The Sacrifice

Fiona is compelled to stay with her eccentric uncle in the dreary city of London following the death of her beloved father. However, her short stay allows her to see into a world beyond her dreams and nightmares and it seems that her uncle was showing a little more than kindness allowing her to stay. He has a plan and she is part of it.
But what if the plan takes an unexpected twist? Who will walk away unfounded?

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4. Chapter Four

The room was in the exact state I'd left it this morning. Yesterday's dress, unwashed and strewn across the bed. Suitcase stashed away in the tucked alcove of the room. Hairbrush lying still in front of the mirror that I'd admired myself in- now I looked broken and defeated. Shouldn't I be happy and bursting with joy at my father's return? Somehow I couldn't bring myself to do so. 'There is nothing to celebrate,' I told myself firmly. Death and life- they're topics far beyond the stretch of our knowledge. Even the night was mourning; the black velvet night clocked the sky, tucking away the diamond stars. The moon was hidden too- lost in the silent sky. I padded towards the window and watched the dark world, hating it; hating to be part of something so evil.

The ring. If only I’d known how important it was, I would have taken better care of it. But what bothered me most was father tonight. The unnatural hunger in his eyes. In his mad frenzy, he’d forgotten that I was his daughter or perhaps it was just me who was led by the false belief that my father would never cause me harm. Today, that belief wavered for the first time and my heart plummeted. The tears that I’d barricaded fell out like pearls rolling out of an oyster shell. The hurricanes of emotions grabbed hold of me, twisting me round and around until I could no longer breathe. Suffocated within myself, I unlocked and pushed the window in front of me, inhaling the cold, crisp air. It hit me in the face, biting into my skin but it wasn’t enough to cool down my burning heart. The coldness of wind numbed all my nerves and I chattered; somehow the wind depressed me; I could no longer control it, I was merely its servant. It whispered out to me, telling me things softly, reaching out to me but I couldn’t understand anything. Why was I personifying wind anyway? Wind wasn’t an element you could control...wait, it was. A drilling sensation pounded in my ears, then a loud screeching like nails slowly scratching down a blackboard- painfully loud. Before I realized what had happened, my head felt like it had been knocked out by a large club.

“Oww,” I moaned, placing a hand on my head. The breeze teased my hair and kissed my exposed skin, chilling me. Who opened the window? It’s awfully cold and the wind is annoyingly active. I quickly closed the window and locked it securely.

I glanced back at my ghostly reflection on the glass window. What was I thinking about? Ah! The ring? Funny, I can’t even remember what it looked like, did I wear it? Why was it so important anyway? Uncle was probably just being crazy…My father. It felt like a sharp blow to the head as I thought about him, my stomach spun around and I felt sick.  Tired and immeasurably weary, I trudged off to bed and snuffed out the single candle on my bedside. And owl hooted somewhere and there was the scratching noise as mice scurried off somewhere. Then there was silence.

Even in my dream, I was aware that this was nothing more than a dream. One I could simply sleep off and forget it if any unpleasant occurrences take place.  I had the power and control over it, or so I told myself as I stood in the middle of the circle. Surrounding me were five dark hooded figures, chanting under their breath. The sky cackled with a flash of lightening then the heavy clap of thunder. Deciding it was nothing more than a dream, I decided to brave it.

“Who are you?” my voice shook even as spoke those words. They ignored me and carried on. If anything, their voiced rose. Then I realized it wasn’t a voice- one was whistling, another crackled. One gurgled and the other crunched. The final one spoke. I could barely make it out with my lack of knowledge in Latin.

Power…….restore……break the enchantment.Lunar, the rest of the sounds seem to agree and they hummed along in unison. Terrified, I could only watch, sweat breaking from my forehead and running down my face. Half my hair was plastered to my scalp, the rest frizzed out into a larger puff than usual. Maybe they sensed how frightened they made me feel as their words softened and seemed almost..kinder. I didn’t care, how could sounds be kind? This was all a silly dream, that’s right its only a dream . I just need to wake up and…

“This is not just a dream,” the hooded voice interrupted, it was a familiar female voice who spoke. Why was everyone reading my thoughts? That greatly annoyed me.

“Sorry,” she apologized but didn’t sound so sorry at all, her voice was stone cold, deadly serious. “You must listen carefully, please. There is danger ahead of you- there is much danger in your path, you must be cautious. Do not trust those who promise you help, avoid them at all costs. Run away if you can, because it’s the only way to save yourself. Run Fiona! Run!” her voice rose and the dream shook like an earthquake. I was alarmed by the sudden request; this was certainly turning out to be a strange dream.

“This is not a dream. Heed my words Fiona, for there will come a time when you regret deeply if you do not.” She sounded furious, aggressively spitting out her words. The image shook harder, I was probably waking up. “Find the ring, only your powers can protect you now.”

“Who are you?” I asked, I needed to know the stranger’s identity- the one who threw demands at me. The hooded figure didn’t answer, and I was beginning to believe I would never find out when she lifted her head. Half her face emerged out of the shadows and my heart skipped a beat at the very instant. She was me, a mirror image- almost a mirror image, more like my reflection on a glass window on a moonless night. She was paler, more ghostly like my soul, my spirit. The thought struck painfully on my head; she stared back at me with her cold, emerald eyes and I screamed. I scream loudly as the dream shook more violently than before, and the image was falling apart when she murmured out to me, “Heed my words Fiona, danger lies in front of you.”

Coughing and spluttering from non-existent dust and fumes, I was wide awake and screaming. My cheeks were wet with salty liquid and my throat was constricted and sore from my piercing cries. Breathing became highly difficult and each time I inhaled, it felt ragged and painful. Not for the first time since I arrived here, I yearned for my mother, I had abandoned my faith in God when they stole her from me; leaving me a homeless orphan. I had cursed them, yelled at their deaf ears, cried in front of them and finally left them. Now, I longed for some support. I was truly lost in the large walls as though the house itself had consumed me whole. My mother, she was a brilliant parent and used to be my largest source of comfort in life before she left. Apart from her heart breaking obsession with father, she was an excellent mother who attended to my needs and took such good care of me. She worked hard, as a single mother, to feed me, clothe me, educate me and secure a good life for me.

That’s why her sudden decision to join the convent puzzled me still. It was true, father’s plague driven death had upset her and caused her a lot of distress. She wanted to escape, I knew, but I couldn’t understand how she could have been so selfish to leave me behind. I missed her so much, the warmth of her arms cradling me, the sweetness of her optimism as she whispered promises that all would be well. I needed her right now, to pour out all my worries, the mysteries that surround my life. I desperately wished for her advice and guidance- her optimistic voice.

'Stop being such a baby,' I chastised myself. Feeling sorry for myself just because I had a dream; how pitiful! I can't fall to pieces. It's only a dream. Only a dream. But I knew that it was more than a regular nightmare, something told me it was far too serious for that. 'I must consult uncle,' I decided. 'Perhaps, not at this late hour. Tomorrow morning.'

Sleep was not an option- I couldn't risk stumbling into another terrifying dream so I lit a candle and perched myself on the desk. Pulling out a random book from the cluttered pile, I tried to focus on the words in front of me. It was a Latin book, handwritten with dark black ink. The words were merely scrawls at first, and under my scrutiny, they appeared more like real words and meanings could be found. I recognised a word at a time, then piecing together the sentence; the time it took to figure out a single paragraph exhausted me- it was a dull and lifeless read. Shutting the book with a muffled yawn, I tried my brain to pick out some other activity to engage in whilst waiting for twilight.

The doors, I had wanted to explore the five doors in my room. Rising from my desk, the wooden chair scraped back with a screech, and I stood facing the room. I could spend the night investigating the contents and uses of the rooms, I decided; my previous experiences with unknown rooms did dampen the idea a little, but the weight of my curiosity and eagerness to remain active won over. Now, if I say that four of the doors had gone missing, one can understand my utter disbelief. The walls remained innocently intact, showing no signs or supporting wooden doors or their frames. 'Impossible!' I told myself. I was certain of the fact that there were five doors- of the sane width and breath, size and shape, colour and material. Then why do my eyes decided me? Only one remains- the portal to the corridors.

I blinked and scanned the room again but the fact remained stubborn, there was only a single door. Had I imagined it? The question remained inexplicably complex, almost as though I knew the answer deep within but something  prevented my hands from grabbing hold on it; it just seemed to slip thorough my fingers like sand. Memories and thoughts seemed so murky and the fence that marked the border of reality feel apart a little. Searing pain flashed through my head, clotting all my thoughts. I could only focus helplessly on the burning sensation that tortured my mind- as if it were overheating. My arms elevated immediately and clutched my head tightly, naively attempting to delude myself that the insignificant gesture was going to relieve me of any pain.

“ARRRRGGGGHHH,” I cried out loud, unable to contain the mental suffering. Within moments, the door flung open and a shadowy figure hurried towards me. I had no time to recognise the unauthorised entry or the personnel as my legs gave away and I crashed to the floor. The ground seemed to shake turbulently then reduced to a tremor as my eyes shut themselves.


 

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