She had found Lois. It hadn’t been hard, not when Lois wasn’t trying to hide. Sonam had to purposely think of her as Lois, of else she slipped back into think of her as Ryan. Ryan who was hunting them down. Ryan who was trying to kill them.
But Ryan didn’t laugh like Lois, Ryan didn’t talk like Lois. That was why it was easier to make the distinction. Easier, but not easy.
It was also why Sonam didn’t feel bad when she sneaked up behind Lois and clobbered her across the head with a chair leg.
Lois stood, dazed for a second, then turned to Sonam. She looked out of Ryan’s eyes, confused. Please say she hadn’t given Ryan a concussion, please say she hadn’t given Ryan a concussion. Or, Ryan’s body, at least, she considered. She didn’t care about Lois.
Speaking of Lois, the ghost in question lunged towards her. She stepped back, quick, nimbly escaping Lois’ hazed clumsiness, and bolted down the corridor. Sonam didn’t think she’d ever met anyone faster than her on her feet, not even any of the boys in her school. Sports day had always been the best day of her year, because she was guaranteed a prize.
But there was a skill to it, especially this. She needed to be fast enough that there was no way Lois would catch her (a given, seeing as how Ryan was the slowest runner she’d ever met), slow enough that she wouldn’t lose Lois on her way, careful enough that she wouldn’t damage Ryan’s already-injured body from the strain, and convincing enough that Lois wouldn’t realise she was being played.
None of which was difficult, because, come on.
She lead Lois all the way through the house, until they reached a tiny corridor, the one that lead into the back corner of the living room. Dan had found it when he was hiding originally, and it was where he’d come up with part of the Plan. Capital P on the plan, because it was just that important.
When they neared the tiny corridor, Sonam put on full speed, and left Lois in her wake, sprinting down the hall and ducking into the living room in about three seconds flat. Her breathing was jagged and sharp, and she nodded at the others when she got in. Now they could only hope for Matt’s gadgets to work.
The theory was (not that Sonam understood it at all) that the things that he’d put along the hall would guide Lois to them while giving Sonam enough of a leeway to get to safety.
Their other purpose was confusion. That many in so small a space would be pretty hard on any concussed ghost.
At least, in theory.
Bang bang bang, heavy footsteps coming up the hall, irregular as Sonam’s breathing, and Lois came careening into the room.
She came to a jerked halt before them, as though stopping Ryan’s body from continuing by some force other than his legs, as though she were just a puppet master tugging on his strings. Sonam felt sick just looking at her, Ryan’s joints at odd angles, his arms and legs bent in ways they shouldn’t be. Don’t be broken, she hoped silently. Please don’t be broken.
Lois looked at the four of them, up and down, and her face split into that horrific grin again, as though a huge chasm has been opened and all of Hell was spilling out along with her laughter. Sonam hated her, hated her, hated her for making Ryan look like that.
“You tried running away, but I have you now.” She growled, coming closer, lurching forward with every step. “I have you now.” She repeated through her smile.
Ellie came forward to meet her. “No you don’t. We have you.”
Lois’ smile fell away. Her eyes were glazed, as though she wasn’t really seeing them properly, as though she wasn’t really with them completely in that moment. It felt like a victory.
“People think that ghosts are connected to their bones, or to a specific object, but they’re wrong, aren’t they, Lois?” Ellie continued, moving forwards again. “I think you must know that. That ghosts are bound to the land of the living through the place they died. It’s why you can never leave this house, right?”
Lois didn’t back down, didn’t move, Sonam could barely see her breathing. But it was nothing, the hostility of the cornered prey. No, she couldn’t think like that. They weren’t hunters, not like Lois had been to them.
“And, Lois, if the place where the ghost died is destroyed, the ghost is destroyed too. So you know what Dan has in his hand right there?” Ellie glanced over her shoulder at Dan, who shook the conical flask in his hands. The fluid inside chimed and echoed. “That’s a Molotov Cocktail.” Then Ellie smiled, but it was more like a baring of teeth. “And you’ll never guess where we are.”
Lois stood and looked at Ellie, looked at the conical flask, looked at Ellie, and her eyes widened. She started to back away. “I hanged myself…”
“Right above where we are now.” Ellie finished off. “So take a good long think about whether you value your death or not.”
Lois shook her head, still backing off. “You wouldn’t. You’d kill yourselves in the process. You wouldn’t.”
Dan held the flask tighter, his knuckles whitening, poised as if to smash it at any second. “Want to try me?”
Ellie moved forward still. “Lois, you either get out of Ryan and let us go, or we kill you. Plain and simple. And trust us,” Something in her eye gleamed, something that made Sonam want to back away as well. “We will kill you.”
Eyes flickering around the room, Lois backed up against a wall, coming up to meet it and jolting with the shock of it. “I’ll destroy you.” She breathed, voice rattling up her throat and breaking in protest. “If you come back here, I’ll destroy you all!”
She screamed, and a sharp wind burt through the room, freezing and sharp as a thousand razor blades, blinding Sonam, blinding them all. Fantastic shadows danced on the walls, turning into the faces of the tortured and the agonised and of Lois and Lois and Lois, as she was when she died, and the fire and rage she died with.
And then she was gone.
Ryan was lying, crumpled by the wall where the spirit has left him. Ellie ran over to him and shook him hard, her fingers digging into his shoulder so hard that he’d probably bruise from it. She was saying his name over and over, but he wasn’t moving.
He was not dead, there was no way. Sonam could see him breathing, ever so gently, even though his skin was cold as… well, cold as death.
Someone, either Dan or Matt, she didn’t really pay attention, said that they should leave. Sonam helped pull him up, but the boys took his weight. Sonam somehow dragged Ellie over to the table and forced her to help lift the EMF meter. There was no way she was leaving it behind, not ever.
After dragging the barricaded furniture away from the door, they hauled themselves out into the moon-struck hall, out the front door. It closed behind them with a resounding boom, and they were free.