By: Stephanie J. Bardy
Chris was safely tucked into his bed; a strong sleeping pill and a few shots were needed to convince him that the carnage he had witnessed was just a nightmare. Not being able to cloud his mind or bend his will was starting to frustrate Reese. She was thinking that maybe it was time to move on. Find another guide. She sighed heavily and put the kettle on the stove for tea.
Marlon stood in the door of the kitchen wiping his hands on a bloody rag. He watched her move about the room. Graceful, effortlessly. They had worked tirelessly and because of her ever-building abilities, faster than a normal human, and had returned the kitchen to the way it was before she had bathed it in the blood of the Witch Finder.
Her ever building abilities. That was something neither had acknowledged yet. They seemed to be getting stronger since they had left the crypt. New ones had started appearing as well. Like tonight, with the exchange of metaphysical energy. That had never happened before. Never had Marlon been able to feel exactly what Reese felt, the heat of the blood, how it had tasted, the surge of adrenaline and power it gave her. He had felt her hands plunge into the man's chest, felt his life ebb from his body and into hers. He had always been able to feel her human-like emotions, but never her non-human ones. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. He was human. A very old one, who never aged, but human none the less. He wasn't an overly violent man in his life before, he fought when he had too, even killed, but all out of necessity. Reese killed for more than that. She enjoyed it.
Reese could feel Marlon watching her. She always could. She felt every emotion that ran through him. She had since the first moment they had met. Which is why she had bound him to her. There was something about him that she still couldn't figure out. He held his free will, but his body did as she bade it. She knew he balked at a lot of what she had made him do, and she also knew that over the years, his feelings for her had grown. He cared for her when he was her jailor, but they had become something more as the years together had passed. She knew he had grown frustrated with her during her darker days. Always cleaning up after her, moving them to a safe place. It was his moral high ground that had brought her back to her senses, and had allowed her guilt to set in. It was that guilt that pushed her into the crypt. It was his ethical fibre that had given her the idea to have him rend her to pieces every night. She knew he would never take pleasure in it, that he would never do more than what was required. She had grown to care for him as well. Tonight, with the exchange of energy, she realized just how much. She couldn't see him hurt. She wouldn't see him in harms way. The decision had been made.
She sat at the table with her tea and Marlon pushed himself off the doorframe, walking towards her. "You look so serious. What is racing around in that head of yours?" he asked leaning on the chair across from her.
She looked up at him but found it hard to meet his eyes. "I'm fine, just tired." She said. He knew she was lying. She knew, he knew she was lying, but he let her be. He didn't push. They could talk in the morning.
"I am off to bed. Since we left the crypt, I have found myself sleeping again. It's a strange sensation after all this time, but not one I am objecting too." He gave her a half grin and came around the table. She jumped to her feet and quickly moved to the sink, under the pretence of placing her cup in it. "I think I will turn in as well." She mumbled. She moved quickly past him and up the stairs to her room.
Marlon watched after her. He knew something was wrong, but he didn't want to push her. Pushing her never ended well. There was plenty of time on the drive to Louisiana to talk about it all. The research he had done, and the contacts Chris had helped him make had confirmed what he had suspected. One of her "children" were in New Orleans. Possibly one of the original ones created. Stories of witchcraft had woven it's way out of the city for what seemed like forever. Occult shops had begun to pop up and now it was something that was practiced out in the open. Rumors of a powerful sorcerer had spread across the internet and Chris had pointed him to all the right websites. He had made a few calls and the leads had proven fruitful. There was one who seemed to possess some of the qualities that Reese had said transferred to the one called Witch. The Djinn also shared similar qualities but with all the occult shops in the area witchcraft seemed more likely. If they found one, they could find the rest. This new age of instant information had opened doors that would have otherwise been closed to them. Provided knowledge in moments that would have taken weeks to hunt down in newspapers and libraries. He had more in a few days than they had in the decades before their isolation. He had tried to get her to New Orleans before, but she had always refused. She had an almost fearful look in her eyes when Louisiana came up. He had asked what scared her so, but she refused to answer.
He clicked off the light and headed upstairs. He paused at her door for a moment but heard no movement, so he continued down the hall to his room. As he closed his door, a wave of aching sadness swept over him. It took his breath away and almost buckled his knees at the intensity of the emotion. He sat on the edge of the bed and collected himself. It wasn't his emotion. It was hers, but he couldn't figure out what could have created such despair. She had been distracted and anxious when she had left the kitchen but there was no indication that there was any heartbreak. He stood and walked to his door but as he reached for the knob the feeling disappeared. She had shut him out. He knew that feeling. The one of emptiness. She had done it before, when she had been deep in her darker times, so he wouldn't feel the pleasure she drew from taking a life. He didn't understand it now, as he had understood it then, but he knew when she reached that point it was best to let her heal whatever wound she had inflicted on herself and wait for her to open up to him again. He turned back to his bed and settled for the night. It was a long drive, and he would make her talk.
Reese stood at her window and looked out at the forest just beyond the backyard. Marlon had opened that door again. The one she kept sealed tight. She knew the research he had been doing. There wasn't much she didn't know. With nothing more than a breath she could read his every thought, see what passed before his eyes as if she were looking with her own. She knew he had found someone. A strong possibility. She could feel the pull. She had opened herself up to the energy around her and had felt a slight tug. Like a magnet. Fear had immediately settled in the pit of her stomach on the heels of that energy. Something dark was at the other end. Dark and familiar. She had felt something similar every time New Orleans had been brought into a conversation. That knot of fear. The cold ball in her stomach. She pushed it down every time and shut her mind down to that channel. But now it was back. It had started the day at the cliff. She had felt it chase her back from the edge, thought she had heard it whisper to her. She hadn't been able to shake it. When Marlon had started investigating the trail of her children, she had felt it reach for him. Visions of his death had raced before her eyes. No matter what she did to alter the course it always ended the same. Marlon dead, and her hands covered in his blood. When they had connected over the Witch Finder, she had seen it even clearer but this time there was a way to change it.
She pulled her suitcase from under the bed and began to pack. She had to make this trip without him. She now knew, he would die in New Orleans. If he came with her, she would be the death of him. She would not let that happen, so she had made the decision to do this alone. Once she had, a calm had settled over her. The fear was still there, but knowing that Marlon would be safe, would live out the rest of his life unharmed, gave her a sense of peace. Somehow, she knew that she would not come back from this trip. She knew that she would never seen Marlon again and that had sent an ache through her so painful she had fallen to her knees. She had clamped her hands over her mouth to prevent the anguished whimper from escaping. She couldn't stop the tears from rolling down her cheeks, but she could do it in silence. Living without him was almost unbearable but living in a world where he was no longer was not even an option.
Her phone vibrated on the desk, and she picked it up. She had gotten quite adept at the "new to her" technology. The message was from her Uber, it was waiting down the road like she had requested. She sent a reply and picked up her suitcase. She stepped out into the hallway and looked towards Marlon's room. She had to look upon him one more time. She sat the suitcase down and moved silently towards his door. She opened it without a sound and walked inside. He was lying on his back, his face turned towards her. It was relaxed in sleep, and he looked so vulnerable and human. The tears started again as her heart tore in two. She gently traced her finger down the side of his face, taking in every curve, the line of his jaw, how the lines on his forehead smoothed as he slept. She inhaled the rhythmic cadence of his breathing. She let her emotions take her for a moment and placed the palm of her hand against his cheek. She needed to feel his warmth, his life. He nuzzled his face into her hand, and it almost broke her. For a moment she considered staying. Facing this with him. She gazed down at him and saw the pulse in his neck. The vision of his blood on her hands flashed before her eyes and she pulled her hand back. Her breath caught as the tears continued. She turned and walked to his door, with a final look back, she closed it. She had to move quickly. She could only hold the sobs back for so long, and it was becoming overwhelming. She could let go in the cab. She just needed to get out of the house.
She reached the Uber and got in. She gave the driver instructions, and they were off. They reached the train station, she paid the driver, gave him a healthy tip, clouded his mind, and got out. She knew eventually Marlon would figure out how she had travelled and where she had gone, but she wanted to put as much distance between them before he did. She wanted this over before he found her. Days ago, while Marlon and Chris had been busy at that computer, she had taken a trip into town. When she had locked them away, she had dissolved all their assets and put the money into an account at the bank. She had found out that now the bank had branches all over the country and that money could be accessed from anywhere. It was quite easy for her to gain access after all these decades, a few forged documents, a bit of mind bending, and voila, access to her "great grandmothers account."Now she had funds and could travel without having to use her powers. Marlon had learned what signs to look for when she had disappeared before. She had gone on a spree of sorts and had left him in a hotel in Chicago. It had taken a few weeks, but he had found her. If she used her power, it left a metaphysical residue that he could feel. With her abilities growing and getting stronger, she didn't want to take the chance that he may be gaining abilities too and find her sooner than was safe. Paying by cash was the easiest and best way to avoid detection.
She had booked a sleeper car so that she could have some privacy. She settled herself and looked out the window. Within moments the train started moving and the darkness began to fly by the window. She let herself relax and let the emotion come. Her forehead touched the glass and she allowed herself to cry, really cry. Her heart broke into a million pieces with each tear that fell, each mile that gathered between her and Marlon. Slowly the tears began to ebb, the sobs stopped, and she could think again. She opened her eyes and looked out the window once more. Dawn was approaching and the trees were black outlines against the lightening sky. She watched them race by.
A face, snarled in rage, flew at her, at the window and she recoiled with a scream. As quickly as it had appeared it was gone. She moved away from the window but didn't take her eyes off of it. Scanning everywhere for that face. She had physically felt the rage that it had carried with it. She didn't know where she had seen that face before, but it felt strangely familiar. She knew that face, but didn't know how, and she feared it. She was not one to fear anything, but she knew fear with that face. It was connected to where she was headed. Of that she was sure, and she now also understood that the man behind that face was the fear behind New Orleans. It wasn't the place it was a person.
She reached out and found what she was looking for. He was reaching for her. He took her breath and she clawed at her throat for a moment as she gasped. She had never encountered another with power like hers, or any power at all, but this man seemed to be able to draw breath, draw life from another as she could, but he could do it from a distance. The rage she felt from him began to subside and she was suddenly awash in a new emotion. Possession. She belonged to him. She shut down the connection. She had no idea who this man was, and how he knew her, or why he was familiar to her, but she knew one thing. She belonged to no one.
As the last tendrils of his energy faded away and she sealed the connection closed, she heard a name. More of a whisper in her memory that words in her ears.