The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else

Millie was a vegan, until she wasn’t. Last night, I came home and found her at the kitchen table, surrounded by meat, uncooked, raw, filling plates and bowls. Blood poured from her lips as she shoved handful after handful into her mouth, not seeming to notice I was there. Nothing seemed to matter but her hunger as she chomped and choked on the endless trail of meat, shovelled from the table to her mouth. It was grotesque, unbearable, and so unlike her that it terrified me.

I called out to her, pulling the bowls from the table, sending them clattering to the sideboards, shuddering as she stared up with cold, angry eyes.

“I was hungry.” She whispered, softly, her voice starkly different to the shocking image before me. “I’m going to bed.” I cleared away the mess as she shuffled off towards our bedroom without another word. The dishcloth was soaked in blood when I’d finished cleaning the table, and as I stacked the dishes by the sink to wash, I cast my mind back, trying to figure out how we had reached this point.

Millie and I had been on a walk in the woods with Buddy (not the most inventive dog name, I’ll grant you), but he was still restless, so she took him across the fields for a bit of a run. They were out later than usual, and by the time they got back, the dinner I’d made her was cold, but after a moment or two, it didn’t seem to matter.

Buddy was nervous. He sat in the hallway cowering as she threw his lead to the floor and stomped upstairs towards the bedroom. I approached him, and he cowered, gently whimpering as I reached out and pulled him into my arms, feeling him shake as I carried him up the stairs after Millie.

As I turned the corner into the bedroom, I could see her by the bed, staring across into the mirror with her hands clenched tightly around something. Buddy began to kick and struggle in my arms as we approached her, and I placed him gently on the floor, watching him scarper back out of the bedroom and down the stairs with a yelp.

“I found him in the woods.” She thrust her hands towards me, opening them up to reveal a bird. A robin, so small that it fit in one hand. Its feathers were falling away, its neck twisted and its eyes opened wide. “It had all these candles around it, like spotlights or stars.” She pressed the bird into my hand and I shrieked, recoiling in horror. “It was such a beautiful sight.”

She fell back against the bed, the bird falling from my hands to the floor as I rushed to her side, helplessly holding her in my arms as she began to thrash against the sheets, screaming. “His father spoke to me!” She yelled, reaching out into the air with a panicked look. “His father is coming for me!” Her voice shocked me, seeming to come from everywhere at once, gravelly, almost grave. The lights began to flicker and I could feel her temperature rising as she struggled against my arms. “We’re going to have a child.” She fell silent and the room descended into total darkness.

She was still against the sheets, but her eyes shone in the darkness. The silence only lasted a second before there was a knock at the window. I jumped, holding her closer and looking up at the window. There was nothing there. Not a creature, not a tree branch, not an explanation at all for the sound, but again, it rapped against the window again and again through the night, but after a while, it seemed to fade away, and I fell into a shallow sleep.

It only lasted a few hours before I awoke. The alarm clock was flashing the witching hour into my sore eyes and Millie was gone. I closed my eyes, burying my head under the covers, hoping it had all been a dream, but as I opened them again, beneath the dark sanctuary of my duvet, I felt a weight atop the covers, a little song, so sweet, but so unexpected began to fill the room.

“I made you breakfast Abbie.” Millie called with a giggle. I jumped, not able to recall hearing her walk up the stairs and into the room. “Something very yummy.” She lifted the blanket, showing an excited, almost sinister smile as she placed a tray before me, and to my astonishment, grinned as the robin hopped up onto her shoulder, both of them turning to stare at me as I looked down at the tray. I couldn’t understand why, but something about the scene unsettled me, and something told me that I’d regret lifting the cover from the plate to reveal the breakfast.

“It’s 3AM.” I whispered, pushing the tray back across my lap towards her. She shoved it back, her smile unmoving as she took my hands and placed them onto the cover with her own. “No, I’m not hungry.” Tears began to fall from my eyes as her grip tightened and she began forcing me to lift the cover. I screwed my eyes tightly shut, refusing to look down but she threw the cover to the floor and reached up to my face, beginning to force my eyes open with her fingers. Pain seared through my face as I fought back, the robin taking flight from her shoulder and beginning to circle my head, its sweet song ringing out as I had no choice but to look down.

“I made you breakfast Abbie.” The voice was no longer hers, a black hearted, monstrous snarl escaped her lips and surrounded the room. “Eat it!” On the plate, surrounded by lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes was Buddy’s head, still covered in fur and splattered with blood. I screamed, nauseous and horrified as I struggled against her grasp, shoving the tray down the bed. “Don’t be sad. Father might bring him back one day.” I was overwhelmed, terrified as the bird flew to and fro across the room and Millie held my head in place, forcing me to look over at the tray. “We all come back if Father allows.”

I struggled until I was free, pushing past and bolting down the stairs. What was left of Buddy was littered on the bottom step, and while I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, I could swear I saw his tail wagging as I ran past. I could barely breathe, grabbing the keys and rushing out the front door into the car. I just drove. I didn’t know where I was going, but I couldn’t stop, tears streaming down my face as the thought of Buddy, the bird and Millie circled in my head.

I drove for hours, round and round the village, into town and back out again, until I arrived at the fields. The sun was coming up, and as little sense as it made, I felt drawn to the place. I parked the car and walked towards the fields slowly. It was a big patch of land owned by Mr Anderson, a farmer in the area. I’d known him since I was a kid, and he’d always let people walk their dogs in the fields as long as they didn’t disturb the crops. He approached me as I walked into the fields, and upon seeing the shock across his face, I was suddenly aware that I was wandering the fields at 7AM, in last night’s clothes with a tear stained face.

“Abbie, are you okay?” He yelled, running over to meet me. I pushed past him, pointing over at the fields. I could see the disturbed candles on the ground before me, but as I gestured to them, he simply didn’t look, as if he couldn’t see what I was talking about.

“The candles… the bird…” He looked back at me blankly, taking my hands gently in his own with a smile.

“Let’s get you home, okay?” I shook my head, glancing back at the candles in the field as he pulled me towards his car. “I’ll drive you and Millie can pick up your car when you’re feeling better.” He pushed me into the passenger’s seat and before I could stop him, we were driving back towards my house.

“She found a bird in the field.” I muttered, but he didn’t say a word, silently driving me back towards the house, and back towards Millie.

I hoped that when we arrived, he’d finally see what I saw. The robin fluttering round the house, Buddy’s body, Millie, unhinged and unlike herself, but as we pulled into the driveway, everything was… normal. Millie came running from the house, wrapped up in a dressing gown, buddy bounding behind her, his tail wagging madly. She rushed to the car, snatching me from the passenger’s seat and scoping me into a tight hug almost as soon as the car slowed to a stop.

“Oh, thank God you found her Mr Anderson!” She cried, tears springing from her eyes. She held me so tightly that it hurt, her fingernails digging into my arms as she made a show of her gratitude. “She’s been a little unwell, you see.” She released me, pushing me gently towards the house as she turned to Mr Anderson.

“It’s okay.” He smiled sympathetically, gesturing to his car. “Did you want me to give you a lift to pick up your car?” She returned his smile and opened the door, pushing me towards it. .

“Yes, thank you.” I tried to push back, but she shoved me again, so hard I almost fell through the doorway, her eyes glowing red as she looked back at me. “Abbie, why don’t you go and have a lie down while I get the car?” Buddy padded towards the door, following me into the house but as the door slammed shut, he was gone. I turned to look at the hallway, and just as before, just as I’d needed Mr Anderson to see, on the bottom step was Buddy’s body, his blood dried into the carpet.

I was frozen in place, the house seeming to groan and grunt around me as the soft song of the robin began again. I ran towards the kitchen, blocking my ears with my hands as the robin filled the house with its incessant song, but as I threw open the door, I froze again, falling to my knees as the smell of blood filled my nostrils. It was everywhere, all over the kitchen sides, the table, the floor. I was stunned, sobbing in silence as my nightmare continued.

“Father needed a Mother for the children.” The same voice that I’d heard from Millie hours before suddenly filled the room, and I looked behind me, hoping with all my heart that she wasn’t back already. “We need a place to go, and someone to take care of us.” There was nobody there and the door remained closed, but a soft knock cascaded with the wood of the door as I turned back to the blood soaked kitchen. “If she’s a good mother, he will set her free one day.” I looked up at the table, where the robin had settled, its little claws covered in blood as the voice escaped its tiny beak. “He’s just borrowing her body for a little while.” I looked up at the robin with disbelief, and it looked back at me with disdain. “But if you tell, Father will be very cross.” I nodded, not sure what was happening, or if I could trust what I was speaking to, but acutely aware that I had no other choice.

I did some research when she was out. I looked up so many keywords that took me nowhere, until I found a link to a post about a bird and some candles. This has happened before. I followed the rabbit hole and found more and more posts, all with the same story. Someone found a bird, surrounded by candles, and it drew him in, and then, they were captured.

His name isn’t Father, I don’t think anybody knows his real name, but he wants bodies, hosts, people for him and his parasite children to lock onto, and when he’s done with them, he gets them to set a trap for the next poor soul to find.

I couldn’t find any information on what he does with the people he leaves. All the posts were written by their friends, lovers, siblings and children. The survivors, never the victims. I sent a message to a few of them asking what happens, but they all deleted their accounts minutes after I sent the message, so I’m on my own.

He still needs her, for now, so I play his game. He’s taken over everything that she is, and his hideous offspring have taken root in that damned bird. There’s at least two in there, maybe three, so loud, all the time, but I put up with it, and I put up with him, Father, or whatever he is.

I play along like nothing is wrong, but when he isn’t looking at me, with my lover’s eyes, I’m always busy in the background, trying to find a way to free her, because I know, as unlikely as it sounds, that there must be part of her left in there, and one day, before it’s too late, I’ll set her free.

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