NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 9
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,694 words
Chapter 12 (as it happens), continued
She woke with a start. She was in the drawing room still. Both fires were blazing. Adam was across from her, leaned back in his chair, spinning his mug, watching the burning logs.
“Shit,” she said under her breath. “I’m sorry. How long was I asleep?”
He didn’t look away from the fireplace. “Not long.”
Her fingertips were resting on her mug still, barely holding on. The mug was still warm. Both her feet were on the ground. Both of her shoes were on. She shook her head trying to clear the fuzziness of sleep and dreams and whiskey.
“What were we talking about?”
“Death,” he said.
“Oh.” She remembered now. She definitely did not want to pick up that topic again. “What time is it? Surely they must be finished with the tour now, we can rejoin the group.”
“There’s another 25 minutes at least.”
He was still engaged with the fire.
“Oh.” Was she asleep for only a minute? Was that even long enough to dream?
“Well, how about another drink, then? I think I can make a black Russian or maybe a dirty martini?” She was trying to make an offer but it came out like a question. Her cocktail making repertoire was very small. She didn’t make drinks at home very much, a hangover from her days with Great Aunt Wanda who didn’t approve of much drinking except maybe a glass of red wine at night, or a tipple of sherry with cards. If Ronni wanted a drink, she went to a bar.
“Have you ever thought about what it might feel like?”
“What?” She was half up from her chair, ready to attempt drink making.
“Have you ever imagined what death might be like? What it feels like to die?”
She shook her head, too stunned to speak.
“When you’re parents died, you didn’t think about what they went through? How their last minutes on earth were? Or better yet the moments on the edge between life and death, just as they slipped to the other side?”
She shook her head, this time it was to stop the sob building in her throat. And the endless, screaming “No” that wanted to follow it.
He finally looked at her. Adam’s face looked lit from within like a Jack O’Lantern but it wasn’t candle light burning his face, it was some other light, lux fiat sulfera, a light made in hell. She’d heard that once but could never imagine seeing it or how it would look different, but there was no other way to describe this fiery light shining out from within him. (Yeah, go ahead and try to make this metaphor/description less clumsy.)
“Would you like me to tell you what it was like for them?”
“Why are you saying these things? Why are you talking like this?” Her voice was so tiny, so soft. Not like she was speaking at all. Or that she was speaking but she was far, far away from her own body, watching, listening from high above.
“It’s cold, Ronny. Very, very cold. So cold it hurts. It’s a lie to say that death is painless, because it’s colder than anything you’ve ever felt before.”
He was leaned up in his chair too now, the same position she’d been frozen in the last few moments. His face still glowed from some internal inferno but was more skeletal now as if all his subcutaneous fat had been sucked dry.
He reached his hand out for her and she wanted to pull away but either way he was too quick or she was too slow. His grip on her shoulder was crippling, strong than the bony hand of her dream, though Adam’s hand was starting to look the same. He opened his mouth, took a huge gasping inhale, the rush of air nearly knocked her over, then he let out such an unearthly, loud, shrieking howl she though her eardrums wold burst. His breath was like a frozen blast from a glacier.
She wanted to scream, she wanted to pull away, she wanted to kick and punch and twist and shout and pull on her hair and scratch out her eyes. Anything to get away from him, from it, from all of it, but she couldn’t move, not even to breathe. She was stock still as the cold over took her. And it hurt just as he said.
She woke again, with no start, or pronouncement. Only the feeling that she wasn’t alone. Adam wasn’t across from her but his mug still sat on the chair arm. The fires were lit, blazing, crackling like before. Maybe it was the sleep still wearing off because she didn’t notice the hand on her shoulder until just then. She tried to shake it off like it was a phantom feeling leftover from the dream, her imagination again but whoever it was gripped tighter. It was real this time, not another dream, but she couldn’t get the dreams out of her head.
Panic took over and pulled away, not gently but forcefully like she was fighting for her life. The mug she’d been holding crashed to the floor and shattered,. A scream crawled up her throat. All Veronica could think was “I have to get free, I have to get away. Oh god, he’s got me. It’s got me” (Or some combination of that).
Chapter 13 (I don't think any of this is good either)
The scream was on her lips when Jordan said, “Hey, calm down. It’s just me, I found you sleeping in here.” He crouched down beside her, his hand still on her shoulder.
The scream working its way out died on her lips. Her hearted pounded hard in her chest, she thought this time it might actually be injured or about to burst.
“Oh, God. Oh, God, Jordan.”
She pulled him to her with trembling arms. He smelled like he should: pine shavings, spearmint, and underneath a manly musk. In her dreams, all those sad heart-broken dreams where she thought he’d come back he smelled like nothing. She was sure she was awake now.
“I-I’m sorry.” She let him go. “I’m sorry. I was just having a bad dream, I guess. A weird dream, I mean.”
She got up and went to the bar. Her hands still shook. A whiskey bottle sat on the bar where Adam must have left it. She reached over, found a glass, and filled it to the rim.
“Yeah, I remember you getting those. Not nightmares, right? Just surreal and haunting.”
She looked at him, standing by the chair she’d vacated. It would be so easy to go back to him. Forget a slow reconciliation, just pick up where they left off.
“It’s a good thing you didn’t hear all of Greg’s stories then. You wouldn’t believe the stuff that’s gone down hear, on this land. It’s like, uh, what did they say in Ghostbusters?”
(Figure this out then work it out in here. I know what I mean)
He came to the bar when she didn’t laugh at his joke. She drank half the glass in one swallow, her shaking hands splashing bourbon on the bar. Her heart raced, fluttering at an unbelievable rate.
“Jesus, you’re shaking. You’re really scared. Are you sure you weren’t having a nightmare?”
He ran his hands up and down her arms. She wanted to let him hold her, let him comfort her. Fall into his arms tell her all her fears and anxieties, spend the weekend, spend forever with him. Something kept telling her too. It would be so easy.
She pulled back from, however. “It was just a dream,” she said. “I don’t even remember what it was about.” Which was true. She only remembered that something was hunting her and something bad had happened but not what or who or how. She finished the rest of her glass and took a moment before she refilled it, her first instinct. She thought she’d at least wait until the first dose of medicine had a chance to work before she went for another, which gave her a chance to say what needed to be said. “Look, Jordan, I wanted to talk to you. About us. About getting back together.
“I’d be willing to try it. When we get back home. D.C., I mean. But we can’t just pick up where we left off because. . .” Because he’d hurt her too much before, she wanted to say. Because her heart had broken so badly for months she believed it would never go back together. But then again that wasn’t entirely his fault. Becky had . . . It didn’t matter what Becky had done. He had been the one to leave. “Because I’m not the same as I was then. And I have this as a job now. And I’m moving out of Aunt Wanda’s. Or planning too.” She was getting off topic. Her hands were no longer trembling but she poured another, smaller glass of alcohol. “Anyway, we’d have to start over, fresh and new. And slow. We’d have to go slow.”
He nodded. “Of course, that sounds completely amenable. Whatever it takes, because I’m serious Ronny. I’m serious about us.”
The door opened behind her. “The Creep ’N’ Greet is starting,” Adam’s sentence trailed off. “Oh, sorry I didn’t know you were occupied.”
“No, that’s all right. We were just finishing.” She downed her drink.
Jordan kept looking at her, not acknowledging Adam at all. Again she had that urging, looking into his eyes, that need to just take Jordan’s hand and start being a couple all over again. Instead she turned away him and towards the door, she found another fake smile to use and adopted a tone of excitement. (Or whatever)
“You’re uncle is there right? I can’t wait to meet him. Jordan was telling me how great his stories were.”
Adam smiled, he hooked his arm around hers like they were going to skip down the yellow brick road. “I knew a little break would do you good. Yes, my uncle is looking forward to meeting you a great deal. He’s already asked to meet the enterprising young lady who arranged this all.”
Keep Reading: Part 10
Keep Reading: Part 10
Thanks for Reading!