10: Leslie

Carrie got on her knees and quickly picked through the pile for candles and holders.

“Get what started?” I asked irritably. Sweat dripped off my chin. My chest felt like someone was pushing against it. The room was starting to sway even more than before. All in all, I wasn’t feeling too hot.

Carrie’s speed slowed. She half-turned to me. I could only see one of her eyes, but it had that same look it’d had when I’d ordered her to tell me about Seth and Brad’s powers.

She put the holders and candles together and set them around the white circle.

“I used to have seizures,” she said.

Okee dokee, I thought. Not relevant at all. Either she thought we were both going to die, and she was trying to confess for her last rites, or she was actually going to take this somewhere.

“When I was eight, I was diagnosed with epilepsy.” She continued setting the candles up around the circle, avoiding eye contact with me. Maybe she thought it was easier to tell me whatever she was trying to tell me if she couldn’t see my reactions.

“I usually had two or three seizures a year. When we found out about the Rift and started experimenting with it, we didn’t know much. We had the manuscripts that the original League had left behind, and they’d helped us make the necklaces and do little things, but we’d reached a point where that was it.”

By now, she’d set up five candles around the circle. She fixed their positions and mentally measured their distance from each other. She still had the lighter she’d used to light my candle with and used it to light the others. The entire room brightened with an orange glow.

I hadn’t noticed till then, but there wasn’t any light coming from the window behind me. I checked over my shoulder. Outside, a dark blue hue lit pine trees and grass that were several yards away. Seeing that it was almost dark intensified my angst. Every moment that passed was a moment the Slasher was using to hunt me down. Carrie needed to hurry before it ripped through another mirror, or a wall, or a window and tore my head off.

“Based on the kind of power the League talked about, we knew there had to be more,” she continued, “but there were so many manuscripts—nearly a hundred. We didn’t know how to sort through it all. Some of it didn’t even make sense.”

She searched back through the pile of crap that she’d dumped out of the blue milk crate and pulled out a clear bag filled with what looked like sugar or salt. She got up, walked around the room and poured the substance over the chalk circle she’d made earlier.

“After we’d discovered how to use the Rift, me and Seth spent weeks in here, reading some of the manuscripts. It didn’t get us anywhere. But we were sure that there was a way to access more power, and those manuscripts were all we had.”

Even as she passed by me with the bag of whatever she was pouring, she kept her eyes on the floor, avoiding me completely.

“Then I had a seizure. I mean, it felt like I was having a seizure. There was this throbbing headache. It was so intense I thought I was going to pass out. My muscles stiffened. I was shaking. My head jerked back and forth. I’d had enough seizures to know the symptoms for it, and I was ready.”

As she completed the large circle, she headed back to the small one in the middle of the room.

“But then there was this…this rush through my body. Like everything was lighter. My feet, my hands, my face felt like they were so light I thought they might float. And then these goosebumps rushed from my toes to my head.”

She stepped through the candles, sat in the middle of the white circle, and folded her legs together.

“I vaguely remember thumping my hand on the floor, but it didn't feel like me. It was like something was making me do it. Seth handed me a pen and a piece of paper. I—”

She stopped, looked up at me. It was the first time she’d looked at me since she’d started her tale. Before, she didn’t want to know how I was reacting. Now, for some reason, she did. It was like she was trying to see if I was ready for the next part. Her lips did a little flutter, like a part of her was trying to keep her words in. Fortunately, another part, made them come out.

“I still thought I was going to have a seizure, but I started writing out letters. Like in kindergarten, where you write A, then B, then C really big. The handwriting was awful. It wasn’t mine.

"It felt quick to me, but Seth said it went on for about an hour, till I wrote out in all caps…”

She stopped again, very briefly, before she forced out:

“…‘WE ARE LESLIE. WE ARE HERE TO ASSIST YOU.’”

“Seth spent another two hours asking me questions, and I wrote out these answers on a piece of paper—about things that I didn’t know the answers to. Things about the Rift, about our powers. Leslie explained that they are a group of spirits that live between our world and the other—the one the Rift connects to. They understand the power that comes from it, and they told us they could help us use it. We came here every night for several weeks. I would just close my eyes and ask them to come forward, and they would start writing. Seth would ask them questions, and I continued to write out the answers. They were the ones who showed us how to open the Rift wider.”

I’d been sure up to this point that nothing else coulda weirded me out. After Seth and Brad’s display in the dorm, and having been attacked by a monster in the pool, I was pretty open to anything. And yet, this reawakened the rational part of my brain. Evidently it knew how skeptical I was about something like this and took its opportunity to reassure me that this was utterly illogical. Carrie was talking to spirits? I wanted to say “Bullshit!”, but I could tell Carrie wasn’t finished, and I was at least gonna give her a chance to explain.

In the orange glow of the candles, Carrie’s cheeks looked bright red. To her, this was like reading something out of her diary. It was very personal.

“I never had another seizure,” she said. “Leslie has helped us learn to use our powers, and they have helped us learn more about the Rift. If anyone can help us stop the Slasher from coming after you, they can.”

Carrie leaned outside the white circle. She grabbed a stack of paper and a pen from the messy pile, pulled them in, and set them before her. She rested her hands on her knees, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

“Okay,” she said. “I need you to ask them two questions.”

What the fuck? It was one thing for her to be talking to spirits, but now she was dragging me into it.

“Woah! Why don’t you just—”

She opened her eyes back up. “Please, just do it,” she insisted in a forceful tone. It brought to mind that moment back in the courtyard when she had flashed her teeth at me. There was a very severe part of her that she didn't usually show, but when she did, I knew she meant business.

“Okay,” I said reluctantly. Whether I liked it or not, I was just gonna have to go with this.

She closed her eyes again. “Ask them: why is the Slasher after you? And how can we stop it?”

She reopened her eyes, gave me a glance like she didn’t want me there. She pressed her lips together. She knew she was gonna have to suck it up. She closed her eyes yet again. She picked the pen up off the floor, positioned it in her hand like she was about to write.

"It'll only be a few seconds before they're here,” she said.

She took another breath and whispered to herself. I couldn’t make out what she was saying. It was very soft and incoherent. Every so often, I thought I heard a word that made sense, but then it turned into gibberish.

What was worse than not knowing what she was saying, was not knowing what was about to happen. Was something going to come into her? Was she going to start acting weird? Was the Slasher gonna come in any second and slit my throat?

Carrie stopped whispering. She sat still, her face expressionless. Her eyelids popped open. In the candlelight, her pupils looked almost black. She stared straight ahead. There was something about her that made her look almost like a different person. She still had the same mousy nose, the same ponytail, the same chest. But there was something in her eyes that was unnatural for the insecure girl I was used to. It wasn't even like that fierce girl I'd seen in the courtyard. She seemed completely disconnected from the world around her.

She pressed the tip of her pen to the stack of paper before her and started writing. She didn’t write with that casual flow and rhythm that most people write with. Her arm made very sharp, contorted moves. It was like her hand was struggling to make the pen do what it wanted. I wondered if I was going to be able to read it.

Her hand stopped, the tip of the pen still on the paper.

Carrie continued her creepy straight-ahead stare. A part of me thought she was pulling my leg, trying to scare me. I think that was just the part that wanted to believe that something this weird wasn’t really happening.

I stepped toward her, cautiously. In my head, a scene of her snapping back to life and stabbing me in the neck with her pen kept replaying.

I walked around her. I peered over her shoulder, holding my candle out so that I could read the paper. In large, contorted letters, was printed:

We are Leslie. We are here to assist you. You have a question about the Rift. We have answers.

It could have been weirder, but there was still this nagging uneasiness in my chest.

“Um…” I began. “Yeah…what’s up?”

Carrie’s hand started back into action. She scribbled on the page, then stopped. I read.

We are pleased that you have come, Jason.
Carrie’s hand went on again and stopped just as it had before.

Ask before it is too late.
Goosebumps rushed up my arms.

Question…question… That’s right. Carrie had told me what to ask.

“Why is the Slasher after me?”

Almost before I was finished the question, Carrie’s hand pushed the page on top of the stack aside. She started writing on the next one. I read as she wrote.
The Slasher…we do not call it this…but we know what you ask about...is a creature similar to that which we are. It is physical in nature, but unlike you, it is very sensitive to energy, like us. The creature hunts, not to feed off flesh, as many creatures from your dimension do, but rather to feed off your fears. Your fears fuel it, so it finds the most fearful members of your society here in Lawrenceville and tortures them so that it can fulfill that hunger.

I felt like this Leslie-thing was calling me some kinda pussy. I didn’t feel like I was the most fearful person in this town.

Carrie pushed the page aside and started on the next one. I continued reading.

You, however, it needs for a very different reason. We can feel your energy. It is very strong, very potent. And though we do not have a physical existence, as this creature does, we understand the relationship that it has with energy. It can feel you, as we do, and it understands, as we do, your potential for great power.

“I have great power?” I blurted out, intending just to think it.

Carrie wrote on.

The creature still pulls a large amount of energy from the Rift. Without it, it cannot live. Your power gives you the potential to close the Rift, which in turn would destroy the creature. And the creature, like any predator, will fight for its survival. It knows that it must kill you in order to survive.

“But I don’t know anything about this stuff,” I insisted. “How did it know I could do that?”

As we wrote, it can feel you as we do and knows your potential to be a threat to it.

This was awfully unfair.

“Why hasn’t it gone after these guys who are actually using the Rift?”

Given time, it would. Their necklaces hide them from the creature temporarily.

“So if I just get one of those necklaces, I’ll be safe?”

The creature has already picked up your scent. The necklace alone cannot protect you now.
This led us right back to the second question Carrie had told me to ask. “How do I stop it?”

The creature is a beast, like those in your world. You may kill it as you would any creature.
Close, but no go. I wasn’t about to get in a fight with that thing again. Why? Cause there was about a 100% chance I'd lose.

“No,” I said. “How can I stop it from coming after me?”

Impossible. It will come for you. Now that it has your scent and understands the threat you are, it will not stop until you are dead.

“Threat?!” I exclaimed. “What threat?! I don’t have a clue about any of this shit.”
We can feel the energy that is within you. It feels—

“Yeah, yeah, I got it already. I have some energy. Whatever. How can I protect myself from it?”
The circle of protection, like the one Carrie has done in this room, will help keep it away temporarily. If you knew how to use the Rift, and had training, then you would have the power to keep it away with such. However, your lack of understanding of the Rift and your abilities, renders you powerless in that regard.

Useless bitch!
You do have an advantage, though. You know the creature will come back after you. We recommend you set a trap and destroy it when it does. It is the only way you will be able to stay alive.

“What kind of trap?”
Follow these instructions exactly…