Word Count: 620
Already the child had acclimated. The human smell prominent the moment she neared the threshold of the nursery. A window was open. Carrying the scent of lavender to rest the wicked and death to comfort the dark.
Already the price had been paid. Countless were the minutes she’d spent masquerading around the elaborate costume party. Numerous were the days she’d spent plotting this moment. Undetermined were the amount of years she’d regret her decision. Anonymous, the baby remained.
Already she’d arrived too late. The surrogate mother collapsed near the door, blocking her from expanding further. Still the party carried on downstairs. The child, the dying human, the party, the smells, oh the smell of it all had the power to intimidate. To cause one to shrink into their doubts. To hide from the reality of what was happening and how there had never been an option to simply turn back around.
Already she’d come too far. She, the masked visitor, would not be so easily deterred. Pushing against the door. The crrrreak of its rusted hinge. The ‘ughhh’ of a ghost not yet ready to be dead. The adorable slurp of a nursing child. Its sing song coo that followed as it drained the life of the only mother it’d ever known. Could the child still be regarded as innocent as it took what was given?
Already the Risen sent out their echo. The trees vibrated with its sound. The masked visitor noticing the bounce of the streetlight from the window. The signal was sturdy. The night mischievous. There would be no confusion with the urgency in the message. The echo was a confirmation. It was a warning. The Risen knew.
Already the child crawled. The partial slump of the human mother collapsing forward. Was she reaching for the crawling baby? The baby, so small, yet so advanced made its way to the window. Too small to understand the draw of the echo, too ignorant to recognize it signaled its death. The masked visitor observed the baby, now faced with it, unsure of what to feel. Had she made the right decision in her participation? Had she chosen correctly in adhering to the plans of the Risen? There was no shortage of Underworld sects and yet she’d followed the path with the least options.
Already the echo grew in strength. It wouldn’t be much longer she could bare to ignore it. She watched as the small child, the baby, attempted to stand. So small she thought. She saw. So small, again, she noted. She would not be strayed. No tender smile perked her face. No sting graced a tear. No beat her cold heart missed.
“Come, come, my child,” the masked visitor whispered, “come, come my child,” she edged louder. “Come, come,” she sang to drown out the echo. “Come, come, my darling.”
Already the child was entranced. Paused from its earlier plight and now facing the masked visitor. So small once more. She began to make her way to the child. In turn the child, unable to ignore the call, was drawn to her. The child smiled. Drool at the corners of its blood stained lips. The masked visitor adjusted her head piece, pulling down the arms of her dress, bearing more skin, enticing the marked child with the ripe flesh it craved. She stepped forward when her dress was caught.
“Please,” the ghost said clutching the hem. “Please don’t.”
Already too much time had collapsed. The baby, now at the hem of her dress, pulled upright. The masked visitor reached down for it. The music downstairs suddenly gone. The lavender candles blown out. The darkness no longer comforted. The Risen had arrived too late.
Already the feeding had ended.