Chapter 10: Candi...
I’m sitting outside at my table, just staring out into the woods, drinking my coffee. It’s a beautiful morning, even with the fog that apparently rolled in last night. It’s putting a soft haze on everything around me, making it hard to see things like individual leaves on trees. Everything kind of blurs together, which makes a gorgeous effect.
Hearing a noise off to my left, where the house backs up against the trees, I turn and look that way. The fog keeps me from seeing exactly who it is, but it looks like a woman is walking towards me. All I can see is the white of her dress. As she gets closer to me, I can make out more. She’s wearing a dress that looks like it came out of another century. It’s white, with a fitted bodice, and a full skirt that falls to the ground. She’s walking through the grass, leaves, and dirt, but it doesn’t seem to be making a mark on the bottom of that dress. Weird, but ok.
She comes up to the porch and starts walking up the steps. She’s absolutely stunning! She’s petite, with jet black hair that reaches her waist, pulled back with clips at the side of her head and left to cascade down her back in loose curls. That black hair just highlights her smooth milky white skin and full, pink lips.
Oddly, I’m thinking of Snow White as she walks closer. She walks over and pulls out a chair across from me, still not speaking, and sits down. She didn’t look at me the entire time she was walking up, watching her feet and then the table instead. She does now, though. Her eyes are mesmerizing. They’re dark brown, almost black, but what really gets me is the misery in them. It’s beyond heart breaking.
Finally, she leans forward and I realize she’s whispering. I lean in towards her and hear, “He will never cease. He will never cease. He will never cease.”
She just keeps repeating this over and over and over. I speak up, “Who? What do you mean? I don’t understand.”
She starts crying and reaches for my hands. I don’t know why, but I HAVE to reach out for her. When she grabs my hands, my eyes roll back and I go completely stiff. Her whispers are still there, but they’re a backdrop for the scenes now playing behind my eyes.
It flashes quickly, but I get bits and pieces. First I’m dancing with Kieran, but it’s in a ballroom, lit only by candles, and he’s wearing an old-fashioned suit and smiling down at me in that sweet way that he does. The music stops and we’re pulled to the staircase at the front of the room with a strange man, who takes both of our hands and says, “Friends and neighbors! It is my great honor to announce the betrothal of my daughter, Isabella to our friend and neighbor, Kieran McKinsey. Thank you all for joining us on this wonderful occasion!”
The scene whirls into what can only be described as a wedding night. It seems he was disappointed in me. “You must get better at this, Isabella. I’ll not spend my life with a wife as cold as a fish.”
I’m crying and apologizing, trying to explain that I was untouched before him and was unaware of what was expected of me. His look of disappointment is replaced by one of patience. He reaches down and puts a hand on my cheek, “I know, darling. We will work on it.” He reaches above my head, tightening the ropes that he has bound me to the bed with and I cry out in pain. I get a slap for my troubles.
Another scene with Kieran is suddenly there. We’re walking in the woods, holding hands. I raise my other hand and wipe away my tears, but he notices. His grip on my hand becomes so very painful, making me cry out in pain. “You idiotic whore! You WILL stay away from those women, so help me GOD!” This time when he hits me, I fall and my head cracks against a rock. I can’t move or speak, but I can see him above me, looking angry.
He starts shaking me, yelling, but I can’t understand what he’s saying. He gets a look of shock on his face and whispers, “Oh, God, no. What have I done?” He calls my name and starts crying. I feel like it’s the first bit of compassion he’s shown me in our marriage. He pulls me into his arms, rocking back and forth and cries, “Please don’t leave me. I’m so sorry. Please, I’ll never do it again. I’m so sorry.”
Then I’m lying on the ground beside a waterfall, as he digs a hole. “You will be happy here, I promise. You love this waterfall, so it will be your resting place, my love.”
He wraps me in a blanket and buries me in the hole. Suddenly I’m looking down at him burying the body, rather than looking up at him. A group of women, all dressed in solid black, slowly walk out of the woods and surround him. When he’s done with his deed, he looks up and sees them and all the color blanches out of his face.
He says, “I’m sorry. It was an accident. There was nothing I could do.”
The leader, a beautiful woman with straight auburn hair, steps forward, “This was no accident, Kieran McKinsey. And you’ll not be allowed to do this to another woman.”
He starts shaking his head and trying to walk backwards, but they do something that makes him freeze in place. As he starts to scream, one of them makes a movement with her hands and his mouth seals shut.
The leader continues, “You’ve taken our sister from us. You’ve crushed this innocent soul as you would a cockroach under your boot. You will NOT leave here unscathed, to continue to spread your evil around.”
I can’t quite tell what they’re doing, but it looks like some kind of weird spell. He falls to the ground, his eyes rolling back in his head, and starts to convulse. It doesn’t take long until he’s completely still and silent.
As this seems to be complete, the leader gets a look of satisfaction on her face, quickly followed by shock. She looks back at her companions, narrowing her eyes on each one until one of them, a blonde, steps back from the others.
She says, “You traitorous bitch. How could you?”
The woman she was talking to goes pale and says, “I loved him, Joanna. He had to have a chance.”
Joanna stalks over to her, “He didn’t DESERVE a chance! Do you see what he’s done? He murdered an innocent woman!”
The woman shakes her head, “No, it was an accident. Kieran wouldn’t do something like that. I know him. He was miserable with her but he never would have intentionally hurt her. We were going to leave and be together. He was never going to hurt her.”
Joanna shakes her head sadly, “And now you get to spend the rest of your days regretting your actions. But you’ll regret them without our power behind you. You’re done here. I suggest moving away, but I know you won’t listen to me. Especially after what you’ve done here today. So, enjoy the time you have left with the monster you’ve just created.”
They all turn their backs on her and, with a look of malice at each one, she turns and stalks away.
Conversation complete, Joanna dusts her hands off and walks over to the unmarked grave, getting down on her knees. She pulls out a few handfuls of dirt, placing something in the hole she made, then covering it back up. I somehow float down next to her and she looks over at me.
“My dear sister.” Tears are now rolling down her cheeks, unchecked. “I’m so terribly sorry that we were unable to prevent this from happening. We will ensure you have another chance.” She takes a breath and another woman waves her hand, making water from the waterfall come up and drip onto the grave. “The spell to bind him will not be as I had hoped. The only way to ensure you would be able to return was to kill him. Thanks to the idiocy of Marie, he will, however be able to make attempts to come back into this world. He has exactly two hundred years. Once that time is up, if he has not found his way, his soul will be sent straight to hell and YOU, my dear, will be able to return.” She stands up and they all step back from the grave, as a tree grows to full grown adulthood before my eyes, “The roots of this tree will protect your body. Your soul will return and you will be able to live again then. I’m just sorry that I won’t be there to see it happen. Please warn people away. He will be trapped on this land, but if anyone comes here, he may win his way back.”
The scene changes again and there’s my house being built. It flips over to a couple moving in. The man leaves for work and Kieran walks around the corner, trying to charm the wife. It flips through scenes of him and her, having sex while the husband is gone to work. After a while, he gets angry and starts demanding to know why she’s not pregnant yet. She looks at him in confusion and says, “I’m barren, Kieran. I will never be able to have children.” In a fit of rage, he snaps her neck. Her husband walks in and goes after him, but Kieran stabs him with a butcher knife that was lying beside the stove. He cleans the house and buries their bodies in the woods.
Another family moves in, with similar results. The scenes of so very many families, murdered, flashes behind my eyes. In every single one of them, he gets overly angry when he finds out that, for one reason or another, the woman is unable to give him a child.
The last family already has three children and I can see the glee on his face when he sees this. The husband is the first to go. Kieran waits until the woman takes her children to school, sneaks in and snaps his neck, leaving her a note saying that he couldn’t deal with having a family anymore. That it was too much work and he was leaving. He even signs it “Please forgive me”, before taking the man out to bury him.
This woman he courts for what seems a longer period of time. He has to get past her grief at losing her husband, after all. She does eventually give in to him, however. Of course she does. He’s been the picture of loving patience with her. They almost look like a loving family for a while, judging by the scenes flipping through my head. After a while, he broaches the subject of more children.
“Darling, you know that I love you and the children.”
She nods, “Yes, and we love you too, so very much.”
He smiles and kisses her, “I know. I would like to talk about having another.” She looks confused, so he continues, “Another child, darling. One born of both you AND I.” She opens her mouth to speak but he cuts her off, “Now, don’t be upset. I love your children as if they were my own. I just feel that it’s time to move past everything that’s happened. And I’d like to start doing that by giving them a little brother or sister to spoil.”
She gets a sad look on her face, “I’d love that, Kieran.” When he smiles at her, she looks even sadder and shakes her head, “Unfortunately, after Makayla was born, I had to have a full hysterectomy. It was a difficult pregnancy, followed by an even more difficult birth, and there was quite a bit of damage.”
“What? I don’t understand. What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I can’t have any more children. My reproductive organs were removed.”
And the rage comes back. “You deceitful bitch!”
She jumps up and backs away from him, “What? Why are calling me that? I never deceived you.”
He stalks toward her, “Oh yes you did. All this talk of being a family. And all this time, you knew you’d never give me what I wanted.”
He doesn’t give her a chance to argue further. He grabs a knife from beside the sink at her back and slices her throat. He stands there, breathing hard, watching the blood pour out and her life fade away. The three children run in the room, yelling for “mommy!”
To give him credit, he did try to turn them away and explain that mommy had an accident. When the oldest boy sees her, though, he yells out, “You killed her!” and goes after Kieran. The boy can’t be older than ten and is no match for him. Kieran catches him and snaps his neck. As he falls to the ground, the younger two scream and try to run. They’re small, though, maybe around 3 and 5. They don’t get far. They get the same treatment as their brother.
He takes them all, one by one, up the stairs and into the attic. There he lays them in the floor, wrapped in blankets. He cleans the house and leaves.
The next thing I see is Chris meeting the realtor for me. Kieran sees him from a distance and listens as he explains that it’s a young girl, fresh out of college that will be moving in. Then I see Cam and myself pull into the driveway.
Finally, I see him appear out of the woods and start helping me carry in my bags from the store.
Gasping for breath, shaking, crying I come out of it. She’s still clutching my hands, the whisper becoming a desperate cadence “he will never cease, he will nevercease, hewillneverceaseHEWILLNEVERCEASE!” Her eyes, once deep brown, glaze over with cataracts, her grip, once gentle, becomes like steel. Her head snaps back, her mouth no longer forming the words, and yet still I hear “NEVERCEASENEVERCEASENEVERCEASE…” Her hair becomes wiry and white as her skin rapidly decomposes, her once full lips sink into a corpse’s snear, the eyes become hollow sockets. “NEVERCEASENEVERCEASE…” I wrench from her skeletal grip and her head, now little more than a skull tilts to regard me. The words float through her hanging jaw “…you will all die here…”
I jump up and start screaming. I start hearing a man’s voice… Chris’ voice, “Candi! Candi, wake up! Candi, come on baby, you’re dreaming. Wake up!”
I jerk my eyes open and see that I’m still in my bed. Morning never came. In fact, it’s still dark outside.
I’m gasping for breath, trying to make sense of what happened, when Chris pulls me to him and starts hugging me. “Jesus Christ, you scared the hell out of me.”
“What’s happening to me?” I ask in a broken whisper.
He leans back and brushes my hair away from my face, “It was just a dream. That’s all. Nothing’s happening to you. You’re ok now.”
I hug him back to me and burst into tears. This can’t keep going on. I hope they have answers from my tests soon. The only other option is inconceivable. If it’s not medical, I’m either going insane, or I’m being haunted.
He lays down beside me, pulling me back into his arms, “Go back to sleep. I’m right here if you need me.”
And even though it feels like I’ll never sleep again, I actually drift off rather quickly.