Lillian leaned closer to her friend's face to hear her whispered words.
“The Unseen ... the creature I told you about ... the one that threw me around ... now it's killing people!” Mia managed to gasp out this terse information through bouts of tears.
Lillian sat down beside Mia and held her until the weeping subsided, and she could catch her breath. Ian Gibson, the Detective Inspector, handed Mia a box of tissues, which she accepted gratefully.
“Thanks Gibbs,” she said as she pulled a tissue out and blew her nose.
“Gibbs, oh my God, you're in danger!” Mia stood up suddenly, and grabbed the detective by both forearms.
Ian stood firm, to let the distraught writer steady herself.
“Deep breaths, Mia. Deep breaths, then tell me what you're talking about.”
Mia took several gulps of air into her lungs, then stood there trembling. Lillian put a hand on her friend's shoulder for moral support.
“I'm okay. I just need to sit down.”
The detective led Mia over to a wrought iron bench on the front lawn of Lillian's cottage, among the rose bushes. He sat her down and held on to both her hands, to keep her calm. She smiled up at him gratefully. She trusted the tall brunette cop, whom she had known all her life. She and her parents had been coming out to the cottage with Lillian's family, every summer since she was little. Ian Gibson was a local boy in the neighbourhood, who was three years her senior. Both she and Lillian had crushes on him over the years. They called him Gibbs because it was easier to say than Gibson, when they were little.
“Alright Mia, What exactly happened here?” Ian's quiet strength gave her courage. She took a deep breath.
“In order to make any sense out of what is happening now, I'll have to go back to the very beginning - the fire, the murder, everything. My first book, 'The Unseen' featured an invisible evil entity, called up out of the cosmos by a group of demon worshippers. They tried to control it, but it got loose and started murdering people. It left a calling card by scratching the name of the next intended target in the forehead of each murder victim. In the end, it killed the entire group of worshippers, when they tried to send it back where it came from.”
Mia paused for breath, and watched as the forensic team packed up their equipment, and left the scene, right behind the ambulance carrying the body. She noticed the charred remains of the cottage's wooden porch. Mia put a hand on her best friend's arm.
“I'll pay for the damage to your cottage, Lil. I'm just glad the old stone walls prevented it from burning down. I'm sorry ... so sorry.” Mia began to cry again.
Ian flashed a questioning look at her. “What do you mean, Mia? The fire wasn't your fault.”
“Yes it was, I set it! I told you about the first book, well in the sequel that I'm writing now, I intended to kill off the the 'Unseen' creature in the last chapter. It wouldn't let me.”
“What wouldn't let you?” Ian asked, puzzled.
“The Unseen, the creature, the thing from my book, it wouldn't let me kill it off in my last chapter. It kept deleting everything I wrote, then it tried to make me rewrite the chapter by making demands on my computer. When I refused, it tossed me around like a rag doll, then it trashed the kitchen in a fit of rage. That's when I set the fire, to escape. I was terrified it would kill me. I was hoping it would die in the fire, but apparently it didn't. It killed that man in the cottage.”
Ian looked at her with a steady, sympathetic gaze, then he went into cop mode, and started asking questions.
“You believe this creature killed Mr. Angleshire?”
“Martin Angleshire. He was the Fire Marshal who was trying to determine the cause of the fire when he was killed.”
“I don't believe the creature killed the Fire Marshall, I know it for a fact. He was killed in the same manner as the victims in my book.”
“It could be a copycat killer.” Ian offered.
“It wasn't. I saw what the thing did to the kitchen, I felt its claws in my skin when it picked me up. Look!” Mia pulled her shirt up enough to show four deep reddened welts, just below her ribcage.
Ian's brow furrowed as he looked at the marks in Mia's skin. He appraised this woman whom he had known most of his life, and decided she was telling the truth.
“You've always had a vivid imagination Mia, but I've never known you to lie, particularly when it's this important. I'll take your account of what happened at face value. Why would it kill Mr. Angleshire?”
“The thing was furious when I left, I think it might have taken its anger out on the first living thing available, and Mr. Angleshire was handy. I also think the murder was used to scare me. It wants me to finish the last chapter in a way that gives the creature eternal freedom, not only from death, but from being sent back to where it came from.”
“I see. Why scratch the name Gibbs in his forehead? Do you know who that might refer to?”
“In my book, the detective who tracks down and kills the Unseen, is called Gibbs.” She looked down and blushed when she said the name.
“Your hero I take it, is based on me? That's flattering. You think I'm its next intended victim, then?”
Mia nodded. “I was going to ask you if I could use you as a role model for the character before I published, but I haven't seen you since last summer, and I haven't had a chance to talk to you about it. In answer to your question, I do believe that you are the next target.”
“Well, if I'm supposed to kill it in your book, then I guess I'll have to kill it now, before it disposes of me. Any thoughts on how I'm supposed to do that? The thing is invisible.”
Mia pursed her lips in thought, considering what might work.
“Hmmmm, it'll have to be something caustic to dissolve it, like drain cleaner. Whatever kills it has to be something easily available to us. I'll write in whatever we find, and hope it works. First, we'll have to make the thing visible, so we'll need something to spray it with. Spray paint will work, but it's big. We'll need a lot of cans.”
“What about foam fire extinguisher? That stuff will stick to anything.” Lillian suggested.
“Perfect. We'll stop at the store and get some stuff. I know it carries drain cleaner for opening up the cottages in early summer. I don't know how we're going to get the liquid cleaner on the creature. We'll need a spray bottle or something.”
“The store has pump action water cannons for kids. The cleaner won't dissolve plastic, so we could load up water cannons. I think we should prepare right away, because it tried to stop you once already. I doubt it will give up now.” Ian remarked. Mia looked at her two friends with pure gratitude in her eyes.
“I'm glad you guys believe me. It's a pretty bizarre story.”
“I saw the fridge turned over when I was investigating the murder. Nothing human could do that.” Ian said.
“I've known you my whole life, Mia. Bizarre is normal for you. Besides, I can tell when you're fibbing. You aren't lying now.”
“Thanks. I'm going to need all the help I can get. You wouldn't help if you didn't believe me. I think I can kill it by writing its death into the last chapter. There would be no need to make me rewrite that chapter, unless the ending was fatal to it. Lillian has the memory stick with the only copy of my book, in her office. We'll have to go there and get it. I'll try finishing the chapter. At this point, I don't care how badly written it might be.” Mia stood up, and so did the other two.
The three of them walked to Mia's car, which was parked on the other side of the cottage. They all got in, and headed to the store. The three of them came out loaded with combat supplies. What they didn't notice, was that something followed them. It was unseen, but it was there, like a wisp of evil smoke.
When they got to Lillian's office, Ian took the drain cleaners and water cannons into the bathroom to fill them up. Lillian gave him rubber gloves and left him to it. She went to the wall safe where she kept the memory stick, and took it out for Mia. She plugged it into the computer, and stood back, holding a fire extinguisher at the ready. Before Mia began to write, she called toward the bathroom.
“Are you ready in there, Gibbs? I won't start until you're ready. This thing is determined that I don't kill it off in my chapter, so I'm guessing it's going to show up sooner than later.”
“I'm almost ready. I'll be right out.”
While she waited for Ian, she pulled up her manuscript on the computer, then emailed the pdf file of it to her home computer, plus Lillian’s home computer. She didn't like the idea that the memory stick was the only copy of the book she had spent months writing. She started writing the final chapter just as Ian came out of the bathroom, with four water cannons filled with drain cleaner. He stood on guard beside Mia, while Lillian stood on the other side of her, fire extinguisher at the ready.
She wrote several sentences, describing basically the same scene that was playing itself out in real life, in Lillian's office. She didn't know how she was going to introduce the creature into the scene, when the creature took that decision out of her hands – literally. The computer flew up into the air, and smashed against a wall, without warning. Mia screamed, pushed her chair back from the desk, and jumped up. She grabbed a fire extinguisher and waved it around wildly.
“Show yourself monster!” she yelled, as she sprayed the extinguisher at the area directly above the desk.
The foam settled on the hands and claws of the creature, and the sheer size of them was terrifying. The claws looked razor sharp. Lillian joined the fray, and sprayed the area directly above the hands. The foam settled on huge muscular arms, and part of an enormous chest.
“Stand back, ladies, I don't want any of this stuff to get on you!” Ian shouted.
He pumped the cannon to full capacity, then released a stream of caustic fluid at the creature. An inhuman howl filled the office, and reverberated off the walls. The drain cleaner ate through the foam and into the flesh of the unseen creature. The part of the thing that was covered with foam, could be seen raging around the room in apparent agony.
“Where is that typewriter we used to use as kids? I know you brought it up to the office when I helped you move in here.” Mia yelled above the howls of the creature.
Lillian ran to a cupboard on the far wall and pulled out a portable typewriter. She set it up on the desk where the computer had been. Mia put some paper in it, and began to type as fast as she could. Lillian took up the extinguisher again, and followed the visible part of the monster around the office, spraying as much foam on it as she could.
The general shape of it appeared, as more and more foam settled on it. It was so big that it had to crouch in the eight foot space below the ceiling. Its head resembled some form of male bighorn sheep, with huge curling horns on either side of its ears. Its legs looked like goat legs, with knobby knees, and sharp hooves. Its upper torso and arms seemed to be humanoid in nature, except for the claws on the hands.
Ian chased it around the office with the water cannon, shooting at the visible parts of it. Its howls were mixed with Ian's scream as the creature swiped at him, and opened a large gash in his forearm. He ignored the pain and stream of blood, as he continued to pump drain cleaner at the creature.
Mia crouched over the antique typewriter, and pounded out sentence after sentence of the action that was taking place around her. As she wrote that the foam settled on the creature's hands, then that's what happened in real life. She didn't write the gash in Ian's arm until after it happened, though. Apparently the thing still had free will of its own, and could still kill if it could get close enough to them.
She wrote that the drain cleaner caught the creature right in the eyes. Deafening screeches and howls emanated from it as it was blinded in real life. She wrote that its chest was fully exposed by foam, and that's what happened. She turned away from the typewriter and shouted at Ian.
“Aim at its chest. Shoot it right in the heart!”
Ian tossed aside the second empty water cannon, and picked up a full one. He trained a steady stream of drain cleaner at an area of its chest that presumably held the heart. The office was on the first floor, and the creature crashed blindly through the bay window, into the azaleas under it. It scrabbled and screamed in the flower bed for several minutes, before Mia wrote the final sentence of the book. Ian and Lillian ran to the window just in time to see the creature shrivel up and disappear into nothingness.
Mia put her head down on the typewriter, and burst into exhausted tears. Lillian noticed Ian's bleeding arm, and ran for the first aid kit hanging on the wall. As Lillian bandaged Ian, Mia took the finished chapter out of the typewriter, with great relief that it was all over. She read it over, then placed it carefully on the desk.
“Too bad this typewriter doesn't have spell check,” she sighed tiredly.
Lillian leaned closer to her friend's face to hear her whispered words.