Dex was sitting on her bunk on the train, staring out the window as the countryside rushed past. Her mind was running faster than the train as she tried to work out where the image of the children, covered in blood and sitting in a bathtub, had come from. Dex had a few photos of herself as a child and the other girl in the bathtub looked exactly like her. It hadn't been a reflection Dex was sure of that. So who was she? This child covered in blood that looked just like her. Dex closed her eyes and tried to will the image back but nothing happened, she was sure they hadn't been alone in that bathroom but she just didn't know what it meant.
Dex sighed in frustration, she flicked her dark dreads over her shoulder and left the compartment. She walked down the corridor and into the dining cart. Dr Posner was sitting in the far corner, one of his arms was in a sling but he still managed to flick through the papers that were scattered around him on the table. He looked up as she came in. Dex didn't want to interrupt so she just asked for some toast and tea and turned to leave.
"You look troubled. Do you want to talk about it?" Dex stopped, she turned and went to his table and sat down in the opposite seat.
"I saw something that I can't explain. When we were in the hut and I found those kids piled up in the kitchen, I saw something. I think it was some kind of vision, but I've never had one before. I was a child of about three years old, I think and I was sitting in an empty bathtub. But there was another girl there and she looked just like me, we were crying and screaming and we were covered in blood. I think there was someone else in the room but it stopped before I could see anymore. I don't know what it means and I hate that it scares me." Dex stopped and looked down at her toast, suddenly not hungry she pushed the plate away and slumped back in the chair. Posner stared at her for a moment before he spoke.
"It doesn't sound like a vision to me. It sounds more like a memory, you told me when we first met that you don't remember anything beyond five years ago. Maybe it's something to think about. I'd suggest you speak to Hale, he's rather adept at bringing memories to the surface. Or burying them."
"Did he bury yours?" asked Dex. Posner stared at her, a tear escaped his eye and trickled down his cheek before he could swipe it away. "I heard what the skeleton said to you in Conradin. It knew you and you understood it. What's going on?" Posner sipped his tea before picking up his papers and dropping them into his little case.
"I started The Cherry Group thirteen years ago after my wife . . . Died. I didn't want anyone else to go through what I did so I gathered together the best people I could to help me. The only person that knows my entire history is Flynn, I owe that boy a lot" he said, sighing. Dex waited and, seeing that she wouldn't be deterred, sighed again.
"Cherry was my wife, we were married when we were in our twenties. We never had any children but that never bothered us, we were just fine on our own. Fifteen years ago, Cherry changed. She'd shout at random people for no reason, the doctor thought she might have something pressing on her brain. They performed dozens of tests but found nothing. Then, one night, she tried to kill me. I had no choice but to tie her to a chair to stop her from hurting herself or me. Cherry took to trying to bite anyone that came near, she enjoyed biting." Dr Posner gazed out the window and swallowed, his eyes brimming with tears. Dex sniffed and spoke in a small voice totally unlike her usual husky tones.
"What was wrong with her?" Dr Posner started as if he had forgotten that Dex was even there. He dropped his head and began to speak again.
"It wasn't long before she started shouting obscenities, her face began to change and twist into something else. Horns seemed to be trying to sprout from her head, even her eyes were slowly turning red by the end. A friend of mine came for a visit and suggested an exorcism, I laughed at him! But another week of Cherry and I was ready to try anything. My friend came with a priest and it started. I won't go into the gory details but it lasted four days and by the end of it, Cherry was dead. It was a release really and I didn't blame the priest, he was only trying to help. I buried my wife and then discovered that my house was haunted by the demon that had possessed her." Dex sat back in her chair, trying to process everything she was being told.
"I moved out and bought Cherry House, I managed to find someone who could perform the rites to keep evil out. I started the Cherry Group mainly to hunt down that particular demon and send him back to whatever Hell he crawled out of but word of my group spread. Before I knew it I had people offering me funding and sending me all over the country to help with supernatural problems. Sometimes we can help and sometimes we can't, sometimes there's nothing there and we just come home. But I know Bealzibub is still out there and he's gearing up for something. I just hope I'm ready when it happens."
"You hope we're ready when it happens. You're not on your own anymore, boss man. By helping as many people along the way as we can, we're more likely to be prepared. We'll get him eventually, I feel it. We'll get the fucker and I will personally drag him back to Hell. Just for you." Posner looked at the girl opposite him. Dex had changed so much in the short time she had been part of the group. She hadn't been the shy, shrinking violet type but she hadn't exactly been bubbly and forthcoming. The strong, independent woman that sat before him now was the kind of person he knew he could rely on.
"I believe you" he said. Dex stood up, gave him a brief hug and returned to her own compartment. She closed the door behind her and was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she was half undressed before she realized that Hale was sprawled on her bunk.
"Enjoying the show?" she asked. Trying to stop the blush that she could feel creeping down her body, she simply pulled off her shirt and was reaching around for the clasp of her bra when Hale's hands folded over hers.
"I get it, you're not shy. I am, so you might wanna wait till I leave until you get naked." Dex silently thanked her lucky stars and pulled on a small robe before turning to face him.
"Dr Posner said you might need me." Dex frowned at him, wondering how Posner had got the message to him so quickly but then Hale tapped his temple and she smiled. The smile soon faded as she told him of the memory she had seem in the hut of Baba Yaga. Hale listened until she had finished and then took a moment before answering.
"It definitely sounds like a memory. If seeing those kids lying dead is what triggered it, are you sure you want to remember it?" Dex swallowed and wrapped her arms around herself, shivering a little.
"I don't know, but I hate not knowing about my past." Hale reached out and touched her face, brushing the midnight blue dreadlocks from her shoulder.
"It's up to you. Just come find me when you're ready." Dex looked up at him and smiled a little, he placed a soft kiss on her lips before leaving the room. Dex slid the door shut and changed into her night clothes. The top bunk was empty so whoever she was sharing with this time must still be wandering the train somewhere. She switched off the light and rolled over only to push backwards and almost fall out of the bed when she spotted a reflection in the window. The face was distorted but the horns curling up from the forehead were unmistakable, as were the large teeth that flashed when it grinned.
"Until we meet again, my love." The reflection faded, Dex pulled the covers back up to her neck and lay down.
"I'm looking forward to it."