Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter Eighty-Eight : The psychic battle


Friday evening — 5:45 P.M.

Jacob stepped through the doorway and listened. He could hear Valerie screaming in the kitchen. Valerie’s pain and terror threatened to overwhelm his little brother self. He had to stay focused. He pushed away everything other than his singular focus – Johansen.

Cloaking his mind, he slipped off his boots and jacket. He knew he had only a few minutes before Johansen would be on him. He had to be ready for whatever came in his direction.

Then, as if placed there by some friendly god, he saw Mike’s hockey gear. With his eyes on Johansen, he picked up Mike’s hockey stick. He crawled forward to the bag. When Valerie screamed again, he opened the front pouch of Mike’s bag. He breathed a sigh of relief. Three pucks. With a silent prayer of thanks for Mike’s compulsive nature, he slipped a puck into each of the back pockets of his jeans.

Johansen sniffed.


Jacob hopped to his feet. In one fluid movement, he tossed the puck up and hit it hard with Mike’s stick. The puck flew through the air and hit Johansen in the forehead. When Johansen fell backwards, Delphie crumpled to the ground clutching her head. Johansen’s hold on her tore at her mind.

Rooting himself into the foundation of the Castle, Jacob used his power to push Valerie deeper into the kitchen. As Mike scrambled after her, Jacobslammed and locked the kitchen door. Slowly moving his right hand, he attempted to create a shield vortex around Delphie to protect her. Johansen asserted his hold over Delphie and she began to scream in pain. Jacob’s vortex collapsed onto itself.

“Mom!” Jacob called to Celia. He pointed to Delphie. “Go!”

Celia went to comfort Delphie.

Johansen was on his feet. He sent energetic tendrils around Jacob. Johansen’s mind searched Jacob’s body and soul for any weakness. Sloughing him off, Jacob dropped the hockey stick. He fought back with his mind.

Their battle began.


Friday evening — 5:45 P.M.

“Mommy?” Katy asked.

“Yes, Katy-baby,” Jill said.

They were snuggled together in the pillows near the back of the chapel. Paddie was curled up next to Jill. With Katy’s head lay on Jill’s lap, they spoke in quiet, intimate tones.

“Do you have a special power?” Katy asked.

“No, baby, I’m hopelessly normal,” Jill said.

“How come Naomi says you have a special power?” Katy asked.

“Naomi must be mistaken,” Jill said.

“But she says when you were my age you could heal things,” Katy said. “She told me when I was sick. She said you didn’t heal me when I was sick because you forgot you could do it.”

“Do what, Katy-baby?”

“Heal people. Animals. Stuff like that,” Katy said. “That’s what you’re doing when you help me with the dreams. You heal me. Daddy too. That’s why he’s gotten so strong.”

“I just love you Katy-baby. Daddy too,” Jill said. “When you have a dream, I love you back to me. I loved you when you were sick too.”

“Are you sure you never loved little animals, birds and squirrels the same way?” Katy asked. “Even when they were dead?”

Jill didn’t respond. Instead, she caressed Katy’s head hoping she would fall asleep.

“Mommy? Why won’t you tell me?”

“Oh,” Jill sighed. “It was a long, long time ago and I did something really bad. I promised myself I would never do that again. Never ever.”

Katy was silent for a while. They heard a something crash against the floor upstairs.


“Yes, Katy-baby,” Jill said.

“Why won’t you do it now? You did it when I had the bee sting. Remember when we were at that store and I was really sick? You did it for Auntie Honey. By her bedside.”

“If it happens now, it’s just a mistake or an accident.”

“But you would do it to save me?”

“I don’t think I can do it by choice. When you grow up Katy…”

“Naomi says you can. Would you do it to save Daddy?”


“Would you do it to save Delphie? Or Auntie Valerie? Or Grand Mommy? Because Naomi says that you’re the only one who can save all of us.”


Friday evening — 5:55 P.M.

When the kitchen door slammed closed, Mike jumped to his feet. Pulling and tugging, he dragged the solid maple kitchen table to block the door.  He closed and locked the door to the apartment stairs.  He pulled an armoire over to block the door. Certain they were safe as safe as he could make them, he turned to Valerie.

Valerie writhed on the floor. Unsure of what to do for her, he wrapped himself around her. He closed his eyes and willed his strength into her.

Until he saw blood.

“You’re bleeding,” he said.

“Babies, Mike. Babies are dying.” Valerie grunted.

Mike scowled. Picking up his cell phone, he dialed 9-1-1. No response. His phone wasn’t working. He shattered the phone against the wall. From his position on the floor, he snatched at the kitchen phone on the wall.

One try. Missed.

Another try. Miss.

Finally, he had the phone in his hand. No dial tone.

“Mike save my babies,” Valerie said. She passed out.

Mike lifted her into his arms. He carried her to the security panel. With his precious bundle in his arms, he was able to open the tunnel door. There was only one person who could fix this now. He only hoped she was hiding in the Chapel.

He carried Valerie into the tunnels.


Friday evening — 6:06 P.M.

Sandy pulled into the Castle driveway. Always vigilant, Sandy noticed the dogs didn’t come to greet her. Uneasy, she pulled forward to park behind Jill’s Lexus. At least everyone was here.

“We must be late,” Sandy said.

“Nah, dinner is at seven,” Nash said. “Bet Mrs. Valerie is already here. They’re probably already celebrating. She makes the party.”

“I don’t mind being late! I love love love love ice cream!”

Laughing, Sandy got out of the driver’s seat. She scanned the backyard for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing stood out. She went around the car to where the kids waited for her. They moved across the driveway toward the Castle.

“Sandy!” Jill called. “Sandy!”

“Sandy,” Noelle stopped and pointed to Jill.

They could just see Jill’s face over the edge of the building. She was peering out of a broken window in the chapel. Jill waved for them to come over to her. Sandy ran over to Jill. She dropped to her knees.

“What’s wrong?” Sandy asked. “What’s happened?”

“I don’t know,” Jill said. “Something is happening. Jacob made us go down here. He said we were in danger. We keep hearing crashes upstairs and people crying and screaming.”

Without hesitation, Sandy helped the kids into the Chapel. Noelle went over to Katy and the girls hugged. Noelle pulled a doll out of her backpack for the Katy to play with.  Not sure what to do with himself, Nash reached for Sandy’s hand. Sandy smiled at him.

“Would you mind checking on Paddie?”  Sandy asked Nash.

“You want to talk to Jill alone,” Nash said.

“I want to talk to Jill alone.”

Nash wandered over to Paddie.

“What’s going on?” Sandy whispered.

“I don’t know,” Jill said. “Katy says I have to… you know. She says it’s the only way to get through this… without everyone dying.”

Sandy nodded. The two close friends shared a long look. Jill shook her head.

“I can’t. Never again,” Jill said.

“Just because you didn’t save your father doesn’t mean…”

The women looked up as Mike carried Valerie into the Chapel.

“Please Jill, Valerie’s losing the babies. She’s dying,” Mike said. “Please. Please.”


Friday evening — 6:15 P.M.

Johansen was weakening. To distract Jacob, Johansen began flinging random furniture and heavy objects at him. But Jacob was an expert hockey player. Avoiding a flying Tiffany lamp was no different than avoiding a hockey puck. Jacob jumped and weaved around the flying objects.

Johansen worked to open the kitchen door while holding onto Delphie. The three focuses – Jacob, Delphie and getting Valerie – were too much for him. The demon had to let go of Valerie but refused to let go of Delphie. Jacob heard Mike unlock the door to the tunnels. With any luck, Mike and Valerie were on their way to the hospital.

Jacob pressed his energy forward and Johansen stumbled. For a brief moment, Johansen let go of Delphie. Jacob to create a power vortex around Delphie. Celia flew at Johansen to distract him long enough for the vortex to solidify. The energy spiral burned bright white in the Castle living room. Delphie was safe from any energetic intervention. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Celia join Delphie inside the vortex.

Johansen screamed with rage.


He blew Jacob off his feet. Jacob flew backward. He hit the wall hard enough to knock a hole in the plaster. Johansen flew across the room at Jacob. Taking Johansen’s cue, Jacob took a hockey puck from his back pocket and energetically threw it at Johansen. The puck hit the man on the shoulder. Johansen’s shoulder broke with a satisfying crack.

Johansen reached out his energy to grabbed Jacob’s heart. Jacob deflected him.

“Smart enough to protect a weak heart!” The man gave a maniacal laugh.

Johansen tried to wrap his energy around Jacob’s heart again. Jacob threw the other puck at him. The puck went wild and bounced off the kitchen door. Johansen asserted his will. Decades of rage and prison induced hatred flew at Jacob. Tendrils of the man’s energy wrapped around Jacob’s heart.

Jacob gasped for breath. He fell to the ground.

“NO Marlowe will survive this day!” Johansen yelled.

Jacob reached up his hand. He crashed through ceiling into the second floor breaking Johansen’s hold on him.

“No matter. Time to kill the Marlowe child,” Johansen yelled after Jacob.


Friday evening — 6:15 P.M.

“I haven’t done it since…” Jill started.

“You have to try,” Mike said. “Valerie won’t make it to the hospital. The babies won’t make it. Please. Try.”

Jill felt motion next to her.

“You can do it, Mommy.” Katy’s words resonated inside her.

Jill dropped to her knees. Envisioning the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, sunlight through of the archangel Raphael stained glass window, Jill let the light fill her. She rubbed her hands together.


“Please try,” Mike begged.

Closing her eyes, Jill placed her hands on Valerie’s belly. Her mind flooded with images. She saw that one child was already dead. The other was alive and hanging on through the contractions. Jill used her breath to blow her healing light into Valerie’s womb. The contractions slowed. Jill directed the healing light to the dead baby but no spark of life was left to receive it.

Another Marlowe male had been killed by Johansen.

When the contractions and bleeding stopped, Jill let go. Looking up, she was surprised to see everyone standing around her. Little Paddie put his arm over her shoulder. Katy kissed her cheek.

“I’m sorry, Mike. You’ve lost a baby,” Jill said. “I couldn’t revive him.”

Valerie woke with a gasp. Clutching to Mike, she began to sob.

“She should be all right now,” Jill said. “I think I need to go.”

“Go Jill. I’ll stay with the kids,” Sandy said. “You can do this.”

Jill turned to run out the door.


Katy ran into her mother’s arms. For just a moment, all movement in their world slowed to a stop. The mother and child held each other tight.  Feeling pressure to leave, Jill let go. She set Katy down.

“Love you, Katy-baby,” Jill said at the same moment Katy said, “Love you, Mommy.”

Jill touched Katy’s hair one last time then ran out of the room. Jill ran down the stairs and into the tunnel. She made a sharp turn and jogged up the stairs to the kitchen door. She unlocked the security for the door. Running into the kitchen, she saw that Mike had blocked the doors to the living room.

Just then there was a crash in the living room. Something bounced off the kitchen door. Jill tried to move the table. She pulled and pushed but the table was too heavy for her. There was no way she was going through either of those doors.

She couldn’t get to the stairwell to go through her loft apartment. She couldn’t gain access from the second floor. She spun in place. She’d just have to go around. She pulled a key from a hook and unlocked the back door. She ran across the deck and around the house.


Friday evening — 6:25 P.M.

After looking around the Chapel, Sandy shook her head.

“We’re not safe here,” Sandy said.

“What do you mean? No one knows we’re here,” Mike said.

“There’s only one entrance that we can’t really lock. We can’t close off the window and if we did, there are other windows. No, we’re not safe here,” Sandy said. “I can feel it in my bones. Trust me. I’m no psychic. I’ve just been in this type of situation. A lot. Can you carry Val?”

Mike nodded.

“Anyone know of a better hiding place?” Sandy asked.

“There’s a wine cellar,” Nash said. He blushed deep red. “I’m not supposed to know anything about it.”

“I don’t know anything about it,” Mike said.

“Delphie wanted to get something from the tunnels. I told her I would get it but she said no. She was so weird that I… watched on the security tapes,” Nash said. “We were making dinner together a few months ago.”

“Have you been there?” Sandy asked.

Ashamed, Nash hung his head and nodded.

“Why don’t I know about it?” Mike asked.

“Do you ever cook?” Sandy asked.

“Never,” Mike said.

Sandy dug around in her purse and gave Mike some pills.

“Tylenol,” Sandy said. “Do we have water?”

“In the wine cellar,” Nash said. “Delphie keeps everything there. Cheese. Wine. Chocolates. Champagne and fancy water.”

“Let’s go,” Sandy said. “Nash, help Paddie. Noelle, help Katy. We have to move…”

The children ran from the Chapel.


Mike lifted Valerie and carried her out the door. Feeling a little sheepish, Sandy closed the chapel door and followed the children into the tunnels.


Friday evening — 6:45 P.M.

“No matter,” Johansen. “Time to kill the Marlowe child.”

“NO!” Jacob yelled. He jumped from the second floor on top of Johansen. But he was too late.

The Castle rocked with the explosion. The entire wing bowed forward then backward. The hallway broke open exposing a doorway at the end of Honey’s rooms.

“The Chapel!” Jacob yelled.

Johansen gave another maniacal laugh.

Enraged, Jacob flew at Johansen. But Johansen was ready for him. Johansen threw a massive attack at Jacob’s injured heart. Johansen gave another maniacal laugh. Clutching his chest, Jacob fell to the ground. Johansen stepped closer to Jacob. The man’s entire attention was focused on destroying Jacob Marlowe.

“Stop that,” Jill said.

She swung the hockey stick with all her might. The stick hit Johansen in the back of his head. He stumbled and fell but did not release his focus on Jacob.

“Crazy old man,” Jill said.

Jill reached down to put her hand on the back of Johansen’s neck. She thought of the love that surrounded her from her circle of friends, her Katy-baby, Jacob, his family, her family, their family. She forced the healing light into Johansen.  She watched his anguish, black despair and desperate need for power wilt and turn to dust.

She searched for the good inside the old man. Somewhere deep inside, she found a tiny kernel of love. The rest had slipped away a long time ago. She opened her eyes to find herself touching a husk.

Johansen was gone.

Jill rushed to Jacob’s side.

“Katy.”  Clutching his chest, Jacob gasped.

“She wasn’t in the Chapel,” Jill said. “I looked in when I came around. The room was empty when he blew it up.”

She moved to touch his heart when Delphie let out a terrible scream. Delphie writhed on the floor.

“Go,” Jacob said. “I can wait.”

Jill ran to Delphie. When she reached for her, Delphie began to have seizures. Jacob rushed to Jill’s side. He held Delphie while Jill tried to soothe Delphie’s brain.

Jill shook her head.

“I can’t… She’s having a stroke. I can’t stop it.”

Jacob wrapped himself around Delphie’s body and whispered in her ear:

“Please don’t leave.”


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