“Did somebody order a cavalry?” Rachel shouted, charging into the room. She brandished a large wooden cross. Grandma was right behind her. The old woman still had on her kitchen apron, and she had Chowder tucked under her arm. Mary stared at them in disbelief.
“What are you guys--?” she stammered.
“No time for explanations,” Grandma said. “Have you found the anchor?”
Mary held up her hand with the locket dangling from it.
Grandma approached her with her hand outstretched. “Okay, now we have to destroy it.”
“You won't get rid of me!” Ricky snarled.
“Wanna bet?” Mary asked the thin air.
“Yeah.” A force shoved Mary against the wall. Her head cracked against the wood paneling. Mary wondered if her brain was becoming black and blue from all these bangs she kept taking. Her arms fell listlessly to her sides, and her hand released the locket.
“The anchor...” Her voice slurred in pain. The locket slithered across the floor and under the couch. Rachel jumped after it.
“We've got to find a way to destroy it,” Mary said as she slid down the wall. Grandma rushed to her side and bent toward her.
“Take my hand,” the old woman said.
Mary reached to take her outstretched hand, but as their fingers grazed, Ricky threw Grandma away from her and flung the old woman into a chair. Mary watched in alarm as the phone cord snaked out and wrapped around her.
“Somebody, tell me what's going on!” Kyle screamed again from his corner.
Mary ignored Kyle and staggered up unsure of her balance. “Rachel, have you got the locket yet?”
“Almost,” Rachel grunted. She was stretched full length on the floor with her arm under the couch.
Mary lurched over to Grandma and tried to tear off the loops of cord binding her, but they wouldn't budge.
“Don't worry about me. Take one of the pouches from my pocket. Stuff the locket into the pouch. It should weaken him,” she ordered.
Mary nodded her head and took one of the pouches out of Grandma’s apron pocket.
“I don't understand. Why do you women keep defying me? She defied me too. I gave her everything she ever needed. Who got her this house? Who paid the bills? Who put food on the table? It sure wasn't her.”
Mary cautiously made her way to Rachel, talking to the air, “And Julie should've just sat there while you beat her night after night without even a whimper.”
“It's official. You don't get any smarter with death. You're still as stupid as when you were alive.” Mary knelt and tapped Rachel on the shoulder to give her the pouch. Rachel took it in her free hand while she still reached under the couch for the locket.
“Mary, you shouldn't provoke the evil spirit anymore than he already is,” Grandma warned.
“You're mad she went on, aren't you, Ricky? You're mad that she left you here all alone. When she saw her chance to leave you, she did.”
“She didn't leave me. I kept her here. Close to my heart.”
“Stop denying the obvious, Ricky. She's gone. She left you. I don't hear any voice but yours.”
“Mine's the only one you need to hear,” he snarled.
Mary backed up nervously. Ricky was getting angrier. “Rachel, hurry up with that locket.”
“Got it!” Rachel popped up from beside the sofa. She fumbled with the pouch to stuff the locket inside.
“And I got you!”
The sofa lurched into Rachel and knocked her into the wall. The locket flew out of her hands.
“No fair,” Rachel wheezed. Mary dove for the locket but missed it and landed on her stomach. The locket slithered into the hallway toward the bedrooms.
“This is my house! I make the rules!”
“No!” Mary cried. She needed to destroy the locket now before more than just property damage and bruises happened.
“Chowder, go get the locket! The locket! Go! Fetch!” Mary didn’t know if Chowder understood what she was asking, but she had to try it. Chowder barked again from the direction of the hallway.
“Mary, did you just ask the ghost dog to get the locket?” Rachel asked. She tumbled over the back of the sofa and landed on the cushions with an oomph.
Mary got up and went toward the hallway. “Well, why else did you bring him?”
The locket came streaking down the hallway toward Mary. She squatted down. Chowder ran straight to her. Mary took the locket. “Good boy,” Mary murmured to the ghost dog.
“Rachel, throw me the bag!” Mary yelled.
Rachel threw the small pouch of herbs to Mary, but in midair, it did a right angle and flew into the kitchen.
“Interception!” Kyle giggled in his corner.
Mary gave Kyle a ruthless look, and he shut up. She was running out of patience and stamina. She looked down at the locket in her hand. ‘He’d kept her here. Close to his heart.’
Mary pried the locket open with her fingernails. When she opened it, a cold blast of air hit her in the face. Inside was a lock of blond hair.
“You've imprisoned me long enough, Ricky,” said a new voice. It was female and not happy.
The room started to fill with kinetic energy. A windstorm began that knocked over vases and tore pictures off the walls. From the overturned wastebasket, bits of paper swirled in the brewing maelstrom.
“Mary, what's happening?” Rachel yelled.
“She's unleashed another spirit,” Grandma answered from her chair.
“Another one?” Rachel cried.
“I put up with your abuse for three years, Ricky.”
“Everybody meet Julie, Ricky's former wife.”
“Baby, I only wanted you to love me.”
“Does that mean she's on our side?” Rachel asked.
“And in my foolishness, I did but not anymore. Time for payback, Ricky.”
“You could say that,” Mary answered.
The chaos in the room escalated. The floor began to shake, and the furniture began to slide around the room. As much as Mary wanted to give Julie a chance to get her due at Ricky, the teenager really didn't want the ghosts to destroy Cy's house in the process.
“Mary, watch out!” Grandma cried as her chair came barreling toward her. Mary jumped out of the way. The chair hit the wall with a resounding thud.
“Are you all right?” Mary asked.
“Yes, the chair took the brunt of it,” the old woman grunted.
“Do you have any ideas?” she yelled over the howling of the wind.
“Remember how I told you to never put tinfoil or silverware in the microwave?” Grandma called.
“Yeah,” she answered confused.
“Well, this once you can,” she answered.
“You mean?” Mary said, comprehension dawning in her.
“Do it, before this gets anymore out of hand.”
“I don't see how that's possible,” Rachel commented. She was crouched beside the sofa shielding herself from the winds with a cushion.
“Do you really want to find out?” Mary asked.
“Good point. Let's nuke'em.”
Mary struggled to her feet and began to hobble slowly toward the kitchen. Rachel got up and put her arm around Mary’s waist to help her walk. They fought the winds to the kitchen. 'Oh goody, the kitchen,' Mary thought with a grimace. Taking one step was a mini-battle. The winds felt like they’d gotten to class four hurricane status. It was amazing that the windows hadn't shattered yet. Kyle huddled in a small ball, staring wide-eyed at the chaos around him. Mary didn't spare him more than a glance as Rachel and she fought their way into the kitchen.
“I just want to know one thing, Ricky. Why did you kill me? Why did you decide to come home that day and put a bullet in my head?”
“Like you don't know. Did you think you could get away with cheating on me? I knew, and I decided to put a stop to it.”
“Cheated? With whom would I cheat on you? One of your buddies? Please, they were worse than you, and their wives had the restraining orders to prove it.”
“Not one of my friends. That Paul that kept calling here all the time and one time came to the police station to pick you up. You spent the night with him, and don't you deny it!”
“Yes, I spent the night with Paul, and God, I wish I had slept with him, but I didn't. Paul was helping me. He was my psychiatrist, you fool.”
“Do you think this will work?” Rachel yelled to Mary. They were almost to the microwave.
“No, but it's our only option,” Mary yelled in response.
“Then now or never,” Rachel said, staggering to the counter. She wrenched open the microwave door and got out of Mary’s way. Mary hurled the locket inside and slammed the door shut.
“How long?” she asked Rachel.
“Does it matter?” Rachel yelled back.
“Right. Time to go, Ricky,” Mary called. “You too, Julie,” she said to herself as she punched in 9999.
“Mary-” Grandma warned.
Seconds after the cook light came on; sparks began to go off inside the microwave, until the protective glass exploded. The two girls dropped to the floor. Small slivers of glass fell onto their backs.
“Nooooo!” Ricky screamed as his voice and presence began to fade away.
Julie let out a long sigh. “Free at last...”
“-Get out of the way,” Grandma finished. The wind suddenly stopped, and everything in mid-air hung motionless a half second and then dropped. Grandma untangled herself from the phone line as it fell limp.
“Is that it? Did we kill them? Again?” Rachel asked in disbelief as she helped Mary to her feet. Mary was having a hard time standing up. She couldn’t put any weight on her bad ankle.
Mary looked at the wreckage in the kitchen. Sometime during the battle, the fridge had been flung open, and food and drink hurled to the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. All the cabinets were open and a few of the doors still swung slowly back and forth. But it was silent. Gloriously silent.
Until the smoke detector went off.
Mary jumped back and hit the counter awkwardly, banging her elbow and shifting to her bad ankle.
“Kill it!” Rachel screamed and grabbed a rolling pin.
“Oh God.” Mary laughed and collapsed back to the floor. A happy invisible dog instantly besieged her.
Grandma calmly came into the room, reached up to the smoke detector, took the case off of it, and wrenched out the battery. The incessant beeping stopped.
Kyle staggered out of his corner and looked at the wreckage in horror. “What am I going to tell my parents?” he wailed.
This sent Mary into another fit of giggles.
Rachel stepped over to him and grasped his shoulder. “You could tell them the truth. A homicidal ghost tried to kill a girl from school, she saved your life, and in the process, destroyed your house.”
“We'll help you clean up,” Grandma said, bending over and looking under the sink for cleaning supplies.
“I am not doing the microwave,” Rachel declared.
“Could we go to the hospital first?” Mary pleaded from the floor.
“Why?” Rachel asked.
“So I can get my whole body X-rayed.”
Continue to Chapter 14