SHADOW

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CHAPTER 45

THEY DROVE HOME in depressed silence.

Samantha was the most distressed by the encounter with the Sister of the Fellowship of the Lights and Stars.

It was simply inconceivable; all the nonsense Agatha was spewing about Alan being under a demonic spell. Samantha was greatly outraged and equally upset. No way in the world was her son demon-possessed. He was only in a coma brought on by the trauma he suffered from the jump off the bridge.

He would get better soon.

He would come out of coma and he’d be fine. And if not – as much as she loathed the thought – he would pass without gaining consciousness and that would be the end to it. His case had nothing whatsoever to do with demons or Satan.

Such nonsense talk.

Sister Agatha must be mental, surely…!

Yet, in her heart of hearts, Samantha could see the possibility, even the glaring truth in the revelations by the Sister. Unless she wanted to deny it, in which case, she was either foolish or insane.

Or foolishly insane.

“You must have seen some signs already, just think about it; weird nightmares? Paranormal things…” Sister Agatha had said in her face.

Of course she’d seen some strange things lately that frightened her out of her skin. Jonathan had, as well; incontrovertible signs that made her hairs stand on end and caused the blood in her body to freeze over.

Nowadays, Samantha couldn’t go to sleep without starting at the slightest sound. Wasn’t that why she’d had to move back in with Jonathan temporarily? And he had had his share of the intrepid phenomenon.

Granted, Samantha decided grimly with a wary sigh, even if all the recent unexplainable happenings were evidences of dark powers at work, what did it have to do with their son, Alan?

Then she stiffened, silently perplexed as the thoughts bubbled in her mind – the nightmare really took off on the day that he jumped off the bridge! That was also the very night that Thomas Geoffrey was killed in his home in a very bizarre fashion.

Samantha looked dumbfounded. Then she shook the thought away, silencing the idea. It was a mere coincident; that’s what it was.

She sighed gravely and sat down in confusion. Jonathan came and sat beside her, lost in a series of troubling concerns of his own. Like her, he agreed there was more to things than met the eyes.

Actually, he’d had his suspicions about everything that has been happening; he just didn’t have the nerves to talk about it with Samantha, understanding how emotionally fragile she had become. And now that a total stranger had showed up to validate his fears, he felt greatly uneasy, even petrified.

Were there really demons lurking around the house? Malevolent beings out to unleash great havoc on his family? And what did everything have to do with Alan?

There will be blood!

The chilling words of Sister Agatha Tronnel, the terrible look in her eyes when she said those words came back to Jonathan starkly, hitting him smack on the face. He pursed his lips, grunted quietly, sighed and glanced at Samantha.

“What do you think, Sam?” he said, causing her to start gently.

She paused. “About what?”

“What that woman said,” he answered. “About everything.”

There was a brief silence.

“I don’t know, Jonathan,” she said, shaking her head slowly. Her eyes glistened with tears, and she bowed her face in abject hopelessness.

Jonathan Prince couldn’t sleep that night, and it wasn’t because he was panicked or worried. He was simply drained, mentally fatigued.

He stayed up long after he’d seen Samantha off to bed, watching the late night series on TV and pondering over the many puzzling events that had disrupted his peace of mind lately. And then an hour or so later, he went to check on her to be sure that everything was fine, after which he went round the house, confirmed that the windows, as well as the front and back doors were all secured.

Jonathan got back to his position on the couch, clicked off the TV set and tried getting some sleep. Thirty minutes later, with sleep at bay and his eyes burning, he got up from the couch and strode to the kitchen, fixed himself a cup of steaming tea.

Sipping quietly on the tea, he turned around and found Samantha standing in the doorway of the kitchen. He stopped, stared at her and sucked in his breath silently, lowered the cup from his lips with his gaze intent on her.

She was only in her undies, provocatively sensual. Jonathan felt a lump go down his throat, tried unsuccessfully to look away whilst wondering why she chose to come to the kitchen unclad. Maybe, like him, she was restless and needed a drink to calm her nerves.

Or maybe she needed him.

Hell, Samantha was pretty! With a body like that, how could he have been stupid enough to let her slip? She seemed cold, less conscious of her nakedness.

Jonathan set his cup down gently on the kitchen table, feeling his heart palpitating. He walked towards her as though compelled by a force he couldn’t resist, and she welcomed him with a desperate, brutal kiss that took him unawares. She wrapped her whole self around him, pushed her tongue in his mouth, moaning and groaning like in ecstasy.

Of course, thought Jonathan, getting drowned in the heat of passion; she had obviously not been with any man for many, many months. She was sex-starved, coupled with the fact that trying situations such as the one they were going through had a way of making people horny. Some folks have even opined that sex was therapeutic, helping to relieve pressure and ease tensions. Jonathan would really like to ease his pressure, and he didn’t mind helping her ease hers, as well.

The sound they made got louder and more intense as their two bodies became one, intertwined, like little puppies in a crib. Now they were on the bare, cold floor before Jonathan had the time to analyze what was happening. She was clawing and scratching and biting him tenderly, sending bouts of pleasure shooting through his brain like lightening across a dark sky. His whole being was on fire as he discarded his pajamas hastily.

Hell, how much he missed her…missed this!

It was the pinnacle of pure pleasure. It must be heaven and he must be dead.

Dead.

Jonathan Prince stopped tentatively in the throes of the fiery intercourse and opened his eyes for a moment to peep into face of the woman with him, to see the look on her face. But his heart skipped a bit, and he recoiled with abject dismay.

It wasn’t Samantha!

It wasn’t even a person!

This thing he was holding in his arms and making love to…This thing was…It was exactly that –

A thing!

It was dark, faceless and hellish looking.

Jonathan shrieked and fell backwards, breaking free from the fervent embrace of this nightmarish being. Gasping terribly, he scrambled to his feet just as the thing lurched forward, reaching to grab him with vicious claws and a chilling, ghoulish cry, crawling its way along the floor like a limbless insect.

Jonathan’s heart was racing madly now, his eyes wide with dreadful apprehension. He scampered to his feet hastily with his back against the wall as the thing came toward him in a gust of hissing, bellowing smoke. Jonathan Prince screamed and sprang up desperately, pushing back the tendril arms scratching him like leeches.

And just as the resilient arms snaked their way upwards, to his mouth and eyes, Jonathan snapped awake and sat bolt upright. He glared at the living room with dismay and sighed with utmost relief.

It was a dream. Dear Lord, what a surreal dream! He’d slept off leaving the TV on and had fallen into a most bizarre, disturbing nightmare.

He grunted warily and put his hand to his chest, feeling for his heartbeat. Then grimacing with a measure of discomfort, he took the remote control beside him and turned off the TV, plunging the house into an absolute and ominous silence.

Then, quite subconsciously, he proceeded to act out the order of events the way they happened in his dream: he got up from the couch, went to the bedroom to check that Samantha was OK, and because his eyes felt itchy and his throat dry, he went to the kitchen and made himself a cup of hot, chocolate tea. It was while he was gently sipping his tea that it suddenly dawned on him that the whole scenario was familiar. So with a hollow, unsettling feeling in his stomach, Jonathan slowly turned around –

And found –

Alan was standing by the doorway of the kitchen, quietly staring down at him.

Jonathan started and dropped the cup, clutching his chest. He swore tightly, looking petrified and perplexed. As the mug shattered at his feet, Alan Prince smiled in a dark, insidious way. Dressed in the same hooded sweat shirt and black denim pants he wore on the day he jumped off the bridge, Alan looked pretty much hail presently.

Except –

There was a foreboding shade looming over and around him, lending him a larger-than-life persona. And his eyes were missing! He had no eyes, just two lifeless, gapping sockets peering at Jonathan; at his father.

A dozen disconcerting thoughts waltzed through the man’s mind at once; he felt his insides twisting in a nut at the unexpected appearance of his son, wondering when he came out of coma and left the hospital, and how he got into the house. Was this an illusion? Another dream?

Alan Prince stood there, smiling at his father. He didn’t move, didn’t say a word. Nothing. Just stood there, grimacing and exuding palpable fear. Then –

“Hello, father,” he said. But it wasn’t Alan’s voice that came out; it was something totally sickening; a deep, chilling and indistinct sound that made Jonathan’s blood go cold.

Jonathan felt his blood pressure rising and his tongue clinging to the roof of his mouth. “Alan?” he said finally, his voice a tense, uncertain whisper. He squinted, craned his eyes somewhat to be sure of who he was looking at. “Are you…OK?”

In response, Alan tilted his head sideways slightly in a stiff, mechanical motion which caused the bones in his neck to crack audibly. There was something remotely evil in his appearance, the way he hung his head and the look in his countenance as he glared at his father.

Then suddenly, Alan’s skin began to pale, shriveling and falling off like the bark of a tree. The next minute, Alan rushed viciously forward with a terrible roar that almost caused Jonathan’s heart to explode in his chest. As he back-tracked in panic, he slipped on the tea he spilled initially, and the wet floor welcomed him with a brutal embrace, smashing his skull and breaking his nose on impact.

Jonathan groaned painfully, seeing stars. For a moment he was stunned in semi-consciousness and he remained still on the floor, blood issuing from his injured nose. When he turned around, exerting tremendous effort, and lifted his throbbing head from the floor, Alan was still at the doorway where he’d been, watching him with a blank, sinister expression.

It was as though he’d never taken a step in the first place and, stranger was the fact that he was back to normal in his appearance – his skin was neither pale nor peeling, and his eyes were back in their sockets. But even then, Alan did look different. And as Jonathan soon noticed, Alan no longer had a mouth now. That part of his face was a sealed, smooth layer of flesh where his mouth should have been.

He kept staring at his father.

“Alan?” said Jonathan helplessly, blinking to refocus his vision and keep the blood on his face from getting into his eyes. His head was still reeling from the impact of the fall, and he felt very terrified now.

Then Alan began to laugh. Slowly at first, until his voice rang like a horrible, morbid sound resonating through the entire apartment with an ominous undertone. And as he laughed, the kitchen door slammed shut suddenly, and his shadow began to grow and expand, filling the kitchen with a dark presence that vacuumed up all the oxygen in the air, sailing towards Jonathan in the form of a screeching fiend enveloped in a cloud of bellowing black smoke, borne from the darkest place of the underworld.

It was the most evil, frightening sight that Jonathan had ever seen, and he shrieked insanely with every ounce of life he had left just as the creature overwhelmed him like a tidal wave of ashes. Then his voice broke off abruptly and he began to asphyxiate, struggling to breathe, gasping for life. He gagged for air, tried to force his heart to keep pumping, tried in futility to claw his way up to his feet, but fell back on the floor miserably.

And in the end, there was no life-sustaining air in the kitchen.

It didn’t take long for Jonathan Prince to expire, before the door swung open again. The shadow lifted and everything went back to normal again.

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