PART EIGHT: END OF THE DREAM
Melody suddenly stirred awake and keenly observed her mother’s face.
“Mom, are you okay? How do you feel?” she asked worriedly, her hands clasping her mother’s firmly.
“I am alright, darling, don’t worry,” Maude reassured her, a smile easily spreading across her face. She stared deep into her daughter’s eyes and they remained in silence for several moments afterwards.
“Mom, I’m right here, okay? I know there is something bothering you so please tell me everything so I can help you. For starters, what happened to you last night?”
“I was attacked, Melody. I know this is going to be hard to believe but I encountered a monster I thought was just from my nightmares but for some reason, it came to life yesterday. It attacked me viciously and I was powerless to stop it,”
“Mom, are you sure that’s what really happened?”
“I know it sounds crazy but I swear to you honey, I encountered the monster and I couldn’t fight it,”
“Alright, please describe your encounter last night,” Melody stated.
“Well, I took a sleeping potion because I was having trouble falling asleep and I had the same bad dream I have been experiencing lately; there’s always a phantom in my dreams, one that travels from the Shadow World to our Physical world seeking revenge. Usually, I just envision the phantom traveling to the prison but yesterday night, it was different…”
“Last night, the phantom turned its anger on me. It flew all the way here and it stalked me; it even spoke to me, Melody. It had my Shadow Twin’s voice. It threatened me and then it began to tear up my arms and feet. The next thing I knew, I woke up today and found you here. I don’t know what happened after the creature’s attack…”
“This monster, what did it look like?”
“It had no distinguishing features- it was just a dark, humanoid- shaped creature. It scared the living hell out of me. It was baying for my blood and I doubt it is going to stop at that. It won’t stop until I’m dead,”
Melody nodded appreciatively, taking in all of her mother’s words. Later on when she and Prince Ismead sat down with the Healer in charge of Maude’s case, they considered all the facts he had gathered. The Healer seemed to believe that Maude had undergone a Psychotic break as a result of developing Seratonin Syndrome due to her body’s overproduction of the hormone. The Healer stated that he found it strange that suddenly, Maude was able to process her negative emotions and there had been a massive drop in the amount of seratonin produced by her body, causing the Healer to believe that her erratic behavior was as a result of the unnatural way her body was producing and inhibiting the hormone.
They reviewed the hospital footage and it appeared that indeed, Maude was going through an episode as no monster as had been described by Maude had been encountered. Healer Kallisto, who had had a session with Maude prior to meeting with Melody and the Prince, had stated that Maude did seem convinced that she had fallen victim to some kind of telekinetic attack but the tests they had run on her did not support that theory. It seemed that Maude’s mental state was indeed what her family thought it had been. Melody felt that she needed more time to decide her mother’s fate and whether she would take her mother’s word for it or the expert healer.
Meanwhile, as Maude’s fate hang in the balance, she began to perceive the creature even in her waking hours as she went about the day trying to lend as much of a helping hand to hospital staff as she could. The creature would appear without warning, usually lurking in a dark corner, extending its long clawed limbs towards anyone too close to it but always stopping midway when a ray of light reached it or by its own whims. Its actions made Maude very uneasy and fed into hospital staff’s suspicions that Maude was slowly losing her mind.
Maude was so terrified by the time bedtime came around, she could hardly contain herself. She anxiously peered from left to right as the hours passed by, wearily staying vigilant for any signs of the creature. A few minutes to two O’clock the following morning, Healer Kallipsto visited her, with some orderlies and a nurse in tow.
“Healer K?” she asked him wearily.
“Maude, are you alright? Why aren’t you asleep yet? I am certain you feel worn out,”
“Oh no, that’s okay, Healer. I am not that tired. I was thinking about taking a little stroll in the hospital gardens to rest my mind a little bit,”
“Is that right? Are you sure there is nothing more to it? We’re all very worried for you, dear,”
“I am alright. I’m not crazy… I am just vigilant. There isn’t anything wrong with that, is there?”
The Healer did not respond directly to her but he observed her arms and feet. The wounds suddenly opened up and before Maude could muse that it was another attack, the orderlies held her down as the nurse administered a sedative and tried though she might to fight its effects, she inevitably succumbed to drowsiness. Maude found herself in the Shadow World unable to move a muscle as she stared down the phantom that had dominated her dreams for the past few days. It assumed the shape of Maura Harrington as it had the previous night.
“Now then, let’s put this nasty business behind us, sis. You have always been the weaker of the both of us so why fate chose you to be Prime, I can never understand…”
“I deserve to be the Prime, Maura. I am going to find a way to fight you and win,”
“Well, aren’t we brave today? However, bravery is nothing but folly at this juncture. I get to achieve my wildest dream finally and take your precious little life from you and there is not a thing you can do about it,” it stated, speeding towards her, its claws outstretched and poised to give a fatal blow but its hand was suddenly sliced off after meeting an invisible barrier and it wailed as it tried to come to terms with what had just happened.
“Oh no, you don’t. Go back to the Hellish plains where you belong, you fiend,” Melody stated.
“Melody?” Maude asked her surprised.
“I’m sorry it took me so long to realize it, mom. It appears that when my Spectre took over, it created a spectre of its own…”
“Is that what Maura is now?”
“How do we defeat it?”
“You didn’t think I would come here without backup, did you?” Melody asked her.
As Maude regained her abilities, she observed Avery Alison appear right before her and chant in an foreign language, effectively knocking out Maura and drawing out a dark thread where her chest should have been. Avery tugged on the thread until another creature came tethered to the other end of it and it snarled at first before realizing who had caught it when it effectively switched its tune to begging and pleading for her to spare it.
“I might set you free if you tell me where your true Mistress is,” Avery harshly informed the creature.
The creature was so terrified it kept shaking its head and begging for mercy.
“No matter, all magic leaves a trace. I will catch up to your Mistress sooner or later and make her pay,” Avery stated and then she hastily vanquished both the creature and the Spectre without breaking a sweat.
“Are you okay, Maude?” asked Avery. Upon inspecting her further, something seemed a bit different about Avery.
Avery chuckled which caused Maude to be even more uneasy. “I’m not the Avery Alison you know so well… I’m her doppleganger; also Avery by name, I know that’s quite confusing. Melody contacted my niece suspecting you may be suffering from the same Spectre problem she had encountered previously. My niece then contacted me and the rest is history…”
“Thank you for coming to my aid,”
Avery shook her head. “Not at all. I’m afraid the number of dibbuk being created are increasing by the day and so I suspect that this case shall not be an isolated incident,”
“What is creating these- dibbuk?”
“Celestial beings from the world of monsters known as the Keres are responsible for the creation of the dibbuk. These powerful beings have discovered a way of harnessing life force energy from living creatures in this world using the dibbuk. In turn, the dibbuk create Spectres as an effective means of collecting this Prana without being detected…”
“It appears that the matter must be taken up more seriously by the Department of Defense of D-3 so they can vanquish the creatures before we become overrun by them,”
Maude nodded taking it all in. She then woke up to find Melody, Ada and Avery by her bedside, talking in depth about the Keres, dibbuk and Spectres like Maura. She was prepared to do her part in vanquishing the wicked creatures that had come from the world of monsters as she paid rapt attention to the insightful information Avery gave concerning the creatures threatening their world.
TO BE CONTINUED…
At last, thankfully, a happy ending to the events plaguing Maude Harrington. Stay tuned to keep abreast of all she is up to in the ensuing Saga. Links to previous parts are listed below. Enjoy!