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"What's a fox spirit?" Devon asked timidly.
The young Shaman glanced over at Devon to find his honest curiosity and quietly said, "A fox spirit is a troubled spirit of violence and mischief. You would probably know of it as a poltergeist. It doesn't matter, that's not what we're dealing with here."
"What exactly ARE we dealing with?" Chief Tecumseh asked firmly.
"I'm not entirely sure. I thought it was a rogue spirit..." Jerico began to say, then saw the confused expressions on Devon and Uri's faces.
"That is to say, a ghost. A human soul that has for some reason lost it's way to the afterlife and wanders the Earth. But it doesn't add up. This spirit doesn't have the traits of consciousness and intent of a Rogue Spirit." Jerico said in thought.
"Then what is it?" Devon asked in a small voice.
"I'm still working on that. I think I remember reading something about a boy who was possessed very much like this, but I can't remember for sure..." The young Shaman said in a distant voice.
"When I study, I make notes of the most important facts. Would you perhaps have it written down somewhere?" Uri asked cautiously, obviously hesitant to speak.
Jerico thought about the question for a moment, then his eyes went wide as he remembered.
"That's it. I wasn't reading it, I was writing it down. About three years ago I was collecting some of the oral history that had passed down in a family in Ireland. I remember right where it's written. It's at Uncle Aubrey's house!" Jerico said with excitement.
"Can you go get it?" Chief Tecumseh asked, sounding a little more relieved.
"I'd rather not leave this little guy. If he runs into trouble, I want to be close by to help him." Jerico said and hugged the boy in his arms more tightly.
"Is there someone who can bring it to you?" Devon asked hopefully.
"There's one way to find out. Will one of you guys hold this little guy for a while so I can make a call?" Jerico asked hopefully.
Uri reluctantly began to nod, when Devon quickly said, "I'll do it."
"Thanks Devon, I'll take him back as soon as I'm done." Jerico said as he shifted over so Devon could sit beside him on the bed.
With a little coaxing and effort, Arlo's body was finally shifted over to Devon's lap.
"I'll hurry." Jerico said as he rushed out of the room.
* * * * *
Jerico dialed his uncle's number and waited impatiently for someone to answer.
As he heard his cousin Paul answer the phone, he saw Mouse rush into the cabin with a look of panic in his eyes.
A moment later Luke followed with a hesitant expression.
Jerico held up his hand to indicate the need for silence.
"Pauley, I need for you to get me a notebook from my room. It's in the stack of books in the floor beside my desk. It's the dark red one." Jerico said in concentration.
After a moment, Jerico rolled his eyes and said, "Yes Pauley, you're allowed to go in my room just this once. Please get the notebook, it's really important."
Jerico put his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone and asked, "What's up guys?"
Mouse quickly said, "Something's wrong with Luke! When we left he stopped talking again. I brought you another apple so you can fix him."
"I'm kind of busy right now. Luke, why don't you go ahead and explain it to Mouse. I'm right here, it'll be okay." The young Shaman said with assurance.
Luke nodded and turned to look Mouse in the eyes as he explained, "When I say something, especially when I'm excited, it can cause stuff to happen. Sometimes that stuff will hurt people, I mean, like really bad. When I'm here with Jerico, he can make it so my words won't hurt you. But when we leave... I can't talk."
"Until he learns to control his special ability, he has to do it like this. The only time he'll really be able to talk freely is when he has someone to anchor him, like now." Jerico said seriously, then turned his attention back to the phone.
After a moment of listening, he said, "That's the one. Would you get your mom to drive it over here? I really need that notebook."
"Oh... What about Lucy?"
"Is there anyone there who can drive?"
"You can? Four months ago?" Jerico said in a reluctant voice.
"I guess so... If your mom has any problem with you using the car, I'll explain that it was an emergency."
"No, I really need that book right now. Just videotape it... Listen, they aren't going to get off the island today anyway. Gilligan is going to screw it up at the last minute, then when everyone is getting mad, something will happen that shows them that they wouldn't have gotten off the island anyway and they probably would have been killed." Jerico said seriously.
"...I know because I'm a Shaman." Jerico said, then glanced at Mouse and Luke with a helpless look.
"Pauley, you can drive through McDonald's on the way back. Just get over here to Camp Little Eagle right away... do you know where it is?" Jerico asked hesitantly.
He nodded as he said, "Good, just get over here right away. Someone will meet you in the parking lot."
Jerico hung up the phone, then gave Luke and Mouse an embarrassed look as he said, "My cousin is a great kid, but..."
Luke and Mouse couldn't help but smile at Jerico's expression.
"Is there any way I can do that anchor thing that you do for Luke?" Mouse asked quickly.
"I doubt it. I've never even met someone who could be an anchor, I've just heard the stories. The only reason I can do it is because I've had to learn how to anchor myself." Jerico said carefully.
"Can we at least try?" Mouse pleaded.
"Sure, it won't hurt to try." Jerico said in thought.
"What do I have to do?" Mouse asked with excitement.
"Luke, I need you to concentrate for a few seconds on something that causes you to be sad. Then say something that holds the essence of what you're feeling." The young Shaman said in concentration.
"Mouse, if you're an anchor you'll feel the power in the words, but instead of being effected by it, you'll be able to... take it into you and change it into something harmless." Jerico said with difficulty.
"And what if I'm not an anchor?" Mouse asked hesitantly.
"You might want to have a box of tissues handy." Jerico said weakly.
"Okay, let's do it." Mouse said as he turned to look at Luke.
Jerico concentrated so he was no longer shielding Mouse from Luke's words.
Luke thought for a second, then looked into Mouse's eyes as he whispered, "I feel so alone."
Jerico watched carefully as Mouse got a strange look on his face.
"I felt it!" Mouse said with excitement.
"How do you feel?" Jerico asked cautiously.
"I did it! That was so cool! I felt this sad feeling, like a hurting in my chest, then it was like it... it just turned upside down and twisted and then it wasn't sad anymore. Then it just kind of went away!" Mouse said happily.
"Does that mean that Mouse is an anchor?" Luke asked hesitantly.
"Hold on. Let me try something." Jerico said in concentration.
Luke looked at Jerico with question.
Jerico concentrated for a moment, then carefully said, "A crowd can be the loneliest place in the world when you're different."
Tears welled up in Mouse's eyes as he slowly crumpled to the floor then hugged himself and started crying.
"You're hurting him! Stop it!" Luke screamed as he knelt down to put his arms around Mouse.
Jerico quickly said, "Mouse, listen to me. Luke is your friend, you never have to be alone again."
Mouse looked up at Jerico, then looked at Luke with question, as if he'd just woken from a horrible nightmare.
"So what does that mean?" Luke asked as he helped Mouse to stand.
"It means that Mouse isn't an anchor, he's *your* anchor. You can talk to him without hurting him." Jerico said seriously.
"Really? That's so cool!" Mouse said happily as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
"I have to get this situation with Arlo sorted out, but when he's back to being himself, I can help you learn how to anchor Luke so he can talk to anyone he wants as long as you're around." Jerico said with a smile at Mouse and Luke's happiness.
"You'll be able to talk and play and do stuff like everyone else! This is gonna be so great!" Mouse said with excitement.
"Hold on guys. For now, you need to just talk with each other. Until you've had some training, you could still hurt other people if you talk to them." Jerico said seriously.
"Okay. I'll be careful." Luke said quietly.
"This is gonna be so awesome!" Mouse said as he nearly bounced.
Jerico smiled and said, "I've got to get back to Arlo now. You guys have fun."
* * * * *
As Jerico walked into the bedroom, he saw Devon hugging Arlo's body tightly and gently rubbing his back.
"Thank you for holding him for me Devon. I can't do much else until my cousin Pauley arrives with my notebook so I can take him back now if you want." Jerico said quietly.
"I can keep holding him. I really don't mind." Devon said gently.
"Okay, but if you need a break, just let me know." Jerico said with a gentle smile.
"Did Derek call security to allow your cousin entry?" Chief Tecumseh asked casually.
"No, I didn't see him out there." Jerico said as he turned his attention to the Chief.
"I'll attend to that now. Otherwise Pauley will have to wait at the security gate when he arrives." Chief Tecumseh said as he slowly got up from his chair.
"Thank you. And I told him someone would meet him in the parking lot." Jerico said as he looked at Uri with question.
"I will be happy to bring your cousin when he arrives." Uri said, looking relieved at the prospect of being able to do something to contribute.
"Thanks Uri, I appreciate it." Jerico said honestly.
* * * * *
Simon had watched and heard everything that had gone on with Mouse and Luke from his place by the window.
He smiled to himself, then said into the bowl of water, "I think you're going to be okay Arlo. It looks like this Shaman really knows what he's doing."
"Just hang on for a little while longer. I know how you always seem to be stressing out about school work and everything that needs to be done. Well now you don't have to do a thing but relax." Simon said with a smile.
"Maybe this was the only way to get you to take a vacation. I mean, it's really cool if you think about it. You get to just float and relax and there's nothing in the world for you to worry about." Simon said gently.
"I hope that when you get back into your body you'll feel rested. I sometimes worry about how you always seem so tense." Simon said in almost a whisper.
"I guess it takes one to know one, huh?" Simon said with a chuckle.
"Maybe that's why we're such good friends. We're both wound up to about the same tension level... That may be a weird thing to have in common, but I think that's part of why I feel so comfortable with you... you understand me. At least that part of me." Simon said in thought.
"You're the only one who knows me who doesn't give me that look... the one where they're thinking, 'Is this the day when he's going to snap?'. Even Chief Tecumseh does it. If you weren't here, I might have by now." Simon said distantly.
"When you get back... to yourself... I hope I have the guts to tell you some of this to your face. I'm pretty sure you already know how much I appreciate your friendship, but I think I need to tell you." Simon said in a whisper.
Chief Tecumseh and Uri walked into the room and Simon fell silent to see what was going to happen next.
* * * * *
The little Ford Fiesta pulled into the parking lot and whipped into a parking place.
Uri watched as the lanky teenage boy extracted his long angular body from the tiny car.
"Are you the Shaman's cousin?" Uri asked, just to be sure.
Paul got a look of question for a second, then chuckled as he said, "I guess I am. I've never heard anyone call Jerico 'The Shaman' before. That's kinda cool."
Uri, who was usually hesitant to get to know new people, took an instant liking to the boy who was approaching him.
"I'm Paul." He said and extended his hand to shake.
"Hello. My name is Uri." Uri said as he shook the offered hand.
"It's nice to meet you Uri. Wow, you're big. I bet you're really good at football." Paul said casually as they began to walk.
"No. I do not care to participate in sports, although I do enjoy weight training." Uri said, surprising himself at revealing even that much personal information to a complete stranger.
"I don't like sports either, you just look like you'd be good at football. I've never lifted weights but I think it'd be cool. But I'd need someone around who knew what they were doing... I don't have a clue." Paul finished timidly.
"Even when you are experienced, it is important to have another nearby. It is a matter of safety." Uri said seriously, then pointed to indicate which cabin they were going to.
"Yeah. Besides, it sucks being alone. I mean, unless you're watching TV, then I guess it's okay." Paul said in thought.
Uri was surprised to find that he was smiling at the statement. He usually kept a very controlled facade in place for the world to see. But somehow this stranger was able to make him drop whatever mask he might usually wear.
"Sometimes it is good to be alone. Taking time out to sit in a quiet room gives one time to think." Uri said quietly.
Paul seemed to consider the statement for a moment before shaking his head and saying, "When I'm alone and thinking about stuff I usually get depressed. So I just don't do it. If I'm alone, I have the TV or music or something going so I don't have to think."
Uri thought about Paul's words, then curiously asked, "So rather than deal with those issues that bother you, you simply ignore them?"
"Yeah. I mean I still get bummed out sometimes. But I don't sit and stew in it. When something bothers me I try to either fix whatever it is, or if it's something that I can't fix then I just tell myself, 'It's something I can't fix' and get over it." Paul said frankly.
Uri let a laugh escape at the statement, then stopped in wonder at the action. He was usually so guarded and solemn. He didn't laugh, he never laughed, and yet in the company of this stranger he felt free to express whatever he was feeling without restraint.
"What's so funny?" Paul asked with a smile.
"Your philosophy is very... basic. I envy your ability to cope with your life's problems so simplistically." Uri said honestly as he opened the door to the cabin and stood aside for Paul to precede him into the room.
"Yeah. Well most people think I don't have any problems because I don't let them drag me down. But everyone has problems, the only difference is how they deal with them." Paul said as he looked around the common room of the cabin and noticed Simon talking into a bowl of water.
"Your cousin is right this way." Uri said as he gestured to the hallway.
"Just a second." Paul said as he hurried to Simon.
Simon looked up at the teenage boy approaching and abruptly stopped talking.
"It's okay, you don't have to stop. I have an aquarium at home and I talk to my fish all the time." Paul said with a casual smile.
"I don't have a fish." Simon said with confusion, as if it were the most ridiculous thing that anyone could have said.
Paul looked into the bowl and found that it was empty except for water.
"Your cousin is right this way." Uri said from behind Paul.
"Um, yeah." Paul said with a puzzled look, then turned to follow Uri out of the room.
* * * * *
"Thanks Pauley. That's the one I needed." Jerico said as Paul and Uri walked into the room.
Paul handed the notebook to Jerico, then noticed an older boy holding a younger boy in his lap.
The younger boy was whimpering as the older boy was hugging him and rubbing his back.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Paul asked hopefully.
"You've already helped by bringing me this book." Jerico said honestly.
"You know what I mean. Can I be here when you do your Shaman stuff?" Paul asked in a begging tone.
"Well, the only Shaman stuff I'm going to do right now is to study this notebook. Besides, weren't you wanting to drive through McDonald's and get something to eat?" Jerico asked in a leading tone.
"I'll stay here all night if it means I might be able to help you do Shaman stuff. I can go to McDonald's anytime." Paul said seriously.
Jerico gave a sigh of resignation, then said, "Okay, I guess so... but I'm not promising anything. If I find something you can do to help, I'll let you know."
"Thanks Jerico! What do you want me to do now?" Paul asked with excitement.
"Just hang out for a while. You can talk to the guys while I see if I can find something that will help in this notebook." Jerico said seriously.
Paul nodded hesitantly.
"Uri, is there someplace where I can read this without distraction? I really need to be able to focus on what I'm doing." Jerico asked and glanced at Paul cautiously, relaying the message that Paul was the distraction that Jerico was trying to avoid.
"You may use my room, it is right this way." Uri said formally, noticing the dark look that had come into Paul's eyes.
"Just send someone to get me if the little guy has any problems." Jerico said as Uri led him out of the room.
Paul looked around the room, at a loss as to what to do next.
* * * * *
"It's good to see you Pauley." A voice said that broke him out of his wandering thoughts.
"Uncle Hawkeye?" Paul said in surprise as he watched his uncle walk across the room and take a seat by the bed.
"I didn't realize that you were old enough to drive." Chief Tecumseh said with delight.
"Yeah. I've been able to drive for four months now... but I don't really get to do it that much." Paul finished in a small voice.
"It seems like it was just yesterday that Aubrey was carrying you around on his hip." Chief Tecumseh said with a chuckle of fond remembrance.
Paul blushed at the statement, feeling distinctly uncomfortable.
"Perhaps I could show Paul around the cabin and introduce him to the others?" Uri said from the doorway.
"That's very kind of you Uri. Thank you." Chief Tecumseh said with an approving smile at the thoughtful gesture.
"Come with me Paul and I will show you the common room." Uri said, snapping Paul out of his thoughts.
"Um, yeah. Thanks." Paul said as he tried to force a smile onto his face.
* * * * *
"Something is concerning you. Perhaps if you speak of it, you will be able to fix it or get over it." Uri said as he led Paul into the common room.
"Jerico doesn't want me here. I think I should probably leave." Paul said in thought.
Uri motioned for him to have a seat on the couch.
After they were both seated, Uri quietly asked, "Would he not tell you if he wanted you to leave?"
"Not really. He tries to be nice. The way it usually works is that he tries to be nice to me, then I bug him and bug him until he can't take it anymore and he tells me to go away. Then he ignores me for a while until he gets over it, then he tries to be nice to me and I start bugging him again." Paul said distantly.
"Why do you bug him?" Uri asked curiously.
"I don't know. It just kind of happens... I can't help it. Jerico is fun to be around. He's been all over the world and has some really cool stories to tell. He's a Shaman and knows all kinds of really awesome stuff because of that. I guess... I want him to pay attention to me... I want him to like me." Paul finished in a defeated voice.
"Does he?" Uri asked cautiously.
"I think he just tries to put up with me. I'm so much of a pest that he can't take it too long... no one can. I wish I wasn't like this." Paul finished on the verge of tears.
"You are not a pest to me." Uri said honestly.
Paul looked at Uri with hope, then the look fell as he said, "Sooner or later I'll bug you too. It's just the way I am."
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. Come and let me show you around. And if at some point you begin to 'bug me' I will simply let you know." Uri said seriously.
Paul thought about that for a second, then smiled as he said, "That sounds good."
Uri stood and made a sweeping gesture to include the whole room as he said, "This is the common room. It is the place where we can enjoy movies or share in group discussions. There is a separate television that is for the purpose of playing games."
Paul looked around with approval at the entertainment center.
"Although you have met Simon, I believe a more formal introduction is in order." Uri said as he walked toward Simon at the table by the window.
"Simon, I would like to introduce Paul, he is the cousin of Jerico, the Shaman." Uri said formally.
"It's nice to meet you." Paul said hesitantly and couldn't help but look at the bowl of water.
Simon followed Paul's gaze to the bowl and hesitantly said, "Um, yeah. It's nice to meet you too. This is... um, it's kind of a long story."
"The disembodied soul of Simon's best friend is being kept in the bowl. Your cousin is working to correct the situation." Uri said simply.
Simon looked at Uri with surprise, then glanced at Paul and said, "I guess it isn't that long of a story after all."
Paul looked into the bowl again, then turned to Simon and asked, "What's your friend's name?"
"This is Arlo." Simon said quietly and grasped the edge of the bowl in a protective gesture.
Paul looked into the bowl and gently said, "Don't worry Arlo. My cousin has traveled the world and studied the beliefs and customs of dozens of cultures. Having him here is better than having a Shaman, a Priest and a Medicine Man."
"Thanks Paul, I don't know if Arlo understood that, but it sure made me feel better." Simon said with an appreciative smile.
A knock on the door drew everyone's attention.
"Just a moment." Uri said as he walked to the door.
"Really Paul. Thanks." Simon said more quietly.
"I mean it. Jerico may be young, but he's been studying since he was younger than me to be a Shaman. He's been traveling since he was eighteen trying to learn as much as he can." Paul said seriously.
* * * * *
Uri answered the door and was surprised to see Obie, one of the boys from cabin three.
"Hello Obie, please come in." Uri said courteously.
"Hi. I was wondering if Mouse and Luke are here?" Obie asked shyly.
"Yes. I believe they are in their room. Come and meet Paul, then I will take you to them." Uri said as he indicated Paul talking to Simon on the other side of the room.
"Okay." Obie said shyly as he walked with Uri.
"Paul, I would like to introduce Obie, he lives in cabin three." Uri said as he approached.
Paul turned to see the younger boy and immediately smiled when he saw the shirt he was wearing.
"Hi Obie. I really like your shirt. That's Takato's symbol isn't it?" Paul asked happily.
Obie looked down at his shirt, then up at Paul with a big smile as he said, "Yeah, no one has ever recognized it before. Do you like Digimon?"
"Yeah, it's one of my favorite cartoons ever." Paul said with a great smile.
"I love the way Rika is learning to be nice now that she's hanging around with Takato and Henry." Obie said with enthusiasm.
"Yeah, did you notice how their teacher has Kari's voice?" Paul asked, completely forgetting that Simon and Uri were in the room.
"Yeah. Especially in the episode on the camping trip when they had to fight the..."
"Right Big Chicken." Paul said in unison with Obie, then both broke into chuckles.
Uri and Simon shared an amused look at the bizarre conversation.
"Come and I will take you to Mouse and Luke." Uri said with a smile.
"Oh... Okay." Obie said with distraction.
"Come and I will introduce you." Uri said to Paul.
"Yeah, sure." Paul said, then turned to Simon and said, "It was nice to meet you Simon."
Then he looked into the bowl and said, "You too Arlo."
Obie looked at Paul with question, then followed as Uri led the way to Luke and Mouse's bedroom.
* * * * *
"Do you need for me to take him for a while?" Chief Tecumseh asked quietly.
"No, I'm really fine. I don't think anyone has ever really needed me for anything before. It feels good to hold him and know that I'm helping him to feel better." Devon said peacefully.
"You are doing a very good job. He has quieted considerably." Chief Tecumseh said gently.
"I hope we can find a way to save him. He's so hurt... and all he wants is to be loved." Devon said distantly.
Chief Tecumseh looked at the scene of caring before him and nodded in agreement.
* * * * *
Uri knocked on the closed door and waited for an answer.
Mouse opened the door with a look of question, then smiled when he saw Obie.
"Come on in guys. What's up?" Mouse asked happily as he opened the door wide.
"I wanted to introduce you to Paul. He is the cousin of Jerico, the Shaman." Uri said in a formal tone.
"Hi." Mouse said happily as Luke waved his greeting.
"Hi." Paul said with a curious look at Luke.
"Luke can't talk to you, but don't worry about it. I talk enough for both of us." Mouse quickly explained.
Paul smiled at the statement.
"I was just wondering if I could hang around with you guys for a while?" Obie asked hopefully.
"Sure. You can hang out with us whenever you want. You look worried, what's wrong?" Mouse asked frankly.
Obie glanced at Uri and Paul with a look of caution.
"We can leave to afford you privacy." Uri said in his formal way.
Obie seemed to come to a decision and said, "No, that's okay. You can stay if you want. Maybe you can help."
"Come on in and sit down so Obie can tell us what's going on." Mouse said as he plopped down to sit on the bed beside Luke.
Uri looked at Paul with question.
Paul gave a nod and waited to see what Uri was going to do.
Uri and Paul sat down on the other bed opposite where Mouse and Luke were sitting.
Obie looked around, then pulled a chair out from one of the desks between the beds and took a seat.
"Go ahead. Spill it." Mouse said and devoted his full attention.
"Well. I'm thinking about asking if I can leave." Obie said seriously.
Shocked silence fell over the room.
"Why would you want to leave? I mean, what's wrong? Is someone treating you bad?" Mouse exploded.
In a voice that was almost a whisper, Obie said, "No. Everyone is nice. It's just... I feel like I'm getting in Mike's way."
"Has your brother been telling you that?" Uri asked in a firm voice.
"No. It's just... It's like he can't have friends or do stuff with me always being around. Mike's stopped playing football and stays inside to watch TV with me but I can tell that he's bored and would rather be doing stuff with his friends." Obie said quietly.
"Have you told him how you feel?" Uri asked seriously.
"Yeah. Well, not about leaving, but I've told him that it's okay if he wants to go play football and stuff with the other guys." Obie said in thought.
"What did he say?" Paul asked with concern.
"He went ahead and went outside with them for a while, but he came back in and said he was worried about me being inside all alone." Obie said, looking like he was about to cry.
A moment of silence fell over the room as everyone thought about what Obie had said.
It was broken by Obie quietly saying, "I thought that if I left Camp Little Eagle, then Mike could have fun with his friends again and be happy."
"Mike wouldn't be happy if you left. Besides, where would you go?" Mouse said in thought.
Obie shrugged and said, "Into a foster home or something. I guess it doesn't matter."
"It matters." Mouse said in a firm voice.
Obie looked at Mouse with surprise.
"You matter Obie. You're our friend and we don't want you to go. We know you're safe here. If you left the camp, anything could happen to you. Mike wouldn't be happy. He'd be scared to death for you and he'd probably leave too so he could find you. He takes being your big brother very seriously." Mouse said almost sounding angry.
"I guess I didn't think of that." Obie said quietly.
"Obie, if you really want to get away from the camp for a while, you could come over to my house. We both like Digimon and I bet there's a lot of other stuff that we both like." Paul said seriously.
"Really? But you're like... old." Obie said hesitantly.
Paul laughed at the statement and said, "I'm sixteen. It's not that old. Besides, we're all the same age when we watch cartoons."
Obie smiled and nodded at the statement.
"Besides, I think I know what you're feeling. I'm feeling kind of the same way." Paul said honestly.
"Really? You have a big brother who thinks you need him to be around all the time?" Obie asked with disbelief.
"Well, no. I have a big cousin who thinks I'm a pest and a little kid. But I think it ends up being the same. Your brother sees you as being little and helpless, my cousin sees me as being little and worthless. We both end up feeling alone and like they'd be better off without us around." Paul said in thought.
"Yeah." Obie said darkly.
"So you're not alone. If you need to talk about stuff, I'll understand. You can call me and I'll come over and get you whenever you need to talk about something... or even if you just feel like getting away from the camp for a while... Or the next time they have a Digimon marathon." Paul finished with a smile.
Obie giggled and nodded his agreement.
"And when you're not visiting Paul, you could maybe spend some time here with us." Mouse said hopefully.
"Yeah. I like it here with you guys." Obie said shyly.
Luke shook Mouse's arm and urged him to lean over so he could whisper into Mouse's ear.
After a moment of thought, Mouse sat back up and said, "Luke just had a really good idea. Why don't you move into cabin one with us? We have one empty room and everyone likes you here."
Luke nodded his wholehearted agreement.
"That would allow your brother to be with his friends in cabin three and you could be with your friends here. He would not have to worry about your well being, but would also be free to pursue his own interests." Uri said reasonably.
Obie thought about it for a second, then quietly asked, "Do you think Chief Tecumseh would let me move?"
"He's in Simon's room. Let's go ask him." Mouse said as he hopped up off the bed.
Obie slowly stood, then said, "Thanks guys. I think this is going to be good."
"It's going to be great! Trent is going to be really excited. He wanted you to move in here when you and Mike first got here." Mouse said as he was nearly bouncing, waiting for everyone to get to the door.
Obie smiled at Mouse's enthusiasm, enjoying the feeling of being wanted.
* * * * *
The group of boys nearly fell into a pile when Mouse stopped suddenly just inside Simon's room.
Chief Tecumseh looked on with amusement as Mouse approached him cautiously, obviously about to ask for something.
"Chief Tecumseh, we was all just wondering..." Mouse began to say.
"Were." Chief Tecumseh corrected.
Mouse nodded and carefully said, "We were all just wondering if there's any way that Obie could move into Cabin One with us?"
Chief Tecumseh's eyebrows went up in surprise at the request, then he turned his attention to Obie and said, "Obadiah, would you come over here and discuss this with me?"
Obie hesitantly walked to stand beside Chief Tecumseh.
"Do you want to change cabins?" Chief Tecumseh asked in a softer voice.
Obie nodded hesitantly.
"Can you tell me why you want to move?" Chief Tecumseh asked gently.
"Because Mike can't do stuff with his friends when I'm always around. If I was in this cabin, then he wouldn't have to worry about me and he could have fun again." Obie said in almost a whisper.
"So you believe Micah's friendships are suffering because he feels an obligation to watch after you?" Chief Tecumseh asked carefully.
Obie nodded seriously.
"I assume that the rest of you won't have any problem if Obadiah moves in here." Chief Tecumseh said as he looked around the room.
"We all like Obie. Besides, he should'a moved in here to begin with." Mouse said firmly, then a shy expression came over his face when he suddenly remembered who he was talking to.
"Would you care to explain what you mean Harold?" Chief Tecumseh asked curiously.
Mouse winced at the use of his real name, but quickly got over it and said, "Obie likes to watch TV and play board games like we do. The guys in cabin three like to play football and soccer and video games and stuff like that."
"Have you discussed this decision with your brother?" Chief Tecumseh asked as he turned his attention back to Obie.
"N... no. At first, I was just gonna ask if I could leave Camp Little Eagle, but the guys thought that if I just moved here instead, then Mike wouldn't have to worry if I was okay, but could still have his friends." Obie said with a slight tremble in his voice.
"I see." Chief Tecumseh said, hiding his surprise at the fact that Obie was considering leaving.
After a moment to consider everything, Chief Tecumseh stood and said, "I'm going to call cabin three and ask your brother to come over here so we can have a talk with him. After that, I see no reason that you can't move in here tonight."
Obie rushed to Chief Tecumseh and hugged him tightly for an instant before he realized what he was doing.
"Sorry." Obie whispered as he backed away cautiously.
"Quite alright. Come along into the common room so we can call your brother." Chief Tecumseh said with a gentle smile.
* * * * *
Paul followed the group out into the common room, feeling somehow a part of everything that was going on.
As Chief Tecumseh walked to pick up the phone, a buzzer sounded and a red light started flashing on the wall.
"What's that?" Paul asked loudly as he looked around for any sign of danger.
Uri walked to Paul's side and said loud enough to be heard over the buzzer, "It means the camp has just gone to Security Red."
* * * * *
Chief Tecumseh walked to the front door and slid the slide bolt closed, then took a clip board off the hook beside the door.
After a moment of checking down the list, Chief Tecumseh asked, "Does anyone know where Trent and Jose are?"
"Yeah. They're helping in the cafeteria today. We saw them there just a few minutes ago." Mouse said loudly.
Chief Tecumseh marked down that information, then asked, "Do any of you know where Derek might have gone?"
Everyone looked around at each other with question.
Simon finally said, "He got a phone call and left a little while ago. He didn't say where he was going."
Chief Tecumseh shook his head at the information, then looked over the list one last time before picking up the phone.
"This is Chief Hawkeye Tecumseh calling in for Cabin One. We are missing three. Trent Richards and Jose De La Cruz, both believed to be in the cafeteria, and... Derek Tecumseh, location unknown. We have three extras, Obadiah Jeffries from Cabin Three and two visitors Jerico Foote and Paul Foote." Chief Tecumseh said seriously.
A moment later the buzzer stopped, but the red light continued to flash.
"Thank you. Can you tell me what's going on?" Chief Tecumseh said with relief at not having to talk over the buzzer.
"I see. Please call Cabin Three immediately and let Micah Jeffries know that his brother is safe and well. Call me if there is anymore information." Chief Tecumseh said firmly.
"Yes, thank you. Goodbye." He said, then hung up the phone.
Everyone in the room looked at Chief Tecumseh with question.
"Director Short from Federation Youth Services called for a 'Security Red' condition from the Southcrest Ranch. We have no other information at this time. Uri, will you please see to making sure the building is secure. Harold, will you and Luke be in charge of the door?" Chief Tecumseh asked in thought.
Uri motioned for Paul to follow him down the hallway.
Mouse and Luke hurried to the door and waited anxiously.
"Is there anything I can do?" Obie asked as he looked around.
Chief Tecumseh smiled and said, "Yes Obadiah. You can help Harold and Luke."
The three boys watched as Chief Tecumseh walked down the hallway to Simon's room.
* * * * *
"What are we doing?" Paul asked as he followed Uri into a bedroom.
"We are checking to see that all the windows are securely locked and that there is no evidence that anyone has gained entry to the building." Uri said seriously as he checked the window.
"You mean that there might be someone in here?" Paul asked as he quickly looked around the room.
"No. Probably not. But since we don't know the nature of the security alert, it is best to be cautious. We had a security yellow alert just last week because a private plane went off course and flew too close to our airspace and triggered the alarm. " Uri said as he looked in the closet.
"This room is clear, lets move on to the next." Uri said seriously.
Paul silently followed.
* * * * *
Chief Tecumseh walked into the bedroom to find both Devon and Jerico comforting Arlo.
"The buzzer scared him." Jerico said softly.
"It will sound again in three short bursts when the security alert is over." Chief Tecumseh said as he walked to the chair.
"Do you know what's wrong?" Devon asked with concern.
"No. Director Short called the alert from Southcrest. That's all I know." Chief Tecumseh said quietly.
"I have some good news." Jerico said as he carefully moved away from Arlo and Devon.
"I could use some." Chief Tecumseh said in a tired voice.
"I found what I was looking for in the notebook." Jerico said, then picked up the spiral bound book from the nightstand beside the bed.
"So does it tell how to help Arlo and... the 'Little Guy'?" Chief Tecumseh asked hesitantly.
Jerico smiled at the Chief's use of the name, then said, "It's not written like a cookbook. What I have are the accounts of several different family members of an event that happened about one hundred fifty years ago. The story has been passed down through the generations from parent to child, so I'm having to deal with some conflicting information to find the seeds of truth that lie underneath."
"I see. So have you found anything useful?" Chief Tecumseh asked hopefully.
"I think so. Let's see... I guess the story begins with a little girl named Mary Margaret O'Hara." Jerico said as he looked carefully at his notes.
"Was she possessed like Arlo?" Devon asked quietly as he gently stroked the boy's hair to soothe him.
"No. She was a little girl who had a difficult life. Her mother died in childbirth and her father was killed in a mining accident when she was less than two years old. She was sent to live with a spinster aunt who, by all accounts, was a bitter and hateful old woman." Jerico said quietly.
"What does this have to do with Arlo?" Devon asked desperately.
"I'm getting there. Just give me a minute." Jerico said, then flipped a few pages.
"Here. The aunt died when the girl was ten years old and was sent to live with the family of a distant cousin in... Balehollow? I don't know. I can't read my own handwriting. I guess it doesn't matter. Anyhow, the family fell in love with her and showered her with affection." Jerico said, then flipped a few pages back.
"One day when she was helping to make dinner, she did something, made some kind of mistake and caught the kitchen on fire. She nearly burned down the family's home. They understood that it was an accident, and didn't blame her. But the little girl was frightened that they were going to send her away. Nothing they did could console her and they were frightened for her well-being when suddenly... she was fine." Jerico said in thought.
"I still don't see what this has to do with Arlo." Devon said seriously.
Jerico looked at Devon with exasperation and said, "In the village where they lived, a boy named... Sean Patrick McClure suddenly fell ill. The local doctor could find nothing wrong with him. The family called on the aid of an old woman who was said to be a witch. She said that the boy was possessed by a 'spirit of fear'."
"Okay, that sounds like what we've got here." Devon said seriously as he hugged the boy in his arms again.
"Apparently the witch had also been called to look at the condition of Mary Margaret. The timing was her first clue. Within minutes of Mary Margaret's loss of fear, Sean Patrick had been overcome with fear." Jerico said in thought.
"So someone did this to Arlo?" Devon asked with anger.
"No. At least, not intentionally. But this gives me a clue as to what we're dealing with. This is a spirit fragment." Jerico said carefully.
"Perhaps you could explain that?" Chief Tecumseh asked in thought.
"Well, the best way I've seen it described is in Egyptian mythology. The spirit is like the body in that it has clearly definable parts." Jerico said as he turned to a completely different section of the notebook.
"Let's see, the Ba is the personality. The Ieb is the logical mind. The Akh is the immortal soul. The Sahu is the spiritual body. The Aufu, the Haidit, the Ka... the list goes on and on. My point is that all the components of the spirit don't always move on. It's possible for some to be left behind. Things like cold spots, unexplained feelings of dread in certain places, and stuff like that are usually not active 'ghosts', but fragments that didn't pass on with the rest of the spirit body. And in extremely rare cases, it's possible for a spirit fragment to become detached before death." Jerico said seriously.
"Okay. Wow. If anyone asks you to write a 'Ghosts for Dummies' book, do it. Because I completely understood that. So does this mean that a piece of someone's soul ran away from home?" Devon asked cautiously.
"That's the way it looks. The owner of this spirit fragment must have been in great turmoil and despised this part of himself for this to happen." Jerico said in thought.
"If that's the case, isn't he better off without it?" Chief Tecumseh asked carefully.
"Not at all. If we don't reunite this spirit fragment with the primary soul, the fragment will cease to be and the person who he belonged to will be... incomplete." Jerico finished in nearly a whisper.
"Missing part of his soul." Chief Tecumseh said in understanding.
"He would be condemned to carry the emptiness for the rest of his life. Without this little guy, I'm guessing that he'll lose much of his fear, his desire for the approval of others, and probably his capacity for childish wonder." Jerico said in thought.
"I understand. So how do we find the person that this spirit fragment belongs to?" Chief Tecumseh asked seriously.
"I have no idea."
* * * * *
A knocking on the door made Mouse, Luke and Obie all jump.
Luke looked through the peephole and saw that it was Mr. T.
He nodded at Obie who was already holding the slide bolt.
Luke backed away as Mouse cautiously opened the door.
"Is everyone okay?" Mr. T asked with concern as he hurried into the room.
"Yeah. Chief Tecumseh already called security for us." Mouse said seriously as he closed the door.
Obie pushed the deadbolt firmly in place.
"Is the building secure?" Mr. T asked as he looked at the checklist by the door.
"Uri and Paul are taking care of that." Mouse said seriously.
"Paul?" Mr. T asked curiously, then smiled when he saw the name on the clipboard.
"Little Pauley's here?" Mr. T asked in delight.
"He's not little." Obie said firmly.
Mr. T looked at Obie with surprise at the statement.
Mouse took over, "Yeah. He's a really nice guy. But you and Jerico and Chief Tecumseh talk to him like he's eight years old..."
"It sucks. People do that to me too." Obie said in a grumble.
"Um, that's because you *are* eight years old. Paul is sixteen. He can drive. He wants to do things to help out but people treat him like he's little and helpless and useless." Mouse said firmly.
Luke nodded his agreement.
"Guys. I think it's nice that you like Little Pauley, but you haven't known him as long as I have..." Mr. T began to say.
Luke looked at Mouse with question.
Mouse moved behind Obie and put his hands over Obie's ears.
"You need to know what it's like to feel little... and helpless... and useless." Luke said as he concentrated on the feelings.
Mr. T's eyes went wide as the flood of emotions washed over him.
Mouse let go of Obie's ears and said, "That's what you're making Paul feel like. Every time you call him 'little' you make him feel a little bit worse."
"Make it stop." Mr. T said in a whisper as he fought to maintain his self control.
Luke looked at Mouse with question.
Mouse responded by putting his hands over Obie's ears again.
"Mr. T. We all like you. You're our teacher. We all know you're very wise and smart. Please help Paul to feel that way too." Luke said desperately.
"I... I think I understand now." Mr. T said in a shaky voice.
Luke looked to Mouse. Urging him to explain.
"I'm sorry we did that Mr. T but we thought Paul was important enough that someone needed to stand up for him." Mouse said in an imploring voice.
Mr. T finally calmed himself from his emotional revelation and said in a more steady voice, "You made your point. If that's really what Lit... Paul has been feeling. Then I'm sorry that I ever had a part in making him feel that way. And I'll do whatever I can to see that he doesn't have to feel that way again."
"Thanks Mr. T." Mouse said with a big smile.
Mr. T smiled in return for a brief moment, but then he let the smile drop as he firmly said, "We're going to talk later about what you just did."
Mouse looked at his feet as he nodded his understanding.
He was surprised to feel a hand on his shoulder.
Hesitantly he looked up into Mr. T's eyes.
"I'm not going to yell at you or punish you. But we're going to have a talk about what you just did and how to use such a gift responsibly." Mr. T said seriously.
"Okay." Mouse whispered.
Mr. T looked at Luke to see if he understood.
Luke reluctantly nodded.
Mr. T looked at Obie who had a look of complete confusion.
"I'm going to go back and check in with my father. He probably needs to get to his office since the camp is locked down." Mr. T said, now back to his usual, casual mood.
* * * * *
Paul and Uri finally finished with the last unoccupied bedroom, then hesitantly walked into Simon and Arlo's room where Jerico, Devon and Chief Tecumseh were all looking very serious.
"From your expressions, I would guess that no breakthroughs have been made." Uri said as he walked to check the window.
"I just stepped out for a few minutes and got caught at cabin four when the security alarm went off." Mr. T said as he walked into the room.
"What was so dire that you had to leave without informing anyone of your whereabouts?" Chief Tecumseh asked in a challenging voice.
"A pair of students... got their braces locked together." Mr. T said shyly.
Chief Tecumseh shook his head and said, "Not again. Those two are going to pull their teeth out rather than get them straightened at this rate."
Mr. T nodded with a smile of agreement.
Paul jumped as he saw something out of the corner of his eye.
"What's wrong?" Jerico asked curiously at Paul's reaction.
"I thought I saw someone standing over there in the corner... in the shadow..." Paul said slowly.
"Did you see that? It just moved!" Paul said as he took a step closer to the group gathered around the bed.
Jerico looked at Paul carefully, then stood and walked to face the corner.
"I call upon the spirit that hides in the shadows of this room."
"Show yourself in revealing light to our eyes."
"Raise your voice to be heard above the whispers."
"Expose your true intent that we may know your heart."
"I command you to come forth now!"
The shadow moved and stepped forward into the light.
The transparent image of a man looked down at himself in wonder, then up at Jerico with question.
Uri automatically walked to stand in front of Devon.
"What is your name?" Jerico asked firmly.
"In life I had a name, now I am only a spirit, a shadow of my former self. Please ask what you want of me so I may continue my work." The faint image said in a whispery voice.
"You can't be here. This is the plane of the living. You need to cross over to the spiritual plane so you can continue your journey. Go into the light." Jerico said, now sounding more concerned than commanding.
"I have crossed over. I have been in the light. I was brought back to perform a task. When it is done, I will leave." The spirit said frankly.
Jerico thought about the words, then said in a quiet voice, "If you'll tell me what you need to do, maybe I can help."
The spirit gave a smile and said, "My duty is to protect my son."
"Who is your son?" Jerico asked hesitantly.
"The spirit that inhabits that boy." The spirit said and pointed his insubstantial hand at Arlo.
Jerico quickly asked, "Where is the rest of his spirit?"
"Being guided here. But it may not matter." The spirit finished with a tone of regret.
"Why not?" Jerico asked with concern.
"I don't think my son will be able to accept this part of himself. Not only would he be willing to let it die, but he would gladly try to kill it." The spirit said sadly.
"No wonder this little guy ran away." Devon said as he hugged Arlo's body tightly.
"He didn't run away. I helped him escape." The spirit said with a loving look at Arlo.
"Why?" Jerico asked cautiously.
"My son was in such anguish and harbors so much hatred for this part of himself that there was no way it could continue to survive. When I saw what was happening, I asked for help. I begged to be allowed to do something to save my son from growing into a hollow shell of a man with no hope of ever knowing a moment of contentment or fulfillment in his life." The spirit said in a desperate voice.
"Your son is very lucky to have a father who loves him so much." Uri said in a respectful tone.
"We'll see. If this doesn't work, he won't care. I was never able to do anything for him when I was alive. If I can do this for my son now, then I can rest in peace." The spirit said in a quiet whisper of a voice.
"Please tell us what we can do to help him?" Jerico asked hopefully.
"When my son's body arrives, find a way to convince him that he needs this part of his spirit. He has to want it back. If you can do that, this piece of his soul will return. But whatever..." The spirit trailed off, obviously reluctant to say the next part.
"Go on." Jerico whispered.
"Whatever happens, please don't blame him for all this. He didn't cause this to happen, I did." The spirit asked in a begging whisper.
Jerico smiled and said, "Please, just one last thing, then I'll let you go. What is this little guy's name?" Jerico asked hopefully.
The spirit looked at Arlo with a smile and said in a loving voice, "That's my son, Kevin."