The Tragic Tale of Agnes and Stephen

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“You’re not supposed to be here.”

Standing at the foot of the stairs with her hands on her hips, Agnes stared at the man she’d killed almost thirty years ago.

“My dearest Agnes, did you really expect to get rid of me so easily?”

Face pale, lips blue, Stephen descended from the second story landing donning the same faded fedora Agnes had known when she was young.

“What I expected,” she said, standing her ground, “was for you to have the decency to remain dead.”

Stephen shrugged.

“Decency is not my strong suit.”

Agnes snorted.

“It never was.”

Stephen paused on the third to the last step and Agnes’s breath caught in her throat.

“Oh, I have missed you.”

Stephen removed the hat from his head and pressed it close to his stillborn heart.

“And I you.”

“I wish— If only—” But there Agnes stopped and could go no further. The memory was too painful to articulate, so instead, she just stood there in the tomb-like silence of her ancestral house, tears brimming at the corners of her eyes.

“You did what you had to do.”

“Did I?” Agnes turned away, shaking her head.

“You did.”

“I could have found another way. I could have tried…something, anything. You shouldn’t have had to die.”

“There was nothing else you could have done.”

“But Stephen, look at you. Look what you’ve become.”

“I brought it on myself. I was arrogant to think I could claim such powers for my own. The magic twisted me from the inside out, and every day I became a little less human. If I’d completed the ritual, if I’d allowed that demon into myself…” Now it was Stephen’s turn to shake his head. “You saved what little of my soul remained.”

“But Stephen, what will become of you now?”

Agnes’s late husband approached her from behind, brushing cold fingers against her too-warm cheeks.

“I will atone for my misdeeds in life, and when my penance is complete, I’ll move on.”

Agnes closed her eyes in a futile attempt to stop free-flowing tears.

“On to where?”

“I don’t know.”

“Will we meet again?”

Stephen came around to plant his lips against Agnes’s own.

“My dearest Agnes, I can assure you, our tale is far from over.”

“I love you, Stephen. I—”

But when she opened her eyes again to meet his gaze, he was gone.

Stephen King meets Neil Gaiman in this thrilling supernatural epic.

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