As of 4 o’clock today absolutely nothing is working. Pretty sure these spooks are here to stay.
In fact they’re sort of getting worse. We spent all of yesterday bell ringing and smoking with increasing desperation, but no matter what we did the only thing that changed was a hundred flies came zooming out of the bathroom sink tap.
Still, we were in denial about the rising stakes until about an hour ago. I was exasperatedly ringing a bell in one of the girls rooms upstairs and something GRABBED me. Not hard or anything. I was just standing there, ringing the stupid bell Julian had given me, shouting about how I didn’t see anything, and then something grabbed my wrist and I dropped the bell and Julian came rushing in all ashen faced to make sure I was okay — which makes me think probably this stuff gets more dangerous than they’ve led to me to believe.
Anyways, I was fine, but something in Julian sorta snapped because he stormed downstairs to where Neal was supposed to be grounding us and said, “Alright man, it’s not working. What’s going on?”
Neal opened his eyes all combative and replied, “Nothing, everything’s fine on my end.”
Julian’s lips tightened just a little and his nostrils flared which is the only sign when he’s starting to get pissed.
“Obviously it isn’t,” he said, forced calm. “If everything was fine we’d be done by now.”
“I’m just having an off day,” Neal snapped.
“I can ground us,” Julian said. “I’m feeling good today I can —”
“No,” Neal said. “That’s the last thing we need.”
Julian scrubbed his forehead with his knuckles. “Neal —”
“I’ve got it!”
“Something grabbed Shiloh! Grabbed her! This thing’s getting worse!”
Neal rolled his eyes. “Shi? How’re you doing? You want to stop?”
The Hawthornes never let me help with anything, what was I going to do, say no the second bad vibes decide to grab my wrist?
“See? She’s fine,” Neal said. “Get to ringing, Tinker Bell.”
But Julian put his foot down and made me ‘take a break.’ So I’m sitting on the porch, writing this, waiting until Julian gets distracted and I can go back in.
Ooookay, so maybe I should have waited a little longer to go back in.
I was climbing the stairs, calling for Julian because I couldn’t find my bell, and as I got to the top of the stairs, I felt something put two hands on my shoulders and give me a firm shoved backwards down the stairs.
I got super lucky, I’m totally fine. I managed to grab the handrail on my way over, so apart from a sorta sore shoulder and a little bit of bruising I’m fine.
Unfortunately Julian came out of a bedroom just in time to see me go over, and that pretty much sealed our fate.
“NEAL,” he bellowed, storming downstairs. “WE’RE LEAVING.” And he marched me out to the car. He had to go back in for Neal, and they were still bickering on the porch when the house door slammed on it’s own — so violently the glass cracked.
It was nearly dark. The spooks were getting bolder again. Even Neal was forced to agree it was time to get out of there.
Julian offered to drive, but Neal slammed into the driver’s seat and we hurtled out of there, tires squealing.
No one said anything for a long time. I was frantically trying to think of something to lighten the mood, when Julian said, “Do we need to go to White Pyre?”
“No,” Neal said.
Julian took a long breath. “I don’t want to go either,” he said. “But it seems like not going is fucking you up.”
“It’s not,” Neal snapped.
“Right,” Julian said. He didn’t say anything else, just let the horrible unsuccessful day hang over us for a long time.
“I’m allowed to have a bad week Jude, jesus christ,” Neal finally snapped.
“Yeah, you are,” Julian replied. “But that was a generous stage 3 haunting you couldn’t ground, so clearly —”
“We’re not going to White Pyre.”
“Okay,” Julian said. “That’s fine with me, we’ll go next year.”
Which was exactly what I thought Neal wanted to hear, but apparently it wasn’t because the Neal was leaning even harder on the gas and I could see how white his knuckles were on the steering wheel.
Julian said, “I don’t think Nolan would mind us taking an extra year. I think he’d get it.” And Neal slammed on the breaks so hard I hit the back of Julian’s seat.
There was a whole lot of quiet in the car for a few moments. Neal was absolutely bristling.
“What’s White Pyre?” I finally asked the tense quiet and Neal opened his door, burst out into the night, and slammed the door behind him.
Julian deflated. “God, I’m sorry Shiloh,” he sighed. “White Pyre’s a hunter holiday. It’s a big collective memorial basically.” He managed a slightly ironic smile. “Hunting dramatically lowers your life expectancy, so we get together every year to celebrate the hunters we’ve lost.”
“Don’t look so crestfallen, it’s a party really. And it helps us put the ghosts to rest. Figurative ghosts,” he clarified, then reconsidered. “Though in this case, maybe literal ghosts too.”
I managed a slight snort.
“He can’t ground us because he thinks he should be there. I get it. I feel guilty not going, too. But we just need to make the decision and let it be the decision or that house is staying full of spooks.” He squinted out the windshield as he spoke, more to himself than to me. Neal was pacing unevenly in the headlights some 40 feet ahead of us. He appeared to be kicking pebbles into the road.
“I think we should go,” Julian murmured. “Fuck.” He pressed his face with his fingers. “Okay,” he said. “I’m gonna go deal with him.”
And then I did something crazy.
“I’ll do it,” I said.
Julian twisted in his seat to blink at me. “What?”
“I’ll do it,” I said, and then when he just kept staring at me like I was speaking Cantonese, I opened the door and said, “I’ll do it,” and went into the street.
I slammed the door hard so he’d know I was coming and he turned toward me with a whole storm of energy that he clearly meant to unleash on Julian because upon seeing my significantly smaller silhouette in the headlights he was brought up short.
“We should go,” I said.
“To White Pyre. It’s just a funeral, right?”
“What?” he said again. “No, not really it’s more complicated than —” he stopped. “Okay, yeah, I guess.”
“Then we should go. That’s what we do, right? We go to funerals.”
He stared at me, the tension gone out of him, his hands disconcertingly still. “Right?” I prompted.
“Okay,” he said. “Yeah, okay.”
“Okay,” I said back. I nodded towards the car. “C’mon.”
We were in the car for maybe fifteen minutes, driving steadily towards Idaho, which is apparently where this holiday is celebrated, when Neal said, “Did Shiloh just talk me off the edge?”
Julian let out a wheeze of bewildered laughter. He gestured helplessly with his hands.
“You’re both assholes,” I said and reached between them and turned up the music.
“That’s true,” Neal replied.
We called the Peretti’s from the road. We paid for their hotel room for the next four nights. Apparently we’re going to Idaho.