Chapter 5, More Companions for the Journey
"It's bad- It's bad- It's really, REALLY bad in here," Snake gagged along with everyone else. Blue's mouth gaped open, Mark's eyes widened, Snake couldn't look any longer, and Techna was on the verge of throwing up.
It was way worse than they could imagine.
First noticeable problem, the smell. The smell . The thick scent was almost oozing in the air, it was so wrench and potent you could practically feel it when you breathed in. The stench was no doubt one that came from corpses and dead waste of the forgotten and helpless animals that died of starvation or dehydration where their corpses were left to be eaten and decompose.
The second problem, the corpses themselves were horrific to see. And it was practically unavoidable from wherever in the barn they looked, pens and cages with dead animals were going to haunt Techna and the crew until it's cleared away. Techna's eyes widened and she gagged, rushing out of the barn covering her mouth before spewing on the grass near the barn's doors.
Her stomach and nose ached, her belly felt ill and she started to feel dizzy, the ghosts followed her to make sure she was OK,
"Now, I am really glad I can't smell anything."
"That's not fair!! If I suffer, you fucks should suffer with me!"
"We lost our sense of smell since we died as well as our ability to physically feel," Mark explained, "We don't know or understand why. We just kind of, realized we had no smell or sense of feel and dealt with it."
Techna groaned, spitting at the ground and leaning against the barn, trying to keep herself upright and not fall over. She gagged again at the smell but forced herself to continue taking deep breathes to calm herself down and to see if she could get used to smell in order to not throw up every five minutes. That wasn't going to be easy.
Taking one last deep breath she pushed herself off the barn and went back inside, the ghosts wearily looking around and examining the area, with everyone trying to stay away and resist looking at the animal pens.
Multiple amount of animal corpses were seen - and smelled - in every pen lined across the barn wall, the worst part was the fact that they were completely cut open, squashed to a single slab of raw, bloody meat and others were pinned up onto the walls with their intestines, brains and insides hanging out. Flies and maggots infested the rotting bodies of the animals and the sight of them only made it more gruesome and worrying to look at. The same question haunted everyone's minds;
What the hell could have done this?
Techna's eyes averted the corpses and tried to limit her vision to whatever was directly in front of her on the ground. The stench continued to assault her nostrils and her stomach rumbled in disagreement, but she ignored it to the best of her ability and navigated her way around by keeping her sight set on the ground, the grass was a lot more interesting and pleasing to look at in this scenario. It was a shame considering from the outside and in, the barn was a pleasing and intriguingly designed building.
It had it's typical red and white in and exterior, but inside, the place looked so much bigger and more grand than an everyday barn house. On the first floor there were twelve pens in total, six on either side of the walls, each with plentiful amounts of grass, flowers and hay and fruit. In every pen was an open doorway to a larger paddock area at the back of the barn for the animals to roam. Stairs on the back wall leading upstairs to more sets of pens and equipment for personal care and health treatment. The walls lined with leads, saddles and large piles of hay stacked in the corners and floors of the enclosed spaces.
The group climbed the stairs to the next floor where, thankfully, no dead animal corpses were present, allowing everyone to look up and around at their surroundings, even the smell wasn't as potent upstairs as it was the level below. Thank Notch for that.
"Have I been dead for so long that I'm going insane, or am I hearing squeaking?"
Snake spoke up, breaking the silence and causing the rest of the group to also listen out for this squeaking Snake claims to be hearing.
"I hear it too."
Mark and Blue agreed as they began to inspect the area before them, Mark searched through the pens while Blue inspected one out of many piles of hay while Techna and Snake wandered around and admired the surroundings. The chests on the ground floor were mainly empty but held some samples of raw meat that has obviously gone off from sitting in the chest for nearly years, the smell from that wasn't pleasant but bearable compared to the smell inside the barn.
Techna began to believe that there really was nothing of value in the barn house, seeing her as well as the rest of her host companions have searched the whole place. Finishing up her inspection with the chests and area upstairs, she made her way back down, only to hear a faint squeak echo in the building.
Everyone paused and glanced around the building, eyeing down hay bales, untouched pens and small cramps and spaces for the origin source of the animal.
"Look!" Snake pointed at a small opening crack in one of the barriers between the pens, where a small, brown mouse stood on its hind legs, sniffing the air and curiously examining Snake and the ghosts and person before it.
Snake lowered himself to the ground, positioned in a way that looks as if he is kneeling. The mouse began to gradually move forward, closer to Snake and his outstretched hand, until Snake put all of his mind and concentration, where his finger gently met the mouse's soft, fur skin. He was admittedly too scared to pick the little creature up, finding that his ability to hold physical objects, is unstable to say the least.
"Hello?" A new, quiet voice broke the silence, startling Snake as his hands became transparent and the mouse began skittering around confused, wondering why it can walk through a 'humans' hands and even trying to run onto Snake's hands again, only to run straight through again. It ran to the opposite direction of Snake and the group to a cowering light brown aura.
Snake's eyes widened as they trailed from the ground to the outlined head that continued to peer from behind the pile of hay bales and fences. When the mouse reached the aura figure, they gently bent down to pick up the fragile creature, a caring and peaceful hand outstretched towards the mouse who swiftly clambered onto the hand with confidence. The aura began to fade away as the figure became more defined and eventually, revealed a ghost.
She had short, curly brown hair, the same color as her aura, her eyes matching her hair with a lighter shade of pure brown, "Xin…"
Snake's eyes soften as he took in the ghost before him and the group, picking himself up from his kneeling position and taking great big steps forward to her. Xin too began to make her way over to Snake, both picking up their paces until they were dashing towards each other, arms outstretched awaiting for a long-awaited hug.
As soon as Xin was in arms reach, she stopped to hug Snake. Having already mastered her control to hold objects and animals with no struggle, Xin doesn't remember the last time she stopped and now, she forgot to stop and only noticed it with a delayed reaction. By the time she opened her eyes and looked in front of her, with no ghost in her arms, she looked around the barn to see her partner floating through the wall to return to her, Snake had ran straight through her and through the wall of the barn.
Returning to the shorter ghost, the pair attempted the hug once again, dork-ily trying over and over again to get it right, yet it's always one or the other who phases through the other, Xin and Snake laughed at their clumsiness before initiating a 'pretend' hug,
"I promise you a real hug once we are saved from our ghost forms."
"Wait… we're being saved?"
Snake nodded proudly, gesturing to Techna and the other ghosts who had been watching this whole time. She shyly waved at everyone, while Mark and Techna smiled and waved back, Blue hugged her.
"Techna, this is Thy-Xin, or Xin or Thy for short."
"Techna? Why does that name sound, so familiar?"
Mark doesn't say anything and only grins at Techna, who rolled her eyes at him.
"So, what have you been doing here for the past twenty years?"
"Oh! I've been caring for the animals here until, well until they peacefully pass away."
"So you haven't done…" Snake glanced at the remaining animal corpses on the walls and pens,
grimacing as he had to look at them once again, "That?"
Xin's eyes widened in shock, "Oh Notch no! I would never do something that horrid to animals! I've fed, gave them water and treated them, but I've had to stop a while back because… of those."
Xin gestured to the corpses with her eyes, "I don't know what it was, but… something, came into the barn and murdered every animal in their sight," The group's eyes widened, their attention and interest raised with the mention of the thing that had caused an animal massacre,
"I could only save the smaller animals, rabbits, mice and chickens."
"Do you know what it was that attacked?"
"I-It wasn't human, I know that. I felt a powerful presence while I was hiding from it…"
"So it was a spirit of some sort?" Mark asked,
"Must have been. All I could feel around me was negative energy."
"Were they red?"
"I couldn't tell. I was hiding in a room underneath the hay bale stacks, all the animals are still there. They're too afraid to come out, and the last thing I need is to let them out and they see all of this."
"We can't worry about that now, we need to find everyone else that lived here first before we can be saved," Snake said, Xin looked up at him and nodded, her curly hair falling over her matching-colored eyes.
"Have any idea where we should go next?" Xin's eyes narrowed in thought, her eyes dulled and she shook her head, not having any clue to where the next ghost could be.
"I've been stuck in this barn for twenty years, I forgot what the mansion even looked like on the inside."
Snake nodded, his head lifted up to look at the others, Techna spoke up, "Maybe we should go back inside and see where we can go from there."
Mumbles and mutters of agreement arose from the other ghosts. Leading them, Techna exited the barn house and everyone made their way back towards the mansion.
As the building grew larger as they got closer, Techna reached into her inventory satchel and retrieved her golden clock, glancing at the little contraption in her hands, the time read one-twenty-six in the morning.
"Uh guys?" Blue's voice broke the calm silence and everyone's heads turned to their direction. They floated near one of the walls of the mansion, back turned to the group, their head directed towards the floor as they floated and inspected the ground, paranoia and doubt in their eyes and body movement.
"What's wro-" Blue shushed Mark hurriedly as their eyes rapidly dashed from point to point across the grass and dirt floor. The rest of the group watched with them intently. Blue whispered with a low tone, "I swear I just saw the ground shift."
No one said anything, and instead, waited longer. After another a minute of silence passed, Techna took a step towards the paranoid ghost, "There's nothing here Blue. We need to get going-"
A ghastly yell arose from nowhere, Techna screamed and jumped back and away, grabbing her SpiritHoover and standing in a defensive pose against whatever force just scared the Nether out of her. The ghosts all scattered around the area, Blue retreated to a nearby tree, Snake and Xin darted to the closest wall of the Mansion and phased to hide inside, and Mark stood his ground with Techna.
The pair watched as a grey aura-outlined hand burst out the ground, lingering in the air for a second before slamming down onto the dirt floor, and another hand bursting out and beginning to dig. Dirt flew into the air as the pair of hands furiously dug and flung dirt around them as they dug their way up. A head began to show out of the ground, and what was once screaming was now laughter.
The ghost's laughing attracted the rest of the hidden ghosts to come out of their hiding places, Techna and Mark stood staring at the outlined body in confusion as they continued to laugh, before speaking, "It ALWAYS works!" He laughs. "Those trespassers, just walking and walking, then BOOM! And they flee~!" He carried out the 'e' which… also evolved to more laughter, almost giggling.
As the ghost began to calm down, his aura slowly faded and revealed a mess of red hair and the same pale body as every other ghost had, his eyes were shut from concentrating to get his breath back after the laughing fest he had on scaring Tech and the other ghosts. Eventually, his breathing evened out and he was out of the dirt hole he created during his jump scare, dirt piled up around his waist, the bottom half of his body remains buried underneath the earth while his upper half has gradually dug and appeared on the surface.
He was way out of breath by the time he had noticed the handful of ghosts surrounding him as well as the one human. His eyes widened at first but relaxed when he memorized every single person in front of him, even Techna looked extremely familiar to him.
"Uh… Hi Tim?"