Inevitable Betrayal: Part Three
The vision was sharper this time, even more clear than the last. The scene was Terror Mountain, and the viewer could almost feel the biting cold trying to seep into his fur, almost hear the wind howling. These sensations of experiencing the vision as if the viewer was there were weak and choppy, and they came and went without warning, but they were still unfortunate. Despite his hopes, the viewer knew that this was evidence that the spirit’s power was growing. Soon it would be able to exist on its own, outside of its shell.
Though a gnawing unease had set into his spine, the viewer allowed the vision to continue, allowed himself to be guided by the spirit’s intentions.
The viewer didn’t have to wait long to be unfortunately rewarded. Within a few moments of watching the filmy, transparent spirit glide around until it found a body it deemed worthy of possessing, madness had already been created. The unsuspecting Bori whose body was controlled created an avalanche, causing two neohomes to be completely blanketed in a torrent of snow, trapping their inhabitants inside.
In an emotionless tone, the Bori confessed his deed to the nearest bystander, and the spirit’s deed was done.
Sepheren opened his weary, unseeing eyes and heaved a great sigh, his thoughts troubled with the punishment the unfortunate Bori would most likely endure for unknowingly committing the crime. However, he was forced to shove it aside. The Bori would not be the only victim of the spirit if they didn’t act fast.
“We must find the carrier,” Sepheren said. His voice was low, gruff, and urgent, and it sent a chill down the spines of the nearby Werelupes, Zharick included.
Zharick peered down at the prophet’s drawings in the dirt before him, and, just as always, could not make sense of any of it. The more time that passed, the more desperate and helpless he was beginning to feel. He hated being defenseless.
“We’re trying,” Zharick said, quietly. “I have Lupes searching the Woods.”
Sepheren shook his grey head. “Not fast enough.”
Zharick clenched his jaw and turned away from the elder as he began dragging his paws over his own drawings in the dirt. He couldn’t stand having those blind white eyes staring at him. In many ways, they saw too much.
“I’m trying,” Zharick growled, as if he was talking to himself.
Zharick turned when several Lupes gasped. His gaze fell to the dirt in front of Sepheren, and his stomach clenched. The old prophet had drawn a frightening image of a skull in striking detail considering his canvas was the ground. The skull’s eyeless sockets seemed to be fixed on him. Zharick felt his fur bristle.
“Soon the spirit will exist outside the mind,” Sepheren cooed softly. “Soon the spirit will control the body.”
Losely woke with a start, finding herself curled up and shivering uncontrollably on her kitchen floor. She was still fully dressed, and her last memory was of venturing to the kitchen for a snack, and then nothing. There was a big, black void where time had been lost that she couldn’t account for.
Why was she so cold? Rolling onto her back, Losely rubbed her arms, and was shocked and frightened to find that they weren’t cold to the touch. They were their normal temperature, their natural temperature, and yet, she couldn’t stop shivering. As if some sort of unnatural cold had burrowed into her soul. Even her teeth were chattering.
Her gaze went to the kettle sitting on her stove. Tea. She’d make some tea. Nice, hot tea to warm her. Shaking from head to toe, Losely forced herself to her unsteady feet and went to the one cabinet in which she stashed all of her limited goods. The cabinet hung from the wall in a crooked manner, its door apparently hanging from only one hinge. Desperate, Losely opened it and searched for tea bags. They’d been stuffed to the back, and she was forced to push things out of the way in order to reach them. Her arm bumped a bag of flour accidentally, and it spilled over, raining a pile of white powder from the cabinet to her floor.
She froze as her eyes watched the falling flakes, and then she choked on a cry of alarm as she stumbled backward suddenly. Her hip rammed into the corner of her table, but she hardly felt the pain. She grappled for a hold on one of the unstable chairs beside it to keep herself from falling to the ground as her knees felt suddenly unable to hold her any longer.
She was there again, in the nightmare she’d somehow forgotten she’d had during her blackout. She didn’t see the flour falling to the floor, but instead her sight was blinded by the image of a torrent of snow raining from the sky, whistling through the air as the wind howled on the top of Terror Mountain.
It was so cold. So cold. But it wasn’t just the weather, it was the presence too. The presence of evil. Losely shivered, her body convulsing in spasms. She saw the glimpse of a Bori’s face, heard the surprised cries from the family that was trapped by the avalanche, and saw the glassy, empty expression in the Bori’s eyes before she was suddenly back in her own kitchen.
Losely missed the chair and fell to the floor again. The tears came without her consent, and she allowed herself to remain on the floor this time, unwilling to stand again. What was happening to her? Was she going crazy?
“You’re mine,” a voice purred.
Losely’s blood ran cold at the sound of the unknown voice. Sniveling, she pushed herself to her elbows, shaking her lifeless blonde hair back so that she could peer around her darkened home.
“Who’s there?” she demanded. Her voice was broken with tears.
“You’re mine,” the voice repeated.
Losely’s eyes widened in fear. The voice sounded as it was right there beside her. So close. So close it almost felt as if it were inside her own ears, like the voice was breathing down her neck. Panicked, Losely felt she’d heard this voice before.
“Tell me who you are,” Losely pleaded, sniffling.
“Control over the mind. Control over the body. Soon you will be mine,” the voice spoke again in sing-song tone. “Soon you will be mine.”
Fear iced Losely’s veins as she stared around her at the empty room. There was no one inside her home with her. At least, no one she could see. She was hearing voices. She was crazy. Losely tried to push to her feet, but the patched dress she’d been wearing before her blackout tangled her feet, and she was rendered helpless.
“I don’t understand!” Losely sobbed.
“You will,” the voice answered. “You will.”
Damis allowed Losely her space for several days before he visited her again. There had been something disconcerting about the expression on his friend’s face the last time he’d visited her, but he’d tried his best to convince himself that it was a product of her lack of sleep. He’d kept his distance to allow her time to rest. After three days passed and she didn’t try to contact him, he’d become restless. After five days, it’d become time for him to check on her again.
He lifted his paw and knocked heavily on her front door.
While he waited for her to answer, Damis idly considered helping Losely plant a garden. She needed something to brighten up her home that sat disheveled and in dismay. Maybe some roses would cheer her up. It always did the trick with his sister. He’d have to run the idea by her.
Pleased with himself, Damis smiled as the door finally swung open. However, it faded instantly, replaced with shock at who he beheld on the other side of the threshold.
“Losely?” he choked.
The addressed Aisha fidgeted nervously under her friend’s dumbfounded stare, and she felt as if her patchy, grey-hued skin was trying to muster a blush.
“Yes?” she asked feebly.
Damis lifted a bewildered claw and gestured toward her head. “Your hair. It’s grown!”
Feeling awkward and unsure, Losely lifted her paws to her hair. Damis’s claim was an understatement. Over the past several days, Losely’s hair had grown in again, golden and full, looking as it had when she’d been alive rather than undead. It no longer hung in wispy, dead clumps. All the bald patches had grown in.
“I know,” Losely mumbled.
While her friend seemed overjoyed by this fact, Losely couldn’t muster up any sort of excitement. Her hair shouldn’t have grown back in. The fact that it had was frightening. Though she’d pined for her golden, full locks for a long time after her semi-passing, it was not what she wanted now. Not when she was plagued by blackouts and nightmares and disembodied voices. Not when she thought she was going crazy. It felt like an evil omen. It was impossible for hair to grow in overnight.
The day she’d woken to find her new hair, she’d thought herself insane, feeling that something must have pushed her over that last ledge. She’d convinced herself it’d been a hallucination, and she’d torn at it with her paws. Even when it’d ripped out in clumps sending a ferocious, burning pain through her scalp, Losely had denied its existence. Especially when those clumps had immediately grown back in.
Sitting in front of her broken vanity mirror sobbing in disbelief, Losely had sworn she’d heard the voice again, the haunting, ghostly voice that whispered, “Almost... Almost...”
Damis cleared his throat, stifling his surprise and delight immediately as he caught the look of despair on Losely’s face. He didn’t know what had put it there, but he had a feeling that her hair was not a topic she wanted to discuss. No matter how miraculous it was.
“I just came by to check on you,” he told her quickly. “You seemed upset last time. It seems a lot of Neopians in the Woods are upset these days. I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”
Losely tried to feign interest. “Why is everyone upset?”
Damis shrugged. “I don’t know. Something about the Werelupes. They’ve been unsettling everyone lately.”
“Oh,” Losely murmured.
She didn’t care about the Werelupes. She had a far more pressing and upsetting problem than they could probably ever imagine. She was losing her touch with reality.
“So,” Damis tried again, “can I come in?”
Losely shook her head immediately, her gaze guarded. She kept her body wedged between her door and the frame, barring Damis from entering.
“It’s just not a good time, Damis. I’m sorry. I’ll come and see you later, okay?”
She didn’t want to deal with civil conversation right now. She didn’t want to have to pretend to be normal when she knew that she was losing her mind. She didn’t want her friend to see past her fragile, carefully carved mask.
Damis looked dejected, and it sent a slice of guilt through her. “Oh. Okay.”
Swallowing the tears that seemed to be constantly present lately, Losely offered him an apologetic, false smile.
“See you later.” She closed the door in his face.
She pressed her forehead against the door, breathing out uneasily. Poor Damis. She was hurting his feelings again. But he couldn’t understand, and she couldn’t explain to him, so it was better that she kept him away. Especially now that the blackouts had become much more frequent. She was beginning to have several of them in one day. She didn’t know what her body did during those blackouts, but it was never where she remembered leaving it, and she didn’t want to chance hurting Damis in any way.
She couldn’t be near him until this stopped. If it ever did.
Turning away from the door, Losely moved to go to her kitchen. She needed something to do to keep her busy, something to keep her from thinking. She’d only made it three steps before her world suddenly tilted. She gasped a little, swaying sideways.
“No,” she breathed, half pleading.
She felt it coming on, though she knew all she’d remember when she woke up would be that she’d been on her way to the kitchen. It was tricky like that. It was sly.
“No,” Losely bulked again as the black began to close in.
“Yes,” the voice whispered, stronger.
Abruptly, Losely’s knees buckled, and she fell to the floor, the blackness crashing down on top of her and dragging her under.
For a moment, her body was still, only jarred slightly by the faint movement of her breathing. Her right arm was tucked awkwardly beneath her in the manner in which she’d fallen on top of it, and her new, golden hair was fanned out around her head. She appeared to be sleeping.
The serenity of her motionless body did not last long, however. Her body jerked suddenly on the floor.
Once, twice, three times.
And then, a dainty little gasp from the lips of the body. As if this miniscule sound was its influence, the right arm suddenly snaked out from underneath Losely’s body, grasping wildly in the air for a moment before the paw hit the floor, and her tiny nails clawed at the wood, dragging the body up.
Now the body gasped again, as if it had been held underwater for an unmerciful period of time, gulping in air greedily. Slowly, the body propped itself onto its elbows, the blonde hair tumbling back away from the face as it lifted the head. A soft, broken groan, and then the eyes slid open.
Eyes that were no longer Losely Bones’.
The spirit blinked, exercising its temporary control over Losely’s body, and glanced around. On shaky, uncertain paws, it gently pushed itself to its feet, stretching gingerly.
“Oh... Brilliant...” the body whispered, and it was the spirit’s musical voice now rather than Losely’s.
Freedom. It was the first word to the spirit’s borrowed mind. Freedom from the shell, freedom from the necklace, freedom from Losely Bones. For this first, spectacular moment, the spirit was in absolute control.
Riding on this heady surge of power, the spirit lifted its paw, examining the green-hued flesh of its body, and noting that there was still room to improve. There was still time for that as well. Once the spirit had full power, the body could be altered completely.
As if it walked on its tiptoes, the spirit gracefully moved its stolen body to the vanity, dropping itself onto the bench seat, and using the mirror to get a better idea of its new canvas. The hair had grown in, as the spirit knew since it had been the direct influence of the sudden bounty of hair. The eyes were next, the spirit decided, as the dull, lifeless blue eyes peered back at it from the mirror. Then the skin.
Then world domination. The body suddenly broke out into a wicked, mischievous smile. Beauty and world domination: the only two things that mattered in the world. So it was a little vain to be concerned about her looks when there were greater things at hand, but could she really be expected to conquer Neopia in a body that looked as if she’d dug it fresh from the grave?
Of course not.
With that matter finished, the spirit moved on to the next matter at hand. While the spirit was still a slave to Losely’s body, its power was significantly weaker, and its deeds could not be experienced first hand. As soon as it could conquer Losely’s will and have complete control, then the real chaos would begin. Who would it target first? Perhaps Damis. That would teach Losely for resisting so long.
The spirit jolted, nearly toppling off the bench, as the all too familiar voice of Losely shrieked in its head. Automatically, the spirit pressed its paws roughly to its ears, though it couldn’t block out the sound that was coming from inside.
“Be quiet!” the spirit hissed aloud. “Be still!”
The spirit clasped its paw around the corner of the vanity table, digging its claws in and gritting its teeth as it felt an impossibly strong tug on its insides. As if Losely was fighting to resurface. Growling, the spirit pushed her back, attempted to silence her, and the body convulsed once, hard, before the spirit won over and remained in control.
When Losely’s soul faded into the background, the spirit blew out a breath, gasping slightly. Never had it met with such strong resistance from the Aisha. Perhaps there were deeper emotional ties than the spirit had first suspected. Whatever the case, Losely wouldn’t be able to stop the spirit soon. Not when it took complete control.
The spirit lifted its face to the mirror again, forcing Losely’s face to relax from its ugly, anxious expression to something much more tolerable.
No, not Losely’s face. The spirit’s face.
“Ellestra,” the spirit spoke its name out loud, testing the soul. “I’m Ellestra. This is my body.”
“No!” Losely’s voice came through again, though not as forceful. “My body. Losely.”
“Not for long,” Ellestra replied, her face cold yet smug.
The strength of Losely’s response surprised her again. Ellestra felt her control slipping dangerously as the shared body convulsed again.
“You can’t have it!” Losely yelled.
Ellestra gasped as her arm suddenly twitched, jerking without her permission. She felt Losely shoving her way back in, felt her tearing the reigns of control from her hands, and she hissed angrily as Losely began to win. The body slid sideways off of the bench, racked with tremors that shook its entire frame.
“It’s mine!” Ellestra yelled.
“No! No, it's not!” Losely shrieked back.
Both cries of protest were uttered from the same lips, a haunting sound, and, for an instant, it seemed as if two different Neopians were staring out of the same pair of eyes. Both their voices mingled in a scream as the body arched on the floor, claws digging into the floorboards again, and then it dropped and lay still.
“No!” Losely gasped, sitting straight up on the floor.
She glanced around wildly, her heart thundering in her chest, and she lifted her paws to find that her cheeks her laden with tears that continued to stream from her eyes.
“W-What?” Losely sobbed, confused.
She was on the floor again, and she couldn’t remember why. She couldn’t regulate her breathing, couldn’t stop crying, and couldn’t recall why she felt as if she’d just fought the most important battle of her life. She was exhausted and confused and... horribly frightened. What was happening to her? The only thing she could remember was that she’d been on her way to the kitchen.
For what? She didn’t remember.
Though her knees wobbled and threatened to buckle underneath her, Losely shoved to her feet, feeling far too vulnerable curled on the floor. She’d go to the kitchen. Maybe she’d remember what she’d been doing. Maybe she’d fainted. Maybe...
It was no use. She knew that it’d been another blackout, no matter how she tried to deny it. But she had to deny it. She couldn’t accept it, not when this one had been so much more profound than the others, not when this one left her with a feeling that she was losing when she’d woke on the floor. Losing what? Something terribly important.
Losely froze halfway to the kitchen when she caught her reflection in her vanity mirror. Her heart seemed to stop for a full minute before it began to haphazardly thump again. Panicked, Losely stumbled to the vanity, clasped both paws on her mirror, and tilted it roughly upward toward her face.
“No...” she whispered.
Vibrant, clear blue eyes stared back at her. The blue eyes of her past. The blue eyes of her mortal life. Her throat threatened to close as she found that it was more than just that that had changed. Her splotchy, green-hued skin boasted patches of pink, as if her old, pink fur was trying to resurface.
Impossible. Losely sank blindly to her knees. Impossible.
Something horrible was happening. Something was bringing her back to life.
To be continued...