Gone but not forgotten

A Mary and Hieronymous Grabiner story

Chapter 1: The Face

I woke up briefly forgetting where I was. As I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and looked around, I realized I was back in my old room at home. It was 4:30AM and still dark outside. I was still on my Treasurer time schedule. I grabbed my extra pillow with a sigh and covered my face with it.

'Go back to sleep! Go back to sleep!' I yelled in my head.

It didn't help.

I shed my covers and dragged myself out of bed.

The floors were cold considering it was summer now. I slid into my slippers and made my way to the shower to get ready for the new dawn. I stepped into the bathroom I glanced in the mirror before turning on the light.

There I saw two faces staring back at me. One I recognized as my own, and the other...

I quickly flipped on the light.

I was the only one in the room. My heart-felt like it was going to beat its way out of my chest. I used all my senses and cast a spell to see if indeed anyone was or had been in here. I felt nothing. The face had terrified me. Like something out of a horror movie you want to watch but hide your face in a pillow at the last second.

I cringed as I recalled it.

'I think I will take a shower later,' I thought to myself.

I walked out of the bathroom.

Downstairs I could hear the stirrings of my parents.

'Dad must be getting ready to go to work.'

"Hey Dad," I called as I walked down the stairs. The warm glow of the kitchen light encompassed me as I crossed the midpoint of the stairs. The aroma of coffee hit me like a fog and the face melted away from my mind.

Dad looked at me quizzically for a few seconds, cocking his head to the side as realization seemed to come over him.

"….hey, pumpkin. I did not expect you to be up so early. I was just getting ready to head out."

I was used to this sort of reaction from my parents. When I am not in the presence of my parents I seem to slip their mind.

"Is there any coffee left?" I leaned over the counter towards the pot.

"Since when do you drink coffee?" he replied.

"I guess it started with my job as Student Council Treasurer. But my biggest weakness is tea," I said with a grin.

He poured me a cup of steaming java and I took it gratefully and inhaled. I grabbed the sugar and cream and began to pour.

My Dad picked up his lunch and started for the door.

"Oh Pumpkin could you make sure your Mom gets up at 6AM? She has a meeting with her clients today and she is worried she is going to be late because of all the long hours she has put in."

"Sure, no problem."

I took a big sip and felt the warm elixir of morning trickle down my throat.

"Thanks. I will be working late. Chances are Mom will also, so here is $20. Why don't you order a pizza for dinner?"

He opened his wallet and set the money on the dining room table and retrieved his keys hanging on the wall.
"Bye, hun," he said with a wave and walked out the door.

I stared at the bill.

From the corner of my eye in the window something caught my attention. The face. I was frozen in place. I slowly turned my head towards it but as I blinked it was gone.

My spine felt like ice water had been poured down it.

I sensed the room.

Nothing…

What the heck was going on?

I forced myself to approach the window. I reached out with my hand to touch the glass to find it was freezing. I left a hand print on the cold glass as I pulled away.

I sensed for spirits again.

Still I got nothing.

I drew a ward on the floor and went in the kitchen. My mother always had some sea salt in her pantry. I began lining the floor at the walls with the salt.

For a second I thought I heard something but disregarded it. I was rather jumpy anyways and would have jumped out of my skin on the spot if a bird had so much as chirped.

After going throughout the house with the salt and drawing wards, I felt a little better.

Glancing at my clock I saw it was nearing 6AM so I ran downstairs and replaced the salt.

I went to make another pot of coffee for Mom.

I was glad my parents were going to be gone for the day.

'I will have to protect their room after Mom leaves.'

I knocked on their bedroom door.

"Ugh," was the response I got.

"Mom, the meeting…"

"Uhh... Oh yeah thanks, baby."

I could hear her getting up out of bed.

I walked back to the living room.

Watching the window I wondered what could be messing with me.

I looked to the ward on the floor.

Luckily my Mom would not be able to see it.

'I will have to go out and buy her more salt today,' I thought.

My Mom stepped out of her room with a stack of papers in her mouth as she was pulling on her suit jacket.

I went and grabbed a cup of coffee in a to-go mug for her.

"You are a lifesaver," she smiled big and a few papers dropped to the floor.

I bent to pick them up and helped her place them in her briefcase.

"I will be late so din..." She glanced at the 20 on the table. "I guess Dad told you. Don't get Pizza, there is a new café around the block owned by some nice folks. I helped them out with their license. Why don't you eat there and get a proper meal?"
She leaned over and kissed me on top of my head.

"I will be busy all week and you know how your Dad gets. I'm sorry, honey. You just got home and we can't even spend time with you. Can you call Tessa and see if you can hang out with her?"

"Yeah, I might do that," Tessa was my best friend before I left for Iris Academy. "Drive safe I will see you later."

"Don't stay up too late, okay sweetie?" Mom said as she stepped out the door.

After I heard her car drive away I went to the kitchen and grabbed the salt. I warded their room and bathroom. An audible sigh left my lips and I went to the living room and sunk down into the couch. Before I knew it I was asleep.

"Grabiner…" A voice dripping with venom whispered in my head. "Grabiner..."

To my horror, the face whispering the words appeared in my mind.

I woke up, surrounded in silence and darkness. My ears are ringing. My head is pounding and my body is aching.

Suddenly I hear whispers all around me. I can't make out what they are saying, but I feel nothing but dread and hate from them. I struggle to try to understand what they are saying to no avail. I go to raise my hand to reach out into void but I cannot move my body. The whispers get louder and louder as I feel like I am beginning to spin.

'I have been here before.' The sudden realization comes over me. Fear wraps me in its claws and my consciousness begins to fade away.

With the last of my strength I use Farspeak and call out.

'Hieronymous!'
Then all is silent.