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She had had a girl, he thought. Then he remembered. At that time, all infants would have worn the same type of gown, regardless of sex. He placed the cover on the box. He tucked the box under his arm and left the room. He saw Albrecht leave one room then enter another. Bilge and Gunner came up the stairs.
“What do you have there?” Bilge asked.
“A baptismal gown.” Teodor went into the next room.
The bed had been built into the room. The four tall columns rose from floor to the ceiling, the bed frame had fallen apart and laid between the post. A set of double doors caught Teodor's eye. He opened them.
“Bilge, Albrecht!” Teodor yelled.
He held the doors open until the rest of them came into the room. What should have been the closet had been made into a small prayer altar. The crucifix had been attached to the wall. Inches of wax covered the table along the edges. A raise platform sat in the middle.
“This better be it,” Teodor said.
“Any sign of the remains?” Gunner asked.
Teodor got on his knees to look below the table. The bare floor had been covered with wooden tiles. It was doubtful there was a loose floor board. He ran his hands along the bottom of the table, looking for a false bottom, there was nothing.
Bilge, holding another bunch of herbs in his mouth like a cigar, tapped the top of the closet. “Nothing up there either.”
Teodor stood up. “What would it have been?”
He stepped back. Albrecht stared at the table, rubbing his chin. “There is something missing here,” he said.
The unseen baby cried. Gunner moved the flashlight around the room. “She's coming back, isn't she?”
Bilge waved the herb bundle. “She can't come in here.”
The broken bed frame shook.
“I could be wrong,” he said.
One of the metal pieces of the frame rose up and shot across the room. Teodor pushed Gunner out of the way. The piece of frame stopped at the wall, burying itself into the wall, next to the altar.
Gunner stood up, he shined the flashlight into the bed frame. “Knock it off!” He yelled.
Another piece of the bed frame flew through the air toward them. Bilge dropped to the floor, at the same time he dropped his knapsack on the floor. The metal piece embedded itself a few inches away from the first piece.
Bilge unzipped the knapsack. He pulled out a small bag of salt. Biting the end off like a grenade. He threw it into the middle of the bed frame. The salt hit and fanned out over the floor.
The baby cries stopped.
Teodor stood up. He swatted one of the pieces in the wall. It fell out, leaving a a large hole. He shook his head. “At least she hasn't tried to kill us out right.”
Gunner nodded. “That's true.”
Teodor pulled the other piece of metal out of the wall. The wall crumbled around the two holes. A corner of a large book could be seen.
He used his claws to rip the hole in the wall larger. The plaster crumbled too easily. The area over the large book, had been patched with a different type of plaster than what was covering the rest of the wall.
He pulled the book out. It was a large, leather-bound, family bible. His nose caught the scent. He dropped it.
“What is it?” Albrecht asked.
“I can smell human on it,” Teodor said.
“I am sure a human scent is on it.”
“No, human skin.” He pointed to the leather on the cover. “I think we found the child.”
No one moved or said anything for a few moments. Gunner shined his light on the bible.
“You mean that bible was bound with the baby's skin?”
With the light on the bible, Teodor could make out where there had been repairs to the leather cover had been done. Albrecht knelt down. He ran his finger along one of the new seems.
“Nylon thread. The skin was recently added,” he said.
“One of them sewed the skin onto the bible.” Bilge shook his head. “They could have left it in full view and she would not have been able to touch it.”
“Now what?” Teodor asked.
Albrecht picked up the bible. “Time to make her play by our rules.”
In the living room, the sweet smelling smoke had almost cleared out. Teodor placed the box in the middle of the floor. Albrecht took out a pocket knife and cut the new stitching off the cover of the bible. When he pulled the skin off, Teodor's stomach turned.
“You can see why Bilge and I no longer wanted to work with Robert and Peter,” Albrecht said, laying the skin on top of the box.
The room darkened.
Bilge lit four candles. He instructed Gunner to place one in each direction. Then Bilge took out a piece of chalk and drew a circle around the box.
“Stay inside the chalk,” he said. “No matter what happens.”
Albrecht laid the bible on top of the fireplace. He returned to the circle. Gunner and Teodor stood by each other. Bilge finished drawing the circle.
“Turn the flashlight off,” Bilge said.
Gunner clicked it off.
Albrecht raised his hands. He chanted in Latin. Bilge opened another small bag of rock salt. He nudged Gunner and pointed to the fireplace.
All of Teodor's hair stood on end. He tried to stop the growl that rose up in his throat. But he raised the sides of his mouth. Around the fireplace the shadows darkened. Teodor leaned forward and growled. Albrecht moved his hands as if he was pulling a string toward him. The shadows darkened as he moved his hands. The shape of the Hag formed in front of Teodor.
Her eyes were the hollow holes in her head. She screamed and scratched. But her claws could not enter the area where the circle had been drawn. Albrecht stopped his chanting.
“Elizabeth Swift,” Albrecht said. “We are here to send you back to the grave. To give you the rest you deserve.”