Gathering Shadows – Part 3 December 28, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm, serial fiction, serials
Morning came to the caverns, heralded only by the change in the air – the damp chill of night was replaced with a dry heat as the sun rose. Aurengrey sat next to his father, both of them with their backs propped up against the wall of the cave. He quietly told Aurelius everything that had happened, over a simple breakfast of dried fruit mixed into boiled oats.
Aurelius set down his bowl. “The wyverns were bred to make war on Air kin?”
“More like engineered, if Galen is to be believed,” Grey said. “And Tairwyn agrees. It’s no wonder we’ve done so poorly, we thought we were just hunting beasts, not fighting a war. ”
Aurelius nodded. “The Mountain kindreds would recognize a war if anyone did. They don’t wear that armor for nothing; they’ve fought countless wars under the northern peaks.” He let out a humorless laugh. “I asked them once why they did something that senseless – they said it wasn’t about making sense, it’s about winning.”
“The wyverns are certainly winning,” Grey said, frowning down at his meager breakfast. “Tairwyn explained the tactics they’ve used. The first wave of wyverns took out the hounds, like scouts knocking out perimeter guards. Then the next wave came in, taking land and holding it, forcing us to give up the more resource rich areas. And now we’re here, under siege.” He poked at his cooling, lumpy oatmeal. “They chased off or killed all the herds to starve us out, and when that didn’t finish us off they poisoned the wells with the carcasses of their own dead.”
Aurelius leaned his head back, his face drawn and lined and his voice was heavy with fatigue. “What could have bred such hate into an animal? What could make it go so far against its own nature?”
Grey gave his father a worried look. The poison seemed to have made Aurelius age decades in the week that Grey had been gone. He clenched his fist, the old anger burning in his heart again. “I don’t know how it was done, but Galen told us who. As soon as we get the noncombatants to safety, I’m going to get some answers.”
Aurelius opened one eye and turned his head a little toward Grey. “Can I give you some advice, son? Don’t go north unless you’re sure it’s for the right reasons.”
“What do you mean?” Grey said, his brow furrowed.
Aurelius struggled to sit up straighter, and looked him in the eye. “I mean that vengeance isn’t a luxury we can afford. What do you think you’ll find up there, hmm? Someone with a “villain” sign hanging around his neck? And what would you do if you did find the culprits?”
Grey was taken aback by the sudden vehemence in his father’s voice. “I don’t know, but I’d do something!”
Aurelius gave him a hard look. “What exactly? Would you balance the scales by murdering an equal number of men, women and children to match the ones we’ve lost?
“Of course not, but – “
“- But nothing. Even if you could figure out who is to blame and exact some sort of vengeance, what would it accomplish outside of getting their full attention? We have barely survived their beasts, what would we do against the men who created them? You’ve seen how powerful Galen is. There is a whole nation of people like him to our north.”
Grey looked away, his fists clenching and unclenching in frustration. “We don’t know that. Galen thinks they were all killed off by their own monsters.”
“Which means the place is overrun with wyverns and you’d be flying off to your death,” Aurelius said. He gripped Grey’s shoulder and gave it a little shake. “I know you want something to fight, someone to blame, but you have to think beyond yourself. If you’re going to lead Cyclonis, you need to focus on what is best for everyone.”
“What do you mean, lead Cyclonis? You’re the chief.”
Aurelius let him go and leaned back against the wall again. “Not right now, I’m not. Eating breakfast tired me out, son. I don’t even want to think about wrangling with the council. I’m afraid you’re it for the foreseeable future. But don’t worry; your old man will be around for a while yet to knock sense into your head when you get out of line.” He reached over and ruffled Grey’s hair, like he used to when Grey was still a boy.
“Go on, Dad!” Grey said, but was grinning as he ducked away. The smile did not last long, though. “Do you think we’ll ever get the plains back?”
“I’d like to think so,” Aurelius said, with a tired shrug. “But who knows? If Galen’s city is as beautiful as you say, we might not want to. And there are girls there. You won’t find many your own age here.”
Grey let out a huff of laughter. “I had noticed that, thank you Dad.” He got up and picked up their empty bowls. “Do you want anything else?”
“No, but I’m sure you do. I can hear your stomach growling from down here.”
“That wasn’t my stomach,” Grey said. He looked around and saw his hound, Cavall, staring intently down the passage to the lower storage caverns. His hackles were up and a rumbling growl bubbled up out of his throat. Grey put the bowls back down and traded them for the sword he had borrowed from Tairwyn. Aurelius struggled to get up, but Grey gently pushed him back down. “You just retired, remember? Let me get this one.”
“Huh, using my own words against me,” Aurelius grumbled, but he still reached over to grab one of his hunting spears. “Watch your back.”
Grey nodded, and motioned for Cavall to come to heel. “What’s wrong, boy? Show me.”
The hound’s sensitive nose twitched as he scented the air, and with another warning growl he led his master down into the dimly lit passageway…
Gathering Shadows – Part 2 December 14, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm, serial fiction, serials
“It was my own family who created these horrors.”
Galen watched his words hit, like a pebble tossed in still water. The ripples spread out, taking shape in the uneasy mutters and the intense stares of those who had watched their world fall apart. Three whole tribes shattered, countless thousands dead and the last few remnants left to huddle in caves, all because of a war they knew nothing about.
He looked over to where Grey sat slumped against the cavern wall, exhausted from helping to heal his father. Tairwyn had joined him – the brawny Mountain kin stood with a hand on Grey’s shoulder, though whether to support his friend or to keep him from doing something rash remained to be seen.
“You know of the continent to the north?” Galen asked them.
Tairwyn gave him a nod. “Aye. We used to hear stories from the traders about the infighting amongst the northern tribes.” He let out a gravelly laugh. “They said it was both good and bad for business, depending on what they were selling.”
“True enough, though we did not call ourselves tribes,” Galen said, “Over a thousand years ago we settled into towns and cities, and the ruling families founded the Great Houses. We soon turned on each other, each Lord taking whatever scrap of power he could grasp, but no one House held sway over another for very long. It may well have continued that way for another thousand years, if not for my cousin, Kurick.”
Galen paused, old memories bringing a sad smile to his face. “He was a great man. He knew the value of honor, and loyalty, and encouraged it in those who followed him. I was proud to serve as one of his knights as a young man. Kurick forged all the Houses together into one kingdom and he became the first Lord of Air. For a while, it almost seemed like he would keep the peace – although he had to live by the sword to do it, for the Houses did not give up power lightly – but it was a peace, nonetheless.”
Galen had to stop again, his words catching in his throat. He shook his head slowly. “Kurick died by the sword, while putting down a stupid dispute over stolen cattle. With no heir to claim his legacy, all the Houses fell back into fighting for a piece of his kingdom. Eventually, two claimants to the throne came to power and all the north was split in a civil war.”
Grey shifted to sit up a little straighter, a frown creasing his brow. “This doesn’t answer my question, Galen. Explain the wyverns.”
“Patience, my friend,” Galen said, making a temporizing gesture with his hands. “Some stories need to be told from the beginning to be fully understood.”
Tairwyn let out a guffaw. “You’ll have to excuse the laddie. He’s a man of few words, and has no patience for those of us who like the sound of our own voice. Keep going, what ye’ve said so far matches up with the rumors I’ve heard. I’d like to know the rest.”
Grey crossed his arms and his frown deepened, but indicated Galen should keep going with jerk of his chin.
“I will try to be brief,” Galen said. “Where was I? Ah yes, the civil war. By the time the fighting settled down to two sides, I had long since put aside the sword and founded House Zephyr. We stayed neutral, offering healing and sanctuary to any who sought it. We prospered while all else fell into chaos – which, in hindsight, made us a tempting prize.” Now it was his turn to frown, all the old bitterness coming back to light. “I was given an ultimatum by both sides. Choose who to serve, or be destroyed.”
He leaned forward, a determined glint in his eyes. “I chose a third way. You see, I had studied much more than the healing arts. I built the first portal, and fled with my people to the north and east. We built new portals as we went, ripping down the old ones behind us, and eventually we crossed the frozen sea. The Ice kindreds helped us and I met my wife in those hostile climes, amongst a group of Air kin who tamed the winter winds.”
Galen noticed Grey getting impatient again, and gave him an apologetic look. “Well, the answer you seek lies not with those of us who fled and later founded my city, Zephyra. It is with those who stayed behind. You see, there were some of us that felt they could not in good conscience leave the other Houses without proper medical care. So they drew lots, and divided themselves between the two warring sides. They paid dearly for their compassion. Their knowledge of the anatomy of both man and beast was turned to creating better soldiers, and more deadly weapons. A few of the refugees who slipped away on merchant ships told us horror stories of the torments my people suffered. They were broken down until they had no choice but to obey their new masters’ demands.”
The room was silent now, every man, woman and child listening to him. “The refugees came in a flood as the war rolled on. For years they snuck away by the boatload…and then they suddenly stopped. The merchants told of towns razed, city streets drenched in blood and fell beasts roaming the lands. Finally even the hardiest of the ship captains refused to go back, and we lost all contact with our kin.”
Grey’s face was half-hidden in the flickering shadows cast by the fire. “Fell beasts. Wyverns. Let me guess. That was ten years ago.”
Galen gave a weary nod. “Yes. I can only guess that the creatures my cousins bred for war turned on their masters. The creatures must have moved south then, searching for more ‘enemy’ Air kin to conquer. And they found them,” he said, looking out at the battered survivors scattered about the room.
Grey gave him a hard look. “You guess this, but you don’t know?”
“It is an educated guess, and one I am sure is close enough to the truth,” Galen said.
“But you don’t know.” Grey stood up, and looked out over the remnants of his tribe. “If we are ever to gain our home back, we have to know if the wyverns came by themselves, or were sent here. We need to know who we’re fighting, and how many of them we are up against.” He gave Galen a bleak smile. “Well, I have crossed two continents. Why not add a third? If you can provide me with maps, I’ll leave in the morning to find out.”
“That would be madness!” Galen said. “You need to rest. Your people need you here. Listen, please! I can offer your people sanctuary. All of you,” he said, catching the eyes of the Mountain and Forest kin. “Stay as my guests, regain your strength and then, when you are ready to return I will lead an expedition north myself. If my kin are still alive you will need me to make introductions. They are not so easy in their dealings with strangers as I am.”
Galen waited, holding his breath and hoping Grey would make the right choice. There was no doubt the others would follow his lead, despite his youth. He couldn’t blame Grey for hesitating. He knew well how difficult it was to leave your ancestral home behind. But to stay here was to choose a slow and certain death.
Grey leaned one arm against the rough-hewn mantle over the fireplace and stared down into the flames. “You will make a portal here, so that we can come back?”
Galen let out his breath and got up to join Grey by the fire. “Of course,” he said, with a relieved smile.
Grey still looked bleak. “I will hold you to that.”
Bloodlines – Part 9 December 12, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: flash fiction, paranormal, serial fiction, serials, virgil
Virgil wrapped his arms tight around Linda, shielding her with his own body as the haunt loomed over them. “Don’t look at it!” he said. Linda was still screaming, her head buried against his chest. He yelled in her ear, “The eyes are the windows to the soul! Don’t look, Linda!”
“Get rid of him,” the entity rasped.
Spheres of brilliant amethyst light flew out of Honora’s necklace, taking on the ghostly silhouettes of a dozen old women. Their withered, claw-like hands gripped his arms and a biting cold sunk in all the way down to the marrow of his bones. Virgil tried to pull away, but his limbs had gone numb. “Sophie, need some help here!”
“My niece will not be able to oblige,” one of the women hissed.
Virgil caught a glimpse of Honora’s ghost and had just enough time to think, “Oh, shit.” The ghosts ripped him away from Linda and threw him out of the room. He landed badly, banging his head against the wall hard enough to see spots.
The ghosts surrounded him, shrieking with laughter as they grabbed him by the hair and dragged him down the hall. Then they flung him down the stairs, and it was only thanks to a bit of training in stunt work that he managed to avoid breaking his neck. Even so, he landed at the bottom of the stairs in a heap and was picked up again by the cadre of hags. They swung him around wildly, smashing him into every chair and coffee table that lined the foyer. The front door flew open, and he was pitched head first onto the porch.
He lay there, stunned, looking up at the heavy pile of snow and ice that coated the eaves. The snow creaked and started to slide.
“Woah!” Impending doom gave Virgil the jolt of adrenaline he needed to finally get his limbs moving. He kicked off with his feet and rolled down the front steps just in time to avoid getting impaled by the icicles that smashed down. A ton of snow followed like a miniature avalanche, blocking the entire entryway.
More screams came from inside. Virgil scrambled to his feet and yelled, “SOPHIE!” He looked around, but the storm windows were all nailed shut. “Dammit, dammit… Wait, the side porch. Hang on, I’m coming!” He sprinted around back, remembering at the last second to jump over the ice-coated porch steps. He skidded across the wet boards, slamming his aching body into the door. He yanked it open and ran inside before the house could drop anything else on him.
The room was peaceful, a small bubble of calm amidst the psychic turmoil in the house. Whatever Sophie had done earlier to clear the room was still holding. Virgil didn’t have time to enjoy it though. He dumped Sophie’s bags across her bed, and let out a short, borderline hysterical laugh as a small bell rolled out. “Of course she packed a traveling kit. She even put color coded labels on everything. Bless her anal retentive little heart.” He shoved the bell and a few other items into his pockets, and took a deep breath to steady his nerves. “Show time.”
He ran out into the foyer and up the stairs, taking them two at a time, the bell jangling with every step. Alex, Desi, Bryant, and the boys were waiting for him in the upstairs hallway, each of them controlled by a ghost that hovered just behind them. The hag’s shadowy fingers were buried deep in their descendants’ skulls, and they leaned forward to whisper in their ears. The family lurched forward as one, with a collection of blunt objects raised in their hands as weapons.
Virgil crossed his arms and shook his head. “Bad move, ladies. I may not be much good with ghosts, but the living? They’re my specialty.”
For the first time since setting foot in the house, Virgil let his full powers cut loose. Normally he’d be more careful with a civilian’s mind but he could hardly do more damage than the hags. He slipped his thoughts between the ghosts and the living, making his attack as razor sharp as a scalpel. He cut the entities out with brute force and wrapped his will around the living minds, frog-marching everyone into Desiree’s room. “Sleep,” he commanded, and they slumped into a pile at the foot of the bed.
The ghosts were thrown into confusion by being suddenly cut off from their energy source, and Virgil took full advantage of it. He reached into a pocket and flung a handful of tiny poppy seeds at them. “Have fun, ladies,” he said.
The ghosts hesitated, casting their empty eye sockets back and forth between him and scattered seeds. But in the end, they couldn’t resist the bait. They were old world ghosts, from an era where everyone believed that the dead could not resist counting something left out for them. That belief stayed with them after they died, burned into their faded psyches. They wouldn’t be able to leave off counting till the sun rose.
Virgil threaded carefully past them, taking care not to touch them again. The door to Linda’s room was jammed shut, and he knew better than to waste time trying to force it open. The haunt would just laugh and let him wear himself out. Instead, Virgil lit up a cigarette and blew the smoke all around the door jamb. The missing occupants of his first pack of smokes had ended up in Sophie’ kit. He didn’t care how. All that mattered was that tobacco was a prime ingredient used in cleansing ceremonies for centuries by cultures around the world. Virgil was betting that the haunt was from one of them, and had given Honora a phobia about smoking to protect itself.
Virgil immediately sensed when the tension broke, and he kicked the door open. The haunt had Sophie pinned, her back arched across the bed, and she was fighting to keep its hand from her throat.
Virgil rang the bell. The sound sent ripples through the air, and the entity jerked its head around to look at him.
That was all the break that Sophie needed. She plunged her hand deep inside its chest, and started the words of a banishing rite. It howled, and Virgil rang the bell again. It tried to pull away from Sophie, but she gritted her teeth and held on.
The necklace slipped from its fingers. Virgil raised the bell one last time, and smashed it down into the purple gem. The bell rang, and the whole house shuddered in sympathy. The entity let out a rising shriek that must have set dogs howling for miles around. Virgil wrapped his will around every mind in the house to keep the haunt from possessing them, and Sophie ripped her hand out of it, removing its anchor to the living world.
“I will come back,” it snarled, and vanished.
“No, you won’t,” Sophie said, and finished the last words of the rite.
The whole house seemed to let out a collective sigh. The ordinary sounds of pre-dawn crept back in, birds chirping and the distant sounds of the highway. Sophie held Linda like a child, rocking her and letting her sob all over her shoulder.
Virgil sat down heavily on the hope chest at the foot of the bed and sucked the last bit of life out of his cigarette, his hands shaking so hard he could barely hold it. “This makes us even now, right?” he said, giving Sophie a lopsided smile.
“Maybe. I’ll have to check my notes, you’ve run up quite a tab,” she said, and they both started laughing.
Virgil and Sophie stood together in the parlor where Honora’s body lay, forgotten in all of the madness. Sophie placed the pieces of the necklace in the coffin by her Aunt’s side. She had made sure to pulverize the stone, and broken every link on the chain.
“The crystalline matrix of the stone was like a primitive silicon chip.” Sophie said, her face pale and drawn. “The haunt broke their minds, arranged things so that they worshipped it, and when they died it stored them in the crystal just like we do in computers.” She brushed the last bits off her hands and looked away from the body. “I would have been next, if the Agency hadn’t recruited me. I always thought my mother ran away to marry my father. Turns out she was just running away.”
Virgil gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Lucky for us the precognitives saw a better place for your Talents.”
“Lucky for me, maybe, but not my relatives,” Sophie said, looking out at the stairway in the hall. The rest of the family was still sleeping upstairs. It was better for them to do that, until the case workers from the Agency arrived. “When I left, she moved onto them”
Virgil nodded, but didn’t say anything. Their outrageous behavior made perfect sense now. Desi’s nymphomania, Alex’s belligerent paranoia, Bryant’s thirst for the power he would never possess—even the boys’ bullying was a symptom—and poor Linda, who almost got what she thought she wanted. The mind does not react well to being tampered with, and Honora had not gone easy on her relatives. It was going to take a lot of work to give them back anything like a normal life.
Sophie shook herself and squared her shoulders, putting on her business face. “Well, I had best start clearing the whole house, from the bottom up. I intend to make sure that haunt doesn’t come back.”
“Did you ever find out who it was?” Virgil asked.
“It was so old it had forgotten everything, except the need for more power,” Sophie said. “I’ll have to do some digging through our family tree to figure it out.”
“Well, if you need any help, I’ll be here,” he said.
Sophie gave him a weary smile of thanks, and headed down the hall to the root cellar to get to work.
Virgil waited till she left, then lit up a cigarette and blew the smoke down toward Honora’s face. There was no reaction. He gave a satisfied nod and looked more closely at her pinched, pallid visage. There was no sign of the bruises around her neck. It had all been an illusion to manipulate him into retrieving the necklace. Honora’s ghost had shown no sign of her psyche being broken, either. The other ghosts had been a pack of shrieking lunatics, while Honora’s every move was planned and rational. She must have worked willingly with the haunt. But Sophie didn’t need to know that.
Virgil leaned over and whispered in her ear. “I hope they have a nice, hot corner of Hell waiting for you, lady,” he said. “You messed up a lot of lives.”
Then he shut the coffin lid and walked outside to wait for case workers.
Bloodlines – Part 8 December 5, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: flash fiction, paranormal, serial fiction, serials, virgil
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Virgil took the lead and checked the hallway before heading up to the second floor. A moth-eaten runner carpeted the stairs, its faded flowers muffling their steps. He glanced back down to where the door to the root cellar should have been. It was still veiled, but he could hear the poltergeist’s guttural growl coming from somewhere inside. It was restless, pacing; it wanted to be let out.
“Are you hearing that?” he whispered to Sophie.
Sophie nodded and raised a trembling hand to her neck. The bruises from where the haunt had tried to strangle her stood out, livid against her skin. “I still can’t hear any of the other ghosts, but that one is loud and clear now.” She let her hand drop, visibly pulling herself together. “Where is everyone else?”
Virgil let his senses sweep through the house. Fear hung thick in the air, like a cloying fog. “They’re in their rooms. No one is sleeping though,” he said, “It’s like they’re all just lying there, waiting for something to happen. Except for Linda. She’s having a nightmare.”
“Night terrors, emotional outbursts, that’s what’s been fueling the ghost! The attacks were involuntary!” Sophie said. “If so, that changes everything. No premeditation means she gets therapy instead of jail time.”
“Maybe,” Virgil replied doubtfully. Something about this still didn’t seem right. He ran a hand across the door to Linda’s bedroom. “She may come up swinging. Keep an eye on that poltergeist.”
The door wasn’t locked. The room inside could have belonged to a child; there were piles of stuffed animals on the bed, glittery stickers on the ceiling and photos stuck in the frame of a mirror. Dirty clothes were strewn about the floor and spilling out of a closet, the piles dotted liberally with candy wrappers. Virgil had seen teenagers with cleaner rooms.
An even bigger shock was Linda herself. She lay on her bed, still fully clothed, and curled up in the same fetal position Virgil had gone into to defend himself from the poltergeist. She even had her arms up to protect her head and neck. She was talking in her sleep, a pitiful, desperate litany. “I don’t want it. I don’t want it anymore. Please don’t do this. I don’t want it anymore.”
Virgil eased quietly into the room, not wanting to wake her yet. He took a deep breath and let it out, preparing himself for the unpleasant task of going into an unbalanced mind. Sophie closed the door behind them and stood on guard.
Linda started to thrash about, as if wrestling an opponent who was trying to pin her down. The similarities to his own attack were too many to ignore. Virgil took another deep breath and slipped into her nightmare.
They were back in the hallway that led to the root cellar. Honora beckoned to them, and they walked eagerly to the trap door. This was what Linda had waited thirty long years for: the day her mother would finally show her the secret to her family’s power over ghosts.
Honora walked slowly down the stairs and took off her amethyst necklace. “It is time for you to meet your ancestors, my dear.”
Linda hesitated at the top of the stairs, a vague fear settling into the pit of her stomach. She had never liked the root cellar; it had an ugly feel to it. A sour smell of rot wafted up at her, but her mother was still calling to her.
“Come down, Linda.” Honora held out the necklace. ”You wanted power, and I can give it to you.”
Linda ran down the stairs before she could think better of it. She reached out and took the necklace.
A cold smile touched Honora’s withered lips. “Hold it up to your eye, dear. Tell me what you see.”
Linda looked through it, and ghosts appeared all around, bathed in amethyst light. Generations of women, all with a strong family resemblance: brown hair, a motherly physique like Linda’s though some were a little taller, and all of them had the gift for working with ghosts. Whoever held this necklace would have a wellspring of knowledge to draw on that ran back centuries.
Then she looked closer, and saw what lived in the dark.
Virgil recognized it. Anyone who worked with ghosts knew there were malevolent spirits, old ghosts that wanted nothing more than to keep a hold on the world of the living. They could bend other, lesser ghosts to their will and use that gathered power to torment anyone unfortunate enough to enter their domain. The necklace worked just like the specially insulated microchips the Agency used to transport ghosts. The crystal must have had a similar structure to silicon, storing all of the ‘data’ of a person’s psyche. Who knew how long the old haunt had lurked in its depths?
Linda only knew that it terrified her, and she kept reliving that first, traumatic contact.
She ran up the stairs with her mother close on her heels.
“You must seal yourself to the well of souls, Linda!” Honora shouted. “Look through the gem, and let the spirit consume you! Our bloodline made a deal, and the pact must be kept!”
Linda ran, but the entity flew out of the cellar and landed on her back. It clawed at her, trying to reach the necklace she held clenched in her hand, and force her to look through it.
Honora hadn’t counted on her daughter fighting back. Desperation gave Linda the strength to send a telekinetic blast down the hall, and her mother fell backwards, down the stairs, and hit her head. The entity shrieked and retreated after her.
Linda threw the necklace down the stairs and locked the trap door. Then she ran out of the house… Later, after her mother’s body had been removed, she did everything in her power to trap the evil presence in the cellar, even veiling the doorway so no one could wander down there and get caught by it. But it kept getting out, and every time she failed, her fear made it a little stronger…
She woke up, sat bolt upright in her bed, and screamed.
Virgil was physically thrown back, but he managed to keep his hold on her mind. He scrambled back onto the bed and grabbed her hands, forcing her to look him in the eye. “Linda, listen to me. It’s over. We know it was self-defense. I need you to calm down.”
Outside the room, the entity howled and battered against the bedroom door, setting Linda into a fresh bout of screaming.
Sophie had her shoulder braced against the door, and Virgil could feel her straining to shield the room against it. She yelled out, “It’s gotten too strong! I think it’s feeding off the rest of my relatives. I’m going to need some ghosts to combat it.” She pulled the necklace out of her pocket and held it up.
Virgil and Linda screamed in unison, “NO!”
The entity’s howl turned triumphant. It burst through the door and knocked Sophie into the wall. A stench of rot filled the room, and the entity stalked over to the bed. “Time for you to join your ancestors, Linda…”