On his return from the unsuccessful ritual ceremony, Beck went to Ava’s room to check on her before going to bed. With the aid of the light from the candle, which was about to be out, he went to sit beside Ava, deciding to spend a little time.
Just as he stroked her cheek, Ava said, “Where were you?”
Being startled Beck immediately removed his hand and moved a little away from her.
Ava opened her eyes and stared at him. She stirred on the bed in order to sit up. “Where did you go?”
“I uh . . .”
She raised her brows questioningly and stared at him suspiciously.
“I uh . . .” he continued. “I . . .”
“You still went out to look for Anna, right?”
Seeing as that was what she thought he did, he answered, “Yes,” to concur with her and clear any suspicion she might have.
“Didn’t you say you would search in the morning? I’m pretty sure it’s super late now. You could have gotten hurt.”
He sighed dramatically as he stared with worried eyes at Ava. “I know I did, but you cried before sleeping. I wanted to see if I could put a smile on your face in the morning if I found her.”
“Oh.” She turned her head slightly away from him to stare at the bed. “I see.”
“I’m sorry if leaving you upset you.”
She nodded before looking at him again and saying, “Did you find her?”
He shook his head as he took her hands.
“Not even her corpse?” she said, her tone very sad.
He stared at her with pity. It was bad enough she blamed herself she couldn’t control her sister enough; if she had known what just happened to Anna she’d probably hate herself more.
He pulled her towards him and cuddled her. “Ava, don’t talk like that. She might still be alive. She probably stumbled upon Strangeville and safe there already. I told you not to be negative about her.”
“I can’t help it,” she said which was followed by a sniff.
He pulled her to sit up and saw what he didn’t want to see: her tears.
“When I slept”—he dried the tear on her left cheek—“I had this dream I’d been having since I got here, only this time I saw Anna and not me.”
His eyes narrowed at hers as he wondered what dream she had because it was the first time any of the visitors had talked about having a dream. “What was it about?”
“Normally, I’d be in the woods, and then—”
He questioningly stared at her, wondering why she stopped. “And then what happens?”
“Is someone at the door?” she replied him.
“Huh? What do mean?”
“I heard a knock.”
Beck glanced at the door to her bedroom, thinking of who could be at the front door even though he hadn’t heard a knock.
“Are you expecting someone?” Ava asked.
He shook his head and stood. “It’s late. Besides, no one comes here.” No one except my dead wife, he added in his thoughts.
“You should check who it is.”
“Ava, I didn’t hear any knock.”
“Just check the door. It could be Anna.”
It must have been Ava’s imagination, Beck thought. She probably wanted her sister with her so badly that she imagined her finding her way back to the cabin. Or, maybe she definitely heard a knock while he didn’t as he was so curious to know what Ava’s dream was about that she said was Anna in the latest one.
Beck sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll go check.” He left the room with the flashlight he came in with and went straight for the front door.
As he opened the front door, he couldn’t believe what his eyes had laid upon: Anna stood before him, looking as perfect as she had been before the flames had consumed her and even after she had been completely burned to death. There were no burn scars on her body; her hair, skin, dress were still as neat as before the purifications, he was sure. That shouldn’t have been the case though if the ritual didn’t work out: she was supposed to be scarred; also, she was supposed to be dead.
Though he was shocked to see her, Anna was upset to see him as she spat, “You!” at him with her eyes full of fury and her jaw clenched.
“Anna?” he asked wanting to be sure it really was her and not some hallucination in the name of trying to comfort Ava.
“You lied to me and Ava!” Anna said, pointing at him with her index finger. That would have explained why at the dying minute of the ritual she began to fret.
“Anna, listen, I didn’t mean to—”
“How could you?” she said, looking both sad and mad at the same time. “How could you do that?” The pain in her eyes made him guiltier than when Strangeville was bounded by the curse. “You knew that we would never—”
“Anna, I can explain.”
She stepped back a little, sniffing. “So now that I’m like this”—she gestured to herself—“does that mean Ava’s next?”
Beck was about to protest but paused as he realized that she had said the truth though he couldn’t comprehend what state Anna was in. Even if he wanted to protect Ava, he couldn’t because she couldn’t leave until the curse had been broken.
Anna continued: “And if she can’t break”—she raised her hands to form an air quote while emphasizing—“‘the curse’ some other person that unfortunately gets stuck here will, huh?”
He shook his head quickly, not wanting Anna to keep coming up with conclusions that were actually true. “It isn’t like that. I had no choice. I—”
She frowned. “Don’t tell me that. You did have a choice. You—”
“Beck, what’s going on?” he heard a voice other than Anna’s say. He swayed his head to the left to see Ava standing beside him. “Anna?” she said as she had removed her gaze on him and fixed it on the person—or ghost, being, whatever Anna was—at the door.
“Ava, I’m sorry,” Anna said to Ava as he turned to face Anna.
Then, Ava stretched out her hands to hug Anna. As she reached Anna, she passed through Anna. She almost fell to the floor, as she had lost her balance, but didn’t as Beck had—on impulse—held her by her arms.
When Ava stood upright, he glanced at Anna. Tears had formed in her eyes as she stared at Ava. He glanced at Ava to see confusion clearly on her face.
“Anna . . .” Ava said right before an understanding look appeared on her face. It was one that seemed like she understood that Anna was a ghost.
“Ava,” Anna said, her voice breaking. “I—I’m sorry. I should have listened to you.”
Ava stretched out her hand. She waved it through Anna as she shook her head. “Anna, are you—?”
“Yes,” Anna said, interrupting Anna. Then she shrugged, adding, “I guess.”
Suddenly, Anna was out of sight. As Ava called out her name, Beck looked around the porch if he could see her.
Ava then said, “Where did she go to?”
“I don’t know,” he answered, shrugging as his brown eyes danced around in search for the dead teen.
Ava called for Anna again before stepping onto the porch, still yelling for her. She stepped down the stairs, looking more frantic than she was when they went in search of her earlier.
Beck quickly went to her and grabbed her into his arms. By now, tears had covered her face. She wailed loudly, which was accompanied by her baby sister’s name.
As she tightened the hug and buried her face in his chest, Beck felt something strange within him. He knew it was more than pity, which he had for many other victims. He couldn’t define it but he knew it will be a blow to his chest for the second time in his life if Ava becomes a sacrifice, and worse, an unsuccessful one. He really wished he could save her from the inevitable, but that was what getting stuck in this part of the country was: inevitable to escape being a sacrifice.
Welcome back, my lovely readers. Hope you enjoyed the weekend. Are you ready for another week of Anomaly?
My sister told me this story scares her. Is it the same with you? Iʼd really love to know how because when I first started the book that was my intention: to include a little horror. But along the line, I felt like I couldnʼt input it so I resulted to writing it as normally as I could. Please let me know if the story seems horrific because of the events or probably because of cliff hangers. Honestly, Iʼd actually be delighted to know the effect the book has on you, including the silent/ghost readers.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Tell me your thoughts about it.