The Midnight Hour

The wind howled outside Nadia’s darkened room. Her gaze focused on the red moon illuminating a tiny patch of the floor. The midnight hour was nearly upon her.

A creak on the boards echoed through the derelict house, but she remained motionless. Rickety shutters burst open sending a scream through the tight space.

She had waited for this moment for five years. She was ready.

*****

Sixteen, going on seventeen, Nadia sat in her room and hemmed a skirt. Across the room, her litter sister, Dorencia, danced in her new petticoat, her bare feet exposed like a commoner. The candlelight sent a hundred shadows of dancing figures all around her.

“Darlings,” she heard her mother say from the doorway, “remain here. We have another urgent visitor.”

Nadia didn’t miss a beat. She continued her sewing and hardly acknowledged her.

“Alright, Mother,” Dorencia said.

“And lower your skirt, Dorencia,” her mother scowled, “act like the lady you will become.”

Dorencia let out a derisive sigh and stopped her dance. “Yes, Mother.”

The door closed.

“Who do you think it is?” Dorencia asked Nadia.

“I don’t know… Mayhap someone that needs healing from Mother.”

Dorencia slumped. “Boring.”

“You are boring,” Nadia said with a straight face.

The preteen’s laugh was cancelled out by a hair-raising scream.

Nadia jumped to her feet, but before she could move any further, the door swung open and air escaped with a loud roar putting out all the candles and darkening the room.

A shadow was all she could see. The form was humanoid, but she could see neither the hands nor the feet. Her imagination went wild as she pictured hooves for feet and claws for hands. The sound of scratching echoed through the room. Dorencia clutched Nadia’s arm and let out a tiny whimper.

The shadow advanced and grabbed Nadia’s free arm. She shrieked both in fear and from the searing pain. An image filled her mind of her sister: older, eyes burning red, skin paled and hair black. She pushed the thought away and tried to kick the shadow, only it was just air and Dorencia was gone.

Fire erupted all around her. She ran out of the house, screaming for help, but none came.

*****

For years, Nadia had searched for the name of the shadow. She asked, pleaded, and demanded answers when none could be found. Who was he? Where could she find him?

The only answers given were the gift of healing and two words, “Midnight. Blood moon.”

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“Fool,” a voice whispered in her mind breaking her out of her musing.

The room lit up, and a shadow stood in the center of it.

“She’s mine,” he laughed.

Nadia stood with her hands clenched at her side.

“The years have not been kind to you,” he hissed.

Nadia’s sunken eyes and cheeks deepened into a scowl. The dark circles around her eyes made her green eyes look fierce.

“Show yourself,” she growled.

He stood at her height and didn’t look nearly as imposing as he did when they first met, but she hardly noticed.

She yelled, propelling a terrifying image into his mind. The scream forced him to take a step back, but no sound escaped his lips. He stood still in front of her, otherwise motionless.

“What have you become?” he mocked.

Nadia stepped forward.

“When did your light fade?” he laughed.

She forced another terrible thought into his mind.

“You will pay for what you did to me,” she said.

With every step forward, she sent another blast, and every time he stepped further back. Until, at last, he was cornered.

“When did you learn to use your healing power to manipulate and terrorize the minds of others?” he whispered.

“When you stole everything from me,” she sneered.

With one final blast, the shadow crumbled to the ground. Nadia smiled. This was the first life she had extinguished, and she reveled in the excitement of the moment. She laughed as victory drew near.

The illusion faded, and Dorencia laid there. Blood trickled out of her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Nadia broke out of her trance and screamed.

“You were my goal all along,” she heard in her mind.

She crossed her arms to her chest and shook. She did this to herself. All those interrogations, the bastardization of her gift.

“You’re mine,” a clawed hand settled onto her shoulder.

As Dorencia’s life faded, the lit room faded to black, and Nadia embraced the darkness.

“I am yours,” she conceded.

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8 thoughts on “The Midnight Hour

  1. I love the detail that your villain looked less imposing in the present than he did in her childhood – this created such a great picture of growing up/coming of age, of taking a long journey, and of the ways age can affect a power dynamic between two characters. Great way to pack lots of meaning into a small phrase!

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  2. I love all the small changes you made since my beta. It was good then, too, but the slow down of the end is just right. My favorite line of the story continues to be Dorencia dancing. I love that name, too. Great job!

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  3. Ooh. “When did your light fade?” <– that's such a key line, setting up her turning-to-the-dark-side and hinting at the shadow's plan for her. Some of the word choices felt a little uneven – like "mayhap" followed closely by "preteen" – but the imagery was solid and Nadia's anger effectively gets the reader to buy into her revenge.

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