Chapter One: Sleepless Night
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Drip. Drip. Drip.

Rain tapped on the roof and ran down the window like tired fingers feeling for a way inside. Branches scraped at the walls, as if they too wanted to break into the room and seek shelter from the autumn breeze.

The girl shuffled in her bed, turning away from the watery drops gathering on the glass and glowing like eyes in the lantern light. She pulled the blanket closer to her face, covering her body up to her nose in a battle against the chill seeping in through the walls. But another, much colder shiver came from inside her—an all too familiar tingling sensation welling up in her shoulder blades.

He's here, isn't he? I know it! I can feel him!

She clutched her shoulders until her nails dug in. The icy throb spread down her arms. It reached her chest, spreading deeper inside her veins with each pound of her heart.

Somewhere close!

The girl curled into herself, her knees held to her heart. Her muscles tensed until her lungs refused to let in air. There was little she could do to escape this particular anguish.

Why won't he leave me alone?

She fixed her eyes on the flickering flame of the lantern—the only pinpoint of light in the otherwise black room. She could understand what he was saying, even if she couldn’t hear his words.

"Come. Won’t you join me...'Cana'?"

No! No! No! Please, leave me alone!

The throb in her shoulders spiked—a gust blowing her apart from the inside. She twisted herself together tighter, as if she could hold the sensation in place, stop it from flowing, boiling, erupting. It wasn’t quite was more was like a pressure trying to burst out from beneath her skin. Some sickening, stabbing urge that was nearly more mental than physical.

"You're afraid, aren't you?"

No…I… I'm not afraid. Not anymore. But I've told you so many timesI want nothing to do with you!

“Do not think you can lie to me. I understand how your mind works better than even you do. I know the fear that you use as armor against yourself. Against the feelings you’ve buried. There is no reason to be afraid of what lies within. No reason to fear your own heart.”

You're wrong, you don't know me! Stop it, please, just stop it! Let me sleep!

“Oh please, let us not fool ourselves. Your struggle should have ended so long ago. Let tonight be when this stops!”



I can’t

Fear exploded through her, shaking her brain and her bones.


She reached for the lantern. Not thinking. Not caring about anything but stopping it all—the throbbing, the fear, the voice in her head. She thrust her hand into the flames and held it there. She screamed as she let it burn, let the pain distract her from the different sort of burn inside her. Her body wanted to draw back, but she was still its master—I’m still in control—and she didn’t let it. She felt the fire.

Then she was alone.

The connection between her and the voice severed, silenced.

The throbbing in her shoulders faded more slowly. The haze in her head receded with it, leaving her with only the pain in her burnt hand. She shook, panting for breath as the night settled back into stagnation, and seemed to take much of its darkness with it.


Next: Chapter Two: Apocryphal (1)

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Zac Wilson      4/09/19 2:44 PM

I hope I never have to shove my hand in a lantern to escape something like that! 😬

Rowan Rook      4/09/19 7:25 PM

I hope I don't, either 😖 Thanks for checking out the story!

Rebecca Holland      4/08/19 8:50 AM

Wow. That was intense! 😮 now I have to read the next chapter and see what happens!

Rowan Rook      4/08/19 9:17 AM

Glad you liked it! Thanks for checking out the story.

A. S. Deller      4/04/19 2:31 PM

Chilling, and seems to set up so much more to come.

Rowan Rook      4/05/19 8:47 AM

Thanks for checking out the first chapter! Glad you liked it and I hope you enjoy what unfolds.