She hovered, unmoving yet shimmering like the heat waves off a summer baked street. The boy’s blond hair briefly obscured his vision but he didn’t move a muscle. She drew in a deep breath and opened her mouth ever so slightly. There was no sound, but the stench filled the room with the acrid odor of dry rotting garbage. Erik cringed but she remained unmoving, her eyes blank now, devoid of the thunderous rage he had experienced on Cold World. Then she lifted one long pointy finger at Erik and he heard her in his mind.
“You are ready to die?” The question was tinged with anticipation and hope and…confirmation. It was as if she was…answering herself. In his mind, her voice sounded alien, hurtful and filled with bitterness. The notes in her sound carried hints of betrayal and pain. Erik could not control his body any longer and he trembled uncontrollably.
“At last, we may begin”, she murmured.
Erik wheezed, “Noooo”, his voice receding inside his small frail body. “Don’t do this, please”, he said.
She shuddered and recoiled from his weak plea. She steadied herself and repeated, “You are ready to die?”
Then Erik’s calculating mind regained some of its’ composure and the boy uttered, “How did you get here?”
She paused, staring at the boy through wounded, hollow eyes. “You know”, she rasped. Her body began to quiver again as if on key. Her translucent body was shimmering and she appeared to be moving from side to side like a panther stalking its prey. Erik noticed that her body was appearing in and out of phase with the night’s light. He could briefly see right through her in between her shimmers. Then it occurred to Erik that tonight was not going to be his end.
“I will ask you again”, his voice now more confident. “How did you get here and who let you cross the bridge?”
At that she started convulsing within the small space she occupied. Her clawed feet started swinging back and forth, her toes curling as though she sought to grip the lush carpet below her. Her body arched, her bowed legs extended as far as possible just missing the floor. Her twisted face was tilted upwards. She looked like a toddler trying to ease his way down to the floor from a high perch, one foot at a time, reaching, extending, and carefully testing the gap, fearful of missing his footing. She seemed to be stuck at one fixed point in the air. She started spinning around, her eerie, translucent gown flowed out from her and the Erik could see her mangled torso torn rib cage to pelvis. Then she stopped spinning and glared at Erik, murder again in her eyes.
“I will not be denied boy”, she howled and Erik felt the room shake with her hatred. “I will have my time with you boy and you will say my name. Nothing will keep me from taking you. I will have you she shrieked!!”
Before Erik could let out a breath in response, the room exploded in a shower of bluish, crystalline light. She was gone. From the spot where she hovered, darkness reverberated and began to coalesce like oil flowing into a floor drain. Slowly, the darkness receded and condensed until it was no bigger than a baseball. The blackness spun slowly and with a sickening, wet popping sound it vanished. All that remained was the fragrance of rotting garbage and spoiled fruit. It hug thick in the air and Erik felt his insides convulse.
Erik moved slowly from his bed and stalked over to the place where she had just been. There was a slight sensation of heat as he got closer, then that too ceased. Erik looked around his room. His bed was wet from his sweat. His brother, Fran, lie as still as a church mouse, breathing ever so quietly, unshaken by the brief visitation. It had worked Erik thought. It actually worked. He should not have doubted himself. Now all he had to do was get back to Cold World and begin phase two.
His step now more confident and sure, Erik moved to the bathroom in the hall. He needed to change his clothes. His earth mom would be so furious if he didn’t. Erik walked into the hall and noticed his mom’s bedroom door slightly ajar. He heard gargled moans from within. Tinges of fear started caressing the back of his neck. It almost sounded like someone was pouring water on his mother’s carpet, then it slowed to nothing…and the gargling stopped. Erik called out to his mom. No answer. He walked silently to his mother’s door and slowly swung it open. He could see nothing. The curtains were open and the starlight should have illuminated the room, but he saw absolutely nothing, no shapes, no sense of anything in the room. He reached for the light switch, too afraid to venture into the darkness and flicked it on.
Erik cried out in horror. His mother was sprawled across her bed, her head hanging down over the edge of the bed. Her throat was ripped open. Her eyes were frozen open in terror and confusion. The last vestiges of blood were seeping from her neck, oozing down her cheeks, filling her gray head with streaks of crimson. On the wall directly over her bed, written in scrawling lines of blood were the words, “I will not be denied boy.”
Erik collapsed. His eight year old body could not withstand the pain and anguished look on his earth mother’s face. His head was spinning with pain. Erik closed his eyes and gave in to the overwhelming weight of exhaustion and fear that pressed in on him. He felt himself slip into unconsciousness and he embraced it.