I closed the door to the closet-like room, muffling pleas from Raven which quickly turned into threats. I didn’t want her to see me exit via the back door. Holding my nose closed to block out the reek of an overflowing dumpster, I made my way to the mouth of the alley. It took willpower to resist the urge to flee like a startled rabbit. Instead, I leaned casually against the side of the restaurant next door and scanned both sides of the street.
Raven’s guests hadn’t yet arrived and no cars were coming up the street. I took my leave and headed back to the apartment. The emotional strain of nearly getting captured had left me drained. It was dinnertime but I wasn’t hungry. Instead, I ran a bath, immersed myself in the hot, foamy water and allowed it to relax the tension in my muscles. Raven’s words came back to me and began to run ceaselessly through my mind. I could feel myself getting upset all over again just thinking about the fact that her greed had almost cost me my life. Not wanting to waste time on pointless rehashing, I busied myself with ending the bath and getting dressed.
It seemed like a good idea to test Raven’s theory about me being a manifestive empath by trying to call up Tammy’s ghost. At a loss for how to start, I sat cross-legged on the floor. That didn’t feel right. I moved to the couch and closed my eyes. Envisioning her failed to produce any results. I could feel myself tensing up as thoughts of failure intruded on my concentration.
Moving to the bed didn’t help either. Should the lights be on or off? Nothing seemed to be working. Maybe I was just tired, but it was looking like Raven had lied to me. If this didn’t work, then it was back to the drawing board. I felt so clueless. Tears of frustration stung my eyes. I angrily swiped at them with the heels of my hands, shaking my head jerkily to negate the idea that I wasn’t an empath. It had felt right when Raven explained it to me. Things that had been bothering me for years finally made sense.
For the first time since this crazy journey had started, I felt empowered. Letting go of that feeling was not an option. But, I had tried everything I could think of to no avail. My frustration was mounting. Yet another failed attempt made my anger boil over. I screamed out my rage. The push from the pit of my stomach outward was so forceful that I felt myself straining. In the blink of an eye, Tammy was standing in front of me. No flames this time. She looked as confused as I felt. I spoke quickly, not knowing how long she would stay.
“What do you want from me Tammy?”
She looked into my eyes and her voice sounded inside my head, “I want you to deliver a letter to my daughter. She was snatched from me fifteen years ago and it has taken that long for a private investigator to track her down. I was going to catch a plane to her when you…when I died. There are things I wanted to tell her before I…before it was too late. I wasn’t sure that she would agree to see me, so I wrote my thoughts down in a letter.”
“Where is the letter?”
“It’s in my suitcase in an envelope with her address written on the front. The plane tickets are at the bottom of my purse.”
“I will take care of that if you help me out. I’m running for my life here. Unless you help me, I won’t be able to help you. I’m like a fish out of water with all this magic and spirits business. I don’t even know what to ask you to do.”
She was nodding when she abruptly faded and disappeared like the extinguished flame of a candle. I wanted to bring her back but I was suddenly so exhausted that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I retrieved the envelope containing the letter and tucked it into her purse before laying across the bed and dropping into a deep sleep. I’m not sure how long I slept, but it was dark when I awoke with the sound of Tammy’s shouts ringing in my ears. She sounded alarmed. I sat up puzzling over the her insistence that I leave the apartment. It made no sense.
I decided that it had been a dream, laid down and promptly fell back asleep. What felt like seconds later, I was awakened by the sound of someone rushing into the room. There was a click and the overhead light flooded the bedroom. I was startled wide awake by the sight of two guns in my face. My shocked eyes traveled up the barrel of the gun pointed at my nose, along the arms holding it to the face of a blond-haired woman with icy blue eyes. Her partner was a black man who stood menacingly over me from the side of the bed closest to the door.
Reflexively, I raised my hands in the air. They flashed their identification at me and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. The FBI had finally caught up with me sound asleep in a dead woman’s apartment! I blurted out the next thought that popped into my head.
“How did you guys get in here?”
“The landlord gave us the key. Get dressed. You’re coming with us,” ordered the woman.
Her cell phone rang and she holstered her weapon to answer it. I watched her stand stock still and listen intently, staring off to the side. She suddenly looked at me and I averted my eyes, looking over at her partner. That was a mistake. He was staring at me like a hawk eyeing a field mouse. It seemed like a good time to go and get dressed.
I was scooting to the opposite side of the bed when the woman said Plum’s name. I froze and looked over my shoulder in time to see blackness fill her pale blue irises. Plum was suddenly looking out at me through the agent’s eyes! I glanced over at her partner to gauge his reaction. He was watching me so intently that he hadn’t noticed the change in her. Reluctantly, I looked back at the female agent. A familiar smirk spread across her somber features.
She addressed the other agent, “Jackson, why don’t you go wait in the living room while she gets dressed? I’ll keep an eye on her.”
He nodded and took his leave. I never took my eyes off of her. She snatched up Tammy’s purse and emptied it on the bed, pawing through the small pile. I tried to stop Plum from taking back her cell phone and then shrank back from the gun leveled at me. I was reminded of the night in the motel room during which Plum had called me and the drowsy, unfocused sensation that stole over me as she chanted. So that’s what she was trying to do! The sound of Plum’s voice coming out of this woman made my blood run cold.
“Well, don’t just sit there darling. Not after all the trouble you’ve caused me. Isn’t there something you’d like to say?”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
“Unbelievable, after all I’ve done for you…”
“You mean all you’ve done to me!”
“Still playing the victim I see. I suppose you’re going to blame me for your sticky fingers as well. You pretend to be so innocent, but you’re nothing more than a little thief! Give me back what you stole from me.”
“Why should I do anything for you? You ruined my life!”
“If you don’t give everything back, then I’m going to blow your brains all over this tacky wallpaper.”
I defiantly crossed my arms and made no move to get up. The woman pressed the gun to my forehead and cocked it. I stared unflinchingly into her eyes until Plum hissed her frustration.
“Don’t make me kill you.”
“The way I see it, I’m dead the moment you get your hands on that chit.”
Plum snatched up Tammy’s letter and started ripping it open. A wave of rage overtook me and I realized that it was not my own. That was the last conscious memory I had before a curtain of blackness blotted everything out. I awoke standing next to the bed, looking down at the agent’s unconscious body sprawled across the bed. Tammy’s voice rang out in my head. She shouted, “run!” I scooped everything back into her purse, pulled on a pair of jeans and stuffed my feet into my shoes before retrieving Plum’s cell phone and taking my leave via the bedroom window and scrambled down the fire escape. I was running down the sidewalk when I heard footsteps coming up behind me. It was the black agent. He shouted for me to stop but I was too terrified. I veered into the neighborhood park and ducked into a playground tunnel. Tammy appeared beside me.
“What am I gong to do? There’s nowhere left to hide,” I whispered.
“I can help, but I’m going to have to draw off some of your energy.”
“I don’t care, do it.”
Tammy nodded and I felt a tugging sensation in my midsection. She became more solid and her appearance changed until she looked almost exactly like me down to the outfit I had on. Our eyes met and she smiled.
“Goodbye Patricia. Tell my daughter that I love her.”
Before I could answer, she crawled out of the tunnel. I marveled at the sound of her footsteps and then heard the agent shout my name. He commanded me to freeze. Shots rang out and I heard him shouting again, his voice fading as he ran off again. Not one to take chances, I used Tammy’s cell phone to call a cab and waited until it pulled alongside the curb before I crawled out of the tunnel and sprinted to it, almost slamming the rear passenger door shut on my own leg in my haste.
“Take me to the airport please.”