Holly stood on the bow. Was it the bow? Or the stern? Did ferries have those things, she wondered. She had purposely taken the last trip to Tangier Island to escape Roger, feeling simultaneously anxious and guilty. Their boys slept in the empty cabin, aware of the urgency and the reasons but after a long road trip, they could ask no more questions. Holly touched her black eye and imagined a life without fear or rebuke for her little family.
The dock approached but Holly froze; her father lay motionless on the ground. Beside him, Roger waited, gun in hand.
Emily rolled her eyes, wishing she’d not worn the hoodie; it had been cooler at dawn but now she was sweltering. And irritated. Todd’s fixation with cars was sufferable back home but on holiday, she thought he should adjust his priorities.
“Todd!” She stamped her foot. “We’re not at home y’know. Stop fawning over your silly cars!”
Finally, he looked at his girlfriend. “I love cars, Em. Elegant or ugly, they’re amazing machines.”
With that, he saluted her, climbed in the taxi, and left her standing alone.
Jeremy stared glumly down at the city; he could smell the destitution from up here. Another night had passed by on Knob Hill with a stolen six pack, and cigarettes. However at some point, he’d discovered a mannequin head. Her appearance was a mystery but Jeremy had named her Lucy. As his buzz grew, he discovered how easy it was to talk to her.
Sometimes, he’d clutched her tightly and screamed; he’d cradled her in his chest while deep, wretched sobs roiled from him. Sometimes, he’d simply looked at her.
This morning, Jeremy knew he had always had a choice.
She was a shivery thing huddled in the corner, trying to appear smaller to the junkies who taunted and threw stones. Even in my addled state, my heart broke. I scooped her up, tucked her inside my jacket and fled the building with their jeers following.
Fourteen years ago, that kitten saved me; I took on a responsibility and I loved her. We’ve been through a lot but no matter how far down the mental well I tumbled, she was right there to haul me up.
She died yesterday.
Helpless; hopeless, I’ve returned to chase the dragon one last time.
Lesley eyed the building while she polished the antiques. Its bleak façade hung like a gaping maw; rotted teeth below empty sockets, and its tongue rolled rock-strewn into the river.
Her gaze returned to inspect the wares on the windowsill; all polished and shiny, ready for another day of business. Lesley knew though, that by morning they would all be tarnished again.
That night, as every night, Hell’s presence rose through the devil’s portal, imparting its ancient malice into the water. Fetid fumes seeped up river banks, swarmed over trees and bled into buildings, coating everything in a dark patina.