All Souls Day
A Short By Luis A. Mendez
As part of a year-long plus project, throughout the 2019 holiday season and all of 2020, I will be releasing brand new and re-releasing re-published short fiction on here on Medium every two to three months. They will be available only to Medium members, though non-members can still read them if they have “free previews” still available for the month. This is the first of those planned releases. I hope you enjoy it.
It was a quarter after two o’clock on Halloween afternoon, and down the east coast of Florida on a stretch of beaches and neighborhoods known as the Violet Coast, in a neighborhood of suburbs known as Spring Hills, a small office suite that could easily be missed by a passerby sat in the corner of the Executive Plaza strip mall, and inside something supernatural was occurring. Well, maybe not something supernatural so much as something unexplainable for the reality of Ang Phan, the suite’s proprietor, who ironically dealt in tinkering with the mind. He was a professional hypnotist who helped clients deal with everything from curing their phobias of things like snakes, spiders, or the dreaded red-eye flight to even self-confidence issues in the romance or bedroom department. He could delve into his client’s psyches and watch them pull out their deepest desires and get rid of their greatest fears; and yet for all those times he had put someone under with his little pendulum swinging stopwatch, he had never seen anything like the Halloween trick that was happening to him right there and then.
A client of his, a middle-aged, gray-and-black-haired, bearded black man who was at worst in his mid-forties and thus only about a decade or so older than Ang himself, had come to try and learn what in his childhood had made him so deathly afraid of going to parties with his friends or attending business functions outside the office. Ang was mentally sending him back to his innocent years as a little boy, and even got a little from him about a time he had wet himself playing spin the bottle with the other kids, when he had lost all control of the procedure. The client had suddenly opened his eyes, which now lacked any pupils to Ang’s shock, and he began to ignore all of his commands and speak about other matters — and in a completely different accent than he had ever spoken before. No, not just a different accent, but a different voice all together even.
The client Ang had known was Jimmy Tresvant, a successful businessman with a pretty deep and booming voice, a snowbird who had come down early for the colder months, whatever those were down here in the hell’s heat that Florida had almost year around. This time Jimmy was speaking in a southern accent, and not one that was distinctly from an African American but an accent like that of Burl Hives playing Big Daddy in the film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Ang had heard from a fellow hypnotist about strange cases of people speaking in different accents, and even sometimes different languages while under, but this had never occurred in any of his sessions, and he was stunned to watch it happen in front of him for the first time.
“Them cats need to stop,” Jimmy said with his new voice, his pupilless eyes still staring at the blank white ceiling as he remained lying down on the couch, shifting a bit now under the bedsheet draped over him.
“Excuse me?” Ang managed to eke out, his throat dry and his eyes bewildered at what was happening. He tried to start the commands he always used to stop the trance — but he quickly started to realize he wasn’t in control anymore.
“They opened that dang portal in the center of town. They need to stop doing that.”
“Doing what now?”
Jimmy now sat up very slowly, the sheet falling over, and those pupils were clearly not going to return to his eyes any time soon. Your client speaking in a different accent and in a different voice was creepy enough, but facing them without their pupils showing as their blank white eyes stared back at you was just downright terrifying.
“They opened the portal. They need to be closing it already,” Jimmy then repeated. This time he was already getting up off the couch.
Ang tried to keep him down. “Whoa there! I can’t let anyone come out of here in a trance.” Never in any of the many sessions he had had with clients had Ang ever seen someone in a trance get up off the couch and start looking to find a way out.
Jimmy then looked at Ang with a bit of a smirk, which only enhanced the creepy look in his face with those blank white eyes staring back. “Trance?” he said with a chuckle. “You think this here is some sort of a trance? What kind of know-it-all egghead are you anyways?”
Ang insisted, this time reaching out, “I put you under hypnosis, and I have an ethical responsibility to-”
Jimmy slapped his hand away. “You put the Jimmy fellow under hypnosis, not me. Those cats brought me back. Without my permission mind you, they interrupted my eternal peace. They opened the portal, and now they need to damn well close it before something really bad comes through.”
It was then hitting Ang this may have been a case in which he regressed the client so far back he was claiming to be reliving a past life right there and then. Ang wasn’t much for that sort of superstition and spiritual reincarnation stuff, but other hypnotists had told him about times they had come across such cases with clients who had had vivid memories of someone else’s life that eerily checked out when some of his hypnotist friends did some research afterwards.
Jimmy, or perhaps better to say Jimmy’s body, was starting to get back up again. “They opened the portal and brought me back. Don’t you understand, egghead? I just need to borrow this body for a little while so that I can get them to stop. The longer they keep that thing open, the worst the visitors that come through will get. I’m a nice visitor! It’s the mean ones that we can’t allow through!”
Ang pushed him, or rather it, down and was a bit taken aback by how physically weak the man’s body felt. Jimmy was a tall, lumbering, well-kept man of just over six feet and a buck, and Ang himself was just a small, short Asian man almost reaching five foot eight. It was almost as if Jimmy’s body was currently someone else’s vehicle and the driver was a bit rusty with driving it. “You can’t come out of here like that! Now please lay down so I can get you back with-”
Jimmy’s body smacked Ang’s hand away once more and got up to leave again. “I just need to close the portal. Them cats, they…they don’t know what they’re fooling around with.”
Ang watched in horror as the man who’s mind he had promised to take care of was now walking out on him. Jimmy was refusing to listen, his mental faculties seemingly not completely at full capacity. Or was it even his mind anymore? It was as if he was…possessed? Possessed? No, that was preposterous. Was he really thinking up a scenario where mid-trance he had somehow plucked a ghostly spirit from out of the grave and into a man who just wanted to get rid of his phobia of attending big business parties so he could suck up to the bosses?
“How far from the town center?” the pupilless, tall midwestern black man who had mentally become a big southern white gentleman asked as he began to walk out the same office Ang had barely kept up with rent in. Regardless, the location still worked for him to pay off his bills.
Ang didn’t answer him. Just leapt up and made sure to keep himself positioned between his client and the door that was just a few feet away now from either of them. He pulled out his trusted stopwatch, chained to a long necklace, and swung it like a pendulum. “Let’s go back down to the couch and have a rest now. Let’s rest,” he commanded as sweat started to run down his cheek, something he barely even noticed was happening. “Let’s-”
“The portal,” Jimmy’s body replied, his new thick southern accent never wavering. “I need them cats to close it please. I’ll be right on back, sir, once I get them to close the thing.”
“Look at the watch,” Ang commanded as he placed it closer and closer to his client’s face. “Let’s get back on the couch and take a rest. Let’s go back to where we first started. Let’s rest. Let’s-”
“The portal!” the seemingly possessed man’s body shouted back in interruption. Now he was starting to finally show a little more life and aggression. “The portal has got to be closed!” he shouted as he started to shove the hypnotist to the side, starting to get really good with handling his new meat vehicle now, getting the hang of using such strength.
Ang had been thrown to the side, and he hit the small desk in the corner he welcomed his clients at. He found himself struggling to get up as his certifications barely hung on to the wall behind him, and his hands accidently tipped over a picture of his girlfriend, which in turn caused a tiny coffee spill that drenched his left hand. Thankfully the liquid was no longer hot. He leapt for the door again but watched in slow motion as Jimmy, or whatever it was that was controlling his body now, hurried out before he could get to him.
He quickly grabbed a paper towel from the small break room area that he kept his mini fridge in and tried to get the stale coffee off his hand and sleeve. As he did so, he looked out towards the glass door with his suite number emblazoned on it. This gave him enough time to see Jimmy heading off down the street. Still speaking in a different voice and still missing pupils in those blank white eyes.
A little under an hour after Jimmy Tresvant’s body ran off from a hypnosis session, at under a quarter after three o’clock, the campaign team of Gerald Hart were busily trying to reach swing voters from his office located across the bridge from Silver Springs and in the Violet Coast’s most expensive part of the area — Brick Street. A well-to-do corner off the coast where the bosses of Silver Spring’s residents lived and played, and Hart was trying to get reelected as its councilman. He had easily won as a “nonpartisan” candidate (the city didn’t allow partisan local races though everyone knew almost every candidate was a Democrat) in years past with an increase of his vote share each time. He was a heavy favorite to win again, but he wanted to increase that vote share again. He figured this time he could hit just under eighty percent. So with the election days away, he resigned himself to working phones with his team on this Halloween afternoon.
His husband wasn’t crazy about the idea. They didn’t have children, but they did pass out candy to trick-or-treaters every Halloween. “For God’s sake, Gerry, take a break. You’re up against some kook who got caught on tape last week body-slamming a reporter. You got this,” he had told him as Gerald headed out for the office.
The truth was “Gerry” didn’t have a good excuse for him. He simply had a politician’s ego and wanted to grab as many votes as possible and so what? His impressive electoral performances and political success in the council had gained him enough attention to start getting some offers from the local Democrat party chair to look into higher office.
His team was busily fielding calls from voters their fancy data guy had targeted as “low turnout folks we can get to come to the ballot box.” Gerald had surprised some of them over the phone; even the rare Republican in this blue part of the coast could be wowed to be speaking to someone semi-famous around these parts. And of course, there was the odd call gone wrong: learning a voter wasn’t interested in coming out for an off-year election and one man who was surprised he was getting a call on Halloween just hours after a pollster had apparently reached out to him. “Don’t you people ever take a break from this stuff?!” he had yelled through the phone. “I got a grandson to chaperone tonight!”
Regardless, the ambiance of never-ending phone calls to and from, the many fingers going at it on keyboards, and the white dry erase boards all around them detailing which areas to target were familiar to Gerald. Though in all his years of campaigning for office, the big sign with his last name and his big flashing smile right alongside it never seemed to not look a tad over the top to him, the voters didn’t seem to mind it one bit.
After almost a whole day’s work and a lousier-than-expected lunch (a planned pizza order had become cheap burgers after time had gotten away from them), Gerald had decided he would get back home in time to pass out candy after all. He was telling his team to wrap it up when he caught the sight of something strange. A woman, likely in her eighties, and in what seemed like fashion from the seventies, was walking down the hallway as phone calls continued ringing in. She was grimacing in anger and headed straight for him. But what caught his eye the most was that she was almost invisible, barely transparent at all, and murky with a sort of glowing white smoke all around her. Almost as if she were a-
“Sir! What happened to the library!” The woman came at him, waving her bony, well, translucently bony, finger at him. “I came here for some peace and quiet so I can finish the book I was reading when I left this world.”
A ghost, that’s what she had reminded him of. An-actual-real-life-standing-in-front-of-him ghost. But…that wasn’t possible. Gerald was a God-fearing man, but even still — a ghost? “Excuse me, are you…are you an illusion?” He asked as if tricks of the mind would admit to you that they were such.
“You got me! I’m just a trick of your mind! Almost had you there huh, bud?”
The woman stepped even closer, and by now there was no doubt about it. She wasn’t there. Not there in the sense of the physical and the material. She was a transparent ghostly thing, and Gerald was frankly surprised when he looked down and found she wasn’t floating but that her feet were at least pretending to be smacking with the floor. “I was supposed to be somewhere else today, but someone across the bridge finally opened that damn portal, so this was my chance to finish that book. I came here and the library is gone. Where’s the library? Did Brick Street get too fancy and rich to even keep one of those around anymore?”
Gerald was half debating whether the strain of the campaign had left him on the verge of losing his mind and half debating with himself as to why he was stunned (as someone who supposedly believed in an afterlife) that there was a real ghost right in front of him. “Ma’am…the library moved from here when I was a kid. They moved it over to a bigger building just two blocks down on Steer Boulevard. The big white one with the columns that used to be a meeting place for some club or something. They held political rallies there before too. Kennedy and Ford spoke there.”
The angry ghost suddenly seemed relieved and yet stunned. “Moved! Into Steer Boulevard? The white- you mean to tell me they moved the library over to where that commie Kennedy came to speak a few years ago?”
Gerald almost fell back in laughter; the comedy of the whole situation was starting to take over his surprise and fear. A Kennedy hating ghost, on Halloween day of all days. This had to be a dream, right? A really vivid one though. Or a funny way for your mind to admit it had failed you. He nodded his head and ignored the Kennedy comment.
The ghostly woman looked around with confusion. “Then what they turned this into? What are all these phones? Do you work for the CIA or the FBI or something?”
“Usually this is a studio, but we’re using it for my campaign headquarters today. In a couple days they’ll use it as a voting precinct.”
“You…you’re running for office?”
“I’m already in office, ma’am. I’m a councilman for this district. I’m seeking reelection.”
The ghostly woman was now calmly looking Gerald over and then with just one eyebrow raised, she asked, “And your party?”
“None. Nonpartisans only for this position, has been that way since about, oh…twenty years ago.” Gerald breathed a sigh of relief inside on that one. The nonpartisan label came in handy when in front of voters who thought John F. Kennedy was a commie — even dead ones.
“Huh…” The ghostly woman then turned and headed out. And as she vanished and stepped across the cement wall as if it were as normal as a cat getting through a small crawlspace, she shouted back, “Thank you for the information, Mister Councilman. Maybe I’ll finish that book after all before they close that portal.”
Gerald laughed at the thought that he may have just gotten a ghost’s vote, a ghost who thought John F. Kennedy was a commie and had berated him over her library book not being where she had left it. Then he nervously laughed at the idea that then again, he may have just been losing his mind instead.
He then looked around when it came to him that the phone calls and various conversations that had dotted the background had slowly but surely stopped as his conversations with the ghost had gone on. His entire campaign team was now looking at him with that “what the hell?” look you give someone when they seem to be hearing and talking to voices only they can hear. He could tell they never saw the womanly ghost; they only saw him talking to thin air.
Someone from the back finally broke the awkward silence. “I think that might be our cue to call it a day.”
As Jimmy Tresvant’s body creeped out people about town as he asked them for directions and still refused to show them his pupils, and as that ghostly woman who had come to Gerald Hart finally found that book of hers she wanted to finish, an elderly woman of eighty-seven, who had happened to have been babysat by that strange visitor Hart had had come to him in her youth, sat on her porch in a rocking chair her own grandmother had first owned and watched from afar the strange happenings going on at the house next door. Mildred Townsend wasn’t very much a fan of this season dedicated to the frights and vampires and ghosts, but she was kind enough to pass Halloween candy out to the innocent, young trick-or-treaters; and she was very concerned as to what suspicious goings on were happening in that house sitting on a street that would be filled with costumed children in just a few hours. After all, it was four o’clock already.
Mildred had grabbed buckets of chocolate bars and bubble gum and candy dust (as well as the little Bible quotes she always slipped into the kids’ bags every year) and had them at her feet as she rocked back and forth on her chair and watched the neighboring house with a mixture of suspicion, contempt, and judgment. That house had not been owned by anyone since the former resident, John Knotting, had gone on a drunken binge about town and hung himself right there on its porch. She was just thirteen then and could still remember the police all around the corpse as she headed for school that day. Since then no one wanted the home, but it had become a hot spot for teenagers to sneak into for midnight get-togethers, and in turn many of them ended up running from the house hours later, claiming it was haunted by the very man who had committed suicide on the property.
The city refused to demolish it for God knows what excuse. Probably some historical association bleeding hearts, Mildred had figured, and it had become abandoned for the most part save for the teenagers looking for late night thrills. Then a couple days before this Halloween afternoon, Mildred had seen a crew of cleaners come by and clean up the place so it could be inspected for safety, but they seemed to keep certain aspects of it left to continue as rotting and dirty. As if they wanted that look of cobwebs and random boards leaning against the wall, and the broken window or two, to stick around. As if they wanted to make it presentable and yet…spooky? And now here she sat looking over towards the creepy old house at the center of town, and a whole television crew from some channel she had never heard of, Destination Network or something like that, seemed to have placed themselves there. Now it all made sense: they wanted to have a scary little show over there in the supposedly haunted house just in time for Halloween. Make sure the crew is safe, but please keep it spooky looking for the television audience at home.
She kept lingering her look over there, hoping the trick-or-treaters wouldn’t get too close to the “Hollyweirds” as she had nicknamed them. Mildred didn’t much trust Hollywood people. But as she turned her head to grab herself a small sip from the bottle of water she had placed for herself on the porch alongside the buckets of candy and Bible quotes, she looked up and realized someone was now standing over her. Or at least a presence of some sort was there.
At first it came in a fog, a hazy white smoke. Then it formed into something with more of a definitive form, even if it was a translucent form at that. She watched in silent awe as the form collected itself and smiled down upon her. It was…no, it couldn’t be — Harvey? Her late husband was standing before her and smiling and in his youthful thirties at that, handsome as can be. “Harv?”
“Millie,” Harvey replied, and in that moment, she was honestly surprised and content with herself that she hadn’t fainted or worse had a heart attack from the shock right there and then.
Mildred slowly forced herself up from her rocking chair and smiled at the man who had captured her heart but had left this world just a year before in his sleep. Leaving without so much as a goodbye. “This can’t be. This just can’t be!”
“It is,” Harvey replied, reminding her all over again about his quick, straight-to-the-point responses that she loved about him — had loved about him.
“Wait…am I? Am I…is the Lord coming for me now?” she asked as she tried so hard not to reach over and hug him or kiss him. She could tell she would just go right through.
Harvey shook his head with a smile. “No. Not yet at least.”
“Then how! What?” Mildred looked around her and could see the Hollywood people next door were too busy to notice her acting so strange as she figured there was a possibility only she could see Harvey. “Are you a hallucination?” she found herself asking, as if a hallucination would admit to its tricks.
“You got me! I’m just a trick of your mind! Almost had you there huh, girl?”
“No. They opened a portal, and some of us are getting access to the earthly plane of existence,” Harvey explained.
“Who opened what?” Mildred asked, but instead of receiving an answer, she found herself getting scooped into Harvey’s arms. He was still translucent, but he could somehow manage to grip her a bit now, as if the longer he stayed in this plane of existence, the more he could interact with it and its physical dimensions. He motioned for a dance. She found herself tearing up a bit and half laughing as she accepted the dance request and said, “Why now? We got things to talk about. Why dance instead?”
“I’ve been waiting for a dance with you for a long time, Millie. I’m not gonna squander my chance now,” he explained as they danced across the porch gracefully enough to avoid the strewn about buckets with candy and Bible quotes.
“But how did you get back?” Mildred asked again as she danced on with her late husband.
“I told you, Millie, the portal.”
As Jimmy Tresvant’s body was unknowingly headed in the wrong direction, as a befuddled Gerald Hart arrived home in time to be forgiven by his husband and pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters, and as Harv and Millie Townsend danced away on her front porch right next to a television spectacle, five o’clock struck, and many left their workplaces to head home to put on their kids’ costumes. But one place that there was nowhere to go was Hope Harbor Prison or as its inhabitants had nicknamed it “Misery Harbored Prison,” just a lengthy drive outside of the main town epicenter and randomly placed in the middle of rural highway running across the rural towns of Hope Harbor and Hope Hills that would get one on the road towards Orlando to the north or Tampa to the south. There you checked in, but there wasn’t a guarantee you wouldn’t check out in a body bag.
For lunch the prisoners had thrown a makeshift Halloween party, but things could only get so jovial with the prison guards watching like hawks. Now they were back in their cells, and some were trying to tell each other scary stories by conversing across the cells from one another, and others were telling those storytellers to shut up because they were busy writing letters or trying to read or sleep — or maybe because the stories weren’t all that good or even at least scary. In one cell, not telling a mediocre scary story or reading or writing or sleeping or anything, was Tony Lubbock, who was counting down the final days until his release from a torturously long six-year stint for an armed robbery accomplice charge he regretted every day of his existence within these walls.
He had hoped good behavior would reduce his sentence, but Tony found himself sticking it through year after year, and suddenly enough time had flown that he was a week away from escaping, or what the government called “released.” He knew adjusting to the real world would be tough, he knew finding work was gonna be tougher, but he knew he was going to enjoy rediscovered freedom. He was thinking of how he’d be home in time for Thanksgiving when the lights suddenly went out. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal had it been lights out time, but it was only five. So instead of groans of annoyance, there were gasps of surprise.
“Sorry about that,” a voice that suddenly came from behind Tony said. A Brooklyn accent accompanied it, someone who had grown up in the Bronx, for sure. It was a voice Tony recognized actually.
The lights came on again as the prisoners started to whoop and holler. Tony was now standing right across the first guy who had ever given him friendship behind these bars, Charley O’Malley, a hard-edged New York transplant who had come down to Florida for retirement only to wind up dealing with drugs for a friend and subsequently getting arrested for it. He had passed when the medications for his heart never seemed to get to him on time behind these bars. He had collapsed halfway through Tony’s time here as he got his lunch one fateful summer day. Just fell dead right there as he stood in line for his meal, food spilling everywhere. And now here he was, standing right in front of Tony again. “Charley!” he exclaimed as he kept himself from tackling him in shocked joy.
Prisoners looked up over to Tony’s cell. Tony realized right there and then no one else could see Charley, just him. Charley, a translucent version of him at least, motioned for him to be quiet.
“Yeah, I know. Turns out there is something else after we croak.” Charley smirked as he looked around.
“How?” a bewildered Tony asked in a whisper.
“Where’s your cellmate?” Charley responded, ignoring his living friend’s bemusement.
Tony kept up his whispering. “In solitary until tomorrow night. He punched a guard when he made a comment about his sister when he saw her come over and visit.”
Charley laughed. “Same old clowns guarding the asylum, huh?”
Tony looked to see if anyone had heard his laugh. Nope, just him. “Yeah…so how are you-”
“Yeah, about that. Some clowns over in town opened up a portal, and the planes of existence seem to be getting really screwy around here. Realized I could come on over and thought I’d say hello.”
“I have so many questions…”
“Not now. I actually came to warn you. I don’t know how long this portal is staying open, so I’ll try to be quick about it.”
Tony noticed that even though he was speaking in whispers, he was still getting looks from other cellmates. So he decided nodding or shaking his head would be better than saying anything from now on.
“Okay, so these clowns that opened the portal might be opening up the door for something really bad, and if it comes out, it’s gonna start trouble. Lots of people could get hurt.”
Tony motioned with a shoulder shrug as to what that had to do with him.
“How many emergency calls you got left for the week?”
“Emergency calls” were an unspoken favor the guards at night gave to their favorite prisoners. The warden would blow a gasket if he found out such a thing existed, but every week a prisoner had one emergency call (if they could get a guard to trust them) that would allow them a nightly call to anyone they wanted as long as it didn’t last more than ten minutes. The guards would then roll over any calls you didn’t use each week if they liked you enough. The way you get a guard to like you enough was either to sneak in “treats” for them or like Tony, just don’t bust their balls. The trick was to stay on their good side enough to get your favors like emergency calls, but you also didn’t want to come off like teacher’s pet to any of the fellow inmates either. Tony had carefully pulled both off.
“I have a couple,” Tony whispered as he tried to look away so that inmates didn’t see his lips moving. “Haven’t asked for one in ages.”
“Well, ask for one tonight.”
By six o’clock Jimmy Tresvant’s body had realized he had made a wrong turn, the ghost that had demanded answers on the library from Gerald Hart on Brick Street was getting to the final pages of the book she had wanted to finish reading, Mildred Townsend had started to pass out candy as her late husband watched on, and Tony Lubbock had gotten the okay from the guards to let him get an out-of-schedule call out as they awaited the warden to call it a day. Children were now strewn about the streets in their costumes and begging for “treats” or else there’d be a “trick.”
The houses’ Halloween decorations were prominent, and the horror films were playing inside for the teenagers who had no reason to be out at the same time the kids were strolling around the streets. The smell of fall fragrances candles, such as pumpkin-smelling ones, lit up on porches, and the overpowering smell of candy was coming from buckets. There were the sounds of happy kids unwrapping their treats and that uneasy feeling that Christmas holiday shopping season would start as soon as the last trick-or-treater got off the street.
Excited for the first year in which neither of their parents would be following them around and on the cusp of trick or treating becoming a little too childish for them were twelve-year-old Cameron Daugherty and eleven-year-old Melissa Straus. After years of begging their parents to let them trick or treat by themselves (not so much because they were embarrassed by their parents as much as their parents always slowed them down from getting out early enough for the top-notch candy), they had finally gotten their way. Or at least that’s what they thought. Truth was their parents had conspired with several neighbors to keep an eye out on them.
Cameron, who always tried to dress as something different and unique each year, had decided he was going to be Don Quixote this All Hallows’ Eve; he had learned just a little about the literary character in class of late and had gotten help from his dad in making the costume. Melissa just went as Jasmine from Aladdin. She seemed to fall in love with a different Disney princess each year, and she had rediscovered her love for the character this past summer after her parents had taken her to see the live-action remake. Her biggest feat in pulling off the costume was the straight, long black-haired wig her mom had gotten for her to cover up her curly, long blonde hair.
Friends since kindergarten, Cameron and Melissa had met when they traded coloring books then. They had plenty of other friends they spent time with: Cameron and a couple other boys liked to play baseball and watch Marvel movies, and Melissa liked to meet up with other girls from school for sleepovers and trips to the Dessert Room across the bridge in Brick Street when their parents could afford it for cakes and ice cream. But together the two were best friends who enjoyed going over to each other’s houses for movies or to read and study together; and then there was trick or treating, which they always did together every year even when other kids had asked the other to tag along with them instead. Of course, given the situation, there were ugly rumors at school along the “Cameron and Melissa sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage” variety. But they didn’t pay any mind to that silly stuff. That would change in time, of course, but today they were just two kids enjoying trick or treating on Halloween.
Their mission to get the best top-notch candy by coming out earlier than before had worked out great. Spectacularly in fact. In under an hour, their bags were already just a little over halfway full. “What if we run out of space?” Melissa asked Cameron, who had come up with the grand idea in the first place.
“We can rush back home, empty them, and start filling up the bags again,” Cameron calmly replied.
They hustled down the street, closer and closer to where Mildred Townsend was giving out candy with her dead husband’s ghost right behind her and she the only one who could see him. Most of the kids told Melissa she looked great as Jasmine, but most of the kids had no clue at all who Cameron was supposed to be. “I’m Don Quixote! Haven’t you been paying attention in class?” Cameron would respond.
And the kids would respond right back, “Chill out, dude. We didn’t even get a test on him.”
As they were turning the corner to the town center where the Hollywood folks, the Hollyweirds as Mildred so affectionally called them, were at, Melissa stopped Cameron in his tracks. She noticed something. There was a kid in a very simple ghost costume, just a plain white sheet with two holes for eyes, standing all alone with a big, empty brown paper bag in hand, on the corner of the street crying as the other kids walked right past them.
“What’s that kid’s problem?” Cameron asked in a low tone as they came upon the scene.
“What’s that kids’ problem? What’s all these kids’ problem?” Melissa defiantly replied as she looked around at all the fellow trick-or-treaters ignoring the crying costumed child and shouted, “Hey! Didn’t your parents teach you any manners? Really? You’re gonna leave someone who needs help all alone like this?!”
The kids just looked at her strangely and walked on by. “Weirdo,” was heard in the distance, which Melissa did not care for.
“Come on, Don Quixote, let’s go see what we can do,” Melissa said as she grabbed Cameron’s hand and pulled him towards the frightened and sobbing child. “Hi! I’m Melissa, and this is Cameron. We just started middle school here. Are you okay? We see that you look like you’re in trouble.”
Cameron wasn’t sure about bothering a stranger but figured it wouldn’t hurt to help if they could, given Melissa had taken the lead.
The ghost costumed child spoke, and it was clearly a young girl around their own age. They were speaking in a gurgle of sobs and sniffles. “I…I…I think I lost my grandpa. He was showing me what it was like to trick or treat and then…and…and then suddenly I got here all by myself.”
“Is this your first time trick or treating? That’s weird.” Cameron said, to which Melissa elbowed him in response. That hurt.
Melissa then grabbed the costumed girl’s hand and motioned for a hug. “What’s your name?”
“Trina,” she answered as she returned Melissa’s hug, which was strangely a weak one at that, as if the costume was all she could hug.
“Trina, me and Cameron are gonna stay by your side, and then we’ll make sure we get you back to your grandpa.”
“Yeah. Let’s stick together, and we’ll make sure you get home to the right person!” Cameron jumped in with the suggestion, looking to get back into Melissa’s good graces. “And if you stay with us, you’ll get tons of candy too!”
After mulling it over as her sobs died down, and with Melissa nodding at Cameron’s claims of tons of candy, Trina gave some final sniffles and then agreed. “Okay.”
They headed down the street together, and some kids right behind them could have sworn the costumed ghost girl’s ghost sheet was blowing in the air and revealing absolutely no one underneath it.
At about a quarter to seven, the Saint Nicholas Church and Cathedral received its final confessor of the day at the same time that Jimmy Tresvant’s body had finally figured out the direction of the portal, Gerald Hart had convinced a trick-or-treater’s mother to turn out to vote for him even as he continued to debate with himself if he should tell his husband about the ghost he saw earlier, Mildred Townsend was down to her last bucket of candy and Bible quotes, Tony Lubbock was getting in his emergency call, and Cameron Daugherty and Melissa Straus were helping a lost ghost. The priest of the church, Father Browning, was caught a bit off guard when a certain confessor greeted him. “Father, for I have sinned so many times in the past, but God has now forgiven me tenfold.”
That was a strange way to greet your priest in a confessional. “Excuse me?” he found himself saying and then quickly apologized. Typical of him. Father Browning had now been in the clergy for a mere three months, and he was beginning to wonder if he had made a mistake. Not because he was starting to think life outside the clergy would be much better for him, but he was starting to wonder if a man in his late twenties had what it took to console so many who were coming to him for their grief, their questions, and most importantly at this very moment, their confessions.
“I only speak for my experience,” the confessor replied, his voice now starting to sound eerily similar to someone Father Browning had known in his past. “Even those of us called to serve God are not without sin. Not without doubt. Not without self-pity. Not without a loss of purpose.”
“You speak so eloquently,” Father Browning replied. “What did you come to confess my-”
“I have nothing to confess,” interrupted the voice behind the barrier, “God and I are completely squared on all my sins.”
The voice had become distinctly familiar now to Father Browning. “May we speak face to face?” he asked, reaching to take away the barrier between them, wanting to see if it was the impossible.
“Yes. We should.”
Browning did so, and to his surprise a blinding white light greeted him, which eventually settled down, and there he could see the apparition of one of his mentors in the clergy, Father Callaghan — a man who had passed several months back at the age of sixty-six from a brain tumor. He shrieked and jerked back in response, but the late Father just smiled back at him.
“There is evil work taking place here today, Father Browning. It’s the only reason I can appear to you,” Father Callaghan explained. “Witchcraft for the sake of today opened up a portal to heaven and hell’s gates.”
Father Browning was trying to calm his nerves down now. His fear and shock were suddenly getting overtaken by the warm light around Callaghan’s specter. It was comforting, and he believed saintly almost. God had sent him a messenger perhaps in the form of the man he had trusted so much in the past. “You’re here with a message?”
“I’m not here for any particular purpose, Father Browning. As I said, witchcraft has opened up the earthly plane to some of us who have passed on. I came here so that you could hear my warning regarding the situation.”
“And what’s that?” Father Browning almost got on his knees, figuring that’s what you should do in such an incredible situation, but he then figured it was likely Abraham and Moses had both remained standing whenever God had spoken to them every now and then.
“In the town center. The old Knotting home. A television crew is there. Witchcraft is taking place. They will soon inadvertently release something into this world. You must be there to stop it.”
“You’re much more adept than you think. I’ve been watching you since I left my mortal coil. I’ve seen your self-doubt. But leave it. I know you can do this. As soon as I figured out what was going on, I knew who to come to. Father Browning, this is something I’m calling for you to do. Not God, though I don’t doubt the Almighty looks over you and would believe in you, but it’s something I trust you to do.”
Father Browning needed to know more. What “witchcraft” was he referring to exactly? And what was the danger it was about to unleash? And since Father Callaghan was confirming an afterlife to him, he had so many questions about that as well. But he realized almost before he could even register it was happening that Father Callaghan had suddenly fainted into that warm comforting light and then just vanished along with the light itself. Now he sat inside the confessional all alone, his late mentor’s warning repeating over and over in his head. He had to find this witchcraft and stop it.
Over the next five minutes, as seven o’clock neared, as Jimmy Tresvant’s body ran across the streets of trick-or-treaters, as the ghostly woman who had visited Gerald Hart earlier in the day had the sudden urge to head towards the center of town, as Mildred Townsend happen to catch with her eyes Cameron Daugherty and Melissa Straus and their new friend in the cheap homemade ghost costume coming around to her block, as Tony Lubbock’s phone call reached its destination, and as Father Browning excused himself and ran out of the confessional, the sky finally finished its dimming in the evening hours. Darkness was now over Silver Springs on this Halloween night.
Just a few miles from this convergence, a seasonal Halloween festival was getting the most out of its final night. Usually the festival saw parents taking their elementary school aged children for candy corn flavored cotton candy and pumpkin carvings. This time teenagers on dates or just in groups of friends were taking advantage of the younger children and adults all out elsewhere. They were making out during the haunted hayride or smashing soda cans as they stood in line for the scare mazes. The sounds of Halloween-themed music filled the air as well as the smell of the fried Oreos or pumpkin spice cakes.
It was then that the lit-up jack-o’-lanterns that dotted the makeshift fencing around the festival suddenly flamed out for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was a mere minute. As everyone looked around in confusion, the trees rustled, and the brush started to shake. The lighting started to flicker, and the stale humid heat was replaced by a sudden gust of autumn wind. At first they thought it was part of the festival, but in time all the rowdy teens would come to realize something was off.
The jack-o’-lanterns lit up again, but instead of the crooked smiles, the pumpkins now had devilish grins, as if someone had re-carved them, but that wasn’t possible was it? They were real pumpkins, not animatronics. The lights finally stopped their flickering, but they went from a yellowish glow to a blood-red one. The trees saw ravens, hundreds of them, fly out onto the night over their heads. The brush revealed the frightening sight of hundreds of rats running out onto the festival grounds, and soon even a mass of frogs came leaping out to join them, followed by snakes and lizards and then insects of all kinds, both the flying and crawling type.
Confusion gave way to terror, and all the teenagers fled as ravens flew overhead and the rats, frogs, snakes, lizards, and insects started to run past their feet, smacking into them and forcing shrieks of terror from some of the young women — and a few of the boys as well. And as the festival grounds descended into this chaos the jack-o’-lanterns began to…couldn’t be…it wasn’t possible was it? They had actually started to laugh and laugh heartily at the chaos before them.
The ravens started to dart down towards the teens as well, as if in an aerial formation for a deliberate attack. In time many started to notice the animals — all of them, the ravens, the frogs, the snakes, the lizards, the insects, all of them — were not completely intact. Some were almost all exposed organs and skeleton, and others had missing limbs. Some insects were even dripping in bug juice from their crushed bodies; the wasps were encrusted in wasp spray. As if they were all undead creatures suddenly awaken.
The beasts ran past the teens and staff, mostly, but they also came for the food that could be so easily found whether it be the snakes slithering up the concessions or the rats crawling atop the cotton candy and cakes that had been dropped onto the ground. Some of the festival goers had tripped and found themselves getting trampled by the beasts and panicked guests. In the coming days after, it would be reported that nearly thirty in all had been injured by trampling alone at the festival grounds, but thankfully none of the injuries would be fatal.
The festival ended that night in this wild terror. Teenagers, festival staff, and the creatures themselves all rushing out and onto the hillside and ready to descend upon the streets down below. The shrieking and shouting and screams from the humans, the cawing of the ravens, the rats’ screeching, the burps from the frogs, the snakes’ hisses, the lizards’ feet as they ran across the grass, the insects buzzing and chirping about, all mixing into a blob of terrifying noise as it came towards the mass of trick-or-treaters and candy givers in the streets the ball of chaos was careening down towards.
As the chaos that had suddenly overtaken the festival pushed towards the neighborhood’s suburban streets, the television channel Destination Network was live streaming an all-day series of séances coming from inside the abandoned and supposedly haunted home where decades ago John Knotting had gone on a wild drunken binge about town and then hung himself on the front porch for everyone to find him the next day.
They had planned this for months, expecting big ratings for themselves and having it perfectly and fittingly scheduled for Halloween day. The channel, which had been known for travel and cultural documentaries, had recently seen a surge in supernatural-related content when network executives realized what kind of money the ratings increase from them could bring. Now here they were attempting séance sessions in room after room of the large abandoned home they had prepped a few days ago under the guise of a safety inspection for the special event. Mixing in live streaming sessions with documentary footage explaining the house’s haunted mythology.
And yet after so much planning and anticipation, nothing much seemed to be happening. They had begun the séances around one o’clock, and save for readings of cold signatures and a member or two claiming they had been breathed upon, it was mostly just footage of people walking around a house and calling for spirits that didn’t seem interested in answering. But the network executives had tried such events before, and they drew great ratings in comparison to their usual content. The public ate this stuff up.
Among the group was a sort of well-known psychic medium in Greta Sebring (who happened to be hawking a new book and in talks with the network about a series of her investigating cold cases), a paranormal researcher in Chris Warner (who already had a show with the network lined up), a skeptic in Lawrence Donald (who had already earned the ire of live stream chatting groups for his insistent scoffing and mockery), and a town historian (who had only agreed to be a part of this because of the money offered).
That town historian was Thom Roosevelt, and the graying, middle-aged bearded man was combing his short hair with his hands, his glasses held to his left hip, sighing with tiredness and frustration as sweat fell down his nose. No air-conditioning, so he had been gulping down water bottles like crazy throughout the whole day. He was glad the show only had another hour left because all this walking around while this kook Sebring claimed to be attempting to get ghosts to show up and the annoying, skeptical, out-of-state professor Donald took pot shots at his town’s residents was getting on his nerves. The paranormal researcher, of all people, seemed the least annoying, and at least Warner seemed legitimately interested when he would go on small lectures about the history of the house and the surrounding areas.
While Thom had enjoyed getting to show his expertise every now and then, and being on live television was a wild experience, he was starting to grow tired with nothing at all happening from the séances. Granted he was agnostic on these matters, but his curious and imaginative side was hoping something, anything, might happen so he could at least go home tonight with a little imagination and speculation about the whole idea of ghosts haunting the place.
The team was setting up for the last session as seven o’clock was arriving and the sky was darkening. He was sitting down and waiting for everyone to join as they prepared to stream live from the very bedroom a drunken John Knotting had allegedly shouted down and beat his wife before attempting to shoot her, before figuring out the gun was empty and then hanging himself on the porch as she headed for the police station just a few blocks away. That’s when he got a sudden call. It was from a prison, and Thom instantly knew who was behind it.
On the other line was his brother-in-law, his wife’s youngest sibling who had gotten caught up in a scheme as a getaway driver for an armed robbery that never got even halfway through before the police put a stop to it. The bumbling fools he had been hanging around with got him six years in prison, and in a week that sentence would finally come to an end. Thom liked Tony for the most part, and the little time they talked via visits to the prison or phone calls had made him think he seemed like a smart kid who had gotten caught up with the wrong types of friends. He was hoping Tony would make the best of his second chance.
But why was he suddenly calling him now, and why his cell phone, not the home phone where he’d reach his sister? He almost ignored the call but figured he had time for a quick chat, given the others were still taking their time to come sit down for the final séance.
He answered after telling the machine on the other line he would be accepting the call. “Hey, Sarah isn’t with me right now if you’re-”
“Listen quickly!” Tony suddenly huffed out, panicked and hurried but yet in a whispering tone. “I don’t have time to explain how but I know that you’re part of some TV show that’s trying to contact dead people. You have to stop. You’re about to unleash something really bad.”
Thom was amazed. “Tony? How did you know that? Did Sarah mention it last time or-”
“I told you I don’t have time to explain myself, but someone came over and warned me about what you’re involved in!” Tony was still whispering, obviously trying to make sure no one around him heard his panicking tone. “Am I right about the show?”
Thom looked back; the others were motioning for him to come and sit down, save for the supposedly psychic Sebring who was already starting the séance without him as the cameras had begun rolling. “Yeah, um, I actually got to go now and film this thing. Listen, you gotta tell me how you knew-”
“Don’t do that séance, Thom! I know I sound crazy, and if I hadn’t seen what I saw earlier in my cell, I’d think I’m pretty crazy too, but the ghost of a dead friend came to me and warned me you were in a house playing around with a portal to the other side. You have to stop. Something has been preparing to come out that isn’t friendly.”
Thom wondered if this was some sort of prank that the network executives had somehow set up. “Say what? Look, trust me, nothing’s come out of this thing save for a few overinterpreted cold chills. I don’t know if you’re trying to prank me or what, but all is quiet and well-”
Thom dropped the phone. Tony remained on the line, whispering in a panic at him. He had looked back once more at the séance circle. Everyone in the group, Sebring, Warner, and Donald, had all suddenly been blown back a few feet as a bright purple light emitted from the table they had sat around of. The light eventually became dimmer and dimmer until it was just jet-black fumes. A figure began to appear from those fumes.
In this sudden and brief moment, Thom got it. They had been playing around with opening a door to another dimension, the afterlife or whatever you’d call it, and finally they got it opened. Finally, he and the network were going to get what they had wanted. Little did he realize this wasn’t the only door they had opened today and that at that very moment all the other spirits they had awakened were out converging upon the streets making all sorts of chaos.
The mass of terrified teens and Halloween festival staff descended upon the suburban streets of Silver Springs, Florida, in shrieks and moans of terror as the undead ravens, frogs, snakes, lizards, and insects followed right behind, both attacking them and rushing past them to go for the trick-or-treaters, their parents, their grandparents, their older siblings chaperoning them, and the candy givers who had stopped what they were doing and were looking up to see this both amusing and yet horrifying scene coming their way. The numbers of those under attack grew as the undead beasts began to take over the streets. They drowned the dark and gray pavement; they littered the yards and climbed up onto the walls. Residents fought them with household appliances or yard tools. A couple even rushed inside for their guns, and one man appeared to have come back out with a katana of all things.
The mass panic and the undead creatures that started it began to spread and come down right to the center of town, right where Gerald Hart was passing out candy with his husband, where Mildred Townsend was giving out candy as her late husband watched on, where Father Browning was rushing down the street and alongside him (though neither knew the other had the same purpose) Jimmy Tresvant’s possessed body followed, where Cameron Daugherty and Melissa Straus were leading their lost new friend Trina to Mildred’s yard, where the abandoned home Tony Lubbock had called his brother-in-law Thom Roosevelt at had been overtaken by television cameras. They had been the cause of all of this. Like water traveling down a drainage system, the neighborhood was becoming engulfed. In the coming days, this would quickly be nicknamed “The Great Spring Hills Halloween Panic of 2019.”
From the abandoned Knotting home, a dark cloud rose from every broken window and opened door. In the midst of it was an enormous red-eyed and draped-in-black John Knotting with gun in hand and an evil grin that gave off a sick delight. Back from the past and this time no kinder than then. “I’m back, and this time it’s loaded!” he shouted as he motioned towards his weapon. He laughed upon the town he had once walked around shouting drunken obscenities nearly a century ago. He looked around and saw Gerald Hart watching him in shock, his husband grabbing at his sleeves. He aimed for him and shot.
A blob like black slimy goo shot out from the gun and went straight for Gerald, but alas the ghostly woman he had met earlier had suddenly appeared, and this time she was not as translucent. She bounced back the goo directly onto Knotting’s ghost, demon, or whatever you call what he was nowadays. The blob smacked him right on his face, and he furled his brow in anger as it vanished into him.
“Oh? You people have some spirits to come to your rescue?” Knotting said with a chuckle. “Some otherworldly friends of yours? I have those kinds of friends too.”
And with that undead cats and dogs suddenly came up from the ground of front yards and back yards, buried pets who were now coming up off the ground and being used as weapons by Knotting. All this as herds of bats started to take over the night sky as well, joining the ravens in blackening the sky even further.
“What’s that?” Mildred Townsend asked, slumping back onto her chair in terror. Harvey, her late husband, comforted her and looked at her with a remorseful smile. “I won’t see you again until you pass over.” He bent down and kissed her now that he was fully physical again before he rushed down the yard past the terrified children. Mildred watched on in amazement, struck that this was the damnedest Halloween she had ever seen play out.
“Grandpa!” Trina shouted as Harvey came upon her, Cameron, and Melissa, who were too scared to run as the gigantic evil demonic version of John Knotting stood over them and the undead creatures looked to reach them on each side.
“Trina! I had no clue you were brought over too!” Harvey welcomed his late granddaughter, the one he had vowed to take care of on the other side after she had been stricken by pediatric cancer and awaited her parents who would not pass over for yet another few decades. He picked her up and twirled her around, her brown paper bag filled with candy falling down. Mildred saw this and was amazed as Cameron and Melissa finally noticed Trina was completely invisible underneath the makeshift ghost costume.
Father Browning and Jimmy Tresvant’s body fought their way to the abandoned home Destination Network had taken over, where John Knotting’s soul awaited them. Browning began to chant at him, holding up his cross, and Tresvant’s body quickly surmised they were both here for the same reason, but he had been too late to stop the awakening of this bad visitor.
Harvey asked Trina to be brave and then put her down. Cameron and Melissa’s jaws were agape as she rejoined them. He joined Jimmy Tresvant’s body and Father Browning, trying to figure out what he could do.
Then suddenly, from the very home Knotting’s soul was emitting from rushed out the séance group. Thom rushed towards the pair who awaited him right at the front of the yard.
Gerald Hart looked to left and then his right. The undead creatures and the panicked neighborhood were now all gathering on his block, and soon there would be no safe areas left. He looked to the ghostly woman, who his husband could even see now, and asked, “How does this stop?”
She looked at him and simply shouted, “Close the portal!” Then she pointed over to Father Browning, Jimmy Tresvant’s body, Harvey Townsend’s soul, and the town historian who had unwittingly been a part of unleashing this madness, Thom Roosevelt.
Gerald rushed over to them. “Where’s the portal?” he asked.
Thom pointed to the psychic medium, Miss Sebring, as he had assumed that was what he meant. He also realized for a quick second he had voted for this guy with his mail ballot a couple weeks ago.
“She’s the one?” Jimmy Tresvant’s body asked, his wide, pupilless eyes taking Thom aback.
Thom nodded even though he wasn’t fully sure what this stranger meant by “the one.”
Tresvant’s body then went over to her, and their conversation was inaudible to the rest of the group. They just saw Greta Sebring reluctantly agree to place a hand over Tresvant’s head as he kneeled down. She said a couple of chants, and suddenly his body slumped and fell down upon the yard. From above his head a white light appeared. It was the spirit that had possessed the middle-aged businessman while he had been under hypnosis. This light then shone at John Knotting, and the evil soul had to shield his eyes. The undead beasts suddenly shrieked and began to melt as this occurred.
Knotting shrieked in horror, “It’s…it’s you! What are you doing here?!”
The white light then spoke and instead of a burly southern white man, a burly southern white woman’s voice came through. It wasn’t a male form that had taken over Jimmy Tresvant’s body after all. “You pitiful damaged man! You tried to kill me, and now you come back from the dead and try to kill all these good people?”
Knotting moaned in frustration and began to shrink and slowly vanish as the white light that had so clearly been the soul of the wife he had attempted to murder began to shine brighter at him. In fact, the undead creatures and all the ghosts that had been haunting the town this Halloween were now beginning to vanish. Not just because John Knotting’s wife had shown up to shine his foolishness away but also because Greta Sebring was attempting a séance to have the spirit world go away and just a few feet from her Father Browning was chanting holy scripture at the undead creatures.
The shouts of fear turned into amazement as the white light shone its brightest and John Knotting; his wife’s soul, which had been in Jimmy Tresvant’s body this whole time; Trina in her little makeshift bedsheet ghost costume; the woman who had saved Gerald Hart; Mildred’s late husband, Harvey; Father Browning and Tony Lubbock’s late friends; and the undead creatures that had ravaged the neighborhood streets, alongside many other ghosts that had been unwittingly awaken by the séances, blinked away with the light.
The great Spring Hills Halloween panic of 2019 was now over.
Some news media would report on the “town-wide hallucinations” that occurred on the suburban streets of Silver Springs that Halloween night. Residents debated as to what exactly had happened that night with biases towards actual supernatural circumstances or a mass panic depending on who witnessed how much. Destination Network would see a cash grab in this and then want to book a repeat series of live streamed séances for next Halloween, but Greta Sebring wasn’t interested after realizing what she had done with her powers. Professor Lawrence Donald, the skeptic they had invited on, was at a loss for words but wrote a piece in his blog a week later denouncing the program as a setup with television special effects involved “just in time for the climatic finish on a night we human beings foolishly ascribe the paranormal and fantastical to.”
“You got me! I’m just a trick of your mind! Almost had you there huh, professor?”
Jimmy Tresvant awoke in a daze on the front yard of the abandoned Knotting home and decided hypnotism wasn’t for him. Gerald Hart went on to win reelection as councilman with another higher share of the vote than his last race. Tony Lubbock came back home a week later, and he had plenty to discuss with his brother-in-law Thom Roosevelt. Cameron Daugherty and Melissa Straus had the biggest candy haul they’d ever had that year when including Trina’s leftover brown bag, which had ended up helping them double their efforts. Father Browning returned to his clergy with renewed confidence, and the Halloween festival would hire exterminators in the coming months as preparations were underway for the Christmas Festival already.
As for Mildred Townsend, she had been able to spend time with family over Thanksgiving, and then she had put up her Christmas decorations the following weekend. She fell asleep that day feeling accomplished. When she awoke, she was no longer on this earth, and Harvey greeted her with a bright smile. “I told you we’d finish that dance.”
And so they did.