Chapter 12—The Other
I had never meant to do this to him. I can swear on it by any power or deity that exists. But I had been desperate, and the strange man had told me it would break the enchantment and bring my Donnie back to me. I don't even know what's going on. Before today, I'd not even believed in enchantments and magic, and gods and deities, and anything mystical. All I'd wanted was my Donnie.
After I’d left April, he’d been there waiting, as though he’d known I would be coming to him. He had been near, as he’d promised. So I had done what he had told me to do. I had allowed him to do his hocus pocus on me. And then, when I had met Donnie once again in the middle of the street, I had gone up to him and, as the strange man had instructed, taken both his hands in mine.
The effect was instantaneous. His body jerked sharply, his face contorted in what I knew at once was incredible pain. His knees gave way and he fell to the ground, nearly dragging me, frozen in horror as I was, down with him. Then he lets out a loud, long, hair-raising scream, and it's such a sound of torture like I've never heard before. Every head turns towards us: Donnie, jerking uncontrollably on the ground, me bent double over him, his hands still in mine.
I'm rigid with shock. I have no idea what to do. I can't even think clearly.
Two cops are hurrying towards us but there's someone else coming behind them, running at full speed. She's so fast, her short red and blue hair looks like a lick of flames streaking out behind her. Her face is so full of fury I'm struck with even greater terror. It's her; the girl I’d seen Donnie with earlier that afternoon. The one he had unceremoniously ditched me for and walked away with, hand in hand.
“No!” She screams, and her high-pitched voice is so terrible the cops falter in their steps. She streaks past them, and as she comes closer, I sense such a force it seems like she carries the wind with her. I can actually feel her fury.
“Get away from him!” She shrieks as she gets closer.
I'm finally able to wrench my hands out of Donnie’s. I raise them to his face.
“Get away!” She slams into me and I'm thrown off my feet. I land a few feet away on the cobbled ground, winded. One of the policemen shouts ‘hey!’, but she takes no notice of him. Instead, her hands replace mine at his face.
“What did you do?” She snarls.
I raise myself up, shaking and sobbing. I’m still in shock. “I don't know! I swear I don't...”
The two policemen get to us at the same time. “Ladies, please!” One of them says, trying to reach down and wrench the girl off of Donnie. She turns on them, eyes blazing fiercely.
“Get back now!” She growls.
The cops go white and stagger back, almost tripping over themselves in their haste, stuttering apologies. No one else dares come close.
She turns back to Donnie, but then groans unexpectedly. “I can feel it,” she says, clutching her stomach with one hand.
“Why can I feel it?" She raises her head and calls out in a loud voice, "Mother, help!”
There’s a low rumble in the air. Out of nowhere, another woman joins us in the centre. She takes one look at me and the girl and Donnie writhing on the ground.
“We must go,” she says curtly.
And suddenly, we are no longer on the sidewalk surrounded by a crowd in bright sunlight. I glance around in surprise and fear. Where we are now is partially dark and looks like a crypt of some kind. There are statues and other figures I can’t make out in the shadows.
“We need to act fast,” the woman says, walking briskly away from us. Her face is grave and her voice maternal, and her figure gives the impression of power. I remain on my knees, in the position I was in the street, still shaking. “They will be here soon.”
“Who, mother? Us or them?” The red haired girl asks with a groan. Her hand is still on her stomach.
The woman she called mother waves her hand and fires erupt under a large, ancient looking pot just across from us. In disbelief, I realise it's a stone cauldron. What kind of place where we?
“Us, definitely. Maybe them,” Mother replies. She mutters something else and bright purple and green sparks fly from the cauldron.
“Why can I feel it? It hurts!”
“Donald Horsfall has been placed under a curse, one meant not just to destroy him, but all nightprowlers through him. He’s the most powerful one of us yet, the only male nightprowler ever born, the one we have been waiting for since the beginning. They could never get close to one of us to place a spell, so they’ve planned and schemed and used this young woman instead.”
“But how? How can they get all of us through him?”
Suddenly, I see three more figures gliding swiftly towards us from the darker end of the crypt.
“Mother! Crystal!” One of them calls. “What's happening?” Her voice, though betraying some pain, has a hint of haughty tones.
Mother, still working at the cauldron, doesn't turn around. Now, it’s emitting copious amounts of dense smoke.
“Pam, an ancient spell has been invoked,” she replies gravely. “One as old as the magic of the moon. It can only be placed through an extremely powerful nightprowler but once it is, it will steal through every nightprowler alive and kill her.”
All three newcomers gasp. “What do we do?” One of them asks.
“There's only one thing that can stop it. The sacrifice of the cursed one in a ceremony as old as the spell itself.” Now she turns and faces the nightprowlers in the chamber. “We must kill him.”
The red haired girl bursts into fresh sobs. “Donnie!” She moans. “Why?”
I feel numb. ‘Kill him’, she had said. This ceremony wasn't to save Donnie. They were going to kill him.
“We must act fast,” Mother continues, still sounding as maternal as ever. “Those who placed the curse will surely be on their way. They will try to stop us.”
“How?” The voice belonging to Pam says. "They don't know our crypt, Mother."
“Oh, don't we now?” A familiar, gravelly voice replies.
My head whips around. Twelve figures step out from the shadows from the other end of the crypt. The nightprowlers gasp again —I suddenly realise that there are a lot more in the chamber now, all females, a stark contrast to the males who suddenly had appeared. I stare at the five figures as they walk forward slowly. As they draw closer to the cauldron sparks, I recognise the figure in the middle. It’s the strange man in the black cloak —the one who must have used me to cast the spell they were talking about.
I'm still crouched on the ground with Donnie's writhing body, directly between both parties. On one side, the nightprowlers are gathered. On the other, the party of men, still coming forward. The atmosphere could scarcely have been tenser.
Then, at an equal distance from me as the nightprowlers, they stop. The man in the centre looks down at me, his mouth set in a hard line.
“Hello, Chloe,” he says. “Do not be afraid.”
Watch here for Chapter 13—The Truth
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