The Final Breath

And so we come to the close of the story. Or maybe a new beginning. Sometimes it can be hard to tell because when one door closes another is opened. Or something…

If you wonder what this is all about you can find the rest of the story within the links below. They are listed in story order.
Outside the Dairy Queen
Along the Forest Path
The Aftermath
A Light Repast
Red Lethargy
Lost in Darkness
Fear and Confrontation
The Next Room
Blackened Mist
Rat in Cage
The Final Breath

The Final Breath

The blade of his right arm hovered an inch from Barry’s throat. Eddie fought against instinct to drive it through the soft flesh, but also against his urge to pull it back, away from that fateful moment. His thoughts rushed through their last meeting, the attack by Barry’s dog and then him and his friends kicking and hitting him when he fell to the ground.

He couldn’t remember at what point he had passed out with the pain, couldn’t remember when they stopped. His mind showed him nothing but static. Now he stood here, roles reversed. If he pressed the tip of his blade forward he would complete the circle that Barry had started. And he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Eddie couldn’t give in to the animal inside him.

He pushed the boy away. As it fell to the ground in front of him, Eddie stepped back his vision focused rise and fall of the boy’s chest. He still breathed, still lived. Eddie would not be the one to take that from him.

The air around him dropped to a sudden chill. If his strange vision would have allowed it, he would have seen his breath turn to mist as the water vapor froze. An icy presence brushed against his arm as it moved behind him.

“Kill it.” The words brushed against his ear, hot like steam. They couldn’t have come from the source of the cold in the air but he knew, could feel it deep in his core, she was with him again.

The cold fell away as her words ignited a fire within him. The drive to finish off the mewling thing at his feet threatened to overcome him again. Afraid to lose her touch, the heat that came from her voice, he knew he must finish Barry off. He raised his right arm, ready to strike.

Something had changed. No longer was it Barry at his feet. It had taken on his old face. The body in front of him had become the person he had been. The urge to end it filled him and he couldn’t fight it anymore. His arm slashed through the air and stopped just short of the thing’s throat.

The Final Breath

Flickr Creative Commons Via Darkday

“You won’t take him, mother.” Mira had stopped his strike. She had come from the house, hidden by Eddie’s internal dilemma. A long branch had received the force of his strike and held it at bay. It had grown up from the ground at their feet. “His mind is still his own.”

The presence behind Eddie had slipped away, leaving a feeling of loss in its wake. He wanted it with him, needed it to be a part of him. She had drifted toward her daughter and now stood between Eddie and Mira.

“You’re wrong, daughter,” the shadow woman said. She drifted closer to the girl.

Eddie searched for a way out, the thing on the ground forgotten for the moment. The only out was through them. He could take the mother and maybe Mira would still help him. But not like this. His body was not his own, not any more.

As he debated this moment with himself he watched in awe as the shadow struck a blow to the girl’s face. Mira stumbled back and fell on her ass. She scrambled back but not fast enough as another strike descended upon her with more to follow.

The softer voice in his head rose to a scream. “Save her,” Eddie’s old voice echoed in his mind. It had broken through the strangle hold of the new voice. Without a thought, without a second glance, he rushed forward and drove the blades of his arms through the shadow woman’s chest.

Icy pain crushed that began with the touch engulfed his arms and crushed its way through his body. Eddie fell to his knees and brought the shadow with him. He couldn’t move, could barely breathe. A pool of inky blackness oozed around the woman’s body after she slid away from the blade’s of Eddie’s arms.

“You killed her,” she said. “After all that, you finally killed her.” Mira stood above them both. She wiped away the tears that had begun to stream down her cheeks.

The cold and pain slowly began to fade from Eddie’s limbs. A new warmth filled the emptiness that had threatened to engulf him. He had no words. Eddie could barely find the strength to sit up. But in the end it was the laughter that had given him pause. What started with a giggle had turned into a full blown cackle when he turned his attention to Mira. Tears still rolled down her face but they carried the weight of a madness he didn’t expect.

“Finally, finally free,” she whispered. “And now it’s all mine. All of it, everything she has built, every soul she has taken.”

Sudden comprehension fell upon him as he saw into his future. Eddie would never see the world through his old eyes again. He always knew there was a reason he didn’t want his mother to set him up with dates.


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