I can still feel the magic sometimes, lingering like an old friend. It was everywhere, and its flame burned bright inside everyone. We are born from it, made of it - of light and fire.
For as long as he can remember, Elijah and The Sicarri have been at war against the demons - the ones who have been twisted and burned by their greed for the flame of magic. After Elijah gets a troubling phone call from a fellow Sicarri brother, he must leave his wife and son behind to save his friend. When things don't go as planned, his world is sent into chaos.
In the midst of death and destruction, Elijah must try to salvage the relationships he has with those closest to him while navigating the treacherous waters of love and betrayal. Can he exact his revenge on those who tore apart his old life? And will he be able to control his own fire raging within?
The nightmares are back. This time I woke Soren with my screaming. He cried for at least an hour while Vara rocked him back to sleep, singing and humming soft words the entire time. All the while, I sat in the hallway at the front of his door with my guilt cementing me to the floor. After Soren was back in bed, Vara came to me and asked me to write my feelings down on paper—to purge my issues in the hopes that it would keep the nightmares at bay. She thinks that, somehow, putting my memories in ink will act as some kind of catharsis and my head will emerge from the notepad healed and ready to move forward with my life. It’s a good idea, in theory, but I’m not sure if this particular approach is meant for someone who’s seen what I’ve seen. Still, I’m taking her advice. God knows I would do anything for that woman, my beautiful wife. She worries that my emotions will soon boil over, seeping into our lives from all corners and staining the edges. I can't say that she's wrong, and I certainly don’t blame her, but I've never been good at sharing my feelings. I like to keep them inside, wrapped tight and tucked neatly away where they're safe from hurting the ones I love. So, I guess she has a point. If putting pen to paper will help my family… well, here goes…
Demons—the reason for all my nightmares. I can see them clear as day whenever I close my eyes. They’re always in my head, looming over me, keeping me on edge. They were once human, though you’d never know when you see them. They’re dark—black even—their skin peeling back with the texture of burnt paper. Sometimes you can even see wisps of embers floating toward the sky, their skin flaking as they move. Their eyes shine like steel, inhuman and malevolent with no pupils. Though they’re strong, really strong, they have a weakness. The one thing that they lust for the most is also the thing they kill for.
My stomach turns every time I mentally replay the shrill noise that comes from their already burned bodies as I set them aflame. I’m not sure why I do replay it so often, but the sound sometimes seems as though it’s caught in a continuous loop, stuck on a turntable. It’s odd, really. Gaining so much pleasure from such a disgusting noise. But it’s that very same sound that ensures our safety. So, it doesn’t really matter what noise they make when they catch fire; it only matters how many more I will burn.
Fire is the only thing we've found that keeps them dead. Fire is our crutch—the one thing we need and the only piece of our lives we wish never existed. Fire holds all the blame for everything that has happened. Our lust for it, our inability to control it, the destruction that comes from it… all of it is the reason I am perpetually unable to sleep without my gnarled and sickening dreams waking me.
Lately, my nightmares have always been the same. It begins with a building burning a few yards in front of me, a distant memory distorted by my twisted imagination. The flames are so close that I can feel the heat radiate around my body. Sweat begins to bead on my forehead, and I get a strange hot and cold sensation like I’ve suddenly come down with a high fever. Without warning, my arms become itchy and I want to tear the flesh from my body to free myself from the discomfort. I look down and see the skin on my forearms burning and peeling back, exposing the muscles, sinews, and bones in my arms. The pain is excruciating and it hits me all at once. It's so powerful that I become numb and unable to move as I succumb to the agony. The utter horror of burning alive is ingrained in my brain more than my own name. Right before I wake, I see the demons that set me on fire, and hear their disembodied laughter in the darkness that overtakes me.
How’s that for a nightmare?
They’re sometimes peculiar though, my dreams. For instance, sometimes I watch myself burn from a different perspective. Standing on the outside of my body, peering at a man who crumples in torture and misery, knowing precisely how it feels to burn alive. Seeing my own face melt into the gravel like candle wax. I can’t get the visions to leave my thoughts. At times I feel like it’s been engraved into the backs of my eyelids, so that whenever I close my eyes, my burning body floods my mind.
In all this time, I’ve never actually told Vara about my dreams. And I won’t pretend like guilt doesn’t eat away at me for that. She tries to hide the disappointment on her face whenever I avoid answering her questions about them. The truth is, I should tell her. I almost wish she would find this journal so that I don’t have to. Describing them, using my voice to bring life to the images that dominate my sleep, it’s become impossible to me. Maybe Vara was right in suggesting that I write them down. It was easier writing the words than it ever has been saying them.
Maybe I can overcome this. Maybe the demons won’t win this one.