We had the picture on the floor, in the center of the candles that Father Dom had placed in front of the altar rail – just as he'd done when I was sixteen and I'd exorcised myself to get Jesse back. We'd done several exorcisms since then, though only on people who were actually dead, but that was always the one that I always remembered the most clearly.
I led Mom to the back of the chapel as Father Dominic lit the last of the candles. I was going to do as Jesse asked and stay out of the whole thing unless I was absolutely needed.
Father Dominic pulled out his little leather-bound book. He opened it directly to the page we needed – this wasn't our first rodeo. If you dropped that book on the ground, it would naturally open to the exorcism chant.
"Suze, this is insane," Mom whispered to me. She still wasn't happy with my old principal, but she hadn't interfered while we'd been setting up. That was something, at least. Maybe she did believe, a tiny bit, and just didn't want to. If that was the case, then there was hope. I could eventually bring her around. "What kind of…cult are you three part of?"
I rolled my eyes. As if Father Dominic could ever be part of a cult. "It's not a cult, Mom. Just…please. Trust me. If you're going to stay while we do this, then you really need to let us focus on what we're doing. Ghosts don't take too kindly to being exorcised, so this could get ugly and dangerous. I really don't want you getting hurt."
Father D. began swinging his little incense-filled metal ball – I always forgot what that thing was called – releasing a bunch of stinky smoke.
Let me tell you, with my pregnancy-heightened senses, that stuff smelled even worse than usual. It was taking nearly every ounce of my willpower not to hurl.
Father Dom started chanting in Latin.
Mom leaned over and asked, "What is he saying?"
I took a deep breath, still trying not to lose the contents of my stomach. "I don't know. It's Latin. I can't even learn Spanish after years of studying it and having my Latino husband try to teach me. You really think I'm going to know anything in Latin? Now shh. Let them concentrate."
The smoke from Father Dominic's metal ball began to coalesce above the candle circle, creating a tornado of smoke. I knew from personal experience that if you were to look directly up into the center of it, it would look like the night sky.
Mom's eyes widened. I couldn't help but smirk a bit at that. She really hadn't been expecting anything to happen. I asked, "Do you believe me now?"
She didn't say anything. She just shook her head.
In the middle of the candles, a figure began to appear, and he didn't look happy at all. Thomas Clarke.
"What the hell is happening?" he exclaimed. Then he saw Jesse, and his expression became furious. "You!"
He launched himself at my husband, nearly knocking Jesse off his feet.
I cursed. I had kind of figured that this would be his reaction, but it didn't mean that I liked it. "Jesse, get him back in the circle!"
My mom frowned. She looked between me and my husband, who was currently attempting to push Thomas back in the circle. He wasn't succeeding. "Get who back in the circle?"
"Thomas, the ghost."
She sighed. "Oh, Suzie, you don't really expect me to believe –"
"Duck!" I yelled, pushing her down as one of the decorative candelabras flew toward us. It just barely missed us, crashing into the wall behind us. If I hadn't ducked when I did, it probably would have taken my head off.
I looked over, as I stood up and helped my mom to her feet, to see Jesse and Thomas grappling with each other. Mom was frowning, looking in their direction as well. I knew she couldn't see Thomas, but she had to know that Jesse wasn't faking all of that. Thomas was trying his hardest to beat the crap out of my husband. He hadn't landed any punches to his torso, as far as I could, which was good. Jesse didn't need his ribs injured any further. "Jesse!" I yelled. If things didn't turn around soon, I was going to jump in and help.
"Don't even think about it, Susannah! I can handle him!"
Jesse finally managed to shove Thomas back into the circle. He held him there, with Thomas kicking and screaming, until vines of mist reached out from the tornado of smoke and latched onto Thomas's wrists and ankles.
I released the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. Once that smoke got a hold of a ghost, that was it. Thomas wasn't getting out of there.
Jesse staggered backward, holding his ribcage, now that the smoke had a tight grip on our NCDP. I was sure that all that moving around and struggled had cause him quite a bit of pain. Father Dominic was still chanting.
"Damn you!" Thomas screeched, thrashing against his bonds. He wasn't going anywhere, though. That smoke was not letting him go. "Damn you! You killed my daughter!"
Mom gasped. Her eyes were wide. "Oh, my. I…I can see him."
"Really?" I asked, just as the smoke started lifting Thomas in the air. I was surprised that my mom was able to see him. She hadn't been able to before.
Jesse looked sadly at Thomas. "I'm sorry that it ended like this," he said sincerely. He really had wanted to resolve things peacefully. But it wasn't his fault that Thomas wouldn't allow things to end peacefully. It wasn't his fault that Thomas had allowed his grief to cloud his judgment, and his revenge to consume him. "And I am truly sorry that Chloe died."
Thomas disappeared into that hole, and Father Dom stopped his chanting. The tornado whipped itself out of existence, extinguishing the candles in the process.
Silence filled the dark basilica. An awkward, tense silence, one that wasn't helped by the darkness surrounding us.
I turned on the flashlight on my cell phone, bringing back some of the light the candles had provided. "Well," I said, to try to break some of the tension, "that went a lot better than I expected. I didn't have to throw a single punch." I really thought it would go terribly wrong. I was glad it hadn't.
Father Dominic shook his head. Jesse rolled his eyes and muttered in Spanish, "Increíble. Mi esposa va a enseñar a nuestro hijo a pulverizar a los muertos antes de que él o ella aprende a caminar."
"Better than you expected? A smoke tornado sucked up a ghost!" My mom's voice nearly broke on the last word. It was very hard to shake her calm, so this wasn't a tone of voice that I heard from very often. I guess witnessing an exorcism was something that could do that.
I nodded. "That's pretty standard for exorcisms. The Brazilian Voodoo version creates red smoke, though."
She looked quite pale. She leaned against the wall, and then slid to the floor. "A candelabra was thrown at your head," she said weakly.
I laughed a little at that, though I knew that I probably shouldn't. It seriously wasn't the first time that had ever happened. "I've had a head thrown at my head. Not during an exorcism, though. I did have part of a roof fall on me during one exorcism," I mused, thinking about all the exorcisms I've performed over the years. "And there was another time that I was nearly crushed by a car. Oh, and then one guy, he threw a pair of dentures at me. That was one crotchety old man."
"Susannah," Jesse said calmly, watching my mother. "I don't think you're helping."
"What? Oh." I rushed to sit next to my mom. I squeezed her hand reassuringly.
"You do this on a regular basis? How often do you get hurt?" she demanded.
I hesitated. I was glad that she finally believed me, but she was not going to like my answer to that question. "Let me put it this way. I'm not clumsy. At all."
She shook her head. I could tell she was finally putting all the pieces together. All those times she'd taken me to the hospital because I'd supposedly tripped and fallen. All the times I had managed to convince her not to take me to the hospital because it really wasn't as serious as she thought. "Mom," I said. If she thought about it too much, she'd panic and then she'd never go home. She could get even worse than Jesse when it came to being overprotective. "I know that it seems totally crazy and dangerous. It can be. But I'm a tough girl. All mediators are tough. I can handle it. And I've got Jesse and Father Dom. We look after each other. So you don't need to worry about me, okay?"
She didn't say anything. I sighed. "All right. Let's get you back to the house. Get some sleep, and we'll talk more tomorrow."
"I want every detail, Susannah," she warned. "Every last detail."
Yeah, she wasn't getting that.
"Eventually," I lied.
Translation (according to the translation section of dictionary . com): Unbelievable. My wife is going to teach our child how to pulverize the dead before he or she learns to walk.
I am going to do one more chapter, and then that's it for this fic. I will be doing a sequel, like I said before. I'm not sure when it will be up, but it shouldn't be too long. Enjoy!