Serial Number

NSFL. Reader discretion advised. Hannibal-inspired.

Warm and thick it squirted onto his face and trickled down; lashes lumped and the corner of his mouth had a tainted taste all of a sudden. To some it would be metallic, like licking too long on a spoonful of yoghurt. To him it was sweet, like a ripe cherry burnt by a warm summer’s sun, the taste of love, of the soul. With a finger he stemmed the trickle. It was difficult not to avoid the vein, but gradually, at each attempt, he had gotten better at handling its edge. The skin parted quickly now, faster than before, and with precision like a surgeon’s. In the beginning the veins had taken damage as well, causing death way too quickly. But as he acquired a flair for shearing and slicing perfectly, he was now perfectly skilled.

Then again, it was not Annie Lorenzo, who was his prime target. No, she could do with some damage, which was the intention. It was her husband, Leonard Lorenzo, who was supposed to live. At least for a while.

And this he was, writhing and struggling against the restraints around his wrists, eyes terrified as he watched Emmanuel straddling his wife under the bloody bed-covers. Her death cramps and moist coughing sprayed the white sheets with ruby drops of blood. He had severed the sinews of the neck and cut open the trachea, which now filled with blood from the surrounding, damages tissue. His hands rested around her throat, not strangling her but cupping the blood as it slipped over his white, surgical gloves and into the bed; his fingertips caressed her skin soothingly. He could see the fear in her eyes as each cramp gradually stilled and she drew her last breath. Her shoulders slumped; each muscle in her body relaxed and he let go of her neck, releasing the blood into the pillow like a halo of death crowning her.

He straightened up and tossed a strand of his dark hair away from the face before he turned to look at Leonard, a wolfish grin on his thin lips and his grey eyes lusting for more. The blood adorned his face, gems of gory jewels. He grabbed the scalpel from the bedside table, where it had stained the white, laced tablecloth, and moved across the bed to Leonard, straddling him down as well; the bedcovers rustled and mingled with Leonard’s muffled moans of plea through the saliva-drenched cloth in his mouth.

“Are we having fun?” Emmanuel sneered and flicked the scalpel in his fingers. Leonard’s eyes widened, focusing on the scalpel, which sliced into his cheek producing a long, red line, a Cherokee’s war-paint. A drop trickled down the fear-pale skin like a lonesome tear of sorrow. A cry was stilled in the cloth and Leonard closed his eyes, the cold sweat hailed from his furrowed brow.

“No, no, no! You have to look, Leonard,” Emmanuel pinched his eyes open with his left hand. “You have to see, have to watch,” he glanced sideways to the corpse of Leonard’s wife, motionless and soaked in blood. “She will be delicious. A treat. Like candy to your eyes. But first,” he looked back down at Leonard and uncovered his throat and chest, “we have to prepare you. To be quiet. A silent audience for the spectacle you’re about to witness.” He reached down to the bag by the bed, which he had placed silently as he had entered the bedroom. Intrusion had been easy with no children living in their house anymore, and no animals to wake up and alarm the residents. Their evening routine had become his as he had observed them from a distance for a month, preparing the final, building the crescendo as every fiber in his body yearned to be released, yearned for the savage, brutal slaughtering and the delicious aftermath in which he would ascend to divine beauty, taking the virginity of his own career. And he wouldn’t stop once the first act had been finished. No, there would be plenty more to come.

A symphony of Hell.

When the two victims had been properly restrained to their bed, he had covered what he could with plastic and commenced the ordeal. He was baffled at how strong he had become from working out, a physical preparation in accordance with his mental state of being. Both had to be strong to endure the act. And they were. He was flying, a heavenly breeze held his wings aloft and guided him towards the climax.

He punctured Leonard’s trachea with a crude awl from his workshop and forced a hard but thin plastic tube into it, enabling him to breathe, although it would take some time to find the right method to do so. Meanwhile he would remain light-headed and dizzy and Emmanuel could move on back to Annie. He stood by the bed and produced a set of quality butcher knives which he used to slowly cut off the meatier parts of the dead woman’s body. He worked with incredible precision, having practised on animals and the like before, and once in a while he looked up to Leonard.

“No, no. Don’t look away, Leo,” he pleaded softly, put down the knives and went to turn Leonard’s head towards the gory scenery. “See? She will be delicious now, much more than before.” He knew that Leonard would soon pass out from fear and from the loss of blood. It didn’t matter much. He had seen what he needed.

Annie’s corpse lay partly dissected, bones exposed here and there. With a sturdy wire cutter he snapped open her ribcage and pressed the bones apart, exposing her lungs and heart. A few slices were all that was needed to loosen them from their confinement. When he had finished he went into the adjoining bathroom to wash up, taking a look in the mirror and admiring himself. He was glad he had chosen the black uniform that night. He left the bathroom, put on his shoes and went down into the kitchen where he found bowls of this and that size. Whatever could be used for storage he brought with him back upstairs where he began ordering the lumps of meat and put them into their respective containers. Leonard was still alive, barely though, and the tears that streamed down his temples indicated desperate crying. No sound came through the cloth anymore, and Emmanuel grinned at him. He took the heart, which he had put in a silver bowl, sliced off a piece the size of a coin, and went to Leonard, gently removing the now blood-stained cloth.

“Now, you can be whole,” he whispered as he forced the lips apart and placed the meat on Leonard’s tongue before closing the jaws upon it again and again, making him chew and with much difficulty, swallow the piece of Annie’s raw heart. Leonard tried to protest, but blood pumped up from the opening in his throat and all he could conjure was a wet gurgling as he stared at Emmanuel, tears still spilling from the corner of his eyes.

“There, there,” Emmanuel patted his bleeding cheek and straightened. “Sleep soundly while I, too, become whole.”

He went to the bowls and loaded them onto trays, which he carried down into the kitchen. The peace and quiet filled his body as he cooked the meat with various spices and ate it for himself. He continued until there was no more, each container empty, still bloody. He loaded it all in the dishwasher and turned it on, cleaning the kitchen to the last spot, even cleaner than it had been when he had arrived. Finally he went upstairs and to Annie’s bedside table where he opened a drawer and found her jewels. He took them all out and carried them to Leonard who was struggling now visibly with lack of air, although the plastic tube did keep him from being choked right away.

“A funeral for a prince awaits you,” Emmanuel said quietly, and one by one he slid thin chain necklaces and bracelets as well as smaller rings into the plastic tube, slowly blocking the airways completely. He kept his eyes on Leonard’s face, never blinking, observing each change in colour as he was slowly bereft of life. Muscles began cramping, his fingers twitched and spasms made his legs thrash against the mattress. Emmanuel rose and waited. It took five minutes for the last muscles to relax and a kind smile lingered on his lips before he cleaned the room of the plastic wrap and everything that could be traced back to him.

With the bag packed and slumped over his shoulder, he went back down into the kitchen. Upon the counter lay a list with twelve difference numbers, each with eight digits. He picked it up along with a ball-point pen, striking out the first sequence of digits, and smiling to himself, he left the house to set out to his car, disappearing into the night.

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Window

The first time it occurred, he was barely 9 years old. The house was dark, everyone sound asleep in their rooms. The watch showed 01:13 a.m. Silence was universal.

He had awakened, not entirely knowing why and looked towards the window where a strong, golden light seemed to emanate from, piercing the blue curtains and their multi-coloured balloons. He frowned. It was in the middle of the night. Then where did the light come from? It was hot too, like a sun baking him in an oven. He slipped out of bed, scurried across the floor and peeked through the crack between the two curtains.

Outside was a chaotic scene unlike anything he had ever seen before in his life. Headless children playing on a merry-go-round, cars going by on the road in long columns without passengers or drivers; the sky was bright orange and red and in the distance rose a mushroom cloud, a way too realistic cardboard cut-out backdrop over the grassy plains and sprouting trees. Flocks of predatory birds circled groups of dancing people, picking at their eyes and hair and skin and several butterflies smacked against the windowpane and melted like colourful crayons in the sunlight. There was birds chirping but with witty voices, the sound of distorted, mirthless laughter as if through an old radio. He felt a breeze on his forehead as he stood watching the beautiful and bizarre world outside and he backed as he saw the shockwave of the mushroom cloud getting closer. It pressed on his ears when it reached him and he shut his eyes tight, covered his ears and backed away, leaving the crack in the curtain for good.

Suddenly it was all gone. The heat, the light. He realized he sat on the floor where he had stumbled backwards over a box with toys and sat staring up at the window, where only a faint moon beam crept through the curtain crack. He got up on his feet and hurried back to bed where he pulled the blanket up to his chin cautiously keeping an eye on the window until he fell asleep from exhaustion.

It would not be Michael’s last encounter with what lay beyond the windows. As he grew older, he saw the scenery more often, some times in grey dull hues, unsaturated and without any coherent texture of material to it; other times it would be sprawling with light and colours, both fantastical and scaring at the same time. It never revealed what happened before or after the shockwave reached him. It always held the same momentum, but he perceived that there was some kind of time-line, which he was missing out on. It was the same, on and on. On a bus, he could glance out of one window and the scenario would take form right outside. Everyone else around him were oblivious, and he tried talking to his friends and family about it. But little did it help. The fear which the reoccurring vision put into him was spiced with loneliness as people began pushing him away, laughing at his startled eyes whenever they joined him in a room or on a bus or subway.

Reservation forced him into a state of bitterness and anger. Why could no one else see it? Why was he the only one who was afraid of this eminent disaster? Why could no one explain it to him? Why was he so terribly alone with this…

He tried drawing it, but he always gave up half-way through it, realising that there wasn’t enough space for all the details in one sheet of paper. He tried writing it down, but words were simply not absolute in their confinement of letters to describe the vision. They could never be.

When he was 17, his parents took him to the doctor. Something had to be done. Michael suffered severely from insomnia, migraines. He described in perfect detail to the doctor how the world outside the office appeared to him, down to every single colour of the melting butterflies, to the texture of the feathers on the predatory birds, to the softness, roundness and pervasiveness of the mushroom cloud. There had always been something inviting about it, like burying yourself in a thick haze of cotton and just disappear. Whereto was not a concern, just give into destruction and be absorbed with it.

Without further evaluation, the doctor prescribed medicine for the young man. He would get sleeping pills and something to lighten the migraines, but also something to help relieve the visions. Guaranteed effect.

However, on Michael it didn’t work. Quite the contrary. He slept, yes, but now his dreams were also haunted by the vision, and it began repeating itself. It was no longer just a short flash that lasted an eternity and then was gone. It became almost a long painful nightmare, played and replayed. Sometimes backwards as well. And he began seeing further than just the shockwave. He began feeling it hitting him, blasting him into tiny bits of meat and flesh, sizzling from the heat. Other times, he was no longer outside watching the world, but taking part of it, either playing on the merry-go-round or joining the dancing people where his eyes would be picked out one by one – as if he had more – by the black birds circling up above. Butterflies would hit his face and melt his skin. He could look down on his hand, smearing off the molten colours and watch how his palm withered away.

But worst of all was the destruction. He did no longer doubt that the mushroom cloud was evil. There could be no question. And his body would burn and itch as he woke up screaming in the night, sweat hailing from his brow, only to find himself staring at the window where the golden light impaled the fabric of his world, his reality.

Only a few months had to pass before he was finally committed into a psychiatric ward. His room had no windows. One morning he was found dead, and the journal states “sleep depravation” as the cause. However the nurse who found him claim to have seen a man with burnt skin lesions and eyes picked out of their sockets as if by predatory birds. Where the eyes had gone, she couldn’t tell.

One in a Million: Original Evil

– NSFW 18+ –

au: originally a short story for the appendix of Darklighter Chronicles, the first of the three One in a Million-stories

The event I’ll recount is nothing extraordinary. It’s not different or more remarkable than any of the others. It should be mentioned that it was an afternoon in the spring of 2001. Yes, the school bells had just rung out and quite a lot of students were going home. They went in groups, but few lonely lambs without a shepherd went by themselves. They’re the easiest because you don’t pay attention to their disappearance.

The usual seat was taken; there was an exquisite view over the menu, around the same as picking and choosing dishes in a restaurant. There were so many ways to perceive and view the best way to tackle the obstacles, but it never turned out to be exactly way you had imagined it. Perhaps because the most natural lay just in front of you without noticing it?

Already at a distance I could see her. Blond, pale and shy, heavy school bag and a less delicate dress than the rest of her class mates. It gave a refined impression on the setting if the snack stood out at the first glance. I had seen her before but only then I had kept myself at bay. Now I had the chance and I’d take it, no matter the cost.

Her course was straight and I had to stay my delight until it was time. The gravel grinded against her lacquer shoes as she slowly stopped in front of me to estimate whether I’d call her parents if she took the short cut instead of staying on the path. I rose slowly from the bench and turned towards her. She was full of awe; the vampiric seduction was not something to take lightly.

“Hi there, where are you going?” a kind smile was always the best way to get her under your wing.

“Home.” Insecure, hesitant tone.

“Really. And where might that be?”

She pointed to the bushes.

“You live in there?” Playful laughter.

She shook her head. “In the neighbourhood.”

“Ah, of course. Do you live with your mother and father?”

“Only my mommy.”

I took a step closer to her. She remained in place, curious, stubborn and perhaps too scared to move. “Where might your father be then?”

“Travels. He works far away.”

“That must be exciting. Don’t you get a lot of presents when he comes home then?”

“Sometimes.”

Her eyes were dark and shy. She knew very well that she mustn’t talk to strangers, but here she was, ignited by something indescribable in her mind. Well, yes, I played a trick or two on her, but it was worth it.

“Do you know what the time is, love?” I stopped in front of her. She shook her head. “Do you know the hours of the clock?” She looked down, embarrassed.

”No.” This time she had to confess.

“Then I’d better teach you them.” I extended my hand, an indirect invitation. She looked disapproving at it.

“But… my teachers already do that.” She looked from the hand and up at me.

“Clearly not well enough. Come along.” This time it was a direct order for her to follow. The park was empty by now. We could as well have looked like a father trying to persuade her daughter to come home. She threw a fugitive glance around, perhaps she felt the thrill, the surge which everyone who had when they did something wrong. She ended up cautiously reaching out and taking my hand. Her fingers could barely reach around my thumb.

“Not too long or my mommy will start worry,” she said as I led her with me out of the park.

“Of course not. I live not far from here. You’ll be home soon.”

She bit her lip nervously and looked around again.

“How old are you, sweetie?”

“Six and a half,” she answered proudly.

“Wow, that’s a big girl.”

“Yea.” A smile adorned her lips. It didn’t take much.

“Shall I take your bag?” I asked friendly and she took my offer with a grateful smile as she pushed off the bag to let me carry it as we left the area.

Not far from there my black car was parked against the curb. It wasn’t the limousine, no, that would attract too much attention. It was newly lacquered, had tainted glass panes and hidden numbers. I wasn’t late on the back door forcing her inside with a last glance up and down the street. It was desolate and empty.

“Get in.”

She looked astonished at me as I followed her into the car and locked it with a central lock system. Perhaps she began to realize her mistake and the fear exuded from her as she saw that we were going nowhere. I threw the little bag on the passenger seat to get it out of my way before I pulled off my long, black leather coat, folded it carefully and put it atop of the bag to hide it if anyone ever got close enough to peek inside. Yet the area seemed peaceful enough; nobody would ever notice the slightest.

“What do you want?” a sob stuck in her throat and she gave a little moan. I had kept myself at bay way too long and felt it settle in, wild, uncontained and uncontrollable. I hushed her down.

“I just want to take a look at you, you’re such a sweet little girl, aren’t you?” the words were followed by a kind, wolfish grin. “Here, take of your jacket, it gets warm in here so quickly.”

She didn’t seem to obey right away so I had to force it rather roughly off her.

“Ouch, that hurts,” she whined as I grabbed her wrists and shoved them through the sleeves. Again I hushed her down and she drowned a sob as a tear streamed down her cheek.

“You’re not very nice! I wanna go home!”

The art was to keep the thrill up. The small accusations could cause anger and in some circumstances even more agitation and excitement. She was lucky that I was in a good mood and took it as a pleasure, a psychological boost, to the setting. As I undressed her she kept insisting on getting home but as she realized that I didn’t pay much attention to her words, she fell silent and only sat looking at me with tear-traced face and saw eyes.

I laid her down on the back seat with an arm under her to straddle her arms. She seemed hopeless enough for me to do a bit more, compared to last time I had visited the park. I unzipped my pants, enough for me to take her hand inside the lining. Her face blushed violently and she sobbed as if on the edge of vomiting. Half-hard as I already was I could feel her trembling fingers against my skin. Small sighs and moans escaped my lips, not enough for her to get uneasy. Not yet. I slacked my grip as she understood what this was all about. If she stopped, I agitated her to continue by stroking her hair and praise what she was doing.

When pleasure was building I pushed off her hand and forced the edge of the pants down below my hips. The half cool air in the car hit my skin. I guided her down with a hand behind her head, steadying her mouth as well as I could before I forced entry between her lips. This, she was less willing to perform. I could almost feel the warm tears hit my skin around her lips and drawing into her mouth along with the shaft. The small fingers tried desperately to beat, hit, claw and scratch at me to hurt me and make me stop; unfortunately she didn’t know that it only opened up to more pleasure to me. Her tongue resisted and thrashed at the sensitive skin, the lips tensed and the muscles in her throat threatened to make her vomit.

With one hand I held her head in place; the other had pushed up her dress around her hips and pulled down her stockings and underwear. The soft, sleek skin was enveloped by my hand where the fingers caressed it kindly before they slipped in to feel the warmth and the moisture. More moans, more sobs and the tears didn’t seem to stop.

Finally, I pulled away her head and pushed her up to lower myself upon her. It didn’t take more than few seconds before I had wrestled her legs apart and readied myself. In one thrust I broke through her, like opening a treasure and admiring the gold with a fugitive glance over the misdeed. I had feared that others had been there before me, but I was lucky and the tightness of the virgin was not to be mistaken.

She cried and tried to protect herself, but I held her in place. The little body had to twist and turn as the pressure built harder and harder in her. It wouldn’t be long until the bones broke under my weight. My hands groped over her, greedily, every inch of her was searched as I satisfied myself in her. It ended like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky as the warm liquid spilled into her like an explosion and ran out to stain the seat along with the red colour of her blood. At the very second, as a shrill cry rose from her throat, I bent down and planted my fangs in her soft neck. The flesh gave in and the blood streamed up to greet me. Senseless intoxication filled me as I felt her life seep out of her the more it filled me, delicious and sweet.

I let go of the dead body and watched it before I reached for a package of tissues in the glove compartment. Quickly, I removed the worst traces of the misdeed and put my clothes back into their proper place. I left her as she was while I unlocked the car and crawled outside. A fresh breeze hit my face and a ray of sun passed, shortly blinding me. I got in and drove away as I wondered how many more child corpses the ruins by the mansion could contain.

One in a Million: Schrödinger’s Doll

– Not suitable for children under 18 –

The numbness waned gradually, still clinging to my skin here and there, partially paralyzing me but inviting the cold air to greet me mercilessly. The sour taste in my mouth made me gag involuntarily, a nauseating sensation rising in my stomach as I tasted bile on the roof of my mouth. Had I thrown up? My eyelids were leaden, my muscles tensed in a way I did not entirely fathom just yet, seeing that the numbness still held its sway. I was coming to, but my senses lured me into a trap of delicious beliefs that I had just fallen asleep on the steps leading to my front door. The air wrapping me up sure seemed like that of a chilly night.

But it was not so. Terribly not so.

I tried to move but it appeared that my arms were in some way blocking any further movements. My head, spinning with dizziness strained to lift itself, and only as I did I felt the horrific shock settling inside of me. My arms were tied up; as a matter of fact my entire body weight was held by my sore wrists. I guessed they were sore, I could not feel them at the moment, and judging from my present state of being, I wouldn’t be able to do so either in the future. I couldn’t detect the quality of material though. It was sleek but whether it was rope or chain, I had no clue. All I knew was that I was hanging in my own wrists and the parched sensation in my mouth originated from an incredible thirst mixed with whatever stomach contents I had had to let go of earlier when I was still not conscious.

I was now, however, and I began speculating what had brought me into this very position when a bright light made my eyelids flutter. It burned and I shut them tighter, not really straining this seeing that they were already as good as closed. The light followed the click of a switch. It was not a small switch, judging from the thud against the plastic in which it was set. It was one of the larger switches, an industrial switch perhaps, which led me to another question of where the hell I was.

Over the stench of vomit, my nostrils detected a mouldy, wet smell, and my ears caught the sound of water dripping down on stone in one place, and another place into some sort of steel tray, sink or whatever it could be. The coldness could for all I know be due to an open space, but the lack of natural sounds suggested that I was stuck in a basement. My heart dropped to my knees when I heard the footsteps approach. How come I did not hear them before? Had there been someone in here, watching me as I had been unconscious and only now as I’d begun stirring, signaled his presence?

The answers to the questions held back from a moment of realization, and for a while all I felt were shivers down my spine with the thoughts of where I was, what had happened and what was going to happen to me.

She hung there, such a sweetness, a blessing from the world to the world itself. Her flaxen hair cupped her cheekbones and swayed but a little against her shoulders. The position in which I had suspended her showed off the muscles perfectly, running along the thin, bruised limbs with the skin grey from the cold. Only thin wisps of breath escaped her dry lips. I had cleaned her up as well as I could when the poison had begun its ascend into her veins.

She had been one of the easy ones. A proud woman walking home alone from a party; her self-image of strength and preparedness against any assault had not stood up to her expectations, and by the curb of her darkened home, I had waited, quietly, lurking in the shadows with the van parked down the road. The street lamp had caught the sparkling tip of the syringe as I had plucked it into her neck, silencing her with one hand over her mouth where the scream was caught in a gasp instead of audible sound. The heavy body had been easy to lay to rest in the shadows of the magnolia as I had gone to fetch the car and loaded her into the trunk and taken of.

My basement was the only security I had for fun in silent surroundings. The walls I had sound-proofed, the ceiling secured with rafters and the plumbing was finally working although the water was only cold. I needed no heat down here. This was a natural environment for me, and how I struggled not to laugh as I now approached her with a cloth in my hand to rinse the last traces of bile from her chin and chest. She was spindle this one, like a spider, and as I lifted her face I realized why I had stalked her now for so long. I saw the potential that had dawned upon me the first time I had seen her in the cafeteria, serving coffee and taking orders. A well-mannered girl. She’d soon learn her place. Illuminated by the light bulb swinging in its lonesome cord, I marveled at the princess from my dreams of late.

“Good morning, lady Patricia,” I said, rubbing the cloth against her dry lips to give them just the slightest hint of moisture while removing the yellow trails spattered on her pretty skin. “Slept well, I suppose?”

The cold was indescribable as he touched my face. It went right through me, a prickling sensation to my numb skin, but I sure felt it. Cold like the hands of a man who sits by a desk all day and comes home to watch tv all night. A dead cold, an icy cold. The cloth was harsh against my skin but I welcomed it gratefully although I had no intentions of giving this man whatever he wanted of me. Unfortunately I had the feeling that I would end up having to agree with his demands no matter how much I wouldn’t. I was in no position to bargain, he probably had me where he wanted, and there was nothing I could do about it. A tear trickled down my cheek as I shuddered and tried to shy away from his touch, but his firm grasp was demanding like that of a king forcing his mistress to obey his every need.

“I-I’m cold,” I stammered and tried to pry open my eyes. The world was a haze and I felt dizzy just looking at him. The light burned my eyes and threatened to make me vomit again. But I could see his shape in front of me, tall and dark. I imagined he was handsome, I couldn’t tell, but as long as I imagined it, I felt just a tiny hint better than previously. And then there was the voice. There was some familiarity to it that I could not place. Was he a friend? An acquaintance? A family member?

“Yes, unfortunately I don’t do well in hot environments,” I replied sadly and drew away the tear on her face, wondering where it came from. “But you’ll get used to it in no time, darling. Trust me.” I smiled reassuringly at her and watched her eyes swim, bloodshot from the intoxicating drugs and the poison which was still searing through her. For just a moment I pondered letting her off. She couldn’t possibly identify me, not when she’d lost her sight already. But I dropped the thought. She had come this far, then the transition would progress as planned.

I tossed a strand of her hair away from her face, enjoying how the light played on her skin. She was cold, goose bumps spread on her quickly. Or maybe it was his touch? How could she not enjoy it, now that she had longed for it, now that he had prepared it all for her ascension to become what he called himself a goddess of power?

“You, my love, are beautiful beyond comprehension,” he whispered in her ear, noticing how his breath almost became a mist on her icy cheek.

“P-p-please, let me go,” I stammered and tried to pull away from his touch. His breath was warm though and it gave me a momentarily soothing feeling to feel something just slightly warmer than the air surrounding me. However as quickly as my skin had heated, just as quickly did it cool down and I shivered once again, trying desperately to find myself and my strength. But there was none. My mind would not make a bargain for me this time, and my eyes hurt more and more as did my very bones. But the touches from his fingers became a reviving sensation in me, like they removed the pain from my body. It was an excruciatingly horrific feeling building up, but I slowly realized that the more I wanted to feel and the less pain I wanted to be in, the more I had to stay within his reach. It was like another mind pressed on mine, beckoning me to do this, to follow the instinct of survival. I would die if I did not comply.

“There, there, Patricia, you don’t know what you’d be missing if I let you off the hook,” I said and slipped my hand down her cheek and to her clavicle, running along the pumping veins; my nails scraped against the skin and the red lines adorned her like ritualistic body paint of the ancient tribes of Mesopotamia. A sign to the gods that the sacrifice was ready to be received by them. “We could have so much fun together. You and I. Like we’ve had in the past.” I let my gaze wander her body, following the curves, the lines, the structure; her very figure intrigued me. Spindle, yet strong, a delight just to look upon her. My hand slid down to her breast, small and firm, just out of the maturing process. I tickled the skin evilly, pinching the nipples just enough to almost feel the pulse in them as blood came rushing forth. The cold had already made them hard but a slight warmth surged through them also. It would not be long, oh no, it surely wouldn’t.

I tried to speak through the shivers of his touches but only a deceitful gasp escaped my lips. It was as if my heart strained to beat faster and I regained some warmth, a delicious warmth that I wished would never stop. It eased the pain and helped my mind regain itself in the blink of an eye. But then the nausea took over again and I had to swallow hard not to vomit once more.

“W-who are you?” I muttered, giving up on the thought of escape. It had already dawned upon me that I wore no clothes, the air enveloped me treacherously, threatening to strangle the blood supply to my limbs, especially my arms and hands on which I had already given up.

“Oh, Patricia, now you embarrass yourself.” I shook my head despondently as I glided my hands over her body with slow graceful movements. “I sure thought you’d remember me. All the time I’ve come into your cafeteria these past weeks, ordering the same thing, smiling back at you as you hand me the cup and the cake.” I leant closer to her face, smelling the cold sweat from her body, like a salty, cold ocean. “And all the while I sat there watching you I just imagined whether the coffee could taste just as good as you, and whether your flesh would have the same soft texture as the muffin.” My fingers circled her buttocks, their silky, firm feel sent thrills through me that even Heaven would be jealous not to invoke in its followers. “And you always smiled back. You always did. You learned to catch my eye, and you saw that gleam, you always did. You always did. You knew my plans. It was a mutual understanding. You said you were ready to go to Heaven and that I should lead you, you always said. Always.”

His voice was rapid as he spoke, perhaps in some sort of fantasy, exploring all the imaginary scenarios of his world wherein I had seemingly been for a while now. My heart sure beat fast now, both from the undeniable but horrible arousal as well as the fear. The fear of what would come next. I had prayed – although I had tried to resign to the option I had learned at conflict management when dealing with an assault or a robbery, to let the criminal have his way without question – that he would not put me through this. The thought had never occurred to me that I would lose my virginity to a psychopathic stranger, but as I hung there, his hands all over me, I knew resistance would be futile. Tears streamed down my cheeks and my parched throat conjured sounds resembling sobs but not quite like them.

“Please, sir, I won’t tell anyone, I swear. I promise,” I begged quietly, hoping my frail voice was audible to him as well as to me. It sounded distorted though, like it was not my own and I swallowed hard again. “Just please let me go.” I raised my head and battled the weight of my eyelids to look at him as directly as I could. My arms shook somewhere above in their bounds, and a dull sound reached me. I was chained up.

But just as futile as it was to resist, just as futile it was to beg. He did not hear me, or he would not hear me, and the fingers’ play caught me off guard, invading my privacy violently. My muscles weren’t  working and I somehow fell into a soft, dreamy haze as a little pinprick against my skin signaled a needle being pressed in. The blackness engulfing my mind was such a sweet relief that I probably released yet another tear before my head dropped heavily against my arm and my eyes closed once again.

As I came to he was upon me and had probably been for a while. The slippery, wet feeling between my legs gave me a good clue to what was happening, and the force with which he thrust into me was like being beaten with a club. My entire body shook and wavered. There was no pain, but neither no pleasure, and as I tried to reach out and sense myself, connect with my limbs, I realized I felt nothing. I had no limbs, or I had, I just couldn’t feel them anymore. I was no longer suspended but lay on a table, no bounds kept me down, but seemingly I lay there of my own free will. It was a bed of sorts, soft and deceitfully comfortable.

I felt like I was trapped in a body which wasn’t mine, and it was being invaded and used for a purpose I neither enjoyed nor felt disgusted by. I looked down myself and saw my body. A transformation had come over it and I wanted to scream but all I could hear were childish moans escaping my throat, delicious wet moans to him, probably, but odd sounds that rang shrilly in my ears, to me. What had happened? What was going on?

His hands steadied my hips as he sped up, his face came down upon me and I closed my eyes as I received his kiss, but it was like there was no kiss to receive at all. The touch was there, certainly, but in a way, it was not done onto me. It was done onto whatever I had become. Whatever I had been transformed into. My fear and my sanity began shaking. I felt like I was covered in plastic, a living doll. As he drew away again I could look at my clothes and I saw the neat ribbons on the little girl’s baby blue dress. I felt like hammering on the inside of the skull, begging to be set free, to be let out, but the words I heard were not quite like that.

“Yes, please! More, I beg you, use me more!”

The thrusts accelerated as did my screaming. I was wild with panic and positively fuming with anger for what fate had had in store for me. I felt everything on my body and yet there was a dimension between me and him, a material, physical aspect which I did no longer belong to. I felt the warm semen spill between my thighs as he came and watched as he climbed off me. Only now did I see the mirror above and see my reflection. What had once been a teenager fighting to get into maturity, had now become an underdeveloped girl with golden hair in pigtails, a porcelain complexion and eyes like a doll.

I felt dead and alive at the same time, and there was no way I could undo it.

One in a Million: Puppeteer

– NSFW –

au: originally a short story for the appendix of Darklighter Chronicles

A drop of blood spilled into the tin bowl where it evaporated in the sterilizing spirits covering the used surgery tools. The clatter of the scalpel into the bowl was loud in the silent, cold room where the windows showed the splendid view all around the mansion, except from the view west where the tables stood and instruments hung on walls or lay in cabinets. A tap was turned over the greasy sink and water splashed mercilessly against the weathered enamel; blending now did a sinister tune, a hum by a dark voice, which floated into the room.

A dull afternoon glow lay upon everything, even the sky was not entirely grey, coloured by the beginning sunset, but the orange flame was more like a blemish on the veil of clouds hanging overhead. Only a spot here and there showed the contours of them, allowing a brighter blue through to the bottom of their bellies, but besides that, everything was hazy, like a dream. The only light in the room to break the gloom was the surgical lamp above the operating table upon which the maimed body of a young girl, possibly around the age of ten or eleven, lay sedated. Her naked skin gleamed with an almost unnaturally white glow under the patches of clotted blood along the lines of sewn wounds near the joints of her limbs, jaw, still undeveloped breast-line and, most importantly, from the navel and down to an undefined place between her legs. This was the most recent wound, the others having clotted up earlier in the process while he was still finishing off the last touches.

As he straightened up, drying his hands in the blood-stained cloth by the sink, he repelled his own gaze in the mirror with ease, the ice of his eyes amazing him in the simplest manner of being so aesthetically inconceivable by human genetics. Despite the weary work a smile fluttered as usual across his lips and the hum continued, only broken by the few seconds passing as he mastered his own reflection’s will-power. He went to a cabinet and drew out a small bottle labeled “Belladonna” before he advanced the operating table. Few itches and ticks here and there could be seen in the young girl’s nerves, and the eyes, held open by a steel aggregate, rolled frantically. She was conscious, sure, but no sound could press pass those small and now full, rosy lips. His smile widened as he saw how she gazed at him. Her face was still expressionless from the sedative, but he could hear the clamor of thoughts beating against the inside of her skull where she was now trapped, forever silenced to his will. He hushed her down, stroking a pale, slender hand over her brow and hair, and unscrewed the cap of the bottle.

“There, there, darling,” he whispered softly, words that would have been gentle as a caress if not the scenery had invited to speculations about his intentions. “I had to fix up your precious virginity before I could mold you, just like I wanted you.” He ran a finger down her porcelain cheek before he moistened her eyes with a few drops from the bottle, widening her pupils to those of a doll. He exchanged it on a tray for a syringe filled with an orange liquid. As he pressed out a little to avoid air caught in the needle, it seemed thick, like resin. He planted it in the skin by her elbow, watching as the liquid took hold and made her flesh almost plastic. He did not lift his gaze as he carefully injected the last drops.

“One should never ask to play doctor with me,” he mused as he stowed away the syringe before glancing back up at her, the eyes twinkling with an unusually amused gleam. “I take that kind of offer way too seriously, don’t I?” With a chuckle he rose and clapped his hands. “Oh well, it has been mightily fun, hasn’t it?” He went to the cabinet and replaced the bottle of belladonna drops with a small jar full of a greenish ointment. He came back and began rubbing it into the wounds. The clotted blood fell off and he could pick out the suture. Indeed there were barely any scars left already! The last wound between her legs he took his time with, and small whimpers stuck in her throat revealed a slight reaction before he put away the jar and went to soak the cloth and wash away the last blood and healing ointment off the skin. He halted to smile down at her before he began unstrapping her from the operating table, removing the clamps holding her eyes open; she did not, however, blink when he released the eyelids from their capture. His fingers caressed the leather straps curiously, pondering aloud when to replace the old with new. He tugged on her small hands to guide her to sit straight on the table. The thin, golden-brown hair was corrected, her shoulders raised and chin tugged out.

“There,” he stood back and admired his work. “I must say, I should develop a new methodology for these processes.” He turned on his heel and walked to a cabinet where clothes lay perfectly folded. He found an old night-gown, white and with brocades of birds and flowers as well as two thin, woolen socks, and came back to dress her.

“It would be so much easier,” his voice floated absently into the room as his fingers travelled skillfully over her body, dressing her with the care of a father who had just bathed his favourite. Once in a while he glanced up at her face, smiling reassuringly now and then. “Don’t you think? Without all this needle-work and cutting and sewing and surgery.” The socks slipped onto her feet as if tailored. “And I wouldn’t have to clean it all. Just the syringes. And of course the virgin surgery would still have to be done,” he met her eyes fondly amused. “Otherwise there would be no need for all of this, would there? No, certainly not.”

He commanded her arms up as he pulled the gown down over her head and he lifted her off the table to make her stand. Her feet scrambled lightly against the floor boards, but she stood freely between him and the table. He chuckled again and drew a strand of his long, black hair away from his noble face as he circled her, correcting the gown, slipping a hand down her arm or stroking her hair. He ended up in front of her, beaming like a sculptor admiring his statue, when a loud knock on the door shook him out of his trance. He paused for a while in his track of thoughts before resigning to the fact that very few knew how to get to his surgery room.

“Yes?” he called and turned around as the door was opened and Nathaniel stepped in. The loyal bodyguard, a spitting image of his master, bowed.

“I apologize sincerely for the interruption, my lord,” he said, “but I believe the girl’s parents might be the mayor of Salisbury. I had Marcus look them up in the Darklighter Archives, just in case.”

“Tsk tsk, that’s why I thought she looked familiar,” Matthew smiled and put an arm around the girl’s shoulders as he slowly approached; she stumbled along wordlessly. “Her father was in a military court 10 years ago. I oversaw that he was set off with a warning although he had a throng of prisoners tortured and mangled without the knowledge of his superiors. I guess he can, what do you call it?, cut me a piece of his pie,” he looked down lovingly at the white-dressed girl beside him. “Now, Eleanor, you must be tired, right? Want to go to bed?” The girl looked up and nodded shortly as a firm reply. Matthew smiled and looked back at Nathaniel. “Go make her room ready,” he ordered and Nathaniel left.

It took a while for the girl to walk to her room, her feet unsure and heavy still from the sedative, but with his hand in hers they came to the small almost cabin-like apartment ready for her and he guided her into the soft covers of the bed where she snuggled in. He lay down beside her and she invited him freely, her will bereft of boundaries such as she had had previously, but he invaded her not, merely caressed her and tried out her voluminous lips around his member, until he, with a shiver running down his spine, released himself in her mouth and retreated to let her rest.

As he walked through the mansion he looked out through the tall windows seeing the shadows of twilight enveloping the world. How he hated twilight. This scam of darkness, like a remediation of what was truly at stake; death and despair in the blindness of space, where neither star nor moon nor sundown would reach the surface of the world.

He emerged into the living room of the first floor where the young ones sat in the couches, window sills and arm chairs, watching a ridiculously meaningless reality-show, laughing at the theatrical performances and betting who would sleep with each other. They all rose as he entered but he merely gestured for them to sit again and relax. Gabriel advanced him cautiously, his face pale and the eyes blank, intoxicated obviously, his movements dull and lifeless. Matthew smiled thinly at him and guided him along into the couch where they sat hurdled together in the corner, listening to the voices of the young ones, clamoring about who was a phony and who was not on the other side of the screen. He bent down and kissed Gabriel’s ear lightly, asking him to come along.

As they rose, like a master ordering his puppet to follow as well, no one looked away from the screen, no one changed the subject as the two tall figures walked past them and out into the darkness of the corridors and towards the master bedroom.

And in their embrace in the softness of the king-size bed, Matthew knew that the whispers of passion exchanged were not possible for the artificial beings upstairs, created in the blazing spotlight of the surgical lamp. No. His son had been conceived in the gentle moonlight, a night so many nights ago that nobody save few people could remember, if even they could. He whispered nothing but that precious name of his beloved son, and as they finished and fell asleep, he held him closer, sensing the warmth from the beautiful creature. Alive, like none of his dolls could be, sensible, like none of his dolls could be. And only, as the young angel with blank eyes full of tears but a smile upon his satin lips fell asleep, did the devil speak, quietly uttering his regrets to the darkness around him, but concealing it within his black, distant heart.

Judith and Casper

Judith and Casper were two ordinary children. They lived a good life, attended the same school, even lived near each other. The only difference was that Judith had a father, her mother had died in a fire a long time ago and her father had not found a new wife, although he had several lady friends to pick and choose from. “Too complicated,” he said, whenever she asked why he did not ask one of them out. Something about the status as colleagues was not going to be disturbed by personal problems. He worked at the local post office. Casper had a mother. His father he recalled vaguely from his early childhood, but he was told that he had left when he was merely two years old, so if he didn’t remember, it was ok. Why he had left, he had never found out, his mother wouldn’t talk about it so he had to shrug whenever his class mates mockingly asked him where his father was.

Now, Judith and Casper attended the same school but not the same class although they were the same age. However, at the age of thirteen their classes had to be put together into one because the school had to cut down educational resources.

There had always been a rivalry between Judith and Casper’s classes. Not for any obvious reason. The rivalry had begun back when there had been a great snow ball fight on the pitch behind the school and some of the boys had gotten into a bigger fight where one of them had broken his nose and had had to go to the hospital. Ever since, and it was four years ago now, they had been arch rivals of the school playgrounds or football tournaments. And now it seemed that they had to share the same class room because some of the worst students had to stay one grade lower still and retake their exams.

This left out the worst bullies and Judith and Casper, who had always tried to avoid too much attention, got to know each other well. They began to walk together from and to school.

Their ordinary existence skid along the road as a year passed. They shared interests in music and spare-time activities. Both had creative minds, but whereas Judith liked playing the piano, Casper was more of an artist and painted small pictures or drew cartoons. They sat side by side in the class whenever they could get to it, and he drew comics from what happened around them. He could always make her laugh, and she was his inspiration. Soon they even visited each other, making home-work together when their parents were still working.

Rumors grew as they do at the beginning of the teens, but Judith and Casper merely shrugged, as they had always done when people asked about their parents. Judith’s father was always working late and sometimes she even had to cook her dinner because he visited a good friend of his. Bullies from the higher grades said that he was gay, but she always disagreed and argued that she at least was alive, so he couldn’t very well be gay. Casper supported his friend, but he had to think of his mother more than usual because she was depressed and tired all the time. When he asked what was wrong, she also shrugged.

The weather grew colder and they left October and entered a cold, rainy November. One evening Casper had left his mother and gone to visit Judith. Her father was away again, and they had to finish an assignment together. They sat together on her bed in the little apartment. Casper always enjoyed being in Judith’s room. There was something delicate about it, not an ordinary girl’s room, posters of fantasy worlds and band posters with unfamiliar names and books like Brett Easton Ellis or Ben Elton. Her walls were scattered with funny drawings or stuff she had collected from the outside world, withered leaves from the park, a parking sign and an old shirt she couldn’t fit anymore but refused to throw away. No teddy bears, no pink, fluffy, sparkly girlish things. It wasn’t like home, but it was still somehow familiar. Actually, Judith and Casper had a lot of things in common. Different, but still common.

And this fateful evening they sat close beside each other talking about the assignment. Naturally, Casper reached for Judith’s hand and she allowed him to take it without being the least bit distracted from the conversation. It was a rush when they shared the first, trembling, insecure kiss, the first unfamiliar thing they shared, but it felt like two swallows meeting mid-air after a long distance of being separated on their journey south for a warmer climate. And warmer it got. They blushed but still didn’t let go of each other. It felt right, it felt real. Their hearts beat with excitement and they forgot all about their assignment. They fell asleep together, and for the first time in a long time, school and parents faded into the background of the present, where the horizon seemed endlessly inviting.

Next day they were late and had to run. Both smiled and exchanged glances when they ran through the hall and out of the front door without even saying “good morning” to Judith’s father, who sat at the kitchen table reading the morning paper. In school they kept as quiet as possible, ducked now and then when a mocking comment flew across the room, but underneath the table their hands were clutched and their fingers locked tight in the most reassuring grip of all times. The day raced by them, they had to part but they called and said goodnight at least. Casper’s mother noticed nothing, Judith’s father sat in the living room and said nothing when she got home.

Everything seemed perfectly fine until one day when Judith had promised to go with Casper and help him clean the little house where he and his mother lived. They came home, threw their bags in the hall and Casper called to say he was home with a friend and that they’d clean right away. Judith followed him into the living room where his mother lay on the couch watching a TV program about the rain forest. She looked up and raised an eyebrow in surprise at the sight of Judith. A smile flickered across her lips but faded slowly as she saw the young couple holding hands.

Casper knew his mother well enough to see terror when there was no expression, and terror was exactly what was displayed in her eyes as she saw Judith. This startled Casper. Why? What was wrong now? They’d just finish the cleaning and then she’d go home. His mother looked away and nodded without a word, without a greeting. Judith noticed the silence and tugged at Casper’s sleeve to tell him that they’d better get a move on. She asked what was wrong with his mother when they stood in the kitchen and had a mug of tea, but he just shrugged, saying it was probably her illness which made her feel too overwhelmed by another person in the house. Judith suggested that she went home and waited until his mother had gotten better, but he brushed off her words with a kiss on her cheek, saying that he’d rather have her there than at her father’s place. She agreed.

They cleaned, listening to music, chatting about their plans for the future until she had to leave. They said goodbye in the hall and exchanged a careful kiss. In the corner of her eye, Judith saw Casper’s mother watching from the living room, but she ignored it and left.

This evening Judith came home and saw her father in the kitchen with his friend, kissing intimately. She turned on the doorstep and left. She wouldn’t go to Casper’s, there was just something stuck in her throat, something strange. Crying wasn’t a thing she had practiced a lot. Her father had always taught her to be strong and not listen to what others told her. The tears ran down her face as she walked the streets between the blocks contemplating the sight of her father embraced by another man. There was no way she could put the picture from her mind and just accept it. It seemed plain wrong and yet it didn’t surprise her. After half an hour she returned home. The friend had left and her father sat in the living room. She stopped in the doorway, soaked by the rain, dropping the bag on the floor as she watched her father turn and smile at her. It was the first time in a month he had smiled.

“I saw you,” she said quietly. The smile disappeared instantly from his face.

“Who? What?” he asked with a frown.

“You and your friend. In the kitchen.”

He nodded slowly to show he understood, rose and went to take her hand. The touch seemed as awkward as if she had to give a step-mother a hug for the first time. She looked darkly at him as he squatted down in front of her and put a hand to her cheek.

“I’m sorry you had to find out like that.”

She just stared at him without answering before lowering her gaze to the floor. She knew she couldn’t control his life, and at least she was still part of it.

“Don’t you love me?” she asked and felt a strange, burning sensation behind her eyelids. A tear ran down her cheek but he drew it away quickly. He gave her a tight hug.

“Of course I do, love,” he said comforting. For the first time in a long time she was allowed to sit on his lap and have popcorn while watching the late night shows, he always saw. She fell asleep and he carried her to her bed where he tugged her in, kissed her goodnight and left the door ajar.

This evening Casper’s mother rose from the couch and made dinner for the two of them. They barely exchanged glances across the table and afterwards she went to bed and he cleaned the dishes before going to his room to play some computer. He tried calling Judith but she didn’t answer her phone. He fell asleep with a feeling of uneasiness, a heavy stone in his stomach which wouldn’t go away.

Next morning she was awake early and had to wait for Casper at the usual corner where they met before they went to school. Her father had awakened her with tea and toast and a glass of juice. She forgave him for being weird and knew he was sorry but she wanted to understand, she told him, right now she just needed some time. He accepted this and kissed her cheek before she went to school.

She pondered telling Casper about what had happened but she shrugged off the feeling. They met and went for a moment in silence before she asked how he’d been after she’d left yesterday. “Fine,” came the answer. She tried pushing him further on the subject but he told her, that he couldn’t explain it. His mother was just strange some times. She shrugged and part of the stone in Casper’s stomach disappeared.

The day was good, there was sunshine for the first time in a week with long, bleak days and Judith’s encouraging smiles helped Casper focus on something else than his sick mother. Not even the bullies could ruin this day, and as they parted after school they kissed, holding hands, daring the first taste of each other. Subtle and sweet, exciting and different, but still familiar. Quite familiar it seemed.

When Judith came home, her father was home.

“That’s a surprise,” she said and dumped her bag in the hall before entering the kitchen where her father stood looking out of the window.

“Sit down,” he said. “We need to talk.”

She hesitated. “Okaaaay?” she sat down slowly at the table and watched her father as he turned and looked inquiringly at her.

“I had a call when you had left for school,” he said. “A call about you.”

A bolt of energy shot through her stomach leaving a dizzying feeling and her feet went numb. If Casper’s mother had found out and wanted to make sure that… but how did she know who her father was? She had never seen Casper’s mother at class get-togethers or the like.

“Who called?” she asked and disgusted the tremor in her voice as well as she could.

“Mrs. Rowanson,” he answered. She gasped and blinked. So she had called.

“So… what did she want?” she asked slowly. There was something serious about his tone which made her legs feel like oversize jelly beans.

“She told me about you and her son, Casper. You’ve been seeing each other for a while, haven’t you?” he asked.

“How would she know, I only just visited him yesterday to help with some cleaning. Otherwise we’ve been here when you’re not around,” she answered and narrowed her eyes.

“I’ve seen the extra dishes and the pizza boxes. I thought it was just some girls from school until I noticed a boy’s jacket hanging on the coat rack a morning where you and some stranger, I didn’t even get to see, had to hurry out of the door,” he said.

“Girls can wear a boy jacket,” Judith tried.

“But not smell like a boy,” her father raised an eyebrow. She looked down at the table licking her lips. He was cleverer than she’d thought.

“Yeah, ok, we’ve been seeing each other,” she acknowledged and looked back up at him, managing a little smile. She didn’t receive one though. Instead her father had his knuckles resting against the kitchen counter, looking away.

“You can’t, Judy,” he said quietly. She frowned and rose slowly.

“What? Why not?” she asked disbelieving. “You can’t say that, I… like him. I mean… I love him… actually.”

Her father sighed heavily and looked up, meeting her eyes. “You can’t be together, Judy, that’s the final word.”

“Give me one good reason.” She crossed her arms and stood her ground. He approached her, took her hand and led her with him to the hall where he opened the old drawer. It had always been standing in the hall; she’d never really given it a thought. She knew that the first drawer contained things that got lost and were found again but had no place to be put, like a lonely sock, a lighter or a tape roll. One of the lower drawers had a keyhole and she’d never seen it opened. Not until now.

Her father drew out a key and unlocked the drawer. He found a black album and guided her along into the living room where they sat down and he muted the TV. He opened the album and flickered through it to the first page. Judith saw some places where pictures were missing but what her eye caught most distinguishingly was the face of a woman beside her father, and an unknown boy.

He had no need to talk. She stared at the first picture, disbelief washing over her like a cold tidal wave, making her mind go blank like a new sheet of paper unstained by ink, water marks or finger prints. She shivered despite the warmth from the heaters behind the couch. Her fingers slid across the picture as she realized what he wanted to tell her; why she couldn’t be with Casper anymore; why his mother was sick and why her father hadn’t gone out with any of the women he’d known for so long now.

She’d never felt this way. Angry, betrayed. Why hadn’t they told her? Why had he told a lie about her mother being dead? Why had her mother run away and hidden behind a curtain of shame and sickness? Why hadn’t they just told the truth?

She rose and tugged her shirt closer around her. The cold wouldn’t go away. She walked to the window and looked out. It was already darkening outside. The afternoon was too short and the evening too long. She heard him rise as well and she felt the weight of his hands on her spindle shoulders.

“I… I’m sorry, Judy, we meant to tell you but… things got awkward and your mother and I grew apart. In the end we couldn’t stand living in the same house and I moved out. Later we made the arrangement for you to come and live with me and… and your brother stayed with her.”

“It’s unfair,” she said quietly, her breath tainting the glass.

“I know, Judy,” he turned her around slowly and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. She didn’t look up to meet his eyes. Her throat was dry and her eyes burned constantly. A hiccough found its way over her lips.

“But… I love him, father,” she bit her lip and slid a hand across her eyes. He turned away from her distraught and weighed down by the burden on his shoulders.

“You just have to stop loving him. You won’t see each other again.”

“What?!” another bolt of energy shot through her this time cold was replaced with warmth searing through her. Her eyes got misted over and she felt her hands shake violently.

“Give me your cell phone.”

“What?! Why? Can’t you and her talk about this?”

“Judith!” he turned around sharply and his voice boomed. Her calm and gentle father who’d never raise his voice against her. He held forth his hand. She smacked the cell phone into his palm and rushed past him, the tears streaming freely now. She slammed her door and locked it. That night there was no goodnight kisses and no phone calls.

Next morning Judith was followed to school by her father. She didn’t see Casper the whole day, neither the day after. She was silent whenever she was with her father. He picked her up after school now. The third day she saw Casper. He was paler than usual and silent. He didn’t greet her with more than a single glance. She could see his eyes, red at the brim; he had probably been crying just as much as she had.

The first break they had, she went down to the toilet and sat until the bell rang. She thought hard about what she had to do or say if he contacted her. Next break she waited in the class room. The most of the class mates sidled out of the door to get out and play. To her surprise Casper waited like she did. The door closed behind the last student and they were left alone.

Their eyes met. With slow motions they advanced each other. Before they knew of it, they had run unto each others’ arms. They didn’t cry, just stood and embraced each other. Their stomach clenched and churned as they felt each other’s presence. They released themselves and held eye-contact for some time. They said they’d missed one another, asked when they would see each other again. Casper promised tonight, Judith refused. She wasn’t allowed outside her bedroom after sunset. He’d fix that, he promised.

At the end of the day, they parted outside class and Judith went to meet her father at the back entrance. They went home in silence, but she smiled for the first time in days. The evening went by as usual. At eight she locked her bedroom door and told her father that she was doing home-work. He made it to tell her that he had an important meeting but would be back by midnight. How convenient.

At ten she heard him leave and she went to her window and opened it ajar. In the backyard behind the block she could see a shadow passing below and she hummed a tuned. The shadow stopped and looked up. There he was. It didn’t take long for him to get in with help from the home-made rope she’d made from bed linen. They embraced and stood like that for some time before they shared their first kiss in a long time. Another followed and yet another while the heat flowed through their bodies. He lay her down on the bed, tension and excitement made their hands tremble as they scattered across each others’ clothes.

Undressing, sharing kisses, they promised never to let anyone come between them again. At the first touch of skin against skin, a relieved smile settled on their lips, and as they lay naked under the covers and kissed and touched, they knew they’d never do anything like this with anyone else. Their hearts bet uncontrollably in their chest, their cheeks were flushed and sweat made their palms slippery and wet.  No matter how prepared they might have felt they were for this situation, it could not match the actual feeling of being in the moment. Judith winced, bit her lips and a tear slipped from the corner of her eye of pain, but she held on to him and felt complete for the first time in her life. Casper held his breath and buried his face in her hair, savoring every inch of her while the heat made even his fingertips tingle slightly.

She woke up alone. The window was slightly ajar and the cold breeze rushed in. The rope had been bound to the heater. She got up slowly, careful not to move too fast and loosened the rope and closed the window. On her bedside table lay a note which made her smile. She unlocked the door, went out and found her way to the bathroom where she dumped herself in a bathtub full of hot water and foam. She closed her eyes and smiled as she heard her father come home. She finished and flung a bathrobe around her before she went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea before going to bed. Her father came in and watched her without a word although it was obvious that there was something different about her. Her eyes were strong, she saw beyond what was real, she looked past her material present and understood the full meaning of her surroundings.

She looked up and met his eyes with a thin smile. “Goodnight,” she said and went to her room.

The next day neither her nor Casper returned from school. They were declared missing after 24 hours and the police searched for them, but they were nowhere to be found. Whatever became of them remains unknown, but later on their mother and father explained that their bank accounts had been emptied the very day on their disappearance and that neither of the children’s passports were to be found. Airports were searched and flights examined but they had left to live the life they wanted. Together.

Pulse for Mary Bell 1.0

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep.

Such was the sound that reached Jonathan’s ear when he reached the emergency ward. This cold, distinctively eerie sound of the heart monitor’s wail. I’m keeping her alive, it told him, keeping her steady.

The car crash had just been reported half an hour ago. Witnesses had seen it. A cargo transport had collided with the dove-white Volkswagen in the middle of the street. Aimlessly, it seemed, this accident committed by the muse of fate, had struck his wife on the way home from work; she had been eager to get home, he had promised good dinner and wine, to celebrate her now finally confirmed promotion as manager of publicity in the company.

With no presumable premonition of the accident, both drivers had been speeding to get ahead of a slow vehicle. Like a mirror it had seemed, both had come out of nowhere and collided head on. The cargo transport was too large to budge on the road from the force, so it was Jonathan’s wife who had suffered immensely at the accident. Witnesses had frozen on the spot and watched it all happen. Jonathan could visualize it perfectly: The white car front being pressed against the pavement, crunched like the hammer of Thor banged against the lid, while the back of the car flipped up making it almost stand vertically on the head lights in the middle of the street. Just a pause, a breath of fate, before it toppled over completely and landed with the roof against the front of the cargo transport, still sliding forward, tires screeching from the white-hot brakes; the smell of burned rubber probably seared through the air like a poisonous fume. The cargo transport reeled and ended up sliding with its left side down the road until it stopped, on the verge of toppling over, but keeping all four tires in the road. The white car fell slowly from the front of it and down, landing on its left, the driver’s side; the window panes broke, the engine was smoking, and the entire car was smashed to bits.

The police had explained it as he had arrived. They just took care of the formalities, they had told him. Two friendly officers named Thomas and Adam. They had shown him a few photos taken from the scene. No crime, nothing, they just had to make sure. But then they had explained the rescue of his wife. A witness, the first one moving, the first one daring to cross the street littered with scrap metal and glass, had run to her car, pushed it back with all four tires in the ground again and tried to get her out while calling for an ambulance or a doctor. A young man had hurried over, a medicine student, but none the less capable of detecting the first signs of trauma. Broken ribs, large concussion to the head, possibly a broken jaw and a dislocated hip, and the spine he did not dare examine. If she lived, the student had said, it would be a miracle.

Now as Jonathan stood in the doorway to the emergency ward he could see her behind the white curtain, like snow sewn onto fabric, paralyzing cold and sterile. The smell of rubber was in his nostrils, though he had not been at the scene of the accident. He wondered how this could be, seeing that hospitals were known for their almost clinical stench of alcohol.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep.

He shuddered as he walked closer and drew away the curtain. He could not recognize his wife like this, tubes stuck in between her full, pale lips, a bandage around her head, a drip inserted in the pale hand resting limp on the white sheets. Her ash blonde hair had been washed and combed over her shoulders, framing her rounded face. The light over her was eerie. Was there something preparing to light up the room and guide her away from him? He looked at the clipboard hanging by the bed head.

Mary Bell, 32 years, car accident and then a lot of numbers and Latin words he did not even dare pronounce to himself. A nurse came over to check the pulse, correct the drip and then left hastily again. Jonathan looked after her. What was happening? Was something wrong or was she just off for other duties in a hurry, not missing her schedule or coffee break?

He reached down and took the pale hand. It was icy cold. Was she alive at all? Wasn’t she already dead? Why did they not tell him what was needed to make her wake up again? Did they need donation of some kind? Blood, organs? What was her diagnosis? What were her chances of surviving this?!

He looked at the bedside table. Personal effects had been put there in a zipper-bag. Her favorite golden earrings, shaped like droplets, her handbag, her cell phone, her P.A., her purse and a few coins of spare change. In another bag her clothes lay folded together neatly. The macabre details of the blood spatter on her beige flax dress and grey cardigan almost made him reel. The shoes stood on a small shelf in the table, the straps crunched and the leather torn from the sole; one of the heels had broken.

“Mr. Bell?”

turned around and a doctor gestured for him to follow out of the ward and into the corridor. Jonathan obeyed, speechless still. Was he in shock? Did he need a diagnosis? He could not feel his feet; the floor was like soft, wobbling cotton rolling somewhere below him. Had he died? Was he in heaven? Would Mary be there as well?

“Mr. Bell, I’m Dr. Evansson, I’m the physician overseeing your wife’s condition,” he explained. Jonathan nodded.

“Is she going to live?” he asked frankly. He had not meant to ask, it would be stupid to hear the answer, to have the judgment thrown into his face at such an early stage of despair. Mary would have wanted him to be positive and believe in her, believe in her will to come back and love him just as she had always done. He saw nothing in the doctor’s face that indicated either yes or no, but then again, he saw nothing in people’s faces. Usually, he was good at reading people, he had read Mary like an open book when they met in college, and he never failed to sense the signs. But now everything around him was just as cold and monotone as the beeping heart monitor.

“We have to make a surgery,” Dr. Evansson said gravely. “The trauma she’s suffered is severe. If she survives, we won’t know in what condition she will be in. I take it you’re her husband?”

“Yes,” Jonathan moistened his lips and glanced to the doorway, seeing the curtain swirl lightly when a nurse passed Mary’s bed.  Maybe it was a trick of light in the curtain, but he thought he had seen Mary sit up and wave at him, that little gentle twitch of her wrist, making her bracelets tingle.

“I’m afraid, I cannot give you any good statistics for anyone having been through what she has,” Dr. Evansson continued. Jonathan did not look back at him, merely stared towards the source of the beeping; his heart almost fluttered at the sound, each time it broke the slight mumbling around him from other nurses passing by, patients and visitors. “What’s important now is to be strong and have faith that she wants to live just as much as I presume you want her to.”

“And if she survives?” Jonathan looked back at Dr. Evansson.

“She will be severely impaired, the question is only to what degree,” Dr. Evansson’s answered darkly. There was no need to hide the facts. “But no matter what she will need nursing twenty-four hours a day. She won’t be able to walk, and…” he paused, “if the surgery helps, she may be able to speak and express emotions. Nothing more.” Jonathan nodded. “We’re giving her a good dose of morphine now to keep her relaxed. Do you need anything?”

“Morphine sounds good,” Jonathan mumbled absently and looked at his folded hands.

“I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to hand out medicaments to vis-“

“If you’d be so kind, doctor,” Jonathan directed his gaze back up at the doctor. “Please.” Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep… “This situation is more than I can handle.”

The doctor took a deep breath before he nodded slowly. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said finally, resigning to the fact that the man in front of him was in severe shock. He left Jonathan who walked back into the ward where he waited by Mary’s side. The doctor returned with two small pills and a glass of water.

“According to our schedule we’re performing the surgery in twenty minutes,” he said and with a last pat on Jonathan’s shoulder he left to attend to the other patients. Jonathan stared at the pills and the glass before he put the glass on the bedside table and drew the curtains around the bed to shut out any suspicious eyes. He bent over Mary and kissed her forehead gently as he cradled her gently, careful not to touch the tubes. But his embrace was enough to push the lips slightly apart and he slipped the two pills into her mouth. He dared not pour water into the mouth, lest it would choke her. But then again, what he was doing would doubtlessly have the same effect. He straightened up again and waited.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep.

He did not know for how long he stood there. He knew the enzymes in the mouth had to dilute the pills and carry the drugs off into her system. If he had calculated correctly, just a small doze off the charts would save her. Save her, he thought. Yes, it would be merciful; it would be painless and relieving. She had no way of making a new life, bound probably to a wheel chair for the rest of her life. He, on the other hand, could still make a new existence. In a harsh world like this, he did not have time to take care of an impaired wife.

They had no children, there would be no loss. Of course he would have to answer to the family, but this was the decision he made. He was strong, just like Mary would have wanted him to; he believed in her, believed that she had been a good, kind and loving woman, and believed she would not have wanted a life as a cripple. He knew her. He had read her after all, hadn’t he, back in college where you never grew old and life was a miracle every day? Her life would not be a miracle, not if things would evolve like Dr. Evansson expected them to.

Fifteen minutes waned slowly when the beeping gained a new sound, speeding up. At first it was undetectable, then at the second different beep, Jonathan turned and left the ward before the nurses could get to him in time. He walked out and strode down the hall of the hospital, exiting as he pondered who Mary Bell was and why he had ever entered. The front doors closed behind him and shut out the sound in the distance as he walked down the front steps.

Beep-beep-beeep-beeep-beeeep-beeeep-beeeeep-beeeeep-beeeeeeeeeeeeeep…