The Grey Girl

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Chapter 37: Return of the feeling

Filled with confused annoyance, Kerlvin landed with a thud outside Edgar’s room. Pacing, he berated himself for allowing Chloe’s smile to affect him. “If the master knew. If the master knew, oh, I’d be in for it,” he grumbled. “What is the matter with you?” he demanded of the reflection in the filthy, tarnished mirror that hung opposite the dusty window in the hall. As he stared at the red face and black horns, Kerlvin began to notice the mirror was shaking.

Deep in the gloom of the undisturbed bedroom, a feeling was growing. Edgar was aware of his body for the first time in years. He could see only the black tendrils of smoke that composed his spirit, but he felt his feet, legs, arms, and fingers. He felt the emptiness on the ring finger of his right hand. Its absence burned his hand. There it was. The anger, the hatred, and the loathing returned. His red eyes flew to the door. Around the frame was a barrier of flame. He was a being like smoke and burning rage; he felt no fear of the fire. Edgar slammed into the flames. Light exploded through the room, causing him to pause. Moldy bedding lay torn and strewn over the filthy floor. Dead mice, rats, and a bird lay among the scattered feces and fallen plaster. The state of his once-elegant room shocked him. A howl exploded from within the billowing, churning black smoke. Light exploded as Edgar hit the barrier again.

Out in the back of the property a wail of bitter abandonment scattered birds from the trees. An angry, biting wind threw leaves, twigs, and dirt into the air. The desiccated corpse that was her body lay, brown, white, and withered, on the ground. Staring from the black holes where her eyes once were, the anger and sadness returned. “Where is my ring?” she demanded of the body. A blast of wind knocked the skull loose from the dried tendons holding it on. “Where is my grandmother’s ring?” she screamed. The rotten hands flew apart, joining the rest of the detritus blowing, swirling among the trees.

Farther away, the cold waters of the lake reverberated with sobbing. A feeling of defeated uselessness covered the area. Patricia lay close to the shore. Her tears flowed into the surrounding waters. One ghostly hand caressed the wrist of her other arm. “I couldn’t stop him,” she wailed. “He took my life and took my bracelet.” She floated just below the surface. “My mother gave that to me on Christmas when I was thirteen.” She was sinking into the lake and into her own despair. “It was the year we didn’t think we’d have a Christmas. Father was out of work, and Mother had been sick.” Her guilt and sadness settled over her as her ghost settled into the mud inside the bones embedded in the bottom of the lake.

Across Europe and Asia, townspeople, villagers, and farmers listened in terror to the sounds of dying. Screams of agony, hatred, and sorrow filled the lands that had once been battlefields. Just as suddenly as the crying started, it was silenced. A feeling of peace and calm returned to the areas.

Chloe felt the pain, the loneliness, and utter sorrow fill her. She watched from the window as Arthur and Aaron used the acetylene torch on the medals. The ribbons turned to ash in an instant. A whisper of sadness escaped as they burned. When each medal was reduced to a molten lump, a cry of agony broke the night air. Alex stood behind his father, watching as the trophies disintegrated. When the hiss of the torch was silenced, they heard the screaming from the woods.

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