Author: hexicode aka illman
Fandom/pairing (if appropriate): Thoughtcrimes, no pairing
Summary: After being run off the road during a storm, Brendan and Freya seek refuge in an abandonned house only to find that it is haunted.
Rating: no 'adult content' in this story, but some rather graphic descriptions
Warnings: violence, horror
Disclaimers: The characters and settings aren't mine. No profit is being made, this is for entertainment only.
A/N: This is just a short Halloween story that was originally posted to livejournal. It has now been slightly revised and beta-read by the lovely DianeM.
"You're still angry with me, is that it?"
"Huh?" Freya hadn't been listening.
"For not intervening, I mean," Brendan clarified.
Something is up with her. She hasn't said a word since lunchtime. I wish it knew what it is, so I can nip this in the bud. I hope she isn't going to complain about me, but she has to learn how the game is played. Not that I'm so good at playing by the rules myself.
"No, no. That's not it," she reassured him. "It's just frustrating knowing there is nothing we can do, that's all."
She's lying. There is something she isn't telling me. Stop being so paranoid, Brendan. Still, why did Harper send us on this wild goose chase? Oh, she's looking at me, great. Is she in my head again? Better say something...
"I know, I get that you want these people stopped, but what they are doing isn't our business. We went in there to find out if they are planning a terrorist attack, but according to you they aren't, so our business is done."
"Still, they are stockpiling weapons. That has to be illegal," Freya argued. But truth be told, it wasn't the guns that the cultists were stockpiling that she was worried about. It was the voice of the little girl that she couldn't get out of her head. She couldn't have been older than ten and she'd been so scared. Frey shook her head as if the movement could dislodge the memory somehow.
"It is, but that's a case for the ATF. I called the local field office and told them that we suspect them of being in possession of illegal weapons." Brendan sounded mildly annoyed.
Freya didn't reply and turned her attention back to the scenery flying past the window of their rental car. She didn't need to read Brendan's thoughts to know that he thought the ATF wouldn't do anything without concrete evidence. As she was rapidly coming to learn, information gathered from other people's minds wasn't usable as evidence.
Freya suppressed a yawn. The heat in the car combined with the rhythmic sound of rain pelting against the roof of the car was making her sleepy. It didn't help that she had hardly gotten any sleep the last three days that they had spent in the tiny hamlet of Pine Court, Kentucky, investigating rumors that a cult based in the area was planning a terrorist attack on a major city. Of course, as Brendan had predicted, they had found nothing of the sort. Although the New Community, as the group called itself, was in violation of a number of laws, there was no indication that they were planning anything. But the days had been long and tiresome, and Freya felt like she was coming down with something. She'd been sneezing all morning and now that night was falling, she could feel a definite scratch in her throat. She closed her eyes, letting the monotone sound of the wipers and the rain carry her off to sleep.
Freya's dozing was suddenly interrupted when the car began to spin, causing her head to hit the side window. "Brendan!" Freya called out, suddenly wide awake. After what seemed like an eternity, the car came to a stop, after a one-eighty turn. Her eyes fell to the radio lock. She had been asleep for over an hour.
"What happened?" she asked in alarm, turning to Brendan, who looked shaken.
"Road's all icy, I just couldn't stop, couldn't get any traction." Brendan mumbled, taking a shaky breath. He slowly turned the car around and they resumed their journey.
Freya peered through the windshield. It was pitch dark outside, their headlights the only illumination. "Where are we?"
"There was a pile-up on the interstate. Everything is backed up for hours, so we're taking the scenic route."
Definitely lost. I have no idea where we are. Great job, Brendan. Just don't tell her. She probably knows already. I'll never get used to being around a telepath.
Freya was about to reply, when suddenly, they were both blinding by a pair of rapidly approaching headlights.
At least we aren't the only ones out here. Oh no, they aren't even slowing done. What do I do? Fast, need to think of something fast.
Even though she had known he was going to pull over onto the shoulder of the road, Freya yelped in surprise when Brendan jerked the car to the left, steering the car off the single line of the country road.
"Shit!" Brendan swore when the car began to skid, down the incline at the side of the road. The terrain was rough, the headlights illuminating rough terrain as they went downhill.
Left, Brendan, turn left. If I get as much as a scratch on her, I will so be fired.
"Don't!" Freya yelled, realizing what he was trying to do. But she was too late, as a moment later the car impacted against the massive oak tree.
A sound woke Brendan. It was just as annoying, but definitely not his alarm clock. It sounded more like...a car alarm?! It didn't make any sense. And why did he hurt all over anyways, Brendan wondered, cracking open his eyes. At first, he couldn't make out anything, but when his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could make out Freya's worried face looking at him from the side.
"What happened?" he asked. He was still trying to gather his bearings, but he could taste blood in his mouth and that was already a bad sign.
"We've....uhm, we've been run off the road," Freya hesitantly told him.
Brendan was instantly wide-awake. He straightened up, despite the protest of what was probably a cracked rib or two, and tried to get a better idea of what was going on.
"No, no. It was just a couple of teenage joyriders," Freya assured him calmly as if that wasn't bad enough in itself.
How did she know? Brendan was puzzled for a moment, then the pieces started to fall into place. He really had to have hit his head pretty hard. This day was just getting better and better. And he probably had a concussion on top of it all, if the rising sensation of nausea was anything to go by.
"Are you all right?"
"Just a bit shaken up," she replied. She was rubbing her upper arms with her hands and for the first time, Brendan realized that it was freezing cold. It must have cooled down at least ten degrees since they had left Pine Court.
"How long have I been out?" he asked. A head injury could spell trouble very fast; he knew that all too well from first hand experience.
"Maybe ten minutes," Freya told him.
Brendan moved to reach for his pocket, but a sharp pain shot up his left arm, stopping him instantly. Closer examination revealed his wrist bent at a rather unnatural angle, no doubt broken in the crash. No wonder really, from what he could now see, the car had hit the tree on the driver's side. The airbag had deployed, probably saving him from worse injury.
"Already tried that," Freya interrupted his thoughts. "There is no reception out here. But I think there must be an abandoned building somewhere not too far from here."
"Well, we can't stay here, and I doubt we're going to be able to hitch a ride this far out, so we'd better go looking for that place," Brendan decided. He carefully maneuvered his injured hand into the pocket of his jacket, where he could at least keep it relatively still. The pain would still be a bitch, but there was nothing he could do about it here. He tried the driver's side door, and although it was mangled pretty badly, it still opened far enough to allow him to climb outside.
Freezing rain immediately began pelting in his face, stinging like thousands of tiny pinpricks. He suddenly felt dizzy, no doubt on account of his concussion, and had to use the car to steady himself.
"You okay?" He could barely hear Freya's voice over the rain.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said, realizing a moment later that the white lie was probably wasted on Freya. He took a deep breath and with a last look at the totaled car, they began their slow trek back to the road.
Brendan had stopped keeping track of the times he'd nearly slipped on the icy ground. The rain was freezing as soon it is fell, making their progress slow and, at least for Brendan, painful. He wasn't so sure anymore that he'd merely cracked one or two ribs on his left side, he was leaning more towards broken at the moment. He was soaked to the skin. Water was running down his face, and he'd stopped trying to wipe it away. He was too busy trying to step one foot in front of the other. His head ached ferociously, the angry throb behind his eyes enough to make them water, and he was doing all he could to stop himself from throwing up.
Time lost all meaning as they trekked through the night. They had hardly exchanged a word since leaving the car behind. Brendan was started to think that they maybe should have stayed in the car and waited out the storm there and then tried to flag down a car the next morning, but he'd chosen to trust Freya on this and there was no backing out now. They had not encountered a single car on the road, nor any sign of a town in the vicinity. They were literally in the middle of nowhere. They could probably be erring through the rain all night without encountering anything or anyone else.
He hadn't thought the day could get much worse, but it certainly had. What had started out as a wild goose chase with little prospect of success had now turned into a veritably dangerous situation. Being shot at – yes that went with the job. Being nearly blown up – not if he could avoid it, but yeah, another danger of the job. But this, this was just plain stupid. If he hadn't been so eager to get back home, he would never have left the interstate and none of this would ever have happened. For once, he only had himself to blame. If anything was going to get him fired, this certainly would do the job, he thought grimly as he fought off another wave of nausea. Unless he died of hypothermia first, that was.
Just as he was wondering how soon they'd be missed by the team at the office, he stepped on a particularly slippery patch of ice. He skidded, his feet unable to gain purchase. Overbalancing, he fell backwards and landed hard on his back. For a moment, he couldn't even breathe. The pain was overwhelming. Freya's voice was coming from somewhere in the vicinity, but he couldn't make out the words over the storm. The sky overhead was spinning, his vision rapidly clouding. The last thing he saw was Freya's concerned face, then everything went black.
The first thing Brendan noticed when he regained consciousness was that it had stopped raining. The temperature had gone way up too. Sufficiently puzzled, Brendan opened his eyes. He found himself looking at an unfamiliar high ceiling. The light was dim, something he was very grateful for, since his head ached worse than after the last Christmas party. He wasn't so sure what exactly had happened. All he knew for the moment was that he felt like death warmed over.
"Brendan?" a familiar voice asked somewhere off to his side. He turned his head to see Freya standing next to him. The motion brought an immediate wave of dizziness and he closed his eyes, hoping the room would stop spinning by the time he opened them again.
"Brendan! Stay awake!" Freya sounded worried and alarmed, enough so to cause him to open his eyes again. "What happened?" he asked drowsily, still trying to sort out his memory.
"Are you going to stay awake this time while I tell you?" she shot back, but couldn't quite hide the worry in her voice. "
"I'm planning on it," he replied. He couldn't recall having been awake before and trying to recall anything right now hurt. But the images still came back to him with vengeance.
"I crashed the car." It was a statement, not a question as the fragments of memory were starting to fall into place. There were still a few dark spots however.
"How'd we get here?" He could recall drudging along the road for what had seemed like hours, but he had no memory of arriving here.
"On foot. This place is just along the road, about three miles down," she explained. "I think you must have hit your head when you fell earlier. You've barely been able to stay awake for five minutes.
For a moment, they were both silent. Freya was probably just as aware as he was that this was a bad sign. He might need help quicker than they could get it.
"What is this place?" Brendan asked instead, although he was already suspecting the answer. If they were remotely in the area where he thought they might be, the place most likely used an asylum, as they were called at the time. Set up by a wealthy noble from Europe, it had lasted for only a few years around the beginning of the previous century.
"I'm not sure," Freya replied, not looking at him. "It seems to have been some sort of convalescent home. Someone must have stayed her recently, though. They left behind some stuff. I managed to get a fire going." She shrugged uneasily.
Brendan carefully sat up, for the first time realizing that he was lying on some sort of divan in what looked like a common room. There were various items of furniture, most of them covered in white sheets, along with a piano and several shelves of books. Everything was covered in thick layers of dust, testament to how long the building had been abandoned. That is, it had been until two weeks ago when a group of grad students had arrived to conduct field research. They had planned to stay for a week, but had left after just one night – at least that was what Brendan had gathered from the small blurb in the newspaper he'd read over lunch. Lunch – the memory made his stomach churn and he had to fight not to throw up. His eyes soon drifted closed again, and despite the little voice in his head telling himself that going back to sleep was really not a good idea, he was out only a second later.
Brendan was awakened by a scream. His confusion lasted for only a second this time. By the time he'd opened his eyes and realized that Freya was nowhere to be seen, he knew that something was wrong. He had no idea how much time he passed. His wristwatch showed the time as 11.34 p.m. And the fire in the fireplace had started to die down. How long had he been out this time, he wondered when suddenly there was another scream, followed by a heavy thud this time. He wasn't sure where the scream had come from, but it had sounded distant somehow. Ignoring the protests of his body, he first got to a sitting position. Once the worst of the dizziness had faded, he got to his feet. He couldn't ignore this, no matter how lousy he felt and how much his ribs and head hurt. Spotting a candleholder sitting on the mantle piece, he took one of the candles and used the fire to light it. It would provide only very dim light, but it would be better than trying to find Freya in complete darkness. With the help of the wall as support, he slowly made his way across to room and into the entrance hall outside.
He called out for Freya, but received no answer. Sighing, he looked around. There were two rooms branching off to the other side of the entrance hall and a stairway was leading upwards. The scream had come from further away, he recalled. It made sense to check upstairs first, Brendan decided and began his slow, determined climb upstairs.
Brendan had called out several more times for Freya, but had still not received an answer. There was definitely something going on upstairs though. First, he'd heard what sounded like a door slamming, then what sounded like something or someone was being dragged along the floor. He climbed up the stairs as fast as he could, but he had to pause every few steps, to catch his breath. It would be more than stupid if he ended up dropping the candle and setting the stairway on fire.
Finally, he reached the second floor. He peeked around the corner into a long hallway. Everything seemed quiet, but he could clearly see light coming from underneath one of the doors. Steadying himself on the wall, he headed towards the door. He paused for a moment, listening, but heard nothing. As quietly as he could, he crouched down. He dribbled a small amount of wax from the candle on the wooden floor and stuck the candle to it. He didn't want to extinguish it, but in a building this old, it would be very easy to set the whole mansion on fire. Wincing, he stood up again, trying to ignore the fiery pain erupting from his side. Once he'd caught his breath, he pulled out his gun with his good hand.
Using his elbow, he pressed down the handle and pushed it open. With a quick sweep of the gun, he took in the room, a former patient's bedroom no doubt from the looks if it. It was empty. Brendan stepped inside to have a closer look around. A gas light on the ceiling illuminated the room. There was a bed with a small bedside table beside it. The bed was neatly made, nothing looked disturbed.
Suddenly, the door slammed shut. Brendan whirled around, staring at the shut door. Feeling more than a little spooked, he walked over to the door. He tried the handle, but it didn't move. He slipped his gun back into his holster and tried the door again with his good hand, but no matter how hard he tried, the door remained locked. What the hell, Brendan thought. He was starting to feel cold all of a sudden, as if the temperature in the room was dropping. He turned in a circle, trying to come up with a strategy, anything that would tell him what to do. His glance struck a mirror on the wall, when he spotted someone standing behind him. He whirled around and drew his gun, pointing it at the figure.
It was a girl, barely older than thirteen or fourteen. At one point, she must have been beautiful, and although her skin was grey and mottled, her fine features still shone through.
"Who are you?" Brendan demanded while keeping his gun trained on the girl.
Brendan didn't see it at first, but there was something grossly wrong with her lower torso. Her clothes hung in bloody shreds, exposing torn flesh and a glimpse of inner organs. The sight was sickening.
She cocked her head, a grotesque smile on her face.
"Looking for her?" she asked.
"Where is Freya? What did you do to her?"
The girl held out her hand. "See that? It's hers." Blood was suddenly dripping from her fingers. "I marked her, she's mine now."
The girl took a step forwards, beginning to advance on Brendan. "Stop right there, or I will shoot you!"
The girl only laughed. Brendan fired a shot, aiming for the kill. He was stunned to see that the bullet went straight through her, without even slowing her down. This couldn't be happening, his mind screamed. He squeezed off two more shots, but they had as little effect as the first one. Brendan stepped backwards, only to find himself backed against the locked door. There was nowhere to run. He was cornered. In a last ditch attempt to stop the girl, he attempted to strike her with the gun, but just like the shot, his arm when right through her.
She rushed at him, passing through him. Brendan had never felt anything like it. He felt like he'd suddenly been dumped in a pool full of ice water. Gasping for breath, he sank down to floor. The world around him was fading and soon everything went black.
Brendan came to with a gasp. His eyes flew open. It took a moment for him to gather his bearings before he realized he was still in the same room where he'd encountered the mysterious girl. However, now he was alone, on the floor in the middle of the room and it was nearly dark. He scrambled to his feet as quickly as he could. He looked around, but there was no sign that what he'd just seen had really happened. The door stood open now and the light was off. He checked his holster and his gun was where it should be. He pulled it out and checked the magazine, just to make sure. Three bullets were missing. He scanned the walls and the door. There were no bullet holes anywhere. It didn't make any sense. It couldn't be. That led him onto another unpleasant train of thought. He would never be able to explain where those bullets had gone, or why he had discharged his weapon in the first place. His future at the NSA was looking more and more uncertain with every hour. Still, no time for self-pity. He still needed to find Freya.
"Brendan!" Freya shook Brendan's shoulder hard, but he didn't even stir. She tried again several times to shake him awake, but he remained unconscious.
It worried her that Brendan couldn't seem to stay awake. She had no idea how seriously he was injured, and she knew too little about first aid to properly help him. Even though the fire was blasting out heat and she had removed Brendan's wet jackets and shoes, he was still shivering. Freya got up from her seat on one of the armchairs near the divan where Brendan was resting. She had given the rooms on the first floor a cursory glance, but hadn't wanted to leave Brendan alone longer than necessary. She still hesitated to do so, but there was nothing she could do for him here, and she might be able to find something useful among the scattered supplies left behind by previous occupants. She'd already found the stack of beer bottles, food wrappers and cigarette buds probably left behind by the joyriding teens earlier. Not much of that they could use, but maybe some of the other rooms on the first floor – a kitchen, a laundry room and a doctor's office from what she'd been able to tell from a quick glance.
With a last look at Brendan, Freya quickly lit a candelabra she'd taken from the mantle of the fireplace and walked out into the entrance hall. She turned to the kitchen, deciding that it would be the most likely place she might be able to find supplies. Freya stepped through the open door, eyes on the cobwebs hanging from the door frame. She didn't like spiders very much, but it wasn't what was giving her the creeps. It was this place, there was something here that made the hairs on the back of her head stand on end. She tried to shrug off the feeling and turned to the task at hand. She turned to open the first wooden cabinet when suddenly the wooden door flew open with a bang. Freya yelped in surprise and eyed the cabinet cautiously, but nothing happened. What had she expected anyways, she wondered. This was nothing more than an old, abandoned house, she told herself and turned back to the cabinet. It was mostly empty, save a lone pot. She opened the next cabinet, hoping for more luck this time.
Suddenly, she could hear it. It was just a whisper, not clear enough for her to make out any of the words, but was definitely there and it was not coming from Brendan, that much she could tell. It sounded like a girl, like the girl she has spoken to at the New Community and it was coming from somewhere outside. Freya abandoned her search in the kitchen and headed back for the entrance hall, but the kitchen door suddenly slammed shut right in front of her. She reached out a shaking hand to open it, but the door refused to budge.
A cackling laugh erupted behind her and Freya whirled around, heart pounding hard and fast against the inside of her chest. Freya gasped when she laid eyes on the horrific figure. Standing in the middle of the room was a girl in a white, blood-stained nightgown. But the most alarming thing was her face. The skin was mottled, gray, almost green and peeling in places. Her teeth, however, were perfectly white and unblemished as she smiled toothily at Freya.
"Who are you?" Freya finally managed. The girl said nothing. Freya couldn't believe her eyes when suddenly one of the drawers shot open and a knife flew out, straight into the girl's hand.
"Who are you?" Freya repeated her question.
"I'm one of you. You are just like me." The knife lifted from the girl's hand and slowly began moving through the air towards Freya.
"I'm nothing like you."
"Are you sure?" The knife was now hovering inches from Freya's face. Slowly, it turned around, moving back towards the girl before suddenly clattering to the floor. Freya was about to lunge for it, when it flew straight into her hand.
"It's part of you. Just like reading people's thoughts. You couldn't control them at first, could you? That's why they locked you up. Because they thought you were a danger to yourself and others. They still think that, they don't trust you."
"That is not true!" Freya protested, still reeling in surprise over what had just happened with the knife.
"You can read their thoughts, you tell me," the girl challenged. "What do you think they'll do when they find out what else you can do?" The girl motioned to the knife.
"It's a trick. This isn't real. You aren't real," Freya told herself, hoping that speaking out loud would bring her back to her senses. As if to prove her wrong, the girl began to approach her.
"I'm as real as the voices you hear," she whispered. Freya made up her mind. She raised the knife and stabbed the girl right in her bloody chest. Much to her shock, the knife went straight through the girl's body, as if she wasn't even there.
The girl, not deterred at all by what Freya had done, leaned in close and whispered in her ear. "You don't need them. They only want you for your mind. They don't trust you and they never will."
"It's not true," Freya shot back, but doubts were rising inside of her. She'd heard Brendan's thoughts. He was afraid of her, afraid she was going to get him fired. He was only working with her because he wanted to keep his job at the NSA.
"That's right, you don't need them. He doesn't trust you." Freya realized that the girl was reading her thoughts.
"You see what it is like, being around you?" the girl taunted. The girl raised her hands and at first Freya thought she was going to physically strike her. She tried to move, but she couldn't. It was like invisible hands were holding her down. Almost gently, the girl put her hands to Freya's temples. Her fingers were cold as ice and the cold was rapidly spreading through Freya's body as if she was being immersed in freezing water. Her vision was fading fast and the last thing she saw was the girl laughing at her. The sound of her laughter followed Freya into the darkness.
The trip down the stairs was even more arduous than the trip up had been. It didn't help that he still felt shaken by what he'd seen. Even if he knew it wasn't real- couldn't have been real, it still felt that way to him. And even it had all been a figment of his imagination, possibly brought on by a head injury, he still couldn't explain where the bullets from his gun had gone. Aware that he wasn't going to find a solution by pondering the problem, he forced himself to concentrate on the issue at hand. The only reason he'd gone up the stairs was to look for Freya. He'd called for her several more times on his way down the stairs, but had still not received an answer.
He was all the more surprised when he staggered back into the common room and spotted her sitting in one of the armchairs, and at least appearing unharmed.
"Freya?" Brendan asked. "I've been looking for..." He stopped in mid-sentence when Freya got up and seemingly out of nowhere produced a large knife. Her lips curled into a smile that reminded Brendan of the girl he'd seen upstairs.
"Freya? What are you doing?" he took a step towards her, when he was suddenly thrown backwards by an invisible force and slammed hard into the wall behind him. He screamed in pain, for a moment unable to do anything but draw breath and attempt to stay conscious. Before he knew what was happening, Freya was crouched in front of him, knife in hand. Part of him was tempted to just yield to the pull of unconsciousness, wanting to escape from the nightmare.
"No, Brendan," Freya said softly. "You have to stay awake. Where would be the fun in you passing out?" she laughed and raised the knife to trace the blade along his face. Calling on all the strength he had left, Brendan unholstered his gun with his good hand and brought it up, aiming directly at Freya's head.
"Whoever you are, back off right now!" he ordered, but it came out weak and breathless.
"You won't pull the trigger."
"Are you sure?" Brendan did his best to hold the gun level, but his arm was shaking hard from exhaustion and pain.
"I'm a telepath, you won't fool me." The voice was Freya's but the tone had nothing of her compassionate manner. Whatever was going on, Freya wasn't herself. He flung his arm upwards. Freya, obviously taken by surprise, dropped the knife and it clattered to the floor next to her.
Brendan tried to reach for it, but before he had the chance, he suddenly felt a strong, cold grip around his throat. He could feel the pressure of large fingers wrapped around his neck, but when he tried to pry them off, his hands went straight through the invisible hands strangling him. His lungs were beginning to burn and his brain's scream for oxygen was drowning all other thoughts, when suddenly, the pressure around his neck vanished, leaving him gasping for breath. As the silver spots in his vision slowly vanished, he became aware of another, perhaps even more pressing danger.
The rug in front of the fireplace was smoldering, set on fire probably by the candle he'd dropped when he'd been thrown across the room. It would only be a matter of time until the rest of the room caught on fire. He needed to get out. Freya, where was she anyways? Brendan looked around while he tried to get to his feet. His head turned and attention diverted by the fire, he didn't see the knife flying towards his chest until it was almost too late. Instinct, not intellect, drove him when he ducked out of the path of the knife and reached for his fallen gun. He came back up, gun in hand and took aim. The knife buried itself in a bookshelf the same instant his shot hit its target. Freya staggered backwards when the bullet buried itself in her shoulder. She stopped in her tracks, staring at her wounded shoulder as if in shock. The smoke was starting to fill the room, as now the divan standing on the rug in front of the fireplace had caught on fire as well. Soon, the entire room would be in flames. He needed to get out soon. They needed to get out. Ignoring the pain from his bruised muscles and injured bones, Brendan grabbed Freya by the arm and started to physically drag her towards the door. Freya didn't protest, but didn't help him either. Brendan's eyes were tearing up from the smoke and fits of coughing jarred his injured ribs, but he made it to the door with Freya in tow. It was only then that he realized that the door was locked. It hadn't been before, but with everything that had happened, he was hardly surprised.
"Open it!" he demanded of Freya.
"I...I can't." she stammered, her voice devoid of the confidence she had shown just before. "I don't think, I don't think I know how..."
Brendan ignored her, thinking feverishly. The door was solid, made of thick wood. There was no way he could kick it in, not in his present condition. Shooting open the lock was too risky. He'd probably get hit by the ricochet or metal fragments from the lock.
"Freya," He turned and grabbed her arm. "You have to try. We'll die in here. You did it before, you can do it now."
"It wasn't me." Freya said tonelessly. "She did it. I can't let her back in." She broke into a fit of coughing. Brendan cast a desperate look back to the room. There were a few windows at the far side, but the path across the room was barred by rapidly growing flames. There was no way out. His lungs were burning and Brendan began to cough, immediately tasting blood. He hardly noticed his legs finally giving way under him. He collapsed to the ground and knew that this time he wouldn't be getting back up. All energy reserves exhausted, Brendan surrendered to the darkness.
Freya returned to consciousness slowly, like rising to the surface from the bottom of a very deep lake. Mute noises slowly cleared into distinct sounds – beeps, the sound of paper rustling, distant voices. Freya opened her eyes, her lids heavy. Somehow, although she wasn't sure why, she wasn't surprised to realize that she was in what appeared to be a hospital room. Not a hospital like Brookridge, more like the hospital where she'd been before her committal to the psychiatric hospital. Her memories of that time were vague, but the environment still seemed too familiar with all its sounds and smells. Freya turned her head to see Dr. Welles sitting at her bedside, reading a newspaper. Freya tried to sit up, but a sharp pain suddenly erupted from her shoulder, deterring any further movement. It was with the pain that she remembered. The car accident, the abandoned house....and everything that had happened there come back with painful clarity. Freya closed her eyes again, unwilling to deal with the repercussions. It didn't seem fair. After so many years, she finally had had some semblance of control of her life, or so she had thought anyways. But now, it was all collapsing around her. She now knew why people hadn't trusted her and they had been right to do so.
Freya didn't react. She couldn't do this. Not again.
"Freya, open your eyes. I know you're awake."
Freya reluctantly complied. "What's going to happen now?" She might as well face the facts now.
"Well, you were admitted with suffering from smoke inhalation and gunshot wound to your right shoulder. You lost a lot of a blood and were unconscious for almost two days, but you should be fine. They are talking of releasing you tomorrow morning."
"Is that all?" Freya asked suspiciously.
"If you are worried, don't be. Agent Dean has told me what happened. Factoring in his head injury, I am taking his report seriously, but I don't think you have anything to worry about. I mean it."
Freya's gaze fell on a pitcher of water on the nightstand. She tried to move it with her mind, but nothing happened, it didn't even so much as shake. That was reassuring and she felt the knot in her stomach give slightly, but that didn't mean it couldn't happen again. "What about Brendan? How is he?"
"He's on the mend. He's got quite a concussion, but he's going to be fine in a few days. Why don't you go along and see him later, if you feel up to it."
"I feel fine," Freya said more to herself than to Dr. Welles.
"Are you sure?" he didn't appear to believe her.
"As you said, there is nothing to worry about." Freya met his eyes.
"You will be fine," Dr. Welles promised and got up from his chair. "I'll see you soon." he said and left the room.
Despite Dr. Welles' reassurances, Freya felt her heart pounding hard against the inside of her chest as she walked down the corridor on unsteady legs towards the ward where the nurse had told her Brendan was resting. She paused for a moment before knocking against the door. She was relieved when the answer was prompt, telling her to enter.
Brenden was resting in bed, propped up against a pillow. He was a little bit paler than usual, but appeared unharmed, aside from a bright pink fiberglass cast on his left wrist. Brenden followed her gaze and shrugged. "They were out of all the other colors." He smiled. For a moment, there was a tense silence between them.
Why is she not saying anything? If this is her way of telling me that I'm fired...Better say something before she does. Not that it'll help any with Harper.
"Freya? I'm really sorry for shooting you back there. I..."
"You didn't have a choice," Freya quickly interposed. "I would have killed you if you hadn't stopped me." She didn't meet his eyes.
"Well, you saved my life if I recall right, so I think we are even," Brendan said.
"Unless you still want to kill me, of course," Brendan joked.
"No, I don't know what happened to me back there, but for what it's worth Dr. Welles doesn't think there is anything to worry about." Freya sounded unconvinced, even to her own ears.
"That's good to hear," Brendan said and nodded. "I asked the guys at the office to do some checking and apparently the place where we ended up has some serious history."
"The mansion was originally built by a wealthy family from England, but they only lived there for less than a year before one night they were all murdered, by the eldest daughter apparently. The building stood empty for almost fifty years until a wealthy doctor from New York bought it and set up an asylum. After several suspicious deaths, including the good doctor, it had to close down. It's been vacant ever since. Apparently, teens like to go there for a dare."
"Like the joyriders," Freya said with a nod. She wasn't sure what to make of the information Brendan had given her, but she still felt somewhat reassured. There had been something in that house, that she was certain about.
"Yeah, no sign of them so far. The local police are looking, but they aren't holding out much hope," Brendan shrugged.
"I don't think that matters," Freya meant it. "What matters is that we're both okay."