“I’m sorry, Miss Harper,” replied Gretz over a loudspeaker. “The police have instructed me not to enter the building.”
Harper was in trouble. She knew that Ruby Florence was growing desperate. The murder of the captain proved that the spirits were no longer content with a simple haunting. They would fight to keep their residence intact. And they were only likely to leave Harper alive if she was useful to them.
Gretz’s refusal meant that Harper’s usefulness was quickly running out.
The police appeared to be busy preparing something. Harper knew, too, that if they tried to assault the house again that her life would be in great danger. She was shivering as she stood, exposed, waiting for a response from either of the parties locked in the standoff.
Suddenly, Harper broke into a run and dashed toward the door. If the ghosts were trapped in the building, they couldn’t follow her outside. Their plan to put her between themselves and the police had been a mistake. She was so close to freedom.
The police marksman was watching the house through his rifle scope. He studied the woman at the window as she made demands. She was remarkably unafraid for somebody who’d reportedly just killed a cop. The marksman was friends with many of the men on the team that had entered the general store and was waiting for his chance to avenge the Captain. The marksman was a little sad, though. He’d read Shannon Harper’s column for years. He pushed that feeling aside. It would be easy enough to replace that part of his day.
When Harper made her break for the door, his readied himself to shoot. His earpiece buzzed with instructions. If she made it to the doorway, he was to take the shot.
Ruby Florence saw Harper dash toward the border of the ghosts’ influence. The ghost had to move quickly to counter the escape attempt.
She attempted to gain control of Harpers consciousness. Within a moment, she’d succeeded.
Harper felt the foreign presence in her mind. Her body and will were suddenly not under her control any longer. The only sensation that she recognized was fear. Harper’s footsteps slowed, and Ruby Florence began to force her away from the exit.
Harper was close enough to the boundary, though, that the ghost’s power was not as strong as it was in the middle of the building. Harper fought the possession, and was able to break free for an instant. She lunged toward the fading daylight on the porch.
She stumbled and fell as she felt a burning pain. She came to rest against the doorframe, wavering precariously between two worlds.