Chapter 2 - From Hell and Back Again

I awoke a few days later with a startle and shuddered, sitting up in bed. The remnants of her person, the nightmarish young corpse, her eyes red, a thin grin stretched on her face, persisted in my waking vision.

I failed to move for several seconds.

Then, as I forced my feet off the bed and wiggled my toes over our carpet, my senses gradually grounded in this reality.

I caught my breath, cracked my neck, and then retrieved my phone and the baby monitor.

My morning ritual seized, I finally stood from the bed and began my day. The nightmare successfully returned and restrained to the ignorance of my subconscious.

Delaney and I had a wonderful morning. She had her angel wings on for me - no fuss or muss. While Jeni worked from home, in the basement, Little D and I read books, wrestled, played chase, and ate breakfast together. As long as I gave advanced warnings for transitions from activity to activity, she complied with a smile and a clever two-word phrase.

At length, lunchtime arrived. Jeni came upstairs, and we ate our accustomed family lunch together. Grilled cheeses for my girls today. Daddy chose a boring cheese sandwich. Something I cherished since my own childhood. Finished with our meal and kisses given all around, Jeni returned to work, and I prepped Delaney for her nap.

With one last story read, one last song sun, I crept out of the doorway. And as the door closed behind me, a flash of red formed in my vision. At first, I shut my eyes, pressing them hard, and twisted my head to the right, thinking I had tweaked a nerve. I held a hand along the wall to steady myself. However, when a whistling noise soon filled my ears, I opened my eyes and nearly fell over from shock.

A warm gust of wind blustered at my back. Leaves rustled from behind me.

I turned on my heels - there was the teenager from my dreams. No longer a decaying, twisted image of a corpse, she wore a red cape. She paused briefly to fetch an apple from a pocket.

“Where am I?” I asked out loud.

I wanted to scream from the insanity, which presented itself securely before me. Recalling my nightmare vividly, I neglected such a reaction, daring not to bring attention to myself. I merely stood in place, my eyes tracking the teenage girl who skipped away in the opposite direction, whistling a foreign tune.

When I gathered my bearings, and the girl seemed at a safe distance, I surveyed my current predicament with both horror and fascination. I found myself in the middle of a well-maintained, paved road. Tall trees, majestic in their orange foliage, bowed slightly over the path. My eyes followed this picturesque sight until my vision failed me.

Then, with the girl nearly out of view and no idea how to escape this nightmarish delusion, something within my soul compelled my feet to move.

I followed her.

The journey was short. Perhaps a mile north. The teenager came to a fork and took a gravel road to the left. In another ten minutes, we neared a house. I drifted into the woods, still remaining a good fifty feet behind her, so as not to be noticed by any residing in the home.

She walked up to the front door and knocked on it. As she waited, she ceased her whistling and turned briskly. I darted behind a tree for cover. My heart raced. I craned my neck to the sky above and counted clouds randomly to calm my nerves. After several seconds, the whistling resumed, followed by another knock. I exhaled and peeked out from the tree.

The door of the house opened. A middle-aged woman greeted the girl with a sincere smile. The next moment, a young boy burst through the doorway and wrapped his arms around the teen. All three laughed. The interaction would have seemed wonderful if not for the doom which loomed in my heart.

The teen held a basket out for the boy, who grabbed it eagerly.

I strained my ears, but the wind and distance muffled their conversation.

When the door closed, fear seized me, and I sprinted for the house.

Above me, the skies darkened with immense, supernatural speed. A gust of wind nearly toppled me over, but I managed to reach the door and banging on it.

I had no idea what possessed me to attack the door. I had no notion of what I might say to these strangers in this crazed reality. I merely recognized the synaptic tension coursing through my brain and body, demanding rescue from this demented teenager.

No one answered my knocks. I tried the doorknob. It did not turn in my hands. Frantic, my decision was immediate. I ran from the front door, speeding around the right side of the house. When I reached the backyard, I halted, my eyes gawking. My body tingled. A buzzing hum fell upon the area.

I had returned to the scene of my nightmare.

The three-story house, no longer abandoned and decrepit, stood before me.

A shriek pierced the air and rattled me from my daze.

My head swiveled. The teenager, concealed in her red coat and hood, hovered over two bodies. I immediately flew to them. I placed a hand on the shoulder of the girl, intending to throw her to the side. But, as soon as my first finger fell upon the coat, it dropped to the ground. A piece of crumpled paper floated down as well, landing on the grass at my feet.

The girl had managed to vanish.

The two bodies, the woman and boy, stared at the dark sky, lifeless. Next to them, near their hands, lay partially eaten muffins. Crumbs still clinging to their mouths.

“Poison,” I muttered.

How I knew this fact, I was not sure. Nevertheless, it was inescapable.

Tears swelling in my eyes for strangers and hate settling in my heart, I caught my breath and bent over. I picked up the thin piece of paper. Only one line was written.

I read its words out loud over the bodies which had been slain.

“Gain the love of a family,” I whispered, heart thumping. “Then murder them…without your hands…without a word of magic spoken.”

I crumpled the note, squeezing it in my hand, and screamed.

Thank you for reading Chapter 2 of Narrator of Perm! Stay tuned for Chapter 3 - From Hell and Back Again next Sunday! In case you missed Chapter 1, you can find it here in blog. You can read all 5 chapters right now by signing up for a membership.

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