Monday, June 10, 2013

The Witnessing Excerpt

I was pulled away from conversation by the sight of a new Specter outside on the deck. He looked back and forth between Mark and me. I'd never seen a Specter like him before. He had an jagged black gash on his forehead that seeped black mist into the air. The mist slowly oozed from the gash like blood oozed from a wound under water. Mark looked at me more than he did anything else. He was totally unaware of the new Specter.
"Maya wanted to attend Mark's birthday party Friday. I'd love for her to come," Beverly said.
I tapped Mark's foot with mine. He tapped back and grinned at me. I kicked him to signal I wasn't playing a game of footsie and he finally got the hint and looked in the direction I nodded. The Specter gave me a very uneasy feeling and I realized it had the same effect on Mark now that he was aware of it. As soon as Mark looked out, the Specter screamed in a rage, as though Mark had said something offensive to him. It lunged at the sliding glass doors.
To my shock, and horror, the glass doors broke to pieces in a loud crash. Everyone at the table screamed but none louder than me. Specters weren't supposed to have an effect on the physical world. They were supposed to walk through walls without leaving a mark. This one came through the door and left it a broken mess in its wake.
The Specter moved with incredible speed, flying over the floor, moving through the table, its hands outstretched toward me. It slammed into me and knocked me from my chair. One of its cold hands grasped me by the throat. It didn't feel like cold water, as Specters normally did, tangible but soft. Instead this Specter felt as solid as a living man. I could feel its rage as it squeezed my throat, choking me, glaring hatefully into my face.
"Maya!" Dad yelled fearfully. "Grace, she's choking!"
I was choking but not on fajitas or cake. The Specter's hand was cold as ice but the skin around my neck had begun to burn. I swatted at him but it was useless. My hands passed through him with no effect. He had an unfair advantage. He could touch me -- I couldn't touch him.
"Get... off..." I tried to choke out. The Specter's grip loosened momentarily in response to my command, but he didn't let go all the way. Mom tried to pull me off the floor but couldn't.
"Help me get her up!" Mom shouted. They pulled at me but the Specter had me pinned solidly to the floor.
I could smell the thing's putrid breath. It was like rotten eggs and decayed flesh. Its mouth glistened wetly and its teeth were sharp as though they'd been sanded into vicious points. It snapped at me, trying to bite my face, but the sheer force of my will kept it at bay.
"Her throat is caving in!" Mom cried. She tried to probe my neck, and she jerked back, as though something had stung her. "Get her up!"
"I... can't... move her!" Dad shouted. Mark tried, as well, to have some effect on the Specter but it was useless. He ignored Mark as though he wasn't even there. Dad strained to pull me from the floor but only succeeded in hurting my shoulders. "What the hell is happening!"
"Specter," I gasped. "Specter... has... me..."
There was a moment when my gaze met with Mom's. I could see the fear in her eyes; she remembered me talking about the Specters as a child, but this fear was deeper than a concern for my sanity. This was the same fear I'd seen in her eyes the day Carlos died. Her gaze was wide, her skin vividly flushed with the terror that she was about to lose her only surviving child, and it cut me to the core of my soul.
"Please, God, no," Mom whispered. "Please, God, just this once have mercy. Have mercy on my baby..."
I couldn't let her go through that pain again. Mom sometimes got on my nerves with the way she smothered me and held on too tightly, but for the first time in my life I completely understood why she did it. I had to Banish the Specter that had hold of me. I couldn't let it kill me in front of my parents. I couldn't put Mom through that kind of agony and grief a second time.
I gathered everything I had inside and, rather than trying to speak the words to the Specter as I usually did, I thought them. I felt them. I shoved two words at him with everything I had.
Get out!
The Specter screamed as though I'd flung boiling water into its face and it flew back, away from me, shrinking and fading as it went. I gasped for air, coughed and sputtered as the pressure suddenly left my throat. For a moment there was a real danger the cider, fajitas and cake I'd had for lunch would come back up. Mom picked me up from the floor and cradled me as she cried. Her fingers gently probed my neck where a florid bruise was forming under my skin.
"Maya? Can you hear me?" she asked wetly.
My throat was burning where the Specter had grabbed me. I struggled to breathe but it was no good. My vision, which had started to go dark around the edges, faded to a hazy gray. Suddenly I felt that I was in the kitchen alone. My parents, Mark, the guests, were all gone. The house remained but the entire back wall of the kitchen had disappeared, revealing Coalton in a gray haze. Specters, a great number of them, stood around staring at me, all of them begging for help that I couldn't give them.


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