I Want To Die

How precious love and beauty can be
Sweet, delicious beauty
Innocence so pure, so wholesome
So righteous
Yet in an instant
It is taken away
Leaving behind a world of darkness
And sorrow
Grief will never bring her back
And love never existed for her
So how can an angel
So pure, so lovely
Become the very monster
That takes her own life?

She loved him
There was no doubt about how she felt
She followed him
She tailed after him
She smiled at him
She smiled with him
She longed to make him laugh
She longed to be in his light
She longed to be in his life
She longed to be his wife
Love, so sweet, so innocent
It took her from the world
And it took her from him

She loved him
She lived for him
She was willing to do anything
And everything
To be with him
Yet she hated him
She loathed him
She despised him
And most of all
She hated herself
She hated what she had done
She hated what she had become
But she could never go back
Never, never again
Could she be what she was

She saw it all
She saw everything
She saw him
She saw her love
She saw the one she lived for
She saw the angel of her eye
In the arms of another
Another who made him smile
Another who made him laugh
Another who made him love
Another who wasn’t her
Another who was everything she wanted to be
And nothing she could ever be

He took the other into his arms
He placed a ring on their finger
And a kiss on their lips
And in her eyes
Were silver tears,
Full of hate
Full of regret
Full of sorrow
Full of fear
Full of anger
And full of love
She knew that her dream was shattered
She knew she could never be what the other was
In his eyes, she never existed
In his eyes, she was no one
In his eyes, she never could be

She lost faith in love
She lost faith in life
She hated the life that she lived
She grew tired of it
He was far away now
He would never come back
He belonged to someone else
He loved someone else
Days passed
Long, agonizing days of pain and grief
Pain and grief
For the one that had gone away
She loved him
He loved another
So she wished to die

She created hate
She started to hate him
She started to hate the other
She started to hate herself
She hated herself
For she fell in love
She hated herself
Because she loved him
She created fear
Fear of herself
Fear of life
She created knowledge
And she knew
Living is just a slow way to die
She created disbelief
And she did not believe
In love or life any longer
She created joy
Yet this joy was a dark joy
The joy of loneliness
The joy of emptiness
A mask to hide the agony
A mask she wore day to day
And night after night
The mask disappeared
And she spent every minute awake
Consumed by the disease of pain
Which would disappear by morning
And no one would be able to see
The emptiness and pain that lingered
In those dark, lonely eyes of hers

She sought for an escape
She sought for freedom
She sought for salvation
She sought for numbness
She sought for breathless
She sought for death
She found death to be the only way
And with relief, she looked forward to letting go of the pain
She looked forward to letting go of the sorrow
Of the grief
Of him
With a breath, she at last found peace
She found peace in lying there
Without a concern
Without a tear
Without a fear
Without hate
Without anger
Without sorrow
Without grief
Without love
He owned her heart now
For life without him was filled with torture
Tormenting pain consumed her
And it was so strong, she could not escape
Just to think of him, talk to him, talk about him, dream of him
Brought tears to her eyes
And hate and pain to her heart
She could not imagine happiness
Without his beautiful smile
Without his angelic face
Without his presence in her life
She was nothing but a hallow shell
He was everything
She was nothing
So she knew what she had to do
And with one final breath, with one finger
The trigger was pulled,
And her red love painted the walls
While her tears painted her face
Her cold face,
Frozen forever
In the death of love
She wanted to die
But truth was
She was already dead

When he finally found her
Perhaps it was seconds
Perhaps it was minutes
Perhaps it was hours
Perhaps it was days
Perhaps it was weeks
Perhaps it was months
Perhaps it was years
He found her still
Her essence painting the walls and floor
Her sorrow on her face and hands
And beside her frozen, cold body
Laid the weapon that took her
Laid the hand that helped
And beside that hand,
Laid a yellow note
Of which it said
“Sorry for the mess
But I love you still
In the afterlife ♥”

Book Review – Evangeline, by EA Gottschalk

A Review of “Evangeline,” E.A. Gottschalk

Summary: Angeline Gottschalk is a bullied, socially withdrawn sixteen year-old who lives on the family farm with a psychotic mother, an abusive stepfather and a dark secret she keeps hidden… even from herself. The secret is Evangeline, the cold-blooded yet fun-loving murderous who narrates this gleefully twisted memoir of growing up a teenaged serial killer in rural Nebraska.

Unaware she suffers from a nasty case of multiple-personality disorder, it seems the shy farmer’s daughter will never meet her notorious alter ego, until the next victim in Evangeline’s deadly crosshairs turns out to be the boy Angeline loves.

Weaving the stories of two distinctly different personalities around the narrator’s dark-humored commentary on the society that drove her to kill, Evangeline invites readers along on a bad girl’s violent crusade against injustice, and into the savage depths of her fractured mind.

GRAPHIC WARNING: The following is a review for an extremely graphic book. The book contained situations of intense violence, gore, sexual conduct, incestuous and physical abuse, child physical and sexual abuse, and grotesque murder. Included in the review will be excerpt scenes from the book, quotes and phrases, along with reviews from Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and the Author’s Website. The book is only intended for mature audiences, so is the review. Discretion is highly advised.

Amazon Customer Ratings:

88 Reviews

4.5 Stars

Amazon Customer Reviews:

“I couldn’t put it down and read it one sitting.” – Darah Niesen

“This book is the perfect mix of vulgarity and intelligence.” – Madilyn Graham

5 Stars – So disturbing

  • Adams, January 12, 2014

“I loved this book! So Stephen King in style. Could not stand to put it down till finished. Well written. Very quick to get into. Definitely not boring. This book is not for the faint of heart. Tells it like it is. If you ever wondered how can people do some of the horrible things they do then read this. Poor Angeline is stricken from birth with mental illness due to heritage and abuse. This is the sorry of the weak striking back at the abusers. She will shock you and make you want to protect her at the same time. A real scary, disturbed ride. Get on board you will enjoy the ride!”

Goodreads Customer Ratings:

123 Ratings

28 Reviews

3.77 Stars

Barnes & Noble Customer Ratings:

6 Reviews

4.45 Stars

My Rating:

4.5 Stars

My Review:

To post up my first real book review, I’m going to start with the book, Evangeline, by E.A. Gottschalk. I picked this book up in a five-part miniseries from Amazon while browsing through the free Kindle books that were available. I got hooked on the first part of the miniseries, and decided to purchase the full book for $0.99, (because “that’s how I roll,” to quote my brother-in-law).

To say that this book is not meant for young readers would be the understatement of the year. It would be the same as stating A Serbian Film is only for mature adults, (Wikipedia search if you don’t know the reference). The book’s very opening, rather graphic as it is, makes this point very clear:

I’m going to share with you my earliest memory– and I tell you this because, however grotesque, it’s important you understand where I’m coming from. So here it is.

I’m eleven years old. I’m kneeling on a dirt floor. And there’s a cock up my ass.

Yep, you heard right. That was my welcome to the world.

Imagine baby’s surprise….

To give a quick surmise of the plot, it tells the story of sixteen-year-old Angeline Gottschalk who, by all accounts, is no ordinary girl. An unaware victim of Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder to some), Angeline is the frequent target of physical and sexual abuse of her Deputy Sheriff uncle and stepfather, Ted, who has been molesting her since eleven, as informed by our “gracious, ever faithful” host, Angeline’s alternate and sadistic personality, Evangeline. Angeline is also socially challenged, occasionally bullied at school, shy, rather plain looking with arbitrary features, and with the prospect of many amazing opportunities but chooses a life of mediocrity over all else. Before the beginning of the story, Angeline’s biological father, JD, had disappeared a while back, and her mother suffers from an unnamed mental affliction she calls “the sickness,” which leaves her regularly dependent on alcohol, religiously zealous, and spending all hours of the day playing a repetitive love song on an old Victrola. (So, we’ve got a combination of Hamlet family drama combined with Carrie Mama-drama, nice combo.)

So that is our main character. But not our hero and narrator. Oddly enough, our story is told to us in a very conversational manner from the point of view of the alternate character. Evangeline, the other part to Angeline’s delicate and fragile psyche. With a sharp wit, blatant sarcasm, clever and twisted sense of humor, and dark realism over the world, Evangeline takes the reader for a ride inside the main character’s head and tells us, detail for detail, how Angeline lives, breathes, suffers, and endures her day-to-day nightmare. After exacting vengeance on her dear Uncle Ted for the years of abuse and torment, (whom fitfully is nicknamed “Stumpy” throughout the story, just to hint at the kind of swift justice Evangeline has in mind), she turns her attention to taking justice in her own hands and serving it on a sharp, deadly plate to sex offenders in the Nebraska state territory. Eventually, she becomes known as the Level 3 Killer, or L3K. (Perhaps a reference to the infamous BTK?)

This plan seems to work and seems convincing enough to cheer on, until the worlds of Evangeline and Angeline collide. Needless to say, the one thing that every woman in the world has fought over comes into play: a boy. That’s right. Angeline develops a sweet, innocent crush on a boy at school, Caleb, who just happens to be brothers with her neanderthal school tormentor, Billy. And I can understand why. After all, Caleb is a little bit more kind and generous to Angeline, albeit to a certain extent. But Caleb is a lot more than friendly and a down-to-earth good guy, he’s also incredibly cute and adorable in the eyes of Angeline.

But Caleb is not dumb. As the series of events in Nebraska take on their own turn, Caleb starts piecing everything together one night, as so does Angeline. Separately, they both find out what is going on, and this puts Evangeline in the driver’s seat of a high-performance vehicle heading off a climactic cliff.

There are a few errors here in there in the grammatical sense, but one thing I fully loved about this novel was everything from the story to the excellent narration, breaking of the fourth wall and bringing the reader to mental level with the narrator.

For example: “I could be a pit bull when I really set my mind to something– straining at the collar and impossible to hold. I’d been throwing off my leash for some time now, forcing Sister to bed with searing migraines so I could roam free while she slept. And after being cooped up inside all day who could blame me? The animal wanted out.

Most of you, I’m sure, take for granted the experience of being one with yourself, the everyday sensation of living in your own skin– of feeling physically alive and spiritually whole. But life was different with me. I can’t tell you what a treat it was to experience that total body rush. And when those moments came, I swear it was better than masturbation….

As it becomes hinted of the internal battle between Evangeline and her host, the reader is taken on a violent and wild ride through the kills. Evangeline quickly becomes the embodiment of a sociopath and serial killer wrapped into one. She starts stalking, preying, killing, and even takes little “tokens” with her as keepsakes to relive the marvelous adventures, all while keeping her “Sister” at bay.

This doesn’t work out in the way she plans. At some point, like many serial killers, she becomes sloppy and makes a mistake, and thus revealing her secret to the other tenant of her mind.

…I suppose in hindsight the fiasco that followed was inevitable. Angeline and I were roommates sharing the same apartment, only occupying different rooms with separate entrances. Odds were always pretty good that one day we’d bump into each other….

But instead of moving to cover her tracks and recount the details of her events, Evangeline actually relished in the revelation of her twisted deeds. She even mocks and taunts her host as a means of getting under her skin. This hints at the true sociopathy that the author portrayed, the real narcissist who lavishes in control and manipulation over others.

Well, boys and girls, the cat, as they say, was now out of the bag. And there would be no shoving pussy back in again. All Angeline’s nagging suspicions had been confirmed, all her worst fears realized. Someone was subletting space between her ears. And if that wasn’t enough of a mind blower, the girl had a pretty good hunch that the quiet tenant of 2A (look out for those quiet ones) was none other than Nebraska’s resident serial killer, the infamous L3K.

Angeling wobbled, weak-kneed, from the bed and braced herself in front of the mirror, hands propped on the edge of the dresser. She leaned close, staring hard into her eyes– trying to look through them… and straight into mine. Well, I wasn’t about to back down from any staring contest, let me tell you. So I stared right back at her. And then, just to mess with the girl’s head, I smiled and gave her a sly wink….

And so we are pitched into the climax of the story, where it is an internal struggle of tug-of-war between Evangeline and Angeline, and the external battle of Evangeline’s justice on the world before being found out by the police. A race against time, and the more pressure that closes in, the sloppier and misguided Evangeline becomes.

The climactic battle really could have gone much further and the author could have relished a bit more with it. An honest opinion, but to me, it did feel rushed and quickly dealt with, without really dissecting and paying the same amount of attention to it as the rest of the story. However, I quickly forgave this when the entire story was wrapped up into a grand finale that you never expected, a surprise play from the underdog that even as I say this, trust me, you won’t know who to root for until the end. And the Epilogue ties it all together in poetic and ironic justice that fulfills the desires and needs of the reader just perfectly.

Just kidding. The author had to get in one last proverbial “middle finger” just before ending it in the final sentence. No need to disclose what it is, just read the book and you’ll understand what I mean. And don’t be foolish to skip to the end, either, because the good parts are everything in between. Clever tool on the author, who really should have more success than what has been given. But what can you do?

After reading this book thoroughly multiple times over the course of the past few months, I can honestly say that this was a very entertaining and disturbingly humorous story. Well written, vividly detailed, with a way of words in a lyrical pattern, and appealing to the darker, more violent side in all of us, the side that finds entertainment in poetic justice taken into our own hands. Review any of the latest news reports, and you’ll find yourself thinking if someone had enacted justice outside of law enforcement, would it have been different?

By the end of it all, you’ll be disgusted far more with yourself for reading a twisted book, but you won’t know if you’ll be more disgusted with yourself or with the world, for how it really is.

About the Author:

E.A. Gottschalk is a special guest of the Psychiatric Services Unit at the state hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. ‘Evangeline’ is based on her institutional memoir, ‘Seven Crows: My Life as a Serial Killer.’”

That’s what it says on the author biography on every website you find this book under. The truth is, though, I had to do a little digging to find out more about the author, and where she is coming from. And I found out the truth fairly quickly before it was removed.

In essence, the author is fulfilling a role that she created from the perspective of her narrator, Evangeline. Perfect, might as well give her an A+ for acting and keeping true to the character. In actuality, the author turned on the television one day and went through the news broadcast, only to be bombarded with horrible news each day, from murders to victim crimes to violence. And in her mind, she came up with the concept of somebody enacting swift and complete justice on these criminals that get away with it. And I applaud the effort, because she accomplished many things, one simply topping them all: Justice is quick, fair, and dark.

The writer has a lot of talent, and I only wish there was more from her that I could enjoy. She fulfilled the role of Evangeline perfectly, touching on the “faux memoir” that many writers go through. She adapted well to the mind and the personality of a “notorious serial killer,” depicting dark, twisted sense of humor and showing the reader how the world really is, and how dark it can be. She appeals to the sense of human decency and morality, by stating the uncomfortable truth.

Justice is not fair, and it never turns out the way you want it to.

The author was brilliant in doing this, almost providing a “Stephen King” ambiance. Her use of descriptive details, graphic scenes, realistic and believable dialogue, and use of entertainment and humor in rather dark and disturbing moments. Almost like a critic critiquing their own life.

I give the author a separate review for her talent. It was truly amazing. I would say, aside from the rare grammatical errors and rather difficult characters to relate to, the author deserves a good 4 STAR rating.

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Evangeline-E-Gottschalk/dp/0615806414/ref=la_B00HXSVV6O_1_1/179-5781167-3213119?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409574535&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/evangeline-ea-gottschalk/1115441394?ean=9780615806419

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20824544-evangeline

Author’s Website: http://www.sevencrowspress.com/

1. Sixteen

On my sixteenth birthday, I woke up from a vivid dream.

And for the life of me, I couldn’t recall what it was about.

In a stupor of drunken drowsiness, I rolled over to face the open bedroom window, just as the last remnants of the liquid dream slipped through my fingers. Only a faint shadow on the wall remained, ingrained on the side of my mind. A slight shiver rolled through my bones.

I blinked my eyes a few times, adjusting to the early morning twilight dimming the sky. A strange tickle coursed from my crown to my toes, a weightless feeling. I winced, unable to move my head from the pillow. Vines of dark hair obscured portions of my vision, and I brushed them away to see clearly. The San Diego sky was a mixture of hues from light blue to fiery orange with a touch of soft pink. The trees in the front and side yards were black against the colors, rustled as a nice, cool breeze drifted through them and the window. It was gentle against my skin. As the sun crept higher in the sky, the pink dissolved into the orange, then into the blue, until the entire sky was a subtle gray color.

Down the hall, a door opened, then shut. Footsteps crossed the carpet to the bathroom, which also opened and then closed. Moments later, the pipes in the walls screeched as hot water turned on, and shower curtains scraped across a shower rod. Father was awake.

Sitting up was difficult to accomplish. My muscled ached in unusual places, like I endured a rigorous workout the night before. But I still managed to do it. I saw into the side yard under the window that separated the two houses, a wooden fence dividing the land in two. I lifted my eyes and saw the neighbor boy’s bedroom window, the light turned on behind the closed blue curtains. I smiled shyly, hiding my face behind my hair, and turned away.

Moving felt odd. My body was sore, each muscle twitching with electricity, nerves on end. I couldn’t discern if this was my body or someone else’s. After all, my mind was trying to reject something that looked familiar. The smooth pale skin on my knuckles, the clipped nails, my arms throwing off the blankets and my legs swinging out of bed—they hurt so much when I moved. Despite the pain, they felt stronger, my body felt lighter, and there was a fluidity in my movements I didn’t recognize. Like a dancing motion. I didn’t know my body could move so fast, and so gracefully. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of my dresser, staring into the vanity mirror like a perplexed doll.

I nearly looked like one.

A fresh faced sixteen-year-old girl stared back at me, her full red lips parted in confusion, her wide gray eyes transfixed in a daze, her waist-length black hair in a tangled knots at the end. I could vaguely remember that less than three months ago the ends met my chin, now at my waist. To verify that this was me, I turned my torso halfway to look at my bare shoulder and see three scratch-like scars deadcenter on my shoulder blade. Yes, that was me, and this is my body. But why did I look so different?

I had to stop for a moment. Closing my eyes and taking three deep breaths, I blocked out all thoughts and nonsense in my mind, and focused. All my other senses heightened once I turned off my vision—the sense that deceives most often. The sense that I focused on, instead, was my hearing.

The average human listened with their ears, and I was no different. Only my sense of hearing was sharper and more defined than the average human. From where I stood in the middle of my room, I could hear the streams of water pouring out from the shower head and splashing against the tile wall and the floor. Father shifted his weight, his skin sticking to the floor, I heard it stretch and him hiss under his breath. Outside the house, a series of alarm clocks went off, some further than the two close by. A mower sputtered to life, with some frustration, and its owner swore loudly. A thudding rhythm pounded away, muffled by walls, with a voice shouting angrily to the beat. Then a series of passing cars, tires rubbing against the pavement….

Average humans, though, couldn’t hear with their minds. Like I could, and the rest of my family. An ability we are born with, we hear the thoughts and emotions of others, which sound like a flurry of voices in a packed theater and just require a bit more focus to pick one to listen. It wasn’t hard to do. Even now I could hear the thoughts of my neighbors, some stuck in that slumber phase where the mind babbles on with no sensible connection. But it was one voice I was looking for. I could recognize it clearly in the crowd, even a mile away.

Shit, I have to drop this off this morning. Crap….

A smile played on my lips. If only he knew that his thoughts were not so private, but maybe that said more about me not giving him it.

The shower turned off, the curtains opened, and Father stepped out. This snapped me back.

It was sinking in. This was my birthday. My sixteenth birthday. While normal girls ask for extravagant parties, lavish gifts, fancy cars, and designer clothes, the only thing I ever requested was for SDPD father to get an early shift—a request he was happy to fulfill. In fact, he handled it with his Chief so that he had the day off. So I was surprised he wasn’t sleeping in.

I took the time I had left to get ready for school, shedding off my night clothes and wriggling into a black tanktop, high-waisted shorts, and a denim jacket. Mildly impressed at how fast I untangled my hair and brought it back into a messy ponytail, I turned around to take a quick look at my reflection.

Something flashed across the glass. Something bright, and red.

Where my eyes were. I froze.

What did I just see?

“Sophia the Teenage Witch”

 

 

I drew this picture back in 2006 when I was posting my work up on DeviantArt. This was created from a base (which, unfortunately, I cannot locate online).

The person depicted above is named Sophia Olivia Black. SPOILER ALERT: She is the daughter of Lorelei Black, named after her Grandmother Sophia.

Sophia is a Witch, powerful and strong, but only half of her bloodline is Magick. The other half… well, you’ll have to find out.

Originally the series I was going to write was going to surround Sophia and her friends, their adventures, and not deal with much in regards to Lorelei and her life. Then it took a turn and I became more focused on Lorelei’s life and habits than Sophia’s. I still plan to someday write a series revolving around Sophia, but it won’t be as long or detailed as Lorelei’s.

This is not necessarily a picture I’m incredibly fond of, but it works to illuminate the lighter spirit around Sophia versus her mother.

Russian Roulette

It happened so fast
It flashed before my eyes

The barrel spun crazily
And then it stills
He smiles mockingly, his eyes bright
Stars flash like fire inside those pools
And he pulls the trigger

Silence

There’s stillness, the dragging of each second
I hear his heart
It’s calm, steady
And he lowers it, passing it to me

My heart races as I stare at it
It’s the ultimate temptation
The ultimate desire….

Take what little power God has over you….

The metal is cold in my fingers
It doesn’t scare me
Lie
Terror thrums in my veins
It grabs hold of me
I found his eyes

They watch me

He knows I’m afraid
He knows that I am fearful
But he is not
And I’d give anything to have that fearlessness

Then take it, have it….

I held my breath
I raised it
It rests against my temple
Tears fill my eyes
I only watch his, his mocking smile

I pull the trigger, and closed my eyes

Nothing

No pain

I open my eyes and blink
There is no blood on my hands
I put it on the table, sighing with relief
My heart slows down, calming
I push it across the table

I look up

His eyes are unblinking, cold
His smile is frozen on his face
He doesn’t move to grab it
He’s still

I’m afraid

He only stares at me, frozen forever

Cold like the dead….

The Bathory Aria

“Magical Mirror upon the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

“Ah, but my lady, none can be more fair than you. For the beauty of eternal is birthed from the blood of the youth.”

“But the blood of youth surely should be risen from the deaths of sweet servants.”

“But virgins, my love, for they are pure and whole as ever true.”

“My Mirror, what must I do to have this eternal youth?”

“Bathe in the blood, my love. For in the bath of life, following the sin of death, shall bond you to eternal beauty.”

“But the darkness, my Mirror….”

“Simply a love bond between you, my love, and the Dark Lord, your lover….”

And thus the bond was indeed eternal, truthfully and wholly, it became. Forever was my soul imprisoned within the body of a youth, and never was I to face the curse of age that would come to consume me. For years I avoided the hands of old and wisdom that stretched out towards me through the darkness to come take me.

My body was not theirs to take. My soul had widowed itself from the bonds of God and I had given myself, completely, lovingly, to the Dark Lord. He granted me a gift I could not forsaken, nor could I resist the ultimate temptation. A gift, he proclaimed, that would immune me to the process of age. I would be forever youthful, eternally beautiful. My mirror would not betray me, he promised, as he spoke from the glass on the other side of the frame. It would bestow upon me the truth I longed to see, that I would not age, I would not change, I would not grow, and I would forever remain the same.

Eternal. Immortal. Youthful. And beautiful.

But not was all well when it came to the promise made by my great Dark Lord. He claimed and promised me the world, wealth, power, and premise. No heir to come and steal it away from me. I would have no heir. I would not gather a husband and bare a child for him to mold. No, no one else would share this greatness with me.

Alas, I would have no idea that it would indeed be stolen from me. This powerful gift given to me was not greatly looked upon, but instead brought shock and terror to those who witnessed to it; and those who became victims to it.

Oh, so many young girls whose faces stared up at me in terror as their breaths choked within their crushed windpipes. Even in the midst of death and despair, their beauty never failed them. It mocked me, how gorgeous they were, and carefully I disected them.

At first with my eyes, and then by my own hands.

I compared each of their gorgeous traits against my own. Were they more lovely and graceful than I was, these stupid peasant village girls who served under my command? Did they deserve this beauty they had, this lustful innocence and purity bestowed to them? They, who are virgins against the unholy and black world, they, who hold the fairness upon their flesh and elegant curves of their bodies, be more beautiful than I, their mistress?

It taunted me harshly, and I find myself searching for ways to make their beauty and innocence betray them. They mocked me about each corner, behind each dutiful obedience, behind every kind and submissive smile and curtsy they gave, and each compliment and word of flattery they spoke with breaths of virginal souls. It mocked me constantly, and each day I found myself more provoked by their grace.

They, the children of God and Heaven, beautiful, lovely, graceful, elegant, and brilliant, in contrast to I, their mistress, a countess, a supposedly far more beautiful, fair, elegant, and lovely woman, the bride of Satan and mother of Hell.

I couldn’t allow them to possess a hand over me, so each servant who came flaunting about with an air of passing brilliance was struck down.

And in their virgin blood did I bathe myself. I found a sensual pleasure from the deaths I committed myself to, to the sins I found myself enjoying. I cared less how many there were, or who they were.

They all had names. They all had families and lives. But they were of no importance. They mattered little. And thus my grace and beauty progressed with wonder with each brutal crime done. With each murder and lustful blood bath I performed….

Then my mistake caught up to me. I killed one who had a name, who had a family, and who held a powerful, royal role beside mine. A killed a virgin with royal blood. And so I was caught.

And I was imprisoned.

Within my imprisonment, my mirrors betrayed me. They cursed me. They spoke blashpemy at my face and tortured my eternal soul. They revealed to me each victim I took, each young girl’s face that fluttered in my memory and came to haunt me with the ghosts and phantoms roaming about. The mirrors revealed the phantoms dancing about and laughing as they embraced angels and cherubs, and then the mirrors revealed my ultimate fate.

Age wouldn’t come to claim me. It never would. But Death will. My mortal body will die, taken from me. And I will be forever frozen in an endless time where no age can touch me, but beauty is inexistent.

I was frozen forever in darkness. My Dark Lord had forsaken me and trapped me behind the glass of eternal mirrors, watching the world pass by and those of beauty and grace stand before me. I was meant to see, envy, and compare myself to each individual who lived. And I would never be able to obtain that beauty.

At least, not until now….

I awake from the darkness and find before me the frozen glass. Behind the surface, a youthful face stares back. Her face is round and full, her skin smooth and white as snow, her features perfectly proportional and symmetric. Her lips, full and scarlet red as blood, form into a bewildered frown, becoming heart shaped. Her brows, arched and dark, hover beneath a thick hairline of deep brown locks that waved about her face, shoulders, and frame.

Her eyes stare at me, deep, almond shaped ovals of blackness, so deep that the dark around me fell into them and illusioned the light that was her face.

I lift a hand, and she mirrors my movements, reaching to her face in utter horror.

I lower my hand in shock, and she does the same.

I blink once, and she does as well.

And it takes me a long moment to realize, in a despair of centuries within the mirror’s black edge, the Dark Lord had granted my wish after all.

I will be eternally youthful. Eternally beautiful. Only in the body of another. A young girl, one like many of lives I had taken.

I will live again. I will never truly die. And my soul will be reborn again. I can finish the work I had started centuries ago, in this new body….

Catatonic

I can feel the shadows slowly dissipate. A light flickers through the darkness, and it reveals to me a world that I had never seen before. Or rather, never become known and familiar to.

The world is cold, quiet, still, and bright. It is filled with images and scenes, memories from a long time ago.

These images are like from fairy tales that I had heard once before. Stories about a happy girl in a happy family, living a happy life, with happy pets and home, visiting happy and loving grandparents, and belonging in a happy, warm, safe place.

In one image, the happiness shatters, and it turns into glass in front of my eyes. And it isn’t a smiling, cheerful little girl, but a lost, sad, and confused child. She stares back at me with glowing silver eyes and holds out a quivering, shedding hand through the mirror….

I was pleasantly surprised when the staff came into my room one morning and loosened the leather straps of the bed from around my arms, wrists, legs, and waist. The doctor came in after them, and looked over my charts and numbers before turning to me with a very charming grin. He turns to me, his eyes bright like the of the room, or the glaring sunlight streaming in through the curtains of the window.

The daylight still hurts my eyes.

“We have a present for you,” he tells me in a soft, convincing voice.

Behind that tone, seven lies flutter out and I can catch them in the air with my bare hands. Never once has the presence of a doctor in this room ever been fortunate or pleasant. Why should I believe this should be any different?

“Some of your family have decided to come visit you.”

A dead bird in my chest had suddenly come alive. It flaps its frantic wings against the fragile bones of my ribcage, cracking them, and then it drops down into my stomach, bringing with it the same strange, nauseous sensations. I look at the doctor, his labcoat wrapping around him, creating a robe-like appearance. The Angel of Mercy, dressed in white, bringing with him the gift of death from suffering….

“They’re here to see you. And they’ve brought with them some gifts that you might like.”

I can hear the tone of persuasion in his voice. But who was he trying to convince? Me? Or himself? Was he trying to convince himself that I wasn’t a lost cause and could possibly change and become for the better? After such a long time, I was positive that he, along with everyone else in this God forsaken place, had lost all hope in making me what they called “</i>better</i>”.

“Would you like to see them?”

He doesn’t wait for my answer. He doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that I’m the second person in this conversation. Instead, he goes back to checking my numbers, charts, the machines that are hooked up to the blue rivers under my skin, and then he places cold, metallic devices to my chest and bicep, listening to the sounds that they made before he finally stepped away from me – like I’m some kind of contagious, quarantined infectious patient – and gestures towards the door.

“You can come in now,” he says rather loudly to the closed door.

For a moment, a shadow crosses just under my sight and flies across the room towards the door, and then disappears under the threshold. I keep quiet about this – I had finally learned to keep certain things to myself.

The door opens – eerily, making loud scuffling sounds, reminding me oddly of a cliché horror movie scene I had seen years ago – and in step a crowd of people that I had no idea who they were.

There was a mass of faces, different features, different shapes formed upon the surface that are their portraits, and none of them are recognizable to me. However, something inside my dark and disturbed mind was telling me that they were supposed to be familiar to me. I was supposed to recognize them. But I didn’t. And why should I? It didn’t seem that they were of any true importance to me.

One of them steps forward, cautiously looking over me. His blue eyes hover for a slight moment over my head, hesitating at my brow, then scan over the condition I was in, sitting up in a medical bed made of paper pillow cases and thin blue cotton blankets, dressed in a white thin gown, and then his eyes went to the doctor quickly.

“How is she?” he asks to the doctor.

I slip into a quiet oblivion as the doctor informs him of the same things that I have heard him tell the staff and other medical faculty in the building. The man’s eyes grow wider slightly, but then slowly return to normal. He turns over his shoulder and points towards a woman his height and looks nearly like him carrying a large box in front of her.

“Go ahead,” the man tells her, and she drops the box down at the foot of the bed.

I look at it cautiously, and then I turn to the doctor, who is examining it, as well.

“I’m sure she’ll appreciate it. Are you also here to discuss her living arrangements?” the doctor asks them.

The man shakes his head rather quickly, and the look on his face is solemn and depress. He looks very pale and cautious. A thought ranges in my head that he belongs here with me, with the other people in this place, and be labeled the same way that I am.

“Do you know of anyone who is wanting to come and arrange the situation?” the doctor was pushing the matter. I can hear it in his voice.

I keep my eyes on the box, trying to see the shadows dancing behind the cardboard, wondering what fun the creatures find in not being seen and noticed by anyone else but me. When the doctor speaks, I can hear a determined plea in his tone, hidden beneath his words. I think rather amusingly that the doctor was trying to get rid of me. He didn’t want to deal with me, either. Might as well serve him right.

No one in this world wanted anything to do with me. I was “damaged goods” according to the whispered rumors spreading between staff ears.

“We don’t want her,” the man says bluntly.

I can hear the disappointment and sorrow fall through the doctor, like heavy stones dropping into a well, clinking on stone and crashing at the bottom. I want to smile, I want to laugh at his pitiful attempts to rid of me. I want to joke and mock him for his selfishness and how guilty he was of disregarding his patients that he had lost interest in trying to save.

But of course, I pretend to be a good little patient, and I keep my face frozen. I continue to stare at the box, but I can’t help but hear the conversation going back and forth between the two of them.

“She needs someone to take care of her, she needs someone who is willing to support her.”

“Well, that isn’t us. We don’t want her. We don’t want to claim any guardianship over her.”

“What about anyone else? Any other–”

“We don’t want to deal with her conditions. We can’t take it. So we’re leaving her to the state.”

There’s a lot of sighing and gasping in the room, and then it falls quiet. The group of people turn around and stalk out of the room, creating an orchestra of steps and stomps, and then the door closes quickly behind them.

That is the last I see of those ungrateful people.

The doctor takes a moment to breathe and calm down, and then he turns to the box on the bed.

“At the very least they were nice enough to leave this for you. Go ahead, open it.”

It was more of an order than a suggestion. He pushes the box towards my limp hands on the blankets, and on top, I read my name across in scribbled black permanent ink. It doesn’t say who it’s from or why they’re giving it to me. Just my name. Just that it now belongs to me.

I rip through the duct tape holding it together and pull it open. The box opens, and a cluster of laughing, taunting shadows fly out, screaming and hollering as they swirl around the room and dance in mocking patterns. I ignore them for the moment, convinced that they aren’t trying to endure my suffering for the mean time.

I look into the box, and see a collection of fabrics, cloths, denim, silk, and cotton, all neatly folded up and fitted into the box like perfection. Some of the fabrics I recognize as clothing, others as things that I had never seen before. They all look colorful and the smell of dust lifts into my nose, clogging my lungs. I shake my head, resisting the sneeze, and lift what was a pair of dark blue denim jeans from the box. The fabric feels odd and strange in my fingertips.

“Clothing. That was considerate of them. You certainly need it.”

The doctor walks around and examines the clothing. “Some of these might be too big for you. But we can fix that. I’m sure we can contact a tailor or someone who’s handy with a sowing needle to take a bit off them.”

I look up at him. The words dance on my tongue and spin through my head. I want to say it. But the courage lags in me.

“Looks like also they left you a sweater and jacket, for the cold days.”

“What does this mean?”

My voice sounds even odd and strange to myself. The doctor looks at me, and his face grows solemn again as the realization hits him after it has already struck me.

“It means you’re going to be staying with us for a while.”

I know I’m supposed to feel sad, depressed, disappointed, something. But I don’t. The bird had died again inside my body. And a numbness replaces it.

I lie back into the pillows, the paper crinkling in my ear. And I watch with bitter amusement as the shadows swirl around me in the room with bright eyes and laughing smiles at my misery. They mock me, and I let them, because I’m lonely now.

Fade

I wish I could go back….

There was once a time when my life wasn’t like this, when things had been happier. Now, everything is gone. It’s all disappeared, like the dew before the dawn….

I can’t even remember my family’s faces. I ponder this and grieve it as I toss in the bed. The paper cover of the pillows makes weird sounds against my ears as I move. The IVs and machines pinned to my arms, legs, and face beep nonstop as they try to measure every little movement inside my mind and body.

Outside the metal bars caging the window, I can see gentle sunlight streaming in through the gray, thick clouds. It rivets around the metal bars and bathes into the room, tickling the newly mopped and clean tile floors. The sunlight glitters and glows, as if speckled with the tiny essences of diamonds.

For the first time in a long time, I could actually see a light room, a place where shadows weren’t haunting and following me. Things were quiet here, at least, for this hesitating, pivotal moment.

I could feel the world slowly come back together. I closed my eyes—hesitating to do so, fear that the shadows might be waiting there instead—and then opened them. Nothing had changed. Everything was still bright and quiet. No one was here. There were no frantic doctors trying to explain what I was, what I was enduring, why I was experiencing this, and labeling me with such offensive and rude terms that I didn’t need to hear. There weren’t any panicking and fearful nurses trying to stick my body with needles and sedate my blood with drugs.

And there were no voices. Thank God….

I sighed and slowly drifted my eyes closed. It’s been a long time since I could peacefully sleep. I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t tried to go to sleep and was instead greeted by a horrible, repulsive nightmare filled with hot fire, screaming monsters of disturbing appearances, and bloody white bodies littering the ground I stood on.

I was hoping to fall asleep, but I couldn’t. My mind was restless now. I was curious to know why I wasn’t experiencing these things right now. It seemed to be a day-to-day incident where I couldn’t once escape the creatures spawned from reality and my nightmares.

My mind and body was just anxious for the moment to come, expecting to hear something, or see something happen.

But not this time. Instead, my mind receded back into my memories, and tried to pick something from the abyss that guarded everything.

One image stood out, a memory I couldn’t really see clearly or visibly, but I knew it held much significance as to why I had spent so much time here.

There are no people in this memory, only faceless beings with drowned, distorted voices. They speak to me in a language I don’t understand, like garbled words and slurs that leave me unsure of what to say. The beings tower over me, watching me, and in a flash of white….

NO!

A horrible, throaty scream ripped through my body as the image suddenly becomes clear, vivid, and it tears me apart from the inside.

I can feel my veins rip apart and boiling blood spill into the crevices between my muscles and bones. I choke and gargle on a pool forming deep in my throat, filling my chest, my lungs. I cough and spit in a frenzy to get the blood out of my body, while the image burns deep in my mind.

It hurts! It hurts!

I felt as if my entire body was on fire, and in my mind all I could see was this horrible, agonizing memory!

Around me, things had gotten loud and chaotic again, but I couldn’t tell what was going on. My physical eyes could only see black, while my mind’s eye could only see this terrible, gruesome display that had been unleashed from my memories. My mind was setting it free, and it was going to kill me now.

I could hear voices shouting, screaming, and I could feel my body thrash against the leather restraints that held it to the bed.

“Someone, sedate her!”

“She’s having another attack!”

“Quick, we need to get her to calm down!”

“Make sure those restraints are tight! We don’t want her attacking another person!”

“You are not mature enough….”

“WHAT?!”

I snarled as I twisted and turned against the restraints, and my head thrashed against the pillow. Slowly, the blackness began to fade, and through the blur of black and white labcoats I could see a figure standing at the side of the bed.

It was the most grotesque and horrifying being I had ever seen. It wasn’t Human, it wasn’t an animal. It was something gross, wrong, otherworldly, and menacing….

“You are not ready yet. You are not mature….” the creature spoke in a low, deep throaty gasp.

I screamed again as the pain ripped through me, and I thrashed against the hold of the doctors.

I didn’t stop until darkness completely consumed me, and I fell back into the depths of the darkness, fading from both reality and the nightmares.

1. Sixteen (Pt. 2)

 

 

My eyes froze on the mirror.  There was nothing different from what I could tell, but something prodded at the back of my mind and wouldn’t leave me alone. I’m not sure how long I was staring at my reflection, and I was more uncertain of why I looked away. It was barely morning and my day was already starting out weird.

I left my room and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. Once done, I finally went downstairs. On the wall overlooking the staircase was a lifesize portrait of Willow Black, my mother, with her long scarlet hair framing her translucent porcelain face. She was frozen in time with a soft smile on her full lips—which I inherited—that twinkled in her bright, gray eyes—also inherited. Surrounding her on all ends were white roses, making her otherworldly beauty stand out far more. It was no wonder Father never moved on.

But he avoided talking about her like the plague.

I entered the kitchen to find Father at the island counter, nursing a cup of coffee and pouring over the morning issue. Instead of his blue uniform, he wore a baggy white t-shirt that stretched around the muscles in his arms and chest, and dark shorts. Tall and lean, Father had ivory white skin, dark hair, and black eyes, and strong, handsome features in his jawline and chin, making him look younger than his thirty-seven years.

The kitchen light reflected off his eyes when he looked up, and then gestured to the chair next to him.

“That’s the third time this week, Lorelei,” he stated.

“Huh?”

He reached over and lifted my backpack with one finger from the chair. My face turned hot.

“Oops,” I smiled bashfully.

“Don’t leave it on the counter again,” he warned with a smile.

I sighed with frustration. A lecture before my birthday even starts. Great.

“Morning to you, too, Dad,” I greeted sarcastically, planting a kiss on his forehead and grabbing an apple from the fruit basket in front of him.

“Morning, kiddo,” he replied. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks,” I gestured to the top headline on the front page. “What’s the story of the day?”

He sighed, folded the paper, and pushed it to a corner of the counter.

“The latest scandal in the mayor’s office,” he answered with a head shake. “Sex. Drugs. Greed. The usual.”

He leaned forward, brought his hands together, and pointed his index fingers to the counter behind me. “There’s a gift for you.”

“Oh?”

I spun and saw a small, black jeweler’s box, no bigger than the palm of my hand, with a white ribbon wrapped tight around it. I picked it up and turned to him, watching his face light up.

“Open it,” he instructed.

I obeyed and fumbled to remove the ribbon and the lid. Inside, nestled on top of pretty silver paper, was a teardrop black opal pendant, surrounded by a band of small diamonds, hanging from a thin, white gold chain. At first glance it wasn’t familiar, until a moment passed and I recognized it as the jewel Mother was wearing in her portrait.

“She would’ve wanted you to have it,” Father stated.

I was speechless, holding the delicate chain in my fingers, watching the jewel twist and turn under the kitchen light. Then finally I locked the chain around my neck, the pendant resting just below my collarbone.

Father exhaled. “You look like your mother wearing it.”

I beamed thoughtfully. It was the best thing anyone ever said to me.

“Thank you. It’s beautiful,” I murmured.

“Enjoy it, kiddo,” he said as he stood up. He smiled. “I wanted to talk to you about something.”

Uh-oh. I knew there was a catch.

“You obviously know that your grandmother is coming over tonight,” he started, taking his empty cup to the sink. “But I think she’s bringing a friend over.”I

“A friend?” Strange. It wasn’t like Grandmother Sophia or Father to have any “friends,” let alone invite them to family gatherings.

“Well, not really a friend. He’s a student of hers.”

“Huh?” Okay, I was really confused now.

Grandmother Sophia was a World History Professor for San Diego State University for as long as I can remember, probably before Father was born. She lived off of her own motto, “personal and professional don’t go together,” so it was unheard of if she bonded with one of her students, let alone bring them around her family.

Not only that, but my family thrived on secrecy. It was crucial to keep what we were hidden from the normal ones, the Humans. If anyone were to find out, it would be the Salem Witch Trials all over again. Keeping our way of life was the most important thing to live by, and Grandmother Sophia was more adamant about this than Father. So, why was she being hypocritical and bringing a Human around us?

And on my birthday, for Christ’s sake?

“He’s a medical student who is trying to complete his thesis for his undergrad,” Father explained, breaking me out of my baffled thoughts. “He became interested in something your grandmother shared about new age medicines and treatments for many ailments, and wanted her help to research it. So she’s taken him under her wing and teaching him more through experience. He may be coming over tonight. I need you to mind yourself and be on your best behavior.”

“Wait… is that a smart idea?” I asked, stunned.

The look that crossed his face showed that he was thinking the same thing as me.

“Your grandmother knows what she’s doing,” Father assured, with little confidence. “But she needs you to behave yourself. And so do I.”

I folded my arms in front of my chest, looking him square in the eye. Something wasn’t right here.

“I can’t make any promises,” I told him.

There was something that fell over Father’s face. A dark look that spun in his eyes and fell to his lips, which thinned into a straight line. He wasn’t staring at anything in particular, but his mind was elsewhere, and I didn’t know where.

I knew that look very well.

“Dad?”

He blinked, recollecting himself, and his posture became stiffer. He closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. Then opened them and looked at me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said flatly. Then his eyes narrowed in my direction. “Just do me a favor. Watch yourself today. And be careful. We can’t afford any mishaps today.”

“I’ll…try?”

This was one of those many moments where I wished I could read Father’s mind. He was able to read mine without any difficult—and I was trying my damn hardest to keep him out—but him and Grandmother Sophia were able to blockade their minds to keep me from reading. I had to “learn” how to block them out, but it didn’t help when neither of them was willing to instruct me on how to do it.

“I wish you guys would tell me how to do it,” I said aloud.

“Do what?” Father asked, with a mischievous grin on his face.

I glared at him. “You know exactly what.”

He laughed, throwing his head back in amusement. “You’ll learn, kiddo. And don’t worry about what I saw. Everything will be fine.”

“But you won’t tell me what you saw?” I asked him.

“You know I can’t,” he frowned. “But if it was something that I knew needed intervening, I would let you know. Don’t worry about it. Things will happen as they’re supposed to.”

“Can you at least tell me how far did you see?” I begged.

Father liked playing these games with me. Nevermind being a strong Telepath, he had to hold the ability of Sight in front of me like a shiny, brand new toy I couldn’t have. Him and Grandmother Sophia both had these amazing abilities that I didn’t, and I envied them. Telepathy and Sight were just one of them—there was one in particular I was dying to have, and hated that I didn’t.

“By the way, tell that boy he’s going to keep hurting himself if he keeps doing that.”

“Huh?” I hated when Father slipped in tidbits of information that I had no clue what he was referring to.

He just shrugged and went to the coffee maker.

Mere seconds later, a loud crash sounded from the side yard, followed by an oomph! and a slew of curses shot underbreath. I pressed my lips together to stifle the laugh creeping up my throat, but it somehow made its way into my tear ducts. I couldn’t help it, I giggled loudly. We both knew who it was, and started laughing together. I buckled over at my knees, trying to hold myself up.

“I tell him to use the front door,” I managed through the giggles. “He doesn’t listen.”

Father breathed slowly, taking in a deep breath.

“Damn. He’s stubborn and hardheaded,” he stated. He threw a knowing grin out of the corner of his mouth. “Sounds like you’ve taught him well.”

“Thank you,” I beamed.

The kitchen door swung open and a teenage boy stumbled in, covered in sweat and dirt, and cursing under his breath.

“M-morning,” he groaned as limped with his hand clutched between his legs.

A hotness filled my cheeks. Father chuckled again.

“Good morning, Damien,” he exclaimed with a wide smile. “Got into another fight with the trash bins?”

Damien’s face flared a deeper red.

“Why didn’t you use the front door?” I imagined how I must’ve looked with my arms folded in front of my chest and scolding the poor boy with my eyes and words. But I lost count for how many times this has happened.

I watched Damien’s face turn a deep cherry red. It was cute.

“I don’t know,” he answered, gritting his teeth. “It’s more convenient to jump the fence?”

Father started snickering again, much to Damien’s dismay.

“Don’t complain if you keep hurting yourself, then,” Father noted.

“Or kill yourself,” I quickly added with a dark smile.

Damien’s black eyes widened in terror, glaring daggers at me.

“Damn it, Lorelei! Why do you have to go and say that?” he yelled. “Now you’ve just jinxed me! Thanks!”

“Don’t blame me for your own stupidity,” I reminded him, smiling from ear to ear.

Damien O’Sullivan was the quintessential boy next door—the owner of the mysterious bedroom window across from mine—and my best friend since we were three, when his family moved in. When we were kids, he tagged along in all of my crazy schemes, getting trouble with me—there was always plenty to go around—until we earned the nicknames “Bonnie and Clyde” in the schoolyard.

He adjusted himself awkwardly for a moment, pulling at the pockets of his worn out jeans. After a while, the redness faded from his face, and he wobbled to the middle of the kitchen, reaching for something in his back pocket.

“Here,” he said as he thrusted into my hands a white envelope. “Happy birthday.”

I froze, staring at the gift in my hand. Damien was never one to provide birthday gifts, at least not in the thirteen years that I’ve known him. The last time he gave anyone a gift was Valentine’s Day in the fourth grade, a makeshift card he gave to Priscilla Duran, which ended up in the trash three days later—I never told him that, it would break his heart.

“I hope you like it,” he added, making my heart gallop a little more.

I smiled up at him. “Thanks.”

A little blush returned to his cheeks. He cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his dark, wild hair. He was oblivious to how handsome he was, but every girl that knew him was fully aware of it.

Which made my blood boil at times.

I held the envelope up to the kitchen light, trying to see the contents inside. “Can I open it now?”

Damien shook his head, beaming. “Not yet. Wait until we’re at school.”

I frowned, but obliged, stuffing the envelope into my backpack. “Is your mom giving us a ride, by chance? If not, Dad can take us,” I offered.

Father exchanged knowing glances with me out of the corner of his eye. Luckily, Damien was oblivious to this, too. He turned to Father, though, mildly surprised.

“You have the day off?” he asked.

Father nodded. “Doesn’t happen very often, but I’m grateful to get what I can. So, is your mother giving you two a ride to school?”

Damien shook his head. “No, one of my friends is, actually.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” Father looked quickly at me for a flash of a second, then back.

“Which friend?” I inquired.

Damien looked at me hesitantly. Something was up. And I heard it in his mind before it came fluttering out of his mouth.

And my body acted accordingly.

“I think you know her,” he stated. “Theresa Calvin?”

My heart dropped to my stomach. I knew her, alright. Every school had one of her. Pretty, born into a well-to-do family of moderate wealth, dark hair, dark eyes, and well done makeup and designer label clothes. I shared Economics with her, and although she never spoke a word to me, her mind was a small puddle barely able to get the soles of my shoes wet. Superficial, with an inflated ego to match, she lead a clique of like minded students as her friends, and I knew at some point she would hook Damien in, just as she did for all other guys she set her sights on.

Never once did I like her.

“Lorelei, you okay?” Father’s voice broke through.

I blinked. “Yeah. I’m okay.”

But he knew I was lying. Damien could see it on my face, too, but he still smiled, pretending not to notice.

Father turned to Damien. “Will you be over for dinner tonight?”

“Um…” Damien looked momentarily at me, then back. “I won’t be able to make it tonight.”

Stones filled my stomach. It hurt.

“I’ve something planned that I can’t back out of,” he explained further. “But I’ll be by this Saturday. Save a piece of cake for me, if you can.”

I don’t know what compelled me to do what I did, but I regretted the next set of words that spilled out of my mouth.

“That’s okay. Grandmother’s bringing one of her students over. Should be fun.” I hated how I sounded, how ridiculous I made myself.

And the look on Damien’s face was bittersweet. Surprised, shocked, and a bit disappointed. But he recovered quickly with a smooth, eager smile.

“Cool. That does sound like fun.” And I was back to wallowing in jealous misery. This time, Father’s expression made it so much worse—he knew exactly what I was trying to do.

Damien’s pocket started buzzing loudly, causing him to jump. He pulled out his smartphone, toying with the screen for a moment, then put it back in.

“Tess is here,” he announced excitedly. “We need to split.”

Like that, all joy and cheerfulness was zapped from me, and I felt the anxiety take over. Could I ask Dad to give me a ride separately from Damien? No, it wouldn’t be right. We went to school together every morning since we were three. If I broke tradition, he would know something was up.

You don’t have to do this, you know,” Father’s voice echoed in my head.

I glanced up, meeting his eyes. But I gave a slight movement of my head, indicating that I wasn’t going to cower my way out of this. So what if Damien was friends with Theresa Calvin? It didn’t matter. He was friends with lots of people. Theresa was just lucky enough to be considered one of them.

“Alright. Then let’s head out,” I struggled to smile. Then I turned to Father again. “I’ll see you after school.”

“I’ll lock the door behind you guys,” he replied.

But his thoughts entered my mind, delivering their message loud and clear.

You need to watch yourself today. Keep an eye on those emotions of yours….

Something about what Father said left a cold chill rolling down my spine. I froze momentarily in the hall, letting his words bounce off the walls of my mind. What the hell did that mean? Watch myself? Did he think something bad would happen?

Monster

There is a secret side to everyone that is hidden, never seen, and it is buried deep inside, imprisoned and sheltered deep inside a dark corner of our soul. It only surfaces when pushed to a limit that we had never been before….

I had felt the pulls and calls from the shadows of my rooms, the eerie whispers murmured in the dark at night, the gentle brush of invisible touch to my skin and the crawling hands against the walls.

When I was young and I would see these things, I would dart quickly under the covers of my bed and sing myself to sleep so as to comfort my troubling fears and terrors. Nightmares were what my mother had called them. Terrible, frightful nightmares, she had claimed. But they were very real for me, to me, and still are.

Except they don’t just exist in the night. They’ve surfaced to the day, and are arriving more frequently. I had grown older and had learned that when speaking of these horrible and deranged things, people will not believe me, will not understand me, and thus I will be alone and isolated in a world that would not accept me.

At the point where the innocence of my childhood faded away, the nightmares became reality, and there wasn’t a point where I couldn’t stand to be alone without fearing that they would come claim me at any point — despite the fact that I was alone constantly in my life.

I began to see the shadows on the walls. Only they became more than just hands; they became full figures, black creatures crawling around with small round bodies, like toddlers, with large round heads and bright scarlet eyes. They would stare at me and I could feel them smiling, feel their hot red rage and hunger from where I was, and I knew they would come to claim me. Then they would disappear, as if faded into the light, and wouldn’t appear again for lengths of time.

I would hear voices constantly. Sometimes unclear whispers and murmurs, like overhearing a conversation in another room, and other times, they would be loud, bellowing…even screaming. And they would be close, and always different voices. Sometimes I heard women talking, or calling or speaking to me, sometimes it would be them screaming that I heard. Then I heard men, just as the women, but they would be screaming in pain, as well.

Then I heard monsters…voices that weren’t human, couldn’t be human. They had to be something else, something…deadly.

And those were what terrified me the most. I didn’t know what they said, or if they were even speaking so much as roaring and bellowing. I always heard these, no matter what, and I would be frightened by them to the point of shrieking in fright, startling and bewildering those around me, who could not hear them.

No one heard or saw the things that I did. And at times I did believe that I was going insane.

Until something happened.

Something very, very bad….

Thrashing, fighting, and screaming in the dark, the nurses are called immediately to my room with needles and syringes that terrify the shit out of me — I hate needles.

It had been nearly five years since I’ve been living in this bloody place. I want to kill all the people in here, the insane men in white who label me insane, and the wide-eyed nurses who stare at me as if I’m possessed.

The screaming doesn’t stop. I was supposed to be a success, a recovering patient that had stabilized finally and able to function normally in a society of normality. Apparently, I wasn’t that much of a success.

By my bedside I see my mother smiling at me, smiling with bemusement as the nurses stick my pale white and bruised skin with the needles, as if entertained by my attempt to fight them off — or maybe amused at what they were doing and treating me.

I spit and curse at her, but she isn’t there at that second. She’s gone, and the men in white claim I’m hallucinating. I tell them to take me off the meds and I’ll be fixed. I tell them I’m normal, I’m functional, just leave me the Hell alone.

Behind them I see shadows on the walls laughing and hollering at my choice of words. I tell them to fuck off and scream that they leave me alone.

The nurses sigh with relief as whatever they stuck into my body begins to take affect. My head feels heavy, my thoughts begin to spin into a whirl of blackness, and I fall back onto the paper pillows and pretend to fall into what they hope is a blissful sleep.

If only they knew that there is no escaping the nightmares that are with me. They are very real as they are dreams — now I can’t tell the difference anymore.