Chapter 15 – Eliza McCormick
Eliza spat into the sink one last time before she put her toothbrush back into its container. She glanced into the mirror and then quickly averted her eyes. She had come to accept her appearance long ago, but sometimes the shame crept back in.
The look on that man’s face when he woke up. It was sheer terror. The scene played over and over in Eliza’s head.
“Somebody hit it! Get it out! Shoot it!”
It wasn’t the first time a newcomer had reacted like that, but it didn’t make it any easier. Eliza forced herself to look into the mirror at the flickering monster she had become. In and out, in and out. The eyes were the worst. Her sense of self always remained, but even she couldn’t see it in that grey static that appeared every few seconds. Really, could she blame Seth?
Tap, tap. “Darling, are you alright?” Frank’s voice echoed through the door.
Five more minutes. It was the hope that her beloved husband had been clinging to for so many years. She couldn’t give up on him. As strong as he could be, Frank wouldn’t be able to cope if he lost her. And, he was closer to losing her than he knew.
“Yes, Darling. I’ll be out in a minute.” She primped her hair and tried to fix her makeup. It was always hard to do any sort of feminine maintenance when she lost all of her color every couple of seconds, but she did the best she could. She had to. For him. She opened the door and put her arms around her man.
“How are you, dear?”
“I’m fine,” he said. “Don’t worry about that. How are you? It was a hard night.”
“And, you did wonderfully,” Eliza said as she let her arms fall to his chest and kissed his cheek.
He grabbed her hands. “That’s not what I meant.” He stared deep into her eyes. He was serious.
She walked over to the couch and plopped down, patting the cushion next to her. Frank sat next to her and put a hand on her thigh. Eliza did the same and rested her head on his shoulder.
“It was nothing I can’t get over, darling. I’ll be fine.” She pecked his cheek again and got up, ready to get into bed. Frank didn’t follow. He put his elbows on his knees and gazed at the carpet.
“Eleven,” he said without lifting his eyes. “We haven’t had that many for some time.” He paused. “Do you think they’ll make it?”
“They’ll learn to, dear.” Eliza pulled out her pajamas and changed. After a long silence, Frank spoke up again.
“Did you get any… vibes from them?”
Eliza settled into bed. She knew what he was talking about. He was wondering if she could sense whoever the psychic was. Or if she could sense any malevolence among them. She had been able to do that in the past with ease. But, ever since the Emptiness started seeping in, it had become harder and harder to do.
“Darling, I don’t think I can sense intentions anymore.” She opened the drawer of the dresser next to the bed and pulled out one of the vampire novels that had been left behind. “I think I’ve lost the ability to ‘know’ a person without a connection.”
Frank sighed and made his way to the dresser on his side of the bed. “And what about the psychic? The Empty are rarely that aggressive, and there’s almost never that many. Whoever it was, they must be powerful.”
“You’re right, dear. I think I have an idea. But, there was too much confusion tonight. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Frank lay down in the bed and grabbed his book. “If tonight was any indication, I think we’ll be having hard times ahead.”
“I was thinking the same, dear.” Eliza rested a hand on his and looked into his eyes. “We’ll have to protect whoever the psychic is at all costs. There may even be a time when we have to tell them about… the passage.”
Frank turned away and said nothing for a few seconds. It was hard for him to talk about it. “Let’s hope it never comes to that,” he muttered. Eliza let it rest, and the two opened their books. It wasn’t long before Frank fell asleep.
Eliza put her book back into the drawer and watched her beloved husband sleep. She would have given up many years ago if it weren’t for him, and the thought of what he would become without her sent needles into her heart. He was the reason she never gave in to the calling from the fog.
She would never tell him, but ever since she started blinking, the fog had been beckoning her to walk in and lose herself, to let herself become Empty. It took every bit of strength she had to resist, but she did it every day. For him. Her light in the darkness sleeping beside her.
But, even her wonderful knight couldn’t save her from her dreams. Eliza turned off the lamp and snuggled up to him. It was time to close her eyes and face what happened every night.
The grey wasteland around her knew no bounds, and the fog obscured everything. The little girl stood in front of Eliza with a sinister smirk on her face.
“Welcome back, Eliza.”
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