It had been three days. Heather, the trapped ghost, glared at the sleeping Tinnae Jean, or TJ, as the mother woman seemed to call her. Heather couldn’t even go back up to the attic. The ephemeral chains kept her in TJ’s room. The hate bubbled up from Heather’s soul. How she wished she could cut off the young girl at the knees! Barring her teeth, Heather hissed at the sleeping form on the bed.
TJ stirred and turned over to look in the corner in which she kept the ghost ensnared. “Morning, H. How’s it hanging?”
The girl’s impetuousness seemed to know no bounds. Heather roared, rumbling the airwaves in the room which chilled the temperature several degrees in mere moments.
“Aww, that’s no way to treat your new friend, is it?” quipped TJ. “Come on now. How long you gonna be pissed? You’ve got no options. I’m holding your chain until you preserve this finger. The dry ice will work for only so long. Need you, Heather. I need you right now.”
“You dare speak to me? I am your senior in every way possible and you dare treat me as a slave?! My family owned slaves! We–“
“Well, that’s karma comin’ back atcha now. Don’tcha think? Look, maybe I shoulda come at you a bit differently. Tried a more friendly approach but, come on! I’m on a time crunch. And these dreams won’t stop. They’re picking up and I gotta go back and get him. This life? Doesn’t mean anything to me. I need to go back and finish that life with him.”
Heather stilled. The young brat had gone from a pain in the arse to a sincere, almost pleading, young woman.
“What dreams are you referring to?”
TJ colored and dropped her eyes. “Forget I said that. It’s nothing. You wouldn’t understand. No one understands.”
Heather felt the girl’s emotional pain and knew she needed to get to the core of TJ’s problem. There was something there that didn’t feel quite normal. The pulse of otherness was at the edges of the girl’s aura—never a good sign.
“Something tells me you are not being honest with me, witch. While you have me trapped, I still do not have to do anything you demand. You don’t have the power to control my powers, only my etheric form. Your best chance to get me as an ally is to speak freely.”
TJ’s shoulders slumped. “Was afraid of that,” she sighed and shoved back the covers. She stretched, fully extending her arms upward before walking to the corner Heather inhabited. TJ looked up at the empty corner of the ceiling across from her bed, tilted her head slightly away and looked from the corner of her eye. It was only then that she saw Heather’s entrapped floating form.
Keeping visual contact, TJ shrugged and began to speak slowly. “I was 10, when they first started. I didn’t have a clue who he was. He just kept appearing in my dreams and waking me up telling me not to fall asleep now, or else. He was so handsome—with a swarthy, I’m guessing, Middle Eastern complexion and almond shaped eyes and the get-up he was wearin’? Straight out of Naria, or something.” TJ shrugged again. “I guess the nightly visits became a habit and I got used to his plea. But I had to know more. So, I researched all that I could. Found out the clothing is ancient Egyptian and based on his garb, he was most likely a harem boy. Ha, can you believe it?! Why was he telling me, a preteen to not fall asleep, you know?”
Heather was enthralled. She listened, already knowing where this story would lead. But, she nodded to encourage the girl. Sympathy began to bloom full and bright in Heather’s heart as she waited for the inevitable.
“Dug some more and realized that more than historical facts, I needed some kind of medium to help me bridge this time gap between him and me. Found this schizo lady a few towns over from where we used to live. She placed an ad in The Enquirer and fool me thought that would be a good person to contact!”
The self-recrimination in the young witch’s voice softened Heather’s heart a notch more.
“Long story short, the woman performed a séance and the dude actually came and spoke to me. He’s—he was—my boyfriend. I was some kind of princess but so far removed from the throne cause I had like a billion sisters all vying to get to that throne. It was kinda deep in the 18th dynasty. He wanted me to stay awake so I wouldn’t be killed before he and I could run away…”
Heather bowed her head and said softly, “You fell deep asleep didn’t you?”
“Yeah, and woke up dead as a doornail. I saw him get killed and felt when he was dragged down by the harpies, or evil sprites or whatever those winged talon tailed things were. And I never saw him again…until the dreams started up in this lifetime. The medium said that he escaped the curse hold that had been put on him all those thousands of years ago but it still was strong enough to prevent him from haunting me, or anybody. All he can do is come to my dreams in like this repeating loop.”
“Yes, he’s what is known as a dream phantom. Not dangerous but it is a deadly connection. If he continues to visit you, you will eventually go mad, or will suffer a similar fate when you die.”
TJ looked up sharply and cursed when she realized she lost eye contact. She adjusted her head and looked at Heather before saying, “That’s why I need your help. The medium told me if I could go back to that time and prevent him from being taken away then I could live in that place with him forever. But, it’s a whole thing I gotta do to even get back that far, you know. And I needed a — “
“A body part from a young child, preserved frog legs, a nugget of pure gold along with three drops of spring rain.”
TJ stilled. “You know?”
“I was a young witch, too. That’s partly why I died so young but that’s another story. I don’t want you going down the same path I did.” Heather looked down at the girl and realized that there was a higher duty being presented to her. She squirmed within her chains and sighed. “Very well. I see that I should assist.” Heather refused to tell the girl about the otherness blight on her aura. “Do you have the other items?”
“All except the rain water. How that heck am I supposed to get spring rain? What is that anyway?”
Heather’s laughter tinkled the air.
TJ squinted up at her. “I could use a laugh, too…”
“Young witch, you are so inexperienced. Spring rain is simply rain collected during the springtime. That is all.”
“That’s it? It’s not the water from some obscure hot springs in a mountain clear on the other side of the world?!”
“Is that what the medium told you?”
“Well, she said it was water from any one of the hot springs in Arizona.”
Heather chuckled, “So where did the ‘rain’ part come into the picture?”
“She said that I had to get it from the hot springs while it was raining,” TJ said as comprehension dawned. “What a frickin’ idiot I was!”
“You’re still a very young witch,” Heather managed to get out around her laughter.
TJ put her hands on her hips and was about to say something when she stopped and began laughing herself. “And to think, I was going to run away next month to Arizona so I could get it.”
“Now, all you have to do is wait for the first spring rain. What is the date today?”
“Not much longer to wait. I’ll preserve the finger,” Heather said. “But you have to unchain me before I do.”
“What if you’re lying to me, too?” She squinted harder at the empty space.
“You’ll have to trust me because I cannot do the spell bound as you have me. It’s just that simple.”
TJ muttered a few words in the old language and the chains fell away.
Heather shimmered in and out of visibility. This was her version of a stretch before sinking down to hover in front of TJ. Heather made herself fully visible using her human form. She materialized in front of the young witch complete with yellow frocked dress and matching satin ribbons in her hair.
“Wow! You were beautiful. How old were you?”
“Seventeen when I died.”
“Older than me now…I’m fifteen.”
“I’d like you to grow up to be a woman.”
TJ quirked her head to the side before asking, “And I won’t if I don’t do this?”
“Chances are slim. The blight is on you already,” seeing the fear widen the young girl’s eyes, Heather placed her hands on TJ’s shoulders. “Don’t worry! A month will not make it appreciably worse. A year, yes. But, we have time on our side. It’s moving slowly. Your boyfriend must be keeping it at bay. When did you dream him last?” Heather dreaded the answer but had to know.
“About four months ago.”
Heather bit her lip.
“— ‘tis nothing I should speak of until we do the full ceremony.”
“No, what? What is it?”
Heather glanced away.
“He’s really truly fully dead, right? What else could it be?”
Heather looked her in the eyes. “Oh, it could be so much worse than death.”
TJ felt a chill down her spine and gulped.
“Is it a school day?” Heather inquired, as she peered around the room.
“Yeah, it’s Tuesday.”
“Go about your day, and the rest of the days to follow as normally as possible. I will take care of the finger. Give it to me.”
TJ went to the trunk, produced the key from a black cord around her neck and opened the hulking black wooden box. She rummaged around and pulled out a large wad of cotton. Locking it back, TJ walked back over and handed it over to Heather.
“Now, go to school,” and Heather dematerialized.