The house was exactly as he left it. When Uncle Steven moved to hospice last spring, he had already transferred all the rights to his books and published articles to his nonprofit foundation, the Lamont Library. After he died in August, he left his house to me, his only niece, since he never married and had no children of his own. Months had passed, but nothing had been touched. Even his last two case studies he had planned to archive for the library were scattered in boxes stacked to the ceiling in the study. No one had shown much interest, until now.
I got the call the day after Thanksgiving. Dr. Thomas Li, an award-winning neurologist, formerly with MIT, asked to meet with me to discuss an important study. And if I would be willing to transfer the remaining files to the university to continue Dr. Lamont’s work.
“I know it’s a lot of trouble to find those materials.” Dr. Li apologized over the phone. “I’m happy to come by, at your convenience. The grant includes a small budget for research assistance. I can pay for your help.”
I agreed to meet Dr. Li at my uncle’s old house. I told him I had already located several boxes of videotapes, marked “Confidential.” I wondered how these outdated, dusty tapes could be so important.
“I know exactly where those tapes are,” I assured Dr. Li. “Any materials you want, you are welcome to borrow and make copies.”
“This isn’t just for my research,” Dr. Li insisted. “Dr. Lamont’s work will change the lives of so many people, including his own patients still struggling to this day to remain anonymous until this field is better understood and fully accepted.
“Your uncle captured footage of his team treating patients while channeling dark energy forces. The phenomena manifested on videotape prove these episodes were not hallucinations.”
I didn’t believe anyone could take his experimental therapy that seriously. As if it would change the face of medicine, and the world? But his former patient, Jackie, now a graduate student interning with Dr. Li’s research group, had convinced him this work was groundbreaking.
Dr. Li arrived before I did. He called me to check if I was on my way.
“Sorry, my car died in the driveway. Very odd, it wouldn't even start." It was my turn to apologize. "I’m getting a Lift driver to take me over there. If you want to go inside, there’s an extra key by the side of the mailbox. The boxes you want are down the hallway, to the right. The study is full of them, but I moved the videotapes outside the door.”
Dr. Li found the collection of videos that I had set aside. Inside the box, he found the personal instructions my uncle had left for me.
“Dear Frances: If I don’t live long enough to tell you in person, please make sure nobody touches these materials unless they agree to three rules, for safety, which I failed to follow:
1. Anyone who is told about or has any knowledge of these studies must seek the help and support of a deliverance ministry to pray for their protection. This energy is very dangerous and infiltrates the human network through our conscious and unconscious thoughts. Nobody can even know about this, unless they are fully protected. Or they will find themselves attacked as I have been. Please, this is very important!
2. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to replicate the exorcism rites I studied that require an individual, even a priest, to step in on behalf of God’s authority and make direct contact with any such energy or entity of demonic nature. This was a mistake, and I should never have studied this by direct contact. I hope that when my brain and body are donated to science, the mysterious growth of cancer can be studied to prevent the same deadly exposure that I believe is responsible.
3. The minute you experience any signs of negative energy forces causing disruptions around you, please seek the prayer support of a deliverance ministry to remove the causes and protect you. IMMEDIATELY. Please share the knowledge of spiritual healing that doesn’t require anyone to step in and do what I did. This research is important, but it must be done safely and consistently with the right approach and methods.
What I did wasn’t safe. I regret not being able to warn you and others in time. I’m going into hospice care soon, and may not have time to explain in person.
Please WARN everyone who hears of this research to AVOID any contact, whatsoever, with the occult, with dark forces of witchcraft, sorcery, spells or curses.
If I contribute nothing else to science, I want to leave this knowledge in the right hands. But everyone must be fully informed and protected."
The note ended there. Dr. Li was more curious than alarmed. He opened the door to the study to look for more boxes.
Without warning, the door slammed shut in his face. He opened it again, holding the knob which started turning by itself. As if someone was on the other side fighting with him to keep him out.
“Who’s there?” the doctor shouted. But there was nobody else in the house but him.
Suddenly the sound of a dozen phones rang out in the hallway. Old-fashioned phones, the type that nobody makes or has anymore.
Dr. Li spun around, but there were no telephones, and no visible source of the ringing anywhere in the hall or in the house. He called me on his cell phone, frantically yelling.
“Frances! I’m inside the house, in the hallway. What is going on here? Is this a prank? How do I turn off these alarms, these phones ringing?”
“What?” I was equally shocked, and felt a surge of pure terror spill into my soul from the panic in Dr. Li’s voice. “Are you sure that isn’t your phone picking up signals?”
“No! It’s ringing behind my head. In the room around me. But when I turn around, there’s nothing here. Where are the phones in this house?”
“There are no phones in the house! What are you talking about? Of course I can hear it. Where are you—”
“Never mind, Frances. I’m hanging up. I’m going to record this nonsense.”
He hung up on me. I felt a strange dark energy fill me with anxiety, as if pure evil had entered my world and was riding next to me in the car.
I handed all my cash to the driver, begging him to rush me to the house.
By the time I got there, the chaotic ringing had stopped. But the clock hanging in the hallway, without any batteries or power source, start chiming. As if to announce the time of my arrival.
Dr. Li was recording the study door slamming open and shut by itself.
“Frances, do you see this? This isn’t my imagination. It’s not a delusion if we're both seeing this! Quick, use your phone.”
Together we recorded as much footage as we could, trembling with both terror and excitement. With two of us as witnesses to the same phenomena, we had a better chance of capturing clear proof and convincing others this was real.
I spotted the opened box on the floor, with the note on top. I had forgotten the instructions my uncle had left me. No wonder he tried to warn me!
“Dr. Li, we need to get prayer help. Now! This is exactly what he meant!”
“In the name of Jesus Christ. I command you to leave!” My uncle’s voice came out of nowhere, and boomed through the hallway.
I didn’t know if that command was for the demons or Satan, himself. Me or Dr. Li. But we obeyed, grabbed the box of tapes, and fled.
Whatever was the next step of this research project, I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to hand the research to Jackie and Dr. Li, and disappear.
Pretend I never heard or saw anything. And pray the demons would leave me alone.
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I like the ambiguity at the end! Enjoyable story, Emily - thank you!