Chapter 8: Shock and Horror
Deidra felt like a rat in a trap. At any given moment, Caitlyn would succeed in breaking down the door. No one was coming to help. Out of desperation, Deidra started talking aloud to her. If she could somehow talk some sense into Caitlyn, it might buy Deidra enough time to escape. She stepped back over to the door.
“Caityln stop it! Look, I can see something has got you under some sort of …spell…or trance. You would never hurt anyone. That’s what your parents Gene and David said. They were always saying such wonderful things about how kind and generous and smart you are.”
There was a moment of silence. Had it worked? As if she overheard the hopeful thought, Caitlyn launched herself against the door so hard that it rattled. Deidra thought she heard a crack forming in the wood. Panic sent her gaze flitting around the room, seeking a means of escape. One look at the window and she immediately dismissed that route. They were so high up, a fall would break every bone in her body.
“Caitlyn, please don’t hurt me. I don’t want to die. I’m trying to make it home to my family. You can come with me. I know you said that you were afraid they would harm your parents, but that’s not true. There are so many people in this place that if we timed our escape just right we’d be home, long before they even knew we were gone. Caitlyn? Did you hear me?”
No response from Caitlyn. She was silent again. Deidra felt it impossible to tell whether or not her words had any effect. Seconds stretched into minutes. Deidra pressed an ear against the door and listened intently. Was she still out there? Caitlyn abruptly redoubled her efforts to batter down the door. Deidra jumped back and frantically spun around. She spotted a vent grille high up on the wall, over the mirror. Deidra closed the lid on the toilet and stepped up onto it.
The grille was still out of reach. She clambered up on the lip of the sink, holding onto a wall-mounted ornamental sconce to steady herself. Up close, the grille didn’t look very wide. Even if Deidra managed to pry it off and shimmy through the opening, she might not be able to crawl through the air duct. A sudden vision of being stuck inside of it, with Caitlyn mauling her, made Deidra jump back down to the floor.
There was a deafening crash and the door splintered inward. Deidra’s hands reflexively flew up to protect her face, as she quickly backed up. Her legs collided with the toilet and she nearly lost her balance. Caitlyn stood in the doorway, chest heaving, snarling with extended upper canine teeth visible in her open mouth. Struck dumb by fear, Diedra vigorously shook her head from side-to-side in a feeble attempt to ward off the attack.
Seeing her own horrifying transmutation reflected back at her for the first time, Caitlyn began screaming and couldn’t seem to stop. Over her shoulder, through the window across the room, the first blush heralding the rising sun was visible. The effect on her was instantaneous. Deidra watched transfixed, as the fangs receeded and the unnatural gleam faded from dilated pupils.
Caitlyn’s tortured, hysterical screaming was ear-piercing. It sounded as though she was the one under attack. At any moment, Vincent might rush in and strike Deidra down without pausing to assess the situation. Deidra sprang into action, firmly grabbing Caitlyn by the shoulders and shaking her.