I’ve entered into a little contest of sorts over at Wattpad. The only prize is bragging rights, but it does mean I’ll be writing more horror stories over the next couple of months and that’s always a good thing. I had to pick five pictures out of a group of twelve and it has to be between four and six thousand words. I decided on my five and that I’d do it in five parts of around a thousand words each. This is the third entry.
Julia answered the door, covering the lower half of her face with her hair as she did. Rather than the bear of a man she was expecting, the person standing there was an officious looking woman in a severe navy suit. Behind her their stood a couple of police officers. Julia took a step back. “Hello. How can I help you?”
The woman consulted a clip board. “You are Julia Evelyn Fitzgerald?”
“Yes ma’am. Please come in.”
The woman shook her head. “That won’t be necessary. These men are here to assure you that you will be doing what we tell you to do. You’ve been reported for not only child neglect, but threatening a government official.
Julia ground her teeth. She had known at the time that she overstepped her bounds when the man was here before, but she hadn’t expected this. “There’s been some kind of mis-”
The woman held out a hand. “There has been no misunderstanding. Or, if there has, it has been on your part. We need for you to bring Sarai Fitzgerald here. I will wait with these gentleman. If you don’t then you will be arrested and your child will be brought out anyway, only to see her mother in handcuffs. Is that what you want?”
Fear gripped Julia. Fear for her daughter. Fear for these pitiful creatures and what may become of them if they take her. Fear that her own anger will turn against her. She caught a whiff of brimstone from somewhere. She looked down to see smoke wafting from her hands. “You don’t understand.” She knew that the confidence she had in her voice earlier today was gone. “Taking Sarai is dangerous.”
“Are you threatening me as well? It’s bad enough the effect you had on poor Xavier. He won’t be returning to his duties for at least a week. The things he said about you aren’t to be believed, but I suppose now I must at least believe the less outlandish tales.” She looked over her shoulder at the officer on her left. “Go ahead. Do your duty.”
The man stepped forward, reaching for something at his belt.
She took a step back. She could end the lives of all here. There was little danger, since their weapons couldn’t harm her. It wasn’t the right thing to do though and it was so easy to go down the path trod by her many greats grandfather. Perhaps a more subtle approach. She reached deep into the man’s mind. There swam the nightmares that filled every human’s mind. She pulled one from random and brought it to the surface.
Jeffrey found himself suddenly immersed in water, and not just water bu a turbulent maelstrom. He felt as though he were caught in a powerful current, spinning round and round. His eyes stung and he couldn’t breathe. Through the murky water he saw himself from behind. There was no head on his broad shoulders, but he couldn’t deny that the figure was wearing his suit. He knew with the certainty that only came with dreams that his head was tumbling around and around inside a washing machine and he only waited for the cycle to be done.
Julia nodded with satisfaction as the man stopped and felt the sides of his head. His eyes were closed and he made gurgling noises.
The other officer stepped forward and drew his weapon. He didn’t point it since he didn’t know what was going on. He looked in confusion from Jeffrey to Mrs. Bowyers. “What do we do?”
“Mummy? What’s going on? Who are these people?”
Julia looked around and saw her daughter on the bottom step. “Sarai, you need to go back up stairs. Wait for Mummy there.”
“No. You must come with us Sarai.” The old woman snapped at her. “Your mother isn’t taking good care of you and we need to find you a new home.”
Sarai shook her head and began to scream. There were no words, it was just a torrent of sound.
The officer with the gun ran in and grabbed the little girl by one hand. The spell on the other one had been broken and he moved to help his partner. He tripped on something that no one could see and went flying. He landed in a crumpled heap by Sarai.
Julia watched him move through the air clumsily. This was all going badly. She hadn’t handled any of this well and now she was to pay the consequences. There was a chance that she could work this out for a good end. “Sarai, no. Don’t hurt the men. Go with them. Mummy will be along to pick you up later today.”
Sarai’s scream had turned into a crying fit. The man at her feet jerked like a giant was stomping on him. The distant sound of an elephant trumpeting in time with the jerking man told Julia what she needed to know.
“Sarai Mercurial Fitzgerald, you leave that man alone. Mummy has told you time and again not to hurt anyone.”
The raised pitch and volume got Sarai’s attention. Her cries tapered off and soon she just stood there weeping softly. The man at her feet got up and began to move slowly. His partner moved the gun from the girl to her mother and back, like he didn’t know quite what to do.
“Take her to the car.” The woman at the door snapped to the men. The uninjured one holstered his gun and held out his hand.
Sarai looked at the hand and then to Julia. With a shuddering of in-drawn breath she took it and went with the policeman.
Soon Julia was alone with Mrs. Bowyers. “I will get my child back.”
Mrs. Bowyers smiled. Her teeth were jagged, like broken glass. “I’m afraid not, Ms. Fitzgerald. You see, you and your lovely daughter have come to our attention. I applaud your efforts to stay out of the limelight. That worked for some time. You won’t be seeing her again. I would advise that you stay away from her. I would tell you not to look for her. But you won’t really have a choice.” Mrs. Bowyers spat.
Julia didn’t have a chance to flinch. The viscous fluid stung her eyes. She heard a sound like ripping cloth and felt a searing pain. Suddenly the lower half of her body felt disconnected from the upper half. She had the sensation of falling a long distance. As she fell Mrs. Bowyers’ laughter followed her. A red darkness collapsed around her and she knew no more.