NEW LIFE & TRUE DEATH
"No, no," I laugh, sipping my wine, "I can't." I've been wined and dined all night; isn't it expected?
My handsome admirer, whom is also my boss, grins, "I won't tell." Somehow, I believe him - maybe it's because I want it so bad or I'm just a bad judge of character. His blue eyes aflame; sizzling into mine - I bite my lip.
"Okay," I agree, a new heat finding me, creeping up my legs as his hand touches my thigh. I shudder inwardly. I want this. I really do.
And, then from a distance a mind-splitting noise erupts. It sounds like speakers turned all the way up, but no sound coming out just a vibrating 'shh'. Then, his hands still inching up towards my more delectable parts - unbothered by the sudden increase of noise - I try to tune it out.
Yet, I can't.
It ascends closer and closer to me. Soon, my apartment complex - dull shades, an ugly couch, and a chipped dresser - begins to dissolve. The room around us is no more, instead a chilly wind slices through me, sending chills down my spine, causing dampness on my neck, and then I see it - the storm. The storm that was pouring so far away is near us now.
Mason, my boss, my almost-one-night-stand, isn't wavering; he's dropped to his knees. I'm the beholder of his attention, but mine is elsewhere. When the rain finds us, I push away from him, bathed in cold water on top of a windy cliff.
I feel like I'm falling suddenly, and then I choke. I cough hard, but more water comes - I begin to fight forwards. Though, nothing is resisting me, so I lurch up. As I do, water meets floor somewhere - I feel the slippery texture of a water-filled tub all around me as I clutch the sides. I choke up more water; it irritates my throat as I try to adjust myself. I slip a hand down my face; an unbelievably cold, unfamiliar hand. I'm searching the darkness for anything - I can't even see my hand in front of my face.
My whole body feels tense, like someone has wrapped me in a wanton wrapper, and placed me in a hot stove. My body aches as I lift myself from the tub, supporting myself with either side of the cool tub. I step out onto the tile, a thin layer of cold water coats it, and I try to steady my tense, trembling body. I can't see anything, yet I inch forward, needing to find a light or something of relevance for why I'm here. And yet, as uncoordinated and clumsy as I am, I stumble forward, meeting a wall, and I stand there awkwardly for some seconds. I slide my left foot forward, to meet my right, and then I guide myself right with the wall. The plaster pinching my hands and wrist, as I press down harder than I need to, yet I'm liable to fall again, so I don't dare loosen my grip - until, I feel a small, smooth plastic switch jutting from the wall. I flip it upwards, and the room comes to life.
It's a bathroom; an ordinary, hotel bathroom. I glare at the tub filled with water, which has stopped sloshing over the side. A huge puddle covers the floor, soaking the grey rug with is ridged around the toilet directly in front of me. Beside me, I notice a long counter top, ending with a white sink, silver facet, and clear knobs. I pace over to it, wary of what I might see; I glance down to make sure I'm still dressed. Which, I am, in what I wore to work - a purple button up, lacy top and tan slacks.
In the mirror, I see a pale girl, with blotchy cheeks and black hair framing a sad face; blue eyes, which sometimes shone gray, stare back at me nervously. My lips are quivering, yet paler than they have ever been. I touch my cold hand to my forehead, and I feel as if I'm on fire. The fire designates deep in my throat, like a cattle prod sticking me in the trachea, and twisting. It's almost like a hangover; you crave water so badly, you dream about drinking some. And, when you awake, you rush to your sink and stick your head underneath until your throat, and body aren't aching for hydration. Yet, it's a hundred times worse. My whole body is wobbly, aching; wanting something I believe makes me a cannibal.
I push away from the counter top, falling sideways onto the wall, and then, I clutch the golden door handle. I twist it, anticipating it to be locked or blocked, or maybe it will even explode. But, nothing suspenseful happens; it opens, revealing a normal bed room, with drawn curtains, an illuminated lamp by the bed side, which looks like it hasn't been slept in, and a small refrigerator on the other side of the bed. I hurry to it, stumbling most of the way, landing just in front of it. I use what's left of my wavering strength to open it; to my surprise, there are several Ozarks water bottles filled with a mucky looking red substance.
Almost mechanically, I down each bottle; blood covering my face, my clothes, and even stains the carpet around me, but I don't care. It tastes so good; refreshing me, bringing me strength. I fill stronger and stronger with each bottle I empty; five bottles lay around me, yet I want more. I swallow, hard, the fire in my throat suppressed enough for me to think straight, yet it's still there.
Sitting in the blood, staring at the empty fridge, it hits me: What the hell is going on? I slam the fridge door, much harder than need be, causing the little black door to detach partially from the fridge. I stare in horror, and I'm on my feet, without thinking much more about it, and into the bathroom. I submerge myself in the tub of water, causing the tub water to slowly turn pink and then, red - red as the blood that I drank.
I get out of the tub, hesitantly I glance into the mirror, and my face is tan - like normal - my lips filled with color again, my cheeks no longer blotchy. I look normal, yet I feel like some sick, twisted version of a person - a vampire. But, they aren't real! They can't be real. I look at myself; what am I? What have I done to deserve this?
I try to think back to my last memory; Mason at work. That's all I can remember; Mason walking me to my car, small talk about finalizing his divorce and his son's baseball game, and then getting into my car - then everything goes blank.
I stalk back into the room, partially thinking about calling the cops, eyeing the tan phone beside the lamp on the bed - but how could I explain the blood? No, I can't call the cops. I sit on the bed; the burning in my throat itching at me again. I swallow hard once more, trying to subdue it. I look around the room; trying to get my mind off it, and I spot a note, on a stack of neatly folded clothes, and next to it, my Dolce and cabana hand bag.
I pace over to it, checking my purse for my wallet; opening it to see my credit cards, cash, and ID untouched. Now, wary of what I would find in the note, yet somewhat glad whoever kidnapped me, was kind enough to leave clothes and my purse. As I touch the note, a shot goes through me - what I would think being electrocute for seconds may feel like - and before me, something plays. I'm inside of the hotel room, yet it's another time, daylight streaks through the windows. In the shadows, a man stands where I do, he's scribbling a note; the note inside of the envelope, no doubt. He's beautiful, I can't help but to gather, blonde hair like the sands of Maui whenever I was on vacation after graduation. His face is bony, with full lips, and owlish blue eyes, cut in halves as he continues to write. He looks mischievous, like he's plotting something vicious. Then, it hits me like I'm standing in front of a moving bus; he was the one that did this to me. There aren't any for sure signs, but what I feel deep down, staring at him; it was him. Then, like descending light in a tunnel, the vision exits, and slowly, I'm back, wet, standing in front of this dresser, holding an envelope.
Yet, I want to hate this man for doing this to me, I can't. There is something pulling me to him instead, some part of my heart attaching itself to him mechanically; like he's a long lost relative. I don't fully understand this attachment, nor do I want to. I only wish to hate him, but I can summon it.
The note, in a white envelope, the back sealed with an unfamiliar seal, and on the front it says:
My Dearest, Mr. Black.
It's addressed to my father, how strange. I feel a sinking feeling like I'm a pawn in one of my father's games or even, some sick experiment. I set the letter aside; shrugging off my wet clothes, and putting on the plain-Jane white polo shirt, loose jeans, and sneakers. They were even kind enough to leave a barrette for my hair, and I pull it into an up do quickly.
I take the envelope back to the bed, and I remove the letter.
In return for your malevolent acts, we have serviced you one. We truly hope you enjoy your, well in your words, vile and satanic, daughter. Well, my daughter, now sir.
It takes me three times to read the letter, until the words sink in - vile, satanic. I fold the letter, and place it back into the envelope. I now know that I must deliver this letter to my father, in order to find out just want this means. He knows what I am - and, better yet, who made me this way.
It's July; July heat can be savage in Texas, yet it has no effect on me, as I hurry across the hotel parking lot, passing a beggar who tries to stop me, and I wait for the metro bus across the street. It's dark; very dark outside, the moon is descending behind some buildings in a distance, and the only light available is a dim, orange-glowing street light just above the metro booth. I sit alone, watching the beggar from a distance, as he wobbles around the parking lot, looking into cars, and sipping something from a bottle in a brown bag. Though, as I passed him, I could hear every beat of his weak heart, the liquids squashing together in his stomach, and the revolting smell of alcohol on his breath; something deeply disgusted me about him - not just that he was a bum, nor an alcoholic, but something more.
I fold my arms methodically, trying to think of anything but what I drank in that room - the taste still in my mouth, the fire clawing at my throat for more, and I start to tap my foot nervously. I think of my father; the wretched man. He was favorable at one time, whenever I was much younger, whenever my mother was still alive, but after she died, he seemed to die with her. He worked a lot, he was never at home, though I had plenty of things to occupy my time; I still genuinely missed him on holidays or birthdays. Yet, always being alone, I learned to busy myself, and comfort myself. Our maid, Melinda became the best impression of a parent I had, until my father remarried. I hadn't even realized he was seeing anyone, until the day before their marriage.
Chelsea Fletcher; a fiery red-head who swaddled my father with more affection than a rich girl with a Chihuahua - yet, I couldn't really blame her, she did make my father stay home at times, so I saw him more. She wasn't alone though, she moved in her bratty son, Darius, as well - we never saw eye to eye. It was my father's attention he sought after; loathed when my father would favor me - his blood daughter. I'm sure he's got my father wrapped around his little finger now.
Now, in the middle of the night, I was rushing off to see all three of them, in hopes my father has answers that I need. Or, at least explain what relevance he holds to this letter.
The bus skidded to a stop, squealing brakes and all, making my ears tingle. I clasp them mechanically, entering the bus as the unfavorable driver detaches them, I flash my bus pass quickly. Like a thunderstorm, a wave a new scents and desires hit me; I hear pounding hearts like thunder in my ears. Oh, my. I force myself forward, eyes to the molding bus floor, forcing back saliva to relinquish the fire in my throat, but it isn't wavering. Then, with all hope lost, I hold my breath. The feeling eases and I don't feel like I'm suffocating, but rather, like I'm a ghost, walking to the back of the bus as it juts forward. I take a seat as far away from the six passengers as I can; glad they all didn't do the same. I glare out the window - partially amazed by how long I'm holding my breath, yet part of me already knew I know longer needed to breathe.
I think of the boy scribbling the letter again; the beautiful boy. It's mechanical almost to think about him, to want to see him, and meet him; shake his hand, feel his cool flesh. Yet, the idea seems so weird - I should hate him, right? I should loathe the sight of him as I wish him harm. I'm not sure what bubbles inside of rage or butterflies. It feels the same.
My father lives in Kingwood, which is 45 minutes from here, and I hold my breath the entire time. My apartment is 15 minutes away from his house, which wasn't intentional. I haven't seen or heard from him in three years, after he paid for my college tuition, it seemed like he cut off contact. I had called him several times, because he is my father after all, but he never returned the calls. I had even shown up one Christmas, as a surprise only for Melinda to split a pumpkin pie with me, and tell me they had been vacationing in Switzerland since Thanksgiving weekend.
The bus doesn't quite take me there, so I get off just outside of Houston, and call for a cab. The cab ride is short, I pay the man all of ten dollars; he offers to walk me to the door, but I say no thank you - wary that I might bite him in half.
I stand, in front of towering wrought iron gates, the iron twisted at the top to form the words: Black Estate. There is forestry on either side of the fence, up to the house, which is hidden behind it. I can see ghosts of light dancing behind the timbers as I inch towards the key pad, and enter the code. It's been changed. I growl, though it isn't intentional, it vibrates through my body. I clench my teeth as well, which sends a new kind of pain through me, irritating the fire in my throat as well. I touch my gums, and retracting my hands to see, what I think to be, blood. I press my tongue to my tooth - wiggling it, and then it disconnects. I spit it into my palm, staring at it in horror. I then jab my finger into the call button on the key pad.
After about five minutes, I stick the tooth into my pocket, "Black Estate," a familiar sugary voice vibrates through the speaker.
"Melinda, it's Sam, I need to talk to my dad." I try to keep my voice as steady as possible, but it's difficult hearing her honeyed, familiar voice.
The gate sounds, creaking open like a corny black and white horror flick, and I hurry down the wide path of gravel and sand. I tongue the empty space where my tooth detached, only for a point to prod my tongue. I clench my teeth mechanically, and then I curse myself silently for doing so as pain rumbles through my mouth once more.
My father's house is a luxurious colonial home, built in 1892, by my great grandfather Elijah Black. My first impression of the house, is that it reminds me of the White House; rows of columns supporting a jutting white roof; stretches of windows behind the columns, revealing a large swirling staircase and a gleaming, diamond encrusted chandelier. I'm at the front porch in minutes, and I mash the doorbell of the mansion. It seems to shudder through the whole house, ding-dong.
Melinda answers the door, wide-eyed, "Are you okay, child?" she asks, her southern accent heavy as usual.
"I'm fine; I just need to see him." I say, directing my eyes away from her, trying my best not to fumble. Yet, Melinda squashes me into a hug, and then retracts just as quickly.
"My, my you are freezing," she looks at me with distaste.
I shake my head, finally meeting her syrupy brown eyes, "It's a little chilly out." She's wearing her nigh attire, dressed on top of it a thick pink robe, and fuzzy pink slippers; her black hair in a tight bun on top of her head.
"It's July dear," she shakes her head. "There's no such thing as cold in July in Texas."
"I'm fine Melinda." I say.
"Very well, let me call for him. He's working late again." That doesn't surprise me. He's always working.
After my mother died, my father seemed to keep everything the same. He didn't purchase new furniture, order flowers, or even unknot the curtains. Yet, after Chelsea moved in, she seemed to keep the place stylish. Now, the marble floors shining brightly, a canvas of a man, woman, and boy hangs against the winding stair case. The railing black, polished thick wood, with tan marble stairs; a chandelier hanging high above me with candle-like bulbs; directly in front of me, a circular table with red roses; the rest of the house is hidden.
Melinda returns, hustling down the corridor that resides behind the circular table, her robes brushing against the marble and ushers me left into the formal living room. "He'll be up in a few moments, dear." She says, once I'm inside the living room. It's a quaint room, patterned furniture with intricate carved wood legs and backs. I sit in one of the lounge chairs; it was my mother's favorite. I remember her black hair looked brilliant against the red and gold curving patterns as she would read to me.
"If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing here, Sammie?" Melinda inquires, calling me by the nickname my mother had given me.
I shrug, trying not to look suspicious as she stands beside me with her arms folded, "I just wanted to stop by." I say without looking at her.
"Dear, it's four am. This isn't just your casual how-do-you-do." She looks at me studiously.
I search for words in the long wooden table, filled with outdated magazines, and a bowl filled with stale candy, "It's private, I'm sorry Melinda." I say finally.
She looks at me, still assessing, but before she could speak, I hear hands clap once, and appears my father. He's wearing a white jacket, several pens and a note pad in his jacket pocket; his chestnut hair trimmed short; his face clean and shaven; his beady eyes glancing me over, assessing me, like I'm just another experiment… He will never change.
"Angel," he says, his arms outstretched, and I come to my feet, nervously exchanging a hug with him as he calls me by his given nickname. I hadn't heard him say it in years, which stirs something inside of me, but I don't survey it farther than that.
"Hi, daddy," I say, as he pulls away from me; a quick press of a hug, and that's all with him.
As I stand in front of him, he seems shorter than I remember; I can almost see the complete top of his head. I stick my hands into my pants pockets, as silence presses between us. I retreat to the sofa, not returning to my mother's chair, like I did as a kid; mother's things don't get touched.
"What brings you by, kiddo?" He inquires, still studying me, looking at my neck, my arms, my legs, then back to my neck; it makes me feel like a wild animal almost.
I take a nervous look around, making sure that Melinda had left. She was nowhere in sight, so I take a letter from my purse, and hand it to him. "Something strange happened to me tonight, and when I woke up, there was a letter for you. I was hoping you could tell me what this is all about."
Before he takes the letter, he pulls two white gloves from his right side pocket, he pulls them on and then he takes the letter, surveying me one more time, and then looking at it. He looks at the front for some time, his fingers guiding across the letters one by one. I watch, methodically, trying to figure out what he might be thinking. He holds it up to the light; I see the blackness of a letter inside of the envelope making me shudder. Then, a moment later, he turns it over, measuring the stamp, his eyes squinting even more than they already seem to be. He swallows hard, I see his jaw clench, and then, he takes the letter out. He reads it; his eyes scanning each line over and over and over again. It feels like an eternity before he finally looks at me again. His expression unchanging; I'm just another one of his scientific creations to him.
We look at each other for a second more, "I have to show you something." He says, with a tight smile. I nod. He turns around; he puts the letter into his pocket, and keeps his hands there. I follow him, returning to the foyer room. I glance over at the canvas once more, feeling somewhat relieved by his reaction, and I realize it's a picture of Him, Chelsea, and Darius. Like a dagger to the heart, something sharp sinks into my neck. I clench my jaw hard, going to my knees from the pressure, and my hand attaching to his arm. I feel another one of my teeth detach, spitting it onto the floor, as I feel like the world begins to spin around me. My father, standing over me now, his hand on the plunger of a syringe jutting from my neck, and his other supporting my head as I begin to lose consciousness.