Isabelle- An Occult Thriller- Ch6

Book Cover
Book Cover

Isabelle

An Occult Thriller by Tony DeLorger © 2011

CHAPTER SIX

The cellar was only small, enclosed by thick sandstone blocks in an ‘L’ shape floor plan with a single stone pier in the centre. The girls had found some old mattresses and Adam had laid them out onto the floor. There wasn’t much room; the cellar was chock-a-block with old furniture and packing boxes, but they managed to find just enough floor space to accommodate themselves.

‘I guess this‘ll have to do,’ said Adam, spreading the blankets around. Jenny was busy looking through some of the old boxes. There were old photo albums and frames, endless memorabilia and little knick-knacks.

‘Look at this Ted,’ she said enthusiastically, having found an interesting 10x8 photograph. Ted stepped over the mattresses to take a look. It appeared to be a photograph of the old school. Three rows of children, some fifteen in all, stood proudly in front of their quaint little timber-clad school building. It looked like a doll’s house, in the middle of nowhere. Next to them stood their beloved teacher and the sign in front of the group read... ‘Bamfield School, class of 1932. Teacher - Elba Parks.’

‘It’s her,’ said Ted, with a glint in his eye. ‘Look how young she is. Bit of a looker actually,’ he added.

Jenny gave him a sharp jab to the ribs, but he was right, she was pretty and immaculately dressed. Wearing a dark, full-length dress buttoned up to the neck she appeared prim and proper. Her hands were placed elegantly, one over the other before her and her long brown hair was plaited and wrapped up over the crown of her head. The children were a motley bunch, wearing every conceivable expression, including a few poked out tongues and one freckle-faced lad at the back with the obligatory crossed eyes and Dennis-the-Menace hairdo.

Meanwhile, Isabelle was feeling a chill and was all huddled up under a blanket at the end of one of the mattresses. Adam made his way over and sat down next to her, casually stroking his two-day growth, his long blonde hair pulled back over his ears.

‘You OK?’ he asked with concern. Isabelle looked up from within the woollen folds of the blanket.

‘I don’t know what I feel, I’m just numb,’ she replied.

Adam reached over and took her slender hand, squeezing it reassuringly. He intended to protect her at all costs; he felt somehow responsible for this predicament and although his part in it could only be circumstantial, Isabelle was his only concern.

When sheer exhaustion prompted them all, including nosey Jenny, to leave the day behind and to try to get some rest, they climbed on to the old mattresses and dragged a blanket over themselves. There wasn’t much left of the night, but they had to rest by necessity and within mere seconds, or so it seemed, they had all fallen fast asleep.

Some hours later, mist rolled silently across the fields and the meandering creek, with small birds darting impetuously in and out of the small bushes and grasses that lined the waters edge. The morning light slowly filtered through the cloak of white, lighting up the landscape and ever so gently awakening the township.

A shard of light, having found its way through the gnarled wooden floorboards above, concentrated its rays on Ted’s forehead. He vaguely felt its warmth from the depths of his slumber, but until the beckoning light touched his eyes, he was powerless to stir. Then, with a brief flickering of one eyelid, the shard of morning light pierced his wandering consciousness and he jumped, rousing himself to wake.

As the sun rose into the sky, several beams of light now lit up the cellar and with eyes still squinted, Ted looked down at his watch.

‘Hell, it’s almost 8 o’clock!’ he spat, not believing Elba hadn’t already woken them.

The others startled with Ted’s sudden outburst and sat up all bleary-eyed and disoriented. Ted hurriedly threw off his blanket and awkwardly set off up the narrow stairs, gently lifting the trapdoor in the floor above. He slowly edged it up a few inches and realised the rug was still covering it. Nervously, he eased the door back down, but couldn’t hear anything from within the cottage.

‘Miss Elba?’ he whispered softly. ‘Is it all right to come up?’

There was no reply and Ted, unsure what to do, looked down to the others. Adam was now at the bottom of the stairs, peering up while the girls looked on expectantly, now sitting upright on their mattresses.

‘It seems quiet, open the door,’ asked Adam, a little confused about Ted’s reticence.

‘But the rugs still over it,’ explained Ted.

Adam immediately climbed the stairs and edged the door up. Sure enough the rug was still there. He looked at Ted and shrugged unperturbed, then pushed the door further and as he forced his way out, shoved the dense woollen rug out of the way.

‘The damned thing’s heavy,’ he quipped as he twisted around and sat on the floor, pushing the last of the rug aside.

Ted followed and as the door finally freed itself from the rug and fell with a thud to the floor, he suddenly stopped in his tracks. ‘Oh no,’ he sighed.

Adam immediately turned around. Poor old Elba sat there on the lounge, her legs stretched out rather inelegantly on the floor. The boys scrambled out of the cellar opening in a panic and rushed over to her. Adam sat down gently on the lounge and apprehensively felt her hand for a pulse. She was stone cold. He closed his eyes in disbelief, then looked up at Ted, who was just as distressed.

‘My God, she’s dead,’ he said, stunned. Ted hung his head sadly.

‘This business must have been too much for the poor old thing.’ Adam sighed deeply and placed his elbows on his knees, his hands over his face.

As Jenny got to the top of the stairs and realised what had happened, she covered her mouth in shock and rushed to Ted. Isabelle followed moments later and they all sat with Elba, feeling responsible for her untimely death.

Next to her hands on her lap, sat the picture of her late husband. Isabelle picked it up and placed it lovingly in Elba’s hand. ‘They’ll be together now,’ she whispered, a tear gently rolling down her cheek.

Adam sadly rose to his feet. ‘We’re going to have to leave,’ he said. ‘It’s late enough.’

‘I agree. We shouldn’t touch anything either. Put everything back where it was. We don’t want them after us for this as well,’ added Ted.

With silent agreement, all four tidied up the house and replaced the mattresses and blankets, and secured the trapdoor, replacing the rug and coffee-table. Isabelle wanted desperately to place a cover over poor Elba, but of course that would have been ill-advised. Instead, they quietly said a prayer for the old dear and silently left, hoping that it wouldn’t be too long before someone found her.

Stealthily they left the cottage and backtracked down to the creek, where Betty remained under cover, waiting for them. Adam and Ted walked ahead discussing a general plan of escape, intending to find their way through the maze of tracks and backstreets and head toward the main road, as far north of the township as was possible.

The mist was beginning to dissipate in the morning sun, the remainder like rising steam from the water. The crispness of early morning was slowly subsiding into the rising summer heat and Ted and Adam were desperately trying to retrace the steps that they had made in darkness. But after eventually arriving at the water's edge, they turned left and knew that eventually they’d have to come across old Betty.

The creek was almost without sound, except for the gentle trickle of running water and the occasional bird-call breaking the silence and echoing across the landscape.

‘There she is!’ cried Ted, pointing to a clump of greenery by the water. It was old Betty all right, well hidden and thankfully undiscovered, just where they’d left her. While Ted and Adam removed the green covering from the car, the girls stowed their belongings in the boot and hurriedly found their seats; there was no time to lose.

With everyone seated, Ted placed the key in the ignition and turned the engine over. The Chevy’s starter motor clunked and turned over a few times then abruptly stopped.

‘She’s a bit cold,’ muttered Ted, pulling out the choke a little more. Again he challenged the ignition, but with no success. ‘God!’ snapped Ted, begrudgingly climbing out of the car and lifting the hood. He peered down into the vast space and tinkered with what he believed to be the fuel line, then when he was convinced all looked in order, replaced the hood and stormed back into the car.

‘Come on girl,’ he said in frustration, turning it over once again.

‘Ted, there’s someone coming!’ said Jenny peering out the back window. The others turned around frantically. Sure enough, on the other side of the creek, a few hundred metres away, they saw a man running toward them. He appeared to be carrying a shotgun and in the near distance they could hear the sound of barking hounds.

‘Jesus!’ screeched Ted, almost breaking the key off in the ignition. ‘Come on, you piece of junk!’ he shouted, the panic rising in him. ‘Come on!’ screamed Isabelle, her eyes fixed on the approaching assailant, the hounds becoming louder and louder. Suddenly the motor ignited and roared as Ted planted his foot down on the accelerator.

They sat in nervous anticipation, the motor squealing but with old Betty remaining stationary.

‘For God’s sake, the gear!’ shouted Adam, looking frantically behind. The man was now no more than 50 metres away and had stopped to load the shotgun, the dogs were only seconds behind him.

Ted threw the column shift into drive and Betty lunged forward, then spun out, sending the Chevy sideways toward the edge of the bank. ‘Shit!’ Adam screamed. Ted quickly compensated the steering and with a whip, Betty straightened up and with wheels a blur, flew down the track away from the creek.

Behind them, a loud bang echoed like thunder across the creek, followed by a clattering of lead as the shotgun spray collected the boot of the car. The girls lunged forward instinctively, clambering to get away from it.

‘Move it!’ screamed Adam, turning to support the girls. Ted thundered along the dirt track, pushing the Chevy to its limits. Over rocks and small branches, through potholes and over humps, the old girl rumbled and bounced around like a bobbing cork in a swell.

Slowly the distance between them and this ill-fated town increased, and they began to relax a little more. But Ted wasn’t convinced and kept his foot down hard until some 5 or 6 kilometres up the track, they reached a fork. Betty squealed to a halt, a cloud of dust engulfing them, then slowly clearing.

‘It’s right, I’m sure of it,’ said Jenny. The main road has gotta be up there.’

Without question Ted planted his foot down on the accelerator and they began to climb the hill before them. Just up ahead they could see a mass of conifers and hopefully beyond that, the main road back to the city.

As they climbed the incline the pines became more and more dense until halfway up they found themselves in the middle of a dense forest. The dirt track suddenly widened into a road as it wound its way toward the crest. Ted smiled thinking that this must be a secondary road and therefore must eventually meet the main thoroughfare. But as the bends and twists in the road became sharper and more difficult to navigate, it once again narrowed and became rocky and unpredictable. Ted worriedly eased his foot off the accelerator, but as he turned around the next bend and just as old Betty straightened up, they all heard an unnerving, loud cracking sound. It almost sounded like an agonising cry.

To their horror, a huge pine tree, twenty-odd feet around its girth, fell thundering down to the ground across the road in front of them. As it collected the earth with a God almighty thud, a blast of thick dust and debris exploded into the air and Ted screamed, turning hard right to try to avoid it. Old Betty skidded off the road and spun around a full 360 degrees, before stopping just short of the massive trunk. They all lurched forward with the force of it and then rebounded into their seats, shaken.

‘God, is everyone all right?’ asked Ted, turning to see if the girls were in one piece. Isabelle shook her head and grabbed Jenny by the leg; she was looking straight out the front window, her eyes wide and her mouth gaping.

‘What?’ asked Adam, turning back.

No more than ten feet away, next to the huge felled pine a figure appeared through the thick dissipating cloud of dust.

‘Shit,’ slurred Ted, in a cold sweat.

Before them stood a man- a huge man. He was dressed in a flannelette-checked shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow. A grubby pair of overalls sat over the top and one broken strap hung down over his massive chest. The man’s hair was long and ill kept, his face rather square and hard. He was carrying a lumber axe, the biggest they had ever seen. Its razor-sharp blade sat upright, only inches from the man’s right hand and glistened threateningly in the sunlight as the dust slowly cleared.

Isabelle, who could hardly speak from fear, forced herself. ‘Sssstart the car,’ she murmured, nervously.

Ted, without taking his eyes of this menacing presence, slowly leaned down and fumbled for the ignition key. The man took a step forward and Ted reeled.

‘Jesus! Quickly!’ squealed Adam, clutching the dashboard. Ted, in total panic, turned the key but as before old Betty spluttered but didn’t start. The man, seeing the panic in their eyes ran toward the car, the axe still in his hand. Isabelle and Jenny screamed in panic, convinced they were about to be hacked to death.

‘Come on you rust bucket!’ shouted Ted, turning Betty over again and pumping the accelerator frantically.

‘Are you OK?’ spoke a soft voice from the passenger side window. There was a sudden and gripping silence in the car, the girls huddled together, trembling in the back seat. Adam, sitting no more than a few inches from the man’s face, turned and looked at him, his eyes wide with fear.

‘Is anyone hurt?’ added the man, not understanding the reaction at all.

Adam blinked nervously a few times then, with a mixture of fear and embarrassment, slowly wound down the window.‘No, we’re OK, thanks’ he said, awkwardly.

The man scanned the back seat. ‘You girls OK?’ he asked with concern.

‘Sure, we’re fine,’ replied Jenny, still shaky and now more than embarrassed.

‘Sorry about the tree. No-one ever comes up this road,’ he said. ‘Ya sure you’re all right?’

‘Yeah,’ replied Ted. Just need to find the main road out of town.’

The man looked a little confused, this road was hardly a normal route out of Bamfield. ‘Main road’s up ahead no more than half a mile,’ he said.

Ted took a deep breath and calmly turned the ignition key. Old Betty turned over and began to purr, her huge motor now humming in perfect mechanical harmony. Ted looked at Adam and shrugged.

‘If ya go down here a bit and veer left, you can get back on the road. Just watch those branches going around. Don’t wanna scratch this car of yours,’ he added.

Adam smiled politely, still with a tinge of embarrassment. ‘Thanks, then,’ he said, as Ted reversed then turned to go around the giant pine. As they slowly drove off, they could see the man behind them, leaning on his axe and waving, a cloud of dust eventually obscuring him from sight.

Only a few minutes later they turned left on to the main road, leaving Bamfield far behind them. No-one said a word, they were all simply immersed in a feeling of relief and the comfort of knowing that they had made it out of there, unscathed or at least physically.

On route back to town, Ted and Adam shared the short drive; everyone’s nerves were shot. All of them were exhausted but they were well aware that this strange circumstance in which they found themselves, was far from over. It was the tenth of July, the day before the anniversary of Isabelle’s mother’s death. Tomorrow was to be Isabelle’s day of reckoning and for whatever reason, Adam’s studio would be the stage for this rather surreal battle between good and evil.

About three-quarters of the way back to town, Adam pulled into a roadside cafe for something to eat and to perhaps clean up a little. Circumstances had robbed them of their usual morning routines and after the stress that they had had to endure the thought of feeling clean and fresh again, was a pleasant one.

The final stretch took no time at all but even feeling refreshed could in no way lessen the apprehension that they all felt. Both tiredness and anticipating what was to come had taken the wind out of their sails, and few words were spoken as they drew closer to home.

As they approached the city limits, the road widened and as the occasional passing vehicle, suddenly turned into a steady stream of city traffic, they all breathed a sigh of relief. After all, this was home and no matter what was to happen, there was a comfort in being back in familiar territory. Adam knew several short cuts to the waterfront; in fact he knew just about every lane, nook and cranny in the dock area. That particular area had always been an inspiration to him and even now with this imminent battle looming, he was glad to be back.

Isabelle remained rather subdued in the back, on edge and shaky. She was in the line of fire and not simply from some crank or malcontent. Her pursuer was some kind of powerful, evil entity and she wasn’t even sure of his reasoning or purpose. All she knew was that a dark relentless fear was growing inside her, consuming her every breath. There were no explanations, no solace just this certain dread and the fear of misgiving.

Adam entered his street slowly, approaching with caution until he was no more than ten feet from the studio entrance. He looked up perplexed, having expected the building to be in pieces. They all sat silently for more than a minute, no-one wanting to go inside, but this was Adam’s home, and he for one wanted to know what had happened.

‘OK,’ he said with steadfast resolution, climbing determinedly out of the car. The others followed apprehensively and stood there motionless, peering up in confusion at the building. It seemed intact. Adam was reliving the memory of what had happened, things flying around the room, Blaskin’s face and the sheer terror as he and Isabelle fled into the street. The wailing sound that had haunted him, the crashing, the billowing smoke and exploding glass all were etched deeply in his memory.

Adam moved over toward the door and gently nudged it. It was of course open. He felt more curious than anything having expected the building to be a blackened, gutted shell. He looked up the stairwell and not a burn mark was to be seen, everything was as it had always been, a little dusty maybe, but that was all.

‘Wait here,’ he said as he slowly climbed the old stairs.

‘Suits me,’ replied Ted, huddled together with Jenny and Isabelle, for his sake as much as theirs.

The wooden stairs creaked with each hesitant step and finally Adam turned at the top and disappeared from the top landing. There was complete silence.

The waiting was intolerable and Ted, Jenny and Isabelle were becoming more and more impatient and fidgety, especially Ted.

‘Everything OK Taz?’ asked Ted, his feeble voice echoing gently in the stairwell. ‘Taz?’ he said a little louder, in earnest.

Just as Ted’s nerves couldn’t bear it any longer, Adam reappeared at the top of the stairs with a confused expression on his face.

‘It’s safe, come on up,’ he said, wandering vacantly back into the studio.

The three looked rather perplexed at one another then made their way up the stairs to see what had happened.

‘I’m not looking forward to this mess,’ muttered Isabelle. ‘I’m not sure I’ve got the strength.’

They found Adam standing in the middle of his studio with his arms outstretched, shaking his head with an exasperated expression of his face. Looking around quickly, all three knew instantly why. Isabelle surveyed every inch of the room; not a thing was out of place. She stepped forward, studying everything for any sign of the mayhem that she had witnessed.

In the centre of the room, directly under the skylight, stood an easel. On it sat a large canvas covered with paint, a mass of congealed, expressionless paint. There was no form to it, not even colour. A few drops of paint sat beneath it on the floor, but apart from that everything in the room was clean, untouched.

Jenny began to laugh nervously, incessantly. ‘This is the best the place has ever looked!’ she sported, completely amused. Her knee-jerk response suddenly broke through the uncertainty and fear and soon everyone was smiling from the absurdity of it.

Isabelle walked slowly over to Adam and embraced him, feeling somehow relieved. Ted was as amused as Jenny was and began to laugh. ‘You must give me the name of your cleaner, Taz. They’re better than mine,’ he quipped, Jenny thumping him hard on the arm in response. She then shook her head and fell back onto the lounge with a broad smile still attached to her face.

The joviality eventually subsided and while Jenny and Ted had a private interlude, Adam went to the bathroom to draw a bath for Isabelle. After seeing himself fleetingly in the mirror as he passed, he considered shaving and with the comfort of routine, began to feel a little more at ease with what was happening.

‘Taz? Jen and I want to stay, if that’s OK?’ said Ted as Adam emerged from the bathroom. ‘We’ve come this far and we want to see it through, no matter what happens.’

Adam smiled warmly. ‘Good, you can cook dinner then Jen. Could do with one of your specialities.’

While Adam returned to turn off the bath, Jenny pointedly blew a strand of uncooperative hair from her face and went to the kitchen to explore her options. It wasn’t that she minded doing the cooking, she actually loved to cook. It was more the boys always expected it and no matter how tired she was or in what condition, she always ended up in the kitchen.

Over the following hours they all cleaned up and changed their clothes and, at least on the outside, they all seemed relaxed. Jenny had as always outdone herself in the kitchen, throwing together what Adam had laying around and turning it into a real feast. It was a talent that Jenny had mastered and apart from her fleeting indignation at always being asked she revelled in the praise that her cohorts showered on her as a result. The final meal was so meticulously prepared and served, it looked more like a planned dinner party than an impromptu gathering.

Jenny was back to her usual self after cleaning up and changing. Her hair was now pulled back tightly and she wore a checked skirt and soft white blouse. She was always neat and elegant and she loved to mother everyone, especially Ted, and fussed incessantly over the table to make sure everything was just right and that everybody had had their fill. It felt peaceful after the meal and as the last rays of daylight extinguished behind the distant horizon; the encroaching darkness seemed somehow less threatening than before.

Ted and Jenny were relaxing on the sofa while Adam and Isabelle washed up the dinner dishes. The night was serene, only the muffled sounds of distant dock workers and the occasional traffic noise wafted carelessly by the studio, reminding them all that civilisation remained just outside their door. These sounds were comforting, especially for Adam, and the relative silence and intermittent mutterings of mundane life outside were just enough, allowing them to forget momentarily what possible horrors lay ahead.

Little was said within this welcomed silence, but in the back of their minds, especially Isabelle’s, the reality that someone wanted to take her life, was ever-present. As with all the previous murders, the daughters were to be sacrificed on the same date and in the same manner as their mothers, for Isabelle that was by stabbing and on the 11th July, tomorrow.

The solace of silence and peaceful contemplation soon reverted to uneasiness, as Isabelle felt the fear inside her well up, pervading her mind. She was ultimately helpless, not knowing how to protect herself against such an unknown and malicious enemy. Blaskin being deceased did nothing to allay her fears, in fact if anything, it made them much more potent.

At 10.30pm they all sat huddled up on and around the sofa. It was one and a half-hours to go before midnight and the 11th, when Blaskin could try to complete his dark mission. As they sat in virtual silence, awaiting the future with an avalanche of possibilities bombarding their minds, Adam tried to resign himself to the worst. He knew nothing of the occult, nor wanted to, but after seeing the powers at work, he knew firsthand that anything was possible and that Blaskin, whatever he was, was not to be underestimated.

The four remained motionless, staring pensively into nothing, not knowing what to say or do. Apart from the stress of what was before them, they were all exhausted having been through enough already. As the time ticked slowly away and even with impending doom hovering all too closely, their consciousness began to waver. The room was hardly lit, a single squat candle gently flickered in the stillness, casting long shadows and lulling them into a seductive well-earned sleep.

About 1am, Isabelle startled and opened her eyes to find everyone fast asleep. The candle was all but stifled, the last of its liquid fuel somehow holding up the remaining wick, its final light flickering hypnotically in the darkness and bringing the walls to an unnatural life. A cold chill swept over her skin and made her tremble. Everything was quiet- too quiet and a strange foreboding presence suddenly made her stomach churn and the fear within her begin to rise.

First came a slight rattling sound over by the mounted canvas. The vibration slowly increased and as it rose to a clattering, it gently subsided to then rise in intensity once again. The windows suddenly began to shudder and Isabelle, whose heart was almost leaping out of her chest was unable to speak, clutching blindly for Adam’s arm. He jumped with such a fright, Ted and Jenny almost screamed in response. Having woken so harshly, their minds were a wash with fear, as they became aware of what was happening.

Now even the floor was vibrating, kitchen glasses were clinking together and one of the cupboard doors suddenly flew open, sending a sugar jar crashing to the floor and exploding on impact.

‘My God!’ squealed Jenny, wrapping herself around Ted, whose eyes were bulging in terror. They all clambered to their feet and huddled together as this constant vibration enveloped them. The room was alive with movement, vases falling to the floor, pictures sliding from their hooks and crashing to the floorboards. A low-pitched rumbling sound filled the open space and was getting louder and louder.

‘This is it!’ shouted Adam, holding Isabelle as tight as he could. She was beyond terror, shaking uncontrollably and burying herself into Adam’s chest.

The easel crashed to the floor in front of them, brushes and paints skidding across the boards in all directions. Then, directly under the skylight, tiny dots of luminescent light began to swirl in a spiral before them. At first only a few dots could be seen and then as the number increased so did the intensity of this living light. Then accompanying this crescendo was a sound, like a whooshing, coming in waves one after another. As the light became denser and the noise louder, the sound became more discernible, it was a voice; this vision was attempting to communicate.

Unexpectedly, the vision burst into a flash of golden light, almost blinding them with its intensity. Then the light subsided a little and the vibrations stopped. Only a soft humming sound remained. Isabelle's eyes squinted, trying to focus on what was in front of her.

‘Isabelle?’ said the faint voice. Then louder, ‘Isabelle?’

The voice was that of a woman and it was now perfectly clear. It had warmth about it and Isabelle reacted, stepping forward and letting go of Adam’s hand.

‘Isabelle?’ repeated the voice, softly.

The swirling dots of light were now so many that they amassed and moved in relative harmony, trying to find form. As they all watched in wonder, a figure suddenly manifested, becoming clearer.

Finally, the face began to take form and Isabelle stepped further forward, tears welling in her eyes, her fear completely overcome.

‘It’s you, isn’t it...my mother?’ she said, a crystal like tear, edging down her cheek.

The image was now complete and the kindness and peace that resided within this angelic face was more than compelling.

‘It is, Isabelle. I am your mother.’

The warmth from her radiated outwardly and she was beautiful, her features fine and feminine.

‘I have been trying to reach you, my dear, to warn you. But the task has proved more difficult than I first thought,’ she said, her voice becoming more urgent.

‘Ivan is an evil soul, he wishes you the same fate as I have endured all these years.’

‘But why mother, who is he?’ pressed Isabelle, trying to understand.

‘There is little time. You must do as I say, Isabelle. It is your only hope. His power is growing stronger as we speak.’

Elizabeth Harding spoke clearly to Isabelle and to her friends and described in great detail what they needed to do to try to protect Isabelle and to vanquish this twisted, evil soul. Adam wrote down every word that Elizabeth passed on, hardly understanding any of it, but believing that this was Isabelle’s only hope for survival. Isabelle listened intently to every word, but saving her own skin was the last thing on her mind. She looked lovingly at the mother that she never had. After a lifetime of longing, this woman stood before her, so close yet unattainable, out of reach. She wanted nothing more than to hold her, to feel her loving arms around her and to absolve the emptiness that had so plagued her life.

When Elizabeth had completed relaying her instructions, the first rays of light began to dust the bay gently with its daily welcome.

‘I’ll be with you, Isabelle,’ said Elizabeth, her voice suddenly beginning to fade.

‘No!’ cried Isabelle. ‘Not yet, I have so much to say.’

The gentle image suddenly began to fade and in only seconds was gone, without even a goodbye.

Isabelle felt cheated, her one chance seemingly torn away from her. For a long moment, she stood there sadly, in one sense warm with the knowledge that she had seen her real mother, but devastated that it was so fleeting. Now as reality took hold, Isabelle turned to Adam; there was so much to do and the real battle was still ahead of them, daylight giving them at least some time to organise themselves.

Ted and Jenny left almost immediately, there were many things needed that Adam did not have at hand, and there was no time to lose. They fled into the street and hurriedly headed toward the markets, where they would hopefully find everything on their rather mysterious list.

Suddenly they both felt empowered, and the knowledge that they had at least someone on their side, even if that someone was deceased. As strange as it was, they had a direction and purpose and that in itself was comforting and gave them hope, where as before, there was none.

Adam cleared the floor at the centre of the room, directly under the skylight to draw the circle and symbols that Elizabeth had requested. Isabelle sat watching, then staring pensively out of the window into the daylight. She was still reeling from her mother’s visitation, the imminent conflict still only at the back of her mind. She was a mass of conflict and confusion and the aching in her heart left her feeling numb and exhausted.

Then, suddenly out of the blue, as if having resolved something deep inside her, Isabelle sat more upright, her face hardening into a dedicated and determined resolve.

‘Blaskin,’ she thought. ‘He has taken everything from me, completely destroyed my life.’ A surge of pure anger and contempt suddenly rose within her and she felt an innate strength welling up, somehow replacing her feelings of fear and anguish. She stood up and looked at Adam who was busily mapping out the floor. ‘If it’s a fight he wants, then he’s going to get one,’ she whispered, walking determinedly over to Adam.

‘Can I help?’ she asked.


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