B1 — S2. Haunted

Scarlet fled, running down the street, she heard shouts of surprise everywhere, but it was a sixth sense that overpowering her senses, a dense, pulsing aura; fear and anxiety surrounded her.  Why is this happening to me?  I’m a monster!

Her legs locked up as police cars screeched around the corner; she tumbled across the sidewalk, but there was no pain.  The bright sirens passed her, stopping in front of her house. She stared at the police van and cars as officers rushed out of the vehicles; entering her home.  What do I do?

Her enhanced vision penetrated the walls, watching the police meet Kyle’s guest in the basement.  He was cradling Kyle’s cooling body; several of Kyle’s organs had been struck by the blood spears.  Now that she was focusing, she could see every wound on the bodies were fatal, and she felt Kyle’s grief; it sent a wave of pleasure through her that twisted her stomach.  This isn’t right!  Why do I feel … pride?  No! I don’t!

A few of the officers threw up on sight of the massacre, her mother seemed to be laughing as she spoke to the men and women entering the scene.  I’m a murderer … I killed my dad and … no, I didn’t do it, it was the blood!  I wouldn’t kill someone! I would ‘t feel pleasure in it! Her teeth locked as her finger started to shake; the exhilaration reverberated within her bones.  Never!

Her breath caught she saw a camera in the corner of the room.  Mom said she’d recorded the event … that means they’ll—it wasn’t me!  It was the blood! The officers started treating her mom as she laughed at them, talking excitedly.  One officer was questioning Kyle’s guest, while the others checked the house for other people.

Scarlet rolled to her side, watching the scene with hollow eyes; she could sense the fear growing around the area, the smell was pleasant and made her muscles prickle, begging to be exercised.  Where can I go?  I’m a Vampire … I have to be—it happened in less than a few seconds.  It doesn’t make sense. I was at my computer, and then I threw up … that was when everything changed.  I could see through walls and people … damage wood with my bare fist … teleport through shadows … the blood.

Her throat felt so dry, she couldn’t even swallow, which irritated her throat.  It had to be my Vampire abilities, but I didn’t want to kill everyone … I just wanted them to stop … it acted on its own.  Mom said…

She wiped away the tears that fell from her eyes, blood smearing across the back of her hand before absorbing back into her skin.  I even cry blood.  She felt more tears sliding down her cheeks.  It’s not fair!

Her eyes darted up as she heard two cops running out of her house, one of them had a radio in hand.  “This is Officer Laxly, we’ve got a ten-thirty-five; massacre at scene—at least twenty bodies. Requesting major crimes—securing scene.”

The second officer opened the back of his car but paused as he noticed her on the ground.  “Hey, there’s a girl collapsed over here!” He rushed toward her.

Scarlet stiffened, quickly rising to her feet; the man seemed to slow.  Confused as his expression shifted between emotions in slow motion, she panicked.  Does he see my eyes or the blood all over my clothes?  She turned and ran without looking back, realizing she was running at an accelerated pace.  The burning in her mouth increased, but she didn’t slow until she saw something too shocking to turn away from.

She skipped to a stop as she watched the scene unfold with horror, looking into the house in front of her.  With her enhanced vision, she could see the back window was broken, and a bulky man with lizard-like skin crawled across the walls and ceiling to pounce on a man, tail whipping a woman against the wall.

Scarlet’s trembling hands rose to her mouth as the lizard-man bit off the man’s head; she watched the blood begin to spread across the floor as it turned to the woman.  What … this can’t be real?  This is a nightmare … a real nightmare.  The lizard began gnawing on the woman’s body as she screamed.  He’s eating her alive … I feel his pleasure … he knows what he’s doing.  This is sick … why do I have this awful feeling? Her terror and pain … it feels good … that’s terrible.  It’s not me … I wouldn’t feel this way. It’s not me!

Her vision shot to an upstairs bedroom; two fraternal twins no older than nine were hiding under their blankets.  They’ll be next.  Focus returning to the lizard, she watched it raise its head to the ceiling, and even from this distance, she could hear the kids’ cries for their parents.  I can’t let them be eaten!  I just watched their parents be murdered … what can I—I’m a Vampire, right?

With the desire to help the kids, shadows rose around her, and when the darkness left, she was standing beside the bed.  The kids were still under the blankets, she could see the lizard quickly move up the stairs and across the wall. What do I do?  I’m scared … how do I fight it?

One of the kids peeked out from behind the blanket, his vision centered on her; he locked up, his aura of fear made Scarlet’s blood burn and teeth ache.  No!  I want to help them, not kill them!  She backed away, bumping into their dresser as a knock sounded at the kids’ door.

A harsh, hissing voice spoke on the other side.  “Henry—Cortney—it’s Mr. Kennedy—why don’t you open up?”

Scarlet was trembling with both children as they stared at each other in trepidation.  I can’t move … I don’t want to … why does the blood cycling through their veins smell like a steaming steak dinner?  It’s not right! There’s a murderer outside the door … but, I can’t look away from their blood!

“Cortney,” Kennedy cooed.  “I remember seeing you—playing out back in the sprinklers with—your brother.  You should—come over to my—house and play in my—pool.” The silence stretched, and he continued.  “I’m going to—come in.”

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Scarlet was able to shift her eyes as the doorknob began shaking.  What do I do?  He’s a monster … but, I’m a monster too … no, the blood is the monster!

The door opened, and Kennedy’s lizard-like head poked around the corner, scaled fingers gripping the side of the doorframe.  He froze as his eyes caught sight of Scarlet. “What—the—what are you?” He hissed. “I can’t—see any heat coming from you.”

The twins began sobbing again, hugging each other as they stared between Scarlet and Kennedy.  Scarlet took a deep breath, voice trembling. “Y—you should leave—there’s police coming.”

His face creased in confusion.  “Police? I’m not—concerned with—police.”  He moved to the floor on all fours before rising on his hind legs; he was over two and a half meters tall, head brushing the ceiling.  “What—are you—though? Not human—changed, like me?”

Scarlet shook her head.  “I—I don’t know, but you should go…”

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A smile seemed to split his lips.  “I smell—the blood on you—you want these kids all—to yourself?  I have—dibs.” He sallied up to her, hissing laughter. “You chose—the wrong prey!”

She began to tremble more violently as his mouth opened extremely wide.  He’s going to swallow me whole!  I need to run… Her vision closed as she hugged herself in panic.  His lumbering footsteps stopped, a choked gurgle responding shortly after.  The smell of blood lifted up her nostrils; different from the warm human blood she’d experienced.  Opening her eyes in dread, she saw crimson; the solid spikes of blood penetrating Kennedy’s body liquify, flowing back into her body as he dropped to the ground, lifeless.  His heavy drop causing a reverberation to shoot up Scarlet’s legs. Again…

The kids were frozen in each other’s arms as they watched the blood absorb back into her skin.  Scarlet sniffed as she began to cry again. I did it again … I’m really a Vampire, but it’s not me.  I didn’t control the blood, it did it on its own … I didn’t kill my dad, his friends, this lizard…  “It wasn’t me,” she cried.

Scarlet stumbled around the dead lizard-man, moving to the bathroom.  She stared at herself in the mirror; her expression was terrified, but terrifying.  Her mouth was slightly open in horror, showing sharp, fang-like canines, her wide eyes seemed a hollow void with crimson halo-like glowing irises, and her ears were pointed, poking through her raven black hair.  Blood stained her cheeks; the dark lines ran down her neck. More crimson stained her clothes before fading as it was absorbed into her skin.

“I’m a monster,” she wept.  “My mother turned me into a monster—it’s not me!”  She screamed, black fingernails digging at her skull as she clamped her teeth together.  “It’s not me! I’m not a Vampire!” Her eyes opened in shock. “My mom made me—I’m the avatar of Scarlet … I’m a host for the Reaper of Blood.”  Her face lit with malice. “It’s your fault, Scarlet!” She shouted. “You killed my dad—everyone!”

All she saw in the mirror was the monster reflected.  Screaming, she slammed her palms against the mirror, causing it to spiderweb at the impact.  “You’re no god—you’re a demon!” Scarlet’s anger was smothered as her own voice spoke within her mind.  Demons can be gods too.  Didn’t you know?

Backing away from the mirror, her eyes widened.  “You’re real … It’s not me—you really did all of it—you did all of that … why…”

Of course, I did, a disease must be purged.  If they raise a hand against my avatar, they are a disease to be eradicated.

Her head slowly turned to the door as the twins watched her, halfway hidden behind the door frame.  “Please, stop—you’re scaring me…” Cortney pleaded.

The fear they exuded made her arms start to quake against the fractured mirror, fingernails digging into the sheet wall behind; she hugged herself with fear, trying to suppress her tremors.  “I can’t—I can’t help this awful energy inside me! What are you doing to me, Scarlet?”

Her skin tingled as her tongue slid across her crimson lips.  “You should be scared of me, children—who is in control?” You—no!  I’m in control!  Away! Get away from the kids!

Her vision shifted to the front room, and she was swallowed by shadows.  She clung to her sides as she stumbled to the corner, huddling against the wall.  I’m in control!  I am! She jumped as she heard gunfire close by; the emotional aura escalated around the area.  She could feel it everywhere as it pressed in on her; the joy, sadness, anger, fear, trust, distrust, surprise, and anticipation struck her mind, corroding her will.  She began rocking back and forth, whispering, “I’m in control…”

Her lips turned into a smile as her words changed.  “I’m bigger than this body, Scarlet.”

“No—no, no—no!”

“I’m colder than this world.”

“Please—no, stop—this energy—everywhere!”

“I’m meaner than its demons.”

“You’re not in control!”

Scarlet’s muscles relaxed as she looked up at the large mirror on the wall before walking to it.  Her face showed pity, eyes completely red as her fingers traced the outline of her head. “Dear, what are you saying?  You are me. We are The Monarch of Death—The Reaper of Blood—accept me—I am you, and you are me.”

 Fear returned to her face as the hollow darkness returned to her eyes.  “I’m not you!” She ripped the mirror off the wall, embedding it into the sheet rock.  “You’re the devil! Get out of me!” She stood in the same spot for several seconds, eyes closed as she waited for Scarlet to continue her fight for dominance, but she didn’t return.

Opening her eyes, she looked up at the stairs; the kids were staring at her, curiosity touching their fearful aura.  Gritting her teeth, Scarlet yelled, “Run!” They broke into tears. Growling with frustration, she backed against the wall and slid down to her butt.  “Where are you, Scarlet?”

The voice returned, soft and patient.  Waiting for the time, you’ll accept me.  We can do great things together; my will is yours, after all.

“No, it’s not my will!  I didn’t tell you to kill my dad, leave!  Get out of me!”

Her merciless chuckle caught Scarlet off guard.  I already told you; we are one and the same; I cannot leave, and you were in danger; I merely acted in a way to protect us.

“I don’t want to hurt people…”

Yes, you do, but you do not accept it … yet.  Those feelings can be channeled; it doesn’t have to be indiscriminate.  You can feel the urge spurring your teeth, tickling your throat, burning your muscles, and boiling your blood; emotion cries to be savored, power longs to be gained, blood waits to be reaped.  You deny it now—eventually, the time will come when you will accept the reaper’s task and consume your enemies without hesitation, or you can just wait for me to take control again. Then I’m the bad guy, right?

“I don’t have enemies!”

My dear, everyone has enemies.  We can feel the pressure all around us; hate, intolerance, disgust, greed, lust, fear of the unknown and powerful, spite, jealousy—all these tantalizing negative emotions that are screaming for the reaper’s scythe.  We do not need to be separate in our desires; we want the same thing—you just need to see the truth in what we are.

“What are we?”

Reapers.

“No—I’m not a killer!”

Scarlet laughed, and the crushing emotional energy around her escalated as she curled into a ball against the wall; the sound, scent, and aura of violence, confusion, and hate only increased as Scarlet trembled in her defensive position, haunted by the emotions that threatened to crush her diminishing will.

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