xxxii. No Slivered Shadow Allowed In
Ungodly thunder broke outside, shaking the walls like paper flags—rocking the foundation in waves like earthquakes.
Chandeliers jingled―silverware jumped—plates smashed―and windows splintered into webworks every second.
“What the Hell is going on …?” Eva cried, her voice growing tremulous and cracking in fright. “It looked clear out just a minute ago, from the bedroom window … How can the weather turn so quickly?”
“Storms blow through fast and hard here … Some nights you swear the house is lifting off,” Seven said. “Then fifteen minutes later, all is quiet as dust again. There is not predicting it ever, not here.”
“Craziness … I don’t think I could ever live here. I would always be edgy.”
Seven sighed. “Eva—I’m sorry that I even brought you here at all. This was a mistake from the start. We should go.”
“What? Why? What is it really?”
“It’s not safe. I cannot elaborate.”
Her face fell. “What is going on? I want to know everything—babe. No more secrets—like we always said. Be honest.”
Lightning flashed chaotic—crashing into a tree, cracking a branch at a frightening proximity—causing them both to jump in surprise. Woods were alive.
Thunder clapped again, mercilessly unfolding from the tumultuous heavens overhead. The sky was an angry lover.
The front door handle turned back and forth, as if someone was just then coming in. The very house was in flux.
The lights went out—and they suddenly knew that they were in the heart of the system. All bets were now off.
Eva stepped into the drawing room to look out the picture window—with Seven following close behind, snatching at her elbow to turn her back. He gasped.
Outside―clouds blotted out the dawn―rolling daylight’s early wax back toward night. The darkness settled in.
Just then the back-up generator kicked on—and the house lights fell short on the dark lawn. There was movement.
“Did you see that?” Eva then hissed.
“What?” Seven said―but then he saw it too. He saw it clear as day now.
In a flash of lightning, just beyond the wood-line, in the shadows, Faye and Draca swam through the air streams—between the trees—as if the very Forest wind were their river—and the wood were their sea of dreams. The circled on in.
In a symbiotic synchronicity―they slid through the leafy shine and shadow of French’s Forest—rising and sweeping in long, graceful dips—and high, daring arcs—surging and swaying in parallel hyperboles—in perfect harmony together, after having spent near eternity as one.
Draca now took the low side, as Faye flew a stretch above—swinging left and right, gliding past the grasping limbs. The trees reached out longingly, forever attracted to Her like a tropism—for the mere touch of Her skin was said to feed the essence of French’s Forest. Her presence warmed the underbed in the bitterest months of winter—when the wind would not stop for weeks—and the leafless statures of the trees started to lean on in.
“It’s Her isn’t it?” Eva said, already self-assured of the answer—but holding out hope she was wrong. It was all true.
Thunder boomed again, shaking roof and rafter. With each shake they themselves jumped and clung to other.
Lightning flashed―and Faye and Draca were suddenly half as far from Bane House as they were the moment before.
Then a silver shine radiated off of Faye, illuminating the field in a tidal light―swallowing up every last tendril of darkness—allowing no slivered shadow in.
“Look away,” Seven warned, but it was too late―for Eva was blinded—no longer just in spirit. She could not see.
“Seven―Seven, I can’t―oh my God, oh my God―I can’t … Seven! … Seven!”
Seven pulled her tight. “Shhh …”
Squinting into the glow, he saw Faye had landed. His grew transfixed on Her.
She stalked across the front lawn―a dozen yards beyond the window—effortlessly closing the distance to them.
She now undulated in pulsing clouds of blue and silver spheres—Her eerie green eyes flashing off in mesmerizing spirals, as everything throbbed in unison.
Between waves of bass and beats―he spotted Draca slithering through the grass toward the house—coming closer to the picture window now—slowly zoning in on them. The snake hunted.
He drew the curtains together and swiftly led Eva back into the kitchen—where held her close to keep her calm.
“Put Her out of your mind. Do not think of Her―and She cannot enter Bane House. Clear all thought out of your head.
“She feeds on our very attention.”
Eva remained speechless, clasping Seven’s hand tightly, as vision slowly returned to her in bleeding ripples of light.
Cutlery clinked—and they jumped in their skittishness—but it was only Marietta doing dishes in the corner. She had her hands deep in soapy water, looking over her shoulder at them with a sleepy grin.
“What are you two doing up?” she said. “I was just going to start breakfast for everybody. It was a stormy night.”
“Faye’s come back,” Seven said.
Marietta’s face grew unnaturally grey and long. She zeroed in on him.
She slumped heavily on the counter. “Not again,” she cursed. “Damn Her—She cannot be stopped … She never quits.”
Walking over, Eva tried to console her—gently rubbing her back—but Marietta just shrugged it off in disgust.
“Do not touch me,” she warned in a voice suddenly gone guttural—inflected by a snake-like raspiness. She was angry.
Her frame expanded—bulking up into a beastly figure—as she manifested her true undead form. It was a sight.
Her eyes seemed to drip with blood—as her fangs grew long and curved—and a forked tongue snaked out of her maw in spastic, gnashing snaps. Her fingers grew long and spindly, looking more like bone than flesh. She was not of mortal land.
“The Silverskin will die today …” she hissed, eyes darting side-to-side, in a dance of a devilish cunning. She plotted.
Eva took a step back, shocked by the witness of such a horrific transformation, but not able to vocalize it.
She reached for Seven, but he had stepped away to look out again—already forgetting his own advice to put Faye from mind—instead putting Her forefront in it.
“Seven,” Eva began, but when she looked again, Marietta had already reverted to her normal human form—apparently unaware anything went awry.
“What is wrong, dear? You look ghostly. Has something scared you so?”
“But I … I thought I saw … … …”
“What is it? Spit it out … Oh my.”
Seven returned. “No time … … …
“Upstairs … … … NOW … … … !!!”
(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)