Part 3: Mallory
Shit. Shit. Shit!
What the hell was that?
Oh my god. Oh my god. Ohmygod!
Noooo! No. nonononononononono… I won’t.
I won’t. I won’t. I won’t.
I won’t do this.
Not to him.
No. No! No!
Please. No! Not him! Not him!
Something slammed into the back of my head. Cool sludge ran down the back of my neck, down my ears, into my eyes. Sharp bits, slimy bits.
I bit him.
What’s wrong with me? I tried to bite him. I tried to drink his blood. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t. But I did. And I wanted to do it so badly.
“Kill me. Please, God, just kill me!”
“No,” he said. “No more death.”
I couldn’t see. Something cold. Slimy. Thick. Sludge. Running in my eyes. I choked on the smell of burning flesh. Am I burning?
“Focus. Try to remember,” he said.
“Can’t see,” I said, my voice hoarse, weak. A weak horse. That’s all I am now. A broken-down mule.
He wiped the sludge off my face; black thick oil on a towel.
We were in an apartment. I didn’t recognize it.
How many of these have I been in now? Don’t know. Not sure.
“Better?” he asked. His voice was familiar. Where have I heard it before?
“No. Where are we?”
“I know that. Just tell me where damn it.”
“Just outside of Denver. Took me forever to track you down. You kept moving. You’d call and ask me to meet up, and then you wouldn’t be there. I was waiting months…” He shook his head. “I’m not letting you out of my sight again. I can help you. We can fix this. I can help you get better.”
“You sure about that?”
“…no. But I have to try.”
“My arms are stuck.”
He chuckled. “They’re tied behind your back. Are you really that out of it still?”
“What’s my name? Do you remember yet?”
“No. I know you or something?”
“You don’t look familiar.”
“It’ll come back to you. Just give it time.”
I struggled. My arms were numb, my stomach was on fire. My legs were weak. He tied my legs to the chair. Arms too. Couldn’t move my hands around to slip them out of the knots. He even tied my thumbs together. Thorough. Annoyingly thorough. I couldn’t get enough leverage to break free. I needed to get out. I needed to FEED. I could feel the darkness inside, starting to boil up. The toothy maw of a beast threatened to swallow me whole if I didn’t eat soon. It hurt. My body screamed for blood. For red-hot delicious lifeblood.
My stomach growled. I got light-headed. My skin crawled. I needed to get free. I needed to eat. I needed it. If I didn’t get it, I’d die.
“Let. Me. Go.”
“No. Not yet. Not until you tell me something. You give me what I want, I give you what you want. Understand?”
Clever. We should eat him. Rip out his heart, squish it in our hands, pour the blood in our mouth. Like an over-ripe peach.
I could hear his heart beating, pumping blood through his veins. Woosh, woosh, woosh. I drooled. My teeth ached. I licked my lips, stared at his neck. It was so close. I could see his pulse beating under his skin, right beneath his jaw line. That was his jugular. I could almost taste his fresh blood, could see it slipping through the arteries and veins, red gold, the fluid of life.
God did I want it. I wanted it more than anything. I strained my neck and body forward, pulling against the ropes. They were starting to creak from the force. If I could just…
He snapped his fingers in front of my face. Once. Twice.
I glared at him.
“Focus,” he said and pushed my face back. If his hand got just inches closer to my mouth, I could bite him. God. I was so hungry.
“Why are you doing this?”
He smiled. I couldn’t tell if he was mocking me or not, and that pissed me off. “I’m not teasing you. I’m trying to get you to communicated properly. I’ve had a hell of a time getting you to talk to me.”
“How long have I been here?”
“A week or so. Tell me something, what happened that night?” he asked.
“What night? You know how many nights there are? Too many to count. What night, where?”
“At the bar. Think. What happened?”
“What bar? What are you talking about?”
“San Francisco. Three years ago. You and I were there. On a date. Do you remember?”
A black pit was growing in my belly, spreading out to my torso. I could feel my body dying. The cells rotting away. If I didn’t eat soon, it would take over, I’d hurt him and devour him and then…no. No. Please. No. Not him. I didn’t want to. Something told me that if I did, I would never forgive myself.
“Look buddy. It’s getting hard to think. OK? If you were smart, you’d loosen the ropes and run like hell and pray that I found someone else to snack on. I can’t hold it back much longer. I can’t. I’m not lying.”
He frowned. “You’re sweating. Your eyes are dilated. Your breath is shallow and fast. Are you going through withdrawal?”
The beast in me growled. It was tensing up, curling around my spine, about ready to shoot up into my head and take complete control. For some reason, I didn’t want it to do that. For once, I didn’t want to stop thinking. It hurt. God did it hurt. But, if I let it do that…
“Let me go!”
“Not yet. Listen to me. Look me in the eyes and listen to me.” He raised my chin, the warmth of his hand seeped into my skin. His eyes. Brown. Warm. Kind. I knew those eyes. My heart sank. No. Oh no. It really is him. It’s him. And I want to devour him whole. “Remember me now?”
“Don’t look away. Stay looking at my eyes.”
I blinked, tried to shake my head but he had a firm grip. He made me keep looking him in the eye.
“Listen closely. Try to remember. You and I. We were out, getting drinks. We…had an argument. You ran out of the bar, and then there was screaming. I thought you had run out into traffic. I ran after you, and when I found you, you had collapsed in an alleyway. You were pale as death, blank-faced. The side of your throat had been ripped out, something bit you. Something big. You weren’t able to speak, barely able to move. I called an ambulance. Rode to the hospital with you, filled out your paperwork. They said it looked bad. I stayed as long as I could, but I was tired. I needed to eat and sleep. They assured me that you would be well looked after. I trusted them. I came back in the morning, and you were gone. You killed your nurse, broke the window and jumped out. Do you remember any of that?”
“No. I don’t.” Shit. Did that happen?
God he smelled great. Like lamb chops.
I growled, bit my lower lip hard enough to break the skin. Foul-tasting clammy fluid seeped out of the wound. I spat it out and glared at him, barring my sharp teeth.
“I’m going to devour you, bathe in your blood after I bleed you dry.” I laughed. “You stupid fuck. Don’t you get it? You can’t save me. I’m already dead.”
He punched me in the face, cut his fist on my teeth. He grimaced. Shook his hand. Must’ve hurt.
Oh God, I could taste it. His blood. I shivered. I wanted it. I wanted him. I wanted to feel alive, to feel full of that warm glowing fire. I needed it, like a junkie needed a fix. I needed his blood.
“You taste good,” I said, wriggling the chair I was tied to, trying to get out of the ropes. Trying to find a weak spot, anything, to get free so that I could jump on him and rip the skin off his throat with my teeth.
“Stop struggling. It’ll only make it worse.”
“You’re starting to smell pretty damned tasty over there.”
“Try to remember that night. What happened when you ran out of the bar? What did you see? What did you smell? What did you hear? Can you remember anything of the attack? Anything at all, nothing is unimportant here.”
“I TOLD you, I don’t remember. Now let me out. I’m starving.”
“Not until you try to remember.”
“I’m going to peel your skin off like you’re an orange. I’m going to peel it right the fuck off, then slice open your veins and drink you until I am so full, I can’t even stand.”
He punched me again. But this time, it was in the throat. I choked. Gasped for air. Bucked in the chair, tried to rip free of whatever the hell he tied me up with. What did he tie me up with? Ah. One of those fabric mesh strap-down mover’s straps, with woven nylon fabric, like a seat-belt. Strong, durable. Hard has hell to cut, let alone rip apart.
I’m stuck. I’m trapped, I’m trapped. I can’t get out. It hurts. It hurts so much. My stomach feels like I chewed broken glass. My insides are full of knives and razor blades.
“It. Hurts. I need to feed. I need food. Please! Make it stop. Just make it stop.”
“You can bear it a bit longer, can’t you? Just try to remember my name. Try that at least. Then I’ll feed you.”
“Let me go,” I growled. That voice. That can’t be mine. It just can’t. It’s….WRONG. Somehow.
“Tell me what happened.”
Tied down. Collared. Chained up. Like an animal. Fucking bastard.
“I’ll kill you.”
He laughed. “Probably. But not if I can bring you back to yourself first.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Jonah, you called me right? You called me and asked me for help.”
That’s why I called him. Why I was here.
“Mallory,” I whispered.
“Your name is Mallory.”
“That’s right. How about yours? Can you remember your name?”
Couldn’t focus. I could smell him. Heard his heart pumping blood through his warm body. Delicious. I bet he tasted soooo good. I shuddered, just imagining his blood running down my throat. So warm, so yummy. Better than sex.
“Hungry. Need to feed. Blood. Need blood. Now.”
Slapped in the face.
“I’m right here.”
I looked up into brown eyes. Cow eyes. Soon to be dead eyes. I remembered…I remembered her…no…not her. Him.
HIM. He killed you. Kill him.
Lies. Lies! Lies! Lies! Lies! It wasn’t him! It wasn’t!
Hungry. Stomach growled. Starving. Food. There. In front of you.
Make it bleed. Kill it, tear it apart. Kill it! Kill it!
“No. Not until you remember.”
“Please. It hurts.”
“Oh god make it stop. Just kill me. Christ! Just fucking kill me!”
I strained and struggled and the chair tipped over. I fell to my side.
Chair fell over. On the floor. Still tied. Still stuck. Can’t. Can’t move. Bastard. Prick. Son of a bitch cunt whore! Let me go! Moved. He moved. Close.
I heard him kneel down. A hand on my head.
“Shhh. Relax. Relax. I’ll give you what you want.”
“I smell it! I smell it. Give. Give!”
Hand in front of my lips. I bit down, hard, pop his skin like it’s a cherry tomato, his blood oozes into my mouth. I swallowed. I didn’t let go. I kept drinking. Closed my eyes. Let the warmth flow through me. Let it calm the screaming pain. Ease the agony.
The razor blades in my stomach disappeared, the acid in my veins turned to liquid gold.
I sighed in pleasure. Listed my head back, closed my eyes, let the soothing warmth rush over me like a soft spring rain. Ran my tongue along the palm of his had while I sucked.
He gasped and pulled away.
I leaned forward, mouth seeking his wound, finding nothing but cold air. He leaned down, and wiped his blood on my lips. His blood. On my lips. I sucked his fingers, licked them, ran my tongue up and down and around them and he sighed.
I shuddered. Wanted him to rub his blood all over me. ALL OVER MY BODY.
“It’s okay now Jonah. It’s all right. The pain is gone. I’m here for you.”
Couldn’t break free. Wanted to. If I could, I’d be all over him.
I was lying on my side on the floor, sucking his hand, slowly, lazily now. He gently pulled his hand away and I lay there, content, relaxed, his blood gave me a good, mellow high. A slight rush and then everything melted away. All the worries, all the pain, everything.
He got up, walked to the bathroom and came back, wrapping a towel around his hand.
It was bleeding under there. Blood seeping into the terry cloth.
“It’s going to waste like that. Your blood should be going into me, not that damn towel.”
“Is that so?” he asked. “You bit me a hell of a lot harder than I thought you would. I’ll be more careful next time.”
“Who are you?”
He smiled sadly. “Forgotten already? You called me here. Remember?”
“No.” I shook my head. “I didn’t.”
“Yes you did. It wasn’t that long ago.”
I frowned. His face went in and out of focus. Fuzzy, not fuzzy, fuzzy, not fuzzy, fuzzy. I closed my eyes. Sighed. Waited for the high to settle in, for it to mellow out.
“You look different,” he said.
That got my attention. I didn’t even know what I looked like anymore.
“You seem tired. Haggard. When was the last time you slept?”
I shrugged. “When I got tired.”
“You get tired a lot?”
“What happens to you then? When the sun comes up?”
I shuddered. Closed my eyes, shook my head. “Black out. Wake up later and after I’ve…”
“After you’ve what? Jonah, talk to me.”
If I could move I would roll over and not have to look at him. He cares. The son of a bitch actually cares about me.
“You shouldn’t be doing this. I’ll kill you when I get loose.”
There’s a look on his face, in his eyes. He was scared and sad. It made me feel bad, wanting to hurt him earlier. I felt bad about that for some reason. And that scared me. I was afraid for him, of what I would do to him. I couldn’t help it. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. And he’d be dead.
“If you don’t stop me. One day, I’ll kill you.”
“So you say.”
“Mallory.” Christ. Where the hell did I even meet this guy? I didn’t even remember that. “You can’t trust me.”
“You just can’t!” I screamed at him.
He flinched, backed away. Fear lit up his eyes. His heart pounded faster. I could see his pulse beating in his neck, his blood pumping harder through his veins.
“You can’t trust me! I can’t even trust myself. You have to believe me Mallory, you can’t do this! Just kill me and get it over with.” I looked away from his face, stared at the floor. “We’d all be better off if you did.”
“No. I don’t believe you. That’s not how it has to be. Everyone has addictions, and they all have their cures. This is something that you can fight Jonah. You can beat this.”
“This isn’t an addiction. It’s a God damned curse you stupid son of a bitch! Now fucking kill me already!” My voice broke, the pain cracked through the words.
Scared, screwed. The same really when you think about it.
“You think better you know, after you’ve fed. I can actually talk to you. Like we’re talking now. It doesn’t last long though. A few hours at most.”
I eyed him funny. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“After you’ve fed. You can focus. You have a moment of clarity. Don’t you? That’s when you called me wasn’t it?”
“When you called me three weeks ago, you had just fed hadn’t you?”
Three weeks? No fucking way. I had just done that, hadn’t I?
“I think so. I…don’t remember.”
Shit. I was screwed. If my blackouts were lasting that long. If I did stuff while not myself for longer and longer periods of time, after a while I– my stomach dropped. I felt like I was going to be sick.
After a while I wouldn’t even think any more. I wouldn’t be me at all. I would be something else.
I sank into the floor and tried to disappear into it. My head thunked into it with a solid thud. I kept hitting it against the floor, over and over again.
Shit, shit, shit.
“What’s wrong? Jonah? Talk to me.”
“That’s not my name.”
“Then what is your name? What should I call you?”
“I…I don’t know. I don’t remember.”
“Well, Jonah is what you told me to call you, when we first met.”
“When was that?”
“Five years ago. In San Diego.”
California? But there weren’t any X’s in California on my map.
“You seem confused.”
“I don’t remember being in California. It’s not marked off on the map.”
“This one?” he asked and picked it up off the side table.
“Yeah. That one.”
I eyed the towel wrapped around his hand. I must not have bit him very deeply, it wasn’t bleeding through very much. Just in a few spots. I could smell it.
“It happens.” Mallory unfolded the map, it was tattered and frayed along the fold lines and covered in splatters of blood and ink. He looked it over and held it up so I could see it. “You’re right. There isn’t an X in California. None.” He sounded surprised. “Huh.”
“What do you mean huh? That’s MY MAP. I can read the names of the places on there. I know the big one on the west coast is California. There never were any X’s there.”
“That must mean that you weren’t…”
“I wasn’t what? What do you know? Tell me.”
“Not much. I don’t think you’re in any condition to hear any of what I do know though.”
“No. You tell me now. Before I black out again. I need to know. Where do I know you from? What’s happening to me? Why can’t I stop this?”
“I don’t know if we can stop it. But if you stay here with me, I may be able to help you control it. It might take a while, but with constant care I’m sure that I can.”
“Just when do you plan to sleep?” I asked.
He smiled. “During the day. Just like you.”
Like me? What does that make me then?
A memory flashed in my head. I’m little, holding the crayon in a fist, writing in squiggly ugly lines.
J O N A. I always forgot the H.
“What is it?” Mallory asked.
“My name. I think I remember what it is. It’s Jonah, right?”
“Right. See? You’re starting to do better already.”
I yawned. My body was relaxed. Belly full. Content. My eyelids heavy.
“Dawn is coming. Tired. Sleep now.”
“I’ll see you when you wake up then.”
Dark time. Light outside. Dreamless sleep.
Voices from the Abyss beckon.
Come closer, come closer they whisper.
The nightmare’s still there no matter what. Isn’t it John?
That’s not my name.
It’s not? You look like a John to me. Selling your body on the streets. Ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Red eyes. Teeth like razors sink into my neck, shred it apart. Black non-blood seeps from a jagged gash ripped across a wrist with razored teeth.
Don’t want to. No! Don’t! Don’t make me!
I gagged. I choked. I kicked. I screamed. Nothing. Nothing gets the taste out. Nothing stops that taste from coming back. Thick black oil for blood. Non-blood tastes like ashes dipped in wine. Like fire behind my eyeballs roaring in my head. Nothing gets it out. The taste of undeath. Nothing but the blood.
I woke up to a scream.
Mallory was screaming.
I had his neck in my hands. His fingers clawed at my arms, his legs kicked at mine. His face was turning red. The whole room was turning red. Deep black sludge oozed from the scratches on my arms. I stared at it. It was so slow. I have oil in my veins.
I dropped him.
Oil. Not blood.
I backed away.
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit!”
Have to get it out. Have to get it out of me. But how…Matches on the bed-stand. Oil burns. I’ll burn it out. It’s the only way to be sure.
“Stop!” Mallory screamed and coughed.
I lit the match and brought it down to my non-blood. To the oily black sludge that was seeping out of my skin.
Is it my skin? Don’t know. Not sure. But it’ll burn. Everything burns. Everything.
Stupid bastard knocked the match away. I tried to light another one and he swatted the matchbook out of my hand. I snarled at him. Teeth sharp for the kill. I felt them grow longer, thinner, sharper. Mouth full of razor blades and promises of death.
He took a step back, his eyes wide. Deep purple bruises on his neck. A gash above his eye. The chair and the restraints were torn apart. Must’ve done that when I woke up.
“You’re bleeding,” I said, licked my lips, and smiled.
He shivered and backed towards the door.
“So are you.” His voice shook in fear. I shook in anticipation. This was going to be better than sex.
“Run,” I said. “Run for me, Mallory. I want to taste your fear.”
He backed up to the wall near the bed, and his hand reached behind his back, I could hear something hard slide out from under the side table.
“Run little Rabbit!” I laughed and lunged at him.
“No,” he said and pulled out a crossbow and fired.
I could see it move but I couldn’t do anything to stop the bolt from sinking into my chest. Nothing. Not one damned thing. It pierced my heart. A jolt of pain ran up my spine and my entire body froze. Paralyzed, I fell to the floor. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t blink. Nothing. Pain seared my chest, through to my back. It was getting worse by the minute. And I couldn’t move to pull it out.
“I’m sorry Jonah, I had no choice.” He knelt next to me. Kissed my cheek. Tears welled up in his eyes. “I’m so sorry,” he said and hit the crossbow bolt, shoving it in deeper. Something pulled all the muscles in my body taught and I stiffed up like an ironing board, my eyes rolled back in my head, and I passed out.
Part 4: The Apartment
I liked that word. Felt good to roll over my tongue.
Get revenge. Kill the ones that hurt you.
I was going to find HIM.
Red eyes. HE has red eyes. Blood red albino eyes. Like that thing I ripped apart in the barn with ash and dust in its veins. But HE didn’t smell bad. Not like that thing did. HE smelled good. Expensive cologne. Was I selling myself on the streets? HE seemed to think so. Maybe I wanted HIM to think that. But…Mallory said that it happened fast. I was with him one moment, then out in the street, then what? What happened? Why can’t I remember all of it? All I remember are wisps of feelings, smells, and those horrible eyes. Not like Mallory’s eyes. Not at all like his. Mallory’s were intelligent. Sad. Kind.
HIS eyes were cold, calculating, vicious. An apex predator. Not emotion at all.
I was going to find HIM. Find HER. Find all of them. And kill them. Before they killed me.
I wasn’t anyone’s dog.
He bolted upright. He was sleeping in the lounge chair. Again.
“Jonah? What time is it?”
“After sunset. Not much though. Just woke up. Means the sun just set.”
“Mmm.” Mallory made a face. The back of his hair stood up like a bad cowlick.
He stood and stretched. He had bandages wrapped around his wrists. He’s been letting me feed off of him. He was delicious. He had gotten used to it. To the pain. Bothered me more than him now. But I worried about it. About him.
What if I got too used to his taste? Would I crave someone else? What if that happened? Then what? I wouldn’t be able to stay with him anymore. I would have to find someone else.
“What are you thinking?” he asked.
I stood and cracked my back. Sleeping on the couch. Always sleeping on the damned couch.
“We need a bed.”
He rolled his eyes and headed off to the bathroom. Don’t have to worry about that anymore. Thank God.
Walked over, checked his laptop. It was still running. Still running tests and equations and hypotheses and whatever the hell else he was running.
But I’m not running. Nope. Not running. Not anymore. Bored….
What will happen to me when he dies? What then?
Freedom to roam wherever and eat whomever you want. No more rules. No more chains or cuffs or collars. Room to stretch out your legs, and forget everything. Just live from fix to fix. Right?
No. No. I won’t do that again. I won’t. I’d rather die. Except I can’t die. Not really. Can’t live either. Must be someway to end this. Must be…There has to be a way.
Mallory put the coffee pot on. I lit up a cigarette and sat at the small card table in the corner. There was a small part of the room that served as the kitchen of the apartment. But too tiny to be a kitchen. Kitchenette. That’s the word.
I chuckled. What a stupid word. Kitchenette.
“What’s so funny?” He shot at me and sat down.
He looked tired. Drained. Anemic. Like his blood was thinning out. Didn’t taste like it was doing that yet. But soon enough, that would happen. And it’d be like drinking water. Disgusting.
“You look like shit. Like the junkies on TV. That’s how bad you look.”
“Sleep more then.”
“Are you worried about me?”
“Maybe. A little.”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m sure it’ll come to you. You’ll figure it out.”
Oh, I knew why I was worried about him. Not because of the blood. Not because of that. It was because of the look on his face; he wasn’t just physically tired. His soul was tired. I wasn’t just draining his blood, I was eating his soul.
“Welcome to the Abyss. Welcome to the Truth.” Words from elsewhere whispered into my ears.
I waved away the voices. Annoyed. I hated that. Didn’t happen a lot before. This was something new. Just started a few days ago. Seemed like the voices were coming from inside my own head sometimes, other times, seemed like they were coming from someone very far away.
“Jonah? Are you all right?”
“That’s your name.”
“Of course it is. Your name is Jonah. I’m Mallory. Why is that so hard for you to remember? Should I give you a name tag?”
I stood up and slammed my hands down on the table. “That’s not my fucking name! Why do you keep calling me that?”
He sighed. Pinched his nose right by his eyes. “We’ve been over this. Practically every night now. If Jonah isn’t your name, then what is it? What do you want to be called?” he asked. He didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t even stand up. He just sat there, drinking coffee, looking tired.
“It’s not Jonah. I-I don’t know what it is. But I hate that name. That’s what that asshole called me.”
“The one who…” The one who did this to me, who made me like this. HE fed me infected oil sludge from a gash on his wrist and left. Just like that. Dead and gone in a wink of an eye.
“The one who what?” he asked and motioned with his hand for me to continue.
I plopped back down in the chair. “The one who did it.”
“You know. IT.”
He looked at me funny. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah. You do. I wasn’t born this way. Someone made me like this. Someone…HE made me–” I coughed and choke on the memory on the fresh taste of ashen oil sludge for blood being shoved down my throat. I shook my head. Lit another cigarette to get the foul-tasting memory out of my mouth. Ignored the fact that my hands were shaking.
He stood and walked to me. “Who did? Who made you do something? What is it? Tell me. Please. Let me help you.”
“I can’t…I…Just stop asking.”
Mallory. Always so calm. Always so understanding. It pissed me off. When was this guy going to get mad at me? Never. He just wasn’t that way. He pitied me. Felt sorry for me, for what was done to me, for what it made me do to all of those people. I couldn’t even count them all. I remembered faces now and again. How their particular vintage of life and fear tasted. How they screamed and begged for me not to kill them. How I relished drinking their lives away until they were dead. They were delicious. Each and every one of them.
He crouched down in front of me and put his hands on my knees. His hands were so nice and warm. His body heat started to seep into my legs, I could feel them warming up and becoming less stiff.
“Talk to me. You always shut me out. Stop shoving the pain back down inside where it can fester and rot. It’s not healthy.”
Fester. Rot. Like the sludge in my veins.
“Yeah. Rot. Good word.”
“Talk to me. At least finish your sentence. Please?”
“I did. Good word is a sentence.”
“You’re changing the subject. Again.”
Why do I feel like we’re becoming an old married couple?
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. “Don’t talk like that.”
“You sound like my mom.”
“Really? You remember her?”
“No, not really.”
“Oh,” he said.
Dashed his hopes yet again.
I looked at him. I didn’t like him down at that level, with his hands on my knees. His head close to my crotch. Didn’t feel right.
“Stand up,” I said. “I’m tired of sitting.”
He sighed and got up, walked into the bedroom. Or what should be a bedroom.
Chains, manacles, leather straps I chewed through, old blood stains on the carpet. Triple layers of cardboard and newspaper lined the windows. I was in here for weeks. It looked like a chinzy, sleazy S&M dungeon in here. What a dump.
It was my fault though.
He couldn’t trust me. I did strange things. He had to get used to my sleeping patterns. He claimed that they changed with the moon cycles. Not sure what that meant. What did the moon have to do with when the sun set? That made zero sense.
“Bet this place looked nice before I moved in,” I said and lit up another cigarette.
“Not really. I hardly lived here.”
“If you didn’t live here, where did you live?” I asked and kicked a pair of wrist cuffs away.
“Out of my car mostly.”
“Yeah,” he said with a little smile. “It did.”
“Don’t you worry about stuff? Like your job?” I asked. I didn’t even know where that came from, the words just fell out of my mouth. Like drool. I was drooling my thoughts all over the blood-stained carpet.
“I work from home now. I have a great pension plan. My job’s hazardous after all.”
“Is it?” I asked, curious.
“Yes, just look with what I have to deal with.” He gestured around the room. A huge dent in the wall where I tossed him away from me one night when I didn’t want to eat anymore. He forced me to eat for weeks. I didn’t want to. Suppose I should be grateful for it. But I’m not.
“You should’ve killed me when you had the chance,” I said and left the room.
“Don’t talk like that.”
I whirled around, startling him. “What’s your damage anyway? Why are you doing this for me? What the fuck do you care?” I didn’t recognize my voice. It got weird when I’m pissed off or upset or sad or anything other than sleepy or relaxed. Not sure why.
He looked hurt. Then amused. “I just do.”
Stupid bastard. He thinks that he loves me. That’s what it is. That’s his damage.
“Love is a disease,” I spat at him and plopped down on the couch.
“How can you say such a thing?”
“Don’t you get tired of being here? In this tiny little apartment? It’s like a cage.”
“You have any other suggestions?”
“You used to live out of your car. So did I, for a time.”
“I know. I hated it. How about you? You like sleeping in the trunk?”
I shrugged. “Not that bad. Can think of worse places to sleep. Like on a metal slab.”
He went back to the kitchenette. Made himself another cup of coffee and then sat down next to me. I let him rest his leg against mine. My jeans were ragged, blood stained, dirty. His pants were those fluffy fleece pajama pants. The warm comfy ones with the elastic band. He has several pairs, at least, I think I remember him wearing other ones. He had on a matching robe, and a white undershirt.
“Aren’t I cold?” I asked.
“I’ve grown accustomed to it. You’re room temperature for the most part. The part I can’t get used to is you not breathing when you sleep. It’s eerie.”
“Weird. I didn’t know that.”
He cradled the coffee mug in both hands. He loved coffee like I loved cigarettes. He always bought me cartons when he went out once a week. And he’s been doing that for a while. Feeding me, keeping me alive. Talking with me. Trying to get me to remember. Helping me. Loving me.
“Um… Thanks.” I said I awkwardly. Shit. That was stupid.
“Oh? For what?”
“Everything,” I mumbled. I am such an idiot. I probably would be blushing if I was still alive.
He ruffled my hair. “Not a problem.”
“Whatever.” I bounced my leg. I was growing antsy. I needed to get out. Stretch my legs. But he won’t let me. I won’t let me. I stood up.
He put an arm out in front of me. “Sit.”
I sat back down. “Mallory… I need to get out. I’m going stir crazy. This apartment is so small. I’ve been in hotel rooms bigger than this dump. I need to stretch my legs. Just go for a short walk. Just a little one. Just around the block. Come on. Let’s get out of here for a bit. It can’t be good for you either. Right?”
He leaned forward and put the coffee cup down on the short table that sat between us and the TV. The arch of his neck caught my eye. There were small scars on it from when I tried to bite him when we first got here. I didn’t feed off of him. Just nicked the skin in a few places and stopped myself.
I stopped myself from feeding.
It was the first time I could, and I did. Self control was a wonderful thing.
Won’t last long though. It never does.
“Let me occupy you for a while.”
“Kay…” I said, unsure as to what that meant. God I hope he doesn’t think that I want to…no. That can’t be it.
“Every time you start to say something and then you stop yourself. You don’t tell me the answers to my questions. Why?”
I shrugged. “Don’t know. Not sure.”
“You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to. Just tell me why you can’t answer me. Can you try to do that Jonah? For me?”
I felt trapped. I wasn’t. Not really. If I wanted to I could throw the couch at the front door and knock it down and run away from here and never look back. But I didn’t.
He sat there patiently. “I have all night.”
I sighed and scooted away from him. I leaned against the opposite arm of the couch, as far away from him as possible.
“It might get ugly.”
“It always does. But you snap out of it, eventually.”
“Yeah, but… I don’t like it. I don’t–” I don’t want to lose myself again.
“You wouldn’t understand.” I stood up and went into the tiny bathroom and flicked on the light.
No reflection. I’m not in the mirror. I look down. I’m here, but not there.
“Come in here,” I said and he stood next to me.
“Do you see me in there?” I pointed to the mirror in front of us.
Mallory looked at it and jumped. “Holy shit! No, no that’s not possible. I’m standing right next to you.”
“It is possible. Look,” I said and touched the damned thing. “Nothing. Kinda creepy huh?”
“I’ll say.” He wiped a hand over his mouth. A nervous gesture. “How long has this been going on?”
“Don’t know. Not sure. Couldn’t tell you. Noticed it a while back and it slipped my mind.”
Everything slips my mind once I get hungry. Everything.
“What are you thinking?”
I shook my head. “Don’t want to talk about it.”
“Well, that’s more of an answer than I’ve gotten out of you in weeks. Most of the time you act like I didn’t say anything at all, or you find something to hit your head against.”
I grinned. “Yeah. I do that, don’t I?”
“Yes, you do, you idiot. God only knows why it doesn’t bother me.”
“Yes. But perhaps I’ve gotten used to you.”
“You’re like that crocodile guy, except I’m not a lizard.”
“Crocodilians are not lizards. They are a species in and of themselves. Like dinosaurs.”
“You’re my wrangler. That’s what you are.”
“Is that what you think of me? A wrangler?”
“Would you rather I call you warden? Cause I could.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’re being sarcastic.”
“That’s the first time you’ve cracked a joke since I’ve met you.”
“Yes.” He smiled and hit my shoulder. “That’s great!”
“If you say so.” God he’s weird.
“You’re getting your sense of humor back. That’s a wonderful thing.”
“Why? What if I have I lousy sense of humor?”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll deal with it.”
“But why is that a good thing?”
“Because that means that you are getting an aspect of your personality back. That’s one step closer to bringing you back to yourself. You said you lost yourself, remember? That that’s why you don’t have any memory? Because you got lost?”
He was excited. His pulse quickened just a fraction, just enough to make me hear it and focus on it. I balled my fists. I could hear his blood rushing in his veins. But, I could wait until he answered before I fed. I could wait. I could.
“Lost? No. I…don’t remember saying that.” I could barely hear him speak over the thundering of his heart. His strong heart. I bet it tasted good. My jaws ached to tear through his flesh, to sink my sharp teeth into his heart with the fresh hot blood spurting out of it like a jelly donut. I swallowed my saliva before it drooled down my chin and took a step back.
“Jonah? What’s wrong?”
I didn’t want to…I didn’t want to eat him. But I was hungry. So very hungry.
I grabbed him and shoved him out of the bathroom. I slammed the door shut so hard that the door frame splintered.
“Stay away from me!”
Mallory was quiet. His heart was racing but now out of fear, not joy. Like a flick of a switch his emotions changed rapidly.
“Why do you care about me?” I screamed at him through the door. “Why!”
“Because I do.” It was the same answer he always gave me.
I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t hurt him. I don’t want to kill him. I hated myself for wanting to drain him dry and drown in his blood.
I punched the sink counter and it shattered under my fist. I picked up a razor-sharp shard of ceramic and ran my finger down it. Thick black blood oozed from the cut on my finger. I wasn’t alive. I couldn’t ever be the way he wanted me to be. I was already dead.
I needed to end it. For both our sakes.
“What are you doing? Open the door!” Mallory was banging on it now. I must have broken it or locked it, or both.
“Something I should have done a long time ago,” I said and shoved the shard into my throat all the way to my spine, then ripped it out in a vicious jerk. Thick black sludge splatted on the mirror and wall and slowly began to slide down them.
Can’t breath. Can’t breath. Can’t.
Don’t need to.
I dropped the sharp piece of counter top and leaned over what was left of the sink. The black oil dripped out of me in slow huge globs, like tar. It was disgusting. It smelled just like HIS non-blood smelled. I pushed away from the sink and fell into the bathtub. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. I sliced open my throat and ruined my vocal chords. I made a choked gurgle of a sound instead. It didn’t do my fear justice. It didn’t do anything any bit of justice.
I wanted justice. I wanted REVENGE.
I’m going to find HIM and kill him. Then, finish myself off.
The door slammed down onto the bathroom floor.
Mallory dropped the fire extinguisher and rushed over to me, covering the wound on my throat with his hands.
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Don’t die. Please. Don’t die.”
Too late for that.
He should join us
Moans and shrieks of pleasure.
The abyss likes him
He smells so good.
Tears streamed down his face. I smiled and wiped one away and rubbed it on my lips. Sorrow is salty, tears are salty. So is sweat. Sometimes blood. Sometimes other things that come out of the body are salty too.
I looked down his shirt as he picked me up and carried me back into the bedroom, or what should be the bedroom. His body was pale, but buff. He had gained a lot of muscle learning how to wrangle me.
He restrained me. Slapped chained cuffs on my ankles and wrists. My body pulled taught from the distance between my hands and feet.
Mallory grabbed a first aid kit and sewed me back up. His hands were shaking the whole time. You’d think he’d get used to it. My doing stupid shit like that. But he doesn’t. It upsets him so much. His tears fell onto my face as he worked. He was talking softly, probably to himself more than me.
“It’s okay. It’s okay. Everything is going to be fine. I promise.”
He smelled good. He was food.
The food was talking to me. I was tired of waiting. So hungry. My body growing ever weaker. Needed to eat. Needed to feed. Make the pain stop.
I shoved him off, lunged at him. Missed. Won't miss again.
Days. Days. Days. No food.
Tore off the restraints like they were made of wet cardboard.
I promise to break you. I promise to take care of you. I promise to love you.
Promises are broken.
Splintered wood in my chest.
Splintered hope in my heart.
The dead have no hope
Hope is for the living
Or bank accounts
Broken shards of brilliantly colored glass fall
Cut into me
But that’s not what hurts.
It’s his love that hurts.
Cut out his heart and eat it
“No! Nooo! Stop! What are you doing?” Food screamed at me. Flailed about. Picked it up like rag doll, tossed it out onto the floor.
Arms on fire. Head on fire. Eyes on fire. Legs like lead. Need to feed. Food tastes better when it’s scared.
Pulled open a drawer.
Silver glints. Glitters.
Small like the scalpels they put through your eyes
Knives to cut into the food’s pretty pale flesh. So juicy. So tender. So tasty.
You can read parts 5 and 6 here.