You left the Eternal. It will be there. It will be waiting. Just let me in now.
“Quit nagging me!” But he knew it was right. He knew because it knew it was right. He should take it now. That would be the sensible thing to do. But he was frightened.
Someone was in the street in front of him. He turned the wheel to go around them but
the figure was crimson. An intense wave of force came out from it and Bryan’s car flipped end over front. Bryan tumbled and glass showered in a flurry around him. The car landed on its top and spun, finally coming to a stop after what felt like minutes but had only been seconds.
Bryan was amazed to find he had remembered to buckle his seatbelt. Still, he had smacked his skull into the ceiling hard enough that he was dizzy, and coupled with the effects of the vodka he was nearly senseless. Someone was shouting at him but he couldn’t tell who or what they said – it was all a fuzz in his brain.
He unstrapped himself and rolled onto his stomach, coughing at the dust from the airbag. He crawled out the window, glass digging into his palms and leaving streaks of blood on the concrete.
…here! She’s here!
Bryan figured out the voice in his head too late. Nails dug into his shoulder and flipped him over. A hand squeezed his throat as red hair fell over his face. He fumbled into his jacket pocket, his intention transparent to the Eternal.
She plucked the card from his fingers and flicked it to the side.
It landed just out of his reach.
So it was over.
“What took you so long?” Bryan grinned up at the Eternal. He wanted to laugh. It was over. He wouldn’t have to decide after all.
She actually grinned back down at him. “Had to disperse on an atomic level to escape the canisters. Easy enough to do, but the reconstruction takes days.”
“Oh,” Bryan said, and then he did laugh.
She laughed too. “You gave a good chase. I enjoyed it.”
She thrust her nails into his stomach, bursting through the skin and muscle with preternatural strength, and ripped out his intestine. She brought it to her lips, tearing into it with strangely human teeth.
Bryan coughed and gagged and grasped the air fruitlessly with his hands. A scream tore through his head – the gamma. He saw and felt his insides torn but it was like something happening far off, not to him though it was to him.
The Eternal’s head jerked up, and then her whole body sprang up and away from him. Somewhere a gun sounded in muffled shots. There were muffled screams. And a muffled voice.
Bryan turned his head to the side, aware of a searing pain in his torso. He saw his card through blurred vision, resting in a pool of blood and glass.
I’m here. It’s okay.
Bryan opened his mouth to speak, but it hurt too much. It’s over, he thought at it.
Let me in.
He threw his hand out to it. It lay inches from his fingertips. He would have laughed again, but he only spat blood.
You’re too far.
That doesn’t matter.
“Ivers!” A handed rested on his cheek gently. He looked up and could just discern Harper’s face. It was spattered with blood. “Ivers. You bastard. You didn’t come back and I knew.”
He turned back to the demon, but Harper grasped his head in both hands and turned it back to her.
“No,” she said. “I won’t let you.” She reached behind her for something on the ground.
Let me in.
You’re too far. Bryan’s head fell back to the side, not by effort but because that’s where it fell. All his strength was gone. The muffled clicks of Harper reloading reached his ears.
No, I’m with you. You need only let me in.
No. Horror gripped him, turning his heart. He wasn’t supposed to have to decide. Not anymore. He was dying. He was supposed to be free. It wasn’t supposed to be his choice. He shouldn’t have to choose.
Let me in.
His tears fell as Harper put the gun to his temple.
The card burst like a firework, but it made no sound. The sound was of Harper’s screaming.