The Whistler - Chapter 17
By Karolyn Gray
Tybalt stopped, gasping to catch his breath and cursing himself. He never felt his sixty six years before but his vigorous hike through the thick and treacherous woods has drained him and left him feeling weak. But he has to push on, the music growing louder when he listened. He knew exactly where he is going and he knew exactly what he was going to do when he got there. He had to save them before the darkness has a chance to consume them. He had to save them or the town would be lost to an evil hiding behind a familiar face and a trustworthy nature spreading destruction in their midst
He had to save him before it was too late.
He saw a flutter of white cloth through the brush to his left, glancing over to find nothing there. He didn't see them—he never has been able to see them—but he knows they are there: watching, waiting, guiding him and others when there was a need. It was their song he heard in his ears, their voices that guided him in his gift and told him what he had to do. They are an echo in his mind, a weak counterpoint to the clarion call that drawn him onward.
He pats his coat pocket, feeling the heft of the pistol there, and was reassured. Blowing out his breath he started forward again.
"Can I help you?"
Tybalt stumbled to a halt, surprised he hadn't felt his presence. He always felt the presence of the special ones, especially in Haven. More so than he has any where he has lived his entire life, he felt Haven's Troubled, all of them except one.
Hand reaching for the pistol in his coat pocket, he froze at the sound of a soft click he recognized as the sound of a gun being cocked.
Slowly he turned to find man wearing a red checked flannel shirt and jeans step towards him, gray hair smoothed back and a semiautomatic pistol held firm and true on Tybalt's form. He knew this man and narrowed his eyes, focusing on his gift to stave off the stab of fear in his chest at the darkness gliding through the other man's eyes.
"I know it was you, Absalom Mitchum. I know it was you who killed those children. I won't let you have Nathan too." Tybalt said, determinedly. He could hear the music all around him, deafening.
Abe looked at Tybalt with genuine curiosity. "Who are you? I have no idea what you're talking about."
"My name is Tybalt Haskil. You wouldn't know me but I know you, Whistler." Haskil said.
"Ah, then you've met Tricia. Such a wonderfully gifted girl." Abe smiled at that and whistled a few bars of the all too familiar tune that had haunted Tybalt for decades. "Oh, but I do know you. You're that fellow with a certain unsavory interest in children, the Corrupter." Abe looked disdainfully at the other man.
Tybalt winced at the name even as the voices assured him that while an accurate moniker for what he was capable of, his gift was not as the Whistler implied.
"I've never harmed any child!" Tybalt shouted.
Abe eyed Tybalt speculatively. "How were you able to do it, Corrupter? How were you able to find those special children you love so much? I could use one such as you."
"I'm not like you. I was only trying to protect them," Tybalt spat.
"Perhaps, but that's not what everyone else thinks is it?" Abe countered smoothly.
"I don't care what everyone else thinks. I failed to stop you in eighty-four, I won't fail again." Tybalt said determinedly.
Abe grinned at that and shook his head. "Poor fool," he said. He started whistling.
Abe stopped in surprise when Tybalt whistled back loudly, a song counterpoint to his own. Listening a moment more, Abe winced and wiped his nose. His hand came away with blood.
"You won't stop me, Corrupter," Abe snarled in fury. "Nathan is mine!"
"He doesn't belong to you. He is a son of Haven."
"He is mine!" Abe screamed at the voices. "I won't let the Corrupter have him."
"He will end the curse. In the end, he will only hear her. If he does not, sorrow will befall all who cross his path."
Wiping at is nose again, Abe sneered. "Then I've already won."
Tybalt continued whistling but Abe could hear his thoughts clearly in the harmony that clashed with his own song. "I won't fail."
"You already have, my dear old fool."
A sharp crack cut through the air. Then another. And another. The music suddenly ended for Tybalt and he found himself staring up into a canopy of leaves and a cloudy, darkening sky. Gasping for breath, he tried to turn over to his side, groaning in pain.
He could feel the Whistler now, no longer hiding himself, as he tromped off through the woods with false confidence in his victory. The whispered song around him droned on, easing away his fear of failure. They told him through the song what was to come. Tybalt could feel it at the edge of his consciousness—it was coming—she was coming.
He just needed to hold on long enough for her to find him.