Imperfections of Sleep (Part 3 of 6)


Imperfections of Sleep
(Part 3 of 6)

“This is the son’s room?”

Landon Connors was kneeling beside the twin bed, rubbing the blue rose patterned sheet between the fingers of his right hand while his left held tightly to an antique walking stick decorated with arcane and ancient symbols atop a shaft of ebony.

“Todd,” Sam Hill replied. He stood in the bedroom’s doorway nervously, yet dexterously twirling an unlit cigarette between his fingers. “He’s away at camp.”

Connors glanced around the room. Sports and super-hero posters on the walls, trophies occupying bookshelves alongside Harry Potter, The Hardy Boys, and a dogeared Lord of the Flies paperback. All-American kid, but he wasn’t the reason they were here, and he sure wasn’t the reason there was a magical black stain on this room.

“You feel it?” Connors asked.

“The temporal vortex?” Hill replied. “Why do you think I’m not crossing this threshold? Last thing I need is for Scratch to sniff me out here.”

“How in the hell does a little girl pick up a taint like this, let alone open a rift in the Veil?” Connors stood painfully, his knee protesting against the strain. He held out his hand, palm down over the bed, forcing the invisible threads of the tear to shimmer into a semblance of discernible tendrils. “She was experiencing…” He winced from a slice of astral pain that coursed through him. “…horrible nightmares…” He staggered, shaken, as he reached into the void, conjuring forth abhorrent visions that twisted and morphed like smoke born apparitions. “…but more than that, she…”

“She what?” It took all Hill’s will to not go to his young protégé’s side.

“No, this isn’t right,” Connors said. He stepped away from the bed, limping toward the small desk in the corner. He brushed the desktop clear — comics, trading cards, and sports magazines all falling into a cluttered mess on the floor. The occult detective dug through the deep pockets of his trench coat, carefully depositing a deck of tarot cards and a silver candle holder. He then withdrew an array of candles, settling on one colored lavender, and replacing the others within the confines of his coat. He touched his finger to the blackened wick and fire sprang to life.

“You’ve been practicing,” Hill said from the doorway.

Connors ignored him and continued his work. Tossing his coat onto the bed, and his antique cane atop that, the young man turned and focused his gaze on the open flame. It danced before him, undulating with a sensual alacrity.

The world fell away then, replaced by fractal images and a sea of infinite colors all swirling together in a copulating frenzy, a bleeding ensemble in an explosion of depraved indifference. From that mass, it rose, a dark shape, gathering about it the deep blues, purples, and blacks, climbing shapeless into the thunderous sky, dripping, oozing, and malevolent.

That amorphous entity, malefic and inchoate, exploded, turning the surreal landscape into deeper shades of black. Connors felt himself drifting now, soaring across the now ebon sea, the dark clouds overhead spider-webbed with electrical discharge.

Faster now, toward a floating shape as the sea and sky melt away leaving only a great void of black. The shape ahead, now coming into focus, revealed a meteor, its top a shear surface, adrift in the great void. Descending, Connors’ astral form looked down on a sprawling manor, eclectic in design as colonial, second empire, and romanesque architectures collided beside the ruins of an ancient tower.

Landon Connors knew the place below him, knew it well, but past it he sailed over a rising forest, and a mirrored lake, and a dam beyond. The sky opened up now as clouds rolled in to fill the void and lightning lashed out and the sound of wolves howling filled his ears.

9swordsConnors fell away from the desk and onto the floor, his head whipping back to where several hours before a young girl had been consumed by unrelenting nightmare. He rose tenderly, drawing himself back up to the desk.

“Landon,” Hill said, not disguising his concern. “What is it, boy?”

Connors reached out slowly for the tarot, sliding the top card away from the others, then dropping it face up onto the desk.

“I know where she is…”

to be continued

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