#AtoZChallenge Visitors from Beyond – Escaping the Eddimu

White ghost appears in the forest's mistAccording to Wikipedia, the eddimu were a type of utukku in Sumerian religion. They were envisioned as the ghosts of those who were not buried properly and were considered vengeful toward the living.

White shapes gathered under the moonlight. They floated effortlessly between the trees, reflecting the light as they moved. Arms outstretched, they hovered closer. They had no eyes but yet they seemed to see.

Maggie drew back from the window and yanked the heavy drapes closed. As usual, the old, drafty house was cold. No matter how much she turned up the heat or how many logs she added to the fireplace, she knew she would never feel warm here. It had been that way since Ethan died, only lately, it had been getting worse.

The ringing of the phone caught her off guard and made her stumble into an end table. With a stifled moan, she grabbed the receiver and brought it up to her mouth, breathless, she managed to hold back the string of curse words she’d wished to say.

“You’re never going to believe what he did this time.”

“What’s going on?” Maggie said, sinking into a rocking chair and eyeing the closed drapes warily. She listened to her friend, Kate, ramble about something completely unimportant while she contemplated how long those things would be out there tonight.

“Did you hear a word I said?” Kate asked, bringing Maggie out of her head and back to the conversation.

“Oh, of course I did.”

Kate made a sound that Maggie knew most likely meant she didn’t believe her but regardless, she continued to drone on. The latest boyfriend took up a lot of Kate’s time and energy and like or not, Maggie was going to get dragged into the saga.

“I’m sure he’ll come around,” Maggie said trying to offer support even though truly, she wasn’t sure of anything, least of all whether Kate’s recent romantic interest would finally see her friend for the brilliant person she clearly thought she was.

“Forget him,” Kate said suddenly, “What we need is a girl’s night out.”

Maggie sat straighter in her chair, “No! – I mean – it’s just that I’ve not been feeling very well lately and I’ve been so busy at work that -”

“Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, enough with the excuses already. Every time I suggest we get you out of that big, dreary house you have a dozen of them. I’m sorry but it’s time.”

“I’m not ready.”

“You’ll never be ready.”

“Some people don’t move on as quickly as you do, Kate.”

“That isn’t fair and you know it.”

“I’m sorry,” Maggie said resting her head back and letting the chair lull her gently back and forth, “You’re right.”

“I miss him, too.”

“Yeah, I know you do. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“But Maggie, you can’t sit around waiting for some magic moment when life finally feels normal again because I hate to break it to you but it’s never going to feel normal. You have to keep moving forward anyway. Ethan would have hated for you to sit around moping and feeling sorry for yourself all the time.”

“I don’t feel sorry for myself. Work really has been very busy. And things have been – weird lately.”

“Weird? How?”

Maggie sighed and wished she hadn’t said anything. Now that the hint of it was out there, it would be unlikely for Kate to simply drop it without more of an explanation and Maggie had never been a very good liar.

“I don’t want to talk about it on the phone.”

“Good, then you have absolutely no excuse why you can’t join me for a girl’s night out tomorrow. I’ll meet you for drinks after work at the usual spot.”

“I haven’t been back there since -”

“Don’t worry, it hasn’t changed,” Kate said cutting her off, “Six thirty sound good?”

“I can’t.”

Kate gave her an exaggerated sigh over the phone and Maggie cringed at the thoughts that must be running through her friend’s head.

“Give me one good reason.”

Maggie took a deep breath and decided there was no reason not to just come out with the blunt truth. Kate needed to know.

“Because Ethan is back.”

There was silence on the other end of the receiver and Maggie started to think she’d lost the call. She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees listening intently to confirm the faint sound of Kate’s breathing on the other end.

“Our Ethan?”

“Yes.”

“That isn’t funny.”

“It isn’t a joke.”

“Maggie, he isn’t coming back,” Kate said softly, patronizing, almost as though she were talking to a child.

Maggie gritted her teeth and tried to calm the racing of her heart. Of all the people who might believe such a crazy idea, it should have been Kate. Maggie wanted to scream at her for playing ignorant. She glanced toward the window again and for a split second, she was certain that the heavy material swayed as though someone had been watching her and dropped the drapes just in time to conceal his identity.

“You don’t have to believe me, Kate, but it’s true and I’m not going anywhere until I figure out what he is trying to tell me.”

“Goodness, Maggie, I had no idea how much all this affected you. I shouldn’t have left you alone so long.”

“I’m not crazy, Kate. You know that better than most.”

“If you’re referring to -”

“You know exactly what I’m referring to. Stop pretending like you didn’t see it too.”

“I don’t know what we saw, Maggie. Honest.”

“Never mind that,” Maggie said with a sigh, “Let’s have lunch on Saturday. Here, at my house. I have something I want you to see.”

Maggie could feel the hesitation. She knew that Kate hated the house and was probably debating suggesting an alternative location at the risk of making Maggie change her mind about getting together at all. Finally, she conceded.

“Fine. Saturday but I expect you to tell me everything.”

“Of course,” Maggie agreed.

“And I want you to promise me that after you do, you will get help.”

“I’m not crazy.”

“Promise me.”

“Fine. I promise. You will see for yourself though. I’m not crazy.”

After she hung up the phone, Maggie continued to sit in the rocking chair staring at the drapes, willing them to move. She didn’t dare get up and look out the window again. The chime of the clock in the hall alerted her to the fact that it was already eleven o’clock.

Only an hour until she faced him. She silently said a prayer that he’d be in a better mood than last night…

**

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. Each day I am posting a ‘snippet’ based on a paranormal creature that begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I am using this as a fun writing exercise which I am hoping will also be enjoyable to read, but keep in mind that due to the fact that I must post a new snippet each day in April except Sundays, the posts may be a bit rough. I’ll do my best, however, in the limited time I have available to me. 🙂 Let me know your favorites or the posts you find most intriguing because I plan to develop those into a full story later in the year!

Check out the other participants in the A to Z Challenge.

The Bridge

Bridge in moonlightI rubbed the scratchy stubble on my chin as I leaned my elbows on the wooden railing of the old bridge. I couldn’t remember what prompted me to stop here. I vaguely remembered playing in these woods as a child but that felt like a lifetime ago. Below me the expanse of river reflected the engorged moon as the water moved almost soundlessly over the rocks. It wasn’t the first time I contemplated jumping.

Exhausted, I bent my head and massaged my aching temple. I tried to think about all the clues that might have added up to this night, all the ways I’d gone wrong that had led to my broken heart. In my pocket still rested the ring box. I’d been planning to propose to Amber but I didn’t get up the nerve and then before I had the chance, it was all over.

On the soft breeze, I heard a whisper that sounded like my name. I looked up but of course, I was alone. After two in the morning in a rural town like mine, I’d be lucky to see a car pass even if I spent the next several hours standing on the bridge.

Maybe it was the fact that she’d never liked my job. I wasn’t ambitious enough, she’d told me once. I liked my job though. It didn’t make me rich. What I could afford was humble in contrast to what she was accustomed to receiving but I thought we could find a way to make it work. I thought she loved me for the person I was on the inside. Isn’t that the way that love is supposed to work?

Amber had accused me of messing around with some girl I didn’t even know. She told me she had proof of it, that others had admitted to seeing us together but I shook my head sadly to the night, acknowledging the conspiracy that had been set up against me. None of her friends had ever liked me. Was I destined to be alone forever, I wondered?

The breeze wrapped around me and I shivered. The seasons were changing so quickly now. At this rate, winter would settle over us before we knew it. I pulled my leather jacket tighter around me to try to keep the chill from settling into my bones but it was no use.

A scratching sound distracted my ruminations and I quickly looked behind me, not sure what I was expecting to find, but the bridge was still void of any sign of life, except for my own. My heart sank and I looked down at my cell phone at the last text message I’d received from Amber asking me to never contact her again. I contemplated responding, asking her what happened, asking for some sense of closure. She owed me that much at least, didn’t she? It wasn’t fair to leave me like this. No matter how many times I went over the past six months in my memory, I couldn’t put the pieces together to come to a conclusion for why she might have turned so cold. I deserved to know the truth.

My fingers hesitated over the keys as I remembered the look in her eyes. Ordinarily her eyes were a bright blue but the sadness had dimmed them to a murky gray as the tears threatened to spill. She hadn’t wanted to say goodbye. I was convinced of it, but yet she had insisted, and after all the arguments, there was nothing left to say to try to change her mind.

For better or for worse, my relationship with Amber was over.

I reached into my pocket and fished out the ring. It wasn’t anything special but it had taken me several paychecks to finally be able to afford it. I’d picked the beautiful blue Sapphire to match her eyes. I couldn’t imagine anyone else wearing the ring other than Amber so although it may have seemed crazy, I pulled back my arm and pitched the ring as far down the river as I could manage. It fell with a plop that almost seemed to echo through the quiet night.

I dug my hands into my pockets and stepped back from the edge, giving one last look over the river before turning my back and moving toward my beat up old car waiting for me at the side of the road. As I shuffled along, I could have sworn I heard the sound of a woman crying in the distance. I stopped and double backed, listening intently for the sound again. At first it didn’t come. Even the lonely crickets had given up and returned to wherever it is that crickets go when summer has ended and fall begins. Around me was only silence.

That’s it, I told myself, turning back toward the car. But something didn’t want to let me go, some strange nagging tugged at me, urging me to look closer.

Under the bridge, the wind whispered in my ear. I shuddered involuntarily. It would be a dangerous climb down the steep hillside in thick underbrush to reach the overgrown woods under the bridge. It was unlikely I would find anyone there. But then I heard it again, this time more distinct and without reservation I knew, it was the sound of a woman crying.

…. to be continued