There are somethings about being in this coven that are obligatory.
General deceitfulness seems to be one of them. ((reposted.))
1. prologue I, chapter one.
Rating 0/5 Word Count 1678 Review this Chapter
And God branded him with a murder's mark. And he bore
a race of fiends accursed like their father...
My body was stricken with fever. I was alone and shivering, my breath rattling in my chest. My only companion, a sallow boy not a year older than me, lay in the bed beside me shuddering his own last breaths. My vision swam before my eyes. I was near delusional in my illness. The whole world had gone cold, my legs were numb and unresponsive, my fingers transformed to useless flesh.
The doctor, Cullen was his name, snuck fluidly into the room. He was prepared to make a transfer to the morgue. I closed my eyes. Another soul gone, and soon mine would join them…
There was a rustle at the bed beside me. My head lolled in that direction. Dr. Cullen was wheeling my lone companion away. We had talked before the sickness had taken control of our bodies. I watched as his chest rose and fell. If only I could remember his name, I would say a prayer for him.
Rose and fell.
He was breathing!
“Stop,” I muttered through my delirium.
My feverish mind raced. This boy who had kept me company through so many ill afternoons… he was still alive. I reached out to Dr. Cullen, my hands trembling.
“Please, stop…” I rasped, my breath hitching in my throat. “He’s breathing, Dr. Cullen.”
Dr. Cullen either didn’t hear me or deftly ignored me. I rolled in my cot, my teary eyes trained on my final friend as he was taken, crying out for him to stop. That he was alive. There was nothing I could do but watch as Dr. Cullen wheeled him away and mutter as best I could, my words hardly coherent.
“Still breathing…” My last breath caught in my throat, my last words barely pushing past my lips.
And I died.
I spent six days in the grave. On that sixth day, the sun rose merrily as ever over deadened Chicago. And along with the rising sun, I rose up as well. The living dead, they would have called me. A demon of the night. Satan’s spawn.
The darkness had swallowed us whole, and we had swallowed the darkness. We were seen as creatures of the night, and damned creatures at that. Damned to the depths of Hell by God himself. But I knew better than to believe in a myth. I knew where the lines of reality and lore blurred. The Lord our God would neither leave me nor forsake me, damned as I may be. I was not alone.
Early morning was approaching, the sounds of the earth beginning. My eyes remained shut in reverent prayer. The ancient beams of the chapel above my head groaned. The sound did not even register. I was engrossed with my prayer. I was lost within the recitations. Beads slipped through my fingers.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
My stone cold hands fumbled with the Rosary beads as they slipped between my fingers. I knelt in quiet devotion. Outside the sun rose in pale pink light, the world beginning to wake. The silence of the night was encroached by the sounds of morning. More beads fumbled between my fingers.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
My knees were beginning to ache from the pressure my weight exerted on them from my kneeling. I ignored the throb in my joints, fumbling another bead between my fingers reverently. My eyes twitched beneath my lids, the shadowy circles around them slowly growing more pronounced. My lips quivered with my speech.
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
There was a pause in my speech, my beads swaying slowly in the draftiness of the chapel. I continued my recitations, wishing my brother was here with me. That he hadn’t given up the faith. I bit my lip with each pronunciation, fighting to keep my thoughts in check. Now was not the time to think of Wallace. I focused harder on my prayers.
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
I remained kneeling in the atrium of the chapel for near an hour, completing fifteen decades of careful contemplation and recital. I rose from my position, my knees aching, their complaint of the stone floor. I glanced up at the Virgin, who stared serenely down at me. I sighed and turned away, my hips swishing gracefully as I did.
I could never remain in the chapel for as long as I liked. I wasn’t welcome, I knew, despite what Father Appleby said. And how could I blame them? I was never welcome, not once I was known. That was a simple fact. Shaking my head so that my ebony curls fell behind my shoulders, I carefully twisted my beads around my wrist for safekeeping. I stepped out from the chapel and into the brilliant sunlight, my skin erupting into a glittery shroud around my body, sparkling. I frowned involuntarily, hurrying to the safe cocoon of my car, the Vanquish with the black as night tint and the yellow paint. My hand lingered on the door handle, my eyes idly settling on the chapel door. I wanted so badly to rush in, to scream for Father Appleby, to be comforted. I knew better, though.
In ninety years, there had been no comfort.
So naturally, I gritted my teeth and opened the door, sliding into my seat noiselessly. I twisted the key in the ignition, pulling out of the cramped chapel parking lot effortlessly. I hadn’t the slightest clue where I was headed, but chose to drive on regardless. There wasn’t anywhere I particularly wished to go, no where that just demanded my presence. My chest strained as I deprived myself of breath, an unconscious habit of mine.
Taking my turns far too sharp, even for me, I located the nearest exit to the highway I could find. I jerked the wheel this way and that, weaving through traffic and breakneck speed. There was no coherent thought in my brain when I drove. I believe that was why I loved to be behind the wheel more than most. It offered a break from my own morbidity, a welcome gift to say the least. A smile came to my lips as I released my grip on the wheel completely, save for a single finger hooked around at the base. I fiddled with the radio.
The sound that hit my ears was a joke, pure noise compared to the greatness of yesteryear. I mashed the seek button until I stumbled upon some old swing, my ears thanking me for the relief. I momentarily returned my eyes to the road, my swerving becoming more and more of a game. Before I knew it I was booking it at one hundred and five and gaining. My devilish grin became more pronounced as I pushed my motor’s limits. This was peace, or as close as I would ever get to it.
My phone rang. I glared at the device, which was sitting innocently enough in the passenger’s seat. I reached for it, flipping it open and shoving it to my ear. I had noted that the caller ID listed the name and number as private. That could only be one person.
“Talk,” I ordered in my raspy voice, turning the radio off.
“Now now, calm down, Nora. It’s only me, the one nearest and dearest to your icy little heart.”
My brother chuckled to himself. Apparently he thought he was funny. I rolled my amber eyes, switching ears and changing lanes.
“I’m driving, Wallace,” I said. “Lets keep this short, ne?”
“Fine then. Have it your way.”
He was offended, I could tell. Wallace rarely called anymore, and I hadn’t actually seen him in over thirty years. When he did call, I never gave him a chance. It hadn’t been my decision to cut off our contact with each other; Wallace had made that decision himself. I just stood by it better than he did. He was a remarkably fickle thing, never knowing what it was he really wanted.
“I will,” I retorted, swerving abruptly to the left.
“Whatever. Look, I just wanted to remind you of your… err… obligations.”
“What obligations?” I asked through my teeth. I had no obligations. Especially not the type he was talking about.
Wallace’s voice was thick and demanding. Stern. I grumbled under my breath. I changed lanes again, my pace continuing to rise and my ears beginning to ring from the phone’s frequencies. My breath stopped as I thought. Wallace was rambling in my ear about ip-ods or something. I vaguely registered that he was talking music. So I tuned him out, Wallace being a hopeless cause of all things lyrical and bright.
“Hm?” It wasn’t really a question, more like acknowledgement, but it sounded nicer this way.
“Don’t forget where your loyalties lie, Nor. You remember, don’t you?”
My eyes narrowed instinctively, “Yes, Wallace. I’m not completely stupid.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Nora, but…”
“Goodbye, Wallace,” I said sarcastically, closing the phone before he had the chance to reply.
This wasn’t good. While my obligations never were too far from my conscious, I had been perfectly happy with their near-forgotten state. My head was aching with the new thoughts flooding through my brain. I almost dialed up Wallace again. Anything but the deafening silence of my own thoughts. I fiddled the radio back to life, big band swing filling the car.
There was a nag in the back of my head, a desire to answer the call. I shook my head, refusing to fuel that fire. Instead I stayed focused on the present, on what was at the foremost of my thought. I was barreling down the highway, zoning on the interstate, with no destination in sight. I bit my finger. The sensation was akin to chewing a rock.
It would be a long night.