The Charm – Chapter 26


Without warning Jemma’s mind turns to quicksand. She sinks within it, her legs folding slowly until she drops to the ground. Her fingernails grate against the Charm’s surface, digging for the beast inside.

Their minds fight to control her body.

The beast assault her senses with an obscuring dense fog. Jemma’s eyes no longer see, sounds are shut out. She is thrown inwards and swirls around the dark mouth of a funnel.

The Charm’s inhabitant moves to the vacated driver’s seat of Jemma’s body and sips at the meagre energy supplies she has left. Reluctantly it leaves enough to keep her conscious.

It looks around for a fuller meal than these dregs.

Jemma uses up her reserves fast. She has not let herself be dislodged easily and clings fiercely to what is rightfully hers. Her wilful centre is strong, though the beast wears her down with a violent psychic attack. Unable to repel it she lets go and is flung into a deep, dark place. A terrible, cold loneliness dwells here. A place of madness.

Blackness wraps around her.

Assuming Jemma needs a rest when she flops to the ground, Traci wanders away to scope out the campsite. She is unaware when her friend’s eyes roll up in her head, and the silent screams coming from the terrifyingly inner world are breathed out in low moans.

The thing seeking control blinks Jemma’s eyes until they roll down. It adjusts them to suit its way of seeing focusing and surveying the grey world outside. It sees Traci aura as she hunches a few metres away peeking through a thicket of trees into the camp site. It smiles thinly with Jemma’s mouth and tells this body to rise, eager to claim the vital energy Traci exudes.

It approaches silently and reaches a hand out to grip Traci’s shoulder. Deep inside Jemma sees what is about to happen and channels the churning rage flooding through her to push the beast away from the controls. Her lips obey the command to form a few soft words.

“Traci, you’re in danger. Get away from me before something bad happens to you.”

“What? Christ, you scared me sneaking up like that. There’s no danger. No one’s in the camp. We might as well go in and have a look-see.”

Shrugging off Jemma’s strange behaviour, she sneaks into the camp towards the ute.

The beast overpowers Jemma once more, forcing her body follow.

Traci grimaces at how messy these campers are. The ground is covered in bits torn up rubbish. The fireplace is cold. Compacted ash proves nothing has burned here in a while. She looks for any sign of life coming from the sagging tent under a nearby ghost gum but is disappointed.

Inside herself Jemma jabs madly around her until she finds a chink in the hijackers armour. She surges forward to speaks again through an uncooperative larynx.

“There’s something not right in me…I can’t…”

“Can’t what? You feeling all right?”

“Bad feeling…feel sick…not real.”

“This car’s pretty real. Hey, what’s wrong with your voice, it’s creepy. You must be getting the flu or something?”

“Don’t…don’t feel right. Please Traci, don’t make it mad, I can’t control…”

Jemma’s voice falls away. Her head hangs low then rises to meet Traci’s incredulous gaze with a hard, cold glare.

“Stop acting so loopy, Jemma. You’re freaking me out.”

Jemma is being battered by the thing within her. Her throat clenches with the effort.

“Traci…some…things…wrong…Can’t you see that, you stupid idiot.”

Abusing Traci drains the energy she needs to fight the beast. She blanks out again.

“Just because you’re scared doesn’t mean you have to call me names,” Traci says in a hurt voice and stomps off.

Jemma’s occupant is very angry now. It pushes her flaccid will into a corner and retakes control. Jemma remains quiet gathering shred of energy for another attack. She can only watch as her body moves towards Traci again; hands outstretched, convulsively clenching.

Traci walks fast, teary at Jemma’s unwarranted aggression.

She’s barely distracted from her hurt feelings at the sight of the shredded tent and the torn and scattered food wrappers licked clean by animals. Things that should be setting off alarm bells in her head.

The Charm’s creature cares nothing for these things either. Its fans the flames that crackle within, expelling supernatural light from the eyes it borrows. Eyes that lead it towards the sharp-edged shovel propped against a tree.

Traci sniffs, ignoring Jemma’s weird, jerky movements to a nearby tree. She drags her feet towards a heap of clothing lying under a tree and pokes at them listlessly with a stick. When she hears Jemma scrape something metal over a rock she refuses to turn and acknowledge the sound.

She’ll wait right here for an apology.

Jemma walks up behind her and Traci plays her hurt feelings for all they are worth. She doesn’t see the shovel raised above Jemma’s head. She doesn’t hear it rushing through the air with all the strength Jemma can muster.

(Chapter 27)

Published in: on Thursday, 11 December, 2008 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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