Chapter Six

Chapter Six

A Chapter by Raven Starhawk

 1

      In the narrow length of the hall she turned. Her interest drifted to the bathroom door as she flipped a switch. Brilliance flooded every pocket of space, highlighted pristine white stucco walls and shimmered on framed glass.  She acknowledged the moment captured in time briefly.  It was a time before this...this...  Across from her the door yawned.

      Pushing the door ajar she entered and looked at the long tub. Where was Rory? Puzzled she scouted the enclosed space as though expecting him to pop out at any moment. A warm hand seized her shoulder. In an instant she whirled around to gaze into his heavy lidded eyes.

      "The bathroom is all yours," he said and then ambled into the bedroom where he briefly disappeared. At first she wondered if he vanished for good, though the sentiment was quickly discarded once she heard the closet door open. Had it not been for the towel wrapped around his midsection and another draped over his shoulders she might not have believed he actually showered at all.

      She pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead and turned back to the empty bathroom. As she entered the scent of soap and condensation clouding the mirror confirmed someone had just taken a hot bath.

      A hot bath was all she needed. Soaking in a sea of sweet smelling bubbles was the perfect way to ease any pain. She glanced again over her shoulder into the bedroom and closed the door. Sleeping with Rory was a chore she might never get use to.

     Sitting on the edge of the tub she lowered her head, her hands folded in her lap. Through a sheet of hot tears she surveyed the basin and toilet. They mocked her in their faultless pallor. She turned to the faucet and began to draw water for her bath. As she placed the stopper in place she wiped the tear coursing down her face with the pad of her thumb.

 2

      After wiping the mirror with a washcloth, she stood for moment. Eve stared into the reflection and wondered what ever happened to the woman staring back at her. There had been moments, mere moments, in the past where she could consult the mirror and not feel like an empty shell. With that she set the comb on the bone white ledge of the sink and nodded.

     She licked her lips as she hooked her bra and slipped her arms through the straps. Pulling her shirt over her head she left the steamy air of the bathroom. She paused in the hallway. Through a crack in the door Eve caught sight of Rory as he paced by the trunk. The bedroom struck her as a foreign place as her eyes drifted over the wall behind him and then the bed which had already been made. She cupped a hand over her mouth to suppress a gasp.

      Had he actually made the bed for once in his miserable life, she asked herself, but that wasn't what started the glacial hand of dread to touch the nape of her neck. For a brief moment his eyes brightened, dimmed, brightened and dimmed back to normal.

      Am I loosing it, she asked herself.

     She leapt back. Along the wall his shadow was cast. It would not have taken her interest had it been a near replica of his actual physical shape but as her eyes observed the ever changing pocket of darkness she knew without a doubt that it was anything but ordinary. She darted to the kitchen where the phone snatched her at once. Her fingers shook as they hovered over the receiver. There was no harm in calling, was there? But her fingers caressed the sleek receiver in hesitation. She swallowed her reluctance and punched in the number that connected her to him. When a male voice answered on the other end all she had to do was speak one word and hang up although it took more than one word to describe the madness.

 3

      She had been dreaming when the knocking woke her. She sat up. Her hands trembled at her sides as she slowly crawled toward the end of the couch. She fished for her slippers. Tying the cords of her terry cloth robe together she took a deep breath and found each step toward the door a slow motioned nightmare.

      She paused. Her hand momentarily reached out and flattened against the wall. Another deep breath and she resumed her walk. Through the pinhole peephole she strained to see the figure on the other side. She slid the chain off its strip and turned the deadbolt latch over. In the gloom that washed over her from the hallway she flinched as the black clad man standing in its midst folded his arms across his chest and sighed. He cold exterior made her shiver and pull her robe closer under her chin.

      "Where is my brother," he asked before pushing his way past her.

      "He is still in the bedroom," a stunned Eve asked, closing the door and securing its locks.

      He plucked the dark shades from his face, revealing cold dark marbles that made her flinch. "Did you say anything to him?" His mouth although cruel formed an impish grin. He tossed his sunglasses onto the nearby couch and ran a calm hand through his hair.

      "No," she replied and watched him head off in the direction of the bedroom where she listened to the door open and then close. The silence that followed was painful.

 4

      How long was it now since Weston arrived, she asked herself, eying the hallway for movement. There was none. For two brothers who hardly ever talked in the past they surely seemed to be chatting it up now. The only problem with that was she heard absolutely nothing in the half hour that had passed.

      Eve swallowed her tea. It was bitter even after the second scoop of sugar. As she gazed into her cup her fingers curled around its porcelain handle. She thought chamomile was supposed to comfort, soothe and relax. After the fourth sip she was feeling anything but relaxed, soothed and comforted. Quickly she resumed her stare into the cup where its tawny liquid sloshed from side to side.

      She twisted the terry cloth of her robe. When caressed by power, choice hinders ability. Greed's ignorance showers starved minds with insecurity. Hand in hand they tread wilderness rich in obscurity. Right from wrong demonstrates a thin line often crossed. Strangers force opinions down parched throats. All in all it is a matter of revenue. Some say money is the source of all sin. In actuality, human desire for money is the source. It is the vehicle many drive. Lives hold no meaning in its lime light. Happiness bares illusion rather than substance. Day after day wasted efforts drown. Night after night nightmares squeeze through. The path of destruction began with its value. Nuclear weapons are truly a threat. But no more than the human lust for money.

      5

     As I shuffled along cobblestone path my thoughts wandered.  Was it over, I asked myself and couldn't help but feel a twinge of excitement.   The trees parted their branches with a swoop of air and bits of moonlight cast through.  I found myself closer and closer to the conclusion it was indeed finished.  Perhaps Rory might come to much understanding as he "rests".  Listening to crickets chirp I came to a halt.  Surely Eve would notice the slightest change in his demeanor, but what else would she suspect? 

     Headlights washed over me and I cringed in their ghostly stream of brilliance. I backed away as the car, a blue Camaro, swerved and came to a rest. Its quiet engine married a steady pound of bass and guitar from inside the cab. It played perfectly, almost soothingly, but my stomach still sank as my heart hammered. The driver was no ordinary psycho. He was Alan.

     I paused as he opened the passenger door. From where he sat behind the steering wheel I observed him turn down his radio as he stared at me. I started toward him then hesitated. What would people think if they saw me get into his car?  More importantly why would I get into his car?

     Staring into Alan's arctic eyes, I wanted to say something to make him just leave. It was then I noticed the band of girls in the lot across the street.

     "You see other there?"

     I looked. I guessed he was pointing at the cheering bimbos waving their junk around, acting like their b***s were the best b***s in the universe.  "What about it?" I asked, unsure what he was truly getting at.

     "Those girls care all about popularity," he replied.

     I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. Did he seriously think I didn't already know this? Their huge b***s stole blood away from their brains.

     "Okay," I said, still uncertain how to sound.

     "Looks are the only thing that rocks their world," he added.

     "That is all fascinating and everything, but I really have to get going," I said and tried to make my leave, but he rolled beside me and when I stopped he stopped as well. I groaned. "Dude, seriously, I do not know what else we have to say to one another. I mean, what do you expect?"

     He stared a moment. Inside I was like a scared animal crouching in a corner. Fear began to work its way through my system

     "You see," he said, "there is that snotty attitude again! You think you are better than me, don't you?"

     I took a step away and said slowly, "I don't know what it is you think we are supposed to talk about and why now? What has changed?"

     Joseph Andrezscuk, the dolt who made it his life's ambition to complain about my radio, came into view.  For about a quarter of a mile now he'd dodge in and out of bushes, tailing me like a dog.  Without thinking I leapt into the passenger seat. Inside.  As the moron ambled by he paused at a fire hydrant. At first I thought he might lift a leg and piss on it but he kept walking. He walked down a few more feet when he stopped again and this time turned. It looked like he was staring right at me.

     Alan asked as he gestured. "Do you know him or something?"

     "That," I answered, "is my neighbor."

     "He looks stupid," Alan remarked as he leaned across me to pull the door shut. Now I was trapped.

     "Well," I sighed. "I think he is stalking me or something."

     His stare gave me chills and I looked away. I don't know what it was. I couldn't look at him after that. I allowed my attention wander but never back to him. It was almost eerie.

  "Is that all?"

     Alan chuckled and curled his fingers around the steering wheel. He had a shiny ring on every one. One was a dragon with his tail wrapped around something that looked like a sword. Another one detailed a weird face. I couldn't quite make it out.

     "Maybe we should just leave town," he said softly.

     I stiffened.

     There was a pause followed by an awkward silence before he answered, "I am serious."

    Perhaps, I thought though I had no intentions on leaving.  Rory...the ritual...and then Eve....

     "I have a better idea," I said.

6

     He rested his forehead on the steering wheel. "I hate this town just as much as you do. There is nothing for me here."

     It was then I realized the moron Joe was heading back in our direction. I didn't want to meet eyes with him. I nudged Alan with my elbow and said, "He's coming back. Let's get out of here."

     No sooner had I said it Alan shifted into drive and sped away. His tires kicked up dirt and smoke, leaving quite a dusty trail that showered the moron. I got a good view of it from my side mirror. That would show that lousy dumbass not to mess with me.

     I wanted to ask where it was we were heading to, but as we rode street after street I decided to keep quiet. I could leave all of it behind and not care. My dad and step-mom would not miss me. S**t, they probably would be thankful to get rid of me. This town wasn't meant to survive. The only people thriving here were the drug addicts and perverts. Forget the cops going in and busting them. Rumor had it they were so far into crime themselves they would be fools to start being so called upstanding policemen because if they did they would have to arrest themselves.

     Slumped over in my seat my head felt full. Pressure snaked its way down my temples and into my neck where it continued to spread. The smell of his cologne was overpowering. I wanted to ask if all he did was bathe in it but finding the strength to speak was rather impossible. We had pulled off onto a soft shoulder and I tensed at once.

     "Are you all right," Alan asked.

     "I am fine." I said softly. It was surprising how easily the words slipped out. I hadn't intended on speaking at all.

     "What are you thinking about?" I heard Alan ask. His voice was soft. I didn't like it.

     I glanced over at him. His posture had changed, turned more toward me and I could see the sword earring dangling from his left earlobe. On certain occasions I had wanted to rip that thing off and shove it up his butt, but the idea of getting that close to his poop hole made me shiver.

     "I just want to keep going," I replied. It was the only answer I could muster without looking back in his direction.

     "Where do you want to go," he asked.

     I sighed. "Just keep driving for now," I said and lay back in my seat. I didn't realize how comfortable it was. It was better than my fat step-mom's rocking chair. Although this passenger seat didn't move except for forward and backward with the help of a lever it was still quite comfy.

     "Do we have a truce then?"

     I clamped my eyes shut. "Dude, one more word and I swear I am pushing you out and running over you!"

     He chuckled.  "If I take you somewhere," he said, "you have to promise to keep it a secret."

     "What are you talking about? Just take me out the woods and kill me already. I am not going to put up with your bull for much longer anyway."

     "You really hate me, don't you?"

     For some reason the question caught me off guard. I think it was the note of sadness in his voice. I told him more than ten times a day just how much I hated his Billy Idol wannabe a*s. Why should it bother him now? We weren't even friends, were we? For the last few years we have had endless bickering matches and made idle threats of bodily harm.

7

     "Turn here," I said and as he pulled into a stall the knot in my throat loosened.

     "Why here," he asked, turning the engine off. 

     "Because Rory is expecting it," I said and opened the car door.

     On cue he followed while asking, "Who's Rory?"

     I paused to acknowledge the decrepit wood and rusty hinged door that clung to it.  It hadn't seen a decent paint job in ages and survived weather's cruelty only to continue to be a eyesore to all who dare venture this far from the main cared for shopping strips. I reached for the handle but before I could feel the uneven edges of corroding metal he seized my wrist, his icy stare burning into me, as he repeated, "Who's Rory, Mandy?"

     "My cousin's husband," I answered.  "He's a changing man."

     Thick stale air greeted us as I entered before him. Among dusty books and cobwebbed daggers it wasn't the worse of odors. The dull bulb emitted enough light to guide us around tables and shelves, unpolished statues and cauldrons, but kept shadows nipping at our heels.

      "You do know what this place is," Alan asked and I jerked at his husky breath on the back of my neck. Dude was closer than I thought.

      "Don't be dense," I whispered, leading him to an antique cash register and the old crone behind it. Her milky stare shifted from some dark pocket of space to acknowledge our presence and I said, "It's done."

      Her cracked lips quivered as she turned to retrieve something from an adjacent surface, fingers curled and withered like tattered leather, and as she slid it toward me she croaked, "A good beginning."

      Nestled between sleek silver and foreign alloys, the jewel blinked; transferred colors known and unknown before settling gray. I plucked the crafted box it slept in, nearly forgetting Alan as I then turned and bumped into his towering frame.

      "We can go now," I breathed and pushed my way passed him.

      He wasted no time following my lead and was determined at keeping the space between us small. "What is that?" When I didn't answer he seized my arm and spun me around to face him. "Mandy, what's going on?"

      Taking a step back I countered, "What business is it of yours?" I averted my gaze. He always had this intense look about him that at times made me want to piss myself.

      "Because I want to know who I am dealing with," he fired back. Then in a softer tone he asked, "Are you a witch or something?"

      This time I couldn't help but hold his stare as I laughed. We were by his car now. Night's cool air raced over us and on its wings carried a fresh scent. I considered the box in my hand and shoved it into a front pants' pocket, replying, "There are things greater in this world than witches, Alan."

 



© 2019 Raven Starhawk


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Added on March 17, 2019
Last Updated on March 17, 2019
Tags: occult, fantasy, fiction, paranormal, supernatural, horror