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Gothic Beauty Magazine

Friday, 23 May 2014

Willow Creek Chapter 3

             
The moonlight fell through the trees, glittering across the ground- pooling around the roots of trees, so liquid in appearance that as he walked, Sean kept having to stop and check if what was at his feet was water, or simply light. A few times he was forced to walk around, searching for the edge of the pool in the darkness. More than once, he could simply stomp on through- always calling for Anna.
He tripped once, falling heavily to the ground- leaving a smear of the woman’s still- drying blood behind him.
 He scratched at his arms, his face- the blood made him itch, as bad as itching powder- he wondered vaguely if he was allergic to blood. The trees here were ancient- some 20 feet around- so wide that he found himself wondering if anyone had ever hollowed one out before. How much kindling would that produce? The silence pressed in around him, starving him of stimulation. As he walked, he came upon a fallen tree- a mountain in itself, stretched far to the left and to the right- and decided to climb over it. He put his foot against the trunk, reaching up to grab a branch that jutted out at an odd angle. He pulled himself up hard, bending the branch- still, no sound, and swinging his legs over, jumped down. He plunged into a deep pool of water, the crash of his entry deafening- the first sound he had heard since coming into this place, save for his own voice.

Anna screamed, her voice reverberating around the bathroom- repeating over itself, like a scratched up CD. The little girl strolled slowly around the corner, her smile widening at the sight of the burnt and injured woman on the side of the tub. “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Anna screamed at her, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I want Sean.” The little girl said brightly, tilting her head to the side. Anna stared at her, her words stuck in the middle of her throat for a second. She choked over them, and finally they forced their way out- “WHAT did you say?” the little girl had to be six or seven, at the most- she could just be a large 5 year old.

  The little girl brought her head back up- and suddenly, her face changed- her eyes stretched, her eyeballs going black- no pupils, no iris- just black, stretched up to the tops of her ears. Her mouth became a gaping hole- full of long, sharp, black teeth- some as long as five inches, hanging out of her mouth, hanging down past her chin. A savage snarl ripped out of her throat, and Anna screamed, leaning as far away from the Demon girl as she could get. Suddenly, the mother sat up in the tub, reaching her arms up almost mournfully, wrapping them around Anna’s throat. “Hugs always help when I feel scared.” She said sweetly, pulling the other woman down. Anna screamed, grabbing onto the towel bar beside her on the wall.

The woman pulled and pulled, trying to pull Anna in for a hug. The little girl’s face snapped back to normal, and she laughed hysterically at the scene in the tub, pointing at Anna gleefully. “Let me go!” Anna’s hand slipped off the towel bar, and the woman slid her body sideways in the large tub, pulling her down into the blood. Anna grabbed onto the side of the tub, clinging with all her might. “LET ME GO!” Anna screamed as loudly as she could, pulling with all of her strength against the death grip the woman had her in. the little girl walked over to the tub, holding up her hand. Her nails stretched and grew, turning into sharp cat’s claws. “Bye bye, Miss Anna.” She said sweetly, slashing her nails across Anna’s hands.

With a howl of pain, Anna instinctively let go of the tub- and the dead woman plunged her head under the blood, getting up on top of her to hold her down. Anna fought against the woman’s iron grip, her hands reappearing from under the blood, pulling hard enough on the sides of the tub to make it creak ominously. The woman pushed down with all of her weight, barely able to keep Anna’s head under the blood level. The little girl hissed at the sudden turn of events. “Keep her down!” she ordered the woman, her face flashing back and forth from the demon to the girl. The woman nodded sharply, shifting her weight so she was supporting her body entirely with her arms, pushing down on Anna’s neck and face. Anna struggled, gulping blood, the rust taste seeping down into her very soul. Slowly, her movements weakened- and as she weakened, the girl seemed to grow.

Her head shot up, her shoulders widening. Her waist tapered in, and her little girl’s curls grew heavy and dark, snaking down her shoulders as if it had muscles of its own. Her clothes readjusted, to a pair of cutoff jeans, just above her knees, and a tank top- the word BEWARE scrawled across her chest. Her bare feet stood obliviously in the still running, burning hot water that ran across the floor. As the last of Anna’s life slipped away, her perfect mirror image turned her back, crossing the floor quickly, and left the room- slamming the door securely behind her. The dead woman’s muscles went slack, and she slid slowly, slowly down, face first on top of the woman she had just killed.

Sean broke the surface, his clothes billowing blood behind him. He gasped for air, swimming with long strokes towards the shore. He kicked once, twice- and he was there, pulling himself up onto the moss covered bank with difficulty, turning back to see the trail he had left in the water. Now clean, he stood up on unsteady feet, looking around, trying to get his bearings. “Hello!” a woman’s voice suddenly broke through the night, shattering the supposed stillness that was all he had found between the trees. He turned toward the sound, his heart leaping up into his throat- crashing down again to the bottom of his stomach when he saw that the woman rushing towards him was at least eighty years old- and definitely not Anna.
“Hey,” he called back, walking towards her. She stopped when she saw him moving, looking at him with strangely animated eyes. They glittered with every emotion she felt, playing back and forth, now, from caution to confusion to worry. “Are you alright?” she asked, tapping her cane on the ground. “I’m fine,” Sean said, coming to a stop a few feet away from the old woman, “but I’m looking for someone- her name is Anna, have you seen her?”

 “I’m right here!” a voice rang out to his left, and unbelievably, Anna strolled between the trees towards him. “Oh!” the old woman rushed forward, her hand held out to shake Anna’s- but suddenly, she stopped short, only a few feet away from her. She looked up into Anna’s face, her back to Sean. Anna smiled at her, holding her hand out as well. The old woman snapped her hand back, recoiling as if Anna was some kind of poisonous snake. “Is everything alright?” Sean asked, looking at the old woman, confused. She glanced over her shoulder at him quickly, an odd look in her eyes. She looked back at Anna for a long moment, who, still smiling, somehow managed to look annoyed. Suddenly, the old woman looked down at Anna’s feet. “Oh, dear! Where are your shoes?” she asked quickly, tapping her cane nervously as she spoke.

“I lost them climbing over a tree. One kind of went under it, and the other went sliding off I don’t know where- and now I guess I’m barefoot until we find the car-“at this, she looked at Sean, an oddly pleading look in her eyes. “No, no!” the woman said quickly, and Anna’s head snapped back around to look at her- her eyes changing as she did. Sean missed it from where he stood, but the old woman saw her eyes take on pure ice. She smiled sweetly back at the woman, determined. “You should come back to mine. I have shoes there you can have, and it’s too late to go back through the forest now.” She turned away from Anna quickly, looking Sean right in the eye. “There are bears, you know.” She said, striding past him and onto a trail Sean hadn’t noticed before.

“Sean!” Anna’s voice rang out in the silence, and he turned to look at her in the dim light beneath the trees. Her face was partially hidden by a shadow created by the moving moon. “Let’s just go find the car.” She turned away from him, looking back the way he had come. “No!” he said, his voice ringing with finality. There was no way, he thought, that he was going to deal with Bears, on top of everything else that night. He strode off after the woman, nearly leaving the flummoxed Anna behind in the forest. Grinding her teeth, she followed him quickly- all three making their way quickly along the path towards the lights of an old house that shone suddenly through the trees.