A short story about a young woman pursued by evil.
She looked at herself in the mirror. Sometimes, if she looked away and quickly looked back she thought she caught a glimpse of someone else. It was often there in the periphery, as if looking over her shoulder and trapped there in an aura.
Oddly, she was comforted by this vision, not frightened. More and more frequently, these days, she walked around without fear. It was not always like this. She could remember, and remember clearly in childhood, many nights she feared for her life; actually she feared for her soul, but she would rarely say this out loud, or even complete the thought.
These days, she entertained herself with thoughts of a guardian angel. She imagined a guardian angel full of goodness and warmth that due to its simple inviolability repelled away evil, which could not tolerate its presence.
She hadn’t told anyone, but she wanted to. The other morning when her cell phone rang and her best friend wanted to tell her she had a dream about how lucky she was, she wanted to agree. She wanted to blossom forth with her good fortune and tell the world, but she stopped. She didn’t want to appear to be bragging. After all, her friend had just found a lump in her breast. She was sitting in that fearful place where she was constantly told that most likely it was nothing; a benign cyst or nodule, but during her quiet moments, she feared it was much worse; something she only confessed to a really close friend.
No matter how she stacked the good column against the bad column; young age, healthy, no family history of breast cancer, she was overwhelmed with the column of, maybe they’re wrong. All the good in the world sometimes didn’t protect one from illness. She knew this also. Who were we to know if illness was an evil possession or a gift from God, just to bring one closer to Him?
As she hung up the phone, she considered giving her good fortune away. Maybe she should wish her guardian angel for her friend. Maybe that was the only way guardian angels could move on. They had to be given away. A fortunate soul had to relinquish them and tread the despairs of life alone.
If the angel were offered to someone else, would another angel come in its place? She might never know. She couldn’t imagine wishing her good luck away. Even in her dreams, just at the moment when she relinquished her good luck charm, she changed her mind and clung on.
As she lay there on this particular night, she reconsidered. Tomorrow she was taking a trip, a trip her friend could no longer take with her. Why not wish good fortune upon someone else; someone truly in need? Why not indeed? Before turning off the light, she finally made the ultimate gesture and fell soundly asleep, not fully unaware of what she had done.
A day of traveling had passed. She had traveled to a time and place she had never imagined; the product of a last minute itinerary change. She walked into the airport; actually, floated would have been a more accurate description. It was as though her feet skimmed the surface and through some act of precise physics and science, the mere approximation of her delicate foot caused all the stored energy in the floor to reach up and escort her the next eighteen inches across the surface.
No one quite noticed this; most were simply stunned into silence and immobility by her graceful form and beauty. As she approached the window at immigration, you could see the officer behind the counter try and gather his wits about him to ask her a single question; any question.
She stood easily and patiently as he tried. Then she smiled. He lost the one question he had managed to gather. Ultimately, he gave up, stamped her passport and waved her through the gate and didn’t bother to practice the English he had the rare experience of trying. His colleagues smiled enviously at him, with full understanding, and then set to the task at hand; torture the rest who were not quite as beautiful and wait for the next planeload of tourists.
She grabbed her bags of luggage as they circled the carousel. She appeared to relish this area in a foreign country. No one was around to try and convince her to relinquish the small thrill she appeared to have grabbing her bags and plopping them on the floor. It gave a small glimpse into the power and strength she held within. This was not a woman who needed or gave in easily to a luggage cart or someone to push it. She enjoyed the struggle, just as long as she ultimately won.
Grabbing the four bags, she walked up to push the button, pass or wait. It was green. She passed, of course. She handed her customs form to the officer with the dry mouth and the watery eyes; a woman this time, and pushed through the turnstile. One would have imagined her wincing as she visualized pushing through the wall of cabbies on the other side, but her face was placid. The cabbies appeared to hold back as if walled behind invisible glass. When a small man with a withered leg and cane hurled himself forward and asked if she needed a cab, her first words spoken in this foreign port was “yes, thank you.”
Never being the hotel type, she was driven to a rented villa on the outskirts of town. Her driver had been kind, hadn’t stared at her, nor had he taken advantage of his close proximity at times to rub inappropriately against her. The slightest rub of their arms as they competed to remove her luggage from the trunk was enough to elicit a blush and a pardon from him. Again, she smiled. She also gave him a generous tip. Kindness and humility were always to be rewarded. She’d been taught that.
The rest of the morning and late into the evening was spent turning down the house, pulling off the coverings, mopping, dusting and cleaning. She could have had someone else do it, but it was another of the joys of life. It was enough that she asked they clean the pool. By nightfall, she was ready for bed. Tomorrow would be spent lying by the pool, luxuriating in the sun’s warmth, and swimming her marathon laps, but right now; a hot bath was in order.
From the salon, she could see it was going to be a full moon, so bright and so beautiful. She sprinkled more beads into the bath. She never could get enough skin oils. She pondered why she relished the softness. As she settled into the mineral bath, the candles were flickering odd shadows off the walls. They played before her open, and even her closed, eyes. She was gently being drawn into that wonderful place, somewhere between light sleep and blissful wakefulness, one of full relaxation. It had been a long journey.
She awoke, or was the Eternal even asleep? The moment the young woman had wished the guardian angel away, another more powerful being had taken its place. Could the girl have known of the workings of the universe? She stared through the closed eyes of the young woman.
Her hearing echoed through the child’s ears. The latch had been opened so quietly, so surreptitiously. She knew Carolyn had locked all the windows and all the doors. Her father had said that doors kept friendly people friendly, but locks let you know who your enemies were. Carolyn now had enemies. She always did, so they were also the enemies of the Eternal.
She felt them wander down the long hall, sniffing, tasting the air, and looking hungrily for their victim. “Here, I am. All alone and unprotected,” the Eternal said. From the sounds of their footsteps, there were four or five of them; like a pack of wolves. They planned to feed, and feed fully, ripping the poor girl to shreds.
At first glimpse, they appeared mere rapists. Men who had sensed Carolyn at the airport, followed the scent to this place, and planned to show the tourist a good time, at her expense, of course. But when they finally made their way to the bathroom door and peaked inside, the Eternal saw eyes that were dead, not for very many weeks, but dead nonetheless. They were a coven of vampires. When she had read their minds and felt their hunger, she had been more right than wrong.
The Eternal had thought to awaken the child and let her fend off the rapists, as best she could, with appropriate added strength from her when necessary. As Carolyn had wished her guardian angel away, she could no longer depend upon a guardian angel to repel evil. It would have been a lesson in survival and winning against all odds. She likely would have prevailed, even with her nudity as a disadvantage. But this was different. The Eternal pulled the child into a deeper sleep. She would do this deed on her own.
The pack circled around. They were bold in their approach, she noticed, savoring the moment when the victim awoke, tried to scream in fear and while feeding upon her panic, they would voraciously quench their lust. They longed for it, but they would be patient. Since they could no longer have sex, panic was the only desire they could feed upon.
If Eternal could feel sympathy for them, she would have felt it at that moment. But she could not. This was why she existed. These were unclean beings bound to an unclean soul in need of cleansing. As they tapped the tile and circled the water awaiting Carolyn’s arousal, they silently gasped as they sensed her stirring. They expected her eyes to open wide and a scream to escape her lips. Instead, when Eternal opened the eyes and opened the mouth of the sleeping Carolyn, all that came out was a consciousness of, “I am the sun and you are no more.”
Immediately, daylight streamed from Carolyn’s eyes and her mouth, and entered the room as if the sun had descended upon the earth itself. It could be seen from the streets. It could be seen from across town. It could be seen from the heavens, if anyone had known to look. The feeble cries and screams of the vampires, now themselves victims of insatiable desire, were instantly lost in the secluded valley.
The dust from their bones now swept effortlessly through the very windows they had entered. Five more contaminated souls were now clean and free to return to the Evermore. The Eternal looked upon the work she had done and was at peace. Now she would rest and wait for the others and one day she knew she would confront the source of their contamination. But before the final confrontation, she knew there would always be others. The prior existence of Carolyn attracted and repelled evil, and, even through several lifetimes, could not defeat it; at least, not until now.