Monday, July 29, 2013

Second Draft/First Rewrite: Chapter 14 (Excerpt)

Here is an excerpt from the second draft/first rewrite of Chapter 14.  The second draft begins to explore Carl's wild side a little more than the first draft does as it is relevant later on.



CHAPTER 14

The main building was the largest of the five buildings on the property.  It sat in the forefront of the grounds, empty and silent.  In back of it was a two story building that had housed the janitorial staff and further back from that was a small toolshed.  On the way over to the main building, Jimmy, Carl, and Reginald talked of returning one night with George and Evan to explore the other buildings and possibly the surrounding woods.
“Maybe we’ll find your werewolf then, Carl,” Jimmy said, slapping Carl on the back as Reginald laughed.
Dorothy exchanged glances with Linda and Gail.  She wasn’t sure of how she felt about Carl returning here to do some more exploring even if it was with a group of some other boys.  Dorothy knew that all it took was for one of the boys to present a dare to Carl and her boyfriend would be off doing something dangerous and stupid.  She worried about Carl, especially when she remembered the time last schoolyear when she heard about how Carl had driven George's car so fast that he almost didn’t turn around a curve and nearly went off the road.
What if he had gone off the road?  Would I still have gotten the chance to know him as I do now? Dorothy sometimes wondered.  While she liked Carl as he was, there were times when she wished that he would maybe calm down a little.
The group came to the front of the main building and ascended the porchsteps up to the front door and slowly entered the building that was the first to be built on the property mid 19th century.  What was inside amazed the six kids as it was far more opulent and elegant than the building they had just been in.  The main hall was spacious and the interior matched the Victorian era in which it was built.  Rooms and offices lined both sides of the main area and there were two winding staircases that led up to the second floor.    
“Now this is what I’m talking about,” Jimmy said.  Carl and Reginald nodded in enthusiastic agreement.  The girls looked at one another and actually felt more relaxed than they had in the other building.  In a moment of playful mischief, Carl reached behind Dorothy and tickled both sides of her waist.  Dorothy screamed and began chasing Carl around the first floor.  The rest of them followed suit and soon everyone was running around, hiding, and jumping out at one another.  The oppressing sadness that had been present in Maxine’s room had changed and here, the kids actually felt a high energy rush. 
After slowing down to catch their breath, they ascended the winding staircase up to the second floor.  They walked down the hall passed some old classrooms and finally came to the small chapel.  The stone work of the room and the paintings that hung on the wall were breathtaking and each in the group of six wondered how the effects of the chapel had been overlooked during the auction liquidations.
As the kids walked down the aisle of the chapel, they noticed the cobwebs and dust that had settled on the heavy, wooden pews after decades of no use. There were still some worn Bibles and hymnals in the compartment shelves of the pews.  Carl and Jimmy both took a hymnal. 
“Jimmy,” Linda said.
“What?” Jimmy said, responding to Linda’s glare. “Souveniers.”
“Yeah,” Carl said, “it’s not as though anyone’s using them.”
“Stealing from a church.  I’m sure that’ll give us points in the afterlife,” Linda said to Dorothy and Gail.  Dorothy shook her head and shrugged.  She looked at Gail and the two of them exchanged glimpses of agreement.  That had also been the first time either of them had heard Linda refer to the afterlife.
Linda’s full of surprises tonight. 
The group continued on, making their way to the front pulpit where the preacher would have given his service years ago.  The alter stood behind a rail that guarded the pulpit area.  Hanging on the wall at the very end of the chapel was a large, wooden crucifix.  The wooden figure of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross was illuminated by the moonlight coming in through the stained glass windows.
The six stood, almost mesmerized by the site and could almost feel the eyes of the Jesus figure, looking down at them, seeming to give off a warning.  The six looked at one another, each of them with a feeling of dread brewing up in the pits of their stomachs.  None of them really knew where that feeling of dread came from, but it had them all thinking that perhaps they had had enough excitement for one Halloween.  But that was all forgotten when Carl noticed a door on the left side of the pulpit. 
“Say, check that out,” Carl said heading toward the door.  One by one, they all began following Carl who was trying the door.  It was locked.  He turned back to the group.  “Does anyone have something I can pick the lock with?”
“This might work,” Gail said and handed Carl a pin from her hat.
“Thanks,” Carl said.  “This just might work.”  He began picking the lock until a click was heard on the other side of the door.  Carl turned the knob and the door opened with ease, with the exception of a couple boards in front of the door.  He shoved the door open the rest of the way and kicked the boards aside.
The group entered to find that the room had been an office.  Very likely the preacher’s office.  The room had an oak desk and chair, a book shelf, and a small restroom.  The boys found two fountain pens, and a small paperweight that was a miniature version of the entrance sign that welcomed outsiders onto the property.  The three boys each kept one of the items:  Carl kept the paper weight while Jimmy and Reginald kept the fountain pens.  The girls noticed another door at the other end of the room.  This door had long lost its knob so Carl’s lock-picking skills weren’t needed.  The door opened to reveal a hidden, dark, winding stairwell.
“Jackpot,” Jimmy said with a wide grin.
No one could disagree and they were all finding the main building to be much more exciting than other one had been.
The group ascended up into the darkness with the stairs creaking beneath their shoes.  The stairwell was rather stuffy and had a musty smell to it.
“Bless you,” Reginald said after the lingering dust particals assaulted Dorothy’s nasal passage.
“You alright, baby?” Carl asked rubbing the middle of her back.
“Yeah I’m fine,” Dorothy said leaning in closer to Carl.  “It’s just horribly dusty in here.”
The group had almost reached the top of the stairwell when they heard Linda let out a loud yelp.  “Oh God!  I ran into a spiderweb!” she cried.
Jimmy turned to look at Linda, aiming the flashlight so he could see her without blinding her.  He then shined the light to see the large, broken cobweb Linda had run into.
“Looks like that once housed a pretty big spider,” Carl commented.
“Oh get it off me!” Linda screamed.  “I don’t want spider eggs in my hair!”
“Honey, calm down,” Jimmy said.  “It’s just a cobweb.  Whatever lived in it has long since moved on.”
The girls helped a disgusted Linda pick the pieces of cobweb out of her carefully styled blond curls. 
“I’m going to have to wash my hair three times when I get home!” Linda wailed.
When all traces of cobweb was out of Linda’s hair and Linda had calmed down, the group continued up until they came to a door at the top of the stairwell.  Carl ended up having to pick this lock before it opened to a small apartment the preacher must have lived in.  It was very simple with a sleeping area, a small kitchenette, a sitting area, and a restroom.  There was also a door leading out into the hallway on the third floor.  Carl opened the door and the group stepped out into the third floor hallway which was lined with the old bedrooms of the children. 
“Plenty of rooms for us to get lost in,” Jimmy whispered to Linda.
Linda smiled. “Jimmy!”
Jimmy gave Linda a devilish, lustful grin.  Linda let out another yelp—this one more playful—as Jimmy smacked her behind.  The group made their way to the staircase that led up to the fourth floor.  They headed down that corridor until they stood at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the fifth floor, the living quarters of the Flemings. 

“Well, what are we waiting around for?” Reginald said. “Let’s go on up.”




Second Draft/First Rewrite: Chapter 8 (Excerpt) and new Final Interlude at the end of Part 1, NICOLAE'S ESCAPE

This is the final portion of the first rewrite of Chapter 8 in PART 1 NICOLAE'S ESCAPE.  I also added a final interlude titled The Beginning of the End at the end of Part 1.  It gives more insight into the beginnings of Nicolae and Teresa's very disfunctional marriage that will assist with later chapters in the first draft that return to Nicolae, Teresa, and Eloisa.

Chapter 27 of the first draft will be coming soon :)



CHAPTER 8 (Excerpt only)

As Teresa stood watching Nicolae, small waves of doubt began to churn inside of her.  Could she really do this with her lack of experience?  She remembered how natural the movements of Nicolae and the other woman being together had been.
They just seemed to fit so well together…
Of course, Teresa had pictured a different type of scenario when she began to imagine herself ending up with Nicolae and she still felt hurt by his repeated rejections of her.
 Don’t be afraid, she heard the familiar voice in her mind say.
 Taking in a deep breath, she slowly walked over to where Nicolae lay asleep.  She sat down next to him, taking in his beautiful, chiseled features.  She began to feel an overwhelming disbelief over the fact that she was sitting naked beside him.  Her breath quickened as her heart picked up it’s pace and there was a stirring in the pit of her stomach.  Then, as if someone else were guiding her movements, Teresa rose to her knees and leaned over him, allowing the tips of her breasts to lightly brush his shirt.  She pressed her body to his as she kissed him softly on his lips.  It was only a small kiss, but it was enough to send the blood rushing down to between her legs. 
“I love you, Nicolae,” she whispered as she lightly stroked the side of his face.  She slowly lay down beside him and brought her hand to his chest, softly stroking with her fingertips.  Teresa’s arousal heightened when she felt Nicolae’s defined chest muscles through the material of his shirt.  She froze as Nicolae began to stir and his eyes opened.  Teresa’s heart pounded as she anticipated Nicolae’s possible negative reaction when he saw her beside him.  But when he opened his eyes and looked at her, she saw the corner of his lips turned upward.  She felt a warming sensation in her heart as it was one of the few times she had ever seen him smile and seeing him smile at her was enough to bring tears of happiness to her eyes.  Teresa opened her mouth to speak, unsure of what she would even say.  Nicolae stopped her by bringing his hand to her cheek, stroking it before bringing himself on top of her and giving her lips a passionate kiss. 
“Nicolae…” she moaned as she felt his mouth traveling down her throat and to her chest.  With every touch of his hands and lips, Teresa felt as though her skin was going to burst into flames.
“Don’t say anything, my love,” he panted as he stripped of his shirt.  “I’ve missed you so much.  Just be with me.”


FINAL INTERLUDE:
The Beginning of the End

It would be a night Teresa would never forget for as long as she would be alive and able to remember such things.  The night Nicolae took her virginity would be a lifechanging experience for both in many more ways than one. 
Teresa would never return to her village and would therefore never know of the sleepless nights in which her adopted mother, Gabriella, would agonize over the loss of her adopted daughter or the tears Alea shed over the idea of the older sister she loved and looked up to leaving her.  Having to inform the family of Teresa’s betrothed wasn’t nearly as painful for Gabriella and even the village elders as it was not knowing the whereabouts of Teresa or what had happened to her. 
Gabriella had the feeling that Teresa had followed the young man they all knew as Luiz when he had left their village.  She had seen the way Teresa regarded that young man and it did frighten the older woman.  Gabriella had worked quickly to finalize a suitor for Teresa, hoping that it would allow the young girl to forget about the young drifter.  But Gabriella had severely misjudged her adopted daughter.  The older woman now recognized that doing so may have backfired, doing more harm than good and pushing Teresa’s rebellion even further.  She had seen the same nature in Teresa’s mother, Dominique, with whom Gabriella had grown up in the village.
“You are much more like your mother than I thought you would be,” Gabriella lamented as she sat at the small table in her hut.
Alea had gone to bed and Gabriella sat, looking into the small, flickering flames of the candle she had lit, just as Teresa was managing to seduce Nicolae into making her his wife in a place not too terribly far from the village.  Gabriella gazed more intensely into the flame.  She would almost be willing to swear that she had seen Dominique’s face flash briefly in front of her as she kept her gaze on the candle.  The small image of Teresa and Alea’s mother seemed to mock Gabriella, causing her to jump backward in her seat.  Catching her breath, it began to occur to Gabriella that perhaps things may have turned out differently if perhaps she would have told Teresa the truth behind what had happened with her parents.  Maybe if the girl had known, she wouldn’t have been so moved to follow that young drifter.
She would still be here safe…I truly thought I was protecting her…
Gabriella sat in front of the candle and said a prayer for Teresa, but something in the air told her that the girl was far beyond anything her prayers could do.  She sat at the table, knowing that all she could do was weep for the girl who had once been her daughter. 

As for Teresa, the night she had gotten Nicolae to take her virginity would be one filled with pleasure and pain of both a physical and an emotional nature.  Being in his arms, feeling his skin and body against her and having his hands and mouth roaming her most intimate areas was more wonderful than Teresa would ever imagine it would be.  She could feel his hands tremble with a deep-rooted unconditional love as he explored the curves of her body and she would cry tears of happiness as Nicolae got her ready for him, using his fingers, lips, teeth, and tongue to stimulate her breasts and between her legs. 
Teresa’s tears of pleasure would turn to pain when Nicolae would enter her.  He would not be as gentle as a man should be when dealing with a virgin.  Instead, Nicolae entered Teresa as though he were under the impression that she was an experienced woman.  This left Teresa in a state of shock and confusion as Nicolae didn’t waste any time before he began to thrust. 
“You’re hurting me,” Teresa whimpered as she felt a small trickle of blood exiting her and running down her inner thigh.  “Please slow down.”
Nicolae stopped and looked down at her.  She watched his expression change from one that embodied love and lust into one of bewilderment.  Teresa held her breath, afraid that she had ruined everything, but Nicolae’s expression softened and he said, “You’re right.  I’m so sorry.  I suppose I was just so anxious to be with you.”
He then leaned down and gave her a tender kiss on her lips.
“I love you, Nicolae,” Teresa said, her voice choked.
“I love you.  Always and only you,” Nicolae replied.
Teresa smiled as her heart raced at Nicolae’s declaration of his love.  He smiled back down at her as he continued to thrust, this time moving much slower and handling her more gently.
Teresa clutched Nicolae’s shoulders, feeling one of his scars.
I’ll take away all your pain.  I promise, she thought.
Teresa looked to the years ahead when she would be able to heal Nicoale of any lingering trauma from his past.  She would have her first release just before Nicolae would have his.  The shattering sensation left her breathless as she felt Nicolae emptying himself into her.  They stayed, looking into one another’s eyes for another moment before Nicolae pulled out.  Teresa stroked the side of his face as he declared his love to her once again.  He then lay back down beside her and pulled her close to him.  As he drifted back to sleep, Nicolae whispered his love to Teresa once more.  It would be the last time Teresa would hear those words from him to her.
As Teresa lay with her arms and legs wrapped around Nicolae, she looked up to the starry sky and smiled.  “Thank you, mother,” she said softly, as not to wake her sleeping, new husband.  She lay with her head on Nicolae’s chest.  She could hear his heartbeat slowing down as sleep came over him.  It was then she noticed a difference in herself.  Teresa knew that losing her virginity would turn her from a girl to a woman, but this was more than that.  Instinctively, she placed a hand on the small of her stomach and closed her eyes.  She could see the inside of her womb and the fetus of a baby growing inside of her.  Teresa gasped with both fear and excitement as her eyes snapped back open.  She lovingly wrapped her arm back around Nicolae and allowed sleep to take over her as she anticipated the marriage and family she would have with him.

Nicolae lay asleep, unaware that he had just emptied his seed into Teresa, which would result in the conception of the child Teresa had just seen.  It would not be until the following morning when he would wake up naked next to Teresa that he would figure out what had actually occurred between them the night before.
Teresa watched in a state of confusion and dismay as Nicolae scrambled to dress himself.
“Nicolae…” Teresa stammered on the verge of tears.  She was at a complete loss for words beyond uttering the name of the man she had given herself to.
Nicolae stopped and stared at her.  Teresa flinched under the dark gaze of the man who had looked at her with so much love the night before.  A stunned Teresa covered herself with her clothes, suddenly feeling very exposed.  She stood timidly watching Nicolae draw in a breath and say, “Teresa…somehow I took advantage of you.  I don’t know how…I thought…”
“You thought what?” Teresa asked.
Nicolae shook his head.  “Nevermind,” he said and began pacing about the area, running his hands over his face.
“Nicolae…you didn’t do anything I didn’t want you to,” Teresa said.  “Don’t you remember?”
Nicolae was still silent and Teresa said with a shakey voice, “You don’t remember telling me you love me?”
Nicolae’s head snapped to look at her in surprise.  Teresa watched as his expression shift to confusion, to anger, to something that was just disconcerting.  Then he simply ordered, “Get dressed.”
“Nicolae…”
“I said get dressed!”
Teresa turned away from Nicolae, hiding her tears as she slowly put her clothes back on and had another vision of a child growing inside of her.  She thought about telling Nicolae, but decided not to.
Why is he so different toward me now?  What is wrong with him? Teresa wondered to herself.  She pulled her blouse back on and snuck a glance back at Nicolae, who was already completely dressed.  He was standing, staring off to nothing in particular.  Teresa couldn’t see his expression as his back was turned to her, but she was able reach into his mind and see his thoughts of loss and betrayal.
Why…? Teresa thought.
She would not see the two tears that escaped Nicolae’s eyes as he felt Eloisa leaving him forever.  He could no longer feel the woman he had shared his short years with and failed to protect from harm.  Eloisa no longer loved him.  He was sure of that as he had somehow managed her in the worst way possible and take advantage of an impressionable young girl.  Nicolae had seen Teresa’s blood on himself and on her as evidence that they had been together despite his not having any recollection of being with her.  Broken and confused, he swallowed back more tears as he quietly said, “I’m sorry…please don’t leave me…you’re all I have in this world…I’m sorry…”
Nicolae felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Teresa standing in front of him with a look of worry and love on her face.
“Don’t worry.  I’m not angry with you, Nicolae,” she said.  “I love you and I could never leave you.  I’ll take away your pain.  I’ll make you happy.  I’ll be a good wife.”
Nicolae stood perplexed and stunned as Teresa circled her arms around his waist.  Teresa had no idea that it was Eloisa’s face and body that Nicolae had awoken to find with him that night instead of hers.  She had no reason to believe at that time that he had made his declaration of love to the woman he lost two years prior, a woman whom Teresa had unknowingly been disguised as.  One thing Nicolae did understand was that returning Teresa to her village was now out of the question.

Nicolae and Teresa would continue together as Teresa began to show signs of being with a child inside her belly.  There would be a few more nights in which Nicolae would be with Teresa, under the impression that she was Eloisa, and some nights when he was with her at his own will.  There were times when Nicolae did find Teresa’s body comforting, but it was only a temporary euphoria.  One thing that never wavered was the concern Nicolae had for the child growing inside of Teresa, especially as she began to show a little more.  As the months passed and Teresa was in her fifth month, she started to feel hope that Nicolae was coming around to openly accept and love her as his wife.  But she would soon learn that there was far more below the surface than she would ever be able to accept as truth.
Teresa was on the cusp of her fifth and sixth month into her pregnancy.  She had had another dream of Nicolae and the other woman she suspected to be Eloisa.  In the dream, she could the young woman standing at the edge of a forest looking in as Nicolae fought his way through the brush that seemed to thicken by the second as he tried to make his way over to the other woman.  Teresa awoke from the dream to see Nicolae seated at the window a few feet away from her.  As Teresa’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, she was able to see that her husband was clutching his box.  Nicolae hadn’t noticed that she had opened his eyes and was now watching him as he looked out to the nightsky.  He would whisper words that Teresa would hear and leave her devastated beyond repair. 
“It was your face and body I saw…not hers.  I thought it was you!  I swear it!  Please believe me.  Forgive me, Eloisa…you’re all I ever wanted.  You’re the only one who could ever satisfy me.  The vows I made to you…I was never more sincere about anything than I was that night you became my wife.  You are always my Eloisa.  Even if you no longer love me…nothing will ever stop me from loving you.  And after I die, if I can’t be with you…I may as well just be in Hell.”
Teresa’s lay in the dark feeling as though all the air had been knocked out from her body.  She tried to mentally reach out to Dominique, but to no avail. 
As Teresa lay beside a sleeping Nicolae the following night, she sat up when she heard someone whispering to.  She strained to hear what was being said.
Look in the box, it was telling her.
“Where is it?” she whispered back.
Teresa felt as though her eyes were being guided to a floorboard in the corner of the bedroom inside the hut she shared with Nicolae.  She quietly got out of bed, taking care not to wake Nicolae.  She could feel the baby move a little as she approached the board, pried it away from its place and took the box out from the small compartment in the floor.
“But it’s locked,” Teresa said.  “I don’t know where he keeps the key…”
Before she could finish her sentence, an invisible hand grasped her wrist and pulled it into the compartment, nearly knocking Teresa onto her protruding belly.  Her hand felt a small, hard object and grasped it.  The key!  she thought.
Teresa pulled out the key, unlocked it, and gasped at what was inside.  The box contained a pile of ashes with some small bone fragments mixed among the gray, dusty substance.  From the ashes rose an image of a young woman.  The same young woman she kept seeing Nicolae with.  Teresa could only stare as the woman’s graceful, slender figure rose from her cremated remains.  Scenes of the woman’s life flashed before Teresa, beginning with her birth in a slave village in Wallachia.  The young woman had been separated from her parents and siblings at the age of three and had lived with her uncle in the village until her seventh year.  She and her uncle—whom she obviously loved very much—were separated in another slave auction and as a little girl, she had been brought to a large, stone castle in Transylvania to be a slave there.  Teresa could sense the fear that the young woman had felt as a child when she had been brought to the castle despite the kindness the women already present in the slave village were showing her.  Teresa saw a six-year-old Lucinda Alexanderescu knock over a valuable vase in an attempt to get the little girl in trouble.  Teresa then saw Nicolae as an eight-year-old boy, risking his own well-being to help the little girl.  Teresa saw the journey the two of them had as they grew up together in their slave village (the same one that had been shown to Teresa months earlier).  Teresa saw flashes of the initial courtship, the first kiss, and the night Nicolae and this other woman consummated their love.  Teresa then saw Dimitri’s first assault on her and Nicolae’s punishment for the attempt on Dimitri’s life.  She saw the last months of the relationship with Nicolae before seeing the young woman’s brutal death.  Teresa could feel that this woman had been with Nicolae’s child at the time of her murder…a little over four months along.  Nicolae had then killed for her and was on the run with a young boy who resembled him a little.
The images all disappeared back into the box as Teresa heard a name.
Eloisa.
She choked back sobs as she shut her eyes in an attempt to block out everything she had seen only to be shown what really had occurred on the first night she was with Nicolae.  Teresa saw herself as she had been that night, approaching the area beside the campfire where Nicolae slept and watched as her image morphed into Eloisa’s.
Tears began to spill down Teresa’s face as the reality of the situation set in. “It was her…he really did think I was her…

Teresa would get her wish; she would have Nicolae and, yes, continue his bloodline, but it would never be as she imagined and hoped it would be.  She would also discover the truth behind her parents and her own bloodline. 

Teresa would find herself alone in her marriage and, at times late at night, would wonder if she really would have been better off staying in her village back in Aragon, only having known Nicolae Ganoush as a handsome, mysterious young man named Luiz who had simply come passing through the village.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Updated the CHAPTERS and SAMPLES sections

Hey everyone,

Just updated the CHAPTERS and SAMPLES sections of this site as there were some of the more recent entries missing from them.

So now you can check them out nice and up to date :)

Tiffany

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Progress of First Rewrite/Second Draft of Book 1

The first rewrite/second draft of the first book in this series is coming along.  I'm uncovering new things about the characters and places and even combining a couple chapters I have come to feel were unnecessary to not be one whole chapter.

In August I'll be going on a retreat of sorts to attempt finishing the first rewrite/second draft of Book 1 and finish (or at least come close to finishing) the first draft of Book 2.

If you would like to see some samples of Book 1's second draft, visit the SAMPLES section of this site :)

Thanks for reading and Chapter 27 will be up this week :)

Tiffany

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 26 (UNEDITED)

Here is Chapter 26 a little earlier.

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-Second Prologue before proceeding to the Chapter 26.

Otherwise, read from the word go :)





CHAPTER 26

Jimmy and Reginald arrived at around 4:30.  There was still plenty of time to hang out as nobody had to be home for dinner until about six.  Linda and Gail had been sitting on Dorothy’s bed filling her in on the latest gossip at school.  Dorothy glanced down at Carl who sat on the floor beside the desk chair she still sat on.  Carl sat with an arm around Dorothy’s waist and a rather pained expression in his eyes.  Dorothy almost had to laugh at the site of her boyfriend having to sit in the middle of girls’ gossip.  His expression of pain turned to relief when Jimmy and Reginald thundered up the stairs and burst into the room.  Linda immediately jumped up and threw her arms around Jimmy and Reginald moved in to give Gail a quick kiss.
“How are you feeling, Dorothy?” Reginald asked.
Dorothy smiled and said, “Better.”
“Sorry we couldn’t get here sooner,” Jimmy said.  “The coach wanted to talk to me and then George wanted to show Reg and me something.”
“And I don’t think I even want to know what that was,” Gail said.
For that moment, Dorothy was happy to have everyone in her room just having a good time.  Normally, they would have all been down in either the sitting room or they would have all gone out somewhere and met up.  But since Dorothy was still a little slow in moving down the stairs, her parents had made an exception as long as the door was kept open.
Carl tightened his hold around her waist also taking care to make sure that he didn’t hurt her in any way.  His arm wrapped completely around her to where she could feel his fingertips lightly caressing the small of her stomach through the material of her sweater and camisole.  A warming sensation came over her and the memories of her and Carl together in her room on Halloween entered her mind.  The touch of Carl’s lips wandering her upper body was something she wanted to have again.  She thought of their conversation earlier, thinking of feeling ashamed for not having a past or any previous boyfriend or even a date before Carl.  There were those who would tell her that it was perfectly respectable for a young lady to not have a history with boys.  There were also plenty of girls at school who hadn’t even experienced what Dorothy had with Carl, so there really wasn’t anything wrong with that.
But not even a date of maybe just a soda after school?  Linda hadn’t gone all the way with any boys before Jimmy but she had been out with a couple boys before she and Jimmy were in a relationship.  Gail had also gone on a couple after school dates before Reginald.  And all those years of those two looking at me like I was crazy when I didn’t outwardly take interests in any boys at school.
Dorothy wondered if whatever had happened to her when she was seven had been so psychologically damaging that for years she would have a hard time trusting people.  She had like Carl since about sophomore year and it took until last summer for her to share that with even her two closest friends.  Not even her mother knew of the crush she had on Carl.  So if she couldn’t even share something like that with three women who were close to her, how could she give herself to a relationship?  The more Dorothy thought about this the more she came to recognize that this was a large part of why she had such reservations about going out with Carl initially despite her feelings for him.  Maybe that’s where all these sudden thoughts of Bernice were coming from.  Could it be that I’m looking for an excuse to get out of continuing further into the relationship with Carl?  Am I really that closed off?
Dorothy thought again of the night Carl was with her, lying on her bed and how she somehow wanted to have that again.  Then she remembered what happened as Carl touched and caressed her.  She remembered the image of the threatening dark, almost black eyes that had been before her.  She remembered the feeling of not being able to breath and then seeing the bloodspill on the stone floor beneath her.  Then she remembered coming out of that to Carl’s worried expression.  She had felt both scared and embarrassed, fearing Carl would think she was a spaz and run away.  But he didn’t.  Instead, he looked just as scared as she did and even apologized for moving too fast.
Being with Carl was unlike anything she had ever experienced before and part of her was scared.  But the other part wanted to experience everything she could with him and wanted to break the last of that wall down.
The conversation of her friends was almost a distant buzz as she thought of these things.  But it was all interrupted by a knock on the open bedroom door.  Dorothy was shaken from her thoughts and the conversation between everyone else ceased.  They all turned to see Tahatan standing in the doorway holding what looked to be a small leather book (a journal or diary of some kind?) and some pieces of paper with notes written on them.
“Hello, Tahatan,” Dorothy said breaking the brief silence.
“Hello, everyone,” Tahatan said.  The rest of the kids responded to Tahatan’s greeting politely.
“Come in,” Dorothy said to him.  She couldn’t take her eyes from the small book.  Tahatan had told her of a new discovery he had made that morning and she wondered if the book had anything to do with it.  Either way, she was anxious to hear it as it may explain what had been happening with her and what had occurred with all of them up at the Fleming property.  She also began to feel a little better about her mental state that perhaps she really wasn’t going crazy.
“May I sit?” Tahatan asked.
“Certainly,” Dorothy replied.  Jimmy and Reginald scooted over from their place on the floor so that Tahatan could take a seat at Dorothy’s dressing table.  Everyone was silent as he placed the book and small stack of papers neatly on the table before he turned to them and said, “I’m going to get right to the point.  I wanted to discuss the Fleming property and what happened up there.”
Dorothy watched as her friends regarded one another with uneasiness.  They had all avoided speaking of what had happened up there with one another, though it was likely an incident that haunted them all.  Dorothy knew that it certainly was haunting her and there was something to her attack that was connected to the orphanage.  Why else would I have ended up there?  Chills rose up on her skin as the memory of being shoved into the closet in the master bedroom came back to her.
Tahatan looked around at all of them and opened his mouth to speak again when Linda put up her hand.
“Excuse me, Tahatan,” she said.  “I’m sorry to interrupt, but if I don’t get this out into the open I’m going to explode.”
All eyes, including Tahatan’s, fell onto the pretty blonde that some said resembled Jean Harlow.  Her blue eyes darted around the room nervously and Jimmy reached up to place a hand over hers.  “Baby, what is it?” he asked.
Linda looked at her boyfriend, obviously grateful to have him there. 
“You’re all going to think I’m nuts,” Linda said shakily.
Try me, Dorothy wanted to say.
“Linda,” Tahatan said in a soothing tone, “don’t worry.  You all experienced something and still are.  I can see it in all of you.  Now Linda, if you have something to say, something that may be of use to what’s going on, please say it.  I can trust that none of your friends will respond negatively and neither will I.”
Linda looked back at everyone.  Still doubtful but willing to get it over with, she took her hand out from Jimmy’s and began to rummage through her schoolbag.  Everyone watched as she pulled out the dagger covered in its tattered sheath.
“Your dagger,” Jimmy commented.
“Is that what you had to stop at home to get?” Gail asked, assuming her friend didn’t just carry her dagger around on a regular basis.
Linda nodded.  She drew in a breath and looked back at everyone before saying, “I wasn’t completely honest about how I came to have this.”
“Honey, what do you mean?” Jimmy asked.
“Well,” Linda began, “I did get it in Maine this past summer while I was visiting my relatives.  That much I did tell you.  But it was how I came to buy it.”
Linda paused, turning the dagger in her hands as she thought of what to say next.  The whole incident really was a mystery, even for her.  And then in school earlier when she saw the portrait of Anton Alexanderescu…
Wait, one thing at a time, she told herself and drew in a breath.
“My visit to Maine this past summer was different from the other times I’ve gone,” Linda said.  “Ever since I was a little girl…my grandparents’ house almost seemed like a fairytale place especially with all the statues and paintings of the sea and all the creatures that supposedly inhabited it at one time.  But this time, it seemed different and I began having these strange dreams.  Actually, they began before my parents and I left Plains.  Anyway, it got so bad that I needed to take a break.  Get out of the house, even if it was only for a little while.  So my grandmother’s chauffer drove me into town where I walked around for a little while and had a soda at the drugstore and soda fountain there.”
Linda paused, looking around the room again before continuing.
“You were all right to be surprised by my going into an antique shop to purchase a 19th Century Romanian dagger,” Linda said.  “That isn’t me at all to do that.  Which brings me to the fact that…I can’t even tell you how I came to the antique shop.  It really was as though one minute I was wandering through town, watching the time so I wouldn’t be late meeting the chauffer and the next, there I was.  Standing in front of the shop, pushing the door and going inside.  It was as though…”  Linda’s voice trailed off as she tried to find the correct words to express what had happened without sounding crazy to everyone, including herself.
“An outside force had taken you there,” Tahatan finished for her.
Linda looked at him and nodded.  “Yes,” she simply said before she continued.  “Next thing I know, I’m inside the shop, not really noticing anything but the dagger.  As I’m standing there looking at it, a man, whom I assumed was the shop owner, suddenly appears beside me and begins telling me some things about the dagger.  The one thing that really stands out is his saying that it was as though I was meant to have the dagger.  I think he offered me tea or something as well.”
“Did you take any?” Tahatan asked.
Linda shook her head.  “No,” she said.  “Everything else was a blur.  I couldn’t even tell you what happened or what was said or how I even paid for it.  It wasn’t until the dagger was in m hands and I was leaving that I really got a good look at the man who sold it to me.  He had an accent and mannerisms that almost seemed…European, I guess.  Almost aristocratic, if that makes any sense because why would someone like that be working in a pawn shop.  The whole incident was very weird, but then he called to me before I left.  He knew my name and he knew about Jimmy.”
Jimmy shifted uncomfortably on the floor.  “Are you sure you didn’t tell him your name or about me in conversation when you bought the dagger?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out.  Like I said, it was all a blur so I guess it’s possible that I did.  But I just felt uneasy about the whole thing.  Then there was the way he looked at me…”
“How?” Jimmy asked obviously getting angry.  “Because if he did anything to you don’t think I won’t drive up to Maine and punch his lights out.”
“He didn’t do anything to me,” Linda assured Jimmy, “but his eyes were…”
“His eyes were what?” Tahatan asked.
“Dark,” Linda said.  “Just dark.  They almost seemed to glisten like black jewels or something.  But that could have just been the afternoon sun.  Maybe?”
Tahatan didn’t say anything but just wore a thoughtful expression.  Linda continued.
“Well after that,” she said, “I put the dagger away in a drawer and forgot about it.  Just like that.  Until the night we went up to the Fleming orphanage.  I have had strange dreams, though.  Even when I wasn’t thinking about the dagger.”
“What do these dreams entail?” Tahatan asked after pausing to think for a second.
Linda looked back down as Jimmy touched her knee.
“I’m usually standing on an ocean’s shore as a storm is beginning to take place,” Linda replied.  “It is very windy and I can often see a woman with long, dark hair standing with her back to me.  When I go to see who she is, there is a black hole where her face should be.”
Tahatan nodded thoughtfully as everyone else sat in a silence that was both stunned yet not very surprised at Linda’s story.
“What do you suppose that dream means?” Linda asked.
“It can mean any number of things,” Tahatan replied.  “May I see the dagger.”
Linda nodded and handed it to him.  Tahtan took it into his hands.  From the moment he began holding it he could feel the dagger’s pulse.  As though it were a living, breathing, object with a beating heart.  The pulse entered Tahatan and he began to see clouds and an ocean.  He was being taken across the ocean.
“Tahatan!” he heard a distant voice call to him.  Dorothy’s?  He couldn’t tell.  All he knew was that he was being shown the dagger’s origins and possibly what it had to do with what was going on right now.
Tahatan was taken to what appeared to be a rundown village that normally belonged to the serfs or the slave class.  It was Eastern Europe, he could tell that much so far.  He saw a large, stone structure in the distance that looked like some photos he had seen of castles and mansions in Romania.  He moved through the village, seeing the dark-skinned inhabitants and remembered Dorothy’s description of the little boy from her dream.  Gypsies.  Romani slaves…
Tahatan could feel whatever was attached to the dagger guiding to one hut in particular.  He entered the doorway, and saw the family who lived in the hut.  Tahatan saw a woman who looked to be in her early thirties.  Obviously this family’s matriarch.  He then saw two boys who looked to be about twelve, going on thirteen, playing some kind of a game at a very run-down table.  Tahatan could sense that these boys were twins, the fraternal kind that his grandfather Sunkwa and his great-aunt Kimimela were.  He then saw two little girls about six and four.  The older was helping her mother with dinner and the younger was playing with a baby boy, who was about two years old, on the floor.  The baby seemed to be very observant and precocious for his age.  Much like little Willow Blake…
Tahatan then got the feeling that there was more to see.  I haven’t seen the family patriarch yet and I feel that these aren’t all the children living in this hut…there is one more…
Tahatan left the hut and walked out behind it toward a wooded forest that sat about a mile back.  He didn’t have to walk for very long when he came to the edge of the woods and saw a man who was perhaps a couple years older than the woman, the mother, he had just seen.  The man was cutting up wood with an ax.  Not too far away from the man was a little boy, sitting and watching the man with great intent.  Tahatan then got a look at the man’s face and he could see the resemblance between the two who were obviously father and son.  Tahatan looked back at the little boy and it was clear that the boy idolized his father.
The man paused from what he was doing, removing a handkerchief from his back pocket and whipped his perspiring brow.  He then turned to the boy and smiled.
“Nicolae,” the man said, addressing the boy.
The boy, Nicolae, stood up quickly at the sound of his father’s summons.  The father then spoke to his son in a tongue that was foreign to Tahatan, but it was apparent that the boy’s father was asking the child to fetch him another tool.
The boy smiled and went to a small bag and began to dig through it until he had found what his father had asked for.  Nicolae, the boy, retrieved the needed tools (two daggers…both still in their sheaths) and moved quickly to where is father was.  It was obvious to Tahatan that this boy Nicolae was very happy to please his father.  The father then thanked his son and the boy beamed, sitting on another stump to watch his father some more.
Tahatan watched as the man retrieved one of the daggers from its sheath and saw that it was the one that Linda had had in her possession.  But his attention was also drawn to the other that still sat in its sheath.  Tahatan regarded that particular dagger, drawing in on it.  Feelings of rage began to pulse through him and it was then he saw a pair of dark, almost black, eyes and a large amount of bloodspill, the red liquid spreading over a white surface.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

PART 2: THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Second Interlude (UNEDITED)

Here is a bonus, the SECOND INTERLUDE in Part 2.

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-Chapter 25 before proceeding to the Second Interlude.

Otherwise, read from the word go :)



SECOND INTERLUDE

Montreal, Canada
1875

Teresa stood on the edge of the shore, gazing out to the rolling waters of the Atlantic.  A week ago, her husband became part of that ocean.  As of a week ago, the Atlantic was where he would remain long after they were all dead and gone.  It was Nicolae Ganoush’s final resting place.
Well I suppose you got what you wanted, Teresa thought as the wind beat the thick, long dark hair she had maintained since she was a young girl, whipping the strands against her face. 
“You go what you wanted…” she whispered as a tide came in and for a brief moment consumed her bare feet.  She watched her long strands of hair being pushed around by the wind.  The dark strands may have been streaked with gray now, but it was still there and still hers as it had been when she was younger.  It was the only part of herself she truly recognized anymore.  Teresa folded her arms over her full and now heavier chest.  To a bystander and those in their small community who knew her, she was a new widow mourning for her recently late husband, and that was true.  Teresa was now in her mid forties, a mother, a grandmother, and a widow mourning for her husband and standing at the edge of the ocean with a tear escaped down her face.  Nicolae had reached the other side.  That she knew.  She could feel it.  But he isn’t alone…  That was also something she knew.
The thought taunted her as she remembered the day a week ago that she had followed her daughter to the Atlantic’s edge.  Twenty-one year old Stefania carried both the urn that contained Nicolae’s ashes and the small wooden box that Nicolae had kept with him up until the day he died.
“That damned box,” Teresa muttered, but her hatred for the box and whom it carried for over thirty years had faded into a disdain and then into a rather weak helplessness.  They were together now.  That other woman was with him and there was absolutely nothing Teresa was able to do about it.  They were in a place where she had no power.  None at all.  She had tapped into the sacred bloodline and used its energy, but where had it gotten her?
Alone, she thought as the tears began to stream down her face.  She stood on the shore, pushing back the strands of hair that had gotten stuck to her face by the tears.  Her face had retained most of its girlish youth despite the aging lines that creased her skin and she was more than aware of the fact that her body was far from what it had been when she had met Nicolae at sixteen.  A small, sad chuckle left her mouth as she recalled how silly she had been as a girl of sixteen when she was so critical of her physical appearance back then.  Now her youth was gone along with her deceased husband.  The man she loved in the best way she knew how.
“I did love him,” she insisted aloud at the wind.  Then she looked out to the sea and whispered with her voice cracking, “I did love you Nicolae and still…” before she broke down to near hysterical sobbing.  She collapsed down onto the wet sand, the in-coming tides soaking the skirt of her dress and the hem of her jacket.  She could see them again.  Together in the afterlife and that only increased her tears.
“All I wanted was for you to love me!” Teresa screamed, her voice straining against the sobs coming up through her throat.  She sobbed even more as her salty tears fell into the ocean’s tides to be swept away out to sea.
As Teresa’s sobbing died down, the wind stung and dried the tears on her face.  She thought about the tears she had spilled into the ocean and wondered if somehow they would reach Nicolae, if he would be able to feel the sorrow she felt that came with his passing.
No, he wouldn’t and nor would he care.  He has her now…why would he even be concerned with me?  He hardly was when he was alive.
With that thought, more tears fell but her sobbing was soft this time.  Teresa reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out the dagger that Nicolae had given her shortly after their initial meeting so that she would be able to protect herself if needed.  The act of his concern for her still touched her heart thirty years later.  She remembered the couple times he had looked at her with a glint of desire in his eyes despite the fact that he was still mourning for Eloisa, which would later explain the guilty manner in which he would quickly shift his eyes away within seconds.  It was the small moments that kept her afloat.  Teresa closed her eyes and remembered his concern over the slice in her palm.  Of course she had lied to him about how she had done it.  She had told him that it had been an accident when it had not.  And that moment had been the beginning of the end for not only Nicolae but Teresa.
Teresa thought about summoning the elements as the ocean’s shore was the perfect place to do it.  She wanted to try one more time to bring Nicolae to her, but every time she tried, she was met with some sort of wall blocking her from doing so.  It was at that moment that Teresa not only was forced to accept that fact that Nicolae was not only gone but that she also never really had him in the first place.  She looked down at the small, faded scar on the palm she had sliced thirty years ago when she was promised that Nicolae would be hers.  What had it all really been for? 
After Nicolae’s death, the voices Teresa had heard speak to her since the disappearance of her parents had vanished, including the apparition of her mother.  Teresa had tried several times that passed week to reach them but to no avail.  This only increased the emptiness that she felt.  The sacrifice she had made three decades ago.  What had it really been for?  They had promised her that she would have Nicolae and that their descendents would have gifts.  All they would need is some of her blood and occasionally, they would need to “collect” though they were never specific on what that collecting would entail.  And Teresa would never truly discover what collecting meant until the day that Olga disappeared.  She had convinced herself that the stillbirths of her first two children, a boy named Andreas and a girl named Maria were nothing more than unfortunate circumstances.  Teresa’s intuition seemed to be trying to tell her otherwise, but at the ages of sixteen and seventeen, she did not want to believe that her beloved voices and her own mother would be cause for her children to die.  Acknowledging that would also mean that Teresa was the one responsible for the two little ones dying, and that was something she just did not want to accept, even now.  She still did not want to assume responsibility for Olga and she would take that secret to the grave.
Then there was the bloodline that her mother, Dominique, had told her of when she appeared to her in the campfire thirty years ago.  Teresa did not understand it at all then and there were some things that were still a mystery to her, but she understood a lot better now.  It was an ancient one that was scattered to all areas of the Earth.  There wasn’t a day Teresa didn’t feel the heat of her ancient ancestors flowing through her blood.  She had welcomed what had been dormant inside her for the first sixteen years of her life had been awakened that night when she stood naked in a field under the moonlight, sliced her palm and allowed her blood to drop into the soil.  Teresa had felt an almost orgasmic rush as she felt the elements and the spirits of her ancient bloodline begin to consume her being.  It was then that she felt things she had never felt before in her life.  Power and control over her destiny.  That she would have the man she desired.  After that, Teresa had quickly dressed at the urging of her mother’s voice, tearing off a piece of cloth from her apron to wrap her bleeding palm with as she tried not to get blood on her clothing.  She had then gone back to an unsuspecting Nicolae and the following night Nicolae would make love to her.  Or at least she had thought at the time.  She remembered being confused over Nicolae’s reaction to her the following morning, but that later made sense after she had looked inside of his box at Eloisa’s remains and saw the images of their relationship and what had really happened on the first night she had been with Nicolae.  Teresa had wanted to destroy that box and the desire to discard Eloisa’s ashes out with the rest of the garbage had been only too strong for her.  Nicolae managed to hide the box well and seemed to guard it as though he were guarding the biblical Arc of the Covenant.  There seemed to be a power there, a force that neither Teresa nor her visitors seemed to understand or break.  There was also part of Teresa that understood that the destruction of the box would likely be what would send Nicolae over the edge.  It would break any hypnosis she had over him.  What would he do?  But that part of Teresa also understood the pain it would cause him and perhaps it was the true feelings of love she had that lie beneath everything else that prevented her from acting on destroying the box Nicolae cherished so much.

Teresa sat on the wet sand, staring down at the dagger she held in both of her hands.  It was in it’s tattered sheath and it had been the only real, meaningful gift he had given to her.  That and little Antonio.  Her other children harbored some form of resentment to her, she knew.  Especially Stefania.  But Antonio loved her and to him she could do no wrong.  Perhaps with Antonio I can right whatever wrongs I’ve done with the other children.  Of course, there’s the grandchildren too.  But they are their parents’ children to raise and Antonio is my son to raise….and a result of one of the last times Nicolae and I were together.  I didn’t even have to use any manipulation that time either.
Teresa sighed heavily, her sorrow deepening at the thought of the lack of romance and intimacy in her marriage.  She had ways of manipulating Nicolae into bed with her.  That was how all of their children other than Antonio had been produced.  Dominique and the other voices had revealed the history Nicolae refused to share with her, thus giving her insight to his weaknesses.  She knew how to keep him and at the time, she had been willing to go to any length to do so.  But one thing that Teresa hadn’t considered at the time that was dawning on her now was the question of whatever forces there were out there using her weakness for Nicolae to manipulate her into being some kind of a vessel for them.
“No,” she said aloud.  “I can’t…”
Even now she had a hard time believing that her own mother would allow the demise of Teresa and Dominique’s own grandchildren.  Teresa looked out to the ocean, staring into the mist that began to rise above it.  In that mist, she saw them.  She saw the way they looked at eachother.  She saw them in a dimly lit area, locked in a passionate embrace.
There was never a time he looked at me that way…not at his own desire, at least.
Teresa closed her eyes and remembered the night Nicolae did come to her on his own.  The night they created Antonio.  A lone tear escaped down her cheek and she opened her eyes again and stared at the image of her late husband and his love.  His only love.
“I knew about the time you two were together in the workshed ten years ago…” she said to them.  “I knew it when it happened.  I woke up and was able to see it happening in my mind.  I was also able to see that there was a moment where you would rather be dead than be in a marriage with me any longer.”
Teresa knew that Nicolae and Eloisa were unable to hear her where they were at.  She shut her eyes tightly, unable to stomach seeing the two of them together anymore.
He had to have loved me at least a little to come to me when Antonio was conceived…
Teresa began to wrap herself in the memories of that night when a voice spoke to her.
A PITY FUCK, it had said.  Besides for all you know, that may not have really been him…you of all people should know that.
Teresa’s eyes snapped open at the sound of the voice.  Could it be?  Where they back?
“That’s a lie,” she shakily told the voice.  Teresa strained her ears, listening for a response, but all she heard were the sounds of the ocean.  A seagull cried out in the distance and Teresa noticed that the image of Nicolae and Eloisa was replaced by and image of two small boys that looked to be about three years of age, one with dark, almost ebony hair and the other was blond.  The image evaporated as quickly as it had come, but it was enough for her to get the energies of the two boys and she immediately knew who they were.  The mist then formed to show her an image which appeared to be an older version of the dark-haired little boy, about the age Nicolae was when Teresa had met him.  The young man was playing a guitar that didn’t look like anything from her time.  He was neatly dressed and his hair was done in a style that also wasn’t anything from the year 1875.  The young man had Nicolae’s build and some of his mannerisms reminded Teresa of her late husband (especially the way he furrows his brow when he concentrates as he plays).  The young man had a fate as did his light-haired brother.  Both of them were important to the fate of their bloodline in their own way.
As the image of her and Nicolae’s descendent evaporated, Teresa had a memory of a thought she had after she had met Nicolae.  That fate had brought them together and perhaps that was correct even if it wasn’t the reasoning Teresa had hoped for.  Teresa let out a cry at that realization as she clutched the dagger in its tattered sheath. 
Teresa then heard another voice in the back of her mind.  This is what I tried to protect you from, child.
“Gabriella?” Teresa asked.  She looked around, feeling a small ray of hope and comfort as she listened for any sign of her former guardian, but once again she was only met with the sounds of the waves churning in the ocean.  Teresa’s posture fell as hopelessness began to overtake her again.

~~~~~~~~

As the years would pass and Teresa’s mind would begin to cloud over until she knew nothing more than wandering through a thick forest for what would be an eternity.  Anytime there was hope of a clearing ahead there would only be more forest.  It would continue after she would leave the physical world at the age of sixty.  It was as though there were no place for her, that her soul was lost.  The dagger would also find itself in new hands across the world before it would end up with Linda in the year 1931.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chaper 25 (UNEDITED)

Here is Chapter 25.

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-Chapter 24 before proceeding to Chapter 25.

Otherwise, read from the word go :)




CHAPTER 25

Dorothy had hardly been able to even touch the snack that her mother had brought up for her.  She picked at the food, eating small bites after Tahatan went downstairs to talk to Liz.  Dorothy was alone again.  Her bedroom was quiet and the faint sounds of Tahatan and Liz’s voices downstairs could be heard.  Dorothy couldn’t hear what was being said, but she was able hear the strained tone in her mother’s voice.  Occasionally Tahatan would interject his calm, soothing voice but even his had a slight chill to it.
Dorothy considered going to the edge of the stairs and getting a better listen at what was being said but in the end decided she didn’t have to.  The tones in which they spoke said it all.
They think I’m crazy…everyone thinks I’m cracking up…my parents, Tahatan…probably even my friends…and Carl…
Dorothy stared at the telephone on her desk as her mind wandered back to the conversation she had had with her boyfriend earlier.  She remembered the irrational thoughts she had about Bernice.  Dorothy knew and understood perfectly well that Carl and Bernice were done and that Bernice was now going with Evan.  Neither Carl nor Bernice had ever shown any interest or desire to get back together.  Dorothy had seen the way Carl looked at her and it was different from the way he had looked at Bernice when they were going together.  The way he looked into Dorothy’s eyes was different.  The way his eyes were and the way his voice was when he told Dorothy that he loved her.
Had he ever told Bernice that he loved her?  They obviously had gone as far as heavy petting…but did they do something more?  Did they go all the way?  Bernice does have a reputation for things like that…ever since freshman year when she did it with a boy from the senior class…and even before freshman year…wasn’t she also going behind the school with boys and--
“Stop it!” Dorothy said aloud.  She brought her fingers to her temples, gently pressing in an attempt to make the negative thoughts disappear.  It didn’t matter what happened with Carl and Bernice.  That was in the past.
But aren’t you even the least bit curious?  a voice from her mind asked her.  A voice that caused chills to spread over Dorothy’s body.  A voice the sounded like what she imagined the serpent sounded like when he was tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“No,” Dorothy answered it, trying to also convince herself that it was so.  She then realized what she was doing.  Wonderful.  Now I’m actually answering voices in my head.
Dorothy turned back to face her doorway where the voices of her mother and Tahatan had quieted down.  She could hear her mother moving around in the kitchen, probably beginning to prepare dinner, and assumed that Tahatan had gone back into her father’s den to work on whatever it was he had been working on since early that morning.  Dorothy remembered the look in her mother’s eyes before she had exited the room and it had frightened Dorothy.  She had never seen her mother regard her with such fear.  Terror.  Not since you were seven, at least.
Now Dorothy sat thinking about what had occurred in her bedroom earlier and Tahatan was doing the same as he paused from the notes he was making in the den.  After Liz had exited the room following the incident with the hairbrush, Dorothy sat at her desk with her head in her hands, feeling terrible for dismissing her mother along with fear and confusion over everything.  As Dorothy tried to make sense of everything, she felt Tahatan touch her shoulder.
“Dorothy…” he said.
“What else is there to say?!” she exclaimed raising her back to look at Tahatan.  “I’m going crazy.  Pretty soon I’ll be just as much a raving lunatic as Maxine Fleming was…”  Dorothy’s voice trailed off as that last thought sunk in.  God, I hope that isn’t true…
Tahatan was silent.  He had wanted to offer Dorothy some words of hope, but at this time, even he wasn’t so sure.  He had read of what had happened to the old orphanage’s original owners and knew what he saw and felt up at the property that morning, with Father Louis as a witness.  Tahatan also remembered the incident Dorothy had when she was seven and he felt that it, along with what happened to Matthew when he was a boy, all tied together.  Then there were his new findings at the library, something that he wouldn’t reveal until after Dorothy had calmed down a little.
Dorothy stared at Tahatan and said, “So you do think that I am going insane?”
“I didn’t say that,” Tahatan said.
“Well you’re not denying it when I say it!”
“Dorothy, right now I don’t have all the answers and I want to watch what I say at this time, should my initial assumptions turn out to be wrong until I know more.  I made a couple new discoveries this morning and hopefully I will know even more tonight.”
“Well what do you think is happening?” Dorothy asked.  “Don’t worry, I can take it.”
Tahatan looked back at Dorothy and paused before saying, “I don’t think it’s simple, what is happening here which is why I don’t think you’re going crazy.  You and your friends saw and experienced things up there.  Father Louis and I both saw something this morning in the woods on that property.  If you were going crazy, it would have just been you.”
Dorothy sighed, feeling a little better.  “Father Louis was there this morning?” she asked.
“Yes,” Tahatan said.
“And you found out more this morning?” Dorothy said.
Tahatan nodded and said, “Yes.  But I will wait until later to tell you.  After you’ve eaten something and when your friends are here.  That would probably be best.”
Dorothy turned back to her desk and managed to force down half of her sandwich.  She thought about the two copies of Dr. Faustus and Faust that Tahatan had taken downstairs with him.  Dorothy remembered feeling a thrill over stealing the books from the property a couple of nights ago and now, both first edition books had lost a lot of their appeal for her.  Then, Dorothy remembered something else.  She got up and slowly walked over to her nightstand where her copy of American Ghost Stories sat.  She turned to the bookmarked page of Lawrence Livingston’s The Child with the Black Eyes.  Her eyes went to the passages that she had underlined with a pencil earlier.  She began to read it over again.

“The very idea of considering a person’s sleep as a time for comfort and escape is a silly fantasy at best.”

“To sleep and to dream is to open oneself to a brief chance with death.  Nighttime itself is its own separate realm and a time when a person is at his most vulnerable whether he may acknowledge this or not.”

“Is it not strange how a man wouldn’t think twice of walking that back road shortcut alone during the day would think it was madness to do so once night fell?”

“These creatures.  They know these things.  They are aware.”

The passages were almost like a puzzle.  Dorothy stood up from being seated on her bed and walked back over to her desk taking the book with her.  She sat back down in her desk chair and opened the book up to the passages.  She picked up her pencil and on a blank sheet of paper, began to make her own notes.

~~~~~~~

Dorothy had been so engrossed in The Child with the Black Eyes and her research that she barely noticed the hands on her clock hitting 3:30pm.  Not too far away, school was letting out for the day at Plains High and Carl was headed over.  Dorothy was wrenched from her thoughts when Liz yelled up the stairs announcing Carl’s arrival.
Is it that time already?  She glanced over at the clock.  Yes, I suppose it is…
“Thanks, mom,” Dorothy yelled back, taking extra care to keep her voice sounding cheerful.  She was still feeling badly over snapping at her mother and still embarrassed about hanging up on Carl.  Her heart pounded hard in her chest as she heard Carl’s footsteps ascending the stairs.  She quickly shoved her notes beneath her history textbook and opened the schoolbook to no page in particular and pretended to read and then felt silly for doing so.  Why do I feel the need to hide this from Carl?
Dorothy felt Carl’s presence in the doorway.  She slowly took her eyes from the textbook and saw him looking in at her from the doorway’s frame wearing that same concerned but timid expression he had on Halloween when her father, mother, and Dr. Ramsay were called after she had passed out.  There was something about that look that was vulnerable.  Endearing to her.
Dorothy felt heat traveling to her face.  She shifted her eyes down to the floor before she said, “Hi, Carl.”
“Hi baby,” he said.  They gazed rather uncomfortably at one another.  Dorothy could feel Carl’s desire to walk over, gently embrace her, and give her a kiss.  But instead, he stood in the doorway, unsure of whether he should move from that spot.  Finally, Carl asked, “How are you feeling.”
“Okay, I suppose,” Dorothy said looking back up.  She could see eyes travel hungrily to her torso that was hugged by her red sweater before he caught himself and move his eyes back up to level with hers.
“Carl, I—“ Dorothy began at the same time Carl said, “Baby—“
They both paused before Carl said, “I’m sorry.  You go first.”
“I…just wanted to apologize for snapping earlier.  I guess everything that happened has had more of an effect on me than I thought,” Dorothy said.
“It’s fine, honey,” Carl said.  “But I still want to know…did I say or do something wrong?”
Dorothy sat in silence as her head swam with thoughts.  The subject of Bernice was on the tips of both of their tongues as that was when Dorothy began behaving differently toward him.  But neither really knew what would be the best way to bring it up.  Carl placed a hand on the doorframe, leaning against it and Dorothy thought of how incredibly fetching he looked when he did that.
Well, someone has to say something, Carl thought.  Then he spoke up.  “I’m sorry about what George said when I was on the phone with you earlier.  I had a talk with him about it when we were outside having a smoke before study hall.  He wanted me to apologize to you for him, also.”
Dorothy looked over to the window and then back at Carl.  She had heard what George had said, but she had been so wrapped up in thoughts of Carl and Bernice that she hadn’t really paid much attention.  But she forced a small smile and said, “Well, that’s nice.  His apology is accepted.”
Carl nodded.  There was more awkward silence between them.  Carl began to speak again.  “Dorothy, I…” he began but stopped when he noticed Dorothy bringing a hand to her eyes as tears welled up.  Carl shook off the discomfort he felt and walked over to Dorothy, kneeling in front of her and carefully placing a hand on her knee.
“Honey, what is it?  What happened?” he asked.  He hated to think that he may be responsible for this as all he wanted to do was make her happy.
Dorothy shook her head and brought her hand back down.  Carl offered her his handkerchief which she slowly accepted.
“I don’t know,” she said.  “I really don’t…”  She remembered the incident with the hairbrush and how it now sat mockingly on her dresser.  And then how she had snapped at her mother.  How can I tell him that I think I’m cracking up?  Besides, he probably already knows that.
Dorothy then drew in a breath and said, “Carl…maybe I’m not the person you should be with right now.”
Carl blinked as surprise crossed his face.  “Dorothy, what are you talking about?  Why would you even say that?” he asked.
Dorothy looked at him and thought she could see his own hazel-green eyes beginning to cloud over.  It pained her to see him that way even more than the physical injuries she sustained.  But there was no way in the long run that Carl would be happy with her.  That she was sure of.
“Carl,” Dorothy said with her voice cracking, “I don’t want to end our relationship.”
“Then why are you?  Sweetheart, I know you’re going through a lot.  Please, let me be here for you,” he said.
You don’t know all of what’s going on and would probably want to run away if you did, Dorothy thought.
“Honey,” Carl said, “please don’t do this.  Look.  Don’t you remember?  We all experienced something up there.”
Dorothy could see desperation in Carl’s eyes.  But it’s not just Fleming Orphanage and what happened up there.  It’s what’s happening now.  What’s happening with me.  I’m not myself…not at all…
“Baby,” Carl begged, “please talk to me say anything.  Say you hate me.  Just say something.  Honey, you’re scaring me.”
Dorothy looked at Carl and said, “I don’t hate you, Carl.  I don’t even think hating you could ever be in me.”
A small amount of relief crossed Carl’s face and he a little too.  “Dorothy,” he said bringing his hand up to rub her arm, “please.  Let’s at least talk before making any sudden decisions about our relationship.”  Then, he took in a breath.  It may cause more conflict but it needs to be addressed.  And sooner rather than later.  “Is this about Bernice?” Carl asked.  He hoped the question hadn’t come across as too aggressive, but he also knew that they weren’t going to get anywhere unless it was brought up.
Dorothy looked at Carl and swallowed back the lump in her throat.  The last thing she wanted was for Carl to believe that she was some jealous lunatic.
“Honey, please answer me,” Carl said.  “Is this about Bernice?  Because if it is, you know she and I ended our relationship before the end of last school year.  She and Evan are going together now and to me they both seem happy with eachother.  And I’m happy with you.”
Dorothy looked hesitantly at Carl before asking, “Are you sure?”
“Yes!” Carl said, almost exasperated.  Then he dropped his voice down.  “You think I go around asking every girl I meet to marry me?”
“No,” Dorothy said in a small voice.  At least I hope not…Oh God, STOP IT!!  Dorothy looked at Carl, seeing the sincerity in his eyes.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she said.
“Well you had quite a scare,” Carl answered.  “Actually I think it’s safe to say that’s putting it mildly.  Am I right?”
All Dorothy could do was nod.  Then she asked, “Why did you and Bernice break things off?”  There had been the usually rumors among their peers at school about who had broken things off with whom, but Dorothy wanted to hear it from Carl’s mouth.  Perhaps it would make her feel a little closure.
“Well,” Carl began slowly.  Dorothy could hear the hesitance in his voice and it worried her.  “I just…wasn’t feeling very fulfilled in the relationship anymore,” Carl said.  “I mean, there has to be more to a relationship than...”
“Then what?”  Dorothy prodded after Carl cut himself off.  She could feel her heart pounding and she could see Carl beginning to flush.  She knew what he had meant to say and wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it.  But I have to.  Maybe in some odd way, that will help take away my paranoia…or make it worse…
“Dorothy…I…” Carl stammered.
Dorothy remembered Halloween night after the Fleming Orphanage.  She remembered lying on her bed with Carl and how he had looked at her.  She couldn’t help wondering if he had looked at Bernice that way at one time.  Of course he did, a voice told her.
But he doesn’t anymore, she thought and she remembered how Carl had touched her.  How intimate he had gotten with her.  The memory caused a rather aroused shudder to escape down her body.
“Are you alright?” Carl asked.
“Yes,” Dorothy said.  “I was just thinking about…”
“About what?”
“Well…Halloween.  After we got back from the Fleming Orphanage.  And after I had woken from being passed out.”
A small smile crossed Carl lips.  His beautiful lips. 
“I think about that often too,” Carl said.  “Very often.  I do love the way that sweater fits you, by the way.”
Dorothy felt as though her stomach were beginning to dance the Charleston.  She nervously tucked a strand of her dark, brown hair behind her ear, suddenly aware that Carl was looking at her without her hair done.
“We still haven’t had that date we were supposed to either,” Carl said moving in closer.
“I know,” Dorothy said.  They were silent for another moment before Dorothy asked, “How did Bernice take breaking up with you?”
“Well,” Carl said, “I think she and I were on the same page.  Besides, I had the feeling she was developing an interest in Evan.  Which was fine.  Bernice is a good kid, but I think she and Evan are much better for each other.”
Dorothy studied Carl’s eyes and was able to be satisfied that he was telling the truth.
“Carl, I’m sorry I doubted you.”
“Dorothy, it’s alright.  I’m just glad we’re talking about this.”
“I guess everything that’s happened has just really gotten to me.  I don’t even feel like myself most of the time anymore.”
“I’m sure that will pass,” Carl said.  “Once you get back to school and back into the real world.”
Dorothy looked appreciatively at Carl.  But there was another look in his eyes that reflected what she was feeling.  What really is the real world when one really stops to think about it?
“Did you love Bernice?” Dorothy heard herself blurt out.
Carl looked at her in surprise at the question and then shrugged.  “There may have been a time when I thought I did,” he answered.
“What about Juliette?”
“Dorothy,” Carl said, “we could sit here going through every girl I’ve gone with since Betty Ann Smith chased me around the playground in second grade.  It doesn’t change how I feel about you.  I poured my heart out to you and meant every word.”
“I know,” Dorothy said.  “I don’t mean to put you through an interrogation.  But you’re the first boy I’ve ever gone with and I can’t help feeling, well, worried.”
Carl didn’t have to ask what she meant by worried.  He knew and understood completely.  He moved in to put his arms around her waist.  “Dorothy, I know I have a history with girls and I hope that isn’t something you would hold against me.  I want you if you’ll have me.  But that also means understanding that my past is just that.  The past.”
“I know,” Dorothy said with a sigh.  “I’m being silly.  Maybe it’s side effect from the pain medication.”
Carl chuckled.  “No honey, it’s fine.  I mean, we’re in a relationship so we should be able to be open about things including what happened in the other’s past if one of us should ask.”
“Except I don’t have a past,” Dorothy said, feeling almost ashamed.
“I love you,” Carl said.
“I love you too,” Dorothy said.
They looked at each other for another moment before Carl asked, “May I kiss you?”
Dorothy looked to her open door, knowing that her mother and Tahatan were still downstairs.  Her father would also be coming home from work in another hour.  But she figured a kiss wouldn’t hurt anything.  Dorothy nodded and Carl leaned in and gave her lips a soft caress with his.  He moved a hand up her back and felt the line of her camisole under the sweater.
“Well isn’t it about to get hot in here or what?” a familiar voice said.
Dorothy and Carl parted and looked to see Linda and Gail standing in the doorway with their schoolbags grinning at them (it had been Gail’s voice that was heard).
“I was going to apologize for our being late,” Gail continued.  “Linda had to stop at her house to get something.  But it seems you two were hardly missing our presence.”
“Hello, Gail.  Linda,” Carl said.
“Hi girls,” Dorothy said.
“Jimmy and Reginald will be here soon,” Linda said as she and Gail let themselves into Dorothy’s bedroom.  They began to unpack their schoolbags, bringing out the schoolwork they had brought for Dorothy.  As Linda got out a biology assignment to give to Dorothy, her hand brushed the sheath of the dagger she had stopped by her house to get on the way over to the Blake residence.