Deep Red, Chapter Seventeen

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July 1, 1856: My translation in the library has been put on indefinite hiatus. Meg has begun having vivid hallucinations. She says she has begun to hear voices and that they are telling her to kill all of the children inside Haven. We’ve had to lock her inside one of the empty rooms in the annex and keep her heavily sedated. Her third daughter, Constance, and the primordial, Rayne, stay by her side, tirelessly trying to reach our mother. Rayne claims that some sort of brain disease has taken over Meg’s mind. Rayne is able to share the vivid dreams of my sister, but she cannot interact with Meg’s consciousness. This would be a quiet sort of alarming if our mother and father had also not become ill and died before we moved to the Kansas Territory. Is there something amiss with our genetic line? If so, it only seems to be affecting a select few. Victoria reminds me daily that a few anomalies in hundreds do not make for a fact, and certainly not one to fear. Mother and father were second cousins, however, and both were born from the first daughter of Margaret’s first daughter. Yet there is much room for speculation here, Jonah says, and no direct correlation, and we never knew what my grandmother died of, or if she is, indeed, dead at all. She left the fold before twenty years before our mother died. Mother’s grandmother died of natural causes. In fact, until our mother’s death, nothing notable has happened in the Cayce line. Still, I don’t think we should ignore that, until now, we have had no reports of these kinds of illnesses from those born of the immigrants of the Crossing … July 30, 1956: Meg died. Her last breaths were misspent on death threats against those in the house, especially Jonah Shinab. I will return to my work with a heavy heart….

excerpts from The Diary of Caroline Cayce, 1856, ed. by Bobbi Cayce


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Chapter Seventeen

Blood Dreams

Marlo opened her eyes and found herself in the clearing. The same dark presence she felt last time had completely swallowed the comfort of her once safe place. Her eyes searched the darkness, but whatever, whoever, was with her kept to her periphery. She saw movement, but when she looked to catch it, it was gone. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened her ears. The wind brushed against the leaves on the watercolor trees, but she heard the ground squish under light steps.

“Who’s there?”

The steps stopped. Marlo willed herself to keep her eyes closed as she rose from the ground. She continued to listen, but the sound of her heart in her ears began to drown out the more useful sounds. Her nose caught no scents.

“I know you’re out there,” she said. Her voice came out as a trembling whine.

I know you’re in here, the voice replied. Marlo’s breath caught in her throat.

“What do you want?”

For you to let me out.

Marlo shook her head. “I won’t let you hurt anyone else,” she said.

If I stay here, I’ll make sure you’re the only one hurting.

When she felt warm breath against her cheek, Marlo opened her eyes. She was alone. If it’s gone, she thought frantically, where did it go? She hadn’t agreed. It couldn’t come out if she didn’t agree. Without thinking, she ran out into the negative space.

In the darkness, gravity shifted as the weightless nothing gave out to hard metal and concrete. Her legs screamed with adrenaline as she ran down through a stairwell. The pounding of her heart gave way to the pounding steps above her.

Without breaking stride, she briefly looked up. Her pursuer was a familiar man, though she couldn’t place him at this distance. For a moment she tried to remember why she was running, but then the man opened fire. A bullet hit the floor inches away and more continued to rain as she descended.

When she was almost to the bottom, a bullet ricocheted off the steel handrail next to her and into her side. The searing pain made her gasp. She held her stomach to keep herself from bleeding out, but kept running until she pushed her way through a steel door under a green Exit sign. The street outside was empty, the sky a putrid yellow.

She looked behind to see if she was still being chased. The building had disappeared, and another wave of panic knocked against her as she realized she was completely exposed. She turned in a full circle, looking for the man, but didn’t see him. She started to run, and the bullets rang out again. She turned around and saw the man coming for her. One bullet tore through her left thigh, another through her right shoulder. The impact forced her backward onto the ground. She inched away from him, still clutching her side, as he came toward her. She still couldn’t quite see his face, but she knew him.

The man aimed the gun at her heart. I’m going to die, she thought. A part of her, the Marlo part, felt resolved. I deserve this. With each mistake I’ve made, I’ve dug this grave.

But instead of closing her eyes and bracing for the impact, she grabbed the gun and pulled it toward her. The pain from her wounds abated as she kicked the man’s legs out from under him and climbed on top. She put a bullet into each of his shoulders, pinning him down. When she focused on his face, she finally recognized him.

“I got you a Jack and Coke,” he said. “I hope that’s okay.” She felt his aroused penis beneath her and thought she might retch. Instead, she put the muzzle of the pistol in the center of his forehead.

“You deserved to die,” she said, but her voice had changed, and with each word, her power expanded. “My spirit spans lifetimes, and I have twice the strength of any man.” Her breath became heavy as she began to own the words. “You’re nothing.” His eyes widened but he couldn’t move.

She pulled the trigger and felt the kick. The force pushed her backward and she landed in the clearing.

You’re mine now.

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Chapter Eighteen→