by Thadd Presley
Jack was chanting again. Adam tried to turn away from him, to roll onto his stomach, but with the pain stopped him. Then, from the bottom of his vision, he saw something move.
Looking into the room behind Jack, Adam saw a woman coming towards him. She has come back, he thought. My God.
Then he saw that it was not one but two women. The skeletons were no longer dead.
The form of the red-haired girl was not fully formed. Her eyes were only black holes, and her hands were stretched out before her. Yellow strings wiggled around her wrist and connected to white tendons right before his eyes. This is a dream, he thought. I’m dying and this is only a fever dream caused by fear.
Help us, Adam, they said in unison. He was going into shock. He knew death would be soon.
He suddenly realized, with fear clutching his heart, that Jack had told him the truth. The demon had given him a way of bringing back the dead. With great agony, he found strength and sat up from under Jack’s hands. Jack still had pieces of intestines wrapped in his fingers, and they pulled out more as Adam scooted away from the skeletons.
Once again, the strange voice started to speak through Jack’s lips. Adam saw his chance and reached for the cross he’d worn around his neck since his twenty-first birthday.
The woman laughed and reluctantly took a step back.
As they retreated, the little girl’s body grew together more and more. Flesh was connecting on her shoulders and arms. The other woman, much older than the girl, was completely formed. She put her hands to her breasts and smiled. Jack looked up at Adam and smiled as well. Through Jack’s smile, the demon’s voice did not falter, but kept Jack’s lips speaking words he could not understand. Then, the older woman stopped moving back and spoke in a strange language.
As if the words opened his eyes, Adam saw the book. My God, he thought, they were not victims at all. They were chained here in an attempt to stop them from returning. He saw the man then, reading the book, trying to learn the ancient words in an attempt to keep the two women from coming back from the dead. The only way to kill them was to embalm them and take out their organs in a certain way. The entire process was ancient and involved a long forgotten spell that had been created by people tens of thousands of years older than the Egyptians.
“I command you,” he said, surprised at the strength in his voice.
Jack looked up and seemed to be himself for the first time since Adam came to.
The mother spoke then. “And who are you?” This brought doubt shooting through Adam’s mind. He didn’t know who he was.
“Yes. You know what you are,” she said and laughed.
Adam felt a bolt of electricity shoot through his body, coupled with a memory… the memory of the worst thing he’d ever done. It caused him to question himself, to doubt himself.
“Let them help me, Adam,” Jack croaked. “They’re angels sent to give Caroline back. Please help them.”
“No, Jack, they’re sent by the Devil. They tricked you and you et them free from hell.”
The demon’s voice spoke through Jack again; powerful words that he would never remember.
“We are free, Jack.” It was the little red-haired girl who spoke. “Now, we can give you the gift.” She came forward, and her flesh was almost complete. Only her face was left decrepit, showing red muscle and gray, white bone. Her voice was thundering, nothing like the voice which should come from a little girl. “Come to us, Jack, and be with us always.”
Adam heard a siren in the distance, and the words from Jack came faster. It was now two voices speaking.
“We’ll never die, Adam. Come be with us.”
“Never!” he screamed as his friend’s lips spoke in an old forgotten language.
“We see your soul, Adam. You know he has power greater than you can imagine. He knows what you did.”
The memory of his worst sin came to him, and he tried to fight it, but he saw it and couldn’t turn away.
He thought about trying to get the book, but there was no way he could get up or approach the room, not with his insides hanging out and now with these women blocking the way. But he had to. Somehow, he knew he had to get to that book. He pulled his intestines up into his hands. Jack did not try to stop him. His hands were over his head, chanting.
Adam started to scoot himself toward the room.
Suddenly, as if they could read his thoughts and see his fear, the red-haired girl flew toward him. Her feet did not touch the floor.
The sirens were closer, now, both the police and ambulance. It was empowering to know help was on the way. Adam reached out with his free hand and pushed the little girl. Surprisingly, she floated easily out of his way.
She smiled a gorgeous, crooked-toothed smile that melted his heart. He’d never had children of his own, but if he would have, he would have wanted one just like her. He felt love for her and wished he could save her.
A laugh came from the child’s throat then, causing him to cover his ears. It was the loudest sound he’d ever heard and he wondered if others could her it. He would have sworn that people all over the city had heard it. The mother was right behind her, completely whole and naked. “We can help you too, Adam. The salvation you seek is with us. You only have to ask.”
“You don’t know what I seek.”
“But you do.” The woman screamed.
Adam knew he didn’t have time for her games. He was dying.
Everything seemed too far away. Jack’s voice had once been loud and clear, but now it was fading. He knew he had to get to the book.
He quickly turned his head from the two unholy things. Now that they were both fully formed and naked, he saw that they were the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. He couldn’t continue to look at them. He knew it was a sin to feel these feelings. He tried to think of his wife, but her face would no come to him.
Jack’s bible was lying on the floor in front of the couch. It had fallen off the coffee table during the struggle. He reached out to get it, but the mother was on him as if she could read his mind. “You cannot defeat us. We are beyond your time, beyond your knowledge, beyond all things you understand.”
The red-haired girl was faster that Adam. But, as she moved around him, he managed to reach out and grab her foot. Where his fingers touched, smoke rose and left a blackened hand print on her skin.
Trying to hold his intestines in one hand, he got off the floor and turned toward the mother. He held his hand up and her skin started to smoke. Never before had he felt such power, but he knew it was not his power. He pushed her backward with an invisible hand. Just the thought of touching her was enough to drive her back. Two black hand prints appeared on her chest. He didn’t put his hands down until she was against the wall.
Her leg still showing Adam’s blackened, charred hand print, the little girl screamed and flew towards him. He turned to meet her attack, but she circled around him and disappeared into the room.
Adam spoke verses from the bible and from the room came terrible screams of agony. He repeated verses that he knew held power.
The women, stricken by the words, screamed louder and louder still. Then, with their voices echoing off the walls of the dusty room, they fell to the floor. The older woman’s body was writhing around in a puddle of puss, like red soup. Her body had quickly liquified. Smoke rose from both of them. On the floor behind him, Jack started laughing.
This would be Adam’s only chance. Soon the authorities would be there. He walked forward carefully and grabbed Jack around the throat. Tiny flames hopped alive on Jack’s skin where Adam touched him. The odor poured up and over his face. It was almost more than he could bear, but he gripped tighter just the same.
Smoke began to fill the room. It was pouring from the two women as well and the come quickly filled with the vile, disgusting stench of burning flesh. Already, they had become the skeletons they had been ten minutes before, but Adam could not stop. He held his hands tight around Jack’s throat until the man stopped struggling.
He had a responsibility, both to his friend and the world. His friend, who’d become host to a demon, could not be allowed to live. So, without a glance back, he took the quilt from the floor and tossed it over the heater. Black smoke began to fill the room.
Adam breathed the smoke deep into his lungs. In coughing gasps, he felt his strength leave him.