“You must run. The creatures can sense your thoughts. They can read your mind. They will know you. They will appear to you as people you have met—relatives, friends, anyone! It already knows that you are here! Run, Ai’el!” The demon’s voice urged me to escape, but my feet, which had momentarily gained their functions back, were frozen once more as I stared out in horror at the approaching sight.
From the edge of the woods to my left, along the eastern side of the clearing came a woman in white, swaying like branches on the breeze as she walked from the trees. Her breath was a wet and raspy moan as she neared, and I could hear the sorrow in her voice as she spoke, calling out to me piteously.
“Ai’el? Ai’el! Help me, please. I need help. The river…it was so cold, Ai’el. Please help me!” she called, and I felt sobs rising up in my throat. I clasped a hand over my mouth as the face turned towards me. White hair, pulled back in a modest braid that was dripping wet as though she had just come from the banks of the Mireyn, though it was miles from the glade, I knew. Her sparkling blue eyes looked bloated and puffy, filled with red veins, and her entire body dripped with wetness—the ground below her puddled with the moisture.
Her face had the pallor of a creature that has been without air for too long, and her lips were blue as she called my name, her tongue distended and purpled as it slid around her swollen lips like a fattened slug. Her nails were blue as she reached her hand out, water and blood pouring from the skin like a sieve. She stumbled, falling to the earth and reaching for me again, the tumefied flesh of her arm began to sag from the bones like boiled meat. I sat, horrified, with tears streaming down my face, hand clasped over a mouth that was open in a silent scream.
My mother. My dead mother.