Sunday Serial – Maybe X

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

CHAPTER FOUR: ANNIS

Inwardly cursing the arrogance and stupidity of the vampire, Annis grabbed Jessica by the wrist as the ground opened up under the human woman’s feet. Fortunately the cats caught her urgency and grabbed pieces of clothing in their teeth. Between them they managed to drag Jess away from the chasm just as it started belching fire. 
Annis turned a snarling face to where the vampire had been standing, only to find he had run away as fast as his legs would carry him. She pulled on Jessica’s wrist.
“Get up. Must run.”
They ran under the rollercoaster to the bottom of a red-painted ladder.
“Up.”
“I can’t.”
“Can. Will. Before Old One comes.”
A day ago, she might have argued, but now the stench of decaying flesh acted as a goad to Jessica who began climbing with more speed than care. As she followed the labouring woman, Annis was glad it was only a short climb up a caged ladder. At the top of the ladder she ushered Jess through the door into the relative sanity of home.
“How? I mean why? This isn’t where it was before? And where did the fire come from?”
She was clearly right on the edge of panic and Annis gently compelled her to sit.
“I tell. You listen. Have not word. Is long before I talk human. Wait…”
She collected her thoughts.
“Home is always same place. Fairground moves. Other things I show.”
Annis groped in her mind to find words to explain what was going on, but it was so difficult to find the human sounds to explain the difficult concepts she needed to get across to Jessica. One of the Panthers came over and placed his forehead against her, reminding her how she had learned to speak cat. She smiled and purred at him.
“Jessica trust Annis?”
Jess nodded and Annis put her forehead against the older woman’s silently absorbing language. Jessica grinned and giggled.
“Tickles don’t it?” Annis grinned back. “Now I can better,” she grimaced apologetically “have words but not…” 
She suddenly grinned in triumph. “Grammar!”
Jess punched the air in a gesture of solidarity. 
Annis continued. “I tell you story then show some things. In 1974 rollercoaster is closed for paint. Painters use blowtorches to take off old paint. Is believed that torch lights gas from landfill site under fairground. Whole fairground goes on fire. One hundred people die. Many more injured or maimed. But fire also wake the Old Ones, who enjoy fire and fear and pain. So they make it happen time and time again. Every time, I watch, and I suffer the screams of the dying. Is bad.”
She stopped speaking and swallowed a huge lump in her throat. Jessica held out a hand and she grasped it hard. 
“Then vampire brings you here. And now I have hope.”
“Why?”
“Because you are old soul. Vampire recognises and wants.”
“Why does he want me?”
“In his mind he knew you long time and he sees you with wind in hair, and bare here,” she touched her own small chest.
“Oh. My dream. I see. But how do I give you hope?” 
“Is difficult. May sound as if I make use of you.”
“But you don’t. Do you?”
“No I would not.”
“Besides which,” Jessica said wryly “I don’t think it would be possible for me to just walk away.”
“Think not. But we can try if you would like.”
“No. I know in my bones that I can’t. Tell me what I have to do.”
“Can’t. Not yet. Must show you things first.”

Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

Part 11 of Maybe will be here next week…

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