Portals Through the Fabric of Castine

Submitted into Contest #113 in response to: Write about a character whose dreams are portals to other worlds.... view prompt


Speculative Horror Contemporary

“Portals Through the Fabric of Castine” by Elizabeth Fenley

Lenonirie, her Unseelie head tucked under her arm, and Ritassa the Kelpie hovered over the human whose dreams had unexpected consequences. In the middle of the dream, she twitched and murmured incoherently. A dinner plate sized portal appeared in the wall over her head. Small objects on the nightstand were sucked into it before Lenonirie closed it with a word from her severed head and a flick of her free hand. The Wedgewood blue paint returned to its proper place. The woman sighed into stillness.

“Will there be another tonight?” Ritassa asked.

“There has only been one a night. So far.”

“For how long?”

“Two human weeks—that I know of, that I have closed. Before….” Lenonirie shrugged her headless shoulders.

The Kelpie pondered silently. “All to Irkalla?” Even with the brief glance she got of the portal, Ritassa recognized the Babylonian Underworld from which there was no return, even with the intervention of the most powerful of the spirits.

“No. But all underworlds so far—Xibalba, Naraka, and most often Kyopenlinvuori.” Her Unseelie face, generally calm and reserved, contorted with concern.

Ritassa let out a deep breath, shaking her horned head, sending droplets scattering from the water spirit—which only leaked out when she was distressed. “Someone in Kyopenlinvuori wants her to join them.” The realm was populated with dead women who haunted males they considered deserving of torture.

“Do you think Vantaa wants her? Opened the first portal for her?”

Ritassa nodded. “Likely. Ensos says she is doing the same in Bantry.”

“Mattie?” Lenonirie asked sharply. Ritassa, Ensos, she, and a disagreeable Gwyllian Dog of Darkness named Tadzio had recently lived the small town where Mattie’s Diner was their frequent meeting place, their human projections hiding their identities.

“Ensos pulled her back. He is staying close to Mattie, as well as making sure the plague vortex does not reopen.”

“We knew the ley lines in Bantry thinned the veil, making these crossings easier. But here?” Lenonirie lived among the humans now in the small town of Castine.

“Perhaps there is a different reason. Not the town. Maybe it is her.” Ritassa studied the sleeping woman. “What do you know about her?”

“Not much. Genevieve Orson, single, moved here a few weeks ago, works second shift at the hospital in Orland, a few towns over. No offspring or siblings. Parents killed in a car accident recently. No one steady in her life outside the hospital.”

“All of which would make her vulnerable—alone, grieving, around death at work.”

Lenonirie considered this for a moment. “True. And the other portals? The ones Vantaa didn’t open?”

Ritassa shook her head. “Perhaps when the first portal was opened, she absorbed the energy, unknowingly gained the ability to rend other holes in the fabric.”

“How do we solve this? We cannot watch her every night.”

“I know.”

A silence fell between them as they watched the woman sleep, breathy snores filling the room.

“We could let Vantaa have her,” Ritassa suggested.

“What? Why would we let her take a human? Do you think that would stop her from coming back for others? And what if the other portals continue to appear in Castine?”

“I don’t know, Lenonirie. What do you suggest?” The Kelpie shook off more droplets, disappearing in the air without touching the Unseelie.

She sighed. “I don’t know. That is why I wanted your help.” Her face darkened with the power of the Dullahan which frightens humans to death on sight. “I would send for Ensos, but now that he is guarding the vortex and Mattie…. Tadzio would be no help. We have already prevailed upon Melatemey, and she will not intervene again.”

“Would Feeorin come?” Ritassa suggested. “She could lead this human into the Fae world instead.”

“If it comes to that. I hope it does not.”

“There must be a way to seal the woman herself. To remove her ability to create the portals.”

“Do you know of one? Or someone who might?”

The Kelpie shook her head again. “I will ask Ensos.” She disappeared into the ether, leaving Lenonirie to watch the sleeping human.Top of Form

Ensos appeared silently at Lenonirie’s side the following night as she hovered above the sleeping woman, prepared to close portals.

“Ensos! The vortex? Mattie?” she asked, surprised words jumping out of her mouth.

Calm, reserved Ensos slowly reached up with long skeletal fingers to remove his centuries old top hat. “All is well,” he said, the Babadook’s voice rustling like dry leaves in a bitter wind. “Ritassa is with Mattie. The vortex has been stable. Your situation is more concerning.”

“I have already closed two portals tonight.”

“Both to Kyopenlinvuori?”

“Yes. I heard Vantaa calling to her.”

Ensos opened and closed his ivory fingers around his top hat, as was his habit when in moments of profound silence.

Lenonirie knew there was no rushing Ensos in his thoughts. Babadooks were elementals of grief, death, loss, and therefore given to long meditative silences, as if sorting through layers of the lost and the mourning.

When Ensos stirred, he moved closer, alighting beside the bed. He slowly stretched out a hand over the sleeping figure and moved the bones of his fingers in a rhythm Lenonirie had never seen or heard before. He shook his bony skull, thin rubbery wax-like skin stretched across face, save for his empty eye sockets.

“What, Ensos?” She joined him next to the bed.

“This is not a human.”

Lenonirie noticed that with his skeletal fingers, he had stilled her breathing.

“Then what?”

“She is Pontianak.”

“How can you see what Ritassa, and I cannot?”

“Because, like me, the Pontianak are grief remade in human form. I am bone-formed grief. She, dying while pregnant, losing the child, is grief of flesh made flesh. Vantaa is summoning her to Kyopenlinvuori by her Pontianak name, which gives Vantaa the power to create the portal herself. The residual energy this Pontianak is absorbing is causing the other portals to open as she sleeps.”

“What do we do?”

Ensos shook his skeletal head slowly. “I cannot do anything. Kyopenlinvuori, Vantaa, and the Pontianak are the realms of the female. You and Ritassa must summon Vantaa and give her the Pontianak before she begins to attack the males of the town on the waxing gibbous moon, the full moon, and the waning gibbous. Despite the human form she wears now, she will revert to her natural state—parchment skin, long midnight hair, and grief bloodied eyes. She will soothe her maternal grief by feasting on the organs of men she seduces in her human form.”

“The moon will be full in two nights.”

“Which means she will act tomorrow night. I will send Ritassa back and remain with Mattie.” Ensos inclined his head politely, replaced his hat and disappeared.

Ritassa stood beside Lenonirie almost immediately. They watched in silence. The Pontianak remained in the locked state Ensos had placed her in.

“I will open the portal; you summon Vantaa and speak to her.”

Ritassa nodded. “Will Vantaa take her immediately?”

Lenonirie shrugged headless shoulders. “Have you summoned her before?

“No. But others like her through portals. Mostly repelling them and closing the portals. Never to give them anyone.”

“Likewise. An unusual situation we have found.”

“Agreed.” Ritassa’s face dripped water. “If Vantaa does not take her, if we can’t force her through, then what?”

“Irkalla. Underworld of no return. I have banished many there over the centuries.”

Ritassa nodded. “As have I.”

Lenonirie set her head on the nightstand beside the Pontianak in stasis. She placed both hands on the powdery blue painted wall where the portal to Kyopenlinvuori had appeared each time. Her eyes closed, her mouth speaking to the space between her hands.

“Patefio, limen, si iubes et perduro limen, retego quoadusque nos caludere.” Portal, open, we command and remain open until we close.

The wall wavered, undulated, vibrated until a glowing crack split through. Lenonirie opened her eyes and stepped back from the portal.

Ritassa moved closer to the bed. “Vantaa, accerso vos, tibi solum Vantaa, impraesentiurum cum victimae oblecto tibi solum, Vantaa princeps feminam autem Kyopenlinvuori.” Vantaa, I summon you, only you Vantaa, temporarily with an offering to please only you, Vantaa, ruler of Kyopenlinvuori.”

The portal rippled and split wider, the sickly green glow spreading through the room. Pearlesque face with a gaping, toothless mouth trickling blood, slid through the wall trailed by writhing ribbons of snakeskin. “You called, Kelpie? Dullahan? What do you offer me?”

“This Pontianak.” Ritassa motioned to the figure.

“I have tried. The Dullahan closed the portals.” Vantaa glared at Lenonirie, glowing coal black eyes combusting to flame.

“We thought she was human. We cannot allow you to take a human,” Ritassa replied.

Vantaa laughed, face splitting open, the sound cracking the glass in picture frames, light bulbs, and mirrors in the room. “You are so limited, Unseelie. And you, Kelpie. You cannot even see what is in front of you.” Through the portal she poked a withered hand with curling black fingernails, flicking smoky embers toward the figure. “Ostendeo.”

The figure on the bed morphed, shed it’s projected shell, displaying her true form: pale skin nearly transparent, black hair in tangled limpness snarling to her heavily pregnant abdomen. The Pontianak remained inert.

“This is her true form. If you could not see it, who could?”

“A Babadook.” No names were shared, no power over them given to Vantaa.

“Ah, yes. Grief sees grief. Maeshrisma, her Pontianak name, May was her human name. She is freshly made. She will need to eat tomorrow night.”

“Not here.” Lenonirie’s voice was firm. “We offer her to you on the condition that she not hunt within my boundaries—or hers.” She gestured to Ritassa.

“And if I do not accept your terms?”

“I will banish her to Irkalla.” Lenonirie’s unblinking eyes stayed fixed on Vantaa’s, determined and challenging.

“That would be a terrible waste,” Vantaa replied.

Kelpie and Unseelie remained silent.

“I will take her, of course. Benigne facis.” I thank you. Vantaa pulled the Pontianak instantly through the portal and disappeared, closing the portal behind her.

Silence hovered as they considered the interaction.

“I will still need to seal the portal from our side,” Lenonirie said.


“Ego claudere haec patefio sempiterme quod viro nec ullo recitatum limen et allteruter ad plalgam. Ego signare quia pro eo.” I close this portal eternally that no one at all may open from either side. I seal it for all.

They stood in silence.

“Convey my thanks to Ensos,” Lenonirie said. “And watch over Mattie.”

“I will,” Ritassa replied with a nod.

Both ascended, leaving the empty room in disarray.

September 29, 2021 00:00

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Delia Strange
08:18 Oct 03, 2021

Very descriptive writing. As I read this, I got the impression this is a scene or chapter lifted from a greater piece of work. It has complexities and a lot of detail. The dialogue gives information nicely, without feeling forced :)


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Tenzin Dhahsod
17:58 Oct 09, 2021

b3st story EVER!!!!!!


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Mariah Loiselle
17:28 Oct 04, 2021

Very complex for the prompt! It's lovely!


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Elizabeth Fenley
10:53 Oct 03, 2021

Thank you. I have used these characters in two other stories, so their world has some depth, and they have a good working relationship. Ensos is in "There's Always a Cassandra" and the three are in "The Unseen Four at Mattie's Diner." I will definitely be using them again.


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Aditi Kumar
04:46 Oct 03, 2021

Wow, great world-building!


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Kate Winchester
03:12 Oct 03, 2021

You do a great job of advancing your world while fitting into the prompts! I like that your characters are trying to protect the humans.


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