Fight or Flight
Hope is observing me with a concerned expression. For once, I cannot face her; I have disappointed her.
What could the reason for this emergency be? What could be so significant that it could not wait for the daylight? Hope is observing me with a concerned expression. For once, I cannot face her; I have disappointed her. She had asked me to make sure Charlie does not read from the books in the Forbidden Library. Not only did Charlie read from the books, but she had also used the magic to find the name of the demon that was trying to kill her. Hope doesn’t disrupt the silence either. She seemed to sense my guilt and left me to ruminate.
The doors reopened, and I heaved a sigh of relief. Charlie was back. Then, I realised Charlie had bought someone else with her. A tiny hand grabbed mine. I peered down to see Hope’s fingers on my hand as we spun out from the room.
“Why were there police officers with Charlie?” I turn to Hope. As I gaze around, I realise we have reached the bookshelf, which reveals the Forbidden Library. Surprisingly, this time the School Library was illuminated and covered in Police tape. Bookshelves had collapsed. I could swear I had seen some blood. Hope wasn’t wasting any time looking around. She had opened the entrance to the other Library. She gave me a look over her shoulder as she went in. I followed her and felt the door close behind me.
“I scented death on them”, Hope says as she walked on in front of me. I wonder if Hope knows the definition of small talk. Perhaps Angels don’t do small talk. After all, Biblical Angels were the same, if I understood rightly. As I followed Hope into the labyrinth that this Library was, I realised that I had seen the Headmaster’s famous cane splintered near the collapsed bookshelves. Cold dread gripped me as I discerned who had died. Then I pieced together why the Police were questioning Charlie about it.
“We have to help Charlie”, I tell Hope as she peers between shelves near a Cherry blossom tree.
“We will help her. But now we must hide.” Hope does not even turn to face me; instead, she keeps walking, glancing between the myriad of shelves.
“Why?” I ask, unable to understand her reasoning for this conclusion. Surely I am a ghost, and Hope is an Angel. We didn’t have any reason to hide from the Police.
Hope halts in her tracks and turns to me, “Because that was not a police officer. There was a darkness in it that I recognised, and I don’t care to get to know it over tea”, she said. Her eyes gleamed with hatred, and as I stared down on her otherwise calm face, I had to remind myself that though she resembled a six-year-old, she was hardly a child. I observe the reason Hope has stopped her search. Dave sat in one of the chairs on the far end of the aisle, leisurely reading. Before Hope could say anything, Dave turns to us, his eyebrows raise in surprise as he regards us, or perhaps it was Hope that surprised him more than me.
“Dave, Charlie is being questioned; the headmaster was found dead”, I tell Dave before Hope could say anything. His eyebrows go up as his mouth opens and closes without making a sound. Dave seems surprised. “What? But she didn’t-“
“It was one of you; I saw it come in as an officer. We need to help her. You will tell us what you know,” Hope demands.
Dave stifled a yawn as he regards us.
“Why would I?”, he scoffs.
Another wave of fear hits me. Dave was so nonchalant about this, almost as though this was his plan all along. Even though I knew Demons were not the best of friends, a wave of fresh anger came to me at this betrayal.
“Were you in on this all along? Was this your plan?” I asked, barely able to contain my rage.
“Of course not!” Dave answered. His shoulders drooped as he kept his eyes steadfastly on the ground. A flash of disappointment flickered on his face so fast that I am sure I have imagined it.
He turns to Hope, his eyebrows raised, “Why are you helping them, though?”
Hope is not pleased with this, I can tell. Her eyes turn a shade darker as she answers, “You challenge my intentions? When you have put her in harm’s way? I only wish to help, she had asked for my assistance, and she will have it.”
I could feel a storm brewing between the two. This won’t end well for anyone if they decide to have a shouting match or worse. I choose to intervene for the time being.
“Great! We can all help and get along well. Good. How do we help her?” I ask, looking back and forth between them.
Dave studies us before replying, “I will be back. Let me check what’s going on outside while you two idiots came down here to accuse me”.
That hurt a bit, I don’t look down to examine Hope’s face, but I could feel the anger emanating from her. Mere seconds later, Dave is back, and his face says ‘Bad News’. He pulls a chair and slides down as he says, “So bad news, Charlie has been arrested”.
“What do we do now?” I ask no one in particular.
“We need a place to hide,” Dave replies with confidence.
“A distraction is required”, comes Hope’s response.
They eye each other with somewhat grudging respect. There’s a pause where no one speaks. Then they start talking simultaneously.
“I will find us a safe place to hide”, confirms Dave.
“You will be our distraction Jupiter”, Hope informs me.
“Me? How? I am a ghost!” I gawk at both of them. How can I distract the Police or even the demon? Surely they don’t expect me to haunt a Police officer who is somehow also a demon.
Dave seems to consider this, then he slowly smiles as though he has discovered something, “If she’s in prison, she will need a lawyer, yes?” he asks us.
“Indeed”, Hope says, the ghost of a smile playing on her lips.
I can perceive where they are going with this, but another Demon would positively identify Dave as a demon; Hope looks like a kid and not a lawyer. They will ask for her parents, and it would be terrible.
“I cannot go in there; they will recognise me. You, on the other hand, can go in as your girlfriend’s lawyer”, says Dave, confirming my fears.
“She’s not my girlfriend”, I tell them. Dave stares at me like I have told him to eat a unicorn. On second thought, Dave might actually enjoy eating unicorns; I am not too sure. They both continue to stare at me without saying anything further. I don’t like this one bit. I can feel a bit of heat around my ears. If I had a face, I was sure to blush. Thank heavens Charlie didn’t hear Dave call her my girlfriend; she might punch him.
“And I am still a ghost in case you haven’t noticed”, I say, mostly to fill the silence.
“That can be fixed”, Dave says rather cheerfully. Hope is watching us with an unreadable expression. Maybe she can read my thoughts. Where would my thoughts be, though? This stumps me. As I was having a ghost-crisis, Dave waves his hands, and abruptly I look more real, but I don’t have a body, though. It just seems like I do. Slowly I lower myself to make it seem like my feet are touching the ground. I stretch out my arms, and they appear solid. I glance at Dave, a question on my face.
“Keep in mind that this is just an illusion, humans may view you as a lawyer, but everything else will discern you for what you are”, Dave warns me.
Hope inspects my new form as she grabs my hand. I will never get used to someone touching me like a ghost; it is a strange sensation.
“We are leaving now. Remember, once we are there, you focus only on causing a distraction. As soon as I find Charlotte, we will rendezvous back here. Is that agreed?” she tells me and then turns to Dave.
“I will find a place where we will be temporarily left alone”,, Dave nods at us.
We plunged into the darkness.
I recognise the Police Headquarters, even though I have never had to go down there. This must be where Charlie is kept. Hope had disappeared. I confidently walk in, not sure what to expect or what distraction needs to be caused. The night sky was clouded and the air foggy. The entire place seemed to be asleep. As I entered, I saw the receptionist, a young chap nodding off in the chair.
I cleared my throat. The receptionist jerks up and glances around. He looked like he was not sure what he was doing here and then he realised it.
“Hello, I am Charlotte’s lawyer. I am here to represent my client”, I tell him in what I hoped was a Lawyer’s language.
“Please wait,” he says as he takes the phone to call one of the officers inside, I presumed. I lean over and disconnect the call. He gapes at me, his eyes widening.
“Now”, comes Hope’s whisper in my ear.
My cue to cause a distraction. I hope this works.
“No. No, I will not wait. Bring me Charlotte, I will not leave this place without her”, I yell, then I climbed on to the receptionist’s desk. He gawks at me for a moment before regaining his composure.
“Please get down”, he tells me firmly, but he makes no attempt to push me down. If he did, he was in for a rough surprise. Instead, he calmly took the phone dialled.
“We have a violent lawyer here. Please get someone to sort this out”, he says into the phone; his tone was calm. He must witness this kind of ruckus often then.
“You people think you are so entitled, coming here and just arresting people left and right without evidence”, I start screaming again. Hoping this would cause enough confusion to bring more people outside. I push out the computer from the desk, careful not to let him notice that I was not actually touching it.
The receptionist sighs, his eyebrows furrowed as he purses his lips.
“You are destroying public property. What kind of a lawyer are you?” he demands, hands on his hip. I can hear footsteps in the hallway behind him.
“This kind”, I yell, jumping down from the desk, and as two police officers burst into the lobby, I run to the bench and chuck it at them. I scan their faces to registering the shock as they duck the bench. All the lights go out, and I feel a hand on my wrist. We disappear once again into the night.
When I look around me, I realise that we have made it back to the Library. Charlie was floating beside Hope. Charlie was also unconscious. Dave was nowhere to be seen. I am sure we left him here to find an excellent place to hide.
“Charlie? Charlie?” I call out her name as I rushed towards her. Her nails were bloody, and her face seemed to have aged in a night. The evidence suggests that she was being tortured, not interrogated. I have heard tales of Police brutality, and how they obtained answers, I shuddered, wondering what had happened to Charlie.
“What’s happened to her?” I ask Hope, who was watching me with curiosity.
Hope takes a moment before answering.
“She appeared to have inhaled poisonous gas. I healed her. Now she is asleep.”
“I thought I heard you guys. Everything went well, I presume?”, asks Dave coming in from the other aisle, a book in hand. We merely nod as he scrutinises Charlie.
Dave lays open the book on the table.
“This is where we should go”, he says, indicating an old Church that was depicted in the book. Before I could examine why we would go to a Church, he shuts the book. Hope holds out her hand instead of grabbing mine. I gingerly take her hand. Dave peers at us for a moment then comes around and grabs my free hand. For the fourth time that night we fall into the dark.
Where are we? I ask because the crisp air of the countryside and the derelict Church in front of me were two opposites. A second glance showed me that the Church was destroyed, burned down, and for some reason, they have left it as it is. I could feel Death here. The moon shone brightly here. I could see the Church in front of me clearly. This was not just any abandoned Church I could tell. As I gazed around, I realised the entire village seemed to be destroyed and abandoned. I wonder what happened here.
“Oradour-sur-Glane, France”, says Dave in perfect French.
“They will be able to follow us. But they won’t dare come in there to attack”, Dave explains. Hope ventures in, towing a floating Charlie who was still unconscious. Dave doesn’t make a move to follow. He stays outside, his eyes searching for something.
“Dave? Aren’t you coming with us?” I ask.
“Into a church? No thanks!”, Dave says smirking.
Of course, he wouldn’t. I just asked a demon if he wanted to come to Church. This must be a new level of stupidity. His lips quirk upwards, and his eyes twinkle with merriment. He doesn’t seem angry at my suggestion though, amused perhaps, never angry. As I move towards Hope and Charlie, I notice a woman- no a ghost, then another. I stop there for a second. Then I realise that there were many spirits there. Far more than I could actually count. Most were women and children. They were watching us with renewed interest. How had I not seen them before? What happened here? Whatever it was, it made me uneasy.
“There are… so many .. spirits here” I turn to Dave, but he wasn’t listening to me.”What happened here?” I ask him again.
“Go, get in the Church”, Dave says as he roughly shoves me forward. I count at least ten demons coming from the other end of the road. They were not bothering to disguise themselves as Dave had done. It looked as though a child had moulded them with clay, but instead of clay, it was smouldering coal, and instead of a child, it was giants. They were horrifying. Suffice to say, I fled like a coward past an old fashioned pushchair, past a flattened car, into the broken-down archway that once must have been the grand doors to the Church. Inside, Hope was standing next to Charlie. She was so still I ould have mistaken her for a lifelike statue, had I not known the truth. I turned around to examine what had become of Dave. He was nowhere to be seen. As I took in the surroundings of the Church, I noticed the spirits they were murmuring among themselves and peering out at the demons. It was then I noticed that the demons also looked like they were dressed in military uniform. I couldn’t tell which, though. Their shapes were shifting as they neared our hideout. They tried to step on the grounds but howled in dismay. Unable to come closer, they started picking random stones and throwing them at the Church.
Another exciting chatter filled the Chapel. The spirits then moved forward through the doorway. The demons looked surprised to see them. Then all hell broke loose as the spirits attacked the demons. I watched, stunned as the spirits drove the demons away. It was not a sight I would forget soon. I studied Hope’s face. Her eyes were wide, and her hands were curled into tiny fists at her side. Unblinking, she watched the proceedings. At least she appeared as surprised as I was. When the last of the demons had retreated, the spirits slowly trickled in. They were the guardians of this place that I knew.
I notice that Dave was back and was waiting outside. I peered down at Hope, who had not uttered a single word all this while. She doesn’t look at me but at Charlie, who seemed to be twitching in her sleep.
“We need to relocate Charlie to a better place, somewhere she can eat and sleep”, Hope finally tells me.
I nod and venture out to see Dave. Maybe he knows a place. After all, he did bring us here and helped us get rid of the demons.
“Dave! You are alright! I was scared for a moment the spirits would attack you”, I tell him honestly. Dave looks at me, his face disbelieving, but does not respond.
“What is this place?” I ask, still in awe of what I had witnessed.
“This little village had a little more than six hundred people. It was obliterated by the Nazis during the war. The men were all rounded up and killed. The women and children were locked in this Church as they threw in grenades killing all except one. They then destroyed the entire village.” Dave paused as I looked around. It did look like a place frozen in a moment of disaster.
“The demons after Charlie were controlled by Hitler, and he has a fun way of making them dress like German soldiers. The spirits guard the remains of this Church. Besides, places of worship are hallowed grounds. Demons cannot step into the threshold” Dave finishes his explanation on why the demons couldn’t attack us.
I tell him that Charlie was sick and needed a better and safer place than this. He arches his eyebrows, a smile playing on his lips. Then he looks me up and down. He looks like he is trying to figure me out.
“Here? Charlie will be sick if she wakes up here. I can think of a place…” Dave trails off.
Hope had come out with Charlie floating behind her. We both hadn’t noticed. She had a softness in her gaze when she looked at Dave now.
“Good thinking. Bringing us here. Where do we go from here?” she asks Dave. It seemed like an olive branch. They were trying to work together, or at least Hope was. Dave considers us for a long moment.
“Home”, he says simply, a smile grazing his lips.
“Home?” Hope and I ask in unison, then we glance at each other.
“Yes, home”, comes Dave’s mysterious reply as he holds out his hand.
Note: Although the entire fight at the church is the result of my overactive imagination, the church and its history are real.
The entire village was destroyed and its inhabitants killed by German troops on June 10, 1944.
The death toll was 642: 245 women and 207 children in the church and 190 men.
The men were killed in the market square in a mass shooting, the women and children were forced into the church which was then barred and burned.
The SS soldiers then looted the empty dwellings and then burned the village to the ground.