“What is that thing?” I found myself whispering.
“It eats hate,” she said. “It devours fear. It has promised me things.”
The bushes at the base of the building rustled and a long, spindly arm came out, digging needle fingers into the grass.
A second arm followed.
“Guys!” Rebecca’s voice suddenly rang out across the field.
We both looked over Shawna to see Rebecca back at the door, removing a rock she had placed to keep it propped open. “Can we go? I don’t feel so well.”
She obviously didn’t see Shawna standing in front of us. If I wasn’t so terrified out of my mind, I would have found it fucking frustrating.
Shawna didn’t seem to notice or care. But her smile dropped from her small, white face and she skipped off toward the bushes, the blood from her open chest trickling on the grass. We watched as she went into the bush. The bad thing’s arms retracted and they were both gone from sight.
“Did you get any of that?” I whispered to Dex, almost afraid to raise my voice.
“No,” he said slowly. “I forgot to film everything except that last part. Rebecca snapped me out of it.”
We looked over to her where she was now waving at us. “If you don’t hurry up,” she shouted, “I’m going back inside and locking you out here.”
No thank you. We scurried across the field over to her. Close up, she looked paler than normal and her lipstick was rubbed off.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She shook her head and grimaced. “I was sick around the corner. Maybe it was something I ate. What were you guys doing?”
“You didn’t see the little girl or the creature on the walls? The demon?” Dex asked.
“You saw the demon? The one that the historian was talking about?”
We nodded. She exhaled sharply through her nose. “Bloody hell. What happened?”
I gestured to the open door. “I’d feel a whole lot better if we could discuss this inside.”
“Right, right,” she said. We went back into the body chute, and for the first time, the tunnel of death almost felt safe. At least compared to the outside, where Shawna and the bad thing might still be. Sooner or later, it seemed, there would be no safe places left.
Maybe there never were.
After we filmed outside, we went back into the break room to review the footage while giving Rebecca the rundown on what we saw. It was true that once Shawna appeared, Dex dropped the ball on the filming. I couldn’t blame him—the show was the last thing on my mind too. I was more concerned about, oh, I don’t know, not dying or having my lungs ripped out of me.
But as soon as Rebecca called out to us, snapping us back to reality, Dex did start to film. He caught a few seconds of me asking, “What is that thing?” and though you couldn’t see Shawna, per se, you could see an orb of light flickering past the camera and hear a garbled voice whisper, “It eats hate.” Even though I was there when Shawna said it, the playback cut me to the core.
Even Rebecca looked impressed. Well, at least she momentarily stopped looking like she was going to puke. And then at the very end of the tape, you could actually make out the droplets of blood as they appeared on the grass as Shawna skipped away. Again, it wasn’t everything that we saw, but for a ghost hunting series, that was some pretty good evidence. The three of us were practically giddy as we realized that the show itself was shaping up to be something pretty special.
And then of course, I think it made us all a bit sad. So Dex brought out the rest of the whiskey and we had a merry little time at that table, enjoying each other’s company and not thinking about the horrors that were waiting for us on the floors above us.
When it was time for bed, I wanted a good night’s sleep instead of cliffhanging off the side of the bed with Dex’s body taking up most of it, so I went for the middle bed. Even though the immovable plastic partition between the beds meant that I couldn’t see them properly except for their outlines and couldn’t be close to them, being in the middle made me feel safer. Dex was closest to the door as well, plus I’d propped the chair under the handle again, just in case.
I actually fell asleep for what must have been a couple of hours, something I never thought possible in this terrible place. When I woke up from my dreamless sleep, the first thing I heard was Dex snoring lightly from his bed.
He must be on his back, I thought. Normally I poked him in the side when he did that in order to get him to roll over and shut up.
I lay there, my eyes adjusting to the light, and pulled my covers up to my chin, feeling a chill set in. I turned my head on the pillow to look over in Rebecca’s direction.
She was sitting up in bed. I could see her silhouette through the curtain.
“Can’t sleep?” I whispered.
The outline of Rebecca’s head moved, as if to face me. She didn’t say anything.
“Are you awake?” I whispered again. Maybe she was dreaming or sleepwalking or something. “Rebecca?”
I could feel her staring at me through the curtain, still remaining silent.
Honestly, she was starting to freak me out.
I slowly got out of bed and walked toward her, trying to keep as silent as possible and not really knowing why. I put my hand on the edge of the curtain and pulled it back as far as it would go.
Her bed was empty.
No one was there.
I swallowed hard, my scalp prickling.
Just then I heard a muffled sob and the sound of crying. Now that sounded like Rebecca. She rarely cried, but the few times I’d heard her, all of it post-Emily, she sounded elegant even when she was breaking down.
I padded down the room, glancing over at Dex as I went. He was still snoring, eyes closed, deep in sleep. I decided to leave him be for now. The chair had been removed from under the door so I opened it and stepped out into the hall. The crying continued, coming from the bathrooms.
Not that I wanted Rebecca to be crying, but I really, really hoped it was her and not Shawna luring me to my own doom. I tried to keep my heart from pounding out of my chest as I carefully crept down the hallway, the lights above me flickering.
I stopped right outside the woman’s washroom and took in a deep breath. Then I flung the door open and poked my head inside.
The washroom was empty and the crying had stopped.
“H-Hello?” It was Rebecca’s voice, coming from one of the stalls.
I let out a huge breath of relief. “It’s me,” I said.
“Oh.” And then she started crying again.
I raced over to the stall she was in and knocked on it. “Can I come in, or are you, um…” What was the polite way to say “taking a dump?”
The stall door slowly swung open and Rebecca was sitting in her silk pajamas on top of the toilet, dabbing at her tear-soaked face with rolled up tissue paper.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her, my voice softening.
“Oh, it’s…I can’t even say,” she said with a sniff. “You’ll judge me.”
“Me?” I exclaimed. “Judge you? Rebecca, come on. It’s Perry. I have no right to judge anyone and I’d never judge you. Believe me, I’ve been there, done that.”
She gave me a sad look. “I guess you’re right.” She sighed.
“Well? What’s wrong? Did something happen to you?”
“Something did happen. Recently. Before we got here.”
I cocked my head, having no idea what she was going to say. “Well? You can tell me. I’m here to listen. I’m your friend.”
“I know you are,” she said quietly. “I haven’t told anyone yet.”
“Not even Dex?” I asked, knowing she was closer to him than she was to me.
She shook her head and a teardrop fell on her pants. She quickly wiped it off with her hand. “No. I can’t tell him.”
“Well, I won’t tell. What is it?”
She took in a long breath and held it for a moment before she exhaled. Then she looked at me with regretful eyes and said, “I’m pregnant.”
I was absolutely floored. “Pregnant? How could you be pregnant?”
She stared at the tissue in her hands. “It was almost a month ago. I went out to a club with Dean and Seb. You know, the night you guys took that cooking class. I got drunk…I didn’t want to be alone. One thing led to another,” she trailed off. “I had sex with a guy.”
“I don’t know what to say,” I said, still flabbergasted. “I mean, how?”
She gave me a wry look with her red eyes. “You want a demo?”
“But I mean, why? You’re a lesbian. Why are you sleeping with men?” Maybe it was a stupid question on my behalf, I don’t know.
She let out a long, tired sigh. “It wasn’t the first time for me. It’s happened before. Similar circumstances. Too much booze, just got out of a relationship…”
“Wow,” I said slowly, letting it all sink in. “I had no idea. So do you have a type of man you sleep with? Ones that look like girls or…?”
I half-expected her to give me a snippy remark over that but she just stared at me, her forehead creasing with worry. “No, not at all,” she stated gravely. “Perry, there’s something that’s been weighing on me…promise you won’t get mad.”
My eyes widened defensively. “If you’re starting something off like that, I can probably promise I will get mad.”
She nodded a few times, licking her lips. “All right. But please don’t get mad at Dex.”
This conversation was definitely heading in the wrong direction. A direction that was making me feel sick to my stomach, considering what we had just been talking about. I shook my head. “Please don’t tell me what I think you’re going to tell me.”
She gave me a crooked smile. “I still can’t read your mind.”
“Then just stop talking,” I pleaded.
“You really want me to?” she asked but the damage was already done. She put forth the bait and I was biting. I couldn’t be left dangling like that over something I wasn’t allowed to get mad at Dex over. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything though, so I just stared at her.
She dabbed her tissue at her nose before taking a deep breath and looking me straight in the eye. “Remember when we first met? When we first had lunch together?”
I barely nodded.
“I had told you that when Dex first joined Wine Babes, before he was with Jenn, that he asked me out and I turned him down?”
Oh dear lord. No. No. No.
She continued, “And I’d said that he wasn’t my type, that we were just flirting together but it didn’t mean anything, because, hello, lesbian here.”
I couldn’t even breathe.
“Well, that was all true. But…” She looked away, eyes drifting to the ceiling as if there was something interesting there. “One night, around the time that all of this was happening, maybe the first week of filming the show…erm….stuff kind of happened.”
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