Chapter 5Mature

Hannah Aines runs her hands through her hair. She gets up, paces, sits down. She looks at me, looks away. She tries to pretend she's okay. She's not. And she trembles.

"I'm going to have to call the police, Clara." Panic.

"What! No, no! You said you'd help me! You said you'd listen, said I could tru... trust..." I can't breathe. I try to suck in air, I order my body to open my airways and take in oxygen. I need it; I'm suffocating. But I can't - they close up and I feel like I'm drowning. My senses are dull, I can hear my blood pumping. I can hear Cynthia screaming at me, she's pounding on the inside of my skull. I'm shaking uncontrollably and my vision is starting to go black. I vaguely feel the needle penetrate the delicate flesh of my arm before I'm enveloped in a soft, grey cloud of nothingness and I slip away, only to wake up later on. Still in the office of Dr Aines. And she's still pacing.

I hear her footfalls. I take it by her nervous shuffling that she hasn't called the police. I breathe in sharply, and she rushes over. Checking I'm okay. It was a panic attack. In this heaving, groaning hive of insanity, it's something she's faced with every day. I try to sit up, but she pushes me back down.

"Rest," she says.

"I can't rest. I need to tell you what happened. You can't call the police, they can't help me." I'm trying to remain calm, but my words are starting to escape faster. Cynthia is agitated - I feel the slight humming in my head that signals that she's watching me. Very closely. Don't tell her. She doesn't say it but I can feel her thinking it. I can feel her contemplating how to punish me should I 'fail her'. I can still hear my heartbeat.

Hannah Aines sighs.

"Very well. I guess you better sit up and explain then."

"The book. We got the book. It was in his coffin... The wood was so old and rotten that it crumbled like dry dirt. The spade broke through it easily, and I wrested it from his fingers. I remember his bones... the skeleton was grinning at me. It wasn't pearly white like storybook skeletons. It was a greyish sort of ivory, and though it had no eyes..." I swallowed, hard. "I knew it was watching me. I knew... I knew his spirit was watching. From below."

"Below?"

"Hell."

"I'm an atheist."

"So was I." I took a deep breath and carried on. "We broke into the monastery. It was dark as dark, apart from the moonlight beaming through the ancient, stained-glass. It was so cold; it chilled my bones and set me shivering. Cynthia told me what I had to do." She's starting to beat against my head again. "I... I took a crucifix from the wall and laid it on the altar, inverted. I tore a few pages from the Bible Cynthia had told me to bring, and I cut my arm. The thick blood poured onto the pages and the inverted cross, and something... changed. Something shifted. I didn't know then, but the barrier between here and the... other worlds had weakened. Finally, I opened the book. It was written in latin - I could barely pronounce the words but Cynthia helped me. All the time I was reading, I felt a darkness spread through me. Not just the absence of light, but something else. Something perverse. Something... wrong." I shuddered at the memory.

"It grew noticably darker. A thick mist began to grow as I read, and I thought I heard thunder. There wasn't any lightning. Fear had begun to take hold of me, and I tried to stop but I couldn't. My lips were no longer in my control, and that's the first time she... took over. I felt myself pushed to the back of my consciousness. And then he appeared. I remembered hearing stories of the Devil. That He was twenty feet tall, red as blood, had horns and wings, black and leathery. Like a bat. But it's not true. He was probably about six feet tall. He was as human looking as you or I, but there was this... aura about Him. This sickening, terrifying presence and I knew. I knew straight away that it was Him. He had a bandage over His eyes, but I could still tell that He was looking straight at me. And when He spoke, He didn't move His lips. The sound seemed to be coming from everywhere, from all around me, and from in my head. It felt like it does when Cynthia talks to me, but His voice is the softest whisper."

"The Devil appeared before you."

"Yes. He asked what Cynthia wanted. She told him. He named His price, and she gave Him my soul. I felt a part of me die, that day. I felt weak, like someone had tied a string around my heart and was pulling it away from me. My head felt light, like I'd stood up too fast. And then, just like that, it was all over. He was gone. I was back in control. I asked Cynthia what had happened. She said I was hers now."

You are mine now. I own you. I can do whatever I want. I can hurt you. I can hurt her. I could kill you, but then where would I go? Oh, the possibilities are endless! But freedom, true freedom - that is not yet mine. And you will help me, Clara.

"She's trying to make me free her. She doesn't know how yet; we have to stop her. Dr Aines, please. You have to help me stop her. She's killed people - children! It's got to stop and I can't do it alone."

"I don't know how you expect me to help you, Clara."

"I need to get out. I need to get back to the monastery, and I need to undo whatever she did." Suddenly, I can hear another voice. It's sweet and melodious, but it's in my head - like the Devil, like Cynthia.

"There is a way," it whispers. "There is a mirror in that monastery. It allows crossings."

"There's a mirror," I tell Dr Aines. "I have to find the mirror."

"It will show you how to do it. You must destory your demon. You must destroy that which is trying to destroy you," the voice sang.

"I have to use it to destroy her. Then I'll be free." I look up at her, my eyes swimming with tears. "I need your help." She looks away. "Dr Aines. Hannah." She turns to face me. "Please."

She sighs heavily and rubs her eyes.

"Alright. I'll help you."

The End

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