Tattoo Book 6, Part 2.14
Posted by harmony0stars on August 9, 2010
The shadows were palpable as a car passed the house, its headlights sheering through the night and making the darkness blanketing the stairway scurry like a living thing. Normally she would not have bothered to turn the lights on, but even the cat seemed unnerved by the effect. She flicked the switch, and they both stared around them as if searching for an intruder. The light which was normally too bright to warrant using it seemed rather dingy, as if she was looking at it through frosted glass. Glory felt like she was being watched, though there was no one around. The cat stayed close to her feet, its fur not quite standing on end but clearly on guard. She had a feeling he stayed close not for his sake but for her own.
They proceeded down the stairs, flicking on the lights as they went. Not that it really did anything to lessen the crawling sensation at the nape of her neck, but it was at least comforting to know that there was nothing there. She almost breathed a sigh of relief when they made it safely to the kitchen, not that the atmosphere became any better once they’d reached their destination.
Her backpack was still sitting where she’d left it slumped on the island counter. She couldn’t have said why she didn’t carry it up with her when she retrieved the salve; it wasn’t like her to leave things lying about. The cat leapt up onto the counter but paused as he reached her open bag. Glory stopped too. She didn’t need the cat crawling into her things just because she hadn’t had the forethought to zip it closed or put it away. He made no attempt to investigate the dark opening as cats were wont to do however. Instead, he arched his back and hissed as if he’d discovered a snake.
Glory bit her lip. He made a pretense of being a normal cat, but she was certain he was not. She picked up the bag and up-ended it, spilling out her notebook and markers and other bits she could use for spell casting on the fly. The cat pounced on the already battered camera, knocking it onto the floor.
“So pictures are dangerous then…” she said to no one in particular. Obviously Robert had managed to catch at least one picture of the thing.
As she straightened up, holding the much abused camera in one hand, the shadows in the corners of the room seemed to darken. Phoenix stirred in his self-imposed silence, his sudden terror making her whirl around, looking for an attacker that seemed to be everywhere and nowhere. Why did you have to bring that thing back with you? he whined. It would have been her problem if you had simply left it.
You couldn’t have said something then? Maybe she could have finished destroying it before inadvertently giving whatever it was access to her home. She was suddenly glad that she’d warded the children’s rooms and wished she’d done the same for Ann.
As if you would have listened to me, he said. You never listen to me.
Fair enough, she thought, blowing at an invisible wisp of hair. Glory didn’t trust him even when she believed he was being straightforward. Most of his suggestions were easily recognizable as selfish and self-serving. She wasn’t even sure if she’d recognize a lie if he told one. It wasn’t as if she was used to having someone else in her head.
Glory flinched as the corners of the room seemed to warp without breaking, twisting into obscene angles that made her eyes ache and her ears ring as if the air pressure had changed. Something was trying to get in, though her wards we holding. She didn‘t think they would last.
The cat hissed and growled, crouching low on the counter, his ears laid back in a feral show of outrage. His pupils were so wide, his irises were barely discernible. For all that the walls looked like they might buckle at any moment and the piping in her ears was getting louder by the minute, the cat stared fixedly at the camera and nowhere else.
Burn it! Phoenix hissed, warring to do so against her will. But that had not worked very well for her grandparents, and her grandmother had said the thing liked fire now. That’s how it had killed her grandfather.
The camera was already in bad shape from her grandmother’s attack. Even if the cheap cardboard and plastic of its construction hadn’t been compromised, Glory was certain that the package hadn’t promised to be waterproof. Misty black tentacles were forming in the corners of the kitchen, bunching and wriggling like worms trying to squeeze through a hole that was just not wide enough, yet.
She dumped the camera into the sink and turned the water on high. Snatching up a dirty butter knife from the basin, she used it to lever the crappy casing open to better expose the film to the water. Whatever properties her uninvited guest might bring to the party, it probably didn’t know much about the viscosity of film when it was wet. And she really didn’t want to see if she could tick it off more by setting it on fire a second time.
The film was already sticky as she pulled it from the camera. She unraveled it, dragging it through her fingers to smear the images, unmindful of the sharp edges which sliced into her skin like butter. There was a sickening sense of vertigo as the room snapped back to the way it had been but the feeling vanished so quickly it might never have been. The cat slowly sat up, still very much on edge. They both looked around the room as if expecting something else to happen, but the dimness that had overlain everything was now gone.
A dog barked nearby at some imagined trespass on its territory, and Glory breathed a sigh of relief, dropping the gooey film into the sink. The cuts to her hands had already sealed and she rinsed away the blood before turning off the water. She inhaled deeply, letting the tension drain from her limbs before opening the fridge in search of something for the cat. He stared at her as she broke up some chicken and filled his water bowl as if confounded by her calm.
Glory cleaned her hands and stroked the cat’s long graceful neck before it could shy away. “It’s my house,” she said quietly as the cat made a gravity defying leap from under her hand to the countertop where his food and water bowls sat. “I decide who’s welcome.”
If she expected a response, the cat made none. He dug into his dinner as if starved. Glory finished destroying the film with a pair of scissors before shoving it down the garbage disposal and returning the way they‘d come. She was relieved to hear Ann snoring slightly as she came up the stairs, and Edgar was tangled in his sheets again, but otherwise fine. After fixing his pillows and blanket, she went upstairs and checked on Robert. The light was still on, but he was asleep with his arm across his eyes and his other hand resting lightly on the Hand of Nodens.
Closing the door as quietly as she could, she returned to her room to begin plotting where she would place more protective symbols. She was beginning to run out of room and might have to start pulling up floorboards around the windows and doors to scribble on their undersides. The breath went out of her like a punch in the gut as she saw what was sitting on her bed.
to Book 6, part 2, page 15