Brian and his mother go to Chase’s house to get the dimensions of the burial site, and encounter some sort of invisible building. It’s nearly ten feet long, though not as tall as Brian is.
“Mark that wall,” she said. “Let’s map this thing.”
“Can’t you just reveal it?”
“Bad idea. Our actions send ripples into the ethereal world. Whatever this is, it’s probably warded. It’s bad enough we have to touch it, but it would be far worse if we revealed it.”
Brian painted along the edge of the wall, following his mother around. When she got back to the line of the circle, she stopped.
“I don’t dare walk in there,” she said calmly. “You have to. We need to know the length of these walls and see if we can locate a front.”
“Okay. No big thing.”
She took his arm, gazing into his eyes. “Brian, at least a dozen powerful, angry witches were buried here. It’s a big thing. Be careful.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Walking slowly, Brian inched his way along the wall, stepping further into the circle than he liked.
A tingle started in his ankles, moving rapidly up his calves and into his thighs. The tingle became an angry heat by the time it reached his upper thighs. He found the corner of the building, almost to the edge of the shed, a good ten feet. Marking it, he groped blindly around to the front. The surface felt hot, then blistering cold. Hissing sharply, he brought his fingers to his lips.
“No!” his mother cautioned before he reached his mouth. “Put your sleeve over your hand. You have to keep going.”
Nodding, he did as she told him, wishing she’d mentioned it before he got burned. His fingers throbbed. His legs felt like they were covered in poison ivy. Itching and burning, he kept walking. The other corner was closer now. He could see his original orange lines. Somehow, the distance seemed to grow. His head swam, his knees grew weak. Wobbling, he put both hands against the wall. A pulse thudded beneath his questing fingers. Jumping back, he tripped on a root and fell to his knees.
“I’m okay.” I think. Standing again was the single most difficult thing he’d ever done.
The ground clung to him, tugging at his feet as he tried to walk the last few feet. He wanted to coax it back down, but was afraid to use his power. Whatever this thing was, it was malevolent and powerful. He took another hesitant step. His mother’s voice sounded tinny and distant.
“I’m here,” she said. “Come toward me. I’m right here.”
Brian saw her standing just outside the circle on the other side of the wall. He made a mark and took another ponderous step.
“Come on, son. You can do it.”
He took one more step and fell down, screaming. His body crawled with fingers of hot, searing torture. It felt like burning snakes writhed beneath his skin, biting at his spine and groin from the inside. Roaring with agony, he crawled the last few feet. His mother called to him, encouraging him with each pain lanced motion.
“Almost there,” Maribelle said calmly. “Come on, Brian. You can do this.”
His hand landed on cool grass instead of churned up dirt. His other hand followed. He pulled his legs behind him, unable to support his weight on his knees any longer. Clutching handfuls of the cool grass, he tugged himself forward. When his belt crossed the line, he could move his legs once more. Curling in a ball, he rolled the last foot, out of the ring and onto the chilly, damp ground. He lay there, unmoving, feeling the strength of the earth revitalize him.
Maribelle Casey watched her son in mute horror. There was nothing she could do to help him. She couldn’t cross the line, she knew that before they began. She hated using her son like that, but they had to know the size and shape of the hidden structure and he was the only one strong enough to survive it. She had her suspicions as to what it was, but until the others arrived, she didn’t dare investigate further. She’d had no idea that the grave would affect Brian so profoundly. Perhaps his heightened senses accounted for it? All she could do was talk to him as he made his way back to her. When he rolled free, onto the ground, she pulled him further away, checking his body for wounds. She didn’t find any. Taking a bottle of purified holy water from the car, she bathed his hands and face.
“Brian?” She patted his hands, brushing hair from his face. “Honey?”
“You lied,” he groaned.
“That it would hurt less than being gored.”
“I’m sorry. I thought it was true.”
“F**k,” he sighed.
For once, Maribelle let the curse slide. Her son deserved to say that and a lot more. He proceeded to do so. She didn’t say a word.
Brian was just starting to feel like himself when the others arrived. He helped his mother finish mapping the grave site. Jordan wanted to help, but he kept her away.
“No one walk on it,” he commanded. “No one. For any reason. Dad, we need some blessed salt with cumin. Lots of it. Follow the orange line. But only on the outside of the building.”
“You’re sure it’s a building?” Maribelle said. “How? I thought it was an altar or something.”
“It’s a mausoleum,” Brian said, wondering for a moment how he knew that.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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