Wouldn’t you know, this story is still going. We haven’t quite dipped completely into the pools of madness. But soon, soon we may find ourselves there.
I imagine you should probably know the deal by now. If this is your first exposure to this story (Guardian Touched by Silent Waves) then you are coming in a bit behind the rest of us. But don’t worry. You can catch up or refresh your visions by following the links below in order.
Burning Kiss of the Captive
Pain brought him back, grounded him to the world of the living for at least a little while longer. Hank stumbled awake in sputtering darkness. He stood though his hands were tied, spread away from his body, but his feet remained free. Numb tingles spread from the ropes at his wrists to his shoulders. After the abuse wrought against his hands and limbs he was glad that he could not feel them at the moment.
Several candles shed dim light upon the room. Their light flickered and danced around the room spinning shadows and ghosts in every corner. Hank spotted the body across from him and prayed for the darkness to return.
He hoped it was the same body he ran across earlier, not a new victim. It wore a park uniform but the face had been disfigured, the skin peeled away. It reminded him that he was still alive.
“You’re awake.” Jen slithered from the shadows off to the side and into view. Her silhouette, a shadow in front of him, swayed side to side. “I only wanted to show you,” she said. “I thought you might not make it.”
“Could’ve fooled me.” The words scratched across his dry throat.
She gripped his chin in her hand and tilted his head up. Fire seared his neck with the pain of the movement. “Honest, I’ve wanted to share this with you for so long.”
“I know this might seem a strange time to bring it up,” Hank said, “but you could have asked. I think you might have gone to too much trouble to bring me into your ‘world’.”
She laughed, the flirty laugh that used to bubble forth when they dated. Fake but tinged with a hint of madness now, his skin puckered into gooseflesh as she carried on. “Silly, I was always afraid you might not understand,” she said. Jen slithered to the body. “He didn’t understand…”
“You never gave me a chance,” Hank said. He tugged at his bonds. The tight ropes at his wrists offered no wiggle room. “Hell, you aren’t even giving me a chance to understand now.”
She laughed again. “Lover, it is past time for understanding.” She spun to face him. Candlelight flickered across her face and reflected from her eyes. They had changed from the blue he remembered to a translucent red, like a cat’s eyes reflecting a car’s headlights. “I made a deal, and it has to be honored.” She flopped to the ground beside the body and poked at its belly with a stick.
Jen ripped open the belly and stretched the wound open further with her fingers. Blood bubbled out and coated her hands, then oozed over her legs. Her giggle filled the room as she wiped her hands on the body’s shirt. “You think that when the heart stops blood doesn’t flow anymore,” she said. “Doesn’t really matter when it gets excited.”
She set candles around the body at specific points. Each one lit in turn provided more play between the light and shadows that covered the body. After she lit the last candle she glanced at Hank. A light smile played at her lips. “I never stopped loving you,” she said. “Tell me you want to be with me forever, Hank. Tell me this now.”
“If I join you,” he said. “If I stay with you, will you let me free?” He had stopped pulling at the ropes when she placed the candles around the body. Fascination with the depths of her madness had won out against his need to break free.
She moved to his side. Cold, clammy hands caressed his cheeks. “Pledge yourself to me and I will free you of the bonds that have kept us apart for so long.”
The words dug under his skin. He couldn’t pull far enough away, though he fought the urge. “I do,” he said. “I will stay with you forever.” It took everything Hank had left to keep his voice steady and calm. Anything could set her off again. He played it safe.
Her nails dug into the soft skin under his ears as she pulled his face to hers. The kiss crushed and tore at his lips. She bit his lip and pulled it out before she released it again. Whispered words, “You will be mine forever.” She then spun away from him and began to chant. With her eyes closed her feet began to tremble and then shuffle back and forth.
He couldn’t understand the words that fell from her lips, but as she spoke the shake of her legs infused the rest of her body. It became a spinning dance with her hands in the air. Hank renewed his efforts to break free of his restraints.
No breeze passed around them but one by one the candles blew out, all the candles, except for the five around the body on the floor. Their light intensified in the new darkness. Hank slipped his right hand free of the rope as Jen fell to her knees. Her scream expressed the pain he felt as skin ripped from his wrist. The slick blood on the rope greased it enough for his hand to slip through. He worked the knot on the other binding to free his other hand.
His attention lost to freeing his other hand he didn’t notice when Jen stood again. Light from the candles flashed across the silvered blade of the kitchen knife she pulled from the back of her pants. It wasn’t a large knife, little more than a steak knife with a serrated edge. But it could still cut, could still tear through flesh. Her knuckles had gone white in her grip on its handle. “Mine forever…”
Hank pulled his hand free as she slammed the knife into his arm. The blade left a jagged slash across the side of his bicep and she pulled back for another swing. He rolled away, out of her reach.
“Together,” she screeched as she lunged at him again.
He couldn’t form his broken hands into fists to defend himself. The best he could do was keep out of her reach and hope that she would snap out of her madness. With her next lunge he side stepped and brought his knee up into her stomach. It was a move of desperation, and lacked concentrated power. He hit deep into her solar plexus and knocked the wind from her lungs. As she doubled over and fell to the ground he pushed past her and charged toward the doorway.
“No,” she said. The words, little more than a choked whisper stopped him as he stood in the thresh-hold of the doorway. “Don’t leave me. I need you to stay.” As she spoke the air around them shimmered.
The smells of the dead body assaulted Hank’s nose. Blood and death filled the air so strong that he gagged. He couldn’t run, his feet refused to carry him away. A soft pop, like a soap bubble burst then followed by an oozing slosh permeated the air. From the doorway he couldn’t see the source and he fought the desire to look deeper into the room.
“I brought you meat,” Jen pleaded. Her words were answered by a burbling hiss.
A voice inside Hank’s mind screamed at him to run but his feet ignored his commands. A wet schlump and a scream cut off before it could grow in intensity. He fell, dropped through the doorway into the next room, and curled into the fetal position, his knees gripped tight to his body.