Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

 

 

At night, the road on which I lived seemed like an uncanny, inky black parallel world with almost everything the same except fundamental factors like the nearly complete absence of light, and its lack of visible inhabitants.  Normally, this would have been a nonchalant subject to muse upon to pass the time, but now it rang with sinister implications that were not friendly and fictional.

If the Dreamfeeder was not stopped, or could not be stopped, I had no doubt that it would steadily spread, and as curious people began investigating, it would also feed. Perhaps in time, it would spread all the way through Mellowbrook, making copies of itself, killing or mentally enslaving its hapless inhabitants, and then moving on to the rest of Michigan and to the rest of the world.  Then, perhaps our planet would change so drastically the farther it went, that it couldn’t even be recognized as our planet once it had taken over.  This recent dream had opened countless of doors, behind the thresholds of which waited terrifying possibilities. Maybe this was too early to be thinking of what might happen, but there was no other way to interpret what had been said in that dream.

 

One with every human being, every animal. It wants to give peace to the world, end the suffering.

 

It was a terrible burden upon my shoulders, that I was the only one who could currently do anything about this or make a dent in the situation.  But judging from everything I had done already, it seemed things were spiraling out of my control, or already had long ago.

The only thing I could do was find someone, tell someone, who would know what to do about this.

Kat was a witness whose words might help people to believe me, because she was an advocate for truth, and my best friend, after all.  She would tell any hard-nosed cop where to put it if anyone else accused me of being a serial killer and she knew about it.  If she was in a condition to take up for me—and I was certain she wasn’t—that still didn’t solve the biggest problem of all.

The problem was the cellar.  Anyone who was told about the Dreamfeeder and what really was going on would want to know where it was so they could see it, and anyone going near that thing was in grave danger, because they didn’t know it like I did, didn’t know what the abomination was capable of or soon would be able to do.  There had to be some way to kill it before everything concerning the dead men hit the fan, but I sure didn’t want to be there when they came knocking. Of course, I also didn’t want to be there when the Dreamfeeder grew powerful enough to enter the house.

 

I had enough money in my wallet to stay in hotels for a few days, while some kind of plan was figured out.

 

The Dreamfeeder sample continued to thrash inside its jar in the back seat, wormy and longing for blood.  Solo glared at it nervously.  I stared at the road.  Other than the sound of the car’s engine and its wheels upon the road, the night seemed too still and silent to be a night on Earth, at least as Earth had been before the veil was lifted, allowing such a force of discord to enter. The laws of nature on this world could never spawn such a horrible thing, and our laws made everything destined to die.  No matter what weapon was used on it, I think, the Dreamfeeder would not die.  At least not for long.

 

The worst thing about this is its intelligence, Molly, don’t you think? If it were a mindless animal, bound by our laws, it would be different. Way different.

I know. And now it hates me for what I tried to do.  If it ever gets the chance, it won’t even kill me right away. It’ll make me suffer, as long as possible.

  We can’t give up, no matter how bleak it seems. You know that, don’t you?

 

Yeah.

 

So where are we heading, Molly?

 

Anywhere.

 

No, really. Where?

 

To Aunt Emma’s.

 

If the Dreamfeeder could not be killed with physical weapons, if it spiritually sustained itself because the dimension it came from was more supernatural than natural, then the only thing to do was seek help from the only one I knew who would listen.

Aunt Emma had known me well when I was a child.  I went to her house often, sometimes without my parents even knowing because they didn’t approve of Emma.  To them, the uptight business people whose supernatural knowledge didn’t extend much past the bible, Emma’s beliefs were too out-there for them to grasp.  Although she was labeled the black sheep of the family because of her beliefs, as a kid I was enchanted by her stories of mythical deities and magical gem stones, of poltergeists and ancient gurus, of meditations and ceremonies that could reach into the far ether and change lives.

Emma and I had been very close, before the call of rationalism summoned me elsewhere, and we drifted apart.  I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years, but since she was a true hermit, vastly more so than me, I knew where she must be, if she hadn’t yet moved on from this world.

But as a hippy-like person who believed not in Western medicine but in healing herbs, organic foods, vitamin supplements, and vegetarian diets, I had a major hunch that the old gal still lived, and believed.

Those vague memories of childhood came back to me for the first time in so long, the memories of walking through sequined curtains and into a home so odd and utterly charming that it almost seemed ethereal.

The Muse remembered too.  It liked reminiscing, and we both knew that if anyone knew enough about the supernatural to help us stop the Dreamfeeder, it was Aunt Emma.

 

She lived on the east side of Mellowbrook, in the older, quainter part of town, in a restored Victorian townhome.  That’s where I drove on that eerie night, my emotions again numb and dormant.  

My rational mind told me nothing would come of this, that there was still a way to kill the Dreamfeeder which had nothing to do with the occult.  But for the first time, after my mind had been stretched to its limits like a Hefty trash bag filled with cinderblocks, I wanted to know what lay beyond the fringe of thought, not only because I desperately needed to, but because I truly wanted to, out of an almost childlike curiosity.

I was still skeptical, however, and reluctant to go too far.  My mother had told me that having faith in spiritual things would only lead to disappointment and woe, but she was often a negative-minded person who had most of her faith not in higher powers but in the ability to bring money in the door, which often went hand in hand.  Dad, while not as much so as mom, agreed that dwelling in fantasy wasn’t healthy.  I still loved them both, anyway.  I felt pangs of grief playing the strings of my heart as I remembered dad’s smile, at his way of brightening the mood while still remaining level-headed.

Sometimes rationality was a refuge, like imagination was, and they always told me that as long as the two were balanced carefully a good life could be made. 

Now, neither rationality nor imagination would do much.  I needed to learn what had been avoided almost all my life, and as much as those other Molly’s, both equally obsessed with something, still raved inside my head.  Seeking knowledge of the supernatural from my Aunt was the only thing I could think to do, and it would either save me, or damn me.

 

Driving into the little neighborhood where warm yellow light stared through windows of old houses like the glowing eyes of Jack-o-lanterns, I reached to the back of my mind for a memory, and found it.  The memory was of Emma when I had last seen her, when I was thirteen years old.  She had been fifty two. We were sitting at her old oak table playing two-hand rummy by votive candlelight, and she told me that the world was full of many beautiful and frightening things, and that since I was so young, I would be able to see the way the world went while she played and shared amusing stories with all her lost family friends on the Other Side.  I laughed almost ruefully, and told her that she shouldn’t expect to get off the hook too easily, and that the way she lived and ate would probably give her a hundred more years to see what happened.

If I was right, she would now be sixty seven.

The house was surrounded by a privacy fence, which long ago she had painted a variety of psychedelic colors in many patterns.  The effect was striking even in the wash of my car’s headlights, appearing as though it was straight out of the 60’s, a time where liberal, social revolution-seeking hippies rose up and tried to change the world.

The house itself was hard to see, but the windows downstairs were bright with flickering light.  She always loved candles and used them more than anything, yet also took advantage of electricity to cook, monitor news developments of the world beyond the home she never left, but for very little else.  Living frugally and humbly in this world, she had always said, would be rewarded with lots of brownie points in the next world.  Okay, she hadn’t said exactly that, but something akin to it. At the time I thought it was absurdly funny, and laughed inwardly.

Now, however, I felt guilty for the silent never expressed ridicule, the almost smug superiority I felt towards anyone with belief in the strange and otherworldly.  Though this had never hurt anyone, and I had never made it evident of my distaste, the guilt was there, because now in such a difficult unearthly part of my life, I needed to have faith or at least knowledge and searched almost greedily for it, when only a couple of weeks ago I had scoffed at anything beyond the norm.

Now, the guilt was beginning to ripen into an incredulous confusion.  All the answers I had always carried with me had been scattered and stepped on by the cruel boots of fate, leaving me empty handed, with nothing to hold on to except a sort of paper-thin hope, but no faith, no guarantees.

Solo wanted to follow me to the house, but, afraid Emma might still have dogs he would fight with, for she always had many pets, I let him do his business somewhere in the grass, then left him in the car.

Gearing myself, for what it wasn’t clear, I walked up the gravel driveway, and then down a narrower path decorated with colorful, intricate mosaic stones.

I approached the gate.  It was not locked.

The inside of the fence was illuminated not only by one floodlight, but two fountains, each featuring stone angel children holding sparrows in their open palms. The sound of falling water was soothing, and the cool blue lights inside the fountains seemed able to repel all forms of evil, as much that night as they had fifteen years ago.

Intricate stonework beneath my feet, all over the porch, gave it an almost medieval feel, and as I approached the front door, a dark mahogany wooden one with an odd looking little bronze gnome for a knocker, it swung inward, surprising me.

A thin woman appeared in the doorway, one with long braided white hair and eyes the color of the stone angels.  Emma had changed only slightly since I’d last seen her, but apparently I hadn’t at all, because she said in a joyous, serene voice that still contained an element of wise mystery, “Molly!”

She greeted and hugged me as though we had not seen each other years ago, but only days.  Maybe time had not much meaning for her because in some worlds, time did not exist.  Or perhaps she felt my guilt.  Her hands were gaunt, long-fingered, but warm. She wore a dark blue tunic with golden stars etched in an almost quilt-like pattern on the front, and a similar skirt.  She was barefoot, thin-ankled, and moved as gracefully as a swan.

“Oh my, have you grown!  What has life done for you? Or to you?”

“Emma, I don’t know who’s gladder to see who.” I said, smiling.

“That’s probably me, dear.”

“I’m so sorry I haven’t been to see you in so long. Things have just been so…”

“Earthly?” she suggested, inviting me inside.

“Yeah, I guess that works.”

Past the front door, the foyer was lit by a lamp on a small metal table, and filled with dogs.  One was an Irish Setter with large, sad eyes.  Another was small, white and brown with wiry fur and long floppy ears, another was golden haired and blue-eyed.  There were at least a dozen, most of them mutts.  They sniffed at me, smelling Solo, and made worried sounds as though they detected traces of evil.

“There must be a very important reason you’re here, Molly.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have opened the door.” Emma said, pushing aside a purple beaded curtain and a blanket that hung in the doorway.

We walked into the living room, and sat down on an old but comfortable beige sofa by the woodstove.

It was a small living room, but somehow it felt very open.  On tables sat figurines, crystals, glass balls, candles, and incense inside a wooden holder.  On the walls were beautiful oil paintings of vibrant angels and esoteric lights shining from clouds.  One could get lost in those paintings.  Their intricacy was calming, mysterious, conveying half seen truths.  I remembered a few of them, but many were new to me.

The dogs gathered around us, their eyes noble and benign.  One of them was a cinnamon-brown Chihuahua, which silently made itself comfortable in my lap.

Above us, a complex network of white twine made a spider web-like pattern all over the ceiling.  Around them wrapped multicolored Christmas lights.

This was new.

The house smelled of countless herbs, tea, and faint dust.  This wasn’t.

Emma was looking at me with concern, her clear gray eyes shining in the soft light, free of judgment, as they always had been.  She folded her hands in her lap and waited.

“There’s so much to tell.” I finally began, suddenly aware of faint but calming music which came from somewhere else in the house, almost like something you’d hear in an Oriental restaurant.

“I’m listening, Molly.  I know that you have quite a story to tell, how life has gone for you.  I’m always listening.”

Somehow she managed to sound both ominous and comforting at the same time.  Or maybe it was this strange house.

Starting from the very beginning, I told her everything that had been happening since I awoke to the first nightmare, leaving out few details, those being what happened to Kat and the men.  I don’t know how exactly long it took, but she listened patiently, never interrupting, her features serene.

When I reached the end of my story she said nothing. Confusion didn’t register on her face, but neither did insight.  She was suddenly unreadable.

I waited a moment before saying, “so, do you have any idea what’s going on, what that thing is?  I’m really scared, Emma.  I don’t know what to do.”

 

Aunt Emma closed her eyes.  Her lips moved silently, as though she were praying or something.  After a few more moments, I grew impatient.

“Emma, its…it’s going to get real bad if I can’t kill this thing.  It told me what it wants to do. It’s evil.”

“So, have you told your parents any of this?” she finally asked.

“No. I haven’t. Daddy is dead, mom’s living in Detroit. She would never believe me.”

“Why did you come to me?  Why not to the police?” she inquired softly.

“I called the police, you know, because it almost killed Kat, messed her up real bad.  But they didn’t believe me, even tried to accuse me of doing it to her.  The people who came…were killed by it.  The authorities won’t believe me, not anything like this.  I don’t know what to do.”

The Chihuahua yawned and lay its head down in my lap, snoring softly.

I stared at the angels on the walls, wondering if there really was anything in this universe that wanted to take care of humanity.  It was a sweet thought.

Emma said, “Molly, I know about a lot of things, but have never heard of anything quite like this.  The workings of the universe are known to us only a small fraction, so there’s no telling what forms of life could exist out there.  I live by the general rule that benign forces must be separate from these…lower entities, and I’m pretty sure that’s what this is; something from another dimensional frequency.

If your efforts to kill it those ways were in vain, then the power of light is the only defense.  I might know of someone who can help you.”

 

My paper-thin hope thickened.

 

She’s just as weird as always, but maybe she’s onto something.

 

“His name is Chief Bluewind.” Emma continued somberly. “He’s an Indian, from one of the last traditional Shawnee tribes.  He knows much about the lower entities.”

 

“Do you have his number?” I wondered, intrigued.

 

Emma laughed gently.  “Oh, Molly. He doesn’t have a phone.  Nor a car.  He lives a simpler lifestyle than what you’re used to, in an old cabin on the far edge of town, in the wilderness.  He’s a few miles away from civilization, on a reservation.”

 

“Why do you think he can…help me?”

 

“I know him quite well.  More spiritually than anything else.  You don’t much believe in this, Molly.  Your parents left quite a mark on you.  I’m not saying this is bad, but to get through this, you must have some form of faith.”

 

Bingo! Didn’t I tell you so?

 

I waited.  The dogs stared at me expectantly, so calm and silent.

“We connect telepathically…I suppose that would be the right word. His thoughts come to me, and vice versa.  Sometimes he is clear, other times; it’s not so easy to understand him, like a radio station.  But he is a very powerful man, and I know what definition comes to your mind when you hear the word powerful, Molly, because the media conditions you to associate it with wealth and dominance over others.  But Bluewind is powerful in the most important aspect.  He understands and sees what many others do not.  I don’t even quite grasp a lot of things that he knows. His people knew for centuries of the place of no place, and the time of no time.”

 

Speaking in riddles.  How confusing…

 

She continued, “Molly, I am going to contact Bluewind. He will get the message, and when the time is right, you will meet him.  Sometimes it takes him a while to answer me back, but here and now, I imagine it won’t be long at all, since what is going on with you is so dire.”

 

“But Emma,” I protested.  “How will he know what is going on?  Are you sure this really works?  There’s not a lot of time left.  This thing is going to grow, and kill, and—“

 

Emma silenced me politely. “Hush, Molly, or you won’t be able to hear it.”

Confused more than ever, I asked, “hear what?”

 

She did not reply. Every dog in the room, as well as two fluffy gray cats that lay on both arms of the sofa, had their head raised, ears erect, listening, but with no indications of alarm.  Beneath the faint orchestra of music I heard nothing out of the ordinary, and saw nothing, but a few seconds later I felt, on some strange level, something in the room with us.

An invisible presence, what I could not name, seemed to be looming somewhere in the living room.  I could not tell if it was good or evil, or neither, or even if it was real.

“What is it, Aunt Emma?” I whispered, and a chill traced up my spine.

“Shhh, Molly.  There is no need to be afraid.”

 

Is this chick going to summon some…being here, or are we just losing our marbles for real this time?

 

The four votive candles on the table went out all at once, as though some ghost had breathed enough phantom air to extinguish them.

Fear, but also a strange wonder, rose in me.  I thought about leaving, but it seemed Emma’s house had me spellbound and that nothing could hurt me while I was here.

The Chihuahua jumped from my lap onto the floor, and raised its little head, snuffling, smiling.

 

“I have said a prayer of protection, Molly.”  Emma whispered.  “This Dreamfeeder exists only to feed itself, because it comes from that lower plane, but there are higher forces at work here, more than you know.”

 

I jumped out of my seat and nearly screamed as the thunderous rustle of massive wings reverberated quite near me, somewhere in the room, invisible wings, and with it came a gentle wind on my face, as though some avian visitor stood watching just beyond the ability of sight.

 

For some reason, without any understanding of why, I began to laugh.  It was a high, shrill, silvery note, but I felt almost like a child who had seen something amusing but not quite clear.  It wasn’t a mad laugh full of dark humor, but light and full of wonder.

Something that was long dead, and wedged deep in my mind seemed to come loose like a dark sludge being cleaned from a place meant to bring admiration of beauty.  I realized this feeling was awe.  Whatever was in the room meant no harm, because through the Dreamfeeder I had come to recognize the difference between malevolence and benevolence quite clearly, and anything sinister that might dare to masquerade as a friend, invisible or not, had a different aura, one that inspired dread and a feeling of wrong.  The visitor in Emma’s living room merely inspired confusion and an inexplicable glee.

The rationality behind this was sketchy, hazy, because there are some things in life and possibly beyond it which cannot be fully described or understood. Things that we barely see but somehow know and feel.

Finally, my cackles subsided and I no longer felt the presence in the room.  Maybe it had been an auditory hallucination, something in that incense affecting me. And maybe polar bears would get sprinkled with pixie dust and rise into the sky to accompany the narwhals and penguins who had already figured it all out.

 

I realized the dogs and cats were all staring at me. Their expressions were uncannily intense, expectant.

Emma stared too, amusement carved into her smooth lightly wrinkled countenance.

“What was that?” I dared to ask.

Emma merely smiled at my cluelessness, as though things like this happened to me all the time and it was silly of me not to comprehend.

“If you could only see the things that lie just beyond the physical mind, Molly. If you would only open your eyes and see.  Your mother is not yet willing to see, but when she does; your father will merely shake his head and smile when he greets her Beyond.  They do that a lot there.”

“Was that an angel?” I asked, surprised by the excitement and hope in my voice.

“Regardless of what it was, I’m sure it came here just to prove to you that there is always more than one veil waiting to be opened.”

I was speechless.  So was the Muse.

 

“I know that you are afraid of what you saw over there, but if you weren’t meant to overcome it, then you wouldn’t have gotten so close to understand it like that.  Kat would tell you the same thing, that it was meant to be.”

Skepticism seeped back slightly.  “Why would I be meant to encounter and fight this thing?  It’s some kind of demon from Hell that won’t die, and I can’t figure out any way to get rid of it.  Are the angels going to help me or something?  Is this what it’s all about?  If I’m not crazy and what just happened is a sign, I need more than that.  I need the whole instruction manual because this is too confusing, too damn weird.”

 

“All in its time, Molly.  A way will come, you just have to listen and look.”

 

“But what about Chief Bluewind?  Can he help?”

 

“Of course he can, but I have to contact him first.  And to do that takes time.”

 

“How much time?”

 

“Not long, but you must have a little patience, and faith.  I will most likely receive an answer tomorrow, when he awakens.  But until then, don’t go back to that house.  It’s not time yet.”

 

With an exasperated sigh, I said, “Emma, I feel so helpless. I’m afraid people are going to go there and get killed by this thing.  And I won’t be able to stop them because they’ll accuse me of being the killer and cart me off to jail.  Or the funny farm.”

 

Not in the least impatient, Emma continued, “like I said, I’ll have an answer from him tomorrow, but in the meantime, stay away from the entity.  Don’t go anywhere near it.  And from what you told me about it and those invasive dreams, I’d worry less if we did a blessing on you, right now, before you run off somewhere.”

 

Unable to refuse, I obliged as Emma asked me to join hands with her.  She lowered her head and closed her eyes.  Feeling awkward, I did as well.

 

Holy Creator, angels and archangels, higher beings of light,” she began, and I focused on trying to have faith, because I sure as hell didn’t want to anger the Gods by being faithless and lose their alleged protection from the malevolence of the Dreamfeeder.

 

Superstition.  Lovely, isn’t it?  It’s like wondering whether to eat the potato or its root.

 

Emma spoke in a voice slightly higher than a whisper, holding my hands tightly.  “A force from beyond this world but away from the light has invaded Molly Harland’s home, taken the lives of five and injured one.  We ask for your immediate assistance.  Time is short.  We ask that this situation works for the highest good of all concerned.  Please bless Molly Harland and make sure that no harm comes to her while she fights this battle on a physical and spiritual level.  Heal the wounds of all that may ever come in contact with the Dreamfeeder.  Amen.”

 

Emma hugged me again, and a few tears welled in my eyes.  What a strange world it was where you could find the most horrible of monsters, and yet the most loving of people.  And the vital question of all was this: which has the most power?

 

I’d like to think good is more powerful than evil, but I’m more of an optimist than you, Molly.

 

Suddenly Emma got up from the sofa, a thoughtful look in her eyes.  “I’ll be right back.  There’s something that might help you.”

 

She vanished behind a blanket in a doorway, leaving me to think and stare at the web work on the ceiling.

Then I noticed a cat was up there, under a gap in it, sleeping in the safety net of twine, its black and white fur brightened by Christmas lights.

 

That’s too funny!  It’s like…Spider Cat or something! Ha!

 

I laughed out loud, and the cat stared at me with golden eyes, yawning.

 

When Emma came back into the room she held a necklace, more like a beautiful walnut-sized lime green gem hanging on a piece of thick string.  “This will also help protect you,” she said, hanging the gift around my neck.

I thanked her, and then told her I had something for her, something that she probably wouldn’t like, but would be interested in anyway.

I went out to the car and retrieved the jar with the tendril in it.

When she saw it, her eyes didn’t widen with surprise. She took the jar carefully, watching the little thing squirm around in there.

“There are not even any air holes.”  I informed her. “It’s been in there for so many hours, no oxygen left.  At least there shouldn’t be, and yet it’s moving. Whatever’s keeping it alive can’t be very angelic.  Or maybe it’s not even alive at all.”

 

Emma grimaced at this tiny fragment of the abomination, turning the jar around and around in her nimble hands, studying it from all angles.

“May I keep this?”  she finally asked.

 

Surprised by her request, I replied, “Sure, I guess. But don’t let it out of that jar.  God knows what it’s capable of.”

 

“I want to see how long it lasts in this environment, what happens to it during different ceremonies.”

 

“I just don’t feel good about it.  Yeah, it’s never hurt me, but it came from the cellar, its part of the Dreamfeeder.  It shouldn’t be alive.”

 

“When you come back tomorrow, take it with you, and when you meet with Chief Bluewind, show it to him as well.  He may be able to perceive more about it, where it comes from.”

 

“Trust me; no one wants to know where this thing comes from, not if they want to sleep well at night. This is stuff people just shouldn’t look at, shouldn’t feel.”

 

“Quit being afraid, Molly.” Emma said gently, turning the jar upside-down and letting the tendril fall to the other end.  “Just for a moment. I want you to focus on its mind, because like you said, it isn’t life like we know it.  It has a mind, I feel it somewhere, in some deep form.  And it’s not a simple mind, either.  It’s very complex.”  She held the jar out to me, a bizarre offering and an even weirder request.

 

Taking it, I said, “Emma, I’m new to this.  I don’t know how to do the things you do just yet.  How can I focus on its mind?”

 

“Even if briefly, you connected fully with it, the main consciousness.  You saw it for what it was, felt its spirit, got a glimpse into its world.  So on some deep level; you know more about it than even it does.  Focus, try to cast away doubt for a minute.”

 

Ah yes.  Even better.  Just like I said.

 

“Try to reach back into your mind and see not the things that terrified you, but the things that seemed…lower, less frightening.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Does it have any sort of emotion, Molly, and if so, what?”

 

“Yes.  Anger.  It has anger and arrogance.  The Dreamfeeder is full of itself.”

 

Emma looked at me, biting her lower lip.  “I know after what you’ve been through you might find this impossible, but when you look at this thing, I want you to feel love.”

 

My mouth dropped open.

She continued unfazed, “think of every bad or negative thing that has ever happened to you, or to the world for that matter.  If things were not bad, how would we learn to appreciate what is good?  Doesn’t hardship, at least in the long run, make people stronger, kinder?”

 

Well, she does have a point.

 

“I guess you’re right.  But what does this have to do with the Dreamfeeder?”

 

“Lower entities cannot respond well to love.  If you show love towards something that has never experienced such a reaction before, it does not know what to do.  It is confused, even afraid.  Because lower entities, if they feel emotion at all, can usually only feel the negative ones: anger, fear, despair, arrogance, envy, and so on.  But especially a need to understand what we are, a curiosity that soon turns into hunger.”

The old Molly would have thought this ludicrous, but after coming so close to the monstrosity, her words seemed to ring true.

Nonetheless, I said, “well, I see your point, but I can’t love this thing. Love towards it is beyond my capacity.”

 

“I understand, Molly, but all I’m trying to say is, there will be a way that comes to deal with this thing.  A way that does not involve violence, and when the time comes you and perhaps others must figure out what.”

 I mulled over this a moment, and was about to say something else about how afraid I was when she wondered, “Molly, you do have a place to go to tonight, don’t you?”

Shocked that even after fifteen years, this kindly recluse could still care enough about me to say that, I said, “yes. I do, Emma.  Its not home, but it’ll do for now.”

 

“Are you sure?  There’s an extra room in here.”

 

“Yeah, I’m sure.  I don’t want to intrude, and besides, it’s only for a night or two, before we…somehow get rid of this thing.”

 

‘All right.  Well, I suppose you should get going then. The stone itself won’t protect you, but it will help you do that yourself, and the higher beings will guide you on your way.  Get some rest; try not to send out too many fearful thoughts. Just feel love towards those you can.  Its all one can do, really.”

 

“I will, Emma.”

 

We hugged one last time, and then I left.

The night had been seized almost instantly by a thunderstorm.  The first pulses of blinding light began to explode with frenetic wildness, and massive booms sounded from above, as though celestial creatures were having baleful wars in the sky.  As everything in my area of vision was bathed infrequently in stark white radiance, I feared stalkers in the storm, loping and flying, silent and stealthy, denizens of a world people were never meant to glimpse.  After all, the Dreamfeeder was able to get through; why not others?

These possibilities would shatter me if I dwelled on them, so even though my mind revealed more possibilities with each flare of lightning, I hurried through the ice-cold shower of raindrops and the symphony of drizzle and thunder.  The sense of peace and security I had felt in Emma’s abode had vanished with the quickness of an ectoplasmic apparition.

Solo barked gratefully as I opened the car door and slid inside, as though he too felt fear of what lay ahead.  Regardless of Emma cautioning me to not put out fearful thoughts, I did.  This world and the ones lower in the veil were too strange and perilous to be without fear.  It wasn’t merely an emotion; it was an integral tool for survival.

The End

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