Chapter Fourteen: The chapter in which Hero hears a surprising song on the radio.
My phone took this opportunity to ring. I jerked it from my pocket and turned it off without looking at the display. I didn’t care who it was. Everyone who mattered right now was in the room.
“But all I did was tear up an old photo,” I whispered and leaned around Kyle and grabbed the pieces of the picture. “See,” I held up the pieces.
Jenny took the pieces and examined them. I noticed that her eyes flashed blue again. I was about to ask her what she was doing when we all heard static.
I turned slowly and stared at my old radio. It was just an old portable boombox, but it was on, and the static got louder.
I couldn’t move. The radio was talking to me. I could feel both Jenny and Kyle shift to look at the radio.
“Um is the radio talking to me?” I whispered.
Jenny took my hand. “I can only hear static. Like those phone calls. What do you hear?” She whispered.
“Finally.” I heard a voice sigh through the static. “Invite me over already.”
I stared opened mouthed at the radio. I couldn’t recognize the voice over the static. But I had a nagging suspicion of who it was. “Mom?” I asked weakly.
The static grew louder.
I looked at Jenny and then at Kyle. “I think it’s my mother. She wants me to invite her over? Can I do that?”
Jenny shrugged and Kyle nodded.
“How do I do that?” I asked.
The radio changed stations, bursting with static and I heard what I thought was “Name.”
“Um calling Thana Dorothea Fortier,” I admit I felt dumb; after all, I was the only one who heard the voice on the radio. And it had crossed my mind that maybe I was just losing it.
The static stopped when I said her name. I wondered if I’d done something wrong. Then a shape coalesced in front of the radio like literally coalesced. It reminded me of the animation in that old I Dream of Jeannie show, cartoony smoke, then a woman. Well, mostly a woman. It was more like the outline and a hint of features.
“Wow Hero, you’re like a grown-up now.” The shape said. It was slowly becoming more solid. The headlike part of the figure moved down like it was looking at itself.
I gripped Jenny’s hand. Ouija boards and phone calls were one thing, this looked like an actual ghost. And lemuria or not, I was freaked the hell out. “Jen, can you see her?” I hissed.
“No,” Jenny answered. I felt Kyle take my other hand.
The ghost ignored the conversation and harrumphed at its figure and started to grow a little more solid. I could make out long black hair and dark blue jeans. The features remained vague. “Sorry baby, it’s been a while since I’ve been out.”
I narrowed my eyes, “Mother?”
The figure raised its head, and I can only assume looked at me. “Of course baby, you just called me.” She shook her head, “I didn’t think Dee’s spell would be this strong. It’s still holding me back a little.” She shrugged, “You’ll have to take see-through me for now.”
I still couldn’t seem to speak. There was no way I was talking to the ghost of my mother. It just wasn’t possible. Maybe I was crazy. Maybe I’d lost it when I heard about Dee and all of this was just some psychotic dream. I closed my eyes, hoping that when I opened them everything would be normal again.
It wasn’t. The ghostly figure that was looking more and more like my mother was still standing in my childhood bedroom. She glided, shifted towards the desk, and sat cross-legged on top of it. She cocked her head at me.
“I guess this is a little much for you isn’t it?” She didn’t wait for my response. “You can’t keep me here forever, so I’ll get right to it. First, I asked Dee to bind your powers. It was my idea, and like most of my ideas, it was a bad one.”
I thought I could see the hint of a smile on her face.
“Second, stop focusing so much energy on me. You’ll burn out.”
I blinked, “Huh?”
She threw her hands up, “You didn’t read the book at all did you?” She gave a small laugh, “At least you take after me that way. Dee and my mom were so into their books.” She leaned forward, “I never needed books either, but you’ll hurt yourself if you keep trying to pull me over.”
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of this.” I said helplessly. I can only assume that Jenny and Kyle were even more confused. They were both facing the same direction that I was, but I could tell from their blank expressions that they saw an empty room, but Kyle seemed to hear something.
The ghost shook her head at me, “Ah baby, it’s gonna take time. Just let it be for now. Feel the vibes of the energy. Just be.” She paused and seemed to be listening to something. “Damn it, baby, you gotta send me back now. Your old man’s looking for me and I don’t want him to notice you, not yet.”
My old man? I wondered. It was like talking to a hippy time warp. Feeling vibes? What did that even mean? “My old man?” I asked.
She shook her head quickly, “No time baby, send me back.” I could hear her voice growing more frantic. “Now baby, tell me to go.”
“Um, leave,” I said.
Again the ghost threw up her hands, “My name, you gotta use my name.
“Um go Thana Dorothea Fortier?”
The shape blew apart like smoke.
I sat on the bed stunned. Had I just talked to the ghost of my mother, or had I gone crazy. Jenny and Kyle both sat patiently waiting to hear what I had to say about the ghost.
I looked at them both, “Um I think that was my mother.”
Kyle didn’t look at the surprised, but Jenny managed to smile. “What did she tell you?”
I shrugged, “Not a lot really. She, um, had to go. She mentioned ‘my old man’ isn’t that hippy speak for father?”
Jenny nodded. “Huh, maybe you’ll get to know him too. You used to wonder about who he was.”
I knew she was trying to be helpful and supportive, but I was far too freaked out to think about what she was saying. I’d just had a brief conversation with my dead mother. I could talk to ghosts. Not only talk to them it seemed, but actually bring their spirit over from wherever dead people go. And considering that raised a whole new set of questions that I didn’t want to deal with. Kyle had mentioned the underworld, but other than mythology I had no idea what that meant. Did all dead people go to some underworld, or was it like the place that preters went?
I realized that both Jenny and Kyle were looking at me with concern. “Sorry,” I ran my hands through my hair, “I just…” I broke off, “I didn’t expect that.” I gestured at the empty desk. Ok, so they hadn’t seen my mother, but I assumed they got the idea. As I motioned at the desk, I also realized that I was exhausted. Utterly spent, might be more accurate. I just wanted to curl up and sleep for a month.
Kyle must have noticed how tired I looked. “Um Jenny, I think we should get Hero some food and maybe a nap.” He let his eyes travel over my face. “You look at a little tired.” He said to me.
Jenny glanced at me and paled a little. “Wow, Hero. You do like wiped out. Like you haven’t slept in a week or something.” She did manage to look chagrined after that outburst. Leave it to my best friend to point out how awful I look in front of the handsome man.
I yawned. “I do feel a little tired.” I managed. “I don’t feel hungry though, just really tired.”
Jenny shot Kyle a look that I couldn’t read. “Can you go get her something to eat from the kitchen?” She asked, “Think easy and fast calories for now.”
I noticed that she’d lost most of the frosty tone she’d had with him in the past. Kyle rested his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it briefly. “I’ll be right back.” He said.
After we heard him walk down the stairs, Jenny turned to me. “So really what’d she say?” Her eyes shone with excitement.
I laid down on the bed. “Nothing. She said I’d grown up and that I needed to read the manual. I guess she means the book Dee left me.” I glanced at Jenny and took her nod to mean that the book was a manual. “A lot of it didn’t make sense.” I paused trying to collect my thoughts, but I was getting more tired by the second. It was like that feeling after being up for twenty-four hours, when the exhaustion just washes over you. “She told me I was trying too hard. She was worried that I’d burn out. Something goofy about vibes and just feeling it.” I could feel my eyelids getting heavy.
“So more hippy speak.” She laid her hand on my forehead. “You can’t go to sleep yet. You need to eat something.”
I managed a weak nod, but I didn’t think I could stay awake much longer. “I’ll try,” I said around another huge yawn. “I’m more tired than that day I worked four weddings,” I yawned again. I barely registered that Jenny still had her hand on my head. I was fast getting tunnel vision.
I felt a tingling where Jenny’s hand was. A faint prickling at first, almost like static electricity. I managed to crack my eyes open. Jenny was staring, well it looked like through me and her eyes were glowing blue again. The prickling increased. And I was awake, like the morning after a good night’s sleep and a coffee awake. I started to sit up and Jenny stopped me.
“Wait a few seconds,” she panted. “Give yourself a minute to acclimate.”
“What did you do?” I asked, dreading her answer.
She leaned back against the headboard of the bed, and now she looked exhausted. She was pale and shaky. She even had dark circles under her eyes. A few seconds ago she’d looked fine.
“What did you do?” I asked again.
She managed a tired smile. “I gave you a boost. Just a little energy, so you could stay awake to eat,” she whispered. “I think I may have gone a little overboard.”
I tried sitting up and felt a little lightheaded, but otherwise fine. Actually, better than fine. I felt great, except for being ravenous. “Jen, are you going to be ok?” I asked concerned. I reached for her, but she pushed my hand weakly away.
“I just need a minute.” She closed her eyes, “And I’ll probably need to eat too.”
I narrowed my eyes at her, “Eat what? Will food help?”
She was silent long enough that I thought maybe she’d fallen asleep. She slowly shook her head. “Not a lot. I’ll need a person.” She seemed to be forcing her eyes open, “Not a whole person, in case you were worried.” She tried to smile but lost the struggle with her muscles.
Kyle came hurrying back in the room. His nostrils flared as he entered the room. He cast a disapproving glance at Jenny. “What did she do?” He asked me.
“Um, she gave me energy. I guess.” I said hesitantly. I noticed the tray he carried was full of a couple of sandwiches along with cut-up fruit.
“Hero, eat something,” Jenny whispered opening her eyes. “I’ll be ok in a minute.”
Kyle looked back and forth between us. “You’re both idiots.” He handed me the plate. “Never let her do this to you.” He said. “She can hurt you and herself.” He looked toward Jenny, “And you know that I’m right.”
She shrugged but I noticed that her color seemed to be improving. “Eat Hero, he’s right about that part.”
I rolled my eyes at both of them. I wondered if they could ever get along. I tried to nibble on the sandwich. I was worried about Jenny and felt awful for being so distracted by eating. But after the first bite, I devoured the first sandwich and made short work of the second. I felt better and nibbled on the fruit. I offered some to Jenny, but she shook her head.
“Can you get me my phone?” She asked. “I need to call someone.”
I looked at Kyle trying to figure out if he knew whether or not he thought Jenny was ok.
“She needs to eat.” He said, clearly not comfortable with the topic. “Can you get someone here fast enough?” He asked.
She cracked her eyes open and I noticed that they flashed blue. “I don’t know.”
Her features had started shifting. The lines of her face grew sharper. I unconsciously shifted away from her. Maybe it was just instinct, but it was far too much like that night in the parking lot. Jenny was becoming the predator again.
Kyle cursed softly. “Hero, can you walk yet?”
I blinked at him, “I can’t just leave her. She needs help.” I stuttered at him.
He turned to me, his face an expressionless mask. “You can’t help her, but you need to leave.” His voice was cold. “I’ll…” he broke off, his face briefly twisting to distaste. “I’ll help her. There’s no way any of her… friends can get here fast enough.”
Jenny closed her eyes again, her expression horrified. “He’s right, Hero. You need to leave. But I am not feeding on you.” She directed that at Kyle.
I’d managed to shift to the end of the bed and stood up. I was a little wobbly like I’d had too many espressos. “Jenny, if you don’t eat what’ll happen?”
She hissed, “Don’t ask.” She opened her eyes and looked at me helplessly. “I don’t want to do this with him.”
I suddenly wondered if they were going to have sex. Was that what sirens did? She’d mentioned the guy from high school, but she couldn’t be saying that, could she? “What do you mean?”
She seemed to be struggling to explain.
Kyle took my hand, “It’ll only take a minute. We’ll hold hands for a minute and it’ll be done.” He looked into my eyes, and I realized his eyes were begging me to go. “If she doesn’t feed while she’s still in control, she could kill us both,” he whispered. “She doesn’t want you to see this. Please, just wait downstairs.”
I managed to nod and walked to the door. “Jen, it’s ok. Just do your thing.” I hoped she understood. I was beginning to think that her hesitation had less to do with Kyle being a lilu and more to do with me liking him. “Jenny, it’s ok. Just don’t die okay?” My voice caught. I couldn’t lose her too. Even if it meant that I’d lose Kyle. If mythically sirens lured men to their doom, I was guessing that her feeding on him might make him fall in love with her or something.
I turned from the room and walked slowly down the stairs.
I heard both of them arguing for a minute or so and then silence.