Hello there! Here we have Part 5 of the short story Iyrico.
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:
Shafts of moonlight revealed fragments of the forest interior. It was a magical, silvery blue wonderland in the night with shadows dashing, bobbing when a breeze pushed through and set the foliage in motion. Fiery eyes popped out of sight, then back in. After all for what is a forest without prowling beasties?
Levi shut out the night once more. He heard a quick scrape across the floor. He froze. It came again and twice more, the rhythm of footsteps but not a footstep sound. Where was it coming from?
Trembling, he lowered himself to the floor. It sounded like a mouse or some other vermin, he thought. Under the bed, he found the tin top, yet again, even though he was certain he’d left it on the dresser. It rolled back and forth as if having just spun. He brought it out to inspect it and heard the scrape sound once more, twice more, and he could tell it had come from outside his room, in the house.
Go to bed. He told himself. No good could come of this curiosity. However, part of him had to verify it wasn’t the Iyrico, or it would infiltrate his dreams again. He cracked the door.
No one was there. Against his better judgment, he ventured into the darkness, taking one last look at his dog and wishing it had a more protective nature. He kept close to one wall in an effort to make himself appear smaller, not that doing so would have helped. The hallway seemed to elongate, the end pulling away from him.
Scratch, scratch, like claws in his ears, the sound seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, perhaps his mind. He stopped short of Grandma Mola’s room. It was dark but open. Could he pass without looking inside? Whether she was dead or only in the process of dying, he longed to proceed with his own life without gaining that memory. He closed his eyes tight, moved past the room quickly.
Too, he resisted the view out the window, at the yard in which he was trapped earlier that day. It held nothing good. He touched the front door to be sure of its solidity. Nothing big had come through, unless it had the dexterity to turn the deadbolt.
A plate hit the table in the kitchen, not breaking but landing firmly, a place set in anger. Any other time, this sound would have assured him that all was well, but the air had changed. Near the front door, it had shifted into a thicker breed of itself, holding the smell of decaying plant life and stone surfaces that could never really be cleaned. It clung to whatever it touched, including his skin, and his lungs.
He reached the kitchen threshold and moved to the other side of the hallway to peer around the corner. No one was there. A lone white plate lay on the table. The smell of fire remained. A sliver of light angled across the stone from the interior of the open refrigerator.
“Nessa?” He practically hissed, annoyed by whatever prank this was.
There came no reply. He hastened, but carefully, to close the refrigerator, and found himself exposed to the rooms at the back of the house. They became a deep sea of night.
Levi detected movement behind him. He wheeled around to face the empty kitchen.
Between him and the moonlight on the other side of the window, a dark drop fell from the ceiling, then another. They turned to smoke as they hit the table, a diaphanous rain.
His mind unable to decipher the meaning of the phenomenon, he stood where he was, unable to breathe, unable to call out. The scratching noise resumed. This time, he had no question about the location of its origin. Above his head, on the ceiling, he resisted, but his eyes traveled up the path of the rain against his will.
A mass of darkness, like a body hunched, dug into the ceiling between a pair of thick beams. It was larger than Levi, the size of an adult. Dark rain like beads of sweat dripped from its back. Its head was a mass of what looked like long rat tails with minds of their own, searching blindly for some hapless victim. It ceased in its efforts, turning its head slowly around to expose a face like a mummy, all hollow eyes and mouth agape. Arms followed, jointed sticks with claws built for raking flesh. The thing locked eyes with Levi, stretched toward him, reaching slowly, deliberately. The Iyrico need not hurry.
Elsewhere in the house, Nessa screamed.
Levi’s paralysis lifted, and he was running. Away from the Iyrico, away from the kitchen toward his room and his dog, possibly his mother, just away from the terrifying thing in the kitchen, until the hallway light flicking on blinded him. He tripped over his feet, scraping his knees and then his palms on the stone floor.
His mother stared at him, “What’s going on?”
“The kitchen.” He managed to spit out the words as he pointed with a hand he could barely control.
Dean pushed past Levi’s mother to go inside Grandma Mola’s room. More illumination entered the hall.
“Nessa! I told you to stay in your room.” He said.
“She’s dead!” Nessa wailed. “I just wanted to see her one more time.”
What followed this simple statement was a division. It set into motion two series of events that occured simultaneously but never seemed to cross. Two scenes played alongside one another, in nearly the same space but somehow not affecting one another.
Standing, Levi held his focus on the room from which he’d just come out of fear the thing would follow him into the light. As he backed away, his mind reeled. The Iyrico had drawn him out; he was certain. What had it planned to do?
Meanwhile, his mother rushed into Grandma Mola’s room. The sounds of crying from all undeceased parties within ensued. Levi could see them out of the corner of his eye, but he couldn’t tear himself away from the nightmare. He couldn’t risk thinking about anything else.
So the scene inside the room played on without him, and he refused to look at it. Even if the demon wasn’t real, his grandmother’s dead body was. He couldn’t deal with anything more than a nightmare just then.
He chose to flee back to his room and his dog and the blessed quiet. He ran there, shut the door against death in both its forms. Too much. The events were too much for him to handle.
On wings of hate
Curse thick as shadow
“It will come for you.” Grandma Mola had warned.
No. The logical explanation was that he was dreaming. His grandmother had planted an idea in his head; that was all. The worry over her impending death had culminated in a kind of waking dream. He laughed to himself, despite the panic sweat on his forehead and the lurch of his stomach. He leaned his back against the wall, then slid down to sit on the floor.
Hound stirred from sleep. Upon seeing his master close by, he wagged his tail and moved to lay with his head on the boy’s lap.
“Next time, you’re coming with me.” Levi said.
An ambulance arrived later. Doors open and closed. He heard static from radios and conversation. On any other day, he would’ve been fascinated by this peek into the adult world, but this involved the death of a member of his family in a house he had to sleep in, on a night in which he had already experienced too much trauma.
Even though he wasn’t normally allowed to do so, he called the dog up to the bed to sleep next to him. He shut out all of the voices. He buried his head beneath the covers so he couldn’t see the lights through the curtains. He pushed away the nightmare and somehow, to the sound of ocean waves against the cliff, Levi fell asleep.