The In-between – Part 14 of 31

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts and going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Cloudy Dimensions’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it.  It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes but I will keep going with this for as long as I can and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6  Part 7   Part 8

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 Part 12  Part 13

 

Despite her diminutive stature Plumduff punched well above her weight, and as she gave me a shove and shouted “Run boy, back to the courtyard” she launched herself at the witches.

I needed no second invitation, and whilst I would later regret my decision to flee, at that point in time with the sisters bearing down on us it seemed a most acceptable course of action to allow an elderly woman to do my fighting for me.

My history of violence was not one of note and barring childhood altercations I had never had to defend myself physically that I could recall.

The wooden floor thundered beneath my feet as I beat a hasty retreat towards the large doors at the far end of the hall.  Plumduff gave a jubilant cry as she dragged the first of the sisters to the floor with the second attempting to restrain her.  Straddling the chest of the first she looked back to where I paused at the door and shouted again.

“Run boy, run damn it” she shouted raining punches down on the witch.  As I pushed through the door I turned back one more time to see the taller of the sisters pick Plumduff up and throw her across the room.  She skidded to a halt in a  crumpled heap next to the fireplace, and the shorter witch got to her feet and began to stride purposefully towards me.  The other headed across to where Plumduff lay quite still.  Not waiting a moment longer I ran out into the night and back down the alley towards the main cobbled street that lead to the courtyard.

 

The night air was cold and the road uneven and I tripped as I ran for all I was worth.  A high pitched wail broke the stillness of the night and as I got back to my feet I quite foolishly allowed myself the briefest of glances back over my shoulder.

Turning the corner she was now closing in on me as she strode through the darkness eating up the distance between us.  Following close behind her were a number of the formless creatures we had encountered at Periscopes, at least three pairs of bright eyes burning in the dark of the night.  They scampered and bound past her as I turned again and ran.

I had expected a lack of exercise to be irrelevant given that I was dead, so it was with some surprise that I felt my heart pounding in my chest and my lungs on fire as I set my sights firmly ahead of me and ran.  The courtyard was still some way off at the far end of the cobbled road, and I focussed on it as everything else faded into the grey peripheral blur to either side.

The creatures cackled and hissed as they closed in on me and though I knew not to look behind me again I went against my instincts.  They were now close enough for me to make out their individual shapes and I could see wide gaping black mouths set in their pitch black forms.  The closest seemed to smile ominously as I looked back at them and without warning it leapt through the air, falling just short and tumbling along the cobble stones.

It was all incentive I needed and I turned back and ran as hard as I could through the night with them on my heels and the witch further back wailing at the top of her voice as if instructing them.

A second leapt at me and again fell short, reaching out as it fell and catching my shoulder with an outstretched limb causing a flood of cold to course through my body.  I shuddered and kept running, and as it fell it caused the others to swerve and I was able to move away from them if only briefly.

Past building after building I ran, my legs burning and my head swimming, the courtyard was now so close.  I knew I needed to put distance between them and myself to allow me to open the gate and get inside and with one final push I headed for the gate with the cackle and hiss still loud in my ears.

I slowed as I reached the heavy wooden gates and lifted the latch throwing everything I had at them and falling inside.  That briefest of delays was all the creatures needed and as I scrambled towards the door to the Plumduff’s office they were upon me.

Their icy touch coursing through me I span around to try and throw the first off but it clung to me, it’s hiss deafening in my ears.  A second grabbed my legs and with the weight of the others I stumbled and fell to the floor and in an instant my heart ceased to race and darkness filled my senses.  I could feel them not only on top of me but inside of me, their icy clutches penetrating every fibre of my body.  I struggled in vain and gasping, the breath from my mouth a painted cloud in the dark canvas of night, I was overwhelmed.  From where I lay I could see the witch approaching the open gate, a broad and menacing smile across her face.

To this point I had not considered what dying a second time might entail and was in fact uncertain of whether I could suffer the same fate twice.  I then that I, for reasons I would later understand,  remembered her face for the first time since I had arrived in the In-between.  I did not know her name but I knew with the utmost certainty that she had mattered to me once and the fear I had moments before felt turned to a deep sadness.

I closed my eyes, the weight of sadness as heavy still as the physical forms of the creatures than pinned me to the floor and as I did there was a quite deafening roar of a man’s voice.

“Hand’s off the boy” It barked and with a flash of light the creatures were hurled back across the courtyard as the witch walked through the gates.

“Not tonight Nelly” he continued and let out a raucous laugh as a second flash lit up the night.  He grabbed me by my collar as the witch wailed loudly, the creatures struggling back to their feet and hurtling back across the courtyard towards us.  It was too late though and as a third flash lit up the night, throwing the creatures back once more he hauled me through the door to Plumduff’s office and the door slammed closed.

I lay there expecting for a moment expecting them to burst through after us.

“Portal door Boy” the man said.  “Once it’s closed there’s no way through without the password.  Don’t worry yourself one bit.”  He seemed most confident on the matter.

Stretching out a hand he pulled me to my feet and holding it still shook it and introduced himself.

“Charles Crompton at your service Mr Armitage.”

I nodded and thanked him.

“No bother at all” he replied, “No bother at all my boy.”

I had seen him before.  He lead me over to the desk and pulled up a chair for me.

“Plumduff has some good stuff in here somewhere” he said rummaging through her desk drawer.  As he pulled out a bottle I knew where I had seen him.  I should have remembered the name really.  It was the man in the picture hanging over the fireplace right in front of me.