I hope this chapter might cheer you up a little bit. I can`t believe that we are going to have a madman as our next President for The United States! How did this happen!? Please dont give up your hope and dreams. Please dont get these gloomy news frighten you so the darkness and fear will take over your soul. Be strong! Hug your sister, brother, your parents, your best friend and remember this; you`re not alone.

Thank you YGP for helping me with the grammar, tenses and my spelling mistakes.

Enjoy the chapter!

The Nightmare Catcher

Chapter 24.

For a second it was silent, so still. Carrie and Letheo stood like frozen statues in their spots, that everyone, for a brief moment you could only hear the faint mumbling of voices up in the living room. Houlihan smiling, could see the shock, the widening of Carrie's eyes, her nostrils flaring in anger over his big, grand entry into the kitchen with Leila in his arms. The cruel-looking dagger close to Leila's throat, casting it into the light of the small kitchen lamp over their heads.

"You!?" was all Carrie could say.

"If you come with me, peacefully and quiet like a mouse, no harm will be done on this little bitch," Houlihan said with a triumphant look on his face.

"Houlihan! What are you?"- How did you?-" Letheo blurted out, moving forward to save Leila.

"Shut up beast boy," Houlihan shouted, moving his only eye back to the boy who stood there with a face that seemed to already lost every single drop of blood. "If you wish to save your family poor, little necks, you keep your mouth shut, or else Carrion will hear about it and you know how thrilled he would be if he knew what you have been hiding."

The so upcoming serial killer`s stomach was now twisting in agony. Letheo glanced first at Carrie, then back at the sobbing Leila and nodded slowly.

Seeing him capitulating, Carrie felt a wave of fear wash over her, but she did her best to appear confident. "And if I don't," she said coldly.

Still smiling, Houlihan`s knife approached Leila's skin closer. She cried out of fear and with a careful hand, he pressed the tip of the dagger just above Leila's collarbone and drew it along the skin.

"Don't!" Carrie said sharply, raising her hand to make him stop as the first drops of blood came out from Leila's skin. Letheo moved forward to, but he got stopped by Houlihan`s cold look, warning him again don't come any closer.

Still holding Leila with a firm grip, Houlihan moved and left the door open for Carrie to walk out.

"Anything stupid and I will cut and let her bleed her guts out right here in the kitchen, understood Blondie?"

Carrie nodded shortly, with a stiff body and a fast hammering heart, she moved passed Houlihan and walked out. She saw the look of fear in Leila's eyes, the blood still dripping from the small cut Houlihan have given her, destroying her favorite dress she only used for particular events. She hoped the wound won`t turn into a nasty scar and the blood ruin the dress. The first one at least.

When Carrie was outside in the backyard of the building, Houlihan removed Leila from his grasp and tossed her directly into Letheo`s arms, then quickly grabbed Carrie's thin arm and turned it around her back, preventing her from doing anything stupid.

"If any of you ever tries to stop me, you'll all be hanged like some naked, necked chickens," Houlihan ordered, pointing the knife at them.

Sobbing in fear Leila wrapped her arms around Letheo. Letheo, with a pale face, stared at Houlihan, but not at Carrie, then quickly moved Leila back into the kitchen and shut the door behind them, leaving only Carrie and Houlihan totally alone in the dark backyard.

"You don't need this to hide your ugly hair any longer," Houlihan said with cruel grin, removed Carrie's wig from her head and tossed it into the ground. To make his victory more clear, he stamped with his right foot on it, rubbing it into the mud and dirty water on the street.

"Never liked it anyway," Carrie muttered.

With force, Houlihan took a grip at Carrie's neck, making her shout out of in pain.

"Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass you have been for me this couple weeks?" he hissed.

"A lot I will hope," said Carrie groaning, trying to remove herself from Houlihan, but he had a firm grip on her. He dragged her up front to the main street where a wagon was waiting for them.

Carrie was the first to enter it by a hard push, her body landed hard on one of the seats inside, then followed by Houlihan who shut the door behind him, locked it just in case Carrie would try to escape and one moment later the wagon began to move.

They drove first to the harbour where there was a small boat waiting for them by a slightly drunken sailor with green reptile skin who seemed not care who sat on his boat or who was getting kidnapped, as long as they pay his fee, so after Houlihan tossed him some gold coins to him, he literally tossed Carrie into the boat. Carrie struggled, kicked, tried to rush up from the boat and from Houlihan, trying anything to get out of his hard grasp, but nothing worked. She tried to call for help, but the only people she saw was just drunken sailors, assassins and they only laughed and called "Nice catch you got there Houlihan!" or was too afraid to do anything at all. The boat moved away from the harbour, it didn't take long to reach the harbor of notorious Unizak where Houlihan dragged her up from the boat after he cut the drunken sailors` throat with the same knife he threaten Leila with.

Despite her cold facade Carrie had showed during this whole journey, she was starting to feel very anxious and increasingly afraid, unsure of just where exactly where they are heading. To the thirteen towers? To the Carrions? But the Carrions didn't know she existed, Houlihan had threaten Letheo about telling them. So where were they going?

Instead of going up to the to the towers, they suddenly took the stairs underneath an old, abandoned warehouse building. Soon they reached the bottom of the stairwell and at the end of a unlit hallway, they came to a thick wooden door, splintered and rotten.

Carrie wasn't sure if this was bad or worse, but she felt that the chance of escape was now finally gone.

Houlihan opened it and soon as they went in, he shoved Carrie hard down to the ground, her hands and knees getting scraped by the hard stones, her face landing on something soft and with a very strong, awful odor. Her reaction thought was to scream at him that he was a total asshole but then, she heard a faint click and the sound as the lighting came up from a strong lamp over them, that temporarily blinded Carrie and, when she finally adjusted to the light, her eyes quickly noticed what was laying just under her nose.

"OH MY FUCKING GOD!" Carrie moved immediately her head away before scuttling backwards away from the corpses. Shock and sickness coursed through her body and Carrie forgot that she was trying to keep a cold facade. At her feet lay two human corpses, wrapped in dirty bands of cloth. Their pale, white skin was tough and leathery, stretched straight over the bones beneath. One was missing a hand, and the other had no lower jaw. Their long, blond, hair were the only things that kept the same, untouched by the time. Trying not to throw up her probably last dinner, Carrie tried to, with trembling hands, remove the stickiness from her hands and face with her skirt, the overpowering scent of rotten flesh flooded her nostrils.

Carries´s mind was totally focus on removing the rotten flesh from her face that she didn't first notice when another door from the other side of the room opened and someone entered.

"Houlihan, I told you to clean this room up, just look how scared the poor thing is."

"Who cares couple of dead bodies? It's not mine."

"Yes, but is this how you treat a lady? I thought you had better manners."

The man`s gentle, but cold tone made her wake up from her shock and disguise. The first thing she noticed was a pair of black, shiny shoes and he was short. His clothes looked like a suit a fancy doctor would wear. Clinical white cloak, white shirt together with a blood-red long tie and white pants. His skin had an odd yellow tone, as though he had recently been ill and it didn't help that he had a sharp, pointy nose under his spectacles. He had thin cheekbones, long pointy ears, and together with green-slimy eyes with black crooked eyebrows. Everything was sharp, narrow and straight, but his more striking feature was his large mouth that now smiled like a shark as he looked down at Carrie, like he was ready to eat her up in this very minute.

Slowly, Carrie rose to her feet, her breath staggering, her face red after the hard scrubbing and she tried to remove the last, stinking dirt from her hands onto her skirt. Her eyes followed this strange man as he walked past her and took a seat on a chair behind an old, half rotten desk. Houlihan took a grip on her arms again, dragged Carrie over to an chair, forced her to sit down, and tied her hands back hard. In a short moment, this scene reminded Carrie of the old principal`s office back in Chickentown and the air of "You have been a very bad student, I'm the boss here, in charge, and completely having control over you. I can do whatever I want with you", or worse, a doctor's scene that made Carrie shudder and a hard lump rose in her throat.

"So," the man said, his hands closed together over the desk. His thin, split tongue flickered in and out between his white teeth's. "You surely must have some questions you wish to ask us before we start."

"What the fuck do you want?" Carrie began, trying to be brave and confident again, "I understand that this idiot over there-," she nodded her head over to Houlihan who gave her a snarl, "-wants my head on a spike, but what is it you want? Who are you?"

"To see how you're doing here in this most haunted, terrifying place of the whole Abarat-," the man began, "-and to collect something you have long been keeping. I must say that I'm very surprised that you have survived this long without getting mad of fear or getting killed."

"Well, guess I'm lucky then."

Houlihan made a large snort behind her back. The man ignored him and continued.

"Just surviving by luck won't get you far in this place. Being born in Hereafter, you are more used to having enough light and darkness to keep your body balanced, to much of the other makes you either depressed or getting sun cancer."

"I'm very adaptable and what is it that you think I have and how do you know I'm from Hereafter," Carrie said with a cold voice, while behind her back nervously clenching her hands into fists.

The man sighed and leaned back on the chair, "I'm not surprised you don't recognize me. It's been a long time."

Carrie raised an eyebrow at him as she looked at him closely. Everything was sharp, narrow and straight, but his smile looked familiar and she couldn't help too feel a cold thrill through her spine.

The man smiled at her, a predator smile, and he tilted his head slightly, "Let us skip this casual, boring talking. Tell me, what kind of magic did you use to create these creatures of yours?"

"What creatures?"

The man brows furrowed and he folded his arms above the table, leaning forward, "Have someone taught you in Hereafter? Watched the performance of the spells? Read it perhaps in an old silly book?"

"What spells?"

The man sighed again, rolling his eyes over her never-ending questions with no answer to his, "The spells to make pictures coming to life!"

Carrie was silent for a moment, "I don't know any," she answered shortly.

Suddenly Houlihan walked forward and gave Carrie a hard slap with his palm on the side of her head, causing her to see stars and a painful shock through her spine, "Stop this damn teasing. You made one during the flood in Chickentown! The spider that attacked my army of Stichlings if your tiny, damaged brain can remember it."

"I never created a fucking, living thing out of a silly, fucking drawing!" Carrie spat and glared up at him.

"But you have and Houlihan recognized the spider in one of your drawings from your book," The man said gleefully, then showing her the sketches that Houlihan had collected from Peter.

Carefully, her head still pounding, Carrie looked up, her eyes fixed over the open page he was showing. It was a picture of a spider, looking very similar to the one she had sketched on the table on the boat several weeks ago.

"What is it that you want?" she said, "You wish me to draw more itsy, bitsy spiders for you?" Otherwise, I hate to wait not knowing what kind of torture you have in mind for me."

"Here is a small preview," Again Houlihan raised his hand and gave her a hard hit, this time on the side of her cheek. Her cheek burned and this time her lower lip broke and started to bleed.

"Now, now Houlihan, you will have her later," the man said and gave Houlihan a hard look not to go any further.

He raised from his chair and moved behind Carrie. Her head was now bent down, her hair covering her face so they wouldn't see her painful expression and the stars now flowing in front of her. Then she went stiff as she felt his hands touching her shoulders. His long fingers curling gently yet firmly around her upper arms, trying not to shudder as his finger moved, cupping her chin to lift her head up and then touched her hot, red cheek with his other hand.

"Interesting," he said lowly as his finger moved over her face, "that's very interesting," Carrie tried to bite when his fingers moved too close to her broken lip, but he quickly moved away.

"She doesn't know. Poor, poor thing."

His face looked very convincing in his empathy, then he smiled sweetly again.

"Which brings me to the good news. We are going to fix it."

As if she needed another reason to hate him more, he grabbed her by the arms and lifted her up from the chair. He was shorter than her, but it didn't stop him from taking her right arm and Houlihan in the other, dragging her with her feet behind her into another door and entering into the large, circular room.

Everything was dark except for four lit, fat candles that were placed on each corner of a blue painted square. Beside the square stood a short, fat man with a bright, yellow suit.

"I'm very grateful for your assistance Kaspar," the man said.

"I have other things to do so be quick," said Kaspar sourly, having a boring look on his face and turned his attention to Carrie.

"Is this the girl?"

"Unfortunately it is."

"What is it you wish me to find Rictus?"

"Yes, what is it you want RICTUS?! " Carrie screamed and again tried to bite him with her teeth. Avoiding her question and trying not to get any teeth marks, the man named Rictus gave Carrie's other arm over to Houlihan and moved towards Wolfswinkel.

She tried to scream again until Houlihan covered her mouth with his big hand as Rictus lowered his head and whispered something into Wolfswinkel`s ear. His bored look disappeared and looked back an Rictus in surprise, "Really? That's it? I was expecting something else."

"Definitely sure."

Wolfswinkel nodded slightly. "It's not going to be easy."

"To make our debts even, you'll do it."

Kaspar Wolfswinkel nodded, then giving a short signal to Houlihan with his hand, Houlihan gave Carrie a hard push and she stumbled forward into the square. As she did so, she felt her body pass through an invisible barrier and inside she directly felt the hard pressure around her, like when you're flying in an airplane, squishing both her eardrums, her brain, making her already aching headache even more painful. Sweat began to pour on her forehead, her hair roots damp. She tried to rush out from the square, but her body was immediately hit by a strange, invisible wall. Desperately Carrie banged her left shoulder at it, but was only greeted by this feeling of strange, greasy, cold texture.

Kaspar Wolfswinkel examined her for several a moment. Furrowing his eyebrows, his gaze examining, questioning, skeptical, like she was something small and ugly that he couldn't figure what's so special about her.

"I don't think you're familiar with this kind of ritual, but I can assure you that I`ve done this on Candy Quackenbush herself and she was easy as an open book," Kaspar Wolfswinkel said after he inspected Carrie and began to wave his hand in circular movement with his hand. "Let's see what secrets you're keeping inside of that mind of yours."

"Brace yourself now, you won`t enjoy this one bit," Rictus said cheerfully. His body now almost bouncing up and down, his mouth wide open like he was ready to take a ride on a big, exciting carousel.

Again Carrie tried to bang both her shoulders and her legs against the wall again, but it was useless, the wall didn't break, then she felt something pulling directly at her forehead, entering and reaching to the very center of her brain. She shook her head, trying to remove it, but the invisible hands kept pushing into her mind.

She had no idea what was going on, and when she glanced back at Kaspar Wolfswinkel, Rictus and Houlihan, she saw a strange smear of images in the air at the end of Kaspar`s staff. All three of them looked interestedly at the images and Carrie didn't understood at first what it was.

The scene she first noticed was the wanted picture of Candy Quackenbush in the school corridor, then there was the great wave coming towards Chickentown. There was the very first day at school when she had to stand in front the class, just muttering her name and nothing more. She saw the white, plain room she had lived in at the hospital, a redhead nurse with a friendly face who had been kind to her. The living room where other people like her either watched TV or played cards together or just trying pretend that they were normal and cheerful. Doctor Hell`s stone face and a plain nurse cleaning a small wound on her left wrist she had made out of despair.

Seeing this so familiar scene, she insistently understood that these images was her memories, her very own memories.

Her dark past.

She was both repulsed, but at the same time wanted to see more pictures she never knew she still had in her memory, but apparently none of these images were of the slightest interest to Rictus, because he shook his head on every picture and Wolfswinkel erased them with an irritated wave of his staff.

"No, I wish to see the earlier ones," Rictus said. "Seven or six years ago," so Wolfswinkel gathered his strength and made a second summoning, this time more painful and hurtful.

Now every scene seems to be in a perspective in the level of a child.

She saw her mother's face, so clear and so bright she had almost forgotten how beautiful she was. The small house at the sea. The surroundings were a bare, cold, almost a volcanic desert.

Her home. Her sweet home.

"Nothing have changed I see, that's good to know," Still displeased, Rictus moved his double-edged smile with his razor-sharp teeth again towards Carrie. "Think carefully Carrie. What do you remember of your daddy? Can you please tell us? What more details can you give except the common and boring details. Is there any particular place you remember? A place you like to hide and play with your toys? Being all alone and nothing to interfere with your little games. Come one, just give us a hint."

Without Carrie realizing what she was thinking, it changed again and what they saw now was her childhood memories, climbing up in a tree and despite her mother`s shouting, refused to get

down until she reached the top. Yelling at the cold marble of her mother's headstone, demanding her to return back from heaven and scolding God for theft. The time she had painted a pretty castle and dad got upset over it. Falling off a horse and broke her arm. Her little secret place no one didn't knew about where she used to hide and play for herself.

Inside of big, dark shed.

"Hold it!" Rictus said. "We are almost there." and Wolfswinkel made a move with his hand, forcing Carrie's mind to pause, forbidding her to think anything else except this.

This scene was flickering, like the viewer moved her eyes very fast trying to detect something in the shadows.

"Carrie, are you finished?" A deep voice called from far away. She, as young girl didn't answer, but stiffened as she could hear him approaching the shed and he opened it. The sun was behind him so the face was half shadowed. He clicked his tongue once and then again, and shook his head.

Fear spiked inside of Carrie's mind, adrenaline suddenly erased the anxiety she felt. Her breathing was harsh and ragged, her heartbeat racing.

"Collecting again I see. Haven't I told you not to do it?"

They could hear him speak and then in the midst of all these familiar sights, however, was one Carrie didn't recognize. Something appeared in front of their eyes. It was a brown package and Rictus made a loud noise of "That's it" and quickly grabbed it.

Eagerly, like it was his birthday, Rictus stripped the package naked, and in his hands he held a book.

A simple, brown book.

Seeing it, other flashes of her long forgotten memories appeared. And then...everything was in a blurry, like a person watching with a bad eyesight. It was dark, rainy with light coming out from a great building but, they managed to see Rictus himself in the picture. Standing beside Carrie, having his hand over her shoulder, his thick jacket covering her wet, half-conscious body while they stood shivering outside the hospital.

He followed her up the stairs, her eyes looked briefly up at him as he stared without knowing she was looking at the two nurses who was coming towards them as if they were pieces of meat. "I guess this is goodbye," he said without looking down at her, "I will miss you, you know."

Carrie, the girl, kept staring up at him. Both his clothes and his hair was wet. His black hair laid in tiny wet strips like he had long, slimy leeches covering his head. He hold her tiny hand in a tight grip.

"I want to go home. Please let us go home."

"You silly girl," Rictus said and finally looked down at her, his mouth forming a sneer. "You will be better here than anywhere else in the world. Safe and sound and kept away like a nice doll," He put a hand on her shoulder, leaning forward to kiss her on the cheek, then he leaned even further so he was whispered something into her ear.

No one didn't caught to hear what he had whispered, not even Carrie remembered what he had said, but she knew that this was the starting point of her misery and hatred.

Carrie looked up to find that Rictus was in some sort of trance, looking at the hospital scene. His mouth was pulled down in a frown, wrinkles graced his forehead and his bright yellow eyes now appeared clouded with grief and….regret?

Without thinking, she started to scream. Her face turned into one concentrated panic, adrenaline coursing through her veins. She threw herself to the floor with force and let out a loud scream.

"Hey stop that! It's close to a brain surgery we're doing," Wolfswinkel`s shouted but Carrie couldn't hear him.

Carrie had now lost all sense of control of her movements; She kicked and screamed at the wall and without thinking, she banged her head once, twice, and a third time before a cold invisible hand grabbed her and pulled her away.

"Is this all?" Wolfswinkel wondered and turned back to Rictus. "Doubt she`s got any sense left."

"No, there is one more to go," Rictus said and showed a piece of paper to Wolfswinkel. "Find me this,"

Looking at it, Wolfswinkels face paled slightly. "You can't be serious, that's impossible. If she had stuck that inside her mind, she would have-"

"Turned mad? But she's here now, alive and almost intact. We had to keep it in here or he would otherwise now."

"Hold on a second, you made me now very curious Rictus," Kaspar Wolfswinkel interrupted his dramatic moment. "If you wish to borrow my staff further, you better explain who that damned daddy is, why did you block her memories in the first place and made her totally crazy over that silly book? Does it contain any magic or something?"

"Some kind of life insurance I can assure you Kaspar, " Rictus said nonchalantly, putting the book under the crook of his arm, taking his glasses off and cleaned it with a white handkerchief he had picked up from his pocket. "I didn't believe she would end up here when she was locked away in Hereafter, but perhaps it was meant to happen."

"Then that hospital didn't make a good job chaining this girl into the wall. Whatever you stuffed her brain with, you better get it now before she hits her head and destroy the whole floor with her brain pieces."

"Please Carrie," Rictus said, putting his glasses back on his nose and turned his eyes back to Carrie. Now a pleading and more demanding fierce in his voice. "You must remember the incident? The one at the shore? Such a dramatic event much have stuck into your brain."

"N-no, I don't want this. Don't make me," Carrie said. Her voice shaking as she moved her body into a fetal position on the floor.

"You know he's dangerous," Rictus licked his thin lips, "brilliant, wicked and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants and you suffered for it. You and your mother suffered, wrongfully by his hand and he deserves to pay that price now. Don't you want to make sure that other people are protected from that kind of monster? After all, justice must be served and since he's to blame what happened."

Confusion, pain, anger. Those were the very things that dominated her brain. She also felt the fury. The feelings of her father were there. It has always been there. Making her keep going forward no matter what. Her hatred to him had no limitation, and she hated Rictus.

"You will meet him when the right time finally comes. For now," Rictus said slowly, "you will have to play this little game. Now come on! You must remember it. The shore. Do you remember the shore?"

Something clawed up inside her. She didn't know why, it told her not to think of him. Do NOT think of him in the way Rictus wanted her to do.

This was so messed up. She couldn't stand hearing Rictus seducing voice telling her to remember something she didn't know what it was. What shore? She didn't remember any shore, but she remembered other things. Her mother`s kind face and the bright kitchen she often ate her breakfast. To suspend somewhere she like to be, with her thoughts and wild imagination. That pleasant, surreal world she loved. Everything`s safe. Everything warm and pleasant. Instantly the shed came back again, haunting the scene in front of them, more clearly than she remembered it. All these tools for the garden, the empty bucket, the water hose, the shovel, the seed packages, the old comics laying in a wood box at the corner of the room, a poster of a long forgotten boy band, her drawings, and a lot of jars standing on a small shelf.

The Jars!

Carrie`s eyes, or rather her mind turned towards them.

"What are you doing?" Rictus said irritated. "We're done here. Keep remembering the moment I told you about. Wolfswinkel. Is your stupid staff broken or something?"

"I can`t do anything," Wolfswrinkel muttered, trying again and again to wave his hand over the scene, but the scene remained the same. A shelf full of jars and cans, in different sizes and colours and Carrie's child eyes were glued on them, almost hypnosis.

"Why is she so stubbornly fixed on these jars? Any clue Rictus?"

Rictus, first confused over Carrie`s catatonic state, moved closer to the scene, looking at one of the jars with a small label tag with a symbol of a skull and crossbones.

"If I remember correctly, this must be-"

Then, out of nowhere, a small girl showed up to the scene. She grabbed the jar with the skull on it and turned towards the watchers. A small, fair headed girl with a sweet face, smiling back at them, then she opens it.

At that moment Carrie's nosebleed started to flow again.