Chapter 18: Topiary for the Insane

The wind's been blowing violently, far too violently. The clouds in the sky are starting to circle the house on the hill in a tornado-like fashion. This can't be happening, this just can't be-

Someone spins me round and says, "Alex!" Hannah grabs me by both shoulders and makes sure I'm looking directly at her. "What the hell is going on?!"

" mom, I need to get home!" I tell her frantically. "Now!"

"Okay, okay," she says in a more calm voice than mine. The roar of the wind is getting louder and we can barely talk without having to yell. "What's going on?"

"My mom!" I repeat. Why doesn't she get it already?! "She's in trouble!"


"Edmund!" I almost scream. "I have to go. Now!"

I pull myself from her grip and start running down the street. The house isn't far, I can make it. I have to make it. I reach to the end of the street and turn right when suddenly a shitty car pulls up in front of me. It has David sitting in the front seat and Hannah sitting beside him.

"Get in," she says. I feel my heart pounding in my chest harder and harder, a ride couldn't hurt. I pull open the door and get in.

"Is she okay?" David asks Hannah.

"Not really," she tells him. "Get us to her house, fast."

The car speeds up and it's only now that it clicks in that David can drive. I suppose it makes enough sense, I guess Hannah must have asked him to take us to my place when I freaked out in her face. But whatever, as long as we get there, as long as I can get to my mom.

"Do you hear her?" that dark voice says in my head. "Do you hear her screams? It is too late, he has her now."

Shut up, shut up, shut up!

"She is not his goal, only a key," the voice continues. "You continue to advance into the grip of your enemy."

"Can't this thing go any faster?!" I yell at the two in the front. Hannah gives me a worried glare, and David speeds up.

When we arrive at the house, the weather's reached new levels of shit. The wind is whipping around so violently around the manor that you'd think it'd form a tornado by now. Instead of a tornado, though, we're welcomed by the clouds circling into what looks like a black hole in the sky. I don't wait for the car to stop, I just open the door and run out as fast as I can, barely keeping my balance.

I hear the other two exit the car and follow after me but when I get to the gate it doesn't budge. I shake it, shove it, kick it, scream at it until David walks up next to me and pulls me away from the gate. He looks me directly in the eyes and ask, "What the hell is going on?!"

"It's him!" I scream. "He's going to kill her! I have to get in!"

He doesn't ask any more questions, he just turns around and shoots a firm ball of invisible energy at the gate. It bursts open and we run into the garden in front of the house. I don't wait, I just run toward the second gate, only when I get to this one, a similar invisible energy to David's explodes outward from it and sends me flying back onto my ass.

"What the hell?!" Hannah says.

They help me up and once I'm standing I see why the first gate was relatively easy to get through. All around us, the monster shaped topiary starts to sway in the wind, only not in the way it should. It almost looks they're breathing.

Then, a bush shaped like a werewolf and about the rough size of a minivan leaps out of the garden and blocks the path to the tougher gate.

"You have got to be kidding..." I say as slowly more and more of the creature shaped bushes spring to life.

"Is there another way into the house?" Hannah yells over the roar of the wind.

"Yeah, it's out back," I tell them. "Let's run." We bolt, sprinting for the first gate. If we can make our way around the house from the outside I know there's a small way in from the back of the graveyard-

Before we even make it to the bridge, the two snake shaped bushes guarding the railing of both sides shake themselves to life, turn and hiss at us...somehow.

"Motherfucker..." I mutter.

"What the hell kind of a house is this?!" David yells.

"What's controlling them?!" Hannah asks.

"I don't think that's what we should be caring about right now!" I tell her. The bush shaped like a panther leaps up and tackles us to the ground. It paws at our faces, and it's just so much worse because there are so many twigs. We hold up our arms to cover our faces and I can already feel blood dripping from the fresh cuts.

David makes one swift motion, sending out more of that cool invisible energy and scattering every little leaf and twig of that thing flying all over the place. It's not getting back up.

I hear Hannah scream. One of the snakes has its tail wrapped around her ankle, pulling her toward the water beneath the small bridge. The other snake is heading for David, leaving me to have to think of something.

Of course, as I'm thinking of a way to save them, the minivan sized werewolf bush wraps its leafy paws around me and lifts me to its hollow maw. It roars, sending an inexplicable and awful smelling gust of bad breath directly into my face.

It throws me backwards into the second gate, which is still a douche bag and blasts me flying back the other way. Hannah turns into a mouse and manages to escape the grips of the snake but now it has its mouth wide open, ready to strike and gobble her right up. Fortunately for her - And unfortunately for me, might I add - I slam right into the fucking thing. Both me and the snake crash into the ground nearest the first gate and it is still very much functional. The bush tries to wrap itself around me completely, and it's doing a damn good job. I can feel the twigs and shit digging into my skin and it is not nearly as pleasant as it sounds.

Suddenly a white wolf appears out of fucking nowhere, tackling the head of the snake and ripping it off. The rest of the snake loosens, I climb out and crawl to safety as the wolf rips into the rest of it. When it's done, there's a green flash and suddenly Hannah's standing there with twigs and leaves in her mouth.

"You ate a fucking bush!" I say. "...There's a dirty joke in there somewhere."

We both turn around to see David's snake be vaporized by that weird energy only for another of the panther things to pounce on him. I don't even think about it, I just start sprinting toward him and I tackle the panther, taking it clear off of him and sending us both crashing through one of the bush walls. The panther growls at me once we stop moving, but I'm on top this time. I punch it in the face's about as ineffective as jabbing a spear into the ocean to wage war with Poseidon.

"Oh..." I say as it roars at me. I quickly reach deep into what looks like its mouth, grab the biggest twig I can feel and I snap it. Suddenly the entire construct stops moving, grows limp and starts to turn brown. I pick myself up and dust myself off to see Hannah and David both running from the giant werewolf bush. This kind of shit would have never happened in Eastbridge.

I crawl into the hole me and the panther bush made and am now back in the driveway. I'm not sure what else to do so I grab the foot of the werewolf bush and pull. It stops moving, looks at me funny, then keeps chasing after David and Hannah, pulling me in tow. I latch onto the leafy leg and grip the lower leg of the creature as hard as I can with both hands and...snap.

The werewolf cries out and drops onto its hands and knees. David quickly moves in to blast off its head with more of that weird energy and the entire thing turns into a dead brown.

I collapse onto the floor and lie on my back just for a minute to process what the fuck just happened when it dawns on me why it happened.

"We have to go!" I scream as I get up and fight against the wind to reach the gate.

"Wait!" David calls out as he runs up behind me. "The gate's still warded. You activated all of those things when you tried to use it."

"Well then what do we do?!"

"You said there was a way in from the back, right?" Hannah says.

"It's okay," David says. "I can dispel it, just give me a few seconds."

"I'll go around back anyways, maybe coming in from two directions is the better move," Hannah says. I nod at her and she's suddenly a very white house cat, running at full speed toward the fence which she's able to climb over with no problems.

"And..." a weird noise comes from the gate and just as quickly it falls silent. "Got it." David pushes the gate open and doesn't get sent flying backwards, so that's a good sign. "Come on," he says before grabbing my hand. Together we run to the front door, which seems to actually open for us. And if that wasn't unsettling enough, it closes right behind us once we're inside. It's almost pitch black in here save for a dim red light coming from the ceiling. Just enough light to see the blood on the floor...

Notes: Alright so this chapter took a turn while I was writing it. It's a good thing this isn't the final copy, huh? Basically I need you, my wonderful readers, to tell me if this entire chapter was good. Was it fun, was it a good read, do you feel that the overall story could be improved if it were better or even just removed entirely. These are the questions I need answered, and I hope you guys can help me out in that regard. I'll even push back my personal deadline for completion if need be, just tell me what you think.