January 30th. My small town was blanketed in heavy fog and the air felt different than usual. Everything, and everyone, slumbered on, breathing rhythmically almost. The silence was punctuated by the occasional rumble of automobiles as they drove past me.
I was walking up the bridge leading home, past the bus stop and the picnic benches a stone’s throw away from it, when I happened across a little girl. If not for her curious appearance—sleeveless unruly, waist-length hair straight out of The Ring—and the fact that she was on her own, I wouldn’t have given her a second glance.
“Arabella Dyer,” I called out to her like I’d known her all my life. I didn’t. I didn’t even know where that name came from, but from the moment I set eyes on her, the name unburied itself from the back of my mind and latched itself onto her. “Are you lost?”
“No,” she said as calmly as a child shouldn’t in a seemingly eerie part of the neighbourhood. “But can you walk home with me? I’m afraid this fog might get worse.”
She spoke in a way a stereotypical British lady would sound like, complete with the posh, upperclass accent. But despite my gnawing uneasiness, I found myself nodding. And it didn’t feel natural, the way I walked. It was as though there was some other force outside of my control the movement of my legs. Like a string was gently, yet earnestly, tugging me forward—and I couldn’t resist.
I followed her, in awkward silence, down the steps at the end of the bridge and led me down the railway platform. There was no one in sight. The next train wasn’t for another hour.
“Um, do you know where you’re going?” I couldn’t help the slight tremble in my voice.
“Absolutely,” said Arabella. “I’ve been here for years.”
“R-right. Aren’t you cold?”
“No, not at all.”
We were approaching the end of the platform now. “Arabella, are you sure—?”
“I’m telling you, Naomi, I know where I’m going.”
My heart stopped. “H-How did you know my name?”
Sharp, TV static-like noise suddenly barraged my head and I howled as I collapsed to my knees.
“I know many things about you, Naomi Kerr,” said a mechanical voice in my head. The words reverberated around my skull, amplifying the static. “You are not who you think you are.”
I looked up, with great pain, just in time to see Arabella morphing into something ungody. Spindly limbs burst from her child body, her face turned bone white, almost featureless. She bore a haunted, hollow look, but its gaze pierced through my soul, seemingly reaching into the deepest corners of my mind. I could feel it there. It took a step forward—then hurtled towards me.
Automatically, my hand shot up and searing magic burst from my fingertips, hitting it square in their torso, sending it flying. I didn’t stop to make sure if I’ve knocked it out for good. Heart pounding and shaking all over, I sprinted back towards the bridge. I heard the river churn beneath me. The creature was already catching up; its hissing and snapping so loud in my ear. It almost made me hurl.
Its bony fingers wrapped around my throat. Panic overtook me and I thrashed about, my fingers burning with magic. One shot hit my assailant, but it only made it latch on tighter. I was going to die here, unless my plan goes on without a hitch.
In one, last desperate move, I drew my arm back shoved it as hard as I could into its torso. They howled and screeched as I found its heart and yanked it out, spitting venom all over me, burning my skin but I held on tight.
My back found empty air as I realised too late that I was on the edge of the bridge’s handrail. I shrieked in agony when I hit the tracks, the monster still twisting and writing atop of me.
“Let me go, devil!” I spat. I thrust my hand into the monster and amplified whatever powers I have left. With one final hiss, it withered back to the vessel that was Arabella’s motionless body. Her spindly limbs, however, remained intact to her side. I gulped in lungful’s of air and turned to leave. I didn’t want anything to do with her again.
I registered the creak too late. By the time my brain computed what it was, one of Arabella’s spindly limbs had pierced through my chest. It pulled out, then stabbed me once more. Again and again and again and again and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .