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(….) 4


Every part of my mind revolts against the hair in my mouth.  I close my lips as much as I can.  But he’s in my mouth.

“Evelyn?!” I hear Rick call. His hand squeezes tighter against mine. “What’s happening? I still can’t see!”

I can feel individual fibrous Cameron-hairs stretching across the breadth of my tongue now, squeezing as they slide downward, as if they’re trying to cut into me.  I feel more tendrils grasp onto both of my shoulders.  Wriggling around all over me.  But not so much attacking this time.  More like probing.

Like Cameron’s looking for something.

It comes to me: Cameron’s looking for a way in.  I’m struck by terror, unsure if I can fight Cameron off again in this empty space of nothing.  I don’t feel in-control here.  I don’t feel strong.

“Evelyn?!” Rick cries out, starting to give in to panic again.

I can’t answer with my mouth stuffed full of hair. But Rick’s cries snap me back from my own fear, and I reclaim enough of my brain to realize that Cameron’s trying to possess me the way he did Rick.  And that the doubts I feel might not be my own.  Might be Cameron working me the way I can suggest things to others.  Fucker’s looking for openings in my spirit — physically and mentally, the way any possessor does … trying to find the gaps and holes that haven’t healed up or scarred over.

Then, I feel the painfully-sharp tips of the tendrils poking at the edges of my cheeks, raking across my shoulders to cut me open. More tentacles trying to pry my closed lips open.  Raking at the spaces above and below my lips from outside and in.  Cutting me. I start to bleed. from my shoulders and inside my mouth.  I taste my coppery blood, feel it run hot down my shoulders.

“Evelyn?!” Rick squeezes hard on my hand.  He told me he can’t see in here, either.  He must be able to feel me struggling, though.  And it’s scaring him.

There’s that same part of me — a part a hate — that has journeyed with me all my life that chooses now to speak up.  It tells me to seize up. To curl up into a ball.  I wouldn’t blame someone for doing that, and this hateful part of me says if I wouldn’t blame others, I shouldn’t blame myself.  If I wouldn’t accuse them of any kind of cowardice, it asks, why then why think of myself that way in this situation?  I’d understand it. I’m overwhelmed with horror, and sometimes retreat is the most acceptable — and smartest — response, even if it means inaction.

But doing that means letting Cameron Stye win. And, hell no.

So I do what I can.

I resist.

I bite down on the hair.

“EVELYN!” Desperate shouting from Rick.

Then, there’s a noise that sounds like Cameron screaming, except it’s like it’s going backwards. Like a shriek in reverse, a high-pitched inhalation instead of an outcry. I want to hurt Cameron. I hate how that feeling wells up in my chest, but it’s a grateful feeling when I hear him scream. It tells me I’ve affected — impacted him. My hate for him is fiery now. The hate hurts me as it burns. I don’t care about my own pain — just causing pain for Cameron and protecting Rick from it. I feel Cameron’s spiky, metallic tentacle-hairs jerking around between my clamped teeth. So I clamp down harder, and this time I feel the hairs bursting in my mouth; my imagination evokes that this is what it might feel like chewing into a vein or an artery. Warm syrup — somehow both sour and bitter — floods in my mouth. No — bleeds. It’s Cameron’s spirit-blood. I’m tasting it, too. It’s horrible.

More shrieking from Cameron.

And then I’m feeling something new …

… as the tendrils in my mouth go still.

And I’m feeling a push-and-pull — except of blood.

It’s my blood and Cameron’s — as if the two are blending. It’s a little bit like what happened when I took in Rangi Ihaka’s blood. Except not. With Rangi, I was just absorbing his blood — drawing it away from him. Through the book — through Lysette’s traps, the little mazes she drew with her mortal blood in my book.

This is similar, but different.

Time is slowing down even more.

And it’s like my blood and Cameron’s is intertwining, but staying separate.

Not a joining, but two things becoming a different thing somewhere along the path in a timeless moment.

Like the moment when a zipper stops being two halves of your coat front — when you stop noticing the two halves, and just feel the warmth.

And it is warm, and it’s terrifying. But I’m still all here. I’m still all me. And I can see an unmoving Cameron Stye floating in front of me, his grotesque tentacles still clamped in my teeth; except, I’m not seeing these details with my eyes, but with my skin.  I can tell I’m still blinded by the grey fog.  But it’s like my skin has somehow become so sensitive to the changes in light that I can make out shapes as things move.   I can see Rick, too, the same way; the kid is still holding onto my hand, flailing around, trying to swim through the clouds in random directions.  This weird skin-sight is even detailed enough to make out Rick’s face.  I watch as Rick’s blood drips down over his chin, as he opens his mouth to scream.  I hear Rick’s scream a moment later; it sounds like an echo, as if it’s delayed by a great distance.  I watch as Rick reaches up with his free hand to wipe the blood from his mouth.  And then he’s pulling toward me, lifting up toward me, as weightless in these clouds as a tiny baby.  I don’t know how to comfort other people after the fact, but I try to console him and let him hold onto me.  I feel him shaking with terror.

Then, I feel more blood from Rick’s mouth …

… landing on my bleeding shoulder …

… and then there’s that tying-up sensation again, like with Cameron a moment ago — except this time it’s my blood and Rick’s … and Cameron’s.  I feel blood meeting blood … the blood of the spirit and the blood of the spirit and the blood of the living …

… and that’s when the clouds around us go completely dark for the briefest moment …

… and then comes more fire — like the kind I drew from Rick …

… and the clouds of grey all ignite in unison around the three of us.

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Published inpart 2

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