Dione walked swiftly down the second story corridor of the mansion and began to descend the large stairway, thinking to intercept the two women coming out of the spacious living room again. She was wrong. When no noise could be heard behind the door, Colleen opened it again and wisely took the pathway upward with Marsha following. The slower woman shut the door and locked it as a move of strategy, but after quickly getting into the hall above, she stopped and said, "I still feel like a boiled noodle, Colleen. Let's rest a bit."
She understood but did not want to. "I can't, but just stay here in the open until you see her coming."
"What . . . what are you going to do?"
"Try and set her up, I hope. You'll see. Just look frightened and run toward me when you see her."
"Of coarse! What do you think I am now by being . . . the bait of your crazy plan, happy? It better work."
"Trust me!" she replied, whispering loud. "I got you out of a tight squeeze in time before."
Dione voiced an exclamation of disappointment when she peered into the living room, only to see them gone. She raced back upstairs angry for being deceived but unaware the trick was still not over. After seeing Marsha frantically run into the adjacent corridor at the end of the long hall, she took pursuit fast with her temper flaring and had no intentions for any more leniency or mistakes. There was thus no room in her mind for second thoughts of caution and forewarning.
When she reached Marsha's previous location, she turned and saw Colleen lunging forward to deliver a blow but could not react evasively in time. Her rival adversary charged a short distance from just behind the wooden corner of the old wall and slammed her fist against the bottom of her jaw after she appeared. The impact it had sent her head snapping back wildly; her lovely body toppled hard onto the floor stunned, almost senseless. The brief counterattack worked effectively, giving them the superior position in the deadly conflict now.
Colleen and Marsha stepped carefully over her feebly moving form and went quickly in the opposite way back along the hall. While Marsha looked back at her, Colleen tugged her arm and held her hand with encouragement and confidence renewed. "Good work! Let's hurry up here and find Bonnie and Mom now. They have to be in her room behind one of these doors."
"Yeah. I just hope they're still in one piece yet after being in this place with her till now," she replied.
By the time Dione was able to regain her senses well enough and get back on her feet, she heard the door to her room promptly shut. It had not been locked because she did not ever believe that they would get that far or last so long against her. Now, it was -- to keep her out, but for how long? They had been obviously underestimated. Although she had some supernatural abilities with her tools of the trade, she was still very much as human as them, sharing their faults and vulnerability. Superior power and knowledge at one special subject did not guarantee victory. Nothing did, except how all of them used it.
The two women turned around inside the room and were amazed at what they saw, while smelling a strong floral odor of burning incense. A thin purple haze covered the carpeted floor, and the similar colored book of chants was open suspended in the air in front of the dragon painting between the two lit candles. An unnatural force held it steady in the air, as if from the dragon's glowing red eyes on the mysterious canvas. Even the designs on the black bed quilt appeared to be shimmering bright red and silver in sharp contrast. The place had the uninviting atmosphere of a dim castle dungeon rather than an elegant guestroom of a rich family's mansion.
A loud pounding on the outside of the door quickly brought them out of their state of astonishment, and Dione's seething voice said, "You'll never get back out here alive. You're doomed, dead meat! I'll get this door open soon enough."
"We told you before, shrimp, that there would not be any need for this. You started it, and we have the time now to finish it," Colleen boldly replied.
She hit the door once again, harder. "Oh, you're wrong, bitch, so very wrong. Look at your other friends."
The red book was closed on top of the dresser beside the activated burner, with some smaller trinkets and accessories nearby. The incense was very overwhelming, especially for Colleen, whose head started to throb and feel light. Marsha's eyes teared only a little, and walking further into the eerie room and turning her head to the other side and down, she saw Bonnie's distorted form at the back of its exotic confinement spewing bubbles. There was no more noise from the door, and she whispered to Colleen, staring aimlessly ahead. The violet fumes were affecting her.
"Colleen!" she whispered again.
"Hmmm?" she sighed, and then shook head that felt more numb. "Wha . . . what is . . . it?"
"It's Bonnie! Get over here. She's trapped and . . . look! See for yourself. We've got to get her out somehow."
She moaned pleasurably after taking a deep breath. Although the incense irritated her eyes and temporarily caused a headache, it was altering her state of mind fast but not continuously yet. She came closer, and after seeing the horrible image of her sister, said, "Bonnie? Bonnie! Oh, God! What did she do to her in there?"
"Shshsht! Try to get her attention. I'm going to see if that book contains any ingredients needed to get her free."
She stared ahead shortly again, before quickly replying, "No, don't! It could be a trap. Could be . . . "
"I have to take that chance. Imagine the power I could have if I really knew how to use this thing well. Incredible."
While Marsha carefully began turning pages of it at random, Bonnie recognized Colleen in front of the sphere and struggled again, performing an uncanny kind of exotic water ballet amidst the swirling gown and expelled air bubbles. However, she only smiled faintly in return, taking in slow deep breaths and feeling like she was also floating above the floor with her. The helpless, strange-looking woman moved silently and frantically about, changing shape often, but was largely ignored by her thereafter. She appeared to be in a trance, as if enchanted by her desperate aquatic struggles.
Marsha stopped leafing through the suspended book at a page with a few alien words above a circle symbol with some lines under, in, and beside on it and gazed at the glowing eyes of the horned dragon briefly. The risk of trying to tap the power before her and use it was very great but so was the temptation to also. The other book had to have at least as much capabilities as well. Peering down again, she quietly read the incantation, pronouncing the words as best she could, until they reverberated in her mind on their own like an echo -- a distant calling louder and louder that seemed to be from another dimension. Trembling uncontrollably and feeling warm, she cautiously touched the symbol on the icy cold page then and drew a surprising reaction.
Thin bright-orange beams shot forth from the dragon's glowing eyes in the next instant and converged on her hand, searing the skin on top; she emitted a short piercing scream and quickly withdrew it, convinced well enough of doing the wrong thing. Her cry even surprised Colleen, and turning toward her, she said, "What? What happened? Are you okay?"
"N-no! A couple rays shot my hand from . . . there. Didn't you see?"
"I wasn't looking . . . THERE," she replied, and giggled a little.
She coughed and added, "You were too darned high on all of this . . . incense. God, it hurts!"
"This! Look! Snap out of it already."
Marsha went up to Colleen and put her injured hand out in front of her face, but her eyes were more vacant, dreamy again. She sniffed and turned around feeling frustrated and more helpless. While moving away, she threw her arms down, showing the despair, but in the process brushed the burnt hand against the side of Bonnie's cell. She next heard a loud pop, and looking down to the side and grimacing in pain, she saw the globe completely opaque milky white and cracked all over, like a broken car windshield. Did she have some kind or amount of the supernatural power stored a bit anyway?
Colleen remained stationary, breathing the incense vapors deeply, and a few seconds later, the spherical confinement fell apart into numerous pieces, releasing its contents. She did not even appear to feel the water spill against her lower legs. Bonnie was amazingly restored to normal but still weak and very much disoriented from the bizarre experience. Lying on the wet carpet with her vision clearing slowly, she could see the glass fragments dissolve and melt away like dry ice to leave her unharmed otherwise. Her face showed an expression of gratitude, and Colleen's showed that of pure bliss.
While stepping backward to the other side of the room, Marsha coughed again and heard rapid breathing to her rear faintly. After opening the closet door, she quickly put her hands over the bottom half of her face, smothering an abbreviated scream, to finally find Marie. The ghastly sight neutralized her pain briefly, and when the hanging bag stretched outward and the detached enclosed head suddenly came to life, she felt nauseated and had to turn away. "Oh, Colleen. Look what she did . . . to Mom."
Staring beyond into space with her mind aloof, she did not answer. Instead, Dione did -- outside the door. "Too bad, bitches! I'm coming in to get you now. How does it feel to be facing your own extinction?"
With her eyes agape and jaw falling open in fear, Marsha saw a bright yellow light appear along the perimeter of the door and heard a simultaneous humming sound. Then, she heard the plastic bag close by flex also, as Marie's sealed body meagerly moved inside and breathed, panted more rapidly. She turned toward her again and observed in pity, barely able to stand the sight, as the hum grew louder. The older woman's bulging eyes behind the large glasses shifted up and down repeatedly as her open hands, pressed against the stronger sleek plastic, tried to reach up. With Marsha's head starting to pound and shake, she put her hand slowly against hers and said, "I understand, Mom, and know what you want, but there is just . . . no more time. I'm so very sorry!"
Continued to Pt. 5.