Krystina yawned softly, shivering slightly in the chill of the early morning air.
Beside her, Evelyn’s brow furrowed slightly in concern. “You really didn’t have to come, you know.” She said softly. “You look exhausted.”
The woman shook her head. “I’m fine.” She assured her friend, stifling another yawn. “I’ve gotta head in early this morning anyway and get ready for the art show next weekend.” Krystina explained. “And besides, it’s been a while since it was just the two of us.” She added kindly.
The ghost’s face softened into a smile. After all these years, Krysti still managed to make time for her, no matter what. “Well, I’m glad you’re here.” She said sincerely.
Evelyn paused for a moment, glancing up at the pre-dawn sky. The sun would begin rising any minute now, and she was running out of time. “I’ve gotta go check on the plant one more time before your dad gets up.” She explained as she crossed through the backyard, beckoning for Krystina to follow her. “Come on.”
The Dionaea Taurus towered over the two women. It was unlike anything either of them had ever seen before — strangely bovine in appearance, with a pair of horns, an appendage that closely resembled an udder, and most unsettling of all, what appeared to be an enormous mouth with a row of sharp white teeth.
“Woah.” The older woman breathed. “It looks like it’s even bigger than last time…”
“It is.” Evelyn confirmed. “Crazy, right?” She said with a smile. “But it fits with everything the book said…” The ghost paused, glancing at the bizarre plant before continuing. “Which means our window of opportunity won’t be very big…”
The Dionaea Taurus was a truly bizarre specimen – and not just because of its unusual appearance. Death’s book, along with the handful of information they’d dug up on the plant over the years, had described its growth as exponential, and its true lifespan as quite fleeting.
Upon reaching full maturity, the book had stated, the Dionaea Taurus will leave its dormant state for approximately 8 to 12 hours. After this time, it will perish.
Evelyn and Lucas knew that this would be their only chance to retrieve the final ingredient. And so they each monitored the plant quite closely, day after day, waiting for their chance. Neither of them were quite sure what the “dormant state” was referring to, but one thing was certain – this was no ordinary plant. In fact, they wondered whether it was truly a ‘plant’ at all.
“It’s so… creepy.” Krystina shuddered slightly as she looked the plant up and down.
“A little.” Evelyn agreed, though her smile did not fade. “But if it’s really supposed to be helping us, I guess I shouldn’t really be complaining, huh?”
She peered closely at the plant, looking for some sort of change. But it remained just as silent and unmoving as ever, even when she reached out a transparent hand and stroked it gently. Nothing.
“No luck, huh?” Krystina asked. She sounded almost nervous as she spoke, but Evelyn was not sure why.
Evelyn sighed softly. “Nope. Not this time.” She said with a shrug. “But it’s gotta be soon.” She added confidently as she headed back toward where she and Krystina had been sitting. Her friend followed closely behind.
The ghost smiled happily as she sat back at the tiny patio table. “We’re so close, Krysti. I can feel it.” Evelyn paused, her smile widening. “Any day now…”
Krystina looked at her uncertainly, and was silent for a moment. “That’s really great…” Her voice was devoid of enthusiasm as she spoke. “But Evelyn, you and my dad have been saying that for over a year…”
There was something in her friend’s tone that troubled her, but Evelyn did her best to hide her dismay. “I know.” She replied. “But… This is different. Trust me.”
Krystina just shook her head. “I’ve heard that line about a hundred times too…” The woman sighed softly. “Look, Ev. Don’t get me wrong – clearly this is all heading toward something big. There’s no denying that.” She glanced briefly over her shoulder at the enormous plant at the edge of her father’s garden. “But… this is taking a long time, Evelyn. And my dad… I mean… He’s, well…” She left the thought unfinished.
This time, Evelyn could not ignore the unpleasant feeling that washed over her. Her face fell and all the color drained from her form at Krystina’s words. “What are you trying to say?” She asked after a few moments.
Her friend bit her lip nervously. “It’s just… He’s getting older, you know? And after that scare last week…”
Evelyn’s stomach sank. “What scare?”
For a moment, Krystina looked almost amused. “Of course he didn’t tell you…” She shook her head slowly. “You know he’s got some heart trouble, right? Like my grandfather?” Krystina took a deep breath. “Well, last week he went to the emergency room – Chest pain, difficulty breathing… He thought it was a heart attack… It wasn’t, thank God.” Krystina assured her. “But next time… Who knows?” She finished sadly.
Evelyn did not immediately reply. It took her several moments to overcome the unpleasant sensation in her stomach. “But he was fine.” She said at last, her voice small. “Right?”
“So I don’t understand why you’re telling me this.” Evelyn’s tone was hard. “What difference does it make?” The ghost shook her head, glancing up at the lightening sky. “The sun’s coming up. I should really go, Krysti… And so should you.” Evelyn rose to her feet rather abruptly, floating back toward her grave.
The woman sighed, following behind her and struggling a bit to keep up. Evelyn paused when she reached her tombstone, turning to face Krystina as the woman continued speaking.
“Look, Ev, what I’m trying to say is, just… Just don’t forget that things might not work out exactly the way you’re expecting them to… okay?”
“You’re worrying too much, Krysti.” Evelyn replied, keeping her voice as casual as possible. “I appreciate the concern, but it’s all going to be fine. You’ll see.”
Her friend bit her lip. “Okay… Just… You know that if my dad, uh… can’t do it… for whatever reason… I’d do my best, right? I’d try finish what he started.” Krystina promised. “I don’t know how successful I’d be… But I’d try.”
“Thanks, Krysti.” Evelyn replied weakly. “But that won’t be necessary.” It was difficult to tell if she was trying to convince Krystina, or herself. “Thanks for coming. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
“Okay, Ev…” There was a strange sadness in Krystina’s voice as she spoke. “See you soon.”
Evelyn closed her eyes slowly, and when she opened them, she found herself back in the darkness of her grave. The ghost let out a soft sigh as she glanced around at the quiet emptiness that surrounded her, replaying Krystina’s words in her mind.
Why would she say that? She thought. How could she say that?!
But of course, she knew the answer. Because she knows I’d never bring it up myself… It was a thought that was simply too horrible to entertain. But what if she’s right? What if Lucas…?
No. She told herself firmly. Krystina was overreacting, that’s all.
Lucas would be the one to do it. He would make the cure. He would bring her back. He would stand by her side, and teach her how to live again. It had to be him. And it would be…