Love Thyself
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“What?” Becca didn’t ever try to hide her irritation at the interruption.

“Hey,” Ty said softly as he stuck his head through the door. “Just checking on you. Need anything? How’s it going?” She arched like a cat to clear her body of kinks.

“I’m ok. And it’s not going. It’s just… there.” She flopped back into the oversized office chair and shoved the laptop away in frustration.

“Look you said it would take time. How long did it take that other writer? A year?”

“Yeah… something like that. But I should have gotten something by now. She said she got something the second day here. We’ve been here what? A week now?”

“About that yeah. But you also don’t have to rely on some… thing.”

“Are you mocking this again?” she snapped as her eyes got cold.

“No… no way. It’s just that your shit is good… real good.” Ty did some fast backtracking. When Becca had first raised the idea of renting the crumbling old mansion, he had roared in laughter. He spent a month on the couch and a week nursing a serious bruise when he didn’t dodge the shoe in time.

“That other writer got a visit and you will too. You’re way better than she is. Your vamps are bitchin’ cool. There’s action… the more gore the better. That’s your motto babe.” He was desperately trying to silence his pleading, placating tone.

“Yeah well why is she on the best-seller list and I’m still hacking shit out on a blog to five people if that? Huh?” Ty’s stomach knotted at her dark shift in mood.

“I have to work. Go to bed without me.” He backed out of the doorway and a hush settled across the room. Becca looked around. The place was a dump. Books tumbled from the shelves and the smell of time hung in the air. She was positive she heard rats in the walls once. The desk was scarred and one drawer was so badly warped it had cracked.

Didn’t anyone ever hear of IKEA around here? Or a cleaning team? Christ.

She returned to the laptop and pounded the keys in frustration for almost an hour.  She could feel a headache coming on from the pressure in her ears.

Goddamn English weather. Maybe Ty’s right… this is stupid.

A low rumble in the distance was her only reply. The screen seemed to mock her and in the half second it took to hit delete, she had triumphed over the stinking mess. The room shuddered as the storm exploded.

“Fuck. Not now.” The lights flickered and suddenly the glow of the laptop was the only sign of life. She leaned back as the lightening illuminated the night skies. Her computer told her it was just after midnight. Her breath caught in her throat as a dark mass blotted out the window. Another flash. It was gone. Another flash. It was back.

It’s come. Oh fuck… it’s come. Beads of sweat broke out across her forehead.

God let my battery hold. The walls pulsed with energy and the entire room seemed alive. Her fingers flew across the keys.

“Shit… no… not now…” she sobbed as the low battery warning popped up. As she raced to save her work, her knee hit the underside of the desk. The laptop shimmered and died as she grabbed the matches. Candles grey with age sputtered to life.

Paper. I have to keep going. This is it. My best-seller. Better than hers that’s for sure.

Her hands shook as she scratched across the yellowing parchment. Her heart was pounding. The thunder rolled and the dark mass edged toward her.

“I knew you would come… I knew it.” She cackled and continued to scrawl. “This is it. I knew you would come.” Wax puddled silently on the floor as the storm shook the house to its foundation.

“I have come.” Her hand stopped midair.

“I knew you would.”

“Do you know me?” came a flat, toneless voice from the center of the swirling fog.

“You’re the one who…”

“Do you know me?” Becca shrank back in fear and confusion.

“I don’t understand. You helped…”

“I help no one.” The voice reverberated against the towering bookshelves. Were they always at that odd angle?

“But you did…” she faltered. “This… this is my masterpiece,” and she pushed the stack of papers across the desk. “You…” The words choked in her throat. A sickening odor of malevolence gripped her.

“Arrogant fool.” The blackness writhed. “There is no help. Only understanding.” The deep scars filled with wax and scorched the edges of the manuscript.

“You are not among the chosen,” the voice whispered as it receded into the storm. “Only your own arrogance would presume as such.” Her heart clenched. “You are not a worthy successor to my name.”

 

Ty padded down the steps carefully avoiding the broken chunk of wood jutting out halfway down. The sun filtered through the constant supply of dust in the decrepit heap they now called home.

“Becca? You didn’t come to bed last…” Neighbors said they could hear his shrieks a block away as he stared at the withered husk he once called his wife.