The Samhain Chronicles: Ch. 15
Thief in the Night
Danny lay there as still as a corpse under the covers. His heart thudded faster against his ribs with every step the intruder took closer to his bed. The room was pitch dark save for the sliver of pale moonlight that crept in through the cracks in the shutters, shielding the intruder's identity...not that Danny would be able to see them very well anyway without his glasses. Soon however, he was able to make out a silhouette in his peripheral vision, standing directly over him. He tried to control his breathing and lie as motionless as possible, pretending to still be asleep. If he could surprise them, there was a chance - however slim - that he could overpower his attacker before they carried out whatever dastardly deeds they had come to enact.
He was still feeling out when the best opportunity to launch his surprise attack was, when out in the corridor there came a tremendous crash. He saw the intruder's head and shoulders turn sharply in the direction of the noise, and in that moment chose to make his move. He sprang up out of bed as quick as a flash and grabbed the intruder, grappling them to the bed. He was surprised at how short they seemed, and how quickly he was able to overpower them. His guard remained firmly in place though as he pinned the intruder roughly to the sheets, climbing on top of them for good measure. "Who are ye?!" He demanded, "Who sent ye, and what do ye want with me?!"
Shock and confusion electrified him when he heard a soft, feminine cry, "I-I'm sorry... Please, Daniel, get off of me; you're heavy, and I can't breathe!" The jarringly familiar voice launched him into a mild panic, and he scrambled to switch on the light. Even without his glasses on, he recognized the young, blonde woman underneath him immediately.
"S-Sister Marie?!" He blanched, feeling his shame, confusion and embarrassment grow by the moment, "I... I-I don't understand. What are ye doing in my room?!"
The young woman sniffled and squirmed in his grip, trying to free her wrists, "Y-You were calling out in your sleep... I thought... I thought you were in pain. Please, Daniel, let go! You're hurting me!"
An instant later, the door to his room swung open. He reached over to quickly pop on his spectacles when the overhead light came on all on its own, then felt his face drain of all color when he saw five of the elder nuns standing in his room. Their faces were pale in shock and horror, looking from him to the woman pinned beneath him and back. He looked down at the frightened nun again, and his stomach dropped. Until that moment he hadn't realized that all she was wearing was a thin nightgown, and it had been badly torn during their scuffle. The left shoulder seam was ripped completely open, and the buttons up the front of the modest garment had come undone to expose a fair amount of her bosom.
Danny leapt up off the bed immediately and threw his hands up when he realized what it looked like, "I-I can explain! She-...W-Well... I mean, I can't but... b-but I would never-...!" The elder nuns gazed at him with a mixture of anger, shock and disappointment, rendering him mute. He was still working his jaw, trying to force out the words that refused to form, when he realized then that their gaze had shifted to his torso. He had gone to bed with a shirt on but must have peeled it off in his sleep, leaving his scarred chest and arms in full view. The sisters that weren't looking at him scornfully were staring in fear and disgust, which only served to fuel his shame more. Unable to stand the judgement in their eyes any longer, he covered himself as best he could and suddenly bolted to the window in a fit of desperation. He didn't care how much furniture his wings knocked over as he flung open the shutters, diving through the open window a moment later. He wanted to fly as far away as possible, but the Phantom looming at every turn eventually forced him to land inside the chapel belfry.
His entire body trembled with fear and shame as he crouched down in a corner behind the large, iron bell, fighting back tears at every turn. "I haven't done anything wrong," he muttered, "b-but even an imbecile could see what it looked like! Mother Abigail will be furious!" A devastating thought hit him next, causing his vision to blur and swim, "W-What if she throws me out without question? Will Penelope be allowed to stay, or will we both be chucked out?" He couldn't stand the thought of seeing their disappointed, angry faces when the word finally got around, and finally dropped his head to his kneecaps with a sniff.
The night had grown much colder in the few hours since he'd turned in. Winter's chill it seemed had already begun to cling to the wind, which cut through the open air belltower completely unobstructed. Danny shivered with cold, as he was only dressed in a pair of pyjama bottoms, but was too embarrassed to come down out of the tower yet. He could hear voices in the courtyard below when the sun had only just begun to rise, and a spike of dread pierced straight through his heart. They were looking for him, possibly to make him stand trial for his crimes publicly in front of the entire convent. As cold as he was, he remained in the belfry until well after sunrise, a prisoner of his shame. He nodded off once or twice in the meantime, but it was too cold in the tower to actually sleep. He had begun drifting off again when suddenly he felt a warm blanket draped around his shivering shoulders.
He looked up with a start, and to his incredible shock and panic, Mother Abigail's face looked back at him. The old woman was still in her nightdress and slippers, pulling her dressing gown tighter around her frail frame against the cold. "Daniel," she smiled softly, "What are you doing here? We've been searching everywhere for you, My Child."
Danny stood up quickly and wrapped the blanket around his bare upper torso tightly, wincing as his stiff knees and back protested the sudden movement. "M-Mother Abigail, I-I haven't done anything wrong! I swear!! I-I heard someone in my room, and I thought-"
The elderly woman patted the center of his chest, shushing him calmly, "It's alright, Daniel... Sister Marie told us everything. You're not in any trouble, I assure you." Danny stared at her, stunned with disbelief. He was so relieved that she wasn't scolding him or dragging him to the convent gates upon sight that he started tearing up again. She wrapped him in a gentle hug and massaged circles into the only patch of back she could reach between the large lumps that were his wings, "There, there, My Child... all is well. You're shivering... come now; let's get somewhere warmer. You must be chilled to the bone."
The steps leading up to the belltower were steep and narrow. Danny was surprised the elderly woman had been able to climb all the way to the top unassisted, as after a few steps he himself was getting winded. He graciously offered to carry Mother Abigail back down the rest of the way, which she accepted gratefully. They traveled down the steps in silence, but when they reached the halfway point Danny finally broke it with a sigh. "Mother Abigail," he started hesitantly, "ye seem like an excellent judge of character. Am I wrong?"
Mother Abigail chuckled softly, adjusting her gentle grip around his neck, "I have always considered myself so, yes. Why do you ask, My Child?" Danny fell silent again, gnawing on his lip pensively and dropping his gaze as he continued walking. When he reached the next landing, Mother Abigail put a hand to his chest to stop him in his tracks. "Rest a moment," she chided softly, "I am in no hurry." He nodded and stopped obediently, setting her down for just a moment. As soon as her feet touched the ground, she took his hand in hers. Her wise brown eyes seemed to look through him to his very soul as she studied his face, "Daniel... I sense that there is something weighing heavily upon you. Would you like to tell me what it is? Any concerns you have, I am always willing to listen to."
Danny wet his lips nervously and dropped his gaze. "I... I'm just worried," he muttered, "about Penelope. Last night, Dr. Horace said-" He wasn't sure why, but the words suddenly lodged in his throat. He was reminded then of his promise to Dr. Horace not to speak to anyone about their conversation. This practice was nothing new to him, as most of what was shared between them in his sessions remained unspoken of after. This time however, he was startled that he physically could not utter the words he wished to say to Mother Abigail. Try as he might, his tongue glued itself to the roof of his mouth at just thinking the words, and the harder he tried his throat almost seemed to constrict. Mother Abigail's thin brows raised when she seemed to sense his troubles, and to soothe him she placed her hands on his arms.
"Dr. Wilson is indeed a fine scholar," she mused, "a man of science and medicine. I have known him to be a friend of this convent for many, many years, My Child... but there is more to him than even I know." A smile curled her lips then, "As for your Penelope, I believe she is a kind, intelligent, hard-working young lady. In truth, I wish she would stay with us. The convent would greatly benefit having her as a sister, but if she does not have the calling to do the Lord's work, then that is beyond my control." She took his arm with a small chuckle and began leading him toward the bottom of the stairs, "I hoped that served to answer your questions... whatever they may be. It's alright, I can walk the rest of the way."
Danny kept his silence as they carried on, this time by choice. Being unable to speak definitely had him rattled, which didn't help him already being on edge from the events of the night before. Dr. Horace's warning still rang clear in his head, battling with his knowledge of and feelings toward Penelope. Dr. Horace had suspected her before of conspiring with their enemies and was proven wrong once already, but he seemed so adamant in his belief this time. Thinking about it was making Danny's head hurt again, or it could quite possibly be the lingering side effects of his medication. He decided his inability to speak must also have been a strange new side effect, and resolved to talk to Dr. Horace about it later.
When he reached the courtyard with Mother Abigail, he saw Penelope in the garden conversing with Sister Marie and one of the older nuns who'd barged into his room last night. Sister Marie appeared to be unharmed, thank goodness, but seemed nervous and a little quieter than usual. As soon as she caught sight of him, Penelope charged over mad as a wet hen. His knees shook a little at the heat of anger in her eyes, "P-Penelope, I need to speak with-" He was cut off suddenly as her palm skated across his cheek, causing him to stagger off balance a bit.
"Daniel, how could you?!" She snapped, tears brimming in her eyes, "Sister Marie was scared half out of her wits last night! What the bloody hell were you thinking?!" Danny held his stinging cheek in mild shock, holding the blanket with his other hand to stop it from slipping off his shoulders. He wanted to tell Penelope everything, but once again his larynx clamped shut on its own. Penelope glared up at him crossly, "Well?! I'm waiting! Are you going to explain yourself, or not?" For the life of him, Danny tried. His jaw and lips worked for several minutes, but not a single sound was produced. Penelope eventually shook her head with a frustrated growl, "Never mind! I'm deeply disappointed in you, Daniel. When you feel like being an adult about this, come talk to me. Until then, keep your ruddy distance!"
After Penelope stormed off, Danny took a quick gander around the courtyard again. It appeared that word had gotten around about what happened fairly quickly, as every sister within his line of sight was staring at him in anger, disappointment or both. He lowered his head in shame and turned on his heel, following his feet back to the chapel. Mother Abigail followed him as far as the threshold but didn't go in herself, walking away a moment later with a pitying glance. Honestly, Danny didn't mind. He was so riddled by shame and guilt and confusion that he preferred to be alone for the time being. With a shaky exhale, he looked up, finding himself at the altar. He dropped to his knees on the small tufted cushion in front of him, letting the blanket fall off his shoulders as his eyes locked on to the face in stained glass above him. "Why," he whispered, "Why do ye let these things keep happening to me? What have I done to deserve such punishment?!" A desperate sob choked its way out of his throat as his face tilted downward on its own, "I dunno why I bother. Ye probably can't e'en hear me. I just feel so confused... so lost, and alone. I need guidance to help me figure out who or what I am... and who I can trust. Please..."
A strange, warm wind ruffled his hair, and the chapel doors suddenly slammed shut. Danny startled and looked all around in fear and confusion, his eyes widening a bit at the prayer candles guttering before him in the directionless breeze. "Don't be afraid, Man," a friendly voice called from the back of the chapel then, "HE hears you." Danny jumped to his feet and whirled around, scanning the chapel for the source of the unfamiliar voice. Seated on the very back pew on the left hand side was a scruffy-looking young man, possibly in his late teens or early twenties. His grubby sneakers were propped up on the pew in front of him, giving Danny a good look at his tattered cargo shorts and faded blue hoodie. Although his face was quite youthful, a wisdom as old as time shone in his crystal blue eyes, which were mostly hidden beneath an unruly mop of dark curls.
Danny scooped up the blanket which had fallen to the floor and hurriedly tried to cover his wings and scars, "Wh-What? Who are ye?! H-How did ye get in here?! I thought the convent was closed to the public?!"
The odd young man hopped up then and approached, grinning broadly as he tucked a silver bicycle helmet under his arm, "Hey, relax, my Dude. I know what you are, and I'm not gonna hurt you." He set the helmet down on the floor at his feet along with the rucksack slung over his shoulder, then offered his hand cordially, "You can call me Gabe; I'm one of the good guys, trust me." Danny stood speechless, staring from the hand to the unusual young man it belonged to. He spoke with an American accent, but there was another, softer accent underneath that seemed richer and far more ancient. Gabe pulled his hand back with a shrug, smiling again to show off his perfect teeth that almost glowed white against his deep olive skin, "Not a shaker, huh? That's cool. Oh, hey! I've got something for you. Can't believe I almost forgot!" He bent down and snatched up the army green rucksack, pawing around inside it for a minute before producing a parcel. It was about the size of a small shoebox, wrapped in plain brown paper and secured with a shimmering piece of solid gold twine. "This should help point you in the right direction," he winked, tossing the package into Danny's arms.
The Scot fumbled to catch the surprisingly weighty parcel, almost dropping it in the process. He was still trying to form a coherent thought when Gabe suddenly turned on his heel and started marching toward the door. "W-Wait," he blurted, "H-How do ye know what I am?! please, I have so many questions!"
The silver bicycle helmet zoomed past him all on its own, magnetizing to Gabe's outstretched hand in the blink of an eye. Danny stiffened in shock, but before he could say anything, Gabe pressed a finger to his grinning lips. For the briefest of moments, his impossibly blue eyes turned gold. "Let's just say you're not the only one with gifts, Buddy. Listen, I'd love to stay and talk, but I can't. Lots more deliveries to make, you understand. Don't worry, Daniel; we'll be keeping an eye on you. You're not alone in this fight, Man. If you need help, all you gotta do is ask for it." He then plunked the helmet on his head and buckled the chin strap, then zipped outside without another word.
"Gabe, wait," Danny cried, running out after him. As soon as he crossed the threshold however, he skidded to a stop. He was only a few paces behind Gabe, but the unusual young man was already long gone. There wasn't even a trace of him, and none of the sisters seemed to have noticed a shabbily dressed youth come running out of the chapel moments ago. The only thing Danny had to prove the encounter had even happened at all was the parcel in his hands, and the strangest feeling that everything was going to be alright.
About the Creator
Welcome, Travelers! Allow me to introduce you to a compelling world of Magick and Mystery. My stories are not for the faint of heart, but should you deign to read them I hope you will find them entertaining and intriguing to say the least.
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