Whispers Between Skyscrapers

*This was written for the City of Bones competition.
Maree lives in the cultural and historic Toronto in Ontario, Canada where she's trying to make a living as a medium. But how long until she encounters a spirit that doesn't want her help?

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1. Routine Gone Wrong

Maree folded her hands into her lap, watching the steam from the tea curl and twist in the air. A pair of anxious eyes were glued to her, from the armchair. 

"Well- do you, do you hear anything?" The woman's matted grey hair drew all the color from her cheeks. She had finished all her tea. 

Maree sighed, closing her eyes. "Ms. Gills, I don't choose who speaks to me. The dead do that." 

Then it happened. 

What are you doing? 

The voices were always faint, cramming Maree's head with thoughts of the dead. This voice was slick with hostility, and loud. Her eyes popped open and she watched the steam from the cup of tea stop rising all together. A wave of nausea came over her. 

"Ma'am, are you- did you talk to it?" The other woman was standing now, her hands crumpled the corner of her apron. 

Maree continued to stare at the tea, and drew a finger from a clenched fist to brush the cup. It was freezing cold. Swallowing hard, she waited for the next response.

Get out of here. Get out of here now. 

The voice was more of hiss now, but she couldn't say whether it was a man or woman. The case was already unusual, though. Most spirits did not directly communicate with her, unless it was a very unsettled spirit- the death was not an accepted fate yet. 

Maree had only experienced it once before. 

That night she was called to the 5th floor of the hospital downtown, which had been the old children's ward. It was downsized thanks to cut backs. Children's voices passed through her head as she walked slowly past rooms. The whispers were mostly sad, little voices repeating that it hurt, and they loved their parents, their dog; it was hard for Maree to listen to so many dead children. It had never seemed fair to her. 

When she had finally reached the last room, the voice was a wailing girl. Maree tensed, as she smelt the overbearing stench of the dead. It was never present with harmless spirits wandering. It was reserved for those who could harm you, wanted to harm you even. 

After tried to decipher the cries, Maree shook her head and turned to leave. That was when the shelf fell. 

"Ms. Gills, I've got to warn you- this spirit is an unkind one. Mediums are not, in any shape or form, qualified to deal with demons." 

Ms. Gills' hand shot out to grip the pasty green armchair and whispered under her breath. 

"D-demons?" 

Maree nodded softly.

LEAVE.

Her hands were clammy and began to shake as the voice came to shout in her head. She unknowingly glanced around for any objects that might cause her arm. The room was only laced with pictures on the wall, and a piano that looked untouched, as a thin layer of dust had spread across it. The room was a dull thanks to the north winter skies of grey pouring in through the window. 

GETOUTGETOUTGETOUT. 

Maree furrowed her brow. This spirit was stumbling over it's words, which was nearly impossible for them to do. Everything said was smooth, almost scripted. In fact, most of the communication was, after months, years, of repeating it over and over to the silence. 

"How old is this building?" She was scared to stand up, but rose on shaky knees and slowly walked towards the windows. They were on the 5th floor, and below the cars moved swiftly below. A motorcycle weaved through the lanes, and a taxi driver leaned out his window shaking a tight fist. She wondered what it is like, to drive with only the radio in your ears. Not a chorus of 10 dead people who were looking for a Bob or Claire or Uncle Marty. 

"It was built sometime in the 1800s I believe, a hotel or something," Ms. Gills looked around herself hastily, as if the spirit was literally going to pop out and scare her. 

I SAID... LEAVE. 

A picture rocked on his hook and fell, smashing onto the hardwood floors. Ms. Gills let out a yelp and fell to her knees, quickly shuffling the pieces of glass together. "Can't you- can't you get it out or something?" Her voice was shrill and her eyes had grown watery. 

Maree stared at Ms. Gills' exasperated face. "I'm not a Ghost Buster, Ms. Gills. I can't just wipe all the spirits out of your apartment." 

You're right. You CAN'T. 

Before Maree could even reply, Ms. Gills fell back onto the floor, her head twisting to the left. 

"Oh.. oh, no." 

Ms. Gills' back arched and her mouth was a wide O. Maree fumbled with shaky hands dialing her emergency contact. Most people called 911, she called Clark, one of the few priests in the area who believed in her talent. 

Ms. Gills back fell harshly and the whites of her eyes grew prominent. "CLARK!" Maree screamed into the phone as his familiar husky voice answered. 

"What, what is it?" 

Maree choked on her words, "possession, Clark, she's been possessed, I need you here, NOW." 

She watched the woman on the floor, who was sweating profusely and stiff as a board. "Maree, I can't. I'm nearly two hours away. You're going have to follow my instructions, Mar- okay?" 

Throwing Clark on speaker, Maree did her best to fight her own conscious screaming against all of this. Exorcists were licensed. Maree listened and interpreted the dead, that was it. 

"You need to get her restrained. I doubt you have rope, but get creative... and do it fast." Clark spat from the phone. Maree's hands ran through her thin, copper hair. It was heavy with sweat. Her eyes darted around the room. With a bit of desperation, she ran to the thin lace curtains and yanked hard from the side. The long drapery clattered against the rod but finally released and piled into Maree's arms. 

She spun on her heels to Ms. Gills. It had gotten worse. Her skin was a strange green now, the black pupils swallowing her irises. Her lips were moving softly, whispering what Maree thought was a chant. 

"Maree- is she tied down yet?" Clark's voice broke Maree's trance on the other woman, sprawled across the floor. 

"I'm, I'm scared to touch her, I think she'll resist, Clark." The temperature in the room had dropped rapidly, and the sweat that trickled down her neck felt like glass slicing through her skin. On the other line, Clark swore. "You do realize the spirit can understand, and hear you, Maree?" 

Just as he said it, a small grin formed on Ms. Gills' lips. Her eyes moved directly onto Maree. 

"I- I didn't know," her voice was nearly a whisper as Ms. Gills sat up, cracking her neck left and right. "Clark, Clark she's moving." 

"Maree, you need to take control. Don't let this spirit win, it will kill her." 

The woman was still whispering her chant, but it wasn't a language Maree could understand. She did, however, recognize it. It was Latin. Ms. Gills' eyes peeled away from Maree and locked on something. 

Turning her head to follow the gaze, Maree was looking at the window, now bare without it's curtains. "Clark...," her voice was wavering. 

"Maree, listen you need to try and reach that woman. She's still in there, you have to understand. She's in there, somewhere. You have to reach out to her, Mar."

Maree stood, staring at this woman. It didn't even look like Ms. Gills' anymore. The light blue eyes were gone, consumed by black. Her skin wasn't even grey, it was worse- a deadly white covered in a green slime. Her grey hair was clingy oddly together, the sweat pooling on the ends. 

"Ms. Gills," her voice was small, as she stared at the stranger in front of her. "Your body is still yours, you have to fight this, this monster inside you." 

The woman's head shook softly. 

Maree couldn't reach out and stop her as she took off into a full sprint and hit the window, breaking through it. For once in her life, Maree's scream was the only one in her head.

Running toward the shattered window and gripping the frame she leaned out, she saw Ms. Gills body flung unnaturally like a rag doll. A pool of blood had begun to form around her head. 

Maree backed away from the window, sobs ripping through her chest. She heard the dead. She listened to their stories, their cries, their laughter. She had never seen them die, though. She fought the nausea that had begun to plague her once again. 

"MAREE, what happened? Maree!" Clark's voice was angry and desperate. She collapsed on the floor next to the phone and saw her chest was rising and falling violently. 

"She's, she's dead, Clark." Maree choked out slowly, the swirl of honking cars, screams and sirens floating into the room. Clark was giving Maree instructions, something involving the cops and ghosts. But it was only a buzzing in her ear. Her focus was on the picture shattered on the floor. Ms. Gills smiled softly, behind her an ocean licked the shore. Her hair was a soft carmel then, and her cheeks were rosy. 5 stories below, that same woman was bloody and cold. 

After hanging up with Clark, Maree smashed her hand in her eyes, trying to wipe away the salt water that continued to flood. It was only a whisper, but it rose above the city's chaos below. 

Finally. 

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