Free Read Friday: Covenant Part IV


Part IV

Read the story from the beginning to this point HERE!

She stood on the other side of the glass, watching him with sparkling blue eyes, a faint smile playing hide and seek on her full red lips.  His back complained loudly as he pushed himself to his feet, and pulled open the door. She took a step back, her eyes never leaving his, as he emerged from the phone booth.

“Who are you?” He asked.

“Don’t you know? She answered before she turned and walked away, sashaying down the length of the bar to her seat. She stopped, turned, and motioned for him to follow with a crooked finger.

“Who is she? He wondered as he moved the length of the bar, aware of others on their seats, obscure shadowy shapes that muttered and groaned at each other in his peripheral vision. 

Coming abreast of where she sat he stopped and gazed at her. She looked so much like Pat when she was younger, yet there was something missing, some little thing that stood her apart from the woman he loved and had grown old with.

She motioned to the seat beside her, inviting him to sit down, and the shadows to her left shifted with a faint, yet menacing, growl, to clear a seat for him. As he sat down he realized he still had the baby monitor clipped to his belt, the hard plastic shell digging into his belly as it became trapped against his thigh. Removing it he placed it on the bar in front of him. A harsh white object surrounded by the murky depths of a bar that could be anywhere from a lonely stretch of two lane blacktop in the middle of nowhere, to the bustling center of a crowded city that never slept.

She lifted her hand, her index and middle finger pointing up, and two drinks appeared on the bar in front of them. Emerging from the shadows crowded around them. Above the bar a faint neon light glowed with a muted brilliance, its light battling the dense shadows that were as thick as smoke. From his left came assorted growls, moans, and monosyllable grunts, accompanied by the muted tinkling of glasses colliding with one another, and the surface of the bar.

“What is this place? What do you want?”

She smiled over the rim of her glass as she took a small sip. Archie followed suit, the amber liquid burning on its journey to his belly, almost taking his breath away, and causing him to choke. That was some powerful stuff.  As the heat faded he detected a nuttiness about it that left a strange aftertaste in his mouth.

“Don’t you remember me?” she said as she lowered her glass to the bar, turning to look up at him with sparkling blue eyes. Her eyes grew brighter, glowing with an internal light. They looked as if sparks were about to start shooting from them.

He shook his head as he tried to recall, the features of her face were familiar, her name playing hide and seek on the tip of his tongue, frustrating him as his thoughts became a muddled morass of shadowy images like the indistinct shapes that jostled around them.

He knew her, he knew he should know her, yet every time he tried to put his finger on that elusive name, to pin it in place long enough for him to grab it, it faded into the crowding darkness that was threatening to overwhelm him from within, and without.

Something bumped into his back and he swiveled his head around, an act that seemed to take impossibly long, and peered into the murky depths that pressed in close on every side of him.

“Hey, watch it,” he said, his words slurred as he peered into the that crowded emptiness. A hand shot out, slapping him across the face, hard, and a memory blossomed. They were supposed to have been home by supper, but hadn’t made it until after dark. He sensed fear and anger, tempered with a touch of love and caring, all battling for dominance. Something could have happened to you, the sensation trickled through his thoughts as the memory that didn’t belong to him faded into the shadowy recesses.

He spun back around, intent on finding out once and for all who she was, but she had vanished. Her empty stool remained, glowing in a soft light that held the crowding shadows at bay. He spun round on his seat searching for her in the murkiness that was gathering even closer around him. Dark shapes moved through the emptiness, bustling and jostling for position as ebony hands darted out of the shadows to snatch at him. He slapped at the shadow hands that reached out for him.

Spinning around on his stool he reached for the baby monitor as a pair of black hands emerged from the darkness to grab it.  Each finger was tipped by an ebony claw that clicked against the plastic case with a sound reminiscent of a bird pecking at a window.

“Archie,” Pat’s voice shrieked from the monitor and he struggled to pull it loose from those shadowy hands as one of the claws raked his hand, laying open his finger that bled onto the white surface of the monitor, staining it with his blood. 

He yanked on it with all he had, pulling it free, his actions causing him to spin around in his seat and slam his elbow against the side of the phone booth. Pain shot down to his hand as numbness danced through his fingers. He dropped the baby monitor with a clatter. He looked around wildly, searching for shadows that weren’t there as the realization slowly dawned that he was still sitting in the phone booth.

It had been a dream bordering on a nightmare.

“Archie,” Pat cried out again, her voice tinny, and filled with static, coming from the plastic grill of the monitor lying on the floor at his feet. 

It was just a dream, he sought to console himself. All the stress he’d been feeling coupled with his horror at his recent revelation had given him a nightmare.

“Archie,” she cried out for a third time, driving him up from his seat, and he pulled open the door of the phone booth. As he did he noticed the small cut on his finger, already starting to scab over, and a cold fear slowly unwound in the pit of his belly.

It had been a dream, right?  He sought to convince himself.

To be continued!

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