Julie (decadentdream) wrote,

The Gathering - Chapter Eighteen

Title: The Gathering
Fandom (is so, include details) or Non Fandom?: Non Fandom (ie. Original)
Chapter Number: Eighteen
Word Count: 3,620 Words
Rating: M (due to language & adult content... not entirely sure where this thing is going)
Summary: In 1692 a group of witches sacrificed their powers to prevent death. Almost 3.5 centuries later, these powers have befallen new generations. Those that would be heroes are lost. It is up to those who are left behind to save themselves & the world they're in.
Author's Notes: This is nowhere near finished...

Chapter Eighteen

Ashley glanced in the rearview mirror as the two door black coupe pulled into the Colliver’s driveway. Penny sat awkwardly in the back seat, her leg raised so that her ankle rested on Justin’s lap. He couldn’t see what Justin was doing, but he noticed his head was down. Penny fidgeted, gripping the back of the passenger seat as the car bumped over the raised surface beneath the tires. Stringy waves of brunette hair fell over her face as he slammed his foot onto the brake.

Shae was the first out of the car, adjusting the seat and offering her hands to help Penny out. Justin fastened his hands around her waist as she half hopped to the door, struggling to find the easiest and least painful way out of the car. Ashley slammed his door closed before Justin had a chance to get out of the car, rocking the vehicle to the right and causing Penny to fall more than step out onto the driveway. She grabbed for the door, stabilizing her footing and gripping the top edge of the frame as she tried to hop out of the way for Justin. Although she had been more than considerately helpful getting Penny out of the car, Shae abandoned the injured girl for the closed doorway the moment Justin emerged. He looked towards her with irritation before taking Penny’s arm and putting it around his shoulder, guiding her away from the car door as he closed it. It beeped once as Ashley locked it.

“It’s locked,” Shae declared from the front door, her hand on the handle. “Is there a key?”

Penny checked her pockets but soon realized her keys were inside, on the hall table where Justin had left them the previous day. Her uncle hadn’t thought to pick them up. “There’s probably a spare in the garden.”

Ashley crouched down next to the stairs, picking up a foreign looking rock from beneath the rose bushes. He held it up for her to see, shaking it, and was welcomed with a rattling answer. Pulling away the false bottom he produced the extra key. Justin silently wished he had known it was there earlier – it would have saved him having to run at the front door with his skateboard.

“Here, Shae,” Ashley said, tossing her the key. “I’ll help Justin with Penny.”

“I’m not an invalid!” Penny protested.

“Well next time you contemplate hanging from the ceiling, remember this is how much we’re going to baby you,” Ashley said, taking her other arm and putting it around his shoulders as they headed for the base of the stairs.

“Pookie, I can’t get this open,” Shae called back to them.

“Pookie?” Justin queried.

“Shut up,” Ashley replied. He unhooked Penny’s arm from his shoulders. “Guess I’ve got my own girlfriend to baby.”

Jogging up the stairs, he took the key back from her and flipped it up the other way, holding it out to her to demonstrate. She smiled sheepishly. Placing the key in the lock he flicked the latch and pushed the door open. Shae dashed inside, Ashley casting a look over his shoulder as he entered behind her. Justin and Penny were almost to the top of the stairs, Penny reaching down to the stair edging at her side to keep from putting all her weight onto Justin as she hopped up to the next step. He handed the key back to her as they made their way inside, Justin lowering Penny into the nearest reclining armchair available.

“Lucky Uncle Michael got old and bought these, hey?” Penny said to Justin.

Amused, Justin replied: “I think it’s more of a male thing than a getting old thing. Combine a chair, a tv, a remote, some nuts…”

“Sports heaven,” Ashley finished for him. He swept the remote control up from the edge of the coffee table. “I wonder what’s on?”

“Talk shows and tv soaps,” Shae answered. Ashley looked at her with surprise, amazed that she would know. She always seemed to be wrapped up in one project or another and very rarely made reference to watching any kind of television. “It’s female programming on weekdays. The male species is supposed to leave for work or school after the news finishes.”

“Programmers are so sexist,” Justin joked, dropping into the chair beside Penny.

“There could be something else,” Ashley said, pressing the button and switching the screen on.

“Unless you’ve got a three toe adopted Somalian with a drunken father and a mother who hasn’t even reached fifteen in your interest file, you’re not going to like it.” She pressed her hand down on his, lowering the remote. “C’mon, let’s watch something fun! Maybe we can watch a slasher film like… Halloween.”

Justin held his hand up. “I vote poor taste.”

Penny smacked his arm. “Stop trying to convince them I’m suicidal.”

“I’m not!” Justin tried to defend himself though poorly. “I was just saying it’s a bad film.”

“Man, it’s a classic!” Ashley argued.

“Dude – hockey sticks and masks any day,” Justin returned.

“Should I be concerned you two know so much about horror?” Shae asked. She inched closer to Ashley. “Or maybe one of you two are the secret psychopathic boyfriend?”

“Uh huh. And now I’ve got you all locked in the house, I’m going to go on a killing spree, and you’re the poor naive girl who gets left til last,” Ashley said. He leaned down to kiss her and was just inches from her lips when she ducked away, skipping backwards towards the kitchen.

“I’m going to make some popcorn,” she said.

“Maybe it’s both of us!” Ashley called after her. “You should keep an eye on us in case one comes up and attacks you from the other side.” With a broad smile and a laugh she disappeared through the doorway. Ashley looked back to the fuzz on the television screen and tilted his head. “I hear voices…”

“What?” Penny shrieked, frantically looking around the room.

“It’s talking to me…” Ashley continued.

“Dude, enough!” Justin chuckled. “You’re freaking the girls out.”

“You know, we should punish you two and make you sit through five romantic comedies. And two period dramas,” Penny said.

“Ugh.” Ashley screwed up his nose. “Do we at least get some bombing flights?”

“I’ll trade you one period drama for one future biopic,” Justin offered.

Penny shook her head at their attempts of compromise. “Put whatever you want on.”

“I think Shae’s still hooked on the horror thing,” Ashley said. He leant back a little, trying to peer into the kitchen. “Shae?” A high-pitched scream sounded from the room. “C’mon, Shae. Very funny. Joke’s over now.”

Another scream erupted through the room, more piercing, bloodcurdling, frantic and panicked than the first. Ashley glanced at Justin then dashed out of the room. Justin fumbled to get out of the chair, rolling over the arm as he scrambled to catch up behind him. Penny reached out an arm, trying to grab Justin before he left, but failed to come within a hand’s reach of his shirt. She didn’t want to be stuck in a room by herself, lame, with no way of defending herself. Especially if something bad had wandered into the house as Shae’s screams of terror seemed to signify.

Freshly popped popcorn sat on the stove and spread to the floor behind the counter where Shae was crouched, backed up into a corner, her hand pressed to her mouth. Ashley rushed over to her, bending down and pressing his hands to her head and arms to see if she was okay. Her eyes were wild but she seemed to be unharmed. Justin stopped by the counter, turning as he frantically searched for the thing that had brought her so much fear.

“What is it? Shae, what’s wrong?” Ashley asked.

“It was a thing, and it was huge, and it was hairy, and it was right over there,” she said, indicating with her eyes towards where Justin was now standing.

“Was it a spider?” he asked.

“No!” She slapped his chest. “It was a… thing! With big teeth! And… a nose! And eyes!” Ashley looked back to Justin. He shrugged in response. “There it is!”

Ashley glanced back to Shae on the floor and followed the direction she was pointing to. He was not quick enough to stand as he saw some large creature knock Justin to the ground and leap through the glass of the back kitchen door. He stood, half shell-shocked as he watched the creature scamper off.

“Ow,” Justin said, pushing himself back up from the ground. “Dude, some warning next time, please?”

“Did you see its face?” Shae exclaimed. She pushed a hand in front of her own. “It was like it had been smashed up against glass or something! What was that?”

“Homeless man,” Ashley said, offering her a hand to help her up. “Probably hungry and smelt your popcorn.”

“I’ll… make a call,” Justin said.

He picked up the phone as Ashley led Shae back into the living room and then hung up the receiver once they were out of sight. There was no use making a call to anyone about the creature that had just flattened him on the floor. It wasn’t human, it was paranormal. Perhaps he could have hunted it down, but he had no idea what it was or how to kill it. He didn’t even know why it had crashed the Colliver residence to begin with. The only thing he could think of was David – who knew what types of Underworld creatures he was governing now that Christian wasn’t around to track him anymore. Gathering some of the unspoilt popcorn, he wandered back into the living room.

“Are they coming?” Shae asked. Ashley had hold of her wrists, seated in front of her as he tried to keep her from trembling.

“Who?” Justin asked, popping a piece of popcorn into his mouth.

“The police!” she exclaimed.

“Oh,” Justin said. “Well, you gotta realize that they are kinda busy and it might take a while for them to come.” He looked to Ashley. “Maybe we should have a look around?”

“Yep,” he agreed, rising.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Penny said before they could exit the room. “You’re not running off and leaving the two of us here on our own.”

Exchanging glances, they stared at the two girls. Shae bounded out of the chair. They couldn’t risk exposing Shae to anymore magic, but they couldn’t leave the girls to fend for themselves either. Justin could see Ashley was reluctant to bring them along, but he didn’t want to see anything else happen to Penny - especially if David were lurking somewhere in the house. He had intended on searching upstairs first and taking that treacherous step into David’s domain just to be sure.

“She’ll slow us down,” Ashley whispered, knowing his hesitation was no doubt due to Penny.

“She’s not supposed to be alone,” Justin said.

“She’s not alone, she’s got Shae!” Ashley protested.

“I don’t want to stay here,” Shae said, rushing over and gripping his hand. “I want to be with you.”

“Decision’s made, dude,” Justin said. He reached back towards Penny. “C’mon, girl.”

They took the slow path up the stairs, Penny leaning against the wall across from her room as the boys searched up and down the hall. She stared at the broken bisque pieces still on the floor, kicked aside as if they meant nothing. The quilt was missing from her bed. In fact it was bare of anything but the mattress. There were no marks on the floor so she could only hazard a guess that she had landed on her bed and bled out there. The soiled evidence of the event was likely in the laundry, ready to have the memory discarded or washed away. The cord from her laptop lay on the ground beneath the window, her phone now a broken mess against the wall beside her bed. She thought she heard footsteps on the stairs and jumped. A hand fell on her shoulder.

“Hey, you okay?” Justin asked.

“Does everyone think I tried to kill myself?” she inquired softly.

“I dunno,” Justin said.

“He made it look that way didn’t he?” she questioned further.

Seeing her absently staring over his shoulder into her room, Justin glanced behind him. It hadn’t changed much since the previous night – likely because there had been little time to clean. Everyone had been more intent on saving Penny’s life.

“Your uncle Stephen believes you. He’s going to talk to him,” Justin said.

“If he finds him,” Penny said. “I’m scared, Justin. What is he going to do next?”

Justin nodded towards the staircase beside her that led up to the attic. “Let’s go see.”

Ashley paused by Penny’s bedroom door, Shae close behind him, and looked inside. He frowned, glancing back to Penny with an expression of deep sorrow. It was clear he was manufacturing his own version of what happened within his head – one that included her breaking a valuable possession of her parents to be with them now that she’d lost just about everyone in her family. Shae put her arms around Ashley’s waist, resting her head on his back as she continued to stare into the room.

“Where next?” he asked.

“Up,” Justin answered.

The stairs were small and the walls narrow on the way up to the final room. They walked single file – Justin, Penny, Ashley and then Shae. Penny pressed her hand firmly against the timber, pain evident on her face every time she put pressure on her injured foot. Shae glanced back down the staircase.

“I feel like someone’s following us,” she said.

“Do you want me in the back?” Ashley asked, stopping and flattening himself against the wall in case she wanted to pass. She shook her head but still stepped closer to him.

At the top of the staircase, Justin cracked the door open slightly. It was light inside. Quiet. He pushed the door open more and found the room was empty. Stepping inside, he motioned for the others to follow, taking Penny’s arm and helping her up the last few stairs.

“What are we looking for?” Shae asked, moving to one side and inspecting an antique mirror hanging on the wall.

“Shh,” Ashley hissed at her as he passed towards the old wardrobe. He pulled the door open but was met with darkness. A number of empty coathangers swung on the rail, tapping lightly at the back of the interior.

“We won’t be able to escape if he comes back,” Penny said nervously. She rubbed her folded arms, scanning the room from the one spot she had chosen to stand in.

Justin peered behind the dividing screen. The double bed pressed up against the wall was not completely made, one side was bunched and pressed to the middle as if someone had gotten up and taken off quickly. The antique sword hung ominously over the bed. A pair of jeans had been discarded on the floor. But other than that, the area was clear. Slipping back into view he saw Ashley cross to the other side of the room, Shae trailing him and looking over the books and potions. Justin got the feeling that some explanation would be needed after all this. Reasoning would only go so far and the truth would soon be necessary… unless Ashley was going to continue the charade of creatively lying.

“What’s that?” Shae asked.

A dark, oil-like substance appeared to be spreading from the bottom of the cupboard that Ashley had inspected earlier. Ashley stepped back, peering at it from where he was, the confusion on his face a clear indication he had no answer for her question this time. Justin moved forward, joining Penny in the centre of the room as he tried to make out what the darkness was also.

“That looks like blood,” Penny said exasperatingly.

“No,” Justin said, shaking his head.

“Ashley!” Shae screamed.

She wasn’t looking at him; she was staring at his feet. He glanced down to see the same dark substance coming from beneath the table, surrounding his shoes. He jumped back, his arms flailing in the air as he tried to steady himself.

“Justin,” Penny whispered.

He followed her gaze behind him, to the screen he had just emerged from. The floor was indistinguishable, having evaporated beneath the darkness which rolled towards them like the black sea. Though at first confined to the floor, Justin stared in horror as it began to branch its way up the screen, following a vine-like path until it periodically stopped and exploded in a gaseous fashion to spread the darkness further, engulfing everything within sight. Shae backed up towards the two people in the centre of the room, stopping and squealing as the attic door flung closed. The shadows gathered along the wall, spreading in from either side as it shut, merging over the back of the wood. Ashley ran back towards the centre of the room, grabbing Shae in passing and pulling her back with him. She curled into his arms as he held onto her. Penny fastened one hand on Justin’s shoulder to steady herself, another on his arm as she gripped it in fright. They were surrounded, the dark shadows growing ever closer and obliterating everything from sight. Day turned to night as the window disappeared under a cloud.

“What’s happening?” Penny asked. “It’s him, isn’t it?”

“It can’t be, he’s not here,” Justin said. It was clear from her face that she didn’t believe him.

“Something’s drawing it in,” Ashley said, witnessing the space around them growing smaller.

“Justin!” Penny exclaimed frantically. “Justin, do something.”

Lifting his arm, he flicked his fingers outwards. The shadows continued to move towards them. He looked back towards her.

“I need to find out what this is,” he said.

She uncurled her hands from his body to enable him to do what he needed to without interference from her. Closing his eyes, he tried to access his powers. He needed to sense whether David was within range, but all the essence of powers he could feel were within a short range of his body. He tried to astral project but felt himself smack up against a wall of blackness. There was no going through this – the solid mass was a void of nothing. Desperately, he opened his eyes back up and lifted both his arms, palms facing out. He could feel the energy within the darkness but it wasn’t coming from before them. If he could just find the energy source, he would be able to put this mess to rest once and for all.

“Ashley? Ashley, what are you doing?” Shae cried.

Justin dropped his hands, pivoting towards the sound of her voice. Ashley was walking towards the darkness, his hands raised at varying angles. Shae made a desperate grab for him as he left her. He had long since forgotten about his companions, his features set with determination as he tried to battle the darkness alone.

“Ash?” Justin called.

With a burst of power, Ashley fell back, skidding onto his knees. His hands dropped to the floor as he tried to prevent himself falling over, then lifted again as he raised his body to his knees. Justin looked at the area Ashley had just attacked and saw the shadows had retreated slightly from the generation of air. His expression even more intent, Ashley spread his arms wider, angling his hands upwards as he tried to tackle a larger area. The pure amount of concentration and energy the task required was beginning to exhaust him as he tried to withhold the darkness from taking them over and swallowing them whole.

“Please, don’t, stop,” Shae said, rushing up behind him and grasping his body. She looked desperately from her boyfriend to Penny and Justin. “It’s killing him!”

“I don’t know how to help,” Penny said to Justin.

“I’ve got this,” he said, sounding more confidant than he felt.

He stepped up behind the pair, guessing that the energy must be coming from the direction Ashley was aiming. Raising his hands, he found he was right. Ashley pushed the shadows away and the moment they began to return, Justin hooked into the energy. The blackness began to melt, streaming in whispery waves down towards the floor. It split from the roof, a gap forming and light appearing from the window. Never before had the group been so relieved to see a break in the darkness. The blackness swirled around them, now streaming from every section of the room towards the area where Ashley and Justin were directing their powers. It coursed towards the floor like it was free-flowing water escaping through a drain, though in reality the shadows were disintegrating into nothing as Justin grounded the energy. It felt as if a whole day had passed by the time they completely cleared the room. Both boys fell with exhaustion to the ground, Shae holding onto Ashley securely to keep him from collapsing. She crouched before him.

“What did you do? What did you do?” she asked, placing a hand against his face and directing his tired eyes toward her.

“I saved you,” he said.

Circling her arms around his shoulders, she pulled him against her tightly, looking at Penny as she struggled to help Justin stand. Looking past Penny, he matched her gaze.

“Those were Shadows, weren’t they?” Penny queried aloud.

“I think so,” Justin replied.

“They could have devoured us,” she remarked.

“Probably,” Justin said. “I haven’t seen them before but I know… only a strong witch can control them.”

Tags: fic, the gathering

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