Metamorphosis – A Kiss from the Sidhe

PUBLISHED ON APRIL 22, 2019 BY LIV ELLIS

Something seemed different. The odd bite between the shoulder blades of Liza Handley’s back tingled, but not in a bad way. It was like the slightest touch of a childhood crush that would set butterflies free. Euphoria overwhelmed her with a sense of beauty and magic.

The sting itself bulged red and angry in a cross. A small hole in the center of the swelling oozed, the clear, sticky liquid coating her spine. Liza had already been to see two doctors shortly after discovering the wound, neither of whom could identify what kind of creature might have created the puncture. A cream was prescribed and she was sent on her way with the assurance that “it should clear up soon.” That was two weeks before and the inflammation continued to grow.

Liza stepped out of the shower and went to the vanity. Her towel dropped to the floor and she stood, craning her neck, looking in the mirror at the large “t” on her back. The discharge coated the swelling. Having no luck cleaning it off — not even in a scalding shower — she bent her arm behind her back, scooping up some of the tacky secretion on her finger. Slightly disgusted, she thought that she should be happy that she was so unlucky in love. How would this gross development go over with a bed mate. The ooze was no longer clear. It was pearlescent and shimmery, almost as if it had glitter in it.

“Can you hear me yet?” a faint, slightly irritated, voice called.

A small light darted in her peripheral. She had noticed it before, and began to fear that she was beginning to experience hallucinations. She ignored it, hoping that it was a passing symptom.

“Human’s have no true ‘poker face,’ as you would call it. I know you hear me. You have to listen.”

Liza put her hands over her ears, knowing that she was going insane. “Hearing voices? That’s the first stop to crazyville,” she thought.

“You can’t merely block out my voice with your hands.”

“Of course not. I’m hearing voices. That’s the point. It’s all in my head and I’m out of my mind.”

“You’re not going crazy… You’re simply changing.”

“I don’t want to change!” Liza cried out and watched in amazement as small lights sprang from her fingers. “Oh no…” She crumbled to the floor, hugging her legs. “Crazy, crazy, crazy.”

A glowing ball hovered before her eyes. She reached for it, and it moved from her grasp. Liza frantically began to swat at it, knowing that it was part of her downfall, but it stealthily averted each swing. “Go away!” she screamed.

“I can’t… You’ve got to listen. You’re changing into a hybrid, forbidden by the counsel.”

“I don’t understand.” Just as the words spilled from her lips, the blissful sensation in her back turned into a searing pain. She quickly got to her feet and turned her back to the mirror. Horrified, she could see something poking through each shoulder blade. Blood ran down back as she watched what looked like bones tearing at her skin. Agony dropped her to her knees. The protrusions continued to rip through her shoulders. On hands and knees, she watched as the blood began to pool at her sides. “What’s happening to me?” Lights swirled around her and she felt faint.

~~~

When she woke, the blood and the pain was gone. Just as she was beginning to think that it was all a bad dream, the glowing orb returned before her, except it wasn’t an orb at all, it looked like a tiny person. Then she felt something different… something coming from her back. She reached behind her. Was that feathers?

“Will you listen to me now?”

Confused, she stared at the human-shaped ball of light, as she continued to finger the feathery material behind her. Almost as if in a daze, Liza stood and instinctively turned her back to the mirror. There, jutting out of her shoulder blades, she found the most magnificent silvery wings that she had ever seen, even on the most exotic of birds. She turned to face the mirror straight on, and she was greeted with — no more sporadic freckles, no more unsightly stretch marks — nothing less than perfect porcelain skin. “I must still be dreaming.”

“No. You’re not. You have to listen… we don’t have much time.”

“I’m listening, but first, who… what are you?”

Liza listened as the tiny ball of light explained that he was an elder sidhe, “a fairy to most humans,” and his name was Oisin. This did nothing to sway Liza’s thoughts of insanity being the probable culprit for all of the mornings chaos. He went on to tell her that she had been kissed by a bhampair sidhe.

“Wait… a what? And who told him that he could kiss me?”

“It’s not really a kiss. It’s more like a bite. Bhampair sidhe are like…” Oisin turned away, “…like vampire fairies,” he said uncomfortably.

“Okay… You’re telling me that I now have wings because I was bitten by a vampire fairy?” Liza let out a cackle. “I’ve officially gone over the edge. Tell me, will I be a vampire too?” She laughed until she snorted. She felt embarrassed, even if she was talking to an elder fairy in her bathroom.

“You’re going to have to pull it together. No. You will not be a vampire, nor are you a human, nor are you a sidhe. You are a hybrid and you are forbidden to exist. They’ll be coming for you.”

~~~

“Who are they?” If Liza was truly going insane, she may as well have fun with it.

Oisin frantically flies about as he explains that it’s the Counsel of the Elder Sidhe that already has a bounty out for Liza with instructions to kill upon sight. Hybrids are not allowed to exist, and those who do are in hiding.

“Wait… Aren’t you an elder sidhe?”

“Yes. An elder, but not part of the counsel.”

Liza, growing tired of the hallucination, began stroking her wings. “My mind can make up some crazy shit. Maybe I should have tried those mushrooms that my roommate offered me in college.” A sharp pain emanated from somewhere behind her back. Was that her wings?

“I hear that it really hurts,” Oisin said. Liza turned to find him holding one of her feathers. “So, I don’t know much about human hallucinations, but do they hurt like that? Now come on, we have to go.”

The Note

Originally posted on https://liv-ellis.com

PUBLISHED ON APRIL 20, 2019 BY LIV ELLIS

Theodora Whatley couldn’t resist a backward glance as Brett Andrews triumphantly walked away. “Damn,” she thought, “He won.” Moments before, his hazel eyes had pierced her own as he simply said, “I’ve never seen a woman who could make a messy bun look so sexy.” He slipped a folded piece of paper in her hand and walked away, never looking back. She found her hands trembling as she opened the note.

Theo and Brett had worked together for several months. He was the newest manager to come through the hotel, and every girl from the front desk to housekeeping melted in his presence. Until that night, Theo had been the exception. She sat on her bed — the one she shared with Jess — hands still shaking, clutching the phone as the note lay in front of her. Things had been bad between her and her girlfriend for some time. Only getting worse, Theo had been trying to find her way out of the toxic romance. Desperately, she hoped that the answer was on the piece of paper in front of her.

It was getting late and her night had been long and stressful. Theo’s eyes drifted off of the messy penmanship to nowhere. Her mind filled with all of Jess’s harsh words. “Am I truly unlovable?” she thought. Knowing that her ideas and dreams were ridiculous, that she couldn’t be trusted to think for herself — after all, Jess had told her so many times — Theo asked herself why she bothered questioning it. Fantasizing about and acting on the inscription on this piece of paper would just be another one of her bad ideas. She was bound to Jess. The thought of it stabbed at her heart. Jess was the only one who could ever truly love her. Theo was “damaged goods.” Her thoughts spiraled into darkness as tears began to soak the note.

“Crying again? Do you ever do anything else?” The sound of Jess’s voice sounded distant and all Theo could sense was the strong smell of tequila. “What the hell are you crying over anyway?” Jess snatched the soggy scrap of paper from the bed. “What the fuck?”

The shrill in Jess’s voice brought Theo out of her stupor just in time to realize that she was being tackled. She flew off the bed and hit her side on the corner of the dresser. The sound of her rib cracking and the immediate pain that followed made her feel nauseated. “You fucking bitch!” Jess’s fist came down, crushing the bridge of Theo’s nose. Blood splattered the wall. “I should have known that you’re nothing more than a whore. No one will ever love you.” Jess stormed out of the room, slamming every door that she went through. An engine outside revved into life, and Theo heard the sound of Jess’s tires peeling off the concrete drive.

Theo felt the warm blood gushing from her nose. Dizzy, she grabbed the wastebasket on the side of the dresser, vomited and then wearily got to her feet. She went into the bathroom and stared into the mirror as the blood continued to steadily run off of her lips. Jess would surely leave her now, and she would have nothing. She was nothing. Tears streamed through the blood that had begun to dry on her cheek. Everyone would be better off without her. She was nothing more than a fuck up. No one would ever love her. Horrible thoughts consumed her and she beat at her head, pleading with them to stop. She opened a cabinet drawer, looking down at a razor blade like it was a long lost friend. She looked at the scares on her arms and legs. It would be so easy. Her gaze drifted as she weighed her options until she found herself focusing on her name badge.

THE HYATT REGENCY

THEODORA WHATLEY

Grabbing a washcloth, Theo absently wiped the blood and tears away. Today was not the day. She walked to the closet, grabbed her suitcase and threw it down next to the note that simply said, “You are beautiful!”

Pale Lady – 2016 Version

A Note From the Author:

The idea for “Pale Lady” came to me many years ago, even before 2016, which is when this partial version was written. I’m publishing it without revision or completion.

sky-thunderstorm-landscape-flash-53411

Pale Lady

It’s a wail – that scream that chills the very essence of my being. It howls out from nowhere bringing with it a vision of her — her deathlike skin almost glowing in the night. Haunting my dreams for months, I can’t explain why it echoes in the darkness. The scream and the pale lady is all I remember.

Scott nervously looks over at me. I must have been thrashing in my sleep again. He worries too much.

“How much longer?” The question is like that of a child uttered through a yawn. I rub my eyes and stare ahead.

“We have another hour… depending on traffic… maybe he should have left earlier,” the last said more to himself — doubting himself — than to me.  “How are you feeling?”

“Tired…” A sigh escapes my lips, “just tired.” Mentally numb would be a better assessment, but that throws up red flags. “I’ll just be happy to see the mountains.”

I’ve spent days feverishly organizing this impromptu trip. The cool crisp air of the mountains carry with it tactile memories of youth and the warm embrace of a loving, but lost, family. It’s my attempt at escape from reality – to relive a simpler time. If I can just get to that perfectly nestled chalet of innocence, I will be able to evade this feeling of looming tragedy.

I can still hear his voice clearly. “Don’t get to far ahead, munchkin.”

“I won’t Daddy.”

The air was always fresh — damp with a bit of a chill. The water ran cold across my feet, soothing the sting from the rocks below. It was our place. Dad and I would hike through the wooded mountain, straying from the suggested trails, to find this little piece of paradise. How it became our special spot, I don’t remember, but it was ours. The sun shown down through the trees just right to make the dancing waters look like diamonds spilling out along the brook. I was always too preoccupied by the beauty. I was never ready, yet I knew that it was coming. Up into the air I would go. My feet would always hit his knees before being tossed up into the air again. The woods would be filled with my giggles. Wildly flying, I felt like a bird even though his strong arms were cradling me through every twist and turn, finally bringing me to rest atop his broad shoulders.

I feel a gentle shake on my thigh. I must have nodded off again. It feels that I am in an eternal state of slumber, yet it’s never enough to quell the fatigue.

“Hannah, wake up and look.”

Through slits – sleep has crusted over my eyes – I see the majestic rocks that reach up to the heavens. A hope swells in my chest, even though the peaks are crowned in black. The mountains are known for roaming storms with their hauntingly beautiful, rolling thunder, but the darkness is always brief and what follows is majestic.

She had a laugh that was contagious. Where all else was weighted down by the thick fog that was sneaking through the mountains, her glee floated above to dance on top of the mist. Dad was whispering in her ear — one of those jokes that I wasn’t meant to hear. Her lovely face flushed, she tried to hide a Mona Lisa grin.

She walked to the back of the car and collected her easel and paints from the trunk. Turning to me, she smiled and then turned back to the mountains. “Isn’t it beautiful, Hannah?”

“The storm made it?” The ground clouds were still a mystery to me.

A melodic humming of approval was my reply.

The fog hung low in the valley, creating a what looked like a mote around the base of the mountain. Sunbeams were just beginning to peak through the gloom, and created perfectly placed rays to highlight the tops of the trees. It was indeed one of the most lovely sights that my youthful eyes had seen, or that I have ever seen still.

“Mama, don’t you want to hike with us?”

She smirked. “You two go enjoy your special spot. I’ll be fine right here — just me and my paints.”

I’m jolted into the door. Damn… Did I fall asleep again? Scott is carefully maneuvering his way up the snake-like roads. Rain crashes down on the SUV – the sound drowning out all else. White light strobes around us as the thunder shakes the mountainside.

Ahead I see the outline of something white — perhaps the tail end of a deer. As we come closer, I can see that the figure in front of us is flowing — almost like sheets blowing on a line. My eyes grow wide as I realize the trailing robes of faint shadow seem to be leading us up the mountain. The cloak-like apparition seems to turn around, becoming an illuminated and gaunt, almost skeletal, face with hair flowing seamlessly into veins of white light. A piercing wail pulses through me as the face comes ever closer then through the windshield before disappearing.

The top heavy SUV jolts from side to side, close to the dangerously narrow shoulder. I look out the window and see nothing but the tops of trees fifty feet below. The mountains are wildly swirling around me. Trying to regain control, Scott swerves this way and that. We slide sideways until we finally come to rest in the middle of the road.

I feel out of control – deranged with vulnerability. Screaming, unsure of whether to stay in or get out, I hold on to the door handle as if it is the gateway to life or death. “Did you see that?”

Scott, panting, stares at me in crazed exasperation. “How could I miss it? That tree was huge.”

“No… not a tree… It was pale… ghostly. It was a woman. A…”

“Sweetie, it was a tree — a big tree that nearly killed us. I think it must have rolled off the road on your side.” He is trying to calm down, but his adrenaline is clearly still pumping. He takes a deep breath. “You’re seeing things. You must have fallen asleep again — imagined it.”

“But I saw her. It was a lady… pale…”

The look shot in my direction told me everything. He didn’t see her — I must not have seen her. It’s just the fear of the moment kicking my imagination into overdrive.

The engine is stubbornly refusing to turn over. A new thought seeps into my mind – frightening yet completely rational. The winding roads up the mountainside will leave any oncoming travelers completely blind to our stalled ride. The same chilling thought must be dangling in Scott’s psyche as his attempts to get the engine started are becoming increasingly more manic.

A slow ruhr-ruhr-ruhr-ruhr-ruhr seems to last forever before the motor sputters to life. Scott clumsily shifts into drive and begins a uneasy ascent. Impenetrable silence fills the car.

Making it into the chalet, Scott looks relieved. It’s beautiful — just like I remember it. The fireplace was ablaze just as I’d asked. I had planned on making love to Scott in front of that fire,  but after weeks of chronic fatigue, I am possessed with a powerful, negative energy. Unable to sit still, I pace around the rooms. The storm is getting more violent and every crack of thunder shakes the wooden floors.

Trembling, I look out the window; hot tears fall down my cheeks. This was supposed to be a romantic getaway – an escape to a place that holds memories of love and purity – yet anxiety and fear is taking hold of me.

I jump a little as his strong arms wrap around my waist. I feel a soft kiss on my neck and melt a little. Scott makes me feel safe and loved. Always trying to be compassionate and understanding, even when I don’t understand myself, his selflessness is eternal. I allow a moment of tranquility and sink back into his embrace. If only the moment could last…

The smell of hyacinth filled the room the first time we made love. He had listened — no other guy had listened before. The smell of roses is nice, but not my favorite. The fire was roaring and candles flickered throughout the room. The night was divine. I still return to that mystical evening — the smell of that sweet fragrance coupled with the warmth of the roaring fire — the feel of him.

The power goes out as blinding white illuminates the whole room and the cabin jumps with the deafening crack that follows. Scott’s embrace grows stronger, but the fear churning inside my body is absolute. It will not be quelled.

Before me, on the other side of the rain-stained glass, she stands — the pale lady — her long flowing robes wet and holding to her body. Her face is hollow and framed by long hair that wildly clings to her gaunt skin. A grotesquely open jaw hangs in an eternal scream — that scream that haunts my slumber.

Falling to the floor, I crawl to the other side of the room. I feel wild with anxiety. Everything in me tells me to hide. Inside my head is a piercing scream — distant yet so close — it now possesses a waking nightmare. I look to Scott for protection, and instead see his face contorted into a cringe, his hands cupped over his ears. A new realization sets in. That loud, hideous sound isn’t coming from inside my mind.

Scott moves towards me. A new fear takes hold as I now understand that he can’t see her. His eyes — full of concern, but not understanding —  have never left me. I point frantically at the window, hoping that he will see — he has to see.

Streaks of brilliance fill the room and the floors quake violently. Scott never hesitates and continues towards me. I gasp. The pale lady now moves at his side — her feet hanging limp and her toes dragging the floor as she comes ever closer. I can’t move and my eyes can’t look away — focused on a mouth that hangs disgustingly open, looking as if it could open infinitely and swallow the world.

My body is heavy and I feel trapped. My eyes seem to be playing tricks. The two of them seem to be getting farther away, but they continue to move towards me. Scott has a mixture of fear and concern on his brow. Her black eyes, menacing — the pale lady’s shoulder touches his as they both reach out to me and then become merged into one. His beautiful, blue pools, still filled with angst, positioned above the gaping wail.

Every inch of me wants to retreat from the sight. I fight the weight that seems to be holding me to the floor and scramble backwards, trying hard to get on my feet, but failing at every attempt. She has him. The pale lady will devour him — engulfing him in a ghastly oblivion.

Fear is replaced with fury. I launch myself towards her, and I find myself deriving some sort of deranged pleasure as my hands wrap ever tighter around her neck. She can’t have him. She will not win. Strong hands grasp at my strangling hold. I feel them nervously fighting for some leverage. I extend my intense stare into the eyes of my tormentor. Terror fills the blue pools — blue pools that moments before were overcome with concern. My resolve fades and I become disoriented. My eyes must be tricking me again. What I see before me now can’t be right. I had her… now… my grip is tightening around him.

She’s gone.

I must have passed out. I’m lying in bed, dressed in my favorite nightgown. Scott is asleep beside me — cradling me in his arms. He chose to sleep by my side… even after… he chose to stay.

I try to go back to sleep, but a bad force has a hold of me. Brushing his black hair off his brow, I watch him sleep and pray for this distressing feeling to pass. It refuses. Having found a dwelling, it will not leave.

My throat is dry and scratchy, and although I don’t want to leave the comfort of Scott’s embrace, I pull myself away and nervously head to the kitchen for some water. My feet feel heavy — they don’t want to go — I don’t want to go. The imminent dread of another face-to-face meeting with that hideous ghost has all but defeated me. I wait at the bedroom door for several minutes working up the fortitude to open the door — visions of her tormenting my mind.

In the living room the fire has died down to flickering embers. Spasms run through my arms and legs; and my heart feels as if it’s going to jump out of my chest.

Leaving

       She was finally going to leave him. Rebekah Norris had had enough. The fights over nothing, the hurtful words, the resentment — she couldn’t live with it anymore. She had picked him up off the floor for the last time — him in his stupors. She might have learned to live with all of it — after all, she had for almost ten years — if it were not for the stony indifference. Her opinion, her newest interests, how her day went — none of it mattered. Tony Norris cared little for anything other than the bottle; and Rebekah was tired of playing second fiddle to the booze.
leaving
       She had the plan set and ready to put into action. A deposit had been made on the apartment with the money that was supposed to go into putting in a new shower. She had the few things that she would take boxed up and hidden in the back of the closet. Tony never even noticed. Then again, why would he? All she had left to do was to throw her closes into the suitcases — purchased for trips that were never to be realized — and load the 4-Runner. She would have enough time after work to be out by the time he got home. In her original plan, she had envisioned leaving him a note. He would read it, realize how much he loved her and would go on to be a better man. She had endured many doses of reality since her first thoughts of leaving though. She wouldn’t bother with a letter that he would probably never even see, much less read.
       Rebekah slammed on her brakes, as a car flew through the intersection blaring its horn. The SUV rocked and settled, much like her heart. She looked up at the light. Caught up in her thoughts of leaving, she hadn’t been paying attention. The light was red. Once green again, she nervously placed her foot on the gas and proceeded through the intersection.
       There was another blast of a horn, right before the crunching sound of metal on metal. Rebekah screamed out in pain as her flesh tore and her bones snapped. Her head was violently thrown to the side, smashing into the driver’s side window. Glass rained down over her, and all went black.
~~~
       Rebekah stood over her husband. She could not leave Tony now, not in his time of need. He vowed that he would never pick up another bottle. He pleaded for her to come back. How she longed to hold him — to pick him up off the ground on which he wept — the cold ground in which her body lay.

Sinking Island

the island
       Elizabeth Bennett had been missing for twelve years. She was last seen at a high school party on Sinking Island — named appropriately as the island sank a little more into the lake every year. The teens who lived on the lake had gatherings there often, but this particular one was for the class of 2006 — a final send off at the end of the summer, before they all went their separate ways into adulthood. Although no one who attended the event could remember much of anything about it, they all recalled it being odd that Elizabeth was there at all.
~~~
       The shoreline was littered with teens piling into metal boats. Tommy Echols stood back and chuckled at the chaos. One poorly chosen crew had already capsized and were frantically trying to hoist themselves back into their old, rusty vessel. It was a wonder that any of them could float, the whole ill-cared-for fleet must have been twenty years old. Tommy decided that he would wait until all was calm and swim across the lake to the island.
       When he made it across, a few topless girls met him at the shore. They were falling over each other in the water and giggling incessantly. Carley Simmons — who, unfortunately, was not topless — scolded them to get away from the edge “before you drown yourselves.” She followed it up with a disgusted, “Dumb bitches!” Her eyes met Tommy’s and a warm smile followed. Any other day, he would be too shy to look at her for more than a glance, but he found himself following her unspoken instruction to join her.
       Tommy worried that he would say something stupid…  that this was all part of an elaborate prank… that the drunken idiots who built the bonfire would end up burning down the island… But mostly he worried that this would be the first and last time that he would really be able to talk to Carley Simmons. By far the most beautiful girl in the school, he knew that she was out of his league, but there she was, talking to him like they had been friends since kindergarten.To his amazement, he found himself able to pull off a somewhat charming conversation. Carley was witty and philosophical, and the conversation never dulled. Tommy found that she had moved in closer at some point, and her hand was resting comfortably on his leg.
~~~
       The last boat was rocking its way back across the lake with four football players and the two topless girls. A few embers still crackled where the bonfire had been. Carley had declined a ride, and sat comfortably in Tommy’s arms with her legs across his lap. He wasn’t quite sure of what his next move should be. He felt like a virgin that had never been tested before. The truth was that he had never felt as close to anyone else. There was a battle going on in his mind to kiss her, and a war going on below. His arms pulled tighter around her, enjoying the feel of her body wrapped inside.
       “I have to use the girls’ room,” she timidly said.
       Tommy chuckled. He felt relieved that reality sneaked in to kill the tension a bit. “I don’t know that you’ll find one here.” Her hand lightly smacked his chest. “I would use the bushes over there. These on this side seem to have seen a lot of action tonight.”
       She slyly smiled and then gently kissed his lips as she got up. “I’ll be right back.”
       “Don’t go too deep into the woods. They say that the bogs are deadly.”
       “‘They’ also say that Elizabeth is still out there too. You shouldn’t give so much credence to what ‘they’ say.”
       He leaned back on his elbows, amazed at the bold beauty of her, and watched her walk into the foliage and disappear.
~~~
       Tommy was just about to call out to ask if she was okay when he heard a thick thud. In no time, he was in the woods, looking frantically around for her. He found her farther into the center of the island that what he thought she should be. She was on the ground, unconscious.
       “Get out of here!” The words came out in a chilling shrill. “You have to leave. You don’t belong here!”
        Tommy swung around to see a girl dressed all in black behind him. A large branch was in her hands and she held it out in front of her like a sword. “What the hell did you do to her?”
       “Get out! Get out! Get out!” Her voice became more ear-piercing with every repetition. Her long, black hair was hiding her face, making the sight of her that much more eerie. She walked over to Carley and started pulling her by the legs back in the direction from which Tommy had come. The girl in black threw her hair out of her face and yelled, “Don’t just stand there! Help me! You have to go. It will open soon.”
       Her complexion was pale with a light blue hue — she almost seemed to glow — but he knew her from the missing posters. They were still posted — although faded — at Spinners, the skating rink that went out of business at the height of the search for the missing teen. She was beautiful, even more beautiful than Carley. He had often wondered why she had been an outcast. “You’re Elizabeth Bennett.” An alarming realization came over Tommy the moment he said it. She hadn’t aged. He stared dumbly.
       “You’re not getting it! You have to leave now.”
       “Okay… okay, but stop pulling at her like that. You know, she really shouldn’t be moved.”
       Elizabeth’s facial expression had changed from anger to pleading. “Please grab her by the shoulders and help me. Believe it or not it’s for your own good. She was following the light.”
~~~
       They slowly got Carley out to the shore. The bonfire was completely out. The moon had hidden behind the clouds, and the only light came from across the lake. Elizabeth went to the water, took off her shirt and soaked it in the lake. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and Tommy found himself trying not to gawk. Her pale indigo skin was lovely and exotic. She leaned over Carley, wiping her face with the wet blouse. He was getting aroused and turned his back to the scene.
       “Wh-What light?” Tommy asked, trying desperately to regain composure.
       She was reluctant to tell the story of the light that had led her to the middle of the island twelve years before, but, once she began, she found it hard not to tell. She had gone to the senior party out of mere curiosity. Having never been to Sinking Island — never being invited to any of the other gatherings — she was excited when she got the invitation. Although, looking back, she should have realized that the request for her presence had to have been a set up. The boys of the school thought that she was a prude, but she was gorgeous. The truth of the matter was that she was painfully shy. Introverted, she did not know how to speak with either boys or girls, and had only one friend in whom she was able to confide. Several members of the football team had decided that she needed to be “loosened up”. Once on the island, she was brutally attacked — held down by two as one fondled her breasts — until a few classmates felt pity on her and pulled them off of her. Certain that they wouldn’t be held at bay for long, she fled into the woods.
       Carley’s eyes were starting to flicker. Elizabeth wiped Carley’s face once more and then slipped back into her shirt. Tommy was relieved, as he was finding it hard to look at her face. “Is that when you saw the light? What is it? Why didn’t you ever go home?”
       “I can’t go home. The light is a Seeker Demon. They lead you to the portal.”
       “Portal?” It was impossible to believe, but he could see that she was sincere.
       “To the other dimensions.”  Elizabeth continued her story. She was hiding in the forest when she saw a bright blue light floating through the trees. She followed it to a blue-white gateway in the middle of the island. The bright blue light beckoned her to enter. She would be safe — hidden — from the cruel boys inside. She stepped inside only to find that the opening closed behind her and what was before her made her nightmares seem like heaven. The landscape was earthy red and dark. Millions of malevolent eyes seemed to be honed in on her.  She ran, all the time feeling as if she were the prey in one of those Animal Kingdom programs, and the predator would have her in its grasp at any moment. She finally escaped through another portal to find herself in a beautiful forest, bathed in emerald and violet. It was in this reality that she found an old sage that told her that she was no longer attached to one world. She must spend her days — eternity — going from one dimension to the next.
       “What would happen if you don’t?” Carley’s voice was weak.
       “I would be trapped in a hell dimension forever.”
       “How often do you come back here?” Tommy asked.
       “I don’t know. Time is not the same for me now. Every world has its own measurement… It’s hard to explain.”
       Elizabeth sat with Tommy and Carley, telling them of the dimensions she had seen and reminiscing about how much larger the island had been. Right before dawn, they saw the blue-white light emanating from the middle of the island. She hated leaving them, but she knew that they would be alright. Tommy was holding Carley in his arms, her legs tossed across his, stroking her hair. Elizabeth smiled. She stood up and looked out across the lake one last time, wondering when she would be able to come back. This pair of love-struck teens were not the first that she had come across in twelve years. There had been several — one she couldn’t save. Although the sage had told her that she had no home now, this was her home. She said her goodbyes to Tommy and Carley and then disappeared into the trees.
~~~
       Seven years later, the lake swallowed the island. The trees were still there, but no land was left to where the town’s teens could get away. Tommy and Carley sat across the lake looking out at the hidden island, wondering whether their friend in black would still be able to visit her home. They were expecting their second child — a girl they would name Elizabeth.

The Pale Lady

       It’s a deep, primal scream that haunts me before waking. The terror started three months ago, but all I can remember is a deafening, painful wail. It comes to torment my dreams, and leaves me with only a fear of what is to come.
       Jason peacefully sleeps beside me, and I find myself resentful. I’m reminded that he is not at fault, and the feeling fades. Softly caressing his messy mop of hair, I watch him as he dreams, wishing that I could join him. Longingly, I walk through memories of waking him to make love. I would wake him now, but the sleep deprivation prevents me — paralyzes me. His eyes begin to flicker and then drowsily open.
       “Good morning gorgeous,” he says, just like every morning — no matter how the sleepless nights have wrecked my once porcelain  face.
       I smile and kiss him. Wishing to stay in the moment forever, I linger here. Foreboding does not overwhelm me when our lips are pressed lovingly together. I pull away, slowly, savoring the fleeting bliss. In a moment, the ecstasy is gone and trepidation rules. A long sigh escapes my lips. “We’ll probably want to leave early to avoid traffic.”
       He reluctantly begins to rise. “We don’t have to. We could go in the Spring. Maybe…”
       “I want to see the leaves.”
       Concern is chiseled on his brow, but he knows me. This trip has been the light at the end of a dark, dismal tunnel. I find myself desperate to see the mountains — to relive the memories. Now that my parents are gone — violently ripped from my life — there are times when I have a hard time remembering their faces, yet times when they are vividly in front of me. The most clear memories beckon from the mountains.
~~~
       The storm is wild and strong. I fall in and out of consciousness for most of the ride, but now the peaks are before us, surrounded by angry clouds. Wind knocks about my small SUV, and a dread seeps up within me. The roads up to the chalet can be treacherous on the most beautiful of days with their winding curves and steep shoulders. One wrong move… Jason places his hand on my leg and the gleam in his beautiful, hazel eyes reassures me.
       The tempest seems to subside as we wind our way up the mountain. A beautiful babbling stream catches my eye. Although I know that I must be in a dream, I watch as the sun beams down on a man joyfully tossing his little girl into the air. She laughs and squeals with exhilaration. Through the air she flies on her father’s strong arms to eventually land her bare feet in the cool water. The rocks in the stream are smooth and cold on her feet and she soon begs to be airborne again.
       Tears stream hot down my face, as I am thrust back into the worsening storm. Jason is pulling into the driveway. I can’t remember ever feeling so distressed to see the chalet. We race inside, blazes of light chasing us. We aren’t fully through the threshold when Jason grabs me by the waist and kisses me deeply. Everything else melts into a muted background, and the feeling of wanting to remain in his embrace forever returns.
       “That was quite the drive. How did you sleep through it?”
       No answer comes. I know that I was in and out of waking, but I don’t feel like I’ve slept at all. He disregards my silence and leads me into the bedroom.
~~~
       The scream rings out louder than ever before. It’s dark. Have I been asleep for that long? Jason peacefully dozes beside me. A fog surrounds my thoughts, and I wonder how the scream did not wake him. It was so loud — so real. I slip away from his hold and, in the darkness, bump around the room in search of my gown. Thunder violently shakes the whole cabin, as I make my way into the great room. I wonder, again, how it is that Jason can sleep. Bright flashes of light immediately precede the violent booms. Outside, the trees twist and crack. I stand next to the window and watch the destruction around me. A burning white light blinds me. As my eyes search for focus, a figure appears on the other side of the pane. I know her. The nightmare — the memory of it alive within me — vividly trespasses into life, and I recoil from the window. My feet tremble in their backwards motion, away from the pale figure. I topple over the couch and land hard on the floor.
       With another blazing flash, she stands over me. She is grotesque with a mouth that gapes open as if unhinged at the jaw. Her gown is torn and singed at the edges, and her eyes are hollow. No sound comes, as I helplessly call for Jason. My feet cannot  get a grip on the floor, and I awkwardly drag myself away from the repulsive, pale lady. Finally, a piercing scream emanates from my lips. No one comes.
       My feet finally grab the floor, and can seek refuge nowhere other than out in the storm. My mind deliriously thinks that, if I can just get a door between us, I can buy time. With one flicker of light and a loud rumble, she is nose to nose with me, her empty sockets burning a hole in my mind. My feet scramble backwards, and I find myself standing on the railing of the deck. Jason is at the door, confused, asking what I am doing. I point in the direction of my living nightmare, but the pale lady is gone. Words fall from my mouth, but it’s nothing more than a tossed word salad. “Scream… Lady… Lightning…” My arms flail wildly, as I continue to babble. Jason pleads with me to come down from the banister. But she’s coming. I long to be in his arms — to kiss his lips — to be transported away and lost in the bliss — but I  know that she’s coming.
       “Come down from there!”
       My feet fidget, trying to obey. Yes! I should go to him. Jason will protect me. I just need to be in his arms, and everything will be right. My right foot slowly begins decent. A brilliant bolt surrounds me. A painful, deafening wail fiercely flows from my lips. My body violently jerks and then goes limp. I’m falling. All else fades, and I’m once again in the arms of my father, being tossed into the bright sun.

Demon Hunter

No one in town knew much about him. They definitely didn’t know what it was like to be Dylan Riley. Although not one of the fine folk of Birmingport, Alabama would be able to give a good excuse as to why — other than he looked the part — the outsider had earned the reputation of being a ‘bad boy’ in the small town immediately. All the girls swooned over his ruggedly handsome face and his icy blue eyes. The guys all glared and grumbled. None of them took the time to get to know him though — except her.

Dylan sat brooding in the ill-lit corner of the local diner. The decor was tired-looking, the wall paper pealing in the corners. A loose light bulb continuously flickered above his head. Irritated, he tapped the dated, orange and brown lamp causing a clump of dust to fall on his half-eaten burger. “Doesn’t matter,” he thought. “Overcooked anyway. Everything’s overcooked here.”

He stared at his phone. She was supposed to call. If he wanted, he could have any girl in town, but she was the only one who spoke first — a smile had crossed her lips that said she knew more than she was telling  — the others just stare. He wasn’t the dating kind, but she was going to be his. Jessica Barton was no beauty queen, but she had a subtle charm about her. Wild and frizzy auburn hair framed a freckled face with olive-green eyes.  She was the girl who always had her nose in a book. The girl that popular girls only noticed in order to ignore her, but she had a creative and carefree spirit. She was independent. Dylan had to have her.

“Hi there.”

The voice was familiar. Dylan looked up from his phone and there she was in front of him. He looked back at his phone, confused, as if she had just popped out of it.

“I thought you’d be here. I don’t really like talking on the phone much,” Jessica twisted her fingers nervously through her hair and got tangled for a moment. An embarrassed smile escaped her lips, “I hope you don’t mind.”

His eyes were a piercing blue. Jessica could understand why all the girls were crazy about him, but she wouldn’t be one of them. He could do a lot more damage than just the average ‘bad boy’ in town, and she knew it. She wasn’t going to suffer the same fate as the others.

Dylan smiled, “Wanna go for a ride?”

Jessica grinned.

The wind blowing through her copper hair almost seemed to tame it. They drove his baby-blue, 1965 Mustang convertible into the night, talking and laughing. The moon was hanging low in the sky, fat and orange with wispy clouds painted across her belly. Dylan found a cutoff road, secluded in the woods, drove to the end and killed the engine.

“I don’t really date…” Dylan began.

“I know.” She moved in close.

He could almost taste her lips. He had her — he just knew it. Oh, the things he was going to do to her. She would never be the same again. “She thinks she knows so much, but she doesn’t, not really,” he thought.

“You’re not what everyone in town thinks you are.” Her breath was warm. The smell of bubble gum and Pepsi teased Dylan’s nose. She was intoxicating.

“I don’t know. Everyone here thinks I’m a bad seed.” Revelation struck. Perhaps she didn’t know as much as he thought. “What? You don’t?”

“Oh no… I know you’re no good for me.” She continued to move closer. Her lips barely brushed against his.

Confusion was swelling inside. What kind of game was this? No matter. He would win. Idiot girls — they always go crazy for the bad ones. Dylan had thought she was different though. She was to be his great conquest.

Jessica brought her hand up to his mouth. “You don’t just break girls’ hearts. You devastate lives.” Her finger slid softly down his lips.

She was about to find out just how true that was. He could feel the heat from her body rising. Aroused, he made his move. A sharp pain overcame him. His cold blue eyes became wide, changing into black pools, as she sunk the dagger into his heart.

“So cocky. Did you really think I didn’t know what you are?”

His body didn’t lax and slump. It became rigid and then began to liquefy into the white vinyl seat. A black ooze was still pooling and bubbling as Jessica stepped out of the car and into the night. She would go home to her books and remain invisible to her classmates.