In the dark recesses of the cavernous basement, flickering candlelight played with the shadows cast around the room. Eric moved through the motions he’d studied for the past year. He whispered an incantation. “Adah solicani dusio. Abrami solis verdana.”
The words swirled around him like the smoke of an ancient Indian war signal. They spiraled, encircling his body, shooting up through a vent in the rocky ceiling. The sweet rose water scent oozing from the flaming candles tickled his nose. He scrunched it to relieve the discomfort.
“Dulisio mordicani andahit.” He moved his body in harmony to the chant’s cadence. The expressions, strange and difficult, were alluring and hypnotizing even to him.
Had an hour passed, a minute? He’d lost all sense of time, pursuing the arduous work he had studied hard to master. He wouldn’t know the result right away. Therefore he needed to keep alert. His “father” had used the same incantation once before, but had forbidden him to try because of its complexity and the need for precise details. Only one wrong syllable and the outcome would be uncertain…even disastrous. He smirked. Since the man wasn’t his real father, why should he follow his overly cautious advice?
The room filled with thick fog, making it difficult to see. As the white smoke seeped into the ceiling and through the vent, black appendages snaked down toward him, slithering, curling. An acrid scent of burned wood replaced the annoying rose water aroma. Eric stopped moving while silky strands engulfed him, forming a tight, translucent cocoon. His heart beat faster, but he had no time for fear.
“Adai columbarih andath doluri.” Though muffled, he continued, his chant rising to the ceiling before the cocoon exploded into a million pieces like a shattered mirror. Each shard puffed into dust as it hit the ground,.
Breathing heavily, his movements slowing, he doubled over, dropping to the cold floor. His mind drifted to the time when he pushed Mona down the stairs. Uncle Richard had rushed her to the hospital, but Eric knew she’d died.
Cold and stiff, his body twitched a few times before slipping into what he thought must be a semi-catatonic state.
Eric limped into the dining room to find his fake father eating. “I see you’ve started without me.” Dragging out his usual chair, he sat then opened the crisp, white napkin, laying it across his lap. Still frazzled about his clandestine actions, Eric sucked in air as panic squeezed his lungs. He pulled at his shirt collar.
His dad radiated anger, filling the air with a tension that blocked Eric’s windpipe. He squirmed in his chair and took a deep breath to calm himself. Whatever was up the man’s ass, he wanted nothing to do with it.
“You’re late for dinner.” He glanced at Eric, his dark brows pinched. “What have you been doing?”
He shrugged and picked up his fork. “Not much, really.” He focused on his plate, not trusting himself around the man, who was just too sharp to miss anything going on in the house.“Have you finished your school project?”
“Yeah. Got that done a few days ago.”
Jason nodded and took another bite.
Eric wiped his mouth to hide the smirk spreading across his face. Reaching over, he grabbed the saltshaker and used it generously.
“You eat too much salt. Put it down.”
He stared at the man from the corner of his eye and, with deliberate movements, made it snow over his dish. Strong fingers wrapped around his wrist, causing him to drop the shaker. Clunk. It rolled a few inches, stopping against his water glass.
“You have blood pressure problems. After all you’ve been through with your health, do you want to die of a heart attack?”
He yanked his arm away. “If Uncle Richard says I can have some salt, then I can have some salt.”
“When we attended medical school together, we studied the effects salt has on the body. I seriously doubt Richard ever said you could eat a mountain of salt.”
“It’s my body and—”
Grabbing his steak knife, he pointed it at Eric. “Be very careful with what you’re about to say.”
At the man’s dangerous inflection, he swallowed, deciding to keep quiet. He’d never won a battle with Jason and found it best to surrender before it got ugly. After a moment, the guy returned to his meal, slicing a bite of sirloin and stuffing it into his mouth.
Relief shuddered through Eric. Deciding on safer topics, he asked, “How is Mona doing?”
“I’m not aware of what went on between the two of you, but she’s home,” he rumbled. “She didn’t suffer a concussion, but despite the unusual circumstance, she’ll recover.”
He sighed with satisfaction. So my hocus-pocus worked.
“We agreed she should be well enough to attend school tomorrow, so be sure to pick her up. It’s always best to arrive with someone you know when starting a new school in the middle of the year.”
“By the way….” Jason wiped his mouth, placed the napkin on the table, and stood. “Don’t think I don’t see what you’ve been up to. The consequences of your actions will catch up with you and cost dearly.” He walked out of the room, his posture as stiff as if he’d swallowed a croquet stick.
Annoyed at the fact the man missed nothing, Eric jumped to his feet, knocking the chair to the floor. “Shit.” Grumbling under his breath, he righted his chair. “Can’t fart in this fucking house without him knowing.”
Chucking his napkin at his half-empty plate, he took refuge in his bedroom. It would be a long evening in his little sanctuary, but he didn’t want to risk the questions that could arise.
Sitting at his desk, he pounded his fist. Jason might be a powerful man, but that wasn’t the main problem. Too many people loved him so getting rid of him would raise too much suspicion—all fingers pointing to him, the belligerent son. Although murderous thoughts circled his mind, he settled for no action. No, I have to work around him.
Placing his elbows on the desk, he buried his face in his hands. But can I accomplish all my plans while dancing around that jackass?
Annoyed at the situation—terrified to be exact—he lifted his head, examining the shadows around the room. Glancing at his cell phone, he rubbed his chin. Damn! I didn’t realize it was so late. Pushing to his feet, he took off his pants, adjusted the elastic of his boxers, and crawled between the covers.
He clicked off the bedside lamp, closing his eyes. Thoughts of Mona filled his mind.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day.