Black Heart – Chapter VII Part X

by Steppen Sawicki

Novel: Horror

He screwed his eyes shut and cursed himself.  A couple of Possesseds gave up and quit the containment, as if they might run, and with his eyes closed Bryan could feel the containment flicker and falter.  He opened his eyes and stepped forward to the edge of it and spoke, desperately hoping it wouldn’t work.

The gate opened immediately.

The pull of it produced a wind that whistled through the broken windows of the synagogue, but other than that there was dead silence until Connors shouted “Back to the plan!  Drop wide containment!  Start capturing!”

Bryan hadn’t expected it to take so much out of him.  He could only hold it open for half a minute.  When he let it go he fell to the ground, blacking out for a second.  The demons did as they were supposed to, and shot out from the synagogue.

But no one breathed a sigh of relief.  No one helped Bryan up.  When he looked around every Possessed was staring at him.  Even Harper, whose usually so blank expression held accusation.

“What?” Bryan snarled at her, at all of them.

“Are you okay?” she said.  Her voice was cold.  It was not a question.  It was a demand.

He would have snapped back, but he had noticed her aeon, and it looked more inviting than ever.  If he had been on his feet he would have stepped towards her, but he was sprawled on the floor and could only stare.

Then he blinked and realized that everyone was watching him, watching whatever his own aeon was doing.  He saw Harper standing closer than the rest of them, determined and ready to fight him.  Her hand was inside her jacket.

He wanted to just put his head back down, curl into a ball, ignore all of them.

“I’m okay,” he said.  He wanted to cry.  But he couldn’t.  He couldn’t stand either.  “Just give me a minute.”

They were starting to murmur amongst themselves.  He wanted to order Connors to drive them out but he knew he didn’t have the strength to shout, and even if he managed to get the Possesseds and Spotters to leave him the civilians were still here taking measurements.  It was Andrade that went to Connnors and – though he argued at first – he called the Possesseds’ attention and started handing out assignments for the night.

Only then did Harper kneel beside him.  “It’s starting to fade,” she said, “but you looked…”

“Like I killed someone?” he snapped.  “I didn’t do anything.”

“But you looked dangerous.”

“I didn’t do anything.”  He meant to shout it, but his voice tore and rasped.

“We had to be sure.  I’m sorry.”

“Everyone’s sorry,” he whispered.

“Can you stand?”  She reached out to take his arm and he slapped her away weakly.

“Leave me alone,” he said.

She held the hand he had batted away as if he had actually slapped it hard, and seemed to think of something else to say.  But she couldn’t think of anything and got up.  She stood like a statue, hands folded, until Andrade finished with the Spotters and went to Bryan.  He made himself stand when he saw her coming, though it was difficult and he nearly fell over, having to grab the pew beside him for support.

“Connors and two other Possesseds are going to return to the Office with you,” Andrade explained.  “Along with a Spotter.  I’m going to stay here and see what they’ve gleaned off the readings.”

“I don’t need anyone at the Office,” Bryan argued.

“Of course you do.  The Eternal is loose again.  It’ll be after you.”

“It doesn’t matter.  The Possesseds need to be out capturing.”

Andrade went to him and clasped his hands.  It was too much for him.  He was so weak and she was so full of life.  So appetizing.  He snarled at her and tried to push her away, but she held on.  He could see the green light in her and feel the heat of her palms and fingers and hear the beat of her heart.  But she held on until he stood still, breathing heavy.

“You’re still in there,” she said.  “I can see the demon, but I can see you too.  And you’re just as important and needed as anyone else.”

He looked at her again and he could see her again, as a person with concern on her face.  But he could hear the beat of her heart and it was racing.  She had been terrified to keep hold of his hands but had kept hold of them regardless, to prove this to him.

He looked down at those hands, and she squeezed them gently, her pulse slowing.

“That was a stupid thing to do,” he said.

She smiled.  “Us Spotters have to be a little bit stupid.  Now head back to the Office.  Connors will drive you.”

Harper sat beside him in the back of the car.  They were halfway to the Office when she finally spoke, quietly, though Connors was on the phone and not listening.

“She was right.”

“Who?” Bryan said, shocked out of one of those staring spells.  He had been watching the people on the sidewalk.  God, he needed to eat something.

“Andrade.  I shouldn’t have acted that way.”

“It doesn’t matter.  Everyone else did.”

“That doesn’t excuse it.”

“I almost snapped at her when she took my hands.  You were right to be wary.  It was stupid what she did.”

“It was right for her to do it.  It was something only a Spotter could do.”

He turned back to her.  She was looking out the window now, watching the people on the sidewalk.  He wondered what she saw.  “You’re a Spotter, too.”

“I’m not.”

He thought back to her words earlier.  Not really a Spotter.  Not really a Possessed.

Like him.  Not really human.