Welcome to FROST HARROW, my new modern (1990s) gothic horror series! If you’d like to support this and my other work, go to www.CushingHorrors.com and become my patron! You may also enjoy the Scribe Award-Winning MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE – In print, for kindle, and for all e-book formats. And check out my retro-horror-comedy classic CANOE COPS VS. THE MUMMY as well as my other books. Now… On with the show!
TWENTY-ONE – IVY’S SECOND DREAM
Ivy woke to find herself walking between a dark shore and a vast woodland. The mist played tricks with the moonlight, making it seem as though the forest was filled with an army of phantasms. Shadows danced and played beneath the pale birches.
Ivy felt cold. She clutched her thin blue nightgown around her body.
Where am I? How will I get home? she wondered.
She heard a noise in the distance, though she couldn’t see where it came from.
Hoof beats? No—footsteps. From over the sea. Coming closer. Coming fast. Coming for her.
She turned and fled into the woods without any clear idea of where she was going. Bare tree limbs tugged at her clothes, ripping the nightgown from her body.
She didn’t dare look behind her, but she could feel the eyes of her pursuer burning into her back like two hot coals. She could hear his breathing, strong and regular—bestial. Closing in on her.
She began to feel warm. At first, she thought it was from the running; then she realized the warmth came from behind her—the hot breath of the thing stalking her.
Something brushed her shoulder: long fingernails—talons. Something licked her left ear, near the bandage on her neck. The touch felt hot like a summer day, rough like sandpaper, and wet like blood. A tongue. A monstrous tongue.
Unable to stand it any longer, Ivy spun and flung up her hands to ward off her pursuer.
“No! No!” she cried, bracing for the attack she knew would follow.
Nothing. She saw nothing, felt nothing. No sudden attack, no hot breath, no burning eyes and rending claws. There was no one behind her. Only the fog and the phantoms in the trees.
Ivy shivered, nude, covered in sweat. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and tried to calm herself. Her breath came in short, ragged gasps. She put her hand to her throat and noticed the wound on her neck had opened.
You know you want me, said a voice behind her.
Ivy spun at the sound. The form of a man loomed out of the mist—a man with a horse’s head and goat’s legs and feet. He was hung like a horse, too, and had long fingernails and red, flaming eyes. Somehow, despite it all, he was handsome.
You were promised to me. You called me. You came to me.
“I never did!” protested Ivy, unsure of whether to hide her naked body with her hands or use them for defense. “I don’t want you!”
You do, he said. You feel it inside. We can be one, you and I.
Ivy felt warmth well up in her belly. It suffused her body, her arms and legs, made her head feel giddy.
His eyes stripped the skin from her body, her flesh from her soul. She stood naked before him. Naked in all ways.
She dropped her hands, realizing she could do nothing.
Her submission aroused him. He stepped forward and reached for her. She turned up her face, and he licked her cheek.
The roughness of his tongue brought her to her senses.
Fighting the languidity inside her, she fled.
The tree limbs tore at her flesh and ripped the hair from her head. The branches lashed at her back as she ran. Blood streamed down her arms and legs.
Ivy focused on the orb of the moon, sitting on the horizon, and ran toward it as fast as she could.
It’s not the moon, it’s the lighthouse, she told herself. The light will guide me home.
She felt warm breath on her neck, and the beast’s voice whispered in her ear.
You know you want me, he said. Don’t run, submit. You’re just like all the others. We’re so close now. I can almost touch you. You and I are one beneath the skin. You know it. Give yourself to me!
She was still screaming when she woke up.
She found herself standing in the hall outside her room, naked and drenched in sweat.
No more than half-conscious, she darted back inside, slammed the door, and flicked on the lights.
Ivy looked at herself in the mirror. Not a scratch marred her nude body. The stitches in her neck still held.
But next to her bed, her pale blue nightgown lay on the floor in bloody tatters.
TO BE CONTINUED…