(WIP, final installment of “Perspective”)
[All stories in this series:
1: Drew 2: Vicky 3: Egs 4: Danson 5: Egs & Danson 6: Nelle 7: Elliot 8: Emmeline 9: Josie 10: Nelson 11: Jase 12: Hilda 13: Jase & Danson 14: Drew & Vicky 15: Donna & Elliot 16: Creature]
The minder nodded to the woman, who stepped forwards, pushing Jase out of the way with her foot.
“Hey!” Danson growled.
She glanced his way, and he gasped as his heart palpitated in his chest, before she looked away again, back to the creature.
It writhed, still in shadow, but trapped in the crystal circle she had formed. Shapes far from human half-formed, then dissipated before solidifying again, momentarily something else.
She raised her arms and chanted. Lights swirled around her, reaching out and colliding with the shadows, drawing them forwards before knocking them backwards.
When the lights faded, two tendrils of glistening light and shadow stretched out from the creature, one wrapped around Egs, one wrapped around Danson.
“There,” the woman said, “The ties that remain.”
“What does that mean?! Egs asked, passing her hand through the tendril.
“Those aren’t real things right now,” the woman explained impatiently, “Just representations. This thing told you it refused to leave without taking one of you. It really meant it couldn’t leave while both of you still held it here. It’s not strong enough to break both bonds.”
“Seriously. What?” Danson asked this time.
The minder growled softly in annoyance, speaking harshly, “Things work both ways, do you think the universe doesn’t try to exert balance? This thing extracts a promise, a deal, whatever. In return it binds itself to the deal-maker and, in your cases, the humans it was promised. It can’t eat, or whatever it does, whatever it gets from this stuff, without breaking out of this dimension, so it’s weak. It’s weak, so it can’t break both of the remaining bonds – you two.”
“We need to get out of here,” the woman said. “The spell fades.”
The minder nodded, “Hold onto your stomachs.”
The room went black and Egs’ and Danson’s stomachs flip-flopped as they swirled away into, and then back out of, the void.
They landed on the floor, in a tangled heap with Jase, who grunted and began to wake.
Before anyone could speak, or stand, there was a hammering at the back door.
“Let us in!” the minder shouted.
Danson untangled himself and opened the door.
The minder entered and motioned to the woman and the creature, still bound in the circle, although the crystals now floated, “They can’t get in without you letting us, you’re protected.”
“We’re protected from the creature,” Danson said, “Why can’t she come in?”
“Her magic came from it,” the minder shrugged. “So she needs you to let her in, too.”
“Wait, what now?” Egs came up behind Danson.
Th minder glared at her, “You heard me. Now let them both in so we can end this, or we’ll walk this thing up and down your street and let it loose on the crowd that shows up.”
Danson backed up a step, “Fine, they can come in.”
At his words, the feeling of an invisible barrier dropping flew through them, and the woman stepped inside, baring her teeth at Egs. The creature, still swirling, floated in behind.
“Why on earth would you let her in?!” Egs hissed.
“I’m not fond of it either,” Danson murmured back, “But look, if she can break these bonds or whatever, that thing goes away, and we’re safe.”
Egs sighed and turned her glare on the woman, “Right. Biggest problem first. Alright magic lady, what next? How do we break these bonds and get rid of it?”
The woman smiled, “Well-”
“No!” Jase sat up with a cry. “No! No!”
Danson took two large steps and knelt by his side, arms enveloping him, “Hey, sweetie, it’s ok, I’m here. I’m here.”
Jase shuddered against Danson, “It got me, Danson. It got me.”
“I’ve got you, love,” Danson whispered in his ear. “I’ve got you now. It took you to threaten us, but you’re safe now, and we’re gonna send it back where it came from. Right?” He glared at the woman, who nodded, unfazed.
“Great,” Egs interjected. “How? I don’t suppose it’ll stay in there much longer.”
Even as she spoke, the shadows were pushing at the boundaries of the crystals, a glimmer of light showing wherever it touched the wall, shoving outwards, looking for a weak spot.
The woman smiled, “One of you needs to break the bond.”
“How?” Egs demanded. “You made a deal with this thing, got your magic, now you want it gone. Great. Stop being fucking cryptic and mysterious and tell us how.”
The woman laughed, “Only three ways I know of. One, give it what it wants – one of you hands yourself over. Two, death – one of you dies. Three, strong magic breaks one of the bonds – which will probably kill whoever it is anyway because the bond is tied to your life force. Also it might kill both of you anyway because this thing will fight with everything it has and try to take us all down, and I can’t break a bond and keep those walls sturdy, so it might get out. Choose how, and choose who. I can’t hold it much longer and still have the energy to fix this.”
“Shut up and sit down,” Egs said, whirling on Danson, who had begun to stand and open his mouth.
“Not a chance,” Danson said from his seated position.
Jase clung to Danson, misery written across his face.
“Jase, let me go!” Danson growled.
“No,” Jase whispered, holding on tight. “I can’t.” He wrapped himself around Danson, who couldn’t untangle himself without hurting his lover.
Egs turned to the woman, “Can you make him sleep?”
Danson wrenched himself out of Jase’s arms with a shout as the woman waved her arm, sending him back to the floor with a thud.
Egs knelt by Jase, who refused to look at her, sobbing “It’s ok. I know you love me, and I love you, my friend. But I know how much you love him, and how much he loves you. If he died, I wouldn’t have anyone who loves me like you love him to hold me together. But he does. And I need you to do that, ok? When he blames himself. When he hurts. I need you to love him with everything you are.”
“I will. And I’ll still turn myself in. For the stuff I did. And if he still wants me, I will. I promise.”
Egs pulled Jase to her, hugging him tightly, “I know he does. And hey, I might not even die, this might just be us being really dramatic for no reason.”
Jase gave a sniffle combined with a laugh and began coughing.
Egs pounded him on the back until he stopped, then kissed him on the cheek before standing.
The woman rolled her eyes, “Done?”
Egs nodded, refusing to be baited.
The woman spun her hands together and the bond of light and shadow between Egs and the creature showed again.
Now the shadows began to press against the barrier in earnest. The swirls of shadow formed a twisted mouth and began to snarl, wordlessly, as if the creature, in its anger and fear, had lost the ability to properly imitate its prey.
The woman grasped the tendril in her hands as it turned suddenly solid.
Egs cried out as she felt the full strength of the bond. It reached around her waist and curled inside her, touching her heart, her spine, playing in her brain, sparking off her nerves until she fell to her knees, gasping, screams swallowed by the height of the pain that criss-crossed her entire body.
The woman clenched her fists tighter and Egs found her voice again and screamed, wordlessly, saliva and blood drooling from her mouth.
“Almost!” the woman shouted.
A tendril of shadow burst free of the crystal cage and hurled towards the woman.
The minder threw himself in the way and was speared through the chest.
He cried out as the tendril lifted him from the ground and threw him sideways.
The wall he flew into cracked, and he landed on the floor, bleeding from the nose and mouth.
The tendril arced back again, coming in for another attack.
The woman cried out again, this time without words, and tore her hands apart.
The glittering bond exploded into light and dark shards, filling the room for an instant before fading away.
The woman ducked and rolled away from the tendril and came to her knees, hands up, chanting a new spell.
The shadow screamed and writhed as it was crushed into itself, growing smaller and smaller, until the woman snarled through bared teeth and shoved forwards.
The shadow blinked out of existence.
The imprisoning crystals grew dark.
Egs fell to one side, still.
The woman, still on her knees, shuddered once and fell forwards, propping herself on her elbows , head hanging low, breathing heavily.
Jase skidded to Eg’s side and checked desperately for any sign of life. Finding nothing, he forced himself to to breathe deeply, and try again. A small, weak pulse in her neck made him bolt for the phone.
Ambulance on the way, he looked at the room full of injured and unconscious people and wondered how to explain it.
The woman sat back on her heels, “Don’t worry,” she told him.”I clean up my messes. I can’t fix her,” she nodded to Egs, “That needs a different type of magic. But I can get rid of us.”
In another moment, she and the minder were gone, the crack in the wall all that remained, and Danson was waking up with a groan.
“What the fuck, Egs!” Danson grumbled, looking around. His eyes alighted on her still body, “No, shit, Egs!” He crawled over to her, shaking his head groggily.
Jase knelt by him.
“What happened? Is she…”
Jase shook his head, “She’s alive, but I think only just. I’ll tell you everything, but the ambulance is coming, and we need to tell the same story, ok? She just collapsed, that’s all. We were talking, and she stood up, then fell. Just that, really simple.”
Danson looked sideways at him and Jase hung his head.
“Simple lies are the easiest,” Danson murmured, “You know bit about that.”
Jase nodded slowly, “I’ll turn myself in as soon as I know she’s ok.”
Danson nodded and, hesitating, put one arm around Jase,”I’ll help. And I’ll visit, if it comes to that. I’ll visit. And I’ll…I’ll wait.
Epilogue – 6 months later
Egs lay still in a hospital style bed, purchased with Danson’s money and installed in the spare room of his house. Machines made their noises around her, monitoring, ensuring all was well. A carer bustled busily, noting down readings, confirming a successful tube feeding, preparing to leave for her next appointment.
Danson had fought to get Egs out of the hospital, even once she was stable. The risk of issues was too high, the doctors argued. But he persisted, and as she had given him emergency power of attorney after her wife had left, they wore forced to eventually back down, though not without letting him know that if she died it would be his fault.
Danson understood their concerns. But he understood Egs, too, and knew where she would prefer to be. Besides, this coma was not the same as the doctors were used to. It was mystical, somehow. Jase had told him the weird magical woman had said it needed some other kind of magic to cure it, so he wanted her where he could bring in anyone he found to try and bring her out of it.
A parade of people had come through the house, and none had yet succeeded, but he kept looking. Out there, somewhere, was the person who had the magic to bring her back, and he would find them.
Besides, what else did he have now? After Jase turned himself in, his position in the police force had quickly become tenuous. Eventually he had allowed them to give him a lateral shift, and now he rode a desk all day, doing paperwork, consulting with others on how to run, solve, and bring their cases to court. They called him an expert consultant, and he was good at it, but they all know that what he really was, was tainted.
But here, in this crowded visiting room, watching Jase walk towards him, Danson smiled. He held out his arms and they held each other close for as long as they were allowed.
“Hey,” he said, sitting down in his uncomfortable plastic chair.
“Hey,” Jase said, sitting on his own uncomfortable chair.
And as the rest of the room faded away, leaving nothing but the two of them, they smiled at each other from across the aged, pockmarked table.
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