Marissa manages to get Brian’s seizure to stop. They run outside to find that the other boys have been pinned down by tree roots. Brian frees them and advances into the circle around the mausoleum, yelling a challenge.
Brian stood tall, shoulders back, head raised in defiance. His face held another aspect, more mature, weathered. “You wanted my attention, you’ve got it! Be not mistaken, I do not give my attention lightly and you will not enjoy this. Let it be finished.”
A ghostly figure emerged, becoming more opaque as it rose from the depths. It shimmered and coalesced into a solid form of a woman. Her body was draped in a pale gown that was gathered beneath her breasts. Her belly was covered in blood and it had seeped into the fabric of her gown. Her beautiful face held a deathly pallor. Her masses of dark curls were gathered on top of her head.
“Welcome, my love. Did you miss me?” Her voice dripped insincerity.
“Be gone, you evil witch.”
The woman stepped forward, fingers tracing the line of his jaw, winding in his blond curls.
Brian pulled her hands away, stepping back from her. “I hoped never to see you again.”
“Why, darling, what a way to speak to me after all this time. You can’t tell me you didn’t miss me a little bit.”
“The only thing I missed was having the life sucked from me.”
“Oh, my God,” Jordan gasped. “It’s his wife!”
“Whose wife?” Dwight gasped as he ran up next to her.
“That’s Opal, Luminous Cayce’s wife. The one who died in the battle. The one he said he was forced to kill. That bitch! She’s a witch and she’s after Brian!” Taking a running leap, she soared over the thorns, flattening them as she vaulted over. She landed on the other side, crouched and ready for battle.
“She’ll kill you!” Dwight yelled, following her.
“Like hell!” Jordan ran forward, iron stiletto in her left hand, a silver one in her right. She stopped a foot away from Opal in a fighter’s crouch. “Get away from him, you bitch!”
“Oh, who’s the kitten?” Opal crooned, stroking Brian’s jaw.
“Don’t touch him,” Jordan yelled.
“Darling, you can’t hurt me. Besides, he wants me. Can’t you see?” She gestured languidly to Brian. He stood still, slightly dazed, obviously aroused.
Jordan took a swipe at Opal with her iron knife. A wound opened in the ghostly woman’s arm. She laughed, shaking it off. The line closed, scabbed and fell away like dust.
“What a clever girl you are.” She turned to Brian. “Take care of her, darling.”
Brian advanced, eyes confused, face set and blank. Part of him fought the control Opal exerted, but he wasn’t quite strong enough to do it on his own. He reached for Jordan, big hands grasping. Suddenly, his legs flew out from under him as Dwight tackled him. The other man straddled Brian, fists pounding his right shoulder and above, in the curve of Brian’s neck. Not all the blows landed on Brian, some of them were aimed at what was apparently thin air. However, they connected with something. A dull thump sounded with each blow. It flashed dully with each hit.
Groaning, Brian quit fighting Dwight. “It’s me! Help me up!”
Dwight lifted Brian to his feet.
“Thank you. Now, let’s see about this bitch!”
“First,” Dwight said. “We’ve got a Rider to dislodge.” He held out his hand to Jordan. “Silver.”
Opal had retreated, watching the events unfold. The parents hadn’t moved, but they muttered something. The words made Jordan’s skin crawl. Opal’s smile shifted when Dwight poked the air near Brian’s right ear. The silver stiletto disappeared about an inch.
“Reveal,” Dwight commanded. “If ever we needed you, Rider, it’s now. Reveal yourself!”
Opal backed up another step, arms sweeping behind her, lips snarling. The adults chanted louder, spreading out to encompass the action a few feet away.
“This is your fault!” Dwight yelled. “Come out now, you craven, selfish, coward!” He poked harder, hand reaching toward Jordan.
She was already at his side, silver skewer in hand, she plunged it in beside Dwight’s. Both iron spikes joined the silver.
Brian screamed, staggering. Dwight caught him. Jordan steadied him. His friends ran forward as their parents closed ranks. Each pair grabbed at one of the teens. Chase slid through, placing himself between Jordan and her parents. Shielding her and Brian with his body, he summoned a wall of cold, blue fire. Their parents halted, puzzled by the sizzling cold.
Chase’s hand flew out, casting something in Brian’s direction. With another shriek, Brian went limp. A shimmer of movement on his right shoulder revealed the creature lurking there. It hopped off, limping. One by one, the skewers dropped to the ground, covered in dark blood. The figure grew larger, standing tall as he moved to counter Opal, who had stepped closer to them, despite the fire.
“You again,” he said, his voice a chilling blend of Brian and Miles’ voices.
“Hello, darling,” she crooned. “Happy to see me?”
“Hardly,” was the cool reply.
Opal stepped closer, her voice hypnotic and silky. Jordan was mesmerized by the beautiful woman. Dwight was occupied with Brian. Chase fought with their parents. No one saw Jordan take a step too close to Opal. The mottled arm shot out, grabbing the front of her shirt. She pulled Jordan before her like a shield. The hapless girl stood meekly, just as Brian had done. Whatever influence Opal wielded, it was stronger than all of them.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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