave, so she kept her focus low and anticipated the heartbreak of hearing him part from the perimeter! To her astonishment, Adam used his finger to raise her chin up, and he consoled her, “You didn’t push me away! And I’m sorry I pushed you into a relationship so soon after a major breakup! Whenever you’re ready, I’m all yours!” Lisa’s heart fluttered rapturously, and she instinctively pulled his lips towards her and kissed him passionately! Their embrace felt lighter than air, and she never wanted to let him go! When they took a breath, Adam queried, “Does this mean you’re ready?” Lisa vigorously nodded, and they smooched each other once more!

The next day, Lisa and Delron guided the delivery bicycle on the main boulevard, and Delron griped, “I’m not saying our customers have poor taste! I’m simply questioning their judgment when they only wanna watch the Captain Stucard episodes of Galaxy Trekkers! I mean, clearly, Captain Shirkner’s version is far superior!”

Lisa playfully rolled her eyes, but prior to her getting to respond, her cellphone rang. “It’s my cousin!” she briefed Delron. “Hey, Lydia! Is everything okay? You usually text…”

“O-M-G!” Lydia squealed. “My husband got a research grant! He gets to spend at least a year on this project, and he’s hiring for a bunch of positions for it! He says he can take you on as an assistant, and when slash if it’s successful, you can stay on permanently! You don’t have to stay in that haunted hovel anymore! Come live with us in California!”

“I appreciate the offer, but I’m going to stay where I’m at!” Lisa politely declined. Lydia uttered a noise of disbelief, so Lisa elaborated, “I’ve made a few good friends here…” She looked at Delron, and then Hester manifested next to him. “Some of them are a bit unusual, but I love them anyway! Not everyone here is my buddy, but everyone here is nice! Even the people who don’t like each other much!” Abby gave her a terse nod from across the street, and then Lisa saw that she got a text from Adam. “I met a wonderful man here too! It’s not a perfect paradise, but it’s pretty darn close now!”

Lydia wondered, “Yeah, but what about all of the ghosts?”

Lisa assured her, “They’re not so terrible! Well, one of them was, but she’s gone now! Will she be the last phantom to cause trouble here? Probably not! But I’ll be ready for the next one when it comes!” They went by JT’s window where Rebecca’s bottle roosted, and a sharp wind blew by them. Lisa shrugged it off- coincidence or not, she knew she would be fine!

The End

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 26

“You can’t do this!” Lisa cried out as she beheld the scaffold that had been erected in front of the old courthouse. Three wooden stakes stood upon three piles of pyre, and that could only mean one thing…

“Oh, yes we can! You’ll see!” the man who held her captive snickered. Lisa’s mind went numb with denial! She couldn’t believe she had survived all of their ghostly misadventures only to wind up losing her life at the hands of her neighbors! She wasn’t ready to die! She had so much that she wanted to experience before her demise, and it was gut wrenching to think that she would never get the opportunity to even try! Departing this earth was devastating enough, but the worst part was she wasn’t the only individual fated to their doom that night! She wasn’t only referring to her male counterparts either- with the three of them perishing, the truth about the recent mayhem would disappear with them! Once they were no more, Rebecca would have an even greater reign of freedom, and more innocent souls were going to get lost! The gathered crowd had no idea how truly tragic this situation would become!

A group of folks in colorful t-shirts merrily snapped pictures of what was transpiring, and one of them chirped, “Look, honey! It’s just like in the witchcraft days!”

Delron snapped at them, “People died during that period! And history is about to repeat itself! This isn’t a tourist attraction! We’re in real danger! Please, save us!”

“Don’t do anything of the sort!” Ezekiel commanded as he jaunted onto the stage. “Those criminals are responsible for dozens of deaths in this town, and we’re putting a stop to their mischief before they cause any further damage!”

“We’re not trying to spread harm, we’re trying to prevent it from spreading!” Adam appealed to the onlookers present. “If you kill us, the evil that’s invaded Melas will only strengthen! We can put a halt to it, but you gotta let us go first!”

Ezekiel smirked at his bid for their release. “Nice try! You’ve had all this time to curtail this chaos, and yet, you let it persist! What kind of fools do you take us for?”

“Particularly big and blind ones!” Lisa retorted. She glanced to her left, and she saw Adam’s eyes widen in fright at her audacity. She couldn’t discern Delron’s visage, but she got the vibe that he shared Adam’s sentiments. She turned her focus back to Ezekiel, who bore the expression that a person might have if they got punched in the ribs! This gave Lisa some satisfaction, and she needled him further by saying, “What? You expected us to treat you like gold when you’re about to murder us?”

“This isn’t murder!” Ezekiel refuted. “This is self defense! We’re not going to sit idly by while you destroy our entire city!”

Lisa shot back, “No, you’re gonna make your last act on this planet committing the worst sin possible! Good luck justifying that to your maker!”

Ezekiel folded his arms, and then he challenged them, “Oh, okay! You’re not guilty, huh? Then why has all of this trouble always seemed to have circled back to you?”

“That’s the way they want it to be! They’re attempting to frame us so you all let your guards down!” Delron spelled out.

“Who’s ‘they?’” Ezekiel probed.

The trio all met each other’s eyes and wordlessly enquired to one another on what the best course of action to take was. If any of them uttered the truth, Ezekiel and his mob would likely view them as insane and lock them away, however, if they offered them no culprit, then they would likely carry on with the execution! Either route they took would lead to a disbelief of those who heard it, so it was difficult to choose the right option! Eventually, Adam bit the bullet and articulated to everyone, “It may sound crazy, but the real villain of this story is a vengeful spirit who got unjustly slaughtered but has risen up to slaughter the descendents of her wrongdoers!”

It took the collective a lengthy stretch to absorb this outlandish claim, but once they did, laughter began to ripple throughout the space! Ezekiel chortled, “Wow! I expected a cockamamy excuse, but not a whopper like that! Whoo!” The spectators’ giggling increased in volume, but apparently, not everyone partook. “Abby, baby! Isn’t that hilarious?”

“Don’t call me that!” Abby softly requested. It didn’t totally surprise Lisa to hear that they became an item at one point, but it did stun her to see that Abby seemed unable to meet his gaze! She stared at the ground with her arms folded, and she seemed uncomfortable as he referenced her! Lisa found this confusing- with Abby’s relentlessness over the need to punish them, she would have thought that she would’ve been glowing with pride at this event! Instead, she appeared as though she wanted to shrink into the congregation! What was going on?

“Abby, what’s the deal?” Ezekiel obviously also possessed a high level of befuddlement on this development. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

Still not making eye contact with him, Abby croaked out, “Not like this!” 

The horde booed and hissed at Abby, but, to Lisa’s astonishment, Abby didn’ budge! She didn’t justify herself to anyone, and she seemed to have lost all of her usual bravado. Lisa couldn’t comprehend her sudden change of heart until it occurred to her that Adam made a plea for morality and peace to her, and, as if she needed more proof of his honesty at this juncture, it must have had an effect on her after all! Lisa looked over to Adam to get his reaction to this transpiration, and she happened to witness movement directly past him. It took her a minute to register that Delron’s hands could maneuver more than hers could…

Luckily, Ezekiel was oblivious to this incidence because of his growing alarm in Abby’s behavior! “You said you almost strangled one of these traitors!”

“I’m glad I didn’t!” Abby meekly expressed. “Now that they’re at death’s door, it just seems… wrong!”

“Seriously? You wanna protect them all of a sudden after all they’ve done?” Ezekiel grilled her.

Abby contended, “It doesn’t make sense to kill them and not give them a chance to fix this mess!”

Ezekiel countered, “What makes you believe that their release won’t cause more killings?”

“So, the solution is to cause the killings ourselves?” Abby snapped.

“What? You still have the hots for that jerk, don’t you?” Ezekiel gestured towards Adam, and Lisa noticed that Delron swiftly repositioned his palms in their original position. Lisa sincerely hoped that Abby would instigate Ezekiel further so that Delron could slip out! She thought that perhaps he could have called for help prior to their demise, but, at the very least, her mind would feel slightly more at ease to know that at least one innocent being would have gotten spared! Unfortunately, Ezekiel didn’t seem to have the ability to behold Abby any longer and did not turn back to her! He instead addressed his frustrations to Adam, “How dare you sink your claws into her! Well, I won’t allow you to influence anyone else!” He exclaimed to the others, “Their regime of terror is done!”

Most of the array chimed in with agreement, but Lisa espied a few individuals who seemed persuaded by Abby’s reasoning! Lisa dearly hoped that more supporters would voice their disapproval so that Ezekiel would give up this lethal plot, but that didn’t happen- he drew out his lighter without objection! Lisa beseeched the lot to spare them, but no one could listen to her pleas over the roar of their own enthusiasm over this occasion! Her pulse skyrocketed as Ezekiel advanced towards them with a wicked grin planted across his face! She regretted allowing her optimism of escaping to prevail, and she wished she had done more to say goodbye to the living world as she braced for her final moments…

With total abruptness, Ezekiel faltered in his footsteps! It perplexed everyone around him, including Lisa! She saw him staring at the floor, but she couldn’t fathom why until he inquired, “What did you do?”

“What did I do? Not a whole lot! Being tied up doesn’t let you do a whole lot!” Lisa snarkily replied. She began to get the impression that he lost his marbles, but then…

“Don’t play dumb with me!” Ezekiel barked. “I felt something brush past my legs, so I know you did something!” It buoyed Lisa’s spirits to realize that Hester showed up to defend them, and it startled Lisa that she had let her pleasure over this feat become transparent enough for Ezekiel to observe it! “Yes, see! You have something brewing here! What is it?”

Lisa wasn’t sure what to tell him. She knew Ezekiel wouldn’ believe the truth, but she couldn’t drum up any other plausible explanation for that phenomenon! Fortunately, Adam had an inkling of how to counter him, “She didn’t do anything! You’re the one causing trouble right now! Meanwhile, the actual monster is out there wreaking havoc while you’re wasting your time here!”

Ezekiel hissed, “Don’t give me that b.s.! Whenever she’s upset with someone she doesn’t like, catastrophe strikes!”

“I don’t wish you any misfortune!” Lisa honestly relayed to him. “I want you to let us go, but what you do with yourself after that is none of my concern!”

“You’re lying!” Ezekiel insisted. “Of course you wish misfortune on those you don’t like, that’s human nature! And who do you dislike more than me at this moment?”

Lisa’s insides plummeted when she heard a familiar person assert, “I can answer that!” A different sort of excitement fluttered through the populous, and Lisa’s grimace grew more pronounced! She seriously doubted he visited this locale to offer her assistance, and she disliked that her downfall would include further humiliation from this repulsive reprobate! Tommy leered at her, and Lisa did her utmost to remain as neutral as possible! Whatever he had in store for her, she would not give him the satisfaction of showing him any emotions over his antics! Tommy taunted her, “Seems like you’re in a bit of a jam!”

Ezekiel tittered at Tommy’s version of a quip, and as much as bantering with her ex irked her, she crossed her fingers that she could use this opportunity to bide some precious seconds where a miracle could befall on them before it was too late! “What do you want?” she posed to him.

“I came here to set the record straight about us,” Tommy informed her. “I had no clue you were busy with-!”

“Set the record straight? The entire planet believes your side!” Lisa’s brows furrowed upon this explanation. It astounded her to consider that he sought her out with the intention to prove anything else to anyone else! “You’ve already won! Your work is done!”

It intrigued her to see his confidence waver slightly as he catechized, “Why haven’t you been on social media lately?”

Lisa had to blink extensively in order to fully comprehend what he was demanding! Once she mentally certified he had, indeed, asked what he asked, she couldn’t fathom a rational motivation behind it! “I was getting destroyed by your minions, so I disabled those apps! Why?”

“People are starting to say that if you were really nuts, you would have been on there having a fit…” Tommy reported. As Lisa drank in his words, she spotted Delron’s activity out of the corner of her eye. He unmistakably used this distraction to tiptoe over to Adam’s post, and she tried not to pay too much attention to the two men as Delron strove to untie Adam. She simply took an inward note to keep Tommy and the others occupied no matter what it took! Tommy went on, “They’re starting to say I’m the nutty one ‘cause I’m the only one showing interest in the breakup! Well, I know you must regret your decision to leave now since you got into mortal peril trying to live without me!”

“I have no regrets about my decision! None!” Lisa fiercely stated.

Tommy told her, “I wrote a song talking about how you’d die without me! Seems like I was right! You’re nothing on your own!”

Lisa pursed her lips at his slant, and as infuriating as his jibe was, she was determined not to dignify it in any fashion! Ezekiel, however, interpreted her response differently than she aimed to portray. “Oh, you’ve done it! You’re setting her off! She’s gonna unleash her dark magic ‘cause you upset her!”

The multitudes guffawed at his insult, but Lisa sighted shadows above the scene that signified his allegation had merit! She couldn’t permit Rebecca to augment this disaster, she had to do something to prevent her from bolstering her power! She covertly viewed Adam and Delron, and all of a sudden, she knew exactly how to cease this crisis from commencing…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Ch. 25

“Going into a graveyard on Halloween night… Are we sure this is the best idea?” Lisa brought up to Delron and Adam as they stood outside the old cemetery’s entrance.

“This was your idea!” Delron pointed out to her. 

Lisa acknowledged his response, “Yeah, I know! The three of us weren’t getting anywhere trying to chase that sinister spirit all over town, and she’s likely to show up at her final resting place eventually, which would give us the opportunity to trap her in the witching bottle, but I didn’t really think about the risks involved…”

Adam probed, “Do you feel a little nervous ‘cause of how our last trip here went?”

“That definitely crossed my mind! But I imagine that Hester would protect us again if she tried that.” She stared into the burial grounds and saw no sign of possible peril for them, but she still got a sinking sensation as she considered going in there!

“Maybe your misgivings do stem from the fresh memory of your collapse in this place! That’s understandable- I’d get scared to return too! Just remember that you’re not alone! We won’t let anything bad happen to you!” Delron comforted her. Lisa sincerely appreciated his effort, but it didn’t give her much solace to have the two men there since a tragedy could easily befall onto the entire trio all at once!

Adam shared his sentiments, “He’s right, we’ll protect you! If we need to! Everything might go well, and we won’t have to worry about any more threats!” He gave her a broad grin as he wrapped a sympathetic arm around her shoulders, and while it made her heart skip a beat, the rest of her body still felt frozen! Adam got the drift of her general status, so he added, “Well, even if we wanted to back out now, we really can’t! Leaving this area isn’t exactly safe either…”

He gestured to his right, and Lisa glanced over in that direction. A small crowd had gathered outside of Brigfell, and not only did they not seem friendly, but they paced around in an antsy manner too! Their behavior reminded her of a pack of wolves anticipating their prey emerging from its den! Logically, she assumed that they wanted to confront them due to their unceasing belief that the three of them bore responsibility for Rebecca’s destruction, but the malicious aura that they emanated gave her the chills! Because of this, Lisa concluded, “It seems like we’re out of options where we can avoid harm, so we may as well try the one with a small chance of ending this madness!” The other two nodded in agreement, and after taking another glimpse at the library lurkers, Lisa shifted her attention to the path ahead of them. She recommended, “If it gets too dangerous in here, let’s run to the river and just pray that none of our neighbors consider searching for us there!” Delron and Adam indicated that they were on board with that plan. They took a collective deep breath and then set foot into the dark territory!

As the triad carefully crept along the ancient trail, Lisa attempted to steel herself up for this confrontation. She knew it wasn’t wise to dwell on anxious ruminations because it frequently became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but she couldn’t help but get overwhelmed with apprehension over this endeavor! She had no desire to flee from this site, but she didn’t like the ominous nature of this trek! She esteemed that they would endure this impending doom regardless of where they fled, and it occurred to her that their lives could conclude in these dismal surroundings! A part of her yearned to flee somewhere where she could bask in the beauty of this world prior to her leaving it, but she strove to push that concept out of her brain! She kept telling herself that everything would turn out fine, but a strong skepticism lingered around that affirmation!

“I wonder what their stories are!” Delron abruptly commented, which made Lisa and Adam jump a bit! He indicated to some of the nearby tombstones, and he elaborated, “All of the people buried here who weren’t part of the witch trials, what were their lifestyles like before their deaths? Were they farmers? Pastors? And how did they pass? Smallpox? Childbirth? They…!” He trailed off when he espied Adam and Lisa’s peculiar expressions, and he apologized, “Sorry, that’s my history professor husband talking!” Right after he spoke, his phone rang. “Speaking of my history professor talking… Denis, baby! How are you?”

Delron went off to another sector in order to get more privacy, and that left Lisa and Adam alone together. Lisa realized that this was the first instance that this had transpired since their near kiss during the hoedown, and she grew incredibly flustered at this prospect! It really flattered her to receive that romantic gesture from him yesterday, but now that the moment was over, she questioned how genuine it had been. She still harbored the notion that he had ulterior motives for courting her, but she couldn’t quite pinpoint what that might have been! She previously presumed that the proof of his decent intentions laid in the fact that if he was serving Abby, he wouldn’t have created such a dramatic ire with her, but then she pondered whether or not that was part of his plot all along! Did he deliberately set her off? Perhaps he knew that her animosity would release that mayhem, and she started to worry that he may not have been helping Abby but their nemesis all along…

“It’s such a nice night!” Adam broke the ice.

Lisa had to blink to register the topic he raised. She had gotten so absorbed in spooky subjects and betrayal that small talk seemed out of the realm of possibility for her! She didn’t know how he could have possibly uttered such a sentence under these circumstances, so she puzzled, “Huh?”

Adam explained himself, “I specifically meant the weather! It’s cool but not cold, and the stars are so bright! It’s a shame that all this carnage is ruining the evening! If we all could’ve gotten along better, this could have been a beautiful end to this holiday!”

“No one accepted our offer to assist them!” Lisa recollected. “Not even the old lady struggling with her groceries! We tried to encourage the individuals we interacted with to send out good vibes to anyone they had problems with, but no one was willing to do it! Then shit would go wrong, and it looked as though we predicted it! It only made them blame us for the anarchy running amok at the present! Nevermind that many of these atrocities were happening in places nowhere near us!”

“My father would’ve hated to see what’s become of the region!” Adam ruefully remarked. “Oh sure, there’s always been a certain amount of gloom and doom, but there were always days when we could all put the b.s. aside and come together! That’s why he constantly threw parties on the farm- for a few hours, we could cut the crap and revel in each other’s company! But that’s not the case anymore! At the rate everything is going, we’d all be more fit to stay by ourselves!”

Lisa reassured him, “It won’t be like this forever! We’re gonna stop this evil ghoul, and we’ll make this city back to normal! Maybe even better! I refuse to accept that we’re powerless against this! There’s always something that can be done!”

Adam gratefully smiled at her, and then commented, “This is why I like you so much! You’re such a fighter for the future! You’ve been through hell, and you still believe in the goodness of the earth! You’re so rare and amazing!”

He grabbed her hand, and she could resist fiercely blushing! She was astounded by this high praise, and she hadn’t entertained this view of herself previously! She met his eyes, and they sparkled with pure admiration! He pulled her in closer, and for a second, she abandoned the judgment that he possessed anything but romantic impulsions for her! He fixed his gaze towards her lips, and she readied herself for his embrace…

The cellphone in Adam’s other hand chimed, and it took them out of their amorous torpor! Lisa would have gladly returned to their endearment, but she caught sight of the message he received. Her insides plummeted when she beheld that it was Abby asking about his current location! How could he not have broken ties with her after all she did to them? Especially her! “Are you late for something?”

“What?” He peered at where her scrutiny was at, and he told her, “I have no clue why she said that!”

“No clue?” Lisa reacted doubtingly. “You didn’t try to schedule any meetings with her?”

Adam reported, “No! The hoedown is over and paid for, so why would I wanna meet with her?”

Lisa charged, “She must have some reason for wanting to find you right now!”

“All I did was check in with her and see how she was doing,” Adam disclosed.

“Why would you do that after everything she’s done?” Lisa queried in an accusatory manner. “She almost strangled me, and she put nearly everyone in jeopardy ‘cause of her jealousy! Why would you even associate with her?”

Adam’s visage contorted into a perplexed and hurt grimace. “It’s not like I wanted to! She’s the ringleader of a lot of local social circles, so I figured she could convince a lot of people to act kinder to each other!”

Lisa folded her arms and articulated, “If you had that sort of influence on her, then I would’ve thought we’d see less attacks, but they’ve only increased! And why would she request to see you in person if that was her only goal?”

“What exactly are you accusing me of?” Adam challenged her.

“You’re conspiring with the enemy!” Lisa alleged.

Adam grew highly affronted by that statement. “She’s not the vengeful ghost we’re combating! She’s a victim of her wrath like the rest of us!”

Lisa shot back, “She’s making everything worse! She couldn’t get her way, so she’d rather watch the whole town burn down rather than deal with the consequences of her misbehavior!”

“Abby isn’t a bad person!” Adam argued. “She’s slightly misguided, but she-.” When he noticed that Lisa wasn’t buying his claim, he shouted, “What? You don’t trust me?”

“You’re not giving me the proper motivation to do that!” Lisa contended.

Adam quarreled, “Really? I’ve sacrificed so many hours helping you with this ordeal, but that wasn’t enough? Almost going to jail wasn’t enough? Sacrificing my reputation wasn’t enough? You know, Half Moon Hollow is gonna lose business from this, which’ll make my mom and I struggle, but that’s not enough, huh? Maybe I shouldn’t even bother!”

Lisa took out the witching bottle and yelled, “Fine! Don’t! I don’t need your help!” She threw the witching bottle to him, and after he put it into his pocket, he began to walk away without saying another word to her. Lisa hollered, “That’s right, leave! You’re not gonna pull the wool over my eyes anymore, Tommy!”

He immediately halted his gait, and Lisa instantly recognized her slip. She presumed that he was going to turn around and discuss her faux pas, but his pause seemed to indicate something else when they heard a scream in the distance! “That was Delron!” Lisa gasped. Without hesitation, they sped towards the source of that sound!

To their horror, they saw Delron getting bound and gagged by the throng next to Brigfell! Lisa’s outrage preceded her rationale, and after she marched straight up to them, she demanded, “Let him go! Who do you think you are?”

“We’ve been deputized!” A man flashed his badge at her. “Sheriff Hopkins authorized us to make some citizens’ arrests!”

“You’re coming with us!” another man leered.

Adam stepped forward and warned them, “You can’t do that!”

A woman retorted, “Watch us!” She kicked him in the back of his knees, which caused him to buckle! As she apprehended him, Lisa erupted in enormous clarity! She ached to apologize to him, but it was too late! She was soon surrounded and captured, and as they led him out of the area, Lisa feared forgiveness would never grace her as they endured whatever grim fate the man had in store for them!

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 24

Marilyn dropped an egg to the floor as she heard Marcy let out a shrill scream! She cringed when she realized her daughter’s shriek stemmed from her joy of bouncing from one piece of living room furniture to the other, which she had repeatedly warned her not to do, but before she could scold her for this behavior, the dog made a bid to lap up the yolk. “Billy, no!” Marilyn attempted to bar her pet from partaking in this dangerous delectable, but Billy was persistent! As she struggled with the pooch, Marcy’s commotion hadn’t subsided in the slightest! “Marcy, knock it off!” she shouted, but Marcy either couldn’t hear her or chose not to! She gritted her teeth, and meanwhile, Billy still fought against his restraints! She could feel her blood pressure rising, and she tried to compose herself in order to clean up this mess and finally prepare breakfast, but no one was cooperating! Suddenly, the phone rang, and Marcy’s antics increased their volume! She couldn’t take it anymore, so she hollered, “Man, I wish someone would permanently duct tape your mouth shut!”

As soon as those words left her lips, she heard Marcy let out a muffled yelp, which immediately preceded a loud thud! Marilyn and Billy raced into the living room only to find Marcy on the floor with adhesive covering her jaw! Marilyn agitatedly asked, “Marcy! My poor baby! Who did this to you?” Marcy answered by shaking her head in a manner that indicated confusion, and that mystified Marilyn- how could she not know who attacked her? She tried to remove the tape, but it wouldn’t budge! She grabbed a nearby nail file and punctured a hole in the gag, but to her bewilderment, the material instantly grew back! Tears formed in Marcy’s eyes, and Marilyn’s eyes grew wide with fear! Billy whimpered, and Marilyn posed to him, “What do we do now?” Silence ensued.

Tara used her copy of the meeting notes as a fan while her boss, Giles, prattled on, “In addition to this drop in online engagement, our analysts have concluded our profit margins fell from a decline in consumer-employee engagement…” Tara inwardly groaned at this unceasing lecture! This easily could have been an email! As she gazed at the packed space, she could see her colleagues were sharing her sentiments! Why did Giles think this was a good idea? Surely, their production would increase if the sales leads could spend their Sunday mornings relaxing instead of listening to this old dude babble! Her feet ached from standing in high heels for too long, and she thought about how blissful her partner looked as she peacefully slumbered throughout her period of getting ready for work… She reckoned that she was still serenely sleeping in their soft, cozy bed, and it just didn’t seem fair that she could join her! This conference showed no signs of subsiding, and she wistfully stared out the window. It felt so tempting to hurl herself right out of it…

In that instance, a warmth overtook her legs, and the compulsion to run overwhelmed her! It startled her peers to watch her take off like that, but she didn’t care! It was as though this action was the best plan in the world, and she had to go through with it! A couple of her coworkers strove to stop her, but she brushed past them and flung herself through the glass! Passersby voiced their fright as she flew out of the skyscraper, and she ignored them until the sidewalk got closer and closer! There was nothing for her to grab on to, nothing to halt her movement, and she howled as she braced for impact…

Maks scrolled through his social media page with his chin resting in his palm, and he emitted a long yawn. At that juncture, he heard his upstairs neighbor merrily greet her husband, and he perked up. He pulled up her page, and he longingly touched the screen. “Oh, Ally! You try so hard to make him happy, but he’ll never care! Not the way I do! You need to get rid of his ass and be with me!”

As if on cue, a tormented cry sounded from above! A voluminous thump echoed onto his ceiling, and Maks grew perplexed as to what transpired! There was a knock on his door, and it surprised him to see a broadly smiling Ally on the other side! At any other time, this would have been the opportunity of a lifetime for him, but something seemed off about her distant gaze… “Hey, Maks! I need your help!” she notified him.

“Of course I’ll do it! Whatever you need!” Maks obliged, though he was leery to do so because of the vacant expression etched on her face.

“Can you take my rug down to the garbage for me?” Ally sweetly requested.

Maks found the timing of that question suspicious. He didn’t want to believe that this innocent darling he once knew was capable of a heinous act, but then he espied red stains near the wrist of the hand she had behind her back! “Oh my god, you killed him?”

Ally let her hidden limb emerge, and this gesture revealed blood-soaked skin and a butcher knife! “Yes, fine! I did it so we could be together! It’ll be okay though! We’ll get rid of the evidence, and no one else will ever know!”

“I… I can’t do that!” Maks used all of his willpower to prevent himself from vomiting! He may not have liked the guy, but he didn’t commit any violation so horrendous that he deserved a brutal slaying! 

“Whatever! Let’s leave his corpse there and live out the rest of our lives in Mexico!” Ally lovingly wrapped her arms around his waist.

Maks removed her grip and objected, “What about your kids? They just lost their dad, and you want them to lose their home too?”

Ally shrugged that off. “My sister or somebody can get custody of them, so they’ll stay in the same school and stuff! In the meantime, you and I can spend the rest of our lives basking in the sunshine of sandy beaches!” She expected him to revel in the glow of the romantic hue she threw out there, but instead, he braced his couch to quell the shaking! This behavior incensed her, and she spat, “Hey! I did this for you! You better start showing more appreciation!” She brandished her weapon, and Maks didn’t know how to proceed…

Delron gestured to the abode behind the sign that read: “Ingerturn Gable,” and he glumly proclaimed, “We’re too late!”

As Lisa watched the police tape getting put up, she queried, “Did anyone die here?”

“Like you don’t know!” the officer disdainfully regarded her. Lisa turned away in disgust- she was done trying to convince these close-minded individuals that she didn’t have any dark powers and had no desire to do anyone any harm!

“We could visit the Jeffrey Draw House, but with that imbecile doing her dirty work, I doubt she’d strike there!” Delron commented to Lisa. “Marshal probably has no inkling that he lives in the home of the attorney who aided in the effort to condemn guiltless souls!”

Lisa bitterly remarked, “He’d probably be proud of that fact! And if he knew the notorious Sheriff Garet Crowin once resided in our library, he’d probably grow the balls to come inside it for once! Do you think that Ms. Bell knows she owns the property that my ancestor used to occupy?”

Delron signaled his lack of insight into that subject. “I imagine that the person she bought it from would have disclosed it to her. I guess it doesn’t matter to everybody! Like, I’m positive JT’s knowledge of history would have provided him with the fact that he owns the land where Rebecca’s main accuser once lived!” He checked his phone, and he reported to Lisa, “Harlow County P.D.’s  site says it was an assault resulting in hospitalization.”

“They probably can’t fathom how lucky they are to have survived this rampage! If they-.” Lisa cut herself off when she received a notification on her cell. “Adam says a skateboarder who knocked a rock into someone’s car got crushed by a billboard seconds later!”

“You three are heartless!” a woman raking leaves in her backyard muttered as they passed her in the alley.

Lisa readied herself to ignore her slander and move on, and then something on that woman’s roof caught her eye! She did a double take and confirmed her hunch- the ghostly mist hovered over her home! Delron obviously noticed it after she did, and they didn’t have to outwardly communicate with each other to recognize the obstacle obstructing the path to get to her! Lisa decided to move forward with the spiel they prepared for this event, but she didn’t have much optimism about it. “We’re spending Halloween going to our neighbors not for treats but for good deeds! Tell me, is there anything we can do to assist you today? Need extra hands with your yardwork, perhaps?”

The woman scoffed at her, “Psh! Even if you picked up each and every leaf, it wouldn’t make up for all of the misdeeds you’ve done! Besides, it isn’t gonna do much for me long term! Whenever it’s time to do any sort of chores around the house, my lousy roommate will always be conveniently buried in paperwork!” Lisa and Delron exchanged glances at the mention of this violent imagery, and the woman perceived their sentiments. “What are you gonna do? Actually bury him in paperwork?” She laughed derisively, “Go ahead! It’d serve him right!”

In unison, Lisa and Delron shouted, “No!” It was too late though- a frightened yell followed by a large crash commenced inside! Rebecca’s cloud disappeared, and Lisa groaned! Their attempt for peace yielded the opposite result! Plus, their nemesis escaped their scope, making this entire occurrence a total waste of precious minutes! The woman guiltily gazed at her dwelling, and Lisa irately articulated to her, “And you called us heartless!” She glared at her, and then Lisa as well as Delron walked off in a huff.

Gretchen twirled around in her princess costume while watching the full length mirror that her parents hung on their bedroom wall. It was almost flawless! It would have been perfect if they would let her put on some cosmetics! She was thirteen years old, and that should have been a perfectly acceptable age to do some blush and mascara! She figured that she could try asking them again when she showed off her gorgeous getup, and the excitement of the concept made her speed down their stairwell!

Her mom was concentrating quite a bit on a garment for her brother’s ensemble, and her dad’s replacement of their porch lightbulb kept him distracted. Her older sister munched on some popcorn while a scary movie played, and not a single soul bothered to crane their necks up to view her arrival! She cleared her throat, and everybody took a second to peek. “That’s pretty!” her mom told her prior to shifting her eyes to focus back on her project.

Gretchen grumbled, “That’s it?” Nobody spoke up, and she pouted until she spotted a headline popping up on her father’s tablet… She closed her eyes and prayed, “Make them pay more attention to me!” In a flash, her whole family came over and proudly praised her appearance! It gratified her very much… for a small stretch. After a while, they were still ogling her, which prompted her to remind them, “You can quit now” They didn’t! She fled from them, and that only strengthened their admiration! She sprinted outside, and bystanders joined in with the extravagant fawning! Their pandering amplified, and their vigor became more feverish! “Don’t! Don’t!” They didn’t cease, and she wasn’t sure how to fix this!

Tristan picked up the platter with a pronounced frown. It was the third instance that contemptible Melot fellow sent back his entree, it was never to his liking! And he was far from polite about his refusal too! Tristan very much doubted that he would get a very high tip, and due to his shenanigans, the opportunity for more and probably nicer customers to have a meal was getting taken away! He planted a smile on his face and begrudgingly headed over to him. “Enjoy your lunch, sir!” 

“Hmpf! We shall see!” Melot sniffed in disapproval. He began munching on it, and Tristan turned back to the kitchen. He didn’t get far though… “Bleck!”

“A problem, sir?” I wanted the onions in my samosas to be smaller, not grated! Take it back! And bring me a refill of wine! At least you got that correct!”

As Melot guzzled his beverage, Tristan glowered and willed him to choke on his drink! And he did! He collapsed onto the ground before anyone could rescue him, and a patron announced, “He’s dead! Oh no! Who will run the homeless shelter now?” Tristan wrung his coat jacket around as his insides twisted…

Morana forlornly pored over photos of her departed husband, and then she clasped her hands together while beseeching the universe, “I beg of you, let me be with my Mortimer again!”

Moments later, Mortimer manifested himself in front of her! Her heart was elated with joy until she realized he was nearly transparent, and his visage bore a morose demeanor. He dejectedly addressed her, “Oh, my dear Morana, why did you do that?” Morana slanted her vision down, and it shocked her to see that her complete anatomy had morphed into a translucent and floating entity…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 23

A flurry of tearful cries exploded from the exterior, and Lisa as well as Adam knew what that meant without either of them having to discuss it with one another! Adam commanded the people in the barn, “Stay here!” Nobody seemed tempted to disobey him as he and Lisa raced towards the cacophony of mayhem!

While Adam shut the door behind him, Lisa beheld the source of the scare and gasped! Hundreds of rats overtook the terrain! Some merely scurried across the land, but many of the creepy creatures crawled all over the unlucky individuals who could not escape their breadth! At least a couple of party goers laid on the ground while the rats swarmed them! Adam’s jaw dropped when he soaked in this sight, and Peanut took it upon himself to guard Lisa and Adam from the furry beasts! As he barked furiously at them, Lisa dove into her pocket and pulled out the witching bottle. “Here goes nothing!” she remarked as she popped open the cork. She held the glass container in the air and anticipated receiving a jolt of tremendous force resulting from her villainous capture, but after several seconds, nothing but more chaos ensued!

“You have to get closer to her so she can take in the allure of the ingredients!” Adam briefed her as he watched this scene unfold with dread.

“Where is she?” Lisa probed. Adam glanced around, and he shook his head due to a lack of clues to Rebecca’s whereabouts. Lisa observed both the rodents’ numbers strengthening and Peanut clearing a pathway out from them, and she declared, “I’m gonna find her!”

It was difficult to ignore the anguished hollering and injuries happening all around her, but she only possessed a single method of defeating this demon- to trap that evil essence in this receptacle! She had no inkling as to where Rebecca could have been lurking until she espied Delron tossing meat from the grill to the mice. She recalled Delron’s hunch about the smoke from the barbecue having a suspicious aura to it, and she made a beeline for that area! Once she arrived, she stood beside him and beseeched the universe, “Please be here!” Once again, her efforts yielded no results! Her heart sank- what was she going to do now?

She saw Adam using a pitchfork to destroy the vermin, but they continued to teem from an unspecified source! Lisa bit her lip trying to unearth another method of combating this madness, but she came up blank! Then, all of a sudden, they no longer had this issue- the rats all sprinted away from the vicinity! A few folks were relieved, but most of the crowd looked wary of this phenomenon. This behavior offered no explanation, only the ponderance of what these terrifying animals were afraid of!

Shortly after the rodents’ departure, it became overtly evident why they emptied this site! Dozens of bats flew into the territory, and before many bystanders could escape their grasp, these new foes attacked them! Lisa and Delron dove under the cover of the pits, and they saw Adam fending them off by the stables. Lisa didn’t like him battling these adversaries alone, but she needed to pinpoint that phantom and end this nightmare immediately! Her eyes darted all over until something unexpectedly fell into her scope! “The hayloft!” Lisa exclaimed.

Prior to Delron being able to respond, the bats unexpectedly exited the premises! Lisa took this opportunity to make a furious sprint towards that nefarious apparition, but she didn’t get very far since several men and women purposely blocked her from going forward! “Where do you think you’re going?” a man accosted her.

“I can stop this disaster!” Lisa vehemently explained. “I need to go to the barn, and-!”

“Oh no! You can’t hide from this mess you made!” a woman decreed. Her nearby peers all ardently shared her sentiments.

Lisa argued, “I’m not trying to get myself out of this! I’m trying to get you out of this! I need to get in the right place to-!”

It was too late! The chance to entrap their ghostly enemy evaporated! The floor beneath them began to shake, and at first, Lisa thought they were going to experience another earthquake, but a growl in the distance told her otherwise! Lisa swiveled towards the other side of Half Moon Hollow, and she could hardly fathom that this was reality!

A scarecrow with a menacing visage manifested out of nowhere and stomped towards them! Its raggedy clothes and straw hair bobbed up and down as it took massive steps towards them, and massive wasn’t an exaggeration! It towered over all of the buildings associated with this property, so there was no plausible reason to believe that this entity could simply have been a festive attendee causing disarray! Its surface was stitched together like cloth, and yet it moved its mouth as though it was a living being with a voracious appetite! Even if it wasn’t hungry, the stilts that comprised its limbs could have easily crushed whatever had the misfortune of befalling beneath its trajectory! Most of the populus scrambled to break out of its range, but it became clear that some of the bystanders near the entrance did not have that fortune!

“This is awful!” Delron croaked out.

“How do we make it less awful?” Adam posed to them.

Lisa glanced around as though something in the environment would give her a hint. It had life, but it didn’t seem like it was actually alive, so trying to stab it or hurl a hard projectile at it wouldn’t have done them much service! It was getting closer though, so she had to do something! Panic started to set in as the vibrations increased, and her brain remained vacant of anything useful! The earth below them shook with enough power that some of the branches from nearby trees fell off! A twig smoldering on the grills captured her eye, and suddenly, she knew what to do!

She darted over to the base of one of the cooking units, and her male counterparts didn’t need to hear her request for assistance- they mimicked her move without question! They waited for the scarecrow’s colossal feet to hit the necessary position, and with every ounce of vigor within themselves, the trio pushed the pit in front of the scarecrow! The scarecrow didn’t have a single moment to change its course, it could not stop itself from landing in that snare! Fire swiftly enveloped its wooded legs, and the rest of its form rapidly got consumed by the blaze! Within seconds, it let out a final roar and disintegrated! 

The majority of the collective stood still in anticipation of another supernatural siege, but Lisa wasn’t about to allow another outbreak to commence! She dashed towards the hayloft, and her adrenaline prompted her to ram down anyone who obstructed her route! When she neared Rebecca’s perch, she yanked the witching bottle back out! She held it up high, but she endured a sharp pang of disappointment when the ominous haze drifted well beyond her boundaries! She stood still for a stretch so she could fully absorb this loss. Oh sure, the guests of Adam’s soiree no longer needed to fear for their demise, but that was only a temporary condition! Lisa knew it wouldn’t take a lengthy span for the next onslaught to arise! Frustrated tears formed in her eyes- it deeply pained her to not have been able to thwart this tragic frequency once and for all!

“Casper! He’s dead!” a woman wailed as she stared at a man who no longer appeared to have any breath left!

“The parking lot is full of blood!” a young boy sobbed.

An older fellow opined, “You can’t chalk this up to coincidence! You could say that the animals were freaks of nature, but you can’t say that the scarecrow happened by accident!”

A pregnant lady wondered, “So, it was the result of some kind of magic? But how? How could anyone make this occur?”

“You wanna know how? I’ll tell you how!” Abby opened the barn door and strutted directly to the horde. “She brought a curse onto us!”

“That’s not true!” Lisa refuted. Technically, she did release Rebecca onto them, but she could tell that Abby meant to convey that she evoked the potency that compelled these monsters to attack them, which was most certainly a false premise! She was tirelessly devoting herself to warding off this sinister spell, and she seriously disliked the insinuation that she was desirous of doing any of them harm!

Abby quarreled, “When I saw you puckering up to Adam, I prayed for an interruption, and I got it! But I didn’t want any of this…” She gestured towards the devastation. “… to do that! My prayers were answered in an evil way! It was as if an evil genie was at the helm and twisted into this awfulness! Only someone truly wicked would do something like that!”

Delron challenged Abby, “Why would she interrupt a romantic capstone for something that could have killed her?”

“She laid a trap, she didn’t know when or how it would snare its next victim!” Abby speculated. “What, you think I wanted to ruin this celebration? I’m the one who helped organize it! I wouldn’t do this! I made one little wish, and it came true by the worst means possible!”

“Huh! That effect was around when my store flooded,” the stocker from Dulahan’s recollected. “I didn’t want her to leave thinking she was right about Tommy, and she almost didn’t!”

Ezekiel piped up, “The cashier in Shade’s was wishing our bickering would subside, and then the shop filled with a noxious gas! If we died, that girl would have gotten her wish too!”

An eruption of murmurs washed over the assembly, and everyone sounded like they concurred with this theory against Lisa, so Adam orated, “Will you listen to yourselves? In each of these scenarios, she almost died! Why would she put herself in peril like that?”

“She couldn’t get away before the curse she laid out sprung to life!” Abby spat.

“Or maybe she attempted to pretend she was also a victim so no one would blame her,” Ezekiel added. “Only that didn’t fool us!”

Supporters praised their logic, and Adam condemned their misjudgment, “That’s crazy! She hasn’t even been in Melas for a week, so even if she had a vicious bone inside of her, which she doesn’t, it wouldn’t make sense for her to lash out against people she doesn’t know!”

Ann scoffed, “I told you not to pursue him! He’s too far under her spell to side with us! He was willing to get arrested with that jezebel, he’s not worth your effort!”

“Are you for real? Adam’s the nicest guy in this region!” Delron defended him. “His dad was the kindest, most generous person any of us have ever met, that’s why we all flocked to him! And his son has followed in his footsteps! You’re all just too stubborn to admit you could be wrong about this argument!”

“She’s not so innocent! We called her out on the shit she did to Tommy, and now she’s trying to punish us for it!” Beth barked.

The plurality of the population applauded her hypothesis, and Delron made a bid to fight against that incorrect parameter, but his voice got drowned out in a sea of backlash! Lisa couldn’t stand to see him receive such harsh treatment, but it was especially terrible under these circumstances! She bellowed, “Stop it! This is insanity! Our neighbors have died for heaven’s sake!”

Ezekiel alleged, “Yeah, ‘cause you killed them! You’re lucky we can’t legally prove anything, we’d haul your murderous ass to jail in an instant!”

The mob echoed his opinion, and Adam severely ordered them, “That’s enough! Grief is no excuse for this asinine act!”

“Your father would be ashamed to see you show compassion to degenerates like them!” Ezekiel shot back, which prompted Adam’s fists to clench.

“This is his home!” Delron expressed as he wedged himself between the two men and impeded a pending altercation. “If you don’t like what he has to say, you can leave!”

Everybody but the grievers proceeded to disperse. Ann muttered to Abby, “I never liked that dweeb! He’s always been a weirdo!”

Beth agreed, “Totally! The company he keeps confirms that!”

Abby assured them, “Don’t worry! They’ll pay for their crimes somehow! Mark my words!” She threw one last dirty look at them prior to her leave.

“What the hell are we going to tell the cops?” a mourner queried. “Our son got assassinated by an f’ing scarecrow?”

“That is gonna be hard to explain!” Adam commented to Lisa and Delron.

Lisa shrugged. “Maybe! But we have bigger problems than that!” She stared at the hayloft and grimly assessed, “A malicious ghost is on the loose, and now everyone knows that they have the ability to make their darkest wishes come true!”

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 22

Melanie never gave her permission to use the library’s delivery bike after hours, but she never said she couldn’t! It wasn’t safe to walk through the alleyways at night during normal times, but with a vengeful ghost on the loose… She didn’t imagine that her boss would want her to throw herself to the mercy of the darkened city, but Lisa guessed that she would have gotten peeved that she took the work bicycle off the clock! She tried contacting her to enquire about borrowing it, but Melanie never responded, so she had to make a difficult choice at this juncture: ride to the party and pray that it didn’t get damaged en route or chance a long journey in the shadows! Even if nothing detrimental occurred during her lengthy trek, she couldn’t tire herself out prior to her arrival there! Not that she planned to engage in much frivolity, she simply needed to ensure that she was in the most optimal physical condition in the event that her supernatural adversary came to call! And she found that to be a highly probable outcome- why wouldn’t she strike at a function where nearly the whole town assembled?

It somewhat relieved her to behold a slew of bikes parked on a rack beneath the Half Moon Hollow sign! It could blend right in, so if Melanie happened to pass by this site, she wasn’t likely to pick it out amongst the others! She would make certain to leave either well before or much later than her employer to avoid getting seen on it, so everything should be fine, right? … It gave her some comfort to see it nestled in the middle of many of its peers because she ascertained that the other riders’ more favorable public opinion would keep their vehicles safe from ordinary attackers! Although, Rebecca was far from ordinary! If she chose to ambush this specific spot, Lisa would regret this decision! Of course, the majority of her intended victims were going to occupy a totally different locale, so it seemed less likely for the bicycles to get vandalized! This tiny iota of good news provided her very little cheer in the grand scheme of things though…

As she passed the parking area, she noticed a lot of guests were wearing Halloween costumes. She didn’t have one, and actually, she didn’t have much to wear at all with that pair of pants ripping yesterday! She had no other choice but to dig into the bag of clothes Ann declared too large for Abby and Marshal handed over to her as a subtle insult! She was sort of hoping the garments would prove themselves as too massive for her frame too so she could throw it in their faces, but alas, they all fit perfectly! She was grateful to have a new wardrobe when she needed it, but she had to cross her fingers that no one would recognize the apparel as Missus Farrington’s! She wore a pair of jeans with a red flannel shirt, so she definitely embodied the hoedown theme, but many of her young, female neighbors donned more alluring outfits than hers! She wasn’t overly concerned about dressing better than them, but her least favorite attendee was undoubtedly following in their footsteps…

An evil essence creating a hellscape, and a deadly one at that, wasn’t the only reason she was dreading this soiree! Since Abby helped fund this occasion, she assumed she had already come to the farm. She knew Abby would do her utmost to seduce Adam, and it tore Lisa up to picture him engaging with that temptress! Admittedly, she believed her own romantic interactions with him were part of a ploy to gain intelligence for her adversaries, but she couldn’t prevent her sense of longing for him didn’t cause a plethora of jealousy too! Sometimes he seemed like the perfect guy for her- smart, kind, and very brave, and his handsomeness was icing on the cake, but it was difficult to entertain amorous fantasies of him since Abby was probably more of his type with her gorgeous, model-like appearance and a regional popularity! She slowed her gait in order to delay what she presumed would be inevitable- the heartache of seeing her hang all over him!

When she finally entered onto the grounds of the agricultural property, she denoted that it looked like a totally different world compared to when she originally saw it on that delivery where she first met Adam! She couldn’t even see the quaint, yellow house! Surrounding the scattered social circles was a candy cornhole toss, Jack O’ Lantern bowling, a hay maze, and an enormous grill full of barbecued food and cooks wearing kooky getups! She was impressed with how quickly the decorations got established, and she could easily comprehend why everyone enjoyed attending this every year! The amusement from the crowd was almost palpable! A fun affair was getting had by the entire mass… Well, perhaps not the entire mass…

Delron stayed steadfastly fixed on the atmosphere above the pit of coals, which drove Lisa to approach him and learn what motivated this unfestive behavior. “What, are you on a diet?” Lisa joshed him.

“No, but if I was, this wouldn’t tempt my vegetarian palate much!” Delron cracked a smile at her quip, but his stare did not budge an inch. He directed Lisa, “Take a gander at the air above the grills.”

“It’s smoke from all the cooking,” Lisa assessed.

Delron differed, “Is it though? Doesn’t it seem thicker than it oughta be?” Lisa took another glimpse at the haze, but she didn’t distinguish any qualities about it that stood out to her. She didn’t know how to express this opinion to Delron without offending him, but apparently, her silence spoke volumes. “I may be alone in this judgment, but with… recent activities… I’m not taking any risks!”

Lisa nodded in understanding. “I get that! There are a lot of things that I’ll never view in the same light! Things like cranberry juice and baseballs will probably always cause me to panic as though something awful is about to unfold! But don’t spend every minute of the day obsessing over it! We gotta take a break every now and then too! Who knows how many opportunities we’ll get to enjoy ourselves! If we don’t pause to… Delron!”

“Sorry!” Delron took the cigarette out of his mouth and then shoved the rest of the pack into Lisa’s pocket. “Save me from myself!” Lisa playfully rolled her eyes, but her mirth evaporated when Delron reported, “Adam was trying to find you earlier.”

“He was?” Lisa’s stomach lurched at the recollection of her apprehension over that man! She inwardly puzzled if he sought her out to deliver welcomed tidings or unwelcomed revelations, and she wasn’t keen on fishing out the facts here! If he aimed to flaunt a newly blossoming relationship with another girl, she would have been mortified! She bristled at the concept of experiencing another emotional blowout in front of hundreds of spectators again! Then again, he could have been striving to initiate a conversation to gather info for her foes too! She dreaded their encounter, but she couldn’t exactly refuse to interact with the host! That would’ve been bad manners, and she still counted on him for his role in their mission regardless of why he joined in! So, with a heavy sigh, she posed to Delron, “Where is he?”

Delron relayed to her, “He’s in the barn.”

It didn’t occur to Lisa until that instance that the music she heard emanated from the stables! She observed many folks popping in and out of that building, and she beseeched the universe to have Adam pull her into more private quarters so she could avoid another widespread humiliation! She asked Delron, “Are you coming?”

Still ogling the fog, Delron answered, “No. I’ll keep an eye on everything out here. Let me know if anything happens in there!” Lisa didn’t relish going without a companion, but he displayed no hints of removing his obstinacy! He had a point about watching over that sector as well, and she resigned herself to facing a taxing drudgery no matter if it was paranormal or not!

Food tables lined the edge of the edifice as well as a couple more games, but in the center of this station, a dance floor commenced in some lively jigs! On the opposite end from her, Lisa espied Adam changing out CD’s. He caught sight of her and gave her a broad grin in addition to a wave, and despite her misgivings on him, she simpered as she returned his gesture! She may have relented to a smidgen of optimism if she hadn’t overheard Abby’s snide voice remark, “She has some nerve showing up!”

Lisa glanced over to her left where Abby was hovering with Ann and Beth in the near distance, and they weren’t hiding their disdain about Lisa’s presence in the slightest! Lisa had no appetite for a confrontation tonight, so she shifted over to the apple bobbing barrels with the hopes that the added distance between them would deter her from initiating any verbal sparring. Abby showed signs of pursuing her, and she considered making a mad dash for the exit to avoid this dramatic spectacle! She realized that would cast her in a cowardly hue, but she would much rather have taken that hit than invite chaos that would lure Rebecca in to instigate another assault that Lisa would get blamed for! A myriad of whispers erupted from the bystanders in her proximity, and it became more apparent that nothing but tension and tragedy would transpire! She wondered what benefit she would produce by remaining at this function any longer, and concluding that the answer was none, she turned towards the door…

Abby glanced over to the stage where Adam was taking the microphone, and while she appreciated Adam’s incidental intervention, she wished that something else could have distracted the throng so that her intended movement wouldn’t seem so overt! She felt stuck in this moment, and she somewhat vexedly switched her aspirations to Adam’s speech elapsing rapidly so she could succeed in slipping out! She extended one leg and readied herself to sprint… until…

“Everyone line up! We’re doing the Virginia Wheel!” Adam announced. The congregation clamored for this, but Lisa’s insides plummeted! As the participants took their places, Lisa decided to keep residing in her current post. If anyone inquired about it, she would feign an injury, but she estimated that most individuals would simply be alleviated that she didn’t partake! Just as she settled on watching their merry-making for a few minutes, Adam requested, “When I push play, don’t start yet! I wanna partner up with the prettiest lady in the joint!” The multitude cooed at this cute antic, but Lisa put the final nail in the coffin for her will to continue her span there! She swiveled back towards the entrance to the outside…

“I’m all yours!” Abby silkily offered herself to Adam.

Lisa briefly checked behind her due to her curiosity wanting to verify that her predictions were accurate. She prepared herself to receive substantial heartbreak, but to her shock, Adam pushed Abby’s grasp off of him! Furthermore, he kept going, and adrenaline filled her entire being as he strolled straight up to her! Her suddenly frenzied mind threw out tons of theories about how this had to be a mistake or that surely, he was setting her up for some kind of prank, but he particularly politely held out his palm and invited her, “Please!”

She could feel all of her skin flushing red at this proposal! The enthusiasm for Adam’s selection ebbed tremendously versus when they assumed he was picking Abby, but a few urged her to accept his petition to her! She was so flattered that she shoved her doubts out and clasped her hand with his! He beamed, and the movement to the music commenced. Lisa truly didn’t believe that she would find any joy from engaging in this action prior to this juncture, but as she swayed to the beat, she grew rapturous! In the midst of the ugliness that befell on Melas recently, a spark of beauty eked out! Lisa mused on whether or not Adam meant how he described her, but then the manner in which he peered at her convinced her uncertainty to vacate! She couldn’t fathom that he possessed enough acting skills to fake these intense sentiments! Additionally, if he had an ounce of affection for Abby, he would not allow her to become this furious! She couldn’t lie to herself and say that she didn’t savor the glare of pure acrimony that she was displaying as well! The irony of Abby wearing a witch costume wasn’t lost on her either! She didn’t know how long this moment would last, but she thrived in every second of it!

When the tune finished, the collective aired their enjoyment of that episode! Lisa landed that number pressed against Adam’s chest, and it surprised her when he didn’t pull away at the finale of this ditty! And it stunned her when he drew her in even closer! She could feel his heart beating as wildly as hers, and she thought it may have stemmed from the exercise they just did, but soon, his lips were heading directly towards hers! She didn’t harbor any desire to rebuff him and leaned into this kiss…

Before they could complete this tender motion, Abby emitted an ear-splitting shriek! The room fell silent as they changed their attention to her envious scowl, but in an instant, they found that she wasn’t the only one with cause toto scream…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 21

The bailiff called out, “Order! Order in the court! The case of Melas versus Bassett et All will now proceed! Please rise for the honorable Judge William Hale!”

Lisa, Delron, and Adam stood up as well as the two people in the audience, and Ezekiel roosted on the prosecution’s side. Lisa purposely avoided eye contact with Ezekiel, but Adam sharply glared at him! Lisa would have savored in this show of solidarity, but she was too worried about what fate they would endure as a result of this hearing! With everyone’s predisposition to castigate her for an untrue backstory she didn’t esteem that she would get a fair trial! The further damage to her reputation would have hurt, and she fretted that this misdeed would prompt Melanie to fire her, but neither of those possibilities were even the worst part of this! Her incarceration would free Rebecca to run amok wherever she pleased without interference, and she feared her capabilities without Lisa’s ability to fight back! The only souls who knew of Rebecca’s existence were likely due to get locked up, and she grew frightened by what would wait for them once they got released!

“You may be seated!” a cold voice told the courtroom. Lisa wasn’t sure if his long, black robes simply adorned him in a manner that gave him this appearance or not, but Lisa swore he swooped in like a bat on its hunt! He perched on his bench and studied the court with his small, beady eyes, and his wrinkles became more pronounced as he sneered at the entire lot! Lisa’s trepidation heightened- this did not bode well for their odds of winning! Judge Hale pored over the document that the bailiff handed him, and he banged the gavel to initiate the hearing. “On this twenty-ninth day of October at eleven thirteen p.m., we are here for the arraignments of Delron Faulkner, Adam Farrington, and Lisa Bassett for the charges of trespassing and attempt at burglary or destruction of property.” He put down his paper and addressed Lisa directly, “So, you’re the one everyone’s been talking about! We meet at last!”

“Yes, your honor! But I hope my public image does not bar me from receiving a fair trial!” Lisa expressed as politely as her early irritation with this event would allow her to.

Judge Hale briefly flustered, “Of course not! I only mentioned this as a point of interest. Only direct evidence shall be considered for my ruling.”

Ezekiel objected, “Your honor, the city intends to present character witnesses to testify on the defendant’s criminal intent.”

“Isn’t that highly unusual for misdemeanor charges?” Delron challenged that premise.

“It is unusual for a strict liability case  such as this. Unless the prosecution can prove the defendants committed more erroneous offenses, the court cannot permit character witnesses or heresay.” Judge Hale begrudgingly decreed. Lisa began to grow hopeful about their odds of success until Judge Hale stated, “Sheriff Marshal Hopkins saw first-hand that they entered illegally onto property whose owners gave them no permission to do so, so I’m inclined to let the trespassing charges stand.”

Adam protested, “That’s not fair! We didn’t get a chance to defend ourselves!”

Judge Hale inquired, “Did you enter onto Blackthorn Orchards without getting the owners’ permission before doing so?”

“Yes, but-!” Adam tried to fully reply.

“Then I have no choice!” Judge Hale didn’t show an ounce of regret to act upon this obligation.

Lisa detected Peanut barking in the distance, and with Delron’s proximity to the dog, she recalled a vivid detail from their expedition and brought up, “We didn’t want to break into anyone’s land, but we had to retrieve his pet! We couldn’t let him just roam around on someone else’s grounds!”

Judge Hale questioned, “Why didn’t you get the owners’ permission to retrieve the animal?”

Who is the owner?” Lisa shot back. “No one lives there, so how would we get the dog fast enough to prevent him from wreaking havoc in that territory?”

“Well…” Judge Hale fumbled through some files, and when he couldn’t present an immediate response, he shifted to a different tactic, “You should have contacted the police and let them take care of the matter!”

Lisa folded her arms definitely and probed, “What police officer would have been willing to go onto a haunted property?”

Judge Hale’s frown grew more pronounced, but he didn’t verbally react to the issue she raised. Ezekiel could obviously see his inner turmoil over his legal obligations, so he catechized, “Your honor, what about the scream Sheriff Hopkins put in his report?”

“What about it?” Judge Hale countered. Ezekiel looked as though he had slapped him in the face with that remark, so Judge Hale elucidated, “Do you have any video of that occurrence? Photos of their activities? Eyewitness accounts? Something that proves they were doing something unrelated to dog retrieval?”

“We have theories…” Ezekiel pouted prior to Judge Hale’s reaction to this assertion, and Lisa strove to not appear overly delighted by Ezekiel’s downward spiral in fear that Judge Hale would rescind his lean to reluctantly side with them!

With a heavy sigh, Judge Hale ruled, “The court finds that the prosecution has failed to provide sufficient evidence that a crime took place, therefore, I shall not schedule any further hearings on this matter. All charges are dismissed!”

Ezekiel stormed out without his gaze meeting anyone else’s. The bailiff directed, “Please rise and stay standing until-.” He glanced behind him, and it stunned him to espy that the judge’s bench was already empty! Lisa shook her head at the poor behavior in which her opponents conducted themselves after receiving their loss, but she relished in the relief that she and her allies avoided a disastrous fate! As the officers who escorted them in proceeded to prepare for their exit, Lisa twisted the emerald ring on her finger- she could not wait to take that thing off!

“Here are your belongings.” A female clerk plopped a giant bag onto the counter next to her cellphone and keys.

“That’s not mine,” Lisa informed her.

The clerk gave her a quizzical stare. “Sheriff Hopkins brought this in during your processing; why would he do that if it wasn’t yours?”

Not wanting to explain the insult that Ann pinned onto her or the fact that Marshal further exasperated that jibe with this gesture, Lisa changed her tune, “Oh, I forgot. It is mine!” The clerk still eyeballed her peculiarly, but since she no longer had to make excuses for herself, she snatched her stuff and marched out the door.

It irked Lisa that while the police transported her to the station, no one offered her a ride home! Adam got released faster than her, and he apparently caught a lift to his home from someone who was unwilling to stick around for her. She felt certain that Abby’s cronies had relayed what transpired to her, and she assumed that Abby hovered around the precinct anxiously anticipating the outcome of this judicial entanglement. A pang of jealousy rose up within her, and in that moment, all she desired was to punish Abby for her manipulative efforts to sway Adam’s affections! As she stewed over this concept, she noticed the streetlights darkened from dark clouds forming over her! She glimpsed up at them, and then she focused on that ring. She shook herself out of this vengeful stupor- as much as she disliked Abby, she could not bring herself to enact any sort of horrendous curse onto her! She kept it on to ensure its safe passage to her abode, but she steadfastly refused to let any negative emotions overpower her during her travel! Regardless of what injustice she underwent, she resolved to never let herself become Rebecca Rook!

Delron lived close to that site, and he offered to loan her his bicycle for the journey, but she had to say no because of the bag of clothes forced onto her. She would have loved to have abandoned it somewhere, but she could not risk any other infractions, not even something small like littering, right then! Her studio wasn’t terribly far from there, but it felt that way as she dragged her heavy load down the boulevard! She could still see shadows lingering behind her, and she had no appetite to entertain them! It became especially difficult as she lugged her burden up her staircase- her pants got caught onto part of the railing and created a large hole in the fabric! She gritted her teeth, but she did not relent to her rage!

As soon as Lisa got into her apartment, she immediately wanted to get the ring off! She pulled at the spooky piece of jewelry, but it didn’t want to budge! She absolutely refused to don that accursed object for the eternal period it probably wanted her to, and she yanked at it even harder! All of a sudden, it not only loosened off of her finger, it flew across the room! It landed on the floor with a loud ting, and then it bounced under her bed prior to her being able to stop it! She bent over and aimed to retrieve it, but she couldn’t feel it anywhere along the edge, so she resentfully got low onto the ground. She already felt sore enough from the arduous trek she just made, and it was a total pain to perform this feat now! She turned on her cellphone’s flashlight, and she grew alarmed to find more than merely the trinket beneath her sleeping post…

Lisa squinted her eyes to read what the markings on the wall denoted, but she couldn’t quite make it out, so she turned on her camera feature and zoomed in… She gasped when she saw that the word “witches” lurked next to a set of tallies! It disgusted her enough to tempt her to avert her eyes, but she lingered momentarily in order to take a picture for Delron and Adam. As soon as she snapped and sent the photo, she tore herself away from that visualization! It was hard for her to process that! Whoever originally occupied this space clearly enjoyed watching the bodies of the witch-trial victims getting moved down the river and into the graveyard!

This development stressed her out enough that she pulled up her job search app! She didn’t fancy the idea of giving up on an important goal, but at this juncture, it seemed imperative to her survival! The others could repair the damage done by her accidental contact with the Proctor Bible! She acknowledged that this error released that malevolent essence, and that malevolent essence would undoubtedly destroy many innocent lives in her absence, but if she stayed in Melas, she may not have been able to exist long enough to do much good for the community anyways! She nearly texted Lydia to tell her opinion of this creepy city had been correct all along, but then…

The familiar sensation o a creature brushing against her legs returned, and she ceased her current undertaking to focus on it. “Oh hello, Hester!” The cat’s form appeared in front of her, and initially, she was pleased to get such a supportive visitor, but soon, she recognized that Hester was staring at her with a hurtful mistrust! She couldn’t comprehend why until it finally dawned on her that she probably sensed her intention of departure! “Listen, it’s not my fault!” The feline persisted in its peering, so she amended her sentence, “Well, I suppose I did start this fiasco, but I can’t finish it! I’ve done all I can…” Hester’s stance didn’t bend, so Lisa admitted, “Okay, so I could give the witching bottles a shot, but how can I live somewhere where a vile human being amused themselves with people’s suffering? See what they were doing…?”

She pulled up the image for her, but in this instance, she observed more details beside the witch tallying. There was another count labeled as familiars, and her stomach lurched. “They killed innocent animals too?” She buried her visage into her palms, but she craned her neck back up when Hester emitted a pitiful mew. She gazed at her as though she were striving to convey a relevant message, so Lisa posed to her, “Did they execute you in the witch-trials too?” Hester meowed in a sad fashion and bowed like she was reliving an awful memory, and that was more than Lisa could bear! She could not be quiet with this revelation! Action had to get taken!

Lisa dove back under the bed and swiped the ring back out! She dashed over to the kitchen table where Adam’s witching bottle stood and plunked Rebecca’s possession straight into it! She poured in the cinnamon and salt that the instructions next to her described, and she swooshed it around for about ten seconds. She stuck the cork back into it and proudly displayed it for Hester, and she avidly declared, “You will not have died in vain! I’m gonna catch that she-devil, and once this nightmare is over, I’ll do everything I can to insure that all of the guilt-free souls lost in this atrocity are remembered and get the justice that they deserve!” It warmed the cockles of her heart to see Hester’s warm glow resurface, but as she gawked at the completed witching bottle in her grasp, she became apprehensive that this endeavor would prove easier said than done…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 20

“It came from over there!” Adam pointed to the remains of an old barn, and they raced towards it! Inwardly, Lisa prayed that Delron was alright because if he wasn’t, it would have been all her fault! She let herself get convinced to go against her better judgment and allow Delron to go across the property alone, and she involved him in this whole supernatural affair in the first place! He was such a sweet, kind guy, and he didn’t deserve to endure a fate like this! She spotted him in the distance, and it relieved her to see him still standing, but she wasn’t entirely certain that proved his condition was still stable… Adam queried, “Are you okay?”

“That scream didn’t come from me,” Delron reported. “It came from inside of here, but I don’t see any sign that anyone was actually in here! I’m sorta scared to go in there and investigate!”

Lisa stepped forward, “I’m going in!”

Delron ogled at her audacity. “Really? You’re not scared?”

“Of course I am! But someone’s gotta do it!” Lisa asserted.

“Come on!” Adam instructed Delron. “She’s not doing this alone!” Delron’s expression still wavered, but he complied.

Lisa visually scanned the floor, but all she could see was old hay. She didn’t expect to instantly stumble into anything substantial, but she knew that eventually they would wander into the territory of something that was important to the spirit of whoever occupied this area in the afterlife, and when this occurred, they would likely get forced into an unearthly combat! She had no clue what was getting guarded here, but she was willing to fight for it in order to end their apparational nightmare once and for all!

They tiptoed across the ground for a minute, and the trio collectively appeared to have gotten the impression they would elicit a response quicker than they had, and when nothing happened, Delron stated, “We’re walking into a trap!”

“Let’s split up,” Lisa suggested. They seemed frightened by that concept, so Lisa elucidated, “Whatever’s in here may not have the ability to attack at a wide range, so we have a greater chance of survival if we spread out.” The two men nodded in agreement, and after Delron went left and Adam went right, Lisa moved forward and beseeched the universe that she hadn’t created more of an opportunity for peril to prevail by enacting this measure! They operated in a concentrating silence until…

“Hey!” Adam called out, which made Delron and Lisa jump slightly. Adam pressed his right-foot onto a specific plank, and he observed, “This spot’s hollow!”

Delron posed to him, “Can you open it up without tools?”

Adam affirmed, “I’m gonna try!”

Lisa and Delron watched with intrigue from their positions. Lisa crossed her fingers that they would uncover a concealed treasure that Rebecca stashed prior to her imprisonment, and while she acknowledged that it very well could have been a den from one of the few creatures who dared to roam Blackthorn Orchard, she had a strong feeling that they had discovered a valuable token! As they eagerly awaited the results of this find, Peanut started barking wildly at something near Lisa! She didn’t comprehend it initially, but a cold chill made his behavior so clear…

Once she turned around and beheld it, Lisa gasped. Adam’s jaw dropped, and Delron lost all of the color in his face! They beheld a translucent figure of a woman in a long dress and an antiquated hairstyle, which prompted Delron to nervously verify, “This isn’t… you know who?”

“I’m Goody Blackthorn!” she addressed them in an ethereal voice. Her speech frightened them, but they did not believe that she posed a threat to them… yet. “What are you doing on my land?”

“Goody Blackthorn, we…” Lisa wasn’t positive on where to begin. Obviously, this was the original wife of Rebecca’s second husband, and surely, she witnessed the horrors that Rebecca went through before injustice drove her into madness, but how much insight did she possess into more modern events? She decided to initiate their interaction by relaying to her, “We mean you no harm!”

Folding her arms in a displeased manner, Goody Bishop curtly stated, “That is always nice to hear, but it does not answer my question!”

The trio grew frightened by the possibility of upsetting her further, and no one knew how to react initially. Not wanting to risk the wrath of her impatience, Delron gingerly spoke to Goody Blackthorn, “We… We’re… We want to rid the region of a terrible evil, and in order to do that, we need an object from a person who lived here long ago…”

“You’re talking about the mistress,” Goody Blackthorn stoically reacted. “The one who took my husband and my land.”

“She tried to, you mean,” Adam supportively told her. “I saw her above your property once, but she didn’t come back, did she? You drove her off, didn’t you?”

They felt a jolt of relief as she smirked with pride! Goody Blackthorn basked in the glow of this memory, and she triumphantly conveyed to them, “She tried to claim this as her territory, but it is not hers to take!”

Lisa confidently assured her, “And we want to prevent her from disturbing anyone ever again! But we need your help! Please, is there anything in your land that does belong to her?”

“She did not create the crevice you found,” Goody Blackthorn briefed the three. “That belonged to her servants, they put objects in there to manufacture her guilt. She chanced upon it ere they could show it to the authorities, but she did not have the opportunity to destroy it ahead of her arrest. She did drop something of hers in there though, a valuable token she intended to retrieve for repayment of my husband’s debts… I cannot bear to set my sights on that horrid thing! It serves as a constant reminder of what was taken from me after I succumbed to my disease!”

“We can take it far from here!” Lisa offered. “Then you can spend an eternity in what’s yours and only yours!”

Goody Blackthorn contemplated this matter for a moment, which caused Lisa, Delron, and Adam’s nerves to spike as though they stood upon pins and needles! Finally, Goody Blackthorn aired her determination, “You may retrieve it! Protect your ears from my utterance when I’m forced to lay my eyes upon it for the final  time!”

Lisa nodded in understanding, and then she as well as Delron joined Adam by the cache he discovered. The plank that concealed it remained steadfastly unmoving, so Delron assisted him in lifting it. After quite a bit of tugging, the clandestine horde got unsealed! Lisa immediately dove down, and her fingers brushed against something soft but coarse. She carefully pulled it out, and they were surprised to see a cloth doll with rough, unrefined hair and black buttons for eyes! Delron assessed, “That’s a voodoo poppet! The court records indicated that her servants reported seeing them in the horse stable, but no one ever verified this allegation. Their word was all they needed, so I’m not sure why they even bothered to create this evidence! They just as easily could have lied!”

Adam and Lisa shrugged at the premise of knowing the motivation of the servants, and then Lisa continued to clear out the rest of the stash. She pulled out five of these effigies, and she continued to scour the surface, she got the notion that they were watching them! Evidently, the others had experienced the same sensation because Adam pondered, “Did these things actually get used to curse anyone?”

The room was mute to speculate on the issue that he raised. Goody Blackthorn sustained her pursed lips, and Delron ogled them as though he were trying to discern whether or not the curios contained dark magic within them. Meanwhile, Lisa’s palm examined every inch of that trove. She momentarily worried that Goody Blackthorn had communicated in deception, but she heard a very visceral scream earlier, so she did not entertain the option of giving up for long! At long last, her skin came into contact with something icy, and she knew without a doubt that she had located the commodity they sought! She warned the others, “Brace yourself!” They muffled their hearing as she drew it out…

A pang coursed throughout Lisa’s eardrums as Goody Blackthorn let out a blood-curdling scream. Lisa put her hands over her ears, but it did benefit her much to do so- the volume of that hollering was so high that Lisa suspected they could hear it on the opposite end of Melas! Once the cacophony had ceased, Lisa planned on putting it in her pocket and then thanking Goody Blackthorn for her cooperation until…

“Trespassers, exit the vicinity right now!” Sheriff Marshal’s dulcet tone blared over a loudspeaker. “Go to the street with your hands up!”

“What would he do if we refused to leave?” Adam sniffed in disapproval of Marshal’s actions. “It’s not like that d-bag has the balls to set foot onto the orchard!”

Delron forlornly pointed out. “It’s not like we can stay here forever! We’ll have to obey his command, and… knock on wood that we can concoct a plausible explanation for the judge!”

Marshal repeated himself, “Trespassers, exit the vicinity! Go to the street with your hands up!”

“As far as anyone knows, this is mine!” As Lisa raised an ancient emerald  ring above the traditional digit to adorn such a piece of jewelry, Adam and Delron vehemently shook their heads. “They’ll confiscate what’s in my pockets, not what’s on my body!” Preceding their shot to protest this act any further, Lisa slipped it on! Her entire being flooded with a bitter glacialness as she raised her limbs and departed from the building.

“See, Sheriff Hopkins! There was someone in there!” Beth bragged to Marshal. “Ooh, there’s three of them!”

Marshal supplanted her sentence, “No, it’s the  three! I knew that girl had mischief up her sleeves!”

Lisa rolled her eyes at his sentiments, but Adam became defensive, “Hey! We had a perfectly legitimate reason for coming here! We… we’re waiting for our lawyers before we say anything further!  What are you two doing here?”

“Don’t you remember? You offered to loan Abby some of your mom’s old clothes while she’s displaced.” Ann indicated to a bulky bag beside her. “We can’t take it though ‘cause it’s far too big for her slender frame! Oh, it’d be perfect for you though, Lisa!” Ann sneered at her, and Lisa purposely didn’t flinch at her contempt.

“Let’s go!” Marshal’s bravado gained its fervor back as they climbed over the fence. He eagerly cuffed Lisa, and while he placed her under arrest, Lisa began to grow fearful that they would not get freed in advance of Rebecca’s next assault!

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 19

One of the residents exclaimed, “Wow! That blizzard really picked up some steam!”

As Lisa and Delron watched the wind gain strength with knowing eyes, a young man peered out the window and opined, “It looks more like a hurricane!”

“Come off it!” another one of the other posh occupants dismissed his claim. “It’s October! Plus, how often do you get a snowy hurricane?”

“Get away from the-!” The receptionist ran to rescue the lad, but he was too late- a tree crashed through the glass and landed directly on top of him!

Abby shrieked, “This is all your fault!” She lunged towards Lisa’s throat, but Lisa dodged her attack. She couldn’t believe she had to fend off this aggression during a supernatural disaster!

The receptionist grabbed Abby’s arms and curtly ordered, “Miss Parris, get into the basement, now!”

Everybody flooded down a wooden staircase, and Lisa as well as Delron took the rearmost position in order to distance themselves from Abby. Before they could reach the bottom, the tempest’ force caused them to struggle! Delron attempted to close the door, but it wouldn’t shut! “We’re doomed!” a little girl wailed.

“We need to put something against the door!” Lisa asserted as she clung for dear life onto the railing.

“There’s no way we could lift anything up there in time!” an older guy objected.

From above them, they could hear a thunderous boom, and the volume of the storm increased! “Part of the building got ripped off!” an elderly lady howled.

Delron vociferated, “All we can do now is hold on and pray!”

“I’m slipping!” a small boy cried as the gale intensified.

“Do you have any rope?” Lisa asked the receptionist.

The receptionist pulled out a dusty, old box and answered, “I have these!”

He pulled out some antiquated shackles, and Lisa apprised, “That’ll work!”

As quickly as they could, each person grabbed a cuff and locked it onto a long guide rail that ran along the perimeter. The furor became more and more ravenous, and Lisa feared that her support may not reach her end before a fatal impact! Chains got passed in her direction, but she could barely hold on! When she finally grasped some, she could hardly maintain the fortitude to clasp it! She struggled to maneuver it towards the railing, and she moved in slow motion to attach it to her wrist! When it finally shut around her wrist, the door flew off its hinges! This was it…

And that was it! No sooner had the bluster come to its pinnacle, it disappeared! Everyone returned to the ground, and the atmosphere got quiet! Lisa’s brows furrowed; it was as though her connecting her constraints drove it off! She thought that concept was impossible… unless… No! What were the odds?

“Is it over?” a teen queried.

“Perhaps we should wait a minute in case this is simply the eye of the storm,” an elderly lady suggested.

Snowflakes surfaced on the stairs, and somebody puzzled, “It’s snowing again?”

The receptionist proclaimed, “I think it’s done! Here’s the key. Be careful as you head up there- you never know what that monster exposed!”

Lisa and Delron unlocked themselves first since they needed to shift and clear a path for everyone else. When they arrived back on the main floor, they gaped at the damage that had been done! The pristine lobby had vanished, and debris was strewed everywhere! They got a glimpse of the town beneath the hill of the edifice’s location, and nothing else suffered from this incident! “The hurricane didn’t get anyone else?” a young woman enquired.

“Our house!” a middle-aged fellow cried.

Now will you ban them from the premises?” Abby demanded to the receptionist.

The receptionist stated, “No one is coming back here until this infrastructure is examined and deemed safe!”

A weeping wife probed, “But… where will we go?”

No one had a response. Lisa and Delron began to walk away, but then the receptionist addressed them, “Please give back that historical artifact!” Lisa hesitated. If she could only keep it, she could end this nightmare forever! She couldn’t come up with a valid excuse other than the truth though, and that was not something she could share, so she very unwillingly handed the handcuffs back prior to their departure.

Lisa saw him standing under a hazy streetlight. Everything else was pitch black, which made her worry about their prospective endeavor this evening. When she got closer to Adam, he flashed her a grin, and she tried earnestly to reciprocate the gesture, but her nerves froze her facial muscles! Exploring a vengeful ghost’s former territory felt daunting enough, but in addition to that, she dreaded interacting with Adam after what happened with Abby. Oh sure, it didn’t sound like they were currently dating, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to! She didn’t want to hang out with the man who would choose to pursue a girl who tried to strangle her, but his work towards their effort to eradicate this town from a terrible presence was valuable. She pushed herself to buy into the notion of a positive outcome from this undertaking, but her anxiety overruled her optimism!

Suddenly, Lisa detected movement in the darkness in front of her! She couldn’t discern what it was, so she could only assume it was some sort of spirit racing towards her! She looked to Adam for possible assistance, and it startled her to see him smiling! Did he send a wicked entity to her? She could hardly comprehend that, but she didn’t have a second to spare in analyzing anything! The obscure figure arrived in her proximity, and she braced herself for a paranormal battle…

“Oh, hello there!” Lisa merrily greeted the perpetrator of her panic- a mid-size, black dog with floppy ears and a sweet expression on its visage! “You scared me, little dude!”

“Peanut, down!” Adam commanded his pet as it put its front paws onto Lisa’s sweater.

Lisa laughed, “Oh, I don’t mind! Well,  I suppose I should since he could snag it and I don’t have very many clothes, but I’m just so relieved that he isn’t some ferocious creature coming to eat me!”

Adam chuckled, “That’d never happen! He chases the rabbits out of the pumpkin groves, but if he ever caught any, I’m certain he’d just play with them! He’s the gentlest animal I’ve ever met! But, having said that, I’m hoping that he’ll provide us with protection while we explore Blackthorn Orchards! I think if was in any true danger, he’d come to my rescue! Besides, Rebecca didn’t like that ghostly cat, so I was counting on him warding her off while we’re here. You never know when she might revisit her old place!”

“If this proves successful, then I’ll have to consider getting a doggy or kitty to take with us on deliveries! Maybe we could actually complete an order without almost dying!” Lisa joked. She instantly regretted making that quip though- it gave him an opening to pry into this morning’s incident!

“Yeah, I imagine that’s getting old!” Adam responded. They each guffawed at that, and then Adam smirked. “Abby told me about the freak hurricane. So, you attempted to murder her, huh?”

Lisa emphatically denied that allegation, “That’s a lie! She was the one who wanted to wring my neck in the middle of evacuating from the wind!”

Adam assured her, “I know! Well, I didn’t know that specific detail, but Abby’s claim didn’t make sense! Why would you do something like that when you allegedly sent the hurricane to do everyone in?”

“Thank you!” Lisa’s heart thumped with gratitude for his vouching of her character! “How much you wanna bet half of Melas will believe her b.s.?” 

“People believe a lot of dumb things! You’d be surprised how many idiots still think the world is flat!” Adam commented. They exchanged amusement in this tidbit, and then Adam got more serious. “Forget what they say! The important thing is you’re still here!”

He stroked her hair, and Lisa fought her instincts to inch closer to him! She didn’t want to fall victim to any tricks on his part to persuade her to let her guard down and provide her foes with invaluable insight, but he got right next to her body, and it became very hard to resist pulling her lips up to his…

Delron shouted, “Get back!” Lisa and Adam immediately jumped out of each other’s orbit and mentally prepared themselves to engage in a harrowing altercation, but they soon espied Peanut merrily greeting Delron! Delron cracked up, “Yes, yes! Nice to see you again, buddy!” Peanut scampered back to Adam, and Delron sheepishly regarded them, “Sorry! I didn’t wanna interrupt your, um, conversation…”

“The entrance to the estate is a few feet behind us,” Adam mentioned as if the bout of awkwardness had not transpired. “Shall we…?”

“Yes! The sooner we find an object belonging to Rebecca, the sooner we can evoke the magic of those witching bottles and finish this spooky shit!” Lisa ardently articulated. Adam led them on the route to their destination, and Delron as well as Lisa determinedly traversed behind him.

A battered-up old arch marked the onset to the property, and a padlock sealed up the slender, iron gates. Adam informed the other two, “They put this up later to discourage squatters, but no one is even tempted to trespass here!” Lisa couldn’t see anything beyond the obscurity, but she wasn’t about to let that discourage her! She used the gate’s setup as steps and began scaling the structure. Delron and Adam mimicked that move while Peanut squeezed through the gaps, and once they all reached the other side, they stood in silence for a moment to absorb the gravity of the occasion. Once they accepted the hallow oddity, they took a collective deep breath and went forth down the shadowy path.

Lisa, Adam, and Delron turned on the flashlight feature on their cellphones, and so far, all the trio could see was several deadened trees lining their trail. Delron wondered, “Do you imagine that this lot was ever nice?”

“Oh, look! There’s a house!” Adam indicated to a dilapidated dwelling ahead of them.

“It seems like it’s staring at us!” Lisa assessed as she viewed how the eaves resembled eyebrows, and the windows very much appeared like glaring eyes! Holes in its walls showed the inside of a fairly ordinary domicile, but the closer they got to it, the more it seemed like their existence in this area angered the current occupants of the land! “Remember why we’re here- don’t lose your cool!” Lisa advised the two men in addition to herself.

Delron reached the porch first, but when he attempted to open the door, it wouldn’t budge! Adam pointed to a sizable crack nearby, and he let the others know, “We can fit in there if we take out this board!” He yanked it from its position, and then he stared at the site guiltily. “Why does it feel like I pissed someone off by doing that?”

Lisa responded, “Because you’re overthinking it! Let’s go!”

She crouched low and shimmied into the shack, and Adam did the same. Delron almost followed suit, but then, unexpectedly, Peanut darted away and ran into an unclear detour to the rearmost section of the habitation! “I’ll go get him!” Delron volunteered.

“He shouldn’t go alone!” Lisa fretted.

“Aw, he’ll be fine!” Adam aired his vote of confidence. “Peanut doesn’t tear himself too far away from me. We should start searching for Rebecca’s possessions, who knows how long we have…” Lisa nodded in agreement, and they initiated a sweep of their surroundings.

Lisa peered at a pile of rubble, and she conveyed, “Man, it’s like one day, they just took everything out and never came back!”

Adam denoted, “No mice, no bugs, no birds- nothing touched this home in ages! What exactly were they trying to avoid?”

Prior to Lisa having the ability to reply, they heard a horrible scream from afar! They swiftly removed themselves from that locale and sped towards the origin of that anguished cry…

The Darkest Wishes of Melas, Chapter 18

“I already told you I’m sorry!” Lisa expressed to Delron as they trudged up the downtown boulevard in a light dusting of snow. Delron didn’t respond to her, so she made another bid for his forgiveness, “I know I acted recklessly, and I promised I wouldn’t do it again! What more do you want from me?”

“I’m not really mad,” Delron finally spoked up. “I’m simply afraid of what you might do if you get more information! Are you gonna act impulsively and behave in a way that might get you killed? You already almost died in the graveyard, and you got lucky at Derrick Tyburn’s Field! You can only cheat death so many times…”

Lisa took offense to that. “Are you saying I wanted all those things to happen to me?”

Delron probed, “Did you? You’re going through a rough patch, and it’s not uncommon for people in that situation to put themselves in harm’s path…”

“I’m not suicidal!” Lisa refuted that statement. “I messed up, but I only did it ‘cause I was trying to help! I’m trying to save innocent lives, not harm myself!”

“It worries me to involve you in any more of these efforts,” Delron spelled out to her. “Every new fact we learn seems to get you into trouble!”

Lisa got shocked by the audacity of his assertion. “So, you’re saying you don’t trust me? This whole rescue mission was my idea!”

Delron contended, “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t wanna lose you! Yes, we’ve only known each other for a few days, but I feel like I’ve made a new friend! I don’t have a lot of allies in this town, and it’d crush me to see you meet your demise like that!”

“If you really value our friendship, you have to have a little more faith in me than that!” Lisa argued. “You have to give me a chance to prove I’m trustworthy! Besides, Rebecca has a strong vendetta against me after what my ancestor did to her! I doubt she’d leave me alone if I stopped pursuing her! I’d fare better against her by being armed with more information…”

“You’re right!” Delron conceded as he halted his gait. “I guess I got a little overprotective! If I tell you what I learned, will you swear not to act on it alone?”

Lisa assured him, “Of course! What did you find out?”

Delron glanced around at his surroundings, and when he felt confident about their privacy, he inquired, “Do you know how we’re doing a book pick up at Bayside Estates?”

“Yeah,” Lisa replied.

“Well, I was doing some research on other places that may have held significance for the witchcraft trial victims, and…” Delron trailed off.

With her interest piqued, Lisa pressed him, “That building may have meant something to that menacing ghost?”

Delron explained, “Well, before it was luxury condos, it was actually an insane asylum, and before that, it was a jail notorious for its harsh conditions and mistreatment of prisoners…”

“So, Rebecca may have been held here prior to her hanging?” Lisa surmised.

“Precisely!” Delron confirmed. “And a lot of her madness probably stemmed from the abuse she went through there!”

As they resumed their travel, Lisa wondered, “Why would they create such fancy homes on a site with such an ugly history?”

Delron commented, “It happened more than you can imagine! Entrepreneurs buy the land for dirt cheap, and then after they turn it into something nice, they make a huge profit.”

“But wouldn’t this spot be haunted as hell?” Lisa queried.

“Most likely.” Delron shrugged.

Delron pushed a button by the front entrance’s intercom, and a snooty voice addressed them, “Yes?”

Lisa informed him, “We’re from Brigfell. We’re here at the request of Patrick Wheat.”

The man requested, “One moment.” After a considerable pause, the man returned, “You’ve been verified. Come in.”

Lisa beheld the ultra posh lobby, and other than the sour face that receptionist was making as he avoided eye contact, nothing regarding this space suggested that it once held anything sinister! As she followed Delron across they foyer, she glanced around at her surroundings to visually unearth some sort of memento honoring the background of this site, but it became very apparent that the designers of this edifice strove to bury that secret! She watched an arrogant bunch board an elevator, and she had to resist the urge to question them on whether or not their opulent pad ever got visited by the spirits of tortured prisoners!

“We’re taking the service lift,” Delron assured the condescending crew as they eyeballed the pair warily. They seemed really relieved to receive this tidbit, and Lisa shook her head as their doors closed. “Don’t take it personally,” Delron advised her. “They treat everyone like that!”

“I’m not particularly concerned about that,” Lisa remarked as she studied the residential hallway they trekked through. “I lived in a penthouse up until recently, and I had neighbors like that! It’s a shame that they isolate themselves from so many people! Then again, they’re hardly the first occupants of this establishment to live in total seclusion…”

Delron put a finger to his lips to signify the need to keep that morsel under wraps, and while Lisa didn’t see the problem of anyone here knowing the truth, she acquiesced to his wishes- she hardly wanted to get into another tiff with him! When they reached the barred entryway of this shaft, Lisa probed, “Is this the servants’ corridor?”

After pushing the summoning button, Delron expounded, “It’s designed for those with large loads to utilize for a more convenient experience, but I have rarely seen it get used by anybody who actually lived here! So… yeah!” Lisa shook her head at the ridiculousness of the residents.

Once they were in the solitude of the conveyer, Lisa observed, “I didn’t find any hint of anything that once belonged to the old jail!”

“It was kind of a long shot,” Delron responded. “We don’t even know what cell Rebecca was held in! But hey, it’s still worth it to keep an eye out for something!”

“Are you the book peeps?” a young woman with her gaze fixed firmly on her cellphone greeted them at the door of her condominium. 

Lisa authenticated this with a less than sincere thumbs up, but the girl didn’t catch a drift of her disdain. “Book peeps… yeah, that’s us.”

The youthful lady instructed them, “Daddy is in the study. Wait here, I’ll get them for you.”

She shut the door, and then Lisa whispered, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if Rebecca was once locked up in this apartment?”

Delron chuckled, and then Patrick’s daughter shoved a sack of publications into their arms. “Have a nice day!” She flashed them a disingenuous grin prior to shutting the door once more. “At least this one made eye contact with us!” Delron kidded. Lisa tittered, but she soon grew crestfallen, which prompted Delron to ask, “Is something wrong?”

“You mean aside from the usual?” Lisa answered with the slightest sign of jest in her melancholy. “Well, I was hoping to gather an important clue during our stay in this joint, but all we got was treated badly!”

“It could’ve been worse,” Delron consoled her. “At least we didn’t run into anything too scary!” In that instant, a door swung open, and Abby stood before them! “I stand corrected!”

Abby folded her arms and spoke directly to Lisa, “What business do you have with Adam?”

Lisa hesitated. Obviously, she couldn’t divulge the small part Adam played in their quest to rid Melas of an evil apparition, and she definitely didn’t want to confess to any romantic sentiments that surfaced within her! Still, she had to offer her some kind of rationale for their increasingly frequent activities together… Delron jumped in, “He comes to Brigfell to get literature and music for the Halloween Hoedown; as someone who helps pay the bills for that event, I would’ve expected you to feel pleased about stuff he can rent for free!”

“Don’t give me that crap!” Abby snarled. “You don’t keep a man’s attention that long for mere logistics!”

“Well, since you’re not gonna listen to our story, why don’t you tell us what Adam wants from the library?” Lisa challenged her.

Abby spat, “You! But I highly doubt that’s from his own free will!”

Lisaa put her hands on her hips and catechized, “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Don’t play games with me!” Abby hissed. “You know exactly what I’m talking about! You bewitched him to get him to fall for you! That’s the only reason a guy like him would go for you when he could have someone like me! I have the entire package- looks, personality, money, and you have none of that!”

“You’re forgetting something else that you have that I don’t- an unsound brain!” Lisa retorted. Abby’s jaw dropped upon hearing this insult, but preceding her ability to argue any further, Lisa directed Delron, “Let’s go!”

Delron tailed Lisa, who had taken brisk strides towards the elevator, and Abby struggled to keep up with them. “Wait! I’m not done with you yet!” Lisa closed the elevator door in her face and smirked as they descended back down below.

Lisa and Delron had nearly gotten to the exit when they lift behind them dinged, something they would have ignored if it didn’t come with Abby in it, who yelled, “Don’t you dare try and escape me!”

“Miss Parris, please remember that there’s no shouting in the lobby!” the receptionist gently reminded her.

“I want these two banned from the premises!” Abby demanded as if she hadn’t apprehended his guidance. “They’ve damaged my property!”

Lisa disputed that, “That’s a lie! She’s making up wild claims ‘cause she got the impression I’m stealing a boyfriend that she doesn’t have!”

Abby accused, “Ever since she got here, my home has been acting funny! My belongings keep getting moved, it gets cold out of nowhere, weird shadows dance across my floor… Do you really think this is a simple coincidence?”

“Uh…” the receptionist demurred. It pleased Lisa to watch his skepticism rise because she recognized although he probably didn’t want to side with Abby’s opponent, her assertion was too bonkers for him to entertain! “Ma’am, forgive me for asking, but what precisely are you accusing her of?”

“Dark magic!” Abby bellowed. Several passersby stopped to witness this scene, but Abby didn’t seem to care about their presence. “You can’t deny that something is very wrong here! Haven’t you noticed any unusual sightings?” 

The receptionist slowly articulated, “Miss Parris, this complex got built on very old grounds…”

Lisa’s ears perked up at this! She eagerly awaited him to provide more detail about its past, but her hopes of gleaning anything that might assist them in their mystery got dashed when a couple of audience members concurred with Abby! Abby picked up on this, and she avidly interrogated the crowd, “You’ve seen it too, haven’t you? The weird lights, the creepy sky…”

“Listen, if you want us out that bad, we’ll leave! Our boss can deliver your orders from now on!” Lisa turned to Delron, who nodded in agreement. They attempted to march out, but then…

“Hold on! No one is going anywhere!” the receptionist decreed as he stared out the window in fright…