Gale’s horror at seeing Brian swallowed by the Darkness intensified to near hysteria when she saw Charlie Drenth.
He stepped from the same spot where Brian had disappeared. He stood solid and whole though pale, his wounds gone. He grinned. Gale felt her knees weaken and threaten to collapse. She couldn’t breathe; her lungs were paralyzed and refused to expand. She shook her head, tried to tell herself it wasn’t real, that Charlie Drenth was an illusion conjured by the Darkness to frighten her. Charlie wasn’t there. Charlie couldn’t hurt her. She tried to convince herself but failed. She knew better.
“Thought you were rid of me, huh, bitch?!” Charlie said, coming towards her. Gale’s entire body shook, but she forced herself to stand. She clenched her jaw to keep her teeth from rattling.
“Guess what?” Charlie said, easing closer. “I’m gonna take you back with me. Back to Hell. We’ll have all eternity to play together.”
“We killed you!” Gale said. She lifted Brian’s sword, clutching the hilt with both hands, fingers white and numb.
“So?” Charlie giggled. He reached for her and Gale swiped at him with the sword. Its edge passed through his wrist. Charlie’s hand fell to the floor with a spongy plop.
“Uh-oh!” Charlie said with mock excitement. He held up the stump of his wrist. “Now look what you’ve done!” Maggots began to spill out of the wound in a rising surge.
Cockroaches crawled out over his forearm. Flies took to the air. Gale gagged.
“Say hello to my little friends!” Charlie said, then burst out laughing.
Gale swung again, slashing him across the midsection. Charlie’s fat belly split open, his entrails falling out at his feet.
“Oh!” Charlie said, still laughing. “You got me that time!” His spilled intestines began to writhe like giant worms. They wiggled towards Gale. She jumped back. “I’m gonna take that sword away from you and fuck you with it!” Charlie said. He lunged, catching her wrists with his one hand. Gale couldn’t pull free.
“Give ol’ Charlie a kiss!” He pressed his purple lips towards hers. Gale fell back, Charlie on top of her. His exposed viscera squished as he bore down on her.
“No!” Gale screamed.
A bloated tongue darted out between yellowed teeth, seeking to enter Gale’s mouth. Gale managed to get one hand free. She clawed his face, the flesh coming away in soggy strips beneath her nails. He chuckled with glee.