Chapter XXI: The Nightmare Man (6/13)Mature

There was something maniacal about seeing only her mouth, like he knew her raw emotions and could hear her words, but without her eyes he couldn't know the meaning of them. He couldn't know if it was the truth, or if she was obscuring her true thoughts from him. In this way, her lips were emotionless, large and not quivering with waiting words, her accusation was final and without stipulation.

'Who are you?' Will demanded. As he pulled himself off the ground, she stood simultaneously, with a graceful swish of her cloak.

'Just a dream, your imagination, nothing more,' she replied, crossing the room with slow clacks of her diamond heels. 'You might even say, I'm a warning.'

'A warning,' Will turned with her, refusing to look away from her for even a second. 'A warning about what?'

'They're coming for you. Both of you. You can't escape them.' As she moved, the folds of the cloak opened slightly to reveal the sheen of expensive fabric and the glint of ornate jewels. Will had no idea who she was, but if there was one person he knew who was similar, who he saw in his dreams and his memories, with the same wonderful hair; it was his mother. 

'They? Who are they?' Is it my mother? Is she here to warn me? His thoughts were panicked, fraught with what he struggled to discern between fear and excitement. He wanted to blurt out the question, to know for certain, but something held him back, an innate and instinctual reluctance.

She smiled, amused that he was so unknowing. 'The nightmare men, the ones you dream of, Willow.' It unnerved him that he couldn't see her eyes, but knew that they watched him and had not left him once. The meaning of her words suddenly hit him. Was she talking about the bearer's of the Evil Eye, was that what the song meant?

'Do you mean the ones that murdered my family?'

Her smile rose to a satisfied, white grin. She had reached the other side of the room and squatted down to rifle through one of Will's toy boxes, pulling out a malting teddy bear, the filling fluffing out the side of the head, the bead eye hanging from a thread. 'The same,' she said, 'they're waiting for you, it's all going to plan.' Will's eyes were lit with the sight of flames as the woman magickally set alight to the bear, it burnt quickly and putridly. She rose, holding it in her hand as if the flames did her no harm, then dropped it, leaving it in a crumpled, ashen mess. Will stared down at it, he couldn't remember the toy, but watching it destroyed so easily made his stomach ache.

'How do you know that?' Will asked, realising that this woman was far more dangerous than he had first thought. He watched her, the growing flames flickering from the bear lit under her chin in an ebbing, orange light, but not giving away any more of her appearance.

'Because that's why they sent me,' she said, derisively cocking her head to the side. 'They wanted me to tell you not to be afraid, that everything they're doing is for the best, and that soon, you will understand this.'

'How can you be warning me anyway? How can you be in my dreams?'

'A curse carries many effects, Willow. They have always been with you, watching you. Why do you suppose the Evil Eye pains you so much unless there is somebody looking through it?' Her voice lowered dangerously, 'if you think you can hide, you are mistaken. We will always find you, and Tayna. We know exactly where you are, they try and protect you but they cannot.'

'Why are you telling us this? Do you want to kill us?' Will's fists clenched at his side, stopping himself from weakly spluttering from the smoke coming from the bear, with shock he realised the fire had spread, catching alight to papers, to his other toys. The flames grew thicker and higher, crackling and popping, until the smoke surrounded them like a fog on a moor and they both seemed lost to the world.

The End

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