The Grey Girl

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Chapter 25: 1952

Edgar lay on the filthy, stained mattress listening to the birds of early spring call for mates. He didn’t really lie as much as float above the dingy mold. The songs of the birds along with the bright, warm light filtering through the dust annoyed him. Rising, he decided to wander through the empty house. Since his death, he had been so bored. The little demon had seemed to lose interest in him after the first couple of years. Now he would welcome the torment the creature gave him as a remedy to his boredom.

This was the punishment for his sins, he decided. He accepted he was in his own personal hell. Gliding through the door, he was out in the hall. The paper was starting to peel, and dust lay thick on all the surfaces. A frown creased his face. Something had been chewing on the once-elegant carpet of the hall. “Why didn’t that retched Kerlvin chase it away?” he muttered. Gliding farther down the hall, he got the answer. A huge rat lay at the top of the stairs, its innards strewn and smeared over the topmost step. From the color and stench, it had been there awhile. There were signs Kerlvin had “played” with the rat prior to its demise. Edgar’s observations were interrupted by the opening of the front door.

A shadow passed across the light then was immediately cut off by the slamming of the front door. Edgar found his curiosity piqued. The door had not been forced. Maybe it was his brother coming to visit finally. If Edgar could make Richard see him, maybe he wouldn’t be alone anymore. Richard had promised to take care of him. Richard would visit him. He would figure out a way to free him from the house.

Gliding quickly down the stairs, he was on the ground floor in seconds. Looking left and right, he tried to find whoever had entered. Something moved in the front room. Edgar was at the threshold about to enter when sharp claws dug into his shoulder. Edgar fought to free himself. He could see a cloaked figure crouching in the room. A scraping of metal on wood emanated from the room. Someone was trying to rob him, and this wretched demon was keeping him from defending his property.

Edgar pulled free of the claws. He was about to enter the room. His anger flared. He could feel his eyes burn, his vision clouded in red. Pain seared through his neck. Kerlvin cackled. His wings beat hard, pulling Edgar out of the room. He flailed, trying to hit the demon. His anger and frustration only grew as his hands simply went through the black scaly body. He swung again, crying out in pain when Kerlvin sunk his razor-sharp teeth into Edgar’s hand.

“How can you hurt me when I can’t even touch you?” Edgar thundered. His answer was a cackle from Kerlvin. “I’m being robbed! Let me go!” Edgar pleaded.

The cloaked figure was back in the hall. He took no notice of the ghost and the demon fighting a few feet away. Edgar was being pulled up toward the ceiling. The talons ripped through his flesh. He could feel the burning pain. Edgar was shocked at the flow of sticky blood and the cold of the air on the open wound. Before he hit the ground, he felt knives digging into his shoulders. Deeply, Kerlvin’s talons pierced his flesh. Edgar could feel them grasp onto bone. He was flung up in the air, spun, and was caught. The demon’s claws ripped through flesh again and were now holding him by his rib cage. He thrashed, trying to rip out Kerlvin’s eyes. The demon no longer cackled. Venom-soaked words spat from his forked black tongue. “You will be punished for fighting me,” Edgar screamed in agony. The bones of his rib cage shattered as they were torn from his chest. The front door slammed at the same time Edgar smashed to the floor. Kerlvin was on him in a flash, ripping at his flesh, pulling organs free. Blood sprayed over the walls.

“How?…How?…I’m already…dead.” Edgar gasped as his arm was torn free.

“I have power over you. I can destroy you again.” Kerlvin punctuated this by pulling intestine from Edgar’s gut. “And again.” He flung out the liver. “And again.” Edgar’s stomach, bloated and pink, slapped against the wall. “And you will feel every cut.” Kerlvin slashed Edgar’s face. “Every bruise.” He punched him hard. “For eternity. You will never feel peace, you will never defend this house’s possessions, and you will never be the king of this castle.” Kerlvin pulled Edgar’s head from his body. Edgar’s eyes, wide with surprise, were held close to the demon’s face; the last thing his ears heard was “I am.”

With a cry, Edgar awoke on the filthy bed. He ran his hands over his body. It was all there, all intact and all transparent and as substantial as smoke. A snicker at the foot of the bed poured ice through his spine.

“Learned a valuable lesson, did we?”

Edgar raised his head enough to see the demon crouched on the footboard. Slowly Kerlvin extended his wings and was gone. Edgar’s vision blurred red with hatred; his hands became less defined as a black shimmer of anger surrounded him.

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