Read The Haunting of the Gemini Online
Authors: Jackie Barrett
I burst through my front door and saw the alarm was still set. She hadn't gotten in. Or had she? Who was this woman? I kicked the door shut and dropped my now-trashed bag of groceries onto the floor.
“I know you're in here. Come out and show yourself,” I said. My bedroom door slammed shut.
Now I was actually scared. This had never happened to me before. I bolted into the kitchen and dug a knife out of the silverware drawer. Sweat from my runâand my fearâdripped down into my eyes. I wiped it away and took a breath. That small action gave me pause. What the hell was I doing? Standing in my own kitchen holding a knife like Norman Bates and shrieking at a ghost? I had to get a grip. I put down the knife and began to walk slowly down the hallway to my bedroom. As I approached, the door cracked just a bit, and my beloved cat Oreo shot out past me. She raced to the living room and started scratching at the glass French doors that led out to the front yard.
I followed her and tried to scoop her up into my arms. I had to drop down on all fours and crawl after her as she scooted around a folding screen and kept scratching and meowing at the window. I knew she was trying to show me something, and I was damn sure I didn't want to see what it was. I finally got my arms around her and started to slide backward, away from the French doors. She clawed at me, and I let her go as I stared up and outside. What I saw froze me with fear. A tall man dressed all in black stood on the other side of the door. His face was covered with a rag, which he lifted in order to press his mouth against the glass. His breath frosted the pane before he stepped back slightly and let the rag fall back into place.
“Jackie,” I heard him say, as if he were in the room with me, “give me what belongs to me.”
I crawled away as fast as I could, trying to keep from being pulled into a fight I had nothing to do with.
*Â *Â *
As this woman kept stalking me, I tried desperately to live a normal life. Well, normal for me. My job as a psychic medium isn't exactly something you find in the “help-wanted” section of the paper. I use my skills in many ways, not all of them related to death. I help the love struck decide whether their infatuations are truly right for them. I help guide artists and performers toward their next projects. I help families find relatives who have been lost to the streets and the ravages of drugs. I guide people on their deathbeds over to the other side. I help law enforcement with homicide and missing-person cases. And I help those robbed of loved ones by murder or suicide have that last conversation they would otherwise be denied.
But along with the good always comes the bad. Through my work, I also am acquainted with the devil. I have witnessed and participated in true exorcisms. I have come face-to-face with demons. I have always stood up to them, resisted their leader. I feel that the devil is always looking for a way in with me. Always searching for a crack, some way to slip past my defenses. Maybe my gift is what he wants. A fine soldier I would be in his army. He knows my qualifications.
I am the combination of two bloodlines rich in the supernatural. My father was a Blackfoot Indian who knew the earth and its rhythms. He was connected to everything natural, and he used those links to stay within the good and the right. He did not walk in the darkness. His view of the worldsâboth this one and the nextâwas expansive, and he taught me to notice what most others did not. Each thing had a purpose, and if I knew that, I could open my mind to its other possibilities. He taught me how to summon our ancestors and ask them for guidance, and he brought me to my special protector, the spirit wolf assigned to me at birth who has guarded me ever since. And he taught me how to treat everyoneâno matter what their station in lifeâwith respect.
My father was a huge man, big and strong. He worked with his hands all his life, molding steel and iron into all sorts of things, pipelines and bridges, and swinging a sledgehammer most men couldn't even lift. He came down from Canada and met my mother in New Orleans. Where else would she be, my voodoo high-priestess mother? She was of Sicilian descent, but she was Bayou through and through, an expert in the humid byways and old mysticism of the South. She spent her life ridding other people of their demons, but what she vanquished also fascinated her. In the end, the dark proved too tempting and too powerful. My mother trapped a very strong demon, but rather than damning it back to hell, she tried to set it forth to work for her. Instead, it consumed her, and even an exorcism could not defeat it. It took me years to accept that my own mother had succumbed while in an abandoned hotel on Coney Island, where even two priests and a nun could not overcome the demon inside her.
The exorcism had been going on for days when I got there, just in time to see my mother floating in the middle of a blood-spattered room. Her empty eyes showed the empty space where her soul had been, forever eaten by the devil. She had lost. In her workâher communications with the dead, her ridding others of demonsâshe had lost. And ever since, I have lived in fear that the same thing would happen to me.
*Â *Â *
The woman who had been haunting me finally introduced herself one night at the movies. I walked into the theater restroom, and the fluorescent lights began to dim. The row of toilets began to flush all at once, and the faucets ran to overflowing. I started breathing heavily, and saw the frost of my exhale come from my mouth like Arctic air. I went into a stall and sat down, praying that I could just go to the bathroom in peace. Then an invisible hand scratched letters into the back of the door, right in front of my face.
I felt faint. My heart thudded in my chest, and my breath froze my lips. I had to get out of there. I pushed open the stall door and ran toward the exit as the toilets started to overflow. Water spilled everywhere. I felt like I was going to pass out. I reached the exit, and although I barely had the strength, I peeked behind me. Nothing was out of place. All I saw was a silent, clean, dry bathroom. I stood still for a moment, shaking, and then looked in the mirror. It cracked, splitting my reflection in two.
I had coffee in my hand and headphones in my ears as I descended into the subway. My music blocked out the chitchat around me as I waited for the R train. I was on my way to one of my favorite little cafÃ©s down on the Lower East Side to meet an artist friend of mine for a late breakfast so we could talk about his upcoming project.
Many artists run their ideas by me so I can give them the vibe I get about their concepts, enlightening them about what will come. I always meet these clients in person. They need to look into my eyes and sit with me to create the spark of inspiration. We go into a meditative state together. This allows them to let go of any physical pain. Any emotional pain, of course, goes into their creation. What is art without tears of the heart? To the public, it might just seem like a beautiful piece, but to the artists, it is nothing less than a slice of their soul.
This wonderful friend of mine had just yesterday come to my office, which is one of the best places to do a ritual circle. My black mirror and altar are surrounded by antiques and illuminated by a red crystal chandelier. The light bathes the purple walls, red-leather couch, and leopard-print rug. The two of us sat on the couch and held hands to exchange creative energy. We stared into each other's eyes, and his hands became electric. It was as if every one of his unanswered questions fell into place at that very moment. This is a must with artistsâvisualizing every step as the process begins.
The energy was so intense that the two of us started dancing. We blasted music and recordings I have of war drums, and we painted our faces with Native American markings. We danced around the office as he opened up his spirit, which was exactly my intent. I know very well that the spirit moves the body and feeds the mind. Now my toes tapped to the music on my iPod as I waited for my train and remembered the day before. We had really rocked it out, and I'd felt great about helping him continue his increasingly successful career. We'd worked together for more than sixteen years and now just needed to finalize plans for his show over coffee. I love this part of my work. Who wouldn't? It's so positive, so full of anticipation and promise.
The roar of the approaching train interrupted my thoughts. It looked empty, and I initially thought it would blow right through the station like all out-of-service trains do. But it began to slow, and I automatically moved toward it. No one joined me. Everyone else on the platform continued with their conversations and didn't even glance toward the train. That
happens here in New York. There's always a hurried jostling, maybe even a little shoving, as people rush for the seats.
The train screeched to a stop, and the doors banged open. My logical mind told me not to get on that train, but my feet worked by themselves, almost tripping me as they carried me through the doors. I really had no choice. I hesitantly walked onto the train, and the doors slammed shut behind me. Everyone else stayed on the platform. The train lurched forward, and I looked around. There were four homeless people with me in the car. All of them were sleeping, curled around plastic garbage bags that I guessed held all of their worldly possessions. One guy clutched a small transistor radio, held together with rubber bands. I sat across from him and looked down at my iPod, thinking how fortunate some of us are.
I continued to sit there, almost transfixed. I paid no attention to the stops, or to whether the train even stopped at all. It rocked from side to side as it went even faster. An empty bottle of whiskey rolled out from under a seat and bumped its way down the speeding train until it hit my shoe. I slowly lifted my foot to let it pass, but it stayed where it was.
Why doesn't it roll down the aisle?
I wondered. The train was moving so fast,
would roll down the aisle if I stood up.
I kicked the bottle underneath my seat and tried to shake off my stupor. I shut off my iPod, hoping to hear the conductor announce an upcoming stop. But there were none. The train was going through a dark tunnel, and all I could see were flashing red and blue lights that made me dizzy. I got up to get a better look at the tunnel graffiti and realized that the train was on the middle track, the express track, and was not going to stop.
A sound came from behind me, and I remembered the homeless people with whom I shared the car. I turned and saw them still asleep, but an old newspaper blew through the air toward me. As I bent down to look at it, it stopped moving, as though it was trying to show me something.
WOMAN FOUND DEAD, PATRICIA FONTI,
AUGUST 10, 1992, AT THE AGE OF 39
I glanced around the car, thinking that someone was playing a joke on me. I picked up the newspaper and walked over to the sleeping man with the transistor radio.
“Is this a joke? Did you do this?” I demanded, waking him up. “Look at it!”
I was so upset I couldn't help myself. I moved to the center of the train car. “Who did this to me?” I yelled, waking everyone up.
The radio man looked at me like I was crazy, which set me off even more. He took a pair of broken reading glasses out of his pocket, put them on, and looked at the paper I shoved at him.
“What is this?” I demanded again. “Look at the year.”
“1992,” he answered.
Fear settled in me. “What year is this?”
A chorus answered me. All four of the homeless people said in unison, “It's August 1992.”
The year 1992 was more than twenty years ago. I threw the newspaper down and sank into a seat, cradling my head in my hands and rocking back and forth. “Wake up. You just have to wake up. This isn't real,” I chanted to myself. I stayed huddled in that position until I felt the train begin to slow. I raced back to my window and peered out again. This time, I saw a long arrow painted on the tunnel wall. My eyes followed its direction, and outside in the tunnel I saw a small group of people squatting together and sobbing. The train slowed almost to a stop, as if it wanted me to see every detail of their torment. They were all in robes. One woman's back was exposed, and I could count every rib through her gaunt flesh.
And then I saw him, a dark figure standing over the group. I could not make out his face even though I pressed my cheek against the glass of the train window, straining to get a look at him. But I knew who he was. I had seen him darting in and out of dark places for years. He had appeared in my dreams, pulling me toward a dark psychic cesspool. The tall man in black. The devil. And now he was so close. He pointed down the tunnel as the train moved forward again, this time with the rhythmic clack of a roller coaster straining toward its highest point. He continued to point, and I continued to be carried away. Clack, clack, clack.
Suddenly the train stopped, and I honestly thought it was preparing for a roller-coaster drop into hell. I looked around frantically and saw through the windows that an opening had appeared in the tunnel, and out of it rolled an old wooden wheelchair. Leather-strap restraints hung off the arms and swung wildly as it turned toward me. Its wheels squeaked as it rolled closer.
It looked like a torture device, something used to imprison poor, crazy people. It terrified me. I stumbled back from the window and fell. The radio man gathered his meager belongings and knelt next to me.
“Well, Jackie, this is my stop. This is where I belong,” he said. “You can't run. There's nowhere to hide. You are going to have to face this one.” He stood. “It's been real nice seeing you, Jackie.”
He turned and walked right through the door. Now I could see the bullet hole in the back of his head. The others followed him. I sat on the floor and watched soul after soul pass through the train door and walk into the tunnel. The radio man slowly turned and waved at me. “Don't stray from the path or you won't be able to come back. Stay on that line.”
I dropped my head onto my knees and sobbed. Who could I turn to? Why couldn't I be like other people? Why was I forced to have this existence? Why?
The train stopped hard, jolting my body. I looked up to find myself in a normal, packed subway car, full of New Yorkers going about their business. Everyone in their own worlds. If they only knew about mine.
*Â *Â *
I had no conception of how much time had passed. I did not remember I had an appointment. I did not know where I was going once I got off the R train. My feet just carried me, block after block.
Standing at an intersection, I saw a woman waving wildly at me from across the street, yelling at me to cross even though traffic flew by. She waved and yelled, but no one else saw her. This was the woman who had been watching me for so long now. Patricia. The one who had been waiting.
The light changed, and I ran across the street to her, though she also ran, toward a huge stone building. I stopped and stared. The old Bellevue insane asylum, now a homeless shelter. Dead, twisted vines crawled up the stone and broken brick, as though massive tree roots stretched upward to cover the entire building. I saw Patricia disappear inside, and I could not follow. I knew I should, I knew I needed to see where she was leading me, but I couldn't do it. I stood on the sidewalk, at war with myself, feeling like one of the schizophrenics who used to call this horrific building home.
I stared up at the fortress and saw the torn curtains in one window swing open and that same old wooden wheelchair roll into view. And I saw myself strapped into it. The tall man in black I had seen in the tunnel was pushing me.
“We're waiting for you, Jackie,” he bellowed. His face was covered with a mask that completely covered his head in black. A white circle went around the edges of where his face must be, and a white cross went through the middle of that. The sign of the zodiac. On the street below, I could hear him start to laugh. “Accept your inheritance and come forward. Don't you want to play? It's not over until I say it is.”
*Â *Â *
I lay in bed, safe in my own house, wondering what awaited me today. I had not recovered from yesterday's train ride to hell, and I knew it wouldn't be my last contact with that horrible tall man in black. Traveling through different dimensions was as easy for me as walking to the drugstore, but I'd always been able to control that pathway before. I had built it, after all, and I thought it was mine to travel according to my own will. Now I was being shown otherwise.
I knew what was happening to me. I was no stranger to the signs of possession. Lost souls had always lived alongside me. But now this one was within me. I was being pursued and taken over. I was getting beaten up from within. Two souls cannot share one body for more than a short period of time. If they do, the person whose body it is can be irreparably harmed. It can cause severe psychiatric problems like split personality or psychosis.
Just how long can the human body keep this up?
I asked myself. A voice I did not recognize answered me.
“For as long as we want.”
I laughed. There was little else I could do. There were now squatters sharing my soul.
I did not know how much time passed, but the voices quieted, and then my two cats were with me, affectionately rubbing my face. I closed my eyes and felt the vibration of their purring. Such a normal experience. A wonderful, beautifully normal experience. I filled with joy as I tossed back the covers and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I told myself in the mirror how wonderful it was to be back in my own body with my own thoughts.
I followed my girls to the kitchen, where they demanded breakfast. I poured bowls of their favorite food and fresh water and then put on the coffee for myself. I hummed as I got my favorite stained and chipped cup out of the cabinet. I loved this old cup. Older is always better. I have learned the hard way that you can't wash history away. Better to accept itâstains, chips, and all.
I still had trouble believing that this perfect normalness was real. I couldn't resist peeking over my shoulder as I poured my first cup. I blew the steam off the top and leaned against the counter, smiling as my two girls devoured their food. Then a cold breeze slipped by me like a thief trying to sneak in unnoticed. The air in front of me bent into a crooked wave. The cats began to hiss and fight, which they never did. Then they ran for cover as the sound of knocking came from the front door.
The first one was gentle, as if a child were on the other side. I moved cautiously toward the door, which was solid oak in a reinforced frame. The next knock was a ringing clap, the sound of a sledgehammer hitting metal. I thought the door would shatter as I crept closer and looked through the peephole.
An older lady stood smiling at me. “Good morning, dear,” she said in a sweet voice.
“Please go away,” I said, shaking and sweating on the other side of the door.
“I'm spreading the word of God, you know. He knows you're in need.”
I looked through the peephole again and she met me there, her eye looking right back at mine. “Jesus loves you, oh yes, he does.”