The Watch Part 6
The photo shifted from a happy, smiling portrait of Veronica around age five standing with her parents to a faded picture of just her mom and dad. They were the same age, but they were sad, haggard. And Veronica was not in the photo. The image changed again, but this time there were two shadows in the background. One looked to be the demon that was standing behind her now while the other reminded Veronica of the shadow man she saw as a child. The same man who tried to shield her earlier but was vanquished by Keres.
Veronica turned to face the demon. He was smiling, especially because it was obvious Veronica still hadn’t figured out what was going on. Keres approached.
“Do you remember falling into the pond when you were five?” he asked.
“The one behind your cousin’s house.”
Veronica saw flashes from her childhood. She was swimming in the pond behind her cousins’ summer cottage, jumping off the dock and screeching happily. And then the memory stopped.
“We were only there a few times that one summer,” Veronica recalled. “I don’t remember going there after that.”
Keres laughed quietly, “What did your parents tell you about that?”
Veronica stared at the demon, annoyed at the games and confused by his questions. Who cared about the pond? What did that have to do with anything?
Keres continued, “They told you that your uncle decided to sell the cottage. That’s why you never went back. But that’s not what happened.”
Another flash of memory and Veronica felt as if she couldn’t breathe. She was sinking into the pond, swallowing the water. Everything went black.
“It’s coming back to you,” Keres said. “You drowned in that pond. Do you remember that now?”
Veronica’s mouth hung open for a second before she nodded.
“I remember going under the water. I remember I was too far out from everyone else. I don’t know why I drifted so far, but I did. And I didn’t have a tube or those arm things that kids use. My body was so heavy…”
Keres walked closer to her. Veronica looked back at the photo, and it showed her father cradling her limp body, her mother sobbing. Keres stood right behind them.
“They made a deal with me that day,” Keres explained. “Your parents’ cries were deafening. Every demon and angel heard their wails. But my deal was the best one. You see, they begged me to restore your life. To revive you while you lay in the hospital bed slowly fading away. But there’s always a catch, Veronica.”
Veronica’s eyes filled with tears. “I died. I was dead.”
“You were,” Keres laughed. “And I brought you back. But the deal was, once your parents were gone, you were mine.”
“What?” Veronica gasped.
“Your parents were selfish, Veronica,” he continued. “They were only concerned about their pain, their anguish living without you. They were so desperate to relieve themselves of their grief that they never thought about you and what that would mean after they were dead. That the payment was your soul. They’d be dead and you’d be here. As long as they lived, you were safe, but once they were gone, they didn’t have to witness anything bad relating to you.”
Tears gushed down her face. She was confused, hurt, and even a little sympathetic. She knew how pained they must have been losing her, and that grief clouded their foresight. They never imagined what would happen after they were gone. Did they think this demon would forget? And who was the man in black?
As if reading her mind, Keres said, “He followed you back from the afterlife and became your protector. He thought he was strong enough to keep me away. He was wrong.”
Veronica stood frozen, face to face with a demon ready to claim her soul. There was no way out.
Unless she made a deal…