The voice whispered to Olivia from the shadows outside of the house. It was ten at night and she was getting home from yet another terrible shift. Her head pounded, and all she wanted was to go to bed and ignore it. She had the onyx in her pocket, so nothing should be able to talk to her. So she must just be imagining it.
No, no, she wasn’t. But if she ignored it, maybe it would go away.
“You need to help me. I know you can hear me, bitch.”
Oh no. No, this was something new. Tears stung at her eyes. She couldn’t bring this inside. Mia was in there. And apparently she hadn’t charged the onyx enough. Stupid stupid stupid, she should have given it another night. There were three nights to the full moon, right? Not two.
“You need to bring me to Marblehead Bank.”
Marblehead was over a hundred miles away. She wasn’t doing that. “Go away,” Olivia whispered, her voice shaking.
“Bring me to Marblehead.”
“No.” Her voice was louder now, but still shaking. “No, leave me alone. You don’t need anything on this side, move on.”
“I’m not leaving until I get what’s mine.”
The voice wasn’t whispering anymore. She couldn’t see them, but it was a man’s voice, and it was in her ear. A tear slid down her face, but she was too scared to move. Why wasn’t the onyx working? Iris said it would work.
Then there was a flash of movement directly beside her. Olivia screamed, but the sound was cut off as something roughly shoved her aside in her own head. The roaring sound drowned out the scream as the spirit pushed her back, back, back. She was falling, but she couldn’t move. But her limbs were moving, robotic and jagged movements as whoever this was settled himself into her body.
Olivia tried to scream, tried to fight, but she had no limbs, no voice, no way to fight back. All she could do was try to stay afloat on the roar.
A scream outside woke Andrew from a light doze on the couch. He and Noah both sat up in their respective chairs, looking at each other. “Was that-”
“Stay here,” Noah ordered, and he stepped out of the apartment door. Andrew heard him open the front door and say, “Olivia?”
Then, voice more panicked, “Andrew, there’s something wrong with Liv.”
Andrew hurried over, joining him in the doorway. Olivia was standing on the front walk, but something was off. Her stance was different, like she was sagging somewhat, and he could see her eyes rolling in their sockets. “Olivia?” he called over.
Olivia smiled, but it too was wrong. It was false, sickly. “Oh, hi,” she said, her voice rough.
“What the hell is going on?” Noah demanded. “Are you alright?”
“Come inside,” Noah said. “Are you sick? You look like hell.”
Andrew’s stomach sank as Olivia came closer to the door. This was wrong. This had to have something to do with the ghosts she’d been complaining about. But she had protection so maybe-
Then Olivia stopped short at the front door, jerking back like she’d hit a barrier. It was all too familiar to Andrew, but Noah’s eyes widened. “Liv, what-”
“It’s not Liv.”
The realization sank in as Andrew glanced over at the charm hanging over the door. It warded off unwelcome spirits. And apparently he could take pride in the fact that it actually worked. At least temporarily.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Noah hissed, his eyes still on Olivia, whose pale face had tear stains streaking down it.
“She’s possessed,” Andrew said.
Noah looked like he was about to throw up. “What do we do?”
“I don’t know,” Andrew admitted. “She had a stone from Iris that was supposed to keep this from happening.”
“Like, a crystal. With protective powers. Oh, don’t look at me like that. The charm up there worked, didn’t it?”
“So we need to call Iris then.”
Andrew was about to agree with him, then paused. “No,” he said. “No, Iris gave her the one that didn’t work. I don’t know what her problem is, but I don’t trust her to handle this.”
That was his lead though. He couldn’t do it himself. Maybe he could get a book or something, but no, this was Olivia’s life on the line. And she was looking worse by the second.
“I need to go…” she choked out.
“Celine!” Noah exclaimed. “Maybe she can help.”
“Call her,” Andrew said. “I’ll keep an eye on Liv. Maybe see if I can figure out what this thing wants.”
“It wants me to murder it,” Noah muttered as he walked back into the house.
“Where do you need to go?” Andrew called over to Olivia, where she was standing docilely on the stone walkway.
Maybe if he could keep her talking, he could buy some time. Liv had her car keys in her hand, but whatever was controlling her didn’t seem to notice them. If he could get to her, he could get the keys and keep her here. Could the ghost drive? He didn’t know, and he didn’t want to find out.
“Take me to Marblehead,” Olivia said, her voice still painfully rough. “I need to go to Marblehead.”
“What’s in Marblehead?”
Maybe it was a desperation move. Maybe this ghost had unfinished business that was so important that he was willing to possess an innocent person in order to complete it? Maybe a sick kid? A destitute wife? Maybe Liv had given this guy grace and he’d taken it too far.
“Roman says bring her over now.”
Noah was back, coming up behind him. “Alright,” Andrew whispered, keeping his gaze on Olivia. “Noah, you stay here with Mia. I’ve got her, I’ll get her over to Celine, we’ll take care of this.”
He turned away from Liv just long enough to look up at Noah. He was pale, looking genuinely frightened as he looked at Olivia, who was now glaring at them from beyond the doorway. Andrew reached over and squeezed Noah’s hand.
“It’ll be okay,” he said, trying to reassure both of them.
Noah smiled grimly and squeezed back. “Go,” he said.
“I’ll take you to Marblehead,” Andrew said to Olivia. “Just hand me those keys.”
She looked down at her hand, her head jerking in an unnatural way as she did so. Then, as he stepped out with a hand already outstretched to take the keys, she reached over and held them out. He grabbed them, breathing an internal sigh of relief.
“Get in the car,” he said. “I will take you to Marblehead.”
He opened the passenger side door and gestured inside. Olivia’s face was blank as she got into the car. Andrew looked over at Noah, who was still watching from the doorway. “Keep Mia inside the house,” he called. “There’re charms up. And run some salt over the doors and windows. Do your flat too.”
Noah nodded, and Andrew got into the car. Then he pulled the door shut and started it up.
“What’s in Marblehead?” he asked as he pulled out of the driveway.
This thing could hurt her. He didn’t know exactly what it could do to Olivia, but he could tell from her pasty complexion and her rolling, bloodshot eyes that it was hurting her already. But if he kept it distracted, maybe it wouldn’t notice that they weren’t leaving town and hurt her further. Or try to use her to hurt him. He needed to keep calm, keep the spirit calm, and then he’d be able to help Liv.
Whatever she’d been listening to on her way home was still playing, some slightly crackly pop station. Every radio station was crackly out here in this fucking nightmare town. He didn’t know if Liv could hear anything, but he left it on, hoping it would comfort her. Then he pulled onto the road and started driving.
Oh hell no. No, this thing was not hurting his friend just to get to some accounts it couldn’t even use anymore. No, fuck being nice. He hoped whatever Celine had in mind hurt this bastard worse than he was hurting Liv right now.
But if he expressed this, he was risking both his and Olivia’s lives. So instead, Andrew just kept driving.