Tonight his father had caught up, carrying all the horrors of hell with him. His mother could no longer protect himâ€”hide himâ€”and now his fatherâ€Ÿs wrath would fall on him. He ran across the fields and through the forest, his bare feet carrying him as fast as they could go, aching and bleeding into the night. He could feel his fatherâ€Ÿs eyes on him and his stinking breath filling Ravenâ€Ÿs nostrils as he rushed toward the only place he had ever found safe. He sobbed, choking on his grief and his frustrationâ€”the horrible guilt of carrying all the anger from his father into their house making him sick and afraid. He ran with lungs and muscles burning from strain, throwing himself through the doors of the castle when he reached them and only then chancing to look back the way heâ€Ÿd come.
When she first saw him, she took him for a ghost. His jet-black hair fluttered in the breeze as he walked, letting her see his eyes. They seemed haunted, lost in some way. He was tall and gaunt, starkly pale in his black clothes. He was the very picture of Anton, even sharing his world-weary eyes of deepest blue. She could hardly look away from this apparition, an echo of all the memories and dreams that had haunted her these many years.
She remembers blood.A fine mist which goes deep into her lungs, over her skin and through the air. She remembers a desert at dusk. The sky indigo blue and the fire bright, so bright that she can see everything. Near the fire, in the night, all she knows is chaos wrapped in crimson. All is death and nightmare with a single solitary dancer who smiles cruelly as he moves. He is power and darkness. He is man and beast, silver coin eyes and that face, those claws and the agony of loss. Time stretches wide; seconds like vast eons swallow up her world. Vince is dead, his mother, his brother and her small son ripped apart and gushing as he/it moves. She is screaming, a howl of agony beyond words, primal and wordless. Still he moves, faster than air, faster than she could ever be. Blood drips from her face as she grunts, running with her lungs on fire and her last remaining hope wrapped in her arms.
There she was, up on that bed pushing and pushing just as theyd practiced. She was dilated and the tension had been building to this moment all day. He had never been so glad to be a writer. It meant that he could be here and he could be at home, helping her as much as he liked after the baby was born. Wendy was sweating and bleary-eyed, focusing so very hard on the movement of her baby down the birth canal that it took her a moment to hear what anyone said to her. The pain was clearly unimaginable and he wished he could have taken some of it from her, but shed insisted on a natural birth and thats just what she was doing.â€œAre you okay, Babe?â€ Shed grown extra quiet in the last few moments, tension lines growing deeper in her face, her hands clawing at the bed rails as she pushed. She was trying so hard to endure and to get through that he had to ask again. â€œAre you okay?â€She looked at him from the bed with all the nurses and the doctor flitting about the room watching her vital signs, monitoring the babys heart rate and her own and of course, guiding the course of the birth itself. She said something he barely heard. â€œNo, no something isâ€¦â€and then they all knew.
Rushing out the door on his way back to the street, he ran into someone with his shoulder. Turning to apologize to them, he stopped, horrified at what he saw.It was the white-eyed man hed met a week ago. â€œWatch your back.â€ He said standing there just long enough for Raven to take in the meat between his teeth, the milky, nearly opaque color of his eyes and the madness within them. Then, after only a few seconds, he was gone, vanished into the crowd as if he had never existed. Certain his mind was playing tricks and tired of being terrified for his sanity, he headed down the street as fast as he could in pursuit. As he rushed through the tightly packed crowd, he saw others like the man hed just seen, and each of their white eyes gazed blankly into his. A woman here, a hunched drifter there, shapes and faces that shifted and darted all around him. â€œWatch your back.â€ They hissed, and he tried to move faster, his heart racing and the nerves of his body jangling painfully with fear as he fought to get beyond them. Hands reached out for his clothes, pulling him in different directions as they tugged and he struggled to be free. Their fingers felt like talons clasped into the folds and gaps of his clothing, ripping and popping stitches in their fervor to gain some small grasp on his flesh beneath his jacket. Along with the horror of their cold, dead eyes, he could smell some strangenessâ€”a sickly sweet smell of rot and decay only barely closeted by preserving fluids. The smell dug into his sinuses as their fingers and hands dug at him. He gagged, his teeth clenched tight as he exerted energy he didnt really have. He pushed away from them and on through the empty space he saw at the end of this group of pedestrians. Many of whom mingled with what he now felt must be the dead, wholly unaware of why he flailed and pushed against them.
Raven had been shunned and abandoned throughout his life. Friends often came and went without a word or worse, they toyed with his emotions and shared his secrets with those he chose to distrust. His loneliness was inevitable and his secrets were damaging enough. Through all of his largely brief but emotionally involved friendships and infatuations, the depression and the darkness of his past, there had been one place to which he could go for solitudeâ€”either in thought or in personâ€”and he never shared the knowledge of its existence or its secrets with anyone. That place dwelled within him even all of these years since the summer when he was nine and all that could ever have gone wrong, did.
Katja kneeled in the Parisian streets, shaking and weak from the pain in her head and heart. It had come a second agoâ€”a vague vision from another decade, nearly forgotten by its sender and screaming with emotional turmoil. And only moments after sheâ€Ÿd fed. In the now decrepit walls of a place she once knew, she stared down at a child in despair. In the room where a man breathed his last and a young womanâ€Ÿs sorrow grew, he lay weeping in a rage only the heart of all sorrow can know. Death and fear came off of him in waves as lightning shared the secret of the man inside the childâ€”the man who would be her beginning and her end if she allowed it.
Billy sipped the last of his coffee from the mug and shut down his laptop. 1,000 words wasnt great but it also wasnt as bad as no words at all. It hadnt exactly been a great couple of years and the royalties from his first few books were only going to hold out so much longer. Even if he didnt have anything else to worry about there was always Sara to consider. Sara with her big blue eyes so like her mothers. He sat for a moment longer thinking about his daughter and all theyd been through since Wendy had passed. Then he picked up his mug with a long sigh and carried it to the kitchen to rinse it in the sink. When he came back into his little living room and the quiet of 1 AM he wasnt surprised to find her there over to the side of the bookshelf hovering close to the floor just beyond the couch. Wendy. Her eyes were cold and intense in death, angry and spiteful in a way hed never seen them when she was alive. What once had been beautiful was now a horror and a threat, one that hed known far too well in the years since shed died. He and Sara both. He stood where he was looking at her as she glared up at him. Part of her smaller vantage point was caused by kneeling next to the shelf but he knew from the many times shed walked or run through a room that death had also reduced her, made her no higher than 4 or 4 and half feet when shed been 6 in life. She was like a child trapped there on the cusp between youth and coming adulthood. Crushed and broken down into a husk, an entity with no more love for them than a snake. Familiar tears stung his eyes but he blinked them away letting his anger and frustration rise in place of his grief.â€œFuck you! What right do you have to be here? Why wont you let Sara and I be? We loved you! We still love you!â€She doesnt respond, she never does. Its as if she used up all of her words before she died and now all thats left is the pain and the anger of her death. The empty lack of true life in her eyes leaves him cold. He doesnt say anything else to her. Its all a waste and he knows it. She frightens him as much as she makes him angry. Spite lives in every corner of her body and hes reached his limit on how long he can see this perversion, this nightmare of what once meant so much to him.He walks past the bookshelf and through the doorway there. He and Saras rooms are up above. With an effort he resists the urge to look back down the hall to see if shes followed. He refuses to treat his wife like a boogeyman no matter how much she has come to fit that mold. He can feel her eyes burning into him from somewhere back at the edge of the living room. The sensation leaves a cold trail of fear up his back as he walks the last four feet to the stairs and then up. He can hear her feet rush across the floor behind him and the rustle of fabric as she darts up the stairs after him. His pulse and his feet speed up as she grows closer but hes never as fast as she is. Soon she slips up the steps under his foot shoving him aside as she crawls on her hands and feet through his legs and up the last few stairs above. As she passes through his legs, her presence never more clear than when its shoving right against him, he smells the clean and medicinal smells of the operating room and the cloying stench of blood. For a moment hes back in that room with her, listening to her grunt and keen as she works so hard at pushing Sara into the world and then hes back looking up at her as she slowly considers the landing and where to go from there. His voice is a whisper, one that pleads. â€œWendy?
He came through the door howling, an axe arched high over his head. His eyes danced in madness, stuck fast on the two of them kissing, caught in their embrace and unaware of him. For a moment they went on, oblivious, untouched by the madman soon to come. It was a bright bubble of illusion on the eve of utter and complete madness. She was the first to see. The image of her stepfather captured in Mateos eyes, the furious glee of the Nazis vengeance, sharp and mirrored in their emerald beauty. Soon those eyes were wide with terror and sorrow in a moment of unbidden regret caught at the end of such happiness.
A figure held his daughter in the rocker. In the dim light he couldnt make out the features, but the sight of anyone he didnt know sitting in Wendys rocker with their daughter was enough to scare the shit out of him. Judging by the shuddering movements of his daughters body it had frightened her too, had caused her to mewl. He wanted to charge forward and reclaim his daughter, but he didnt know what would happen if he acted so quickly. What would he do if it hurt her? What would he do if it killed her? â€œWhat-what do you want? Ill do anything just dont take my daughter. Shesâ€¦all I have left.â€The figure stopped rocking and slowly eased its way to its feet. Theres not much light in the room but as it moved closer to the bed and it settled the baby in her crib, he saw just enough of her face in the moonlight.â€œWendy?â€ His voice is as full of horror as it is with awe. He cant help but be horrified at the sight of her now, the way that death has changed her, making her a terrible figure indeed. Her eyes are strange; some depth, some dark and terrible nothing has swallowed up all of her light, and in this first moment he swears he can feel the awful cold of that operating room coming off of her flesh. She is so small and so hard to look at, as if his mind cant quite focus on her form. Through the bars of the crib he can see her anger and hear the terrible, alien sound of her hiss. â€œWhat do you want?â€She doesnt answer him, staring cold and blank through those stark white bars, and then she was scrambling toward him across the floor, making him press flat against the wall to get away from her skittering shape.