The Sound in the Woods

I sat in the passenger side seat of the Jeep waiting on Michaela. She didn’t even hesitate as she moved towards the driver’s seat. She sat down, “You okay?”

“I hate being right.” I said.

“So what are you going to do?” Michaela asked as she started the ignition. But she didn’t take the car out of gear, we just sat there staring out in front of us.

“I think, “ I said breaking the awkward silence between us. “We need to go to the Foster’s farm house and look around, see if we can find signs of Ruby’s ghost.”

Michaela nodded and pulled out into the street and headed in the direction of the country farm.

It wasn’t a farm anymore. The barn was dilapidated and the fields were overgrown. It had once been a horse farm, but now it was nothing. Long since past its prime. We parked the Jeep in the woods to the east of the farm and walked the rest of the way in. We didn’t need to alert the ghost or the occupants of our arrival. But Mr. Foster was still at the diner to our knowledge. He couldn’t have passed us on the way. But there might be others around.

It was quiet in the thick of the threes. I felt at home among the towering trees and the canopy of leaves. It almost felt like home. Minus the rushing cars and toxic smell that were home to me.

Hunting ghosts wasn’t like you saw on TV with the electromagnetic gadgets. The air does get cold if the ghost is trying to haunt in ghost form. But that ghost has to be really old, and really powerful to actually manifest on this plane. And typically what you think is a ghost is usually an angel or a demon depending on the malevolence of the antics it does. Guardian angels are a real thing. And demons do like to make havoc on humans. Ghosts are usually not powerful enough to manifest on this plane to interact which is why they possess people to do their dirty work for them.

But Michaela was right about one thing. If Ruby didn’t finish her revenge or whatever it was you wanted to call it, then she’d be back in another body. And to Venatori knowledge short of killing the ghost in a host body there was no way to dispatch a ghost.

See when a ghost or any 4th plane being (angels and demons and whatever else might lie across that veil) possesses a human, it has to anchor itself to the soul of the human. Otherwise it would ‘float’ away. So when you kill the human, the 4th plane being’s sent to whatever afterlife you might believe in. The Venatori believe in an ether where all things are made. You return to the ether to be remade into something else. Reincarnation? Not really. Your bits and pieces are broken down into the patterns of life – the elements and your rare material is redistributed as needed. See there is only so much energy in the world, in reality. It can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only be repurposed.

I’m sure there is a religion based on something like this, but the Venatori do not worship a god or gods. We do not have a belief system like that.

But I had a ghost to hunt.

As the day grew dim and the shadows elongated Michaela and I hunted the wooded areas around the Foster’s home looking for signs of a ghost. No trails of ectoplasm would ever be found, but we found broken limbs and twigs where a body had rested and watched. The trees were lacking the normal chatter of birds and animals and even the rabbit we saw was fearfully hiding in some underbrush and didn’t scamper away when we passed it by. There was something here, in the woods with us. But it stayed two steps ahead of us.