Happy Sunday, my dear readers! Here is an excerpt of Over the River for your reading pleasure 🙂
@copyright October Weeks 2016
In silence, they walked around the property, getting a feel of what was around them. Of who was around them. Delilah took a digital camera out of one of her pockets and took pictures of the house, the sandbox, the garden area, the woods behind the house. Milly could touch photographs and get a flash of something sometimes. In fact, on occasion, her friend had picked up on things both of them had missed on location.
The energy of the dead swirled all around her, her senses buzzing. A weight was dancing along that energy, trying to keep it hidden. The energy she was feeling was from children. The weight meant someone was keeping the children from fully reaching out to her.
To double-check that feeling, Delilah reached out with her gift. A response came a few moments later—a little tug in her mind. A sound came to her ears, almost a whisper, but she couldn’t make it out. The sound was fast, as if it were being pushed right passed her.
Someone didn’t want the children talking to her all right. Well, that was too damn bad for that someone.
Delilah turned to Milly, who was about six or seven yards to her right, and found her standing rigidly. “Milly? Are you okay?”
“They played here, the children.” Milly slowly turned and faced Delilah. “With toys only she allowed, like my mom said.”
Delilah gave a nod.
Milly’s face paled. “There was something…something in their playing. A reason…”
Milly flinched, but Delilah didn’t move closer. Milly needed a bit of space with such an open area to tap into, and Delilah didn’t want to get in her way.
Resuming her picture taking, Delilah found herself near the sandbox again. A presence stirred the air, poking around her energy like icy fingers. She took a picture, waiting patiently for the spirit to appear. It was struggling some against the pressure of the “someone.” She didn’t urge the ghost—no need to rush.
Shoveling—a shovel digging into dirt.
The impression of a small shovel dug into the snow and scooped it up. The snow traveled in the air for a moment before sliding off and disappearing. A few seconds later, the grainy echo of dirt hitting the bottom of a bucket touched her ears.
The ghost was trying to tell her something. Sometimes, a child spirit had a hard time putting a full image through, but the audio was loud and clear.
“Put that shovel down right now!”
Delilah jumped at the shrill voice. A door swung open behind her but she kept her gaze on the stilled snow in front of her, halfway to the bucket, fear gripping her mind. The poor child was frozen with it.
“But Mama, I…”
Delilah moved her head slightly. Footsteps appeared in the snow beside her, about a foot away. The sound of fabric rustling came and stopped.
“I said no playing, young man.” The woman’s voice shook with anger. The fear rose. “You know the rules.”
“I just wanted to play for a minute!” the boy pleaded, and Delilah sensed him huddled in the sandbox, making himself small. “It’s been days, Mama!”
A growl came from the woman. Ice crawled up Delilah’s arm in response. “I know the days, son.” A dangerous whisper. “Just for this, you will play by the garden tomorrow.” A sharp pang of fear came from the boy, followed by his mother’s delight in that fear. “Oh yes. That is the perfect punishment for you. Now get inside.”
Just before the last word faded, Delilah snapped a picture. She knew who the woman was, and anger formed in her gut.
“She won’t let us leave.”
The solemn voice, so sad, came from her left side. The same voice that was in the memory. She turned to see the speaker, a boy, around eight years old, his head cocked to the right.
“Your mother?” she asked, for clarification. He gave her a nod. “Why?”
“We are stuck out here, playing only when she tells us, doing what she tells us.”
Delilah knelt to his short level. “Do you know why you’re still here?”
An expression only a child could wear came to his face, as if she were crazy for even asking. “She uses our playing as part of what she and Paul are doing.”
“The older boy in the house.”
Ah. Now she remembered—Paul was one of Joslyn’s eldest children. “What do you do when you’re not playing?”
His face grew ashen. “She feeds us,” he whispered.
Oh, she did not like the sound of that. Worry immediately tugged at her. “What do you mean?”
“We stand still and she feeds us energy, through fear,” he continued, still whispering. He swallowed with what looked like great difficulty, as if he were afraid to say his next words. “It’s to keep us from fading into the sunlight. You feel warm.”
“Thank you.” She smiled, brief but warm. “Why is she letting you talk to me?”
“She isn’t holding too tightly right now, but she doesn’t want me talking to you.”
Anger grew inside of her, all aimed at his mother. The fact that the woman was trying to hide the children’s energy while allowing one of them to speak to her raised very bright red flags. “Why won’t she let you play unless she allows it? Why does she have ‘play days’?”
The boy shook his head. He wanted to answer, but someone wouldn’t let him.
“It’s her. Joslyn.” Milly was suddenly beside her, making her jump again. “The poor thing is bound to the sandbox area.”
“I have to go,” the boy said. “She’s warm too…” He vanished.
Delilah sighed. Damn. She stood and faced Milly. “Did you get anything just then? Before he left, I mean.”
“Only that he’s tied somehow to the sandbox area, but I couldn’t catch why. He was gone too fast. I got here too late. I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault, Mills. Joslyn didn’t want him talking to me anymore, and apparently she really didn’t want him talking to you.”
And that last could mean that Joslyn knew what their gifts were, which meant that she didn’t want Milly seeing what had happened to the children.
Milly took a breath. “What did he tell you before she took him?”
Fixing her knitted hat, then looking briefly back at the sandbox, Delilah explained what the boy had shown her, what she had heard. “He confirmed Joslyn was the woman I heard, and I think from that alone we can take a damn good guess who’s responsible for him being tied to the box.”
Anger flashed in Milly’s eyes. “Yes, we can. Now we know the answer to the ‘who and what’ question.”
Yep, they did. But had she started feeding the children energy before they’d died? That was something they needed to find out. “Did you see anything before you came over to me?”
“I saw flashes of children playing solemnly or walking in the yard. All the flashes brought fear and sadness with them, but before I could reach with my gift to see more,” she shrugged, “everything went blank and I returned to the present.”
Delilah furrowed her eyebrows. “Joslyn’s blocking you somehow. I bet she’s using the kids to help with that.”
They both turned to face the back of the house. “Well,” Delilah started, “if she won’t let us play with the kids, let’s go introduce ourselves to her.”