Chapter 12: The father, the son and the ghost

In which two sons and two fathers merge, and a secret is hid behind another.

Anne-Linn is floating peacefully in a sea of soft fluffy duvets. But gradually she becomes aware of the sound of traffic. She realizes she is lying outdoors. Her feet are cold, and she realizes they are sticking out of the duvets. Then she hears approaching footsteps and knows she is lying near the road. She suddenly feels very embarrassed and lays still, hoping that she will not be seen. But the footsteps slow down and stop right beside her.

Embarrassment and nervousness give way to paralyzing fear, as someone starts to pull at her bedclothes. The movements are rough and quick, and then she finds herself rolling over on her back as the duvets are jerked away. In the pale cold morning light she is lying on her back stark naked and Jon is looming over her. Except he looks different now... older, more muscular and with broader shoulders. Also his skin is gray like ash, and she can not see his eyes... there is only a deep shadow where they should have been. She realizes that he has become some kind of monster, a creature of the darkness. He is also obviously lustful, his abnormal maleness very noticeable. There can be no doubt about what he is going to do, and that he is not going to ask for her permission. She wants to scream, but her body will not obey her. Helpless before him, she can only await her fate.

"Stop!" Her eyes move toward the sound, and he comes out of the morning mist, striding toward them. To her confusion she sees that it is Jon, the Jon she remembers. His face is... not as much angry as determined, as he speaks again: "Never again, father." Father? The monster turns toward him, and then it laughs, a cruel barking laugh. Suddenly dark fires surround it. The black flames seem to radiate cold instead of heat, shadow instead of light. The monster lifts its hands, and the unnatural fire washes over Jon.

Even though it is cold rather than heat, the dark fire burns Jon's clothes to ashes. But his skin, strikingly pale against his black hair and the blackness that burns around him, does not burn or blister. Instead, it seems to suck the fire in, to absorb it into his own body. The monster makes a sound somewhere between a growl and a scream, and keeps pouring the dark fire at him. But then she sees. The creature of darkness is no longer pouring the fire out – Jon is drawing it. He is almost touching it now, and chanting in a foreign language which she just knows is Latin. He is performing some ancient ritual of exorcism, only not quite. The creature howls now, and then it starts to fade, to dwindle and become transparent. Jon's face is beaded with sweat, and then she notices his eyes. For some reason they were a bright blue, like the sky, but now they are becoming gradually darker as he absorbs the darkness that was his father and stores it inside his own body. The scream raises in pitch as the form dwindles, becomes a mere ghost, and fades.

"It is done." He kneels beside her. "The darkness is inside me now, but it is a darkness I can contain." He seems unaware that they are both naked, but she is suddenly aware of it, acutely. She had never realized he would be this handsome. She reaches out to touch him, but as her fingers touch his skin, he jerks back as if burned, and disappears in thin air. The cold air on her naked skin makes her shiver, and the impossibility of it all fills her, overwhelms her, convinces her. She wakes up.

Through the open window, cold morning air flowed over her hot body, while her bedclothes lay in a heap beside her. She lay there while her heart slowed down, and while the unfamiliar mix of emotions slowly drained from her body. "That's no way to think about a brother" she whispered, and sat up.

She realized it now. Knew enough psychology to understand that only part of her dream was about the dark and handsome stranger. That the real subject of the dream had been Joachim, her brother, who had been used that way by his father. In the dream, the son had been able to contain his father's evil; but in real life, he had not. Here it was Joachim who had become a ghost, a memory forever roaming the halls above. The halls where they used to play as children, but where she could never go again without seeing him, without tears stinging her eyes.

But the other feelings – the ones she woke up with – were not like anything she had felt for her brother. Well, not really. "Perhaps I'll still become a woman one day" she whispered to the wind. Perhaps men were monsters, as she had believed when she read that last letter from Joachim. But it was an evil that most of them could contain. That was the message of her dream. Perhaps the time for healing had come, at last.