Donovan was speechless and terrified yet filled with a hope he never imagined he would feel again. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as he reached out and touched the impossible sight before him. It felt real; skin and hair and muscle with life somehow breathed back into it. He was real, standing only a foot away.
“Jesus Christ, it really is you.” Donovan grabbed the boy and pulled him close. “I can’t believe you’re here.”
Yes. We’re here.
Donovan pulled away, looked into the boy’s eyes and saw nothing of his brother behind them. The physical form remained, though how he had no idea, but what made Asa the person he knew and loved was gone. His senses came rushing back and the joy that had settled in disappeared and was quickly replaced by something darker and paralyzing.
Asa titled his head, stared at him with those dead, emotionless eyes. Why does the boy-child react with fear? Does the sight of the vessel not reassure?
“The fuck?” He backed up against the shower wall. “The…” He screamed again.
Whatever stood in front of him was not his brother, no matter how much he looked like him. And he did. It was like looking at the real thing. He knew he was awake so it was not another dream-turned-nightmare and he was long passed seeing him at random times. How Asa was there with him almost broke his sense of logic. All he could do was scream for help.
The bathroom door flew open and Cameron, followed closely by a naked Nikki, fell into the room.
“Donny! What happened?” Cameron looked up at him from the floor, eyes wide. “Are you okay?”
“Asa… he’s,” he looked back to where his brother had stood, “not here.” He slid down the wall, pulled his knees to his chest and cried.
“Donny,” Cameron pulled himself up and leaned against the side of the bathtub, “no one’s here. Dude, what happened? I heard you screaming from downstairs.”
“He… he was here… He was…” The words lost out to the tears.
“Shit.” Cameron pushed himself up before helping Donovan to his feet. “C’mon, man, let’s get you out of here.”
Donovan allowed Cameron to lift him up, half carry him to his bedroom. Nikki was right behind them, though he barely took any notice; his mind was still on the strange encounter and racing to find ways that Asa’s appearance could possibly have happened.
He’s dead. Two years dead. There’s no fucking way he was there. But I touched him, felt him. He was right in fucking front of me.
“What the fuck is going on?”
“I don’t know.” Cameron sat him on his bed and squatted in front of him. “You tell me, man. What happened in there?”
“I told you. Asa was there.”
“You, what, saw a ghost or something?”
“No, Cam, I saw him.”
“How?” Nikki asked as he pulled on a pair of Donovan’s drawstring pants. “He’s, y’know, gone.”
“I know that! I fucking remember, okay? But that doesn’t change the fact that he was right fucking there. I don’t know how or why or fucking anything right now except that…”
“Okay, okay, calm down, Donny, I… we believe you.” Cameron wrapped his arms around him. “It’ll be alright. Just… just calm down and we’ll figure this out.”
“Hey, guys, everything okay?” Percy asked from the doorway. Donovan looked at him and frowned. “I guess not.” He rubbed the sleep away from his eyes and walked over, sat beside him. “Looks like I missed something real big.”
“I’d say,” Nikki said.
Cameron craned his neck to look at Nikki. “And what happened to you?”
Nikki slid down the wall. “Jenn’s dead. And I almost was, too.”
“What?” Percy jumped up, arms wrapped around himself. “Was it…?”
“Just like Donna… and Petey.”
“Oh, fuck.” Percy dropped back onto the bed. “Who the fuck is doing this? Why are they…?”
“We need to call the-” Nikki stopped midsentence and looked down at his stomach as a blade pierced the skin. “Fuck.”
The boys were shocked silent as the blade slid up Nikki’s body, sliced him in half. He did not even have time to scream before the two halves parted and fell to the floor in bloody messes and spilled out his innards.
Nikki’s insides exploded, covered the room and boys in blood and other sticky things. Cameron moved so Donovan was behind him while Percy made for the window behind them.
“I told you. I did see him.”
“How is that-”
It does not matter how. Only that we are. And you are our payment. We shall devour your very souls.
Asa stood before them, Nikki’s blood still running down his body. Donovan wanted to move, run, but was frozen in place. His brother was there, possessed by something he could never understand. And he was looking to spill more blood.
“Devour this,” Tara said as she cracked Asa with a frying pan. He stood unmoved. She hit him again. “Now would be a good time to run, boys!” Over and over she hit him, until her hands vibrated with pain. “Move!”
TO BE CONTINUED