I was never too much for the holiday season. As a child, my grandparents did their best to give me a good Thanksgiving and Christmas. During Halloween, even though that day to them was far from “holy”, my grandparents would still take me trick or treating around the neighborhood. Every year they would pick out my costume. Nothing nefarious such as a witch or a ghost was allowed. So as you can imagine, I was often a princess. I hated it. One year, when I was approaching preteen adolescence, I went to a store with a bunch of my friends after school. There was this really pretty fortune teller costume complete with the crystal ball. When my grandmother saw it, she tossed in the garbage. At that time, I didn’t know about her “gifts” and just assume she thought the costume was satanic or something. I wasn’t that upset with her, she’s done everything for me.
Most of the holidays I spent with my grandparents were wonderful, but also a painful reminder of my situation with my parents. My father rarely contacted me though my mother would send letters. She would never get a response.
You have to take the bad with the good, I guess. Thanksgiving is the next holiday approaching and my grandparents are insisting Andrew and I visit. Andrew’s met with my grandparents before but has yet to spend a holiday with them. This would be our first. His family was in Italy this year. Andrew’s great grandfather was very sick and his parents, who are retired, are taking care of him. Andrew opted out of going. He said it was because he couldn’t take the time off. Something told me that wasn’t true.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandparents I just am not fond of family gatherings during these times. It always reminds me that something was missing. Also, Andrew met me when I was committed to a psych ward because I was ranting about seeing my dead mother. This was something my grandparents were not so happy about. For one, my grandmother would never admit that this would not the first time someone in our family claimed to have seen a ghost. My grandfather thought that Andrew was taking advantage of my fragile state. But here we are. A couple of years later and we are still together. Fingers crossed.
The Clifton Institute was also big on holidays. For the teenagers who were here, the holidays were also a reminder of a broken family. It is a time that they feel most ashamed of their actions that led them here. It is also a time when they feel most abandoned by their loved ones. Dr. Clifton likes to host a pre-thanksgiving dinner for the patients and their families. It was his way to try and mend whatever bonds were broken. To remind the patients that their families did not abandoned them.
Of course, I was in charge of creating the flyer to mail out. My holiday flyer for the Thanksgiving dinner was looking as bleak as I felt. Almost the entire flyer had no color. The font was grey. I didn’t even browse on the web for a decent photo of a turkey.
You got to make this look exciting Tina.
For most of the teens here, this is where they will spend their Thanksgiving. Some of their families come, some stay home and host their own thanksgiving dinner. Forgetting the troubles they left here. I feel for these teenagers, it isn’t easy feeling unwanted by the people who are supposed to love you.
My sympathy does stop short however, for those who continue their path of self-destruction and that eventually spreads to the destruction of others. Unfortunately, in this place, many were like this. Patients and staff alike. In the short amount of time I have been here, that has been made very clear.
Let’s find a happy turkey. I whisper as I browse for images of colorful cheerful turkeys.
My office phone starts to go off. The ringing seems louder than usual and pulsates into my ear. Immediately I stop what I am doing and answer the phone.
“Hello” I wait. No response in the first couple of seconds.
“Hello” a voice stifled. “Please are you there” it says.
“Yes, who is this” I reply.
“Please Tina, I’m trapped, I need your help” The voice gets a little bit clearer, fear is present.
“Who is this” The voice sounded familiar to me.
“It’s Madison, please I’m locked in a room. I need your help to get out please before…”
All I heard next was a crackling roar. It overwhelmed my ears. This is when I begin to feel very very nervous.
“What is going on” My voice escalates over the sounds of the crackling, I try and cover my other ear, so I could hear Madison through the noise.
“I am trapped please get me out” Madison chokes out her words. My heart drops and I jump from my seat.
“Okay calm down Madison, where are you” My heart started to pound, I grabbed my cell phone as I waited for her response.
“The basement…I don’t remember much but I was walking out of my room then a big hand covered my mouth. Next thing I know I was in here and…”
She became quiet. I waited for her to continue but she didn’t utter another word. My hand was shaking but I did not hang up the phone. After a couple of long seconds, finally a scream.
“Please Tina help me there is fire everywhere” Madison’s voice boomed through the phone. Immediately I hang up and run out my office to get help.
The hallways were dark and silent. There was no staff, no patients, no noise whatsoever. My eyes darted from corner to corner looking for someone.
“Hello…Joseph…anyone. Please, Madison is trapped in the basement” My voice echoes through the deserted hallway.
I don’t understand. Where the fuck is everyone…
There was no reason why this place would be empty. My anxiety started to spike up and I could not focus. My head started to spin, and I pace around in circles wondering why this place was desolate. Then my cell phone rang. It is an unknown number. I answer.
“Hello” I whisper.
“Where are you” It is Madison, she is now hysterically crying. Her voice is trembling. I never gave out my number to the patients, so I was confused. The sound of Madison’s painful cries, however, subside any questions I had. My goal was to find her.
My ears began to pick up the sound of a faint cry not far from me. The sound was coming from down the hallway. I darted towards that direction and the cries slowly began to get louder and the hallways began to get darker. Out of nervousness of the darkness surrounding me, I almost stop running. Suddenly, the door at the end of the hallway opens just so slightly. It is the staircase leading to the basement. There is smoke coming from there. I should have called the police but instead I ran into the smoke. My knees at this point are trembling as I rush down the stairs and open the door to the basement.
“Madison I’m here” The smoke gets sucked into my throat causing me to cough profusely. But I keep going, there was so visible fire in front of me.
“Madison please answer me” She was not responding. The smoke got heavier the further I walk but there is still not sign of a fire. The screams began again, and I frantically look around. A dark and thick cloud shot out from underneath a door to a room that was all too familiar.
Oh my God.
It was the storage room.
When the smoke cleared, the whimpering of a young girl could be heard. It had to be Madison. I quickly go to the door and open it, ignoring the scorching handle that surely burned me.
Within a minute of the door to the storage room being open, the flames burst out at my face. A fiery figure fell upon me. Her skin blackened by the fire which emanated her body. Her eyes though, her eyes were untouched and an intense shade of amber. It was not Madison, but I know I have seen this face before. Without me realizing, I was already on the floor. The figure was on top of me, pinning my body down to the floor. My mouth gaped open, but no screams can escape me as the fire touches my skin and scalds me. The girl’s eyes seeping into my soul while my body burns…
“Tina, Tina baby wake up” I open my eyes and Andrew is on top of me shaking with his hands tightly grasping my arms.
“Stop” I am still groggy from my nightmare.
“I’m awake” my head is pounding, the clock on the wall says it’s three in the morning. Andrew sits beside me on the bed. He looks terrified and worried.
“You were screaming like someone was stabbing you” He wipes sweat from his forehead.
“Well close enough” My head was pounding.
Vivid dreams are almost never fun. You would think that I could have nice intense dream where I am flying through the night sky adoring the stars and city lights. But no, vivid dreams are there to intensify your fears not your fantasies. Andrew was hovering over me like an eagle, rubbing my shoulders roughly. It’s no surprise that he was deeply concerned.
“Have you been having dreams about your job again.” He asked. I didn’t want to answer because I knew he would just hound me about seeing a psychiatrist. I stay silent.
“Did you have a dream about the girl again, the one you’ve been hallucinating about” He inquired again.
“Can you just stop” My headache just became stronger.
“Tina I am really worried about you” Andrew grabbed my hands, his eyes pleading for a response.
“Do you even know what you were screaming. You kept saying fire and this isn’t the first night you’ve done that. Ever since you started this job you’ve been obsessed with fire or something burning. Now you’re dreaming about someone being set on fire. I think. I think you need to talk to someone” He strokes my hair, I know he is concerned but there was nothing else I could say to him.
Andrew never believed in the supernatural. Even if he asked my grandmother, she would stick to the story that I had a habit of hallucinating. Not that it mattered if she told him the truth. All she wants is for me to push this ability away. It has worked, until I got my job.But now my visions are in full force. I already know who I am seeing. The dead girl that is haunting me is Rachel.
Now I need to find out what she wants.