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Light of remembrance
"I think we've made it in time Charley", said Catherine to her brother as she squeezed through the small crack in the stone door. Charley attached his electric flashlight to a strap on his backpack and followed his sister, crawling into the dark chamber beyond. He found the floor to be smooth as he crawled up in the rill, cold water cooling his hands and knees. "I can't believe we'll see her again soon Cat. Who would've thought this place actually exists". Catherine didn't respond. After crawling for a few yards, she stood up and offered her hand. Charley grabbed her hand and as she pulled him up, the beam his flashlight made the dull green copper edges of the grimoire strapped to her hip shine with a fascinating light. They stood in a dark hallway that seemed to have been carved directly into the mountain. At the end, some fifty paces away, shone a faint light. A cool breeze of fresh air came from that direction. They walked carefully towards the light. The hallway to a large cylindrical cave. Stalactites hung from the ceiling, releasing droplets of water in the body of small lake that covered the floor of this cavern. A narrow walkway led towards a shallow, circular platform in the center of the room, which was almost completely illuminated by a beam of moonlight entering through a large hole in the ceiling and summit of this mountain. Only a sliver remained dark, resembling a waxing gibbous about to become a full moon. The siblings approached the central platform. Catherine released the buckle of the straps holding the tome at her hip and grasped the book at its spine. "It's almost time", she said nervously. "If we don't succeed today, we'll have to wait for twenty years for light to be right again". "We will succeed", responded Charley. "We will see mom again tonight".
Catherine opened the book, bound in dark leather and ornate copper. According to the tome, the light of remembrance calls back the spirits passed. This special light only shines once every twenty years, and the spirit only remains so long as the platform is fully lit. She placed the book in front of her and sat down before the dais. She clasped Charley's hand who joined her sitting down. "Focus on mom, Charley, on your memories of her. And she will come". She closed her eyes and pictured her mother. The full moon would soon be. She heard droplets of water hit the lake. Her mother had dark eyes, sorrowful eyes. Her hair was short, as mothers often have, and she dyed it dark red to cover her natural gray hair. Her voice was stern as a mother's, but even more loving. She had forgotten the exact sound, but she could hear it so clearly now. "Cat, Charls... Oh how I've missed you my dears". She opened her eyes. Before her stood her mother, shining with the light of the moon. Beads of water hung in the air all around them, shining like stars. She looked at Charley. Tears reflecting white light streamed down his cheeks.
"Come to me", beckoned their mother. "How I wish to hold you. It's been so long". Her skin seemed almost translucent. Catherine wiped away her own tears. She saw Charley take a step forward, sobbing. Her mother reached towards him, her dark eyes shimmering with a dull blue light. Then she noticed the piercing white pinpricks in those dark irises. Her brother steps into the illuminated circle of the platform. Her mother's face contorted, her lips forming a wretched grin. She grabbed Charley's head and pulled it back, exposing his neck. Her thin lips parted, baring beautiful, pointed teeth. "Mom...?" said Catherine as she watched Charley's face turn pale with terror. The sharp teeth pierced her brother's neck and he went limp. Catherine fell back, shoving the book in the lake. The shining levitating droplets started to ring. Faintly at first, then louder. Charley screamed. "CAT, HELP ME. CAT, IT HURTS". A light flickered in his wide eyes. She saw his face turn translucent. Then his neck, shoulders, torso. As he faded, the form behind him took on more substance. Dark, leathery limbs sloughed from a central mass. Two larger appendages unfolded behind it, spreading a large thin membrane. Dark eyes appeared along it, burning with white light. The ringing reached a crescendo and in a flash of bright light, it stopped. Catherine looked at the empty platform, now a waning gibbous as the light slowly left the platform. "Charley....?"