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The Cliff: Chapter Three

by Jennifer Brewer about a month ago in breakups

A Web Novella

Photo by Thomas Willmott on Unsplash. Altered by Jennifer Brewer via Pixlr and Canva.

A loud knock startled Lorna awake. “Hm… wonder who’s here.” Grabbing a robe from the bathroom door, she wrapped tight and cracked the front door. The hallway appeared empty. Confused, she went to shut it when something caught her eye. A leather-bound book sat on the floor. Curious, she picked the book up. “Wonder who left this. Why didn’t they wait and hand it to me?” She ran a hand over the family name, Reaves, impressed in the soft black leather. The book vibrated. “What the—”. Startled, the book slipped and hit the floor with a thud. Cautious, she used a foot to scoot the book into the apartment and slammed the door. 

There had never been mention of a family book, at least none she remembered. Someone had to know about the book. Dialing her Mom from memory, she answered on the second ring, “Hello.”

“Mom?” Lorna paced.

“Lorna?” 

Relaxed by the sound of her mom’s voice, she sat. “Yeah. Hey Mom.”

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“You always know when something’s up.”

“Well, mothers know things about their babies. Now, what’s going on. You’re worrying me.”

“I don’t want to worry you. A book came in today, one with the family name written on the cover.”

“In the mail?”

“I heard a knock on the door and checked. No one was there. I almost missed the thing lying on the floor,” she said, pacing again, “the book’s bound in black leather, and Reaves pressed into the leather.”

Her mother clicked her tongue. “Hm, I don’t know of a family book. You may ask your grandmother. Are you sure you are okay? You sound off.”

Her mother’s intuition had always been strong. Lorna shook her head, “I’m okay, Mom, a little shaken, but okay. The book put off a strange vibration in my hands and freaked me out.”

“Oh, goodness, that would scare me too. Definitely, call your Nana right away, and let me know what you find out.”

“Will do,” she paused. “I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, sweetheart. Now go get your answers.”

Calmer, she hung up.

Nana’s phone went to voicemail. “Hey, Nana, your granddaughter, Lorna, here. I’ve had something interesting left at my house, and I hope you can help me figure out what it is. Please call me as soon as you can. Love you.” She eyed the book, intimidated. 

The book pulled at her, and whispers of her name bounced off the walls of her apartment. Electricity crawled along her torso and spread out to her limbs. She shook her body, attempting to break the connection, surprised it worked. A blanket draped over the back of the chair caught her eye, she snatched it and covered the book; the buzzing stopped. If she couldn’t talk to Nana about the book, she would bring it to her. 

Lorna grabbed her purse, pulled out the keys, grabbed the blanket, and ran to the car. She needed answers, now. Still wrapped, she threw the book in the trunk next to unused workout clothes and slammed the trunk shut. The hour drive into Seattle would allow time to clear her mind. She also hoped Nana would have ideas on how to keep Chad safe.

The urge to call James overwhelmed her, to tell him everything, but she couldn’t, not yet. He needed more time. 

_____________________________________

The dark walker dove out the second-story window, arms spread wide in a perfect swan dive, swooped up seconds before impact, and shot up into the moonlit sky. Clouds flashed by as it wove around and through them. Hungry, the creature searched the night. 

The door to a bar swung open. The dark walker rubbed claw-like hands together. A long tongue shot out of a wide mouth full of jagged teeth. James walked out of the bar. His soul-light radiated. Red glowing eyes slammed shut, and it hissed. 

Eyes closed, it slithered along the street. Music thumped a steady beat from a nightclub drawing the creature. Eyes open once again, it searched for prey, swaying and dancing to the beat from the club.  

A woman screamed from the alley. The dark walker snuck along the side of the building and slid into the wall to watch the man and woman fight. Her soul-light shone bright, so it waited in the shadows for the fight to end. She landed a solid knee to the man’s groin, and the man cried out in pain as he dropped to his knees. She ran.

The creature covered its eyes as the female ran past, escaping her attacker. Time short, the dark walker crawled out of the wall. The man looked up, startled. The creature grinned. Trembling, the man tried to stand. He fell. A grumbled laugh poured forth from gnashing teeth. 

It grabbed the man’s arms, flipping him to his back, and licked his face. He tried to scream, and the warmth from the release of his bowels covered his backside. It grinned a grin of nightmares, then sliced into the man’s chest and ripped his heart in half. As the man lay dying, it sucked out the black smoke of life from his body. 

The woman came around the corner. The creature shot into the air, twisting and swaying as the woman screamed below, then vanished into the dark.

_____________________________________

Lorna awoke from a dead sleep to her own screams. The silk nightgown borrowed from her grandmother rested cold against dripping skin. Nana slammed through the bedroom door, eyes wild, a fire poker in hand. “What is it? Where is he? Tell me, child.”

Lorna, hyperventilating, shook her head. “It’s — not — it, he’s gone,” she said as the breath returned. “He’s dead, Nana. The creature killed him.” 

“Who’s dead?” Nana wrapped her arms around her, causing both to shake. “There now, child, let it all out.” 

A deep moan escaped Lorna’s lips, and she rocked with despair and wept for the man in the alley, for Chad, and for James. Then she shuddered. She knew nothing of this creature, how tied to her it was, or how it would affect the future.

Arms wrapped tight, pulled her close and warmed her trembling soul. Nana rocked back and forth as if she were sixteen again, nursing a broken heart. The trembling slowed, and breathing returned to normal. She reached around and hugged her Nana tight. 

“There you go, my child,” she continued to rock her, “back to sleep with you. Let’s talk in the morning. We won’t give the dark any more power tonight.” 

“But, Nana, we nee—”

“No, dear,” she said, lifting Lorna’s chin and looking deep in her eyes, “not tonight. The dark has had its fun, and we will entertain it no longer. Sleep.” Her hand reached up and lightly drew her fingers over Lorna’s eyes. Instantly, she slept. 

Nana laid her back on the pillow and pulled up the blankets, tucking her in tight. She tut-tutted and clicked her tongue. “No, my dear sweet girl, we will not entertain the dark anymore tonight. Tomorrow we will talk about making it right again.” She bent down and kissed Lorna’s forehead, dimmed the nightstand light, and went back to bed. 

Lorna took a long deep breath and sank into a deep, dreamless, and visionless sleep.

breakups
Jennifer Brewer
Jennifer Brewer
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Jennifer Brewer

Writer, wife and homeschool mom of three.

She has written short stories published by Cabinet of Heed, Adelaide, and Ariel Chart literary journals.

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