The Demand

The Visitor looked somewhat pained as he walked. He seemed stiffer, more wooden as he moved. His face seemed different now also, less pronounced and a little skewed. The left-hand side of his face didn’t even seem to be properly attached, a fetid flap of skin waving in what appeared to be the wind.

Graham stared at The Visitor for far too long. By the time he managed to motivate himself to move The Visitor was reaching out toward the surface of the mirror. The glass on every mirror stretched angrily as The Visitor pressed his weight onto them. They bulged horrifically, thick bubbles of glass. Hundreds of little cracks announced themselves with a torrent of creaks as the mirrors struggled in their frames.

Graham turned and tried to force the door open with all his might. He drove his shoulder into the door time after time but it gave no indication that it would ever move, as far as Graham was concerned it had become a wall. He wanted to break the mirrors, shatter them into thousands of pieces, but was worried that in doing so he would release The Visitor. He stared at the nearest mirror as a small diamond of glass gently tinkled out of the frame, landing by his foot. The Visitor had his empty eye-socket pressed to the hole but had seemed to stop his advance.

Seconds passed as The Visitor’s black recesses studied Graham. Graham did not dare move, afraid that somehow The Visitor would reach him, stop him, kill him. How he wished he had his cane now.

“Bring me… the orbs…” The Visitor croaked dryly. His voice was still as dead as it had been before, yet there was the hint of weakness behind it now, a pathetic undercurrent to a sinister and unnerving tone.

“I can’t! I can’t get to them!” Graham replied.

The Visitor seemed to consider this for a moment before pushing harder into the glass. The mirror had stretched a metre and a half from its frame and was getting closer to Graham. He took a few steps back but found himself pressed hard against the black door. With nowhere else to retreat to, this was Graham’s last stand.

The mirror stopped just short of Graham, more of the glass cracking and falling to the floor. The hole was quite large now, nearly large enough for The Visitor’s head to poke through. At this distance Graham could see just how tight some of the skin truly was. He could see the skull beneath the flesh and the beginnings of tiny little rips. The skin around the eye sockets seemed to be the only part of The Visitor that maintained any colouring of life, a sickly red colour ringing where the eyes should be. Graham was sure that a disgusting pus would be welling in the red bruises.

The Visitor pushed his lipless mouth to the hole in the mirror and spoke once more. Though his voice remained even and calm Graham felt that The Visitor was angry and had lost patience with him.

“Where… are the orbs!” The Visitor screeched, his dry throat ill suited to higher volumes.

“The safe! They’re in my safe!” Graham admitted. He was too scared to lie and felt that it would do little good to do so anyway. The Visitor would find out the orbs’ location one way or another, and Graham had no doubt that many of those ways would involve pain.

The Visitor paused for a moment. Graham thought that he might be taking a few deep breathes before realising that The Visitor did not seem to be breathing.

“They are not yours to possess… yet.” The Visitor finally said, after almost a minute of silence, “You are ill-prepared to wield them in your current state.”

“Wield them? What are you talking about? I don’t understand.”

“Exactly…”

The Visitor shifted his gaze, what there was of it, to the black door behind Graham. There was a deep rumbling at the heart of the building, Graham thought, and the door began to crumble. As Graham lent on the door the fine powder that it had become began to cascade over his shoulders until, before he could catch himself, it gave way under his weight. Graham tumbled backwards through the sandy remains of the dark door and fell heavily onto his back, striking his head. Stars danced around his eyes for a few moments and somewhere in the back of his mind a little voice shouted out: Idiot.

With much effort Graham managed to refocus his eyes and sat up. For a moment he hoped that he had been dreaming, that he had fallen and hit his head and that all that had just transpired was some concussion-induced nightmare. Then he saw the hand coming towards him.

The Visitor’s arm was unnaturally long, reaching from the mirror in Graham’s former bathroom and into the adjoining room. It deftly reached out and seized him by the throat, hoisting him to his feet. Graham could feel it pulling yet did not feel and compulsion to move. It wasn’t pulling him, it was pulling something inside him. He struggled and kicked but could not shake The Visitor’s grip. It pulled and tore at him and he felt something inside start to slip loose. Graham tried to hold onto whatever it was but it was like grasping a wet rope. It slid from his grasp and came away in The Visitor’s hand.

Graham stumbled back somewhat and tried to spot what The Visitor had taken. The hand was grasping onto something, something big, yet he could not see it. It was invisible but, to Graham at least, very real. Something was missing from inside him, something important, but he could not quite place it. Before he had too long to ruminate on this, The Visitor’s voice floated menacingly from out of the other room.

“Hurry,” he said, “I can… survive much longer without my eyes than you… can without a… soul.”

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