“The whole world is haunted now, and there’s no getting out of that. Not until we’re dead.”— The Walking Dead
“Come on, Ana. We’re going to go for a little run, okay?”
A shake of the head, an overly exagerrated frown and the pushing out of the little girl’s bottom lip would indicate that nope, little Ana did not think it was okay.
The older boy smiled, a quick forced smile and softened his tone a little, but the words were still hurried and held some urgency. She didn’t want to go. He was scaring her.
“It’ll be fun. And hey… ” the boy reached out to catch her wrist with his hand, and she tried to pull away, but his grip tightened quickly, “I’ll run really, really fast. Super fast. It’ll feel like you’re flying!”
“Ow!” She tried to pull her arm away, but to no avail. The boy was already moving, and she had no choice but to follow. She couldn’t pull free. He was starting to run already and he pulled at her arm again, as if to hurry her, but he was already going to fast!
“Ow! Hurts, huuuuurts, stop!” She started to struggle against his hold, even trying to dig her heels into the ground, but he was twice her size and strength and no amount of fighting with him was going to work.
He stopped abruptly then, dropped to his knees so that he was at her level and grabbed her by both arms, his fingers digging into her upper arms. Why was he hurting her? He’d never hurt her before this way, never.
“Look at me, little Ana.”
She refused to open her eyes. She wouldn’t look. She didn’t want to see him … it, again. That voice. She’d heard it before, that unnatural, spine chilling tone that while not particularly loud was menacing and disturbing and she felt herself go cold and start to shiver. The entire room seemed to be ice cold now and the exposed flesh of her arms and neck were covered in goosebumps. An involuntary shiver ran up her spine but still she lay there, eyes squeezed tightly closed. She wouldn’t look. She wouldn’t…
“Look at me, Ana!”
“No, I won’t! You’re not here, you’re not real. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening again…”
The cold hand underneath her chin and the feeling of it’s cold fingers on her face made her skin crawl, but it forced her to open her eyes and he was just as the first time she had seen him like this, long ago. The night that the deal had been struck. But she hadn’t been in her right mind then, and she couldn’t be now, either. If she believed that, then she would know she’d almost certainly lost her mind for real, but she opened her mouth and spoke to it, to him, and her mouth and throat were so dry they barely came out as more than a whisper.
“You’re … you’re dead. You’re not here. You’re dead and buried. I saw it with my own eyes. You are NOT MY BROTHER.”
It cocked it’s head to one side and grinned at her, as it had done that dark night long ago and she had to force back the urge to vomit, her head starting to spin.
“Ah but you only saw what you wanted to see, didn’t you?”
Staring dumbly at the manifestation now, all Ana could do was blink. Her mouth dry, heart pounding, hands trembling, she shook her head, confused.
“I saw you die. I saw … I saw your body on the deck of that ship, and I ran.”
It smiled then, cocking it’s head to the other side, at an unnatural angle, it’s head almost touching it’s shoulder, and the smile spread into a wide, grotesque grin and it started to laugh. Finally it spoke again.
“Did you? Are you certain of that? Did you really run, Ana?
Squeezing her eyes closed as her head began to pound, she allowed her head to fall back on the pillow as she ran the memory over in her head, again. Gods knew she’d been over it dozens if not hundreds of times before, and nothing in her recollection ever changed. The man’s shortsword pressed to Valgoren’s throat. The words uttered, “An eye for an eye” and then the thud of her brother’s body hitting the deck. And then … nothing.
“I … I ran, “she whispered, and the visage shook it’s head slowly, smiling that horrible smile again.
“The mind is capable of both wonderful and terrible things, Anaveya. You won’t rest until you remember. You will linger here until that time. For what is done cannot be undone, what is seen cannot be unseen. You can choose to forget, but you can also choose to remember. And you must.”
“Because this … ” and before her eyes the grim manifestation of Valgoren Blackcrest disappeared and in it’s place stood the graceful and flawless figure of another man lost long ago, and he spread his arms as he spoke, “all of this chaos must come to an end.”