A loud knock startled Lorna awake. She squinted at her watch, only eight, and groaned. No extra sleep for her this morning. Grabbing a robe from the bathroom door, she wrapped it tight and cracked the front door. The hallway appeared empty. Confused, she went to shut it when something caught her eye. A leather-bound book sat on the floor. Curious, she picked the book up. “I wonder who left this?” She ran a hand over her family name, impressed on the soft black leather. The book vibrated. “What the —” Startled, the book slipped and hit the floor with a thud. The hair on her arms stood at attention as she used her afoot to scoot the book into the apartment and slammed the door.
There had never been mention of a family book, at least none she remembered. Someone had to know about the book. She dialed her Mom from memory.
“Mom?” Lorna paced.
Relaxed by the sound of her mom’s voice, she sat. “Yeah. Hey Mom.”
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“You always know when something’s up.”
“Well, mothers know things about their babies. Now, what’s going on? You’re worrying me.”
“I don’t want to worry you. A book came in today, one with the family name written on the cover.”
“In the mail?”
“I heard a knock on the door and checked. No one was there. I almost missed the thing lying on the floor.” She paced “The book’s bound in black leather, and has Reaves pressed into the leather.”
Her mother clicked her tongue. “Hm, I don’t know of a family book. You may ask your grandmother. Are you sure you are okay? You sound off.”
Her mother’s intuition had always been strong. Lorna shook her head. “I’m okay, Mom, a little shaken, but okay. The book put off a strange vibration in my hands and freaked me out.”
“Oh, goodness! Call your Nana right away and let me know what you find out.”
“Will do.” She paused. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, sweetheart. Now go get your answers.”
Calmer, she hung up.
She dialed her Nana, but it went to voicemail. “Hey, Nana, your granddaughter, Lorna, here. I’ve had something interesting left at my house, and I hope you can help me figure out what it is. Please call me as soon as you can. Love you.”
The book pulled at her, and whispers of her name bounced off the walls of her apartment. She eyed the book, suspicious. Electricity crawled along her torso and spread out to her limbs. She shook her body, attempting to break the connection. To her surprise, it worked.
A blanket draped over the back of the chair caught her eye. She snatched it and covered the book. The buzzing stopped. If she couldn’t talk to Nana about the book, she would bring it to her.
Lorna grabbed her purse, pulled out the keys, grabbed the blanket, and ran to the car. She needed answers. Still wrapped, she threw the book in the trunk next to unused workout clothes and slammed the trunk shut. The hour drive into Seattle would allow time to clear her mind. She also hoped Nana would have ideas on how to keep Chad safe.
The urge to call James overwhelmed her, to tell him everything, but she couldn’t, not yet. He needed more time.
The dark walker dove out the second-story window, arms spread wide in a perfect swan dive, swooped up seconds before impact, and shot up into the moonlit sky. Clouds flashed by as it wove around and through them. Hungry, the creature searched the night.
The door to a bar swung open. The dark walker rubbed claw-like hands together. A long tongue shot out of a wide mouth full of jagged teeth. A man walked out of the bar, his soul-light blinding. Red, glowing eyes slammed shut as it hissed.
Eyes closed, it slithered along the street. Music thumped a steady beat from a nightclub, drawing the creature. Eyes open once again, it searched for prey, swaying and dancing to the beat from the club.
A woman screamed from the alley. The dark walker snuck along the side of the building and slid into the wall to watch the man and woman fight. Her soul-light burned bright, so it waited in the shadows for the fight to end. She landed a solid knee to the man’s groin. The man cried out in pain as he dropped to his knees. She ran. The creature covered its eyes as the female ran past.
Time short, the dark walker crawled out of the wall. The man, his soul-light dimmed and grey, looked up, startled. The creature grinned. Trembling, the man tried to stand. He fell. A grumbled laugh poured forth from gnashing teeth.
It grabbed the man’s arms, flipped him to his back, and licked his face. He tried to scream, and the warmth from the release of his bowels covered his backside. It grinned a grin of nightmares, then sliced into the man’s chest and ripped his heart in half. As the man lay dying, it sucked out the black smoke of life from his body.
The woman came around the corner. The creature shot into the air, twisting and swaying as the woman screamed below, then vanished into the dark.
Lorna awoke from a dead sleep to her own screams. The silk nightgown borrowed from her grandmother rested coldly against dripping skin. Nana slammed through the bedroom door, eyes wild, a fire poker in hand. “What is it? Where is he? Tell me, child.”
Lorna, hyperventilating, shook her head. “It’s — not — it, he’s gone,” she said as the breath returned. “He’s dead, Nana. The creature killed him.”
“Who’s dead?” Nana wrapped her arms around her, causing both to shake. “There now, child, let it all out.”
A deep moan escaped Lorna’s lips, and she rocked and wept for the man in the alley, for Chad, and for James. Then she shuddered. She knew nothing of this creature, how it was tied to her, or how it would affect the future.
Arms wrapped tight and pulled her close, warming her trembling soul. Nana rocked her back and forth as if she were sixteen again, nursing a broken heart. The trembling slowed, and breathing returned to normal. She reached around and hugged her Nana tight.
“There you go, my child.” Nana continued to rock her. “Back to sleep with you. Let’s talk in the morning. We won’t give the dark any more power tonight.”
“But, Nana, we nee —”
“No, dear,” she said, lifting Lorna’s chin and looking deep into her eyes, “not tonight. The dark has had its fun, and we will entertain it no longer. Sleep.” Her hand reached up and lightly drew her fingers over Lorna’s eyes. Instantly, she slept.
Nana laid her back on the pillow and pulled up the blankets, tucking her in tight. She tut-tutted and clicked her tongue. “No, my dear sweet girl, we will not entertain the dark anymore tonight. Tomorrow we will talk about making it right again.”
She bent down and kissed Lorna’s forehead, dimmed the nightstand light, and went back to bed.
To be continued…
Photograph by Thom Holmes via Unsplash. Altered by Jennifer Brewer via Canva
***Disclaimer*** This is a work in progress and as such is likely to change before reaching the finished product. Thank you for your understanding.
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Originally published on Vocal.