The Next Room
I hope you know the deal at this point. We are in a long story cycle. If you follow the links below in the order of appearance you can catch up to where we are now. Or you can follow them to refresh your memory of how we got here.
Outside the Dairy Queen
Along the Forest Path
A Light Repast
Lost in Darkness
Fear and Confrontation
The Next Room
Rat in a Cage
The Next Room
He wavered, his resolve gone in that moment of indecision and Mira didn’t miss a beat. She grabbed his shoulder and pulled him close. Her hot breath filled his ear and caressed his neck. “We have to get out of here, now. Stop playing around.”
Something snapped in his brain. It wasn’t that he wanted to believe her now, that thought had left him. In his mind the battle of two voices had stopped and he accepted her words without question. “I follow your lead.”
Her smile, he could feel it, feel its warmth, filled him with a calm certainty he hadn’t felt in some time. She turned away from him and walked back to the door that led into the room. “Don’t make a sound,” she whispered and then slipped through the doorway.
Eddie rushed to follow her but stopped short of the doorway. The distance between the sides gave him pause as he did the calculations in his head. He was certain he wouldn’t fit through it in his present condition. The door frame was a standard sized frame. He didn’t feel standard sized, not anymore.
Mira poked her head back into the room. “Forget the door,” she said. “Squeeze through the best you can.”
Eddie turned sideways and forced the bulk of his chest through. His back scraped against the frame. It had been a tight fit but he made it through. Nothing stirred in the next room. But through his mind’s eye he could see the layout of the place and recognized it. He had woken in this room several times.
Everything in the room appeared in his mind as he remembered seeing it. Everything except for the lump on the bed. Before, he had been that lump. The body shaped lump lay on its back, its face turned toward the ceiling. He couldn’t make out the exact features of the face but something felt familiar. That second voice in his mind screamed at him, screamed that it was him, his real body.
He paused beside the bed. If he had had eyes to see he would have looked upon the body. He would have studied it and searched for some semblance of recognition. Instead his towering frame loomed over the thing on the bed. And he felt heat.
Burning rage emanated from the body on the bed. This was the thing he feared the thing in the room that filled him with dread. At first he thought that it might have been because it was his body, the true home of his psyche. But that washed from his mind when the thing began to move. It sat up and placed its bare feet to the wooden floor. A sheet covered its pelvis but its lower legs and torso were naked. As it rose from the bed heat pulsed away from it in waves.
Mira pulled at his shoulder, pulled him toward the doorway that would take them from the room. Her whispered word “Run” struck him through a haze of heat and fear.
The first voice in his head told him he had nothing to fear. He had become a great beast, a creature of the hunt and a frail human body could do nothing to him. But the heat, the burning, it had intensified to consume him. He had become torn between his need to follow her command and his need to defend her from this thing that used to be him.
He slashed out with the blade of his right arm. Heat and light flashed deep into his mind, a psychic scream that threatened to knock him to his knees. He stumbled and fought to maintain his footing. It wasn’t until a moment later that he realized he still screamed from the pain.
The echo vision he had of his surroundings had faded. He had become blind, sightless and eyeless in a world of blackness. He could still hear Mira’s voice, a plea to run to escape from the creature that threatened them. But his need to defend, to destroy the creature that had been him had become a compulsion he could not deny.
He slashed with the blade that was his left arm, a solid hit. Again he suffered through white pain and heat. His arms had grown numb with pain. And his throat cracked in the scream that filled his lungs and the air around them. He could hear nothing but his own anguish, could see nothing but white searing light.
He had fallen to his knees and could advance no further. The heat of the creature that had been him pulsed in front of him. And then it touched him. Hands of fire on his shoulders, seared into his flesh and pushed him down to the ground. The intense pain consumed him, fire fed deep into his soul.
And then it stopped.
He didn’t black out, didn’t succumb to the pain. It had stopped like it hadn’t happened. He lay on the floor, his leg’s folded, knees in the air. The pain had left him like an old friend. He ached for its return.
The world around him had returned to the normalcy of moments before. His echo vision had returned. What used to be him had backed away from him and Mira still stood in the doorway.
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