azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: There's Something Seriously Wrong with this House
Rating: PG
Warnings: Bad writing ahead! Bad Language
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Genre: Hurt/Comfort
AU: Scientific Paranormal Investigations
Summary: The May 2002 Challenge: offered by Michelle Naylor
Do you believe in the supernatural, the unusual, and the out of the ordinary things that cannot be explained? What would the boys do when faced with such a situation? Write a story where one or more of the boys are caught up with forces beyond their control. My one stipulation is that there most be some otherworldly figure, (ghost, alien, angel, etc...) there to help them along. Note: This should not be a horror story!

Main Characters: Ezra, Chris and the rest of the seven.
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Beta: Not betaed – written in the early days when I didn’t know what the words grammar and edit meant. *is ashamed but no longer care*
Spoilers: None.
Total Word Count: 10,664





The house looked like any other, well almost like any other. Moisture from the previous night's rainfall clung to the outside of the house and fed the moss and vines that had begun to grow on the walls when the house had been abandoned. Weeds grew out of control in the grounds of the ancient building but a few colourful flowers could be seen amongst the green as they fought to find their way to the sunlight above them.

A cargo crate sat in the over grown driveway where it's rusting red metal stood out against the green background. It was full of equipment that would bring the house and grounds back to their original state but it was yet to be used. The workers had run away in terror and refused to return to the house.
The previous tenants had fled their home ten years before, believing that it was haunted. There had been potential buyers over the years since then but rumours of the haunting had stopped anyone from purchasing the property.

The rumours stated that a young girl had killed herself in one of the upstairs bedrooms over an older man who had refused to marry her after she had conceived his baby. They claimed that she was refusing to cross over until he married her. Most people laughed at the rumours but a lot more believed them.

Experts had been brought in to try to rid the house of the haunting entity but they had all failed. The only thing they had managed to do was prove that there were many frauds in the Ghost Hunting business.

A State Lottery winner recently came across the house when he lost his way driving across the state of Washington. He fell in love with it at first sight and knowing he now had the money to buy it, he decided he wanted it. The real estate agent, who did not want to lose another customer, rushed the deal through and the keys were handed over after three days.

Four days after moving into the house the new owner stormed into the real estate office demanding his money back because he wasn't told about the ghost that haunted his home. Of course, the agent who sold the house told him to go to hell and if he wanted his money back, he could sue him for it.
The owner wasn't going to lose his money, (it was almost half of his winnings) so he decided to call in the experts. He could afford to do it. The experts known as Scientific Paranormal Investigations only accepted the case after a donation was made to a local charity in Denver. The case was then assigned to Team Seven also known as SPIT7.


******


The air was as thick as it was black. A cold mist struggled to find its way through the trees that surrounded the three hundred year old house. An owl hooted more than once then went silent when it sensed something that was unnatural. Something scampered through the weeds surrounding the house and disappeared into the woods. Once again, there was silence and the night was now still. It was like a picture where nothing moved and no sound interrupted the silence.

A scream that couldn't be determined as human or animal suddenly filled the night sky destroying the stillness. Brightness filled the area when sets of lights were ignited. The source of the light came from the top of a trailer that sat on an eighteen-wheeler. From the outside, it looked ordinary; the side of the trailer was covered with them sign 'Larry's Mechanical Parts'.

The door opened and a man stepped out into the cold air. The man, (dressed in clothing so dark you could only see the whiteness of his skin) pulled his jacket collar upwards and left it standing against his neck. He thought it would stop the hairs on the back of his neck from standing up when he saw a ghost.

He waited for two seconds then turned back to the van. 'Hurry up and get your ass out here Ezra!'

'Why me Chris?' A smaller man jumped from the van. His clothing was also dark except for the pale yellow shirt under the leather jacket. 'I told you I don't like ghosts.'

Chris Larabee, the leader of SPIT7 turned on the flashlight he held and began walking towards the house and without looking back; he answered his agent's question. 'How would you know? You've never met one.'

'I don't have to meet one to know that I might be scared of one.'

'Might.' Chris couldn't help but smile at Ezra's words.

'I'm not an idiot Chris. Anyone who had any brains would be scared of a dead person walking around inside an old house in the middle of the night.'

Chris stopped and turned around. 'Are you calling me an idiot?'

Ezra had been too busy looking down at the flashlight that wouldn't work to realise Chris had stopped walking. He bumped into him and jumped back as a small cry escaped him.

'Scared of the bogey man Ezra?'

'Aren't you?' Ezra Standish stared into his leader's pale green eyes.

'If I say no does that make me an idiot?'

'Do you really need me to answer that?'

'You're starting to push your luck Standish!'

'You couldn't push me back into the van could you?' Ezra smiled weakly.

'I know where I want to push you.' There wasn't any need for Chris to say more. He had Ezra under his complete control now. All he had to do was give an order and Ezra would follow it. 'You go first.'

'What?'

'Did your voice just squeak then?'

'Hey!' A voice came over their headsets causing both men to jump and yelp in surprise. 'You two women better your fingers out and get into that house before our ghost gets tired of waiting and decides to leave.'

'Jesus Buck!' Chris adjusted the mouthpiece and growled back at his friend. 'Watch what you're saying or you might find yourself going into this place with Ezra while I'm sitting in the van staying nice and warm.'

'I really can't do that Chris, what with this broken leg and all.'

Chris could hear Buck Wilmington laughing so he gave Ezra a knowing look. They'll get payback when this was over.

'I'll send JD in then.'

'Can't.' A husky voice that was interrupted by a sneeze and a cough started to answer. 'Got the flu, might scare her off if I make a noise.' JD Dunne coughed again to make his point.

'Cowards.' Chris muttered.

'Not brave like us.' Ezra agreed.

'No.'

'When did Buck break his leg?' Ezra followed when Chris began to move again.

'After this operation.' Chris growled.

'Just as I thought.'

'JD's flu came on pretty quick.'

Ezra smiled in the darkness. 'Buck must have given him a flu shot after we left the van.'

'Just as I thought.'

Ezra almost made another childish noise when he felt something brush against his leg. He closed his eyes and prayed that it was the movement of the weeds caused by the strong breeze that didn't exist. When he opened his eyes, again he saw that Chris had gotten away from him. Ezra wanted to run to catch up with his boss but made himself walk, although his pace was faster than normal.

Chris didn't want to admit it but he was almost as scared as Ezra. The image of the house before him was something you would normally see in a Wes Craven film. The vines on the walls of the house played tricks on his mind; he could have sworn he just saw them move. No. He decided that it was a part of his overworked imagination, (overworked because of one JD Dunne and Ezra Standish).

'There's something about this place that doesn't feel right.' Chris stopped and waited for Ezra to reply. When the Southerner remained quiet, he turned around to find out why. Ezra was rushing towards him as though something had scared him.

'There's something about this place that doesn't feel right.' Ezra said when he caught up to Chris.
'I just said that but you weren't here to listen to me!'

'Like I ever listen to you.' Ezra pulled his coat closer to his body in an effort to keep warm. It seemed to be getting colder as they got closer to the house.

'Let's just get this over and done with shall we.'

'That guy won a lot of money you know.' Ezra commented as he walked beside Chris. 'He wouldn't really mind if he didn't get his house back.'

'I think he'll mind.' His eyes followed the flashlight as it moved around the outside of the house. The vines were still when he was staring right at them but he was sure they moved when he looked away.

'Fine, but if anything goes wrong it will be your fault, not mine, yours.' Ezra hit his flashlight with an open palm and sighed with relief when it finally came on. 'At least I'll be able to see the ghost now.'

'Better you than me.' Chris shown the light into Ezra's face and saw fear in his agent's eyes. 'You are scared.'

'Aren't you?'

'Yeah.'

'Then Mr. Larabee, you are no longer an idiot.'

'Ten says you wet your pants first.' Chris shot back.

'You know Buck and JD just heard that.'

'Yeah I know.' Chris nodded, 'but they know better than to say anything.'

Both men groaned when the two men in the van began to sing 'I am woman hear me roar'.

'I'll come back there and shoot you right now if you don't shut up!' Chris yelled into his mike. Absolute silence again. 'We have to do this and do it now.'

'Yeah.'

Neither man moved.

'There's something not right here.' Ezra repeated.

'Yeah.' Chris nodded and lowered the flashlight. 'We'll make a sighting to confirm an entity and then leave it to Josiah.

'Sounds like a plan.'

They began walking again, each of them carrying their own fears about the house and what might be in it.

Ezra didn't want to do this. He didn't want a rendezvous with a ghost in the middle of the night. He'd never seen one but he didn't need to meet a ghost to know what they were like; as a child, he had seen plenty of horror movies. Ghosts were scary beings who were pissed off at the living for any and every reason. This ghost may be a young female but he knew she wasn't going to be happy to see them.

'Chris, have you ever encountered a ghost?' Ezra asked as his eyes surveyed the house as they moved closer to it.

Chris thought about lying but decided against it. He and Ezra were scared and if they were going to do this successfully then they would have to do it together.

'I thought I saw Sarah and Adam once . . . about two weeks after they died.'

'Did they look happy?'

The question stunned the blond man. It was something that he had never thought of before. 'I'm not sure I even saw them.'

'There's doubt in your mind so it could be that you did see them.'

'It's possible.' Chris shrugged.

'Anything's possible Chris, I've learnt that from this job.'

Chris was about to answer Ezra when he felt something moving towards him. He stopped and held the light in front of him. There was nothing there and yet he could still sense the movement of someone . . . or . . . something coming towards him. The air around him suddenly dropped several degrees. His body stiffened when he felt - whatever it was he had sensed - move through him sending pins and needles of pain through his body. Whatever it was, it didn't feel right. There was a moment when he thought he was going to panic and run back to the van, and then everything was all right again.

'Something just moved through me.' Chris whispered knowing Ezra would hear him in the surrounding silence.

'What?'

His eyes turned to Ezra who had stopped when he did. 'Something just went through me.'

'Are you bleeding?' Ezra searched Chris's body with the help of the flashlight. He could find no injury. 'You should be bleeding if something went through you.'

'I don't mean something as in something. I mean something as in . . . something went through me.'
Ezra's eyes widened in surprise and he muttered something unintelligible. He then turned around and began to walk back the way he had come.

'Where are you going?'

'Back to the van.' Ezra didn't stop.

'Ezra!' Chris snapped at him. 'We have a job to do.'

'Yes and you just said that-'

'I know what I said and whatever it was, it's outside and we're going inside.' Chris only had to wait a moment for his words to sink in.

'Oh.' The Southerner turned around and hurried back. When he reached Chris, he kept going and as he passed him, he asked. 'What are you waiting for?'

'Damn cocky bastard!'

They reached the house together and lifted their heads to take in the full view. The house was a three-story home. What they could see of the walls through the foliage looked like it was being eaten away by the vines. Four bay windows lined the ground floor while smaller windows filled the upper floors. Thick vines would make it hard to open any of the windows. The double front door looked weathered but strong.

Again, Chris thought he saw the vines moving. A thought quickly occurred to him. What if it wasn't the vines moving but some sort of creature? A creature not of this world. Ezra's idea of turning around and heading back to the van was beginning to feel like a good idea.

'Did you see something moving up there?'

'No,' Ezra answered, 'did you?'

'Thought I did.'

The new owner had told them that the front door would be unlocked; he hadn't stopped to lock it after running out of the house. The door opened easily and they hesitantly stepped inside. When the door closed behind them, Chris turned to look at it.

'It closed on its own didn't it?' Ezra asked Chris.

'Yeah it did.'

'It does that in ghost movies, the ones about haunted houses.'

'Ezra, we're in a haunted house.'

'Do we have to be?'

'Have you noticed something missing?' Chris tried the door and found that it wouldn't open. 'The door won't open.' Chris slammed his fist against the door. 'Shit, we're in for it now.'

'What's missing?'

'Buck and JD's voices.' Chris faced Ezra. 'I haven't heard them since I told them to shut up.'

'Buck, JD!' Ezra held the small mike closer to his mouth. There was no answer.

'I think it's this house.' Chris tried to ease Ezra's and his own concerns. 'They're fine.'

'We are in it aren't we.' Ezra agreed.

'We look for the ghost and then we leave.'

'Another good plan.' Ezra nodded vigorously. 'You go first.'

'We check this floor first.' Chris made the decision even though the only thing he wanted to do was leave. The feeling of something being wrong still lingered. He pointed to his right. 'That way.'

'Like I said,' Ezra motioned for Chris to go ahead of him, 'you go first.'

Ezra followed Chris through a door that led them into a large dining room. The table that ran almost the full length of the room was still set for an evening of dining and conversation; dust covered plates and bowls lined the edge of the table. Candles (where the wick had burnt to their ends) had been centered along the table. Chairs had been left upright and horizontal; the previous owners had left during a dinner party.

Two lights roamed the walls revealing more dust and cobwebs. The lights stopped when they rested on another doorway. After going through the second entry, the men found themselves in a spacious kitchen. They were about to explore the room when a loud noise came from the floor above them.

'We're not going to investigate that are we?'

'What do you think?' Chris managed to smile at the younger man but he had to struggle to keep it on his face.

'We're going to investigate.' Ezra groaned.

'It's our job, it's what we do.' Chris wanted to do this job as much as Ezra did.

Ezra glared at his boss. 'It's your job. It's what you do! You forced me into this career remember, so if I want to be scared and ask stupid questions I will!'

'But you always ask stupid questions!'

'It's my job. It's what I do!' Ezra retorted.

Chris growled at Ezra and walked away from him.

The walk back to the stairs was uneventful but it didn't stop them from being careful when they began to ascend the stairs one at a time. When they reached the top, Chris turned to the right and began to walk down the corridor that would be set above the dining room and kitchen. His flashlight revealed three doors, two on the left and one on the right side of the hall. The solitary door was open, inviting them into the room. Chris could feel something drawing him to it.

Chris was about to step into the room when he heard Ezra's voice behind him.

'Chris . . .'

'What now?' He turned around to find out what Ezra's problem was this time. What he saw was Ezra falling to the floor, his flashlight landing next to him. The impact caused the flashlight to start spinning around in a circle, the light illuminating Ezra's pale and sweating face each time it spun past him.

******


Chris ran to Ezra's side but knelt down slowly onto one knee. He placed a hand on the Southerner's forehead while his other hand held the flashlight in a certain position so that the light pointed directly into Ezra's face. To Chris the flesh felt hot and clammy. He frowned; a minute ago, Ezra was fine.

'Ezra,' he gently slapped Ezra's right cheek, noticing that his skin had become even paler. 'Come on Ezra, wake up and tell me what's wrong.'

Chris then checked for a pulse and found it to be strong but rapid. He had to get Ezra out of here but something told him that the door would still not open for him and there were too many vines covering the windows to open them wide enough to let a man out. Maybe there was a back door. Chris wiped his own forehead when he became undecided. He needed to find a way out but he couldn't carry Ezra around the house with him and he didn't want to leave him alone in case he woke up when he wasn't there. The best thing to do was to take Ezra into one of the rooms, make him comfortable then waits until he woke up. That way he could explain what he wanted to do before he left Ezra to take care of himself.

He picked up Ezra's flashlight and placed it in the pocket of his jacket, and then after bending his knees, he pulled Ezra up onto and over his shoulder. Chris twisted around and faced the hallway with the open doorway. He decided to go with his feeling and managed to carry Ezra into the room without dropping him. He stood just inside the doorway and examined the room. It was simply furnished with a single bed, a small wardrobe and a chair by the large window.

Chris lay Ezra down on the bed and began to unbutton the top of the Southerner's shirt. He could feel the heat emanating from Ezra's body. Once Chris was sure Ezra was comfortable, he sat on the edge of the bed and laid a hand on Ezra's face.

'Shit! What in the hell is wrong with you Ezra? You were fine five minutes ago.'

Chris could feel Ezra's legs moving next to him, the knees lifting then falling back down onto the bed. Ezra's head then began to move back and forth, resting on each shoulder for only a few seconds before moving again.

'Ezra?' Chris was hoping the movement meant Ezra was coming round. 'Ezra . . . come on Ezra, we need to get out of here.' He didn't get a response from the Southerner. 'There's something seriously wrong with this place.'

Chris looked over his shoulder at the open doorway expecting to see something there. A glance at his watch told him it was 1:34am. They had entered the house at 1:00am, which meant they had been in the house for nearly thirty-five minutes and yet it had only seemed like ten. He decided that he would wait until 2am and if Ezra still hadn't woken, he would leave him and find a way out.

Chris had an impulsive thought, (one that he considered to be brilliant and he had every intention of telling the others about his ingenious idea, that way they would know how intelligent he was, something that they should already know but refused to admit. Now they would have to.). Would the headsets work inside the house? He would be able to communicate with Ezra. That was his idea, the intelligent one. He realised with sudden dread that he could hear nothing through his earpiece. There should have been the sound of Ezra breathing but there was nothing. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea after all.


******


Ezra groaned and opened his eyes to find Chris Larabee hovering above him. He ignored Chris's concerned expression and searched his surroundings. The room was unfamiliar to him. Was he still in the house? He looked back at Chris, hoping to get an answer.

'Do you have to hover so closely?' Ezra tried to raise his arm to push Chris away but he found it to be too heavy to lift.

'Sorry.' Chris leaned back to give Ezra some space.

'What happened?'

'You collapsed in the hallway and I-'

'I didn't see a ghost and faint did I?'

'No,' Chris chuckled, 'I'm not sure what happened, you just collapsed.'

Ezra rolled his head to the side and looked out into the hall. 'You brought me in here.'

'Yeah.'

'Are we leaving yet?' He sighed, closed his eyes for a few seconds then opened them again.

'We're leaving as soon as I find a way out of here.' Chris told him. 'You up to walking.'

'I really don't know.'

Chris leaned in again and placed his palm against Ezra's forehead. 'You're still pretty warm but not as hot as you were.'

'I'm always hot Chris, it's the way the ladies like me.'

'Don't even try and be Buck, you couldn't live up to his imagination when it comes to women.'

'Are you telling me that Buck lies about his conquests? I feel shocked and betrayed.'

'You know it.'

Ezra closed his eyes again. He could feel a painful ache spreading through his body, coming to an abrupt halt in his skull where it seemed to be growing at a fast pace.

'Chris,'

'Something wrong Ezra?' Chris frowned down at the younger man.

'Don't feel so good.' Ezra opened his eyes to find that his vision had become unfocused.

'I'll get you out of here Ezra, don't you worry about anything.' Again, his hand found its way to Ezra's face; his temperature was on the rise for a second time.

'Hurts.'

Ezra was always in a bad state when he used simple language skills.

'What hurts?'

'Everything, my head. Don't feel good.'

'Ezra, I'm going to leave you alone for a while. Okay?'

'Mother won't like it.'

'Ezra, do you understand what I'm telling you?' Chris tapped Ezra's cheek.

'Go. Leave me. I don't care anymore.'

Chris could hear the emotion in Ezra's voice; he knew that Ezra was talking to someone else though, possibly his mother.

'I'll be back as soon as I can Ezra.' Chris stood up, watched Ezra for a moment then turned around and froze where he stood.


******


She couldn't have been anymore than twelve years old. Her blonde hair was set in a pair of plats that rested over her shoulders; red ribbons were tied to the end of each one. The dress covered her entire body, the sleeves covering her arms and the hem of the blue dress reaching to her ankles, which were covered in a pair of white tights and brown-laced boots.

Chris went into a protective stance; nothing was going to harm the man lying on the bed behind him.

'You must take him and leave this house.' There was no menace in her voice only sincerity.

'Why?'

'You must leave.' She didn't wait for another answer. She twisted away from him and walked in the direction of the stairs.

Does she want me to follow her?

Chris glanced back at Ezra and stayed with the decision to leave him. He stepped out into the hall and saw the young child entering a room past the stairs.

Do I leave or find out more about her?

He refused to look back into the room he just left. If he saw Ezra, he would go back in there and stay with him. It would be the wrong thing to do. He had to find a way out of the house and the girl will be able to tell him how.

'Chris . . .' Ezra's soft voice didn't reach the man walking away from him. His arm fell from the bed, his fingertips brushing the dust-covered floor.


******


Chris followed the child into another room much like the one he had left Ezra in. Furnishings that were similar to the other room sat in the same positions. The young girl was sitting on the edge of the bed playing with a rag doll. Her legs were swinging to the sound of her voice singing a tune that was unknown to Chris.

'Who are you?'

'There is not time for that,' she lifted her face and stared at Chris, 'you must leave. If you don't your friend may die.'

'Ezra? But . . .'

Her eyes became cold and were now full of anger. 'You must leave now! There is evil in this house. If you do not wish death on your friend you will leave.'

'How do I know that you're not the evil presence in this house?'

'You do not trust very easily do you Mr. Larabee, or would you prefer I call you Chris.'

'How do you know my name?' Chris wanted to enter the room but he wasn't sure he would be able to leave again; this could be a trick and he wouldn't know it until it was too late. 'Shit!' His previous thought brought another one slamming into his mind, knocking the air from his lungs. Ezra! It could also be a trick to get him away from Ezra.

He ran back to the room only to find that Ezra was no longer there.


******


Ezra opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. The pain he felt previously hadn't decreased and his clothes were soaked with his sweat. He managed to raise his right arm and wiped at the moisture on his forehead with the sleeve of his jacket but it didn't help; his jacket was made of leather, a material that didn't absorb moisture. His arm collapsed onto his face and he left it there for a moment before returning it to his side.

He knew where he was but he didn't remember being left alone. Chris had been here earlier. Ezra forced himself up onto his elbows and looked for his friend. Chris wasn't with him.

'Chris.' Ezra's voice was hoarse and his throat sore. 'Chris.'

There was no answer, which meant that Chris wasn't in the hallway outside of the room.

'I have to find him.' he wanted to hear his own voice and the result was the sound of fear coming from a man who had once been afraid of nothing. 'I need to find him.'

Ezra wasn't sure if he could stand let alone walk but he had to find out and the only way to do that was to get off the bed. He was already leaning on his elbows so he didn't have much further to go, or so he thought. He pushed himself up using his hands and leant his weight forward so he wouldn't fall back onto the bed. Ezra dragged his legs off the bed then waited to see what would happen. A minute later and without thought, he stood up. Still nothing happened. He had expected to be on the floor by now.

The real test was going to be walking. First one-step then two and then a third. Why was he moving? He couldn't understand it. His body felt like a dead weight, it was also feeling a lot of pain, pain that he had never felt before and his temperature had to be unnaturally high. He shouldn't be walking. There was something seriously wrong with this house.

He made it to the door without incident and moved out into the hallway. It was empty. After looking both left and right, Ezra decided to go right. He didn't know why, it just felt right to him.

The only thing to his right was a closed door on the left side of the hall. Ezra reached the door and opened it. The darkness of the room reminded him of his torch. A quick search told him he didn't have it.

Ezra felt the sudden need to vomit. He rushed into the room and fell to his knees. Hot liquid poured from his mouth and he wrapped his arms around his stomach. A spasm of pain erupted in his stomach and drove itself outward to the rest of his body. It became harder to breathe and after an impossible struggle, Ezra fell sideways to the floor. As his eyes slowly closed, he could make out a dark presence looming above him.


******


'Ezra!' Chris yelled at the top of his lungs and waited less than two seconds for an answer before yelling Ezra's name again. 'Stop and think damn it! He either went down the stairs or this way.' Chris pointed his flashlight towards the other two doors in the hall and saw that one of them was open; it hadn't been before. 'Ezra.' This time he didn't yell, instead, he whispered his agent's name and his voice was full of dread.

Hesitantly he made his way to the open door way and allowed the flashlight to continue doing his eyes work for him. Ezra was lying on his side next to a pool of vomit.

'Ahh damn it Ezra. Why couldn't you have stayed put?'

'Chris?'

'Yeah Ezra, it's me.' Chris rolled Ezra onto his back and placed two fingers against the Southerner's neck. Ezra's pulse had slowed and become weak. There wasn't much time left, they had to get out.

'There's something in here.' Ezra opened his eyes but couldn't find the strength to keep them open.

Chris frowned and raised the flashlight. He tightened his grip on its handle because he knew if he dropped it, the two figures in the corner of the room would disappear and he would never see them again.

'Sarah.'

She was still beautiful just like he remembered her. The shoulder length brown hair was filled with light curls and her pale blue eyes stood out against her pale complexion. The wedding ring he gave her the day they were married shown within the light that exposed her figure to him.
'Adam.'

His son, the spitting image of Chris was standing next to his mother. His small hand held on tightly to her white dress. His blue eyes were filled with confusion and fear. The boy had been too young to die.
Ezra was immediately forgotten when Chris stood up and slowly made his way to the corner of the room.

'Chris . . .' Ezra couldn't raise his voice any louder than a whisper. 'It's not them . . . Chris . . . it's not . . .' He reached out with his hand and tried to grab Chris's trouser leg but he didn't have the strength to hold it. There was nothing he could do to stop Chris.


******


'Sarah.' Chris was finding it hard to believe what he was seeing. Why would his murdered family be here, in this house, right in front of him, at this time? But what if they were here for a reason. To save him and Ezra. He wanted to turn his head to make sure Ezra was okay but again he was afraid that he would lose sight of his lost loved ones. He couldn't lose them again. 'Sarah.'
Why wasn't she answering him?

'Mr. Larabee.'

Chris recognised the voice as belonging to the girl he had spoken to earlier. He refused to answer her and took another step.

'Mr. Larabee, that is not your wife and neither is it your son.'

'Sarah.'

If only she would answer him.

'Sarah, why won't you talk to me?'

'Mr. Larab-'

'Shut up!' Chris yelled at the girl without looking at her.

'They will take your friend and then they will take you.'

'That's not true. Sarah, tell me that's not true.' Chris pleaded with her.

'Mummy, is that daddy?'

Chris's heart broke at the sound of his son's voice. He'd almost forgotten what his son sounded like, what his laugh was like. A single tear ran down his face and he wiped it away.

'It's me Adam.' Chris smiled at his son. 'I'm here now. Everything's going to be okay. You hear me Adam. Everything is going to be okay.'

Chris watched as his son moved closer to him. 'Daddy, are you dead too?'

'No Adam, I'm not.' Chris reached out to take is son into an embrace.

'Chris! This is not your son! It is an evil trick to get you away from Mr. Standish.'

'No.' Chris still refused to listen to the child's voice.

'Look at your friend. He's dying and you're refusing to do anything to help him. Ezra doesn't have time for this. His death will come quickly if you don't leave now.'

He didn't want to believe it. This was Sarah, his wife. It was Adam his only child who had died at a young age. He couldn't lose them again. But his wife was still refusing to talk to him. It was unusual because Sarah loved to talk. She would talk about anything and was able to make it sound interesting but now she was silent. Was it because of death? Did she blame him for what had happened? He had blamed himself for a number of years but Buck was finally able to convince him that it hadn't been his fault. He believed that now and no one, not even his wife, could convince him otherwise.
'Sarah, talk to me, please.' Chris begged her.

'Come to me Chris.'

Chris didn't know how, but he knew instantly that this wasn't his wife. There was no explanation for the knowledge; he would never be able to explain why he knew it wasn't her. He would tell Ezra that he just knew, the moment she spoke to him he knew. So he turned his back on what he had thought and hoped was his wife and son. His body shivered at the unnatural scream that filled the room and it took all of his will not to turn back. Instead, he now concentrated on the man lying on the floor near the open doorway.

He turned the light on the figure and his heart nearly stopped when he watched as Ezra's body rippled with pain.

'Ezra, I'm sorry.' The words were whispered.

'Go now!'

Chris moved as soon as the words had come out of the child's mouth. He didn't stop to think. Before lifting Ezra, he checked the Southerner's temperature. The skin of Ezra's forehead and almost burnt his own skin, it was that hot. How could Ezra still be alive when his temperature was beyond the life threatening range?

'Go!'



This time he looked at the child and saw the fear in her eyes. He had to move now. Chris lifted Ezra over his shoulder and felt the heat burning through Ezra's leather jacket. He was already sweating because of it. When he started to move towards the door, it slammed shut in his face.

'Shit!' Chris turned to look for another way out. 'What now?'

The child disappeared.

'Where are you going? Help me!' Chris screamed to the empty room and waited for an answer. There wasn't one.

What the hell am I going to do now?

Open the door.

Chris recognised the voice that sounded in his mind. It was the child. He could no longer see her but she was still there to help him.

He took another step and reached for the doorknob. The thought of the handle burning his hand or sending a bolt of electricity through him entered his mind. He had to stop being afraid and get things done. Ezra's life depended on him. He had undertaken a responsibility before without fear.

Why did he find it so hard to do now?

Chris closed his eyes, took a deep breath then gripped the door handle. Nothing happened. Would nothing happen when he tried to open it? There was only one way to find out. The knob turned easily and the door opened. A deep breath was released before he moved into the hallway. He could see the young girl at the top of the stairs. She was waving to him to hurry towards her. Chris didn't question her. With the weight he was carrying it was hard for him to move at a fast pace but he did the best he could for Ezra's sake.

When he reached the top of the stairs the girl was pointing downwards. Chris sighed and shifted Ezra's body; it had begun to slide further down his back.

'Is there a way out down there?'

'The front door will open for you.'

'You sure?'

'Yes, now go!'

Chris took the first step then felt the hands on the left side of his back that pushed him, causing him to trip and fall the rest of the way. As he tumbled over, he saw the young girl above him, an evil smile on her face.

The pain hit as soon as he landed at the base of the stairs but he didn't care because he was more concerned about Ezra than he was about himself. He winced when he rolled onto his back. After pushing himself up onto his knees. There was no light and he knew the flashlight lay somewhere nearby broken. He had to look for Ezra in the darkness. His eyes and hands only found empty space.

'Ezra . . . Ezra?'


******


All Ezra could feel was the pain and the suffocating heat that encompassed his body. The next thing he felt was the wet material that stuck to his body. He lifted his arm and grunted at the effort it took to raise the arm higher than his body. If he didn't have the strength to raise his arm to a certain height, how was he going to get up and walk out the room he was in? He knew it was a room, probably a basement. He could smell the mouldy dampness that surrounded him. It was dark but a basement window allowed some of the moonlight to enter the room.

He rolled his head from one side to the other so he could survey the room. It was full of junk. Furniture that had become ugly to their owners. There were chairs, picture frames, couches, and other things he couldn't name; he was unable to recognise what was left of the original pieces of work.
The thing he noticed the most though, was that he was still alone.

'Chris.' Ezra knew there wouldn't be an answer and there wasn't.

Ezra was in the basement alone. There was no way he was going to be to get up and walk out of
here. His voice wasn't strong enough to yell in the hope that Chris would hear him and come to his rescue. All he could do was wait for Chris to find him.

'Chris . . .'


******


Ezra was no longer with him. There was no doubt about that. But what had happened to him? He hadn't seen anyone take him and he couldn't have just disappeared into thin air. Or could he? Chris's anger was growing with every breath that came from his lungs.

'Where is he? What have you done with him?'

He wanted to give up, lie down, and die. How was he supposed to do this? Ezra was gone and he didn't think that he had any chance of finding him.

'Chris . . .'

That was Ezra's voice. Chris spun in a circle looking for the source of Ezra's voice but he still couldn't see the Southerner.

'Ezra? Where are you?' If he could hear Ezra then maybe Ezra could hear him. He held his breath while he waited then let it out loudly when he was answered with silence.

The sound of Ezra's voice had brought on a new reserve of strength and courage. His eyes drifted upwards and decided that the two upper floors was the last area he was going to search. He would look on the floor where he is and search for a basement. The basement always seemed to be the place where people hid their victims. Ghost shouldn't be any different; well he hoped they weren't any different.

And where were the stairs to the basement? Usually in the kitchen.

The image of the dining area was still in his mind so he was able to walk through it without bumping into anything. The kitchen was a different matter; they hadn't spent enough time in there for him to remember its layout. He was going to have to use his fingers and feet. A silent prayer asked God for nothing soft and mushy to be in the kitchen; he didn't want to touch anything that once lived or for that matter, was still alive.

Chris began with the wall on his left; it was the obvious choice because the wall on the right ran alongside the dining room. His first touch was a cupboard that was closed. The grimace he wore was hidden the darkness. He was going to have to open and see if it led to any stairs.

He felt cans, boxes and plastic bags full of food. Nothing soft and mushy. After thanking God, he moved on. The next thing he felt was what he believed to be the fridge. He wasn't going to open it. A bench top was next. There wouldn't be stairs here so moved past it quickly.

Shadows flickered across the windows at the end of the room. He was beginning to fear that the stairs to the basement weren't here. What if there wasn't even a basement? He would have to go upstairs again. Chris shivered at the thought. Were the three apparitions part of one force or was he going to have to fight all three to get out of the house. Another more fearful thought struck him. What if he and Ezra were stuck here? What if they would never get out?

As these thoughts were going through his head his fingers brushed over what he knew was a door handle. He thanked God a second time. So far, things were going his way. It opened. He used his foot to feel in front of him and it touched empty space. It lowered and landed on a step. He'd found the basement.

'Ezra? You down here?'


******


He could feel the need to throw up again and he wasn't in the right position to do it now. He had to get onto his side or he was going to choke to death on his own vomit. The first attempt to move failed. He was confident that he was going to die like Jimmi Hendrix had died.

'Concentrate damn it or Chris is going to find you with a mouth full of vomit!' Although he had yelled at himself, his voice was barely loud enough to be heard by his own ears.

He had to use everything he had to turn himself over. Every muscle screamed in protest when he managed to start moving and he bit his lip against the pain. His voice joined his mind's scream when he rolled onto his side causing the muscles to press against the ground. He tried to use his arm to stop himself from going onto his stomach but the limb wasn't strong enough. His arm was now trapped underneath him.

At least if he vomited now it wouldn't fall back down into his throat but on the other hand, his face may end up lying in it. In other words, he could choke either way. A few minutes later, he smiled when the nausea passed. He still felt ill but not enough to throw up.

Ezra tried to ease the tension out of his body so he could relax and get some rest while he had the opportunity. He was tired, too tired and all he wanted to do was sleep. But he was afraid that if he slept he wouldn't wake up again. He laughed at the thought of becoming a ghost and haunting this house with the others.

There were others. He had seen them. At first, he thought it was the fever, grateful that they weren't real but then Chris too had seen them, even though he had seen a different image. There was more than one. The young child was the leader. How could a child lead a group of entities? It could be an image that she wanted you to see instead of the real one. He shivered at the thought of what might lie within that frail body.

There was nothing wrong with his hearing. That's what he thought to himself when he heard the door open. A couple of seconds later he heard his name being called. The voice hadn't been loud but he had heard it. Chris was coming for him.


******


Don't push me, don't push me . . . please don't push me. Chris chanted the words to himself as he walked down the stairs. It took a few minutes for his eyes to adjust to the different type of darkness; soft hues of light streamed through the room allowing him to see the figure lying on the floor.

'Ezra?' It looked like Ezra, it moaned like Ezra, it even talked like Ezra, but was it Ezra. The two figures upstairs had looked like his wife and son but in reality, they weren't. It had almost killed him a second time.

'Chris, how did I get here?' Chris watched as Ezra struggled to raise his head but he wasn't able to do it. 'Chris?'

'I'm here Ezra.' He moved forward and lifted Ezra up into a sitting position.

The movement set the nausea flowing again and before Chris could reposition him, Ezra threw up, with most of the vile remnants of his last meal landing on the bottom of Chris's legs.

'Only you would throw up on my boots.' Chris smiled.

'Sorry . . .'

'Don't be Ezra.' Chris held onto the smaller man, the heat coming from him was something you would expect from a fire.

'Window.'

Chris thought Ezra had said something. 'What?'

'The window.'

Did he say a window? Chris searched the walls and his sight rested on the window that Ezra was trying to tell him about. There were no vines covering it. This may be the only way out. Or it could be trick. Why put Ezra in a room with the house's only exit? He couldn't sit here and wait. They were going to have to use it and see what happened.

'I'm going to get you out of here Ezra. Okay.'

'Said that before.'

Chris's feelings of guilt quickly disappeared when he heard Ezra laugh. 'I'll buy you a drink later to make up for it.'

'Only one?'

'One.' Chris had no intention of buying him more than one. 'I'm going to put you down again while I try and figure out a way to get you through that window.'

'Okay.'


******


He was grateful when Chris put him in a position so he could watch what was going on. It also meant that he could watch Chris's back. That was how he was able to see the girl appear below the window.

'Mr. Standish.'

When she spoke, her voice was deeper than he remembered; when he was upstairs, he had heard her voice when she spoke to Chris. Now it was more like a man with a chest full of phlegm. It was unnatural coming from this child and it proved his earlier theory that there was something behind the image of the child.

He looked at Chris but it his boss hadn't reacted to the voice. Chris couldn't hear her.


Ezra lay there memorised by the sight before him. It was like before. He wanted to warn Chris but he couldn't be sure if Chris would hear him and he certainly wasn't capable of getting up and doing it.

'Chris.' Just like he thought. His voice was only a coarse whisper.

How had he managed to talk to Chris only a few minutes ago? Someone was stopping Chris from hearing what was going on around him. Unless he could get Chris's attention, he was alone with this little bitch.

'Chris!' The effort of shouting tore more pain from his muscles and he groaned in response.

'You okay Ezra?'

Chris had heard him groan but didn't hear his words. Great.

'Bad guy.'

No. Chris was moving back towards him. No, don't come near me. The window. She's at the window. Chris, she's at the window. It must have been something in his eyes because Chris frowned then turned back to the window. Ezra heard Chris's quick intake of breath then cry of pain as he was flung across the room where he struck the wall and fell in a heap.

Ezra's eyes grew wide when the child's eyes took him into her focus. He automatically cringed back from the red eyes. Were they dealing with the devil here? If they were, they were never going to make it out of here. It didn't matter how brave you were, how smart you were or even how you're seen in God's eyes. You can't beat the devil. Yes, they did in the movies but that was crap. You can't beat the devil in real life.

She seemed to drift across the room and hover over him. Shit, he was really going to quit this time. As soon as he could talk loud enough he was going to tell Chris to shove this job and if he didn't like it then tuff titties. Did he just say tuff titties? He was obviously more afraid than he thought.

'Mr. Standish.'

'Yes.' He couldn't stop the answer from leaving his mouth. If he could, he would slap himself because there was no one else to hit him for doing such a stupid thing.

'I believe you are almost ready to come and join me.'

'Ah . . . no thank you . . . I believe that I would rather live.' His voice wasn't loud but she heard him perfectly.

'You do not have a choice in the matter.' She took three steps closer to him. 'I will take you then Mr. Larabee.'

'You don't want Chris, he'll just ruin your life. . . or should that have been afterlife. It is the afterlife isn't it?'

'Call it what you want.'

'Okay, I'll call it bitch hell.' Pain hit his throat with every word; soon he won't be able to speak at all.

'Would it help if I prayed to God?'

She laughed. What was so funny about praying to God? He was able to retort that it worked in the movies then realised, again, that it was real life. 'There is nothing that can save you. Nothing!'

'I can save them.'


Ezra turned his head to the voice. He had to. The voice filled him with hope. A woman stood next to Chris. She was the spitting image of the woman upstairs except she wore a pale yellow dress covered with tiny flowers. She was beautiful and she was the real ghost of Sarah Larabee. Ezra knew that without a doubt. Now if only Chris would wake up so he could see her.

'So the real wife has decided to show up.' Ezra sighed when the girl moved away from him and closer to Sarah.

'Kick her butt Sarah.' He saw Sarah smile and knew immediately that he was on her good side.

'You can't defeat me. I'm too strong. I have too many souls within my power.'

'But this time you're fighting well, I'm going to win. One; because I'm an angry wife and mother, two; I will not allow my husband to die, it is not his time, and three; I'm goodness through and through.'

'Good against evil,' Ezra moaned, 'what a cliché.'

'It's okay Ezra, I can do this, you stay there and look after yourself.'

'What, did you think I was going to try and help you?'

'Shall we do this here, or take it somewhere else.' The she-bitch asked.

'Somewhere else, I am a woman after all. I don't want this young gentlemen to get the wrong impression when I lose it.'

Ezra watched as both women disappeared. He waited a few seconds thinking that the fight would be over quickly. Neither entity came back. A scream sounded above him and it was then followed immediately by another. It sounded like they were having a catfight. Two women fighting over him, and Chris of course. Buck would love this. Ezra was going to have to tell him about it.

The screams continued and Ezra was afraid that it would never end. He couldn't raise his arms to cover his ears so he had to listen to what sounded like finger nails scrapping a black board. Silence filled the house and the only thing he could hear was his own breathing. Was it over?

More screams told him that it wasn't.


******


Thank God, it had been a dream. All of it, the ghosts, his family and Ezra dying of something unknown to man. It had all been a dream. The smell that assaulted him told him that he might be wrong; that it was all real and it was still happening. No, these sorts of things didn't happen in real life. Hell, what was he thinking? He worked with ghosts for a living. Of course it was happening.

Ezra. Ezra was with him. He was about to say something when he became aware of the screams. What in the hell was that? He opened his eyes expecting to see a woman, more than one woman in the basement with him and Ezra. His vision was blurry and he couldn't make anything out in the darkness. He was going to have to feel his way around again with his hands.

'Ezra.' If Ezra answered him, it would be a help. He would be able to follow the sound of the Southerner's voice.

He wasn't surprised when Ezra didn't answer him. And if he had answered him, the screams would have covered his voice.

After pushing himself up onto his hands and knees he began to make his way to what he thought was the middle of the room. He knew he found Ezra when his right hand rest on a sweat covered leg that was shaking involuntarily.

'Ezra!'

'Chris, get me the hell out of here.'

'I'm trying Ezra, I'm trying but something keeps getting in my way.'

'That'll be the she-bitch.'

'She still around?' Chris's eyes and adjusted and he searched the room finding it empty except for the old furniture. 'Where did she go?'

'She's involved in a cat fight.'

Chris stared at Ezra. Was his condition even worse? He reached forward and placed his hand against Ezra's forehead. The heat was less than it had been.

'If you're going to get me out of here, can you do it now while she's preoccupied . . .'
Chris knew he was going to say more but decided not to push him.

'Come on then, let's get you up on your feet because I don't think I can carry you this time.'

'Well I don't think I can walk.'

'Then crawl!' Chris shouted at him.

Chris regretted shouting at him but it was too late to take it back, he would have to do that later when they were in a safer environment. He pulled Ezra to his knees and started to push him towards the window. If he could have, he would've carried him the short distance but the dizziness and nausea he felt scared him. He didn't want to drop Ezra. The Southerner didn't need an injury on top of what was already wrong with him.

When they reached the window, Chris pulled a large empty box against the wall. He tested it with his foot and found it to be solid enough to take their weight.

'You first Ezra.'

'Not a problem. I'll just jump up onto that box and fly out of the window and-'

'Ezra,' His tone held a warning that would get Ezra moving with a little help, 'get up here.'

Chris was able to stand on the box with too much trouble. One hand held onto the window frame to keep himself steady while the other pushed the window open. Fear tore through him when he thought, what if the window doesn't open, but it moved easily opened all the way. He then reached down for Ezra and pulled him up onto the box.

'You're going to have to help me here Ezra, I won't be able to push you through.'

'Why not?' Was the sarcastic reply.

'Because I think I have a concussion and if you don't help we'll be stuck here for a while longer.'

'I can't lift a finger and you want me to help because you have a sore head. Typical!'

Ezra was angry and Chris knew it but he didn't care. If Ezra was going to act like a spoilt little shit then he'll treat him like one.

'Get your ass through that window or so help me . . .!'

'You owe me two drinks for this.'

'Yeah, whatever Ezra, just do it.'

Chris lifted Ezra's arms through the window and waited for him to find a hold and grip his fingers around it.

'Pull.' Chris ordered.

He wasn't sure how much Ezra pulled but he didn't think it was much. He was doing all the work. His legs were bent and his hands pushed against Ezra's butt then thighs and finally his ankles. A loud sigh told him that Ezra was now safe.

'Okay, now it's my turn.'

Chris was about to climb through the window when he heard a noise behind him.


******


Ezra lay on his back staring up at the cloud-ridden sky. He had tried to help but there wasn't any strength left in his body or mind. A cold soft breeze sent a wave of goose bumps across his flesh. When he heard Chris say, it was his turn he forced himself onto his side so he could see back into the basement. He was going to have to move out of the way or Chris was going to climb over him to get out.

He smiled when he saw Sarah appear behind Chris and a thought hit him hard enough to take the breath from his lungs. If Chris saw Sarah, he would turn around and go to her. He wouldn't leave the house if he knew Sarah was there. But Sarah wouldn't allow him to stay, would she?

But how would he feel at a later time knowing that he had stopped Chris from turning around and seeing his wife. He couldn't do that to a friend.

'Chris,' his own voice was soft.

Sarah was shaking her head. She didn't want him to tell Chris that she was there.

'You better hurry up before she comes back.' He couldn't understand why she wanted it this way. He would never be able to tell Chris she had been there, that she had saved their lives. It wasn't right but she must have said no for a reason. There had to be a reason. Ezra agreed to what Sarah wanted but he didn't like it.

'You will tell me if she does won't you.'

'Three drinks.' Ezra smiled at Chris and reached out with his hand to help pull him through the window.

His eyes opened wide at the sight of his out stretched hand. When he stopped to think about it, he could feel his strength returning. It had been the house. It wasn't like he had thought it was anything else.

Ezra shifted himself away from the window to give Chris more room to manoeuvre his body. When Chris was out, they both fell back and lay on the ground.

'That went well.'

'Like hell it did.' Chris retorted.

Ezra looked sideways at Chris and said, 'I say we blow it up or at least burn it down.'

'I say I agree with you.'

Ezra groaned when Chris stood up. He wasn't ready to move yet. He was hoping he could roll over onto his side and go to sleep for a few days now that it was over. Then again, he would be difficult to sleep next a burning house.

'Let's go!'

'I still need some help here.'

'Two drinks.'

Ezra grimaced then reached out in agreement and allowed Chris to pull him to his feet. Together they made their way back to the van. Buck and JD's voices slowly returned to them through the headsets they had managed to keep on. They kept quiet, not wanting the two men to know they were returning. If they could manage to get into the van and sit down without Buck and JD finding out that they weren't doing very well physically then they would be able to keep Nathan at bay.

They reached the van and Chris stepped up to the door and opened it. Both Chris and Ezra and Chris expected a barrage of questions but what they hadn't expected was what Buck said when he saw them enter the van.

'What are you two doing back so soon, did you just walk in and walk straight back out again?'

'What?' Ezra slumped into a chair to stop himself from collapsing to the floor.

'You've only been gone for five minutes.' Buck continued to explain.

'You haven't come back to make us go in instead have you?' JD squeaked.

'What?' Ezra was becoming more confused with every word.

'We saw enough,' Chris took control, 'I want that house burnt down!'

'Why?'

'Because there is something seriously wrong with that house.' Chris and Ezra spoke together.



~~The End~~





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