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John sat in his chair, patiently waiting with the rifle at his shoulder. She’d come again soon. 

This was the worst night of the year. John had managed to survive last year and he’d be damned if he would let that vile creature in. 

John had rented the cabin earlier that month and paid for two weeks, leaving a wide buffer on either end. After all of the set up he’d done, John felt he’d need at least a few days to get the cabin back to normal. Last year, he’d stayed home but the neighbors started asking too many questions when he began fortifying his home. He was alone now and no one would question his security. No one would find him. Except for her. 

A loud smack against his door made John jump and he dropped into a shooting position, using the chair as cover.

“Please help!” A woman’s voice called. “She’s coming please!”

“Not this time,” John whispered. “That almost worked last year, but not again…”

“Please!” The voice pleaded. “Let me in! Please help me!”

John stayed crouched on the floor. A hand smacked against the door hard. 

“Let me in, John!” The woman’s voice yelled. She was angry now, not afraid. John swallowed and settled. “Open the door!”

Breathing slowly, John kept an eye on the front door. She wouldn’t come in. She never came in as long as he didn’t open the door. That was where a lot of people in John’s chain messed up. There were three rules to living forever in the ritual John had done. 

First, John only lived as long as the person to swear the oath before him. Immortality protected by others was a brilliant part of the ritual. Everyone had to take this night of the year seriously. Any other day of the years, John wouldn’t age, couldn’t be wounded, and couldn’t get sick. Immortality left a good taste in his mouth that left him craving more and more. That’s part of what made this night so hard. Any day but August 11th and John and his friends were un-killable. The rest of the year made them sloppy if they weren’t paying attention. That’s how she’d already managed to kill three of them. 

The second rule was that they couldn’t see each other in person. When the spell had first been created, John guessed this was meant to be the cost of living forever. They were immortal, but they couldn’t see the people they trusted enough to go through the spell with together. John and his fellows kept up through digital means. The spell still seemed to work as long as they weren’t in the same physical space. John, the academic, wanted to test the limits. No one else was willing. Still, they kept tabs on each other through emails. That’s how John had found out Peter died six years ago. Then Mary died the year after. Will had managed to stay a few steps ahead, but she’d gotten him three years ago. Now, John was the only thing keeping both him and Jess permanently alive. She’d talked about just letting it end, but John would let that happen over his cold dead body.

The last rule was the most important. Never, ever, say her name. John was one of the few who knew the name of the person they were sacrificing. No one could say her name or she’d be able to find them and kill them, no matter how many precautions they took. John wasn’t even sure if the rifle would hurt her, but if he spoke her name, he might as well just leave the door open. 

“John!” She smacked the window so hard that the glass fractured like a delicate spiderweb. John could see the silhouette of her hand against the glass. The black shape dragged across the window and John followed her outline down the length of his rifle. Her fingernails scraped against the glass, scratching the frosted glass. 

“This is what you wanted, right, John?” She asked. “Eternal life…no matter the cost? That’s what you were trying to do when you killed me, wasn’t it? Do you think about it? August 11th? 1986? Did you think this would just go away?” 

John didn’t respond. It wasn’t an official rule that he couldn’t talk to her, but he was too worried about accidentally saying her name. 

The glass of the window almost broke when she struck it. John watched the outline of her body, lithe and skinny with long, stringy hair. She was breathing heavily, leaving clouds of hot breath that John saw against the floodlight outside. Her movements are unusual. She prowled around the small cabin, impossibly smooth steps and growling like a wildcat. Her fingernails dragged against the outside of the cabin, scraping against the wood and glass like a handful of metal nails. She snarled and struck the window, another spiderweb crack splitting the pane. 

“John!” She yelled, pressing close against the glass. “I know you’re in there. I feel it. I feel it where you put the knife through my heart! Do you think I didn’t feel anything? You think it was painless? I felt my heart dying in my chest and I feel it every waking moment. I know what will make it stop. It aches a little less each time I kill one of you. You live forever, but I suffer as long as you’re alive! This isn’t over, John.”

Then there was silence. John was wondering if she was getting more creative, maybe she’d light his cabin on fire. Maybe she wants him to think she’s gone. She tried that twice already tonight. She couldn’t enter the room without him opening the door, but she was relentless. John sat in his chair, patiently waiting with the rifle at his shoulder. She’d come again soon. 

This was the worst night of the year. John had managed to survive last year and he’d be damned if he would let that vile creature in. 

John had rented the cabin earlier that month and paid for two weeks, leaving a wide buffer on either end. After all the set up he’d done, John felt he’d need at least a few days to get the cabin back to normal. Last year, he’d stayed home but the neighbors started asking too many questions when he began fortifying his home. He was alone now and no one would question his security. No one would find him. Except for her. 

A loud smack against his door made John jump and he dropped into a shooting position, using the chair as cover.

“Please help!” A woman’s voice called. “She’s coming please!”

“Not this time,” John whispered. “That almost worked last year, but not again…”

“Please!” The voice pleaded. “Let me in! Please help me!”

John stayed crouched on the floor. A hand smacked against the door hard. 

“Let me in, John!” The woman’s voice yelled. She was angry now, not afraid. John swallowed and settled. “Open the door!”

John kept an eye on the front door. She wouldn’t come in. She never came in as long as he didn’t open the door. That was where a lot of people in John’s chain messed up. There were three rules to living forever in the ritual John had done. 

First, John only lived as long as the person to swear the oath before him. Immortality protected by others was a brilliant part of the ritual. Everyone had to take this night of the year seriously. Any other day of the years, John wouldn’t age, couldn’t be wounded, and couldn’t get sick. Immortality left a good taste in his mouth that left him craving more and more. That’s part of what made this night so hard. Any day but August 11th and John and his friends were un-killable. The rest of the year made them sloppy if they weren’t paying attention. That’s how she’d already managed to kill three of them. 

The second rule was that they couldn’t see each other in person. When the ancient wizards crafted his spell, John guessed that was the cost of living forever. To be immortal meant the casters couldn’t see the people they trusted enough cast the spell with. John and his fellows kept up through digital means. The spell still seemed to work as long as they weren’t in the same physical space. John, the academic, wanted to test the limits. No one else was willing. Still, they kept tabs on each other through emails. That’s how John had found out Peter died six years ago. Then Mary died the year after. Will had managed to stay a few steps ahead, but she’d gotten him three years ago. Now, John was the only thing keeping both him and Jess alive. She’d talked about letting it end, but John would let that happen over his cold dead body.

The last rule was the most important. Never, ever, say her name. John was one of the few who knew the name of the person they were sacrificing. No one could say her name or she’d be able to find them and kill them, no matter how many precautions they took. John wasn’t even sure if the rifle would hurt her, but if he spoke her name, he might as well leave the door open. 

“John!” She smacked the window so hard that the glass fractured like a delicate spiderweb. John could see the silhouette of her hand against the glass. The black shape dragged across the window and John followed her outline down the length of his rifle. Her fingernails scraped against the glass, scratching the frosted glass. 

“This is what you wanted, right, John?” She asked. “Eternal life…no matter the cost? That’s what you were trying to do when you killed me, wasn’t it? Do you think about it? August 11th? 1986? Did you think this would go away?” 

John didn’t respond. It wasn’t an official rule that he couldn’t talk to her, but he was too worried about accidentally saying her name. 

The glass of the window almost broke when she struck it. John watched the outline of her body, lithe and skinny with long, stringy hair. She was breathing heavily, leaving clouds of hot breath that John saw against the floodlight outside. Her movements are unusual. She prowled around the small cabin and growled like a wildcat. Her fingernails dragged against the outside of the cabin, scraping against the wood and glass like a handful of metal nails. She snarled and struck the window, another spiderweb crack splitting the pane. 

“John!” She yelled, pressing close against the glass. “I know you’re in there. I can still feel where you put the knife through my heart! Do you think I didn’t feel anything? You think it was painless? I felt my heart dying in my chest and I feel it every waking moment. I know what will make it stop. It aches a little less each time I kill one of you. You live forever, but I suffer as long as you’re alive! This isn’t over, John.”

Then there was silence. John was wondering if she was getting more creative. She might light his cabin on fire or trick him into thinking she’d gone. She tried that twice already tonight. She couldn’t enter the room without him opening the door, but she was relentless. John knew he was going to get any sleep tonight. In the moment of peace, John made himself a fresh cup of coffee and returned to the recliner pointed at the door. 

John sat in his chair, patiently waiting with the rifle at his shoulder. She’d come again soon. John knew he was going to get any sleep tonight. In the moment of peace, John made himself a fresh cup of coffee and returned to the recliner pointed at the door. 

John sat in his chair, patiently waiting with the rifle at his shoulder. She’d come again soon. 

May 22, 2020 21:52

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1 comment

S Zak
00:50 May 28, 2020

This is quite a creative story, but it left me asking a lot of questions. I like the premise, and from where you've taken the story, it doesn't force me to ask "what's going to happen next?" because you've already established basically what will happen. i particularly enjoy the use of repetition, "She'd come again soon," really takes it to that next level. Excellent writing.

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