My footsteps scuffed on a bare wood floor, the sound pulling me back to the one-room cottage. The smell of death and decay cloyed the air. My stomach quivered. I fought the urge to gag. No luxurious amenities surrounded me in the gatekeeper's house. No running water, only a few cupboards, and a basin. A wooden table and some chairs stood at one end of the room, a bed at the other. I suspected there was a pit outhouse in the back somewhere. If I spewed, I'd have to run out into the garden to bend over in the violets and cucumbers.
I swallowed and pinched my nose and breathed through my mouth. Not fantastic, but better than loosing my lunch.
Jett and his brother stood over a small bed where a woman lay. Her eyes were closed, and the blankets covering her moved shallowly with each rasping breath.
Zenyetta and Chairelott knelt at her bedside, silk handkerchiefs in hands. Their sorrowful weeping filled the room. The emotions hit like a tidal wave and I could hardly get past the threshold without it all overwhelming me. There was only so much I could take.
The oppressive odor saturating the whole cabin was familiar. Ah, yes, the nasty reek in Drakulya's study was here too—but ten times as strong. My gaze lifted. In the gloomy corner stood a black-cloaked creature—exactly like the one in Drakulya's study last night. Then, I made the connection. This was the creature's reek, not Drakulya's. I realized no one else seemed to be grossed out like I was, because they weren't holding their noses like me. I don't know why they couldn't. Maybe because of my heightened werewolf senses.
Now I knew what a Dreadful looked like. It stood vigil, somehow making this poor woman sick, until she died. Once again I could not get a read, like last night. Possibly because it had no soul. It puzzled me deeply.
©Lorelei Bell 2012