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Chapter Eleven

Click to read Chapter One

Click to read Chapter Two

Click to read Chapter Three

Click to read Chapter Four

Click to read Chapter Five

Click to read Chapter Six

Click to read Chapter Seven

Click to read Chapter Eight

Click to read Chapter Nine

Click to read Chapter Ten

I’m too tired to think, it’s been a really long day. Can we pick this up tomorrow?” head laying on the desk, eyelids at half-mast.

Me too,” this from Rose, sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, bouncing an empty pop can from hand to hand.

Okay, yeah, let’s call it. Start again in the morning. We also need to go out to that pond tomorrow. Let’s do that first, meet here bright and early.”

It had been two hours since learning about Mrs. Miller, two long hours of reviewing the case and waiting for the hospital to call and let them know if she was going to live. Add the stress of Sara still being unconscious and all three of them were emotionally and mentally drained.

I’ll check in with the hospital when I get home, if there’s any news I’ll text you both,” standing, stretching and hearing several bones creak, “I feel so old. Rose we need to talk properly about this Lucinda person, why you think she’s my mother,” holding up a hand to prevent Rose from responding, “not now, tomorrow.”

“Come on Rose I’ll drive you home,” jangling car keys and moving to the door.

The drive was quiet, both of them too tired to do more than concentrate on not falling asleep. Arriving at the house arrangements were made for an early morning pick up.

Rose unlocked the outside door and paused before turning on the light, bracing herself for the dismal surroundings, wishing things were different and hoping that they would all survive what was coming. If only she was stronger, more like her aunt, she could have maintained the bindings and kept the Imps under control.

Flicking on the lights and moving quickly down the stairs to her apartment she unlocked the second door, slipping the keys into her jacket pocket she stepped inside and sniffed – what’s that smell?

“Is someone here? Hello?” Rose moved around the room, turning on lamps and listening, the apartment was quiet, no sounds from the bedroom or bathroom to suggest there was anyone else inside, but what about the smell? Where was that coming from?

As she walked into the kitchen the smell grew stronger and immediately recognizable, ammonia.  Looking around the small space Rose saw the source of the smell, snail shells and dead snails littered the counter tops, her skin crawled and she backed out of the kitchen, panic in her eyes. Imps!

Rose ran, flinging the door closed behind her and taking the stairs two at a time. Not bothering to lock the outside door she ran to the front street and her car, frantically trying to get the key in the lock and shrieking when a hand touched her shoulder.

Ms. Lancer, are you okay, has something happened?” the man squinted through his glasses, “you seem upset.”

Who! Mr. Franklin, you startled me,” stepping away from the shadowy figure and dropping her shoulder slightly so his hand slid away.

My apologies, I saw you were running and I was concerned. Is something wrong?”

Rose shook her head and forced a smile, “I’m fine, just in a hurry, if you’ll excuse me,” opening the car door and starting to enter the vehicle Rose paused, “Mr. Franklin what are you doing around here, don’t you live on the other side of town?”

He nodded, “If you’re sure you don’t need my help I’ll be on my way, take care Ms. Lancer, it’s getting quite dark now. Don’t you think?” Without waiting for a reply, he turned and walked through the pool of light cast by the streetlight and into the darkness. She waited for him to reappear at the next streetlight but he was gone.

Rose looked at the house, her apartment lights glowed behind the cheap blinds on the basement windows, was she being foolish? Weak? If an Imp had been in her apartment and left the snails what was the end game? To scare her, or was it just a prank? She sighed and stepping away from the open car door she pushed it closed, hit the lock button on her key fob and headed back to the house.

Back in the kitchen she put on a pair of kitchen gloves and slid the mess into a garbage bag, several minutes later the counter had been bleached and the bag tightly tied and placed outside.

As Rose got ready for bed the thought that an Imp had been in her house continued to cause goosebumps and fearful glances over her shoulder. Tossing and turning she finally fell into an uneasy sleep, dreaming of a shadowy pond, the beach littered with severed hands, hundreds of snails moving across the dead flesh, feasting.

Did she see you?” The woman was tall, long red hair cascading down her back. Dressed in a velvet cloak of midnight black with matching gloves she was an imposing figure.

No, we were hidden, she didn’t know we were there. We stayed throughout the night and left when the sun started to rise.” The voice was high-pitched and slightly hoarse.

Good.” Starting to turn away, “Was there anything else?”

We saw her dream. She dreamt of the pond, I don’t think she knows the significance.  We read that tomorrow she will visit Mollusk Beach with the two police officers.”

You were able to read her, how is that possible? Her training would have included mind guards.”

There is nothing. She has no guards.”

hmmm...Interesting. You can go,” waving a hand in dismissal.

The four Imps faded into the stone walls of the small room.

No guards. That might be useful.

Removing her gloves and turning her left-hand palm up Lucinda smiled as she looked at the scar; a small pale oval in the centre of her palm framed by a tattoo. A spiral of coloured lines moving out from the scar, a perfect volute.   

To be continued.

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