The dark spirits made a sound like bats, only an octave or so lower with an electric-like buzz; the Doppler effects gave it a glissando whose tone moved downwards and grew louder as they moved closer, then rose but grew softer as they moved away
Their sounds indicated that they were moving increasingly faster.
I began to discern other sounds, like high-pitched ricochets, and I knew that the dark spirits were bouncing off the mirrors. The sound took on increasingly distressed whines, as if the dark spirits were beginning to become weak and confused. It became a dissonant chorus in the center of the catacomb portion of the cemetery, a mix of a swarm of bees and a tape recording of an angry mob played at the wrong speed.
I looked up long enough to see them swirling like a gigantic black whirlpool, its center intense and aglow, almost in panic, unable either to rise above the catacombs or to sink to perdition.
From the corner of my eye as I lay there, I could see darker spirits, more malevolent looking, longer, like mantids with fangs and claws and glowing amber smoky eyes, running back and forth amongst the tombstones, clearly looking for us all.
I put my head down once more, hoping I hadn’t looked up so long that I’d drawn their attention and was no longer invisible to them.
The winsome threesome at the other end had apparently been more careless; I could hear them running our way, with one of those ghastly creatures at their heels.
They were done for – no way they’d outrun this thing. For a fraction of a second, I reveled in the prospect of the creature getting them all, but as they came nearer, my better nature intervened. If I’d been required to pray for them, then Father Fitzgerald would likely expect me to try to save them too, at least if I didn’t have to physically interpose myself to do it. So I tossed a palmfull of pouch dust at the creature. It stopped as if frozen, as they ran off into the night.
We’d done it! We’d won! We were last men standing!
Ian and I’d defeated Rufus and his crew of little bastards! Or, in Quasimodo’s case, not-so-little bastards. But I felt ominous concern, not elation: If Ian and I weren’t careful – and quite lucky – ours was about to be a very pyrrhic victory. Slowly, the creature and its fellows turned toward Ian and me. It let out a high-pitched cry, somewhere between a scream and train whistle, as the dust did its work, and oscillating iridescent currents enveloped him. The other creatures like it began to move toward us.
“C’mon, Ian,” I hissed, tugging at his sleeve, “we hafta get out of here now.”
But Ian knelt petrified on the ground, his face frozen in terror.
“He’s not going anywhere, dearie,” the old woman said calmly, her voice no longer palsied, her face with a smile of satisfaction I thought would break it in two. “Never mind, luv, you could never have outrun them all in any event. Your little friends may have run away – but I’ll settle for the two of you.”
© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
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