The Tower

📅 Published on November 21, 2020

“The Tower”

Written by B.T. Joy
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 18 minutes

Rating: 8.00/10. From 2 votes.
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They’d stopped on Winn Street, outside St. James. Ethan hadn’t broken his silence for a moment as he parked up by the church and Laura knew better than to challenge his decision. At the best of times, when Ethan needed silence, he needed silence, and this wasn’t the best of times.

From here they could both see the grey lines of Interstate 49 stretching clear back to Shreveport where it joined the roads that led onto Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, or to anywhere, for that matter, but the place they were going to.

Ethan touched his lips with his tongue.

Laura watched him quietly, quite aware of his tells by now, but conscious not to be the first to speak.

“We’ve come too early,” Ethan said at last, having wet his lips a few more times out of habit.

Laura looked at the dashboard clock. It was eight in the morning and they’d touched down in Alexandria International round five-thirty. They’d stopped in the airport to eat. They’d checked out the condition of the rental car so many times that the agent flat out told Ethan he’d better things to do. They’d driven as slow as possible into the center of the city. And all this without so much as exchanging two words between them.

“We’ve got all the time you need,” she told him. “Do you want to talk about it?”

The morning sunlight was cool and yellow on the road in front of them. Up ahead Ethan watched a Cooper’s hawk sail down onto a telephone pole, wait a moment, cock its head, fly off again.

He shivered visibly when Laura touched his arm.

“Ethan,” she did her best to catch eye-contact as he looked at her, “do you want to talk?”

Ethan’s eyes grew less wide. He tried, unsuccessfully, to look less on edge. Then he shook his head and adjusted his body so Laura was no longer touching him.

“I’ll be fine,” he said flatly. “We’ve come too early, is all. It wasn’t like this.”

Laura breathed out.

“Ethan, you remember what Dr. Braider said. We can’t fixate on details. It isn’t going to be the way it was. Things have changed. You’ve changed.”

Ethan just kept staring out the window. He wouldn’t close his eyes. Not while Laura was there. Not while she could see him. But he knew if he did he’d have smelled the wild boneset flowers again and the lemon mint heating under rows of tomato plants. Then, brick-dust and cobwebs strung out in the cool shade, stringing through his hair and slithering across the skin of his face.

He was thirty-two that year and yet still, whenever he closed his eyes, he was eleven years old again.

Nothing ever changed.

* * * * * *

Laura tried not to see the eight-block journey to the 4th Street motel as a retreat.

She’d suggested to Ethan that if, as he’d claimed, jet-lag was his only problem, then they could take the short drive to Marksville and find somewhere there to check in, have a bite to eat, and a rest. Then they could set out again in the afternoon.

“That was nearer the time,” she’d said, “wasn’t it?”

She’d known she’d lost when Ethan started to bite his upper lip. For him, the Red River, running between Alexandria and Marksville, was not only a geographical but a psychological barrier. Really, she thought, while they rode backwards to the motel, she should’ve been giving him more leeway. This was the first time since he was a teenager that he’d gathered together enough guts even to return to the State of Louisiana. When they’d met Laura had pegged him as a born-and-bred New Englander, just like herself. She’d been more than surprised to hear, after his second big breakdown, that, in reality, Ethan had been born and raised right here in Alexandria and spoke with a southern drawl until the age of sixteen.

It’s a form of self-deception, Dr. Braider had told Ethan once, and Ethan had told Laura. If he doesn’t speak the way he did as a child then maybe he wasn’t that child. Then maybe those awful things didn’t happen.

* * * * * *

They pulled into the parking lot on the corner of 4th and Fisk Street.

Ethan let the engine die.

“I’m sorry about this,” he said. “I always told myself I wouldn’t drag you into this mess.”

“Don’t talk like that, Ethan,” she answered him, “you’re doing fine.”

He looked at her skeptically.

“Come on, Laura. I can’t even cross the river.”

She grabbed his hand.

“You will, though!”

“Will I?” He smiled weakly.

He looked down at her hand, holding his hand, so sincerely.

“When I look at you,” he kept looking at their hands, unwilling or unable to make eye contact, “I see how successful you are. And how clever. And how pretty…”

“Ethan, for goodness sake!”

“Let me finish.” He looked at her at last, shaking his head, “I just… I just can’t see why you’d want to spend so long dealing with my problems.”

She tightened her grip twice over on his hand and stared directly into his eyes.

“They’re our problems, Ethan,” she insisted, “and once we get over that river, once we get back to Marksville and see that place you’re going to realize it can’t hurt you anymore.”

She saw him begin to bite his lip and pulled him into her to stop him.

She held his neck.

She kissed his ear.

“You were a little boy, Ethan,” she said.  “You were a little boy when it happened.”

* * * * * *

The tower had stood in a small farm back then, a mile or two outside of Marksville, between the bank of the Red River and a small flooded strip of grassy bog, where families of wood ducks paddled and sailed, letting out their tall, sharp yipes of sound into the heavy afternoons.

It was stone-built, and its architecture showed Spanish and Sephardic influences that predated even the Louisiana Purchase. The local assumption, therefore, passed down through generations with no actual archaeological evidence, was that it had been a lighthouse erected by La Salle and his men, after they’d claimed the river-land for Louis the fourteenth. Such structures had existed, it was true, but, then, being made of wood, they’d all rotted away centuries ago and fallen into the drink. Why had only that one been built from clean-cut stone? Why did it have characters, from some script foreign to Latin, engraved in arches around its doors and windows? And why had every entranceway been walled up by blocks of material just as old as the edifice itself?

For Ethan and his friends from Alexandria, those questions presented an almost magnetic pull. All summer the game was the same. Bike out of Alex along the Red River road to the bridge and down into the farm where the farmer never farmed. Where the rows of tomatoes and frowsy zucchinis co-existed with wild berries and tall stands of boneset crowned in fragrant white flowers.

Every day they’d lay their bikes in all that green smell and maunder. They’d throw off shirts and run their jeans wet in the shallow of the river, chase the wood ducks, and then lie by the bank in the heavy heat and let the denim dry to their skins.

Sometimes Ethan would walk around and around the tower. Trying to imagine where the builder had laid the first stone. The graven symbols filled him with boyish wonder and it wasn’t too long before he’d stay an extra quarter-hour after his friends had decided to bike it back home.

Don’t worry about me guys, he’d say. I’m right behind you.

But the time spent alone grew longer and longer. Whole hours staring up at the darkening sky with its blues and browns, and the height of the tower above his head.

After a while he began bringing his Swiss army knife, the one his dad had bought him for his birthday that year, and, only ever when the other guys left, he’d start to worry the longest of the blades between the rotten interstices of the stones — the stones that had been placed in the blocked up entranceways — almost as though someone were trying to keep him out.

* * * * * *

Ethan woke in a strange bed and clawed off the blankets.

He rolled onto his stomach, choked, hawked, and spat on the motel room floor. Blood was running through the gaps between his teeth and slavering over his chin.

“Ethan!”

The lights burst on and Ethan rolled pathetically onto his back like an upturned insect. Laura grabbed his arm and tried to pull him upright on the bed.

“Ethan! It’s okay! You’ve just bitten yourself again!”

He spat up more blood and tried to wipe it away on the back of his hand.

“It’s okay!” Laura insisted.

She pulled him off the bed and led him off to the bathroom; he leaned his feeble weight on her shoulders the whole time.

Laura knew the drill. Hell, Ethan bled nearly every time he had the nightmare. Once he’d driven his teeth so far into the flesh of his upper lip they’d had to take a trip to the emergency room that night, where he’d been given two butterfly stitches. In some lights, you could still see the tiny white scar that laced across his philtrum.

When they reached the washbasin Ethan leaned down on it and Laura took the chance to twist on the water and grab a washcloth.

She held the rag under the flow, wrung it out, and then pressed it against her boyfriend’s face, staunching the red flow.

“It’s okay,” she whispered.

“For goodness sake, Laura!” Ethan pounded his fists on the stand.  “Stop saying that!”

Laura looked concernedly into his face. His eyes were staring furiously into the mirror and, if she were truthful, the sound of anger in his voice had frightened her.

Ethan broke eye-contact with himself in the glass and glanced at her. Her startled expression told him everything.

“I’m sorry,” he said, a little laboredly, “I just… I just can’t stand this.”

Her feelings of concern turned back to feelings of sympathy, her default for so much of their relationship, and she began running the washcloth tenderly over his skin again.

* * * * * *

The guy on reception gave the couple a strange look when they reemerged into the lobby of that 4th Street Super 8. They’d only checked in a matter of hours ago and now they were checking back out and him with bloodstains all down the front of his white flannel shirt.

Laura made no reference to Ethan’s condition as she signed them out. What could she say? Sometimes my boyfriend’s dreams are so intense he bites his own lips until they bleed?

No. Better just to let the receptionist imagine whatever sordid motel bloodplay sex game he thought they’d engaged in and be done with it.

When they finally got back on the road Ethan agreed that Laura should drive.

I don’t think I can do it myself, he’d said. I need you. 

As they made their way back to Winn Street Laura thought about that. About how much Ethan needed her. She’d have been with him forever if she could, but how could you be there for someone in his nightmares?

“How far did you get?” She asked after a short silence.

“What do you mean?” Ethan replied.

“In the nightmare. How far did you get?”

He shook his head.

“I… I don’t remember.”

It’s a form of self-deception, Laura. She heard Dr. Braider’s voice. By this time Ethan is very skilled in self-deception. He can repress any memory he wants.

“You do remember!” Laura insisted, then she glanced at him in the rearview, “Ethan, please. Tell me.”

She could see tears starting in Ethan’s boyish eyes and his red, crusty lips were shuddering.

“I remember the smell,” he said, “the boneset and that… that sick lemony smell… I remember the light on the water and the wood ducks screaming…”

He stopped.

“Go on,” Laura prompted.

He stared ahead. They were passing St. James, making their way onto Route 167 that ghosted the Red River straight into Marksville.

“I’m digging away a stone from the entranceway.”  Ethan was entranced, almost back in the dream.  “After a while, it just slides away in my hands. I can see the inside through the hole that’s left and I can smell this smell… like brick-dust and cobwebs… like unwashed skin…”

He looked at her self-consciously.

“I don’t want to go on,” he said.

“Ethan!”

“Please, Laura.”  He looked at his lap.

Self-deception, Laura thought. All self-deception.

She glanced at him one more time, then fixed her eyes on the road ahead. She kept driving.

* * * * * *

They passed through Effie around noon and then crossed the river for the last time.

The high sun flashed like bashed gold across a long and flooded stretch of grass and as they alighted from the road-bridge Laura pulled into park in a small lay-by that ran alongside an extinct vegetable farm.

“We’re here,” she said, and then she let the silence hang in the air.

Ethan’s eyes were closed and his face was tucked into his chest.

Inside the darkness, behind his eyelids, Laura knew he was seeing it all afresh. Himself, at eleven, squirming in through the hole he’d wheedled out of the ancient masonry. How he got soot and ground-wet soil on his after-school clothes as he pushed inside and crawled out from under the wall onto a spiral staircase that led to an attic room, high above the tomato farm, a space that no other human soul had seen in nearly three hundred years.

Maybe it had been a lighthouse once, calling ships inexorably down the black rivers of 17th century Louisiana, and, later, and just as inexorably, calling Ethan’s boyhood body upward into that claustrophobic loft.

She took his hand.

“You don’t need to open your eyes until you want to, Ethan,” she whispered, “but I’m looking at it now—”

She couldn’t see it well. Just a straight and largely unremarkable grey shape among the green floodbanks. Nothing you wouldn’t drive by a hundred times without noticing. She almost laughed. Was this really the center of all his suffering?

“It’s just a tower, Ethan,” she smiled.

Then she looked at him. He was trembling, slowly and softly nibbling at his upper lip.

“It’s okay,” she said, leaning in, holding his neck, kissing his ear.  “It’s okay.”

“I’m scared,” he stammered.

“I know,” she said, “but it never happened, Ethan — what you always say happened, what you dream happening — it never happened like that.”

Ethan never spoke and so Laura kept speaking.

“You went inside. You found the staircase that led to the top of the tower and you climbed. You were such a curious little boy. That’s all you did wrong…”

She kissed his closed eyes.

“But there was someone living up there — in the loft — police said that must’ve been why the stone slid away so easy. He’d removed it before you. He’d gotten up there and was living up there. There was no monster, Ethan.”

Even in the heat, Ethan was shivering with cold.

“There was, Laura. You didn’t see him.”

“That’s all deception, Ethan. Remember what Dr. Braider said. It’s deception. You couldn’t handle what he really did — you didn’t even know what had happened, not really — and so your brain made up this story about a monster living in the tower…”

She kissed him again.

“Ethan, baby, I’m sorry. You went into that tower, into the loft, and he attacked you… he raped you, Ethan.”

Ethan’s teeth strained on his fleshy, bruised lips. Laura held his face, forcing him to relax.

“Open your eyes. Come on, Ethan. Open your eyes and look at it.”

She turned his face and, almost out of reflex, he opened his eyes.

The tower was the first thing he saw. Grey and straight and sharp as a stab-wound in the clean blue sky.

Somewhere off in the river a wood duck was screaming out its screeching sound.

* * * * * *

They sat in the car for a few hours after that, saying very little. Ethan was staring downhill to the farm and the riverbank and the tower he’d avoided since he’d been a kid. Laura was sitting in silence and letting him think.

In the end, it was Ethan who spoke first.

“I dreamed about the tower before that night,” he said. “Remember I told you the folk ‘round here thought it was a lighthouse?”

Laura nodded.

“I used to imagine that.” Ethan was smiling.  “The old barques, like the ones the French traveled in, in King Louis’ time, pushing full-sail upriver and that tower… shining…  There’d be nothing in the sky, see… not back then…  No lights in the skyline…  Just that one… shining… calling them in. And I dreamed sometimes I saw the tower and the top was burning and there was a sound coming— like chanting — and I knew I had to go.”

She touched his shoulder.

“You never told me about that.”

“I never told anyone,” he looked at her sincerely.  “You’re the first one.”

She smiled and he smiled. Then he looked back, almost energetically, towards the tower.

“I want to go down.”

His tone was so assertive Laura was hard-pressed to believe it was her boyfriend speaking. Ethan had never said an assertive sentence to her in all the years they’d dated. She’d always been the strong one.

“Why?” she asked.

He was already opening the car door.

“I want to see it closer,” he said, pulling himself out into the open air and leaving Laura no choice but to follow after him.

* * * * * *

The sky around the tower was bruising purple and though the night was stifling warm the growing dark seemed cold enough for Laura to pull her coat shut over her chest.

“We should go!” she called to him.

He’d just come into view again, having circled the tower for the hundredth time, his hand never leaving its warm stones as he orbited the structure like a moon around a dead planet. He was smiling the whole time.

He ran into the field and grabbed Laura playfully by the wrists.

“Aw, baby, just twenty more minutes, please!” He smiled at her, then kissed her hard with his bloody lips.

She tried not to seem like she was pushing him away.

“Okay,” she said, taking back her hands, “twenty minutes. Then we’ve got to start heading back. We can come again tomorrow if you need to.”

Ethan laughed.

“Aw, baby. I never need to come again! Damn, I feel so goddamn free!”

His eyes sparkled and he looked up at the top room above their heads, the place where, twenty years before, a lurking pedophile had held his slim body against the chalky stones, forcing his stained fingers into his throat, forcing himself on the boy.

Ethan howled with laughter and swayed on his heels, looking upward like a ritual inebriant paying wild homage to the divine stars.

“Ethan!” Laura tried to touch him — to calm him.

Ethan swung out of her reach. Then his delighted eyes caught on hers.

“Life’s gonna be so much better now, Laura,” he smiled, “hey, baby, go up to the car. Please. Find my mobile. It should be in the dash.”

“Why?” Laura was getting more puzzled by the moment.

“I want to call Dr. Braider!” he said excitedly.

“It’s outside office hours,” Laura objected.

Ethan shook off her complaint.

“He told me this weekend to call anytime. He knows how big a deal this is for me. Please, baby. Just get the phone.”

“Okay,” Laura looked at him sternly, “but after you’ve called we need to get right back in the car and head for Alexandria.”

Ethan raised three fingers on his right hand.

“Scouts honor,” he promised.

* * * * * *

She found Ethan’s cell exactly where he’d said. It was in the dash with the SatNav they never used. She retrieved it and pulled herself out of the car, looking down the now dark decline towards the tomato fields with their dancing boneset and one overbearing building.

She couldn’t see Ethan down there anymore and guessed he was doing another crazed circuit of his now strangely beloved tower. She didn’t mind. It was for the best that he was out of sight. She wanted to call Dr. Braider herself before she passed him the phone. To discuss his strange reaction to seeing the place that had caused him such indescribable torment.

She stole another look. There was still no Ethan, and so she fired up his phone, found contacts and started scrolling through, only stopping when she came to DOC BRAIDER.

She clicked down and placed the receiver to her ear. There was only a ring or two before the call was picked up.

“Mike Braider,” the doctor answered.

“Doctor,” Laura said, “I’m sorry for calling so late.”

“Sorry, who’s speaking?” Braider asked.

“It’s Laura McCarthy, Doctor Braider,” she replied.  “I’m calling about Ethan Dwight. I’m sorry for the hour.”

“Ah, Laura, yes!” Braider was smiling his side.  “That’s fine.  I’d asked Ethan to give me a call. Technically, he’s no longer my patient, but I’m in favor of post-care. Can I speak with him?”

“Sure, Doctor,” she said.  “We’re there now… at… you know… at the place…  Only…”

“Only what, Laura?”

“Only, Doctor, his reaction to seeing the place…”

“I wouldn’t read too much into that.”  Braider was still smiling.

“What?” Laura asked.

“Into his reaction, Laura.  His visible reaction, at least.”

Laura frowned.

“But why?”

“Just think, Laura,” Braider said, “Ethan came to Bangor when he was sixteen years old. On his first three job applications, he claimed to have been brought up at 124 Cedar Street. According to his friends, he went to middle school at James F. Doughty and he high schooled at John the Baptist Memorial. But not one person knew him from those days. He even learned — albeit subconsciously — to speak with a Bangor accent. Laura, his entire life has been an exercise in avoidance and self-deceit. What makes you think he’s being honest about his feelings now?”

Laura couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Braider had never shown nerve like this when he was getting a paycheck. He was practically calling Ethan a liar.

“Ethan has problems admitting the truth to himself, doctor,” she insisted.  “He’s never purposefully lied to me.”

Braider was making a sound over the line.

Laura frowned and listened harder. Was he laughing?

“Oh, Laura,” he said, “in order to lie to ourselves we’ve got to lie to one another.”

Laura pulled the phone away from her ear like something venomous and killed the call in disgust. It took her a full few moments to come around from the short conversation.

It’s a form of self-deception, Laura. He’s deceiving himself. He’s deceiving you.

She tucked the phone into her coat pocket and stared again down the riverine rise. Still — after all this time — Ethan was nowhere to be seen.

* * * * * *

When she got back to the tower Laura was horrified at what she saw.

“Ethan! What have you done!?”

She fell down on her knees in soot and soil by a collection of four large stones that had been yanked out from one of the walled-up entranceways, leaving a hole there just big enough for an average-sized man to wriggle through. Ethan’s childhood Swiss army knife was lying open by the extricated blocks and Laura’s skin crawled at the thought that he must have carried it in his pocket all the way from Alex.

She pulled herself to her feet and threw her hands palms-down on the now cooling stone.

“Ethan!? Baby!? Where are you!? You’re scaring me!”

She listened to the soft hiss behind the rocks. Nothing.

“Ethan!”

She listened again. This time for longer. At last, after long seconds, she began to make out the sound of a man lightly laughing in the cavity beyond.

She pressed her face to the tower.

“Ethan?” she whispered.

“It’s okay, baby,” he whispered back.  “I’m in here.”

“But why?” her voice shook.

“I wanted a closer look, Laura.”  There was something so strange about his voice.  “I wanted to be in here again. Where I first met him.”

“Ethan, please,” Laura was crying onto the indifferent walls, “I’m scared.”

“Aw,” Ethan whined, “don’t be scared, beautiful. I’m happy. And I’m just about to get happier.”

“What do you mean!?”

Ethan laughed behind the wall.

“I’m going up there, Laura. I’m going up to the loft.”

“No! Ethan, please. Come out! Come out!”

“I can’t now, beautiful,” he was smiling in there.  “It’s like a light. It’s drawing me in.”

Her throat began to spasm with the fear and she found she couldn’t find voice enough to protest, even when she heard his feet turning on the dusty ground inside as they began determinedly to climb the spiral stairs to the room above.

* * * * * *

The space was just large enough to admit her and Laura remembered thinking how determined Ethan must have been to have squirmed through that tight crevice into the space beyond, the multiple horrific contortions he must have performed with his body.

She clawed at the earthen ground on the inside of the tower, tugging the last of her length through the gap in the wall and surfacing on the other side. She stood. She was filthy from head to foot, her skin ticklish with cobwebs, and she could smell much better from here the almost sweet aroma that Ethan had described to her a hundred times — the dirty, rotten-flesh smell of his nightmares.

She looked up the spiral staircase and screamed.

“Ethan!”

Then she noticed it. Cutting down from above— the only reason the entire upward passageway wasn’t lost in abysmal darkness — from somewhere above a light was shining.

A torch, Laura thought.  If he brought his knife maybe he brought a torch too. So he could see in the dark.

Her skin crawled again.

He’s been planning this.

She looked up again.

“Ethan! Ethan! Ethan!”

There was no answer from above and so Laura steeled herself and started the long climb upwards.

* * * * * *

It was about halfway to the top when Laura realized it wasn’t just light drifting down from the higher quarters of the tower. Sound too rang discordantly over the acoustically-jarring rocks.

I dreamed sometimes I saw the tower and the top was burning and there was a sound coming — like chanting.

Chanting.

As Laura reached the final steps she realized that’s exactly what it was. A man’s voice. Not Ethan’s — but a man’s — reciting some mantra in a language other than English.

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

Her eyes were so wide they hurt, trying to pull in as much light as possible as she stepped terrified into the highest room.

Ethan was there and her heart leaped with relief to see him. He was kneeling in the center of the room.

“Ethan!” She moved towards him.

But then she stopped dead, watching the man she loved like watching a nightmare, as he moved liquidly to his feet and turned to face her.

His bloody, bitten lips were moving in constant obeisance.

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

“Ethan! What are you doing!?”

He stopped chanting and cocked his head. In the painfully-lit room, his eyes were almost black.

“Nothin’ important, honey,” he said.

Her stomach turned. In that moment she realized what had been so strange about his voice. He was speaking in his old Louisiana drawl, the one he’d dropped when he was sixteen.

“Why are you speaking like that?”

She was heartbroken and terrified, all at the same time.

“Why, honey,” Ethan smiled, “a’ always talk like this, when you ain’t around.”

Laura made a break for the stairs but Ethan moved twice as quickly and caught her hard around the waist.

“Get off me, you idiot!”

She started putting all her strength into striking him around the face and head.

“Get off!”

“Wooo, honey,” he laughed, “that there’s the energy we need. That there’s the energy he took from me all those years ago!”

“You maniac!” She landed a good hit.

Ethan’s nose cracked at the bridge. A flow of hot blood streamed out of his nostrils, streaking down his already tarnished shirt. He turned, unfazed, to face Laura, licking the blood and mucus off his face with his long tongue.

“There is no him, you lunatic!” She couldn’t hold back anymore.  “Some guy raped you up here! Can’t you get that through your thick skull?! Some pervert put his dick in you! Get it, retard!?”

She was trying to bait him. To humiliate some sense into him.

Ethan laughed, pushing the last of the blood into his mouth with his soiled fingers.

“Is that what you think, honey?” he smiled.

“That’s what I know.” Laura clenched her teeth.

“Then why didn’t the po-lice find this mystery man?” Ethan asked.

“He moved town,” Laura reasoned. “He got away!”

“And why did a’ dream of this place? Why did it draw me in like a moth to a flame?”

“Maybe you are insane!” Laura cried.

“May-be,” Ethan grinned in the shifting shadows, “but, if that’s so, tell me this, honey: what the hell is it that’s lighting this place?”

Laura’s throat seized up. Her saliva dried out and her heart became erratic. They were standing in a three-hundred-year-old room and Laura couldn’t answer why it was illuminated as though by electric. And she didn’t know either why the light and shadow had never stayed still for a moment since she arrived.

“Laura, honey,” Ethan whispered, “don’t turn around.”

Her eyes wouldn’t blink. Her neck wouldn’t turn. The shadow in front of her — her own shadow — told her that the source of the light was behind her.

Ethan started chanting again:

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

Mehlekh. Mehlekh. Bin Shedim a’bra Rish.

Laura felt the thing behind her burning her backbone like a wreath of fire, and, in there — among all that rustle of protean light — there was a sound, too.

The low and keening sound of an insect readying to be fed.

Rating: 8.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by B.T. Joy
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: B.T. Joy


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Shallow Graves: The Unseen - Book One
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