“Where’s Maggie?” I said.
Jess, her hand still covering her mouth, cast her wide, shocked eyes in the direction of Maggie’s bedroom. Behind us, a volatile heat drifted from the third-floor stairs. Indigo announcing her presence.
“We need to get her out of there,” I whispered. “Fast.”
We both ran down the hallway, Indigo’s presence hot on our backs. Inside the bedroom, Maggie sat on her bed, her knees to her chin. Flames of fear danced in her eyes.
“You’ll have to carry her,” I told Jess. “I don’t—I don’t trust myself to do it.”
There was no second-guessing on Jess’s part. She went straight for the bed and scooped Maggie into her arms.
“Mommy, I’m scared,” Maggie said.
Jess kissed her cheek. “I know, honey. But there’s nothing to be frightened of.”
It was a lie. There was plenty to be afraid of.
Especially when the armoire doors flew open. A blast of hot air burst from inside, sending Jess reeling backward. Maggie rose from her arms, as if lifted by the scalding wind. She was then pulled toward the armoire, riding through midair, a screaming, crying tangle of limbs and hair.
Indigo had our daughter.
I reached the armoire just as Maggie vanished into it. When the doors began to close, I threw myself between them. The wood squeezed my ribs as I reached into the armoire—now a dark, fathomless space. I screamed Maggie’s name and flailed my arms until one of my knuckles brushed her ankle.
I clamped my fingers around it and began tugging, hand over hand up her leg. When I reached her knee, I pulled harder until Maggie abruptly broke free from the armoire. We fell to the floor, Maggie on top of me, still screaming, still crying.
Behind us, Jess began to move the bed, shoving it against the armoire to block the doors. While it wasn’t enough to trap Indigo inside, I hoped it would at least let us escape in the next few minutes.
That job done, we left the room and ran down the hall. Jess with Maggie, me with the camera, snapping off a shot of the empty hallway behind us.
I checked the photo as it spread into view.
Down the steps we went, Jess in the lead. Maggie had gone limp in her arms, frozen with shock. At the bottom of the stairs, I took another photo.
“I think she’s gone,” I announced.
“Are you sure?” Jess said.
“I don’t see her.” I held up a hand, seeing if I could feel Indigo’s white-hot presence. “I don’t feel her, either.”
I took one last picture—Jess holding Maggie at the base of the stairs.
“We can’t stay here,” Jess said. “We need to pack up and leave before she comes back.”
I checked the photo still developing in my hands, the image of Jess and Maggie emerging from the whiteness.
Behind them—hovering right at Jess’s back—was Indigo Garson.
I looked from the picture to my wife and daughter, still in that same position.
Then Maggie flew to the ceiling.
It happened in a blink.
One second she was in Jess’s arms. The next she was on the ceiling, being dragged across it by an unseen force.
Jess and I could only watch in terror as Maggie thrashed against the ceiling, screaming as she continued to be moved against her will. When she came within arm’s reach of the chandelier, she grabbed it and held on with all her might. The chandelier rocked back and forth. A few of its glass globes shook loose and crashed to the floor around us, the shards scattering.
Above us, Maggie had been wrenched free from the still-swaying chandelier and was once again being pulled across the ceiling. Jess kept screaming her name, as if that could free her.
But I knew there was only one way to make Indigo let go of Maggie. Since her goal was to hurt me as much as her father had hurt her, I needed to remove myself from the equation.
Or at least pretend to.
I dropped to my knees, surrounded by pieces of glass from the broken chandelier.
Shards bring luck.
Grabbing the largest glass piece I could find, I pressed it to my neck and shouted to the ceiling, “Indigo, let her go or I’ll kill myself!”
Jess looked at me, horrified. “Ewan, no!”
“Trust me, Jess,” I whispered. “I know what I’m doing.”
Indigo wouldn’t let it get that far. If she wanted Maggie dead, then she needed me to do the deed. That wouldn’t be possible if I was already dead.
“I’m serious!” I yelled. “You know you can’t do this without me!”
I pressed the shard deeper against my neck, twisting it slightly until the tip of glass pierced my skin. A thin line of blood ran down my neck.
Maggie dropped without warning, her descent dizzyingly fast. Jess and I both lunged for her, our arms entangling, forming an accidental cradle into which our daughter landed.
She had been in our arms for barely a second when a wave of heat bore down on us from above. Hotter than earlier. A full blast of fury.
Noise rose all around us—a sudden, violent hissing that seemed to come from every corner of the house. A moment later, snakes began to fill the room.