After rushing inside, Lynn ventured into the living room with a heavier heart. However, something stood in the way. Its yellow eyes caught hers in a stare that made her pause, and she fell captive to the strange glint again.
The cat wagged its black tail; like a broken clock trying to move forward only to flick backwards, stuck. Ignoring the questions from her friends, Lynn furrowed her eyebrows and observed quietly. There was a terrifying amount of intelligence in the way the cat watched her — something that shouldn't be there.
It blinked, breaking the eye contact, before turning on its paws and trotting away. Before disappearing around the corner, however, it tilted its small head to glance at her.
In the dark shadows of the hallway, its eyes glowed like fireflies.
Without hesitation, Lynn followed it. Its black shape moved soundlessly along the wooden planks, and a grimace formed on her face as the first step protested beneath her foot. She walked past the drawings of the lake and up the stairs towards the third floor, stopping only when the cat did.
It turned to look at her, then. Her lips pursed; its opened to let out a demanding meow.
"Are you talking to the cat?"
She ignored Oliver's question and sighed in defeat. Her hand curled around the doorknob and twisted it, which seemed to attract the attention of the cat. The small animal slipped inside the room, leaving Lynn to her fate.
A hand stopped the door from opening completely, and she almost jumped in the air. His blue eyes met her startled expression, but Andrew made no attempt to move away and let them in.
"Are you done trying to kill me?" he asked in an aloof voice.
Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
"Look, I really don't know what came over me. So I apologize for that," she snapped, surprising even herself. "Now, you can stay here and mope about it. Or you can let us in and tell us the whole story about this monster so we can find a way out of this fucking nightmare."
It was like a flame coming alive inside of her; burning through her veins and growing bigger with every breath she took. Her emotions joined hands, moulding into the strongest weapon of all. For a moment, the hole in her heart was forgotten and the warrior in her awoke to take the reins. She felt her body shake with an energy she thought lost after receiving so many hits; yet there it was, sending sparks to her muscles and clearing her mind.
A hand fell upon her shoulder, and she met Oliver's eyes with determination. "I'm done standing still while this thing feeds on our suffering." Her voice was thick with emotion. "It killed our friends! And it won't stop, will it?"
Her question was directed at Andrew, who watched her with renewed interest. He didn't need to reply, however; for she already knew the answer.
"Is there a way out?" Oliver asked while lifting his eyes to give him a wary look.
Lynn waited for him to speak, observing the mysterious man with unwavering determination. The hinges creaked slightly as the door opened to reveal his towering form, but Andrew remained still. His eyes held an emotion she couldn't decipher, and she arched an eyebrow in expectation.
And then, his lips twitched and he shot a glance over his shoulder. "I see now," he mused to himself before stepping aside. "You need to know the rest, but there might be one — if you don't lose that fighting spirit."
With a slight smile, she walked in and was followed by her two friends.
"I actually need to lie down, if you don't mind," Nick slurred while approaching the bed with wobbly feet. "This looks comfy enough for my face."
YOU ARE READING
*ONC 2020 SHORT LIST* Something evil dwells in the black lake by the misty woods, something that will claim the souls of those who dare to dive into its realm. Lynn Morris is ready to enjoy some well-deserved holidays in the company of her closest...