Web Serial: Episode Three
Updated: Feb 26
A Dark Attachment
Genre: Paranormal fiction, Magical Realism
Warnings: Some non-consensual sexual contact (not much and NOT explicit)
Summary: Though Tony Monroe has been helping Memphis, the situation escalates into something he cannot handle.
For three nights, his sister-in-law crawled into the bed Tony normally shared with his husband, curling into a tight little ball and falling into a fitful sleep.
Since he was on days at Parkland, Tony didn’t mind much. Montana was often away, making it difficult to sleep alone. Memphis might be smaller, might not cuddle into his arms and she certainly didn’t snore like a chainsaw tearing through an oak, but it was company.
Still, it’d been years since she’d decided to climb into bed with him.
Tony listened as she finished up in the bathroom, his sister-in-law a creature of habit. When Tana called three days ago, Memphis signaled to Tony not to say anything. It didn’t sit well with him, but whatever Memphis was struggling against wasn’t his story to tell.
Of course, with his gift, Montana probably already knew something was wrong and didn’t want push his little sister.
They hadn’t talked, not in detail, about what happened in Virginia. Tony knew his family well enough after four years to understand it had rattled them. His mother-in-law, the unshakeable Marisol, had hugged him a little too tightly when they returned from that particular mission.
His husband only said that Memphis was attacked, made some joke about her finally dropping a camera. Tony wanted to press, but whatever his beloved had seen when that thing jumped Memphis, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
Hearing her scream the other night had shaken him. He grabbed the bat from his old college days, as though that would do anything against the monsters that haunted this family. Of course, he let her sleep beside him. The fear marked on his ‘little sister’s’ face was enough to break his heart.
Adjusting his glasses over the bridge of his nose, Tony pressed his back against the headboard. Working days meant he could catch up on reading that did not include medical journals and patient charts, so he greedily grabbed novels to speed through when the schedule aligned.
Memphis came into the room a moment later, wearing her usual uniform of soft sleep pants and an oversized t-shirt. Tonight’s boasted a comic book legend in all his glory, which made him smile. Some things never changed.
They’d met four years ago at a bookstore, both of them sitting in to listen to a favorite author speak. Memphis plopped beside him, sharing a few mild comments within the first few minutes that made them instant friends. Tony had even taken Memphis on two dates, wondering if their connection would make romance possible. It hadn’t. No matter how he enjoyed both sexes, his relationship with Memphis was strictly platonic.
And then she introduced him to her brother.
Thinking of his husband, Tony smiled into the book he had open against his knees.
“Ya know, it’s been two years since you guys got married.” Memphis observed teasingly. “You can stop smirking every time my idiot brother crosses your mind.”
Tony clicked his tongue in a ‘sorry for your luck’ manner. “No can do. I love that man.”
Memphis pulled back the duvet and sheet, sliding into the bed beside her friend. Tony turned to look at her, frowning at the dark circles still forming under her eyes, the pale pallor her olive complexion was taking.
“Did you take those sleep tabs I prescribed for you?” Tony asked, his tone sliding into that of medical doctor.
Though she rolled her eyes as she flopped onto the pillow, Memphis nodded. “Yes, Dad. And I took all of my vitamins you also recommended.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, trying to gauge the truth in her statement. Memphis stared back, those dark eyes wide. Satisfied she had done as he asked, Tony nodded.
His companion was smiling as she burrowed into the pillow, pulling the blankets up to her chin. Tony reached over to dim his bedside lamp, though Memphis could sleep anywhere, anytime.
Going back to his book, Tony continued to read. The romance he was currently reading was thoroughly enjoyable, though his husband teased him to no end about his love for happily ever afters.
Memphis fell asleep almost immediately, safe and content and lulled into dreams by the tablets Tony prescribed for her. He didn’t like doing that often, but Memphis wore down every night, her sleep fitful and not restorative. Tony resolved to call Marisol in the morning, should her daughter have another sleepless night.
The house settled around them, lulling into that calm of late night, when the world slid into slumber. Tony kept his breathing even as Memphis drifted off, the only sounds in the room the rumbling of the air conditioner, the soft turning of his pages and the clink of mug against side table as he finished up his hot chocolate.
When his sister-in-law began to whimper in her sleep, Tony grabbed his phone. As the previous two nights, he activated the camera poised above the bed to capture what Memphis was living through as she tried to sleep.
“12:06 am,” Tony said for the recording. “Memphis fell asleep just under two hours ago.”
He continued reading for several moments, hoping the sleep tabs would drag her back under the nightmare. She needed her rest, needed to sleep so whatever was attacking her would loosen its hold.
No such luck.
Memphis rolled onto her back, that pretty face furrowed and tight with confusion, with fear.
Tony slid the bookmark between the pages of his book before setting it on the nightstand. He threw the blankets off of both their bodies, trying to get into a position to monitor Memphis, so she would not end up tangled in the sheets.
He grabbed her wrist, tapping the screen of her watch to flick through the images until he could find her heartrate.
“Heartrate 120 and climbing.” Tony said for the benefit of the camera. “Profuse sweating, uncontrolled muscle movements.”
The convulsions started a beat later, a seizure she had not suffered before.
“Shit.” Tony scrambled for his medical bag, left beside his nightstand in a brilliant stroke of foresight. He had a syringe and bottle of diazepam for his husband’s seizures, but he’d never had to give one to Memphis. In his head, he did a quick calculation of her body weight to get the adjusted dose.
While searching in his bag, a low rumble startled beneath him. He stopped in his digging through the familiar items, glancing at the bed over the rim of his glasses. At first, he wondered if there were an earthquake bearing down on his home, but a beat later, he realized the truth.
The bed was shaking, violently.
Glancing back to his sister, Tony called her name. Memphis continued to seize, her eyes rolling back in her head, arms pressing forcefully into the mattress.
Tony’s hand found the bottle of diazepam by muscle memory, a syringe already in his free hand. Memphis shook more violently, her breath caught in her throat, as though someone, something, had its hands around her neck.
“Memphis!” The fear found its way into his voice as his heart screamed for Montana. “Memphis! Wake up!”
The voice echoed through the room, a low rasp of the words that sent shivers barreling down his spine. Tony glanced around, gripping his syringe and bottle tightly as he tried to locate the source of that voice.
Something was here – in this room – that he could not see. The hair on the back of his neck stood up, his skin crawling at the feeling of being watched.
A lurch of the bed sent him sprawling onto the thick carpeting of the floor. Tony screamed his sister’s name again as the bed continued to rock. The foot of the sleigh-style bed would jump a few feet from the floor before crashing down, then the headboard would copy the motion, as though someone were shaking it like a toy.
Still on the bed, Memphis’ seizure intensified. Tony called her name, trying and failing to stand. His head spun as though he’d cracked it against the floor, making him whoozy as he crawled toward the bed.
It lurched again, sending him sprawling as something in another room crashed.
Sickness pooled in Tony’s belly, in the back of his throat. He flipped through what his husband had told him of oppression by demons, aware that it was happening now. Something was keeping him from Memphis, from helping her.
His eyes found her on the still-quaking bed, widening when he noted that something was shifting her clothing. Her shirt had risen, revealing smooth, olive skin and the covering of a sports bra she always wore to bed.
“Leave her alone!” Tony screamed the words as another crash sounded from outside of the room.
No, against the door. Something was banging against the door, as though to get in. He hadn’t locked the door. What was banging against it and why?
Darkness clouded his mind, a chant reverberating through the room in that same, sinister growl.
Mine. Mine. Mine.
Tony tried to crawl toward the bed, rebuffed once more by a wave of nausea. Pulling himself up, he tried again.
This time, the bedroom door burst open. No, it burst as though something had shattered it. Splinters flew into the room as a male figure appeared in the doorway, turned to the side as though he had used a shoulder to shatter the door. Tony could not move, watching as the tall figure stepped into the room, his eyes on the bed where Memphis had begun screaming.
His voice was low, deep and accented with something Tony couldn’t place. The doctor nodded once, trying to get to his feet.
When the unknown man stepped closer, Tony could practically feel a cleansing air crash over him. The oppression ebbed, as though washed away. Tony stood in one fluid motion, his eyes tracking the tall, dark haired male as he moved toward the bed.
Tony followed, standing on the opposite side. The man spread a hand over the bed, over Memphis’ still-shaking form. Blue eyes closed, his generous mouth moving in what looked like prayer.
As Tony watched, his sister-in-law’s terrifying tremors began to subside, the bed stopped its devilish lurching. He slid onto the bed, still gripping the medication in his hand.
As her body quieted, Memphis slowly pried open those dark eyes, meeting the gaze of their unexpected visitor.
“You’re all right, now.” The man said gently, his accent even more clear. Memphis reached a hand for him. He obliged pressing his palm to hers before briefly entwining their fingers. Tony’s heartrate refused to settle, that gesture between them so loving, so intimate. “Back to sleep. No more nightmares, love. I promise.”
Her gaze cut to Tony, her free hand reaching for him. Tony gripped her hand, astonished to find her familiar fingers frigid.
“I’ll be right here, honey. Go back to sleep.”
Memphis curled onto her side, every motion slow, as though she’d been left without an ounce of energy. The blue-eyed man tucked her in, his hands gentle. Memphis closed her eyes, that exhaustion dragging her back under.
“Ok.” Tony looked at the stranger, dropping the unopened syringe and bottle of sedative into his bag. “Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?”
“I’m Duncan Mitchell,” the man said as he lifted his gaze from where Memphis slid back into sleep. “And I’m here to help her.”
Because he believed that with his whole heart, Tony nodded.
“Ok. I’ll make the coffee, you start talking.”
“I started having the dreams a couple of weeks ago. I could see her face, hear her name in my head, but I didn’t know who she was.” The blue-eyed male ran a hand over his face. “I definitely wasn’t expecting to travel so far from Iverness to find her.”
Tony handed a steaming mug to the male whom had camped on the floor of his bedroom. He sat with his back against the remains of the door which was propped against the wall, long legs stretched out before him. They each took a moment to sample the coffee he had made them, watching the slow rise and fall of Memphis' chest as she slept.
Neither had wanted to leave her alone, no matter how the heaviness in the air vanished. Tony only left the room after ensuring Duncan Mitchell would not, so that Memphis was not alone even for a moment.
The man on the floor had a look about him, an energy as Montana would say. After so long with his empathic husband, Tony managed to pick up a few things. Duncan had to be a healer of some kind. The feel of him in the room was light, clean, as though he had disinfected the very air around them.
Whatever held on to Memphis hadn’t stayed long once he entered the room, which Tony would forever be thankful for.
“What kind of dreams?”
Duncan sipped at the coffee, his blazing blue eyes still on Memphis as she slept. His beard was close-cropped and well maintained, the dark curls atop his head in disarray as though he had run his hands through it too many times. When he arrived, he’d worn a light jacket over his dark jeans and boots. With the jacket now over his lap, Tony could see the well-defined muscle of his chest and arms through the shirt almost the same hue as his eyes.
He was beautiful, ethereal to the point that Tony almost wanted to touch him to be sure he was real.
“It started with just images of her face, the sound of her name.” Duncan admitted, his gaze still on Memphis. “I didn’t know who she was or what she wanted, but I couldn’t get her out of my head.”
Tony glanced to his sister-in-law. The heaviness in Duncan’s eyes was not pervasive or reproachful, but Tony still sat on the edge of the bed, putting himself between the sleeping woman and the man he did not know.
“Soon, I started to hear that demonic voice calling for her, claiming her.” Duncan sipped at the coffee, his eyes meeting Tony’s. “I knew she was in danger, I knew I had to find her. I went back through my family’s archives, trying to find some hint, some clue.”
“Archives?” Tony’s brow furrowed.
“Aye.” The man nodded once. “My grandfather was Cecil Mitchell, he worked here in the States with Sam Monroe in the sixties and seventies.”
At this, Tony started. Memphis had told him about the file she’d pulled, the strangely-documented case from 1966 that seemed to call for her.
“Once I found the Arden file, I knew it was her. His granddaughter. And I knew I had to get here fast.”
At this, Duncan dropped his head back, looking up at the ceiling.
“I don’t know.” Those powerful shoulders shrugged. “I just knew that if I didn’t get here, if I wasn’t here with Memphis, something horrible was going to happen.”
Tony sipped his tea, a thousand thoughts running through his head that he wished he could share with his husband.
They lapsed into silence at this, listening as Memphis snored lightly from the bed. Whatever he had done, the woman was finally able to sleep. Perhaps, in the morning, she might be able to really dig in to what was happening to her, without the cloudiness of lost sleep.
The words hung on the air. Duncan tilted his head back down, those intense blue eyes meeting his. Tony offered the gratitude sincerely, hoped that shone from his own gaze as he repeated it.
At this, Tony glanced over his shoulder, to his sleeping friend.
“For being here when she needed it.” Tony admitted. “I’m a medical doctor, I can heal a body with the best of them, but this…this isn’t my thing. My husband’s thing, sure, but he’s not here. I didn’t know what to do, and then you busted down the door.”
Heat flushed that sculpted face, the flush making him seem more human somehow.
“I could hear the screaming, but something was pinning the door shut. I’ll, uh, I’ll help you fix it.”
Tony raised his mug in salute, pleased when the Scot copied his motion.
After a moment of silence, Tony cleared his throat.
“You should get some sleep. Across the living room, door on the left. Its Memphis’ room. You can sleep there or on the couch, though I wouldn’t recommend that after the flight from across the pond.”
Duncan’s gaze cut past Tony, to the woman still lost in peaceful slumber. Tony read the look on that man’s face, understanding that his harried journey to her made it seem like a betrayal to leave her now.
Softly, with feeling, Tony assured his new friend: “I typically work nights, I’ll be up. I won’t leave her alone and if I need help, you’ll hear me screaming for you.”
It took another few moments before Duncan appeared satisfied by this. He stood with his mug in one hand and the jacket in the other, taking another long look at Memphis.
“Is the car alright on the street or should I move it?”
“Leave it for tonight. I’ve a feeling Tana and Mari will be back by morning, they’ll need some place to park.”
Duncan nodded, took another lingering glance at Memphis – as though to assure himself she was safe – and then bid Tony goodnight.
For his part, Tony set his mug on the table beside the other, slid back into the bed facing his sister-in-law.
His eyes did not leave her as he watched her sleep until dawn begin spilling into the room from the windows.