After tonight he would know the exact extent of her power. And she would never be the same again, some awareness of what she was would waken inside her, no matter how obscure. There was no going back after this.
The interior of the room was getting hellishly warm and the air buzzed with electricity. Christina’s eyes flicked wide open and she pronounced the words as clearly as Septimus.
His eyes were drawn to the open mouth of the stove as a dark shadow twisted from the flames, a grotesque willowy form that exuded malice. It danced in the air around Christina, growing ever more bold as it became more and more interested in her. Her red birthmark began to burn her flesh and through her trance she could feel the reality of pain all around her ankle.
The creature became frantic, scratching at Christina, pulling her hair until it was yanking her off the table. Sep had to act quickly, the minion of hell had quickly become determined not to leave without this prize. Sep scrambled in the folds of his shirt for a charm he wore on a chain. It was a small wooden figure, a crude rendition of a man, but with sharp fangs like a wolf, a shaggy mane suggested along it’s back. The demon recoiled a little before returning to trying to snatch Christina off the table to drag her back with him, averting its eyes from Septimus’ charm.
Grabbing the charm with both hands, Sep ripped the chain from around his neck and threw it at the monster. Upon contact it burst into an explosion of herb scented liquid that burned horribly into the shadow form, causing a foul smelling smoke. The beast retreated, grovelling back into the open stove doors, leaving a trail of evil smoke.
Even Septimus was shocked at the determination of this thing. Usually the first waifs to come out of Hell were pitiful creatures, just strong enough to smash a few plates and report back on what they had encountered. This one was none the less pitiful but it had gone crazy trying to get Christina back with it. He glanced back at her, covered in the ancient symbols that were supposed to act as a protective amulet and for a moment he doubted himself, whether he could ever hope to control something that was so important to the Devil and avoid disaster.
Well what did he care, he had always managed to emerge victorious from disaster before. His moment of self-doubt over, he was full of mirth, adrenaline still coursing from his battle. He jumped around the kitchen and when he noticed her start to stir he leapt his way to the door agile as a sprite.
Christina awoke in a cloud of black, soot swirled around the door as it flapped on its hinges, banging open and closed in the frame. Her eyes burned as they fluttered open. Sweat prickled all over her skin and feeling the breeze wash against the moisture making it cold, she became aware of her nakedness.
She blinked, the room was both familiar and strange. She looked down at her body and filled with horror at the sight of the strange symbols that covered her torso, her arms and legs. Christina began to shuffle backwards on the table, tense, trying to escape the sight of herself, until one hand slipped over the edge and she scraped her wrist before tumbling back sending herself crashing to the table.
Her breath ragged, she leapt off the table and began frantically extinguishing the candles as if they were the undoubted source of the madness. Pushing the palms of her hands into the flames, hot wax squeezing between her fingers, her eyes flew from one flame to another.
She had no idea how long it had taken to put them all out, but by the time she had finished the kitchen of her grandma’s house was cold and black save the dying fire who’s embers glowed orange in the grate. Suddenly still, the cold began to penetrate her flesh and she crept to the door and shut it quietly. It still rattled in its frame and she thought of her mother’s words ‘that damn wind… drives me crazy.’
Gripped by the irrational fear that her mother would show up at any moment and throw her out of the house, Christina was unable to leave the kitchen and look around the house for a blanket or some clothes. Instead she edged closer to the hearth, slumping to the ground and pressing herself against the warm stones around the fire. She could not sleep, but she could not think, and here against the hard wall she could find the comfort of numbness. And for hours that is where she stayed. Catatonic.
Eventually there was a tapping on the window, Christina snapped out of the trance and her brain was flooded with information. It was past dawn and light. The fire had died. And she had no idea why she was in her grandmas kitchen looking like a human sacrifice from a bad horror film. Tap tap tap. This time harder, with urgency. Christina looked over her shoulder and to the face in the window.
It was the dark haired stranger. The black whirlwind that was sucking her closer and closer to the centre, and suddenly she thought he was a lightless angel who had come in response to prayers she hadn’t even known she’d uttered.
He let himself in, seeing that she wasn’t going to move. Sep sat on the floor next to her and let Christina manoeuvre herself so that she was nestled under his shoulder. With his free hand he took out his mobile phone and dialled ‘Sandy’ in his phonebook.
‘Hi… She’s fine, I found her at her grandmother’s house.’
‘Oh thank god… How did you know where her grandmother’s house was?’ Sandy was a mixed bag of emotions.
‘I’ve got to go, she needs me.’