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 Category:  Horror and Thriller Fiction
  Posted: August 15, 2020      Views: 10

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Husband, father, grandfather, retired middle school counselor, and beginning writer. One self-published middle grade novel on Amazon titled "Cat Through the Wormhole". Member of CyFair Writers group. Interested in joining NaNoWriMo in November.

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Tread carefully into the unknown.
"A Psychic Investigation" by Jake P.

I never believed in curses or magic-- until today, and now I envy my naivety of yesterday. One would think, after fifteen years in the study of parapsychology, that I would acknowledge that supernatural events and beings might exist. The foundation that I work for studies dream therapy, poltergeists, the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on psychic ability, and other psychic phenomena. Strange things and strange people are common in my line of work.

There are two categories of people who work in this profession. There are the true believers who aspire to prove that the supernatural is real, and folks like me who are here to debunk the claims. There are-- were-- both types on my team, and we often kidded one another about their opposing beliefs.

Carol was the psychic. She was extremely good at describing the types of spirits who haunted a home or institution. I thought she just was able to read the environment and structure of a location and conjecture the spirits she claimed haunted the place. Instinct and situational awareness to my mind, but I was always impressed how accurate she was after we were told its history. I feel a chill pass through my body as I remember her screams as Henry clawed the skin from her face and body before I slammed the two-by-four into his head. And as he lay stunned beside her, I remember the pleading in her eyes then the emptiness in them as she faded away, the soft whisper, "Help me," expiring from her lips.

Christopher, our camera man and equipment technician, was the first to die, a rusty iron bar slammed through his head temple to temple. Filming always put him at the front of our explorations. Too close to Henry at the moment of his madness.

Dorene, our researcher, historian, scheduler, and adrenaline junky, was next as she attempted to flee. Christopher's camera hit her in the back, thrown by the suddenly demented Henry.

Carol and I were in the control room. We witnessed the image of Christopher's death on the television monitor and heard the grunt from Dorene as the camera smashed into her. Then the choked squawk as Henry's hands choked away her other utterances. The stationary image on the screen showed only an overturned armoire and the brass sculpting of a gargoyle smiling wickedly at the camera, turning my blood cold. Only scuffling sounds now were emitted from the camera's microphone. Frozen momentarily in shock, Carol and I then dashed down the stairs to the room where the mayhem played out.

Henry's hands were still around the neck of Dorene's twitching body, her bloodshot eyes indicating lifelessness. Carol cried out, "Henry fight him. Don't let him control you."
Henry's head turned toward us, and I saw only cold, black, empty eyes look back. He released Darlene's throat and stood. The shy, observant, and frequent arbitrator of the team's arguments was gone. My sensible, cool-headed friend was no longer with us. I was staring at something evil. Beseechingly Carol stepped close, her arm reaching out to him.
"My team. They're all dead!"

The staff of the Parapsychology Foundation for whom I work stared at me. Stared at the caked blood and scratches across my face. My heart beat tick, tick, tick, like the clicks on a stopwatch, and images of the massacre of my crew leave no room for rational thought. They had never seen me this way. I had always been the man in control. Decisive. Steadfast.

Slamming both hands down on the receptionist's desk, and with a scream so fierce it abraded my throat, I yelled, "Help me!"

No one moved until a door to the lab opened and Dr. Lansing, head of the foundation, emerged. He rushed to my side and placed his hand on my shoulder looking into my panicked eyes.

"Come Sandra. Help me get this young man in my office."

I let them lead me, and I fell into a chair, legs too weak to support me any longer. I heard Dr. Lansing whisper to the receptionist.

"His eyes are darting to and fro. His muscles are twitching. This man is hysterical. I'll give him a sedative."

I felt the pinch of the needle but visions of my murdered team swamped my thoughts.
Our assignment was to study the basement of the abandoned Saint Michael's Church for demonic possession. Several of the caretakers had reported hearing grunts and snarls coming from one of the rooms, and the janitorial staff refused to enter.

When we arrived, Christopher filmed the whole basement area to get an establishing foundation. The room rumored to be haunted was the farthest from the staircase, and I remembered the temperature getting chillier the closer I walked toward it. Inside there was scant furniture left. A folding chair in one corner, and an old ornate Armoire centered along the back wall.
It was the brass sculpture on it that immediately caught my eye.

Dorene had researched the history of the church, and among other facts she had obtained there was a story about the sculpture I was staring at. It had been sculpted by an old priest around the story an angle fallen out of grace. Because of her sins, she was exiled from Heaven to forever serve Satan in hell.

The story told that this angel, determined to get revenge, visited the dreams of the innocent and placed a seed of doubt in their minds that a benevolent God exists. The old priest designed the angel with soiled, drooped wings, a dark robe covering a grim streaked face, with one hand draped over the other, arms outstretched and propped on the skeletal head engraved into the handle of a sword. The streaks ran down the face from the eyes, nose, and mouth, like a flow of blood. My chest tightened in a chill when I first saw it.

After we set up our equipment, in the control room near the staircase, we waited until early morning to begin our investigation. Henry, Christopher, and Dorene walked slowly through the basement, venturing ultimately into the haunted room while Carol and I monitored the instruments from the control room. I remember Dorene urging Henry to touch the sculpture. Both she and Christopher were laughing and daring him to do so. When he touched it, he changed.
The whole story tumbled from my lips during the next half hour, and Dr. Lansing listened patiently.

"It was the most horrible thing I have ever witnessed," I explained. "And poor Henry. He changed right in front of my eyes."

A questioning frown crossed the doctor's face, and he said, "But you're Henry."

And the rage overtook poor Henry again.
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