By What Shall I be Redeemed?

His screams woke her again. He had exiled himself to the sofa a week ago in order to allow her to sleep, but she still woke when it started. Jenny ran from the small bedroom and into the lounge where she saw Stephen scrabbling for the glass of water on a little table beside the makeshift bed, a bottle of pills already open with several round tablets littering the wooden surface. Sweat was beading on his forehead as he clenched his teeth trying not to let out another scream. Jenny rushed over, grabbing the water from the table. She knelt beside him, helping him to grasp it and picked up three of the pills, getting him to open his mouth as he gripped her wrist in a desperate attempt to focus on something other than the pain. He managed to swallow the pills and nearly choked on the water, spluttering and coughing with pain, until, at last, the Codeine took effect and he started to drift back into sleep. As he did so, Stephen tearfully looked into Jenny’s eyes, muttering a phrase that he had uttered on so many nights, “Help me.” With that he dissolved into unconsciousness.

When doctors were able to penetrate the skin, they took a blood sample, organised a toxicology test, genetic testing, the whole shebang. They found nothing. Not even a trace of opiates in his system. Whatever drug it was his girlfriend switched him to, it’s unlikely it was chemical in origin. Or if it was, it was something untraceable. Me? I’m going outside the realm of the norm on this one. I think it was certainly supernatural in origin. Try telling the police that though. They have the poor girl in custody as I write this. Asking Jenny over and over again what she knows about him, conveniently ignoring the black eye and bruises on her shoulder. They want to know about the hero, not the man. And she ain’t telling them jack.

After he had gone to sleep, Jenny crept into their cramped and junk-filled spare room. Her small frame pushed the heavy wooden door open and locked it behind her. She paused before doing this, worrying that Stephen may wake again and need her. The effects of the Codeine had been decreasing steadily for some time now. Jenny knew that part of the problem was that he was becoming addicted to it, needing it even when the pain wasn’t that great. She willed these thoughts from her mind, concentrating on the task ahead. For several weeks now preparations had been made for the coming dawn. Working through the night of the Lunar Sabbat and towards the start of Beltane, she began the ritual. Crushing linden flowers with white willow bark, fennel, burdock leaves, and elderflower and pouring large amounts of wintergreen oil, she hoped to finally do what the one person she loved more than anyone else had asked: to help him.

You can find the complete version of By What Shall I be Redeemed? in issue 67 of TBD.

Rhys Smith