IN THIS EPISODE: …Opal is trapped, waiting for Victoria to return and kill her…
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CHAPTER 34 – Alone in the Darkness
Opal Cushing – 1951 Fisher St.
First Night of the Full Moon
At first, everything was darkness, and Opal Cushing had no idea where she was.
What had happened to her? She’d been going upstairs to find Topaz, to tell her about Paul, and call the boys to borrow a car and… and…?
Suddenly, everything had gone black.
She blinked… and found that her eyes were already open. Had she gone blind?!
She tried to stand, but couldn’t.
She cried out, but something soft clogged her mouth, and barely a sound came out.
Oh my God, she thought, panic rising. I’m tied up—tied up and gagged! And God only knows where I am!
Suddenly, it became hard to breathe; the air seemed very hot and thin.
Don’t panic, Opal told herself. It’s only fear clouding your judgement. You’ve got plenty of air.
And though her rational mind knew that was true, the rest of her remained certain that she was about to smother here, alone in the dark, wherever here might be.
She squeezed her eyes shut. Concentrated. Tried to fight down the panic.
What’s the last thing you remember…?
Going up toward their flat, calling for her sister…
But no, then she’d stopped and gone back down to talk to someone…
In an instant, it all came clear: someone grabbing her from behind… putting something soft over her mouth and nose… a sickly-sweet smell…
Victoria did this to me! She’s out of her mind!
“Help!” Opal shouted. “Help!”
But what came out was more of a muffled “Hmmph!”
Again, fear rose within Opal’s breast.
Why had Victoria done this? What did she intend to do with her?
Was she jealous? Was it because of Paul?
How long had she been out? Was Paul still waiting for her? Had the moon risen yet? Had he… changed?
Opal struggled with all her might, but her ankles were bound, and her hands tied behind her.
She felt soft things around her face, and near her kicking feet. Was someone else in here with her?
Her eyes had adjusted a bit now, and she saw a thin rectangle of light down near her shoes.
A closet! I’m tied in a clothes closet. That explained the soft objects all around, too. I must be in Victoria’s room.
But for how long?
“Help!” she cried, thought the gag smothered her words again. “Help! Help!”
She kicked and wiggled, trying to work free of her bonds—but Madame Duprix had trussed her up well.
Where had Victoria gone? Would she be back soon?
If she was willing to go this far—to kidnap Opal—what other crimes might she be planning?
Victoria didn’t know about Paul’s curse. What else what might the madwoman do to keep Paul to herself?
She might even kill me!
“Help! Help me!”
The more Opal screamed, the more she kicked and struggled, the more futile it all seemed.
And where was her sister? Had Victoria gotten her, too? Was Topaz already dead?
NO! She can’t be dead. I’d feel it, if she were.
“Help, Topaz! Help!”
She doubted anyone could hear her—certainly no one outside the Duprixes’ apartments. Though that left another option…
“Vincent! Topaz! Anyone… HELP!”
They had to find her… Someone had to find her, before Victoria came back.
Opal felt certain, now, that she wouldn’t survive the night if Madame Duprix returned before anyone rescued her.
There was no one, and nothing, that would prevent the older woman from carrying out some kind of twisted revenge on Opal.
Suddenly, the door flew open, and blinding light streamed into the closet.
The figure of a woman loomed over her.
Opal screamed: “NOOOOOOOOO!”
Strong hands grabbed her, pulling at her clothes.
“NOOOOOOOO! HELP!” The gag all but smothered her frantic cries. Fear set her brain on fire. She could hardly think at all.
She kept struggling. She wouldn’t let Victoria kill her—not without a fight.
“Opal, stop! It’s me!”
The projected thought cut through her mind like a knife.
“Topaz!” Opal wailed in relief, though all that came through the gag was a muffled sob.
Topaz quickly undid the gag and untied her sister. “You’re all right, now,” she said calmingly. “You’re all right.” She extended her hand, to help Opal up.
But as their fingers touched, something like lightning shot through the twins.
For a moment, the whole world was darkness, a rush of wind, and a roar like waves crashing against the beach, or a blazing bonfire.
Then images and sounds swirled up out of the cacophonous blackness:
Paul struggling and screaming…
Vincent laughing maniacally…
A wicked blade gleaming as it descended…
Victoria, naked, covered in blood…
The howl of a wolf…
Fire, blazing bright all around…
And then, the darkness of death.
Both sisters staggered and fell to their knees.
Topaz gasped. “Something terrible is happening.”
“Paul’s in trouble!” Opal added. She felt it with every fiber of her being.
Topaz clutched at her temples, as if she might drive away the terrifying visions. “This house… We’re all in danger… horrible danger!”
Opal put a hand on her sister’s arm. “Topaz,” she said, “Paul’s a werewolf.”
“I know it sounds crazy, but I’m sure it’s true.”
The twins looked into each other’s blue-green eyes.
“I believe you,” Topaz said. “But tonight’s the first night of the full moon!”
“I know! How long was I locked in that closet? How soon will the moon rise?”
“I don’t know,” Topaz admitted, looking a little panicked herself now. “I was downstairs, after our… our fight. But I felt something… and I came up looking for you. When you weren’t in our flat, I followed a hunch and found you here. It’s almost dark, now, but I don’t know what time it is. I wasn’t paying attention.”
“We have to find Paul,” Opal said, “get him locked up before the moon rises.”
“But where? How? That could be any minute?!”
“We can put him in the freezer, behind the Ice Man display. He has some chains in his suitcase. Those combined with the freezer will hold him… I hope!”
“Okay. But where is he?”
Opal took a deep breath. The fear of confinement had left her now, replaced by a sense of purpose. They had to help their friend. “I don’t know where he is,” she confessed. “We’ll have to look. I’ll check his room and then the waxworks. You hurry to the front landing, he was supposed to meet me there, and then check the chamber.”
Topaz nodded. “All right. And try to avoid the Duprixes if you can. Something’s going on…”
“You’re telling me!” Opal said. “She knocked me out and tied me up!”
“No, I mean there’s something very wrong with them. I can feel it. It’s making my skin crawl. I wish I could read where they are, but the psychic energy has gone crazy in the whole house. If we didn’t have to find Paul, I’d say we should get the hell out of here.”
“We will,” Opal assured her. “We’ll get out as soon as we find Paul.”
“And find a way to lock him up.”
“Yes. And get him safely locked up.” Opal took a deep breath and steadied her jangling nerves. “Let’s go!”
TO BE CONTINUED…!
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