Here we are at Part 6! This week has been pretty busy and cold, definitely cold outside. We’ve already had snow here, which is crazy business. We don’t usually get snow so early in the year.
If you’re new to the Iyrico party, links to the previous posts are below.
If you aren’t the patient sort, you can access the story in its entirety at:
Part Seven should be the last part of the story.
“You kids can play outside today.” Dean said absentmindedly without looking up from his pancakes. “We have to go into town to make arrangements, but when we get back, you can go out.”
Nessa executed the same posture as her father. She didn’t reply to the offer.
“Why can’t we go to town with you?” Levi asked. The last place he ever wanted to be was Cliff House, especially alone with Nessa.
“Don’t do this today, honey.” His mother ate her breakfast in a similar manner as the others, occasionally wiping a tear from under her eye. It was a morose scene that made Levi glad he hadn’t seen his dead grandmother’s body. She added, “The process will go more smoothly if you two stay here.”
“Okay.” He conceded, mostly out of sympathy for her.
“We should be gone a couple of hours. You’re mature enough to handle yourselves.”
No problem. He would barricade the door with a chair or the chest of drawers.
Later, through the front window, he watched the car until it disappeared down the driveway and into the trees. The place felt wilder, then, he thought, with Hound as his only companion on the cliff.
He headed back toward his room to carry out his plan of self-isolation. To his dismay, he found Nessa sitting on his bed turning over the battered top in her hands.
“Get out.” He told her.
“It’s my house. I can do whatever I want.”
“I’ll call my mom if you don’t leave me alone. I don’t want to talk to you.”
She gave him an awful grin, “You’re going to play with me.”
She hopped down from the bed, placing the top on the bed as she went. She paused next to him, “You won’t have a choice.”
He shut her out with the door and then with the chest of drawers. Hound whined at the sight of the barrier.
“Sorry, boy. Trust me, it’s worth the trouble. We’ll both be safer this way.”
Ten minutes later, a knock at his door broke the stillness. It was a gentle rapping, almost innocent. Levi knew better.
“Time for a game.”
“Time for you to mind your own business.” He kept his nose in his book, which he had started for the second reading since leaving home. He should have brought more books, or a longer one. He had underestimated his need for escape.
“Okay, well, I hate to see anyone get in as much trouble as you will.”
He rolled his eyes, “I’m not interested.”
“You should be. You’re going to get blamed for stealing again.”
Levi groaned, “I don’t care. Get lost.”
“Have it your way.”
He listened to her walk toward the kitchen. He would’ve given almost anything to be rid of her. She made him glad he didn’t have any siblings. If that was how other kids acted at home, he wanted no part of the nonsense. Hound was far better company. Levi went back to his book.
For a time, all was right with his world. He began to think this plan of his might actually keep him safe long enough for his mother and Dean to return. Who cared what Nessa planned to blame him for? No matter what that trouble happened to be, he was safer on his island of solitude.
Then, just when his stomach began to rumble for lunch, Hound rose from the rug, lumbered over to the door and whined at his master. Levi had barricaded them in as long as his appetite and the dog’s patience would allow.
“Guess we can’t be chickens forever.” He reluctantly put down the book. “We’ll still avoid her.” He assured the dog as he moved the chest of drawers from the door.
Nothing stirred in the hallway. Hound went outdoors for his business and returned without incident. The day, while bright and sunny, still possessed the same tense mood it had when the pack of stray dogs circled, but no hostile wildlife emerged from the woods, and Hound returned in a happy gallop.
The kitchen, too, was free of Nessa. Levi made a sandwich. He fed his dog the decidedly less appetizing dogfood, and he opened the window before sitting at the table so he could enjoy some fresh air. He had begun to wonder if Nessa had gone outside when she entered from the rear section of the house. Taking that as his cue to return to his room, he moved to place his dishes in the sink.
“You won’t be welcome back when they see what you stole.” She sat on the counter and folded her hands in her lap.
“Good. I don’t want to come back, anyway. I hate this place.”
Nessa leaned forward until her face almost touched his, “But it likes you.”
He turned to walk away.
“You can’t leave until you find it.”
“Find what?” He tossed the inquiry over his shoulder without looking.
“The treasure my dad will have to get back before they’ll let you go anywhere.”
She wasn’t going to leave him alone until he engaged her on some level.
“My dad’s Saint Christopher medallion.”
Levi rolled his eyes and continued into the hallway toward his room, “Why should I care if he loses a necklace?”
“He usually doesn’t go anywhere without it. He’s real superstitious. But today, the Iyrico made him forget, and he left it on his dresser.”
He resisted the urge to turn back. He plowed ahead to his bedroom with Hound at his side. He wasn’t going to let her coax him into the game. He closed the door and leaned against it. Her voice on the other side startled him.
“Dad will go crazy when he sees it’s gone, and he’ll blame you because you stole before.”
“The Iyrico isn’t real.”
She said in a sing-song, “Yes he is.” She hummed as she skipped away from the door, pausing to add, “The medallion is near the demon’s door. He dares you to come get it.”
The house went quiet too suddenly. She hadn’t gone far enough to reach the front door or the kitchen. He got the idea she was standing somewhere in the hallway, waiting for him to emerge, so she could run off laughing. Hound gave an uneasy whine.
Levi cracked the door enough to look out. The hallway was empty. The air there felt hotter than seconds before.
“Nessa?” He hated how weak his voice sounded.
The frame of the house creaked as the wind whipped up from the cliff. He stepped into the hallway.
“Iyrico.” A voice not unlike that of his recently deceased grandmother moaned from the bedroom in which she died. “No, please. Release me.” It was her voice but much fainter.
He knew the joke, then. Nessa would lure him to the bedroom, and jump out from the shadows. He shook his head. Too easy.
Bolder, now, he approached the doorway to the death room, stopping at the threshold when the bed came into view.
“I’m gone. Release me.” The words, the voice almost wheezy, came from under the bed, still distant, and he wondered how Nessa was making the sound. It was so eerie and real.
Maybe she’d recorded their dying grandmother. Was Nessa capable of such cruelty? All for a prank she planned?
The dogs. He reminded himself. She had tried to get him killed. She was capable of anything.
“I know it’s you. Come out. I’m going to tell Uncle Dean.”