We are winding down now. Isn't this exciting! I have enjoyed this so much. There may be two more chapter, possibly a third. I am not sure yet. But let me know what you think of this. I am not sure how I want this to end.
When Ava opened her eyes she saw Az's dark blue pair staring into hers with a worried expression.
"Jesus, you gave us a scare there. You passed out. What happened?" He asked helping her up. The cop was holding his cell phone out as if ready to dial 911.
"I must still be a little dehydrated." Ava shrugged.
"I'll get you a bottle of water then, and something to eat." The police officer said before walking off. Azarias watched him leave and then helped her into a seat. He looked her over a couple times to make sure everything was alright. He sat beside her and heaved a great sigh.
"It's been a long day," He said. Ava nodded silently, she was replaying the past few minutes in her head.
She hadn't realized that she had passed out, but she did know that it wasn't from dehydration. She had been having some sort of vision. Red Eyes had to be behind it; he was trying to get into her head, and make hell on earth just for her. She had been in her cage again, screaming and burning. As much as she tried to escape she found herself blocked in by a beast from purgatory. At the end of the vision Ava saw a bright white light. She knew it had to be Blue Eyes; it was unsettling that both of them had easy access to her mind.
"Ava, are you sure you're okay? You look really miserable." Az put his hand gently on her arm, his skin warm against hers. She smiled reassuringly.
"Gee thanks." She said in a sarcastic tone. "I am really tired though."
The officer returned with the bottle of water and a granola bar. Ava thanked him and leaned back in her seat. Az's eyes never left her. She kept her eyes glued to the floor, she was a little uncomfortable.
"Let's go," Azarias said softly. He held his hand out to her. "The plane is boarding." He smiled sweetly.
"Okay." Ava took his hand and let him pull her up. She didn't have any bags, so they went through security and just boarded the plane.
The plane ride was short. Ava didn't fly much, so at first she was nervous, but as soon as the plane took off she was out like a light, her head against Az's shoulder. Halfway through the ride, she must have started to tremble, because Az put his arm around her protectively.
She was dreaming of hell again, Red Eyes was laughing at her as she burned. He leaned into her cage, and then Ava realized that it wasn't Red Eyes who was tormenting her. It was Caiden; his eyes were ice cold, and his smile was menacing. He snapped his fingers and Ava felt the fire spread through her entire body.
"Just in time." Azarias said. Ava woke with a start. She looked herself over, checking her arms and legs. No marks anywhere, aside from the scars from Purgatory.
"Are we there?" Ava asked rubbing her eyes. Az stood and stretched, he was a lot taller than Ava remembered. Fifty years really must really mess with a person's memory.
"Yup. Now let's go. My car is in the lot so we just have to find it." He lead her out of the airport and to his car. It didn't take to long for him to find it.
"Do you need anything? Are you hungry?" Az asked as they drove the thirty minutes to his house. His car smelled new, and it was spotless aside from the books laying in the back seat. Az was always a bookworm and very smart.
"No, right now I just want to sleep... in a warm place, with a bed." Ava said crossing her arms. She watched as they passed cars driving along side them.
They pulled into the driveway of a quaint looking home. It was a one story white building, but it looked big enough. Azarias turned the car off and opened his door.
"I know it isn't home, but at least its a warm place with a bed." Azarias smiled as he helped her from the car.
"It's more like home than I have had in a long time." She said. They walked side by side up the sidewalk. Azarias unlocked the door and held it open for her. She stepped in hesitantly and looked around. Like his car, the house was spotless. There was a huge bookshelf on the left wall. Everything was decorated nicely, almost as if a woman lived here.
"You're home!" A female voice called. "Is this her?"
Ava spun around, fear rising. In front of her was a short curvy woman with blonde hair and a natural tan. She had dark brown eyes and sparkling white teeth. Ava stumbled back into Az's chest.
"Nina, this is Ava. Ava, Nina." Az said making the introduction.
She looked at the smiling woman and only saw the woman she had killed in Purgatory, just before the monsters had arrived. But that wasn't a woman, she tried to tell herself. It was a monster.
"Ava, it's wonderful to meet you." She held out her hand but Ava didn't take it. Slowly, she put her hand back to her side, but the smile didn't leave her face. "You must be awfully shaken up. I'm sorry. I can go outside or to the store if need be." The last sentence was directed toward Azarias.
"I was going to let Ava get comfortable in the guest bed. You can stay." He smiled. The woman nodded thoughtfully and walked into the kitchen.
"Ava, feel free to anything in our fridge if your thirsty. I'll be making dinner in an hour or so." Her voice was cheery, and that made Ava feel better. She liked Nina, and she felt stupid for being afraid.
"If your asleep, the smell will wake you up. She is a wonderful cook." Azarias said as he lead her down the hall. "The spare room is kind of small, but the bed is new. You should be extremely comfortable.
"Thank you." Ava said. The room she was in was painted a pale blue. It was just as Az had said, small but comfortable. Ava stood in the room a moment just looking at it.
"Is something wrong?" He asked rubbing his neck as if he were nervous.
"No, its probably the best thing I have seen all day." She said turning around with a smile. She hugged Azarias again tightly. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead.
"Get some rest." He whispered before letting her go.
Once he left, she shut the door and practically jumped into the bed. Once she had wiggled her way into the covers and found a comfortable position she let herself relax. Almost instantly, she fell asleep. The cot at the police station wasn't terribly uncomfortable, but this bed made it seem like stone.
Caiden had left Cora's house soon after the news broadcast. He could not believe it and he still didn't. Once at home, he tried to phone her parents. But each time he called he got their voice mail.
"It's not possible, is it?" He asked himself. He didn't know the answer to that. "How did she end up in California? Is she okay? Am I dreaming?" He pinched himself to be sure that he was awake, but he still didn't know the answer to any of his other questions.
He walked to his fridge and took out a six pack. He drank downed on beer and eventually felt more at ease. He popped open the second one and sat down on his couch. He grabbed his laptop and just wasted some time. By the time he stumbled to his bed it was four in the morning.
He woke up at noon to the sound of his phone ringing. He sat up and rubbed his temples; he needed to learn that drinking was not helping anything.
"Hello?" He said as he answered the phone.
"Caiden?" It was Ms. Holland, she was crying. "Have you heard the news?"
"Yes." He said after he took a moment to compose himself.
"She's coming home tomorrow night. I think you should come, but I understand if you can't." She said sniffing. Caiden hesitated a moment and looked the ceiling.
"I'll come. I want to see her too." He said tears welling up in his eyes. Ms. Holland gave him everything he needed to know, and then she hung up the phone. "Oh, you can bring anyone with you, if it will make it easier for you..." She added at the last minute.
Caiden went back to bed for a couple of hours before he decided to call Cora and some other people. He still couldn't believe it, but when he fell asleep he was dreaming of Ava again. Not the Ava who was suffering and running from danger, but the Ava safe and sound asleep in a bed. Caiden smiled to himself and moved forward.
"It's just a dream my friend." A voice behind him said. It was the same mysterious man from before.
"Why?" Caiden asked dumbly.
"I had to make you believe she was alive. You're faith was weening in her. You believed she was dead. You have to believe again. So I show you this."
"So she is alive." Caiden asked bewildered.
"Yes, and she sleeps as you see now." The strange man said. His blue eyes were warm with affection as he looked at Ava. "Take care of her."
Then the dream ended.
Azarias had been right about Nina's cooking; it was spectacular. When Ava had woken up, she could smell the food wafting through the vents. She opened the door and looked around as if the safe home she was in was in her imagination, and this was just a huge trick. When Ava touched the walls and walked on the carpet in her bare feet she could feel everything and smell every smell in the house; it was real.
"You're awake!" Nina said as she stepped in the room. She and Az were setting the table together. Az looked at her and smiled widely, his entire face lighting up. Ava only nodded.
"Great. Come sit down, we'll get everything for you."
Ava watched as they got everything and joined her to eat. Everything smelled so good, Ava had to remind herself of her manners. She smiled hesitantly at Nina and thanked her for making the meal. Then she took her fork and began to eat. Ava's eyes went wide as she chewed the first bite, she squealed.
"Its wonderful." She said covering her mouth as she spoke. Nina and Az laughed.
"Been awhile," Az said giving her a knowing look.
"Yes." She said before taking a drink of milk. That tasted wonderful as well.
She went to bed full and warm inside. It was still early and she had wanted to stay up with Az and Nina and catch up on some thing. But they both insisted that there would be enough time for that later. For awhile she lay awake listening to the sounds in the house. Occasionally she could hear their conversations.
"The way she acts she seems to have been lost for far longer than she was." It was Nina's voice.
"She was gone for five years." Azarias said. "It was a long time." There was an undertone there that Ava couldn't understand.
"I know. She must have seen pretty terrible things. Did they take her to the hospital to give her a check up?"
"No," He said. "I was surprised by that as well. Maybe she will get one in Milwaukee?"
"She's from Wisconsin?!" Nina said shocked.
"Her parents are; she and her boyfriend lived a couple hours north from there." Azarias explained. "We went to high school together."
"She seems sweet." Nina said. "You care a lot about her."
"I do, she is one of my best friends. I love her like I love my own sister. It's just a miracle that she was found."
"All the way across the country." Nina added. "It seems crazy."
"It is crazy. She must have been through hell." Azarias said.
Ava stopped listening then. They couldn't even imagine the worst of what she had gone through. None of the earthly evils could compare to Hell. Instead she looked out the window. It was late fall, almost winter, but she couldn't really tell now. It was going to be pretty chilly back home.
Before she fell asleep someone knocked on her door. It opened a crack and Nina poked her head in.
"I brought you some clothes to wear for tomorrow. and a toothbrush and stuff." She said softly as she stepped into the room. "Az also wanted me to tell you that there has been an arrangement for the state police to escort you to the airport tomorrow afternoon. They've offered for us to come along, if your alright with that I know Az would love to go. You know how he is."
"I'd love for you both to come. Ava said sitting at the edge of her bed. "And Nina, you are so kind. Az needed someone like you."
Nina smiled. And sat next to her. She had set the clothes and toiletries on the dresser. She tucked her blonde hair behind her ears and sighed.
"He had you. You know that you mean a lot to him." She said. She wasn't jealous it was clear by the tone of her voice.
"I know. But he has you in a completely different way." Ava looked over and smiled.
"Well get some sleep, we've got a big day tomorrow." She hugged Ava lightly. She had a sweet floral scented perfume. Ava returned the hug graciously. Hugs were her new favorite thing.
As soon as she had slipped into a deep sleep, she was surrounded by complete silence.
"You will never be totally free of me." It was Red Eyes' voice. He was laughing somewhere in the darkness that surrounded Ava.
"Why?" She asked crying. She was curled into the fetal position on the ground and was covering her ears.
"Because you are mine poppet; you are special to me." He laughed again and everything caught fire. Ava's skin burned furiously. She stood and tried to put it out. Not even the conventional stop, drop and roll was enough to put out the flames. The light reveal piles of bones and rotting flesh. The walls were dripping with blood and guts. Despite the heat of the flames, Ava shivered. It was freezing; perhaps that's why the expression is cold as hell... Slowly the fire dissipated and Ava was able to stand.
"No! Let me go!" She screamed. "You can't have me! I'll kill you!"
"I doubt that poppet. You can't kill me, not really. I just go back home. Back to hell."
There was a loud noise from across the room. Ava couldn't see anything but the bright red eyes in front of her. She screamed and kicked as the dark figure grabbed her. Nothing she did helped her. She felt her skin burn with the contact. She let out a blood curdling scream and continued to thrash around furiously.