The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part VIII

by Steppen Sawicki

Novel: Occult Adventure

We ran most of the way back to the hotel.  Even with Sam’s foot all bandaged up inside his boots, we ran.  Any moment we expected the people on the road to stop, the trucks to halt, for even ourselves to slow to a trickle.  For Atsel to appear before us.  Sam eventually went to limping, and once tripped and fell so that I had to hoist him back up and support him despite his protests.  We limped the last mile or so.

Once in our room, Sam didn’t waste a moment.  He took out the knife and started brandishing it about at the door, then at the windows, then at the wall, spouting gibberish the whole time.  One word I caught just because he kept repeating it – emetjis or emetigis or something.  The rest of it I couldn’t make sense of, he was speaking it all so quickly and darting around so frantically.  As he did this, perspiration appeared on his forehead despite the cold.  His breathing grew ragged and his voice grew hoarse.

He had started to repeat his course, had done the door a second time and gone to the window when I called his name.  When he didn’t answer I went to him and clasped his arms in my hands, and he jumped away as if I were Atsel.  As if he had forgotten I was there.

“Sam,” I said, “stop.”

He collapsed to the floor, an arm thrown over the bed.  I don’t think because I had said something but because he was exhausted from his injuries and from running and from casting whatever it was he had been doing.  And from being afraid.

I kneeled before him and took his hands.  “Surely it’s done,” I said.

“I should do it twice,” Sam gasped.  “To be certain.”

“You should get in bed.  You’re done for today.”

He shook his head and began to push himself up, and I put a hand against his chest.

“You’re done.”

We fought each other briefly with our gazes, but eventually he dropped his, and I helped him shrug off his coat and wrestle off his boots and he fell into bed.

I did the same.  I lay next to him and looked into his eyes.

“Are we safe for tonight?” I said.  “Or did you really need two passes of the room?”

Eyes closed, he shook his head against the pillow.  “I sealed the room with all the bab I had.  We’re fine, so long as we never leave the room for food.”

“Maybe they have room service.”

He opened his eyes and looked into mine, and he smiled that radiant rare smile of his.  “No way.  This place is a dump.”

I smiled back.  “For Chicago, right?”

He nodded.

We spent an awkward arresting moment staring into each others’ eyes.

“Faye – ” Sam started.

I kissed him to shut him up.  He nearly pulled away in surprise, though what he was surprised about I couldn’t say.  I grabbed at the crown of his head, dipping my fingers in his hair, and his lips melted into mine.  When he relaxed, I pulled away, intending for it to be just a moment, to look at him, hoping to see him smile before I would kiss him again.

I didn’t.  He was asleep.