by Lark Neville
read by T.C. Parmelee
A faint, sickening sweet stench hangs upon the air. The ripeness of the death that had taken place here is still evident. A heavy sorrow fills the room, and I wonder how often Evelyn and Mark have rested on their daughter’s bed and wept since her death.
My heart breaks as I pick up the white jewelry box that bears a painting of an angel on the lid. It vibrates with all the hopes of the girl who filled it with her treasures: the necklace given to Breanna after her confirmation by her mother, the tiny diamond earrings given to her on her sixteenth birthday. Every token seems to resonate with the love that had filled Bree’s life.
But she had also known darkness. She must have. She had taken her father’s pain pills and downed them with her parents’ top shelf vodka. Her mother and father had been celebrating their 20th anniversary at the time with a cruise to Alaska. Being it was summer and Bree hadn’t lined up a summer job, there was no work or school to raise the alarm. She’d been dead for several days been before her parents returned to find her.
I had been asked to write an article on such grief, as suicides and violence were increasing in what used to be the quiet city of Boise, Idaho. When I had spoken to her parents, it had felt a bit like a violation. They were lost – riding the waves of numb shock and sobbing grief. They told me that she had been losing weight recently, that she had been exhausted from lack of sleep. She had been such a positive spirit usually that when she said it was just stress from preparing for college, they had believed her.
Bosses have told me I need to maintain a professional distance from those I write about and work with. They tell me to not get lost in friendship or to become too invested in the people I cover. Reporters must keep sources as just that. They may be right, but I can’t help myself from caring. I can’t keep a cold distance.
These editors don’t feel the synching of my emotions with another person’s as they talk to me. These editors don’t feel the brutal void and loss that is under Bree’s parents’ tears. They don’t feel the joy and beautiful love that Breanna left behind on her most treasured items. I do.
In the bottom of the jewelry box under a panel is the diary her parents had said I could borrow in order to learn about Bree. I set the jewelry box down and head back toward the living room. There her parents sit on the couch, and I realize that even this tattered, worn couch shows their love. They would rather have celebrated their daughter’s life with diamonds, put away money into a college fund, than put those resources toward a new couch.
Damning convention, I hug Evelyn and Mark and thank them for their time. The song of their daughter’s life will be sung.
* * *
The four suicides and a school shooting over the past three months have left those involved feeling bloodied. There has not yet been rest for healing and development of scars for the emotional and physical wounds.
I spend hours pouring over my notes, re-listening to tapes, and revising my piece until I am satisfied. When I am finished, my body is drained and I cannot think of anything more appealing than a bubble bath followed by bed.
I take a final glance at the picture of my brother, Chris. Frozen in time at only age sixteen, he is wearing a broad smile as he stands on the edge of the Salmon River. It was our last camping trip together as a complete family. Three months later he killed himself. I was just thirteen. I am thirty-five now, and I alone now carry on our family’s black hair and blue eyes. We looked so alike as children. I would love to see the laugh lines creep along the sides of his eyes and his hair turn silver with the years. But that isn’t to be.
Chris is the reason I volunteer several days a month for a suicide hotline. He is also the reason that I won’t be able to let these recent tragedies go without further digging into things. But that is for another day.
* * *
“Rai,” Chris’s voice calls my name in my sleep. “Rai wake up.”
My eyes open and I come quickly awake. I scan the room, the darkness cut by the corner streetlight. It’s 3:15 a.m. by my clock. Bree’s journal rests on my bedside table, yet unread.
“Chris?” I say to the darkness, not sure yet if he is paying me a visit or if his voice was a dream resulting from how he’s lingered in my thoughts lately. Since his death I’ve seen him three times. He told me good-bye, he cautioned me about a boyfriend with an abusive past, and he warned me of our mother’s battle with cancer and the death that would come.
Then I realize I don’t have a sense of comfort as I usually do in his presence. Even in the warmth of my house, I’m chilled. I swear I hear movement in the hallway and sit straight up. Listening. Waiting. A sudden feeling of nausea hits me. Something is here. Not a good thing either.
I am suddenly thrown back on the bed. A weight seems to hold me down. But more than that, this thing, whatever it is, is trying to get into my body. I could feel tendrils piercing my aura. It hurts like Hell, and I do my best to push back against the invasion.
Open to me! a growling voice roars in my head, and it feels like hands clamp around my throat cutting off my breath.
I manage a No once more before I pass out.
* * *
A beautiful crisp July morning greets me, and the sunlight fills my bedroom. Unsure if I had dreamed the incident last night or not, it is a relief to wake to a sense of calm and normalcy in my home. I’m glad that is Saturday, and I have nothing to rush off to.
I stumble out of bed and head to the shower. The water brings me further back to life. I towel off and slip into my favorite silk robe. I turn to the mirror for the first time that morning to comb out my wet hair. There, on my neck, are bruises. A gasp escapes me. I examine the marks with a kind of fascination. On any other woman I would have thought either she had just been abused or that she was into erotic asphyxiation.
I forget my intention of combing my hair for a moment, suddenly overcome by a sense of vulnerability. I go to my room to dress. Though rationally I know it’s only in my mind, the armor of clothing makes me feel more assured.
My first thought after getting dressed is that I need to cleanse my home. I go to my sanctuary, the room made up for meditation and religious practice. I have an altar as part of my Wiccan faith made up in honor of the Goddess Cerridwen and the God Cernunnos. A sage smudge stick, as well as water, oils, and salts occupy the altar. I light the incense and say a prayer of blessing. I light the candles and say a prayer of protection. I then light the smudge stick. I find comfort in the smell of the burning sage. I cleanse my home using the smoke of the smudge stick. I return to the sanctuary and place the smudge stick back on the altar. I chant a blessing of purification and protection over the salt and water. I then use my ritual knife, my athame, to scoop three helpings of salt into the water.
Using the salt water I walk the house again and say a blessing to banish negative energies.
With sandalwood oil I draw a pentagram on my doors and windows for protection.
My home is as clean and protected as I can immediately make it. I will have to pick up provisions at the local metaphysical shop in order to do a further spell of protection. Though more at ease, I’m still slightly shaken. I’m not quite sure how this happened. But I’m damned sure going to figure it out before something worse happens.
I go back to my bedroom to pick up Bree’s journal. I settle into my recliner, flip back to three months ago, and begin reading. For the rest of the day I devour her journal and make notes. Her early entries are what would be expected from a teenage girl. She speaks about her crushes, the football games, seeing movies with friends, fights with her best friend.
Her entries begin to drop off about one month before her death. She complains of scratching sounds in her bedroom that keep her up and horrible nightmares when she does sleep. She sounds very exhausted and confused by the end.
I don’t understand it. Michelle yelled at me to just leave her alone when I tried to say hello this morning. She was very angry. She had make up covering a black eye. When I asked Vince if he knew what had happened he looked at me in shock and asked me if I was serious. I said yes. Then he said, “Don’t you remember punching her last night at the party?”
No. I don’t. And I don’t remember any party.
I don’t know what is going on anymore. I woke up with more scratches. I don’t remember things I’m doing.
I’m so tired. I want to go to sleep but I never know if I will dream something horrible. I wish Mom and Dad were back.
Maybe I’ll talk to Pastor Jacob and see if he can help me.
That sounds like an excellent idea to me as well.
* * *
Two months ago Bree had been invited by her best friend, Lisa, to attend a church service led by a local celebrity. Though his church was Christian in focus, Pastor Jacob Walters was also a psychic who had his own local radio show. It appears from the Spiritual Heart church’s website that there is a definite new age feel to the organization.
I know of at least one girl besides Bree who recently committed suicide that had been involved in this church. I wonder if there are more. After a few phone calls to the families I am able to confirm that all of the students were members of the church and regularly took part in youth group activities.
Since there is time for me to make the 11 o’clock Sunday Service I don a blue blouse and black skirt. My favorite black boots complete the outfit.
Sitting in the pew I listen to Jacob’s words, but I’m also looking around the room, taking in people’s faces. There seems to be an almost thoughtless bliss behind their smiles as they stare at their pastor. He’s not a bad speaker by any means, but where is the usual distraction from thinking about the game coming up, the stewing over a fight with a spouse, any inattention at all?
Then I feel it again. Tendrils poking into my aura on my back. I shift in my seat at the discomfort. I close my eyes to concentrate and get a sense of some kind of black entity behind and above me. Its tendrils going into the members of the crowd.
I close my eyes, and try to imagine a white light filling my aura and that my aura has a very solid boundary. I have to consciously keep pushing against whatever it is off and on throughout the entire service. It is difficult to keep focused on Jacob’s sermon, and I find myself relieved at its conclusion.
With a smile he walks down the aisle to stand at the back and greet his parishioners on their way out. He is a handsome man with long brown hair and brown eyes. His body is tight, probably kept in shape with yoga.
The adoration on the faces of those speaking with him is obvious. I make my way down till it’s my turn to take his hand.
“It was a lovely service,” I say. It’s the truth. His words had been uplifting and seemingly full of love.
“Thank you. Very nice of you to come, ummm,” he says, obviously wanting my name.
“Rai. My name is Rai.”
“Rai. Pretty name,” he says. I am caught off guard by the sense of delight I feel under his gaze. There is intense warmth in his gaze, like a lover who hasn’t seen you in days drinking in your beauty. He leans in just a little closer, but it doesn’t feel invasive. In fact, it feels nice. “You have a beautiful aura.”
I almost mention the force I’d felt. But the little bit of self-protection and mistrust that lingers within me wins. I keep silent. I have no certainty that it doesn’t originate with him or something he did.
“Thank you. And thank you again for the service.”
I depart and once outside feel a kind of heaviness, like waking from a deep sleep. Definitely not a normal feeling and it puts me on edge. It hits me now. How could a man aware enough to see my aura not know something is in his church?
I fear he must.
* * *
I sit at my computer vaguely aware of the running of my cats up and down the hallway. I am consumed by searching online for any information on Jacob Walters and Spiritual Heart. So far I’ve not been able to find anything that doesn’t seem to come from a press release. Nonetheless, I’m taking what notes I can on their histories.
Then from the front of my house, from the living room wall, comes a slow pounding, which grows louder and louder till it shocks me out the reading and note taking I’m doing.
I stop mid-sentence. I look around for my cats. It may sound silly, but if they are around and look content, I feel pretty assured all is right in the world. They aren’t in the living room with me.
I weigh the pros and cons of investigating; and those moments in a horror movie when I yell at the screen at the protagonist who goes to investigate a strange noise seem to flood my mind. Dare I? I consider this and am startled when the tabletop fountain I have on my desk turns on.
I stand up, looking around frantically, as if some hopeful part of me believes I’ll see some rational explanation.
I say the first words that pop into my head to the force that is apparently in my home, “This is my house. You are not welcome. Get out!”
I walk through the house repeating this. The noise finally stops. A peace returns.
I go to my sanctuary and put on some music to ease my anxiety. I light the candles on the altar and begin to just focus on breathing. My heartbeat and breath quiet down a bit.
I visualize a triple circle of purple and silver light around me and begin chanting a prayer of protection.
“I am protected by your love and light, Lord and Lady, day and night.”
I repeat this over and over until I feel stronger. The fear isn’t totally gone, but I feel more in a place of power.
The quiet in the house seems to last for the rest of the night. I’m able to finish my work for the evening and head to bed. I consider leaving the light on, but can’t admit to that much fear and switch it off.
* * *
Run. I’ve got to run faster. My breath burned in my chest as I rounded the corner. My steps echoed, shattering the quiet of the dark street. I didn’t turn my head to look back. My home was just a block down. The familiar silhouettes of the surrounding homes, seeming to tell of coming sanctuary. It was then I caught another sound resonating with my footsteps.
He was so close.
The welling fear distracted my focus from the sidewalk. The toe of my sneaker caught on a crack in the pavement, felling me to my hands and knees.
I scrambled, ignored the scraped knees and bleeding palms. He grabbed me by my ebony locks and pulled me to my full height. I screamed into the dead street, quiet in the nighttime repose. Surely someone must hear. Someone would come.
“You should have stayed out of it,” he says.
That was my last thought as the blade came across my throat.
I’m panicked and gasping as I wake from the nightmare. In my head I hear that growling voice from two mornings ago laughing. I am shivering and soaked in sweat. I brave trying to move and find I can. I switch on the light at my bedside. I hear nothing unusual in the house. The only thing that seems off in my bedroom is that my cats are not sleeping on the bed beside me, but I hear them playing in the living room.
My sleep is probably done for the night as well. I acknowledge this with a sigh. It’s only 4 a.m. I decide to call in and leave a message with my editor that I am taking a couple of personal days and won’t be in the office. There’s a moment of guilt, but exhaustion squelches it. I will need sleep later today.
The man in my dreams doesn’t seem familiar. It’s a small blessing for which I give thanks.
I get up and grab my laptop, then snuggle back into bed. I turn on the radio for some comforting noise then pull up my work email on the computer to see if there is anything I really need to address.
There is an email from Jacob. Apparently his acting as if he didn’t recognize me from the paper was just that – an act.
I know you saw it.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be honest with you right away, but I had to find some quiet time away from others before I could say anything. I hope that this will reach you soon. I got no answer at your work number.
You were right to think the deaths were connected to church. But you were also wrong. I didn’t knowingly summon this thing.
I believe you may be able to help. Please call me.
A trap? The truth? I place a bet on the latter and decide to meet him.
* * *
“Two years ago I was counseling a young man named Tyler Bishop. He wanted to be mentored in using his psychic abilities. We worked on clairvoyance, mediumship, energy healing techniques. Quite honestly it was all quite flattering at first, and I enjoyed the mentoring,” Jacob says. “The boy actually was very talented psychically. He was also very artistic. He painted and drew. It was amazing work, but rather cringe inducing. I remember one drawing he did was a self-portrait. In it he was tearing the skin off his face. That pretty much coveys his personality.”
Jacob played with the lid of his plastic coffee cup. We’d chosen a local coffee house, Davina’s Delectables, as our meeting ground. It was public, but upstairs were couches where places where people could carry on a semi-private conversation.
“He was a troubled kid. He was gay. His parents were very religious and conservative. I don’t think he had a lot of support at home,” Jacob continues. “He was one of those kids who just seemed to be missing a part of themselves – angry, sad, lonely, unable to really connect with people. That’s part of why I was pleased when I felt like he was connecting to me. I thought maybe I could help bring a little something to balance the darkness I saw in his life. But of course I was wrong.”
“He was fascinated by psychic vampires and demonology. The more he learned how to use his talents the more he became obsessed with them. He thought he was strong enough, powerful enough to handle anything. He took great pleasure in going to a local psychic fair and draining people of energy. It was a joke to him that these intuitive people didn’t catch on to him or stop him.”
“Lovely,” I sigh.
“I wasn’t able to convince him to stop. In the end I laid down some ethical lines that he’d have to stay within to work with me.”
“I am guessing that didn’t go over very well.”
“He didn’t exactly threaten me. He didn’t have to do so overtly. It was a look on his face – a smile so cold. I don’t think I’d really allowed myself to see how far down he’d spiraled until that moment.”
“Do you have a picture of him?”
“I have a couple of his self portraits,” he digs through the collection of paperwork he’s brought me, finds what he is looking for.
I take the sheet from him. I startle when I see it is the man from my dream. Jacob asks what is wrong and I explain about the dream.
The portrait nearly makes me ill to hold, it gives off so much angry, dark energy. I decide right then and there that I am going to have to have to act as the witch I am and defend myself. I begin making a mental list of things I need to pick up for the spell I want to do. Luckily I have most of the requirements.
I’m more worried about being protected in the night when I’m sleeping than I am about Tyler being able to do something when I’m awake. What I have in mind will protect me and my home at any time. It’s time to empower myself.
“He was at the service on Sunday, wasn’t he?” I ask. I hadn’t seen him, but it explains what I felt.
“Has Tyler gone after you?” I ask.
“No. I can protect myself. He hurts those I care for.”
“So,” I brave asking the question to see if the answer is the same as my fear. “What do you think happened to these kids?”
“I think he sends a demon to drive these kids insane, possibly possess them.”
And there it is — my fear.
* * *
Jacob had given me some letters, photos, newspaper clippings related to Tyler. He wasn’t sure where Tyler is working now or where he is living, but I should be able to dig that information up easily enough.
I take out my iPhone and key in the number to Lt. Craig Jeffries. He has been a good friend for many years and the occasional lover as well.
“Hello, beautiful,” he answers, and I laugh. The wonders of Caller ID.
“Hi, handsome. Got a minute?”
“For you, sure. What’s up?”
I ask him to run a background check on Tyler. I pretend that Tyler is a potential date and I’m screening him. Craig always does his best to watch my back. He’s got a wonderful heart. He’s also rational to the core. So what else could I say to him?
Craig, um…you know those suicides? Well, guess what – not so much. Yeah, murder. You see, there is this demon going around driving people crazy. Oh Tyler? Yeah he’s the energy vampire who summoned it.
That’s not going to happen.
“No wants or warrants. Not finding any immediate criminal record. Looks like so far, so good, Rai.”
“Thanks. That’s good to hear,” I pause. “Any chance I could get a current address? I’d kind of like to check out his home.”
“Rai, I can’t….”
“Ok. Ok. How about a street name at least? I’ll try to track him down.”
He sighs. The silence belies the fact he’d been thinking about it. I can tell he’s wondering what I’ve gotten myself into and whether he needs to invite himself along to keep me safe. All these years and he still has a hard time with the idea I’m fairly good at taking care of myself.
“Thanks, my dear. Call me for dinner this week. It’s been too long since we’ve hung out.”
“Or done anything else for that matter,” he says suggestively. He never gives up. Sometimes I’m very glad for that fact.
* * *
I begin the day once again in exhaustion. Being up very late doing spells to protect myself and my home has left me drained. It is worth it though. After days of uncertainty, I feel more assured. I feel more closely attuned to my own power.
My further investigations have left me understanding Tyler and his abilities better. I don’t fear Tyler or any entity that he works with now. He is a petulant child. I channel a Goddess.
I plan on checking out a few of Tyler’s places of former employment and see what people can tell me about him. I don’t really think I’ll expand much beyond what I already have learned, but sometimes turning over rocks leads to the hidden gem.
I am loading up on my third cup of coffee at Davina’s, taking a lunch break when someone moves the chair across from me and sits down.
I’m startled from my reading and look up. It’s Tyler. I’m dumbstruck for a moment.
“Guess I don’t have to look very hard for you after all. Thanks for saving me some gas money, Tyler.”
He likes that and smiles.
“You’re welcome, Rai.”
I must admit a slight touch of admiration. He knew he was being investigated, and he managed to figure out my name as well. Then I worry. Did he do something to Jacob to find out who I was, what I’d been told, what I planned to do?
“He’s fine,” Tyler answers even though I didn’t say a word. “You made enough noise on your own that I didn’t have to visit Jacob. Just what exactly is it you plan to do, witch?”
Good question. I don’t know. I haven’t been able to figure that out yet. I get the feeling that there is no sense in lying, so I don’t.
“I don’t know,” I say. He chuckles.
I continue, “I can tell you I’m not fond of bullies. In fact, they piss me off. I don’t like the fact you hurt innocent people. The fact you’ve been doing your best to screw with me doesn’t earn you high marks either.”
“I haven’t really begun.”
He reaches across the table and takes one of my hands. It takes mere seconds for him to start draining me.
I pull my hand back and break his connection.
“No one is innocent,” he says. “Those who died earned their ending long ago. They made choices. If they had acted with the least bit of kindness, perhaps things wouldn’t be what they are now.”
“Are you kidding me?” I ask. “You are going to give me the poor-pitiful-me spiel? If you really plan on taking this conversation in that direction, you can save your breath.”
He meets my eyes with an amused and intrigued stare. At least I’m spirited prey.
“You were given a gift, Tyler. You could have helped people. You fucked up.”
I get up, shoulder my purse. I walk to his side, lean in so my lips are at his ear.
“Next time you steal something, you’d be wise to check to see if your victim might be able to get it back,” I slide my hand down his arm and lock my fingers in his. I form an intent to call back my energy and it floods into me. I make sure to pull some of his too, though I just let it flow into the ground. I don’t want his energy in me, but I want him to know the feeling of weakness.
I release him and pat the top of his head.
“Good bye, Tyler.” Then I pull a couple of hairs from his head. “Something to remember you by,” I say and walk out the door.
I suddenly know what I’m going to do.
* * *
Night has fallen and I’m sitting within a stone circle, a fire crackling before me in the pit in my backyard. I wear a comfortable black cotton dress with a very sheer black robe, my traditional ritual garb for the hot summer for non-holiday rituals. I am the Dark Goddess tonight. I am Cerridwen, Goddess of the Moon, Lady of Deep Magics.
At the end of my necklace, a silver pentacle shines in the firelight. I am concentrating on the chant, sewing delicate stitches on the doll. Tyler’s hair, parts of his letters and drawings have gone into the poppet.
My cat, Phoebe, is twining around my feet, enjoying the build of energy that is taking place, as I weave Tyler’s essence into the doll.
I say the words to bind his power so that he can do no more harm. I send justice on behalf of his victims.
I chant and move around the circle clockwise, letting the energy flow through me into the doll. When I feel the time is right, I toss the doll into the fire to send the energy out into the universe to manifest.
I finish the ritual and release the circle of energy that has served as my magical sanctuary that night. My will is done.
* * *
“Mmmmm,” I moan sleepily, snuggling myself into Craig’s body as we lie naked together in his bed. “I don’t want to go.”
“Then don’t,” he says, kissing my forehead. I smile and lift my head for a proper kiss. He kisses me deeply, but tenderly. There’s such affection there, and I’m always amazed at it. “Stay the night. It would be nice to not wake up alone.”
I’m tempted, but I really do need to get home. I need to take care of my cats and other household chores. Plus I’m just particular about liking to sleep in my own bed. It’s been two weeks since I cast the spell. I’ve not heard any word of any further difficulties in the local schools. Jacob and I have been keeping in touch as well and so far his youth group attendees are not experiencing anything unusual. He’s not seen Tyler since that time either. The activity has stopped. For that I am glad.
I sit up and begin to collect my clothes from the floor. Craig kisses my shoulder, the back of my neck.
“You’re so mean,” I say as he nibbles on my ear. He knows I love that. He laughs.
“Well, I don’t want you to go. Why should I make it easy?” He flashes me the biggest grin.
“I’m sorry. I really am. But I do need to get back and do a few things at home,” I say. “I promise it won’t be long before we do this again. Next time, my place. You can stay all night. I’ll even make you breakfast.”
I pull my shirt over my head. All dressed, I playfully leap on top of him so I’m straddling him and holding his arms down. I kiss him several times.
“I’ll see you soon, hon,” I say. Then I make my exit.
It was nearly 11 as I pull into my driveway. I enter and wonder at the fact my cats are not at the door to greet me. I head to my bedroom, thinking they have already tucked themselves in for the night.
But they aren’t laying on my bed as I enter the bedroom. Odd.
A hand goes over my mouth; an arm clutches me tightly.
“You should have stayed out of it,” Tyler says as he drags me to the bed. I’m fighting back but not managing to make any headway. He’s too damn strong.
I note that he must have been here a while, as he’s fitted the bed with restraints. Limb by limb he locks me up. Since rape, at least not in the traditional sense, is not on the menu, I wonder what he has in mind for me. I doubt his brand of murder would be anything ordinary.
“Tyler,” I begin.
“Don’t bother,” he says, taking up the duct tape that he’d placed on my bedside table. I hear it rip across the peaceful night.
Gagged, I’m strangely thankful that he’s spared me the futility of trying to bargain with him.
“You will pay for what you’ve done. You will fix things,” he says. He reaches over and turns on the light at my bedside table. The bright shocks my eyes into temporary blindness.
“Look at me,” he roars.
I do. His face is covered with long, deep scratches. They are scabbed over and have the inflamed tint of a minor infection. His eyes have deep bruise like circles under them telling the tale of sleepless nights. On his arms are bruises that look like fingerprints. His hands have defensive cuts. All payback for the lives he’d cut short, for the torture he’d inflicted.
He unbuttons his shirt and shows me the scar covering his chest. He had apparently been burned.
“I may not have the power to connect to you, but I bet you can still connect with me. Would you like to know how it feels?”
He takes off his shirt, and then rips open my blouse. He releases my right hand placing it again his heart, covering it with his left. He then puts his hand over my heart. He’s so cold.
The pain rips through me, along with all of the fear he felt. I scream, buck, trying to get him off of me, to break this stream of feeling.
Finally he removes his hand from me and locks mine back up.
A few tears roll down my face, but in my eyes is anger. He is looking at me with the most twisted smile I’ve ever seen. It’s hollow, joyless, enamored with pain.
“That was a gift from your oh so sweet Breanna. Somehow she managed to hurl a pot of oil and water that I had boiling on the stove at me.”
“Good girl,” I say, though the words are unintelligible through the tape.
“I plan on doing much of what has been done to me to you tonight. And you will be just as defenseless.”
He takes a knife from his pocket and opens it. Without actually cutting me yet, he lightly drags the blade across my face, my throat, down between my breasts, cutting the bra. He watches the fear dance in my eyes as I wait for the first cut. He begins carving into my stomach. I close my eyes against the pain. I’m screaming but it’s strange sounding.
I do my best to focus on my breath and handle the pain. I pray for Cerridwen to fill me and I feel the shift in my energy. I open my eyes again. They are alive with a light different than he’s ever seen. If he’s retained any sensitivity he feels the power humming through me. I call to those who have passed from this life, but are still here. I feel them answer, for I’m channeling the Goddess of Life, Death, and Rebirth.
He stops and like a puppy gazing at a new toy cocks his head sideways with curiosity. He braves removing the tape from my mouth.
“We have visitors,” I say. I gaze behind him and nod in welcome to the spirits of the young women and men that killed. He looks around the room frantically trying to see them, but he can’t.
Mark, Lindsey, Breena, Todd – the suicides. Evan, Daniels, Jeff, the victims of the school shooting. They gather around him. They look hauntingly beautiful as they scratch and rip, tear at him with their teeth. Bree puts her fingers around his throat, squeezing. The darkness closes in on him, and he drops. He hits his head on the bed as he comes down.
He looks as though he’s been attacked by animals, but he’s still alive. Bree releases my hands from the restraints.
There is a strange howling from them – a final mourning for the life they could have had before they take their leave of this realm.
“Thank you,” I say and wish them a blessed passing as they disappear one by one.
I pick up the phone and call the police. I tie his wrists and heels up with belts so that if he does wake up, he’ll be of no danger to me.
I believe the truth of his activities will come out. His connection to me not only gifted me with his pain, but also showed me the diaries he kept. Like most killers, he foolishly wanted to relive the experiences again and again. There of course won’t be any charges that come out of that, but I hope that in the truth their families will find peace. Tyler thinks he’s already paid, but attacking me tonight will cost him dearly.
I head to the bathroom for bandages and my robe. I will need a few stitches, but thankfully most of the damage isn’t too deep. Then I make my way to the living room and settle in for the long night to come.