Ghosts of Long Island
by Sue K
Captain Lee Crane sat in front of his tent listening to the
early morning wilderness sounds that had erupted around the campground
an hour before the true sunrise. Squirrels chattered overhead, seeming
to vie with a variety of bird species for auditory supremacy. The late
October air was crisp and he shivered, but he didn’t look for his
jacket. Despite the chill, Lee was perfectly happy to sit and take in
the peaceful moment before the sun rose.
So far, it had been a most glorious leave. After several
harrowing back-to-back missions, this respite was well deserved. And it
was the perfect opportunity to spend time with Meeka, the Tirean girl he
and Chip had rescued from her repressive country. Right after their
escape, the twelve-year-old orphan had asked Lee to be her father, but
that hadn’t been legally possible. The courts, in an unusual ruling,
however, had allowed a joint foster parenthood for the child. Lee shared
custody with one of the Seaview’s crewmen and his wife. Meeka
was now thirteen, had been in the states for ten months, and Lee finally
had some time to spend with her.
He and Meeka had flown to Oklahoma City where he rented a
pick-up truck and some camping equipment. He was not an avid camper, but
Meeka’s heart had been set on it ever since she had camped overnight
in the desert with Seaman Brody’s family. Lee grinned. The past
several nights were a far cry from camping in California. And it
wasn’t just camping, either. Meeka had an insatiable curiosity about
anything American. Indians fascinated her. They had spent half a day in
the Cowboy Hall of Fame and another half a day visiting the capital of
an eastern Oklahoma Indian tribe.
The final destination of the trip was Washington, D.C. where
Crane would be attending a scientific convention with the admiral, so
while he enjoyed the side excursions, it was often late in the evening
when they finally stopped for the night. They were getting quite good at
pitching tents in the dark.
At first, Lee had been a bit reticent when the admiral had
suggested the trip with Meeka. There had been so little time to spend
with the girl who considered him her father these past months that he
had felt guilty, as though he had abandoned her. But he had to admit; it
had been a wonderful three days. Lee had enjoyed watching Meeka simply
enjoy herself. Now they were in Natchez Trace State Park. It truly
amazed him and had totally entranced Meeka. By her own admission, she
had never seen such a profusion of fall colors.
The sun sparkled through the dew-dampened leaves and he heard a
click. With a grin, he turned to the dark-eyed girl with the
ever-present camera in her hand. “You’re going to have to let me
have that thing for a while so I can take your picture,” he quipped.
In so many ways, this was a mature adult in the guise of a young
teenager, but Meeka still had a wide-eyed optimism and innocence that
one saw in children. She still found deep pleasure in her sudden change
of fortune and circumstances even though almost a year had passed since
she had first set foot on American soil. On the other hand, Lee was
continually amazed at how well she had acclimated to her new
“Oh, no, I am not as . . . looking good in a photograph,”
“Nonsense!” he retorted good-naturedly. “You are very
charming in photographs. And the word is photogenic.”
She laughed. “Where is this Natchez Trace that this park is
named after?” she asked, changing the subject deftly. She really did
feel uncomfortable having her picture taken.
“A few miles from here, Meeka. We can stop and see what we can
of it after breakfast.”
She was already rummaging in the back of the pickup. “Vadeer,”
she said in Tirean. It was the only way Meeka was able to call Lee
‘father’ without him feeling totally self-conscious. For some
reason, which she couldn’t fathom, he didn’t seem to feel he was a
father. This had hurt her at first, but then Chip Morton had taken her
aside and explained that Lee felt that he had let her down, not being
around as much as a real father should. As far as Meeka was concerned,
Lee Crane had stepped into the role when she had needed him the most and
that was that. “Where is the bacon?”
“In the cooler,” came his quick response.
While she gathered the breakfast supplies, he gathered wood and
began preparing a fire in the cooking pit provided with the campsite.
When she had the food laid out, she glanced around her at the forest. It
was like Tirean forests and yet, unlike them. It was
beautiful--certainly much different from the desert camp experience with
Steve and Karla Brody.
“Tonight we should be in Virginia,” Lee said as he moved
back from a small, but fully engaged fire. He set the grate back on and
a large frying pan on top of that.
“And I will have to do some homework,” Meeka said glumly, as
she tossed the bacon in the pan. While most of her time on this trip
straddled a school vacation, she had missed a day already and would miss
a couple more before they flew home the following week.
Lee laughed heartily. “Been there and done that,” he said.
“Tell you what; tonight we’ll find a nice hotel and I’ll help you
She nodded. It would be difficult to do her work by a campfire.
After breakfast, they packed up and headed for the site where the old
Natchez Trace had passed on the way toward Nashville.
“Back in those days there were no roads, only trails in the
wilderness,” Lee said, knitting his brows as though trying to remember
the facts. “It had its starting point back in Natchez, Mississippi, a
then thriving city on the Mississippi River.”
“So people would travel on boats and then use the trail to go
inland,” Meeka ventured.
He nodded. “Exactly. This road was a much quicker and safer
means of traveling to middle Tennessee than a few wilderness paths
were.” He gazed at the grass-overgrown site of old wagon wheel tracks
and his eyes grew distant. Suddenly, he shuddered slightly and drew in a
quick, surprised breath.
“Vadeer! Are you all right?” Meeka asked in alarm. It seemed
as though his face had grown paler for a moment.
He shook his head as though clearing it and smiled softly.
“I’m fine,” he assured her. “Did you know there were bandits
along this road?” She shook her head in the negative. He went on.
“Some of them were so violent that the lawmen sometimes patrolled
sections of the trace to protect travelers.”
She shook her head again. “That’s terrible. But there are
similar things in Tirean history.” She noticed the lingering hint of
worry in his eyes and wondered what caused it, but didn’t press
Near the end of the day, they reached Kingsport, Tennessee, near
the Virginia state line. Lee quickly found a downtown hotel and booked a
larger suite. In the remaining daylight, they walked along the Holston
River, Meeka reading aloud from a locally produced magazine about the
history of the area.
“Oh, Vadeer, this place tells about the Indians that lived
here,” she exclaimed, pointing to a map. It’s not far. Can we see it
before it gets dark?”
Lee looked at her map. “You’re right, it’s only a couple
of blocks away.” He peered closer. “Am I reading that right? Long
Meeka looked slightly puzzled, then she understood. “Oh, like
the one in New York City.”
He nodded. “Yes, I wonder how it got that name? Let’s go
check it out. Then we’ll have a quick dinner and work on your homework
before we hit the sack. We’ll want to get to DC before rush hour.”
Meeka groaned, but quickened her pace, excited to find out more
about Indians. They fascinated her. Soon they had crossed to the island
and were watching the river pass by on both sides. A plaque stood among
frost-touched shrubbery in a pleasant park. Meeka walked up and began
reading. “This was a special site for the Cherokee,” she told him,
excited, then she read verbatim. “….a sacred place where councils
were held and where peace reigned. No matter what was happening anywhere
else, on this island no fighting was allowed.” She looked up and saw
the same tense look on Lee’s face that she had seen earlier in the
day. “What’s wrong, Vadeer?”
“What else does it say?” he asked tersely, not looking
directly at her.
Alarmed, she nevertheless turned back to the plaque and
continued reading, stumbling over a few of the words. “In July, 1777,
the British and Indians met to parlay the forfeiture of lands.” She
was puzzled. “What’s parlay and forfeiture?”
“Parlay is to bargain and forfeiture means to give up. The
Cherokee were forced to give the British some of their lands. This
island was part of it, right?” he asked, now gazing directly into her
A touch of cool breeze ruffled the ends of her long, dark hair.
It felt as though someone was behind them and she had to repress the
desire to turn and look. “Yes,” she read further. “This island was
handed over to the British at the conclusion of the negotiations. It is
said that one of the Cherokee medicine men, in his anger, cursed this
island, saying that no white man could ever live here in peace.” She
glanced at Lee and saw that he had regained his composure for the most
part, but his eyes still seemed to hold some past fear. It frightened
her to think that he feared anything, but she continued reading.
“There are stories of murderous ghosts terrorizing the unsuspecting,
of ghostly campfires winking on and off and the sounds of past gun
battles late at night.” She studied her foster father closely.
“Vadeer, what is wrong?” she begged, when he said nothing at the end
of her recitation.
He just shook his head. “Let’s get out of here.”
Meeka gave a soft sigh. The sun would soon set and it was
getting chilly. Suddenly, she felt as though cold fingers had glided
down her neck and she shuddered.
“Are you cold?” he asked, concern in his voice.
That had to have been it. “Yes, it’s getting much cooler.”
He pulled off his jacket and slipped it on her. “Better?”
“Oh, yes!” They walked together to the footbridge and
started across. “Do you believe in ghosts?” she asked. “Father
Vincent said most of the stories were made up. He said there were no
such things as ghosts like the storytellers talk about.”
“Father Vincent was wrong,” Lee replied quickly and then
“Have you seen one?”
His steps faltered slightly, then he continued. “Yes,” he
answered softly. That was all he intended to say on the subject. Krueger
was gone--in the past, but he still seemed to haunt Lee’s present.
Standing in this place reminded him of the helplessness and fear he had
felt each time Krueger had entered his body. He had even felt a touch of
that while in the state park this morning, but that had been fleeting.
This was pervasive. Sucking in another deep breath, he determined to
take control of his emotions.
“Can you tell me about it?” Meeka asked softly.
Lee shook his head. “Not now,” he murmured. As they left the
island, the feeling dissipated. He could fully believe that the place
had been cursed.
Dinner began quietly enough, but Lee determined to make it more
pleasant and to forget the feelings he had experienced. “So what
homework were you assigned?”
Meeka frowned and sighed. “Pre-algebra, history mainly.”
“I can help you with the algebra, I believe. What did the
history teacher want you to do? And no language arts?”
She shook her head. “Not exactly. They were kind enough to
combine their efforts. They wanted me to write about the places I visit,
giving the history as well as the regular information like what it looks
like and things like that. It has to be well written-all words right,
and in the right order.”
Lee nodded and smiled. “Covering all the bases.” Meeka
looked puzzled. He explained the idiom. “Taking care of everything.
Now she nodded. “I mainly have to read the materials I will
miss. And give a brief . . . writing of the different types of land
forms and . . . and….” She sighed in exasperation.
“Give a summary and I bet your teacher wants you to talk about
the animals and plants in each of the different areas; their
“Yes, those are the terms. Mr. Rector wanted me to give a
brief report on the convention in Washington, D.C., too,” she added.
Lee looked taken aback. “I figured one of the admiral’s
staffers would take you on a tour of the capital. The conference is a
bit dry, uh, boring for most people; me included if the truth be
known,” he said with a slightly sardonic look.
Meeka grinned. “Vadeer! You bored at a science conference?”
“Yes!” came the emphatic reply. “I’d rather be the
staffer taking you around.” She smiled at his comment.
It was dark when they finished their meal. They went back to the
hotel where Lee helped her with her algebra. He read the local paper
while Meeka wrote down some of her thoughts about their trip thus far.
Another hour and the girl began yawning.
“Hit the sack, Meeka. I’ll look over what you have written
so far and make some editorial notes,” Lee told her. “I’ll
probably go to bed in a bit, too.” But though he professed feeling
tired, there was something keeping him keyed up and tense. It was like
the times on the Seaview when he felt something was going to
happen. Crane got up and walked to the window. He noted a light fog
forming over the river; otherwise lights glittered cheerfully through
the city. “I’m going for a walk before I go to bed,” he announced,
walking back to the chair where his jacket lay draped across the back.
Meeka came out of her bedroom, already in her nightgown. Worry
darkened her eyes. “Are you all right?” she asked.
He smiled his reassurance. “Are you my mother or daughter?”
he asked jokingly. Apparently, she was still picking up on his earlier
vibes. “Look, Meeka, I’m fine; just restless. It happens often on
the boat.” He shrugged. “I just need to walk it off or it will be
impossible for me to sleep.”
“Be careful, Vadeer,” she said softly. “It is dangerous on
He nodded and smiled. “This is Tennessee, not California, but
I will be back shortly.” He pulled on his flight jacket and stepped
In the lobby, the clerk threw him an off-handed glance. “Mind
you watch yourself out there. Kids are off tomorrow. Teacher’s
convention. Always the Friday before Halloween.”
“Thanks,” Crane said as he stepped out the door. The air was
crisp as it had been the past few evenings. He breathed deeply. It
wasn’t as fresh as it had been in the mountains, it was an old
railroad town, after all, but still he enjoyed the tang of fall. It
reminded him of his childhood. He walked briskly down to the river.
Where the light fog drifted away, lights danced on the water. He heard
firecrackers going off in the distance and wondered at the fact that
even Halloween seemed a good excuse for fireworks here. Down near the
island campfires winked on and off. Lee shivered, but it wasn’t really
from the cold.
As he continued walking along the shore, he saw a few other
people--a young couple and another man presumably resting after a run.
Lee sat on a bench and felt the chill beneath his legs. Shots rang out,
ghostly and distant. A wispy fog reached up with spectral fingers,
seemingly caressing his sneakers. He was ready to go back to the hotel
when he heard it. The laughter--echoing, hollow, evil, so reminiscent of
what he had once heard in the past. A laugh he thought he would never
hear again. It gripped his soul, turning his blood to ice. Then he heard
the screams. Turning to the couple sitting on the riverbank, he saw that
they were oblivious, locked in each other’s arms and passions. The
screams continued. “Didn’t you hear that?” he asked the man
sitting on the bench closer to the shore.
The man pulled off his Walkman. “Hear what?” he asked,
looking at first startled at Lee’s presence and then annoyed at having
been interrupted. The screams had drifted into loud moaning sounds.
“The screams and the moaning,” Lee replied. He was now on
“One of the resident spooks,” the man said nonchalantly.
“Or a couple of kids making out in the bushes by the river.”
The moan escalated into another scream that was quickly bitten
off and Crane began running toward the sound. He found himself crossing
over the bridge onto the island and dashing through the fog to hedges on
the other end. There he found a high school or college-aged man on top
of an equally, if not younger, woman trying vainly to push him away.
“No, no!” she kept crying. “Please, no.”
Without a word, Lee grabbed the young man’s shirt and jerked
him away. The young man looked startled, then, in anger, tried to hit
him, but Lee was not to be stopped. A backhanded slap sent the assailant
heavily to the ground. “Go home and grow up a little,” Lee snapped
tersely, his wrath kindled.
The young man scuttled backward and stared at him, still angry.
He had enough sense to not provoke the obviously stronger and more
determined man, though. The girl, a petite African American girl, stared
at him with large and frightened eyes.
“I won’t hurt you. Are you all right?” Lee unzipped his
jacket, and as her eyes began to fill with panic, he handed it to her.
In the attempted rape, her clothes had been badly ripped.
With great relief, she accepted his jacket and put it on.
“Yes, sir, I . . . I think so.” Her voice was almost a whisper and
he had to strain to hear her.
“Good. I can walk you to the police station, or to the
hospital,” Lee suggested gently. “Make sure you get there safely.”
“No,” she said, her voice rising in her fear. “No, sir, I
think I’d better go home.”
“You really need to report this,” Lee told her soothingly.
He held out his hand to help her up. She gazed at him a moment and then
looked over his shoulder and screamed.
It was then that Lee knew that the young man now smirking from
his position on the ground wasn’t the only one on the island. He
turned in a crouch but only enough to take the force of a club on his
left shoulder instead of the back of his neck. Pain shot through his arm
and into his chest as he was bowled to the ground. His arm, while not
feeling as though it had been broken, went numb. Despite that, Lee
quickly got to his feet. He had to, otherwise the monstrously huge
attacker would finish what he had obviously tried to do the first
time--kill him. At every bit of six and a half feet tall and about a
hundred more pounds on him, he could easily do just that, Lee thought.
And to his astonishment, the large man moved with lightning speed,
belying his size and bulk.
With a growl, the giant leaped forward, brandishing a massive
club, swinging it with a power that would make Babe Ruth jealous. Lee
danced out of the way and then reached in and got him hard in the
stomach with his fist. The man doubled slightly, coughed, but quickly
recovered, laughing at him. It was an evil laugh, the one he had heard
before, as though his attacker believed he was invincible and that
nothing could hurt him.
It was then that Lee noticed his eyes in the moonlight. They had
an unearthly, spectral glow, tinged with something behind them, as
though there were two persons peering out of the dark eyes. And the
captain knew what he was facing and knew where the attacker’s sense of
invincibility came from. He was possessed, demon or ghost controlled.
Just as he had been. Leaping back to stand by the girl, he grabbed her
arm and turned her to face him. “I want you to get out of here while I
keep him occupied. Go to the cops.”
“I can’t, please, I can’t.”
“Don’t you know what you’re facing here?” he shouted,
still trying to keep the possessed man out of his reach. The girl was on
her feet and moving back, too, as the man continued to stalk toward
them, still laughing.
“Leon’s never been mean and nasty. He’s slow, but kind,
nothing like this,” she said, her voice quavering almost to
“That’s his name?” Lee asked, trying to get something,
anything that might help him against this monster. His smaller buddy,
the one that Lee had pulled off the girl was following, brandishing a
“Yes,” she said. “And the other one is Brandon. He’s the
And therefore very desirable, thought
Lee. Comparatively speaking, Brandon was good sized in his own right.
Leon towered over all of them. “Well, right now, I’m not asking you
to go to the police for yourself, but for whoever else these jokers
might try to take out, including me. See that knife? Now get the hell
out of here and get help. The man is possessed and I don’t know how
long I can hold him and his buddy off,” he said forcefully, pushing
her toward the bridge.
Brandon saw her move and dashed up to cut off her flight. Lee
leaped toward them both and grabbed Brandon’s arm. He wrenched the
knife from the boy’s hand and tossed it away, then turned and shoved
Brandon in front of him as Leon came toward him again. The girl screamed
shrilly and finally ran. Brandon literally bounced off Leon, whose
momentum wasn‘t in the least affected.
Leon continued his bull‘s rush, his grin wider, the club back
for another crushing blow. Brandon had disappeared and Lee worried about
that. The club arced toward his head, but he managed to duck and dance
out of the way. As he dashed past, he kicked out, his foot connecting
with Leon’s knee. The larger man cried out more in anger than pain as
he dropped to the ground before jumping back up again. Lee dashed up
behind and punched and then kicked him just above the kidneys. Again
there was little response and he had to hurriedly jerk out of the way
when Leon swung his fist. There was no doubt about it; soon he would
have to make a hasty retreat. The ghost-possessed man rushed him again,
the club swinging and Lee sidestepped the worst of the blow. The end of
the club skimmed him across the chest. There was enough force that he
gasped in pain and was barely able to stumble out of reach of Leon’s
Lights from across the river and a full moon high overhead
caused shadows to dance and waver, confusing him while at the same time,
helping him keep an eye on Leon. A light fog covered the ground and
swirled around his feet, drifting here and there in the late night
breeze. Lee wanted to shout at Leon, try to get him to fight whoever
possessed him, but Lee knew it was useless. Just as his will had been
swallowed up in Krueger’s, Leon’s was overwhelmed by whatever ghost
was haunting this place. And the larger man’s strength had been
increased dramatically. Crane took as deep a breath as he was capable
of, and then jumped back. His attacker leaped forward, a feral grin on
his face. Lee shifted gears and rushed toward Leon, hoping for surprise.
His foot connected with Leon’s solar plexus and the huge man doubled
over, his breath rushing out in a large whoosh.
Now was the time to get away, Lee thought. He punched Leon in
the jaw and then sprinted toward the bridge, holding his side to control
the pain that the bruised ribs were causing.
“Brandon!” Leon called. “Earn your reward!”
Something suddenly rose out of the mist and darkness and threw
itself at Lee. It was Brandon. Before Lee could dodge, the boy had
affected a football-like tackle on him, knife in his right hand. And as
they fell, Crane felt the blade slide white-hot between his ribs and
then out again. As Brandon rolled away, Lee suddenly felt dizzy, as
though he had run out of air on a dive. He clamped his hand to the new
wound, feeling air escape as he breathed. Angry at allowing himself to
be so easily sidelined by the younger man, and realizing that he had no
chance of getting away with two of them after him, Lee kicked out,
catching Brandon on the side of the head. With a cut-off howl, Brandon
released the knife. The pain was excruciating, but Lee got to his knees,
knowing he had to try to get away now, while he still had a little
strength to do so. He tried to get to his feet, but a shove to his back
sent him crashing to the ground again. Rolling over, he felt as though
his chest was on fire. He couldn’t breathe. Leon’s club rested on
his collarbone, the weight pushing steadily, adding to his misery. The
pressure eased and the wood almost seemed to caress his chest. Crane
looked up into the leering face.
“You know what, Yankee boy, it has been a long time since I
have been able to whup someone who’s crossed me,” Leon growled.
Lee wasn’t able to tell if it was Leon or the ghost providing
the very deep southern country dialect. Probably both. He gasped for
air, still holding his side. His very heartbeat was painfully strong in
his ears. “Who are you?”
“You heard the darkie wench. I’m Leon.”
Lee felt shock coursing through his body. The ghost had
obviously been around for some time to be using that kind of language.
He took in a shallow breath and had to bite his lip to stifle a moan. He
shook his head. “No, you aren’t. Who are you?”
Leon studied him carefully for a brief moment and then his eyes
narrowed. “So you ciphered it.” He leaned closer, his grin growing
wider, more predatory. “That will make it so much more fun. And poor
Leon will get all the blame.” Leon shoved the club into Lee’s neck,
so much so that Crane began to choke and cough.
“So you got Brandon . . . to get you the girls,” Lee
wheezed, wiping his sleeve across his mouth. It came back bloody.
“Leon is so easy to use. Easier than walkin’ a mule to
“And high school boys . . . so easy to influence,” Lee said
accusingly. “Do you kill them, too?”
“Have you ever felt someone knockin’ around inside your
head, Yankee boy? Have you ever had someone makin’ your body move and
your mouth jawin‘ something other than what you want? And all you
could do was watch from the porch?” Leon was now leaning on his club
and grinning from ear to ear. He knew that his victim wasn’t going
anywhere. “I got a church goin’ man to kill his own girl, you know.
And the boy she was spoonin’ with, too. With a club just like this.
Back during that last world war. I can make anyone do anything, Yankee
Lee felt panic welling up inside; horrible, debilitating panic.
Forgotten was pain; forgotten was the sure knowledge that he was dying.
There was only the raw fear that someone else would possess him, use him
in whatever vile ways he wanted.
Leon laughed uproariously, in total triumph. “Yep, I can see
you have. Oh, this’ll be so fun. Leon’s a half-wit, just good enough
to give me freedom to walk around these parts. But you look to be some
rich boy, someone with some money. While you live I will enjoy it
There was a sudden scuffling behind him, the noise of someone
falling and then a voice calling out to him. Lee felt his heart sink
even as the blood rose in his throat to choke him. Meeka!
Meeka sat bolt upright in her bed. She had dozed; the muted
television showed some comedian rather than the news she had last been
watching. Looking at the clock on the nightstand, she noted the time.
Morning rather than late night. Fear clutched at her chest. Vadeer! Then
she relaxed. He was surely back by now. She just hadn’t heard him.
Quietly, Meeka slipped out of bed and walked to the door, her
nightgown swishing lightly around her legs. She peered out at the sofa
bed he had insisted on sleeping on and saw nothing. The fist of her fear
grabbed her by the throat again, tightening and choking her. She looked
all around. Vadeer was not here.
Dashing back to her bed, Meeka grabbed the clothes she had been
wearing during the day and threw them on. She grabbed her jacket. It was
undoubtedly several degrees cooler by now. Then she rushed out the door.
In the lobby, a sleepy desk clerk jerked awake and started to say
something, but Meeka didn’t give him the opportunity to finish before
she was out the door. She ran toward the river and then slowed when she
realized that she had no idea where Lee would be.
Something was wrong, but how could she find him? Then suddenly
it hit her--the island. But why would he go someplace that had seemed so
frightening to him. She didn’t know, but somehow Meeka felt that was
where she should go. She ran along the riverbank, listening for any
sounds. She heard sobs nearby and slowed again. Through the more thickly
forming fog, Meeka saw a young woman in Lee’s jacket sitting and
crying on a bench.
“Where did you get this?” she demanded, touching the sleeve
of the jacket.
The girl jerked up in fright and then relaxed as though relieved
that she wasn’t someone else. “Man gave it to me when Brandon . . .
was raping me.”
Meeka sucked in a quick breath. “Where is he? The man who gave
it to you, that is.”
“He’s probably dead now,” the young black woman said.
“Leon hit him pretty hard.”
Ice-cold fingers squeezed her heart again, but Meeka couldn’t
give into fear. “Where?” she hissed. “Where is he?”
The girl looked up, tears threatening to spill from her eyes
again. “Oh, please, don’t go there. Leon and Brandon will do
something horrible to you.”
Meeka grabbed the sleeve of Lee’s jacket. “This belongs to
my father! Where is he?” she demanded.
“Long Island,” she said dully. “Don’t go. He said to get
Meeka started. “Then do it!” she ordered and began sprinting
toward the island. “Do it!” she repeated over her shoulder. The
Tirean girl ran all out, hearing the older girl’s words echo in her
mind. He’s probably dead now over and over again. She ran
across the bridge and then stopped and listened. Laughter.
It was the sound of evil and it froze her heart. Still she moved
toward the sound. The first thing that came to her view in the dim glow
of the few streetlights in the area was an older boy who looked to be in
high school. There appeared to be blood dripping down the side of his
face, but he was scrambling for a knife on the ground. Then he began
crawling toward someone lying in the shadows. A huge man was gazing with
hungry, almost luminous eyes at the person on the ground as well. Meeka
didn’t hesitate. She threw herself on the boy, who was larger than he
had first appeared, and wrested the knife from his fingers. With her
free hand, she punched him in the stomach and then kicked him in the
side. The handle of the knife was laid across his head. With a soft
groan, he sank unconscious to the ground.
Meeka dashed to the fallen man. “Vadeer,” she said with a
barely audible gasp.
Lee groaned and then coughed weakly. “Get out of here, Meeka.
She shook her head. “No!” She looked up at the leering
“So there is a cub. And a wildcat, too. This will be even more
fun,” he said. The large man gazed directly into Lee’s eyes. “Did
you do things while you were possessed that you wanted to stop?” he
asked and then laughed at Lee’s choked cry of anguish.
“Leave him alone!” Meeka cried, brandishing her knife at the
The man didn’t come closer, but he seemed to grow larger, and
then like the cells she had watched under a microscope, divided. The
more defined part backed away, moaned and fell to the ground, while the
other part changed. She could see through him at first then he became
Meeka knew this was one of the ghosts the plaque had talked
about and she knew why Lee had been so fearful. Realization radiated
cold terror through her own body. This bearded, wild-haired entity
wanted to possess Lee and Meeka knew that her pitiful weapon was
As the dead fingers touched his chest, Lee moaned. “Meeka,
please forgive whatever I do to you.” Meeka heard in his words a depth
of despair she had never heard before, even in her days in Tirea.
The ghost laughed through rotted teeth, his tattered clothes
rustling with a life of their own. He reached closer even as Meeka saw
the reason Lee had been unmoving. Why he hadn’t fought back. Meeka
said a quick Hail Mary under her breath. “Please, take me, not him,”
she begged. “He’s hurt. Please, take me….”
The ghost laughed louder, but then his voice stopped suddenly as
another voice reverberated across the island. “STOP!” it boomed. The
ghost cursed and retreated, fear in his eyes to match the anger.
The mists floating above the river seemed to coalesce and take
form. The fog gathered to the form, making it larger and larger. Even
though there was no breeze, the corporeal fog drifted toward them,
continuing to shape itself into the form of a man. Tendrils of fog
became arms and hair. Fingers formed and the body became more solid.
“Meeka,” Lee whispered. “Help me . . . sit up, . . .
She complied, trying to be as gentle as she could. He groaned
softly. “Let me look at the wound,” she coaxed softly.
He shook his head slightly, his eyes never wavering from the now
almost solid form in front of them. The ghost inhabiting Leon crouched
nearby, muttering curses, but was clearly the lesser of the two ethereal
beings. The new form drew up before them, regal and proud. His long gray
hair flowed over his shoulders and moved in a nether-world breeze. His
dark eyes were piercing and seemed to bore into Lee’s very soul. The
newcomer was obviously the ghost of a powerful Indian of the past. Lee
couldn’t tell what nation, but he could only conjecture that it would
be Cherokee. The fact that this ghost had saved him from certain horror
wasn’t lost on him either. But had they leaped from the frying pan
into the fire? Fear still pulsed through his veins. Pushing the fear,
the pain and debilitating weakness aside, he nodded politely and said
the only Cherokee word he remembered from the display he and Meeka had
seen in Oklahoma. “Oh-see-yoh.”
The being in front of them showed brief surprise and then his
face became a mask again. The man was fairly short, perhaps only an inch
taller than Meeka, but he seemed much larger, evidence of his great
power. Lee was startled to find himself comparing the ghost to the
admiral, another man of great presence. However, Lee knew the admiral.
Beyond power, he didn’t know the predisposition of this being at all.
“My daughter . . . let her go, please….”
At the same time, Meeka said, “Please, let me take my father
to the hospital. He’s….” Both Meeka and Crane stopped at a slight
gesture of the ghost’s hand.
The Indian studied them for another minute before nodding. Lee
wondered if the ghost was sizing them up. He was afraid for Meeka and
wished for the hundredth time that she had remained in the hotel. And
“I am not here to do further hurt to either of you,” the
ghost finally said. He leaned forward and laid a hand on Lee’s
shoulder and then on Meeka’s.
Relief flooded through him. If he hadn’t felt so bad, Lee
would have laughed, but the best he could do was to whisper thank you
and then reach over and touch Meeka’s hand softly. “It’s all
right, Meeka,” Lee reassured her softly. And somehow, he felt that was
so. Despite the fact that he felt as though he was diving with an empty
tank of oxygen, he felt a sense of peace.
“You would die to protect a woman you did not know?” he
asked Crane after studying him a few more moments.
“I couldn’t….” he took too deep a breath and had to shut
his eyes a moment to control the dizziness and pain. “Couldn’t just
ignore her screams . . . for help,” he finally said.
“And you,” the Indian said to Meeka. “You were willing to
take his place; to be taken over by the white man’s ghost?”
“Yes, Leader,” Meeka said, her voice almost a whisper.
“I am Amadahy. My name represents the water that runs through
what was once a great forest. I am Aniyunwiya, or in your English,
“You were the one . . . who cursed this island,” Lee
“Yes, I am. But that is history and you do not have time for
the full history.”
Lee didn’t answer. There was no need, for the statement was
“I am here because it is in my heart to take back my curse,”
“Why?” Lee asked bluntly and then closed his eyes against
another bout of dizziness.
“Because the land will never be the same. The people are not
the same. It was wrong to punish the land for the sake of those with bad
hearts. This earth wants to rest.” He paused. “Some are like that
one,” the Indian said, pointing to the ghost who had inhabited Leon.
“But others, like you, have different hearts. If you are not the only
ones with the hearts of real people, then I will let this once sacred
land have peace.”
“How will you decide that, sir?” Meeka asked politely, at
the same time worried about Lee, who now seemed to be drifting in and
out of consciousness. She was afraid he would die in her arms and she
didn’t know if she could stand that.
“I would become a part of you and see into your heart.”
Meeka felt faint, her heart skipped a beat as she realized what
he was proposing. “Possessing me?” she asked weakly.
Amadahy shook his head. “Not in the way that the evil one
proposed, nor in the way your adoptive father was possessed before.”
“You know?” Lee asked, having trouble focusing.
Nodding, Amadahy said, “I have been listening.”
“Please, Mr. Amadahy. Vadeer needs medical help. He is
dying,” Meeka said plaintively. She felt tears burning in her eyes.
She was afraid of this ghost, but she was more afraid for Lee.
“Yes, I know. Be patient, woman leader. Let me see into your
heart briefly and then I will decide.”
Meeka bit her lip and felt the trembling body in her arms.
“All right,” she whispered, closing her eyes. At first she felt
nothing, then she felt a cool presence wrapping around her, entering her
and filling her. Her mind felt the tendrils of other-consciousness and
she tried to relax. She began seeing things from her past--her years in
the orphanage, the sadness she felt at having no family, the feelings of
helplessness and despair in the country of her birth, Father Vincente,
then of Lee and Chip’s arrival and the group’s fearful flight
through the country. And most especially she dwelt on her thoughts of
Lee and all the others who had welcomed her into their lives in this
country. The thoughts continued and then suddenly, she was free. Amadahy
In her arms, Lee stirred and then sat up straight, pulling away.
He turned to her and gazed into her face. His eyes showed fear and then
surprise and finally reassurance. The girl knew that Amadahy was inside
Lee. “Vadeer, are you all right?” She noticed the overly large
bloodstain on his shirt, but he was breathing all right for the moment.
He nodded, but made no other movement. It was as though he was trying to
figure out what was going on. In the distance, she heard sirens. They
seemed to be coming closer. Meeka studied his wound more closely and
blanched. She hoped that the sirens were for him.
“The curse will be lifted,” Lee said, his voice curiously
like Amadahy’s slightly accented voice and yet still his own. “The
island will never be sacred again, but it will be at peace. Those
entities that would come for evil purposes will be unable to reside
here.” At that pronouncement, the ghost who had possessed Leon
screamed a curse and then was gone.
The sirens continued to draw near, finally stopping on the other
side of the river. Voices called out and Meeka answered.
A police officer was the first to reach them. Despite his
previous abhorrence to possession, this time Crane was mentally begging
the Cherokee medicine man to remain with him a few more seconds. He
reached out and took the officer’s sleeve. “Please, take care of my
daughter. We were traveling alone. No family here.” He couldn’t say
anymore; he was gasping for air as it was.
“We’ll make sure she’s safe, sir. You just relax and let
the paramedics take care of you.”
And Lee did. Even as he saw and felt the Indian slip away, so
too did his own awareness. He only remotely heard the EMT’s asking
Meeka questions and checking him out. Then he heard nothing.
Meeka was sitting by the bedside, holding her vadeer’s hand,
occasionally reaching over and stroking his cheek. She had finally won
the battle to sit with him for more than the short visiting hours. She
didn’t know exactly what had caused the change of heart. For a day and
a half, she had begged, demanded and even tried to sneak in, but six
hours ago, they had suddenly told her she could sit with Lee for as long
as she wished. She was puzzled, but so grateful she didn‘t pause to
think about it very long. The temporary foster home had been all right,
but the older woman didn’t seem to know what to do or how to act
toward her. It had been extremely awkward.
Now, though, Meeka was here and she would not leave until the
admiral arrived. Probably not even then. It had been a day after the
incident before she had been able to talk to Admiral Nelson, she had
been so immersed in everything going on here--worried about Lee,
answering questions the police asked her, the doctors had asked her.
Thinking back, she couldn’t say what she had done one minute or the
other. But the admiral had assured her during their last conversation
that he was flying down from Washington, D.C. Maybe that was why the
hospital had suddenly relented. Regardless, she wished Lee would wake
up. The doctor had only told her that he had been hurt very badly, but
that she already knew. There were tubes everywhere--in his chest, IV
tubes in his arms, a tube feeding him oxygen through his nose, but he
was now breathing all right and seemed to be fairly comfortable.
Remembering his last words, ‘please take care of my daughter’ gave
her a warm glow. It had been the third time in only several hours time
that he had referred to her as his daughter. She had not thought it
would be so exquisitely wonderful, but it was.
Lee stirred a little and she was instantly attentive. “Oh,
Father,” she whispered. “Wake up, please. Wake up and tell me you
will be all right.” But he didn’t wake up, and while still sitting
in the chair; she leaned forward and laid her head next to his side.
Soon she was asleep, lulled by the rhythmic rise and fall of her adopted
Lee felt the fog swirling around him, thick and soupy, heavy
with a cloying stickiness, the smell antiseptic and sterile. His eyelids
were heavy, but he was finally able to open them. He found he was in a
hospital bed and frowned, wondering how he got there. Lee felt little
pain, probably most likely due to meds. There was simply a general
discomfort. His chest seemed heavy and he felt the soft pumping of air
into his lungs through a tube in his nose. He seemed to be connected to
As he tried to remember what had happened, Lee saw Meeka,
sitting in a chair next to the bed, her head resting awkwardly against
his side. She was sound asleep. Everything about last night--was it only
last night, or how long had he been asleep, he wondered? Everything
seemed murky, but he remembered what Amadahy had said to him with
crystal clarity. The Cherokee medicine man had entered his body after
leaving Meeka’s. Lee had pretty much only been aware of his pain and
weakness at the time, but Amadahy had lent him strength and he was able
to focus on his surroundings. That had surprised him. Unlike Krueger,
who had completely taken him over, used him and abused him, the Indian
had only been a partial passenger-- lending strength, studying him and
making comments. ‘You and the woman chief-to-be have been brought
together by the Gods.’ Lee couldn’t dispute that in the least. He
couldn’t even consider that what had happened in Tirea had been
coincidence. ‘You both have the hearts of warriors. Warriors
understand much that others do not. Share your hearts; give her what she
most wants. She has taken your name, but she wants more than that. You
can give her what her heart needs. And she will give you of her heart in
return. She will become a great warrior someday, like her father is
now.’ And then not long afterward, the Indian had left.
‘Give her what her heart needs.’ She wanted to be his
daughter, him to be her father. Could he do that? Lee didn’t know, but
he could sure try. He drifted back to sleep for a few minutes, but woke
again when Meeka stirred. Lee laid his hand gently on her head, touching
the dark curls affectionately. She did have the heart of a warrior, that
was for sure. Suddenly, Meeka raised her head, her deep brown eyes
gazing into his.
Then she broke out into a happy smile. “Father!” she
exclaimed. “You are awake! How do you feel?”
“Yes,” he began, feeling as though his throat was made of
sandpaper, but he continued, even though his voice was no more than a
whisper. “My brave, wonderful daughter, because of you, I am not only
awake, I am alive.”
Her grin widened and she laughed, taking his hand in hers and
raising it to her cheek. “Then I am truly your daughter?”
“You were before. But yes, you are truly my daughter, no
“No matter what,” she repeated.
Lee felt the tears of her joy on his hand and he was content.
The basis of this story comes from a couple of books, both by
the same author, Charles Edwin Price. Haunted Tennessee gave me
the sketchy history of Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee, along with a
story of murder and revenge. A previous book, of which I finally found a
copy, Haints, Witches and Boogers; ghost stories of upper East
Tennessee, gave more detail into the history as well as the story of
the club wielding maniac who killed his daughter and her boyfriend. I
had a brief email from a chamber of commerce worker in Kingsport who
told me that there was a plaque on the island, but what is on it, I have
no idea. I wasn’t able to get anything else from the city parks and
recreation people and I haven’t had time to go there myself. The event
of the ceding of the land from the Cherokees to the British is true. The
name of the Indian I borrowed from a list of Cherokee words. The
original name of the Cherokee was indeed Aniyunwiya. (Well, I have seen
another name from a Western Cherokee site, but am sticking with this
one.) According to Price, local law officials have admitted that more
dark events have centered on Long Island than anywhere else in the area.
This story takes place after The Little Army and Foam
on the Large Wave. It helps to have read the former, but not
necessary, I think.