“You listen to me, now, Daddy.”
Thursday night, 2 April 2009, AM
Celia: At this speed, the world is a blur. At this speed, she is too fast for her thoughts to keep up. At this speed, the process is a series of instincts: leap, dodge, dive, swerve.
She runs. She runs faster than she has ever run. She runs for something that she should not have had to lose, that she is desperately afraid will not be there when she arrives. She runs for all the mistakes she has ever made, fueled by one thought, by one purpose.
Raw, burning, unfiltered hatred. It fills her. The blurry world is nothing but red, nothing but fury, nothing but an inferno swirling around her that she is ready to unleash upon her father. She avoids people, crowds, the guards at the gate. Because at this speed, they are nothing to her, tiny obstacles that she can simply avoid.
At this speed, she’s at the door of 3 Audubon Place in just over three minutes. She doesn’t knock. She barrels in. She hopes someone hears her coming. She hopes he knows what’s in store for him. She hopes Isabel is waiting, so she can drive her face into the wall before she ever starts on Daddy.
GM: Celia’s tornado-like progress is arrested by her home’s front door.
But she can hear it, from the third floor.
Past the window.
Past the gag.
Celia: As if a door will ever be enough to stop her. As if a door can hold back an inferno. Her hand closes over the handle, squeezing, forcing it open.
GM: Celia has her father’s strength. But it’s locked tight.
She can still hear it, from her bedroom.
Her mom must be really screaming.
Celia: She’d expected to barge right in. That brute strength would see her through. When she’s drawn up short by the door she reaches for the purse she’d slung over her shoulder, finds her keys, and shoves them into the lock to get inside.
GM: She blurs through the house. Blurs up the stairs. She knows where to go.
She smells it, before she crosses the door’s threshold.
She smells it like she did at Chase’s apartment.
That telltale coppery tang.
Then she sees it.
Lying on the ground.
Three sawed-off toes.
Celia: There’s a momentary pause. A brief hesitation in the doorway. The smell hits her, almost sends her back down memory lane. To that night. This night. Her father with the hacksaw. Her mother screaming.
Only she isn’t fourteen anymore. She isn’t useless. She’s strong, fast. She charges across the room toward her father.
GM: Celia’s mom is tied down to the bed, just like she was in the video. But it’s one thing to see it there, and another to see it in person. Most of the bruises mar her swollen, alternately black, blue, and purpled eggplant-like face, but there’s more bruises along her spread-eagled naked body too. There’s red all over the sheets. Celia’s dad is seated on the corner of the bed and holding up the saw as his ex-wife gives raw, deep-throated, only partly muffled screams past her gag.
“You tried to take my kids from me, Diana.”
“So I’m going to take the last thing your largely purposeless and socially noncontributive existence still has left for you.”
“No more dancing period. No more of your stupid jo-”
He’s cut off as Celia slams into him, knocking him off the bed. His large frame hits the floor with a crash.
He throws an instinctive punch upwards, clouting Celia hard across the jaw. She tastes blood and staggers back.
Her dad picks himself up and looks down at her.
“So there’s my little girl.”
He looks briefly surprised at the fact she actually tackled him, but says,
“I’m glad you’re back, Celia. It’s important that you see this.”
Celia: “Stop.” There’s a command in her voice. That thing she didn’t know was inside of her, the same thing that made Em fuck her after he turned her down. She unleashes it on him, pushes it into him, forces him to listen to her.
She rises to her feet, movements slow. Blood drips from her mouth onto the borrowed shirt.
“You listen to me, now, Daddy.”
GM: Celia’s mom jerks her head back and forth. Her black and swollen eyes are further bulged with equal parts pain and terror.
Her dad just stares at her for a moment, his eyes oddly clouded.
Then he hugs her close and strokes her hair.
“Oh, Celia,” he whispers. “I’m so glad you’re home. I’m so glad you’re safe.”
“I’m listening, sweetie. Whatever it is. Daddy’s listening.”
Celia: Daddy’s listening.
There’s a thrill that runs through her. A shiver down her spine. A tightening of her nipples and fire in her core. Daddy’s listening. She gets it now, why she wants to serve the things, why she’d agreed to the deal. She’d do anything to continue this.
She smiles up at her daddy.
“Do you love me, Daddy?”
GM: “More than anything, sweetie.”
He kisses her head. Keeps her hugged close.
“You’re my little princess.”
Celia: “I’m so happy to say you hear that. We’re going to do such amazing things together, Daddy.”
Celia looks past him to where her mom is on the bed. She frowns.
“You hurt Momma. Tell her you’re sorry, Daddy.”
GM: Blood continues to messily leak from her mother’s feet. She looks barely conscious past the pain. She’s not screaming at this point so much as making a high-pitched, mangled, continued whine through her gag.
But Celia can see the confusion in her eyes.
Celia’s dad frowns. She can feel the resistance in his mind towards the very idea.
“You don’t have a mom, Celia. She abandoned you.”
He rubs her back reassuringly.
Celia: Celia nods slowly.
“You’re right, Daddy. She did. She left us. Abandoned us.” She looks toward the woman. “But if you cut her to pieces now, you can’t continue your fun with her. And we’re going to have fun together today aren’t we, Daddy?”
She smiles up at him. Beams, really.
“You know who else we get to have fun with? Isabel. Why don’t you go get her, Daddy? Don’t tell her I’m here, though, I want it to be a surprise. In fact, tell her there is a surprise. Blindfold her. Stay in her room until I come get you. If she resists, spank her. But she won’t resist, will she? She loves you, Daddy. Just like I do.”
GM: Celia’s dad beams back at her.
“Okay, Celia. I’ll go tell your sister. We’ll have lots of fun, the three of us.”
He gives her another squeeze, another smile, then leaves the room.
He closes the door behind him.
Celia: “Mom, I need you to stay calm. I know you’re in pain. I’m going to get you out of here. Can you be calm for me?” She does it again, puts that calm feeling into the air around her directed at the woman. Her eyes flash, a little more colorful than their usual dark brown.
Celia is already untying her. She’s gentle as she lifts the broken, bleeding woman into her arms, careful not to jostle her too much. She picks up the toes as she leaves, stops by the kitchen for a plastic bag and some ice where she deposits the toes, and presses a clean dish towel to her mother’s bleeding stumps.
Can they fix this? Can they fix the lost toes, like they did her arm, or do the limbs still need to be attached? She doesn’t know. Pete had told her not to tell her mom. That if she tells her mom anything, shows her anything, she’ll die. So Celia fills her with confusion. Makes her feel like the world is spinning, like time is flowing differently, like this is because of blood loss and trauma.
GM: Celia finds she need hardly exercise her new power upon her mother’s mind. There is already so much blood loss. There is already so much trauma. There is already so much pain. Blood immediately begins to soak through the towel. Celia’s mom stares at her with deliriously out of focus eyes, only half-visible behind the swelling, and tries to whimper something past her gag. Then her head slumps silently backwards.
Celia: Celia runs. Tulane Medical Center. By car, it’s 17 minutes. On her own, with her mother in her arms, avoiding the roads and taking the straight route, it’s a little over four miles away. She’s there in two and a half minutes. She stops running when she reaches the building, slows to a normal pace. She finds a wheelchair and deposits her mother into the seat, wheeling her into the ER and up to the triage intake desk.
“This woman needs help.”
GM: Celia’s mother is limp in her arms as she blurs from Audubon to the hospital. A few people stare and gawk at the injured woman’s nudity. The triage nurse assesses her condition as “urgent and life-threatening.” She’s promptly whisked away on a stretcher by medical personnel. Along with the bag of ice-preserved toes.
Celia: She fades into the background as easily as she came. Anyone who calls out to her is ignored. Anyone who tries to stop her is brushed past. Her mother is safe now, or as safe as she can be. Daddy is waiting at home.
Waiting for her. For her vengeance. For her anger and rage and destruction. He is waiting for her to tear him apart, like the loyal little lapdog that he is. That’s the only thing on her mind as she moves once more through the streets, back to Audubon Place, back to her sister and father.
GM: 2.5 minutes later and she’s back home, outside her oldest sister’s room.
“…but you can’t tell me anything, Daddy?” comes Isabel’s voice.
“It’s a surprise, sweetie. Just be patient.”
“Okay. I can be patient.”
“You’re a good girl.”
Celia: When your body moves as quickly as Celia’s does, avoiding obstacles are just instinct. It frees her mind to think of all the ways she is going to destroy her father, of all the things she will do to him for hurting her mother, for destroying her family. Of all the ways she will cover it up, and what she’ll do when the monster comes for her, too.
Donovan. He has a name. She should use it. Give something a name and you’re less scared of it.
Maxen. Not Dad. Not Father. Not Daddy. Maxen. Just a man.
She hears the voices coming from inside Isabel’s room and pauses.
“Daddy?” she calls out. “Is she ready?”
GM: “Yes, sweetie, she’s all ready,” her father calls back.
“Is that Celia?” Isabel gawks. “What’s she doing here? Where was she?”
Then, angrily, “Daddy, she helped Diana kidnap us!”
Celia: “Daddy, why don’t you gag her so she can’t spoil our time together with lies.”
GM: “What!? I’m not lying! SHE’S the liar! She always, ALWAYS, lie-mmmmf!”
Isabel is cut off by the sound of something thick in her mouth.
Celia: Celia steps into the open doorway.
GM: Isabel’s eyes flare, but she doesn’t fight her dad as he stuffs the pillowcase into her mouth.
“Mm-mmf! Sh-mmmf!” she exclaims, pointing at Celia.
Celia: “She’s flailing,” Celia says with a tut. “Why don’t you tie her to the bed so she doesn’t hurt herself.”
GM: Celia’s dad holds Isabel’s arms down. “Good point, sweetie. Can you get me some rope, please?”
“MMMF!” Isabel exclaims, her eyes wide as she shakes her head.
Celia: “There’s some in my room. Bring her there.”
Celia’s dad pulls up her sister. “This way, Isabel. Stop yelling. That isn’t ladylike.”
Isabel glares daggers past her bulging eyes.
Celia: “I moved the other one for you,” Celia says, voice saccharine. “So the coast is clear. I’m so thoughtful, Daddy. Don’t you think?”
GM: Her dad suddenly frowns. “Where is she, Celia?”
Celia: “Somewhere safe.” She’s all smiles, all happy nonchalance. “Exactly where I need her to be. We get to continue with her later.”
“Tie Isabel down, please. We don’t want her to hurt herself.”
GM: The frown persists.
But after a moment, he ties Isabel down. The ropes are still bloody.
Celia’s sister gives more muffled exclamations of alarm. Their dad slaps her across the face when she struggles.
“Stop that right now.”
Celia: Celia lingers in the doorway. She’d seen the camera angle on Emil’s laptop and knows that there are a few places in the room that are blind spots, and here in the door is one of them.
She watches her sister struggle. The smack against her face is satisfying. She wants to see him do it again. She wants him to punish her like the vicious little cunt that she is. She smiles at her sister. It doesn’t reach her eyes. Her jade green eyes. It’s like a thick fog that she pushes out of her, an ensnaring sense of dread and doom she threads through the room, clouding Isabel’s mind.
Go ahead and struggle, Is. See how far that gets you.
GM: Isabel meets Celia’s eyes.
Then she screams.
It’s a muffled sound, past the gag, but she kicks and thrashes with wild eyes.
Her father slaps her again, hard enough to turn her head. It leaves an angry red mark.
“I don’t repeat myself, Isabel.”
Celia’s sister numbly quiets down.
Celia: “Why don’t you give her another one, just for good measure. She should know better than to make you repeat yourself. In fact, Daddy, why don’t you use the hacksaw on her? How many times are you going to have to make the lesson sink in before she gets it? Taking a toe will make her think twice.”
GM: “That’s a good point, sweetie,” her dad remarks thoughtfully.
He pulls off Isabel’s sock and pulls up the saw.
Her eyes bulge.
Celia: She smiles at her sister.
GM: Their dad holds down Isabel’s foot. Blood sprays as serrated edges grind through flesh. Isabel’s screams are horrific. There are scraping sounds, as the edges catch against bone, but sawing is what a saw is for, and Celia’s father saws it back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Isabel’s screams are higher-pitched than their mom’s. But they’re no less pained.
The big toe finally comes off with a messy red spurt. More blood pills over the mattress.
Isabel stares at it.
Her eyes are wide. Disbelieving. Unreal.
But mostly, she just cries and screams.
How she screams.
Maxen stares at the severed toe.
Celia: “She’s still screaming, Daddy. Didn’t you tell her to be quiet?”
GM: “Celia, call 911. Your sister needs a hospital,” their dad says thickly.
He blinks several times.
He pulls a pillowcase off the pillow, wraps it tightly around the foot, and applies pressure.
Celia: “Of course, Daddy.” Celia pulls out her phone. Presses a few buttons, none of them 9 or 1. “You know what would help in the meantime? Kiss it better. Make her feel good. She’ll forget the way it hurts, I bet.”
GM: Celia’s father clutches his head.
Celia: “Do it, Daddy. Kiss her better. In fact, why don’t you take her clothes off too. Really get in there. Show her how good you can make her feel. Fuck her like you did Diana. Teach her her place. Beneath you.”
His hesitation is concerning. She breathes sharply through her nose, lips pressed tightly together. She is not letting him go now. Not yet. He still has more to do. More to pay for. They both do.
GM: Celia’s keeps screaming, then rips off his and Isabel’s clothes.
Isabel’s father spreads her thighs and fills her. Isabel’s face is a mosaic of pain and horror. Their dad keeps screaming. It’s a raw, deep-throated, almost animal-like sound. He stops midway through several times, then resumes faster and harder than ever, balls loudly smacking against his daughter’s thighs.
He takes her manically, savagely, desperately. Celia can’t see his face. Just the sweat trickling from his bald head. The way he clutches the sheets beneath his hands, tight enough she can see the bone.
Blood drips from Isabel’s crudely bandaged toe. Celia has to admit that makes this even better (or worse). Maxen at least waited to cut off Diana’s toes until after he’d fucked her.
There’s blood underneath Isabel’s thighs, too. She must have broken her hymen.
She screams, at first, past the gag. On and on an on.
Towards the end, she stops. She closes her eyes. Shuts down. Her face twitches, but it looks like a purely physical reflex, from her toe’s pain. She’s withdrawing to some distant and untouchable place. To escape the horror. To wait until it’s safe for her mind to come back out.
Her dad continues thrusting into her. Harder, faster, as his climax approaches.
It’s when he shudders and fills her with his cum that Isabel’s eyes snap back open.
She gives an enormous smile past the gag.
And she laughs.
It’s part scream.
She tugs her bound arms.
And she buries her face against his neck.
There’s high-pitched, raggedy giggles.
“Mm-mmf y! Mm-mmf y! M-myy-mmm-f-y!”
Celia: She deserves this. She deserves this. She deserves this.
It’s the only thought she can think. The truth she clings to, the mantra she tells herself. Over and over again. Every time he thrusts she thinks it. Every time Isabel screams she tells herself that it’s well-deserved.
The laughter shatters her truth. Shatters her, like Isabel is shattered. Broken. There’s something wrong with them both. Her heart hardened into hatred, and all Isabel wanted was to be accepted by the parent who didn’t abandon her.
Bile rises up in her throat and she chokes it back down. She doesn’t look away this time. She waits for him to finish, until he pulls out. And digs again, digs into his brain before he can realize what he has done, pushes her will into him again. You’re mine. Mine, mine, mine. I will break you, too, like you broke everyone else.
GM: Celia’s father clutches his head.
He topples backwards.
Falls off the bed.
Hits the floor.
His mouth silently works and gasps.
His eyes bulge.
Celia: “Come here, Daddy. Let me make you feel better.”
GM: Maxen’s neck jerks towards her.
The veins along his neck bulge.
His jaw falls open.
His mouth numbly works.
Then he just freezes.
Celia can hear it, behind her.
It’s her dad.
Celia: It’s him.
Her body runs cold. He’s here for her. To end her. For taking his dog’s bone. For punishing the rabid animal.
She takes a step back. Another. How close until daylight? How close until sunshine and safety and twelve hours’ worth of running? How far can she go in twelve hours? Where can she hide, that they won’t find her?
The window is right there. She’s been out it before. Broke her arm going out it last time. And there’s no telling what he can do. Maybe if she lets him take her he’ll make it quick. Maybe she’ll stop hurting. She’s so tired of hurting. Tired of being afraid. Tired of belonging to other people.
“I knew the blood would draw you in.”
GM: It has.
Because the window is open, too.
Celia’s… fathers wordlessly turn towards it.
They aren’t alone.
He is there.
Floating in the air. Rising. Like a marionette pulled by unseen strings.
He looks like a man, but only in the way that latex knows how to pour into a mold. How to approximate the shape despite being of a foreign substance. He’s a hair below average height, clean-shaven, and has short, neatly combed black hair. He’s dressed in a black turtleneck shirt and any navy slacks. He looks as if he could be the host for a gallery opening or wine tasting event… were it not for his eyes. They are the sea-gray color of troubled skies and distant storm clouds, harbingers of a coming doom. They are as frigid as the Arctic’s blackest depths and as remorseless as any shark’s. Even without staring at Celia, those awful eyes seem to pierce through to the once-child’s and now-woman’s very soul. Against that dead stare, the rest of his nature stands seemingly revealed. There’s the too-cold, too-white skin like a porcelain doll’s. There’s the utter stillness, the statue-like way he doesn’t blink, smile, make any of those little movements that normal people do. There’s how the very air around him feels colder, how Celia can already feel goosebumps breaking out along her flesh as her teeth chatter.
And she knows now. Knows, with all the certainty of an adult whose fears cannot be dismissed as a child’s imagined nightmares:
Monsters are real.
Celia: There’s nowhere to run. There are two Maxens and one Donovan. Three monsters in total.
Four, if Celia counts herself. She should start counting herself. Only a monster could do what she’s done.
“There’s enough video evidence to bury him.” Her voice lacks any emotion. It’s flat and hard and cold, just like the thing in front of her, the thing she addresses now. No chattering teeth. No panic-laced fear. Just perfunctory facts.
She’s already accepted her death, and she won’t go out screaming.
“You’ll need a new toy.”
GM: She doesn’t see him move.
Then he’s not.
Then she’s not.
Ice envelops her body. Wind shrieks past her popping ears. There’s motion. Vertigo. Flipping her stomach. Dark clouds rush past. Audubon Place’s lights plummet beneath them. She can see the whole city under their feet. The sprawled-out, distant lights look like strings of glowing pearls.
Mist and fog swirl around her like spectral dancers at a midnight ball. Wind howls in her ear, blowing back her hair. His cold, oh so cold, mercilessly strong hands are all that’s holding her aloft. Her heart hammers so hard in her chest she can almost hear it.
Celia: He’s going to drop her. He’s going to drop her and watch her fall, shrieking, to the ground below. There is no coming back from that. Even water will feel like concrete. She’ll crush every bone in her body. Turn them into dust in fleshy tubes.
She lied. She doesn’t want to die. She isn’t ready to die. She just wanted to save her mom. Protect her family. She took it too far.
She clings to whatever part of him she can reach. Tucks her face against his chest. She won’t look. She won’t. Her tears freeze on her cheeks, turn to ice. Her teeth chatter so hard she can’t get a word out.
Maybe she’ll freeze first. Then she won’t feel it when he lets go. Her body will turn to ice and shatter on impact, and no one who sees the frozen bits of flesh will know that they once belonged to her. Or they will, and people will forever wonder how she came to die that way.
Celia Flores, immortal.
Jade, not as hard as she thought.
GM: Celia sinks into the dark figure’s embrace like a lost child into its mother’s. His cold, oh so cold hands caress her body through the dress’s pitifully thin fabric. She feels her nipples stiffen, her breath come in ragged, throaty gasps. His hands slide up her neck like serpents and tilt it back. Winter-cold kisses press against her forehead, her cheek, then descend steadily lower.
Celia: She had known.
All of her life, she had known, since that evening she saw him through the balusters when she was still a child. Every step that she has taken in her life has lead her here, to him, to this dark fantasy: high above the city, his icy arms around her, the wind whipping at hair and dress.
Her thoughts open, spilling outward. Memories of him, of that night, when she made a similar mistake, when she crept up the stairs with a gun. How he had picked her up, like this, and carried her to the safety of a warm bed; only here, in the sky, there is no bed waiting for her, no father-figure to tuck her in and kiss her goodnight. There are just his hands, cold upon her body, and his lips moving ever closer to her exposed throat.
His hand cradles her skull. How easily he could crush her. Rip her open. Tear her apart, leave her useless and broken, to match her useless and broken insides. Twisted. Aching. What she wouldn’t give to take it all back, to wake up tomorrow in her dorm with only the threat of a test she did not study for looming in front of her.
I’m fast, she had told the detective.
Not fast enough.
Never fast enough. Light cannot escape the pull of a black hole. It can bend and twist all it wants, and still in the end it will be sucked in, stuck in the orbit of the darkness writhing inside. Forever.
There is no escape.
Just temporary freedom, and hers is nearly up.
It was over for her the night he returned what he had taken. The night he picked her up and whispered in her ear, then let her fall. This has all been borrowed time.
She has one more night to borrow. One final play to make. And if it doesn’t work then she is dead. She is dead anyway, drowning in the waters of Hell, grasping at the lifeline thrown by monsters who only want to watch her dangle.
His name leaves her lips, soft as a sigh.
GM: The dark figure does not reply.
Winter licks and breathes against Celia’s neck, leaving traces of frost. Harbingers of cold nights and the senescent season to come. Dawn seems as far away as the ground. She is terribly conscious of her weight in his arms. Of the terrible void yawning beneath her. He could just let her drop. Plummet all those thousands of feet to her death. He holds her aloft in his arms like she weighs nothing. Like she is nothing. She is utterly within his power.
Two sharp, ice-cold points pierce her skin.
There’s a moment of pain, like her first time with Stephen. Icicles stabbed into her bloodstream. But then there’s bliss, like her neck is her clit and he’s doing everything right. Better than right. It’s euphoria. Every nerve cries out with pleasure. It leaves her giddy and light-headed, and perhaps some of it is the high altitude. Wind whips at her hair. Maybe she’s suffering oxygen loss. There’s a term for it. An ‘ox’, an ‘ia’, but she can’t remember. It doesn’t matter.
He is so cold. So empty. Where Chase and the jade-eyed woman filled her with ecstasy, left her screaming and writhing and burning up inside, he makes her shiver with chill. With loss. Next to them, he truly seems a vampire. He simply takes. All of her warmth. All of her life. All of it into himself. He is empty and she can fill him. She must fill him.
She distantly registers other sensations. Other sights. Other sounds. The tiny red droplets rolling off her neck, falling all those thousands of feet like sanguine teardrops. The low, steady sucking noise as he takes her life into hers. The goosebumps on her flesh. The crisp, clean smell of the night air, cool and unpolluted as it fills her lungs. The so-close and so-bright stars, peering down on the pair like twinkling voyeurs. The cool wetness in the air. The clouds and fog swirling about them, blending fantasy with reality, dream with waking. The feeling of her breasts pressing against his so-cold chest. Her stomach against his. Her pelvis against his. Only their feet don’t meet. They float. They float like ballerinas like her mom could only ever dream of floating.
The pair hang suspended in the night sky. Two lives become as one, Celia’s flowing into his, flowing through the frigid ecstasy of his kiss.
Yet even as lives and flesh join, Celia feels his presence in her mind. She closes her eyes and his face is there. She thinks of all the thousands of feet in that drop and his face is there. She thinks of her father and his face is there. She thinks of her sister, her mother, Stephen, Emily, and his face is there. His statue-still, mask-like face, those stormy eyes piercing into her soul. Instinct screams to look away. She should not look closer. She cannot invite this monster in. There is only death behind those achromatic eyes. Death and damnation. Damnation and suffering. Death can be a reprieve. If she’d died in the womb, would her family suffer now?
Stupid. What a stupid thing to care about. It doesn’t matter how stupid she is. Smart or dumb, she is a monster.
He is a monster.
They deserve each other.
They are made for each other.
Does she let him in?
Celia: There was never a chance. Half-formed ideas drop from her mind as the blood drains from her body. There is nothing but him now. There has never been anything but him. Everything else was a distraction, a game, a cruel dream that died upon waking. This, here, this is reality.
This is her world. Her truth: life, death, none of it matters, nothing but him.
He drinks and she wanes. Her fire gutters out in the wake of such cold, until it’s just glowing embers in her belly. Her breath no longer fogs in the air between them. Her body arches into him as the strength fades from her limbs, fingers curling in his shirt. He doesn’t need to take because she gives, freely, all of it.
Have it. Have it all. Keep it, if only he’ll keep her, too.
She opens herself to him.
And in doing so, he can see her. Who she is inside, not the plethora of masks that she has worn, not the weeping, crying girl she plays for her dad, or the beauty queen she plays for the goddess, or the troubled addict-in-waiting she plays for her Em, panic always just around the corner.
The truth, now. Green steel. Poise and grace and sharp lines, façade pulled free. Corruption incarnate. Reverent, resourceful, resolved. An ornate mirror wrapped in silver filigree and red roses, and on its surface her monster:
GM: He pulls back from Celia’s neck. Sight and sound are fast fading: minutes seem to pass between each beat of her heart. She no longer feels the cold. She no longer hears the wind.
But she sees the blood, her blood, on the vampire’s lips.
And she sees his eyes.
His achromatic gaze is as still, cold, and dead as any shark’s, but something seems to stir within its frigid depths. Motion just beyond her sight, imperceptible to conscious mind, but ominously visible to some deeper instinct, to some part of herself best kept locked away. Motion like the clouds to a troubled sky. A gathering storm.
There is a dark eye to that hurricane. Inscrutable, save that it cannot promise respite.
It beckons to Celia, like that innocuously self-destructive one sometimes feels at great heights. To just—jump.
Their gazes lock.
And she sees him for who he is.
The midwife hoists the squalling infant over its mother’s still-warm corpse.
A family screams.
“…great evil… …pon this child…”
“…curse… …this child…”
Does Celia press deeper?
Does she pull away?
Celia: Desecration. Destruction. Everywhere. He is the thing she thinks he is, the monster in the dark, the bogeyman beneath the bed.
And she is too far gone to pull back now. Too deep to run. She presses further into this Hell inside of him.
GM: He kneels before a throne.
He kneels. He waits.
His time will come.
They place a crown upon his brow.
He assumes the throne, then casts the crown aside. All falls into darkness.
He vacates the throne.
He kneels once more.
But all are blind in the darkness.
Does she persist?
Does she pull back?
Celia: The deeper she goes the less she feels; she cannot turn away from the sights before her. She is a moth to his cold fire. Desperation moves her forward, further in. She endures. She persists.
Celia: It’s pulling at her. The darkness, the sin, the corruption. Swirling through her mind, ensnaring her senses, beckoning her further into its embrace. Its black, abyssal embrace. It whispers in her mind. Tells her to come and play.
stay a while and listen.
It’s too much. It’s overwhelming. A wave, crashing, again and again against her skull, knocking her over, sending her reeling. Every second a new image, a new scene of depravity, a new way to twist her mind. An onslaught. It threatens to drag her under, to drown her in its sanguine water, to keep her locked away with the horrific visions and nightmares incarnate. It threatens to shatter her, to break her completely, to stuff her into its open, snarling maw and swallow her down to never see the light of day again.
She will never be whole again.
She pulls back.
GM: But there is nothing to pull back to.
She is falling, sinking into the blackness. Cold hands no longer caress her. Cold air no longer chills her. The city’s lights are dead. Sound bleeds away as the mortal coil sloughs off. All is empty. All is dead.
Damp lips brush against hers.
Butterflies in the stomach.
He’s the only one who understands her.
The only one who accepts her.
The only one who understands him.
The only one who accepts him.
They deserve each other.
The only one who can love her.
The only one who can love him.
Stephen’s all right.
Emily’s all right.
Mom’s all right.
My little princess.
Crunching bone. Bursting vessels. Every inch of flesh screaming its torment. Fire exploding through every cell.
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday, dear Celia
Happy birthday to you
Make a wish, baby girl.
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