The Charm – Chapter 31


Jemma can’t straighten Traci from the stomach clutching position she locks into. Her muscles are rigid. Jemma gathers her up and stands with difficulty.

“I’m always carrying you around, Traci. When’s it my turn to fall over?”

“Something’s tearing inside me.”

Traci’s clenches her eyes shut, showing the depth of her agony with a drawn out whimpering. Jemma staggers to the car and places her onto the passenger seat. Traci draws in a foetal position.

Jemma averts her face but her eyes see the brilliant glow expanding around Mark’s body. He watches her. She hurriedly hops the trench and regains the steering wheel. If they don’t leave immediately Jemma has no doubt the miracle occurring here would culminate in their deaths.

The beast senses its prey escaping. The glow doubles as power flows unchecked into its host. Mark acknowledges the unholy strength with a roar and moves an arm to point at Jemma and Traci. His legs twitch eagerly.

Traci turns away from the intense light that fills the cabin, ducking behind her knees. Jemma reaches across to pull the seatbelt across Traci’s legs and arms. It would have to do.

She flicks the sun-visors down to shield her eyes and carefully reverses off the trench, swinging the wheel hard left at the end of it. Terry’s body is blocking the road. She’d prefer to bush bash around rather than run over it. The ute is coerced into the long grass at the road edge. The wheels scramble for purchase as they move close beside the van.

“I’ll come for you.”

Jemma jerks her head around to meet Marks eyes. They are bare metres apart. His lips move but the words speak clearly inside her head. His voice and the beast’s merge. She hits the brakes hard, staring unafraid into his upturned face.

“I know your family’s dwelling. I’ll find you, no matter where you go. Watch for me.”

Traci hears it too and raises scared eyes.

“He’ll find us, won’t he?”

Jemma pokes at the dash cigarette lighter until it stays in.

“Not if I can help it.”

The lighter clicks out into her waiting fingers. She withdraws the hot element and tosses it into the trench then releases the clutch to drive away.

Behind them the washout explodes in a loud WHUMP! In her mirror Jemma sees the flames filling the van, leaping around Mark’s writhing body. He is not repaired enough to escape. He levers himself up and falls back, screaming as his face and hands draw strings of melted plastic away from flaming surfaces. His twisting, turning body falls out of view into the inferno below. The Charm emits every audible tone in its repertoire at once. The atonal jangling is the scream of an immortal dying. The unshackling from its protective Charm disrupts time and space in huge expanding ripples. The reverberations roll outwards, unsettling the air and shoving at the vehicle making it difficult to steer. The vibrations stretch Jemma’s vision in and out in waves. A purple light blasts outwards from where Mark had fallen. The night sky is lit with a powerful glow. It crashing against the ute, stripping paint and burning their exposed skin like acid.

Jemma jams the throttle to the floor. The fiercely burning van recedes. Another glow fills the sky when a gas bottle explodes, ripping the van carcass apart. A shower of dirt and metal rain down. A few pieces hit their car and shower debris into the surrounding bush. They race away from the funeral pyre.

A few kilometres on Jemma rubs her dry sore eyes. The single headlight requires her to concentrate twice as hard on where they are going. She is confident they are going the right way now after correcting their course at the fork originally encountered many hours before. Jemma attacks the sandy crossings and rocky outcrops with a heavy right foot. She disregards the increasing suspension rattles and ominous loud squeaks, but knows the car is looser and less controllable the further they go.

Her own body is running down too. It has absorbed as much punishment as it will take. Events have caught up. Her logical mind refuses to reconcile the fantastic data being fed to it. A cog slips in her head. She laughs and cries at the same time. Traci peeks over clenched knees at her friends erratic emotions.

The speeding ute unexpectedly bursts out of the bush, directly onto the main highway. Jemma overreacts, skidding them sideways across the road. The engine stalls at this treatment. The two girls scream in unison when they see a road train on full high-beam thundering towards them, weaving wildly to avoid their sudden appearance. The driver blasts the horn in anger and rushes past. Tyres on his rear trailer lock briefly as he fights to straighten his load. The screeching third trailer whips by so close it touches a door mirror. It explodes into the cab cutting Jemma’s face.

She doesn’t even feel the pain.

They are both breathing in quick, shallow breaths, waiting for the next bit of bad luck to hit them.

“You all right, Jemma?”

Jemma takes in Traci’s tear-streaked face and wipes her own wet eyes.

“Yeah. I’m better now. How are you doing?”

“I’m bleeding, Jem. My stomach burns. I think that thing hurt my baby.”

Jemma looks down. Traci’s shorts are dark with blood.

She checks both directions of the long, straight moonlit highway, trying to think.

“We passed a small town before turning down that dirt road. We’ll go north. Even a small town must have a Nurse’s station or something. Do you hear something?”

A crisp crackling sound is coming from the bonnet. They watch a patch of paint craze and peel off. The wind blows it away. Before their eyes rust blooms where the paint used to be. It spreads like mould.

“I’ve got a feeling this car isn’t gonna last much longer. We’d better get moving.”

(Chapter 32)

Published in: on Monday, 22 December, 2008 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: