My Slice of Haven

The Dissolving Girl Pt2

An ominous thick mist rolled over the inky black waters as Duke drifted the Cape Rouge into dock. "This is it."

Dwight was in the steering bay with him and squinted past the windshield. "Looks like woodland area. But out here? That doesn't seem right."

Duke felt just as uneasy. "This is where the co-ordinates have led us."

From below where Poppi sat curled up on Duke's bed reading one of the old pirate novels he had in the side drawer, she could sense the distinct feeling of his apprehension jitter around in her stomach. Removing herself from the bed she climbed the steps that lead up to the steering cabin. "Are you okay?" She asked with concern before guiding her eyes to where Duke and Dwight were staring. "Oh...well that is strange."

Quietly Poppi moved out of the bay and into the deck joining Nathan. He registered her next to him. "This isn't creepy at all." He said.

Not knowing what to make of the dense woodland that peeked at them through the thick mist Poppi nodded. "I...ahh!" She yelped grabbing hold of her stomach suddenly crippled with a sharp ringing ache.

"What is it?" Nathan reacted to her yelp.

Poppi was doubled over with her knees beginning to cramp. "I...I don't know." She huffed.

Duke had seen her reaction from the bay and was at her side in a flash. "Poppi what's happening?" He grabbed a hold of her shoulders and pulled her close to him.

She panted with hard breathes. "It feels like someone just stabbed me in the stomach." Using Duke's arms as leverage she forced herself up straight. "Damn." Poppi hissed as she still hold of her stomach. "It was exactly like someone was attacking me and kept stabbing me. It's going now but..." She could feel something else creeping upon her and smothering her with a hallowing heartbreak. "Something bad happened here, I can feel it. Literally I can feel someone's sorrow. It feels like-" Poppi's blood froze. "It's my dad!"

Pulling away from Duke, Poppi took a run and shot off the boat into the mist.

"Poppi come back!" Duke shouted taking chase after her leaving Nathan Dwight to follow.

The simple wooden dock ended just before the line of woods and coming to a stumbling stop Poppi caught herself before toppling over the edge.

"Don't do that again!" Duke stopped with a huff behind her. "This is a place that shouldn't exist we need to stay close together."

"But I can feel him, I can feel my dad and he is in so much agony." Her hand clamped her chest. "Come on." She waved Duke to follow as she jumped off the dock to land in waist height water.

"Dammit." Duke cursed again following Poppi into the unknown before them. He checked over his shoulder for Dwight and Nathan who strangely were no where to be seen. "Are you guys coming?"

No Answer.

"Just wait a minute Poppi." Looking to his front Duke found there was no Poppi. "What...the...hell?" Slowly he kept walking forward till he hit the tree line. "Poppi? Dwight? Nathan?" He called around him to no avail.

"Duke?" Poppi could hear him but as she whipped around all she could see were thick old trees stunting her vision. "Can you hear me?" She waited for a reply only to get nothing. Her dress was soaked to the waist and the cardigan was too heavy with water. Peeling the woollen item off she used the arms to tie it around a low hanging branch. "He will I know I was here at least" And with that she kept moving forward.
Small branches whipped against her cheeks, one even biting into her skin but that wasn't going to stop her from following the dark feeling she was surrounded by. It only made sense that sharing her father's trouble would lead her to him. He had to be there after all, she knew it was him even though she couldn't explain how.

"Ahoi hoi." A voice was up ahead.

Chills ran down Poppi's spine. "Ahoi hoi?" She replied back.

"You look lost. Are you lost?"

Taking in a long breath that filled her lungs Poppi exhaled. "I am." The voice was unmistakable. "Could you help me?"

A small figure began to materialise in the mist before her with red hair and green eyes. "Are you looking for daddy?"

Poppi nodded. "Yes Poppi, I am."

* * *

"Duke?" Dwight called into the mist floating around Nathan and himself. He turned hearing a twig snap.

"Dwight?" It was Duke.

"Follow the sound of my voice Duke. Where's Poppi?" Asked Dwight.

"I don't know we got separated." He replied. "Hold on I can see you." Trough the thick fog he was able to see both Dwight and Nathan.

"What do you mean you don't know?" Nathan asked rankly as Duke came into view and was soon in front of them.

He wrapped his grandpa cardigan around him. "I mean I don't know. She went ahead of me and when I looked back to find where you both were she was gone. I called out to her but she didn't reply." Again he looked over his shoulder to see nothing but dense woodland.

"Alright, let's stay calm." Dwight was alert to each noise through the many sounds vibrating around them. "She said she could feel her father, her trouble seems to have amplified itself being so close to him. So at least we know Thomson is here." He rubbed his chin in thought. "Duke can you feel anything from Poppi?"

"Uhh." He took a second to search his insides and shook his head in frustration. "Nothing."

"And if he did?" Asked Nathan.

"If he did that could lead us to Poppi like what Poppi is feeling from Thomson is leading her to him."

Nathan nodded. "So now what?"

"We look for her." Answered Duke. "But stay close. I get the feeling we aren't alone."

* * *

Little Poppi was no older than six as she seemed to glide effortlessly as Poppi followed her thwacking back branches and bushes that scraped her legs. "You shouldn't have come here."

"Oh yea? And why's that?" Talking to her child self was the least weird thing Poppi had done but never the less it was unnerving.

"This place is cursed, it's bad. Daddy says no one should be here." Her green eyes were bright as she looked back.

Poppi tugged a twig snagged on her dress. "How come you're here?"

Stopping Little Poppi looked up and pointed. "In there." She looked to Poppi. "I'm not real. I am just the version of you daddy imagines when he is lonely."

Following the pale hand Poppi looked up and gasped at the house towering in the night before her.It was a replica of the Amber house only something was wrong with it. Out of place with it. The house made to look like hers was sinister. "Does this mean you're going now?"

Her answer came in the form of silence and she was alone again.

"Ahhhh!" Poppi screamed and clutched the area over her heart collapsing to her knees. It felt like the fibres of the muscle were tearing apart and being burnt away which coiled all the way down to her toes and exploded out of the top of her head.
The pain was too intense to stand and her body faltered to the woodland floor, face smacking into the dense undergrowth of tree roots snarled amongst stinking earth. Ringing beat through her ears and curling to a ball she cried out in pain again. "Please stop!" Poppi's entire body began to tremble and before a veil of black took her vision the last thing she saw was bare feet coming towards her.

* * *

"Jesus mother of Christ!" Duke swore as his hand come down heavily over his chest. His heart felt a rivet of searing anguish bolt through it. Tears swelled in his eyes and sweat beaded along his skin at the ferocity and intensity it was coming at him with.

The men in front of him stopped and whipped around to see Duke doubling over and holding his chest as if scared it would break away from him if he didn't. Nathan's eyes widened and Dwight knew what was going on.

"It's Poppi...oh yea that's my girl." Working through the gut tearing ache Duke forced himself back to height. his breaths were ragged but a surge of energy almost liken to his troubles strength rushed through him. "This way."

Pushing past Dwight and Nathan, Duke knew where to find Poppi. But what else was there? None of them could be sure.

"Something is following us." Dwight hushly informed the others as they kept a jogging pace with Duke.

"It's been on us since we got here." Nathan confirmed, is gun in hand already.

Dwight looked over at the weapon uneasily and was thankful he was wearing his bulletproof vest.

There was a flicker to their right of something rushing past them and as they looked over the thing that had whipped past them made itself known. However it wasn't what the men had expected.

"Ahoi hoi." Little Poppi stood barefoot in a nightgown in front of them with a smile on her face.

The trio halted not knowing what to do next after being prepared for something much more dire to meet them.

"Poppi?" Duke said remembering the way she looked when she was younger as did Nathan.

Dwight was watching as the men stared at the little girl. "She's something Thomson has created.

"Don't be scared." She put up a small hand. "I want to help daddy. I have...I mean big Poppi, she needs your help." Her eyes landed on Duke. "You got old."

His brow rose. "I forget how cheeky the young you was."

She giggled. "Come on. You aren't far but be quiet. Mother is awake."

* * *

Her chest ached as she slowly began to wake and Poppi looked around herself, expecting to find dirt in her face but was more alarmed when he found herself looking at the fireplace in her house. Shooting up to her knees she wildly looked around, but this wasn't her home it was the sinister house little Poppi had brought her to.

A noise caught her attention.

The fireplace began to crackle but no one was around the start it. Poppi began to back up seeing sparks starting to dance in the hearth. She couldn't help but watch them though with fascination, the little beginnings captured her attention. Before she knew it they were growing and growing till they spilled past the base and reared up with a din spearheading towards her.

Poppi whipped her arms in front of her face instantaneously to protect herself from the wildfire coming towards her. A fire that never made it to her. Carefully Poppi began to drop her arms and looked into the crackling flame that had come to a standstill inches from her flesh. It seemed to be suspended in mid air.

"Well done." A beautiful yet smug voice complimented Poppi.

Turning to look behind her Poppi's eyes grew larger. "Mother." Her lips barely uttered the word while she found herself peering back at the woman whose photos she grew up surrounded by. "But you're dead." The frighteningly realisation set itself upon her and she snapped to her feet, clutching her hands in fists so tight.

The woman watched with a wondrous smile pulling at her lips, her was marvelling at the daughter that was hers. "I never thought I would see you after dropping you off to the Wuornos's. But here you are." Gently Lily unfolded herself from the lounge chair and took a step forward holding out her hand. "You are so beautiful, my gorgeous Poppi-flower."

Poppi stepped back flashing a look behind her to the flames.

"Don't worry, you're controlling them now. I am too weak being here to do much more than that if I want to keep on existing. This place takes it's tolls on me." Lily was still staring at Poppi. "You are hear for Thomson?"

She nodded not trusting the figure in front of her. "Are you something else that dad imagined up here?"

"Oh goodness no." Her laugh was musical. "No, I am just here. This is my place."

"So you're a ghost?"

"I guess you could say that."

Poppi's panic was starting to rise but as it did an invasion of worry that wasn't her own clouded her head. "Duke" She whispered.

The name registered on Lily's face. "Ah the Crocker's...they seem to have a way over the Amber women."

Behind Lily the door handle began to rattle.

"If they come in I will burn them." She warned her daughter. "This is my place child."

Poppi's face twisted into shock. "Don't come in!" She called out.

"What? Why?" Duke shouted back. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, just don't come in, Trust me." She replied without her eyes moving from her mother's.

Lily smiled only this time it wasn't beautiful. "That little brat Thomson dreamt up had lead them here. She is a nuisance you know, always hiding him."

Poppi followed the woman as she began to cross the room. "She brought you to the house as well. but she was right in saying you shouldn't have come here. Here is a dangerous place for those that don't belong."

"Where is my dad?" It was time to cut the chit chat. "Tell me now."

"Or what?" She snarled.

Poppi's began to curl her hand behind her bending the flames to her will. They shot up the wall and licked at the ceiling causing the paint to bubble and blacken. "You said you were I have had a really, really bad week and just want to find my dad and go home. So where is he?"

Her fine brow arched. "My, my aren't we a spicy young woman. I can see why Duke Crocker is drawn to you. The Crocker men like a strong lady by their side."

"Is that why you cheated on dad?" Spite and malice that again wasn't her own was starting to take over just as the irrational irritation at the real Amber house had. Only then she wasn't aware of her troubles, but this time she was. This roller coaster of emotions was her father's which meant he was in the house.

"I loved Thomson but Simon...oh Simon was exciting and dangerous. You do know it is the Crocker's trouble to kill other troubled people? It's why they exist is to keep the balance." The wavering look on her daughter's face told her Poppi didn't know that. "But don't worry I am sure your lover-boy wouldn't dream of hurting you."

"How ever long you've been stuck in this place has made you a bitter crazy woman. You are nothing like the woman I grew up hearing about." Poppi spat, the flames were expanding behind her and feeding off her emotions. "Tell me where my dad is!"

From outside the door the foursome could hear voices escalating inside, Duke's heart dropped as he heard Lily out his trouble. "We need to get in there."

"No." Dwight said pushing Duke away from the door. "Trust Poppi. We should look for Thomson instead. Little Poppi, do you know where your daddy is?"

She nodded. "I'll show you."

Back inside the house the fire behind Poppi was hissing with cruel excitement. "Duke isn't like the rest of his family. He is a kind man so you can drop that already. You were the selfish one that hurt this family." The words were pouring from her lips.

"That sounds like your father talking. You know he came here willingly as punishment for sending you away...for burying my body all the way out in this hell hole." Her voice was venom. "But all he would ever moan about was missing you, he was crazy in the end. When Thomson came here he was a snivelling old man."

A sudden bloom of hope grew inside Poppi's chest. She again flexed her fingers to quell the fire but instead of it receding back into the fireplace it snaked around her hand and slide beneath her flesh.

Lily's head titled. Now the fire had dulled away they could both hear movement in the basement of the house. "I told you if they came in here I would burn them!" With a howl her mother disappeared into thin air.