With one last thread of hope lingering in her voice, Lisa asked Delron, “Was he, like, a nice judge who tried to save the innocent victims and put a stop to that madness?” She clasped her hands together and prayed for this to be the scenario! She didn’t think she could have handled it if he condemned guiltless individuals to an unjust demise!
Shaking his head sadly, Delron answered her, “Melas didn’t have any judges like that! And unfortunately, Judge Basset was the most senior member of the court, so he made most of the rulings in those trials!”
“My ancestor sent dozens of people to their death, and none of them deserved it!” Lisa sunk into one of the chairs by her kitchen table. Her mind had trouble absorbing this fact, it just didn’t seem real! She had always believed that she came from a long line of honorable citizens, and until the present instance, she saw no evidence to contradict that! How could so many benevolent men and women have come from that vile monster?
“Twenty five to be precise. A hundred fifty more were awaiting trial for witchcraft, but they got saved when the governor intervened after someone accused his wife.” Delron espied the appalled expression on Lisa’s face, and he apologized, “Sorry! I know this can’t be easy for you, but don’t let this change anything! Humans have roamed this earth for thousands of years, so odds are we all have an ancestor who committed a heinous act!”
Lisa countered, “But how many folks have a relative who destroyed as many lives as mine?”
Delron argued, “Not a lot, but a few out there have descended from worse! Cruel dictators, mass murderers…”
“Tell that to the vengeful ghost! I’m sure she’ll lay off when she realizes that the man who sealed her fate isn’t the most evil person in the history of the globe!” Lisa caught a glimpse of herself in a spoon, and she recalled how the spirit revealed to her that she had the judge’s eyes, which prompted her to push her reflection out of her vision! She didn’t know how she would ever cope with viewing an image of herself ever again! She couldn’t blame the essence for harboring such acrimony over the matter! If she had gone through an unjust execution like that, she would have become beyond angry too! That point addressed another aspect of the issue too… “So, this ghost is getting revenge for the witchcraft trials?”
“It would seem so,” Delron confirmed. Lisa buried her face into her palms, so he tried to console her, “But the good news is we can narrow down who the ghost is from the twenty five victims of that period! If we can identify her , maybe we can find some clues to stop her from hurting anyone else!” Lisa appeared unmoved by his articulation, so he offered, “I can do some research on my own if you’d like! I’ll show you tomorrow, ‘kay?” Lisa shifted her hands, but she didn’t respond to him, so he pat her wrist as he exited her home.
Once she was alone, Lisa found herself wishing she had that he stayed- she felt as though she couldn’t trust herself! Did any of the judge’s inklings get passed on to his descendents? Her muscles grew numb, and she didn’t feel confident she could regain the strength to carry on! How could she knowing what she knew? How could she fight that apparition when she had a valid reason for her hostility? Her ex’s fans accused her of being a terrible person- maybe they were right! Maybe she wasn’t worthy of taking the lead on saving this town…
All of a sudden, she felt a familiar force brush by her ankles! “Hester?” The cat’s form manifested by her kitchen! “You forgave me? How could you? I’m awful!” Hester mewed sympathetically prior to her disappearance. She disliked that early departure, and she stared at the spot she stood in hoping that she would return! After a few seconds, she noticed the nearby trash can, which had her juice-soaked clothes sticking out of it. She remembered how many bystanders could have gotten seriously hurt from that incident, and she recognized the importance of collecting herself in that moment! She wasn’t like the judge, she wasn’t going to allow the blameless to suffer! She decided to get her thoughts back in line by grabbing her purse and heading out!
Underneath a sign that said, “Welcome to Shade’s Thrift Shop,” Lisa saw that the red tagged items were half off, and she took a mental note of this as she went into the women’s shirts. Every once in a while, Lisa glanced up to gauge what the others were wearing in order to finalize her choices. She could discern that several of them were gossiping about her, but she ignored it because this outing’s purpose was to relax her thoughts, and she had no desire to boggle her brain with whatever claptrap they might have been discussing! Besides, constant whispering had become background noise to her! She pondered whether or not this normalization boded well for her mental health, but she figured that when her outfits blended in and, more importantly, when she defeated the great evil that plagued this region, she would hear a lot less rumors about herself!
When she got to the women’s pants, she detected someone staring at her from the corner of her eye, which struck her as unusual since most of her neighbors would take a quick peek and move on. She couldn’t comprehend why anyone would fix their stare on her like that, so she turned herself in their direction to determine their motive. She expected somebody sinister, but to her surprise, he was rather handsome! Not as good-looking as Adam, but he was still someone that allured her! Well, for a minute anyways… She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but there was something off about him! He had smoldering eyes, but they ogled her in a fashion that one might use when zeroing in on their prey! He also seemed more well-dressed than the normal etiquette for a typical second-hand store shopper! She deemed it necessary to go get in line and dodge whatever advancement he intended for her!
While she waited in the queue, a deep, raspy man behind her spoke, “You’re Lisa, aren’t you?”
Lisa spun around and cringed to learn that the well-dressed man took a position close to her! She probed, “How’d you know my name?”
“You’re the one everyone is talking about,” the man pointed out. “Must be nice to have reached celebrity status, huh?”
“My ex is a celebrity, and his fame didn’ interest me whatsoever!” Lisa asserted. “I was actually kinda hoping he’d take more time off and we could get a cozy home in the country… just the two of us…”
The man conversed, “I was only joking! It’s gotta make you mad to constantly get treated like that!”
It stunned Lisa to receive this empathetic observation from him! Not a lot of citizens in Melas showed her any kindness, and it felt quite refreshing to get support! She began to consider that perhaps she had misjudged him. “Yeah, of course! It got old real fast!”
“What are you gonna do about it?” the man inquired.
“Uh…” She certainly couldn’t reveal her actual plan, so she hatched up another plausible explanation, “I’m just gonna do what I can to get ahead and show them that they didn’t get to me.”
The man pressed her, “What do you plan to do to get ahead?”
Something about his timbre altered, and Lisa got the vibe of a slick salesperson coming off of him! She privately urged the individual ahead of her to go faster so she could get out of this interaction! “I wanna continue improving at my job in the library, and then I’ll work on making a few friends.”
“That’s it?” the man puzzled.
“What more could there be?” Lisa shot back.
The man interrogated her, “Don’t you want to make them pay for what they’ve done to you?”
Lisa didn’t like where this conversation was heading! She had no clue what he meant for her to inflict upon her wrongdoers, and, quite frankly, she didn’t want to know! She wasn’t positive on how to reply to this man, but luckily for her, the cashier became free! She rapidly relayed to him, “I don’t wanna make them pay! All I wanna do is pay for my clothing! Excuse me!”
She assumed that she had successfully broken away from this freaky dude, but to her dread, the cashier posed to her, “Will you be paying together or separately?”
“Separately,” the man informed her. As she rang Lisa’s garments up, the man catechized, “So, you don’t have any desire to get vengeance of any sort?”
“No!” Lisa insisted. She hated confrontations, but she was more than willing to tell this jerk off! She built up the necessary steam to do so, but then she caught a glimpse of his pending purchase- an array of glass bottles like the ones that JT acted so protective over! Clearly, those bottles carried some kind of significance, and she now had the opportunity to discover exactly what that may have been! “What are those for?”
The man glanced down at them as though he forgot they were in his possession, and he hurriedly explained, “The witching bottles? They’re protection against dark spirits. They won’t help you get vindication against the rumor-mongers though!”
Lisa stamped her foot in frustration! “I don’t want to do that! Will you please-?”
“You’re lying!” the man accused. “I saw a strange haze hovering over this place before I came in, and my buddy, Marshal, said it was there this morning by JT’s home! You’re planning something, aren’t you?”
“Did you say that…?” Lisa’s veins coursed with fright! She visited this establishment to gain peace, and instead, she would have to fight a paranormal battle! The cashier handed her a couple of bags, but she couldn’t complete her transaction without verifying the accuracy of his claim! If he was giving her the truth, then she didn’t deem it prudent to evacuate the area! Most people wouldn’t fabricate a statement like that! But, then again, he was comrades with that conniving sheriff, so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for him to practice deception… “Marshal and you are close, huh?”
As the cashier rang him up, he substantiated that, “We’re best friends personally and professionally! Ezekiel Bibber, attorney at law, at your service!”
Ezekiel handed her a business card, and Lisa scoffed at that gesture. “I’ll pass!”
Lisa marched towards the exit, but Ezekiel shouted after her, “Start searching for a decent defense lawyer! I have a feeling you’ll need one soon!”
She chose not to react to that as she reached the entrance to the outside, and she crossed her fingers that he wouldn’t follow her so she could authenticate his account on the mist! To her shock, the door wouldn’t budge! She furrowed her brows, but she didn’t have a second to spare! If the malevolent phantom had honestly picked this building to haunt, she had to move urgently! She swiveled around in order to use another means of leaving, and Ezekiel leered, “You’re gonna attack us, aren’t you?”
Prior to her ability to deny that allegation, a woman from the other side of the facility yelled, “I can’t get out!”
“This door’s jammed too!” a second lady declared.
“What’s going on?” the cashier fretted.
Ezekiel virulently broadcasted to everyone, “She’s punishing us for all ‘cause I offended her!”
Lisa refuted, “That’s not true!” It didn’t seem like anybody believed her, but it was difficult to verify that since the entire space proceeded to fill with smoke…