Copyright © 2013 by Alex Rosaria
This e-book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
It had been six months since the accident and his miraculous rise from death, six months in which he had changed. The change had transformed their relationship in ways she never expected. Not only had he changed, but also she had changed along with him. The angrier he became, the more she stopped caring.
Faintly, she shook her head as he kept babbling.
John had grown distant, detached, and rage rooted deep in him, which made it difficult for him to relax. She didn‘t notice it at first, as happy as she was he was still alive. However, as the first few months had passed, she had become desperate for things to return to how they were. Now, she had moved on, and soon, she would have to decide what she would do.
She kept staring, not answering him, as he approached her from behind.
“Linda!” he yelled.
She looked at his reflection in the window. He stood behind her, his left brow raised, his face a mask of annoyance. He nudged her shoulder, all gentleness left his touch.
“Hey, listen to what I‘ve got to say.”
She shrugged away from his touch and turned to face him. Her shoulders sagged, her chin dipped, and she furrowed her brow. “Sorry, I was thinking about work. We are getting a new temp, and I have to supervise her. It will be a busy day today.”
His nostrils flared. He sighed. She quickly stood and backed away from him, slowly raising her hands. She saw hurt in his eyes before he lowered his head, casting his gaze to the floor.
“I understand,” he mumbled. “I‘m sorry.”
She grabbed his hands, more out of reflex than caring, and squeezed them. “It‘s okay. What did you want to tell me?”
His eyes lightened and he smiled, a first this morning, a first in a long time. It tore her up that she couldn‘t answer his smile. He blurted out, “Dinner. Tonight. I have something important to tell you.”
“Can‘t you tell me now?”
“No, it has to be tonight!”
“All right, all right, tonight it is.”
“I have to go now, Mrs. Greenwich needs a package delivered.”
“Yes, it‘s been two weeks already since last time I went.”
“You do know it is going to rain today, right?”
He shrugged. “Maybe it will, maybe it won‘t. I‘ll see you at seven, at your place.”
The right hook of her mouth rose into half a smile. “Yeah, sure.”
He left. Once the door closed behind him, she fell on the sofa, covered her face with her hands, and sobbed. After a long while of weeping and trying to get all the sadness out, the feeling stayed that she was a caged animal unable to set herself free. She wiped her tears and sat for a minute in silence, staring at nothing while she worked up the strength to stand up and start her day.
Finally, she got up and went upstairs to her bedroom to change into her work clothes. She took out an old uniform–a dress ending above her knees. A play thing really. Nurses don‘t wear dresses like this anymore. She had lost weight, and now the dress hung loosely over her body. John liked watching her in uniform. Not anymore. Not ever again. She put it back and put on white trousers and shirt. They fit loosely around her body, but comfortable instead of ill fitting like the dress. An added bonus was it also hid her body, making her less attractive.
She went to the bathroom to get ready to go. As she brushed her teeth, she looked in the mirror. Her pale face matched the white of her nursing uniform. Under her almond eyes, she had a blue patch, and the luster had disappeared from her eyes a long time ago. The only bright thing about her was her hair, always a striking red.
She sighed, rubbed her eyes, looked at the clock, and grunted. “Running late again.”
She pulled her hair in a knot and smiled at the mirror. “Sexy vixen nurse turned strict school teacher.”
She laughed at her silliness. John and she used to joke around together, and they had fun together. Of course, since the accident, that had stopped. It didn‘t feel right bantering on her own; it was crazy. But, could anybody really blame her for going insane?
She hurried downstairs and out the door. The sun shone a yellow glow, hanging midair in a clear blue sky. As she walked to her car, she noticed a small dark cloud forming where there had been none before. One dark spot in an otherwise wholesome sight.
She reached her white sedan and noticed his bicycle leaning against the fence. He was going to take his time walking all the way. Knowing him, it meant he wanted time to think. Maybe he would find some tranquility and recover a little of his former self, though it was a little too late. No, he wouldn‘t change. No matter how much thinking he did, he wouldn‘t. She glanced at the cloud. It had grown larger. He was going to get wet.
Smiling, she opened the car door and sat behind the wheel. She turned the key in the ignition, and the radio sputtered on as the engine revved awake. To the beat of hard rock clamoring out of her car speakers, she drove out of her driveway and onto the road.
It was a fifteen-minute drive from home to work. She could make it blindfolded by now, having done it a thousand times since she took the job. Nearing an intersection, she turned to the right. In the rearview mirror, she saw a squad car gaining on her. It passed her, the lights flashing, but the siren was off. Linda frowned. Could it be him? He always waited to put the siren on until the last moment. She followed the squad car until it disappeared. After a short while, she heard a siren fade away.
She caught herself smiling in the rearview mirror and she blushed. It was wrong to like someone else, no matter how much her relationship with John was at an end. She couldn‘t deny her waning feelings for John, especially after what he did to her. Mr. Law Enforcement gave her the warmth she needed, something John had long denied. Her smile faded, and her face turned dark like the cloud in the sky. She needed to make a choice soon. Today.
The hospital rose over the buildings ahead, the big red H on top clearly visible. It was the only hospital in the vicinity, servicing the towns in the immediate area. It even had a helicopter pad on top for remote emergencies. The big H was supposed to function as some sort of a beacon for the pilots. She chuckled at the sight of it. Such a big, shining thing was hard to miss. However, it was there more for feeding someone‘s ego than any practicality, for it actually made it more difficult for the pilots to land on the roof. Some doctors were fond of it. It gave them some sense of belonging, especially Dr. Stevenson. He liked all things big and grand. He was a real bastard.
With her thoughts somewhere else, she drove up the hospital‘s driveway, not paying much attention because nobody ever crossed here. Out of the corner of her left eye, she saw a shadow moving. Her whole body tensed as she stepped hard on the brakes. The car screeched to a halt. A young, pale woman with long dark hair in a nursing uniform stood frozen in front of the hood. With large eyes, she stared at Linda. Slowly, her stare turned into a wretched look, and her charcoal eyes burned like embers in a hot fire. Their eyes locked, and the young woman‘s look softened and her body relaxed. Linda gasped for air, only now realizing she had forgotten to breathe since breaking. Linda had never seen her before–at work or in town.
She rolled down the car window. “I am sorry. I didn‘t see you.”
The young woman smiled at Linda. “Well, you did see me, or else I would be under or above your car. I‘m fine, so please don‘t worry about it.”
Linda returned the smile, already forgetting the ugly look the woman gave her before. “I‘m Linda.” Pointing at the woman‘s uniform, Linda asked, “Are you new here?”
“I‘m Amber, and yes, it is my first day.”
Linda opened the passenger door. “Come on in.”
Amber walked over to the other side; she floated with grace and agility. She stuck her head inside. “It‘s not far. I don‘t mind walking.”
“Are you the new temp?”
“Then I‘m the one supervising you, so we might as well stick together.”
Amber looked away, bit her lower lip, and took her place beside Linda. Once seated, she stretched her legs out. Amber‘s bare feet were covered in mud, as were the cuffs of her white pants.
“Where are your shoes?”
Amber glanced at her feet and smiled wryly. “I didn‘t bring them.”
“You mean you forgot to put them on?”
“Yes, I meant that.”
“On your first day?”
Amber eyes widened, and the words left her mouth slowly. “Yeah. Well, will it be a problem?”
Linda huffed. “Will it be a problem, she asks. Where have you been? Living in the woods or a cave your whole life?”
“How…?” She gulped in what she wanted to say. “No. I mean, no I don‘t live in the forest.”
“You can‘t go inside looking like that”
Amber cast her eyes down and stared at her feet, her lips twisted into a frown, and she kept silent. The whole ordeal made Linda feel uncomfortable. She was about to say something when they heard a loud honk. They jumped in their seats. Linda turned the ignition, and in her haste, she released the clutch too soon. The car jumped forward and the engine stalled. The driver behind them honked twice more. She fumbled with the keys and managed to start the car. When Linda drove away, Amber turned around and flipped the driver the finger.
“Jeez, Amber, are you planning to keep your job? That was Dr. Stevenson.”
She sped to the parking lot, drove up to the farthest end, away from the reserved parking spots the doctors and the hospital administration staff used. Once parked, she turned the engine off and stared straight ahead. Her day was getting worse by the minute. She glanced sideways at Amber. Her chin was down, her eyes closed, and she was mumbling something unintelligible.
“Don‘t worry about it,” Linda said.
Amber kept mumbling, eyes closed.
“I have a spare uniform and shoes I can lend you.”
Still, she didn‘t get a response. Linda touched Amber‘s arm. As if a bolt had struck her, Amber jerked up straight, eyes wide in panic. “Don‘t touch me.”
Startled, Linda put her hands up to ward Amber off. “What‘s up with you?”
Amber waved her hand as if to deny any wrongdoing. “Sorry, I didn‘t mean to do that. You startled me. I guess I‘m nervous about this all”
Linda opened the door. Cold, fresh air blew in the car as she stepped out. Amber did the same.
“Linda, I am really sorry. This is all new to me; please don‘t be angry.”
“I‘m not angry! I just didn‘t expect that. It‘s so random.”
Amber‘s cheeks turned a shade brighter. “Again, I apologize. I didn‘t mean to upset you.”
“It‘s all good; you‘re still alive, aren‘t you?” Linda popped the trunk open and took out her spare pants. They were like the ones she was wearing, only a duller white. “Catch.”
With both hands, in a quick smooth motion, Amber caught them from the air. Linda searched the trunk for the shoes. She was sure she left a pair in there somewhere. She found them under John‘s sport bag. She slammed the trunk shut.
“What are you doing?” Linda watched Amber bend over, showing her bare butt, about to pull the pants up. She stopped and glance over her shoulder to look at Linda with raised eyebrows.
“I‘m putting them on? Was I not supposed to?”
“Silly goose, not out in the open for everybody to see!”
Amber shuffled to the car door with the pants at her ankles. She stretched her hand to open it.
“Never mind that now. Pull the pants up.”
Amber stood motionless for a second before quickly doing as she was told.
“Here.” Linda handed her the shoes. Amber held them in her hands, turned them about, and looked inside them.
“Don‘t tell me you have never worn shoes before! Who are you?”
“Yes, I have!” She quickly put them on. “Thanks for everything, for being so kind to me.”
“You better be thankful. I don‘t even know why I‘m helping you. You are an odd one.”
“I am sorry about that,” Amber said, blushing.
“Stop saying you are sorry all the time. Hmm, the shoes are a bit big for you.”
Amber squatted down and started untying one noose.
“Don‘t do that.”
“But you said.”
Linda sighed and looked up to the sky for some sense but didn‘t find any. “Don‘t mind the shoes. It will be fine.”
Amber got up and touched Linda‘s hand. Her hand was soft, touching Linda gently, and sending a feeling of well-being up her arm and to the rest of her body. Linda staggered back. Who is she?
“Why do you feel bad?” Amber asked.
Linda took a step back. “Just like that, totally random, you ask me that?”
Linda walked away from the young woman. She shrugged the weirdness off and glanced over her shoulder. “Are you coming or not?”
Amber caught up to her in quick little strides. Fast, short, weird thing, Linda thought.
Close to the entrance, Dr. Rudolph Stevenson leaned against his station wagon, waiting for them. He was the chief coroner at the New Hope Hospital, middle-aged and balding. His slender wrists stuck out of the too-short sleeves of his doctor‘s coat. His eyes snaked over Amber, looking her up and down. Linda didn‘t like the look on his face, the way his eyes twinkled with a twisted joy, and that sleazy smile.
“The perv sure enjoyed it,” Linda mumbled.
“Enjoyed what?” Amber asked.
“Your sweet cheeks.”
“Oh. Hey, wait! It‘s the same guy that honked at us?”
“Yes, and a nice first impression you made on your first day. So please keep your cool.”
Amber planned to walk by him as if they had not seen him, but Rudolph stepped in their way. “Ladies.”
“Doctor,” Linda said.
Ignoring Linda, he looked at Amber with hungry eyes. A bulge grew at his crotch–a nauseating sight. Linda blamed herself for seeing that; her eyes shouldn‘t even be that low, but it stood out.
“Doctor, could you please step aside?”
He sneered at her. “Doctor who?”
“Stevenson could you move aside.”
Linda smiled at him. “Yes, doctor.”
Amber stood on her toes and raised her mouth to Linda‘s ear. “Did you not just tell me to keep my cool?”
The doctor‘s nose flared as he addressed Amber. “Missy, I‘m standing right here.”
“Don‘t call me missy! I am old enough to be–”
“Girl, do you know who you are talking to?”
Amber rolled her eyes. “Yes, I do.”
“Then show me some respect.”
Amber raised her shoulders. “Why should I? I don‘t like you.”
Rudolph patted his puffed out chest with his right hand. “Because I‘m a doctor.”
“I know. So? I still don‘t like you.”
Rudolph‘s face turned red as he spat out the words. “I‘m a doctor, you hear me! A doctor!”
He poked her chest between her breasts. “You are just a nurse, a new one at that too. You are a nothing. That‘s what you are. Nothing.”
Amber wiped his spit from her face. Her smirk faltered and went over into trembling lips, so did her hands. The hair on Linda‘s arms rose up; it felt as if an electric charge was building in the air around them. She had a bad feeling about what was about to happen. She pulled Amber behind her.
“Doctor, that is no way to talk to a coworker.”
“It‘s you and that finger-flipping bitch that needs to watch their tone.”
His pointing finger came dangerously close to poking Linda‘s breast. Linda slapped his hand away. “You touch me, and I will break that finger. Understood, doctor?”
Amber peeked from behind Linda. She looked up from her brows with moist eyes. “I didn‘t flip you the finger. How dare you say that.”
He looked from the one to the other and rested his eyes on Amber. As he stepped back, he pointed a shaking finger at Amber while making sure he was out of their reach. “Yes, you did. I saw you.”
Amber stepped from behind Linda and raised her head defiantly. “Prove it.”
“My word counts more than yours around here. I‘m going to report you. You can kiss that job of yours goodbye.”
Linda laughed. She winked at Amber. “I also didn‘t see anything happen, and I will testify if needed.”
“You can‘t do that.”
“Yes, I can. Now move aside, doctor.”
She took Amber by her hand and shoved Rudolph aside. Flabbergasted, he watched them walk away. His bulge deflated.
The old hag, old only in age, looked at her reflection in a mirror. The frame was of nice smooth polished human bones, with carved quartz and gemstones inlayed.
The stones emitted a yellow-orange glow. She admired her reflection: her smooth, pale skin, her narrow nose, her almost black eyes, and her thick, long black hair shining with health. Above all, she cherished her youthful, yet still mature, appearance. A youth not her own, nor hers alone. She may look in her late twenties, but her real age spanned many lifetimes. She smiled, barring her teeth, which were pointier than most.
Sound came from the mirror. Her reflection blurred and transformed into another face, the face of a younger woman in both appearance and age. Like herself, she had pale skin, long black hair, and dark eyes.
“High Sorceress, you called?”
“How are the preparations going?”
“We have all the ingredients for the spell. The old one is on her way; the succubi are with her. The church is ready for us, and I turned the priest.”
A vile, animalistic smile formed on Lucretia‘s face. “Yes, he is wild now.” She licked her black lips while her eyes burned a steamy fire. “I like them wild.”
The High Sorceress frowned. “Enough, child!”
Lucretia‘s face turned stoic like that of an old Greek goddess, long dead. “My apologies, High Sorceress.”
“Is that all you have to report?”
Lucretia‘s eyes widened for a split second. “Yes.”
“What about the sacrifice!”
“She wanted to explore the town and experience life.”
“What! She will experience life enough through me. Why did you not stop her?”
Lucretia cast her eyes down and kept silent.
“Bah, of course you couldn‘t. She is more powerful than you ever will be.”
Lucretia nodded. “Yes, she made that clear to me.”
“So you tried and failed. Good girl. At least you have that going for you.”
The High Sorceress laughed. Lucretia lips thinned to a stripe in response. “We will get her back.”
“No! Never mind her. She knows her place. She will return in time.”
“Are you sure of that? She is unpredictable.”
“Are you telling me that I am wrong?”
The High Sorceress stretched her arm, finger pointed at the image of Lucretia. Lucretia‘s pupils widened. She fervently shook her head. The sorceress mumbled ancient words, vile, dark, not-to-be-spoken words. They filled the room with their resonance; black energy came free all around them. Lucretia grabbed her throat. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. Air wouldn‘t come in despite her effort to breathe.
The High Sorceress balled her hands into fist. Lucretia wheezed. Slowly, the High Sorceress released her fist. Air poured again in through Lucretia‘s throat to her lungs. For a minute longer, she breathed heavy before she collected herself and bowed her head. “I was wrong to doubt you, my High Sorceress. Please forgive me. I‘ll never do it again.”
“You better not, and let this be a lesson to you. I am never wrong.”
“We command you to be gone now.”
The sorceress waved her hands, and again she could admire her fleeting beauty.
The time had come for a renewal, however inconvenient the timing. It would be worth it, because this time the sacrifice would do for eons to come while most only lasted a few decades. It was difficult to fathom such a source of power existed in one being, one who, in time, could equal the power they had together as many.
With the sacrifice, her power may become supreme, enough to vanquish an undead with the ease of kicking a puppy to death. She had one particular undead in mind, one who she would love to use this power on once she gained it. It would send a warning to the others, that there was a new superior force in the world to contend with, and maybe she‘d become the supreme being. They would see; they all would soon see, and not long after, the world would be covered in darkness and those now living in light would see.
***Lucretia stared at the wall where the image of the one of many appeared moments before. She massaged her throat; it still felt sore. She closed her eyes and projected in her mind the power of nature.
“Oh, nature, listen to me, grant me your power to heal against those who wronged me. Goddesses, aid me in my need, no matter how undeserving I am, for nature is the power to heal all, even those like me.”
Her hands buzzed with energy. It soothed her throat, and the burning sensation subsided though the pain lingered. The power of nature, or better, her command of it, wasn‘t enough to counteract the dark power inflicted on her. It didn‘t help either that she was a creature of the night, though a long time ago things were different. A look of longing passed over her face. She tore herself away from the thoughts forming about a life long gone, one she couldn‘t possibly ever return to, bound as she was to this fate she carved out for herself. She sighed. Today had been the second time she had to heal herself. Because of what she was–and also the reason her fate was tarnished–she could regenerate, but that would take time she didn‘t have.
“Me and my mouth. One day it will be the end of me.”
She stood in the church, facing the cross and Jesus Christ nailed on it. His eyes fixed on her countenance. She slipped out of her black dress. Defiantly, she pushed her chest forward, her breasts dangling together with her perky, dark nipples. “You liked it, didn‘t you?”
Her laugh howled an echo in the near-empty church. “I did your priest on your altar, and did you help him? Did you smite me down with your righteous wrath?”
Moving swiftly like a breeze in the evening, she approached the altar and caressed the top. She closed her eyes and channeled her powers. With the sharp nail of her middle finger, she scratched her left breast. Blood dripped on her finger. The air around her filled with a magnetic charge. She stretched both arms out toward the statue, her palms facing forward. She mumbled words, dark words not fit for this world. The statue crumbled. She closed her hands into a fist and howled. Jesus exploded into a cloud of dust and clay, and fell broken on the floor. She twisted her left hand. The big cross turned upside down, and she rested it on the floor. Sweat ran down her naked body while she breathed heavily between laughs.
She felt relieved over the work she had done, the tension gone from her. She wobbled to the door on the left. “Priest!”
A growling from behind the door greeted her. “It‘s time for service.”