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Fountain of Death
Peter gazed up at the manor, awed by its vast bulk. How had his grandparents ever bought such a huge house? Surely his parents would have known about this. Peter hadn't even met his Granny Ada and Papa Stuart before their deaths, and had only heard of them described as exquisitely rich. He never thought meeting them would matter.
Maybe it did.
Tearing his gaze away from the house, he looked over the grounds. The grass was crumpled and brown, a few stubborn yellowing spots left. Trees were almost non-existent. The few that were there had died long ago, bare white branches resembling mottled corpses' limbs. A furiously dark and heavy aura shrouded the house, painting the sky cloudy and ashen-colored. He could smell an almost saccharine aroma rising from the ground. He could feel the summer air grow cold around him.
'Come on, son.' His father said impatiently, walking up the drive with Peter's mother.
Peter steeled himself, taking a deep breath before continuing toward the French doors. They opened with barely a touch, creaking with deafening precision. He stepped inside warily, observing the chipped black paint on the Gothic archways, black oak stairway, and overall dark atmosphere with distaste. The bruise-colored drapes were almost stiff with dust, and the foyer smelled musty and dank with age. Purple, black, and blue seemed to be the main colors in the house.
Peter's spine prickled, and he couldn't stand staying inside the fear-infested house. 'Mom, Dad, I'll be out on the grounds.' He said, trying very hard to keep his voice from wavering as he walked quickly over to the back doors.
'' All right, Peter. Be back for supper.' He barely heard his mother, already running full-pelt away from the manor. He hardly noticed where he ran, just that he couldn't stop.
A warped oak tree root caught Peter by a shoelace, sending him tumbling down into the dell below. He hit something very solid and hard, stone-like, even.
Stunned, winded and aching, he stood back up to see a huge, white marble fountain. The bowl looked very deep, and in the center of it Peter looked upon an intricately ornamental structure of long vines entwined around each other. Silver veins curled through the white rock, and Peter imagined he was seeing the heart of the marble when he looked at the silver. He looked over the brim of the fountain, face glowing pale in the reflection of the clear, pure water.
Something white fluttered in the corner of his vision. He turned towards it, gasping and almost falling into the fountain. A magnificently beautiful girl was under the water, tendrils of her long, silvery blonde hair curling and swaying in the water's motion. She was wearing a long dress of plain white cloth, torn and stained crimson in some places. Her sapphire-colored lips drew back in a cadaverous smile, revealing perfect, white teeth. Her skin was paler than snow, almost translucent. It took Peter a moment to realize that he was staring at a corpse.
He let out a shrill yell, slightly muffled by his hand over his mouth. 'What the'?' The girl's flinty eyes sparkled as she giggled. No air bubbled to the surface, which made Peter's assumption quite true.
This girl' 'You're a phantom' a spirit.' Peter murmured, and the girl nodded her head eagerly. Peter jumped back, as if he'd been stung. She could understand him.
The girl frowned in concentration, staring at Peter intensely. Suddenly, Peter experienced a brief session of phantasmagoria. Random pictures of his parents putting dinner on the chipped table in their new, dark dining room rammed themselves into his mind, and he blinked, realizing they were getting ready to eat dinner.
Peter turned to leave, looking back at the spirit girl one more time. Her wide eyes looked fearful, as if she were about to weep. 'I will come back.' Peter promised, and she immediately brightened, sending a bolt of warmth through Peter. He looked away, sprinting back to the nearly decrepit manor where his parents were awaiting him.
It was now autumn, turning to winter. Peter had visited the beautiful spirit girl every day, just to make sure she was still there. In all the time he'd spent there, he'd found out her name was Kate.
Poor little Peter Renards had fallen in love with Kate, the phantom in the water.
He bent down close to the clear, bright water, smiling at Kate. 'I'll visit you this afternoon. The school bus will be here soon to pick me up. I love you, Kate.'
Her lower sapphire lip quivered, and she attempted something she'd never tried before. She pushed her pallid hand through the water and grabbed Peter's wrist, eyes pitiful.
Peter's eyes widened when he saw the desiccated, corpse-like hand coil around his arm. Brown bones were visible through the sallow, translucent skin. The knuckles had broken through, leaving blood-red stains on Peter's wrist. What scared him the most was the freezing, dead cold that surrounded the hand. He cried out in horror, stumbling back.
Kate looked at her hand, terrified, and pulled it back beneath the water. It was the snow-white, whole hand again, but Peter couldn't get the image of the revolting sight out of his head. He stared at Kate with dismay, and her eyes said, please, don't leave me. Please'
Peter shook his head, running up the dell and toward the bus stop. The yellow bus was pulling around the corner of his road. Peter stumbled to a halt at the end of his drive, breathing heavily. He hid his bloodied wrist in his jacket pocket and boarded the bus once the doors had opened; ignored the surprised stares he was receiving from fellow students.
He collapsed in his assigned seat, feeling exhausted already. He looked across the seat and yelped, jumping slightly.
Kate fiddled her thumbs, 'I'm so regretful I terrified you like that.' She chuckled, 'To tell the truth, I upset myself.' She looked up, flinty eyes misted over with tears. 'Oh, you're still scared. I-I...'
Peter stared at her with an incredulous and distraught expression, 'H-how' Kate, I' I think I'm going crazy' You're' you're not supposed''
Kate smiled and shook her head, 'No. You're not crazy.' Her eyes widened, 'Peter, you have a cut on your forehead, let me clean it'' she reached up to brush Peter's shaggy jet-black bangs out of his cut.
Peter's eyes widened at the hand; it was the shriveled, dead, bloody one he'd seen earlier. 'No!' he said loudly, scooting back in his seat, brown eyes filled with revulsion and fear.
Kate looked hurt. 'B-but' you have a cut''
'No!' he clamped his hands over his ears and closed his eyes tightly, 'No' I'm just imagining' this isn't real'' He opened his eyes to see that Kate was gone.
He sighed in relief. The bus ride was shortly over, and he hurried off, jogging to the school entrance. He almost ran to the bathroom, knocking into several other students.
The lights flickered eerily in the bathroom as he washed his bloody wrist vigorously.
'The blood won't come off.' A feminine voice said softly, and Peter looked into the mirror to see Kate again, but this time her whole body was now a desiccated corpse, brown, mummified, and disgusting. Her eyeballs now gone, her lips shriveled, teeth now exposed in an everlasting manic grin.
'My God, leave me alone, you monster!' Peter shouted, punching the mirror with such frenzied energy it shattered. His own blood now mingled with the stains already on his skin, and he ignored the shards of glass embedded in his knuckles. He left the bathroom in haste, pushing through the teachers and students, running through the door to the outside. He ignored the teacher's calls to get back in to the school, and started his run back to his home.
He was driven by pure dementia, running through the woods like that. All he wanted to do now was to kill that monster that had stolen his Kate away from him. His beautiful, lovely Kate'
He was going to kill death.
Peter burst into his house, ignoring his parents' alarmed voices and running upstairs. He grabbed the razor-sharp knife he kept in one of his desk drawers, the one he'd use to defend himself if he ever needed to.
And suddenly, he was in front of the fountain. He couldn't remember any part of the trip there, but his clothes were torn, bloodied, and ripped, like he'd been through some struggle. His eyes widened in pure fear. What if he'd killed his own parents?
It was driving Peter over the edge. Death had taken Kate. No matter how long ago it had been, Death had still taken her. Death had probably made him kill his parents.
He saw Kate in all her splendor, but her eyes showed dread. They asked: what are you doing to yourself, Peter?
'I'm going to free you,' he breathed, bringing the dagger over his head and sending it whistling through the air.
No, Peter! She caught his wrist once again in her shriveled corpse hand. The dagger slipped from his palm, and he heard the sound of metal on marble. He fell over the fountain's rim and into the freezing waters, falling into darkness, going down, down, down'
Suddenly, Peter woke up. He felt light, airy, even. He was laying flat on his back, staring up through some kind of liquid glass. It moved and swirled, just like water'
He felt a tug on his sleeve and looked to his left to see Kate. She was smiling hugely, glowing in her own light. 'Hello, Peter.' Her voice was more musical than before.
Peter pulled her into a hug, surprised that he could do that. 'What' what's going on?'
Kate's smile got wider, 'Oh, Peter' You've died.'
'What?' He was confused. Died?
'I said you've died. Touching the waters in the Fountain of Death' well, it kills you.'
It all dawned on Peter that moment. He had never touched the water before, so he didn't die. But, when he futilely tried to save Kate' 'I fell in''
Kate giggled, 'Yes. But I'm here, with you.' She paused and added, 'We're not alone, anymore, Peter. You saved me.'
Peter smiled. They could really be together. Right here, where no one else could bother them. Not even Death.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
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We do not inherit the earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.