Someone was coming. Janet tensed up and strained her eyes against the darkness. Ethan started to speak and she angrily motioned for him to be silent. Dread bloomed in her as the sound of rustling vegetation became more pronounced. She grasped the talisman to reassure herself and prepared to mount a psychic defense. All at once a lone figure emerged from the tall bushes across from them. Janet braced herself. Ethan quickly pulled out his revolver and removed the safety. Janet heard her name whispered and gasped. She leapt to her feet, overjoyed to see her sister. The two of them embraced.
“I didn’t think you’d find us so quickly.”
“You can thank Palin for that. After you went missing, we reviewed the security camera recordings and saw you being attacked and thrown into a gray car. We even got a decent shot of the plates. They notified Palin and he kept an eye out for the car. Here, I put all of your stuff in this backpack. They gave us some supplies too. Excuse me sis.”
Andrea strode over to where Ethan stood and knocked him onto his back with an uppercut. Ethan winced and rubbed his jaw. The sisters gleefully high-fived one another.
“What was that bollocks about?”
“That was a warning. If you ever hurt my sister again, I’m gonna kick your ass!”
“Ow my head!”
“Did you hit your head,” asked Janet anxiously.
“No, but it hurts like hell. Not on the outside. It feels like some bugger is jabbing a finger at my brain.”
Andrea and Janet exchanged alarmed looks.
“Are you seeing or hearing anything that wasn’t there a minute ago?”
“What? No, it’s just a blinding headache.”
“If you don’t push back then you’re about to be possessed,” announced Janet.
“What are you blathering on about?”
“That pushing sensation inside your head is someone trying to take possession of your mind. You have to push back and repel the intruder.”
“How the hell am I supposed to do that?”
“It’s hard to explain. You have to use your imagination. When you feel the other person’s thoughts invading yours, block them out.”
Ethan closed his eyes. They watched him struggling to follow Janet’s instructions. Frustration creased his features and was chased away by a determined expression. All at once Ethan cried out. He gripped the sides of his head. Pain was making him short of breath. He grunted with exertion.
“I can’t stop it,” he wailed.
Janet and Andrea exchanged frightened looks. Jagathy hadn’t prepared them for this. Janet reached into Ethan’s front right pocket and removed the stun gun. She mimed a revolver and the two of them quickly rolled him on his side. Andrea took his gun and slid it into the back of her waistband.
They lay him flat on his back and stepped away, anxiously watching from a safe distance. Janet held the stun gun behind her back. All at once Ethan’s struggle ceased. The tension in his body slowly eased. Ethan opened his eyes and the sister’s reflexively stepped back even further in horror at the sudden realization that his blue eyes had become silver. The reflection of moonlight on his eyes made them glow. A slow smile spread across his face that wasn’t Ethan’s smile. He stood and quickly closed the gap between them.
“Hello ladies, whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?”
Andrea gripped Janet’s arm and moved her sister behind her. Whoever had just hijacked Ethan’s body was using Ethan’s voice to speak. This version of his voice was devoid of any British accent. His expressions and mannerisms were also foreign. It was chilling to see someone else awkwardly operating Ethan’s body as though he were some oversized marionette. She didn’t want to kill her friend but Janet’s safety came first.
“What do you want from us,” asked Andrea.
“Must we play these Mickey mouse games? You know what I want. I’m asking nicely but do not mistake my kindness for weakness. I will not ask again. No need to look so alarmed. I only want the talisman. Please be so kind as to hand it over and the two of you will be free to go.”
“We’re not giving you anything,” snapped Andrea.
“See, now that is unfortunate. I had hoped to keep things civil between us.”
Ethan lunged across the space between them and grabbed a hank of Andrea’s hair. He yanked it downward with such force than she was pulled off-balance and fell forward onto her knees. The next thing Andrea knew, he had grabbed her sister by the arm and was reaching for the talisman.
Janet jammed the stun gun into his side. A current of electricity temporarily incapacitated him. Andrea pulled the pistol from her waistband, came up behind Ethan and cracked him across his head with the butt of the pistol. He fell limply to the ground. Janet hugged her sister.
“Are you okay Andrea? I thought he was going to kill you!”
“For a minute there, I thought so too. What the hell are we gonna do with Ethan? Sleeping with him on the loose is out of the question. We have no way of knowing who will wake up in that body. If it’s not Ethan, I then may have to shoot him.”
“Let’s look in the backpacks you brought.”
Andrea and Janet frantically rooted through their backpacks, knowing that Ethan would be coming around soon. Janet held up her scarf and Andrea nodded. The two of them rolled Ethan over to a young tree, sat him up with his back against the tree and tied his hands behind his back on the other side of the tree. They tested it to make sure he couldn’t twist his hands free. The two of them lay down in the grass and waited. Ethan came to slowly. He groaned and tried to rub his aching head.
“What the…Why am I tied to a tree like a bloody dog?”
“It’s for your safety and ours,” said Andrea.
“How is this for my safety?”
“Because, if you get possessed and attack us again then I am going to shoot you. We’re both tired. I know that I for one desperately need to get some sleep, but we can’t close our eyes with some entity jumping into your skin. We’ll untie you in the morning. Just try to get some sleep.”
Ethan laughed bitterly but resigned himself to his fate. When Andrea got that stubborn look on her face, it was pointless to argue with her. He watched as Janet and Andrea lay down near one another. A few quiet moments passed with the trio shifting in their respective positions seeking comfort.
The sound of a gentle breeze gently rustled through the leaves and grass, lulling them into a light slumber which gradually deepened. Janet slipped into deeper slumber and began dreaming. Images flickered in her mind’s eye gradually came into focus, bringing her snapping back to reality. She suddenly sat up, shook her sister awake hastened to rouse Ethan. She began untying him and cursed under her breath as a sense of urgency made her fingers clumsy. Andrea jumped up and knocked her sister’s hands away.
“What are you doing Janet?”
“We have to get out of here now! Do you remember where you parked the car? You’ll have to find it by moonlight.”
“I thought we were waiting until morning.”
“Something bad is headed our way.”
“I think you’re still freaked out by what happened with Ethan. How do you know something is coming? I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s what I said when she heard you creeping up,” muttered Ethan.
“I know something is coming because I saw it in a vision just now.”
“Oh yeah, well I was having a lovely vision of my own when you shook me awake. It’s called a dream. You were sound asleep and dreaming Janet. It was just a nightmare.”
“Hang on Andrea, let’s hear the woman out.”
“Since when do you get a vote Ethan?”
“Like it or not, where all in this together,” he said.
“How do you figure,” sneered Andrea.
“Charles has it out for me now too because I went easy on your sister. The only reason he hasn’t killed me or snatched up my soul is that he desperately wants the talisman. If he can’t take it from you, then he has to sit back and wait for me to deliver it.”
“Call me crazy, but I don’t consider shocking Janet, knocking her out with your meaty fist and stuffing her into the trunk of a car going easy on her.”
“He wanted me to kill her.”
Andrea was suddenly speechless. Janet had stormed out of the Doorkeeper lab and into his clutches because of a stupid argument with her. The thought that Janet might have met her death with an argument as their last interaction helped Andrea fully grasp the seriousness of their dangerous mission. Janet could have been murdered while Andrea sat in the lab and pouted. She abruptly turned away from them to hide the tears that sprang to her eyes. Janet finished untying Ethan.
“What did you see in your vision,” he asked.
“A pack of wolves.”
Andrea snorted. “What the hell would wolves be doing in this part of the woods? It makes no sense. I’m telling you, it was just a bad dream.”
As if on cue, the sudden howling of wolves cut short Andrea’s protestations.