“Flee this place,” it outstretched its hand.
I recoiled and fumbled into my father’s embrace – grounded in reality.
I yelped at the contact and snapped around to see the concerned look on his face.
“Sorry,” was all I could muster and I turned back to see the figure had not left. Still it sat, motionless, by the window. Its visage tilted and featureless, its attention lingering. I clutched at my phone, pressed it to my chest, and when my father inquired, I knew that only I could see.
“Its nothing,” I offered, skimping on the details. “Not enough sleep, I guess.”
He gave a contemplative ‘hm’, “Well, take your time,” and turned to make his leave. “We’ll save you a plate.”
“Wait, no.” I rushed to turn the faucet then meet his side. “I’ll join you,” and trailed behind, out of my room and toward the stair case. I looked back and the figure lingered there, long fingers gripping the door frame; yet it but peered and did not give chase.
I turned my attention on my phone once more:
a damned feast going on in there? Hurry up we’re starting to bore.
I twisted my mouth and deleted what I near sent before: ‘just tell me what is going on.’
“…and I know that the apprentice exams are high priority,” I zoned back in to hear my father rounding up a lecture, “but your health is number one. Understand?”
We had reached the base of the stair and his following sigh was only overshadowed by the call of my youngest sister responding to a knock at the door: “Got it!”
Father and I entered the breakfast room to see Jun, stepping through the frame with Olivia in tow, the former practically dragging the latter by her hand with a familiar smokey scent rolling in with them.
Near no one shared Jun’s enthusiasm. My eldest brother ogled while the rest of the census geared into awkward greeting. Following a handful of brief exchanges, I was alarmed to see mother offer Olivia to sit down with us.
“Actually, I was hoping to take Nichelle away for a bit,” Olivia started. “We talked a bit and she had some questions about…the mortal repercussions of some substances.”
“If it’s just studies, they can wait,” Father interjected. “At least let the girl eat and shower. Your discussions kept her out at the crack-of-void’s-all last anyhow.”
My chance to speak was interrupted by yet another knocking at the back door. Jun exclaimed with her practiced cadence, “got it!”
Attention flocked in Jun’s wake toward the hall leading toward the door. Olivia quickly followed and I found myself at her heels.
“Good morning! Who’re you?” Jun’s grace just as we rounded the corner.
The woman’s muted shawl practically engulfed her body. Her mane of silver hair, wrinkled expression, and hazy eyes betrayed something otherwordly.
As I looked upon her, I felt a chill crawl through me, following a nagging from within – a whispering sensation, a voice not my own: “Understand the urgency; now is not the time, but you need to hurry.”
My face twisted up in confusion, distrust, and anger all at once, “I don’t know what this is but I’d like answers before I go running about doing void’s-all-what,” and then to Jun: “Tell everyone I’ll be back at the table in a bit, just wanna talk to my guests first.”
Jun groaned while scampering off, “well, I’m not waiting anymore, we’re gonna start without your forreal this time.”
“Would you like to step outside?” The elderly woman offered and I shrugged my shoulders: “sure, I guess.”
As soon as we were out of the door, Olivia pulled a thin cigarillo from her pocket and began to light it.
“I can only assume this is your mentor.” I started and looked between them, “look, I know I agreed to meet and all, but this is…well it ain’t right.” I made note to keeping my voice down, practically whispering and slightly leaning in. “I’ve been hearing voices and seeing figures, like hauntings, ghosts or something.”
The both of them nodded and the elder women responded, “we have as well.”
“So then, what the hell is – ”
The woman cut me off, “we don’t have time for this. I can, and promise to, answer you, but not here – not right now.”
“I’m not just going to take your word without you explaining anything – ”
The elder woman sighed heavily and nodded to Olivia. I barely looked toward my gloomy neighbor before a thick cloud of smoke engulfed my head and senses. She leaned in toward me and our faces hovered but inches apart. I looked into her eyes, as my body ceased to respond, and heard her muted voice, “I apologize.”
Feeling slowly left me before all turned black.