The Sinful Child by Newton Webb
Chapter One: Amelia
The basement was damp and smelled of mould. The only light came in from a naked, dusty lightbulb. Its dim illumination filtered through the dangling strips of flypaper. The dank air hung thick. Spiderwebs beaded with moisture hung from the low ceiling.
Amelia had no more tears left. She stubbornly continued to flex the cable ties. Her wrists were raw, rubbed raw by the unyielding bindings. She didn’t scream. Why would she? Her heartless captor upstairs was the only person within miles.
She still didn’t understand why he was doing this to her.
Was he upset because she’d met someone at the sports bar?
She had gone to bed before the curfew, watched some YouTube on her phone, then woken up to find herself tied to a chair. Her head was fuzzy and she had a bitter headache. Had he drugged her?
Her clothes were rent and torn, letting in the cold, damp air. She pulled again at the plastic despite the pain.
Was it looser, or was she imagining it?
Where was her mother? Where was her brother? What had he done to them?
She had thought she was dry of tears, that her dehydrated body was done with them. She was wrong. Tears welled up once again and fresh streaks ran down her cheeks. He had come down earlier, saying nothing in answer to her shouts. He’d simply thrown a bucket of water over her, then gagged her and left.
It was him.
Panic gripped her. Her heart was pounding, her breath was shallow and fast, and her chest hurt from the tightness around her collarbone. She tried to push up and down to turn the chair to face the stairs and see him, but failed. She tried to speak through the gag, but he had wedged it in tight.
The sound of his steps on the stairs echoed in the tiny room. He came and stood before her.
“This gives me no pleasure, but I have to stop you before you harm anyone else.”
Then she saw the knife in his hand and began screaming. Rallying the reserves of her strength, she tried to break free.
“Stay still,” he commanded.
She did not.
His hand cracked across her face in a slap, but instead of calming her, she erupted into a blind panic and pulled furiously at the cable ties.
“Stop it! I’m going to cut one of the cable ties. If you struggle, you could hurt yourself.”
At that, she stilled.
What is he doing?
Holding down her right arm firmly, he cut the cable tie, then turned her wrist around. She watched him pull out a fresh cable tie. Eyes widening, she seized the moment and pulled her arm out of his grasp. He tried to grip her blood slicked wrist, but she slipped free.
She saw the blade fall to the floor and reached forward for the knife.
He swore, kicking the weapon away from them both, then punched her twice in the face. Her head exploded with pain and her mouth filled with blood as he grabbed her wrist, turned it and reattached it to the chair with cable ties.
She wept openly, eyes closed to escape the horror. When a sharp prick lanced into her forearm, her eyes flickered open to see him injecting her arm with a hypodermic needle. She screamed through the gag, bellowing with rage, fury, and fear. He withdrew the needle and released her arm as she struggled.
What was it? What had he injected into her body?
He gripped her chin and angled up her head to look into her eyes. She saw only a cold, clinical expression. This was not the father who had raised her. Her stomach muscles flexed with fear and she shuddered under his firm hand. With his other hand, he reached for something out of her line of sight, pulling out a silver cross and forcing it hard against her flesh, embedding it into her forehead with bruising force.
“I will make you right again.”
She whimpered through the gag.
“Not long now, then I’ll fix you for good,” he said grimly. She watched him until he left her line of sight. His footsteps thumped up the stairs and back into the farmhouse.
She was left alone to wonder what new tortures her father had in store for her.
Chapter Two: Keith
His spade slid into the pile of soil and he threw the final shovel load onto his wife’s grave. Side by side with his son’s remains, they lay still, the ultimate consequences of his daughter's dalliance. His shirt clung to his frame. He was soaked with sweat after his exertions. The memory of the previous night haunted him, of all the horrendous things he had been forced to do.
His mind still failed to comprehend the events.
Keith was a practical man. Physical exercise was his primary method of exorcising his mental demons. He beat the flat of the spade over the disturbed soil to firm it down, then used a bulb planter to insert garlic bulbs, covering them with earth, using his boot. It was still the right season and with luck, they had a good chance of sprouting. He had nailed together wooden crosses and painted on names in crude lettering. They deserved better and would get better, but time was running out.
I can’t save Jane or Ted. But maybe, if God is on my side, I can fix Amelia.
Heading back into the house, he washed his hands, neck, and face. Keith felt gaunt and stretched. He had only had four hours sleep since events overtook him and his insides felt like taut piano wire. He switched the kettle on and found a tea bag for his well-used mug.
As the kettle boiled, he consulted his notebook. He had spent most of the remains of the night on the internet trying to make sense of it all.
Keith had been lying in bed sleeping happily. He didn’t know what he had been dreaming, he only remembered waking to the screams. Flinging the sheets off while he was still half asleep, his legs had buckled under him, causing him to crash his shoulder into the door frame. Jolted into wakefulness, he had hurtled downstairs to see his daughter looming over the limp form of his son Ted, who was still in his pyjamas. Amelia was suckling on his neck... His wife Jane was screaming. He turned away from the bizarre scene to see Jane snatch up a cast iron pan and charge at Amelia, tears in her eyes. He’d intercepted her and gripped her wrists, wrestling the pan till it was dropped on the floor. It was then that he saw the blood on her face.
In hysteria, she had screamed, “Demon!” again and again, her eyes rent with rage and terror.
He hadn’t known what to do.
What do you do?
It was then that he had turned to see Amelia drop the corpse of his son. A wail had escaped from the depths of his body as he saw Ted’s gaunt, pale body collapse to the floor, his head twisted at an unnatural angle.
“Hungry,” it - that could not be his daughter, had said. Fangs had erupted from its mouth, its eyes glowing red. “Hungry!” It had repeated, louder and louder. Then it had leapt at Keith. To his shame, he hadn’t fought bravely. In horror, he’d scooted back across the floor, begging it to stop, for Amelia to return to her senses. Jane had saved him. The pan had clanged, shattering the ghoulish scene, as it had smashed into the back of the defiled form of his daughter. Thick iron should have killed it. Any human would have sunk, submitting to the sheer ferocity of the blow. But whatever it was had only staggered. Before long, yellowed nails had flicked from dark veined hands and had torn his wife’s throat out. Ruby red gore had exploded from the wound and the ravenous creature had fallen upon her dying form and noisily began to drain her blood.
Keith had wept with shame, fear and anger as he swept up the pan and repeatedly bashed in the skull of his daughter. Only when the bent pan handle slipped out of his sweaty hands did he stop his relentless assault. The demonic entity, for that could be the only description of it, had fallen still. As silence fell, broken only by the rattling gasps of Keith’s breathing, he saw that by some dark providence, the back of Amelia’s head was bloody but intact. Her chest was still moving.
How does she still live?
He had taken cable ties from his office, dragged her down to the basement and secured her to the arms and legs of a solid wooden chair, as safely as he could.
She should be dead!
Returning to the living room, Keith had found his wife hadn’t been so lucky.
Perhaps it was because she had no unnatural force preserving her?
He had cradled her head and cried for… Keith didn’t know how long. But when he had eventually stopped a fierce determination had filled him.
What has done this to my family?
Keith had spent the night on the internet trying to make sense of it all. Whatever had happened to his daughter, whatever had led to the ruin of his family, he’d known he couldn’t be the only person to suffer this.
He had been right.
The computer screen was bright in the encroaching darkness. Keith closed his eyes. He could hear his daughter's muffled screams from the dark basement. He was in a private Discord group belonging to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an American group of occultists. He had gone down a Google rabbit hole, disregarding all the crackpots until he had found photos that matched almost exactly what he had seen. He was now talking to an occultist, a survivor who claimed to know of the creature which had infected his daughter.
“She still shows no sign of demonic presence?”
Keith suppressed his grief with difficulty. His mug of tea slowly turned cold next to him. “She looks just like my daughter, but terrified.”
“The infected lie. You must stay strong. The presence that inhabits her is only lying dormant, waiting for its master to complete the ritual. It can take control if it has to, but it is saving its strength.”
“And you are sure that she can be saved?” Keith pleaded with the stranger on the end of the keyboard.
“You tried holy water and the entity didn’t ignite. You injected it with garlic infused saline and it didn’t die. ”
Keith nodded to his monitor. “I’ve done all of that.”
“It is easier to think of it as an infection. Right now, the entity inside your daughter is marshalling its strength and spreading through her system. It fed last night,—”
Fed… Keith watched the text scroll across his screen as the terror from last night was reduced to such clinical terms.
“All it needs to do is to grow and wait for its progenitor to give it a final infusion. This has a twenty-four hour window. If you can keep it away for that long, then the entity within her will exhaust itself, wither and die.”
He looked out of the window at the freshly dug graves of his wife Jane and his son Ted. The shadows from the wooden crosses were lengthening. Keith had little time.
Silver or fire.
That was what the occultist had said.
Keith held a pair of candlesticks which he had inherited from his great grandfather. He’d hammered and sanded them into crude spikes and he now sat in his chair with its back to the basement door, clutching at them for dear life.
He was expecting the windows to explode in, the door to be kicked in, or violence of some form. When the doorbell rang at just past midnight, he jumped in his seat. He could see the front door from where he was sitting and also a tall shadow behind it.
Keith couldn’t swallow. His mouth was dry. This was when his daughter needed him the most, when he should rise and avenge the death of his wife and son. His hands shook as they turned white, clutching the improvised daggers. He needed the loo. He wanted to be sick.
Instead, he rose on unsteady feet and answered the door.
A gentleman in a tailored suit, with small round glasses, white shirt and red check pocket handkerchief, greeted him with a warm smile. “Good morning, I apologise for the ghastly hour, but I am here to claim the hand of your—”
Keith lunged with the candlesticks.
The gentlemen caught them in his hands. “While this cannot hurt me, I really would rather you didn’t ruin my suit.” He gently pushed Keith to one side and entered his home. Keith looked around wildly.
“Should I make you a cup of tea? This will all go much more smoothly if you don’t struggle.” The smile was still plastered on the man's face, as if this was nothing more than a casual greeting in the street. “Now then, where have you sequestered my bride? I can sense that she is here.”
“These are silver…” Keith said, ignoring the question and backing towards the kitchen.
The gentleman scoffed. “Hardly. A scant amount in that alloy I’m afraid. If it helps, my skin did itch when I touched them.”
“I won’t let you take my daughter.” Keith stepped back towards the kitchen door.
His visitor sighed, pulling clear his pocket handkerchief and padding his lips. “You are being beastly about this, you know. This is a rare event, we don’t take a bride often. Your daughter is very lucky.” He looked over his glasses at Keith. “Normally, we don’t have survivors. Marriage should be a much more serene event.”
Keith gnashed his teeth together. He’d retrieved his silver-ish candlesticks. “And what happened to your last wife? Where is she now?” Keith said, trying to buy time as he backed away towards the kitchen sink, pulling out a bucket.
“The Dutch happened, ghastly people. Needless to say, there is now a vacancy.” He pointed at the basement door. “Down there?” He strode towards the door. He paused, flexing his shoulders. “My seventh wife, and I’m still nervous. It is a big decision, isn’t it?” Keith ran at him, hatred burning behind his eyes. The water slopped over the side of the bucket.
Chapter Three: Amelia
Her pulse quickened as she heard the sounds of a struggle upstairs.
A smile crossed her lips and her eyes narrowed.
In the back of her mind, she could feel another presence screaming as it remembered everything. It was nothing to Amelia, a mere headache, easily ignored. She could feel her teeth pushing through her gums, incisors lengthening. Looking down, she watched as her nails grew into their full glory. A ravenous thirst filled her.
Part of her was scared, disgusted even. A moment of confusion blossomed before she tamped it down. She pulled at the cable ties. Her worn wrists had already healed. She was weak, perilously weak.
Master is near. I must be with him.
She wrenched at the chair, straining new muscles that swelled within her arms like steel cord. The door blew in and her fa–Keith–collapsed down the stairs.
He is just flesh now.
Keith looked at her in despair.
It was the wood in the chair that broke first. Tearing first one arm clear, then using her nails to slice open the other cable ties, she stood.
The fight had gone out of Keith as he witnessed her transformation.
That was too much exertion, I should have waited for—
HE appeared at the top of the stairs. She fell to one knee in obeisance.
“My bride,” her master purred. “You may notice my utterly drenched suit. That’s because you left one alive.” He tutted. “Clumsy, very clumsy.” He walked down the stairs to loom over his defeated father-in-law. “Go on, my dear, treat yourself. I feasted on my father, you know?” He smiled. “Even then, he was bitter.”
Amelia stood up, licking her lips, thirst wracking her body as she strode towards Keith, where he had fallen. He had hit his head. She could smell the blood. Her incisors bared and she lashed out with her claws.
Keith’s eyes blazed with pride, with happiness, as he limped to his feet, wielding both of his absurd candlestick knives.
She looked at her master. His beautiful porcelain throat lay open. His precious blood flooded from the gaping wound. Keith… Father was stabbing the open wound with his sticks.
What did I do? How?
“You did it Amelia! I knew you were in there. I knew you wouldn’t succumb.” Keith crowed with happiness as under his relentless assault on her master… no, the creature who had drunk her blood last night at the sports bar, after he fell still, in her subconscious, she heard that voice again. It was angry, it was smug, it was victorious.
She held up her hand. From it dripped black blood. His blood.
Her tongue delicately probed the air towards it. She was so thirsty. She could smell its coppery tang, the faintest hint of sulphur, the scent of salt.
As the little voice within her that had been so powerful just moments ago realised the danger of what she intended to do. It screamed at her to stop.
She froze, paralysed by the warring sides of her mind.
Then she made her decision.