Day 11 – Saturday July 14, 2007
The Little Rock Capital Journal
FIRE DESTROYS DAYCARE IN NORBOROUGH CT.
By Betty Herpin
Published: July 14, 2007
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The ABC Academy and Learning Center was completely destroyed early Friday morning. Crews from Fire District 1 and Arkansas' capital city spent several hours fighting a blaze at the Preschool-Childcare facility at 6709 SE Norborough Ct. According to Fire District 1 Spokesperson Dominick Hughes, neighbors started calling 911 about 1:15 in the morning reporting flames shooting from the building. Authorities arrived in time to aide in the rescue of two of the center's employees, whose names have not been released. It is believed the victims were abducted from a local restaurant and taken hostage to scene, where they were forced to enter the codes to the center's alarm system. Discarding the victims, the kidnappers then raided the facility and ruptured the natural gas lines, which then fed the flames and delayed efforts to extinguish the fire, as well as allowing the suspects to escape. A crew is still on the scene putting out hot spots. Investigators will spend today trying to pin down suspects.
JOURNAL ENTRY by RENEE JORDAN
(St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, Little Rock, AR)
I've never been much of a writer. I mean, ma bought me a journal when I was a kid, and I used it for a little while. Mostly I wrote about my latest crush or what happened on my favorite TV show, but it was just a phase and I stopped writing in it after Jen found it and decided to try to blackmail me with it.
But, I'm willing to try anything at this point. I feel like I'm going to implode. I've learned more in the past 24 hours than I've ever cared to know and so much has happened. I can't even talk to anyone about it because no one would believe me even if I did. It's like having a nightmare. I wish it were a nightmare. It would make things so much easier if I could just pass this off as some really horrific dream and when I wake up I can just pull the covers up over my head and go back to sleep like nothing happened. But dreams and nightmares don't leave you with multi-colored bruises on your throat and a difficulty just swallowing. God, I'm sick of soup and Jell-O, already!
That's enough right there to remind me that it really happened, that it wasn't all in my head. I suppose there's always the shrink option, but I'm pretty sure all I'd get for my trouble is a pretty white jacket and a nice padded room when I sat there in front of them and announced ghosts are real and one of them tried to kill me.
Ghosts. Even the word has a different meaning to me now. Jen and I used to sneak out of our beds and watch Twilight Zone after mom and dad went upstairs, but even as a child I knew that ghosts and monsters and such weren't real. So coping with the fact that everything I've ever been taught to be true is now worthless…
Colleen says writing helps her. I can tell she's really worried about me. She's got a husband and a son to go home to; to go back to normal for. Me? I've got my cat.
I've been thinking about going home after this. The "what-if" part of me keeps screaming that this would never have happened if I had just stayed home. But I know that even though it never would have happened to me, it would have just happened to somebody else. And moving back home is tempting, but I have to admit, it's nice knowing that at least one other person in the world knows that I'm not crazy. Colleen and I both have issues we're going to have to work through, mine being almost murdered and hers being possessed – freaking possessed! - but at least we have each other. So I guess I shouldn't say that I don't have anybody to talk to.
Anyway, Colleen sat with me for most of the morning and told me her side. I thought it would help, knowing what had happened from someone who had been more informed than I at the time. Unfortunately, it only served to make me that much more confused. She brought me this journal, and a copy of the newspaper article about the fire, so I figure I'll give it a shot. Maybe actually writing it down will help me piece my scattered thoughts together. So here it goes…
Colleen said I just disappeared from outside the school. Like one minute I was there, the next I wasn't.
But it didn't feel like a disappearance. It felt like a mugging. I've been mugged before, you know. Back home, I was walking from Skips to my apartment when the guy clocked me in the back of the head before snatching my purse and running off. I don't know how long I was out when it happened, but when I came to there was this group of people around me and I couldn't see any of their faces because my vision was still blurry.
This felt like that. One minute I was there, standing next to Colleen, confronting Sam and Dean, and the next I was on the ground, my head pounding and blinking blurrily from watering eyes. My brain's immediate explanation was that Sam and Dean were about to rob the school and when they realized they were busted, one of them had hit me in the head. I quickly looked around for Colleen. If they hadn't hurt her, we could make a run for it and call the police.
Realizing I wasn't in front of the school anymore was the first shock. The second was finding this strange guy standing over me, just staring down at me. He was pale, and his eyes were round and bright, like a cat's when a light is shone on them. But his clothes were the biggest give-away. They just weren't right. They were simple and old, like something out of time. One of those Amish people, or maybe just a really good Halloween costume.
The weird getup brought back all those ridiculous horror movies I've ever seen because, really, if the dude from Scary Movie could murder people while wearing a smiley mask with it's tongue hanging out, who says a real psycho wouldn't dress like something out of a history book.
The weirdest thing, however, was that even though he was standing there - standing right over me - I swear I could see right through him. And when he bent even closer to me, I swear his image flickered, like one of those old silent films, or like he was some kind of hologram.
He looked real enough, felt real enough too when he grabbed me around the throat with one massive hand and lifted me off the floor and – I kid you not – into the air. My vision went from blurry to black in seconds, he was that strong. I was gasping and choking, even hitting and kicking. And there was pain. A lot of it. I couldn't get air and I panicked and it felt like every vein in my forehead would pop from the strain. The sick bastard had his free hand on my stomach, too, like he was trying to feel the baby.
I really panicked then. I'm ashamed to admit, I hadn't thought about the baby until that very moment. I'm not that far along and still just getting used to the idea that there's even anything there. It made me feel like a bad person that I'd thought only of myself first, but that quickly passed because now that it was forefront in my mind, I was absolutely terrified that all of this violence and struggle would endanger my pregnancy and possibly kill my baby.
And then I realized that was the whole point. That's why I had been brought here and nobody else. Hadn't I just read that article about the pregnant teacher? The police found her body in the Arkansas River just a mile from here.
There was no way it could be a coincidence, not when my psycho attacker seemed so keenly interested in my belly. He wasn't alone, either. I couldn't see her, but I could hear another voice in the room. And strange as it sounds, I thought she might be telling him to stop. No, not telling. Begging.
She must have surprised him, or maybe her interference just really ticked him off. Regardless, the bruising grip around my neck loosened and he threw me – freaking threw me! - across the room. My body was so consumed with taking in air that I barely felt the jolt of hitting a bookshelf. It knocked the wind out of me, though, because I sat there, crying and gasping, until the feeling of prying hands got me moving again.
I swear the woman had joined my attacker and now they were both trying to get to me and hurt my baby. I heard words, what I can only now identify as soft sounds of reassurance, but at the time I was too far-gone to listen. I just wanted to get away from those hands, to keep them from hurting us. Then the fog cleared and when I looked up, my attacker and his female accomplice had transformed into Sam and Colleen.
I was so relieved to not be alone anymore that I starting balling. Hysterically balling, like words were coming out of my mouth and I had no idea what I was saying. Sam took my weight and they both got me on my feet, but all the while they were arguing.
I heard everything but, I don't know, maybe I was in shock, because I sure as hell didn't understand any of it. All I knew was that I could barely stand and Colleen wanted to get out but Dean and Sam wanted to stay and for the love of God, why did they want to stay? That brought on a whole new wave of hysteria. I think I collapsed because the next thing I knew Sam was carrying me out of the TR room.
This next part is…fuzzy. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Like a giant puzzle that I've only got a few of the pieces to. I remember Sam putting me down and maneuvering himself so that he stood between Colleen and I. Then wind and breaking glass, and Colleen lunging for me. There's fire somewhere in there. And silence. And Colleen insisting, "No! No, it's not. It wasn't her!"
I fought to clear my head and understand what was happening around me.
"What do you mean, it wasn't her?"
"She… she was in my head, Dean… All those women… she'd tried to protect them! She was trying to protect Renee."
It didn't make sense, of course; nothing made sense. My whole freaking world had gone crazy and I just wanted it all to be over.
"Can you walk?" Sam asked me, hand closing around my wrist, and I didn't fight when he pulled me out of the Conference room. My own hand, the one that wasn't being used as a leash, I put to my stomach. I might not be far enough along yet to be showing, but even the idea of anything hurting my baby horrified me beyond reason and gave my legs strength to keep up.
Sam and Dean argued as we ran, and for the life of me I couldn't make sense of any of it. Something about how they'd been wrong and that somebody named Spotsgood had died in a fire so there were no remains to burn.
We reached the basement door, but no amount of pushing, shoving, or kicking would open it. It was sealed shut. I had to be close to hyperventilation at this point; especially after realizing we were well and truly trapped.
Wind that had no right to be inside the room picked up and from somewhere in the darkness I heard a deep, wordless whisper. It was creepy as hell, and I froze. I had no idea what it was or where it came from, but it coiled along my every nerve and made goose bumps spring up my back and arms and neck.
The darkness in the room seemed to move, to coalesce into a solid figure, one that Dean immediately fired a shot at. The fact that they had guns hadn't escaped my attention, but the way that thing dissipated into gnarled curls of black smoke had me demanding instead, "What was that?"
Sam didn't answer. He didn't have to. The report was still ringing painfully in my ears, chasing my heartbeat, and from that silence I pulled more truth than an hour's worth of conversation.
"Dean, we've gotta get these girls outta here," Sam said.
"I'm open to ideas," Dean shot back, eyes never wavering from scanning the darkness around us.
It was Colleen who answered. She was still shaking. "You… you said you needed to know what he's tied to?"
I didn't understand what that meant, but Sam glanced at her sharply. "Do you know what it is?"
She opened her mouth to answer, but all the while we talked the darkness had been reforming; wriggling and fusing together to take shape into the solid mass of something vaguely human-shaped. I didn't have time to shout a warning before Dean was thrown off his feet and sent careening across the room. Only then did my psycho killer dive at me.
I screamed, and screaming hurt, because those same hands were around my neck again, both of them this time, cutting off my air and trying to kill me for the second time that night. The pressure on my neck had me convinced it would snap off at any moment. Another shot rang out, this one closer, point blank range. I didn't get the full effect like my attacker did; the shot had come from the side, but I got a small dose of whatever was in the gun. It felt like tiny rocks, too small to do any actual damage but delivered so hard and so fast that it actually drew blood in some places. I dropped to the floor in a heap.
Sam appeared, Dean's gun in his hand, and God, who were these guys?
"You all right?" he asked me, but my throat was throbbing and I couldn't have used my voice to answer even if I wanted to. The skin on my neck burned, and I swear I could feel my trachea swelling several sizes.
At least I was breathing. It was possible everyone within a block's radius could now hear my strained attempts to pull in oxygen. The effort it took was dizzying and I think I checked out for a few minutes because I was abruptly hauled to my feet and Colleen was in front of me, lifting my head in an attempt to make breathing easier and telling me to relax and that I was okay.
"Now would be a good time to say what you were gonna say, Colleen," Dean said, urgently.
Colleen swallowed, looking as though she were struggling to come up with the to right words. "It's just… Nell… When she was there in my in head… it's hard to explain but, I got a peek into her thoughts. It's this place. He's here because of this place."
"His work. The schoolhouse… it meant everything to him. He put it before everything. His life, his family… so…"
"So as long as there's a school here, Spotsgood will always be here," Sam finished for her. "That would explain a lot; why this place has been torched more than once."
"You think hunters have been here before?"
"That's exactly what I think. Only the last fire hadn't been big and bad enough to destroy everything."
"Damn," Dean said. "This is gonna be messy. You thinking what I'm thinking?"
Sam nodded. "Gas lines. It's the only way this place will get taken down completely."
I've never heard Colleen curse, so she surprised me with some very colorful vocabulary.
And that's it. I passed out in Sam's arms and when I woke up, the school was an inferno. Sam and Dean were gone, but they hadn't left before helping Colleen concoct a story that would be believable. We were kidnapped from the parking lot of El Mezcal and forced to help these two faceless delinquents break into the school. Part of the story was that I'd tried fighting them, and that's where the bruises on my neck came from. That was why we'd gone willingly along with them, because we were afraid for our lives.
It wasn't a hard sell. I'm sure both of us looked pretty traumatized and scared when the authorities showed up. The police took one look at my neck and nobody questioned the honesty of our account. They put me in an ambulance almost immediately, and I felt bad for leaving Colleen to deal with all the questions.
So here I am, sitting in my hospital bed. I've got a sore back, a sprained wrist, a wide and colorful assortment of bumps and bruises, and a shiny new label: "victim of attempted manual strangulation." But dang it, I'm alive - still here, still breathing, and there were no detrimental effects to my pregnancy. End story: the baby and I are both going to be fine. So I should be happy, right?
Don't get me wrong - I'm overjoyed and thanking God that I'm alive. But still, I can't help being a little sad.
I owe Sam and Dean so much. I owe them my life, my baby's life. Both of us have a future now. My baby can grow up, can go to school, can get married someday and have babies of his or her own. And Colleen gets to go home; she gets to hold her little boy and kiss her husband. We both owe them so much. It hurts that I'll never be able to thank them myself. Or tell them goodbye. They just… disappeared. After saving us both from a psycho, killing ghost and pulling us from a burning building, they made sure we were all right and then got in their car and left.
I guess I understand why. Colleen and I couldn't have come with them. I needed a doctor and if they had tried to admit me into another hospital, even one outside of Little Rock, someone somewhere would have heard about the fire at the Center and put 2-and-2 together. It was easier and safer for us this way, leaving us so that help would come to us. And they couldn't stay because – well, because they were the ones who started the fire and if they got caught and arrested, they wouldn't be able to help the other people out there who need them.
Who would have ever guessed that there were people in the world like them? When I think of heroes, I think of people like fire fighters and police officers and soldiers. Men and women who put their lives on the line day after day, and people know them and see them for what they are. They get recognition for their heroics - thank yous and medals and such. But what about people like Sam and Dean? People who put their lives on the line in secret? Save people, and no one but the people they save ever know about it? It seems like an incredibly sad and lonely existence to me.
I wonder how many people in the world are like them: swoop in, save the day, and then disappear into night? Wow, kinda poetic, huh? At least I know they're out there. In one night I learned that the things that go bump in the night are not only real, but that they're out to get you, too. That's hard enough to cope with without the knowledge that there are people, like Sam and Dean, out there who fight them. Hunters, they call themselves.
Also makes me wonder, if ghosts are real, what else out there is real? Vampires? Werewolves? Is that even possible?
And this ghost – the one who protected me, how many expectant mothers had she tried to save over the years and failed? Colleen told me about her experience, told me that Nell had killed her own child trying to save him from his abusive father. That was why her ghost hadn't crossed over. She'd spent countless years trying to make right what she had accidentally done wrong. She'd been afraid Heaven wouldn't take her – not with the death of her only son on her hands. God, to fight with her husband not only in life, but also after death? That was penance enough, and I pray even now that Heaven takes her. She deserves it. In the end, she did save me. She distracted her husband long enough for Sam and Dean to get to me, and for that, I'll always be thankful.
I should probably call ma soon. She's probably going out of her mind. I wouldn't be surprised if they were in the car right now heading this way. All things considered, I can't wait to see her.
Just another reminder that I have so much to be thankful for.