Tag Archive | creepy

Dark Story – Part 10

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


Eseldra’s chanting grew louder and more frenzied, as did the wolves. They continued to circle her, each pausing now and again to let loose a howl towards the heavens.  Querin’s scowl deepened as he listened to her twisted words, and finally, as her voice reached its highest pitch, he cautioned Keena to stay silent and then flung himself from the dark trees  into the midst of the wild animals.

The wolves bristled and snarled at his sudden, intrusive presence, but Eseldra did not stop her chanting.Her eyes narrowed in anger, but still she carried on.

“You will stop this!” Querin cried, holding out his clenched fist and peeling back his fingers slowly to reveal the shimmering silver crystal he’d used with mixed success earlier in the day.

The dark wolf at Eseldra’s side reared up on it’s haunches, growling fiercely, but she showed no awareness of Querin’s threat. Her voice continued to rise and fall, though the words seemed to come faster, so perhaps she was not so blind as she seemed.

Keena stood alone in the trees,  her eyes large and filled with fear. Her heart hammered in her chest and her fingers, now old and withered, dug painfully into the bark of the tree she clung to.  She watched as Querin held the crystal skyward, twisting his wrist so that it caught the moonlight. The crystal seemed to glow silvery blue, refracting the moon’s light all around the clearing in shimmering beams that had no effect on anyone. Or at least it didn’t seem to at first; but slowly she noticed a change not in the witch nor the wolves, but in Querin himself. He seemed to get taller, larger somehow, and yet she couldn’t be sure it wasn’t just a trick of the light. And that’s when she realized, despite what he’d said to her earlier, he was now chanting.

Her mind reeled. Perhaps he truly was on Eseldra’s side….. She took a sharp breath and stepped backwards, unaware of the snapping twig beneath her foot. Though she did not hear her own movements, the wolves were suddenly  aware of her presence.  Three of them broke from the pack, ignoring the man in their midst, and loped towards her place of concealment.

Eyes wild, she backed away, her head snapping in all directions in search of a hiding place or escape amongst the dark underbrush. Her sapped limbs trembled, betraying her in her time of need. All she could do was back up against a large tree as the wolves headed towards her.

And then the world exploded in golden light that illuminated the trees like noon. She threw her am up to shield her eyes from the sudden onslaught, her ears filled with the whining of he wolves and Eseldra’s cries. Blinking against the brightness, she watched the three wolves turn from her and run deeper into the darkened woods to seek shelter.

Querin’s voice rose, filling the void left by the cessation of her aunt’s chanting. His words were as garbled and strange as hers had been.  As he gained volume, Keena slowly moved towards him, shielding er face from the uncannily bight light.

Querin stood in the center of the clearing, still clutching the moon drenched crystal in one hand. In the other, he held aloft a golden crystal that glowed with he intensity of the sun. Several of the wolves lay at his feet, rolling in the dirt and whining, unable to escape him or the light that burned their eyes and flesh as they cried.

Eseldra was nowhere to be seen, but she had left behind the large black wolf who, like his brothers, was caught in the mercilessly scorching glow. He whimpered and his head jerked desperately, perhaps searching for the woman who had been next to him only moments ago.

To be continued….

(this is the story that doesn’t end….)

Dark Story – Part 9

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


Querin murmured to himself as he examined the remnants of the previous night’s ritual,. He shook his head as he knelt over the charred remains of the child in the midst of the circle. With one finger he prodded the ashes, and then stood,  his expression veiled.

“It is an uncommon spell,” he said, breaking the strange silence.  “But a strong one. See here,” He pointed to one of the designs on the floor. “This line, it is used to take strength from another, from the sacrificial victim.” He glanced at her and then back to the markings. “The babe was naught more than a minor offering. You were the true sacrifice.” He motioned to another line. “This one, it connects to the victim. No doubt you stood in this area here?” He indicated the spot she’d been only last night.

She nodded, not trusting  herself to speak. She wasn’t sure how to react to the knowledge that her aunt had planned to use her, though the question entered her mind: How long had she planned this ? Had it been on her mind the moment she’d stumbled out of the woods and sealed herself up in her house? Had she always meant it to end this way?

The thoughts made her shiver, but she left them unspoken and soon she and Querin were once again beneath the moon’s soft light, only this time their destination was the darkened woods. Keena hesitated for only a moment before plunging into the thick blackness of the trees, following in Querin’s wake.

The branches of trees seemed to claw at them as they wound through the forest. The brambles caught at their clothes as if trying to stop them. An unwholesome feeling permeated the closely seated trees and underbrush that gave them both goose bumps, though neither spoke of it.

A wolf howled in the distance and Querin drew to a stop. He caught her with an arm and motioned her to silence.  He nodded towards the sound of the wolf and then moved towards it, though slower and quieter this time. As they drew nearer, the  howling grew louder and louder.  It was with great trepidation that Keena continued o follow Querin’s lead. Silently, she questioned his motives and the truthfulness of his account of himself.  Perhaps he was allied with Eseldra and was leading her  into the woods  so that her aunt could finish what she had begun..

Her musings came to an abrupt halt, as did they, when a clearing came into view. In the center of it stood Eseldra, her long red hair flowing around her naked shoulders, her bare arms raised to the heavens as she chanted in that strange, harsh language she’d used in her last ritual. At her feet were gathered a pack of wolves, milling around one another, jostling for a position close to her. At her side sat a large, dark wolf who eyed the others with what amounted to disdain, his fur bristling.

“It is as I thought,” Querin whispered, reaching inside his cloak and removing something. “This will not be easy.”

To be continued…..

(He’s right! This thing is not easy to end! Yergh!)

Dark Story – Part 8

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


Time passed. Querin made them both something to eat. When they’d finished, he produced a silver crystal that shimmered in the firelight and bade her hold it while he chanted something in a language she didn’t understand. When he finally stopped she felt better, but looked no different.  He studied her before shaking his head and muttering about how strong her aunt’s magic must be.

When they emerged from the small house, the burning sun was sinking into a sea of red fire. As they moved through the village, Querin nodded in greeting to someone here or there, but they remained silent.  The Inn was bustling with activity and they entered it and took a table in the dark corner, away from prying eyes.

Querin ordered food for them both, and while they ate they watched their fellow patrons.  Eseldra and Torin made no appearance throughout the meal, nor afterwards.

“It seems we shall have to go hunt for them,” Querin said wryly, finishing his mug of ale in one gulp

“And where do we look?” Keena hissed from beneath her hooded cloak, her face hidden from the other customers.

“I’d suggest the site of the ritual,” he answered mater of fact, his voice low. “If that fails I suspect the woods. Tonight is the full moon, is it not?”

She nodded her head in affirmation and then they stood slowly. Querin dropped a few coins on the table and they left the noisy inn and soon the small town. They walked down a narrow tract under a black sky strewn with glittering stars. An owl hooted in the dark trees and Keena shivered at the all too familiar setting. Only the dead babe was missing.

The house came into view just as the moon broke free from the clouds.  It stood as imposing and dark as it had the night before. The same eerie feeling of something unnatural clung to the property, and filled the air withl a palpable unease.

Keena lead him through the front door, past dark, empty rooms, and finally down the winding stone stair to the rooms below the house. She showed him the intricate designs painted on the floor with whitewash and crows blood, and the cauldron that had been simmering only the night before, now cold, it’s contents thick and oily looking. But nowhere amongst the shadows did they find a trace of Eseldra or her husband.

To be continued….

(one has to hope it is winding up soon…)

Dark Story – Part 7

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


Keena ceased struggling immediately, her surprise evident. “You believe me?”

“Yes, now be still.” He spoke no more as he led her through the quiet village to a hovel at the edge of town. The small structure looked ready to collapse at a moment’s notice.  Still silent, he ducked through the narrow doorway, brushing aside the filthy curtain that served a s a door. She followed him, eyes squinted in the sudden darkness of the small building.

Once the curtain had fallen back in place she looked around the room,. Her eyes darted from the bedroll in one corner to the guttering fireplace and then to the drying herbs hanging from the ceiling and the shelves of bottles and jars. “Who are you?”

“My name is Querin,” he replied, stooping to catch up several logs. Without glancing at her, he began to slowly feed them into the fireplace. “I am not from these parts, nor do I live here. This house belonged to my brother Albeck-”

“Albeck,” she breathed the name like a memory. “He left with the hunting party.”

“Yes,” Querin nodded. “And like the others he did not return. I had come to deliver him the news that our parents had died, but when I arrived he was not here. There were only rumors. I have stayed trying to unravel the mystery, and then today, who should appear but the only mysterious survivor, returned after two years absence.” He glanced up finally and dropped the last piece of wood into the flames. “You say she is a witch. Explain your words.”

Without hesitating she told him the story, how she’d been coerced by her aunt to giver her sister the prepared draught, how it had induced her to miscarry, how she’d stolen the babe and fled to her Aunt’s house beyond the edge of the village, the ceremony and at the last waking to discover the changes wrought upon her.

He listened silently, his face passing no judgment on her or her actions. At the last, he gave a finalizing nod. “If it is as you say, the things are far worse than I imagined.  We will know the truth of it soon enough, I wager.” He brushed his hands off, and indicated  one tatty chair. “Come, sit. You are no doubt tired. Magic of that kind… I am surprised you lived, as, no doubt, is the woman you call your aunt.”

Keena took the offered chair with no complaints, relieved to be off her aching feet. Querin busied himself shuffling around bottles and jars in search of something, but the silence did not last.

“How do you know about dark magic?” she inquired, the full implication behind his words only just realized.

He pausedhis search and turned slowly to face her. “I have seen the dark arts with my own eyes. Once, I was an apprentice to the darkest warlock in our country, the things he taught me..” he trailed off. The far away look in his said he saw something beyond the shabby rooms, something lost to memory. “But, I abandoned his teachings,” he said firmly, his attention returning to his surroundings.  “And I have vowed never to return to them. ”

She simply nodded, not knowing what else to say to his admission.

To be continued….

(Querin came as such a surprise I was interested to see where he came from and what he was doing.  I have no idea how I am going to end this thing….)

Dark Story – Part 6

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


Keena’s fists clenched in anger. Her brittle limbs shook with fury, like tender branches in the onslaught of a storm. with purpose, she shuffled unobserved through the crowded room Her eyes never left the couple before her.

At last she stood in front of them. Their eyes turned to her, shock written clearly in the depths. “WITCH!” she screamed, pointing a long, bony finger at her once haggard Aunt. “Unholy demon from hell!”

All talking ceased as the patrons attention was drawn to the scene unfolding near the fireplace.  Mouths gaped and eyes blinked in confusion.

“Get the gone, old hag,” Eseldra’s husband, Torick, muttered darkly.

“Old Hag you call me, yet I am younger then she who stands beside you. How did she bring you back from the dead?”

The crowd pressed closer, ears straining to hear every word and heaving a collected gasp at what they perceived to be the old woman’s words. Whispers rippled through the room, questioning the old woman’s sanity.

Torick laughed loudly and heartily. “What say you, old woman.  I have never been dead.”

“Then where have you been?” Keena demanded, jabbing her accusing finger towards him. “For two years you’ve been gone, you and the men who went with you. Where did they go?”

The patrons murmured their mutual curiosity. This had been a popular question all morning, ever since the couple had mysteriously turned up on the edge of town with their news.

“They died,” he answered flatly. Then, he turned  away from her and picked his mug up from the fireplace’s mantle. He brought it to his lips, but lowered it before drinking.

“Get thee gone,” Eseldra hissed. “We have no need for such lies.”

Keena turned her fury on her aunt.  “And you, withered hag that you were. What happened to make you thus when you went in search of him? Hmm? And what happened again to turn you as you are now?”

“She’s mad!” Torick called over her to the assemblage. “Turn her out that we may hear no more of her ravings.”

At first no one moved, but finally a large man who’s bald head gleamed in the firelight stepped forward and, without a word,  took hold of her arm and began tugging her towards the entrance. She struggled against him, her now feeble energy no match for his strength and shrieked,  “She’s a witch Eseldra is a witch who steals your children to make herself young again!”

“Be quiet!” the man snarled and pulled her through the door. He checked quickly for passers by and then, without so much as a by your leave, he began to drag her down the narrow dirty street.

“Unhand me!” she cried uselessly.

“Be quiet woman!” He muttered under his breath. ” If what you say is true you will need all the help you can find. Be thankful that for once help has sought you out.”

To be continued…..

A Dark Story- Part 5

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


The rooms above were as silent as they’d been last night but, in place of black shadows, sunlight streamed through the windows and dust motes danced in the golden rays. Keena moved towards the opened drapes and reached out for the warmth of the sunlight – and then she screamed.

The hands stretched before her were withered as an old woman’s. The skin was dry and sagged around the knuckles of her fingers.  She reached for her face and traced the once familiar contours, only to discover the same affliction.

Her heart hammered and she moved through the rooms with a purpose and through the door into a sunlit morning. Her feet crunched over frost crusted grass as she moved towards the rain barrel and its shimmering contents. She reached it and bent over the edge to peer at the reflective surface, her chest heavy with her labored breathing and fear.

Tears slipped down her now withered cheeks as she beheld the countenance reflected back at her. Young eyes stared back, surrounded by the skin of old age. Her long hair, once copper red, now hung lank and gray around her face. Meanwhile, her clothes were as fresh as they’d been yesterday.. or had it been years ago?

She had no sense of time, no sense of reality, as she stumbled backwards from the barrel. A scream lodged in her throat and her hands feebly tried to hide her visage from the morning’s brightness. She didn’t understand how it could be possible – so many years could not have passed in a single night.

When she’d pulled herself together she began the journey towards the village. She needed to find out if the years had really passed her by, and if so what had become of her aunt and what might be done to remedy this. Surely it was some mistake?

Her pace was slow and she was forced to stop often to rest. Her feeble limbs shook with the exertion of the long trek.  By the time she reached the edge of the small town, her stomach growled and the sun was high in the sky.

No one paid her any mind as she moved through the dirty streets, heading towards her own hovel. She found it in smoldering ruins. A small crowd of boys ringed the rubble, poking through the ashes with long sticks.

“What has happened?” she demanded from the nearest of them, forgetting for a moment that she was no longer herself.

The child looked at her thoughtfully and then answered, “They burned it last night. She what lived here were a witch.”

Her heavy lids blinked slowly, the space of a heartbeat seemed to drag into an eternity before his words made sense to her. “A witch?” Her voice was barely more than a dry breath.

“Aye,” the boy nodded enthusiastically. “She took a babe last night, from her sister no less, fresh from the womb and strangled it for her ghastly ceremony. Her husband found her bleeding in the middle of the floor and no sign of her sister to be seen. But she’s dead now, o’course,” he added.

She steadied herself on the remnants of a ruined bush. “Dead?”

“Aye.” He nodded once again. “Her aunt killed her, didn’t she? She came into to town this very morning after having hidden away for night two years.  They told everyone how they’d caught her out in the woods doing her unholy rituals and how they used a stake of silver to pierce her heart-”

The boy kept talking, cheerfully relating what was undoubtedly considered delightfully woeful news, but she quit listening.  Her aunt had returned to the village this morning? They said….

“They?” she asked quickly, interrupting him.

“Aye, her husband o’course.  He ain’t been seen neither for a long time, but there they are at the inn.”

Without waiting for him to finish his sentence, she turned on her heel and strode towards the inn. Fury and fear mingled in her breast until she was dizzy with it all.

A crowd had gathered outside the Inn and she made her way through it, No one paid any mind to what they thought an old bent crone.  Inside, the large room was dark. Fires crackled on the hearths of two large fireplaces and people stood or sat in various bunches on rough hewn benches while the barmaid moved from table to bar, hauling heavy ceramic mugs. despite the bustle, the only thing she noticed was the young couple standing against the back wall. The woman’s long coppery hair hung to her waist, a mark of her lineage that shimmered in the firelight, and her laughter was a silvery tinkle. On her arm was a tall man, his long dark hair a contrast to his pale tunic, his eyes resting on his beautiful bride.

To be continued….

(I originally was going to end it today but then I changed my mind on the plot as you can see…)

A Dark Story – Part 4

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


“Lord of all, hear our call. Dark Lord of night, heed our plight.”

Her Aunt chanted, the words foreign and unfamiliar. The harsh sounds filled the room and brought a chill to Keena’s heart as she listened to them. Each twisting syllable echoed in her ears and whispered hints of something evil and unnatural.

When she’d finished her recitation, she dropped the dead babe into the small fire, but the soft body didn’t suffocate the flames as it should, instead it seemed to feed them. Tongues of fire wrapped around the body and black smoke curled  towards the ceiling, heavy with the smell of burning flesh.

keena winced as the thick smoke filled her nostrils. She couldn’t watch, and turned her attention to the stone wall before her, tracing every crack and fissure with imaginary fingers of thought. That was safer. That was saner. But her aunt’s cackling laughter brought her back.

She blinked and squinted at the withered woman through a sudden onslaught of darkness. The fire in the center of the circle had doubled in size but, instead of lighting the room, it seemed to be throwing it deeper into shadows. The unnatural darkness clung like cobwebs and she fought against it as it seemed to seep behind her eyes and into her mind, clouding her thoughts and her vision.

She felt herself falling; her ears full of strange words, harsh and cold like the blade of a knife slicing into her consciousness.

When she opened her eyes the first thing she was aware of was the blackness pressing on her; a tangible object that could suffocate her. She jerked into a sitting position and frantically turned her head left to right, eyes scraping the stone room for a sign of her Aunt.

The fire in the center of the room was dead, so there was only darkness. She stood painfully and moved forward slowly, her hand stretched before her, reaching through the yawning emptiness.  At last her fingers touched the rough hewn surface of the  door. By feel she found the latch and swung the door open. The adjoining room was equally dark, and she moved through it, hand before her, searching for the stone stairs that would lead to the rooms above.

She found them at last and shuffled weakly up the steps. Her limbs felt heavy and her heart raced from the small exertion of mounting the staircase. As she neared the top she saw the glimmer of light and hastened her pace, eager to be away from the subterranean rooms and the clawing memories of the ceremony.

The rooms above were as silent as they’d been when last she’d passed through them, but now in place of black shadows sunlight streamed through the windows and dust motes danced in the golden rays. She moved towards the opened drapes, reaching out her hands, her fingers seeking the warmth of sunlight – and then she screamed.

To be Continued… (I think I know where it’s going now, probably a good thing, huh?)

A Dark Story – Part 3

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**


Keena nodded and followed the old woman towards a back room draped in shadows. She could still see the scene she’d left behind in the village, etched in her mind as though captured by an artist’s brush in  hues of red and blue too fantastic to be real. Her sister lay on the floor screaming and clutching, so much blood everywhere, while she sobbed for the baby… the baby who would never wake.

“Tonight we will right the wrong,” Eseldra said, never turning but walking steadily towards the low arched doorway. “You and I will fix what has been broken.”

Keena nodded.  She didn’t know what to say. She barely knew what they were going to do, let alone what the outcome of the ritual would be. She had been promised it would change the world, but what that change would be, she did not know.

The back room was small and damp. The smell of straw and mildew clung to the crumbling walls. Eseldra moved quickly to light thick white candles. Their shivering flames snapped the shadows into sharp relief, brilliant black against the earthy tones of stone and dirt.  Still bearing the gory bundle, she arranged the candles symmetrically upon the floor, cleaned of any straw or hay and decorated with a white painting made of intricate symbols.

Her niece stood back and surveyed the work. Her cool eyes took in the scene and saved it for posterity with so many other memories. There was one that rose to the surface, battling with the scene at hand; the smell of ale and sweat and the sound of laughter ringing in her ears. But tonight that would be set right as well, so her Aunt had promised her. And she hoped it was true because she suspected she had already traded her immortal soul for this.

When her aunt was finished, Keena moved to the center of the designs and picked up a parcel wrapped in rags. Carefully she unwound the binding and began to lay out the contents the way she’d done many times before: the thick scented grass and the small withered objects that she knew had once been living creatures, or parts there of. She ran her thumb over a small bone before depositing it next to what had been the heart of a chicken, all arranged precisely.

When she’d finished she stood back and, at a nod from her aunt, she picked up the dead torch and lit it with a candle. The flames sprang to life, and using it she lit the sweet grass on fire. The fragrant odor wrapped its tendriled fingers around the two women as they began to chant.

“Lord of all, hear our call. Dark Lord of night, heed our plight.”

Keena moved forward first, removing one last item from her person; a chunk of hair tucked neatly in her belt. Holding her prize aloft the chant continued as she stood before the center of the circle.

“Lord of all, hear our call. Dark Lord of night, heed our plight.”

Drawing in a deep voice she spoke over her Aunt’s still chanting voice, “Lord of darkness hear my prayers, I give to you a taste of he who in malice dwells. Savor this morsel of his human form then consume his might, leave naught but empty shell by end of night.”

The hair dropped on the crackling grass, and she stepped back quickly, trying not to choke at the momentary stench.  The flames crackled and soon the hair had been consumed, as had at least half of the other shriveled offerings she’d so carefully arranged moments before.

Taking up the chant she watched as her aunt stepped forward, bearing the dead, unwrapped babe. Raising it, Eseldra stepped before the inner circle, a smile spreading slowly across her cracked lips.

To be Continued…

A Dark Story – Part 2

(Originally from October 2007)


This is a study in free flow writing. It may not make sense when it’s finished. Oh well.

**Mature content warning**



The voice that issued forth from the figure was tight and raspy, like dried nettles. “So, you’ve come at last?” it asked.  The creature could have been either male or female, and thought it had a human shape there was something not right about it; something that made a person take pause as they tried to determine what was  incorrect. But Keena knew what it was and why it seemed strange and foreign.

Eseldra had been human once, not so long ago. Not only human but a woman, though now it was hard to tell.  Despite the heavy skin that wrinkled around her eyes  and spoke of old age, she wasn’t yet forty, and only two years ago had been considered beautiful. But that was before the Great Winter.

Snow had come early that year and with it a bitter cold to rival any winter before. Things died in that cold and lay frozen where they’d fallen. And if that weren’t enough the wolves came.  First it was a child, then another and another and soon a grown woman went missing. That was when the men of the village banded together to seek out the wolves and destroy them in their lair. They were tall and brave, their fur wrapped bodies a stark contrast against the white snow. They laughed and joked despite their grim task, and left with promises of wolf pelts on their return. But, they didn’t return.

Eseldra’s husband had been one of the men in the hunting party and when search parties failed to find some sign of the missing men she’d gone herself, leaving with the first thaw. It had been late summer before she’d returned on the brink of death; haggard and starved with a strange something lurking in her eyes. It was a haunted look, the kind that men return with after a great battle.  She sealed herself up in the house away from town and would see only one woman; her niece. Though, even to her, she did not reveal what she’d seen to effect such a change.

Keena forced a smile across her pale features. “Of course I came. I did promise you.”

The old crone waved her niece’s words away like smoke. “The promise of youth is fleeting and ever changing. Words mean very little.” Her strange eyes studied the young woman before her. “Did you bring it?”

“Yes, of course.” Keena drew out a parcel from beneath her cloak. The wrapping was still warm from being under her arm throughout her journey. She held it out and resisted flinching as her aunt took it from her.

The old woman laid the bundle upon the table and opened it slowly. A smile twisted across her features,  coupling with the bitterness in her eyes to make her look maniacal.  “Yes…. Yes this will be perfect.”

She turned around, the gory contents clutched in her hands. Clots of blood glistened, staining wrinkled hands and fingernails, as she lifted her prize in the air, holding it aloft as if asking a blessing of the Gods.  She either did not notice or else ignored Keena’s revulsion as she lowered her burden and brought it near her face and sniffed it.

“It’s nearly fresh,”  Keena whisper, her stomach churning.

The old woman nodded in agreement. “Yes, it does not yet have the stink. Come, my child, and together we put things to right. Let not this babe’s life, though never started,  be taken for naught.”

Circle of Guilt: Flash Fiction

(originally from July 2007)

This was written for Reid’s 500 word challenge


Without an echo, she gently faded into shadows through the doorway as if she were a piece of the night. The only trace left behind the hammering of my own heart.

I dropped back into the bed, grabbed a pillow and covered my head with it in mock suffocation. If only it were that easy.

I closed my eyes but I could still see her visage. Blood splattered along her cheeks. Her dead eyes wide with horror as we dumped her into that drainage ditch and left her. Every nuance and detail of that scene was burned into my very brain: the dead leaves floating stagnant, the way her hair tangled in the damp grass along the banks, the way her hand still clutched at nothing trying to save herself from that fate.

“It was just a nightmare,” I told myself loudly, the words comforting and real. She had been found by the chief of police and her body was at the morgue, stuffed in one of those refrigerated drawers, a tag on her toe while they waited for someone to identify her. She wasn’t here and she had never been here.

I climbed to my feet, flipping on the bedside lamp, and made my way from the bedroom.  The air too close and hot seemed to hold the terror close to my prickled skin, but the kitchen throbbed with life, the hum of electronic hearts beating within the machines that made life livable.

The light spilled forth as I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the gallon of milk to take a long drink. Cold liquid reality raced down my throat, soothing my fears and salving my conscience.

We’d had to finish her, after all. There’d been no choice, not after what Chalky had done. He hadn’t meant to, but too much Rum always made him unpredictable. It was her own fault for going with him, for letting him take her out of sight of the rest of us. If only she’d stopped screaming. That loud, shrieking noise still buzzed inside my ears when I thought about that night. Over and over that screeching sound, like nails on a chalk board to make my hair stand on end.

I shoved the milk back where it belonged and stared at the hands that had choked the last of the life from her. I could feel her weak pulse beneath my thumb still and her blood splattered on my skin, thick and warm, a pattern to decorate an eternity of guilt.

Shuddering, I made my way back to the bedroom and was soon wrapped in the cocoon of blankets, heavy eyes closing.

With a startled jerk I looked up to see her standing in the doorway, staring at me, anger in her eyes. “How could you?” she asked, her voice tight, her throat raw from her screams. “Your own sister, how could you?”

I didn’t answer and, without an echo, she gently faded through the doorway and into the shadows, as if she were a piece of the night…

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