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Gothic Beauty Magazine

Monday, 26 May 2014

Willow Creek; the final chapter


Small edit from my last post. I was pretty sure Willow Creek had 19 chapters but I had it mixed up with Summertime! This is Willow Creek's final chapter. Watch out for Willow Creek; Unabridged which will be available as soon as I find a publisher, and finish the project.

Willow Creek- The Final Chapter.

Anna woke up to the sound of someone singing. She had to listen for a few minutes before she realized that it was Alex. He was singing an old sounding song- it was long and drawn out.
 “Oh, my dar-ling Marie… please come ba-ack to me… I’ve lost you some-where between… oh-oh my dar-ling Marie…”
Hello,” she thought, feeling stronger than before.  Alex appeared so quickly, she actually jumped- and he grinned widely, holding out his hand to help her up. Moving her arm, she took his hand, letting him pull her up into a sitting position. “You might be able to move better, now” Alex said, grabbing a pillow and putting it behind her back. “But don’t try and use your voice yet, or you will zap yourself out, and put yourself right back where you were.”  “Why does using my voice make me so tired?” she asked, leaning back against her pillows.


“Because your voice comes from your power,” He said simply, sitting down on the edge of the bed to talk to her. “where’s Andrew?” she asked, turning her head to look around the room. It felt good to move- her muscles seared and burned from disuse.  “Andrew is playing hide and seek with Roger.” Alex grinned, reaching over to open the curtains. “look,” he pointed out the window. Anna turned to look and was surprised- the scenery here was different than the window in the living room. There was a large building, all stained brown over grey, industrial and cold. They were on the 9th floor, so she could not see the ground- but she could see, past the top of the building, the lights of what she supposed might be Cherryville in the distance.  

Suddenly, in one of the lowest windows, a light flashed on. Looking down, Anna could see Roger, looking left and right. He was in a long kitchen, and he moved towards the back of it, looking underneath each cabinet as he went. Suddenly, a pantry door slid open in the side of the room she could see and, crawling along the ceiling, Andrew came out of it. He scurried along the ceiling unnoticed, right over the other Demon’s head, and out the door- disappearing into the darkness. Anna grinned, almost laughing- but a sharp look from Alex reminded her. She fell silent, but the energy of even thinking of using her voice noticeably drained her. Suddenly, her eyelids felt heavy.

“Told you,” he said roughly, turning away to watch his brother playing again. “So this place you’re going to be living after this, does it have a room for Andrew?” he asked without looking at her. “Of course it does.” Anna answered, and it was the truth. The house had a guest bedroom, complete with a bed she and Sean had picked out together for when her parents came to stay. She found herself wondering again, how she would explain Sean’s disappearance, or Andrew’s presence.

The thought caught Alex’s attention, and he turned back to her. “You don’t have to worry about that anymore,” he said, swinging his legs over to rest on her bed, facing her completely now. “What do you mean?’ her face twisted with confusion. She felt the spike of emotion drain her even further. “Maybe you’re not doing as well as I thought,” he worried, tilting his head to see into her eyes. “Tell me!” she demanded, glaring at him. “oh.” He leaned back, looking suddenly as if he were considering something. “well, we scooped up most of that blood, all of those… parts and we took them out of town, to a place where some of the children here were born.” He told her, his face completely serious. “To a place where a serial killer lives- it fits the way he kills other people. You drove right by his place to get here, actually.” He said, watching her face.

She just stared at him- completely unsurprised. “So you’re blaming his death on the serial killer?” she asked flatly, feeling as if she were spread too thin. “Well, yes, if anyone ever catches him.” He told her, smiling. “we checked out the place you told us about- nothing to worry about there, there were no messages yet or anything- your family probably thinks the two of you are just busy unpacking. The power is on, the phone is connected. Andrew disguised himself as Sean to get your food, so he’s been seen in town buying enough for two for a week or so. It’s not a far stretch for you to start calling around asking if he’s shown up back where you used to live, and then to call and report Sean Missing. Then, you just have to wait for the cops to catch him.” Alex grinned widely, totally relaxed. “Two birds with one stone. No one will know the real story, and a bad person will be caught.” He said happily, turning back to the window, as if this discussion were over.

Anna let it lie for now, looking out the window too. Roger still walked through the building, lights flickering on and off as he went. Twice, he nearly caught Andrew- but Andrew kept evading him, until, finally, as Roger bent to look under the bed in a bedroom, he caught sight of Andrew crawling across the ceiling. Grabbing a broom from the corner of the room, Roger snuck up on him, and- to Anna’s horror- smacked him right off the ceiling like a piƱata.

She saw Andrew hit the ground, and she jerked upright, her guts churning. Down in the room, all of the lights suddenly went out. Alex, surprised, put his hands up to stop her, pushing her back down. “Is he okay?” she demanded, worry pounding her heart almost out of her chest. Staring down at the room Andrew had just been seen in, she tried again to pull herself out of bed. “Yea, he’s fine- look!” Alex pointed as the light came on again. Roger was stumbling around the room, with his hands over his face, as if he were in pain. Andrew was nowhere to be seen. “I don’t see him!” she said out loud, feeling her energy drain dramatically. Alex clapped his hand over her mouth, pushing her down. “Anna, stop it!” he said, staring at her as if she were crazy. “If you want Andrew, I’ll go get him! Don’t kill yourself!”

Tears suddenly streamed down Anna’s face, and she nodded frantically. “Go!” she thought loudly, crossing her arms over her chest as the cold that constantly emanated from Alex began to affect her.  Quickly, staring over his shoulder at her as if she were insane, Alex streaked out of the room. Anna only relaxed when she heard the front door open and close. She shuddered hard, absolutely freezing. She pulled her blankets up, but she couldn’t get warm. She found herself missing Andrew even more.  She realized, for the first time how very unsafe she felt with Alex- despite his actions to help her recover from his attack, despite the way he treated Andrew. 

She shuddered, waiting there, unable to move her legs, unable to do anything without the help of the person who, right now, she feared the most. The sound of the door brought her up again, leaning way over, staring through the door at the little piece of hallway she could see. Andrew came flying around the corner, a smile lighting up his face, and he jumped up on her bed, crawling up to cuddle against her side. “Hi, mommy!” he said, looking up at her. “Are you okay?” “Yea, I’m okay now,” she told him, wrapping an arm around him. She instantly felt better, and lifted the edge of the blanket to wrap it around him, so they cuddled together on the bed, Andrew wrapping one arm around her waist. “When do you think I’ll be able to move on my own again?” she thought quietly, tilting her head so her head touched his.

“Alex says soon,” Andrew said, whispering too- although he seemed to think it was a game. “And when we leave, does Alex come too?” Anna asked, horror making her heart pound. A million questions she had not had time for before now swirled around in her soul, unasked. Andrew, feeling her uncertainty, looked up at her suddenly, his face wrinkled up. “Mommy, don’t you like Alex?” he asked slowly, watching her face. She hesitated for a moment, but she knew that he would know if she lied. “I don’t,” she said carefully, hoping not to set off his temper. “Alex scares me- he’s not like you.”

She leaned back now, and Andrew slid up higher on the bed to be on the same level as her. Anna was exhausted now; having expended most of the energy she had saved up when she had panicked over Andrew. “Don’t worry, Mommy.” Andrew said soothingly, stroking his mother’s hair. “Alex can’t leave Willow Creek for too long. It makes him sick if he does, because he needs lots and lots of energy.” Anna, drifting off to sleep, let the words register. Feeling safer, she curled up, letting Andrew warm her, not bothered at all by his proximity.
 


In the hallway, Alex stood quietly, his arms crossed over his chest, his chin dropped down. He stared at the floor a few feet ahead, seething. How dare she? Hadn’t he been doing everything he could for her? In his anger, he didn’t see the snow that had begun to fall in the hallway. Suddenly, the knock he had been waiting for came to the door. Turning quickly, he wrenched it open. Peter, who stood on the other side of the door, backed up quickly when Alex’s angry energy slammed into him. “What’s wrong?” he asked, true concern showing on his face. Alex slid out the door, shutting it behind him before he told the other demon. “She’s afraid of me!” he said loudly, his voice reflecting his anger. “She doesn’t want me around!” he paced back and forth in the hallway, Peter taking a few steps back to give him room.

 “Well, you did suck almost all of the energy out of her soul.” Peter said, trying to sound diplomatic. Alex glared at him, and he shrugged. “She’s human, humans are scared of us. It’s not a new development.” With this, he held up something for Alex to see. It was a pair of women’s boots- plain, black, and practical- Alex was surprised Veronica even had something like this. “They’re not hers; she got them from the store in Cherryville." Peter told him, rolling his eyes. “She won’t be able to come and check on you for a day or so, she wore herself out doing it.” Alex grinned, nodding. His smile faded as he told his friend, “Anna’s used up a bunch of her energy again, panicking because Andrew wasn’t there.” “What, to protect her from you?” Peter asked, grinning widely.

Alex scowled. “Yea, apparently,” he said, turning back towards the apartment. “You’re doing a good thing.” Peter told him, but the door to the apartment was already closing. Peter stood there for a moment, looking up and down the hallway, as if he were deciding something. Eventually, haltingly, he walked away, down to the elevator, and left the building.
 

Alex pushed the bedroom door open, walking in softly. He dropped the boots on the chair by the dresser, grabbing the other chair that had been Rogers during the long hours they had had to watch Anna after his attack, and sat down far enough away from the bed for his own comfort. He was angry- but that didn’t mean he would hurt the human if he could help it. Moodily, he crossed his arms, glaring at the woman on the bed, her arm circled around his brother, who slept soundly.  He brought in his energy, and the temperature in the room rose almost instantly.

 Uncomfortably hot, he moved his chair back a bit more, and cooled things down, just around himself.  A scratching noise suddenly caught his attention. He tilted his head- it sounded like something scraping on glass. He stood quickly; rushing over to the window, looking out, up, down, and to both sides- but there was nothing there. He relaxed visibly, until he heard the noise again. It came from within the apartment. His stomach sank down into his legs. Anna could not move there was no way she could run. He stood, frozen for a moment, but the need to protect the human forced him out of the room and towards the end of the apartment. He walked slowly down the hallway, registering how dark the living room was. Usually, the light from the streetlights and other apartments outside cast light at all times of day and night. As he rounded the corner, he turned, slowly, full of dread to face that window.

 In the centre of the huge picture window, was Michelle, her face pressed up against the glass. She grinned widely when she saw him, her face shining with triumph. All around her, their twisted, rotting faces pressed against the glass, where other Evil Demons. Some had blacked, twisted skin, and looked as if they had been burned. Some resembled blobs, save for the mouth full of sharp teeth that opened and closed on the side that was pressed against the window. Michelle’s hand came up to press against the glass, and he could see the pentacle tattooed on her wrist. “Witch in life, bitch in death.” Alex said loudly, and that was when the glass broke in.


The room erupted in snarls. Alex held up his arms, using his energy to block their way to Anna. “ANDREW!” he was screaming, as loud as he could. “GET ANNA OUT! GET ANNA OUT NOW!” The evil demons threw themselves against his barrier, screaming, tearing at their own faces in frustration. “You can’t get her out!” Michelle crowed, laughing at the Demon who was doing his level best to keep them on the other side of it. “ANDREW!” he screamed again, feeling his power draining. The slam of the front door told him they were gone. He released the barrier, at the same time bringing all of his power into play. The temperature dropped so quickly around him that the demons that rushed at him, their mouths open to consume him, shied away in pain.

His face twisted, his eyes stretching out, long and black. A savage snarl tore its way out of his throat, as he began to suck up energy around him to support his actions. Long, black, pointed teeth ripped their way out of his mouth, and his hands twisted into claws. He ate energy so quickly that the Demons who had been about to attack him suddenly seemed to get torn apart, shredded into a million pieces as they tried to pull themselves away from the stronger Demon. Michelle drifted in the background, and suddenly, Alex realized this was her plan. Preoccupy him with the others, let them get torn apart, and then, when he was exhausted, go after Andrew and Anna.

Unless she had others after them right now. Driven mad at the possibility, he leapt at the woman who floated, smirking at the back of the apartment. Her eyes snapped wide at his unexpected attack, and she tried to bring her hands up, but Alex was on her before she could finish the thought. He bit into her neck, absolutely vicious. He ripped enough of her flesh off that he could see the bone of her spine. Unable to speak, her mouth twisted open in a silent scream, Michelle hit him again and again, trying to get away. Despite her best efforts, within a matter of minutes, Alex had separated her vile energy from the energy that she had consumed, and she was left, an empty shell.  

 Meanwhile, Andrew carried Anna as best he could, half- dragging her down the building’s stairs. He cast out desperately with his mind, trying to call for Roger, something he had never been able to do before. He didn’t know if he could now, but he had to try; he could hear the snarls and growls of hundreds of Demons, all stronger than he, looking for Anna.


He froze in terror as suddenly, just one landing down, a door banged open, and a demon stuck his head through, looking left and right. He looked like a man; but when he turned his head towards Andrew; his eyes were bright silver. Those eyes seemed to simply glaze right over the human and the tiny demon in the staircase; until, with a glint, they fixed directly on Andrew’s. Surprisingly, the Demon gave him a faint smile. “No one in here,” he snarled, then pulled the door shut behind him.

Hearing the double click of the lock, Andrew hurtled past it, thanking his lucky stars. Anna was not feeling so lucky; Andrew was small, and therefore her arms and legs dragged behind them. Twice, her foot got caught in the railing, and Andrew unceremoniously jerked her free, hurting her foot. She did not know what was happening; she had been asleep when, suddenly, Alex had been screaming at them to get out. Andrew had told her to be quiet, so she was doing her best not to think; but she wondered, as they hurtled to safety, where Alex was, and if he was safe. The bang of a door above them brought Andrew to an abrupt stop. He froze, listening hard. Silence reigned; there was no a single sound- “Andrew.” Alex’s sudden voice shattered the silence. Andrew screamed, dropping Anna. She bounced on her hip, sliding down onto the landing. “Ow!” she thought loudly, and there was an instant reaction all over the building.

Pounding footsteps came from every direction. Alex leapt forward, scooping Anna up as if she were nothing. Anna shuddered, frozen by the contact. “Come on!” Alex shouted to Andrew, giving up on silence. They ran for their lives, carrying the incapacitated human with them. Above them, two or three doors opened at once. They were still five floors off the ground. With a loud SNAP, a Demon appeared in front of them. Alex skidded to a stop, swearing. The other Demon snarled, launching himself towards Anna. Alex spun, and the Demon’s long, sharp claws sank into his back. Alex screeched in pain, the sound sending every nerve in Anna’s body buzzing as if it were a live wire. Unable to use her body, Anna sent a thought slamming into the attacking Demon’s mind. “STOP.” The Demon’s head jerked back and he screeched, pressing his hands to his head as if in pain, letting go of Alex.
 Taking the opportunity, Alex kicked him hard in the middle of the chest, sending him flying backwards down the stairwell, where he disappeared into the wall. With pounding footsteps coming behind them, Alex shifted Anna’s position, so she was slung more over his shoulder, reaching back for his brother. “Alex, what are you doing?” Andrew screamed, jerked suddenly off his feet. “Just trust me!” Alex shouted back, and in one fluid movement, he threw his brother and the human over the railing, sending them into a fifty foot free-fall to the ground below.

Andrew hissed desperately, too afraid to snap himself out of the situation, too afraid to leave Anna. Anna fell, her mind reeling in disbelief. This is how she would die- after all of this? Everything was slowed down, seconds taking minutes. Andrew reached out to Anna, grasping her hands hard. He concentrated hard, trying to slow them down- but he didn’t know how to do what he was trying to.  Suddenly, Anna felt something grab her, and her whole body snapped down, brought to a sudden stop. Andrew landed on top of her, face down in her stomach. The pain registered only faintly, her head lolling around unsupported. A hand grabbed her head, steadying it, and suddenly, Alex’s face was very close to hers.  He said something, but it came so fast she couldn’t understand him.

He didn’t wait for her to comprehend- he spun, almost dropping her, and ran through the door that led to the outside. Looking back over his shoulder, she could see the reason for his haste. The stairwell was full of Demons, humanoid and monstrous alike. They ran towards them, their hands outstretched to grab her. They moved at inhuman speeds, and Anna found herself glad it was Alex who held her.  He moved faster than the others, Andrew clinging to the edge of his clothes to keep up. As it was, they snapped at the young Demon’s heels.

Infuriated at the sight, Anna sends another thought reeling into their minds- “BACK OFF.” Instantly, they stopped in place- a good portion of them grabbing their heads, squeezing their eyes shut in pain. But as they stopped, the crowd behind just kept coming, so that as they reacted, they were at the same time bowled over by those behind them. Anna, already dangerously weak, could risk no more energy, and watched helplessly, from a nearly dead body, as Alex and Andrew ran. Alex ran between two parked cars, Andrew dragged along so quickly that he slammed face first into the back of the car, flopping listlessly behind his brother for a moment, one hand clinging tightly to his clothes. As they hurtled past the end of the block, he recovered, getting his feet back on the ground just in time to kick away the outstretched hand of one of the Demons behind him.
 

They were getting overwhelmed with the sheer size of the crowd. Alex ran around the corner, almost skidding out into the road, where they would have been trapped between the buildings. Sticking to the sides, he flew past most of the businesses on the town street. He focused ahead, to the Hotel sign. There was so much energy colliding, flying around that Anna was drained even more than normal. Eventually, she gave up movement, thought, everything- all to give the energy to her saving grace, her beating heart. She felt herself slipping into that quiet place, unable to do anything about it. Cold laced its way into her heart, and it skipped a beat. Anna clung to the last energy she had, holding it, wispy as the end of a balloon’s ribbon, and in the action held on to life. 

 Alex took a sudden turn, and Andrew fishtailed around, trying to keep up. He felt Alex grab him- or was it Anna? He couldn’t tell- and suddenly, they were in a room, with the door being slammed shut behind them.  “Are you alright?” Peter asked anxiously, oblivious to the sudden crash that was the demons slamming into the outside of the building. Andre stumbled, stretching out his hand to catch himself. “OW!” he yelled, as his hand touched the cool stone.it shocked him, sending pain shooting down his arm, right into his heart.  Looking up, he could see that the entire building was made of Granite.  “We can’t get out!” he said, staring at Alex. Alex nodded, turning to set Anna down on the couch. “They can’t get in either.” He stood up quickly, hurrying around the couch and into a kitchen. Andrew realized they were in another apartment.  Alex came rushing back with a glass of water, jerking Anna up.


It was only when he moved her that Andrew realized how frail Anna had become. “Mommy!” he screeched, losing control of his voice. The sound made her body jerk, and Alex immediately told him off. “What are you trying to do, kill her?” he said softly, firmly, tilting back her head to pour the water down. She drank it all, and he lay her gently back down again, Peter holding out his hands to support her head as it sank down to the pillow, barely touching her, as if she were made of glass. “This place is too much for her, Alex.” Peter said softly, as if trying to convince him. “She’s going to die.”

Losing his temper, Alex turned on him. “I never wanted her here in the first place,” he snarled, his teeth showing. “It was Andrew’s fault!” with that, he turned towards a cabinet on the other side of the room, wrenching it open. He pulled out boxes and boxes of salt. Peter shook his head, rushing into the other room to watch the growing crowd through the window. Andrew, hearing the truth, let his head sink down onto Anna’s shoulder. All of this was his fault. He shouldn’t have told her she couldn’t get out without him. Regret filled him from the bottom of his soul. “I’m sorry Mommy!” he whispered, blood running out of his eyes.

 “Don’t cry, baby.” A woman’s voice said, and he jerked his head up, expecting to see Anna’s eyes open, looking at him- but instead, over the back of the couch, Veronica’s face appeared.  She smiled at him softly, and with a start, he realised- she had aged significantly. She seemed to be pulling herself up and over, as if she had been crawling. “Mommy is dying.” He told her quietly, his face crumpling at his own words. “No, sweety,” Veronica told him, her voice steeled with determination. “No she won’t,”

She pulled herself up higher, so she hooked her body on the couch with her own ribcage. Wincing with pain, she leaned down, pressing one perfectly manicured hand against Anna’s cheek. “What are you doing?” Andrew asked, looking over her shoulder. Where had Alex and Peter gone? “I’m going to make her better, baby.” Veronica said, her eyes sliding shut, an expression of intense concentration on her face. All at once, Andrew realised what she was going to do. Wide eyed, he backed away from the two women, his hands clapped over his mouth. He ran around the couch, running for the other room. “Alex! Peter!”

The two Demons came running out, looking around for the problem. Andrew pointed to where Veronica had hung her body, up and over the back of the couch. “Bonnie!” Peter ran forward, rushing around the couch to see her eye to eye. Her head hung down, her face pressed into the couch’s cushion. Her arm encircled Anna’s neck. “Bonnie!” Peter pulled her up, but her head lolled to the side. He shook her, and her whole body flopped. “She gave Mommy her energy!” Andrew cried, his voice switching back and forth from rumbling growl, to the little boy’s plaintive cry. Anna’s head rolled from side to side. Peter pulled Veronica up and over, rolling Anna off of the couch and onto the floor in his haste. “Ow!” she cried out, banging her knee on the floor.


“Mommy is alive!” Andrew jumped for joy, running around the couch to throw himself down beside her, his arms wrapped around her neck.  Anna stood up, looking around, Andrew hanging off the front of her. “Feel better?” Alex asked quietly, his mouth pulled to the side, his shoulders sloped in. “Where’s Veronica?” Anna answered him with a question, winding her arms beneath Andrew’s body to support him. In truth, she felt stronger than she ever had. “Bonnie?” Peter asked again, his voice coming from the other room, now. The three intruders fell silent, listening quietly. Outside, the scraping and banging against the walls continued.  The silence from the room became absolute.

Anna moved towards the door, but Alex grabbed on to her wrist, refusing to let her near the door.  He shook his head, pulling her back. He pushed her back towards the couch, stepping away from the door himself. “What is it?” she mouthed, barely daring to think too loud. Alex pointed back towards the door. As she looked, ice began to appear around the door. Slowly at first, then quicker and quicker, it extended from the sides of the door all the way up to the ceiling, all the way down to the floor. It grew in thickness until it extended a foot and a half into the room, and then slowly glazed over the door. Anna stared, her mouth hanging open. “What’s going on?” she asked loudly, staring at Alex. “Veronica’s not feeling well.” He told her simply, moving as if to go into the other room.

He stopped suddenly, staring at the iced- over door. “What is it now?” Anna said, exasperated. “My salt was in there.” He said dully, staring at the ice as if it had killed his best friend. A huge, resounding BANG on the outside wall snapped them all back to where they were now. They were being chased, and they had to get out. “Okay, enough said!” Alex shouted, his usual grin suddenly hitching itself up onto his face. Anna looked at him sideways, wondering about his mental health. He rolled his eyes, turning towards the back of the kitchen. “I heard that.” He disappeared around a corner, and Anna, confused, stopped midway through the room.
 Andrew was silent, still with his arms wrapped tightly around her neck, as if he were holding her together. The banging on the outside wall seemed louder, now- was that a crack leading from the middle of the wall, up to the ceiling? “Anna.” Alex was suddenly there, and he grabbed her by the arm, dragging her past the iced over door to the back of the kitchen, and down a flight of narrow, rickety stairs. “where are we going?” she asked, stumbling over her own two feet. “We have to leave Willow Creek.” Alex told her, pushing her ahead of him. As they came to the bottom of the stairs, he turned her to the left, and she realized they were in an underground garage- the ground sloping gently upward to an opening, through which she could see the ever- inky black sky.

“How?” she stammered, but stopped as her eyes fell on the object in the middle of the room. It was Sean’s car- solid, real- sitting in the middle of this strange garage as if nothing had ever happened. She found herself wondering how long she had been here- was it a week? A month? Years? “Time for that later,” Alex said tightly, pushing her gently towards the car. The world outside the garage seemed to crawl with shadows, and she forced herself to snap out of it, rushing towards the car. The passenger side door opened, and she slid in, putting Andrew beside her, in the middle of the seat. Alex slid into the driver’s side, and her door slammed shut. She froze in the act of putting on her seat belt, turning to look blankly out the window. “Did my door just shut by itself?” “oh, ya.” Alex said casually, “stuff like that happens sometimes.”
Anna stared at him, completely non plussed. He grinned at her, turning the key in the ignition. They came gently up and out of the garage, Alex looking left and right, leaning far over to see past her into the inky dark. He snapped the car suddenly around, pointed towards the end of town. Looking back, Anna realized they had run quite a distance to get away from the crowd. The apartment building stood far in the background, fading away.
Alex drove fast, screeching around corners, checking behind them frequently. The town just one street behind them seemed to be going dark; no matter how quickly he drove, the lights would go out. As he screeched around the final corner, coming up on the end of town, the highway stretching out in front of them, the ever present swirling mist billowing deceptively softly there, he stopped the car. He climbed out, running around the front to open her door for her. “Come on, get in the driver’s side!” he said, looking nervously back.


Her mouth fell open, her head tilting down. “What about you?” she said incredulously, crossing her arms stubbornly. “I can’t come, just come on!” he yanked her suddenly out of the car in one movement, shoving her towards the other side. Looking back past the car, she could see the shadows coming closer. “Alex, you have to come!” she said loudly, rooted in place. “Anna, go!” losing his patience, he grabbed her roughly, throwing her over to the side, shoving her in the door. “Ow!” she cried out as he crushed her into the seat. The Solid Shadows were only 20 feet away. “Get out of here!” he slammed the door shut, turning towards the impending darkness.

 Anna put her foot down, and the car jumped forward. Andrew got up on his knees, looking back over the seat at his brother, framed in the back windshield. As Anna drove through the mist, and left Willow Creek, Alex disappeared in the dark- it swallowed him, gently, horribly- within a second, he was gone. As he disappeared, a jet of light shot out of the crowd, erupting up and across the tiny world, lighting up the eternal dark. The mist slammed shut, and Andrew felt the sudden disconnect- his brother disappeared, but at the same time, so did everyone else. “Mommy, their gone!” Andrew said forlornly, looking at her with wide eyes.


Anna, afraid to take her eyes off the road, didn’t answer. “Mommy, Alex is gone!” he said again, leaning his head to see into her eyes. She slowed the car, looking at him as if she had never seen him before. “That really happened?” she asked after a long moment, barely noticing the mist dissipating around the car. “Of course it happened, Mommy.” Andrew said, his face screwing up with confusion. “Are you okay?” he asked, staring at her with his bright, red, curious eyes. She nodded slowly, looking up just in time to see the curve that was coming up. She turned, and instantly saw the lights of the General store. “Put your seat belt on,” she said slowly, slowing to drive past. “I don’t need one, Mommy.” Andrew said loudly, pouting. “Put it on anyways,” she commanded, turning off the highway onto the side road their new home stood upon.

If you want to know the complete and unabridged story, you will just have to wait until the publication of Willow Creek; unabridged.