A sharp knock at my door crashed through the silence. We both jumped and Meryl let out a surprised yelp. She had come – it was the woman. I was sure of it. I tried to remember the combat moves Father Sebastian had taught me, but all I could do was shake like a leaf. I needed to fight her. There was no way I could run forever. Even so, my body didn’t want to respond.
My door flew open and a large, thick figure stormed into the room. To my relief, she wore a habit instead of a bloodstained nightgown. Sister Martha.
“What is—” she stopped for a moment and stared at the Ouija board and candles. Even with the limited light, I could see her face turn red as it twisted in anger and she glared at us.
I tried to jump up, but my legs still felt like jelly from the sheer terror I’d just gone through. “I—”
“What are you two doing? Do you have any idea what this is?”
Meryl glanced at her and then looked away. “It lets us talk to—”
“To Satan,” Sister Martha said as she stomped over toward us and grabbed the Ouija board. Then, holding it by the tips of her fingers like it was a pair of dirty underwear, she tore it in half. “You’re both in so much trouble. What were you two thinking?”
I looked at Meryl and then back at Sister Martha and took a deep breath. The last thing I wanted was for Meryl to get in trouble for helping me. “It’s not Meryl’s fault. I needed help getting—”
“No, I don’t want to hear your excuses, Drake,” Sister Martha said as she bent down and quickly began to blow out the candles. “You’re both coming with me. It’s clear you need some scripture. I can’t believe you would do something so evil.”
Meryl cringed, but tried to look at Sister Martha. “It’s not evil, it’s—”
Sister Martha glared at her and cut her off. “Enough. Up. Both of you.”
Slowly, Meryl and I got to our feet. It was difficult, for me at least, but my fear had subsided enough for me to have the strength to stand, mostly. Meryl and I glanced at one another, but we both knew better than to talk. Even if we tried, Sister Martha would just interrupt us.
“I can’t believe you two,” she said under her breath once more as she marched us out of my room and into the hallway. “First, you were outside doing who knows what in the middle of the night and now this.”
As we followed her down the hall, despair overwhelmed me. Meryl and I had talked to the woman who was tormenting me. She said she wouldn’t leave. I wondered if having made contact with her would make things even worse. Somehow, I thought it would.
I was never going sleep again. That thought alone was enough to bring tears to my eyes.
As we passed the doors to the common room, Father Sebastian pushed them open and stepped into the hallway. He stared at us for a moment and then at Sister Martha. “What’s going on?”
Sister Martha thrust the torn up Ouija board at him. “I found these two in Drake’s room using this.”
He looked at the Ouija board and then back at Meryl and I. “What were you two doing with something like this?”
“It’s not Meryl’s fault. I asked her to help me get rid of a ghost.” I doubted I’d be able to get off the hook, but I wanted to do whatever I could to try and help Meryl. It didn’t matter what happened to me. No punishment would be worse than being tormented by the woman.
Father Sebastian’s face softened. He closed his eyes and gently shook his head. “I’ll take it from here, Sister Martha.”
Sister Martha’s jaw tightened as she stared at him. “Are you sure? These two need firm discipline. They can’t do things like this.”
Father Sebastian didn’t even flinch under her gaze. “I know. I’ll handle it.”
Sister Martha let out a slow, obviously unhappy breath and nodded. Then, she looked at us and narrowed her eyes. “I’m so disappointed in you two, and I’m sure the Lord is, too.” With that, she stormed past us.
We stood there for a moment and watched her go in silence. Then, once she was gone, Father Sebastian turned back toward us and sighed. “Let’s go to Vincent’s office. There’s something I’ll probably need.”
I wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to get, but Meryl and I didn’t have any choice but to follow. As we walked down the hall toward Father Vincent’s office, I glanced at Meryl. Her brow was furrowed and she looked worried, so I gave her a small smile and nodded once. No matter what Father Sebastian had in mind, I knew it would be better than being punished by Sister Martha.
“All right, wait here,” Father Sebastian said when we made it outside of Father Vincent’s office.
I reached for him and grabbed his sleeve. “Wait. Father Sebastian, it’s really not Meryl’s fault. Please, don’t punish her.”
Meryl shook her head and straightened her posture a little more. “It’s not Drake’s fault, either. There really is a spirit in there. It talked to us. Sister Martha ripped up the board, otherwise we could prove it.”
Father Sebastian let out a slow, steady breath. “A Ouija board isn’t the way to handle something like this.”
I looked down and let him go. “I-the woman wants to kill me. I can’t sleep. She won’t stop following me. I don’t know what to do.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and gently squeezed it. “Everything is going to be OK. Give me just a minute to find what I’m looking for. I’ll show you both a better way.”
Before I could open my mouth, he opened the door to Father Vincent’s office and stepped inside. As he shut the door, Meryl glanced at me and whispered, “Does that mean we’re not in trouble?”
I shrugged. “Hopefully.”
“What’s wrong with using a Ouija board?”
“I don’t know, but Sister Martha was furious when she saw it.”
Meryl’s cheeks began to turn red and I thought she might cry for a second. “My dad would have never gotten mad over something like that.”
“I’m sorry. He sounds like he was a really good guy.”
Meryl just nodded, too choked up to even try and speak.
“Don’t worry. Father Sebastian is really nice. I don’t think we’re going to be in much trouble.”
The door to Father Vincent’s office opened once more and Father Sebastian stepped back out into the hallway. “No, neither of you are in trouble.”
He cut me off. “I know. She was mad about the Ouija board. You shouldn’t use stuff like that, but I understand what’s going on. I’m going to help you do the right thing now.”
“What do you mean?” Meryl asked.
Father Sebastian held up a small, red book. “I’m going to do a blessing over Drake’s room. You two can watch.”
Meryl’s eyes went wide as the gloom suddenly disappeared from her face. “Really?”
“Really,” Father Sebastian said. With that, Meryl and I followed him back down the hallway without another word. I was afraid if we didn’t hurry, Sister Martha would come back and try to stop Father Sebastian. That was the last thing I wanted. If Father Sebastian was really able to help, I might be able to sleep the night through without being murdered.
Father Sebastian flipped my light on and closed the door behind us as we stepped into my room.
“So, what do we do?” Meryl asked.
“You two just stand there and watch. Try to think good thoughts and don’t interrupt the ceremony until I’m done.”
“What’s going to happen?” I asked.
“I’m going to say a prayer and then the ghost is going to leave you alone.”
“Is she going to do anything while you’re saying it?”
“I don’t know; we’ll see,” Father Sebastian said as he opened the book he’d brought from Father Vincent’s office. Then, without waiting for any more questions, he began. “Most glorious Prince of the Heavenly Armies, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in our battle against principalities and powers against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”
As he said the words, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I glanced over at Meryl, but she just stood there staring at Father Sebastian with a look of intense curiosity and awe. I wondered if the woman was listening to Father Sebastian’s prayer. I doubted she was happy if that was the case.
“Come to the assistance of men whom God has created to His likeness and whom He has redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.”
Suddenly, a feeling of dread began to creep across my skin. My palms began to sweat as I did my best to fight back the fear. Father Sebastian had asked us to think happy thoughts, but I didn’t know if that was possible. The woman. She was there. I knew she was. I felt her. What would I do if she suddenly showed herself to Meryl and Father Sebastian? What if she told Meryl that I was the one who killed her?
I gently shook my head and tried to force the thoughts out of my mind. Instead, I focused on Meryl. She was the one positive thing to come out of my living nightmare. We both had been alone until the woman decided to haunt me. If nothing else, I was thankful to finally have a friend.
A pressure began to form against my chest. Slowly, the cold sensation began to creep up toward my throat. It was the woman. If she was going to be forced out, she wanted to take me with her, I was sure of it. She was touching me, but I couldn’t see her.
Panic tore through my body and I began to tremble. She wanted to kill me and there was nothing I could do to stop her. How could I fight someone I couldn’t even see?
Father Sebastian’s voice suddenly cut through my thoughts as he glanced up at me. His eyebrows creased together and he spoke a little louder. “We drive you from us, whoever you may be, unclean spirits, all satanic powers, all infernal invaders, all wicked legions, assemblies and sects.”
Sweat began to form on my brow. Meryl looked over at me for a moment. I needed to get out of there. Every instinct I had told me to run. If I didn’t, I was going to die. Nikki, the woman with my eyes, would kill me.
Without warning, a hand gently grabbed mine. I jumped at the feeling and almost sprinted away until I realized it was warm. I looked down and saw Meryl’s hand in mine as she squeezed it. Then, I took a deep breath and looked back up into her eyes. She didn’t speak because Father Sebastian had told us not to, but she didn’t need to. Her eyes told me everything would be all right. She was right there with me.
“Stoop beneath the all-powerful Hand of God.”
I could feel the woman’s rage as Father Sebastian continued. The room itself seemed to grow darker as her grip on my throat tightened. Even so, I couldn’t run away. If I did, she’d never leave. I had to stay. I had to see it through. I squeezed my eyes shut and there I saw the woman’s eyes, burning deep into my soul. She didn’t want to let me go. She wanted her revenge, no matter what.
I gripped Meryl’s hand tighter, but didn’t open my eyes. Instead, I stared back into the woman’s. Terror seized my heart, but I couldn’t look away. I was the one who had killed her. I had to face her.
Father Sebastian’s voice grew even louder and more powerful as the woman herself tried to overwhelm me. “Deign, O Lord, to grant us Thy powerful protection and to keep us safe and sound. We beseech Thee through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”
I gasped for breath when he finished. Sweet, beautiful air filled my lungs. Just like that, the woman was gone. She’d been close to killing me, I was sure, but he had stopped her. Somehow, he made it in time.
“Drake, are you OK?” Meryl asked.
I opened my eyes and stared into hers. Then, before I knew what I was doing, I hugged her. “Thank you.”
Father Sebastian walked over and put a hand on my shoulder. “Do you feel better?”
I let Meryl go and stepped back, too exhausted to even be embarrassed. “She’s gone. She’s finally gone.”
Meryl looked at Father Sebastian with an awed expression. “What did you do?”
Father Sebastian shrugged. “I asked the Lord to help us and force the woman to leave. That’s the way something like this has to be done.”
“Why?” Meryl asked.
Father Sebastian hesitated and then glanced away. “Because that’s what the church teaches.” For the first time, he didn’t sound completely sure of himself. Meryl, for her part, didn’t look convinced, either.
“Thank you both,” I said before things could get awkward. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I did my best to fight them back. “I think she would have killed me if it weren’t for you two.”
Meryl gave me a subdued smile. “I’m glad you’re OK. I guess you won’t need my help anymore, though.”
I shook my head. As much as I hoped I was wrong, given that my purpose in life was to kill people, I had a feeling it was only a matter of time until I was haunted again. “We’re friends now. Even if ghosts leave me alone for a while, that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other out and talk.”
She smiled wider at that. “We are friends, aren’t we?”
I nodded, and Father Sebastian patted me on the back. “You look exhausted. How about Meryl and I let you get some sleep.”
I nodded, more grateful for that suggestion than words could even describe. As they turned to leave, I crawled into my bed and lay down. No sooner did my head hit the pillow than I was asleep.
Finally, the woman and her eyes were nowhere to be seen.
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