The Charm – Chapter 7

(Index)

“Who? What are you talking about?”

Traci’s call up the shadowy stairwell doesn’t slow Jemma’s measured tread. Her heels disappear around the stair’s switchback. Traci bites a fingernail, scared and confused at her friend’s strange behaviour. After a moment she follows, her fingertips brushing against the rough wall as a guide. The outer edges of the stairs crumble beneath her feet.  Bits of concrete and dirt rattle to the floor below frightening  Traci even more. Her eyes begin to see what her ears have heard. The entire building is on the verge of collapse.

“We really shouldn’t be in here. Jemma? Please come down. I’m scared.”

Traci stops climbing. The top three steps are shattered down to their rusty reinforcing bar innards. Traci freezes in fear.

“Jemma? Please come back. Jemma?”

There’s no answer although she can hear Jemma’s soft footsteps ascending the next flight of stairs.

Jemma reaches the top floor. It is lit by sunlight streaming through a holed roof. She blankly scans the  doorless openings leading to rooms she has no interest in. Nor is she aware of the graffiti or broken furniture. The fantastic light’s siren call draws her forward on a path across a rotted floor. Disaster is avoided by lucky feet that  unerringly skirt soft spots and step over holes. She approaches the only contents of the room; a pile of old rubbish in one corner. The mound moves slightly. It isn’t all rubbish. Somehow she knows the old woman from the window has burrowed into these mouldy carpets and clothes.

The spell grips Jemma’s mind harder when she balks at its next demand. She must bow to its will, bending to dig and tear at the damp, rotting pile.

The old woman cries out when Jemma uncovers her and takes hold of a scrawny arm. She cowers before Jemma’s glassy stare but unclasps the glittering golden disc hanging around her neck. Jemma reaches for it, her attention so focused on the glimmering light she barely acknowledges the short old woman who owns it. A fat spark snaps sharply at her fingertip’s touch. A sharp, stabbing sensation strikes her head before spreading across her scalp in a hot, numbing salve.

Shock and pain breaks the enamouring spell and she stumbles back pressing hands to the temple’s pain, expecting to feel the wetness of blood.  The woman screams in high-pitched, cackling laughter but it changes in an instant to become a cry of desolation when Jemma looks up unscathed. The woman’s crazed face portrays several emotions at once before settling on a sly cast as she sizes up her competition.

Jemma recovers her wits enough to be wary of these mercurial mood swings. She almost succeeds in preventing the distaste she feels for the dirty, smelly old woman, showing on her face when the crone speaks.

“The Charm likes the  little Missy.”

(Chapter 8)

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Published in: on Wednesday, 29 October, 2008 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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