It was late at night. Kate stared into the crackling fire. She pulled the robe closer to her. Then she took one of her long, blond strands of hair and watched it closely. The scissors lied next to her on the salon table. Kate sighed. This cozy room in this great manor wasn’t hers. A tear started to run down her cheek when the memories came flooding back.
Two years earlier she worked at a bar. The King’s Arms was a regular inn in downtown London, where it all began. All her life she had lived on the banks of the Thames. When she had been a child, her dreams were destroyed by the harsh reality of the life poor people lead. Her mother had died of consumption, and God knows who her father was. But at the time Kate’s life-changing story began, she had her act quite together: she worked and lived in the King’s Arms and could choose to take a customer upstairs. A lot of girls didn’t get even that.
One night Kate was wiping the tables, when she felt a tingle in her neck. Upon turning around, her eyes met those of a stranger. He was well-dressed and quite handsome. His dark hair and pale complexion reminded her of Lord Byron, but his deep blue eyes really struck her.
“What can I serve you?” she asked while she continued her cleaning.
“How about some of your famous stew?” the man said.
Kate was surprised that such a fine man even remotely knew the King’s Arms, but she did not comment on a customer. Some time later, he sat behind a big pot of steaming stew.
“You did your best on serving me the largest plate,” he grinned.
“Well, why don’t you start eating it, then?” Kate answered playfully. She did not know this man, but he seemed nice. And, ah, well, it couldn’t hurt to flirt a little. She knew she didn’t have a chance.
After he had finished, he tipped her and said: “I trust I will see you again in this bar?”
“That depends,” Kate replied “, if you eat your stew and be a good boy you might.”
The man laughed.
“You’re charming, miss...?”
“Why, thank you for the compliment. My name is Kate, mister...?”
“Please call me Marcus,” he said, and he left the bar.
Kate learned to know Marcus quite well in the following weeks. Every Monday evening he would come and eat her stew. They talked and laughed, but never spoke of their personal lives outside the bar. Marcus joked around with the other customers. Kate got scolded for dreaming so much of some uptight pansy who would never pull her out of the gutter.
Halfway December, Marcus stopped coming.
“Honey, it’s a shame, but it’s for the best. He would’ve played around with you a little and broken your heart. You’re better of without him.” Alfred told her. He was the owner of the bar and concerned about all his serving maids. His words shocked her. Kate wept every night for two months, but in the end she had to admit Alfred was right. Marcus had played her like a fiddle. He had made her feel great, with his jokes and flirting. He had made her happy, and then he had disappeared.
By the middle of March, Kate had left her memories of Marcus behind her like the cold of winter. It wasn’t spring just yet for her. And then he suddenly turned up in the doorway. Alfred was not happy with this turn of events. He watched Kate closely as she came up to greet the customer.
“What can I serve you, sir?” Kate said. She hadn’t realized yet whom she was talking to.
“Some of your famous stew would be nice. I missed it.”
Kate was utterly shaken, but still served him his meal. He didn’t finish it, though. When she noticed, she asked: “Is there something wrong?”
Marcus seemed to hesitate. Kate couldn’t help but notice that he was very pale. His eyes seemed tired, almost dead. There was little joy left in it.
“Could I speak to you in private?”
Kate only hesitated for a moment. “Sure. Meet me in ten minutes on the court of the inn.”
Ten minutes later, Kate was waiting on the courtyard for Marcus to come and tell her why he had left for so long. She had kept her feelings locked up inside. But now he had returned like nothing happened. She wanted an explanation.
Marcus arrived late.
“You wanted to talk to me?” Kate said coldly to him. Although she had been friendly to him while serving his meal, outside he wasn’t a customer anymore, but the man who broke her heart.
“Yes. I need to tell you something,” Marcus answered. A little smile played around his lips.
“You know, there is a reason why I left you, Kate,” he began, “I must admit my feelings weren’t always very... pure concerning you. You charmed me into loving you.”
Kate almost forgot to breathe. After the flirting and her falling in love and his leaving and returning, he told her he loved her. A smile crept up her face.
“Come with me,” Marcus pleaded, “I will take you away from all this. I will hold you every night. I will take care of you.”
Kate’s head was spinning. Her feelings for Marcus came rushing back to her as if he had never left. All she could do was nod. Marcus took her in his arms and whispered all the sweetness of the world into her soul. Later, she would remember this moment as the one on which her nightmare started.
Kate and Marcus agreed she would stay in the inn for another two weeks. That way, Marcus could prepare for their trip and Kate could get her last pay. Time flew by, and soon Kate was packing, without anyone downstairs knowing she was leaving. They thought she was checking on the beer in the cellar. A series of tics against her window warned her. Marcus was throwing small stones at the glass to tell her he was waiting. Kate grinned happily to herself in the dark room and grabbed the one bag containing all her earthly belongings. She managed to sneak out the back of the inn. Marcus smiled at her and took her hand.
“Now we can be together forever,” he said happily. Kate smiled.
Forever, Kate thought bitterly. She was shaken from her remembrance by another scream and now she had to gather her courage again to do what she should have done over a year ago. Kate walked to the little cabinet that contained the one thing that kept her from going insane this moment. Ah, the soft tinkling of the bottles while she was searching for that one drink. The smoothness of the glass she pulled out. A soft plopping noise when she uncorked the bottle. A bright green liquid flowed into the glass. Absinthe. Kate had learned to appreciate the sedating effect the Green Fairy had taught her. She sunk back into the canapé to sip the alcohol and close her eyes.
“Marcus, is this where you live?” Kate said. He had dragged her halfway through the city. Now they stood in front of a beautiful mansion.
“No,” Marcus said, “This is where we will live. Don’t you like it?”
“How can we afford this?” Kate asked. Reason began to seep in, but Marcus grabbed her shoulders and kissed her.
“Don’t you worry. I told you I would provide for us. I promised I would take care of you, didn’t I?”
Kate nodded and followed him up the stairs to the door.
Their new life was covered in secrets, but still Kate was head over heels. She didn’t have to take care of anything. Marcus’s servants listened to her as if she were their actual mistress. Kate got used to the high life quite quickly. She never saw Marcus in daytime. He must have been working hard. In the evenings Marcus came home, only to take her out again. They went to balls, theater and opera. Kate was stunned by this whole new world that opened up to her. Marcus talked and joked and loved her the whole time. She felt like she was dreaming.
The dream died after a few months. Kate and Marcus came home one night after a beautiful execution of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She was giddy from the music and glamour.
“Oh, Marcus! Wasn’t that fantastic? But that Giovanni is such a rascal! Seducing married women, letting his servant take the blows from his mistakes... It serves him right to be dragged down to hell!” Kate took off her coat and gave it to the butler, never ceasing her happy blabbering. Marcus followed her silently to the drawing room.
“And that music! I loved it, especially that one song, Là ci darem la mano. The program says...” Kate fell silent when she noticed Marcus’s strange mood.
“Is there something wrong?” she asked cautiously. He leaned on the mantelpiece, staring into the fire. His silence continued and eventually began to unnerve Kate.
Suddenly, he spoke: “You think Giovanni is a monster, don’t you? What if he isn’t? What if he was forced to do his evil by some dark nature, a call he couldn’t ignore. What if he was fighting it?”
Marcus looked up to Kate. He waited for her answer. She didn’t know what to say. In a sudden flash, she realized she knew nothing of him. He hadn’t given an explanation for his sudden disappearance. He had whisked her away into an enchanting world that had made her stop questioning him and his motives. She only saw him at night. It struck Kate that she hadn’t been out in the daylight for over a month.
“Who are you?” she managed to ask. It was if her eyes opened for a brief second. “You talk about Giovanni like he is a friend... Are you talking about someone else? Are you talking... about yourself?”
Marcus’s aura grew even more threatening. He let go of the mantelpiece to approach her in a predatory manner.
“After all this time together, you dare to question me? I provide for you, I give you everything you want, but still you have to ask it? Why can’t you accept me for who I am?”
Kate was left speechless. As Marcus came closer, she started to back away. She only realized that when her back touched the wall.
“I... I don’t hate Giovanni,” she managed to squeak.
Marcus closed in on her.
“You don’t hate him... But he is a character of fiction. How about me? Do you hate me already?”
A shiver crept up Kate’s spine. Marcus frightened her. He leaned even closer into her.
“I might make you hate me. Make you regret those words. Maybe I will...”
His lips touched her shoulder, but gave no pleasure. The kiss was cold. A cruel smile curled his lips.
“I just might...”
His mouth landed softly on the column of her slender neck. Kate closed her eyes and silently began to pray for help. As Marcus’s teeth scraped her skin, her heart beat louder and faster, sending out a message of fear.
And then, his fangs ripped a wound in her neck. Kate screamed out her terror. Marcus almost squashed her against the wall, his hungry mouth still on her, feeding of her blood. He was a devil. He was a thousand times worse than Giovanni...
Marcus let go. Kate slid onto the floor. He walked out of the door, leaving her to the mercy and care of their servants.
Kate woke up in her bed several hours later. The last sunlight of the day shone in between the curtains, making her feel safe. Then she started to remember everything. The words. The fear. The blood. She touched the bandage around her neck. Tears filled her eyes. Marcus was some sort of demon, an evil creature that had lured her into his lair.
“Tears won’t help you.”
Kate turned her head to the young voice. By her feet sat a young Asian girl. She seemed to be only twelve, maybe thirteen years old. Her raven black hair fell down in a waterfall of silk strands, all the way to her hips. Her strangely pale green eyes captured Kate’s. The look in those eyes scared Kate. They had no emotion in them, except for a dark hunger.
“You’re delightful,” the girl said. Her tinkling voice frightened Kate even more.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my room?” Kate blurted out.
The girl smiled an unpleasantly pointy smile. Her long white canines contrasted sharply with her uncommonly red lips. She didn’t answer Kate’s questions. Instead, she got closer and started to caress Kate’s arm with slow strokes.
“He won’t give you to me, you know.”
Kate knew immediately the girl was talking about Marcus.
“I’m not his to give,” she said with an only slightly trembling voice.
The girl smiled again.
“Oh, but you are his alright. He marked you, see?” The girl touched Kate’s neck. It made Kate shudder, and the girl lick her lips. “He tasted your blood, and you can’t run away from him. And he’s mine. I found him, saved him, dressed him and fed on him. He’ll give you to me soon enough.”
Kate’s eyes widened in fear. She had to look away. When her eyes were drawn back to the strange girl, she was gone.
Kate remembered her well. The fear slept deep inside her, even now, even after what had happened. She smiled sadly and let the absinthe swirl around in her glass. Sakura had traumatized her, and yet the girl had taught her so much... Kate looked up to the painting above the fireplace that depicted Sakura in better times and continued her reverie.
Things changed. The dream was over: the servants disappeared and Kate was left alone. Marcus never came to check on her. And the screams began. At night Kate would hear tortured howling, an unearthly pain transmitted through beastly noise. Her only visitor was the girl Sakura. She talked to Kate and never ceased touching her. Kate was scared like hell, but didn’t dare to admit it. Then, one night, she found the courage to speak up.
“What are you and Marcus?” she asked Sakura.
Sakura grinned and answered: “We are the shadow that haunts you in the night to feed on your blood. We do not age nor die. I’ve always liked that part. But I think I will be sad once you’re gone.”
“Gone?” she asked.
“Yes. You will age and I will not. I will watch you grow old. It’s a fascinating process. But when you die, I will have lost you. It is quite sad,” Sakura said, plucking Kate’s blankets. Kate didn’t dare to ask any further. She stared at Sakura. The scary girl seemed a bit flustered. She hesitated to do or say something. Then, Sakura leaned over to Kate and kissed her. The next moment, she was gone.
Time went by and Kate did not know for how long she was already locked up in this room. Marcus was still gone and Sakura stayed. Her touching changed. Kate felt embarrassed. She still was terrified, but discovered a part of her that enjoyed Sakura’s caresses. After a while, they regularly got entangled in the blankets. Sakura tasted her blood more than once. At those moments, the screams got even louder. Kate was used to them by now. Sometimes, she listened in and asked herself who was screaming. She was certain that Sakura had something to do with it, but somehow she stopped asking herself why she wasn’t scared anymore. Sakura was there for her when Marcus was not. He had left her behind, just like those months she still had worked in the King’s Arms. Kate felt a lot safer with Sakura now than she ever had felt with Marcus. He had broken the illusion of safeness when he bit her. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore. Sakura was there, Sakura, Sakura... Another howl pierced her ears.
Her own sobs broke the stony silence of the chamber. Kate knew she had to remember it. This was the last act of her story. It was something that was only hers to give the world. Kate took an encouraging swig of the absinthe and forced herself back into the depths of her memory.
Kate learned a lot about Sakura. She found out the name people had given creatures like the girl: vampire. She discovered the fastened healing vampires possessed, and their heightened senses. One of her discoveries turned out to be even more surprising: the blood exchanges made it so that Sakura and Kate could feel each other’s emotions to a certain degree. Kate had presumed Sakura was dead inside, like her body was. It opened new doors of pleasure and safety to Kate. She knew for certain Sakura was there to protect her. But it went wrong. Kate woke up in the middle of the night. She wondered why her sleep was suddenly disturbed. A few seconds later, the pain and fear hit her. It was as if she drowned in a pit of fire. The heat of the pain scorched her soul, making her scream and writhe in agony. Her head was about to explode; her heart seemed to pound itself right out of her chest. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t cope with the intensity of the feeling. Her mind blanked out to preserve herself.
Once the mist in her head cleared up, Kate found herself curled up in a corner of her room. The excruciating pain was gone. Then her heart started to weep. She felt as if she had lost a part of herself. While she tried to catch up her breathing, the door opened.
Marcus came in. Kate stared at him. Something was seriously wrong. She had given up on him. He had shocked her too much on the evening of Don Giovanni. But, then... Sakura had also bitten her... and it wasn’t scary with her.
“What are you doing here?” Kate managed to ask. Her voice trembled.
“You’re safe, Kate,” Marcus said, “She’s gone. I’ve taken care of Sakura for you. She won’t torture you anymore.” The look in his eyes was bewildered.
Tears trickled down Kate’s face when she realized what had happened. Marcus had killed Sakura.
“You were the one always screaming, weren’t you?” She asked. Anger built up inside her.
“Don’t get mad at me,” Marcus pleaded, “I can feel your emotions, ever since I bit you. I swear I didn’t mean any harm... But Sakura followed me to the inn one night. She wanted you so badly she made my head ache with insanity, just so I would do something wrong. That’s why I stayed away for so long. I hoped her interest in you would die. When that didn’t work, I wanted to make you mine. It was a mistake to bite you, and she wriggled herself right into your heart. In the meantime I was locked up in the basement. Your growing love for her hurt me... I screamed out of agony, hoping you would hear me! The fickleness of your feelings hurt so much. How could you choose for her and just forget me? I brought you into this beautiful world of theater and Opera!”
Marcus’s voice grew louder with every word. Kate saw he lost it. An image of him sitting in a cellar, screaming and weeping, turned up in her head. He sent his pain from those days to her. But still, he had killed Sakura, someone Kate had learned to love in a strange way.
Betrayed by her two lovers, Kate thought. That was what had happened. She sipped her absinthe, but noticed her glass was empty. When she reached for the bottle, a hand gently stopped her.
“What are you doing, Kate? Why are you letting me feel this pain?” Marcus asked softly. After the turbulent events of the previous months, he had made Kate stay. He had sent the mental images of his suffering to her every time she thought about escaping. Her only means of preventing his intrusion in her mind turned out to be the sedating effects of drugs. She had locked herself up in Sakura’s room, trying every drug until she found the ones that worked best: absinthe, morphine, and when she was desperate, opium.
Kate smiled a wry smile.
“I’m putting you through the same you did to me. Every time I wanted to go away, you gave me your pain. Now, I give you mine. I can finally be free from you. And from Sakura. I still do love her, you know, although she betrayed me the same way you did.”
Kate shook her head.
“You messed me up badly, Marcus. I don’t know what to feel anymore. I don’t remember the feeling of the sun, the taste of food, the memory of life itself. It’s time for me to come to terms with this pain.”
Kate lifted the scissors and watched the sharp blades. Then she smiled triumphantly at Marcus.
His eyes widened.
“No,” he whispered.
She cut the first strand of hair of. Marcus had always loved her hair. He’d often told her the glow in it reminded him of the sun. Slowly, a puddle of hair grew around Kate as she watched Marcus. With every clean cut she opened up more to her agony. This was her cleansing. Marcus eyes almost popped out, his mouth opened wide for a soundless scream. He sunk to his knees.
Next, Kate started to cut herself. Small incisions meant to mutilate her body. She’d sharpened the scissors especially. She shed the robes as if it were an old skin - and in a sense it was. The point of one of the blades chiseled patterns on her arms, breast and legs.
Marcus moaned. His eyes rolled in their sockets. His body bent in agony, forming itself in almost impossible shapes while Kate’s sorrow and hate shredded his mind to pieces.
Tears caused by the mental and physical pain Kate evoked rolled over her cheeks. She brought the scissors up, hesitating for the kill.
Her breath faltered a moment.
“Time to go,” she whispered. Kate closed her eyes, mustered up her courage and slit the blade fast across the white column of her neck. The blood started to flow.
Marcus saw it. He pushed out a small cry; he wasn’t capable of anything more. Then his body sagged into a limp bundle.
The butler entered the room. He carried a plate with antiseptics and a towel. A servant girl followed him with hot water. The butler sunk on one knee and started to nurse Kate’s wounds. She hadn’t cut deep enough in her throat to die. He didn’t comment on her nakedness, or Marcus’ body growing cold and eventually deteriorate into dust. After the wounds were treated, the servant girl brought a dress with long sleeves, a hat, scarf and gloves to go with it. Kate donned the clothes. The servant girl hurried out after a look from the butler.
Kate looked down on what was left of Marcus.
“Are you in need of anything more, madam?” her butler asked politely.
“No, thank you,” she answered as she picked up her purse from beside the chair. “I will be going out. Don Giovanni plays this evening in the Opera House.”
Wow.... I'm completely speechless. Is there more?Posted: Jun 30, 2012