By N. Stanley Bassey
I knew something's been wrong with me ever since my beloved aunt died six days ago. I was hoping with all my heart that it wasn't what I thought it was, but now I'm certain it is. It was confirmed a few minutes ago when we drove past the boundary between Texas and Louisiana. Oh my goodness! There were so many of them trying to cross borders. I'm so scared.
When Kate finished writing into her diary she slid the pen into the hollow of the diary and slowly closed it. She was stiff with fear; her eyes were wide and looking straight ahead, her hands clutched her seat as if for dear life and sweat formed on her fore-head.
Mrs Winslet who was now feigning reading a magazine had been watching her daughter from the side of her eye throughout the journey to her late sister-in-law's burial and was clearly worried by what she was seeing. Yes, the loss of her sweet and caring sister-in-law - Mariam, had deeply saddened the whole family and Yes, Kate was closest to Mariam than all other nieces and nephews; perhaps even closer to Mariam than her husband was but she was taking the loss far too severely.
Mrs Winslet was sure that Kate had lost no less than five pounds in just six days due to her worry and refusal to eat. Kate, who had always been a lively and friendly girl, had been locked up in her room these six days; she had even refused to accompany her mother in the running-around for the burial ceremony. Everybody else -Mr Winslet, who was behind the wheel of the van, their first-born son- James at the passenger side and Lisa, their nine year old last born at one of the rear seats - was at peace. Mrs Winslet was now certain that her daughter required professional psychological help to overcome the trauma of losing her aunt.
As she prepared to give Kate another lecture on letting Aunt Mariah go from her heart, Kate let out a high pitched gasp and buried her head in her lap. The sound alerted everyone in the vehicle; Mr Winslet shouted "What was that?" while the others turned to look at Kate.
Kate's mother looked out the window where Katewas sitting and noticed they were driving by a cemetery.
She can't bear the thought of burying her late aunt, that's why the sight of a cemetery frightens her so. Mrs Winslet concluded and she placed her palm on her quivering daughter's back and calmly spoke.
"Kate! Kate! My dear daughter. You have to be strong and calm yourself down. Your Aunt Maria would never have wanted you to be this miserable"
At that very moment Mr Winslet pulled the car to a halt at the roadside, perhaps he wanted to say something to Kate.
"no! no! Dad, keep going. Please keep going" Kate Shrieked, tears trickled down her bewildered looking face, she was shaking very visibly now.
"If you can't stand the sight of a cemetery how will you be able to attend your late aunt's burial? You just have to -"
"DAD DRIVE NOW! PLEASE PLEASE DRIVE!" she screamed him to a halt mid-sentence. By now Kate was gasping for breath, it looked as though she would pass out at any moment.
"Honey please just keep going" her mother pleaded to her father on her behalf, Mrs Winslet was now so worried for her daughter it seemed she would soon start crying too.
"Alright, Alright" Mr Winslet said passively as he pulled out from the kerb.
"Get a hold on yourself for Pete's sake" James scolded her from the passenger seat.
"Ssshhhhhh!"Mrs Winslethushed him immediately "We'll soon be out of this street" she said to comfort Kate.
But now Kate was barely hearing anything around her. The last thing she remembered seeing before she faded out completely was the figureof a young man with an evil smile approaching her side of the van and almost touching her.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Kate could hear someone sobbing and another person was saying something. The sounds seemed distant at first but as the seconds ticked by they became more pronounced. She slowly opened her eyes and stared upwards at a ceiling and then she turned towards the sounds. To her utter shock it was her father who was sobbing and with her arm around his shoulder mother was consoling him.
She must have made a sound because both of them suddenly turned towards her. Mr Winslet frantically shrugged off his wife's arm and looked away, one hand to his face.
"Uummh! Glad to have you back Kate but unfortunately you missed the funeral. It ended half an hour ago" Mrs Winslet said, ending a four-second long awkward silence.
"What was it? How come?" Kate asked slowly and feebly, holding her head with both hands to supress growing nausea.
Mrs Winslet, attributing her daughter's incoherent questions to just waking from a faint said "it was beautiful Kate, and so many people came. Your aunt was truly loved"
Mr Winslet suddenly cleared his throat and said to Kate "you should drink something. What would you like?" he was intentionally avoiding her eyes.
"A cold bottle of water will do, dad. Thank you."
With that he rushed out of the room, his face a light shade of pink.
"Your father's nervous because you saw him crying" Mrs Winslet said suddenly, her bluntness and abruptness surprised Kate.
"You surely heard and saw him so why not admit it" Mrs Winslet said, reading the expression on her daughter's face.
"It's because of his late sister"
"I know that, mum"
"He didn't shed a tear at the funeral, even as he made his heart-renting eulogy. But as soon as we had driven back to the hospital and your brother and sister were away having a snack he just broke down"
"It's the first time I've seen him cry…" Kate was saying
"And my third" her mother interjected. Kate could sense that her mother regretted saying that.
"Well, don't tell your brother and sister"
"Of course I won't, mum"
A short silence ensued, Kate was certain of the next line of conversation.
"I'm beginning to think that Mariah's passing isn't all that's bothering you. What is it Catherine? What's bothering you so?"
Kate said nothing; she just stared down at the bed sheets on her thighs. Her mind was racing.
Could she tell her mother what was really wrong? She would no doubt think that the grief of losing Aunt Mariah had driven her down the deep end. What should she tell her?
"You can confide in me" Mrs Winslet said very calmly, placing her palm on her daughter's left hand.
"I want to see a pastor" Kate said so quickly and unexpectedly that she surprised even herself.
"A pastor?" her mother asked
"An evangelist, preacher, deacon…you know, a messenger of God"Kate said.
"Why would you want to see a pastor? Tell me Kate."
"Just let me talk to a man of God first"
The next few minutes ensued with Mrs Winslet wrangling her daughter to confide in her but Kate firmly insisted on seeing a pastor first.
"Remember that we don't live here. We don't know any pastors here"
"Then I'll talk to one when we get back"
Mr Winslet returned with the bottle of water.
"Your daughter insists on seeing a pastor" Mrs Winslet proclaimed angrily
"What? About what?" Mr Winslet asked, perplexed.
"She's apparently having some spiritual issues" she told her husband. She looked at Kate and could clearly see Kate's disappointment at the undignified manner in which she told her father about the predicament.
She quickly stole her eyes away from Kate's penetrating stare and said "You want a pastor? I'll get one to see you right here in this room" and she stormed out of the ward.
- - - - - - - - - -
The time was now 5:00pm and it would soon be dark and Kate still lay on her bed in the hospital ward. By this time Kate would have expected to have been back in her home in Louisianabut the doctor had detained her in the hospital for the night to observe her as -according to him- she'd shown signs of severe shock. This suited her mother just fine as it afforded her extra time to get spiritual help for Kate. Knowing her mother's high state of integrity, she was sure her mother was still attempting to get her a pastor this very minute. Mr Winslet and siblings on the other hand were not thrilled at the concept of spending the night in a cramped hotel suite but it was either that or try to talk it out with their mother and that was a 'no-go' area.
Kate was abruptly cut-off from her thoughts by three taps on her ward door.
Could this be the pastor? She thought
The visitor let herself in before invited and stood seven feet from Kate's bed.
This is no pastor,Kateconcluded at the first sight of her.
The woman before her stood at about five feet, eleven inches tall; she was middle-aged, she had three sets of large black beads hanging on her neck,insignia rings on all fingers save both thumbs. She wore a red blouse, a long loose-fitting skirt and she had long unkempt black hair hanging on her shoulders. She carried a really large and shabby looking black bag; the very sight of her greatly alarmed Kate.
Was she one of them? Kate thought
No! She opened the door like everyone else
"Who -who are you?" she managed to let out.
The tall spooky lady who was intensely studying Kate spoke.
"Relax Child! I was informed you required spiritual help"
My goodness! How on earth could mum have sent this woman? Was she that desperate to honour her word? Kate thought.
"So, what's your name dear, and what peculiar troubles are you having?" the woman continued.
Kate didn't hear a word the woman said. She was frozen in place, her spine was arched upwards and she was holding her breath for as the woman was speaking one figure and then another oozed through the wall of the ward and werecuriously gazing around the room and at Kate as though they were site-seers.
In a flash, the woman reached into her bag and pulled out a small jar of what Kate suspected to be salt and began sprinkling it around the room.
The figures, which were of a woman that looked very much like the conspicuous looking woman before Kate, just younger, and of a young teenage boy began drifting around the room, trying to evade the salt and then they scampered out of the room through the walls.
"You have the second sight" the woman said excitedly as she replaced the jar in her bag. She drew nearer Kate.
Kate, who was beside herself with panic, snatched the bedside lamp at her side, ripping away its cord from its frame, and pointed it with both arms at the woman as if to ward her off. Her arms were shaking tremendously.
"I'm here to help you, girl"
"What do - do you say I've got? The - the second what?" Kate stammered
"You've got the second sight. You can see spirits" the woman said, her eyes were gleaming with excitement. She drew closer to Kate.
"STAY BACK!" Kate screamed, still pointing the lamp at the woman.
"I just want to ---" the woman was saying when MrWinslet pushed wide open the ward door, leapt at the woman, grabbed both her shoulders and began shaking her furiously.
"WHO ARE YOU? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" he shouted at her
MrsWinslet came rushing in; she ran to Kate and hugged her.
"ANSWER ME" Mr Winslet shouted again
"Let go of me, please" she pleaded
"FIRST ANSWER ME"
"I was told your daughter needed help, so I came. My name is Isabella. I'm a seer"
"Who asked you to come?" Mrs Winslet asked, clearly shocked.
"A certain Mr Anderson"
Mrs Winslet gasped
"What? I asked him to call a pastor" she said.
"How could you trust Anderson? He's a mess" Mr Winslet asked his wife after releasing Isabella.
"Your daughter sees spirits and save for my dedication I would walk away right now because of the way -" the frazzled Isabella was saying.
"My daughter sees what?" MrWinslet asked loudly, he was staring at her as though she were insane. Both MrsWinslet's hands were over her mouth.
"She can see fourth dimensional beings; you know…ghosts, spirits, whatever you want to call them"
"That's impossible. Isn't it? How can that be possible?" Mrs Winslet asked.She turned her gaze from Isabella to Kate.
"This is completely crazy. You can take your leave now please." MrWinslet said to Isabella, he directed his right arm at the door.
"Why don't you ask her? I bet she's been seeing them for a while now" Isabella said, pointing at Kate.
The three of them stared at Kate.
"oh no!" Mrs Winslet bellowed after Kate remained silent for a
"That's right" Isabella said confidently. "And just before your husband pounced on me like a hungry lion I just dismissed two of them from this very room"
"Oh Boy! I must be dreaming" MrWinslet said, collapsing unto a chair in the ward.
"You see - see them too?" Kate asked sheepishly, replacing the severed lamp on the bedside stand.
"No, I don't. There are very, very few people who can. I just sense their presence."
"What do you mean "can you see them too"?" Mrs Winslet shouted at her daughter. "Kate, you don't see ghosts"
"I do, mum. I do" Kate said, as tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Ever - ever since Aunt Mariah died I've been seeing them. Aunt Mariah was the first one. When she had the heart attack I rushed upwards to get my phone and call 911 while Josh carried her into the car.By the time I got outside I saw her standing and looking into the car. I didn't know what to make of it. I wondered how she had recovered so suddenly and why Josh was still running to get the car keys and asking me why I was just standing there. Then, I looked into the car and saw her lying in the passenger seat with her eyes closed. I was so scared - "
"WAIT!" Isabella screamed so suddenly and forcefully that Kate jerked.
"Did she know you saw her?" she asked, she stared intensely at Kate, studying her every reaction.
"No, she didn't. I ran upstairs immediately I knew she was a spirit"
There were taps at the door.
"Is everything alright in there" came a male voice outside the room.
Isabella ignored him.
"I know you didn't have eye contact with those two here but have you had eye contact with any ghost in this state?"
"HAVE YOU?" Isabella screamed.
"You don't have to answer that" Mr Winslet said to Kate as he got up from his chair.
The male nurse behind the door stepped in.
"I don't know what's going on in here but please keep it down. Patients in other rooms are bothered" he said.
"Sorry. We'll do just that" Mrs Winsletsaid, politely motioning him out of the room.
As soon as the door shut after the nurse, the four of them just looked from one to another for a while without saying a thing.
"I need to know" Isabella finally said to Kate in a much calmer tone.
"When we passed the cemetery today my eyes met with one's"
"OH No! Are you very sure?"
"I am. He was walking towards me. He almost - almost touched me"
"Then what happened?"
"Well, I passed out and ended up here" Kate said, sheepishly.
"You aren't safe. You should never, never look ghosts in the eyes" Isabella told Kate sternly, she snatched her large handbag from the foot of the bed where she had placed it, it seemed as though she was on the verge of leaving.
Surprisingly enough, it was Mr Winslet that asked the question.
"They haunt you, of course. And they won't stop the tormenting you if they know you can see them until you lose your mind; even then they will continue following you about. They will alert other ghosts and you will be overwhelmed with them."
"Are you talking from experience?" Kate asked Isabella suddenly, her parents were bewildered.
Isabella didn't reply at first, she just turned around and hastily headed for the exit. Just before she left the room she turned to look Kate in the eyes and said
"I have got only two on my case and they were my relatives, yet I can barely stand them. Leave Louisiana right now. They can't follow you across borders… immediately"
As soon as the door slammed behind the hasty Isabella, Mrs Winslet burst into tears.
"Why didn't you tell us Kate? So you can actually see ghosts?" she asked, she was so frightened by this ghastly turn of events that her skin was well drained of colour.
"Let's get moving now" dad barked in a matter-of-urgency tone.
Before she could slip out of her hospital gown they heard a loud cryfrom somewhere within the hospital.
Isabellacame running back into the ward. She was shivering and whimpering.
"They-they are everywhere" she cried.
Kate stumbled towards the ward's window to look outside and sure enough there was a large congregation of forms outlining the hospital.
She screamed and began whimpering almost exactly the same way Isabella did.
They were of different ages, sizes and genders but all had one thing in common, their faces didn't look alive. They must have maintained the facial and bodily expression they had at the moment of their passing on. Most of them had blood stains on their body and had different stages of disfigurement but a few of them were whole; no blood stains, no markings no fractures etc, but their faces looked dead.
"What are you afraid of? Are you not supposed to be the expert?" Mr Winslet questioned the spiritualist who was now sprawled on all fours on the hospital floor.
"I can't stand their entire aura at once. EEWWWW!!!" she wailed.
"Is anyoneof them in this room?" Mrs Winsletturned to her daughter.
"Someone please help me, someone please me" Kate was saying to herself underneath her breath as she stared straight on and rocked her body back and forth.
Mrs Winslet grabbed her by the shoulders.
"KATE, IS ANYONE IN THIS ROOM?"Mrs Winslet cried, it seemed Isabella and Kate's fright had been fully transferred to her.
"No!She poured salt or something on the floor that wards them off"
"Let us leave this place now and drive straight home. I'll come back tomorrow for the kids in the hotel" Mr Winslet said, he had to greatly raise his voice so as to be heard over Isabella's wailing.
"No! They are outside, everywhere outside, I can't leave here" Kate protested.
"Let's say I believe there are actually a number of ghosts outside this building, the longer we stay here, in this room, in this town, the more they will get. You heard what she said. They can't cross state borders"
"Dad, I can't" Kate said, shivering, the tears freely flowing down. She knew that that was the most logical course of action but she couldn't face them; when she had looked outside some moments back they were at least thirty of them, they could be a lot more now.
"You have got to" he answered.
Just then two nurses, one carrying a syringe, accompanied by a security guard rushed into the room.
Within three seconds, they looked from Kate to her mother to her father and then their eyes locked on the whimpering woman on the floor and they descended on her with the needle, firmly inserting it into her right shoulder.
Within a few seconds, her frenzy subsided into a weak protest as the nurses jacked her unto her feet and led her out of the room.
As the security guard swung the ward door wide open to allow the trio out, Kate got a glance of a few of them struggling to get a peek into her room and she recognized one of them.
It was the one from the cemetery; the image of a boy in his late teens. His face was expressionless save for faint smile across his lips and eyes that bore into her soul. She didn't find any marks or blood on him. He looked perfectly normal save for the twisted smile on his face until he and the others turned to look at Isabella as she was carried away. There was an inch-wide hole at the back of his head; he had obviously shot himself in the mouth.
Before he returned his gaze to Kate from Isabella and as Mr Winslet made to slam the door shut behind them, Kate hastily shut her eyes and resumed rocking her body back and forth on the bed.
"Someone help me. Who would help me?"Kate muttered to herself.
It was as though a light bulb was suddenly switched on in a dark tunnel of her mind. Kate abruptly leapt from the bed and went on her knees beside the bed; she clasped her hands and closed her eyes.
"What are you doing? Let's leave this hospital right now" Mr Winslet said, looking from his daughter to the ward door, he was sure that the nurses would soon be back for Kate and if she gave them her ghost-seeing story she would surely be taken as a mental case.
Kate didn't answer her father or her mother who had also begun to prod her to leave the hospital.
"Dear Lord! I've never known You…not really, but I need You now. Please forgive me all my wrongs. Please help me out of this predicament. Prove yourself to me."
When she opened her eyes she noticed white light distilling from both windows on either side of the room. Kate got up and went to the window; she could see the spirits scampering away from the source of the unimaginably brightlight.
What could be the source of this light?
She held her breath as she slowly turned her head slightly to the left.
There stood something…someone both extremely fearsome and beautiful; the angel stood at about ten feet tall, a massive golden sword in her right hand, the curly hair on her head was golden and glowing, it flowed down the full length of her back…
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I'm so so happy now. What I thought was some kind of curse on me has now turned to be a tremendous blessing.
I see spirits. At first it was only the spirits of the condemned I saw but for the life of me I've seen angels as well. Oh, they are so beautiful I cannot describe. They hang around some people and I've seen them gather around churches sometimes.
I've got my very own angel; the same that came to my rescue at the hospital last week. Those ghosts don't come anywhere near her, not even within eyeshot. I know she'll leave me if I do something wrong, I've seen an angel leave someone before, he was just sitting in the park and reading a book and as I was admiring his guardian angel the angel flew away, perhaps he was reading some kind of evil book…I don't know.
I can't ever go wrong, just a glance at her gives me all the strength I need to resist whatever temptation. I can't wait to see the place this awesome being comes from.
Kate shut her diary and smiled at the angel beside her.