Entry 40: My Baptism: Early Saturday AM Aug. 13
I awoke in a quiet panic. Though it was dark and I couldn’t see anything, I got the impression I was in a cellar. I could feel the cold floor beneath me, the cracked concrete cool against my face. There was a dampness in the air and the musty smell of things old and forgotten.
I waited to see if my eyes would adjust to the dark. Soon I was able to make out shapes and shadows around me. The first thing I noticed both visually and physically were that my hands were tied behind me. After several attempts, I managed to roll over onto my back, rocking myself until I could rise to a sitting position. I struggled with my bonds, but they were too tight.
A pain shot up my leg and I remembered that Larter had shot me. He was the killer. Mischa. Meagan. Who knows who else? I wondered to myself just how many girls had disappeared from this town since he had arrived as a teenager years ago.
Sitting there and helplessly tied, I listened for any sound that would indicate where I was. For a moment, the air was still as if the darkness knew I was listening, and then I heard it. An oncoming rush of air. That all too familiar sound I’d heard over the phone on many occasions.
Following the escaping air came the sound of water flowing through pipes, culminating in a steady drip that seemed to be hitting the floor nearby. The loud ‘dink’ noise made me realize I wasn’t on concrete at all, but steel. The floor was made of metal. What kind of place was this?
At first it was just a few drops, but then the water grew more steadily in flow until it sounded like a faucet on at full blast. It dawned on me then, that was why the floor was metal. So that this room could be flooded…
I tried to get up as I felt the first touch of water on the floor. It was steadily crossing the room, making a thin pool on the floor. My mind screamed to get up and I rocked myself back and forth in an effort to rise to a standing position. That’s a hard thing to do when your hands are tied. Finally, I managed to do it and rose on shaky legs. My shoes splashed in the water and I could tell that already several inches covered the floor.
I stepped forward in the darkness, hoping nothing was in front of me to bump into. I had to find the door, the way out of this dark captivity. My mouth wasn’t gagged, so I began to yell, “Hey, let me out!”
I edged further and my toes hit the wall. I decided to lean forward and put my face to it. I couldn’t use my hands, but maybe I could use my cheek, sliding across the wall’s surface to find a doorway, a window, or something. But when I leaned forward, my face didn’t touch anything.
I used my knee to bump the wall and it was still there. So where was the upper part of the wall? It must be only half there. If that was the case, the entire room couldn’t be flooded. I sighed in relief at this thought, but still I was a prisoner.
“Hey!” I yelled again, as I felt the water cover my ankles. The only answer was the sound of an organ somewhere playing a hymn. It was a familiar song, one I knew in real life and in a dream. The words came to me. ‘Would you be free from the burdens of sin, there’s power in the blood, power in the blood.’ It made me wonder how much power Larter felt with blood on his hands.
“Eric!” I called out. The organ playing stopped. “Somebody help me!” I screamed, and the sound of my voice echoed in the space I was in.
Suddenly, a light came on overhead, illuminating my surroundings. I wasn’t in a room at all. It was a pool. Four walls of steel, the front section only half there, topped off by a foot of glass so viewers could watch their loved ones dunked in the water. I was in the baptismal pool at Resurrection and it was filling up quickly.
“Oh my god,” I whispered. Though I was taller than the half wall in front of me, and could not be drowned in my present standing position, I could easily be pushed under with my arms bound as they were. I looked down at the water. It had risen quickly, almost to my knees now.
Larter’s voice came from somewhere off to my right. “You wanted to know what happened to Mischa.” I turned to the sound. The winding wooden staircase spiraled up from the pool’s corner, and he stood at the top looking down on me, malice in his eyes. “Now you will join her,” he snarled.
I shook my head in denial, as he descended the stairs one at a time. In his hands he held a stick or something. I couldn’t really tell.
“But I will give you the same chance at redemption I offered her. All you need to do is repent.”
“Repent? For what?”
“For your sins.”
I didn’t know what he was getting at. “What sins?” I asked.
“You have held lust in your heart.”
This was crazy. “No,” I replied.
He stopped halfway down, and something in his face seemed to change. His eyes clouded over and suddenly he exploded.
“You have! You can’t hide it anymore. It’s written on your face. It’s in your eyes when you look at him!”
When I look at him? What the hell is he talking about? Then it dawned on me. He wasn’t seeing me anymore. Not Paul, the custodian of Resurrection church. Something in his mind had finally snapped and now he was seeing someone else before him. Someone that had haunted his fractured soul in life, driving him to murder her when she refused him.
“Say you love me, Mischa,” he said, starting down the stairs and looking right at me.
“No,” I repeated, and imagined to myself Mischa may have said the same thing standing in this same spot once. But she had been pregnant then, carrying Tommy Blaine’s child.
He seemed to read my thoughts. “It’s my baby, say it is,” he implored angrily.
“No, it isn’t.”
He was drawing nearer, his face becoming livid with anger. I felt the water rise above my knees. It was filling up too fast. I had to do something.
“Say you are sorry,” he commanded, “and I will forgive you.”
It would have been easy at that point just to indulge him and say I was sorry, that the child was his. Anything to ease his delusional mind. But that would be betraying Mischa. I thought back to her diary and how she’d written her feelings for the young Larter there.
“Mischa didn’t love you, Eric. She never did. Like any girl of that age, she liked the attention you gave her, but you were just a distraction as she searched her heart for the truth. And the truth is her heart belonged to Tommy Blaine. It always did.”
“No!” he screamed. He jumped into the water and wrapped his hands around my throat, trying to choke me. “Say you love me, Mischa! Say you love me!”
He was too strong for me. He pushed me down with his hands and forced me beneath the water. I could hear his garbled voice above me. “Say it!”
I tried to jerk my hands free from behind my back, but I couldn’t. I was going to die. Drowned in the baptismal pool just like that poor girl, whose only fault had been in sharing an intimate moment with a mentally deranged boy. I could imagine her on that last day, trying to grab hold of something as he held her under, her fingernails scratching across the steel walls of this watery tomb.
I struggled within my bonds and tried to break free, but though the water loosened them a little, I couldn’t tear them off. I wriggled my wrists frantically back and forth, realizing I had to get out of here. I couldn’t die like this. Not like she did. It would have all been for nothing if I’d come this far just to die.
His hands grasped in my hair, forcing my face to the floor. I still tried to get my hands free, but the knotted rope held fast . I was starting to lose my breath and knew I couldn’t hold on much longer. Soon I would have to open my mouth to breathe, and when I did I’d be inhaling nothing but water. His garbled voice was fading from me now. There were spots behind my eyes like starlight flickering in a night sky. I knew within seconds I’d black out and then it would be over for me. Finally, with one last twist of my wrists I felt the ropes give enough that I was able to slip one hand free. I don’t know if the water had something to do with my escape, or whether some other force intervened, but now I could fight back. I went to grab for him, but before I could, he let go of my hair and his hold on me.
I came up out of the baptismal pool gasping, wondering why he’d released me. But he was no longer in the pool. I coughed and hacked, trying to catch my breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him bounding up the stairs.
“Come back here, you bitch!” he was screaming.
I turned to look out over the glass and into the church sanctuary. Someone was out there, an audience of one, standing in the aisles. She was wearing her yellow summer dress just like the times I’d first seen her.
“Mischa,” I whispered.
I thought I saw her smile for a moment as if to say, ‘don’t worry now, I’ll take care of this.’
Eric came into the sanctuary screaming. “You whore! I killed you once!”
She giggled and turned on her heels, fleeing down the aisle. It reminded me of the first time I saw her, pursued playfully by the boy in the upstairs hallway. But this time it was Larter on her heels, and he was intent on killing her all over again.
For a moment a part of me forgot she was an apparition. “No!” I yelled in alarm, scrambling out of the water and over the glass. There was no time to take the stairs. I flipped over the glass partition and landed with a thud in the choir loft. I clambered to my feet and began to leap over seats to get to the aisle. Larter was stalking to where the ghost playfully danced away. He was taking his time approaching her, like a stealthy predator. He seemed unconcerned that she could get away.
They were almost to the door. I could hear her girlish laughter, and she seemed to flicker like static electricity. She passed by Penny, who still lay where Eric had left her. The dog looked like it was near death, her breathing raggedly shallow.
Just as Larter got alongside her, she struck out. Penny’s teeth grabbed a hold of his pants leg. She wasn’t concerned with attack anymore, just stopping him.
He looked down at the dog, irritated. “Let go of me, you dying mutt!” he growled, shaking his leg, trying to get her to let go. He shook her off easily for she was hurt and in pain, but she had held him long enough for me to get there.
He didn’t even see me. He was looking at the front door where Mischa leered at him. Something dark and sinister had entered her smile. I thought I saw something else besides youthful innocence. I could have sworn it resembled revenge. She passed through the door and was gone.
I grabbed Larter and spun him around towards me. I slugged him in his face and his head reeled back. I hope I broke his nose. I reared back for another hit, but before I could follow through, he took both his hands palms up, and shoved them against my chest, strong arming me with such force I was shoved off my feet and landed on my back.
He was no longer concerned with killing me though, it was Mischa he wanted. He grabbed the front door and flung it wide open.
Suddenly we were bathed in a bright white light, both of us frozen in its sharp glow. It took a moment to register what it was out there. Spotlights. The police were here. I grinned. Someone had called the cops. But who? Oh well, there was no time to worry about that now.
Eric seemed confused by the lights, and then with a start, it finally registered with him too. He reached for the door to step back in and close it. I couldn’t let him do that. I couldn’t allow him to lock us both in here again. He’d kill me this time. It had to end right here. Not only for me, but for Mischa, too. I hadn’t come all this way for nothing.
I got to my feet and dove towards him. I tackled him from behind and we both went out the doorway, tumbling crazily down the front steps of the church.
I could hear voices calling out, “Police! Stop where you are!” and “Hold it right there!” But I was beyond listening. My adversary would not get away. He would tell me what he’d done with Mischa’s body all those years ago. She had to have her final resting place.
We rolled over in the grass, and I could see the figures coming through the light towards us, their guns drawn. Larter kicked away from me screaming, “Help! He’s trying to kill me!”
I tumbled away and one of the officers grabbed me, forcing my face down in the dirt.
Eric was agitated and sounding hysterical. “I bailed him out of jail and then he tried to kill me! He said he was going to do to me what he did to that girl!”
“What!” I tried to say in astonishment, but the police were on top of me and I was having a hard time catching my breath.
One of the cops grabbed Larter and pulled him to his feet. “Who are you?” he asked.
“Eric Larter, I’m an elder here at the church.”
“Let’s see your ID, sir.”
Larter handed him his wallet, glancing over at me with a sly look. He was going to get away with it and blame me for everything.
Two officers pulled me up and put a hand on each arm holding me in place. They were rookies and seemed unsure on whether I should be handcuffed right away or not.
“Eric Larter,” the lead officer spoke loudly, reading the information off the plastic ID. “3115 Mayfair Street.”
Mayfair Street. That was only three blocks away, right on the other side of the woods, just a short walk from where I’d found the duffle bag Penny had dug up. Oh my God, I thought, she’d been this close all this time.
“And you,” the officer said, turning to me. “I already know who you are. I arrested you earlier.”
Recognizing him, I realized I wasn’t going to get another chance. They weren’t going to listen to me. In their mind, I was guilty, and Larter just another victim of my rages. I relaxed just a minute, and felt the officer’s hands on my arms loosen their grip, sure that finally I’d given up and realized it was over. With a sudden surge of energy, I lunged forward and out of their hands before they even realized what was going on.
“Hey!” they yelled, but I wasn’t listening. I was sprinting across the lot to the woods. I could just imagine them all raising their weapons and shooting me dead on the spot. “Stop!” they cried. “Hold it!” I could even hear Larter shouting, “Shoot him, he’s getting away!”
A bullet ricocheted in the dirt at my feet, but I was at the woods already. I dove through the brush and rolled as another bullet whizzed by me. I was up and running through the woods, heading towards the abandoned playground. My leg was still on fire where Larter had shot me earlier, but I couldn’t let it deter me. I had to find her. In fact, I already knew where she was. But I had to do this on my own; I couldn’t rely on anyone else to see that she got peace.
I heard the police giving chase behind me. I wondered if they’d all come in pursuit of me and left Larter standing there alone. But there was no time to think of that now.
“Okay Mischa, I got it now,” I breathed wearily, as I came crashing into the clearing of the old playground. I went over to the thorns and shrubs where the duffle bag of incriminating evidence had once lay in hiding. I got on my belly and crawled in the dirt, the briars and brambles scratching my arms and face, but I kept going. I scrambled into the bushes as best as I could and then stopped. My hand had come to rest on something. I picked it up. It was the anklet. The same one that had followed me around no matter what I’d done to get rid of it. The initials “MM” engraved in its charm.
What the hell? How did this end up here? I had given it to the Mitchells. Unless…Mischa had brought it here. But why? Was it to show me this was her resting spot?
I started to scrape at the dirt, trying to dig into the ground where the anklet had lain. But it was too slow, this was getting me nowhere. It would take forever to dig this spot out without shovels. “Mischa, I’m sorry,” I began to sob. I could hear my pursuers coming through the woods.
I looked sadly at the anklet in my hand. MM. This anklet hadn’t been Mischa’s, so why was she using it to show me where she was buried? Or was that it at all? Could it have been placed in this spot, knowing I’d come here to dig up Mischa and find this first? Suddenly it hit me, what Mischa had been so desperately trying to tell me all this time. “Oh my god,” I whispered. “Meagan Mitchell. She’s alive…”
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.