Chapter 10: The Devil Talks

I can't sleep. I get why. I take my CD player into the bathroom where I crank up My Chemical Romance and try my best to wash the blood off my hand under soapy hot water. The ironic combination of the two suddenly dawns on me. I smile. It fades once I realize the blood doesn't want to come off. It's not the latest CD, it's – Oh shut up.

The water's too hot. I turn it off and dry my hand. The blood gets all over the pretty white towel yet, somehow, none of it leaves my fucking hand. It's just a big red stain where a pale white should be. And now it's also on the towel. I sit on the edge of the bathtub and lean on my other hand. This is annoying.

I hear the faint sound of knocking on the door. Shit. I grab the blood stained towel and toss it behind the bathtub and hide my right hand in my pocket then yell for whoever to come in. Dad walks in. He's in his pyjamas. The music probably woke him up. He turns off the beautiful voice of Gerard Way.

"What's up?" he asks tiredly. In his tired state, that's the equivalent of "what the hell?"

"Nothing," I lie. He sighs and sits beside me. Time for a talk, I guess.

"What are you doing up?"

"Well," I say, "I was listening to music."

"You want to tell me why you were blaring...um..."

"My Chemical Romance," I finish for him. I love it when they don't know the bands. Makes me feel smarter.

"Yeah, right, why were you playing that so loud this late?" From most parents you'd expect yelling then a firm punishment. Not with my parents. They were awfully lenient when it came to punishments. The biggest grounding I got was no T.V for a week after I stayed out late for a party. My parents are just really cool, honestly. Also I'm not very rebellious.

"I just needed some noise," I tell him.

He rubs his eyes open. "Does this sudden need for noise have anything to do with what's been happening the last few days?"

"Well..." I shrug.

"Okay, talk to me, kid."

...Oh what the hell. "Alright," I take a breath. "Dad, I've been seeing ghosts." I stare right at him, looking as serious as I possibly can.

He chews on it for a while. "Ghosts," he ponders. "Like people in sheets, right?"

"Nah, more like half-rotten corpses of ladies who scream in my face and the occasional lord or two."

"...Okay, tell me more," he says. I tell him. I tell him first about the dream about the dolls, and then seeing that fisherman in the graveyard, and then about the faces that stare and grin and then about how they frowned...I did not tell him about the Arcanum, though. I feel like that's a bit much to take this late in the night. Same goes for Edmund and the fact that the fisherman is dead. When I'm through it all, he looks like he has no idea what to do with any of it. I doubt ghosts came up much in those parenting books. "...I see."

"I know, it sounds crazy," I say.

"No no no...just a bit..." he makes a motion that resembles an explosion coming from the head, "out there. So you've...been seeing these things ever since we came here?" I nod. "Do you want to leave?"

It's weird. I feel like I should want to, but I don't. I should want to run out of here the first chance I get, there is absolutely nothing in this house that I want to stick around for, but then again...I don't know, it's just weird. I shake my head no.

"Okay," he ponders further. "You think you'll be up for school tomorrow?"

I haven't really thought about it. "Yes," I tell him. I'd really like to get to know David...and of course go to my classes and get good grades.

"Alright, well the school wants to set you up with someone to talk to. They have a guy there. Mr. Corin, I think," dad says. My heart jumps.

"Corin." Same guy Uncle Barney was ranting about? The "monster?" He works at the school? You know, it figures.

"Yeah, you'll meet with him tomorrow," dad tells me. He kisses my head and gets up. "Get to sleep. Love ya, kiddo."

"Love you too." Sleep isn't a terrible idea...a goal I can accomplish right now? Sure. Why not? Once dad leaves the bathroom I look at the blood staining my hand. It'll come off. I go for the sink one more time and start washing vigorously. Little by little it wears away and soon I have a clean, white hand again. No getting caught red handed...Oh now I get that.

The next morning comes finally. I never actually got to sleep. I sort of just fell in and out of a sleep-like state, and was frustrated with it each time. I can feel the sun rising. It's a pain in the ass because I'm just laying down on my back staring at my ceiling. I just couldn't stop myself from thinking. Thinking about that voice, Edmund, and the fact that I recently touched a corpse. That is NOT something I was planning on doing. Ever.

Well, might as well get up. I fling the blankets off and put on my morning sweater. I'm sensitive to the cold. This is, of course, the perfect time to start hearing creepy noises. There's a voice by the door. One of those voices that doesn't say anything, it just grabs your attention. Here we go again.

It's accompanied by that distinct tugging and leads me straight into the hallway. It's unsettling. The hallway, I mean. The tugging feeling is always unsettling, but the hallway is particularly unsettling this morning. The portrait of a woman stares at me. The face it's...more familiar now. Can't place it...

"You were strong, to resist the banshee," the voice in my head says. "But when, I wonder, will your strength begin to waver? When will it all become so much that you allow yourself to descend into madness, just as your precious uncle had?"

"What the fuck are you talking about?!" I curse. I always curse.

The voice just laughs and fades away again. A sick feeling runs up through my entire body. That was extremely unsettling. The woman in the portrait looks sad now. Trapped and without hope. Is she...? The pull grabs me away from that train of thought and towards the dining room. The gigantic portrait of Edmund Darkwater is something to behold. Especially after just seeing a much less healthier version of him.

He looks healthier in the portrait. More meat on that face of his. The pull brings me past him, though, and straight into the study. The unfamiliar voice sounds again, by a bookshelf near the desk. I walk towards it. The voice gets louder and even harder to understand. It's just noise, but it's coming from one book in particular. A skinny book. I pull it out and look at the cover.

"The Accounts of the Darkwater Atrocities" it reads...I'll be damned. I feel like I should thank that Lord Terrence guy but I'm not sure if that would be on the sane side of things. The fact that this book is real kind of means a lot, though.

I look out the window back at the crypt. That dude's in there. A creepy realization. There's a guy literally just waiting in a crypt behind our house. How could that not be creepy?

The dark voice starts talking again. "His return is imminent. You cannot stop it. When it happens all you will be able to do is watch in horror, realizing that without you, it would have been impossible." I have to shut this fucker out. I play more music in my head. Not as effective as actually playing music, but now This Is How I Disappear is stuck in my head so it has to count for something.

When I get on the bus for school, I sit right beside the reluctant and rude Hannah again. She sighs heavily as I firmly plant my posterior in the seat and begin reading the book. It starts off simply enough. "This is my account of the atrocities committed by Lord Edmund Darkwater. I, Lord Terrence Darkwater..." and so on and so on. He liked long introductions, I'm thinking.

The "atrocities" go as far back as Edmund's childhood. The Darkwater bloodline always had deep roots in magic, apparently. Magic. Well, I guess if I can see ghosts and people rise from their graves to scream incoherently I'd also better start believing in magic. Edmund-

"What, not going to try and talk?" Hannah interrupts.

I look over at her. I had her pegged for someone who liked the attention. I smile and say "Hi." She sneers at me and looks back out the window. I sigh and go back to the book.

Edmund witnessed the death of his mother at a young age, for the remainder of his life after, which seems excessively long if you ask me, he feared the mortal coil, the inevitable death that awaited him, the abyss, the eternal black, and so many other ways of describing the after life in the most bleak way possible. Lord Terrence was fancy with words.

It was when he reached the age of fourteen that he began his research into the Arcanum. The Arcanum is supposedly the book of secrets, written by dark creatures that dwell in "The Great Beyond." Whatever these dark creatures were or whatever the Great Beyond is, it doesn't say. Lord Terrence didn't know anything about those things other than that they existed. The Arcanum was never meant for mortal eyes, it contained the secrets of the Beyond.

According to certain legends that Terrence researched after his father began to teach him in the ways of magic, some mortals who read the Arcanum either went mad or simply died. Simply may not be the right word for some of them. A few died horrifically. Eyes exploding out of their sockets, for example. At least that's what it says. Edmund, though, he was able to handle all the information being thrown at him the moment he opened the book. Terrence believed it was because he sought only one secret, the secret to immortality-

"What are you reading?" Hannah interrupts. Again. Jesus.

"A book," I tell her.

Those seeking the deeper secrets of the- "What's it about?" Oh my God.

"You know, for a girl who hates the world and doesn't want to talk to anyone, you talk a lot," I say, kind of rudely, I'll admit.

She shrugs. "So what's it about?" She doesn't wait for me to answer, she just lifts up the cover and reads it. "The Accounts of the Darkwater Atrocities?"

"Yeah, history stuff. Very boring," I lie. It's actually quite fascinating, Captain.

Those seeking the deeper secrets- "Why are you reading it then?" she interrupts yet again.

I shut the book. "I'm not," I smile. "How are you?"

She glares and looks back out the window. What the hell?!

"Oh," the dark voice laughs in that evil way, "this one's interesting." Yeah, no kidding. "Her blood will tell you more, my child." Her blood? What, am I supposed to just cut her arm and slap my hand on it? This thought brought on more dark laughter. I have an idea. I hold out my hand to shake. She doesn't notice. I clear my throat loudly. She turns to me then looks at my hand strangely.

"What?" she asks.

"Hi, I'm Alex," I feel like I've been over this with her before.

"I know," her eyes widen, "you told me yesterday." I prompt her to shake my hand. It's still a teeny bit sensitive from the heavy washing I put it through last night, but that's okay. "Why do you-"

"Just shake my hand," I demand, smiling as I do so.

She shakes it, looking at me weirdly. Nothing happens. I focus harder. I try to picture the blood running through her veins, the veins in her hands, the hand in my hand and...still nothing. Keep trying. It feels like this hand shake is going on a little long. Maybe I should – Wait. Something's happening.

I'm in a forest. I'm running, running through a forest. I can feel the wind in my hair, smell the pine in the air, feel the dirt beneath my paws – Wait, hold up. My paws? No, not my paws. Her paws. Hannah's paws. Suddenly I'm on the edge of a cliff. Where is this? In town? We have a cliff in town? Focus. I – She jumps off. She's going to die. I'm going to die. No, wait...feathers. She has feathers now, she's gliding down the edge of the cliff, she – The memory ends. She pulled her hand away and is now looking at me like I'm one of those crazy people on the bus. Oh, holy shit, I am.

"Huh," I mumble. "You are interesting, aren't you?"

"Um...thanks?"