Chapter 6

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Damon felt a cold shiver run up his back. Prickling pinched his scalp and made it feel like it was shrinking. He stepped away from the two ghostly figures. Vanessa, while she could not see Archie and Bella, faced the spot where they stood.

They appeared to Damon as if Bella was the shimmering shadow and Vanessa the corporeal body, one perfect copy of the other. 

A ghostly Archie stood to one side looking from one to the other… utter confusion on his face.

“Who is she?” He pointed to Vanessa. His voice echoed down a long time tunnel.

Vanessa became alarmed. “Damon? Who said that?”

Damon put a protective arm around her shoulder and shook his head. “She looks exactly like you.” His voice dropped to an awestruck whisper.

Vanessa shuddered.

Bella reached out to touch Vanessa. Her touch was a soft breath and the fragrance of sage filled the air.

Startled, Vanessa wiped her cheek. “Was that a moth?”

Damon smiled, surprised by the realisation that, although this was a most unusual encounter, he was unafraid. “No, it was Bella.”

All the while Archie watched the interaction of his lost love with the living person who was her double. He took Bella’s hand.

“Come away my love,” he urged. “We can be together now...forever.”

The fire crackled. The two figures undulated in the changing light.

Bella pointed at Vanessa, shaking her head. “She’s our grand-daughter.” 

Curiosity filled Archie’s features contorted by shadow. There was only darkness where his eyes once were. His body full of questions.

“Yes,” Bella explained, swallowing the next words. “….ours.”

Suddenly the air became chilled and angry. The crackling fire grew louder. Harsh. A shadow curled away from the flames and filled the room, long ugly, threatening. Vanessa cowered into Damon who tightened his arm around her. Gasping and terrified, Bella’s shadow stepped into Archie whose embrace made them one.

The shadow stretched and curled until it took the form of Lady Elizabeth McGonagh who twisted toward Bella..

“I told you never to come here,” she screeched.

Bella held up her hands, warding the ghostly figure off. Lady Elizabeth swerved away and darted toward Vanessa, a vicious, ugly arrow.

She angrily spiralled around Vanessa closing in on her white throat. “And you, young woman,  you know nothing.” Vanessa started to choke, as the breath was squeezed out of her.

“Help me,” she gasped. “I can’t breathe.”

Lady Elizabeth’s crone-like face was contorted by hatred and anger. “You should never have come here.”

The musty smell of hemlock filled the room. Lady Elizabeth held up a bunch of the deadly flowers and wrapped it around Vanessa’s struggling body. Vannessa twisted, turned and pulled away. But her every move seemed only to tighten Lady Elizabeth’s grip.

Terror seized Vanessa, immobilising her. 

Overwhelmed by what was happening Damon grabbed at Vanessa in a vain effort to free her. But, he could not untangle Lady Elizabeth's vaporous form from Vanessa’s.

Comments

It's always hard to write about spirits and interaction with the living. The phrase - Lady Elizabeth's vaporous form - was short and to the point but great imagery without having to elaborate. I thought the way this confrontation went has added some more mystery and a touch of darker and deeper yet to be discovered secrets where Lady Elizabeth is concerned. I hope so. A real solid chapter that moves us a step further into the story/plot. Nice one, Suraya.
Thanks Ray. Much appreciated. As you say. It's hard to make ghostly encounters seem both ghostly and real.