(continuation of ‘Mercy‘ chapter 1 s2iKoL-mercy )
Jessamine slept often, those first few days after her return. I was allowed to take her to the garden for one hour each day, where I read poetry to her and piled dozens of fresh picked flowers on her lap. The hail storm had laid waste to our vegetable garden, but the heartier flowers that lined the old house were spared its wrath.
“Do you remember how it felt when…” I couldn’t bring myself to finish the question. Father had told me to never mention the word exorcism again, especially in front of Jessamine.
She shook her head. “I don’t remember a thing. It just felt as if I’d disappeared, like sleeping without dreaming.”
“Please don’t go away again.”
“I promise, I won’t. Big sisters are supposed to take care of their little sisters, not the other way around. Thank heavens you had Lucy to watch over you while I was…gone.” She cradled Lucy in her hands, smoothing her thumb over the tiny fracture.
I had to say something that had puzzled me ever since her possession. “You’d think living in the Reverend’s house would have prevented something like this from happening. I mean, this is sacred ground of sorts. ”
Jessamine stares at the old stone manse, at its tall windows and gabled roof. Her eyes glazed over as if with fever. Her lips were dry and cracked and her voice was soft and distant when she replied, “Yes, you would think so.”
Despite father’s insistence that we put Jessamine’s episode behind us, lest we give the evil the power to creep back into our lives, it was hard for me to stay silent. I had so many questions.
I lay in my bed letting the questions twist round my brain. The moon was full and brilliant and cast silvery shafts of diaphaneity across our small bedroom.
How did the evil worm its way into Jessamine?
Where did it go?
How did it go? Was it simply a matter of saying the right words by the Reverend, or was it something more, something that couldn’t be seen or heard?
“I’m sure it’s in hell, where it belongs,” my sister blurted from her sleep. It was if she had read my thoughts!
It gave me a terrible fright. I touched her lightly on the shoulder but her heavy exhalation told me she was in a deep state of sleep.
The house took on a preternatural silence and the radiance of the moon no longer seemed so gay. Sleep did not come easily.
I was awakened by Esther’s piercing scream. Jessamine and I threw off our blankets and rushed down the stairs.
Esther was still in her nightclothes. A wide, dark streak of blood marked the trail of her pained walk from her room by the kitchen to the dining room.
She reached out to us with shaking hands. “Help…me!”
It was awful. Her round face was red with strain and rivers of tears flowed from the corners of her eyes. Our charwoman had always been a source of invincibility in our home. She lay upon the floor like a helpless rabbit caught in a trap. Her leg was a mass of gore. With trembling hands she tried to stanch the flow of blood.
My father brushed past us and knelt by her side. He asked her how she had come to be hurt but poor Esther could only babble. The house was awash with our cries.
Mother had been given a prescription of laudanum to help her frayed nerves, so she remained oblivious to the commotion.
“Jessamine, fetch me that cloth over there,” he said.
When he turned to ask for her help, I saw the red, pulpy swath that had been carved into Esther’s leg. The edges of the wound were ragged, as if…
As if something had gnawed the flesh from her leg.
Esther’s moans died in her throat when she passed out, and I ran to the well to fill a basin with water.
The doctor arrived an hour later. He took Esther with him to the hospital. She awoke when Father and he lifted her from the floor and screamed like a madwoman all the way to the doctor’s carriage.
None of us ate that day. We couldn’t get the image of her gnawed-upon leg out of our brains.
“Father, what could do such a thing to Esther?” I asked. “Could it have been a wolf?”
He shook his head and smoothed the sides of his great, bushy mustache. “I’m not sure dear. Esther was in no state to tell us. Perhaps when she settles down at hospital, she’ll recall. I’d say it had to have been some animal she encountered in the yard. I want you girls to pray for her recovery and that it wasn’t…rabid.”
When mother awoke in the early afternoon, she shuffled throughout the house, calling for Esther, wondering about supper.
It seemed we couldn’t escape the madness.
~ Hunter Shea
© Copyright 2012 Hunter Shea. All Rights Reserved.
Chapter 3 will be available on Halloween Day on Hunter’s blog, www.huntershea.com. To be concluded on Pen of the Damned in December!
24 thoughts on “Mercy – Chapter 2”
And so the stakes are raised! I went back and reread the first part before dipping into this one. The narrative is developing nicely (if nicely can also be read as unpleasantly!) You are still leaving us hooks too, in the form of unanswered questions, which keep the reader craving for part 3. As vivid and visceral as the last, always a pleasure to read, Hunter!
Thank you so much. This is my first attempt at gothic horror and it’s been a real blast diving into that world. Things will amp up even more with chapter 3!
You’ve got me hooked, Hunter. After reading this, I feel as if I’ve gone back in time – sitting in front of the radio, clinging to every word as it seeps from the speaker, & groaning in protest upon learning that I need to “tune in next week” for the next installment! lol
It’s a challenge to write a serial story here on Pen of the Damned, but challenges exist to be met and conquered. You’re doing that thus far with ‘Mercy.’
I’m also enjoying the smooth prose…and that cloying presence that seems to hover above each passage. Well done, my Squatchy friend!!
Thanks oh task master. I remember sitting listening to re-runs of the old radio shows while my father and I used to put Universal Monster models together in the kitchen. Some of the best story telling was done on those shows.
Gothic horror is such a challenge, Hunter, but you are mastering it. This is such a different way of telling a story than you did in your Alaska tale. Both are great! Bravo!
Thanks Blaze. I’ve read and watched so much gothic stuff, I was hoping I learned the ins and outs through osmosis.
Arghhh, more waiting. You’re a Damned pain in the ass, Shea! ha ha
That’s why I’m here! 🙂 At least the wait for the next chapter is only a few weeks.
Mmm, yes. I love the flavor of this story, the oppressive tone it conveys, and the fluid beauty of the words. Excellent craftsmanship, Hunter! I cannot wait to see what devils lurk in the passages ahead. You certainly do have us sitting on pins and needles over here!
Another delicious installment on a story I am growing to love. *applauds* Bravo, Monster Man!
Thank you so much. Things will get a tad crazy and creepy in the next chapter.
Nicely spun Hunter! I’m enjoying the style of your Gothic tale very much… but, do you think you could pick up the pace a little? LOL – Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a Gothic tale then, would it? Very nicely written Hunter – very effective in the telling! ;}
That’s the beauty of gothic horror, the story has to build and percolate. That’s why I write things like Swamp Monster Massacre so people can see the other side of me. 🙂
Nom nom nom nom – and spit out the bones MonsterMan! 😉
Hunter, this is shaping up to be a great little tale! I look forward to the next installment…(*aaargh*)…on Halloween. Thank goodness (or badness, as it were…) it is only a couple weeks away as I can hardly wait to see what doom has befallen Esther. And what of the Reverend? What kind of nefarious deeds was this alleged man of cloth up to on this ‘sacred ground’ of his? We can only wait…and wonder…and hope for the most dreadful worst! *rubbing paws togther*
I like the direction, Hunter. This tale a steady momentum, driven by hints of a coming horror, that promises to leave the frog quite boiled in its pot.
*chomping at the bit for the next slice of gothic pie*
I can’t wait to post up the next chapter on Halloween!
Great story, kept me involved and makes me want more.
And more will be coming on my blog on Halloween. Stay tuned…
Im caught and want to get out of the cage
can you free this beast?
chapter 3 plzzzz
Just 2 more weeks. Still tweaking the little bastard. 🙂