Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge rolled her eyes far back into her head and tilted her chin upward, tuning into a different frequency. “You have,” she said her words drawn out and far away as she gripped the hotel bar table with splayed fingers. Then she dropped her head as well as the charade and looked Deeds dead in the eye, “something seriously wrong with you.”
“Don’t we all?” Deeds spit out at the medium looking dead serious.
Evelyn shook her head; she really didn’t have time for this. Lately, there had been a crazed fan in every town she’d been through. Why did she think Knowlton’s Corner would be any different? What kind of name is that? She wondered. She had a bad feeling about this place as soon as she crossed into the city limits.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” Deeds asked as if she picked up on her signal. “Everything looks smooth and slow on the surface, but down below a dangerous undertow rages. Right now it grips our ankles tight dragging us along on one hell of a bumpy ride.”
“That is not exactly how I’d put it,” Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge paused and jutted out her bottom jaw, and shook her head. She really did not have the time for this and she said as much. “Look, it is getting late. I have to get going, and the sooner I get on the road and out of this town the better.” She stood up, leaving the rest of the glass of wine behind. She wasn’t that thirsty anyway. “Excuse me, I have to go.”
Deeds looked up from her side of the table, but made no move to stop the spiritualist’s departure. “How have you been sleeping Ms. Bainbridge?” She asked calmly to her back.
Evelyn swore as she realized she had only made it one step before she stopped in her tracks.
“How long has it been since you’ve had a solid night’s sleep? Do the dreams terrorize you every night like they do me?”
Don’t turn around, don’t turn around, don’t turn around, Ms. Bainbridge repeated in her mind. “I’ve been sleeping quiet well, thank you,” she said civilly but her tone was nowhere near polite. She forced herself to take another step. The rest will come easy, she thought, her eyes focused on the door.
“It’s been eight years for me, Evelyn.”
Don’t turn around. Do not engage. “It’s Ms. Bainbridge,” She said tersely.
“Running away isn’t going to help you, Ms. Bainbridge. Believe me, I’ve tried.”
The spiritualist swore under her breath as she couldn’t help but turn around and face Deeds as she still sat at the table. Octavia Anton Deeds looked like train wreck disguised as a human being. There was an underlying unquiet behind the eyes. Even though she had bathed and a put on clean clothes for a public appearance she still looked grey around the edges and green around the gills. Her wide mouth was drawn down in a frown as she chose her next words wisely. “They always find you.”
“Who?” she muttered flustered.
“There you go with the Timeless Ones, again.” She interrupted. “And no I don’t need to see that damned relic,” she added upon seeing Deeds reach into that ratty bag of hers. Creepy snake-lady, she said under her breath. That thing gave her the heebie-jeebies.
Deeds struggled for a second trying to find a new approach; she reached across the table for cocktail napkin and deftly pulled a pen out of her bag instead. “There is a house here in town,” She said scrawling down the address and sliding it across the table towards the direction of the psychic. “There is a hole in the world in the basement. It is growing every day and soon it will be big enough to let Them through. The Timeless Ones are here to finish what They have started. There are mushrooms growing in the cellar, they-“
“Well, that explains it,” Evelyn huffed.
“The owner of the house is desperately ill.”
“Then take him to the doctor.”
“There is a cat that is not a cat,” She blurted out knowing she was losing her. She should just stop talking, Deeds thought, and just walk away. “There is also a ghost and he’s pissed off because he’s been through this once already!” She paused unsure if what she was going to say next was a wise choice or not, but she didn’t have time for thinking. Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge was mentally out the door. She could see it in her eyes. “You’ve heard about what happened this morning, right? The carnage along the canal? That was me, I did that.”
The medium felt her mouth hang open and her blood pool at her feet. Every instinct told her run and leave Knowlton’s Corner and leave this lunatic Deeds behind for good. “Then you need to be locked up.”
“It gets worse as each night passes. I need your help, Evelyn, I can’t do it alone and I’m terrified of what comes next.”
“Good luck with that. I’m leaving. Why wait until tomorrow? The farther I am away from you the better.”
Deeds looked dejected, “why won’t you help me? It is your job isn’t it? ‘Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge famed psychic medium, renowned spiritualist, piercer of the veil and seer into other worlds; recount past lives and speak with loved ones lost.’ How can you pass something like this up?”
She felt her skin flush and the tips of her ears grow red with anger before she knew it Ms. Bainbridge bore down on Deeds as she slapped her hands on the table in front of her and brought her head down and her eyes perfectly level with Deed’s unsettling gaze. Her voice dropped dangerously low, “because I do theater!” For one horrible second she silently prayed that she didn’t say that too loud for if word got out that it was all a ruse. Part of her was relieved that it was out in the open. It had been a secret she kept locked away and never once uttered aloud, not even to her own self. “I’m telling you, it’s all an act,” she brought her head in even closer trying to avoid Deed’s wide set and weary watery gray eyes. “I can’t see spirits,” she whispered. “I can’t really speak to your love ones lost, recount past lives or pierce the veil and gaze into other worlds. Every single person that comes to one of my show is just so desperate to believe in something. I give them what they need, closure.”
“What about you, don’t you believe in something?” Octavia Deeds asked as if unfazed by her big revelation. “Do you want to find closure?”
“No,” she said resolutely and brought herself back up to her full height. “I don’t.” She turned around without another word.
Deeds sighed in resignation for she knew she lost her. She was going to have to finish this alone. Despite the fact the Spiritualist had admitted that it was all an act, that didn’t matter; she still knew she needed her. “You’re not going to help me aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not,” she said shortly and made her way to the door.
Deeds sank into the back of the chair becoming boneless as she watched her leave. “What is the point?” she muttered aloud. She was beginning to wonder if maybe she was turning into one of the religious zealots she was hearing so much about lately; seeming so desperately normal and willfully ignorant but obscenely repressed with a growing and hardening pit of depravity until one day a poisoned fruit springs forth. If only she could be so lucky she thought and her eyes wandered to the forgotten glass of wine at the table. It has been so long since she had known the truth. Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge was probably long gone by now. She didn’t blame her at all. Deed’s remembered being that naïve once, actually thinking she could get away. She held up the glass in a silent toast, wishing her the best of luck as she finished the wine for her. She replayed the words they exchanged in her mind. What she had thought was persuasion just sounded crazy. Maybe she should be locked up, she thought and gulped and cringed. She had no head for wine.
Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge stared at her hotel bed. Freshly made, it looked inviting enough. Graced with clean and pressed linens without a crease upon them and topped with a downy duvet and fluffed pillows. She ran her fingers along the along the soft supple surface but she could not bring herself to climb inside and find the comforting embrace of sleep.
“How have you been sleeping Ms. Bainbridge?” The grim words of Octavia Deeds echoed in her head. “How long has it been since you’ve had a solid night’s sleep? Don’t the dreams terrorize you every night like they do me?” Her voice sounded so calm yet cut right through her. She couldn’t help but turn around, how had she known?
She had told Deeds that she had been sleeping just fine and she hoped that she saved enough face for that had been an outright lie. It had only been three days since the night terrors began but it still gripped her subconscious in a tight unyielding embrace. She remembered waking up choking and clawing at her own throat as she forced the air that wouldn’t come into her lungs. Around her the shadows grew solid, there were so many of them, she was surrounded and they clouded her vision. Every dark spot was a soul and she was drowning in a sea of them. They came from all walks of life, spanning every generation through time, and they all wanted something from her. Their demands turned into a dull roar. She could not make an each individual voice out but they all carried a lilting urgency. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak back because they had taken her breath away.
The renowned spiritualist tore her gaze away from the bed and looked down at her body; she imagined the red welts beneath her clothes burning cold. Marks from where the souls had touched her. It had felt that real. She had started off in theater, everything since its inception had been an act. She couldn’t really speak to spirits, but it was as if the dam had burst and they rushed at her. The next night had been more of the same and so had the night after that.
“It’s been eight years for me, Evelyn.” The words of Octavia Anton Deeds echoed through her head again.
“Eight years,” Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge muttered aloud and repeated, “eight years.” Absently, she stared off and unwittingly sat down upon the bed. The dark now frightened her, and every speck of shadow was an unfulfilled soul. She refused to sleep with the lights off, “this isn’t going away, is it?” She muttered drawing the grim conclusion as she felt her head sink down into the plush pillows.