As the gig rocketed towards the farm, the opportunity for the demon to reach Sarah unimpeded was dwindling. He cursed, and the thunder rolled about him. The rain stormed down and lightening lit up the sky, seeming to reflect his fury. The sky broiled with suppressed energy and the clouds continued to pile up darker and thicker. Then the creature rose up high in the sky and flew down at the gig.
Beatrice brandished the crucifix as high as her hand could reach and screamed in rebellion. But the demon wasn't going for her. He had a different plan of attack.
He swooped down faster than the eye could follow him and disappeared from sight, just leaving a small plume of sulphurous smoke trailing behind him. A horrendous crashing and explosive noise ensued and the entire gig lifted off the road as if being hoisted by an unseen hand. The little carriage shook and rolled. The harnesses broke and the poor horses fled, still trailing their traces, one of them still carrying James, hanging on for dear life. Brian toppled from the box as the gig was turned over as if in a hurricane, and Michael, Beatrice and Sarah fell out onto the path. The furious and frustrated demon wrestled with the gig in a fit of temper until it was no more than tinder, lying all around the two men and two women. Michael jumped up and grabbed Sarah.
'We have to get her to the farmhouse,' he panted, trying to get his breath.
Sweat poured from her brow as Beatrice staggered to her feet and reached for the silver medallion. It was gone. She dug her hand deep into her bodice. No crucifix. She howled in dismay and began feverishly rooting through the grass and vegetation near where she fell. The men helped Sarah up and they began to lope towards the farm, keeping Sarah between them and urging the terrified girl onwards.
'Beatrice!' yelled Brian. 'Leave it! We must get Sarah to the house. It's our only chance!'
Beatrice was about to give up the search when she saw a dull glint in the mud. She scrabbled furiously and pounced on the silver crucifix.
'Got it!' she yelled triumphantly. 'Run!'
With that, the two men broke into a sprint and almost dragged Sarah along with them, her legs desperately trying to keep up but hampered by her skirts.
Beatrice rubbed the crucifix on her skirt roughly and in one movement she turned and aimed the little silver icon at the demon who was once again preparing to strike. The demon screamed as the moonlight caught the medallion and reflected the light. A small mark appeared on his devilish face. He recoiled, at the same moment the wind whipped up and the sky drove down torrents of rain.
The men continued to run with Sarah, desperate to reach the farmhouse. The rain ran off their faces in rivulets and they could barely see where they were going. But they kept the path in their eye-line and unerringly headed towards the farm. Beatrice turned, keeping the crucifix aimed over her shoulder and sprinted after them, her other hand grasping handfuls of skirt and freeing her legs. The men saw her rapidly making up the gap, and they put a spurt of speed on too. The farmhouse drew closer. The flickering light was now discernible as a carriage lamp by the front door. The door was open; waiting for them.
But as they plunged through the night, they heard that unearthly scream again, and knew that the demon was preparing to strike again. But, through the screams they heard another sound. Galloping hooves. Risking a glance over his shoulder, Brian saw James Jenkins, still on the carriage horse, galloping directly towards the demon. His whip was brandished and there was something else being waved. Brian sneaked another look as he ran, not sure what he had seen at first.
It was Mike's head, strung from James' saddle, like a totem. And like the good man he was, the remains of Mike Jenkins seemed to make the demon hesitate. James swung the whip and it connected with the neck of the demon.
'Run,' he roared as the demon whirled around, uncertain who to attack. The others needed no further bidding and flew towards the welcoming farmhouse, while James continued to flail the demon. Admittedly, it was as if a fly was swatting an elephant, but it was distracting Philip long enough for the group of four to collapse in the doorway.
Lucy and Gloria rushed out from the house, accompanied by Edward, and hauled the family indoors. Beatrice tried to open the door again.
'Mother, no!' cried Gloria.
'I have to!' Beatrice screamed back. 'James is out there alone!' and with that she wrenched open the door, just in time to see the demon swipe at James. James fell from his horse only a matter of yards from the house.
'Brian! Michael! Help him,' she yelled as she, once again, pushed the crucifix into the air above her head, aimed at the essence of evil preparing to strike the fatal blow on James. He squealed and recoiled, long enough for the two men to step out and pull James indoors.
'Girls. Quick!' instructed Michael. 'There's not a minute to spare. Hold hands. The three of you! Now!'
With a puzzled look, Lucy and Gloria hoisted up Sarah and the three young women linked hands.
A scream reverberated round and round the house. The windows shook as the storm intensified even more. Each heavy raindrop threatened to break the glass, while the wind howled through every gap and put the entire building at risk. Lightning flashed outside and thunder shook the house. The storm swirled and battered the little house while the men caught their breath and the girls stood silent, in a small circle, holding hands.
James lifted his blood-spattered face and looked across the room. He saw the girls holding hands, eyes shut and faces set in concentration. Three women. The triumvirate.