So the foursome ended up going back into the house—but Seven was reluctant to cross the threshold—sensing his presence would attract Faye’s attention. He knew he attracted trouble.“Come on,” Eva urged him in.
But he could not budge an inch.
His throat seized up like a sieve.
His face fell pale—and his mouth dried up. He tried to fight against it.
As hard as he pushed—he could not move his feet. This was not his best day.
Seeing his distress, Eva stepped back across the threshold to try and comfort him. She held his arm warmly.
“Babe …? What is the matter?”
Finally, he felt his jaw unlock and slacken—and he managed to mutter: “Nothing … I … I just felt nauseous.”
“Okay, do you want to just go home instead then? I will tell them you aren’t feeling well either and we can both go.”
“No—I’m fine,” he said, determined to keep his demeanor cool and casual from now on. He put on a fast face.
Then, despite lingering trepidation, he stepped into the house—pushing down all nagging fears. Faye was not a God.
But no matter how positive-minded he stayed—he secretly knew that he was triggering Fate by recklessly marching right back into the den of the Huntress.
They made tea and started a game of cards—when they heard a shrill neighing outside. All four of them shook.
“Is that Darkhoof?” Eva inquired.
Aly nodded. “We call him Red now.”
Olin put his cards face down and rubbed his temples. The horse was always interrupting their lives to no end.
Dark Red continued to neigh into the wind, like Hell were raining down—like Death were riding in. It had awakened.
“Will he be okay? Should we check on him?” Eva asked, but she was afraid. She was nervously trying to soften things.
“He’s likely just seen a coyote. It always sets him off,” Olin reassured Eva. “He will calm down in a bit.” He nodded.
“We never even notice it anymore,” Aly added. “Except when company is over. It is so embarassing.” She fidgeted.
“Does he ever get out of the barn?”
“Sometimes … We caught him over at Morrissey’s just last week, actually … But it’s only when the mood takes him. Then he will just jump stall and bust out.”
“He’s been a hard horse to keep, ever since the … accident,” Olin said. “Personally, I think he just longs to be free … Some animals can’t be tamed after all.”
“Father is building a new barn in the spring,” Aly added in afterthought, almost apologetically. “If only it were done now.”
They poured more tea around—and after a few minutes—when Eva excused herself to the bathroom—Red quit all at once—like his throat were just cut clean.
So they continued playing cards, trying to keep the talk as light-hearted and casual as possible. But it was hard.
Then the evening seemed bound for the rocks when half-way through the game Seven noticed that the Queen of Spades in his hand was suddenly wearing a silver crown—and Her green eyes began to float up magically from off of the card.
‘I knew that you would come back for Me, Seven … I knew that you loved Me—and Me alone … Lucky, Lucky, Lucky …’
His heart sank, for he knew in his gut that Faye’s wrath would only unravel from here on in. There was no turning off.
‘NO!’ he objected in his mind. ‘Leave me alone!!!’ he thought. ‘I will NEVER LOVE YOU!!!” But he knew he did.
The card grew hot in his hand, causing him to drop it on the table―and he watched as it set blue fire across the cloth—quickly setting the table ablaze.
He recoiled, tumbling back over his chair—jacket flying—as he rolled across the floor. He twisted and turned on fire.
The others could not see why he was alarmed—but they all jumped up to help him as he twitched and twisted in torture.
“Seven? Seven!” They ran across.
“Seven it’s okay, it’s okay …” Eva said—coming to his side, trying to put her hands on his shoulders to comfort him.
But as she touched him―the blue flames suddenly became visible to her as well—although they did not burn her. They only burned Seven as she watched.
A tittilating terror rippled through her heart as she saw him being consumed before her eyes. She could hardly think.
“What is the matter with him?” Aly asked, voice tremulous—touching Eva’s shoulder—and when she did, she also saw the flames. She also saw horror unfold.
Seven continued to scream, grabbing for his jacket that had fallen next to him. All he could think about was Her.
He beat the blue fire off his legs with it, but being supernatural, the flames just kept flaring back up. He howled so loud.
“Step aside,” Olin calmly instructed Eva. He stepped into the scene to help.
He hoisted Seven up—lifting him over one shoulder. He knew what to do.
He saw the flames now as well—but they did not burn him either—and he knew it had to be Faye. He knew how to fix it.
“GOD!!!” Seven growled, breathing heavily, trying not to black out. “Please Faye … I will love you … I will come back to you—please … just … stop … the pain.”
Olin carried his brother upstairs to the bath—spun on the cold tap—and plunged him under a spout of icy water, pinning him down. But Seven continued to struggle, for the flames continued to flare up as fast as the water doused them out—fueled by his own fears. He wailed.
Aly and Eva watched from the doorway, stricken in a panic, clinging to each other for courage—as Seven screamed for any mercy from the agony.
“I’m calling 911,” Eva announced.
“No … It’s no use,” Aly objected.
“What …? What do you mean?”
Olin hissed back at her: “It won’t do any good—it’s all in his mind. He needs to fight it off.” He repeatedly slapped Seven.
Eva glanced in the mirror, but where her reflection should have been—a silver skinned woman hung upside down from the ceiling, long black hair fanning about as She twisted—clutching at Aly’s reflection with long curling black nails.
Eva squealed, turning sharply to face Aly, whose face suddenly looked scaly and serpentine—with slit yellow eyes—and long pointed ears now twitching wildly.
“What is wrong?” Aly begged—seeing the look of horror on Eva’s face. She looked in the mirror herself, but saw nothing strange about the reflection back.
Eva gritted teeth and threw her gaze into the crazy mirror once more—only to see the Silverskin grappling Aly in close—entwining her with Her evil black strands.
Meanwhile, beside them in the tub, Seven went on wailing to the threshold of his lungs—still allowing himself to be burned alive by the fire—as Olin slapped his face to break him from his mesmerism.
The Silverskin then dropped into reality—landing with two feet on the floor—and began devouring Eva from the head down—blood spurting everywhere—as She hungrily feasted—and life sapped from Eva’s convulsing body. She ate Herself.
She gorged Herself—crushing Eva’s flesh and bone under powerful jaws—stuffing the corpse into her belly—until Her abdomen bloated like a snake. She had now feasted upon the body of Her host.
Now, as she was being eaten alive, Eva had blacked out well before being totally devoured by Faye, which then in turn soon banished Faye once more, and returned Eva right back to the living land.
The Silverskin disappeared all at once, leaving Eva standing there dizzy but unhurt, as if nothing at all had even happened—and she promptly leaned lightly into Aly’s arms. Just then, as well, Olin now pushed Seven fully underwater, desperately hoping that if he totally submerged his brother—the blue flames might be finally fully snuffed from light.
“Please … Olin,” Seven begged in lifeless breaths each time Olin pulled him up for air. “Just get out of here … She’ll come for you … when She’s done with me. When She’s done with me, Olin … She will come for you. She will not stop until …”
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)