Samantha held the door open so that Janet could enter. They were early for Mother Superior’s tea time by design. They were hoping to catch her and the other sisters off guard. Something big was happening and the rat pack of the St. Catherine’s school for girls were determined to discover what was going on sooner rather than later.
“This thing was supposed to have been burned centuries ago. How did it get in St. Catherine’s?”
“The pages are said to be made of human flesh.” Sister Margaret shuttered, tossing the page on the desk.
Mother Superior’s head shot up as Janet’s loafers squeaked on the ancient wooded floors.
“Janet dear.” Mother Superior’s tossed a stony look at each of the other nuns. “You’re early.”
“Sorry, Mame. We have a chemistry exam and my study group’s meeting in ten minutes. I wanted to be sure you had your tea before we started.” The old nun smiled. “Thank you, dear.”
Janet’s eyes went to the face of a dark horned image with red eyes paint on a brown parchment. She felt drawn into those eyes. The tray landed hard on the desk.
“Thank you, Janet,” Mother Superior said, drawing a hymnal over the image.
Janet shock her head, smiling. “Yes. Do you need more cups?” she asked, looking around the room.
At least half a dozen nuns were gathered there.
“No, that’s quit find.”
“I’ll be going then. Chemistry waits for no man or girl.” Janet smiled, pulling the door shut behind her.
“What’s going on?” Samantha asked, following Janet whose smile had faded as she marched purposefully down the hall.
“They’ve found a page from the Book of Demons.”
“What are we going to do?” Maggie asked, joining them. “We need that last page.”
“It’s not the page we’re looking for. That one was a picture of a demon. Ours will finished the sentence on the page before it.” Janet continued.
“The picture isn’t important.” Catherine continued. “We need the last page and the book and its power will be complete.”
Janet opened the door to a classroom now turned into a storage room. “We didn’t look through the old hymnals.”
The room was dark, dust-covered everything, including the stone walls. One box was open beside the room’s other exit.
“We have maybe five minutes,” Janet said pulling a hymnal from the box. Samantha followed suit. “They’ll come the same way we did. Listen by that door.”
Maggie nodded, cracking the door.
For minutes the only sound that broke the silence was of hymnal being tossed on the floor.
“I hear voices,” Maggie whispered.
“There are only a three more.” Samantha said, scooping them up. “We’ll take them with us.”
The three girls hurried out of the second door and raced down the back hall. They didn’t stop until they reached the old gardener’s shed. Once inside, the darkness crowded in on them. They each took a hymnal and started flipping through the pages. The sound of scratching broke the silence outside. They paused as one. An unseen animal scurried along on its way through the underbrush.
Maggie’s hand fell on a brown page shoved inside the yellowing hymnal. Shivering against the crisp winter she said, “Here it is.”
She held the thick leather page up, tossing the hymnal aside.
Samantha pulled a box from under the floor boards. “Finally, it’s complete.” She placed the four-inch stack of loose pages on the rotting potters bench.
Samantha held the pages apart. “Place it here right in the center.”
Maggie slid the page in.
Samantha pulled the brooch from the lapel of her jacket. The front of the brooch was filigree and emerald. The back a spider and skull were etched.
“We need blood,” Samantha said, “to bind the book to our will.”
A drop of blood welled at the tip of her finger where she had pierced it with the brooch’s needle. The other girls did the same. They each pressed their bloody finger on the front page. The book grew warm as the three girls rested their hands on the surface. Tendrils slid from the rough edges of one side of the pages, platting, heaving and knotting themselves together, the tendrils bound themselves together to form the spine for the pages. They formed an intricate pattern of red, yellow, black and brown.
“If that hair?” Maggie asked.
“I think so.” Samantha smiled. “What should we do first?”
“I think we’re done with St. Catherine’s.” Maggie’s eyes sparkled.
“And serving tea to Mother Superior.” Janet agreed.
Samantha finished. “Agreed.”
“Let it be so.” The three girls repeated in unison.
A hiss came from the old abbey, followed by a series of explosions that tore through the old structure throwing glass and stone with it.
Miraculously three students managed to survive.
“What were we thinking,” Ellen muttered, pulling her jacket closer and leaning into the campfire. “We could be at home cruising the square like everyone else.” She launched into another diatribe at her friends, Cassie, John, Amy and Tom. “No, we’re here freezing huddled around a campfire. When does the fun start?”
Tom handed her a wire hanger. “I think the fun starts when you stop whining.” He continued handing out hanger then passed a bag of marshmallows.
Ellen shoved her marshmallow speared hanger over the flames. It was completely dark out in the wooded hills so far from town and nothing to do. She watched the coals glowing at the base of the fire. Something shifted among them.
She jumped. “Did you see that?”
Amy frowned. “See what?”
Using her hanger as a pointer, she said, “Something’s in there, moving.”
“I don’t see anything.”
Tom jumped, “Hey.”
“Did you see it?”
He laughed. “No, if there was anything in there, it’s dead by now.”
“I just want to get back to town. It’s cold out here.” Ellen pulled her marshmallow in half blowing on one side.
John grinned. “If you’re really cold, you can sleep in my bag with me.” He popped a marshmallow in his mouth.
“Rather freeze, thanks.”
John had been making stupid jokes like that every since he had turned thirteen. It disgusted Ellen then and now that they were seventeen it still disgusted her.
Something slithered through the base of the fire.
Ellen jumped up. “There it is.”
The others seemed to be fixed on her instead of the creature in the fire.
Amy sighed. “Ellen, stop we’re not going back.”
The thing began to congeal into a form pulling itself from the coals and flames. As it grew, so did the fire.
John was the first to notice. “Ah, guys.” He pointed to the growing mass of molten heat shaping itself in front of them.
The creature took form like a flaming demon from some movie. It plunged its arm at John. He flipped over backwards in his chair. The others froze for a moment, before moving. Amy dove into a tent, Cassie ran through the woods towards the jeep.
It turned to Ellen, she stood there like a cobra swaying with the beast lost in the darkness of its eyes.
John grabbed a branch waving it at the demon. It turned. A low growl emanated from inside it and echoed into the night like a rolling laugh. The branch burst into a flaming ball. John dropped it with a yelp.
“Let’s go we have to get out of here.” He raced for the tent, grabbing Amy and pulling her out.
“Ellen, come on.” John ran towards the cars pulling Amy, stumbling with him.
The beast leaned its face closer to Ellen’s. They stood looking into each others eyes.
“What are you?” Ellen asked.
“You are not afraid,” the creature responded.
“Good, I am yours.”
“I don’t understand.” Ellen could hear the others screaming for her.
“You made me. You created me. I am a part of you and will serve you.”
A car engine started in the distance. Her name, called by her friends, echoed through the woods.
The beast continued to sway like a flame. “Your friends wait.”
Ellen smiled, backing toward the woods. “I guess we’re going back to town.”
“I wait for your call.” The golden orange mass turned towards her as she moved.
“Name?” Ellen called.
“Elbaz.” The creature called back as she raced through the woods.
Alex heard the scream of a woman and the roar of that beast, Lyon. She raced down the halls. She would keep him from killing again if she wasn’t already too late. Alex stopped breathless in his thrown room. He was standing over a woman lying at his feet. He had plunged a knife into her hip.
Alex threw herself between Lyon and the woman. “Stop,” she said, shoving him back. “Please, please stop.”
“She came here looking for me and now she shall die for it.” He advanced on the woman again.
Alex tried to restrain him, but he was a tall, muscular man and she could do little to slow him down let alone stop him. He pulled the knife from the woman’s hip. Her screams echoed down the halls. Alex grabbed his arm trying to stop him.
“Please, please,” she said, “don’t hurt her.”
He raised the knife preparing to plunge it into the woman again. She shrank into a ball on the floor. Alex could see the desperation in his victim’s eyes.
“I’ll do whatever you say. I won’t try to escape again. Just don’t hurt her. Please, let her go.”
Lyon turned, the knife still raise. “You swear by your words?”
“Yes, I swear.”
Lyon turned back to the woman. “Go before I change my mind.” He tossed the knife on the floor beside her.
She grabbed it, limped to the door and was gone.
Lyon advanced on Alex. She backed away, until the table at her back stopped her. Lyon took her face in his hands. He lowered his lips to hers. She would kiss him, a kiss for saving a life was a fair trade, she told herself.
She started to move away when he pushed her down on the table. His body held her pinned to the hard surface below. “Stop,” she screamed, pushing against him.
He pulled himself up on his hands, still crouched over her. She tried to wriggle free of him.
He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back. “You said you would do anything. Learn this here and now. You must be careful what you promise. Others will not be as forgiving as I, they will hold you to your words.”
Lyon rose, offering her his hand. She rolled from the table without taking it.
“You have no more need of me.”
Alex turned to find the young woman standing at the door. She tossed the knife at the beast who held her captive. “Here a token.”
Lyon caught it and tossed a bag of coins back.
The woman smiled at Alex and nodded, leaving the room. “All in a days work.” She called back over her shoulder.
Alex turned to face Lyon. Her stomach burned with anger, the heat rising to her face. “That was a lie. You staged the whole thing.”
“I like the red on your cheeks.” Lyon smiled, reaching a hand over that Alex dodged. “Perhaps you have another lesson to learn. You are quick to rescue even those who may not need it.”
“My word means nothing, you tricked me.”
“You are piling the lessons up today.” He laughed. “Your word is law here. You cannot try to escape, you swore.”
“There’s nothing to stop me.” Alex challenged. If he thought she was going to be tricked into a promise, he had another thing coming.
“Try now.” He returned. “Try to leave.”
Alex back towards the door, keeping the tall man in her sight. As she got close to the exit, she stopped. She tried to make herself continue but she felt held to the spot. She could go no further.
“What have you done?”
“Nothing, it is as you have spoken it.”
“I can’t move.”
Lyon sat in a throne-like chair between two windows. “Come look out the gardens. Tell me what the day is like.”
“I can’t move,” Alex said, before stumbling forward, confused. She walked to the window without a problem.
Lyon asked, “And the day?”
Alex glared at him. “It’s overcast.”
She unlatched the window and swung it open keeping Lyon in her field of vision.
“Try to escape, out of the window like you did last week.” He made no move to stop her.
She placed her hand on the windowsill but could make herself move no further. She felt nothing holding her back, nothing restraining her.
“Merely lean out.” Lyon suggested.
She leaned out, taking in the garden fully. She tried to raise her leg to climb over, but again she couldn’t move.
As soon as she gave up on the idea of escaping, she was free.
“You can tell me your name now, can’t you?” He whispered over her shoulder.
She shuddered and looked away from the creature, this man who was not human. “Alex.”
“Alex, that is all, just Alex?” His voice was barely a whisper as he brushed a strand of hair from her check.
Her chest constricted, her breathing was shallow. “Alexandra Thompson.” She was trembling despite her best efforts to stop.
He pulled her around to face him. “Welcome, Alex Thompson.”
Her stomach tightened as she realize new shackles had been placed on her tying her more tightly to her prison. He had held her here for more than a month and she had barely made it beyond the walls. Her promised now insured she would never make it that far again.
“PJ, wake up,” I heard whispered in my ear.
The only thing visible in the room was the red blinking numbers on the clock radio, 2:30 a.m. Rolling over I pulled the duvet around my head like a hood. The house was silent except for the faucet dripping down the hall. My yawn felt good as I let my eyes drift shut again.
“PJ, there’s not time.”
I jerked awake again. This time I saw a form stalking at the edge of the darkest corner of the room. Almost part of the shadows.
“Grab some clothes and your shoes. They’re coming.”
The form lurched towards me and became solid. A tall man, not much older than me. Except not like me. I was a high school senior. My biggest issue was picking a prom dress. The stubble on this guys face did nothing to hide its gaunt appearance. He raise a scar cut eyebrow before scooping up my clothes and shoes from the floor.
He jerked me out of bed. I stumbled. He didn’t pause, dragging me towards the shadows. It was then I realized this wasn’t a dream, that a man had broken in and meant to kidnap me.
I called out, more of a yelp than a cry for help. I was home alone, no one was here to help me.
He looked at me, his forehead wrinkled as if he was considering for the first time that I might not want to go with him.
I slammed my fist into his stomach, hoping to knock the air out of him. He faltered, but tightened his grip.
“You’re in danger.” His eyes glared into mine.
Oh God, a true wacko. Perhaps I could buy some time. “What kind of trouble?”
“That last dreamwalk brought you an enemy.”
“Don’t pretend with me, I know what you are, Dreamwalker.”
How did he know what I was? I didn’t even know what he was talking about.
A high-pitched squealing sound came from the corner where my full length mirror stood. Its surface undulated like waves on a lake.
“What the -” Before I could finish my question a wolf-like creature emerged, crouched on its hind legs.
It turned its red glowing eyes on me. The beast crouched and sprung. An arm wrapped around my waist pulling me back. My teeth jarred as I landed with the stranger on the front lawn. The shadow man jumped across the hood of a dark SUV.
“Get in,” he called, starting the engine.
A howl came from my room. I shivered as the feeling of pins and needles swept over me.
The man threw open the passenger door. “He won’t be far behind us.”
I stood frozen. What was I doing here?
“Look, you can either come with me or take your chances with that thing.”
The sound of wood splintering, glass smashing and fabric ripping came from upstairs. My grandmother had been worried about wild parties when she left me alone this weekend. I was never going to be able to explain this. The sound of the destruction seemed to be making its way downstairs.
“PJ, now,” the shadow man yelled over the noise.
I did the one thing I thought I would never do. Jump into a car with a complete and total stranger. But at least it was to escape a beast bent on tearing me apart. I shook my head and tried to focus on what was happening now. I was in a speeding car with a man I didn’t know and I didn’t know where he was taking me.
“Where are we going?”
“Some place safe.” The tires squealed as we round a corner.
“Who are you?”
“You know you didn’t really answer either of my questions, right?”
“What do you wish to know, Dreamwalker?”
“What is a dreamwalker and why do you keep calling me that?”
“I’m sorry PJ, you must be confused.”
“PJ? I’m not PJ. I’m Sarah.”
Jacob slammed on the brakes. The seatbelt cut into my chest as it jerked against me. The car skidded to a stop.
“You live at 367 Hargrove Street?” he asked, pulling a slip of paper from his pocket.
“Yes, Sarah Thompson, 367 Hargrove Street. That freak, PJ lives at 361.”
“I’m sorry, you must get out.”
This was my chance to escape from this maniac and his dog. As I opened the car door, I asked, “Where are you going?”
“To get the freak who’ll save us all.”
I watched the tail lights disappear into the darkness. Let Prairie Jones worry about the creep, at least I was safe. I heard a growl in the darkness behind me. I turned to see red eyes glowing.
I backed away. “Would you believe you want the girl down the street?”