So, I'm not going to rattle on today. This next chapter gets into the nitty gritty with Cali. Her gift with ghosts is once again challenged and she faces it like a champ.
The ghost was in her face screaming. Other ghosts had filled the room. All sound from outside the room had been stifled completely. Cali’s lack of reaction finally caused the ghost to stop screaming. The ghost backed up and assumed the visage that she probably wore most of the time, when she wasn’t trying to scare people. She was tattered, her clothing was a tattered old skiff, her makeup was askew and her hair matched. She looked like she had been strangled to death. The hand prints on her throat glowed. While Cali assessed the ghost, those others that had crowded into the room fell silent. Cali turned in a circle taking them all in. “Hello, my name is Calisto Gabrielle Casey.” For the first time since she learned that she could speak to ghosts, Cali wondered if they could understand her if she didn’t speak their native language.
The answer was immediate. The ghosts started chanting her name. If they hadn’t understood her words, they had understood her name.
Cali turned until she faced the first ghost again. “You seem to be the strongest. How can I help you?” The incident in Maine flashed through her mind. “What is your name?”
The ghost stopped chanting. Slowly the others did as well. Cali could hear Gioia and Ettore yelling for her now. They were pounding on the door. “Stop!” She yelled over her shoulder. “I’m fine. Go back to the others. Tell Nickola, that I’m fine.” She heard them argue in broken English, but they stopped beating on the door, and she heard them shuffle away. Through it all she had not stopped looking at the ghost in front of her.
The ghost seemed intrigued. It was not normal for a ghost to show such a strong emotion that was not associated with either their death or an event that led to their death. This was a very young ghost. Cali had stopped thinking of ghosts as new or old. Instead she was thinking of them as young or old. Unlike their fleshly counterparts, older ghosts were not wiser ghosts. The older a ghost became, the further they became removed from a reality that a person of the flesh could understand. A ghost slowly lost the ability to interact with fleshly humans, except on a very basic level.
Not all ghosts were the same. Their deterioration or lack thereof was directly linked to how much meaningful interaction they had with the living. Hauntings such as this were not, in Cali’s opinion, considered meaningful. There was no two way communication, beyond the initial scare. Flesh humans seldom wanted to talk to a ghost that had just tried to scare them.
Cali had changed her own terminology, because she had come to realize that ghosts were born not made. They were born of personal tragedy and trauma. They were therefore born young and slowly became old.
The ghost approached her again. Its mouth opened and stayed open. This was not unusual. The ability to command the form and all of its intricate details was not necessary for a ghost, it was therefore one of the first things to be lost. This ghost at least still had the ability to open its mouth in an imitation of speaking. But the lips did not move at all, let alone attempt to synchronize with the words that she spoke. “You are she.” Her voice was breathy. She had spent her ghostly life haunting. The characteristics had become imbedded. She sounded spooky.
“Yes, I am Calisto Gabrielle Casey. What was your name?” Some ghosts no longer associated with their flesh name. Cali rephrased the question from what is your name, to what was your name.
The ghost thought on the question, it was not an easy task. “My name… was… Natalia…”
“Natalia is a beautiful name.” She smiled while she spoke. More ghosts were converging on this room. Not all were visible, but Cali could feel their energy as a solid thing. Natalia was in charge, because she was the strongest entity of the young ghosts. There seemed to be a lot of young ghosts. The men that had brought Ettore, had killed a lot of people before they left and sealed the compound. Cali wondered how long this operation had been in the works. It had taken time to build that wall around the house… two weeks at least. She had heard of Roman soldiers building walls around entire cities in about that amount of time. I don’t suppose that quick wall building is genetic.
These ghosts were here because their lives had been a tragedy and their deaths had been brutal. They haunted this place out of adesire, or even in some cases, a need for revenge. “How can I help you?”
Natalia waved her head from one side to the other, like a flag. It was not a conscious movement. It was in response to her need to process the question. Ghost don’t have minds. Cali didn’t understand how even the young ones could think. But they seemed to have the ability, for a time.
The ghosts seem to confer silently, until finally Natalia’s head stopped moving. “Great pain… here… this…” Natalia’s form spun in place. “This… place is pain.” The ghosts wailed, although not loudly.
Natalia’s description explained why these ghosts were stuck here. They associated their pain with this place. They could abandon their flesh, because their greater pain had been felt in their souls or minds. The pain of their flesh had become secondary. “Those that hurt you, are gone. You cannot hurt them.”
Once again the ghosts paused to think and confer.
“We hurt others!” A ghost screamed out. Cali did not see which one had spoken. But, she was impressed by the amount of energy it had taken for the ghost to express herself so strongly. Afterwards, the ghost was of course, spent. But she had gotten the idea out.
“You hurt others that are like you. They feel pain. Like you.” The ghosts seemed unmoved. Their energy did not change. Cali could feel the emotions of a ghost better than she could see it. She wanted to convince these ghosts that their mission was a failure, so they could move on to happier realms.
Pain, anger and an unresolved need for revenge had been growing in this place for so long that it had become a seething hotspot for ghost activity. Some ghost hunters would have blast here. Cali thought with a mental grin. But this was no laughing matter. In fact, this was just more tragedy heaped upon tragedy. “Look, what you are doing is causing more pain. The women that live here. They are in pain. You give them more.” Guilt was not usually a good ghost motivator. But maybe in this instance, it might work. All that these women had was each other, in life and in death, they still clung to each other.
Natalia’s head began to wave again. Other ghosts also began to wave in the same manner. Cali had given them something to think about, that they had never considered. Cali turned once again in place. She wanted to see their faces, all which still had faces to show. Among the women were girls as well. Children usually stay near their graves, but with this much ghost energy in one spot children would be drawn to it, even if they didn’t know why. Boys were also among the ghosts. Some looked like they had been catamites, while others clearly didn’t. She noted two boys that were wearing long toga like garments. Their throats had been slit. They were old ghosts. There was no recognition in their eyes or in their manner. They had come to this room only because everyone else had. How long had this structure or parts of it been here?
She continued to turn. But she never saw the face that she was looking for. One part of her felt relief, while another part reminded her that the lack of the proper ghost only meant that what she had come here for had not been completed.
Suddenly, as if a leaver had been thrown, all of the ghosts stopped. They stopped moving and they stopped moaning. For they had begun a low moan. Cali had not really noticed the sound, until the sound was gone. Cali finished her turn and faced Natalia. Natalia opened her mouth. “No more pain. Make it stop… you can.”
It was not a question. It was a declaration or a request. Cali nodded. “Yes Natalia, I can make it stop.” She felt the ghosts sigh. Their energy changed. But they were not ready to move on just yet. “You are angry, frustrated and afraid. These things you must release for the pain to go away.” Cali spoke slowly, metering out each feeling. She wanted the words to sink in and take root. “You feel abandoned and alone. You are not abandoned. I am here, Calisto Gabrielle Casey is here, with you. Accept this truth and you will be free.” Even in her own head, her words sounded like an affirmation of faith. In the back of her mind the Priest, that had ignored her requests for help as a child, cringed and screamed blasphemy.
The energy in the room began to throb. It grew in intensity. As it grew, the energy became an audible sound that Cali could hear. She had no idea if anyone else could hear it. Even in the cabin that had been used by the Underground Railroad, the energy had not had an audible sound. She concentrated on the sound. It continued to grow, and began to become a physical oppressing force. Cali wanted to kneel and cover her ears, but somehow she knew that if she did, she would unravel all the good that she was doing here. Whatever that good was. She was not certain. But she trusted the voice that told her to stand strong and not to flinch.
When she would not move, the sound that had grown into a howl, began to spin around the room. It picked up speed and Cali could feel it spinning, but it was a wind that could not touch her. She was in the eye of a great storm. The howl became a continuous deafening scream that made her ears throb. But she refused to flinch.
Suddenly, Natalia’s head snapped back and a stream of indescribable force erupted from her form. Cali glanced to either side and saw other ghosts experiencing the same thing. The howl grew as more and more ghosts released this force.
The released force pulled at her without touching her. The scream whispered in her ear. It spoke of abuse, and loneliness, it spoke off ear, and shame, and disgust, and it spoke of anger, and hatred, and revenge. Cali would not succumb. She stood like a rock amidst a hurricane. The waves of emotion crashed against her resolve and slid down the untouchable walls.
Quicker than it started, it all stopped. The world, in this one tiny room, was suspended. Cali almost felt irreverent drawing a breath. When she did, clean air, air that was not tainted with heavy unpleasant emotion or stinking bodily fluids, filled her lungs and she smiled.
Her smile called the light. Light from the purest of sources filled the room. So many paths had appeared at once that they overlapped and filled the room. Almost as one the ghosts stepped onto their paths and were borne away. The room rang with the whispered gratitude of a thousand ghosts.
Even the boys, whose path took them into Cali’s sight, waved and thanked her. All around her images materialized where only energy had once occupied space. She saw the faces of many women and children, boys and girls and even men that had lost their lives here in defense of these others. Their stories flooded Cali’s mind. In moments she saw all of them. She saw glimpses of their lives, of their deaths and of their dreams. And finally, at once, she saw the freedom that she had shown them all how to achieve.
Her breath stopped. Her heart stuttered, as her mind’s eye beheld for the first time, what lay beyond death. Even as her mind understood what it was seeing, the vision was gone. All of it was gone, the ghosts, the energy and the light. All of it was gone. Yet, from the empty room, Cali felt one thing… a smile. But, not an ordinary smile. She felt… she felt the approval of someone she had not felt in a very long time. She felt the presence of her mother. A soft feather like touch ran down her cheek and then like the wind, it was also gone, she was gone.
Someone knocked on the door.
Live well and be good to each other.