The Watch Part 4
Veronica opened her eyes wide and looked into the figure’s face. He still gripped her tightly but she felt less overcome with cold than before. Slowly his face becomes clear and she finally saw every detail.
He was old, like her grandfather was when he died. She was 15 years old and tried to hide how upset she’d been at his passing. She loved her grandfather more than she could articulate, but teenage Veronica would never let anyone see her vulnerable.
Around the figure’s clear blue eyes were dark, crinkly circles, like he hadn’t slept in decades. His nose was long and crooked, leaving little space between the tip and his thin pale upper lip. Under his black hat small tufts of white hair poked out. He wore a long black coat that looked like something Cary Grant would wear in the old black and white movies her grandfather always watched.
The man looked sad and Veronica thought he might cry. Instead, he whispered “he’s coming” over and over, his raspy voice getting tighter with each utterance.
“Who?” she asked him. “Who’s coming?”
There was a thump from upstairs, like someone dropping a book on the carpet overhead. Veronica looked instinctively in the direction of the staircase, but the figure continued to stare at her until she met his eyes again.
The man tugged on her arms, pulling her toward the window. Veronica resisted and tried to pry herself free, but he was too strong even though he looked so frail.
“Stop!” she yelled. “Let me go!”
“SSSSSHHHHHHHHHHH…” the figure hissed, his nose almost touching hers.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
The sound drew closer to the top of the staircase, and Veronica’s heart pounded as it grew louder. The man pulled her toward the window, his breathing getting more rapid with each step.
“I don’t understand,” Veronica began. “What is that?”
“He’s coming. He’s coming for you.”
Before Veronica could respond a gust of wind blew through the living room, nearly knocking her into the figure and sending them both crashing onto the floor under the window. The man caught her and pulled her into his black coat, shielding her from the gale invading the room. The remaining furniture slid and tumbled, and Veronica feared they’d be crushed by the old sofa that still sat nearby.
Then it stopped.
Instead of feeling relieved that the gusting wind has ceased, Veronica felt uncomfortable in the quiet, still atmosphere. Slowly, like someone turning up the volume on a car radio, a throaty laugh filled the room. The man drew her closer to him under his coat. She felt him shaking as he tried to protect her from whatever this Keres was.
She felt breath right next to her face. Only the cotton of the black coat stood between her and the rapid gasps. Unlike the man who shielded her, this breath was fetid… rotten. Veronica felt her stomach flip as the stench filled her nose. She was sure she’d retch if she stayed there much longer, but before she could decide what to do, Keres ripped back the coat and stood over her.
She turned around toward her protector. The man in black, the figure she’d seen her whole life, was gone. Only his black coat remained draped around her.
In front of her was a demon.