The Amulet

It was a terrible inhuman scream, the despairing scream of a man whose soul was forced to suffer the horror of being ripped from its living body and cast out into oblivion.

The girls weren’t old enough to get served so this was going to be easy, Kyle Wills thought as he sauntered into the off-license and selected a large bottle of Malibu. It was just a case of getting them drunk enough so when they got back to his bedsit they either didn’t care what happened or they would be too drunk to say ‘no’. He needed a fuck tonight and if these young girls were all he could find then they would have to do. They had the naïve arrogance that all teenagers possessed and they were eager for the attention of an older man. So, like a modern day pied piper, Kyle led them onto the heath and away from prying eyes.

After finding a deserted spot they sat down and opened the drinks. Kyle showed off the tattoos on his pale arms and chest inviting the girls to touch them, which evoked a sense of squeamish delight in his new friends. He was clearly making progress and suggested they go back to his place later to smoke some weed. Gemma was looking a lot giddier and talking much louder than her two friends. She had consumed more alcohol them and she was keen to go back to his place to experience further highs. Her friends on the other hand were unsure but that was OK. As the girls drank and became increasingly louder and more irritating they took it in turns to point out everything that was wrong with the town. Kyle on the other hand tried to ignore their inane squawking: His mind was already back in his bedsit imagining what he would do to Gemma and what sordid things she could do to him in return.

After a while the other two girls said they had to go and Kyle let them walk off alone over the moorland telling Gemma to stay with him a while longer. It was now just him and a very drunk girl who owed him for buying her the drinks. Kyle talked a while longer, encouraging Gemma to finish the Malibu while in the distance they heard the low solemn chime of the church bell echoing over the open countryside. Gemma “Bonged” along with each peel of the bell as it rang. “Bong, three. Bong, four…” she laughed rocking from side to side in hysterics at her tediously immature behaviour.

There was something unsettling about the way the bells were sounding. Not only was it unusual for them to be ringing this late but they also had a haunting quality to them. Kyle suddenly felt a feeling of uneasiness swirl around him as if the bells heralded something sinister. The temperature dropped and to either side of him the wind rustled the bushes, picking up dead leaves laying on the floor and hurrying them down the path as if they were trying to get away from something.

“Bong eight. Bong nine…” she giggled, unaware of the trepidation in the air. Kyle finished the last of his whiskey in one swallow and decided it was time for Gemma to show her appreciation back at his place. It was time to leave the heath for tonight and he wanted to leave quickly but didn’t know why.

“…Bong 12. Bong 13…” and the bells fell silent, their reverberation echoing into the distance leaving a pregnant silence. It wasn’t the usual silence where one could just about hear the faint drone of cars on the main road. This was a graveyard silence filled with expectation and dark secrets.

“They rang 13 times. Don’t you think that’s weird?” Gemma asked unnecessarily. Kyle resisted the urge to tell her to shut up. “How much have you had to drink?” he said instead. “I’ll take you back out of the cold and you might sober up on the way” He added with a mock paternal voice and pulled her to her feet.

“I don’t want to sober up” Gemma protested in her most whiny voice. She hiccupped loudly and stumbled in to him with exaggerated clumsiness, all the while tittering to herself.

“Come on” Kyle said more forcefully as he took Gemma in his arms and turned her around towards the path. He paused to pick up the empty whisky bottle that lay on the ground and hurled it into some bushes a short distance away. “Best not to leave litter lying around” he joked.

“Hey, look at that” Gemma suddenly pointed behind Kyle. He followed her gaze and saw a small patch of earth slowly piling up like a miniature volcano erupting just a few feet in front of them. “Oh, it’s a mole” the girl said with childish glee. “I love moles. Let’s have a look”.

“Fucking moles! Bring it here and I’ll twat it” said Kyle with a grin trying to hide his uneasiness. He was starting to feel the same sentiment towards Gemma after having endured her absurd babble all evening. If she denied him what he wanted later she would feel his full frustration. He checked his knife was still in his pocket and deep down a part of him wished she would try to resist him. She wouldn’t be the first after all, he smiled darkly to himself.

“You can’t do that its’ cruel” Gemma admonished mockingly. The small pile of earth crumbled higher and if Kyle was more sober he may also have felt the slight tremor running through the ground beneath them. The mole hill tumbled upwards to about ten inches high before something white and spikey burst out. The drunken couple stepped back in disgust. That was no mole and as they looked closer they saw it was more claw-like than spikey as it thrust higher, propelled by twin poles wrapped within some dirty cloth. All bravado drained from Kyle as he watched open mouthed as another claw-like protrusion thrust itself from the terrain next to the first one. Then the whole track seemed to quake as a large object dug its way up from the ground. It rose up out of the path like someone standing up after being buried at the beach. Kyle leaped back and quickly felt his mind sobering up as he felt an inescapable cloak of despair wrap itself around him. As the figure freed itself from the earth and stood up, its nightmare aspect fell into sharp harrowing focus.

It had the appearance of bleached-white fleshless bones wrapped in the dirty tattered clothes of the dead. Around its neck it wore a bright turquoise amulet that seemed to glow with unnatural energies. The skeletal apparition turned its skull in Kyle’s direction, leering at him with a hateful vengeance through its sunken eyeless sockets. Swirling ethereal smoke curled up writhing around the skeletal creature like flames consuming a witch being burned alive at the stake. The ground beneath its feet turned to frost and shattered into snowflake patterns with each slow deliberate step it took towards Kyle. The smell, even the bitter taste of the grave assailed Kyle’s senses swiftly regressing him to a state of infantile vulnerability. All thoughts of lust and fucking drained from his mind as Gemma screamed and fled back the way they had come. His legs felt as if they had been glued to the spot as he helplessly watched Gemma go. His knees gave out and he dropped to the ground in numb uncomprehending fear and like a true bully Kyle crumbled into victimhood at the site of the horror before him. The undead figure reached out the bony white digits of a hand towards Kyle who was helpless to do anything but look-on in total compliance.

“Hey, I know you”. He whimpered looking at the amulet around its neck, almost hypnotised by its ethereal glow. “I thought you were dead”. The skeleton said nothing as it stopped in front of Kyle and placed its outstretched hand on top of his head. The swirling energies of the amulet grew brighter and Kyle screamed. It was a terrible inhuman scream, the despairing scream of a man whose soul was forced to suffer the horror of being ripped from its living body and cast out into oblivion. Kyle Wills’ lifeless body then collapsed to the ground with a dull thump.

 

The name on her badge said ‘Izzie’ and she was gorgeous. In fact to any Treker she was more than gorgeous she was divine. She had the same bright yet soulful eyes and lustrous black hair spilling over her shoulders as Marina Sirtis AKA Counsellor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Around her neck she often wore a shiny turquoise amulet that would draw Brandon’s attention away from her full lips and bright smile. But behind the cheery welcoming persona there was a sadness within her. Brendon caught occasional glimpses of this on his frequent visits to the old Regent Cinema.

A year had passed since he first saw Izzie working in the box office and he had become something of a film buff since then; going to watch a film twice a week at least just so he could see her. Even when there was nothing on that he particularly liked he would still go and buy a ticket for something anyway just so he could see Izzie. She had a captivating beauty and when he wasn’t at the cinema to see her he yearned for her. Those few brief minutes of conversation through the thick glass window meant more to Brandon than anything else, even his writing.

 As the figure freed itself from the earth and stood up, its nightmare aspect fell into sharp harrowing focus.

He was a writer and wrote short stories for an internet fanzine. He also published his own comic each week about a soldier from a distant galaxy who was stranded on Earth. He lives as a normal person but sometimes he has to use his awesome combat armour and futuristic weapons to tackle criminals or fight alien beings that manage to find their way to his new home planet. As well as the comics and short stories he was also in the process of writing a book based on the exploits of his comic book character. Words had power and Brandon understood this on a deep level. That gave him comfort as he lived the solitary existence that accompanied the professional writer. He lived alone, had few friends but enjoyed spending time in his own company exploring the wonders of his boundless imagination.

When he wasn’t at the cinema or working on some draft copy of his writing Brandon liked to relax by watching episodes of Star Trek. He marvelled at the way the original series was so ahead of its time. Then the more sophisticated Next Generation with its compelling characters and gorgeous Deanna Troi. He loved the exciting new frontier of Deep Space Nine and was an avid follower of Voyager. Finally, he was thrilled as the series returned to its roots with Enterprise. They were all great with never a bad episode and Brandon would watch two or three episodes a day. He had to watch them in consecutive order and the first of tonight’s episodes, he predicted, would be season five of The Next Generation, episode twenty four: The Next Phase, which he was looking forward to.

As Brandon approached the box office once again he quickly tucked a bright yellow packet of peanut M&M’s into his pocket. He loved eating them but the sight of a chubby man stuffing his face with chocolates would never impress Izzie. At school and even now it still made him out to be a target for bullies. Certain people in the town still poked fun at him and would shout insults when they passed him in the street and that wouldn’t endear Izzie to him at all. Well, nor would this kind of stalking impress her either Brandon smiled to himself as he waited in line. Tonight there was a new Batman film that had just been released and he was eager to see it. He desperately wanted to ask Izzie out or to even have a normal conversation with her outside of her work but he hadn’t found the right opportunity or the right words. Ironic for a writer! It was something that he had imagined and played over in his head countless times but he couldn’t take that step of actually talking to her. Brandon bought his ticket and went inside feeling a little disappointed for not having more time with her but it was busy tonight and there was a long queue behind him. Besides, just speaking to her as he bought his ticket was like setting foot into his own version of paradise.

After the film Brandon was heading out of the cinema amongst the herd of dazed bleary eyed people when he saw Izzie standing outside the box office putting up a poster for some new kids’ film. A bubble of excitement swelled within him and he found himself moving towards her, irresistibly drawn as if caught in a tractor beam.

“Hi” he heard himself say.

“Oh hi” replied Izzie with her usual bubbly cheerfulness. “How was tonight’s film?”

“Good. I enjoyed it”

“Glad to hear it, Mr Klingon” She smiled warmly nodding at his t-shirt. “What’s it going to be next time?” Brandon was a little taken-aback as he hadn’t anticipated her reply.

“I don’t know yet I’ll have to see” he said. He really wanted to tell her that he wanted to ask her out next time but inwardly cringed at the thought of such a bold move.

“OK, good. Well I’m sure I’ll see you again soon” and with that she turned back to her poster. Brandon felt am immense well of happiness flood his entire being and he virtually glided out of the foyer feeling as if he was floating a foot off the ground. Outside he let out a breath he wasn’t aware he had been holding and he felt like dancing down the road. His heart was thumping and his mind roared cheers of congratulations at finally speaking to her. He had made first contact! This realisation however, was immediately overshadowed by a cloud of self-doubt. A sudden panic came over him and he replayed the conversation over and over in his mind wondering if he should have said something different? What did she think of him? Or what he said? Maybe he should have tried to talk for longer? He should have worn a newer t-shirt, not a Star Trek one. Or maybe tried a joke? No, that would not have ended well! He had taken a step closer in his relationship with Izzie but how could he build on that?

Brandon didn’t have long to wait because the following rain-filled week he was walking up towards the cinema sheltering under his umbrella when he saw Izzie across the street. She was hurrying up from the main car park in town and getting soaked. Brandon surrendered to his impulsive side again and found himself dashing over to her. Without thinking he held his umbrella over her as she walked. Izzie looked up at him and took her earphones out. “Oh. Thanks” she said a little surprised. “A true gentleman”

“That’s OK. I like the rain” Brandon said rather lamely as Izzie’s power to make him loose the ability to talk took hold once again. “Is it a cinema night again tonight?” Izzie asked.

“Yep, ‘fraid so” Brandon said blinking the rain from his eyes. “What are you listening to?”

“Bob Marley” Izzie replied. “It reminds me of sunny beaches and helps me pretend it’s not raining”. They talked about rain and music all the way round the square and into the cinema. Izzie thanked Brandon for his umbrella and apologised because he was now soaked to the skin. Brandon didn’t care though; he would do it again and again for another chance to talk to Izzie like that. Wiping the rain from his face he felt on top of the world and sat through the film in a daze of happy blissful dreams. He didn’t really take in anything of the movie which wasn’t a bad thing because he would probably be watching it again in a few days anyway the next time he came here to see Izzie.

Still feeling on a high from his previous encounter with Izzie, the next time Brandon saw her he took another unexpectedly bold step. The words were out of his mouth before he even had time to think or sensor them. It was something he had rehearsed for months and after the last successful rendezvous with her he took a step closer to making his fantasy a reality. If he had thought about it he would probably have backed out but on some instinctive level that, thankfully, Brandon wasn’t consciously aware of; he felt an undeniable urge as he saw Izzie in the box office and he asked her out. He told her he was thinking of going for a drink later on and wondered if she wanted to join him when she finished work. Izzie was initially surprised and obviously hadn’t expected it. Brandon cringed inwardly as he waited for the inevitable rejection, wishing he hadn’t asked because the comfort and safety of not knowing and living the fantasy of ‘what if’ would be gone forever. If she said ‘no’ he would hate himself forever, having lost his one and only opportunity of happiness. Fortunately he was saved from a lifetime of self-admonition as Izzie said “Yes”.

 

Together they shared a wonderful evening getting to know each other. Izzie showed genuine interest in Brandon and his writing despite her playful sense of humour that she couldn’t seem to keep under control: She wasn’t a Treker and joked about sci-fi geeks and their lack of social skills around women. Izzie’s good natured teasing coupled with her bright personality drew Brandon in even more. It turned out they both had lots of things in common, most notably they were both collectors: Brandon with his sci-fi memorabilia and Izzie with her music. She proudly talked about her music collection in detail describing her hundreds of CD’s, tapes, vinyl, and music she had downloaded from an eclectic variety of genre’s and styles. At home she played the flute, guitar and piano. Whatever she played or listened to would always reflect her mood she explained. “So” she joked. “If you ever hear me playing anything by Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel, then you should run!” Another interest of hers was mysticism which she had inherited from her grandmother.

Her grandmother had been a true free spirit and travelled the world collecting trinkets like her amulet that was said to bring good luck and ward of evil spirits. Her grandmother had been a great influence in her life and had encouraged her love of music. They talked long into the night and he walked Izzie home after a thrilling night cementing the foundations of romance. On her doorstep Izzie paused and pulled Brandon in for a long luxurious kiss that seemed to never end. Izzie then said she wouldn’t invite him inside but Brandon was still in shock from the unexpected kiss. He had imagined it for so long in his head. It had felt good in his imagination but the real thing was out of this world. He was still reeling about it and almost didn’t hear Izzie say she wasn’t working on Wednesday night but he quickly caught himself and they arranged to go out again.

Their dates become more frequent and Brandon found himself watching films less and less at the old Regent. Izzie joked that she felt guilty because the cinema was losing its best customer and it was all her fault. One night Izzie gave Brandon her shiny turquoise amulet. She said her grandmother told her it was blessed with powerful magic and suggested he wear it while he was finishing his book to bring him luck when it came to publishing it. Following that night Brandon put it on every time he sat down at his computer and turned out page after page of top quality material which hardly needed any further editing.

They went out most nights and at the end of each night Izzie would tell Brandon that she didn’t want to invite him in or she didn’t want to go back to his place. Izzie seemed uncomfortable and took no pleasure in saying this to him. But Brandon was more than happy with the way things were going and it wasn’t a problem for him. He really liked Izzie and he would do anything for her. She was his dream girlfriend and he would quite happily take things as slowly as she liked. One evening though they were sat in Izzie’s car after a late night stroll along the beach and Izzie said she would go back to his place. Brandon felt the exhilaration of a teenage crush swoop him up and send his heart spinning away into orbit.

Back at Brandon’s home they sat in the lounge which was more like the a toy shop than a living room with the walls lined with posters form Star Wars, Blade Runner and Back to the Future. Set out between the posters were rows of shelves displaying various sci-fi memorabilia including pristine figures still sealed in their original packaging and rare collectors’ items from the last fifty years. Brandon and Izzie sat cuddling each other on the sofa bathed in the soft glow of a lava lamp after Brandon had persuaded Izzie to watch an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Izzie was drinking a hot chocolate in a square based mug baring the Starfleet insignia while Brandon had an earl grey tea and he couldn’t help smiling at the link between their drinks and The Next Generation although he was no Captain Picard. “I like your place” Izzie commented looking around.

“Thanks” said Brandon. Izzie paused and fell silent lost in thought as she stared at the shallow glass bowl full of brightly coloured peanut M&M’s which stood on the coffee table in front of them. She took a deep breath and turned to him. “I’m not going to sleep with you tonight” Izzie said suddenly as if she had been trying to force the reluctant words out for a while. Brandon opened his mouth surprised at the unexpected comment. He hadn’t been planning to sleep with her tonight. Although he desperately wanted to he was waiting for her to make the first move; something about not wanting to rush things or put her off.  “It’s not that I don’t want to” Izzie tried to explain. “I just can’t, that’s all. I understand if you’re disappointed and I’ll go if you like”.

“No” said Brandon a little too quickly. “You don’t have to go. That’s fine. I wasn’t planning anything anyway and it’s perfectly OK” he said with a sudden desperation that she might leave him. The days when they didn’t see each other were becoming more and more difficult to endure and he wanted to spend every waking moment with her.

“I don’t want to lead you on and then turn you down. I want to be clear from the start” Izzie said.

“That’s fine, I’m happy with that” Brandon reassured her. He suddenly felt the tone of the evening had changed drastically. There was something that she wanted to say, the elephant in the room but he didn’t know what it was. He felt like Commander Spock trying unsuccessfully to understand human emotions. “It’s fine, but do you want to talk about anything?” Brandon asked wanting to know what was upsetting Izzie. She sighed and looked down into her hot chocolate. “A few years ago I was rapped” she said quietly into her mug. She was silent for a moment before continuing. “Two men got me drunk and forced themselves on me at a party”. Brandon said nothing, squirming in the silence but unsure how to respond. He wanted to reassure her but he couldn’t think of anything to make her feel better and the only things he could think of sounded woefully inadequate. His arm was still around Izzie’s shoulders and he felt her stiffen. He thought about Counsellor Troi and how she would respond. Deanna would probably have offered Izzie some kind of validation and he tried desperately to think of something to say. “I’m sorry” was all he could manage in the end. “If there’s anything I can do? Erm I mean. Oh my god! That’s a terrible thing to happen to someone. Can I help?” Izzie looked up at him and smiled a sad smile. “No, don’t worry” she said. “You don’t need to do anything different. Just carry on being yourself” and she snuggled down into his body again and they shared a warm comforting silence both lost in their own thoughts.

 

The mystical amulet, which he had given back to Izzie after finishing his book, must have worked because a few weeks later Brandon got a call from his agent to say he had found a publisher for his book. Wrapped with delight he immediately phoned her to share the great news. They arranged to go out to celebrate that night and Brandon took her to one of the most expensive restaurants in the town; an Italian that served the finest food Brandon had ever tasted. Even Izzie was awed into good behaviour so much so that she didn’t do her usual joke in restaurants; where she asked the waiter if they had peanut M&M’s on the desert menu. They ate fantastic food and drank delicious wine. It was a wonderful evening and the perfect way to celebrate everything that was good in their lives.

“Come back to my place” Izzie whispered to Brandon as he was helping her into her coat. The playful note in her voice caught Brandon’s attention and he saw Izzie smiling up at him with an alluring look in her eyes. “Come back home where we can celebrate properly”.

Brandon felt electrified and almost forgot the pin number for his credit card as he was paying the bill. They hurried outside and giggled like school children as they skipped down the road hand in hand.

They hadn’t gone far before a moody figure prowled around the corner ahead of them.  A leather jacket gave him a stocky solid appearance and despite a hood covering his face Brandon recognised him immediately as someone he went to school with. Someone who had made his life a misery for years and someone he wished to avoid. The excitement he felt cooled quickly and Izzie must have shared his feeling as her cheerful laughing ran dry. Brandon squeezed Izzie’s hand a little tighter and tried to walk quicker, looking down and hoping Kyle Wills would not recognise him as they passed. “Hey Brandy Bum-Bum” Kyle laughed mockingly at Brandon. “Not seen you around for a while. I can see why now though” he stopped in front of them eyeing Izzie approvingly. Brandon felt a flash of irritation as he saw the way he was looking at Izzie.

Brandon tried to ignore him and walk past but Kyle blocked his path. Izzie went quiet and shrank backwards sensing Kyle’s aggression being given off like a bad odour. Brandon felt he had to act. With the excitement of the day and the anticipation of what was yet to come, Brandon’s confidence had swelled to an invincible level. He guided Izzie behind him with one arm, shielding her in a chivalrous manner not unlike James T Kirk.

“Excuse us please” Brandon said trying to get past but the other held his ground. “Wait a minute aren’t we catching up? I haven’t seen you for some time. You’re still on the chocolate I see” he patted Brandon’s stomach, which immediately knotted in painful embarrassment puncturing his pride. Brandon felt his ego deflate slowly as years of playground taunts returned at warp speed.  Up close Brandon could smell the strong alcohol on Kyle’s breath and quickly racked his brain for a comeback but he wasn’t quick enough.

“Listen love” Kyle addressed Izzie. “I’d be careful with this one. He’ll eat you out of house and home” he laughed. “Just kidding, Brandon. We’re still mates aren’t we” he punched Brandon on the shoulder in mock camaraderie. Brandon stood his ground unsmiling wishing he could punch him back, hard, in the face. Or calmly deliver a Vulcan nerve pinch.  Instead Brandon muttered they had to go and pushed past him. His face was flushed red with the humiliation of the exchange and he wanted the ground to just open up beneath him. Why did he have to run into him in front of Izzie? If he was on his own it wouldn’t matter but in front of Izzie? What must she think? It had put a dampener on an otherwise perfect night. He led her past the bully and forced a smile. “I went to school with that moron” he said discreetly, trying to make light of it. “He’s always joking around like that”.

Izzie was quiet.

“Are you OK?” he asked her.

“Remember I told you what happened to me with those two men” Izzie said softly looking at the floor. Brandon stopped and looked at her with his hands resting on her shoulders.  “He was one of them” Izzie whispered. The heat from the exchange returned in an instant, transformed into a furious fist of anger. His earlier impotent self-pity boiled into an inferno of untempered aggression towards Kyle. Years of torment and abuse finally had a legitimate outlet. The anticipation of spending the night with Izzie fuelled his resolve further and he turned back towards his nemesis. He had hated people like that: People who thought it was funny to make fun of him. He may not be able to stand up for himself but he was more than able to stand up for someone else, especially someone he loved. His heart had become a furnace; firing a blazing rage throughout his body and he snarled Kyle’s name. The bully turned and for a moment seemed surprised to see Brandon coming at him. Then his surprise turned to hostility as he recognised the look in Brandon’s eye but he was not quick enough. Brandon barrelled into him and threw a punch at his jaw connecting with a satisfying smack. The bully stepped back and Brandon followed, swung wildly and hit him a second time, the force of his fury knocking Kyle down. Brandon was on him in an instant but he was unaccustomed to fighting or any kind of violence. He grabbed the collar of Kyle’s leather jacket yelling abuse in his face but he had lost the momentum. Kyle quickly recovered from the unexpected attack and made Brandon pay for his inexperience. Brandon felt a sharp pain in his ribs. He buckled over and Kyle clubbed him on the side of his head. Brandon toppled and the bully was on top of him, mercilessly raining down blows. Brandon struggled and fought back. The two scuffled, shouting and swearing in a frantic blur of motion. Izzie was shouting in the background for Kyle to get off him. Finally the bully got to his feet and kicked Brandon hard in the stomach as he lay on the hard unforgiving floor. He glared at Izzie and made a threatening gesture with a cruel-looking knife that was suddenly in his hand.

Brandon wasn’t moving and Izzie swept to his side blinking back panicked tears of anguish. “Brandon!” she yelled. “Brandon, stay with me. I’ll call for help” she said fumbling for her phone. As he lay there in somewhat of a daze, he realised that something was different: He had a strange feeling of unreality as he looked about him. He felt cold and his hearing was muffled as if Izzie was standing a long way away from him. He looked at her through confused eyes and wondered what was going on. He tried to stand up but his legs wouldn’t work. There was an aching numbness in his stomach and he felt a little giddy. Why was Izzie so upset? Had he done something wrong? He opened his mouth and only then noticed he was outside lying down outside the church. Brandon couldn’t recall coming here and had no idea why he was on the ground. “Izzie?” he managed to say but the simple act of uttering her name caused a heaving tiredness to press down upon him. Izzie was frantic now, telling him to stay with her, which confused him further. Why would he not stay with her? He had no intention of leaving her. “I’m staying” he said. “I will never leave you, Izzie. I will always look after you” he managed before suddenly chocking and he felt something rise up in his throat. He coughed again and then saw a sticky red substance coating his hands. On a deep level he recognised it as blood but his shocked mind regarded it curiously as the irresistible urge to sleep pulled him down again.

It pressed down with the weight of ages but the mystical forces now giving him a life beyond the grave gave him the strength to dig himself out.

“Brandon” Izzie said. “Take this. It will mean we will always be together whatever happens. Stay with me, promise me you won’t die” Izzie sobbed as he felt her put something around his neck. “I love you, Brandon”. Although his vision was wavering he saw or imagined he saw a crystal clear image of a woman with wild brown hair and swirling patterns painted over her face. She had the same soulful eyes as Izzie and for some reason he was reminded of Izzie’s grandmother. “I won’t die Izzie, not without you. I love you” he sighed but he didn’t know if she heard him or not. Izzie was on her phone now talking to someone and asking for help. She was looking down at him but he couldn’t stay awake any longer it was useless to resist. The need to sleep was overwhelming. That was probably why he was lying down he realised; it was time for bed. As his vision darkened and as his body failed he slipped away into the eternal slumber listening to the dull chime of the church bells ringing out the hour. As his eyes closed a part of him wondered if John De Lancie would be waiting for him on the other side.

 

Brandon didn’t know how much had time had passed since that night but time had little meaning for him anymore. I won’t die Izzie, not without you. I love you. Words had power and those words were especially powerful. Izzie had given Brandon the amulet and uttering those words with heartfelt conviction while wearing it had bound him to her. Unable to die to true death, Brandon was forced to wait just beyond the veil of life for Izzie to join him. They were now connected to one another by the mystical force of the amulet so wherever she goes, he would be close by. If she ever needed him he would be there for her. Forged in vengeance and driven by love Brandon would always be with Izzie. No one would be able to hurt her again and he would punish those who had hurt her in the past.

When he found himself in his new form Brandon instinctively knew what he must do. While he waited for the true death there were things that must be done. There were two people out there who had perpetrated a vile assault against Izzie and they must be made to pay. One of those men had also ended his life and so he would be the first.

Brandon became aware of the hard compacted earth above him. It pressed down with the weight of ages but the mystical forces now giving him a life beyond the grave gave him the strength to dig himself out. He reached up and one hand broke through the ground above him and then the other. He effortlessly pulled himself up out of the earth. It was night time on the heath and he heard the faint echo of the bells in the far distance. He looked around for his prey and found him cowering before him. A young girl no older than fourteen screamed and ran away into the night. She was better off not witnessing what would happen next. Brandon regarded his quarry and reached out with a bony hand before slowly advancing on the terrified Kyle Wills.

 

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