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i have a very extraordinary imagination. My demons are made of my nightmares that can become real. Are there different levels of the underworld? Do they really fight for domination of the earth? My characters come to life as the Keeper of Lost Souls and the Demon King battle for a queen they both need, and desire. A human queen .

Chapter 33

Keeper of Lost Souls

For two weeks Martha lay in a coma not even giving a sign that she would ever return to the land of living. Her eleventh birthday had come and gone. There was no party to celebrate, no feast, and her presents remained by her bedside unopened. Doctor Miller was puzzled by her deathly state. That bump shouldn’t have had that effect on her and there were no other signs of injury except for some slight bruises and a few scratches here and there. Could be she was in a state of shock, but what could have been so bad that it put her under for so long?
Cassie was questioned over and over but what could she really tell them? She wasn’t there when it happened. Did she fall? Cassie didn’t know. She tried to tell them about the storm and the winds, the voices, and even the cow. She tried to tell them everything but they didn’t believe her. Hell she didn’t believe it herself now that she looked back on it. What really happened? In all honesty she just didn’t know.
Only Martha could say and until she woke the questions would go unanswered. She had slept so long though, would she remember what happened? Guilt ate away in Cassie’s soul. She should have kept Martha with her. She shouldn’t have let her wander off alone. Now Martha was being punished because of her negligence.
Many hours she would sit by her bed and talk to her. She promised her if she would wake up she would teach her to read and write. She would even help her build that dollhouse that she had wanted so badly. They would build it better than a store bought one. But another week went by and Martha slept on.
Cassie dozed in the chair beside Martha’s bed. The last time she had looked at the wall clock it was almost midnight. She hadn’t been sleepy, in fact she didn’t remember dozing off. She didn’t even remember walking to the woods and retrieving Martha’s book but here it was in her hands opened to the first page.
World of the Dead. Why would Caleb let Martha have such a book at her age? Where did she even find such a book? Cassie hadn’t paid much attention to it before in fact she had never really looked at it, until now. The drawings were fantastic; the characters looked so real; almost life like. The pages stuck together and as Cassie pulled them apart the wall clock finally chimed the midnight hour.
The door opened slowly and Cassandra peered into the room. Martha lay so still and looked much more pale than before. She walked into the room and went to the edge of the bed. Thank God she was still breathing. Cassie looked so uncomfortable sleeping in that chair especially with no blanket. She was about to wake her up and send her too bed when she started talking. It sounded like she was reading in her sleep. She shivered. Cassie was having a nightmare; yes she must wake her up and send her too bed. And then Martha sat straight up in bed, looked towards Cassie and screamed. The look of terror on her face scared Cassandra but Cassie was unaware of anything around her.
Caleb rushed into the room in time to here Martha scream, “ Get her out of here, get the demon queen out. She hurt me, she did it.” And she pointed straight at Cassie. Caleb took Martha in his arms in order to calm her but she fought him off. She scratched she bit, and she kicked winning her release from her pa’s arms. She was hysterical and he was afraid the coma had indeed done more damage to her brain than they first thought. Martha shivered. She felt the demons near again. And there was the putrid smell of death. Nearer and nearer they came It was getting so hot in here she couldn’t breath. Why didn’t they see them? Couldn’t they sense the change that had come over her bedroom? They had to see them they had to make Cassie stop. “Make her stop, please make her stop. She’s bringing them here. Take the book from her, please pa make her stop reading.”
“Martha, honey, please calm yourself. There is no book there. Cassie is asleep.” For the life of him though, he couldn’t figure out how she slept through all this commotion. “I don’t understand what’s going on here. I can’t believe Cassie is the one that hurt you. Baby please calm down and tell me what happened in the woods.”
“The demons pa, she brought the demons and they tried to kill me.” Caleb and Cassandra looked at each other. They had to quite her down or she would have a relapse. The story was unbelievable but still something had happened and it involved Cassie. Could Cassie have hit her, trying to get her to leave her alone. They were both sure that she hadn’t meant to hurt her. But still something had happened and it was time they found out exactly what. What were they to do?
It was impossible to have slept through Martha’s tirade but nonetheless Cassie still slept and her story continued. She was turning pages of an imaginary book and her light voice had become deep and menacing. Her eyes were closed and she threw back her head her raven hair sticking securely to her face. “Aye the moon so full tonight, will not be long my servants. Tis nigh time for the great feast. All will join, all will rejoice.”
“Cassie, Cassie, honey wake up you are having a nightmare. Come wake up let’s talk.” Cassandra shook her but still she would not awaken from her sleep, and Martha kept screaming about the demons coming for her.
Caleb had enough. He grabbed a glass of water from the table beside the bed and dashed half of it in Martha’s face and half in Cassie’s face. Cassie jumped up her teeth bared and a low growl coming from her throat. Steam came from the water cast on her and the flesh burned. The skin started peeling from her face and skeletal fingers reached up to touch it. “You will be paying for that mister. You hurt the queen of dead souls you will pay.” The words come out as a hissing sound but still clear enough to understand what was said. Never had Cassie acted like that before. Cassie, no that couldn’t be Cassie, but then who was it? What the hell was going on here?
A book materialized in the center of the floor the pages alive and a savage wind reached out pulling Cassie into the story. And then she was herself again fighting against the strange current that tried to envelope her. She screamed, “Ma help me, ma please help me.” “Maaa, Maaaa,” Cassie was terrified. She didn’t want to go in there? She had seen too much, no it was a scary place. Cassandra tried to grab hold her hand, tried to pull her out of the vortex but it was too strong. Caleb reached for her, “Hang on Cassie, hang on too me don’t let go.” And Martha was screaming, “let her go, let her go to them.” But Caleb held on trying to fight against the current, but he could not hold her. They watched horrified as the book pulled Cassie in between the pages and thousands of demons rushed to her side. “She is ours, she is ours, she is ours, come to us oh queen,” they all chanted.
Cassandra’s eyes widened and her heart beat rapidly against her breast. She had too save her daughter. She picked up the book but dropped it quickly as flames engulfed it.
And in the distance she could hear Cassie pleading for help. She fell to the floor a torrent of tears racing down her cheeks. Her baby was gone and she didn’t know where or why, or even how she had disappeared.
Martha had calmed considerably and she smiled at her pa and Cassandra. “Don’t worry she’ll be alright. She’s where she belongs, in the land of dead souls. They won’t hurt her; even Jenaharro will not touch her. They’ve been searching for her for centuries and now they have found her. Face it, she’s gone and not coming back, they won’t let her.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Pa it’s all in the book. I couldn’t read it but I looked at the pictures all the time. That day in the woods they wanted her, not me. If it hadn’t been for the Keeper they would have probably killed me. They said he was near, that they had too move fast. I think he’s the only one they fear. Even the master fears him though that was whispered. If you want to save Cassie you have to find the Keeper.”
“The Keeper?” “Yes pa, she is the Queen of Dead Souls, but he is the Keeper of Lost Souls. He is the only one that can save her.

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Cynthia Clark

Nebo, United States

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