Witching Hour

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Truth

Friday morning came so soon, so fast. Quicker than Samantha expected. It wasn’t her alarm that woke her, though, that shown how it swift it swooped upon her but by a knock at the door. Bella groaned, grumbling in her sleep as she tried so hard to hold onto Samantha, but relented as the rapping increased, the soft knocks soon thundering against the metal. It still took Samantha a moment to get her legs. They ran off a while back, still quivering, shaking, and a touch bowed, but she managed to retrieve them once more. Though they swayed far to the left and right, they managed to meander and finally approach the door.

Finding Lilith on the other side.

The succubus gave her a sweet smile, but refused to look at her. Instead, she was focused on the door hinges, as if Samantha’s very presence caused her insult. The dragon growled on her hand, her nails biting her into palms, skin starting to warm- and realized why Lilith wasn’t looking her way. Though most of her was still coated in silk, her breasts and waist were completely exposed. And quite slick with love, at that.

Even after that realization, though, Samantha simply didn’t care- no. She cared, but in that she was causing Lilith distress. If she wanted to show up at an unholy hour without any implication nor forewarning, then she should deal with all the consequences that came with it. So Samantha yawned, stretched, spread her legs and let loose a really unflattering noise from below before she rolled her wrist towards Lilith.

“What is it?” She grumbled, burping... If she was waiting for Samantha to apologize for her utterances, not her problem. Which she seemed to get the idea.

“Oh, I simply wanted to check on you,” she said at last. “I wanted to see if you were all set for today’s test.”

She sounded sincere, almost welcoming, but Samantha didn’t have the patience nor the consciousness to care for her saccharine horseshit. And she knew exactly what Lilith wanted to know. Why she bothered with this pony show just to shit up her circus was beyond her –oh wait. It’s Lilith; that’s what she’s best at.

“I will be venturing out in the halls again,” Samantha said.

Lilith frowned at this, crossing her arms before her.

“I was hoping our little talk would have curbed such fancies... but I see now that they have simply grown because of it.” She looked from the hinges into the room, watching as Bella lumbered out of bed and approached. The drider slung an arm around Samantha’s shoulders. Far too fast and unexpected. Samantha did her best to hide her flinch, bury her fear and loathing- but it was too late. A single spark burst to life in Lilith’s eyes.

Samantha’s stomach started to drop, wondering if the succubus would kill her plan here and now, but instead simply nodded to the drider.

“Bella,” Lilith said, nodding her way. “Out of everyone here, I expected you the least in Samantha’s bed.”

“Yes, well, imprisonment can make anyone more open to new ideas.”

“Including relations with women.” She tittered, biting her lip. “I remember when you were but a freshman in my school... how you put so many bonny lasses in choke holds for trying to flirt with you.”

“Again, imprisonment can make anyone open to new things.”

“You mean it could rehabilitate you... At least, that’s what you’re hoping your lover believes, isn’t it?” She shook her head, and reached out, gripping Samantha’s shoulder, giving her a sad smile. “Her execution date approaches. Be mindful of her original charges, and know that the woman I see before me manipulated so many to pull off her atrocities. If you won’t listen to me on your little adventures every month, at least heed me on this. The reports do not lie... about anyone.”

Her hand lazed down Samantha’s arm, encroaching towards her hand. To Samantha, it might as well have been slithering, her nails hissing on the silk, cutting it away until she found her target. She gave it the tiniest, yet firmest, of squeezes before she wheeled and descended the steps. Her heels clacked, boomed, echoed back until they were stifled by the entrance’s boom, by its boon on Samantha’s mind.

Bella had been squeezing hard, trying to pull her back in the room, finally given an inch as Samantha spun on her. The look in the drider’s eyes was a mix of worry, anger, confusion, and a touch of love, all circling, spiraling towards the madness gleaming from her smile, twitching, trying so hard to hold as Samantha glared at her.

“Lilith, huh?” Bella said, laughing a little, though none of it was warm, dripping with bitter venom. “She knows how to get right under the skin.”

“Yes. She does, but she’s not often wrong,” Samantha muttered, sadly wide awake now. She pushed Bella away and sat in her desk chair, holding herself, still glowering at the drider. “I need you to be completely honest with me.”

Bella scoffed, crossing her arms underneath her chest, glaring back.

“Like you are with me?”

“I have been telling the truth since the beginning-”

“Oh, so we are really going to go see Scarlette today, huh? My cousin who has eloped and no one has seen since? That Scarlette?”

“Yes.”

“Bullshit! I went along with it because you were cute and awkward, but now it’s pissing me off how little respect you have.”

“That was the whole plan today, remember? To go see her?” Samantha shook her head. “I was trying to do you a favor-”

“I think you can just cut off the last two words of that.”

“No. I’m being serious.”

“Well, quit it. Just go back to being the bimbo pussy licker that you are.”

“Excuse you? Last I checked, you came onto me!”

“Multiple times, and you enjoyed every minute of it. ‘The best lay’, remember?”

Samantha bolted to her feet, seeing Bella in a whole new light. Rather, an old light. A very, very old light.

“Oh my gods... Lilith was right. You are only using me.”

“I knew it! I fucking knew it! You believed her hook, line, and sinker!”

“No! I didn’t. I still don’t, but you aren’t exactly helping.”

“What do you want me to do huh? What the fuck do you want me to do!”

“Be honest with me!”

“I am being honest!”

“Then tell me. Now, more than ever... do you love me?”

Bella opened her mouth... but stopped... She closed it again, opening thrice over, but ever single time she cut herself off before she could say anything. Each time she did, it was like a nail through Samantha’s heart, a hammer against her legs, forcing her to sit once more.

“I,” Bella began –more times than Samantha wanted to count. One nail was bad enough; she didn’t need the entire hardware store. Though... being hammered that much sounded very, very nice at that m- she nodded. “I do. I love you, Samantha... At first I didn’t.”

She slumped onto the bed, looking down at the satin and sheets, rubbing them.

“I... lied,” she continued. “Just like you. I thought you were simply giving false hope, trying to warm me up, trying to use me... so I thought I would do the same to you. All’s fair, after all. As the month went along, I... I don’t know, my... heart actually got attached.” She grimaced, and clawed at the blanket, trembling. “To think I would actually fall for a woman... but I suppose I delayed the inevitable enough... You want to know why. Why I love you. Why it is such a shock. Why Lilith stated it... why she warned.”

She looked up at Samantha, and once more she saw that softness, felt that intimacy from last night.

“There was a guy, a polypheman. Tall, handsome for what he was, and absolutely smart and caring and with so many interesting hobbies and stories.” She sighed, her cheeks warming, hammering another nail in Samantha’s heart, stopped as Bella’s face contorted with rage. “So many people wanted him. So many girls... but... I knew we were meant to be together. He was always so sweet to me, always looked out for me... Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a drider in this school? In society? You know how many people only focus on the spider part and forget we are still himan beings –hell, still human? On top of that, the bitches started to spread that I was a dyke. A dyke! Why? Couldn’t tell you, but once it stuck it took forever to choke it out... but him? He didn’t care. He always gave me a shoulder to cry on.”

“What happened?”

“He started dating... and it wasn’t me.” She huffed, a bitter sound, and the left crook of her smile twisted. “I mean, I guess it was my fault for never letting my feelings known, but we hung out day after day. I was always so close, always touching in one way or another; guys are truly oblivious to feelings... but yeah. He started dating. First was a harpy, which was comically funny to see. She was only about a quarter of his height, but they had a couple dates. It seemed to go smoothly... between them.”

“I take it she did not like you.”

“Not. At. All. Again, men are oblivious; women not so much.” She growled, her abdomen bobbing a touch, loosing the stinger inside. “She started to tell him that I was saying mean things behind his back, that he was not worth the effort... And... He believed her. He pushed me away- me! His friend- his BEST friend- his ONLY real friend, for whom he knew longest... for that harpy twat.”

“Is this leading up to your first kill?”

“No shit. It’s still my sweetest one yet for how... personal it was... You see, although he ‘gave’ me space, we were still friends. He was simply more... wary about how close I got. I wanted to patch things up, make things right... so I made them a small picnic. Nothing big; just some sandwiches... drinks.”

Both corners of her smile had curled, while the rest of it was still a cruel sneer. A dark light shone brilliantly in her eyes as she giggled.

“The bitch had let slip how allergic she was to seafood, that ‘even the smallest bite would swell her throat shut’. We were all adults; I made them some adult beverages. Some clamato Bloody Mary’s... She tried to fish for her epi-pen, but I simply twirled it watching from a few acres away, counting down the moments of her life.” She sighed, hugging herself, and actually did smile. “It was my first, and I shall never forget the look on her bloated face as she took it. It was... amazing.”

Samantha shuddered a little from how... erotic she rolled that word, but managed to keep it under control as she cleared her throat.

“And you weren’t caught? Surely, they would have found the thermos filled with the concoction, as well as the fact you gave them the picnic.”

“They would, but you know this area, right? Horrible cell signal at times, especially in the middle of nowhere. He had to go someplace else to make the call, so I used that time to swap with the actual, pure tomato Bloody Mary thermos. As well as change out the glasses and even pump her stomach and wash out her mouth. When he finally came back with help, they weren’t able to conclude anything and called it an accidental death.”

“That... sounds like it should have taken far longer.”

“Oh, it did. A few months, in fact; he was so distraught. I saw to him in his time of need, as the good friend I was... but then another girl caught his eye. This time a Fang. It was Spring Break, we went to the beach, on a boat. He left us alone a second, and suddenly she was in the water. You know Fangs and water; sunk like a stone. Didn’t matter, anyways. The ice pick in the back of her neck did wonders. Told him she simply saw, her words, ‘a hunk on the shore’ and went to go get friendly. She was sort of notorious for being a slut, anyways, but that could simply be because I spread around her personal diary on vlogs. Her first mistake was trying to be my friend while dating the man I loved –well, I guess that was her only real mistake. After that, he wanted to be left alone for the summer, which I did. I was his friend, not his keeper... sadly... and, even then, when we came back for the next year, he had found a bitch over summer break! ‘Turns out we were both from Greece’; YEAH! I bet that alabaster-skinned succubus was from Greece.”

“You killed a succubus, and she was allowed at the school? After what happened with Ayn?”

“Which is why she turned a blind eye to the ‘horrible accident’ that occurred in the washroom. They still never found out how somebody worked a six-foot pike down the S-bend and added a pressure sensitive plate to the seat.”

“Now you’re sounding like a fucking Looney Toon.”

“Can’t argue with results, and ad infinitum until he finally eloped with his last love. They ran for New York to try to hide away there... Ever been? The view from the top of the Empire State Building is immaculate. They even have signs up there not to throw anything over.”

“But you threw her?”

“No. They jumped. Turns out he had feared for a while that I had been targeting him and his lovelies, but never knew why... again. Guys. Oblivious. So they threw themselves over. I tried to give chase, caught him with my web... and broke his neck with it.” She sniffled, and fell over on the bed, holding up her thumb and index, barely an inch apart. “I was this close to catching his wrist, instead. Sure, it would have dislocated his arm and shattered a few bones along the way, but he would still be alive... I’ll never forget you, Cy.”

She sighed, and sat up, clapping her hands once.

“So, there you go. That’s my story... for the most part. Aren’t you fucking glad you know? Do you still fucking love me?”

Samantha... stood, and walked over to her. She sat down beside, and it was Bella’s turn to flinch as Samantha patted her shoulder, rubbing it.

“Just tell me this: you weren’t going to pull an elaborate death trap on Minos, were you?”

She uttered a single laugh, smirking. “Hell no. That punk ain’t worth it... but I guess we should get ready for our dalliance... Whatever happens today, Sam, I just want you to know I’m happy we met, that we bonded like this... that I fell in love with you.” She kissed Samantha... then spanked her rear, making her jump to her feet. “Now, go make us some sandwiches while I get first dibs on the shower.”

“Oh? You don’t want to do it together?”

“I need a cold one. To wash away that memory... and I doubt you want to take care of me for getting all hot and bothered about my ex.”

True enough, Samantha thought, and headed into the kitchen. She was actually thankful to be away, and to be the one to be handling the food. As well as that she only had to deal with the drider for a few more hours. Driders: naturally crazy, apparently... Wonder what kind of girl Scarlette was? She couldn’t have been anywhere near as b-

“Hey, Bella!” She called from the kitchen... no response. She rolled her eyes, and put her hand on the wall. It pulsed yellow, hastening until she could hear the shower. “Bella!”

“Jesus!” She screeched. “What?”

“Just wanted to ask if you remembered what Scarlette was like?”

“Well, we came from the same egg clutch, for starters. We were the only ones; we killed all the others.”

“Okay. That answered my question. Thank you.”

She pulled her hand away, shaking her head. Now, more than ever, she wanted this day done.

Samantha stood at the front of the class, fidgeting, drumming her fingers along the podium. Bella was already at her seat, just as anxious, while time seemed to stretch. Each tick was torture, languishing, stretching thinner with every student that entered until the last. Each heart beat, every hour of drawing breath for a single inhale... was... an eternity. Made all the worse with whom was last, since she couldn’t even fault the dear lass. Lisa, after her Sisyphus task, managed to make it once again and took her seat. Yet, even then, her gait was almost faster than the movement of the clock. And she wasn’t even sitting yet; just standing, leaning against.

Lisa looked around, slowly, still panting, harder than a dog, wondering why everyone was watching her. Though none had a glower more dour than Samantha or Bella.

“What?” Lisa said, looking between Samantha and the rest of the class. “Is... is s... something wrong? Is there something on my dress?”

She looked down at herself, shaking like a leaf as her knuckles turned bloodred under the grayed skin, clinging to the chair for dear life. But she held, and inspected, scrutinizing over that soft, yellow ensemble. It was a wonder it didn’t simply slide off of her like so many others when she tilted even a little, but the bands were thicker –thicker than her shoulders, in fact. There were two sets of them, over the top and around the side, and both slumped off to her elbows not even a second after, tilting her head (dangerously) to the right. Thankfully, the middle was held by a large, blue ribbon. Though tied loosely around her middle.

Even that was starting to give as she began to regain her strength, her pants fuller, putting effort into her investigation, finding out why they were so focused on her- until Samantha had enough and cleared her throat, pulling the Fang’s, and the classes’, attention back to her.

“Please take your seat,” Samantha said, fighting the irritation that wanted to rumble free. She gulped it down, instead, along with her gum, clapping. “Right. Your desks are already on the table- tests! Tests on the desks- tables- er... G... good luck, and remember: no wild orgies while I’m gone.”

“Wait! That was a possibility?” Monica shrilled. “We could have done that!”

“Not even in your wildest dreams,” Jack said, waving after Samantha. “Bye. Have a nice trip. Make sure to bring back a postcard, and be careful. Or, if not, don’t name it after me. Seriously. You would be naming it after Minos, too, if you did, and that’s just not fair for the child.”

Minos snorted, growling as Samantha gave Jack a thumbs up, and left the room. She closed the door, leaned against the wall, while yellow sparks sprung from her shoes. Her toes tingled, numbing as they succumbed to metal, her ring left upstairs this day.

She watched the yellow energy pulse through the halls, saw small sparks burst out in seemingly smooth places, until the lights even crackled and flickered –but only just. She didn’t want to completely knock everything out; only... give her a head start. Her phone clacked away in her hands, followed by the softest, warbling noise before she pocketed it, and she heard Bella rise in the room and dart to the door, opened and shut so quick that only a single exclamation of Ayn managed to follow through.

Samantha lead her to the entrance of the Black Halls, swiped her card, and they were out. The plan was a go.

“Okay. Now what?” Bella said, a bit too accusatory for Samantha’s liking. It was followed by a coy giggle and an embrace, even less to her liking. The drider moaned, nibbling Samantha’s ear. “I mean, unless you were really only looking for f-”

“Follow the cloth,” Samantha said, pointing to the ragged patches along the walls, and skirted around Bella to hop on her abdomen. The drider huffed, but decided to humor her teacher. For now. She followed it all the way to the other set of halls, quite uneventful, as thoughtfull as it could be. No one occupied the rooms this time, the metal cast in a ghastly shadow, in cold darkness that did make Bella hesitate, that made her slow. Samantha pointed over her shoulder, at the end of the hall, to the door standing open... and to the eight beads of light shining from it. “In there... Well? What are you waiting for?”

Bella shook her head, and, with reluctant steps, the back feet always pointing back, approached those lights. They seemed to grow as they approached, sparkling, but Bella froze before the door, refusing to get any closer. Samantha rolled her eyes, and climbed off, creating an orb of light that revealed Scarlette at last.

Samantha picked her up, wind rushing through her neck once more, and even pulled out a water bottle, moisturizing the drider skull’s eyes.

“There you go,” she said. “Now you can tell her personally.”

“Y...ou actua...lly did it,” Scarlette said, paling Bella. “You brought Bella here. I mean, that i...s Bella, right?”

“S-scarlette? Is that really-” Bella began, and turned to the corner, coating it in the tuna salad sandwich Samantha made for her earlier. No respect... Her breath was ragged, raspy as she gave the wall another coat- then before she took a deep breath, looking at Scarlette once more. She looked between that skull and Samantha, her cheeks still so green, breathing threatening another round, but she held it down. “Holy shit... You were telling the truth!”

“B...Bella? Is that r...really you?” Scarlette said. “You look d...diff...different since I last saw you. Why’d you dye y...your hair?”

“Fuck that! What happened to you! You’re only a head, for fuck’s sake!”

“L... Lilith. She... keeps me here. A trophy... Took my love... I made a wish with Lust demon. ‘Til death do us part’. He n... never died. He never died! Stuck like this... Guarding.”

“Guarding what? Scar? What are you-”

Bella looked passed the skull, watched as the back wall slid aside at Samantha’s call, her finger pressed on the button. The drider approached it, even more wary than before- and yipped a as Samantha hopped on her back. Samantha was still holding Scarlette, taking her along as they descended, washed in the purple glow, growing, pulsing stronger with each step. Once more those copper vats loomed, stopped by the rise of grumblings and groans... Bella shook her head, and continued down, given strength by Scarlette.

The vats whisked by, only seen in that small window in between, while the group delved further into darkness once more. All the while the light behind dimmed and faded away. Samantha held up her hand, and a new blue orb sparked to life, showing them the way down.

They reached a door, opening to... an elevator. There were so many buttons, but the bulb display showed they were on B2. Bella hit the wooden button for B1, and the elevator groaned, rising. It didn’t take long for the vats to warm through its slit, returning them to those... those...

“What are these?” Samantha whispered, Bella taking a shaking step towards the first one... backing away from the drider fetus inside. The others were filled with similar... monstrosities, each a different stage, until the last, the one right behind and beside the elevator. It was was the most formed, the light on its handle green. “Are they c-cloning?”

“Looks like Minos isn’t completely full of shit after all,” Bella muttered, shuddering, and gagged a little, turned to a rising shrill. She pointed to the plaque above the one ready. “Scarlette, it’s... it’s...”

“Me.” Scarlette wheezed. “She cloned... me.”

“She was waiting for you to be ‘finished’ before finding some way to get rid of you,” Samantha said, and groaned, rubbing her head. “Let’s... let’s get out of here. Please.”

“Yes... but we’re taking Scarlette with us.” Bella stated. “I won’t leave her behind.”

“But what about Lilith?”

“I’ll deal with her. I don’t care. This... this is far worse than anything I’ve ever done. How can the school condone t-”

The elevator whirred, and Bella hissed, jumping on the vat then the pillar. They watched, waited as the door slid open. Lilith walked out of it. Along with another. His white suit was washed in the purple light, dulled by his silver hair. It was almost as long as hers, tied back in a tight bun, but everything else of him was hidden in that glow.

He rubbed the “ready” pod, his hand almost as black as night, capped in sapphire gems.

“She’s almost here,” he said, his voice high yet low, booming yet a whisper. “Have the parents been notified?”

“They have,” Lilith said, curt, glowering at him. “They do not appreciate we’ve... ‘kept’ her all this time, but they will finally have their little girl back for the holidays.”

“They don’t know anything that happened here, do they?”

“They know there were some deaths, but other than that? No.”

“Good... and what about your little... problem?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t been upstairs yet. The alarm was triggered, though, so she did enter.”

He growled, and black fire rose from his shoulders, eating away both the light and his suit to show molten red skin under. It was blistered, coated in thorns, but the true horror was waiting beyond the light hiding his face, eaten away by the blaze. His eyes were solid yellow, encased in that obsidian glass, but it was his teeth, those black razors untouched by gum nor lip that made Samantha’s skin crawl. They were cracked, gnarled, looping on each other, while also tearing at his visage –what was left of it, ragged and scarred with deep, red lines.

“The sooner you get her in the System,” he said, “the sooner we can shut her down.”

“And the fifth, sir?” Lilith said.

“She’ll come to us. In time. Just like she did.”

“But do we have the time? What i-”

“Fenrir hasn’t stirred. Yet.”

“But our Father is-”

“Our Father is a fool! He’s paranoid, senile; that’s why we’re in charge... How’s that lover of yours? Is he still-”

“He’s fine.”

“That’s good. We need you at your best. No loose threads, no distractions-”

“He’s fine, Cain.”

He groaned, shook his head, and lead her back to the elevator.

“Shame that other succubus couldn’t be persuaded. We’ll need all the help we can get... and the rings?”

“They’re doing fine. This time.”

“No issues?”

“None that I have-”

The doors closed, and the three finally found their wind. Bella raced up the tower, finding the hole, and Samantha forced it wider, letting them through and up to Scarlette’s plinth. She was left there again, much to Bella’s displeasure.

“I’ll be back for you,” she said, and Scarlette flitted her eyes side-to-side, lost to the halls, to the Black Hall again, only stopping when they were in Samantha’s room. Samantha shushed her, cradled her head against her as she bawled, quaking so much... Yet, to Samantha, she was still, their shaking balancing each other out. “I... I...”

“We’ll get her back. I swear,” Samantha whispered. Her voice was hoarser than she expected, a lot more bitter than she wanted... She jumped a little as Bella pushed herself out of her embrace, almost following after. “Bella-”

“I can’t. I’m sorry,” she said, heading for the door. “I just can’t... Thank you, Samantha. Thank you, and fuck you.”

She closed the door, and Samantha was left alone in her room. She would have been more heartbroken, but it had already been nailed and bled dry, little more than a hollow shell as she gave in to sleep. Funny thing is, in her dreams, she was either being nailed up to the side of a hardware store or being tied splayed eagle to an active railway; at that moment, she would have loved a train to go over her than continue to be nailed senseless.

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