Alternate Epilogue - Part 5

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"Hello, Mrs. Emory. Is Trey home?" I asked.

My boyfriend's mother looked suspiciously at Henry and Mischa, who stood behind me on the Emory's front stoop. The snowfall had increased over the course of the last hour, enough that flakes began to clump in my hair as I waited for Mrs. Emory to reply. She pulled the front door closed behind her as if she didn't want any of us to get a good look inside the house, although I could hear the television in the living room broadcasting a Christmas movie. "Trey's not feeling well. I don't think he's up for seeing any visitors."

"We brought him something," I said, holding the plastic bag from Hennessey's in front of me as if it contained a thermos of soup instead of a spray bottle of holy water.

Mrs. Emory reached for the bag. "That was very thoughtful of you. I'll make sure he gets it."

I clung tightly to the bag, refusing to let go. "I was kind of hoping to give it to him myself."

Softening, Mrs. Emory opened the door for me to enter. "Just you."

With a quick glance over my shoulder, I tried to convey to Mischa and Henry with my eyes that they should creep around the side of the house toward Trey's bedroom window so that I could let them in if I found myself in danger. But neither of them were familiar with the layout of the Emory's house, or with my own house, which was an architectural copy—as was just about every house on Martha Road. Mr. Emory barely acknowledged me as I stepped into the living room. He sat on the plaid couch with a mug in one hand and a glaze over his eyes as he watched television. The stray cat that Trey had rescued at the start of the school year watched me from its hiding spot behind the rocking chair with an odd alertness. "You know the way." Mrs. Emory nodded me in the direction of Trey's bedroom.

The sound of my own heartbeat in my ears was like someone beating a bass drum at an erratic rhythm. Shadows engulfed the Emory's hallway leading to Trey's room, and my paranoia about what awaited me on the other side of his closed door increased when I noticed that Mrs. Emory was looming behind me in the doorway to the living room, timidly watching. I wondered what other strange things Trey had done since arriving home to make her act so skittish. It was almost as if she were expecting his bedroom door to blow off the hinges when I got too close.

I slowed my pace, wondering if Trey was awake and listening to my approaching footsteps. My fingers trembled as I reached into the plastic bag. Now that I was one twist of a doorknob away from facing him, I figured it might be best to have the holy water in hand, ready for action, in case I needed to use it like a weapon. Then again, I wasn't entirely sure it would work like a weapon. I swallowed hard. I wrapped my right index finger around the trigger of the spray bottle and opened the door with my left hand.

Nothing leapt out at me, which momentarily made me feel like an idiot for having braced myself for impact. I stood in the doorway squeezing the doorknob for a long moment as I took in the details of Trey's room. The room was a mess, but that was its usual state. Trey lay in his bed under blankets with his back to me. A strange smell, stale and putrid, hung over the room like a cumulus cloud. An odd sheen reflected off the walls from the cool, snow-hued light spilling in through the window. Upon closer glance I realized that Latin phrases had been scrawled everywhere in pencil, from the floor all the way up as high as presumably Trey's arms could stretch—even higher around his bed, since he must have stood on the mattress to reach the ceiling. Light from the window bounced off of the silvery pencil lead.

As far as I knew, Trey didn't know any Latin.

"You shouldn't be here," Trey said in a low voice without turning to face me. His words chilled me to the bone. The voice was not his, I realized now.

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