Chapter XX: New Nightmares and Goodbyes

Lucy had once more returned to the same woods she had thought she’d never dream again.  It started with the voice of Sebastian calling her just as it had before.  Only this time, Andrew and Adrian’s voices joined in a flutter of shouts.

“Where are you?!” she cried out to them as she began to run through the crowded forest of trees.

This time when the world shook, she didn’t feel fear but relief as the Top Hat appeared.  He pointed down the lane and more of the demon hunters appeared in the trees, their faces shadowed as they watched the girl rushing past them until she reached an old mansion that had long since been abandoned.

The Top Hat with the grinning mask appeared near the door and presented the threshold to her.

The house was painted dark grey, bricks collecting at its walls.   Lucy guessed must have once been a lovely shade of blue.  The shutters, themselves, had been ripped of their hinges and the windows stared down at her as silent beacons of warning.  Yet she dared to draw closer, raising her fists at the ready as her eyes drew up to see a sole light glimmering in hope at the top of the attic.

The gentleman with the mask of white twisted the knob and opened the crying door.  Lucy cautiously went up the groaning doorsteps until she was past the threshold and thrown into a house of darkness.  Strange, for even the windows shut out the light from the forest.  Without warning, the house was engulfed in roaring red flames.  She turned to scream for help, but the Top Hat was nowhere to be seen.  Only flames.

A frightful shape appeared before Lucy.  Sinister laughter filled the air as if the world were mocking her frail form.  She braced herself and shielded her face from whatever was coming at her.

A black hand dripping in tar snapped forward and yanked her wrist towards it.

“Stay back!” she shrieked, trying desperately to tear her hand away.

The voice was thick and sounded as if it were drown with water.  She couldn’t hear him but felt a shaking pain, as if her wrist would snap at anytime.

It wasn’t until the creature’s eyes became visible.  The colour of green terror.  The colour of deathly venom – of burning chaos.

And then she heard him.  If only for a second.  But she heard him.

” The day will come…and I’ll burn you…and all of your kingdom…to the ground.”

Lucy shot up about to scream when a warm hand clamped quickly over her mouth.   Fright tightened in her stomach as her eyes darted wildly around the room until they found the person the fingers belonged.

Andrew stood in full travel attire, his top hat resting on the edge of her bed.  “Easy, Lulu. Easy,” he told her, carefully releasing his hold on her.

“Wha-what are you doing here?” she asked, running a hand over her forehead.

“I thought the nightmares had stopped,” her brother sighed, ignoring her question.  “I thought they would stop as you grew older.”

“The nightmares never stopped.  They only got worse with age,” she replied.

The day will come. . .

“What was it about?” Andrew asked as he sat on her quant bed.

“Nothing,” she smiled.  “I can hardly remember them when I wake up.”

And I’ll burn you. . .

He looked at her once more.  He had forgotten one of the most important lessons his Master had taught him: one must never forget to look a person in the eye.

“If you say so,” he said, looking to his hands.  “I came to tell you that they have reassigned me.”

“What?” Lucy’s heart dropped. “What do you mean?”

“I already told the boys-”

“Why am I always the last the find out?!” she huffed and threw her arms around her knees.

“Because you are the most important,” Andrew chuckled to himself.

Lucy eyed him this time. “What do you mean?”

“You are our sister.  Our only sister.  And that means we want to look after you just as you want to look after us.  So it’s important to us to be able to tell you these things alone.  Quite selfish, actually.  But nonetheless true.”

Lucy picked at the raven quilt before muttering, “I don’t want you to go.”

“Funny, Adrian told me the same thing.  But just you lot wait.    Sebastian is already going on missions with Lewis and you won’t be far behind.”

His sister continued to pout and pick until she looked over at him.  “You’ll come back, won’t you?”

“Of course I will.  I always come back-“

Before Andrew could say much else, he was nearly tackled by his petite sister with tears stinging her eyes.

“Please don’t leave,” she whispered.  Her once hard heart was finally admitting defeat.  And now, she wasn’t ready to lose her brother once more.

“Like I said, I’ll come back, Lucy,” he told her as he gave her a squeeze. “This isn’t like last time.”  He held her a moment more before pulling her away.  “There are demons stirring in Scotland.  I’ll be there for just a few months or so.”

“A few months?!” she groaned.

“Trust me, you’ll be so busy with your training it will seem like absolutely no time.  I’ll write as often as I can.”

“Good.  You’d better.  Else I won’t be able to write back,” she said.

“Be good while I’m gone,” Andrew tried to say as stern as he could muster.

“I’ll try,” she smiled, a sad giggle bubbling to the surface.

And so as soon as Lucy’s wall against her brother had come crumbling down, he was shipped away.  As is the life of a Top Hat.

Lucy gave him one last hug before he went to the door.

And all of your kingdom. . .

“Andrew,” she called out one last time.

“Yes?” he replied, turning to look back at his sister once more.

She wanted to tell him about the nightmares.  She wanted to tell him how frightened she had been.  She wanted to ask him about the strange and terrifying creature lurking in the back of her mind.

“Will you be home for Christmas?” she blurted out.

“No.  I’m sorry, Lulu,” he sighed leaning against the door. “I haven’t seen a Christmas for ages now.  Even with Sebastian here, they are always sending me away around this time.”

“Then we’ll bring Christmas to you,” she told him.

“You can’t, silly girl,” he laughed. “There are rules.  And you can’t leave without permission from your master.”

“Doesn’t mean, I won’t mail you a few things,” she grinned proudly.

“Oh you selfless little thing!” Andrew grinned wildly and ran to give his sister one last hug. “What am I going to do with you?”

Lucy couldn’t help but saver the warm feeling of home as her sibling kissed her forehead once more before bidding her farewell.  It made her think back to Boy.  He was absolutely right.  She was pretty lucky to have such a loving family of brothers.

Yet the door had shut and she had laid her head back down, the voice returned to whisper in her ear.

 . . .to the ground.

She yanked the covers over her head, tucking the nightmare as far from her conscious as she could.

©2016 E. M. Vick

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