Hey everyone! Here's a little Halloween treat for all of you. Sorry it's so late, but anyway. Disclaimer: You know the drill. The mouse owns all.
And now, the exciting conclusion to Hide and Seek! Enjoy!
Gracey, who had been around death all his life, wondered why he felt so strongly about saving this human. True, he had killed many in his afterlife, but that was the demon working through him. Perhaps he thought he needed to prove that he had no demons and was capable of saving life instead of taking it. Or maybe it was something more. There was something in her features that was familiar; something that reminded him of Lily. He figured that he was getting a second chance at saving her, when he had failed the first time.
At the present, Paula lay propped up against some of Leota's many pillows. Her eyes were closed, but her breathing was slow and steady and her chest rose and fell with an easy rhythm. Gracey took the rag from the curtains away from her forehead. The bleeding had stopped for the most part, but a small trickle still flowed from the corner of one of the cuts. The makeshift bandage on her shoulder held up well, but it would probably need to be changed soon, as the blood was beginning to seep through the fabric.
He sighed as he began to take the fabric away. He was a lawyer, not a doctor. Why was he doing this again? He looked at her face. Oh, right, because of Lily. After he tied the finishing knot, Paula stirred and her eyes fluttered open. Her voice was weak and soft.
"Hey. How long was I out?"
Gracey shrugged. "Maybe a half hour."
"Oh." With the simple syllable, Paula began to rise up. "I think I should be getting home." The world blurred and spun. She fell back to her position on the pillows with a small thump and a groan. "Maybe after the room stops spinning."
There was silence in the room, except for the lulling sound of Madame Leota's chanting. She had been ignoring them once she saw that Paula was all right. Paula felt an impulse deep inside of her to fall asleep. As it was probably two or three in the morning, she deemed it to be justified, but Paula would rather sleep in her own bed. Especially since it was probable that her parents would come into her room to wake her up. When they did not find neither her nor her brother in the house, both adults would most likely get together a posse and search everywhere.
Once the wooziness subsided, Paula sat up again, this time more slowly and more cautiously. This time the world stayed put and stayed in focus.
"Ready to go, Miss Andersen?"
Paula nodded and looked at Gracey. He still had not bothered change his ripped attire, if he could change it at all. Also, his hair was uncharacteristically messy and fell into his eyes. His black trousers were more or less intact; only the bottoms were slightly tattered. However, his shirt was a different matter. The usually crisp white shirt was ripped almost beyond recognition. The facts that it was on his body and that his arms were through two holes of the white fabric were the only distinguishing features of the garment. His black tuxedo jacket and his blue tie were missing entirely. In Paula's eyes he actually looked quite handsome, but she figured that the master would rather not be seen in such a state.
"Uh, Master Gracey…?"
Paula pointed subtly to his irregular apparel. This, of course, made the master look down at himself and a light flush grew on his face and neck. He snapped his fingers and winked out of sight. Paula was not that stunned, but she was still curious as to where he went. A second later Gracey reappeared fully dressed in his regular tuxedo with nary a thread out of place. The act was something Paula's brain did not wish to comprehend at the time, but later the thought did cross her mind on how he accomplished the feat.
Disappearing act aside, Gracey stood and held out his hand to Paula. She took it gratefully and he helped her to her feet. Leota's chanting had not ceased. With Gracey's arm around her waist supporting her, Paula made it out into the hallway and through the labyrinth of corridors to the foyer where she had first met the ghost host. The foyer was back to its original state with the portrait of a non-skeletal Master Gracey over the fireplace and the door to the stretching room closed.
Paula looked to where the door was, knowing that her brother's body was behind it. Carefully, she removed her arm from Gracey's neck and walked shakily over to the door. With a well-placed push, the door slid open and showed that the body was just as she had seen it last; slumped against the wall with the eyes closed and a line of dried blood trickling from the mouth. Paula lifted the body so that she could get her hands underneath his arms to drag him out of the room. For the second time that night, tears sprung to her eyes, making her vision blur.
It was as if reality hit her at that moment. Her brother was gone. He wouldn't be there to annoy her, or pull foolish pranks on her or anything. Why was she taking this so hard? Her brother was her constant tormentor and never let her be. But, at the same time, could make her laugh and want to hug him. No more. No longer could she touch him, be it for bad or good. He was the supernatural and she; she was left to be natural.
Gracey, who had figured out what her goal was, gently pulled her to one side and grabbed the body himself. He laid it down in front of the fireplace and shut the door to the hidden room. Paula slumped against the wall, wiping the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand, somewhat ashamed at having Gracey see her like this. Usually she could hide her feelings, but when it came to her brother, who in life had constantly pestered her, they just poured out with no regard as to whom or what would see them. It annoyed her that Gracey could remain so calm, but she supposed that he had seen his share of death. Perhaps he could have some sort of insight on the matter.
"Why do I miss him so much?"
Gracey shrugged. "Why do we miss anyone close to us that dies? It's not like he's passed over, you know. My invitation still stands. You can visit us here at our moldering sanctum anytime you want."
"Thanks, Master Gracey."
"George." She extended her hand which he took and, instead of shaking it like she had expected, he bowed and kissed it. Blushing, she gave him a small, weak smile and a wave before walking out the door. Upon walking clumsily out of the door, she was blinded by a bright beam of light. She covered her face with her hands, to attempt to block out the light. The beam cut off and Paula lowered her hands. A male voice called out to her.
"Paula Andersen, is that you?"
She squinted in the darkness and saw the form of one of the few members of the local police squad.
"Pete, you've known me since birth, all right? Of course it's me."
The blonde haired officer apologized, but his manner was brisk and business-like. Not once had Paula known the man to drop his conduct. "Sorry. We saw your car here on several of our passes and wondered if you're all right."
Paula took a few wobbly steps down the stone stairs to the squad car, and, before she fell, she was caught by the shoulders by Pete's partner, Roxy. Paula winced as the darker woman's hand put pressure on her wound.
"Paula, are you okay?" Roxy looked unexpectedly concerned at her injuries, which differed from her usual tough exterior.
Paula was ready to drop from fatigue and the events from the night. The best she could do was quietly tell them the highlight of the night.
"Terry's dead. He's in the foyer."
The two officers looked at each other. Pete took his flashlight, put his free hand on his gun, and entered the mansion. Roxy began to console Paula as best she could and tried to get what happened out of her. All Paula could do was shrug and mumble 'I don't know'. Even if she told the truth, it was probable that they would not believe her. Pete came out of the house and called Roxy over. They moved a sizable distance from Paula, but she caught a few of the words they said. Pete confirmed that Terry was dead and told Roxy to call an ambulance for both siblings.
While Roxy radioed, Pete wrapped the tired teen in a blanket and offered her the backseat to sit in. Now the officer was less like himself and more attentive. He may not understand the loss himself, but he knew what the boy had meant to some of the citizens of the small town. Now as he helped the remaining Andersen child into the squad car, he wondered how he was going to tell the parents. Nothing like this had happened before and he hoped Mrs. Andersen would be all right. He put a comforting arm on Paula's unwounded shoulder and tried to help her down into the backseat, however Paula's attention was directed to something else.
Before she sat down, a light glow caught her attention. To the side of the mansion, behind a tombstone bearing his name stood Master Gracey. He noticed her looking at him and gave her a small, gallant bow, before dissolving into the darkness. Paula smiled, and then finally responded to Pete's voice. At last, she was able to collapse without the worries of crazed demons or warped versions of children's games. She should wait until the paramedics checked her out, but sleep began to overpower her and she slipped into a light state of slumber.
If this visit was so interesting, she could not wait until she came again.