23 December 2004
Alethea was sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan, staring out at the water that had not yet begun to freeze, when a massive black dog walked up and sat next to her. She turned and looked at it. It wasn’t just black, she realized; it was almost as if its fur was composed of shadow rather than hair. Its eyes were red, and seemed to burn from inside its head, as it looked directly at her. In that moment, she was certain that not only did it know she was there, but it knew her, could see her in a more true and powerful way than anything else ever had. She recoiled at the notion.
“Now now, I know he’s imposing, but he’s just curious.” Alethea turned to find the source of the voice and caught sight of a massive woman, at least nine feet tall, with skin that shone like bronze and three faces with different crowns on each.
“Have you come to take me away?”
“Where to, my dear?”
“Well, it’s...I haven’t crossed over yet, and I thought that’s what was next for me.”
“Crossed over? Oh you poor thing, you should know by now you can’t do that until your business on Earth is complete” Alethea turned back and looked out at the lake.
“But he’s dead.”
“Is that all you wanted, though? Did you really stay bound to this world for so many years just to kill an old man?” Alethea rested her hands on her belly and looked down.
“I...well, no, but—” She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to find the three-faced woman now a normal height and kneeling beside her.
“Roger was not the only man who let you down, was he?”
“How do you know?”
“I know much, my child. I know about you, and I know about John Matteson; and I know how to bring you together, if you will let me help you.” She removed her hand from Alethea’s shoulder and stood, then held her hand out as if inviting Alethea to take it. The girl began to reach out, then stopped and looked up at the woman.
“What do you get out of helping me?”
“Is there a price too high to finally bring your child into the world, and be free of all this pain and these men?” Alethea paused, then took her hand, and they vanished.