The Isle Of Sin And Shadows - Keri Lake Page 0,4

skin, but softer, warmer, wetter, springing goosebumps. Tickling me into a languid haze. Gravity weighs down on me, my limbs heavy and thick, the longer I watch him.

Circles and more circles. Spinning and spinning. Round and round. Like children holding hands. Dancing. A song echoes in my head over the sounds of giggles and laughter.

He carries on his crooked back

A ragged burlap gunnysack

And in his hand he wields a blade

Of children’s bones, from which it’s made

He hunts the night for those who’ve lied

There’s nowhere you can run, or hide

He’ll swipe you up right out of bed

And by first light, you will be dead.

Round and round and round. I mentally hum the tune that’s somehow familiar to me. From my childhood, but I’ve no idea where I would’ve picked it up.

Beneath the overpowering scent of burning wood, I catch a light and airy fragrance of citrus. It brings to mind big white flowers and falling petals. Such a pure and clean aroma that, for whatever reason, thickens the dread in my gut.

As if through a fish lens, the scene before me widens, then shrinks with the blackness darkening the edges.

Conner rolls the stick over an object, and I squint to focus on it. Milky white. Black pupil. An eyeball. A glint of metal has my attention zeroing in on the tip of a long blade, instead of the skinny switch of wood from moments ago.

Blood thumps inside my ears. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tha-thump.

I lift my gaze to the skull covering his face.

Bleached white. Horns. Black holes for the eyes.

No. No, no, no.

He’ll kill me if he catches me! I blink my eyes three times.

Three. Two. One.

“Whoa, whoa! What the fuck are you doing?”

At the sound of Travis’s voice, I snap out of focus and find him leaning over me, looking down his nose, and chin high, as I hold a blade to his throat. My hand is steady and sure, just as I was taught.

What the hell?

I don’t even remember reaching for my blade.

Eyes as confused as my own trail down to my arm, which I have to willfully command to stay in place, or risk slicing his neck open. “’The fuck is your problem?”

“Get off of me,” I whisper, voice shaky and unsure.

Carefully backing away from the knife, he pushes off my body. “For the record, you touched me first, freakshow.” Freakshow. Might as well have been my name in high school. The catty bitches would sometimes even leave little stick figures, like the ones from Blair Witch, hanging off my locker as a gift.

Craning my neck toward Conner shows no horned mask. No blade in his hand. No evidence to prove I’m not losing my shit already.

Icy tentacles of lucidity snake beneath my skin. It doesn’t matter what my eyes see right now, my head won’t relent the images from before. Mocking my desperate cling to reality.

In the absence of his body heat, coldness sweeps over my thighs, and I notice my panties hiked down over my hips. I yank them back up, scowling when Travis sneers while he slips a shirt back over his head. “You’re lying,” I accuse, and snatch up my sweater still crumpled on the ground beside me. The key falls out, but I loop it over my head, and pull the sweater over top, hiding it away, before either of them asks about it.

Gaze slicing toward his friend and back, Travis lets out an incredulous laugh. “Am I lying, Conner? Tell her. Who the fuck put her hands on my dick before I so much as laid a finger on her?”

“You’re full of shit. I never touched you.” I search his eyes for any sign that he might be bullshitting me, because the alternative would mean my body acted completely independently of my head. I’ve had moments, sometimes, where Point A doesn’t always connect to Point B. Times I’ve blacked out and can’t remember what happened, but I was awake this time. My eyes were open. Yet, a glance over my shoulder shows Conner holding nothing more than a stick. No mask. No toy eyeball rolling around in the sand.

“You’re a goddamn train wreck, Céleste. It’s no wonder guys have avoided you like the plague.”

“Let’s go, Travis. Give her the pills, and let’s get the hell out of here. I’m bored.”

“Tell her. Who made the first move?

“Who the fuck cares?” A part of me wants to believe that Conner’s reluctance to say is all about my honor and dignity, but he’s the same jerk who Copyright 2016 - 2024