Edward spoke from inside her head. Honeybunch, I don’t think there’s anyone coming.
Whatever was gnawing on the door finally broke through. What Moira saw was a thousand rats. The horror she felt was etched on to Diane and LaWanda’s face, as well as the faces of the two ugly fat men in woman’s clothing. This was hell, she knew it.
No, it’s not, Edward said. But it will be.
The cats reacted instantly, though not in the way that Moira thought they would. They began hissing louder and howling at the highest decibel possible, but they did not chase them like normal cats would. Instead they tightened the circle with all of them inside of it. The rats ran away to be swallowed by shadows.
“I think we’re safe!” Valhalla said. “I’m going to do a bump to celebrate, anyone want to join me?”
“I don’t want drugs in my home.” Diane said.
“Too late honey, already smoked a joint, that gives me the all clear.” She pulled a little brown vial from her purse.
What’s coming Edward? Moira asked inside her head. How she longed to have him next to her, but she would take his voice, it kept him alive in some way.
I’m sorry, was all that he said.
A shape materialized at the apartment door. Its shadow was that of a man and it was one that Moira recognized instantly. “Edward?” She said out loud. She would know his shape anywhere, could pick his shoulders out of a crowd, or the back of his neck in her dreams. “Edward?”
“What are you doing, Honeybunch? Why don’t you let the rats come in to play? You know it’s supposed to happen.”
“What are you doing here?” Moira asked. “You’re supposed to be dead!”
“Don’t listen to him!” LaWanda said. “He is the shadow in a different guise. It is not your dead husband!”
“Are you going to listen to these strumpets Honeybunch?” Edward asked. His voice came out in a soft hiss. The cats turned on him, hissing in their own voices.
Moira knew there was something different about Edward, something different that the cats didn’t like. Coming back from the dead probably did that. But Edward didn’t have that gleam or red in his eyes before…did he? “You can’t be here. You can’t. I lowered you into the ground. You’ve been gone for so many years.”
“I’m back now, Honeybunch. Back to take care of you. Do what the rats want and give the cats to them. It’s the only way.”
“No, it isn’t!” Diane screamed at him. “Moira, that isn’t your husband, it isn’t! It may look and sound like him, but it’s not! Trust in yourself!”
“Go away!” Moira said. “Edward, please go away, you can’t be here, this isn’t real.”
“Honeybunch, just do what he says. Let the guard down. You’re the one keeping it up, but then again your will was always strong. Let me kill these other bitches and then we can be together.”
“Leave me alone!” Moira screamed, standing closer to LaWanda and Diane. “I’m so afraid, so afraid.”
“Then let me help you.” Edward said. His voice a dark whisper hiss of static. “Let me take care of you, let me love you.”
“Listen you bastard, she doesn’t want your help.” Barbarella said loudly. “She doesn’t need your raggedy ass dead body either!”
“Barbie, I don’t think that’s her husband.” Valhalla said. “I think it’s the guy doing all this.” She sniffed and a bit of white powder on her nose disappeared.
“I don’t care who it is, I’m tired of being fucked with and this ends now!”
Barbarella took off her five inch stiletto heels and dropped one. She held the other in her left hand, heel out. “Time to give you some back what you’ve given us!”
She ran at him, but Edward merely laughed. That is, until Barbie thrust the heel of the stiletto through his left eye.
He roared in rage and clutched at his eye. The guise of Edward melted away until there was only an old man standing where Edward was. He was so old that his skin was like onion skin that had paled over time. Instead of blood, what came out was a thick black sludge that dripped down his face like mud. It seemed to be burning his skin which was lined with thousands of wrinkles, as if someone had drawn him or created him from clay very haphazardly.
His one good eye regarded Barbarella and though it was filled with hate and loathing, it was the striking red colour that they all noticed first. Red like rubies or the jewels of the Nile.
He was breathing heavily and spat at Barbie, black blood still coursing down his face making his skin smoke where the oil like sludge touched it.
“That’s it.” He said. “No more mister nice guy. You’ve all been players in a game, my game. But not I stop playing and start cheating. I am the Game Master after all.”
With a further roar or rage, he was gone in a cloud of black birds that seemed to come from his own blood until he was gone, leaving the broken door behind.
There was silence for a moment broken only by the sounds of Moira crying. She felt as if she had lost her husband all over again. Then Valhalla spoke.
“I’m not sure that was a good idea, Barbie. I think you really pissed him off.”
“This if actually a good thing.” LaWanda said softly.
“Good?” Moira wailed. “How is it good?”
“Because we’ve learned that he can bleed. Now someone help me fix the door.”