Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Mermaid House: Part Thirteen

LEANDER TORE AWAY FROM the malevolent thing pretending to be a girl. Her eyes flashed the silver of a deep sea creature's scales and the inky tattoo on her brow writhed as if its tentacles would lash out at him...
    What was he doing?
    He ran for the door.
    It crashed open and Violet stood there, in jeans and a denim jacket. She looked like a warrior, feet apart, eyes dark, her hair swirling around her face. She said to Leander, "Get out."
    Aware of the cold thing behind him, he whispered, "I won't leave y--"
    She lunged forward, grabbed him by the wrist, and flung him out the door. He lost his balance, fell on the porch. He scrambled up as the door slammed in his face. He struck it with both hands and shouted Violet's name.
    All of the window shutters slammed closed.
    He stumbled down the stairs. He circled the house, tripping over roots, tearing through drifts of ivy. He found the back door. He yanked on the handle, but it didn't give.
    A wind crashed through the garden, swirling leafy debris over him. He sank down against the door with his arms over his head.

He woke to sunlight and birdsong. He could smell flowers. He raised his head. He sat against the back door of Mermaid House, in a patch of velvety, purple flowers.
    He stumbled to his feet and bashed at the back door until it fell open.
    "Violet!" He ran through the ruined house, shouting himself hoarse. As he pushed into the final room, he saw only shattered glass and graffitti, a puddle of black water within which lay a forlorn doll with its hair pulled out and its eyes missing. A shiver convulsed him. He backed away. And ran.
(Illustration: Edmund Dulac)

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