Deep Red, Chapter Eighteen
March 25, 1857: The concerns of the Residents, once more, overshadow the Mirrors’ concerns with us. The larger their world grows, the more they need the help of their super soldiers in order to fight one another. This gives us a great opportunity here at Haven to instruct our young ones in the ways of both the Otherworld and the present world. The literacy rate of the young ones is growing, in several of this world’s tongues as well as the Otherworld language. In addition to my role as historiographer, I have become an active teacher … April 27, 1858: One of Haven’s children changed during the last full moon and has not changed back. I fear the worst for her. Victoria says that we will wait until the next full moon, but then she will need to be euthanized … February 17, 1859: I thought there was a limit to what Victoria and Jonah would do for science, but several children have changed and will not change back. Rather than even waiting to see the outcome, Victoria and Jonah have taken to experimenting on the children. I tried to stand against the immorality of what they are doing, but have now experienced the full wrath of Victoria. I must decide whether to stay or leave … April 10, 1861: This will be my last entry. I am giving these journals to Constance, whom I trust implicitly. She will continue here as an observer, but I am no longer welcome. Victoria has given me two choices: the wilderness or death. I am going to Denver City, which seems to be just as agitated by the Residents’ War as the rest of the country. I love you, Constance. Please do not discontinue my work, and keep your contrary findings hidden until they might some day be useful.
excerpts from The Diary of Caroline Cayce, 1857-1861, ed. by Bobbi Cayce
Jack was gazing into the grooves on the walls when he felt the head beneath his hand snap away from him. Marlo scrambled into the corner, using her hands to propel her. He instinctively moved into a defensive posture, though his mind turned inward. He tried to feel for her consciousness, for her light, but realized she was still asleep.
“I’m right here, Marlo,” Jack said. “I’m not going anywhere.” He wasn’t sure, but he thought she was laughing. Soon after, a growl escaped her lips.
Jack closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He went into a meditative state, ignoring his growing unease. He tried to pierce her mind from several angles, but it remained shut to him. When her laugh and growl became one, he broke out of the trance.
“You can’t enter me, anymore, Jack.” She punctuated his name with something that sounded like hate. “I don’t need you.”
“I promised myself I’d keep you safe, Marlo. That’s all I want to do. I just want to help.” He moved toward her and she snapped at him with her mouth. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Oh, dearest Jack. Always trying to help. Always on the outside, unable to do anything. I was there when Marlo needed someone. Where were you?” Jack flinched.
“Is Marlo still in there?” he asked.
Marlo cocked her head and sneered. “She’s safe with me, Jack.”
“You can’t keep her locked inside.” Jack put his fingers on the floor, poising himself to charge. But it’s Marlo, he told himself. It’s still her body. “You’ll consume her until there’s nothing left, and then we will kill you.” I’ll be forced to kill her, he thought.
“You first, J–” Marlo’s scream cut off her words as she began to change.
Jack heard every crack of bone, every tear of tendon and muscle. Her skin vibrated as hair grew from each pore. Her face elongated, and sharp, white teeth tore from her gums, but somewhere in the middle of becoming a wolf, she stopped. When she stood, she was both taller and wider than Jack. Her paws were about two feet in diameter, and four keen-edged claws had grown from each.
Jack thought he might scream, too, but he was frozen. The thing looking at him had new eyes, ones that both recognized and hated him. It was too late.
“Let me the fuck out of here!” he yelled up into the ceiling.
The door behind him opened and closed within the span of a few seconds, but an eternity passed from the time those eyes locked on him to the time her jaws nearly closed around his neck.
He felt what he only imagined was her head slamming into the door. Though the door was sound-proof, he could feel the vibrations from the roar that followed his escape. Once he caught his breath and his dignity, he realized that the cameras had recorded all of it, which meant Victoria and the Counsel saw what he did. She was not a changeling. He didn’t know what the hell she was, but she was not right.
He said a silent prayer to anything that might be listening that she would at least change back. That she would be Marlo again.
End of Volume I
Vol II: Chapter Nineteen→