Denise put the Pepsi and Fanta bottles on the kitchen counter, then she opened a drawer to get some straws. As she put her hand in to get them, she heard a whisper from behind.
Startled, she spun around to find the speaker. Though the girl she saw looked ghost-like, the face was familiar enough. Denise gawked at that face in disbelief for several seconds, her jaw dropping.
“Alexa?” she whispered.
The ghost smirked.
Then it flew inside Denise’s body.
She gasped, then froze.
Her brain was now thinking thoughts that weren’t her own.
Thoughts that couldn’t be expelled from her mind.
The baseball bat in the hall closet. Get it. Get a knife out of the drawer, too.
After getting a steak knife out of another kitchen drawer and putting it in her back jeans pocket, then putting her shirt over the handle to hide it, Denise walked out of the kitchen and into the hall like an automaton, with absolutely no ability to stop herself. She approached that closet with helpless dread.
All the while, she could hear her son noisily playing with his Star Wars toys.
You hate that noise, don’t you? Alexa’s voice rasped in Denise’s ears. You know you want to stop it, and there’s only one way to do it.
Denise couldn’t say no. She couldn’t even think it, as hard as she tried to.
She opened the closet door and picked up the bat.
She closed the door and took the bat with her down the hall to the living room. She couldn’t believe she had no ability to stop, drop the bat, and just return to the kitchen to get the drinks.
But she knew exactly what she was meant to do with the bat.
She couldn’t stop herself. She couldn’t say no to Alexa’s ghost. She couldn’t think any thoughts of objection to the ghost’s plan.
Alexa had total control over her mind and body.
Denise remembered how she’d bullied Alexa back in high school, but she couldn’t muster an apology, as sincere as it would have been. She couldn’t even let a tear roll down her cheek, over what she was being forced to do to her boy.
As she approached little Jameson with the bat, his voice, still imitating light sabre sounds, grew louder and more obnoxious. Her possessed brain was making her hate her son’s noises.
Violence is the only way to deal with anything you don’t like, Alexa’s voice told her. You know that. You’ve known it your whole life. Oh, sure, you’ve tried to suppress your rage against the world, you’ve pretended to be a good, loving mother, but you know, deep down, that that’s not the real you, Denise. Swing that bat. Beat him to death with it. You know you want to.
She was standing right behind him now. He just kept on playing and making those noises. He didn’t know she was there with that bat. He’d even forgotten about the Pepsi.
She raised the bat high over her head.
That noise is really annoying, isn’t it? Alexa asked. Little dorks like him deserve to be beaten, don’t they?
Denise kept that bat over her head, but knew she wouldn’t be able to stop it from coming crashing down on his head. She also knew why the bat stayed up above her head for the moment, why it wouldn’t come down just yet.
She was being made to wait for him to see her.
The waiting was also cruel suspense.
There was nothing she could do to stop it. The alien intelligence controlling her mind wouldn’t let her scream out a warning; it wouldn’t let her weep; it wouldn’t let her feel any affection for little Jameson.
It forced her to feel only murderous rage.
Still making the loud light sabre noises, he finally looked behind, saw her legs, then looked up at her.
He barely had time to frown at the sight of the baseball bat in her hands.
After that first blow bashed the boy’s skull to bloody pieces, she brought the bat down again and again, with many more a clubbing of his bones and back to finish him off.
He just lay there on his front, a motionless, bloody mess.
…and finally, she regained control of her mind and body.
She fell to her knees and dropped the bat.
She screamed a deafening wail of grief that went unbroken for the next ten seconds. Then she took in a hoarse breath and screamed again, louder and longer.
“I didn’t do this!” she yelled. “Something else…made me do this! Who?!“
Alexa’s ghost reappeared before her, smiling.
“You!” Denise hissed. “You fucking bitch! You made me kill my son! What I did to you back in school was nowhere near as bad as this! I didn’t deserve this! He didn’t deserve this! I went to prison for my crimes! I reformed myself! I paid my dues!”
She picked up the bat and rose to her feet. She swung it at the gloomy apparition, hitting only her furniture as it swept through Alexa’s transparent spectral image. The ghost laughed at Denise’s futile attempt at revenge.
How does it feel to be the weak one, Denise? Alexa whispered. But as you can see, you still have your violent nature. All I did was reawaken it in you.
“I would never have been violent to Jameson!” Denise screamed, no longer swinging the bat in exhaustion. “You made me do that. I should have killed you back in high school.”
You did, Alexa said. You and that prick, Boyd, drove me to commit suicide. But I’m not finished with you yet.
Outside, Denise heard the door of their car shut. Her husband was about to walk through the front door.
One of the first things he’d see was little Jameson’s body in a pond of blood on the living room floor.
Before Denise could say or do anything, she felt Alexa fly back into her body. A cruel look on her face replaced the grief-stricken despair that had been on it just a few seconds before.
She picked up Jameson’s body and took it out of the living room.
Jack opened the front door and stepped in.
“Honey?” he called out as he walked down the hall to the living room. “I’m home. I’m really hungry. Could you please make me a…what the fuck?”
He saw that pool of red staining the living room carpet. He saw some broken things and dents in some of the furniture.
Was there a break-in? he wondered, trembling all over and stepping slowly and quietly into the living room. I thought I heard screaming as I drove in. Is the intruder…are the intruders…still here?
He walked over to the bloody baseball bat and picked it up.
He crept out of the living room and reached the entrance to the kitchen, listening for any sounds that might indicate an intruder. Any time his feet made the slightest creak, or if his breath was at all audible, he got mad at himself.
I must not give away my position, he thought.
No one was in the kitchen. He didn’t want to go in there for fear of his squeaking shoes telling the intruder…or intruders…where his was.
He went back across the living room and to the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. He noticed a few drops of blood here and there, suggesting where the intruder/intruders had gone.
He went up the stairs with painstaking slowness, careful not to make any noise, but slow also out of terrified reluctance to find out whose blood he’d seen on the living room carpet.
He reached the top of the stairs and looked around the hall leading to the bedrooms. No one was there, but a few drops of blood led the way to the bedrooms.
He crept over to his and Denise’s bedroom. He listened at the door. He heard the sound of something knocked over. He took a deep breath in and put his hand on the doorknob. He turned it ever so slowly and quietly.
He pushed the door open with the same slow, silent care. He saw mostly darkness and shadow, for the curtains were closed over the window. He heard a shuffling movement.
As soon as he flicked on the light switch, he felt something knock against his left leg, something that had leapt from the dresser drawer, knocking over a bottle of Denise’s skin moisturizer. It ran out of the room, scaring the shit out of him.
It was their cat.
“Jesus Christ, Snowball,” he whispered as their white cat continued running down the hall to the stairs. Then, remembering he had to be quiet, he put his finger to his lips. He looked down at the hall carpet. The drops of blood hadn’t stopped at their bedroom.
He continued his slow, quiet steps over to Jameson’s bedroom. He saw blood on the doorknob.
Oh, please, God, no! he thought as he opened the door, the bat in his other hand ready to swing.
This room was similarly dark and shadowy, the curtains also closed; but he could make out a short, small silhouette of a human being lying on the bed.
Please, let him be OK, he thought as he reached for the light switch. He turned it on.
Jameson’s body lay there, grotesque and disfigured from the beating he’d received, blood staining the bedsheets.
Jack’s eyes and mouth agape, he could produce no sound other than a hoarse gasp. He just stood there, frozen and stupefied.
Denise flew out from behind the opened door with that knife. She dug it deep in his gut.
The pain of the stab was nothing compared to the shock he felt from seeing the inexplicable malevolence in his wife’s eyes. He dropped the bat and fell to his knees.
“Denise…why?” he grunted as he looked up at her and her hateful expression.
He fell to her feet, surrounded in his blood.
She regained control of herself, then screamed at the top of her lungs again. “What am I supposed to do now, Alexa?”
You have the knife, the grinning ghost said. Use it on yourself.
A few days later, the local newspaper reported the double murder/suicide, Denise’s naked body found in the bathtub filled with bloody water, her wrists slashed.
How such a family, known all over their community to have been so happy and loving, could have ended so tragically seemed a mystery to all…until a little research dug up her criminal past. It was assumed that her old violent ways had never been fully extinguished.