The Shadows of Mary Elizabeth Phillips
Part of the Shadows Collective.
Jeanie Phillips stood in the darkness outside her late husbands house. Frozen with intense fear. She had her suspicions of something strange happening in the church next door. The tall white average looking house of God. Her husbands favorite place on Earth had changed before her eyes that night. From a beacon of positive energy to a place of fear one would not enter. Thankfully no one but Jeanie had seen the horrors emanating from that steeple yet. The small windows intermittently shown with an eerie red glow. Every night for the last two weeks. Every night since her husband passed away.
Jeanie and Marshall Phillips were well respected members of the Neill community. A moderately large town locked in the center of a moderately large island. He was the local Minister, a good man. He kept a close watch on everyone in the community who would come to him. He organized events and dinners. He gave shelter to the less fortunate during dangerous storms. He gave energetic and engaging sermons every Sunday morning. It was because of all this that the young Jeanie was attracted to him. Despite being nearly ten years younger she took a chance in getting to know him better. As well as his sullen teenage Daughter Mary Elizabeth. Jeanie and the child did however get along well. A friendship bloomed between them over the three years following the meeting and eventual Marriage.
Everything changed the night Marshall passed on. He developed a mass in his brain. It happened so fast that both Jeanie and Mary Elizabeth were caught completely off guard by his demise. One night in his own bed.
Two weeks after that night. This night Jeanie stood outside Marshall's beloved church. Watching in horror above. The confirmation beyond what she could have ever dreamed of. Mary Elizabeth had not only been driven mad by her Father's death. She had been driven to something else entirely.
Witchcraft? Jeanie thought to herself.
Don't be silly, A fell voice said in the air. It sounded female. Jeanie frantically looked around for a few moments. No one was around. Just an empty street. The held her breath and watched as the light in the steeple receded.
"... I couldn't tell you where that voice came from..." Jeanie's voice trailed off. She was explaining the events from the night before to the man sitting next to her. She lay motionless on the oddly uncomfortable couch in her therapist's office. The man in the chair next to her was a skinny older man. Though masterfully intelligent, he gave one the impression of being awkward and quiet. He was the type to only speak when he had something worth saying. Unless of course it was a question. His name was Dr. Dwayne. His name had become source of mild laughter for the townspeople.
"What happened after the light faded?" He asked.
"I couldn't move," Jeanie said quietly. "For what felt like an hour I couldn't move."
"What else did you see?" He continued to probe.
Tears began to collect under Jeanie's tired eyes. She placed her hand over them, desperately holding back the urge to burst into a crying fit. Her hands shook and her voice rattled as she attempted to answer.
"I... I stood for a long time. In the cold, before anything else happened. The light was gone and I didn't hear that voice again. Still I was frozen solid. I remember feeling a mild wind blowing in and out," Jeanie stuttered slightly for a moment. "The church doors opened..."
"Don't be afraid," Dr. Dwayne said. He sounded intrigued by where the story was going. Jeanie suspected, probably rightly, that he did not believe a word she was saying. But it had to come out somehow. Jeanie continued,
"Mary Elizabeth came out of the church. All dressed in black. Her hair was completely down. I couldn't see her eyes at first but..." She swallowed. "She closed the doors and started walking over to the house. I didn't move or make a sound but she still stopped before she got to the front yard. I held my breath, something about her was different. It scared me half to death. I let out a small yelp when she turned towards me. I caught a quick look at her eyes. Nothing was wrong except for how she looked at me. It was like a dead stare. I knew it was her but it looked nothing like her. She didn't smile or frown. She just stared. After a few seconds I decided to try and get closer to her. But with every step I took, she took one step back. After a few steps she turned and ran into the house. Slamming the door behind her. I followed her as quickly as I could. But when I entered the house there was no sign of her. She didn't turn on any lights or leave her shoes by the door. I looked the house and checked her bedroom. She was laying in her bed, wearing her pajamas. Sleeping. She looked normal. Just fine. Which to me was more unnerving than anything I had seen that night. I thought for a second that I must have dreamt the whole thing. But I knew I was awake."
Jeanie looked over at the silent doctor after finishing her story. He was scribbling notes onto a notepad as he always did. It was a cliche for sure, but he seemed to actually be focused. It was at least two minutes before anything more was said.
"You need to confront these fears Jeanie," He finally spoke up.
"What do you mean?" Jeanie asked.
"Whether these events have any truth to them is not for me to decide. What matters is you believe them. And you won't stop believing them until you know the whole truth."
"How do I do that?"
"I could sit here and tell you all of the possible rational explanations for what happened. I could spend many many expensive hours convincing you that there is nothing unusual happening in that church. But I don't think that's the way to go here. So what I want you to do is confront and investigate. Even if there is nothing supernatural going on there, it seems to me like both you and Mary Elizabeth need help."
Jeanie sat up in the couch. "So you don't think I'm going crazy?"
Dr. Dwayne smiled. "Of course not, I think you've lost something you never expected to lose. Which is not easy for anyone to deal with."
"So I have to confront her?"
"Not just her, you have to confront everything. The church, what she's doing in there, the glow... Everything," He explained. "I want you to face your fears and in turn help Mary Elizabeth through whatever it is she's going through. As her Step-Mother she probably needs you now more than ever."
Jeanie smiled at the thought. The fear did not completely go away, but it faded lightly.