Part 3 – Evil
I stepped back, brushing against one of the corpses, and made the sign to ward off evil. Somewhere, someone started to laugh. It was a dry laugh, the kind adults do when a child has done something silly or said something they were too young to understand the true meaning of. I looked around me, but all I saw was the motionless corpses. Again I made the sign.
The laughter was louder this time. Closer. I swung around and kicked the teddy bear by accident. It skidded over the floor. I don’t know why I lunged after it, but the laughter increased in volume as I picked it up and ran blindly, holding the teddy close as I staggered-jumped from the wreckage. As I landed outside, pain shot through my leg and I fell in the dust. I realised that the wound had only now started bleeding.
I clamped a hand over my bleeding knee for a moment as tears of pain mingled with fear burned my eyes and throat. In the doorway I saw the figure of the slack-jawed woman again. She stood without stirring, the crown of faded baby’s breath in her hands.
Was it she whom had laughed at me? Mocked me?
As I made the sign to ward off evil, she spoke.
“We will wait for you to come again. Only on the ninth night you visit us will we be free.”
I felt bile rise in my throat as her voice pounded in my head. Then she made the sign to ward of evil and faded from my sight. The tiny flowers fell down on me like grey snowflakes. I brushed them from my clothes as if they were spiders or scorpions and struggled to my feet.
The pain that shot through my injured leg made me cry out again, but this time I was able to muffle the cry behind my fist. I wobbled home as fast as I could, dragging my leg behind me the last part of the way. I cried freely then – from pain, from fright, from the sight of the slack-jawed woman and the falling flowers.
I stopped short when I saw there was a light burning inside our home. The door was opened by my mother before I had even reached it.
Instead of berating me as I thought she would, she gathered me into her arms and I knew she had been crying.
“Let me look at you,” she said after a few moments. “Come, come in where it’s safe.”
I saw that she made the sign against evil before she closed the door and checked the sigils carved into the wood before turning back to me and seeing the gash on my leg.
“We’d better clean that,” she said. But, as she spoke, her voice seemed to fade and I could hear the laughter of the slack-jawed woman again.
All went dark, and I knew nothing further.