The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Forty-Six part three
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday January 26, 1995
Was it possible? Pam tried to count the weeks but she couldn’t think clearly. She knew she was late but her biology had never been that reliable, after a few early scares she’d just learned to expect to be a week late now and again. A baby?
This should have been happy news, a pleasant surprise but now it was the cruelest of revelations. A baby, a last bit of Ronnie but it was going to be all for nothing.
He’s going to take that away too isn’t he? Pam glanced at the boy and knew there wasn’t going to be a ‘Red Offering’ if she could help it.
‘The Hanged Man’ was sitting in the corner muttering to himself, his gaze vacant. Pam had tried to whisper to him but if he heard her he showed no sign. Gawain Wight was standing over by one of the open walls. He had been untied but the boy and Chimera stood in front of him leaving him with nothing but lose hanging wires and open air at his back. They were talking, about what she couldn’t hear but Pam knew she wasn’t going to be able to rely on Gawain.
No surprises there.
The wires around her wrists and ankles shifted as she strained against them. Pam imagined the wires giving away, snapping like threads. Could she do it? Did she have the time? The strength?
Gawain made his way back to her, his expression dark. “You have made a prudent decision.” The boy followed, “You know when your father denied me I cut his throat.”
“It was you?” Gawain said, “I always thought...”
Chimera moved closer to Pam, she glared defiantly at it.
“Lift her up.” The boy said, “Bring her to the altar.”
“What?” Pam recoiled from them, “No!”
Gawain grabbed her by the shoulders. Pam tried to bite him, her teeth snapping at the air. “Take it easy.” Gawain said, “This won’t help anything.”
“Don’t touch me! Don’t you touch me!”
The boy watched Gawain struggle with her, dragging her to the altar as she kicked and fought. Pam didn’t know who she hated more at this moment.
Magwier looked up suddenly from his ruminations, “This won’t work you know. It never does.”
“Silence.” The boy dismissed him with a wave of the hand. He observed Gawain lifting the girl to the altar. She swung her feet up and kicked him in the face, sending him sprawling. “Even now she considers her brother culpable for this. Can you imagine such animosity? When all he ever wanted was her love and friendship. She turned on me so easily...”
Pam tried to push herself to her feet and hop away but Gawain grabbed her by the hair and spun her onto her back.
Magwier sat up a little straighter, “What was that?”
The boy looked suddenly distracted, “You know what I meant.”
“Sure that someone you ate isn’t agreeing with you?”
“It was nothing. It was less than than nothing. Sometimes a consumed spirit- particularly a strong willed one- leaves remnants behind.” The boy glanced back to Magwier, “You of all people should know that. None of your games.”
“Games you say?” Jason Magwier smiled, “What was the name of Warren Talbot’s most recent Dungeons and Dragons character?”
“Martin.” The boy answered then paused, “How could you know such a thing? How could I?”
“Perhaps Tristam was stronger than you imagined?” Magwier said.
The boy approached him, his expression murderous, “What are you saying? What are you hiding?”
“Let the girl go and I’ll help you.” Magwier raised himself up, “There are other holes in the world, other Red Offerings. The Monarchs are patient. Let the girl go or you might lose everything. Forty years wasted.”
For a few moments the boy considered this and then turned away from Magwier, “No. This is some deceit, a last desperate ploy.”
“Victor this is your final chance…”
“Chimera! Inspect the stairway.” The boy approached the altar. Pam had been untied and manacled spread-eagle to the altar. She was cursing and spitting, the altar shook with her fury. “I believe some of the Hanged Man’s collaborators are making their way towards us.”