Prompt Story: Emmeline

Emmeline

(WIP, Untitled supernatural murder mystery)

by

Lee Hulme

[All stories in this series:
1: Drew     2: Vicky     3: Egs     4: Danson     5: Egs & Danson     6: Nelle     7: Elliot     8: Emmeline     ]

 

Emmeline brushed back a lock of auburn hair, her hazel eyes anxious where they scanned the text in front of her. Pale skin growing paler as the librarian announced closing time, she hurriedly added some scribbles to her notes and closed the book, adding it to the pile on the table as she grabbed her bag and left through the side exit. She scanned the street as she walked swiftly to her car, seeing nothing—or more specifically, nobody—out of the ordinary.

Today’s notes should be the last pieces of the ritual. Half translated scraps, scattered around other books and scrolls, each piece pointing her to the next—but not today’s piece, this one was the last she needed. Tomorrow she would go shopping for supplies, and then she would be free—she would make herself free.

Arriving at the motel—a dingy-looking pace that was surprisingly pleasant on the inside—Emmeline parked and climbed the stairs to her room, her mind flashing back—as it often did—to the time before she was forced into this life of running and searching.

She didn’t know where he’d spotted her first, but she suddenly started seeing him everywhere she went, feeling someone following her, watching her. Then the cards started, little greeting cards proclaiming his devotion. Then small gifts. Then increasingly angry messages as she not only didn’t respond, but made her apartment more secure, ensured she was never out alone, left when she saw him show up, found places he didn’t know she would be.

When the first death threat came—complete with a sketch—she went to the police, who shrugged. They couldn’t do anything, maybe she shouldn’t have done whatever she did to encourage him, he’d probably go away soon enough if he didn’t get a rise out of her. In short, she was dismissed. When the threats increased, the same happened. By then she could tell them who he was, having done the legwork, but the response was the same: they didn’t take her seriously, and somehow it was her fault.

After the evening she had returned home to find a rat nailed to her door, with a note indicating that nails would also feature in her own future, she had packed a bag and moved to a currently empty apartment rented out by a friend in another county. At first it seemed the distance and the speed of the move had foiled him and things were quiet. Emmeline had even begun a new job, giving up her old apartment entirely and working in the archives at a nearby museum. Long days and late evenings looking through and organising old texts brought a calm back into her life and her mind, until she began to settle once more, making new friends and allowing her guard to drop the tiniest bit.

Then one night, after a few drinks with colleagues, she opened her apartment door to the sight and scent of hundreds of roses. She knew they were from him; he had found her. Reading the card attached to the closest batch confirmed what she knew—he was coming, and soon.

But she had prepared for this—even whilst pretending she was being silly, that she’d never need them, she had made plans. If he refused to let her be, and the police refused to help, she would turn to an authority outside of this world. Stumbling across an arcane text during her job in the archives, a little extra research had given her the information she needed to put together a ritual—all she needed was to track down the rest of it.

And so she had. Piece by piece, slowly eating through her savings, she had found the ritual. Now, supplies purchased, she sat in her living room and lit the candles, burned the herbs, chanted the words, and focused on the being she was trying to summon. A problem-solver, the texts had called it—though they had been a little vague on how the problems were solved and what it might want in return. Still, Emmeline had reasoned, her desperation overcoming her usual common sense, summoning it couldn’t hurt—she could always send it away again if it’s terms were unsatisfactory.

It had appeared, the shadows coalescing to reveal a tall cloaked and hooded figure, hovering just off the ground. Its eyes flickered green in the candlelight as it spoke, voice echoing around the small room.

“I am here. What is your desire?”

Mouth suddenly dry, Emmeline gaped for a few moments. The figure hovered patiently while she regained her voice.

“Someone’s stalking me, threatening me,wherever I go he finds me. I want him to stop.”

“I will kill this man for you,” the figure’s hood made a nodding motion.

“No, no, you don’t need to kill him, just make him stop this.”

The figure shook its hood, “I cannot change the will of this man, I can only remove him. This I will do. In exchange, I ask-“

Emmeline interrupted, voice trembling slightly, “No, hey, no, you know what? Never mind, you can go I’ll figure something else out. I don’t want to be responsible for murder. Not even of him.”

The hooded figure laughed, “Oh child, I cannot be called off once summoned. You should have known that or never called me. I will kill this man. And in the future, when you have a child of your own, you will dedicate it to me. It will be my servant in this world and many others, and I will reward it greatly.”

Emmeline shook her head, this had gotten far out of her control and she looked around desperately, trying to think of anything in the texts that might help, “No. No!”

“This is no longer your choice. You will have a child, and when it turns 5, you will summon me again. Do not fail me, or your fate will be far worse than the man I go to kill.”

Emmeline tried to shout another denial, but her vocal cords locked and the room began to spin. She vomited on the rug and tipped over sideways on the sofa, laying her head on the pillows. Sleep took her, and she watched the hooded figure appear in the motel room of her stalker. He slept peacefully, his dark hair spread across the pillow, skin sickly green in the light from the Motel sign.

The shadowy figure hovered over him and its sleeve rose. But instead of revealing a hand, the shadows simply moved, chasing around each other before locking around his mouth and nose, pinning him as he suffocated.

His struggles lasted only a few minutes, but Emmeline’s memory of his open, staring, red-blotched eyes lasted her a lifetime.

She remained celibate for a number of years, careful not to fulfill the prediction of the monster she had summoned – he surely couldn’t make her pregnant without she engage in sexual acts, she reasoned, so she would simply…not.

But, the 70s came, and with it drink, drugs, and a sexual revolution. She avoided all three as much as she could, but—whether through the monster’s power or not—at a party in a part of town she knew very little, abandoned by her drunk or tripping friends, there was nobody to remind her which food was drug free and she guessed wrongly.

Waking the next day, the rest of the previous night was something of a blur. The colours, the emotional release, the feeling of connectedness to everyone around her, the touch of a hopeful young suitor, and the longing she had suppressed for so long. She gave in. Just that one time, she gave in, and she led the young man to a private place where she took control, then left him behind, both sated.

It was enough. Even with her vague memory of rolling a condom onto him with her—out of practice but still skilled—mouth, clearly it had been enough.

She quit her job, left her apartment, moved away She cut all ties and ensured nobody could connect her to the baby’s father. When he was born, she left the father’s box blank and gave her child her own last name. Taking him home with her for the first time, she swore to his crying, red face that she would find a way to protect him from the monster that wanted to claim him. He would remain his own person—Christoper Danson would never be a slave to a murderous beast of shadows.

Emmeline searched. Mindful daily of the five year deadline drawing closer, she searched every text she could find. Deal breaking, binding spells, hiding them from view—whatever she could find, she tried, with no idea if any of them would work. The young boy became used to sitting quietly through rituals—wearings markings, holding candles or other objects, joining in chants, and more. He learned quickly not to ask about these things—all his mother would say was that they were for his protection.

On his 5th birthday, Danson had no party to look forward to. No presents, no cake. He and his mother simply waited until the clock hit midnight, bringing the fated day around.

The monster solidified in the shadows, as it had all those years earlier when Emmeline was young. She looked different now. Aged with worry, her auburn hair turned to steel grey, eyes watery and filled with the fear and stress of so many years fearing the figure now appearing before her.

“You have been busy, child, trying to keep from me that which I created in you, that which is my payment for services rendered.”

“You can’t take him,” Emmeline stood in front of Danson, her child sitting frightened but calm on her bed.

“I cannot,” the hooded figure agreed, “You have bound him so tightly not even I can break his hold. He cannot serve me now.”

“Then why are you here? Leave!” In her victory Emmeline was immediately more forceful.

The hooded figure chuckled, “I will leave. But your transgressions cannot be overlooked. You denied me my payment, for now. Oh, I will collect him, some day, be sure of that. But you. You will not be there to see.”

Emmeline jerked as her body rose into the air, arms and legs twitching. Her eyes flicked from side to side, throat working as she tried to scream through paralysed vocal cords. This couldn’t be how it ended, she screamed inside, not after everything. Her boy, her baby boy, he must be safe!

The hooded figure chuckled as lines of blood began to appear across her flesh, sticking her clothes to her as the flow sped up, dripping to the floor, forming a puddle that grew until it touched the bed that Danson sat on, the youngster watching in horror as his mother bled out in front of him.

Holding off the pain that wanted to make her reel, faint, vomit, Emmeline intoned a chant in her head, one she had held in reserve, just in case, summoning something else, another desperate hope, that she might be able to protect him.

Five years old, taught from birth to sit still and not interfere, to accept the strange things that happened during and after rituals, Danson’s love for his mother finally broke through and he leapt off the bed, diving at the hooded figure with a cry. Passing right through a wave of cold, clinging shadow, he hit the wall behind headfirst, knocking himself out for a few moments. It was long enough for the figure to finish and drop his mother to the floor in a pale, crumpled, heap.

The figure turned to Danson as the child fought not to wail.

“I will get you, child.”

The figure dissolved back into shadows and vanished.

For a moment there was silence in the room, before Danson’s control dropped and his cries, for his mother, for his own pain, for his terror, rose until they woke the neighours. Help was coming—but it was too late.

Writing prompt used:

5

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Prompt Story: Elliot

Elliot

(WIP, Untitled supernatural murder mystery)

by

Lee Hulme

[All stories in this series:
1: Drew     2: Vicky     3: Egs     4: Danson     5: Egs & Danson     6: Nelle     7: Elliot     8: Emmeline     ]

The rest of the night had passed without further incident. Danson and Erin had arrived, been filled in, and immediately gone to work. Danson in trying to track down the missing people in Nelle’s group, the occult student Cal in particular, and Erin in trying to figure out what paranormal thing was happening. Egs and Nelle were ordered to rest, and after a token protest only, they curled under a blanket each on Egs’ queen-sized bed.

Nelle, exhausted, fell asleep almost immediately. Egs drifted slightly, troubled by strange dreams and breathing problems, a feeling of desperate panic occasionally bringing her up from the edge of rest, gasping for air, her heart pounding as if the beast’s fist rested on her chest again, before settling once more into the grey fog between waking and sleep.

As the dawn light began to creep through the edges of the curtains, Egs left Nelle to rest and went to see what Erin and Danson had discovered.

Danson had fallen asleep on the sofa, arms and legs akimbo, mouth open and snoring gently, leaving his notes on the coffee table. He had, it seemed tracked down a friend of Cal, or at least a name and a place he was likely to hang out.

Erin was hyper, almost thrumming as she paced the room. Whether this was on coffee, lack of sleep, discovery, or all three, Egs was unsure, but the doctor did have some news.

“There is definitely something,” she confirmed, speaking at high speed, “I don’t know what I missed by not being here when you had your visitation, but all around the house there is something pressing, like something trying to crush it’s way in, or keep you in, I’m not sure. Look!” She showed Egs a number of handheld instruments and calculations, none of which meant anything to her but seemed important to Erin. “And when I checked you and Nelle and Danson over, I found out some interesting information. Nelle is covered in…whatever it is that’s outside, like a bunch of goop just all over her, while you and Danson have something like a layer of shielding which seems to protect you. So it – whatever it is – needed to bring someone in, in order to get to you.”

“Ok…” Egs ventured, “So what can we do about it? I’m not sending Nelle away until I know she’s safe.”

“Oh, no, of course not. We need the book. The ritual book. Find that, and we can probably find a way to reverse whatever ritual they did – or at least I’d know where to start looking. “

“Looks like Danson has a lead on that, but it won’t help until tonight,” Egs sighed. “I guess we’re waiting the day out, then.”

Erin yawned, hyperactivity suddenly replaced by weariness at the mere thought of time to rest, “Then I will get get some sleep, if that’s alright?”

Egs nodded and gestured down the hallway, “Take the spare room, it’s pretty comfortable and the bed’s made up.”

With Erin gone, she plumped herself down in her armchair, watching the day brighten from the window. Eventually she, too, fell into sleep.

***

By the time evening rolled around, everyone had slept – at least a little – and fed. Nelle and Erin remained at the house, with orders to stay put, stay quiet, and call if anything happened.

Egs drove, on Danson’s directions, to a bar they both recognised on the edge of the city. Outside hung a slightly grimy pride flag, swaying gently in the breeze. A clump of people dressed in combinations of everything from sparkles to leather stood outside smoking in the chill air.

Paying to enter, their police cards hidden for now, they made their way through the crowd of dancers and drinkers to the three-person-deep queue at the bar. Edging around to the side, Danson’s size and ruddy demeanour helped them gain the attention of one of the staff, a short lady in a backwards flat cap, bright red hair and freckles on pale skin peeking through underneath. She gave them a cheery smile as she came over, skin sheened with sweat under the lights.

“What can I do for you two?” she leaned over the bar and shouted.

“Looking for Elliot, he here?” Danson shouted back, his naturally booming voice easily reaching her ears.

“Aw man, that boy in trouble again?” she shook her head, smile fading, “Yeah, he’s here, check by the arcade machines. But don’t hurt him too badly, okay? He’s had it rough.”

“Not here to hurt him, don’t worry,” Danson gave her a reassuring smile, “Just need to talk to him.”

“Oh! Good!” The bartender seemed genuinely happy on Elliot’s behalf, “Can I get you two drinks while you’re here?”

Danson shook his head politely and they set off through the crowd to the far corner, where stood some old, mostly disused, arcade machines.

“Stay here?” Danson asked Egs, “Lemme try him first, back me up if I signal.”

Egs nodded her agreement and leaned up against a pillar, within sight but far enough away to not be connected with Danson.

“Hi there,” a tall brunette with a perfectly applied mask of makeup approached Egs.

“Hey yourself,” Egs responded, “Not here to meet someone, but thank you.”

The woman smiled her understanding and disappeared, only to be replaced by another, more Egs’ height this time, with dark red lips and black hair in a short quiff, fake tan smell clear even above the scents of the bar, “Hey good lookin’. You-“

Egs cut her off with a handwave, “Not tonight, but thank you.”

The woman retreated into the crowd, shrugging.

Mentally willing Danson to be done soon, Egs missed the approach of a tall, stocky man with perfectly even teeth beneath a too-wide smug smile, dressed in a shimmering blue button-down shirt that did very little for his sallow, sightly grey, complexion, “Hey beautiful, saw you turning those women away, you wanna real man, right? That’s why I come here, looking for ladies like you.”

“Ladies like me,” Egs responded, deadpan.

“Yeah, you come here, figure you’ll avoid the meat market, but you want it, really.”

“That so?” Egs turned to glare at him, with zero effect.

“So answer me one question, honey.”

“Alright,” Egs reached under her jacket and unclipped the hidden telescopic baton, palming it easily, “Give me your best line.”

“Did it hurt,” he was grinning now, shoving himself closer to Egs, one hand now resting on her hip, his beer-breath in her ear “When you fell from heaven?”

Egs leaned closer, putting her lips right next to his ear and flicking out the baton behind her in one swift move, “Well it didn’t fucking feel pleasant!” she shouted.

The man reared back slightly, his drunken brain working out that he had just been rejected, “You fucking bitch!”

He made a grab for Egs, who brought around the baton, the length of it hitting him in the upper thigh. It was enough to make him yowl, and those closest enough to hear it above the music turned to see – and to laugh and cheer drunkenly when they realised what was happening.

Egs placed the baton, point first, against the man’s chest as he clutched his thigh, tears of pain filling his eyes, anger filling his face. With her free hand she showed him her police badge, preventing anything that might have come next.

“Get the fuck out,” she told him, “And if I hear you’ve ever come back here, or anywhere else, trolling for women who aren’t interested, be sure I’ll find you. And the next time I use this, it won’t be your thigh.”

Another drunken cheer followed the man as he limped out of the bar and Danson’s voice spoke from behind Egs, “Stood up just in time to watch that show. Good job on that pile of garbage! Guess our secret’s out, but that’s alright, Elliot wants to talk properly. Let’s get us all out of here.”

Together they pushed back through the crowd, some of whom insisted on thanking Egs for removing the cockroach in their midst – they’d seen him or his type plenty of times before. She took this with typical equinamity, giving out her name and which station to call if they ever needed help.

In a nearby all-night cafe, they ordered coffee that was more scald than taste and sandwiches that were more bread than bacon, and Egs finally got a good look at Elliot.

He was skinny, which made him look taller than he actually was, but Egs guessed him at around 5ft 9. His pale, greenish complexion might be due to the lights, but the bags under his eyes, the hollow cheeks, and the constant gnawing of his top lip suggested otherwise. Clearly he worried constantly over something. As he ate his sandwich with gusto, Egs noted the ragged ends of his sleeves, and the sunken collarbone poking through the top of the torn top of his thin sweater. It looked like it had been some time since he’d been able to buy anything new. It could be a fashion choice of course, but, Egs instinct said otherwise. It looked like he was barely on the edge of starvation.

“So what can you tell us?” Egs prompted, once Elliot had finished his sandwich and begun eyeing her half-eaten one. She looked at what was left and placed it on his plate, “Talk to us, we’re only trying to help. Tell us about Cal.”

Elliot picked apart the sandwich as he spoke, “We were friends. Which was weird, he was smart, super smart, and I’m not, but we knew each other in school and he didn’t dump me when he went to Uni. I figured he would, but he never did. He’d text me after being at the library or whatever and we’d hang out. I think he liked being with someone who wasn’t always tryna to prove how smart they were. He didn’t tell me much about what he did, but I know there’s some freaky shit in it. He told me it was all rubbish, just studies, but I never liked it.

“So, this one day he showed me this book, and he was proper excited, like it was this huge deal, said he’d translated it and it was gonna make him a big name. Asked me if I wanted to come try somee ritual or whatever out with him and some friends. Told him fuck no, don’t mess with that shit, but I never saw him after that so I guess he did it anyways,” he looked up at Egs and Danson, “You might think I’m nuts but that shit wasn’t right. It got him, I know it did, I dreamed about it.”

“Firstly, Elliot, believe me when I say we know you’re not nuts,” Danson leaned forwards, jolting the table slightly as he put his hands down, then lifting them out of the surface of grease with a slight grimace, “We know something happened to Cal after that ritual – and to Cal’s friends. And it’s happening to us, because of something in our past. I don’t think we can get Cal back safely, I think it’s too late for that, but you can help us to save some others. Please, tell us your dream.”

Elliot closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them, staring at the table as he recounted, “It was back at school, where we first made friends. I was quiet, and poor, and queer, and I didn’t have many, but he wasn’t ever ashamed to hang out and he stood up for me. School sucked, but there were some people like Cal that made it ok. I dreamed we were back in class, Mr Engells tryna teach us geography, both of us bored to shit like always. The bell went and we ran outside for break. I was ahead a bit and when I looked back, he was being dragged away by this…fuck, this thing. Fucking huge, giant arms, all hairy, so many teeth, and it was dragging him backwards into this circle of darkness, like a door or something. I tried to get to him but I wasn’t fast enough and he was gone.”

Elliot was crying now, and Egs handed him a sheaf of paper napkins, “You’re doing fine Elliot, we’re almost done. Can you tell us when you had the dream?”

“A few nights after he asked me about doing the ritual.”

Egs and Danson nodded together, the answer was as they expected.

“Thank you, Elliot,” Danson said gently. If we have any more questions, can we contact you?”

Elliot nodded, “Best at the bar, I don’t really have…best at the bar.”

As Danson went to pay, Elliot used the bathroom and Egs raided hers and Danson’s wallets.

When Elliot returned, Egs proffered a hand for shaking, “Thank you, Elliot, for your help. I really hope things improve for you, and if you need our help you know where we are.”

Elliot nodded and looked at his shaken hand as Egs and Danson exited the cafe. He now held as much cash as the two of them had carried, and sat back down at the table, eyes once again filling with tears at the knowledge that, at least for a day or two, he could eat.

Writing Prompt used:

19

If you enjoy the stories and blogs on my site, please share them, every one of those helps.
And if you really enjoy them, please check out my Patreon, or the tip jar on the sidebar to the right, and consider helping me do more and better things!
Thanks for reading!

Posted in LGBT, LGBTQ, Short Stories, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prompt Story: Nelle

Nelle

(WIP, Untitled supernatural murder mystery)

by

Lee Hulme

[All stories in this series:
1: Drew     2: Vicky     3: Egs     4: Danson     5: Egs & Danson     6: Nelle     7: Elliot     8: Emmeline     ]

Nelle looked frantically behind her, tripping over the bottom step to the front door of the house she had been sent to. The sound of padding feet echoed in the darkness of the street, lights flickering out as the Thing approached. A snarl reached her ears as she hammered on the door, drowning the sound out with her cries, “Please, please let me in, please, it’s after me, please!”

The door opened and she fell into a pair of arms, who pulled her quickly inside and closed the door.

Released, she fell to the floor, curling into a ball as the stranger checked through the side windows.

Only when the stranger knelt by her, placing a reassuring hand on her brow, did she stop whimpering long enough to hear what they said.

“It’s OK, it’s OK. It’s gone, the lights are back, you’re safe. Come on, let’s get you somewhere more comfortable. I’ll make some hot chocolate, and you can tell me what’s going on.”

“Y-you’ll never believe me,” Nelle sobbed, allowing herself to be led to a sofa ad bundled into a soft blanket. Looking up at the stranger for the first time, she saw a sad and knowing smile on a light brown face, dark eyes reflecting the light from a soft lamp, a dressing gown tied hastily around her waist.

“I think you’ll be surprised what I believe these days,” she said softly, padding to the kitchen in pair of bunny slippers, “I’m Tamara Egerton, but call me Egs, everyone does.”

Nelle nodded silently and watched as Egs prepared hot chocolate and brought it over, sitting across from her on an armchair.

“Okay, first up, can you tell me your name?”

“Nelle,” she said quietly. “I’m Nelle.”

“Alright Nelle, thank you. Now just take your time, tell me what brought you here, and how I can help.”

Nelle gazed into her hot chocolate, letting the steam warm her face. She closed her eyes, remembering the morning before, and took herself back there, starting to speak.

“I woke up yesterday morning, same as usual, time for lectures – I’m part-time at Uni. Got up, made coffee, toast. Looked at my phone and there was this new icon there, no name, just a symbol.

“Figured it was something new on android or whatever, some new Google thing, but it didn’t open. So I left it, went in to Uni, did some stuff at the library, saw some friends. There’s this guy in the group keeps flirting with me, doesn’t really like me telling him I’m not interested in anyone like that, so he gets bit pestery and I have to deal with him. So I asked if anyone else had this app thing, but nobody did, and I didn’t think much else about it between him and studying and the usual stuff. Today was the same, normal, Uni then work – I do delivery for the Asda in town – then home, food, some stuff for an essay, went to bed. Got woke up, I guess an hour ago now, phone went mental – buzzing, alarm, ringtones, music, all going off.

“Turns out it’s this app, really wants me to come to this address. I’ll show you the thing but it just popped up this notification, filled the whole screen, wouldn’t let me dismiss it or close it. Restarted the fucking thing and everything, still just got this message. Go to this address, go to this address, go to this address, all flashing in big letters. Tried to go back to sleep and it went mental again – said ‘Go now or else!’

“So I’m thinking it’s like a prank or something, some prick from Uni got hold of my phone or it got hacked or something and someone’s having me on, right? Before I get chance to try anything else to fix it, there’s this noise, like a snorting, breathing sound, from my wardrobe. Like there’s a monster in there, like I’m a scared kid having a bad dream, but I’m awake. I wasn’t gonna go open that, but I didn’t know what to do, then it started opening the door itself, and I saw eyes, two eyes, right at the top, like fucking tall, all yellow and shit, staring at me. Then this fucking hand, this hairy fucking hand, all claws and shit came out, and that was fucking enough.

“So I ran the fuck out, and I know this street so I run to here, and it followed me the whole way, I heard it, running and breathing and growling, right til you got me inside. And that’s it. I don’t know who you are, lady, or what that thing was, but I think…I think maybe…maybe it’s a thing I did to myself. Cos look, before I got here I looked at my phone one last time, and look…”

Nelle trailed off and showed her phone to Egs. In large, bright, flashing letters, a fullscreen notification read

YOU SUMMONED ME CHILD. RUN. RUN TO HER. YOUR DOOM IS CLOSE

Egs sat back and looked thoughtfully at Nelle, as they both sipped their drinks.

“So Nelle, you have no idea who I am, what I do?”

Nelle shook her head.

“Okay. Do you know what this…whatever it is means, about you summoning it?”

Nelle nodded, cringing down into herself, “Some people I know, a few weeks back, we were hanging out and we did this thing, this ritual. One of them’s studying occult rituals or some weird shit, and they had this book, and we did this thing. It was mean to be a laugh, I dunno, we were off our heads, but it worked. Like, this tear opened and this beast came out and we all ran and then Cal disappeared, he’s been reported missing and everything, then Ang was gone to but nobody cares but us cos she’s just a junkie as far as the cops are concerned, and then that other woman from the bar died and I think that was the guy with the book, Ed, cos it had protection stuff in it – I read some of it and it said it had to be carved on a person, but I don’t think it worked cos I’ve not seen him since either. I think it’s getting us one at a time and it’s me next. But I don’t know why it sent me here.” Nelle trailed off, energy failing her.

“I have an idea,” Egs said softly. “Let me tell you a little about myself. I’m a police detective, me and my partner are working on that case – the murder of the young lady from the bar. And it seems that when we were younger, our parents knew each other, and promised us to this thing. Why, we don’t know and whatever it is, isn’t telling us – but then the circle managed to banish the thing back before it could collect. And it seems you and your friends are the reason it could come back. Now, it doesn’t seem to be able to get to me and Danson easily, for some reason, and it may think that sending you here will open a door for it. We have an expert on this type of stuff helping us figure things out and I think it would benefit us all to get her and my partner here, if you’re willing. Perhaps we can get some way to understanding, and stopping, this.”

Nelle nodded, eyes lowered, “If I can’t take it back, I can help fix it.”

Egs nodded, “Exactly. You stay right here, hon, maybe lie down, get some rest. I’ll get on the phone.”

Egs left the room, closing the door to her bedroom quietly behind her as she dialled first Danson, who grumbled his way into wakefulness and promised to be there asap, and then Erin Yates, who was surprisingly chipper for being woken and assured Egs that she would be there immediately.

Egs went to the bathroom next, splashing water across her face and taking a number of measured breaths. This was a step closer to figuring out how to make this thing go away, so why did she feel even more trapped?

The bathroom light flickered and she looked at it suspiciously.

As it flickered again, a weight pressed into her chest and she gasped a breath, looking into the mirror.

A beast stood to one side of her, more shadow than solid. Tall, it was covered in coarse hair, yellow eyes staring as it’s fangs glimmered in the faint light from the streetlamp outside. A single, enormous, clawed fist, pressed against her chest, threatening to stop her heart even as it pounded in fear, as she gasped again for breath.

The bathroom door slammed open and Nelle was there, a hand on Egs shoulder, brandishing a kitchen knife, her expression almost as fierce as the beast. The reflection blinked once, snarled, and withdrew, fading as the bathroom light flickered back on.

Egs turned, sagged onto the toilet seat, and looked up at Nelle, “Thank you.”

Nelle nodded, the fierceness leaving her face, replaced again with fear as she sank to the floor next to Egs, knife still gripped tight in her hand.

Writing prompt used:

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