Read Nigh - Book 1 Online

Authors: Marie Bilodeau

Tags: #apocalypse, #fairy, #end of the world, #fairy tale adaptation, #apocalypse adventures, #fairy creatures, #endtime fiction, #fairy tale action adventure

Nigh - Book 1 (6 page)

BOOK: Nigh - Book 1
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Her foot left the brakes and trembled over the gas
pedal. Percival was stuck anyway and wasn’t going anywhere. For
now.

She fixed her eyes on the man nearest her, the one
wearing a bathrobe and still holding a spilled cup of coffee in his
loose hand. Alva steadied her breath, loosened her grip on the
steering wheel and waited.

The misty hands reached forward, not for the man’s
face, but for his chest. The moment stretched into eternity at the
hand lingered there, holding the edge of the bathrobe, the
translucent cloak shimmering with tiny rainbows of light.

The sun grew brighter, rainbows danced in the air
around them, turning beads of water into gems of light. Gossamer
hands tightened on clothing.

Columns of water exploded up and Molly screamed.
Hector’s hand tightened on Al’s shoulder and she slammed on the
gas, but the wheels were still trapped. The columns collapsed on
the bridge, the metal groaning, streams of river breaking apart to
avoid each beam and support of the bridge.

The water flashed away and giant dark horses, large
teeth bared, trampled the ground around them. The gossamer figures
clutched clothing as the horses attacked without pause, their
screams echoing against the wall of mist.

They fell on the people, biting them, tearing off
limb and head, jets of blood interrupting the perfect prisms and
rainbows. The gossamer figures just kept holding the clothing as
they became blood soaked, as the silent bodies rolled out of them,
to be fully consumed, their blood a river on the bridge.

Molly kept whimpering in the back of the car. Al
could barely hear her over the sounds of the horses, their hoofs
like thunder.

“It won’t go!” Al screamed as she kept pressing on
the gas, the car spinning its wheels, burnt rubber almost covering
the stench of blood.

“What do we do?” she looked back to Hector, the only
one who seemed to have any idea what was going on.

“Don’t get out, but can you open the window a
crack?” He seemed puzzled as he looked down.

Percival was hardly fancy, with handles to
lower the windows. “Can do from my seat,” Al said. Her father had
loved the two-door feature of the muscle car, but Al didn’t always
find it the most convenient. And now was definitely one of those
less
than
convenient times.

He nodded. “Get ready.”

Al kept her foot on the gas pedal, ignoring the
burning smell of her tires skidding uselessly.

Hector reached into his pocket and pulled out what
looked like sand. He carefully took some and divvied it up between
all of them. Al let go of the gas to take it. Molly looked at
Hector with big eyes. “You expect us to go out to put that under
the wheels?”

He shook his head quickly. “Just let it drop by your
window. It won’t be a perfect circle, but it should be enough to
get us off the bridge.”

The horses neighed loudly again. They were circling,
looking for other victims. So far, they were ignoring Percival and
her passengers. The gossamer creatures were more solid now, their
cloaks dark and brown as they held the bloody clothing. They headed
to the edge of the bridge and seemed to jump or fall off. The
horses were slick with blood. They looked around, snorting; their
stamping hoofs making the whole bridge shake.

“As soon as we open the window, they’ll get our
scent.” Hector instructed. “They can’t get far from the river, so
we just have to slam it and go.”

“Okay,” Al said. She looked at Gruff and Molly.
“Molly, can you handle Gruff’s window?”

Molly nodded and leaned forward. She still looked
terrified, but she was holding it together. Gruff looked grim in
determination, and exhausted.

“On three, we lower the windows, and throw down the
sand. Close your window as soon as it’s done.”

All took a deep breath, trying to ignore the blood
splattered on her window, or the flank of a large horse as it
stomped by.

“Three, two, one…” She lowered her window with two
quick cranks of her left hand, threw down the sand and started
cranking it back up. The horses screamed and one of them slammed
its massive flank against Percival’s right side, the car sliding
sideways. Al slammed on the gas, muttering prayers under her
breath, and the car took off, the tires skidding just a bit. The
horses seemed momentarily startled by the car’s quick movement and
didn’t give chase right away, which was probably what saved them.
They slammed into the mists and Al was grateful for its cover.
Grateful for the blindness, if it stopped her from having to
witness more atrocities like that.

“Al, slow down,” Gruff said from beside her. She was
well above the speed limit and forced herself to slow down. They
were on Main Street now. If help was to be found, it would be here.
And more people, hopefully. The chances of smashing into someone or
something became very real.

Main Street stretched quietly before them. Al went
slowly now, looking for people. She thought she heard the sound of
a siren, but it was quickly swallowed by the mists.

“We need to find help,” Al said to no one in
particular. She was just trying to break the silence before it
crushed them all.

“No one can help you now,” Hector said. “I have to
fix the watch. Buy us time.”

“Buy us time from what?” Al said as she looked up.
Something dangled over the car from a lamppost. She slowed down a
bit as feet hit the windshield and gently slid up, the bare skin
sliding on the still slick blood on Percival. Al started her
windshield wipers without thinking.

“Time to get ready, I suppose. Or maybe even stop it
completely.”

Something jumped on her right, smashed against her
side window and jumped away. Everyone screamed. The window wasn’t
broken, and Al accelerated.

“It’s going to get worse,” Hector mumbled.

“We’re not far from my place,” Gruff said. “We can
get shelter there while we get our bearings.”

“What?” Al said, looking to Hector. “What exactly
are we trying to stop?”

“What’s going on?” Molly whispered. “Those people on
the bridge… those horses… that’s not even… how does that even
happen?”

“It’s the veil between the worlds,” Hector said, so
softly they strained to hear. “The veil between our world and the
Old World. It’s collapsing. And while we’ve mostly forgotten about
the old folk, they’ve been studying us and biding their time.”

No one spoke. Al had a thousand questions pop into
her mind to vanish at once, seeing the grief and fear on Hector’s
face. Only one question mattered, lit in her mind with the fury of
a thousand suns.

She just wanted to know how to be safe. How to keep
her own safe.

If even half the fear on Hector’s face was
justified, she wasn’t sure safe was even possible.

Chapter 5

 

The street was lined with small, similar post-war
houses, one-level, slanted roof, vinyl siding. They looked
deceptively small. Gruff and Gretchen had managed to raise three
children here, and it now seemed too big for just the elderly
couple. Or too small.

The mists danced around some houses, as though
hugging them. Nothing moved on the street, not even an animal
darted across the pavement.

“Looks pretty clear,” Al whispered. She pulled into
his driveway.

Their backyard was covered in fog.

“Best to stay clear of that,” Hector said.

“No shit,” Molly replied. Hector looked at her in
shock.

“Let’s go,” Al grabbed Big Bertha and the first aid
kit, opened the door and slipped out. Molly helped Gruff and Hector
kept a close eye on the mists, which fluttered at the edge of the
backyard. They quickly went to the back and found the dilapidated
door unlocked.

The door creaked open and they all slipped inside.
They closed the door and stood at the back of the kitchen. Black
and no-longer-quite-white linoleum tiles covered the floor. The
counters were white, as was the small oven. The olive-coloured
fridge hummed loudly.

“Gretchen?” Gruff called out. The house would have
been deathly quiet if not for the hum of the fridge and the ticking
of the grandfather clock in the living room. Gruff waited for an
answer, kicked off his work boots and went to remove his coat but
grunted and stopped. Al took a step toward him, but he waved her
off.

“I’m fine. Really. She’s probably asleep. I’ll go
wake her.” He walked slowly down the hallway. Gruff was pushing
seventy. It had never really struck Al before how that made him
old. Right now, watching his slow, careful walk, it was all she
could think of.

“This house is time trapped in the 70s,” Molly
whispered in awe. “They’ve even got the rusty old can opener to
prove it!”

Molly walked into the kitchen, opening drawers and
giggling at the old utensils she found. Al shook her head and
focused on Hector instead.

“All right, make this fast,” Al reached into her
coat and felt the smooth cover of the watch. She handed it to him.
His eyes filled with tears as he looked at the watch. He ran his
fingers over it, as though feeling each tiny engraved line. As
though the pine tree and the tiny house had been his, once. His
hands shook slightly as he popped it open. The glass face was
intact, the tiny gold and blue inlays of the timepiece glinting in
the dull fluorescent light. The arrows pointed at 10:24. Always
10:24.

He stared at the time, running his fingers over the
glass slowly.

“Family legend has it that’s the time she passed
away. That the watch just stopped then, and wouldn’t restart,” Al
said, not too sure why. Maybe to snap him out of it. His grief was
almost palpable from where she stood. It was unnerving her as much
as the fog.

She looked more closely at him. His coat was
greenish brown, all wool. His hair was short but still longer than
he seemed used to, flicking it back even though it barely reached
his eyes.

“I have to get this moving again,” he whispered, to
the watch or to her, Al wasn’t sure.

Al nodded nevertheless. “And that’ll… I can’t
believe I’m saying this, but that’ll stop the mists?”

“I hope,” he gave her a weak grin.

“Al,” Molly said as she walked up beside her,
breaking her out of her reverie. “I still can’t get a cell signal.
Or a radio signal,” she pointed to an old transistor radio on the
counter.

“The mists will block all of that,” Hector said. He
looked up at them, apologetic. “I need to concentrate. Please.”

He spread out a leather case and unfurled it to
reveal tiny silver tools. He set magnifying lenses on his nose. Al
stared at him as he diverted all his attention to the watch. His
clothing didn’t look old, but the style was old. And the spectacles
were definitely not today’s standard. And, the tools, the ability
to repair watches, his knowledge of her great-grandmother’s watch
and name…

A shiver ran down her back. Hector leaned in close
to the watch. The back was popped off, and he gently but expertly
moved tiny gears around.

Al needed to clear her head.

Molly sat cross-legged on the couch and kept trying
to get her smartphone to connect to something, looking intently at
it.

The morning’s events still seemed like a dream. She
expected to wake up any moment now and make a joke with Pete about
the dream. Pete would love it, with her love of old stories and
folklore.

Her heart skipped a beat. Pete was smart. She could
take care of herself. She hoped that the bus had been late.
Otherwise they would be nearing Lindsay now. Or maybe, like Hector
suspected, this was everywhere and not just here and it didn’t
matter where Pete was.

She shook her head, annoyed at herself. Pete was
smart. Pete could take care of herself. She had made that clear to
Alva on several occasions, in fact. Picturing her sister’s red,
angry face made her smile. She was fine. Whatever this was, it was
probably localized anyway. Some weird gas leak making them all
hallucinate.

She forced the sight of the horses tearing apart the
people on the bridge out of her mind and headed to the washroom.
She splashed cold water on her face and felt better for it.

For a second, she thought she saw something flicker
behind her in the mirror. She turned around, but nothing was there.
She took a deep breath and exited the bathroom. Mists lined the
floor. Alva took a deep breath and called out.

“Gruff?”

She took two steps to the master bedroom and peeked
in, her breath collapsing back into her lungs and her hand going to
her mouth.

In the middle of the room, over the large king size
bed covered in bedding as dark as the wood posts of the old bed,
Gretchen floated, her long nightgown turning slowly like a great
ball gown, her arms gently held up by a young man. He was made of
light, the mists feeding his appearance as he shifted in and out,
wearing at times armour of a knight of old, at other times a fine
tuxedo and top hat. He held Gretchen gently, twirling with her in
the air, staring into her eyes as she stared back. Stray ringlets
of gray hair escaped her nightcap, but she looked younger than her
sixty-some years.

She smiled and her hand went up to man’s cheek,
gently stroking it as her right foot lifted back a bit. Perfectly
slow dance steps were performed on the ballroom floor of glittering
mist.

Gruff stood not far from the door, his cheeks
glinting with fresh tears and starry mists. He looked at her with
such tenderness that it broke Al’s heart.

The dancers shifted a bit and Al could see that her
feet and hands were slowly turning to mist, joining the man in
whatever state he existed.

Gretchen looked at her hand, seemingly surprised for
a few moments before placing it back on the shoulder of her
companion. She leaned into him, closing her eyes and smiling as
they held each other, her features, dress and nightcap all turning
to light. The mists dissipated around them, the light shifting to
rainbow and then vanishing completely.

BOOK: Nigh - Book 1
4.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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