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Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
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Ch 2 - A Dance With The Devil By The Pale Of Moonlight

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She had a friend.

This writing contains explicit content and is only for adults. You have been warned.

      He stood up the moment he saw Dr. Mills walking toward him. “How is she? Is she alright?”

     “She's doing better. We're going to keep her over night, if that's alright with you. Just to keep an eye on her.”

     “Yes, of course.”

     “Is she awake?”

     “She's resting now, and her fever has dropped. You can go in now.”

     Wiping his tears, his heart on the verge of despair, a heavy confusion stealing over him, a series of images and events began replaying in his mind, sitting him on the edge of disbelief, replacing his tired mind and body with a chilling darkness bringing to the forefront of his mind haunting visions which he truly began to suspect had nothing to do with the medical responses he'd been getting; words and  meanings he could not be made to understand if only by things which he had witnessed for himself; things he dare not utter to just anybody. And like that, the possibility of it being a true psychological disorder came to mind, somehow wearing on him, doing its best to fend off the things he had witnessed with his own eyes, attempting to give him closure, attempting to give him a relative perspective on things which simply were not possible. And this very moment, amidst bright hospital lights, sterile halls and seemingly endless movement and noise, he could not help but to wonder just what was going on – just what was happening to his once fairytale world, his perfect life. “What is it Doctor Mills? What's going on with her?”

     “I'm sorry, you'll just have to wait for Dr. Chen. He'll be in around six am.”

     With that, a sudden urge to scream overwhelmed him. His pulse quickened and his heart flooded with rage, stirring his heart like the floodgates of the world holding back a sea of lava, keeping it from rising up and exploding onto the world. With great effort he gathered himself a moment, keeping calm, holding back his scream – sending it back down from whence it came,  “But Dr. Mills... I'm asking you.” She turned and faced him, a slight annoyance flashing over her, as though to say, 'Look...I don't know what's wrong with her, okay? So me a favour and stop asking.' “Mr. Gonzalez...Dr. Chen will be by in the early hours, you're welcome to stay the night. If she needs anybody right now, it's you.”

     “What is that supposed to mean?”

     “I didn't mean anything by it. She's just very ill.” A hint of humanity flooded through her washing away the 'business' aspect of her job. “Please...just be patient.. You'll have her home very soon.” She began to leave.

     As much as he wanted to let Dr. Mills go, wanted to just accept that his beautiful Marigold was in a safe place right now he simply needed an answer, and yet, for the very life of him he was beginning to wonder why nobody could give him a straight answer. “Jesus...!God damn it!” He said out loud. “Why can't anybody give me a straight answer!”

     Dr. Mills approached him, removing her glasses, a stern look washing over her, “Look! I understand your frustration Mr. Gonzalez, but-”

     “Do you!” He interrupted her, “Do you really? Because I don't think you do understand!”He was yelling, his hands playing out like a Conductor leading an all-cast Orchestra.

     “Dr. Mills fired back, “Mr. Gonzalez! I'm going to have to ask you to calm down or I will call security and have you removed! You're being very disruptive! Do you understand?”

     It was a look of defeat, swimming in waters of rage and disappointment and confusion with little to hold back his aching heart and his fears and concerns.

     “Do you understand?”

     Wiping more tears away, he simply nodded and held up his hands, defeated where he stood. He said nothing, only turned and walked toward Marigold's room, holding his breath, almost afraid of what he might see while the very idea of the drastic change in her appearance getting any worse played on his mind, weakening him down to his soul. Sitting down, he could barely recognize her where she laid. Her skin, once so golden and so filled with colour seemed to sag, the colour drained and replaced with a pallor the colour of white ash. Her hair too, once (so very recently) blond and lustrous was now a stale yellow. Even her curves, her gracious womanly attributes – which were filled with meat and firm to the touch – had now given way to a bony frame. She would not eat or drink. He held her hand and cried, lost and tired and lonely with nowhere to go and no one to run to. His whole world, was right there before him, unable to offer any aid or sweeten his heart, mind and soul with a smile, a funny little laugh – those things he cherished above all, her silly ways, like a funny bunny, a ticklish pounce in her character; a true delight if ever there was one. “Come back to me baby.” He kissed her hand, “please come back to me my love. Please. I need you.” He brushed her hair and slid easily into his chair, the warmth of the hospital room taking him, the sound of her tiny snores taking him away, a funny charm leading him off and away.

     The hours went by with visions of fire and brimstone taking him up in his mind, replacing the good light with the feeling of helplessness. In his dreams he was running, shadows chasing after him – a Great Raven pecking the earth, trying to find him, barely missing him with every crushing blow, the sound of great rocks flying through the skies, the shrill heckling of ghouls and banshees marching, hunting. Hunting for him. Always it was the darkness, the fear, the terror of ominous shadows – creatures slinking, sniffing, red eyes peering through the darkness ever in search of his soul. In flitting glimpses too quick to gauge he would spot her – his Marigold, naked, bloody and dancing, stomping the ground, thrashing wildly about great fires, a thorn-crown upon her head. Her eyes Her She cackled and screamed in the darkness, while multitudes cheered and groped and scratched and touched. And he could not help her. And she sucked them and let them mount her, and no matter what he was not the true power in his dreams. No. And still he ran and hid, afraid and powerless. He shifted uneasily in his sleep, moaning at times, all through the night.

     A sudden hand on the shoulder woke him from his sleep. It was raining outside. And the first thing he noticed was a Raven perched just outside the window, peering in. And then a voice, “Mr. Gonzalez...” A glass of water. It was Dr. Chen. Pointing to the window, a moment of silence drew over him, and like that, like a mysterious shadow, the Raven was no longer there. No longer anywhere. He had seen that Raven before. Several times in the last three weeks.

     Dr. Chen, a man in his fifties, appeared very patient and held about him a very sincere air – a most welcoming attitude. Reaching for a pen, the man – whose voice was especially soft and kind – conveyed without deliberately meaning to, a sense of wisdom despite the fact that his words reflected no such thing,“I got your message Mr. Gonzalez.” And to no one but himself he said, “Let's see. Where are we now?” Reading her chart, a concerned look glinted in his eyes ever so subtly. He looked over at her before closing the door, shutting them in. He made a slight nod, as if to reassure himself of what he was reading, what had been written about her condition. He turned serious very quickly, “Now Mr. Gonzalez, I want you to tell me when this began. What symptoms was she displaying and how have they persisted? How did it start? Take your time. We'll get through this together.” Comforting words. Very comforting indeed.

     Finally, someone was sitting with him, ready and willing to hear him out, and like a light being turned on in a dark room, so too, did a small relief spread through his heart. “ began about four weeks ago.” He went back there, back to that day, the day she saw the Raven. The day she began having the dreams. And the images – like a real-life horror movie come to say hello, began rolling back the reel in his mind, “We were having dinner, just the two of us, when she began bleeding from the nose.”

     “Had that ever happened before?”

     “We've been together for three years and...well, never happened before.”

     “Go on.”

     And like a wave of darkness the images came racing back, the ghastly quality of that first night playing back in his mind like a bad dream. “I laid her down on the sofa and eventually the bleeding stopped.” In his eyes a sudden intensity drew forth, bringing about a serious glow, “Soon after that, she...” He shifted uneasily in his chair, “She began clutching her chest, though she were choking.” And now, the horrific images rolling through him were evident in his eyes, the way he appeared, so distraught, caught up in disbelief. He fought to carry on as calm as he could, the worst of it just beginning. “It was then that she began writhing in pain, coughing and sputtering. She was coughing up blood. A lot of blood.” Taken by a spell of fear and dismay, he looked up, visibly shaken, “I tried my best to help her. I called nine-one-one, but she was...” He caught his breath, “She was, like...thrashing about. There was blood everywhere!” A deep silence entered his being, somehow taking him over, a haunting terror rising up from his soul, “She began to choke on her blood.” His eyes were lit with fear, the memory still fresh in his mind, “it was then that she...” His hands were clasped together as though in prayer, trembling.

     “She, what...? What happened Mr. Gonzalez?”

     “She...” he looked up, his face pale, his eyes teary, “she coughed it up.”

     “What did she cough up?”

     Saying nothing he reached into his pocket and removed his wallet, taking out a folded photograph. “This... She coughed this up.”

     Dr. Chen's eyes lit up, filling quickly with a sudden wave of seeming shock and surprise, “She coughed up this?”

      “Dr. Chen...I swear on my life.” He was not lying. There was only the look of a man who was right this very moment filled with fear and confusion. A man seeking the answers that might return his wife to his loving arms and wash away the pain and the fear.

     Dr. Chen held his breath, his eyes reflecting a wave of insecurity; an ominous force seeming to wash over him, like something science – all his years of study could not allow him to see and distinguish as real. And without warning, without hint or preview, the next words he would hear would stay with him for the rest of his life, taking him in a moment to the very edges of his wisdom, bringing him face-to-face with that deep-seeded conflict that lies in the middle of science and the supernatural.

     “Do you want to see it?”

     “You have it?”

     “I... Well, I knew nobody would believe me, and... I put it away until I could... Until I could perhaps find someone...”

     “Where is it?”

     “Its at my house.” After a moment's silence he only had to ask, “Do you want to see it?”

     Visibly taken, Dr. Chen took a moment for himself before taking a deep breath, “Yes. Yes, I would like to see it.”

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