04 November 2009

Curse of the Other World, part four


'Has that helped calm your fears?' asked Peter once they were clear of the hotel and driving back to the city.

'No,' said Sarah.

She shifted in her seat. She had never been comfortable as a passenger; something about her personality always wanted her to be in control of the vehicle. She tried to shake the feeling that at any moment they were going to hit another car, or have a lorry slam into the side of their vehicle. It was silly to be so worried and she knew it, but the feeling clung on to her nevertheless.

'Look, just because they were probably messing with the occult doesn't mean It's back,' said Peter. He sounded forceful, probably more aggressive than he wanted to be.

'I know, I know,' she sighed. 'Even so, we need to look into this further. There's something about that place that just doesn't fit right.'

Peter said nothing. They drove on in silence for several miles, slowing only when they reached the city and hit the inevitable traffic.

'You're not convinced, are you?' Sarah asked. She already knew the answer, but felt it was best out in the open.

'No.' Peter's voice was flat and filled with concern, but for what? She was not sure she wanted to know.

'I wish I had your confidence.'

'I just feel you're looking for signs because you want them to be there.'

'I certainly don't want them to be there. That's the last thing I want.'

'Are you sure? It seems to me that you've been spending your time looking for clues that we didn't kill that thing because--' He stopped suddenly. Catching himself before he said something he would regret? Probably. Sarah was too upset to leave it at that now, though.

'Because what?' she demanded. 'If it's dead, great. Fantastic. I'd honestly like nothing more.'

'But you don't believe it is, do you? You think it's going to come back for another try.'

'Yes! That's exactly what I think. It's going to come back because we didn't kill it. We can't kill it, Peter. That's the point. All we can do is keep it from getting a foothold here again.'

'That's not enough for you though, is it?'


Peter stopped talking. Sarah pressed on at him regardless. If he had reservations about what they were doing, they needed to be aired now. She needed to know whether she could count on him if she turned out to be right.

'Look,' he said, with a sigh. 'I don't want you to get hurt, Sarah. You're my friend and you always will be but right now I think you're jumping at shadows because you can't put a line under what happened to you and move on. I just don't want to see you get hurt again.'

Sarah ran a hand through her hair, rested her head on the seat's rough headrest and sighed.

'Peter...' she said, but the words just would not come out. What could she say to that? He was cloaking his own fears in overzealous concern for her well-being and surely they both knew it.

She let the rest of the journey play out in silence.


Sarah sat in silence in the worn out armchair by the window in her small lounge. The sun was warm against her skin and the light was bright enough to see the room by, but that did little to lift her mood. Peter thought she was paranoid, or that she had still not fully recovered from their ordeal eight years ago, or perhaps both. For all she knew, he was right. But how was she expected to 'recover' from something like that? There was no counselling session available for her problem; no support groups she could go to; nothing. The only people who had been through what she had were the same people who had packed up and fled town as soon as they could. She had been left to sort herself out on her own.

The floorboard by the door creaked; an ever-present sign that someone was coming in. She glanced around, then turned back to the window. Peter walked over to her in silence, put a mug of tea in her hands and headed back to the kitchen; returning moments later and sitting on the sofa in silence.

She nursed her tea, enjoying the warmth of the mug as it spread into her hands, making the joints in her fingers ache a little less.

'I'm sorry for being so snappy,' she said.

'I know,' said Peter. From the sound of his voice, he was either staring down at his feet or muttering into his mug. She could not tell for sure; a cloud had dulled the light from outside, sending the room into murk.

'I'm sorry for being overprotective,' Peter continued. 'I can't help it. I suppose some things never change.'

'You don't have to stay if you don't want to.'

Peter stood up. Sarah felt her heart pound in her chest. For a moment, she thought he really would just leave, but instead he began pacing the floor.

'I really don't know what to think about today,' he said. 'It's all come out of the blue.'

'I know,' she said noncommittally. He needed to talk, so she kept her responses short.

'I'm sorry to say that I don't think it's back. Not based on what we've seen today.'


'But the pentagram, or magic circle or whatever the hell was drawn in that hotel. That's got me worried. I'm sure I've seen it before.'


Peter fell silent. He paced across the room and back several times. In the silence, his footfalls echoed on the wooden floor. Sarah sipped her tea and waited for him to continue talking.

He snapped his fingers. 'Marden festival. Remember? We borrowed your Dad's old tent and you got legless on cheap mead.'

'Vaguely,' said Sarah. It was the first and only time she had been completely out-of-her-head drunk and consequently, much of the weekend was a blur.

'Remember the re-enactment group? They did a dramatisation about a witch cult, or something?'

'I remember a load of guys in armour running about and shouting something,' Sarah conceded. 'And a woman with a hairy wart just under her lip.'

'That's it, yes. They had a ritual circle just like the one in the hotel.'

'Are you sure?'

'Positive,' he said. He finished his tea in one big gulp. 'Can I borrow your computer for a minute? I think I might be able to find what they were re-enacting.'

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