I cried myself to sleep for months on end. I did, but Jane didn't. She was... empty. If you looked deep into her eyes – and I frequently did, and regretted it – there was just nothing there. They'd lost their gleam, their sparkle. Jane, who was so full of life and love and laughter; my Jane, who lost it all because of me. Even her hair, her beautiful hair, had lost its glow. One day she came back, and her waves of deep auburn were gone, to be replaced by a crop cut. I was horrified, but I didn't say so – I felt almost as though a part of her had gone with her hair. She said it had made her feel ugly. I told her she would always be beautiful. She almost smiled.
We existed – I say existed, because we were barely capable of life – for a long while after the incident. We weren't a family any more. Her father didn't speak to me, or look at me, or acknowledge my existence unless he absolutely had to. I didn't blame him for that. I knew he blamed me. Jane's mother tried her hardest. She spoke to me, she attempted to remain constant; but there was something behind her smiles that said 'I know this isn't your fault, but I can never forgive you'.
We were at this point when the first note came. I woke up one morning to find Jane huddled in a corner of the room, shaking visibly. Of course I rushed over, I held her, I whispered to her, I knew something had happened. She didn't speak to me, she just opened her hand. Even before I read it, I recognized my father's handwriting. The room grew noticeably colder, and I shivered in my night-dress. I took the little scrap of paper from Jane's trembling hand. “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience,” I read, under my breath. Jane let out a tiny squeak as she heard the words aloud.
“He's going to come for me,” she sobbed.
“I won't let him. Jane, I won't let him hurt you again.”
I'd let her down once, I wouldn't – I couldn't – let her down again. We sat together, and for a second it was almost like it used to be. She came alive for me, and I could almost imagine her long, auburn hair shining in the summer sun. But it didn't last. The notes kept coming, and every day, Jane became more scared, and I more defensive. She had begged me not to tell her parents, or the police. To this day, I wish I had ignored her. It was when my father was waiting for us outside school that I knew I had to do something. We were walking together, until Jane stopped dead in the middle of the path. I looked at her face, and it was deathly pale. When I turned to where she was looking, I saw him, silhouetted against the bleak winter twilight. I didn't need to see his face; his presence, his... aura of anger and hatred was enough. I grasped Jane's hand and pulled her behind a hedge in the grounds. The shadow of the gnarled branches shrouded us, and I'm still not sure if his cold, merciless gaze ever fell on us. We hid for an hour, and even then, it was difficult to convince Jane's stiffened limbs to move.
I went to sleep holding her that night. Just before I slipped into sleep, I kissed the top of her head. I remember it so clearly, because this is when it all changed.
When I first met the Sorcerer, I was dreaming of impenetrable nothingness. It wasn't exactly darkness – there was no darkness. It wasn't just the absence of light, it was the absence of anything. The absence of temperature, air, sound, responsibility. There was nothing, and then there was a figure, approaching me. He was imposing, but I never was quite sure why. He wasn't tall or well built, he didn't have a striking face. He didn't really have any distinguishing features at all. He was attractive enough; his features were feminine, but he was definitely male. He wore the only outfit I ever saw him wear. A simple white shirt and black suit. He had deep brown eyes. The only mystery to me was his hair. It had absolutely no shine to it. It lay completely flat on his head, and completely dull. He smiled at me, and introduced himself as the Sorcerer
“I have been wanting to meet you for some considerable time, Myah.”
“Because I believe that I can help you. Well, I can help you to help her.” Sudden images of Jane flashed through my mind; Jane's smile, Jane's tears, Jane's hair.
“I could teach you to be like me. You'd be my apprentice, for want of a better word. You would do the occasional job for me, and in return, I will teach you, and protect Jane.”
“I'm a sorcerer, Myah.”
“Right... so you do magic then, do you?” I said this with more than a hint of sarcasm in my voice. He picked up on it. Of course he did.
“Myah. I knew you wouldn't believe me. You mortals have been bred to believe that the supernatural does not actually exist. If you had seen what I had seen, if you had touched the sublime as I had...” he shook his head. “It comes to this. Do you want Jane to be safe?”
I looked him deep in the eyes. There was something in them. It felt to me almost that the emptiness I was standing in was empty because all of the substance was in him. I could see through his eyes, far beyond reality. I could see colours that did not exist. I could hear sounds, voices. Music. Just by looking into his eyes, I knew that he knew me. I knew that he knew everyone. Most importantly, I knew that he was telling the truth. My soul was disquieted, and I think that some tiny part of me knew that this wouldn't end well. But the overpowering majority of me didn't care, as long as I could protect Jane.
“You know the answer already, don't you? You know the answer to any question you could possibly ask me,” I said. He nodded, sagely. I took a deep breath. “Are you God?” He laughed at that, a metallic laugh that crashed against me and sounded like the clanging of iron on iron. There was a sudden flash of heat in the room, and the tangy smell of blood briefly filled me, and the taste filled my mouth. Panic struck me; there was something wrong about this man. He was wrong.
“I am not God, no. I am the Sorcerer.” He picked up on my panic and rested a hand on my arm. tried to look away, I tried not to meet his eyes. I couldn't move my head, I was transfixed on the abyss-like eyes. “I want to help you, Myah. I know you don't trust me, but please. If you want to help Jane, you have to trust me. You have to let me in.”
The nothingness faded, and I woke up in a sweat. I searched my room for the Sorcerer, but he wasn't there. Relief flooded me, until I noticed a small card on my pillow. I picked it up; it read 'Meet me at the cemetery, at midnight. The Sorcerer” I buried my head in my hands and tried not to cry.