Deliver Us From Evil
A Multi-Part Drabble
The drive was long and quiet. The exhaustion Lorraine felt was more than just the physical. This last case had been draining in more ways than one and not only did it seem to take too much effort to make conversation, but there was really nothing to say. She and Ed had both been there, why would they need to discuss it now? She wasn’t pleased with how it had all gone down, but that wasn’t all too unusual. There had been no deaths, so it was considered a win in the end.
Rain fell in drizzling sheets most of the way, the drops making tracks as they chased each other down the windows that she stared listlessly through as they made their way toward home. When they pulled into the driveway and stopped, it took her a moment to realize that the lights had been killed and the engine silenced. Tearing her gaze away from the window, she turned her head to look at her husband.
Ed was exhausted, too. She could see it written all over him. But, his worry and concern for her still shone through like a beacon in the darkness. She hated that he worried so much, but she knew it was just because he cared so deeply. She felt the same way about him.
She closed her eyes briefly as he gently stroked her cheek, suggesting she head inside while he brought in their things. It was very late, or early, depending on how you looked at it, and so she didn’t argue. “Okay.” She nodded a little and opened her door, sliding out and making her way up the walkway to the door. She didn’t hunch her shoulders or try to cover her head, not really noticing the rain at all as it soaked her hair and clothes. She had already been feeling cold and so it didn’t really make much difference to her.
Unlocking the door, she pushed it open and stepped inside, closing it behind her and wearily taking off her dripping jacket to hang it up before she headed for the bedroom she and Ed shared. She made a slight detour on the way to peek in on Judy, needing to see her, though she didn’t want to wake her. They spent a lot of time apart and she regretted that, knowing that her daughter didn’t truly understand what they did that took them away so very often.
Lightning flashed outside, momentarily lighting up the bedroom through the uncovered window and she paused to glance outside. Rain still fell rather heavily and she waited for the crash of thunder that usually accompanied the lightning during such storms, but none came. At least not immediately. Pulling the curtains closed, she moved to change out of her wet clothes and then made her way to her vanity, lowering herself down to the chair and picking up the brush in front of her. Lifting it to her hair, she felt the previous exhaustion almost overcome her, a weight settling on her shoulders that made the brush feel much heavier than it was.
The weight was there for an instant and then gone and she chalked it up to being overtired and drained and initially thought nothing more of it than that. As she began to pull the brush through her hair she heard Ed enter the house and head for the collection room to secure the item they had brought home with them. The room was not her favorite in the house. In fact, it was one she tried to stay away from whenever possible. The things inside seemed perfectly harmless, like a menagerie of toys rather than the dangerous items they truly were. But, things were not always what they seemed and each and every item in that room had a story, a history and a reason for being locked inside.
They had a priest out to bless the room regularly, to ensure that the things inside could not escape those items that held them, to offer some sort of security but never a guarantee. When inhuman entities were involved there were no guarantees of anything. That was why she had protested when Ed had tried to reason with her about their daughter being allowed into the room. Judy had a curiosity that seemed to draw her toward it and the things inside and that in itself gave her reason to worry. She thought it better to bar her entrance entirely, but Ed thought it better to let her see what was there, know what they did to some extent. He didn’t want her to be afraid of the paranormal.
While she could understand that reasoning, it didn’t sit right with her. Judy was too young, too innocent. She was just the type of soul that those things craved, that they latched onto. But, even that argument hadn’t convinced her husband and so she continued to worry every time the door was opened.
She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding when she heard his footsteps coming toward their bedroom, knowing that he had stored their latest acquisition and locked everything up once more. A glance up at the mirror showed his entrance into the room and she tried to offer a smile, but it didn’t seem to be as forthcoming as it usually was. She paused in her brushing as he kissed the top of her head and rubbed her arms briefly, leaning back into him just slightly, but still not speaking. She hadn’t realized how cold she was until he attempted to remedy that.
She finished her preparations as he changed into his bed clothes and slid under the covers, placing the brush back down on the vanity and turning to face him. “Sleeping in sounds wonderful.” She murmured in response to his wistful suggestion, somehow managing the tiniest of smiles, a mere lifting of the corners of her lips. But, it was enough to show that the words were sincere. As she stood to join him, she felt the slight pressure on her shoulders again, almost as if someone was trying to push her back down. A glance behind showed nothing, though the attempt at a smile quickly slipped from her face.
She paused long enough to try to figure out if something really was there, but she didn’t see or feel anything else. Maybe she really was overtired and it was causing her imagination to make something out of shadows that wasn’t really there. Surely she would know if something was. The weight was gone as soon as the thought finished forming and she shook her head a little at herself. They dealt with the terrifying and otherworldly far too often. She didn’t need to be conjuring up things that weren’t really there.
“Sleeping sounds wonderful.” She added as if nothing at all had happened, moving to join him in bed, curling up close as soon as she slid under the other side of the blankets. Now she felt the cold that she hadn’t before. Bone deep and causing a brief shiver as she moved as close as could to her husband, just wanting to be close and to feel his arms around her. She was safe with him and safe was what she wanted more than anything else.
Her eyes were already drifting closed before he had a chance to answer if he chose to, the aforementioned sleep taking hold almost without her permission as the sound of his heartbeat lulled her into a feeling of security that she hadn’t felt for most of their last case and even on the drive home. She sighed slightly as she drifted off, clinging to him as if to a life preserver that she was terrified to lose.
Eyes snapping open what seemed like only moments later, she sat up with a gasp. Ed lay next to her, breathing evenly in his sleep, looking more peaceful than he had in a while. She didn’t try to wake him. He needed his rest. Her gaze lifted from his sleeping form to dart around the corners of their dark bedroom. Something was off. She couldn’t pinpoint it, but it was there.
Pushing the blankets aside, she swung her legs over the side of the bed and lowered her feet to the cold floor. Rain still fell heavily outside, roughly lashing the windows and the roof and mixing with the lightning that lit up the whole sky for a moment and illuminating a shadow near the doorway.
Frowning, she paused, standing and facing that very doorway. The shadow was gone, but something still wasn’t right. Not bothering with slippers or a robe, she slowly made her way out of the room, following…something that pulled her toward the one room she almost hated. A glance back at the bed showed that not only was Ed still sleeping, but she was sleeping next to him. That knowledge gave her no pause at all. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened and it probably wouldn’t be the last. The collections room looked no different than always from the outside and she hesitated outside its door. There was no reason for her to go in there. She didn’t want to go in there. But, her hand was moving toward the knob without her permission anyway.
As she touched it, she felt a shock, a jolt up her arm and into her heart. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. Pulling open the door that should have had to be unlocked first, she stepped inside. Taking a deep breath, she looked around at the various items stored on shelves and in cases around the room. Nothing seemed out of place.
Until the door slammed shut behind her making her jump and turn toward it. She somehow knew that it wasn’t going to open if she tried and so she didn’t try. She also knew that she didn’t want to turn back around to face the room, the things inside with her. But, she didn’t have a choice.
Steeling herself for whatever she was going to see, she squared her shoulders and turned. Another flash of lightning lit up the room, thunder shaking the house down to its foundation. In the light she could see that every item in the room was now turned toward her, everything that had eyes was looking at her. It sent a chill down her spine and froze her in place as the almost familiar weight of hands on her shoulders settled in and she nearly sunk to the floor under the oppressive darkness they came from.
“We are coming.”
The words were whispered in her ear and into her soul. A sound barely heard but shaking her to the core in its intensity and the pure evil intentions behind it. Looking back as she tried to remain upright, she saw no hands, nothing physically holding her. A deeper shadow loomed, above her and her eyes widened as glowing red eyes appeared above a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, grinning down at her with a malice she could barely comprehend.
“We are coming.”
This time when her eyes flew open and she jolted upright in bed with a stifled gasp, she knew she was back in the physical realm. Terror still coursed through her veins at the evil she had encountered. She trembled, biting back tears as she wrapped her arms around herself. The previous chill of the rain nothing compared to the icy cold she now felt. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, trying to calm that part of her mind that wanted to flee from the darkness.
Her gaze turned to her husband and she briefly wanted nothing more than to be in his arms, to feel that safety that his embrace offered. But, as rational thought started to return, she started to second guess that idea because he would know that something was wrong and she wasn’t sure what she had seen. She wasn’t sure what it meant or how she would explain it without that knowledge. She didn’t want to worry him with something she wasn’t yet sure how to even begin dealing with.
Watching him for a long moment, she finally shifted to lay back down, curling into him once more, seeking his warmth and comfort without trying to wake him. He needed his sleep and she needed to figure out what this meant. Knowing that a return to sleep would be impossible for her, she stared out into the darkness around them, mind spinning as it tried to process everything she had seen. Normally she was glad to return home after one of their cases. This time she wasn’t so sure.
Laying in the dark, she had refused to let sleep claim her again. She didn’t want a repeat of what she had experienced as the exhaustion took over the first time. She didn’t want to see that…thing creeping up on her and warning her that…what? The words made no sense and yet a sickening kind of full sense at the same time.
‘We are coming.’
She didn’t have to know what ‘we’ was to know it was something overwhelmingly dark and terrifying. Just the thing that had sent the gleeful warning in her vision was enough to send her mind screaming in terror of what was to come. And so she continued to lay in silence, eyes on the darkness around them, but not really seeing it as she tried to comprehend what she had been shown and what she should do about it.
The sun peeking over the horizon should have brought a sense of relief, but it brought another kind of terror as a high-pitched scream rang out from the kitchen. Their daughter’s scream. A sound no parent wants to hear, one to send them both shooting out of bed and at a run down the hallway.
An initial glance showed that there were no injuries and no frightful things to have caused the scream and she paused for a moment to breathe once more, the pounding of her heart starting to slow as she realized what it was that had caused the distress. A spider. It was almost enough to make her smile if she hadn’t been so afraid just moments before…and the entire night itself.
Stepping into the kitchen, she moved to help her mother clean up the broken glass from a glass of orange juice on the floor under and around the chair where her daughter stood. Ed had taken the broom and shooed the spider out the door before scooping their daughter up to comfort her. Once the mess was clean and the floor safe for bare feet, he set the child down, explaining that everything was fine now before he leaned in to kiss her as well.
“So much for sleeping in.”
She offered him an attempt at a smile, but didn’t tell him that she hadn’t been sleeping anyway. It wouldn’t make a difference and he didn’t need to worry more than he did on an everyday basis. Not yet at least. Watching him for a moment after he excused himself, she returned her attention to her mother and daughter, ushering both back to the table and the breakfast they had clearly been in the middle of.
“You’re not joining us?” Her mother looked worried, likely seeing some of what she was trying not to show. It had to be a parent thing that children could never quite hide everything from them, no matter how old they were, even without special gifts or abilities added to the mix. Her tone conveyed only a little of the concern that her eyes and expression did and Lorraine immediately wanted to put that concern to rest.
She conjured up a smile from somewhere deep inside and shook her head a little. “Ed and I wanted to sleep in this morning.” She managed to sound rueful herself, but not placing blame at all. “We got in rather late.” She tilted her head slightly. “Or early, depending on how you look at it.” She shifted to drop a kiss on the top of Judy’s head. “You two enjoy the rest of your breakfast, now that your unexpected guest is gone.” She chuckled a little, not meeting her mother’s eyes directly. “We’ll join you a little later, I’m sure.”
It was a compromise that her mother didn’t argue and she was glad when Judy followed her grandmother’s lead with a simple: “Okay, Mommy.” Returning to her breakfast as if the terror of the gigantic spider that had surely been planning to go after her was forgotten and had never occurred. Shaking her head a little, Lorraine turned from them both and made her way back down the hallway toward the bedroom she and Ed shared.
Though she didn’t realize it, her thoughts drifted in the same direction as her husband’s had: toward this last case. It was an odd one. One with a rather unsettling ending as it was something that had never happened before. And there were many, many cases to compare it to. With an official exorcism denied, they had been left to deal with the entity – and the lesser spirits it was using to torment the family they were trying to help – on their own.
It had fought them. Hard. Harder than a lot of the others they had encountered had been able to. It was strong and she hadn’t been entirely sure that she and Ed were the ones winning at one point. Which made it even stranger when the entity just gave up and disappeared. Just like that. The struggle was over and the family was free. The entity was gone, she knew that much without a doubt. What she still didn’t understand was why. Why would it give up when it hadn’t been defeated? It was unusual to say the least and it lingered in her mind as she mulled over the vision from the night before.
She was still silent, lost in her own thoughts when she entered their bedroom. Ed was dressed and had clearly at least started unpacking their things, though he was currently sitting on the edge of their bed. His head turned toward her and he patted the bed beside him, indicating she should join him, which she moved to do without hesitation.
She sank down next to him with a small sigh, the exhaustion she had felt before creeping back in now that the adrenaline was finally beginning to fade. Leaning into him as he put his arms around her, she shifted to rest her head against his chest. “I don’t want to sleep.” She murmured, admitting what she hadn’t wanted to tell him before, knowing he would ask why and would want her to tell him the truth that she didn’t want to tell him.
Even now, knowing she could rest with his arms around her, she didn’t close her eyes, picturing that pitch-black shadow with the glowing eyes and gleefully sharp toothed grin…she didn’t want to see it again.
After a few moments of silence, she felt a tingle down her spine, as if someone were watching them. She stiffened slightly and lifted her head to look over her shoulder toward the door. Seeing nothing at first glance, she merely frowned and figured that she was spooking herself and should stop that. There were enough spooky things out there that she didn’t need to be making things up.
Upon second glance, she saw it, however. What had looked like just a shadow cast by the door had moved slightly and she suddenly felt that same weight on her shoulders that she had felt before. Clamping her lips shut on a moan, she buried her face in Ed’s chest one more time before chancing another look. “Do you see it?” She finally whispered to her husband. She wasn’t sure he would. It looked like another shadow and when these entities didn’t take an actual form, most people didn’t see them. Especially if they didn’t want to be seen. She was just one of the ‘lucky’ ones who almost always could.
She wasn’t sure what she wanted his answer to be because she didn’t want whatever this was tormenting him, too. What she wanted was to be left alone completely, but the previous warning pretty much guaranteed that wish would never come true. But, if it was only after her…well, that was better than her whole family being involved. Even if none of them would agree.
Lorraine Rita WarrenClairvoyant Protector
" Diabolical forces are formidable."