Sunday Serial – Maybe VIII

Maybe by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook . Sometimes we walk the edges of realty…

The scene looked more solid now, as if it had come into focus, there was a stall selling canydfloss just opposite and two children with balloons bobbing on strings ran past, groups of teens and families. There was something strange about them, most of the young men had longer hair, the girls wore a lot of ethnic look clothing and they all seemed to favour jeans with flared boot-cut legs. 
“Come.”
Jess glanced at Annis who was reinforcing her request by taking hold of Jessica’s hand and pulling on it’
“I’m not sure it’s a good – “
“Come!” Annis was frowning now. “Show you.”
Reluctant to leave the relative sense of security this enclosed place gave her, Jess found herself gripping the hand of the child quite tightly. She was not able to avoid a gasp as the huge felines slid out of the door ahead of them. Annis paused in the doorway and looked back.
“You not talk, the Old One hears you. Not hear me.”
“What is this Old One?”
Jessica recalled the cold feeling she had felt before when Annis had made her hide with the cats. Even their warmth had not stopped her shivering. 
“Old One is ancient – is Blood Eater. Come.”
Jess still resisted the tugging hand.
“Blood eater? You mean blood drinker? Like a vampire?’
And that was what Annis had called Roald. For some reason the idea fitted with him well.
“No,” Annis said, almost crossly, she was getting impatient as if driven by some urgency. “Blood Eater. It eats you.” Either the girl had no real idea of what she was saying or she lacked the vocabulary to say what she wanted, because she pulled again at Jessica’s hand. “Now come, not talk.”
Jessica gave in and followed the girl, her mind full of Bram Stoker and HP Lovecraft. It was not a very comforting state of mind to be in as they left the sanctuary of the small cabin Annis had made her home. 
This time there was no twisted tangle to clamber over, this time there was a ladder and the space above their heads was filled with looping rails, not lit up like the rest of the rides and booths around them. Annis led the way to a gated barrier and produced a key from somewhere to open it so they could get through. There was a sign on the outside of the gate which declared the roller-coaster closed for… Jessica would have read more about it, but Annis was pulling her hand again, finger to lips to remind her not to talk.
It was a dream, of course. She had fallen asleep in the car, in the carpark and was dreaming all this. It wasn’t real, it couldn’t be. It just felt real. But then Jess had lucid dreams sometimes, like the one where she was naked on the clifftop and –
“Jessica! Jess!”
Roald. She could not see him but his voice was close by. It did not sound like an: ‘I’ve just spotted you’ attention grabbing shout, more of a call in the hope that she might hear and answer. 
“Jessica! I know you are going to be frightened, but it’s alright. I can protect you. Come to me, my princess, I’ll keep you safe.”
It was strange though, that his voice carried over the noise of the fairground music, the sirens that wailed about the start and end of the rides, the thunder of the machinery itself and the cheerful shrieks of the crowd. But despite the noise, his voice sounded clear to her. Almost as if she was wearing an earpiece. Then he was there. Right in front of her and she froze.

Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

Part 9 of Maybe will be here next week…

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