The horrific thing in control of Helena doesn’t appreciate my growing ability to resist her mental domination and I can see it in my companion’s face. Her lips curl back in a way that I can see her white teeth glint under the sterile glare of the fluorescent camping lantern I must have brought down here before when I was made to dig. The stark, white light upon her normally gentle-looking features gives them a sinister cast that both makes me sick to look upon her but rivets my attention in place with the fright of it. Her pale green eyes took on a serpentine yellow and her unpainted lips seemed almost the purple of suffocation. Despite the terror her visage assumed, I remained steady. I think the numbing of my senses from a lack of sleep worked to serve me here. Where rational minds would scream to flee, I am lulled by exhaustion and desperation. This must end tonight.
She smiles then in a way that feels more like a mockery of a smile. There is no joy in her expression, but rather malice and the desire to punish me for my non-compliance. With the rapid ascent fitting of a spider crawling to the sanctuary of its web, Helena clambers into the hole in the wall. With her smaller, slimmer frame she is easily able to clear the breach where I cannot. As tired as I am, my response is sluggish and I am barely able to grasp at her ankle, before she’s all the way in. I hear her hit the other side but then nothing more. The sudden quiet unnerves me and forces me to do what no sane person would should even consider. But I have to. I take the lantern and bring it up to the hole in the brick wall and peer within, thinking that perhaps she might have simply continued walking or was hiding back in the abyssal darkness of the room beyond.
I see nothing. I don’t even see the light bounce off any objects within to indicate the dimensions of the room walled off ahead of me. I have to think. With exhaustion crawling over my body, it takes me roughly three seconds longer to do anything, including thinking. I turn and lean against the brick wall and rub my face in the palms of my hands in hopes that I can wake myself up enough to come up with a plan. So far, my choices haven’t been exactly stellar. I should have taken Helena’s advice in the first place and just left this house, or better still just burned it to the ground and collect the insurance money. Even if I went to jail for arson it would be better than this.
Just as I slump my shoulders to relax everything suddenly goes black. I smell a strange mingle of dirt, Helena’s perfume and sweat as I feel her nails dig into the left side of my face. She’s holding me against the wall with a strength that my tired body isn’t able to match despite my best efforts to pull her thin arm free of its grip over my eyes. Panic swims over me as I howl and flail to find purchase on anything that will free me. Her finger nails begin to slowly peel back my skin even as I struggle to free myself. I can feel the smallest trickle of blood down my cheek as Helena whispers to me once more in Shelby’s awful siren’s purr.
She tells me to dig again but doesn’t try to enforce it with her unholy will. She knows she doesn’t have to because now I have to, if I want to rid myself of this and save this woman I’m responsible for getting into this mess to begin with. With her words came her departure and with her departure came a rake of nails across my face, eliciting a sharp yelp of pain from me, before returning everything to the lingering menace of silence once more.
The whole situation seems hopeless. I know if I just dig and follow her in there, I won’t come out. If I don’t dig, the Shelby-possessed Helena will probably wait till I fall into my eventual sleep and kill me for my lack of cooperation. Notwithstanding is this the fact that I cannot let her be entrapped my that spirit. It’s my damned fault! I have to think. The pain from Helena clawing my face works to my favor; it’s keeping me alert enough to rationally process my situation without going on a suicidal hole-digging spree.
The ring! Helena wanted the ring I saw Shelby’s skeletal corpse wearing, but I had no idea where it was. I don’t pretend to understand much of supernatural things. I didn’t believe in ghosts until I had one start whispering to me from my basement and even then I was more inclined to the notion I was either overworked, insane or needed to get laid in the worst possible way. But even I could assemble that the ring Shelby was wearing was somehow important to all of this.
Gambling on the notion that Shelby wanted to keep Helena alive for her own purposes, I made my way out of the primitively made passageway, back into the basement and up the stairs. The door to the stairs sits between a path between the kitchen and the living room, which is where I was standing when Helena screamed. She had been looking for something, while dragging the bed sheet around and I have to think that maybe she did get some sort of psychic reading off it to have been carrying around as she was. She had looked like she was almost in a trance the way she was moving around the living room, when I saw her last, so that’s where I began my own search.
I’m not psychic. I’m not even close to being psychically-aware and if I were, I’m fairly sure I would have squandered the talent predicting lottery numbers or trying to predict which women I could hit on with favorable results and which ones would get pissed for me trying. Regardless, I have to try and guess what Helena found that prompted the spectral presence to react to her. Nothing is out of place in the living room and the house itself is so quiet it’s almost unnerving. After having my face almost peeled off, the quiet that I normally find relaxing has me standing on edge. Between the pain and my paranoia, I’ve gotten a second wind that no cup of coffee could ever hope to match.
I sit down on my couch with a heavy sigh and take a long look around the living room itself. I hover here because this is where Helena was when she screamed, so there’s something I’m probably missing. I take out Helena’s round sunglasses and smile a bit to myself. She looked cute in them but I wondered why she was wearing them indoors. Out of some random notion that I would look just as cool in them, I slid them onto my head and stared blankly through the dark green lenses. The forest color the entire room took was kind of soothing; the harsh whites of the walls and bright light coming from the picture window were muted by this more pleasant shade. It made me wonder if the price of her gift wasn’t suffering migraines that prompted her to wear them.
I turned to my left to look down the hallway that leads to the bathroom, bedrooms and the study. I was about to turn away before something moved on the very edge of my sight. Something that had moved and I wasn’t supposed to see. I’m not ready for this but I have to look closer. Removing the dark-tinted glasses from my injured face, I slide them back into my pocket and begin down the hall. Everything seems normal. Except for the lingering stench of my own unwashed skin mingled with the earthy scent of grave dirt I still haven’t washed off, everything seems like it would on any given day if everything was normal. My paranoia begins eating at me as I take another few steps forward. I’m half expecting something to burst through the floorboard and drag me back down into the basement. The thought of it makes me sweat in a room that was cool. I can feel the perspiration sting the wound on my face but I’m too focused to pay attention to it now.
I look into the bathroom and saw nothing but I’m so terrified now I don’t want to look away given my last experience, but I do. I turn to look into the study and find nothing out of order. The lack of sleep mingled with paranoia is a powerful toxin to keep you second guessing yourself I’m discovering and its because of this rationale that I stop, breathe and attempt to focus again. I close my eyes to do just that and lean against the wall. Lethargy is taking its toll and I begin to nod off despite my best efforts to rally my will. I feel myself slump down the wall and I am about to surrender to the one thing that I know will kill me but I can’t help it. My body needs to sleep.
Just as the inevitable surrender to slumber takes hold, I see my shadowy tormentor lurking in the darkest part of the hallway. The umbrous spectre rises as if made of a black fume, with her hateful yellow eyes burning their malicious stare into my sleep-deprived mind. She was waiting for this to happen and now there’s nothing I can do to stop her. My body won’t wake up to fight and my mind has shut down against my will. I surrender to the darkness, spent and alone, hoping that in dreams an answer can be found where the waking world has provided only denial.