One Month Later…
Life is great. Texas is growing on me. Well, Sage is anyways. I still can’t stand the heat and I long for the mountains. It took almost a week to clean up the mess. It was actually entertaining watching Papa try to make up stories for the window repairman who kept finding blood and feathers. I think that’s why he and Sage did all the other repairs themselves. Papa kept him so busy we never saw each other when he was around. Luckily, Mama made sure we had some time together, but not too much so Papa wouldn’t freak. It was great having Sage under the same roof while it lasted. Two weeks ago he moved out. Papa has a court date for him to be declared independent and a friend at work had a rental property in town he was willing to let Sage and Oscar rent. Sage’s mom agreed to let Oscar live with Sage and let Sage adopt him when he turns eighteen in exchange for keeping Bubba out of jail.
Sunshine is back to her normal self, totally unfazed, except she no longer has any invisible friends. Thank God. It was truly a blessing that she was spared from almost all of the horrific events by her ability, like most children, to sleep through anything. Mama and Papa still have nightmares and Mama won’t be alone in the house. Papa is doing better now that Sage has moved out. He was like Jekyll and Hyde. They were like father and son, or best friends, while they were working together. Then when I was around they would both become all awkward and Papa would glare at him every time he looked at me. Papa actually had the nerve to install a motion sensor on Sage’s bedroom door across the hall.
Every night for the first two weeks I could hear Papa making the floorboards creak around the corner anytime Sage got up at night to use the bathroom. Luckily, Mama warned me about it and I, in turn, warned Sage. On the first night of installation Sage figured out how to get passed the motion sensors by moving really, really slowly. He tripped it on purpose every so often to throw Papa off. Enough said.
Papa and Sage now get along great when we’re with the family, but when Sage and I go out alone he still gives us the third degree. And I’m not allowed to go to his place, but that’s okay. I can wait until I’m eighteen.
I still have nightmares; mostly about the cleansing night … when it went bad. Calista called again today. She said I can expect to keep having bad dreams because it was a very traumatic experience, but that they should become less frequent and less severe in time. That gives me something to look forward to. She even told me how I can get rid of them faster, but here’s the catch. To do so I’d have to accept my gifts and learn more about the spiritual realm. She’s really anxious to have me start training with her. I keep putting her off though, as I really don’t think I want to help spirits “cross over” after my first mission as A Daughter of Light.
Calista told me the team has all but recovered. Except Lawson, who suffered a detached retina. They were able to reattach it, but he lost some of his peripheral vision and has a nasty scar.
On a different note, Sage is working almost every night trying to save up enough for the rent, furniture, and legal fees. He’s working late again tonight so I’ll see him in the morning when he picks up Oscar — we watch him when Sage is working and my parents babysit when we go out.
I’m still healing from some of the wounds George gave me, so tonight I’m going to bed early so I look rested when I see Sage in the morning. Sunshine is already asleep and Trevor is snoring next to her. Please let me sleep through the night.…
“Marisol!” I scream terrified by what the creature is doing to her. I can’t run. I can’t move. I’m helpless. Invisible bonds keep me from her.
“Mawimaw,” she sobs, “Mawimaw, help me!” she whales. The sickly gray creature just smiles; revealing its jagged yellow teeth. Marisol is suspended a few inches off the ground appearing as if bound by invisible ropes. The lanky emaciated creature circles around her as if evaluating its prey, coming to a stop directly in front of her. It grabs her top jaw with one hand and with the other it grabs her bottom. What the hell is it doing?
“Leave her alone!” I scream. The creature pulls her jaws apart. Marisol screams and wails. The corners of her mouth start tearing apart. Noooo!!! “You bastard!” Marisol’s eyes widen in terror. Tears pour out. The demon’s body contorts as it pulls itself into her through her mouth. Marisol? What is it doing to her? Marisol convulses as her joints pop in out of place, and her bones snap and reconfigure. It’s killing her from the inside. I watch as horns pierce through and extend from her scalp, blood pours out from the perforations. Her fingers lengthen, claws rip through her skin replacing her fingertips. My Sunshine’s legs elongate and bow like a dog standing on its hind legs. Her eyes roll back and only the blank whites are showing. Then a set of inhuman glowing red eyes roll down in their place and stare back at me. The monster smiles and then it bolts straight at me.
I awaken from my own scream. Fresh tears stream down my face blurring my vision as my eyes try to make sense of my surroundings. Through my tears I can still see it is dark out. I hope I didn’t wake Mama and Papa as I do most nights. I don’t have to worry about waking up Marisol, nothing ever wakes her up. I don’t hear anyone coming, so I guess I’m good. I turn over and my fingers feel for Marisol’s body but all I find is the still warm bedding.
“Marisol?” I call out. I sit up ramrod straight only to see a small figure standing at the foot of my bed. “Marisol?” I ask nervously. No answer. What if it’s not Marisol? But who else could it be? George is gone. Is it possible she could be sleep walking? I keep my eyes on the figure as I reach, with a shaky hand, for my flashlight on the bedside table. I turn it on in the direction of the figure, revealing Marisol.
I let out a sigh of relief. “Sunshine, you scared me. Did I wake you up?” She doesn’t answer but stares at me with a strange expression. She’s standing perfectly still; her head is tilted to the side. Her skin is ashen and her face is beginning to twitch. She keeps her eyes fastened with mine, unblinking.
“What are you doing out of bed?” I ask. I am beginning to think I am still trapped in a nightmare.
“How did you like your nightmare?” Marisol asks, grinning.
“How did you know I had a nightmare?”
“Because I gave it to you,” she answers sweetly, “did you understand it?”
“What?” Her lisp, what the f**k happened to her …?
Marisol’s features distort and a demonic voice spews from her mouth, “We have begun!”
END OF BOOK ONE