I'm not gonna lie readers; this chapter isn't for the feint of heart...
Welt ~ 7
A Million Faces Each a Million Lies…
I had been this tired before, but it had been so long ago that I’d forgotten how it felt. Two hours of sleep in the last two nights; the two strangest nights of a strange life. Waiting last night in an empty office across the street from a hotel ready to put a bullet in the head of someone I’d never met wasn’t necessarily something I’d never done before, but it was certainly something I’d never done in Los Angeles. This had all felt so natural then; with Avrielle beside me spotting through a scope I had had no doubts. We’d watched this Raguel person stumble around his large suite as though drunk, but the hooker had never made it to his door. I’d wanted to go in and find her, see what had gone wrong with the plan, but she wouldn’t let me. She seemed to know, or at least suspect, but she wouldn’t tell me what was on her mind. She was distracted, frustrated, mad. Suddenly she had snapped “we have to leave” and we’d packed up and done so. I didn’t want to upset her further, so I’d let it lie. We’d gone back to my place after, and then she’d ripped my clothes off and had her way with me until the sun came up. I’d felt alive while we made love; now I just felt like crumpled paper.
Watching Avrielle argue with the small girl she’d told me was her sister in front of a large and expensive house in the hills I had to fight to keep my eyes open. I’d once stayed awake for four straight days and nights on a hill waiting for a truck to come around a bend in a road. It had never come, and though I could match that frustration with what I felt now I couldn’t match the exhaustion. I wished she’d stop her family squabble and get back in the car; everything felt better when she was near me. The windows were rolled down in the hot sun and I could hear them now, their voices rising in anger.
“…but I need your help, damn it!” Avrielle was yelling.
“What do you want me to do!?” the small girl yelled back. Even from the street I could see her face was a mask of sadness…almost anguish. “I can’t do anything for you now!”
“You’re supposed to be my sister, Aliona!” my love yelled, reaching for the girls shoulders with her hands. The girl stepped back, her face changing from sadness to fear. She wasn’t yelling now, but I could hear the intensity in her voice and make out her words clearly.
“You would put your hands on me in anger? You would put your [ihands[/i] on me in anger?” Her little shoulders were shaking and she was biting her lip trying not to cry. She lifted the index finger of her right hand to Avrielle’s face. “Go. Now. Leave.”
“I will not!” Avrielle shouted, reaching for her again. “You will help me!”
As she took her sister’s small arm in her hand I heard the little girl cry out in pain and try to pull away. Avrielle shook her and she stumbled off her feet to her knees in the doorway, crying out again while she was shaken. “Look at yourself! Look at yourself!”
Avrielle leaned to the smaller girl’s face, yanking on her arm again. “I need your fucking help, sister! Would you forsake me!? Help me!”
“Let me go,” the girl said, tears flowing down her face. “You know not what you do…”
Taking her sister’s face in her free hand Avrielle brought her face right to hers. I should be doing something. I should be stopping this. Why wasn’t I stopping this? I tried to make myself get out of the car but I was too tired and the thought of intervening against Avrielle, my love, made me feel sick.
“I already love you, it won’t work,” the girls said awkwardly with her cheeks clenched in Avrielle’s hand. She released her, pushing her hard against the door frame. The smaller girl cried out in pain again.
“This is all your fault!” Avrielle screamed in her face. “All I’ve ever wanted is to be like you!”
The girl sat there, legs askew and crumpled against the door, looking up at her sister shaking her little head sadly. “You’re nothing like me anymore. I don’t know who you are, but you’re not my sister. Please leave this place.”
Avrielle turned and stomped down the gravel path towards the car, leaving her sister there weeping and holding her arm gently against her small chest. She got in and slammed the door, not looking at me and spitting out, “Drive.”
“What just happened?” I asked wearily as I pulled away from the curb.
“I’ve been rejected by the only person that matters to me. I’m on my own now.”
“I won’t reject you,” I said, hoping to calm her the way she could calm me. “You’re not alone, Avrielle.”
She looked at me and I had a hard time deciding if that was disgust or lingering anger on her face. I wanted to tell her that you can’t treat family that way, that you can’t scream them into submission, that there had to be some reason for what had happened just now. On the way to her sister’s house she had seemed happy, elated, certain that she would find what she needed when we got there. Now she seemed…wrathful. Something had happened while they fought, something had changed inside of her. She seemed to swell with something I didn’t understand. For the first time since I’d met Avrielle I was genuinely afraid of her. Fear seemed to ooze from her into the air like she had soaked it up and was saturated.
“Thank you,” she said. I wished it sounded more genuine than it did.
The intuition I’d always been so proud of told me something had gone drastically wrong, and I contemplated getting as far from this whole messed up situation as possible. As soon as I thought it I felt an assurance wash over me that this was all perfectly normal; it wasn’t the same as before though. I felt bullied into being okay with all of this, not coaxed or gently reassured. Something was far and away wrong, I felt it deep inside of me. Every time I tried to put my finger on exactly what it was I could feel myself steered away from the thought into a false sense of calm, so I tried not to think about it. I left it deep inside and drove, intending to return to it later if I could separate myself from Avrielle for a moment.
“You need some kind of explanation,” she said tersely. Of course she would know that, she could read my thoughts. I tried to think less, feel less, clear myself of doubts so she wouldn’t sense them. She terrified me right now. I nodded slowly and kept my mind focused on the road.
“My sister was once like me. Not like me, but one of us. An angel, if you will. She found a way out and I envied her for that. I’ve seen things Christopher, done things, that should be asked of no one. I’ve suffered to let things happen that I could have stopped if I had just forced the situation to resolve itself properly. We are not supposed to do that though. We are not to exert our wills on mortals to make them do what we wish of them. They have no such restraint, however.”
“Demons?” I asked.
“That word is as good as any. Yes, demons. They were once like us, but when one decides that their will is more important than that of another they cross a line and pervert their essence. We call it the Scale. It’s not a scale like that of justice; it’s more harmonic than that. Like music. There is a balance and perfection created by the free choices of mortals, but the demons seek to subvert that to their own selfish ends. They seek to make things happen instead of letting things happen.”
“So that people like me go to hell?” I asked. This was worrying me again and it was hard not to let those fears surface where Avrielle would sense them and shove me into submission again. She was distracted in her explanation now and so I had a second’s reprieve. Was she listening to herself? Did she see herself in her own words? I did, and I stopped thinking about it fast lest she hear.
“There is no hell. No heaven. There is this and that is all. There is no God guiding or counseling. There is no higher purpose, Christopher. We do what we do and we get what we get. That is all. Those like me try to stop those like them so that those like you can live free. There is no reward for service, only pain and loss while we watch the demons laugh in our faces and call us futile.”
I knew I should say nothing, but I couldn’t help it. She was poking a sore spot for me, something that had always bothered me about the entitled in any service. I looked to her while we were at a red light, “Service is the reward.”
“What?” she snapped, her hair flying across her face as she spun her head to face me. “What would you know of it?”
I felt a lash of fear from her, chilling me. I pushed through it, falling back on training that allowed me to feel fear and act anyways. “You can read my thoughts, right? You should know what I know of it already. I’ve served faithfully and without question. It was only when I realized, knew, that I wasn’t on the right side anymore that I stopped.”
“So you know the lie of the indentured,” she seethed. “You’ve felt the separation of self from state. You know that I’m right”
I could feel her inside of me, worming this way and that, pushing and pulling at things as she tried to lever my own feelings against me. She was doing what she claimed they did. I felt very stupid and small as I realized suddenly that I’d been letting her do it to me all along.
“I have not fallen!” she yelled. “Stop the car and get out.”
The fear and anger I felt coming from her was of a magnitude I didn’t know was possible. I pulled over and looked at her. “It doesn’t matter what you feel about the fight if it’s right. When I left I quit; I didn’t adopt the methods of my enemies, and I didn’t leave my reasons behind me. A soldier might lose his heart for the fight, but that doesn’t give them permission to go rogue and make their own messes. Might does not make right, Avrielle.”
I got out and she slid into the driver’s seat and squealed away. Suddenly I was weak, frail, lost. I dropped to my knees and crawled to the sidewalk, shivering. Something had been ripped from me as she left and I felt incomplete and fragile. I leaned against a fire hydrant and tried to stand. I felt a hand under my arm lift me to my feet. My vision was blurred and I couldn’t focus on the man’s face. He was handsome the way models are handsome; more pretty than rugged. Blonde hair, stylishly messy. Lightly tinted glasses. That whole eurotrash look to his wardrobe.
“Easy now, big guy,” he said in his accent. British. Almost exaggeratedly so. “Take a breath, come on now. Sit over here.”
He guided me to a bench under some trees and helped me sit down. My vision was going black at the edges and I was coated in sweat. He knelt on one knee in front of me and I leaned on my knees, lowering my head between them to get the blood flowing in my brain.
“Not going to help, friend,” he drawled. “This might though.”
He looked like he was taking something from the fingers on his right hand, unraveling it and flicking it towards me. A burst of energy surged through me and the fog in my sight cleared suddenly. I took a deep breath and sat up. He was smiling at me warmly and moving his head left and right like he was listening to some kind of upbeat music. “Thought you might be missing that. Feel a bit better now? Ready to take a walk? Have little chit chat?”
“Who are you?” I asked. Something about him felt wrong. He looked like one of those people you meet and just know they’re good people, but my hands were clammy and my ‘gun sense’ told me to be careful.
“Just a friend,” he said calmingly. “Just a friend.”
It wasn’t false calm like that pushed at me by Avrielle, it was the real thing. He handed me a bottle of water and urged me to drink it without saying anything. It was the look in his eyes; inviting, gentle, calm. I drank and then spoke. “Thanks, I need that.”
“So what’s going on here, friend? Bit of a spat with the wife?”
“Yeah, something like that. Do you have a phone I can borrow? I have to call a cab.”
“No need, no need. Let’s walk, shall we?” he asked, offering his hand to help me up from the bench. I shook my head and stood on my own. I was still weak, but I could think and see clearly now.
“Thanks for your help, but I think I’m okay now. I have to go,” I said, turning to walk away after handing his bottle back to him.
“Oh no, that wouldn’t do at all. If I leave you like this who knows what might happen to you. Sometimes people do stupid things for love,” he was walking beside me, moving his shoulders in a slight strut like he was on camera.
“I’m okay, really. I have to get home,” I said, quickening my pace. I wasn’t trying to be impolite, he had helped me after all, but it was bad enough I’d been drug into this without some other person getting pulled into it to.
“Oh, I’m in it deep, friend,” he said, bobbing his head and snapping his fingers softly as we walked.
I stopped and turned on him. “Who are you?”
“Sam, and I’m the one that’s going to keep you alive,” he said, looking over the top of his glasses at me licking his lips. “Our girl Av has lost the fucking plot, yeah?”
“Are you…an angel?” I asked, slowly starting to walk again.
“One can hope, right?” he answered. “Do you know where she’s going?”
“I have no idea, but I can track my car by GPS once I get back to my place,” he still made me nervous and my hands were still cold and wet. “What’s your part in this? What do you want?”
“I want to see the right thing done, nothing more or less than that. Sounds easy, yeah?” he mocked himself with his tone and laughed. “I’ve got bad news though, friend. Av’s got your keys.”
She did. My keys, my car, and a trunk full of illegal weapons. She ahd taken them all when she left, leaving with a piece of my heart as well.
“You really love her, yeah? Good, we can use that,” he said. “Bad form with Kimberly though, friend. That’s not the way you do it.”
“Who’s Kimberly?” I asked, confused. I could somehow sense he was genuine, but I couldn’t shake the wariness I felt towards him.
“The girl. That perfect pretty little girl you two were going to feed to that beast Raguel.”
“Oh, the hooker. Yeah…I didn’t like that, but it seemed like a good idea at the time,” I said, ashamed at what I’d so easily gone along with.
“She’s not a hooker, friend,” there was a tightness to his tone when he said it. A statement made in fact but also as a warning. “She’s someone’s little girl. Someone’s friend. Some day she’ll probably be someone’s mother. Give your head a shake, yeah?”
He was right. I’d known it was wrong the whole time but somehow Avrielle had made me go along with it. It had all seemed so logical at the time, and I brushed off my intuition as fear and she’d helped that shift along.
“How long has she been doing that?” Sam asked as we walked down the sidewalk.
“I met her two nights ago. I think she’s been doing it since.”
“She’s been feeding on you then, mate. Sorry to say it,” he really did sound sorry. Had I ever met someone this genuine before? I didn’t think so. “What’s he been making you feel?”
“Calm, mostly. At first she took what was there and fed it I think, but then last night she started just…putting it on me. And then today, just now in the car, she was trying to scare me, I think. What do you mean ‘feeding on me’?”
“Once one of her caste starts to slip they stop sensing and nudging and start taking and forcing. They stop finding out why and trying to guide people to the right answers on their own, and they start grabbing and taking and pushing people around. If she’s already on to fear, then hate isn’t far on its heels.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, fearing the answer I knew was coming.
“It’s where all the stories about vampires and the like come from, friend,” he replied sadly. “Our girl doesn’t have far left to go. Her type doesn’t feel it when they hit the bottom though, they still think they’re doing what’s right.”
“She said that about him, about this Raguel.”
“Then we have to find her, fast, “he said, taking out a small phone and flipping it open. “She’ll go for anything that she can take from and use, I’m calling her sister to warn her.”
“We just came from there,” I told Sam.
He flipped the phone shut and grabbed me by the front of my jacket, a harsh look in his usually sparkling eyes, “What did she do to her!?”
“They argued, that’s all,” I said, pulling away from him.
“If she hurt one single hair on that precious little girl’s head I can’t promise I’ll still try to save her,” his voice was rough and ragged now, thick with protective emotion.
I thought about her grabbing her sister and shaking her, throwing her against the door frame and shaking her by her face. I remembered her leaving her there crying in a little heap holding her arm to her chest.
“Fuck!” Sam yelled, opening the phone again and stabbing at the keypad with his thumb. He held it to his ear and waited.
“Who’s her sister?” I asked, feeling dumb for not getting out of the car and stopping her.
“She’s probably the only one of us worth a damn,” he said distractedly. “Come on come on come on Ali, pick up the fucking phone.”
He snapped his phone shut and clenched it in his fist. He stepped to the curb and hailed a cab, jumping in the backseat and waving for me get in. “You know the way?”
“I have the address,” I said, closing the door and telling the driver where to go.
“Come on cabbie, sharpish please,” Sam said through his teeth. If I was nervous about him before, his tone now filled me with fear. At least now I was feeling my own emotions, not those forced on me.
That didn’t make it any less terrifying.
Rip Blade, Doomsday, Cut String, Fleeting…
I looked around his suite and sneered. It was far too neat to be mine now. I poured out a bottle of red wine into the white carpet and threw the bottle at the mirror behind the bar, letting out a sharp bark of laughter as I heard the glass shatter. I threw another across the room through the screen of the large wall mounted TV and giggled with glee, doubling over at the waist. It was all mine now, I could do whatever I wanted. Me. I’ll decide now. I sauntered across the room on my platform boots, crunching glass under them as I walked. I tore open the back of the overstuffed couch and threw stuffing into the air over my head, letting it rain down on my coarse blood red hair. I tore off another chunk and ripped it in two, laughing at the tearing sound.
“What are you doing, Jenna?” his calm and sweet voice asked behind me, making me jump. Nothing really scared me, but Raguel wasn’t ‘something’. He was like a force of nature, and I’d been glad to know he was gone. Well, I’d been glad to think he was gone. Fuck I hated him. I turned slowly around and dropped the rent cushion.
“Raguel,” I stammered, “I thought you were dead.”
“Why would I be dead, Jenna?” he asked me, pouring himself a drink from one of the only bottles I had missed in my rampage.
“Well, I’d heard…”
“Heard? Heard what?” he growled.
“They were going to come for you, that angel bitch and her little toy. They were going to come kill you,” I struggled to say something smart. Fuck I hated trying to be smart.
“Oh were they? And how did they know where to find me?” he had gone still and even calmer than usual. I hated it when he was like this, it usually meant something unpleasant was going to happen next.
“Well, I didn’t tell them,” I said. Good. A lie. This was easier than I thought, this being smart stuff.
“Heh,” he smiled his vicious smile, all pearly white teeth and sly eyes. “You’re really quite terrible at this, Jenna.”
“Raguel, I didn’t…I would never…” Fuck I hated them. How could they not finish the job? Fucking angels and their fucking…halos of light. Fuck.
“Last night I had some wine, went to bed early, and got a wonderful sleep Jenna. I went out this morning and had a nice brunch on a veranda by the beach, and now I’ve come home to see you moving in? I wish you’d just tell me what you did.”
“I didn’t do anything!” I protested. “Honest! I’m not moving in! I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”
“You don’t realize how stupid you look right now, and it’s kind of cute.” He sneered, sipping his wine. He pointed to the two leather bags reinforced with metal at their corners sitting by the door. “Those are your toys, right? You’re not moving in though? Just coming for a visit?”
“You’re supposed to be dead!” My patience was gone. Fuck I hated conversation.
“Sorry to disappoint,” he smiled and set the glass down, walking languidly towards me. I backed away a couple steps, maintaining the distance between us.
The first time I’d met Raguel I’d tried to rip his heart out and the things he’d done to me that night were enough to keep me from trying it again. Even for one like me, all bound up in destruction and chaos, there were limits. Raguel could take that rage and violence and loop it around through himself, feeding his own wrath with that he stole from me. Fuck I hated him. Fuck I hated this.
“Stay the fuck away from me, or I’ll…” I snapped, baring my teeth and tensing up.
“Or you’ll [i[what?[/i] Scold me? Slap me? Shoot me? Tell me…what are you going to do Jenna?”
How did he know? How could he know. He found my hobbies revolting, preferring the intricate and complex game of emotions and manipulation to the simpler and more entertaining torment of the flesh.
“I don’t have to be somewhere to know what goes on, Jenna Jezebel. I have eyes in places you wouldn’t even dream of. Now tell me…what is it you’re going to do?”
His tone had gone too sweet and kind to match his violent sneer and half shut eyes. I screamed and lunged for him; a second later I was on the balcony with the window shattered underneath me. Shards of glass stuck out of my arm, my waist, my leg. His hands were on me and then I was back in the living room of his penthouse suite, a chair and the coffee table shattered around me. As he leaned over me I struck him across the face, raking my hard black nails across his cheek. All the fucker did was laugh as he took me by the wrist and yanked me to my feet, breaking my arm. Fuck I hated him. I leaned back and then lunged forward, putting all my weight and strength behind my foot as I kicked him in the stomach. He smashed through the bar and I leapt across the room to land on top of him, battering him maniacally and senselessly. The pain in my shattered arm drove me onwards, fueling my rage. I smashed my forehead into his pretty face and he stopped moving. I spit my own blood at him and stood up, pulling glass from where it stuck out of me as I turned around and looked around. It looked much better in here now.
“Fucker,” I growled, taking my arm by the wrist and yanking it straight with a scream. The bone started to knit itself back together with a crackling sound and I sneered. That’ll teach him not to fuck with me.
Something hit me in the center of the back and blood flew from my mouth as I spiraled across the room and to the floor. He grabbed me by the ankles and flipped me over onto my back, dropping his knee into my stomach. More blood came from my mouth and my legs went numb.
“You think you understand pain?” Raguel asked quietly, taking my face roughly in his hand and squeezing. “You don’t understand anything, you’re just a stupid slut.”
I tried to hit him but he batted my arms to the side with his free hand and slammed the back of my head into the floor twice. He brushed little bits of glass and my hair from my face.
“Raguel,” I mumbled, “I didn’t…I’m…”
“Say it!” he snapped, “Say you’re sorry, I fucking dare you. Say it and I’ll let you walk away from this.”
I couldn’t. I’d never been sorry for anything. Fuck I hated apologizing. Fuck I hated Raguel. I could feel something inside of me; rage and hate and pain, but not my own. It was building and building and he was smiling at me lovingly.
“Come on you fucking slut, beg me for my mercy,” his voice was harsh and his lips shook with emotion.
I tried to hit him again with my good arm and he grabbed it at the elbow and squeezed, crushing my elbow joint. I screamed again, louder than I knew I could, more at what he was doing to my mind than what he was doing to my body. It was horrible. I felt small and weak and futile and I hated it. Fuck I hated it. This is what I raged against. This was the dark spot inside of me that I covered in the pain of others so I wouldn’t have to face it. Empty. Lonely. Weak.
“Come on Jenna,” he urged me through his clenched teeth. Everything about him was changing. He was twisting and writhing beneath his skin, coiling and flexing ropes of raw evil and blackness. “Feel it!”
I screamed again and he laughed long and loud, squeezing tighter on my face and looking deep into my eyes. There was nothing there, just little black bottomless pits that led through him and back into the twisted wreckage of my own psyche. I felt my jaw break, my cheekbone was cracking, but all I could feel was the pain inside. I mumbled, “Please…”
“Please what, slut!?” he screamed. “Say it!!”
I couldn’t. I tried to struggle again and he let go of me suddenly, keeping his knee in my stomach and pushing down.
“Insolent bitch,” he spat. He slapped me across my broken face and lashed deeper into me with the scorching hot pain and terror and weakness. I started to cry and weep. Fuck I hated him.
He moved on top of me so he was between my legs, ripping my skirt in half and throwing the scraps to either side. He grabbed the front of my black lace panties and tore them off in one flick of his wrist. I tried to buck up against him and pull away but he punched my square in the mouth with a short sharp jab; it felt like being hit by a truck. My eyes rolled back in my head and my mouth filled with fresh blood. Something rammed against me between the legs and I felt my pussy stretch open painfully. It was nothing compared to what he was doing to my mind.
“I take no pleasure in this, slut,” he hissed. “This is for your own good. You will learn your fucking place.”
I tried to hide inside myself but Raguel was already there, laughing at me. I think I was screaming for him to stop but I couldn’t hear myself. All I could hear was that vicious laugh. Fuck I hated his laugh. He rammed his cock violently in and out of me while he wracked my heart and soul with raw hate and pain. I don’t know how long it went on. Time stood still at his whim. All my barbs and thorns and spiky black hard edges were turned against me, flaying me raw as he jerked and thrust and slammed into my torn pussy.
My eyes snapped open as it all spiked to a surreal level, even for me. He was right; I didn’t understand anything at all. He was on his knees, holding me up by my hips and slamming me against his huge hard cock while my head banged against the floor and the foot of the bed. I was still screaming at the top of my lungs.
“WATCH!” he screamed, ”SEE WHAT YOU’VE MADE ME DO!?”
He grabbed my face and wrenched me around off of him, throwing me across the room to land in a broken pile through the glass coffee table. Before I could move he was on me again, shoving my face down into the shards. I felt him ram himself into me from behind, his knees crunching and crackling in the broken pieces. He punished me that way, my face being cut to ribbons as it was ground into the carpet while he fucked me. The world started to retreat as I spiraled deeper into a tiny little singularity of infinite torture. I wished I could die, and as I felt my grasp on my vessel weaken and fade he snapped me back with his mind. He slammed his fist down onto my tailbone like a hammer and I felt my pelvis snap in the middle. Everything I felt he took from me and threw it back harder.
He flipped me over roughly onto my back and slapped my face back and forth until I opened my eyes and looked at him. His sweat and my blood were splattered across his face, dripping from his chin. He licked it from his lips and rammed his cock back into my shattered body, deep and impossibly hard.
“Raguel…I’m…I’m sorry,” I sobbed through my broken face.
Like magic his calm instantly returned and his body stopped shaking as he closed the feedback loop between us. His face went flat and placid again and I was left alone with my pain as he stood and put his softening cock back in his pants. I rolled to my side, the world pain, and saw him from my sideways point of view gingerly pick an unbroken wineglass from the ruins of the bar and pour himself another glass of red form a bottle with the top broken off. There were bits of broken glass in it and he took a thoughtful drink, smelling the wine and swirling it around, then shrugging before taking another delicate sip.
“Pull yourself together,” he said quietly, not looking at me. “We have work to do.”