They say that the deeper you sleep, the harder it was to wake up from it. That a deep sleep is like a puddle of quicksand. The more you struggled, the more you've made it harder to escape.

I didn't know how long it took for me to finally fall asleep.

It took a while getting accustomed to seeing Ash's blood splatters on my walls and floor, it didn't help that I had to sleep at an angle to avoid sleeping in the parts of the bed sheet that got stained in the process.

But once sleep did arrive, it was already too late to stop before I realized just how deep the quicksand really was. When I dreamed, I was aware that I was dreaming. That never really happened before.

And I dreamed of many, many things.

It started out mundane. Normal nonsensical dreams, then it just spiraled out of control from there.

The most peculiar dream, really. No clue what brought it on. If I had to guess, Ash had something to do with it.

Been indulging in her fantasy stories so much, it's starting to seep into my unconscious.

In the dream, my parents were standing on either side from each other in a dry, desolate plain. I always knew them for having great synergy with each other, always getting along well like they were made for each other.

That dream was the polar opposite of it.

I dreamed that they were fighting - seriously fighting. And not that standard couple's arguments that people normally have. They were straight up going for each other's throats in the most bizarre way possible.

Mom, the gentle, kind soul that I knew she was, spewed fire from her lips. Dad charged forth towards her raging flame, a shield at his front, a sword in the other hand.

Bolts of lighting began to shower the vicinity, each strike within inches of Dad's feet. Death was barely a hair's breadth away, yet the smile on his face conveyed that he did not fear it.

"You're gonna have to do better than that, Terestra!" He shouted.

That wasn't my mother's name, but she responded to his call, returning his smile with a sinister smirk of her own.

"I shall do just that, then… Leonardo," she said.

My dad wasn't called Leonardo. Just where are these names coming from?

They threw everything at each other. Shaping the barren landscape into a disaster zone. Each attack just kept on escalating and escalating until the very earth started shaking with their every step.

My mother was suspended in the air now, a dark purple aura radiating off her body, a derisive giggling sounding aloud from where she hovered, staring down at my dad on the ground with the most wicked of expressions.

"Twenty years… and this is what it all amounted up to?" She said, spreading her arms out wide. "Your home, your world, your people, reduced to mere heaps of sand crumbling away at your feet. Is this truly what your prophecy spoke of?"

Dad's smile didn't falter as he stared at the bright, ominous glow in the sky.

"Since when have prophecies ever made anything clear for anyone, huh? All it said was that a great evil would arise," Dad said, pointing his sword at her floating figure. "And you're that evil."

"Oh? So what else did this wise old prophecy speak of, if you may be so kind?"

Dad gripped his sword tight. "That alongside that evil, a hero would stand against her. I'm that hero."

"Not a very good hero, then, considering…" Mom said with an amused smile. "What's the use of a hero if nothing is left?"

"All is not yet lost."

"Perhaps," said Mom. "Provided you are capable of vanquishing me."

"I am," Dad's blade started to glow. "I will."

"You've said that for the last twenty years. Why would anything change now?"

"Because now I have nothing to lose."

The earth rumbled once more, the harsh wind swirled the sky, and static started crackling at my Mom's fingertips.

"Persistence," she muttered, the strands of her raven-black hair swaying with a life of their own. "I've always admired that quality in you, if nothing else…"

Leonardo braced his shield, steadied himself into a stance and smiled at her. "Don't go falling in love with me now."

Terestra smiled back. "No promises."

I saw them charge at each other, I saw a blinding glow of light where they inevitably clashed in the middle. I saw the earth crumble, the sky collapse, but I didn't get to see how it ended.

For at that very moment, I woke up.


You know how sometimes when you wake up, you just suddenly shoot up straight full of energy?

In my case, I sat upright so fast, I didn't even realize just how much my head was aching. My body felt sluggish, like every muscle, in every limb, was covered in a thick coating of cement… every slight move was torture. Also I was hot… my room felt like I stepped into a sauna built into the side of a volcano.

A fever? But I didn't feel like coughing, wasn't sweating either… So what was happening then?

My room was plunged in darkness. It was still the middle of the night. 4 am, maybe 5… something woke me up, what was it?

My eyes quickly adjusted to the dark and began scanning the foreboding quiet that was my room. From right to left, all was as it should be. My closet was closed, my desk remained in its constant state of clutter with my laptop on standby mode, and my bedroom door was firmly shut tight.

I froze.

My bedroom door wasn't supposed to be shut. Ash would never close my door.

Something was definitely wrong here.

Dread flooded into my system as I tossed myself out of bed and stumbled my way towards the door in the pitch darkness. My worries escalated when I found out the handle wouldn't budge, even when I pulled at it with all my might.


I started banging on the door with my fist.

"Ash, what's happening? Are you out there?"

More panicked fiddling with the handle but it still wouldn't open. I was stuck.


My voice rang out so loud that I blasted my own ears, yet I still didn't receive a response from anyone. It was all just quiet. Too quiet.

I huddled myself closer to the door and placed one ear against it.

That confirmed it. I couldn't hear a single goddamn thing outside. Not just the normal things either, there was no ambiance. Crickets chirping, wind blowing - outside through my bedroom window, it was raining - I couldn't hear the rain.

It was the purest form of silence there was, and that could only mean one thing.


The beating of my heart was threatening to burst out of my chest. I didn't know what else to do besides continue to try and pry the door open. My throat was dry and I felt it slowly constrict.

The Matriarch made me her eight, didn't she?

But why? How? Ash has taken every precaution, her blood was everywhere in my room! How did she smell mine through all that?!

"Why did I get chosen?" I hissed, teeth grinding against each other, as I mustered the strength for one last pull.

Deep breaths, squeezing the handle tight, I clenched my jaw - and pulled.

And it flew open.

I was flung backward by my own strength and as a result I was laid flat on my ass, the door handle still in my hands. Apparently I managed to detach it from the door.

There was no time to waste.

Immediately I got up and traversed the doorway. I didn't even make it five steps out my bedroom door before something else stopped me in my tracks.

Something sharp pierced my foot. I looked down and instantly took a step back, gasping.

The floor was littered with glass shards and broken pieces of furniture. Everything, from the living room, to the kitchen, all had been torn, broken, crushed, ripped and everything else in between.

But that wasn't what shocked me the most.

"Ash…" I muttered.

She stood in the middle of it all, the piercing green glow of her eyes staring back at mine, with the most expressionless of faces. Small bits of glass clung to her fingers, her hands carried her sword, and in front of her was a coffee table, sliced cleanly in half down the middle.

"Did you…" I trailed off. That wasn't the question I needed to ask. I started again. "What happened to you?"

No answer again. Instead Ash, unblinking, sword in hand, shambled out of the living room, her direction set towards the front doorway.

I called out to her again but it was as if she couldn't hear me. She was getting closer to the door, I had to do something.

I began to move, I followed her, reaching out, nearly grabbing her shoulder.

"Ash, can you please - !"

There was a blur of movement, movement that my eyes couldn't follow, and the next thing I knew, there was a crushing sensation wrapped around my throat. I tried to take a breath and I gagged.

Ash, one-handed, suspended me in the air by my throat. From the vacant green of her eyes, through her disregard of my pleas, and the small puncture wounds laying bare at the base of her neck, was when I finally understood.

I wasn't the eighth victim.

"Ash…" I mustered through fading breath, saliva dribbling down my chin. "Stop it… please."

The pressure intensified further. My vision began to fade.


I felt myself drop to the floor, and at once I started wheezing and coughing violently, able to take deep heavy breaths once more. The pain in my neck was unbearable. But that would have to wait.

Ash stared down at me for a moment, I saw her lips move… but she didn't say another word.

She turned away from me.

"Ash, don't…" My voice was hoarse, my vocal chords stung. I didn't care. "Don't do this."

Ash opened the front door.

"Come back."

The front door closed shut and Ash was gone from sight.

"Goddamn it!"

I felt my fist slammed against the floorboards but I didn't feel any pain, I didn't have time to feel pain. I scrambled to my feet and sprinted out after her outside.

But Ash wasn't there.

I looked around, searched the corridors of the apartment, the sealed-off doorway of Amanda's, still I couldn't find anything.

Ash had disappeared into thin air.

The Matriarch had claimed her eighth victim tonight.

Ten minutes of searching and nothing cropped up. There was nothing I could do. I entered my bedroom once again, completely at a loss for words.

Why did this happen? Why her? Why the hell is this happening?!

"It's a dream… it's a bad dream…" I heard myself say. "I'm going to wake up now, anytime… come on… please!"

I didn't wake up. This was real.

What do I do, then?! What can I do?! I can't search for her myself, I wouldn't know where to start! I wouldn't be able to do anything either way - I'm powerless!

Ash lifted me off my feet with no effort, could have easily snapped my neck as well if she wanted to. If I can't handle her, how was I supposed to deal with the Matriarch myself?!

Help. I needed help. But who?

I fell onto the bed and that was when I found my answer. In the corner of my eye, I spotted it. The small paper card atop my bedside table.

In an instant, I reached out for it and held it out in front of my eyes.

[[Irene Madison]]

At this point, in these circumstances, at this time - I'll take any help that I can get.

Tap the screen to use advanced tools Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between chapters.

You'll Also Like