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Authors: Marley Gibson

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BOOK: The Awakening
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And just like that, my spirit guide, Emily—who first came to me as a voice in the white-noise machine in my new bedroom—is with me, ready to give assistance. She's only visible to me at certain times, and I mostly just talk to her in my head. Yeah, I know ... throw a net over me. That's what my mom's threatening to do anyway.

I walk through the expansive old house, trying to get a sense of who Delaney Lockhart was before he passed. Since I've only lived in Radisson a couple of months, I don't know everyone's business like most people in town seem to have a talent for. Taylor told me that Mr. Lockhart had worked at the First National Bank and Celia knew him to be an avid lake fisherman who always shared his catch of the day with people down at the Methodist church. Now, as I sit in the worn Bar-calounger in the den, I'm seeing a slide show of images in my head. Delaney was tall. He'd lost his hair. He cut his fingernails in this spot while watching TV. (Eww!) He was a stern father but loved to spoil his grandchildren. He snuck Swisher Sweets cigars out in the backyard for the last twenty years. I'm sure that must have had something to do with his heart problems.

Focus your energies to the right, Kendall...

Emily directs my attention over toward a door. "Where does this go?" I ask.

"To the basement," Mrs. Lockhart answers. "The laundry room is down there. Other than that, we mostly use it to store extra belongings from when we moved out of the main house when Evelyn got married, and we let them have it."

"That's okay. We're not here to rifle through your things," I assure her.

"It's a mess. I don't think you girls should go down there. Especially if you have allergies."

Hmm ... and me without my Claritin.

I hear Emily whisper,

If she says so, then I must.

"I have to go down there." I turn the handle and immediately the smell of dust and mold and dampness attacks my nostrils. Celia flicks the cord of the light dangling in the doorway.

"This doesn't look very good," Taylor says.

Becca snickers. "Don't be such a girl, Tillson." And then she passes all of us and heads downstairs.

"I'll stay up here," our hostess says.

It's probably better that way.

Emily whispers to me.
Laundry room

The four of us pick our way through boxes of Christmas ornaments, winter clothes, and toys for the grandchildren to get back to where the washer and dryer sit. My chest begins to tighten in a deep ache under my lungs. The atmosphere is dense in this section and I'm finding it hard to get a good breath of air. It's like I want to pant but there's nothing to suck into my lungs.

"Are there any spirits here with us?" Becca asks as she holds her digital recorder out in front of her. "Is the spirit of Delaney Lockhart present? I have a recording device in my hand that is able to pick up your voice if you have the energy to speak to us. We can play it back and see what you had to say and try to help out."

While Becca's doing her EVP work, my chest continues to throb. My heartbeat accelerates to
Speed Racer
levels and I try to tell myself that this isn't really happening to me, per se—it's just that I'm empathetic and can oftentimes feel what the spirit might have experienced.

I hear Emily plainly in my head.
He's here...

"Play back your recorder, Becca," Celia says before I can.

After a quick rewind, we hear Becca's question and then a garbled swooshing into a voice that says, "
Leeeeeeeeeeefffff behind

"Did you hear that?" Becca says with excitement. "Score!" She loves getting EVPs, and I must admit I get a real rush out of it, as well.

Then, a little further into the recording, we hear, "

He called her that,
Emily tells me.

I take out my rose quartz pendulum that I use for dowsing. It's really cool because I can ask it yes-or-no questions and can have a two-way conversation with a spirit. I'm absolutely sensing a presence here in this basement. However, I have to make sure it's Delaney Lockhart. We've run into so many street ghosts in our investigations lately—random spirits that inhabit Radisson, people who lived a long time ago, before the interstate to Atlanta cut through or the town was wired for cable.

As I hear Taylor clicking away in the background with her digital camera, I'm still experiencing the emotional choke of extreme heart pain. Is this from Delaney's cardiac attack? It feels more like ... a broken heart than blocked arteries. Not that I'm a doctor or anything. There just isn't that sense of blood stopping and not filling the chambers of the heart. I'm picking up something much more forlorn.

"Are you Delaney Lockhart?"

I watch as the pendulum dangles from my thumb and forefinger and swings from left to right. This is how I get the answer no.

Hmm. "Are you a female spirit?"

The pendulum confirms another no.

"Are you a male spirit?"

"Duh," Becca says with a snicker.

"You know we have to explore all options," Celia snaps.

My pendulum begins to swing clockwise, which signifies a yes answer.

"Check this out!" Taylor shouts out. "I just took a series of pictures of that corner."

Sure enough, there's a mist in the bottom-right corner that continues to get larger in each frame until it takes on a shape. A very distinct human shape.

Taylor points. "That looks like a soldier's cap. Like someone from the Civil War."

We do have a lot of Civil War history in this town. Local legend has it that General Sherman visited Radisson on his infamous March to the Sea. He and his men were so enamored by a townswoman that they didn't burn the place, leaving many historic antebellum houses in their original condition, much like the mansion that Celia and her parents live in on the street behind my house.

Turning to Celia, I ask, "Did Mrs. Lockhart say anything about a ghost in her house before Delaney's death?"

She shakes her head, tossing her short black bob back and forth. "Never before, although she claims her daughter Evelyn's house is haunted. That was one of the reasons she and Mr. Lockhart gave it to her and moved out here into the carriage house."

"You're some kind of street ghost, aren't you?" I call out. "You sensed what was going on here, that we were looking for a spirit, and you butted your nose in. If you are, you need to leave, please. You don't belong here. Go back to where you were or let me help you cross into the light."

Before I can say another word, I clamp my hands over my ears to stop the piercing pain. All I hear reverberating through my head is this wicked, evil laughter. Sinister, almost, echoing off my cerebral matter. I scream inside, telling him to bugger off. He's not wanted. I clutch my chest and then I feel an insane twinge in my head.

He's trouble...

Like I need Emily to tell me that.

I fall to my knees due to the intense throbbing in my temple. Taylor drops next to me. "Jason should have come with us tonight," she says. "He's going to be inconsolable if anything happens to you."

Yeah, my boyfriend still doesn't exactly like that I do this on a regular basis.

You'll be fine. Ride it out, Kendall

I reach for Taylor's hand and hold on tightly as the pain begins to subside. I just wish the soldier would stop it with the evil laugh, like he's taking pleasure seeing me this way.

Suddenly a man appears before me in plaid shorts, a white Titleist shirt, and a Nike visor. Oh, this has
to be Delaney Lockhart. He glances down at me and smiles. Then he tosses a glower to the corner where the soldier is standing. Inside my head, I hear him tell the other man to be gone and to leave me alone and to "go back to Evelyn's." Great, we're going to have to come back and clean out her house, as well.

The soldier disappears just like that.

Celia and Taylor help me up. I cock my head to the left. Celia's EMF detector lights up like a state trooper's sirens. EMF stands for electromagnetic field detector. It reads levels of energies. It's widely thought in the paranormal community—
yes, we're a community
—that spirits use energy to manifest. And since everything in the world is basically made of energy, you never know where a ghost may appear or how they'll do it. Let me tell you what: I've got a manifestation, all right.

"Mr. Lockhart?" I ask out loud.

Celia and Taylor spin in the direction of my voice. Becca follows along behind me.

I hear him plain as day, as if he's really standing before me. Well, he
standing before me. Only no one can see him but me.

Mr. Lockhart smiles at me. "I'm sorry about that soldier. He's been nosing around here trying to get attention and cause trouble. Are you okay, dear?"

"Yes, sir," I say, catching my breath. All of my physical symptoms have eased. "You know why I'm here, right?"

Becca lifts a dark brow at me and then positions the digital recorder in the direction of where I'm speaking. Taylor snaps away on the camera, and Celia stands by taking all sorts of measurements. They've all seen this before and know just to go with the flow and not freak out that I'm seeing an entity ... and having a conversation with it.

"They left me behind," he says. "Those idiots at the airline. I sat on a conveyer belt for at least two days. Good thing I was embalmed before they put me in the casket. Otherwise"—he waves his hand in front of his nose—"that would be a horrific smell, don'tcha think?"

I snicker at the ghost's joke about his own demise. I have to be serious, though, since I don't know how long Delaney will be able to manipulate the energy around for me to see and hear him. "Where are you?"

He takes off his visor and scratches his head. "I don't rightly know."

My body sags and I exhale noisily. "You have to remember something. A detail? A sound? A smell?"

"Nope. The formaldehyde sort of masks everything else."

"Ask him about the airplane," Celia instructs. "Is there anything he can remember about it? Particularly the color?"

"Sure, sure," he says, hearing Celia's question himself. "I remember going into this big ole gold plane."

"Gold," I say to Celia. "He says it was gold."

She runs her hands through the top of her hair and I can almost hear the wheels of thought turning. "Mrs. Lockhart said she was on Southeastern Airlines. Their planes are blue and silver. The luggage handlers must have loaded him onto the wrong flight."

"Who has gold planes?" Becca asks.

Of course Celia, knower of all things trivial and seemingly unimportant—seriously, the girl could win the adult
tournament—snaps her fingers. "Journey Airlines has gold planes. I've seen their ads on television."

"Do they fly into Atlanta?" Taylor asks.

Celia indicates no. "Their hub is Memphis."

The energy shifts in the room and becomes almost staticky. My own oomph is starting to fade, as I know Delaney's been pulling off my psychic abilities to talk to me. He smiles and waves and blows a kiss. "We'll get you home," I say in my head.

You did well...
Emily notes to me.

We rush upstairs to tell Mrs. Lockhart. Well, I don't. Becca has to help me up the stairs and over to a couch to regain my strength. Man, connecting with spirits like that just wears me the hell out. I need a massive nap now.

Celia dials up Journey's toll-free number on her cell phone and gets the proper customer service person to help out. We listen to the one-sided conversation as she relays the information. Mrs. Lockhart stands holding Taylor's hand as she awaits the verdict.

"Yes, she's right here and can give you all of the information." Celia breaks into a wide grin. She passes her cell phone to Mrs. Lockhart. "They have your husband."

"Thank you, Jesus!" she sings out. "And you girls! Thank you, thank you! This wouldn't have happened without you. Now my Delaney can come home for a proper burial. Evelyn and Veronica will be so relieved." She puts the phone to her ear and begins giving her personal information.

"Yep, just another typical day for the ghost huntresses," I say with a contented sigh. Taylor and Becca high-five and Celia leans over for a fist bump.

Why am I still feeling a bit kerfuffled, though?

You haven't seen the last of that soldier...

And along with Emily's sweet voice, the sinister laugh is back.

Yeah, I have a feeling our paths will cross again.

BOOK: The Awakening
3.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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