The wind had picked up and battered my body from side to side so that I fell against the brick wall to one side. The wind blew in from the other side and seemed to flood across the top of the wall as though a tidal wave had crashed down upon Deadwood Psychiatric Hospital. The perimeter walls of the hospital that were battered by a maelstrom of noise as the waves crashed down upon the crumbling brick.
My hair that was whipping this way and that against my face and entwined around my neck so that it felt as though a malevolent spirit had coiled a noose around my neck and was pulling tight. The sound of Ariana’s racing feet behind me that were completely blown away by the winds that crashed down upon us. And for a moment I was sure that I had lost Ariana to the winds and that she had been washed away towards the darkness that closed in. I turned behind me and noticed Ariana labouring against the hurricane winds so that her back was bent, and her head was face down.
“This way!” I called aloud; my voice that was barely heard above the screaming winds that blew in. “It’s this way!” I called as I turned and shuffled towards where Ariana had been lagging me. Until finally, my body came to rest against hers and her arm that reached out towards me. Her fingers that gripped down upon my shoulder like claws
“It’s too windy!” She cried, and even though her lips were almost touching against the edges of my ears, I could barely hear a single word that she spoke. And so, I turned to her and met her gaze for a moment and could spy the terrible fear that flashed against her eyes as she called out. “We need to head back! To the hospital!” She called, her face all screwed up and sad looking and I reckoned she’d be crying soon, and I couldn’t be doing with that.
Briefly, I lifted my gaze above her shoulder and peered on towards the darkness of the path behind. I reckoned we were halfway between the dormitory and the chapel and that soon we would land upon the spot in the hedges where Bieber and myself had pushed through. The endless lawn that would be revealed on the other side. The sweeping driveway that would lead us away towards the great iron gates and escape. Escape from this hospital of death.
Ariana’s head that remained bowed against the wind that screamed its insults against our ears and buffeted our bodies from side to side. Her eyes that were lifted to mine and the fear that was etched against them
“I’m scared!” She cried desperately. “I’m scared Mandy!”
“It’s not far!” I cried; my voice swallowed by the screaming wind. “There’s a gap in the hedges ahead that will get us out,” I said, but I reckoned that Ariana wasn’t listening cause her eyes were really big now and filling with tears. The girl shook her head from left to right and her hand gripped down a little harder against my shoulders.
“It’s not safe out here. We need to get back to the hospital.” She cried.
And I was with her there. This night was turning out to be one huge mess up. What with the spectral girl in my cell and the demon creature in his and the key and then Ariana’s face all burned off and Zayne hanging by his tongue and Eminem being stabbed through the belly. But I couldn’t think about all that stuff now. Cause I needed to get out of this nut-house and quick.
Burn the bitch! Let her die!
The goblin called out in my mind. His voice that had returned to taunt me. The wretched sound that rattled against my head.
“No!” I screamed aloud, “I won’t!” I cried and shook my head and the goblin words away.
Ariana’s sweet face that was studying mine and her features that were all crumpled up and reminded me of a dried sultana. Her scrunched up eyes and brown skin and wizened mouth. And that made me giggle at least. And so, I was forced to lift my hand to my mouth to hold back the laughter for now. And the wind that whipped against my hair and screamed against my ears and the whole of my skin that was itching as though I had been thrashed with nettles. The viper that stirred within my gut and coiled against my intestines. The buzzing of the hornet’s wings against my ears.
And oh, to be alive. Oh, to be alive at a time like this.
Ariana’s conker eyes and screwed up sultana face as she studied me.
And I was close to slapping her there and then. And I reckoned I should just leave her here and look after myself. And to hell with her and her screwed up sultana face.
But that’s when we both heard the terrible howling cry behind.
“What’s that!” Ariana cried out, lowering her face from me and turning her head and peering behind to focus on the stretch of path we had left behind.
“What’s what?” I asked, which was a real dumb question I knew, but I had just been trying to figure out whether the terrible howling cry had been inside my head or out? So, I reckoned I could be forgiven a little bit of confusion. And something about the way that Ariana spun around and fixed me with an accusing glare got right on my nerves.
“Are you nuts!” She cried, all venom and anger and a wild look to her eyes that I hadn’t seen before. “That howling sound just then!” She said. “That screaming howl!”
And no, I wasn’t nuts thank you very much. I was very far from nuts I reckoned. In fact, I was starting to wonder whether I might be the only sane person in this loon-house.
The terrible haunted cry that was heard again. The sound travelling out towards us from the darkness of the path behind. The sound of it that lifted every hair on end upon my body.
“Oh, that noise.” I said, and I reckoned I had a jolly good idea what terrible beast might have made that noise. And a terrible sense of Deja Vue that washed over me. “Beats me.” I said, shouting to be heard against the howling wind. “A deer perhaps?”
Ariana shook her head and scowled. And there it was again. A spiteful look of petulance that briefly flashed across her face. And I was sure that she was close to lifting her hand against me and striking me about the cheek. But instead the tears began to explode from each eyeball as she collapsed towards me so that I felt the warmth of her body against mine. And the two of us rocking there for a moment upon that creepy old path. The smell of her hair against my nose and the strangest sensation that we had hugged like this before. Which was nonsense of course because I was pretty sure I had never been this close to her in the whole time I had been banged up in Deadwood.
The haunted howling scream behind us and the two of us jumping up then as we fixed our eyes upon the darkness behind. And we hesitated there upon the path. All shaking and scared-like and hugging each other like two babies. And that’s when we saw the creature’s eyes. Two great orbs of sapphire red that that seemed to combust in to flames and push the darkness back. The face that was revealed against the darkness of the pathway we had followed here. The head that was nobbled with lumps and bumps and as large as a boulder. The mouth that uncurled somehow away from the jaw to reveal a thousand-pointed teeth. The shoulders that were rippling with muscles. A great barrel chest that was revealed below. A huge tail that whipped from side to side behind it. The beast coiled up and readied itself to spring forwards from the darkness.
The sound of a whimpering cry to the side of me and I turned and noticed how Ariana’s bottom lip had peeled over and the tears that were running like broiling rivers from each eye and across her cheeks.
“Really?” I said, placing my hands upon my hips briefly and kind of cocking my head and tutt tutting. “Now’s not the time for that kind of nonsense.” I said, as I grabbed hold of her hand and wrapped my firm grip around her wrist.
The beast leaped forwards in an instant and charged towards us from the darkness. Its tail whipping from left to right. The crunching cry as the paving stones were crushed beneath its claws as it raced towards us.
“Quick!” I cried, leaping out and along the pathway once more and pulling Ariana with me.
“This way!” I cried, the two of us sprinting as fast as our tired legs could carry us. My eyes that were fixed upon the hedgerow for the little gap where we could crawl through.
And a sound like thunder from behind as the beast raced along the path towards us and closed in upon our heels.