CRACK! Searing pain and a strange sensation of falling. But she lay flat on solid ground. Everything was silent. Empty. Pure Black. There were no words. No pictures. Scents or sounds. Only herself. She had been here once before. A long time ago. A coma… Evangeline pushed herself up to her knees. “Gabriel..? Gabriel!”
“Why do you insist on these fantasies? A dream can’t save you, Evangeline.”
The voice echoed through the darkness with an infuriating amusement. She could sense nothing, but as she turned, suddenly there he was was. His face eye level with hers, that black hair, the perfectly tailored suit. Seeing him. Crouching next to her flashing a fanged smile. Anthony Carnatelli. Evangeline gasped, scooting backwards away from him, only for her hands to feel empty air. There was a gap behind her – an unseen, invisible cliff.
He stepped towards her, his footsteps muted in the black. “There is nowhere left to run. You’ve always belonged to me.”
She is mine. Now and forever.
Evangeline rose to her feet, shakily stepping to the side away from the invisible cliff. “N-no I don’t. He… Gabriel is going to come and get me.” In a blink he was gone, appearing behind her with a solid hand clamped down on her shoulder, the other grabbing her wrist and turning it over. Jerking it up for her to see. A manticore holding a sword in one hand and the world in the other. Anthony’s brand.
“What a tragedy your life has been. If only you had a hero to erase it all away. A guardian angel to save you..?” he chuckled softly, leaning forward to whisper in her ear. “Gabriel isn’t real, Evangeline. A figment of a frightened psychic’s imagination. Pieces twisted to make your pathetic life more bearable…”
“That’s not true..!” she shouted, jerking forward out of his grasp to run. Evangeline made it a few steps before the black was a solid wall before her.
Anthony’s arms came down at both sides of her, preventing another escape. He sneered. “Ah, is it not? Where is your Gabriel, Evangeline? Can you find a single memory..?” A door opened to the side, light spilling out in to the black. Anthony disappeared, only his voice echoing behind. “Memories cannot lie…”
Evangeline stumbled towards the door crossing the threshold in to the light.
A traditional living room, neat and perfect. Guests sitting on the sofa sipping hot cup of tea. There were her parents sitting across the coffee table on the set of chairs. A little girl of six years old standing patiently with her hands behind her back, smiling brightly and rocking on her heels.
“Geoffrey, I have to say, I am impressed with how your advice has turned out. My business is doing splendid since the changes. What do you propose the new year will bring us?”
Her father was replying earnestly. The little girl tilted her head to the side, her mouth twisting to an oddly serious expression for a child. She interrupted loudly. “The stock is going to crash really bad during the fall… But that’s okay, because it gives your wife the reason she needed to move in with her boyfriend! She’ll be much happier!” Everyone in the room went dead silent. No one made a sound until the gentleman’s wife suddenly dropped her teacup. Geoffrey was on his feet, grabbing the child by the arm and dragging her out of the room with a growl.
I know how to behave, I know how to behave…
“I told you not to say a word. Not one word while company was over!” he opened up the closet door and shoved her inside. “You’ll stay in there until you know how to behave.” The closet door slammed and everything was dark again.
Another door opened, bathing the black with light.
“Here it is! My report card. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that I am the recipient of straight A’s in all my classes!” Fourteen years old, wearing a private school’s uniform, Evangeline presented her report card to her parents. Her mother gave a quick glance before returning to her needlepoint, her father didn’t even bother to look. There was a twitch at the corner of her mouth, but her smile never wavered. “I know, I was surprised too. All of that studying really made a difference. How about I make dinner for us to celebrate?”
“Yes go and start dinner, dear.” replied her mother evenly.
Evangeline left her report card on the table before skipping out. Ah, she should have asked what they wanted for dinner! Turning back, her hand paused at the doorknob when she overheard speaking.
“Damn it, why did she come home? I thought that school was supposed to keep them all year round!” said Geoffrey.
“Renovations during the holidays, dear. All of the students had to go back to their homes. It’s just for a few days.” The woman didn’t miss a single stitch.
“We should have sent her outside the country. Would have been well worth the extra pounds. Have you read the letters her teachers sent home…?”
Don’t listen to them. Don’t listen.
Evangeline opened the door. Everything flashed white.
Pain. Blackness. Voices. Evangeline blinked down at the girl barely even sixteen, in the hospital bed. Herself. Wrapped in bandages with burns, cuts. Barely even awake, but she could hear her parents arguing with the doctor outside. Two months of black empty space, yet when she opened her eyes, it was still the same. Someone else was in the room. An older woman, who gently leaned over the bed to pat her hand.
“I’m so sorry for what’s happened. If you hadn’t saved my life, you would be fine… but… I am so very grateful you did. I don’t know what would have happened to my children if I had- I… Just, thank you. Thank you, so much.” Evangeline shrugged her shoulders, mumbling an embarrassed you’re welcome. The woman thanked her again before leaving. She left the door open, and voices trickled inside.
“There doesn’t appear to be any memory loss, but there was severe burn damage to her retina. Ms. Clark seems to be completely blind. We could attempt surgery b-“
“Out of the question. I want her out of this hospital immediately.”
“Sir, your daughter has been in a coma for two months. We can’t just let her walk o-“
“Then call us when she is ready to be retrieved!”
You would have preferred it if I had died. Maybe I should have…
The door closed. Everything shifted to a blur.
Young people stood on board of a large yacht, wearing pretty dresses or dressed down tuxes. Girls were laughing on the front deck as a couple boys were threatening to throw someone overboard. Evangeline, dressed so grownup for eighteen, was listening with a frown. She could feel it, even just watching herself, that sense of foreboding. A vision.
Just mind your own business, Evangeline! Stay out of it..!
One of the girls pointed over to a mousy girl with glasses. Clara, that girl who always carried around a Pixie Pony purse, and talked about frogs. The boys moved over to her plucking at her hair and poking her in the sides. “You’re looking too hot for this party, Clara! Maybe you need a dip!” laughed one of the girls.
Evangeline with a cane in hand, slid easily in to the middle of the group blocking a boy’s attempt at grabbing Clara. “Really, Tiffany, everyone knows you’re the prettiest girl here. I mean, you sure don’t want to go swimming, no reason to send Clara off.” she said with a smile, poking another boy away with her cane.
“Figures a freak would come rescue a freak! You heard her, boys. There’s no reason to throw Clara overboard.” The look on her face spoke volumes of who she wanted to throw now, but Evangeline couldn’t see. Before she had a chance to scream or swing in defense, she found herself off her feet and plummeting down to the cold ocean water below. Coughing as she rose to the surface, she couldn’t seem to grasp which direction to swim towards. She could hear Clara screaming her name and shouting for the boat to turn around, but it was getting farther and farther away…!
This all has nothing to do with anything! He was not there for any of this..!
No…? Then where did it begin, Evangeline…?
When I met…
“…Hello? I’m looking for someone…?” Evangeline called out in the empty warehouse. The place felt wrong… like danger.
“Excuse me, Miss. Did I hear you ask for someone…?” replied a voice. A man stepped out, black hair and a scar across his face.
“I have something important about Anthony Carnatelli.”
“Why then, you’ve come to the right place…” Silvery strands of thread appearing in his hands, wrapped around his wrists.
This isn’t right. Something is missing here…
“Good! Because it’s really important. He has a sword but the vision wasn’t exactly clear, I think it’s about this big-” Evangeline was trying to measure out her hands about the correct length, but no, that didn’t seem right either. He was stepping closer and she stopped. “I guess the size isn’t really important, but rather what it does. I think I’d rather talk about it somewhere else, though. This place feels wrong.”
He tilted his head slightly at her. The string around his wrist was getting longer now. “I get that a lot. But I assure you, this warehouse is as right as can be.” He moved closer, smirking to himself. “Now, about the sword…”
“It’s really not okay, this warehouse, I mean. I suppose I should have mentioned I’m a psychic. Which is what I meant about the vision. I’d just feel more comfortable somewhere else.”
He flicked his wrist and the string dissolved. He stepped forward. “A psychic. Most intriguing. Here, I’ll guide you outside and we can talk in my car.” He reached out and took her hand and started leading her outside. There was that feeling, danger. Dark. Evil. Disturbing. Marionette. Michael. Evangeline jerked her hand out of his grasp to back away. His Marionettes appeared. She was swinging her cane to defend herself.
That isn’t how it happened. There was more…
It’s your own memory, Evangeline.
A bright flash of light. The scene shifted again.
“That’s not my puppy..!” she screamed, stumbling through a door. The room was small and padded, blocked from the outside world, but not the inside. Voices, screaming, mental prodding. An institution for the dangerously insane. Evangeline stepped quickly to the side as a were’s claw came swiping down at her, missing flesh to shred padding at the wall. Just as suddenly as it had came, it was gone again. The room’s door slowly crept open, a silhouette in the frame.
I don’t want to see this.
Evangeline backed away slowly, silver threads winding their away around her ankles. Her attempt at running was cut short by a sharp jerk, her body hitting the ground. Faster than she could scream, he was over her. Twisted and different. White hair, a single wing, a horn on his forehead. Michael was a monster.
Don’t make me remember. I don’t want to remember.
“..He took something… Now I take someone…” Fingers squeezing around her throat, clawed hand wrapping around her wrist pinned at the side of her head. She could feel hot breath against her skin and the heavy weight of his body hovering over her.
“One brick… two bricks… three bricks…” The room slowly started to fade as Evangeline counted. “seven bricks… eight bricks… nine…” All was dark, though her voice still echoed. “Fourteen… fifteen… sixteen bricks…”
That’s enough. No more…
Do you know where you belong, Evangeline?
Ocean waves crashed against the steel hull of the ship. Miles away from civilization. Far away from everything. Sealed in by water, surrounded by demons. Evangeline ran down the stairs, something snatching out a paw from behind the steps to grab her leg. She stumbled down the last few steps, landing painfully on the floor. But she didn’t stop. Picking herself up, she kept on moving. Standing still was worse than running. If she ran, he would come and find her. He would help her…
Where is he..? I can’t find him…
No one came to help you, Evangeline. No one cares to save you…
“This is all wrong. Why can’t I find him..?” The memories were gone, replaced by the black void. Evangeline tried to look, but… it was all gone. He wasn’t there.
Anthony leaned behind her, pressing close to her ear to whisper. “Your hero is nothing but a twisted dream. Come to me, where you belong.”
No..! Evangeline dashed forward in to the darkness. Anthony’s laughter following behind her. A glimmer of light from above slowly came in to view. The full moon tainted a grim red in the sky, casting a strange tint to the forest of trees that appeared. Void of leaves with branches twisted at odd angles, they seemed to have ghastly faces cut out of the bark. The howl of something large behind sent Evangeline running. Branches whipping out trying to lash at her, snagging at the white satin of the dress she was now wearing.
Tripping over a root lifting up from the ground, she crashed to the forest floor. A frog was there off to the side of her. It opened it’s mouth wide revealing rows and rows of fangs. On her feet again, screaming, Evangeline ran across a shallow creek. Watery hands with long arms, shot up from the surface grabbing at her and trying to pull her down. Prying herself away, she crawled to the other bank. There was an old woman…!
“Please, help..!” Evangeline called, taking the women by the arm. She gasped and stumbled back when the women turned around, a grotesque half rotting face with hollow eye sockets!
“What beautiful eyes… I must have them!” she grabbed Evangeline, long claws reaching up to pluck at her face. Evangeline shoved her roughly away, running farther still.
Vines appeared, covered in thorns. Growing up out of the ground in thick coils, in front of her and behind. Evangeline crawled through them, ignoring the stinging pain as she pushed them aside. Deep gashes down her arms and over her palms leaving crimson stains over the white satin. A wooden door appeared. Reaching it, she stumbled inside, slamming it. The walls inside were made of stones. Yellow glowing eyes peered from the shadows. Evangeline dashed towards the stairs, running up, never looking back to see what was pounding behind her.
At the end of the winding staircase another door. Passing through it, Evangeline crashed against a mirror. The door vanished. Here was a maze of mirrors. Everywhere she could see her reflection. A hand reached out towards her from one of the mirrors. Only one. She backed away pressing against another mirrored wall. But there it was, the hand instead clamping itself over her face. Screaming and tearing herself away, she ran. Her movement feeling slow, impossible. Like trying to trudge through water.
The maze opened up to a huge empty chamber. In the center a small bronze statue with a globe of the earth hovering above it. Evangeline moved forward, finally dropping to her knees before it. A manticore. The statue moved, the bronze hands locking tightly around her wrists. Lifting her hands up over it’s head to cup just below the globe. Blood dripped from her finger tips to trickle down the statue.
Anthony crouched beside her, running the back of his fingers down her bleeding arm. “To whom do you belong, Evangeline?”
She stared blankly at the globe, turning so slowly above her hands. “I am your Seer. I belong to you…”
He smirked, leaning close. “You belong to me. Let no one try and take you away. Erase them. Destroy them.”
“I will erase them. Erase them from existence…”