Darkness snaked around Ambrose’s waist and bound his hands and feet. It dragged him deep into its heart to dwell forever.
Ambrose closed his eyes and yielded completely to its pull and tug. His body dissolved into sand blowing away freely.
He opened his eyes to await the end.
A vivid flash of lightning revealed Maria. She stood before him. Her mouth was set into a sorrowful line.
Another lightning flash.
Elsie held her arms out to him.
He wanted to reach for her, but his arms were no longer free.
Mark Caten. And he was smiling. No. Not smiling. Smirking like he’d won a great prize.
Ambrose snarled. He pulled and jerked and tore and swore the darkness off of his body.
Another lightning flash.
And Mark Caten was still there. Laughing.
Ambrose woke to the worst headache he’d ever known.
Lightning flashed too bright.
Thunder cracked too loud.
His head hurt too much.
He wanted to just lie there and wallow in his pain.
But someone was crying.
Ambrose laid his hand on the door and it moved under his touch. Am I hallucinating or…?
He slowly rose into a sit and pushed the door a little harder.
Huh. Did my head knock the door open?
He sat back on his feet and laughed softly. It made his head hurt even more, but he just couldn’t help himself. Mother always accused me of being hardheaded. Little did she know how right she was.
He threw his head back to laugh some more. Only to discover that his head wasn’t the only thing that hurt. He winced and rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. I will never do that again.”
Ambrose stood and pushed the door completely open. He glanced around the room as he entered.
But the foyer was empty.
The crying was loud and nearby.
He looked towards the parlor room. His stomach tensed up and suddenly he just wanted to run.
“Raven?” he called out softly.
There was no reply other than the incessant crying.
Ambrose approached the room.
I don’t want to do this.
I don’t want to see.
I don’t want to know.
He stopped in the doorway.
Marcus lay sprawled on the floor with a stake in his chest. Raven knelt beside him, crying like he was falling apart.
Ambrose glanced around for the others.
They weren’t there.
“Raven. What happened?” He entered the room. “Where are the others?”
Raven covered his face with his hands and kept crying.
His gloves are going to get drenched. It was an inconsequential thought, but Ambrose just couldn’t help thinking it. Depending on the material, it might even wrinkle. That would be a shame. He walked over to Raven and knelt beside him. “Look at me. Tell me. What happened?”
Raven raised his head. “I failed them.”