When Plum’s essence flowed into me, my senses were thrown into such a state of flux, that I went into shock. She quickly overpowered me. In my confused state, I initially offered no resistance. There are always those first few seconds, after something inexplicable happens, when you can’t quite believe it’s real. I had no frame of reference for what was happening to me.
As Plum completed her hostile takeover of my body. I just kept asking myself, “What is happening?” She took root inside of me and my mind was suddenly flooded with images from her. It was like being hit by a tidal wave. As quickly as the flood began, it receded.
I gradually came to the realization that Plum had erected some sort of barrier between us. At first, it was a relief to be free of her caustic thoughts. Then I realized that she had imprisoned me; relegating me to some disused part of my mind. Being disconnected from my senses really freaked me out. In an instant, I was blind and deaf. Fear shook me out of my daze.
Fighting back was the only option. No one was going to rescue me. They didn’t even know that I was possessed. It was up to me to free myself. Of course, I had no idea how to do that. The thought of being trapped in the darkness forever sent me into a tailspin of panic. A growing sense of hopelessness pushed me to the edge of sanity.
In Plum’s rush of images, I had seen what she had intended to do to Delilah. Plum had to be stopped. That was easier said than done, with nothing but the force of my will. I used it like a battering ram, to breech Plum’s wall and free myself. Coming out of the darkness made me feel like a resurfacing deep sea diver. The return of my senses was almost overwhelming after the void. Plum was still in the driver’s seat, but at least now I could see where we were going.
She knocked on Delilah’s door and I felt frantic again. Plum was about to kill the only person who had actually tried to help me. When no response came from the other side of the door, I was relieved. Maybe Plum would leave. She tried the knob, the door opened and we were inside Delilah’s apartment before my dismay could register.
Plum and I realized that someone was behind the door right before the cold band of steel locked around my neck. I suddenly felt like a fuse blew inside my head. Everything went black. When my eyes opened again, I was lying on a bed in Delilah’s apartment. The steel cuff was chafing my neck. One of the female dancers was sitting beside the bed and called out for Delilah, as soon as she realized that I was awake. A moment later, both of them were standing over me. I remember thinking how much younger they both looked without the heavy makeup of the night before.
“What happened,” I asked groggily.
“Crystal here saw Flame latched onto you downstairs and sprinted up here to tell me. I knew there was a chance that Plum had taken possession of your body. That’s why I was ready with the collar.”
“Speaking of the collar, can you take it off now?”
“I can see it’s uncomfortable. Sorry, but you’re going to have to keep it on for now. It’s the only think keeping Plum in check.”
“You mean, she’s still inside of me? That explains why my head feels so weird.”
“What do you mean?”
“It feels like ants are crawling all over my brain.”
“Guess it’s all the extra electrical activity.”
“Well, I don’t like it. When are you going to get rid of her?”
“As soon as we get you back to her place. It’s too dangerous to try doing anything with her here again. We’ll escort you back and secure her there.”
Plum’s voice suddenly echoed through my mind, “She’s lying!”
My hands involuntarily flew up to my ears, as if they could somehow block out the reverberations bouncing around inside my head. Delilah asked what was wrong and I told her what had just happened. She gazed at me steadily with an unreadable expression.
“Do you think I’m lying?”
“Of course not, I don’t believe anything she says…not anymore.”
“Glad to hear it. We’re all going to have to stick together in this thing. If you allow her to drive a wedge between us, it weakens our defenses. Just ignore her.”
“That’s easier said than done. How do you ignore a voice inside your head?”
“Block her out. Focus your thoughts on something pleasant: a happy memory or future plans. If your imagination is strong enough, then you can visualize a barrier like a brick wall or steel vault and use it to protect your thoughts but those are hard to maintain.”
Delilah could see my eyelids growing heavy. She left the room, so that I could get some rest. Crystal wanted to stay and keep an eye on me, but I protested and Delilah shooed her out. The thought of trying to sleep with a stranger looking on made me feel more agitated. Plum spoke up again, “Is that really why you didn’t want here in here? I think you’re beginning to have doubts about your new friends. What do you really know about them Patricia?”
“I know all I need to, they’re nice. You have to admit that Delilah has helped me a lot,” I inexplicably said out loud.
“You used to think that I was nice and helpful too. That doesn’t make it true. Stop allowing fear and insecurity make you turn a blind eye to the red flags right in front of you. When Delilah said that she couldn’t safely turn me loose, you felt a twinge of doubt. They seemed to have no problem corralling me in that enchanted circle earlier. No point in trying to lie darling. I can hear your thoughts just as clearly as you hear mine. You felt another twinge, when Delilah said she was taking us back to my place, in order to turn me loose. Both times, she broke eye contact and exchanged secretive looks with Crystal. What was that about? Don’t you think it’s in your best interest to find out what’s really going on here?”