Inevitable Betrayal: Part Two
Its power was growing. The spirit could feel it. Slowly, but surely, it climbed to its distant peak, one in which it would finally be strong enough to exist outside the shell. How glorious that day would be! Already the spirit was imagining what mayhem it would create as it lay nestled against the slumbering Aisha’s chest, tucked inside the small charm in a necklace that had been lost in the depths of the Haunted Woods for too long.
The spirit had already committed a few, minor atrocities, turning friends against friends and such trivial things as that, but that was child’s play, and the spirit yearned for more. However, it could only do so much when restricted to the confines of the necklace while it was tied to the Aisha’s body.
The Aisha was beginning to rely on it, though. The spirit could feel that dependency growing. The spirit had definitely chosen the right soul to feed from, as Losely Bones was a horribly devastated soul of a Zombie Aisha, one that did not contain the strength to fight back. The determination and strength that might have lingered in the Aisha during life had long since passed, and she was a relatively easy minion to control. It was far too simply to slip inside her mind and become master of the body.
Soon, the spirit would have complete control, and the ability to create the masterpiece of all mayhem would be at the spirit’s translucent hands.
Though the Aisha, deep in sleep, did not feel it, the amulet warmed suddenly, the two blue, jeweled eyes inside the skull sparkling brightly in the darkness of the cottage, illuminating the shadows of Losely’s depressing room.
“You’re mine, darling Aisha,” a haunting voice whispered. Despite the volume, the voice seemed to fill the room. “You’re mine.”
Gasping, Losely sat straight up in bed, jarred prematurely from sleep. Clutching the ragged quilt strewn across her bed to her chest, the Zombie Aisha shivered in the darkness, panting as she glanced around, studying each individual shadow as if she expected a monster to step forth from it. Sweat trickled down her spine, and, for a moment, she had the most horrible sensation that she was not alone.
“Dreaming,” Losely said aloud to herself. “You were just dreaming.”
Her voice was too loud in the still and quiet room, and she could detect the disbelief in the tone of it with her own ears. Still, what other explanation was there? Her thoughts drifted toward the unexplainable blackouts she’d been having, and she shuddered.
Frightened, Losely shifted so that her gaze could travel to the nightstand beside her bed. It leaned to the right haphazardly, one leg having broken and been replaced by a dusty old book that Losely could no longer remember the name of. Outside, the wind howled with the haunting melody accustomed to the Haunted Woods, and Losely burrowed herself back underneath her quilt, lying on her side so that she could study the picture frame on her nightstand.
Behind the dusty, cracked glass, her parents smiled back at her. Two Aishas. One pink, which would have been her mother, Daphne, and one purple, which would have been her father, Brom. However, the picture was colorless, and the images of her parents were black-and-white, but Losely could remember them with more clarity than she remembered anything else.
Alone in her cottage, she wished for them, afraid of the foreboding feeling that seemed to be hovering like a cloud around her, waiting to release a powerful storm.
“Nightmares?” Damis questioned, his voice skeptical.
Losely looked down at her paws, folded together on top of her scarred, wooden kitchen table. It’d been two weeks since her last blackout, but she’d been plagued with horrible nightmares to fill in the gaps. Even after her parents had passed, she couldn’t recall having such vivid and terrifying nightmares. The images that had rolled through her slumbering mind had been so clear and real that, when Losely had woken up, it’d taken her several minutes to realize where she was. Several times she’d woken on the floor or near the door. Once, her nightgown had been caked with mud around the ankles, as if she’d taken a stroll through the swamp near her cottage.
She hadn’t remembered getting up, but it had still been unlike the blackouts in every way but that, because, instead of remembering nothing, she was plagued by the images of her dreams that clung to her mind even when she was awake. Horrible, horrible images of fighting and chaos and betrayal. They were so terrifying she often woke drenched in sweat and gasping for air.
They were almost as terrifying as the blackouts. What was wrong with her?
“Yes,” Losely answered. “Every night for the past two weeks.”
Damis didn’t seem at all perturbed by the concept of these nightmares, and he shrugged them off with the same lack of interest.
“Everyone has nightmares, Losely.”
Not like these, she wanted to say, but she kept her mouth closed rather than speaking and convincing her friend that she was becoming as crazy as she felt. She stared across the table at Damis, the Kougra who made her home look even more painfully dwarfed. His large wings nearly reached from one wall to the other in the narrow, cramped expanse of the room they were in. It was a small, adjoining square of a space that was connected to her sad excuse of a living room, and it was stuffed with the bare necessities one needed to live. Including the table that had been her parents and had long since lost its luster.
Losely watched her friend lift the tea cup she had supplied him with to his lips. It was porcelain, but the twirling painted designs around it had grown dull and ugly. A large chip was missing from the mouth of the cup, and Losely had warned Damis several times in the past to be careful of cutting himself.
In short, her home and all the materials within it were as broken and incomplete as she was.
“I guess you’re right,” she mumbled.
She lifted her paws to circle them around her own tea cup, searching for warmth rather than a drink, but the liquid inside had already gone cold. Dejected, she dropped her paws again.
How could she explain to her friend that these weren’t normal nightmares? That they made her get up and walk around without her consent? That they were so fresh and vivid that she felt like she’d been inside them?
And, worst of all and something she hardly wanted to admit to herself, they left her with a lingering feeling of evil. As if every time that they visited her, they darkened her soul several, painful degrees, as if she was the cause for the disaster created in her nightmares.
“Ew,” Damis complained. “What are these?”
Losely glanced up to see that the Kougra had moved on to the plate of cookies she’d made them both.
“They’re spider cookies,” Losely explained, somewhat brightened.
She enjoyed baking, had enjoyed it when she’d been alive, and still enjoyed it when she was given the chance to indulge in it. The cookies she had made were chocolate, and, with an enormous amount of care, had been sculpted to look like little black spyders with red jelly bean eyes. Granted, they weren’t exactly pretty, dainty cookies, but Losely liked them.
“They look gross,” Damis commented.
He lifted the cookie by one of its legs and twirled it around in front of his face slowly, examining it as if he thought she’d baked a real spyder and smeared it with cookie dough.
Losely frowned. “It’s edible.”
Damis shrugged and decided to take one for the team, chomping his large white teeth around three of the legs and chewing thoughtfully. After several moments of chewing, he swallowed and seemed satisfied.
“Looks gross, but it’s good,” Damis amended his earlier statement.
For some reason, Losely felt as if her friend had just given a brief description of her. Her mood darkened several degrees.
“Thanks,” she grumbled.
He’d stuffed the rest of the cookie into his mouth when he seemed to finally catch on to Losely’s sullen mood. He glanced across the table toward her and lifted a brow.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she snapped hotly, glaring at the wall to her left.
What did he think was wrong with her? The little brat had just belittled the cookies she’d pain-stakingly baked for him! Did he have any idea what kind of care she had taken with sculpting its legs and tiny, round body? Did he know how she had doted over those cookies when she’d taken them fresh from the oven, how she’d imagined he’d enjoy them? Of course not, the fool! Brainless little twit! Oh, he’d deserve it if she just--.
Abruptly, Losely shook her head, staring around horrified as she forced her mind out of its current train of thought, as if she expected to see someone standing in the corner, thinking those thoughts for her. What horrible, dark thoughts! Had she actually just been thinking that? Had she actually just imagined dumping the boiling hot remains of the tea heating on the stove on her friend?
Distraught, Losely had to ascertain that she was still on her chair and hadn’t moved.
“Seriously, Losely, are you all right?” Damis pressed, his tone suddenly concerned.
Losely stared at him, her panic most likely evidently etched across her face, and realized that her heart was thumping far too quickly inside her chest. Was she going mad?
“I-I’m fine,” Losely replied. “Just... I’m just tired. I think I need to lie down. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m sorry.”
Damis appeared suspicious, but she also saw his expression warring with concern. She hoped he believed her lie and left her alone. Would she actually hurt Damis? She didn’t know. She couldn’t control herself during the blackouts or nightmares.
To give her friend the hint, Losely stood and gathered their dishes to take to the sink. However, when she came to the plate of cookies, she pushed the platter toward her friend.
“Take those with you, please, and enjoy them.”
Damis frowned but pushed his chair back to get to his feet. He lifted the plate into his clawed, black paws, and watched Losely turn quickly away and take her dishes to the sink. He wondered idly if this sudden change in attitude was because he’d somehow, inadvertently offended her about the cookies. He’d never seen his friend act this way.
“All right, I guess I’ll be going then,” he said finally, when Losely kept her back to him. “Get some sleep, okay? I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Losely nodded but didn’t reply. The last thing she wanted to do was sleep. She waited, listening to Damis’s paws pad softly away, and didn’t turn around again until she heard the front door open and close. Only then did she release a shaky breath. She lifted a paw to her chest, pushing her skull necklace over so that she could rub the place above her heart, as if to persuade it to resume its normal pace.
It didn’t work. Of course it wouldn’t work. Defeated, Losely allowed her knees to buckle and she slid to the scuffed, wooden floor of her kitchen. Like she had as a child, she curled her knees up to her chest, looping her arms around them, and then buried her face between her legs and chest. For a moment, she fought it valiantly, but, in the end, the tears won. Within seconds she was sobbing loudly, confused and afraid.
Something was wrong with her. Something horrible.
Damis was out of hearing range before his friend began to cry, but he still hadn’t made it that far from her worn down cottage when he was confronted by two, burly Werelupes. He jolted and stumbled back when they suddenly materialized out of a nearby wild growth of foliage.
For a split second, he feared that they would eat him. However, when they made no threatening move in his direction, Damis was able to recall that they were supposed to be friendly beasts now. Apparently they’d lost all traces of their original savage nature after the rule of a Lupe named Javiod who’d apparently tamed them. There was some long, intricate sob story that went along with the Lupe, but Damis wasn’t concerned with it. All he currently cared about was why, if the Werelupes were supposed to be peaceful now, they’d come hulking out of the bushes with scowls on their faces, and why they’d formed a rather thick and powerful wall before him.
“Um.. can I help you?” Damis questioned. He was mildly embarrassed that his voice came forth as a pitiful squeak.
It wasn’t his fault. Anyone would be intimidated in the presence of a Werelupe.
“It’s your turn, Tor,” the Werelupe with a midnight black coat informed his friend.
His friend, a Werelupe boasting a coat of dark brown with a cream-colored patch on his chest, scowled at his friend.
“I did the last one,” Tor complained irritably. “You know it’s your turn, Nostrom.”
Nostrom, the Werelupe with a black coat, grinned ruthlessly, baring his teeth.
“You want to fight for it?” Nostrom challenged.
Tor winced, and Damis didn’t blame him. Nostrom, who appeared to puffing out his broad chest proudly, was considerably larger than Tor. He was several inches taller and appeared to be carved from solid rock. Challenging him would be a fool’s mistake.
“Fine,” Tor grumbled, and Nostrom barked out a laugh.
Damis flinched when Tor took a resigned step in his direction. He considered fleeing, but he knew that wouldn’t be a wise choice. Werelupes were fast despite their bulky size. Still, he did manage not to tremble in fear and retained some of his dignity when Tor clamped his hands on his shoulders and hoisted him off the ground like he weighed little more than a petpet. Abruptly, Damis found himself face to face with the Werelupe, and he was confused when the Tor did nothing more than study his eyes.
“Well?” Nostrom prodded.
Tor scowled and dropped Damis, allowing him to fall to his bottom without grace, toppling sideways into a pile of dried, dead leaves. The Werelupe turned back to his massive friend and shrugged, ignoring Damis’s indignant yelp.
“Looks normal to me.” Tor shrugged again.
Nostrom released an irritated growl. “Are you sure? Sepheren said their eyes would be glassy. Like they were asleep.”
Tor spared Damis a glance as the Kougra angrily regained his feet to glare up at them.
“Looks awake to me,” Tor replied.
“What are you two buffoons talking about?” Damis demanded angrily, before he could stop himself.
He immediately wished that he’d been smart enough to cap his anger and hold his tongue, but Nostrom did little more than glance down with a bemused expression on his face.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head over it, house pet,” Nostrom insulted him, grinning widely.
Stepping around Damis like he was but a pebble on their path, Nostrom gave the Kougra a parting, taunting pat on the head before he and Tor disappeared into the brush on the other side of the path.
“On to the next one,” Damis heard Tor speak to his friend.
Seething, Damis dusted himself off and decided wondering about this encounter was a waste of his time. They were most likely indulging in some worthless game they had concocted in order to entertain themselves. Werelupes might not have been savage anymore, but they were still fools.
To be continued...