Jo knew exactly what she had missed.
When the woman named Lenore had taken over her body and spoken through her, Jo had been taken away within herself, to the internal landscape that ran through her. As soon as she lost consciousness, Lenore had taken her hand and led her into a meadow filled with all manner of flowers and trees. Jo had looked around her. “What is this place?”
“It came from your memory. Don’t you recognize it? I believe you were thirteen at the time.”
Jo took another look around and saw the oak tree that she had carved her initials in. Her family had been there on a picnic and it had been a beautiful day, one of the happiest she could remember.
“Are we in my memory?” Jo’s voice was full of awe.
Lenore nodded. “It seemed kinder rather than let you be aware the I was taking over your body. This way while I speak, you can enjoy your time here.”
“Will I get my body back?”
Lenore laughed. “Of course you will. Here, you can even watch and listen.” Lenore waved her hand and a window appeared in the sky in front of Jo. She saw herself with black eyes.
“I’m sorry to not give you warning. I was only just brought back. But you can listen to what I tell them.” Lenore waved a hand and everyone’s voices filtered out of the screen in the sky.
Jo turned to Lenore. “Was it necessary to take over my body?”
“Yes, the living can’t hear the dead. I needed to reach you, to prod you into action. To prepare you all for action, but without you, no one would have heard me.” She looked saddened. “I’m sorry to do this to you.”
“Why does it have to be me?” Jo said. “
“Because you touched the black fire, which is the essence of my fathers power and at the heart of mine.”
“Why did Oliver bring you back from the dead?”
“To help him take over the souls within the building, that is his only goal.”
“I’m no one special. I’m just me.”
“You’re wrong. There is a warriors heart that beats inside of you.”
A thought occurred to Jo. “How are you talking to them, to me and somewhere else at the same time? How do you do that?”
“The same way we are in your memory meadow. There are conscious streams and unconscious ones. We’re on one plain, all of that is on another. And you can exist on still further plains, if you can split your body.”
“Why aren’t I aware of what is going on in my head? Why aren’t I in my body?”
“Two spirits can’t occupy the same body without possession taking place. It was not my intention to take you over, only to help you. By giving you a link to what you’ll need. I will only be in your body to talk to all of you. You are safe here while I do this.”
“Can we trust you?”
Jo was surprised to hear the question come out of her mouth. She was surrounded by grass and trees and Lenore stood in front of her, blond hair limp and skin pallid and sallow. She looked tires. “I did some things in the past, but I made my amends. I am not my fathers daughter.”
“But can we trust you?”
“Yes, you can. I will do everything I can to help you.”
“Can I tell the others about this conversation?”
“You can if you with, though only LaWanda will understand. How does a regular person understand one voice speaking out of your mouth while you are speaking with your internal voice?”
Rubbing head, Jo shrugged. “You have a point.”
“You must find LaWanda, get to her at any cost. She’s in danger and you’re the only one who can reach her in the ether. I’ll have to keep up appearances for my father, so he doesn’t suspect. But I will try to arm you as much as possible. Before Edgar arrives.”
“Who’s Edgar? Is he someone else?”
“He’s my brother.”
Then the screen in the clouds vanished and so did the weight of Lenore within her mind. Jo flicked open her eyes and sat up. Petunia was holding out a cup of tea. “Here you go, dear. Drink this.”
She took a grateful sip and considered her options. She could just be truthful but they were regarding her with apprehension and worry. Jo knew she had to be as rational as possible.
“We have to get to LaWanda. We have to wake her up. We need her help.”
“How do you know, Jo?” Petunia asked, taking her hand.
“I just do, I feel it. We’ll have to move to the first floor. We have to move quickly, there isn’t much time.”