Chapter 7 (Alternate Ending)

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I'm ecstatic to present to you an alternate ending of When the Black-Eyed Children Knock. FOX Television, via the terrific team at Wattpad Studios, sponsored this new ending as part of a promotion for The Exorcist TV show, which debuts Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 on FOX. I'm a big fan of the creepy-as-hell Exorcist movies and the original novel, so I'll definitely be checking the show out. I hope you do, too.

In the meantime, enjoy this alternate ending. It picks up right at the end of Chapter 6.

-Ben

***


The inside of the house is as I left it with one exception. Nothing feels original. From the floors to the ceiling, everything feels like a recreation. It's the small differences that register in the subconscious. The angles of the counters. The splinters in the doorway. The position of the pots in the sink. The brand names of the cereal boxes on top of the fridge. The distinct smell of the old lumber skeleton in the walls.

The brief distraction of something amiss is interrupted by the glow emitting from the open bedroom door. I notice the baby's gone quiet.

"Nicole?" I say.

Silence.

I wrap my hands tighter around the lug wrench but end up making a fist instead. The lug wrench is gone.

"Nicole?" I say again.

Still no response.

I step into the living room, keeping an eye on the glass oval of the front door. The silent house doesn't so much as creak under my footsteps. It's like time paused for this moment.

My feet step inside the perimeter of the glow. My skin tingles where the light touches it. I crane my neck to peer inside the bedroom, expecting to see the black-eyed girl holding that pair of scissors. Instead I see something even more surprising.

Nicole rests beneath the blankets on the bed, but there's something off about the way she stares back at me. It's the position of her head. I can't quite put my finger on it. Is her neck broken?

I take another step forward. Nicole grins, beckoning me to come closer. She never smiles like that. So crooked yet so fragile, as if her teeth could explode at any moment. Then again, maybe the sight of a grin on her face is alien to me. We don't smile much anymore. Not at each other.

No, her neck isn't broken. It's just...it's just...

I inch my way into the bedroom, pulled forward by Nicole's grin. My eyes dart around the room as I enter. The black-eyed girl is gone, but the bassinet remains. It's overturned in one of the corners of the room. No sign of the baby. Drops of blood like tiny, maroon footsteps pitter-patter up to the bed and under the sheets to Nicole.

...oh, my God.

I see now the glow comes not from the moon outside, but from Nicole. Inside of Nicole. Through Nicole. The light burns through the blankets like none I've seen before. It finds a way around the fibers, projecting itself with intention. With intelligence. With a pale hue so devoid of color that to see it is to feel its absence of life. Cold. So cold. I rub the goosebumps on my arms back into my skin.

I walk to the side of the bed, noticing the way the light wraps itself around everything in the room. It casts no shadows. The only area beyond its reach is Nicole's face. Specifically, her eyes. They're completely black.

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