Chapter 39: Knocking on evil’s door
Kerlvin slowly approached the door. He could hear something coming from inside, a pounding. Scratching at his chin, he placed a pointed ear to the wood. “Surely he isn’t trying to break through my barrier?” the demon muttered. The door shuddered in its frame. Dust fell from the moldings; a piece of plaster smashed painfully on Kerlvin’s head. Angrily he rubbed at the spot while looking at the hole in the ceiling. Already annoyed, he heard Chloe’s voice calling up the stairs. He took one step toward the stairs when it happened. The door exploded outward, slamming the demon into the opposite wall. He slid down the surface slowly, his eyes slipping out of focus. The great boiling cloud of black crossed his vision before consciousness left him.
Chloe leaped back from the bottom stair at the sound of splintering wood. She rushed to the box only to find it empty. Panicked, she turned toward the conservatory. A cry escaped her throat. She was trapped, her way being blocked by the billowing cloud of anger that Edgar had become. Burning red eyes bore into hers. A gaping mouth opened, revealing the flames of hell. “Where is my ring?” a voice of gravel being crushed under granite demanded.
Terrified, Chloe backed away. Then anger of her own boiled to the surface. She stopped, hands on her hips, glaring at him. “Where is my necklace?” she demanded. Edgar stopped his advance. The flames in his eyes dimmed slightly. The mouth took on a grimace as if confused.
“You took my ring. You haunt me. You won’t let me rest!” Edgar thundered.
Now it was Chloe’s turn to be confused. “Haunt you?” she asked. The anger overtook the confusion. “You killed me!” she cried, equaling him in volume. They stood staring at each other, her pale-blue eyes searching his red fiery ones. Chloe squeaked out in terror. A black tendril shot at her, barely missing her face as she ducked away.
“Give me back my ring!” he roared.
Ducking behind the sofa, she called back. “I don’t have your ring. Alex does.” She clamped a hand over her mouth. She had not intended to tell him that. Now that it was out, she had to do something. “An…and…and he won’t give it back.” She moved farther away. “Un…until you give me back my necklace,” she explained in a voice that sounded much braver than she felt. The sofa flew away, smashing into the small table set up in the middle of the room.
“Who is Alex?” Edgar advanced on her. “How do you know he has my ring?”
Chloe danced out of reach. Edgar’s smoky hands kept flying out to grab her. “It’s an ugly gold thing with a bird and a sword on it,” she explained, eyeing the doorway. She thought of the safety of the conservatory. The thought hit her: Was it actually safe?
“Give it back!” he roared.
“I don’t have it!” she shot back. She was almost there.
“Give me my ring, and leave me alone!”
Chloe paused. Edgar’s voice sounded pleading, sad, and pained. The pause was all Edgar needed. Smoke enveloped her, pinning her arms to her sides, those burning red eyes inches from her face. She could feel the fire from them, the heat from the flames in his mouth, flames that burned away his humanity. “It was an accident,” he hissed at her. “I was drunk.” The coils tightened; she felt the pain. “I didn’t know what had happened until we were back here.”
“I…I was still alive when you dumped me down that well.” She fought against the increasing pressure.
“You were dead either way.” His grip loosened slightly. “I didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident.” The pain returned, crushing her. “Why can’t you understand that? Why can’t you forget it already?”
Struggling to free her arms, Chloe fought. “I’m stuck here because you murdered me. How can I forget that I’m trapped with the man who killed me?” Her hand sprung free. She quickly tried to claw at his eyes. Her fingers swirled the smoke around, but Edgar still cried out in pain. She was free; her ears filled with his pained screams. Chloe was running down the hall. Her feet were hitting the ground, her legs burning. The sensation was startling as was the pain that shot through her knees, wrists, and face as they slammed into the floor. Long ropes of smoke pulled her back down the hall. Her fingernails scratched deep into the floorboards. The pain was too intense as the nails separated from the fingers. Chloe’s screams mixed with Edgar’s.
She was flung into the air. For a moment she was weightless, inches from the ceiling. The moment was gone. She slammed back to the floor. A tooth flew free from her mouth. She watched it fly in slow motion. She was aware of the hole in her gum, the blood filling her mouth.
“It.” She was in the air again.
“Was.” She smashed down. Pain exploding through her like the day she was hit.
“An.” Back in the air screaming in fear.
“Accident!” She was dazed in pain. Her arm didn’t work, nor did her legs. Warm, sticky blood covered her lips and chin.
Edgar regarded her for a moment. “Looks like even in death, I can hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you.” Edgar sounded apologetic again. “I just want my ring and to be left alone.” He was pacing now. “No town girls reminding me I killed them.” The mass around the head shook. “No demons reminding me I’m destined for hell.” He looked down at her as she tried to pull herself back down the hall. “As if this wasn’t hell enough.” He flipped her over, so she could see his eyes. “I’m going to ask you one last time.” He stomped on her already-shattered leg. Yelling over her screams, he asked again. “Where is my ring?”
Through her streaming eyes, she saw him drop to his knees. Her eyes were glued to the heavy fist that hung over her head. She knew the blow was coming. She could already feel the pain. What would it be like to die again? Would she come back again, or would that be it? She wanted to see Alex again. Her heart leaped at the sound of the front door opening. Hopeful, she turned toward the sound. Her heart froze. A tall man wearing a very expensive suit stood in the foyer. He had dark hair and looked young and athletic. Slowly he turned his handsome face to the scene in the sitting room. His eyes traveled slowly from the broken girl on the floor to the swirling hatred standing over her.
Edgar’s grip was gone as he stood staring at the newcomer. Chloe pushed herself up against the wall. She stared at the man as well, disbelieving her eyes. Now she was looking back to Edgar as the smoke disappeared, vanishing back to reveal a short, balding, overweight man. He had greasy hair and a poor complexion. His mouth hung open, displaying rotten and missing teeth. “Richard,” he whispered.