Witching Hour

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Sickle Sweet

The next day, Samantha tried to get in contact with Lilith... Emphasis on “tried”. As she expected, as she had proven every other time, when she needed to talk to the succubus, she was suddenly not able to be reached. It probably would have helped if she didn’t call during work hours, but it’s not like Samantha was working at the moment, anyways. She was on guard duty... rather, babysitting detail.

Monica refused to leave her side. At all. Even when she went to the restroom. An unnatural sweetness lingered on the air, lain there from Jack’s promise, and acted like a glue or gum, bonding the two. It seemed to condense at the most random of times, as well, as if it were testing the waters, checking for weakness.

“Night” arrived, though it was a crawl. A lumbering, languished dirge. Then the sweetness was its most pungent. Samantha could have sworn she heard a knife grinding somewhere in the Halls, resonating through the walls. Monica refused to be anywhere but underneath her during, using her as a blanket, as a meat shield, but Samantha didn’t mind... For the most part. She was used to lying on larger people; Monica felt like a plush.

Samantha tried again the following day, a touch perturbed, glaring at the door. Why hasn’t Minos come to check on her? It irked her yesterday, but at least she had the fresh experience of being stalked to quell the agitation and anger that now bubbled to the surface. If he didn’t come check soon, he would be simply fueling the next gauntlet she would put him through. Which it wasn’t like she needed any more; the constant declined calls and unread texts made it so she was absolutely spoiled. So... if he knew what was good for him, he would knock on that door this very instant... This very instant... This. Very. In-

“There you go,” she mused, hopping out of her desk chair. Monica jumped a little in the bed, burrowing under the blankets. Only her greens peeked out, barely an inch off the foot of the mattress, as if she compressed herself down to be little more than a mite. Meanwhile, Samantha opened the door... but it wasn’t Minos. Peter was there, in more casual garb than the last time he knocked –and, hopefully, with better news than that time, too. He had the same, sad smile, though, looking between Samantha and the pair of greens.

“I’m sorry. Did I interrupt something?” He said.

“Huh?” Samantha said, finally taking note of the eyes gleaming from under the blankets, and shook her head. “No. It’s... not necessarily a long story, but the payoff edges on nuclear.”

“O...kay... I was simply wondering when class is. I am no longer ‘sick’, so we can begin whenever.”

“Oh. Right. I never did clarify that, did I?” She sighed, and took Peter’s hands. “It... wasn’t wholly you that we haven’t had class.”

“Then what is it? What’s wrong... Does it involve... I’m assuming... Lisa?”

“It’s actually me,” Monica grumbled, lifting up a touch, giving her face a touch of light. But only her face; the rest of her stayed wrapped in that protective darkness.

“Oh. I couldn’t tell. You were awfully... well, that’s not important.”

“But yes. It sort of involves her,” Samantha said, waving her phone as yet another call was ignored. “I’m trying to get her out of here. Before Jack does his favorite thing to ladies of the night.”

“... I’m sorry. I may have missed something. Why is Jack now trying to kill her?”

“You didn’t miss anything. I didn’t tell you.”

“Then what is it?”

“Promise you won’t flip your shit?”

“Samantha, if you are trying to help her, then it must be for a g-”

“She had sex with Norman. Or, rather, the demon in him tricked her.”

“O... oh.... Oh dear...” He cleared his throat, turning to the door. “I’m going to go check on the others. Is Norman fine?”

“Emotionally scarred, but that’s what therapy is... I just realized. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with a therapist or a therapist show up. He’s still doing therapy, isn’t he?”

“Video call.”

“Huh... Never really paid any attention. Sort of... forgot, really... Anyways, if you see Minos, tell him to get his ass up here.”

“Will do... and Sam?”

“Yes?”

“You’re doing the right thing.”

He left, which meant her phone was once more top priority. If only Minos would get there; she could leave him in charge of watching Monica and simply go upstairs to confront the sadistic, controlling, psycho cunt... Then again, would Minos be able to protect her? Jack already shown that he was incredibly fast... There was one person she could ask for aid, but she would still need Minos to be here to go ask her. Even in the time she pondered that, the air had grown sickly sweeter, sending a shiver down her spine.

And so she waited, watching the door, wanting nothing more than to hear it be used as a drum once more. It would herald some hope in a cell of despair. The darkness had grown heavy once more, signaling her to crawl into bed, welcoming another night of tense sleep, another night of hearing that blade grind, of being jarred awake by the saturated saccharine breeze. By the third day, both she and Monica were growing stir-crazy. And hungry. The red, once contained near the fang’s irises, started to take over Monica’s vision, and there were no blood bags in Samantha’s fridge. They would have to dare to venture out, out into the wide hall, down the narrow, creaky steps, all the way to Monica’s room. It was either that, or have her continue to salivate and draw ever closer to Samantha, in a way she really did not want.

Samantha put aside her own hunger, for the moment, as she steeled herself before the door. If not for herself, then for the quivering whore behind. Monica’s stomach growled, weakening the witch’s resolve, but only a moment, solidified once again. She hoped it would remain that way as she finally opened the bulwark, as she stepped out onto the landing. It was darker than normal. The lights above shined, as usual, but they seemed dimmer. Shadows, once negligible, little more than blots in the tightest and furthest of corners, seemed to stretch out, lashing, writhing towards them. They seemed to reach through the tiny divots of the steps, trying to grab their ankles and make them fall, but Samantha simply soldiered on, marching down them. Each footfall was solid, thundering into the hall, exuding more confidence than she really had. Monica’s were lesser, but were emboldened by the witch’s, keeping her pace of two steps behind. And never broke that, one way or the other.

They reached the bottom of the steps, and made their way towards the bend. The sweetness followed them, growing ever thicker, ever more sickening as they approached. The corner seemed to gleam with an eerie light, as if eyes, a sentry on lookout. It grew ever brighter, threatening as they continued to dare to intrude upon its domain, but it was forgotten as they rounded, the hall before them. What was once barely thirty yards had become three-hundred, each step making it leap another hundred, though across it seemed far too easy to reach Jack’s. It seemed... normal compared to everything else, barely more than three steps away at any given time. Three steps from tragedy... or mercy.

I could simply talk to him, she thought... grimacing at the idea. He won’t listen to me. Not after I stood up for Monica. He probably already lumped me in with her... I need to get in touch with Lilith. Now.

However, she dared not pull out her phone, dared not make any more noise than she already was. Less temptation the better; Monica’s room wasn’t that far, and, when they returned up the hall, she was going to take a detour anyways. Get the Fang fed first. Everything else was secondary.

They reached her room, at last, and Samantha was careful in opening the door. She took her time to pull it open, waiting, holding her breath, hoping there wouldn’t be a click, a hiss, or anything louder than the small creak the door made. She slowly exhaled, looking into the darkness of the cell. The dragon on her arm fidgeted. Its wings fluttered, smoke rising from its maw, anticipating something to glint through it... but nothing did. The lights flickered on, and everything was it should. Nothing was out of place.

Monica rushed in and down the steps, leaving Samantha to close the door gently behind, heart racing, beating in her ears as the silence pressed on the outsi-

Destroyed as Monica screamed.

Samantha rushed downstairs, practically flying down them upon the gales rippling through the dragon’s wings. Metal spiked in their wake, snaking after... all for naught. Monica was fine. She was under the steps, in the small kitchen nook, standing before her fridge. Completely empty.

“That bastard,” Samantha hissed, hugging Monica... ready to throw her against the wall if her stomach growled any louder. “It’s okay. We can always go try Peter... or Lisa. Okay?”

Monica nodded, though was rather obstinate in wanting to remain latched to Samantha. Her teeth, her true set, could actually be seen quivering through her lips, fighting so hard to lower, but the whore kept them at bay. Samantha finally pulled free, and lead the way back upstairs, to Peter’s first. She’d rather not bother Lisa if she could help it.

Which it seems she couldn’t.

She knocked, again and again on Peter’s door, grimacing, wincing as it echoed through the hall. But the room was empty. Samantha hoped he was simply in the restroom, that he would at least acknowledge she was there, but that was in vain, seeing that the bathroom was open and very much vacant. Maybe he was in the kitchen- and maybe she didn’t want to think of that. After all, how much of the girl did he have left? The room may have been cleaned, but there were still brown splotches, the most minor of leftover blood that you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking for it... or absolutely paranoid. In this case, a little of both.

That only meant one thing, though: They had to go to Lisa’s.

A question, a wonder-turned-worry formed in Samantha’s mind, though. Where was Peter? She still had the other card. He couldn’t have gotten out, so who was he visiting? Was he checking on Norman... Did he ever check on anyone? After all, how far would Jack go with his vengeance? What was he willing to stoop to? Maybe she should have checked the potential bloodbath in the kitchen, to at least see if it was only the girl, or if Jack had caught him during a midnight snack. Too late now.

They reached the T-junction of the hallway again, and hurried to Lisa’s. Samantha hammered on it, sliding the shield away though not looking in.

“Lisa?” Samantha said, groaning at her own voice, bounding, far too loud for its own good. “You up? I hate to ask, but you wouldn’t happen to mind sparing a blood bag, would you?”

She hunkered against the door. Monica was right beside her, with no space in between. Her breath was hot on her neck, and Samantha felt her lips grazing it, trembling, making her shudder as they ran along her vein, throbbing hard, matching her temple and heart. She knocked on the door again, if only to knock some sense in Monica as well, making the hall ring and thunder with her pounding.

“Lisa? I’m sorry to wake you, but I am rather desperate. So if you will just come to the door, honey, and let me in, you can get back to sleep in no-”

The door swung open, but it wasn’t Lisa on the other side.

It was Peter.

Samantha blinked, and looked into the room. Lisa was nowhere to be seen, but the red in Peter’s cheeks... and his clothes on the ground told a tale she wasn’t sure she wanted anything to do with. All he had on were those black boxers... looking a bit too snug at the moment.

“P... Peter?” She said, hating herself for what she must ask. “What are you doing here? Why are you... well, naked?”

“It’s not what you think,” he said, and walked back into the room. He retrieved his shirt, bringing it to her, and she could have sworn he was wearing a blue shirt earlier... yet... the one he had was a deep purple. Well, for the most part. The back of it was still blue, save for two, thin hand prints. Samantha looked passed him, at the lush carpet, and found that it and the bed had received a splash of red on it.

“W... what happened?” She managed to say.

“She fell.” He gestured to the nightstand on the other side of the bed, right next to a doorway... and, if the other nightstand was to believed, it was missing a lamp. “From what she told me, she had come out of the kitchen when she stumbled on her feet. She was rather tired, more tired than normal, and tried to catch herself. She grabbed the lamp, instead, which she brought down and shattered on her.”

He pointed to a streak of red leading to a desk in the right corner. Five books, incredibly bulky tomes, each as large as an atlas and thrice as thick, were on it, disheveled and marred in blood.

“She tried to pick herself up there, but had clawed at the books, knocking them down on her. She laid there, crushed under their weight, wheezing, begging for help... If I didn’t come along-”

“Where is she? Is she all r-”

The door on the left side of the room opened, and a woman stepped out. Samantha did not her recognize at first. The woman had short, sporty, almost pixie hair, those golden locks shimmering in the light. Her chest bulged against her white lace top, stained red, almost purple, but her soft, pink tips seemed to shine through. She had an hourglass figure, with but a bit of a stomach, accentuating the muscle underneath, toned tight. Her hips were wide, her rump a bit plump, barely concealed in a pair of black lace panties. They had seen better days, their lower portion shredded, showing off her soft pink lips and the field of gold.

Her blue eyes seemed to sparkle, seeing Samantha. Her cheeks were nice and rosy, and only when she sighed did Samantha realize who it was.

“Oh. Samantha. Hi.” Lisa said. Her voice was still soft but it now had its strength behind it, becoming a velvet roll. She held out her hand, no longer gnarled and clawed but smooth as marble, as gentle as silk, and as warm as her smile. “I suppose I have you to thank for my... renaissance.”

“... Damn,” Samantha said, shaking her hand. She shuddered a little under Lisa’s embrace, holding onto it for far too long. “So this is what you looked like before you went all... you know...”

She nodded, and stepped aside, showing her bathroom. There was still a phial on the sink, glistening with the tonic made the other day.

“Yes. Thanks to your cure, I am no longer starved and was able to balance out my metabolism, thus fixing my regeneration... and... needs again.”

“That’s... wow. I was only helping Peter, but I didn’t realize it could have helped you, too.”

She blushed, beaming at Peter, sitting on the bed.

“Yes. A burst of brilliance. I owe him my life.”

“You don’t owe me anything. I did what was necessary.” Peter said.

She hummed sitting beside, and gripped his hand.

“You were still very brave. Even in the face of such insurmountable odds, you kept a cool head and were able to save me... in more ways than one.”

“It was the least I could do.”

They simply stared at each other, a competition of which one’s cheeks would grow redder- delayed as Samantha cleared her throat. She was feeling a bit less than comfortable, not only from their little game but also because of the slowly-starving Fang beside her.

“So,” the witch mulled, rolling her wrist their way, “you only stayed here with her last night or...”

“Yes,” Lisa said, taking Peter’s hand. “I was still healing. He wanted to make sure I was okay, and... well... I rewarded him, too.”

“Rewarded how?”

She tittered, rubbing her cheeks, smiling wide.

“You know... So... because there’s no worry of me trying to drain you dry anymore... can we hang out? You used to do it all the time with Marcy and Ayn... and Buffy... and Bella... and M- oh. Monica’s here. Hello, Monica.”

“Hungry,” the whore whined... growled. Her teeth were fully unfurled, gnashing. “So very hungry.”

“Right,” Peter said. “Samantha originally arrived because she needed a blood bag for Monica.”

“But of course. One moment,” Lisa said, and rushed into the kitchen.

Which meant Samantha could have her chance.

“Peter,” she blurted, gripping his hand. Hard. “I need to speak with you. In private. Monica, the door is shut, Lisa is in the other room, and we will be in the restroom. You’ll be fine.”

“Please be quick,” Monica said, sitting on the bed, quivering as she watched Samantha take Peter into the bathroom. Samantha strained to keep herself from slamming the door shut, but the metal still blossomed after her digits as it, softly, clicked close.

“You had sex with her?” Samantha hissed, her teeth gritted.

“N-no,” he said, wincing as she slapped his cheek.

“Don’t lie to me. You heard her; she ‘rewarded’ you. How could you be so... so selfish?”

“Selfish?! I saved her! Let me ex-”

“Now what’s going to happen, huh? When is your matron or whatever the fuck she is going to come down and kill her?”

“She’s not. I swear. We. Did. Not. Have. Sex.” He huffed, and looked away, his cheeks bright red. “She... pleasured me with her hand.”

“Oh, like that’s any b-”

“It’s enough to keep her off my back right now. Lucille isn’t going to come down here for simply a handy... Even then, I know you are on par now with her. As is Jack. Ayn could kick her ass, as well, and Bella could run interference. If she comes down here, and tries anything, I know you four will have my back... as I have all of yours.”

“That’s wonderful and all, but what did you say before? About her being a matriarch, and them having the power to CONTROL MINDS?” She groaned, and pinched her brow... giggling, cackling. “Oh, this is lovely... Why do I set myself up for this? Why do I put myself through this?”

“Because you have a good heart.”

“Oh. Yes! Very good! So good that it has to suffer for every-fucking-thing.” She cupped her hands before her face, taking a deep breath as she closed her eyes. It had been a long few days- weeks- month... a few tears were well earned, and they chose now to spill. They ran down her fingers, wiped away as she snorted, glaring at him. “You know, I watched my own mother die... Just... torn to shreds, and there was nothing I could really do to stop it... That was ten years ago, and it felt like that was my zenith of happiness.”

“Y... What?”

“I guess that doesn’t make sense, but my life has been in a constant spiral since then of nothing but misery. That moment, that tiny speck of a memory of seeing my mom alive for the briefest period of time... that one drop is all I have, and it feels like an ocean just... holding me under it, drowning me in the dark.” She shook her head, and stood. “I have a favor to ask: I need you and Lisa to watch over Monica tomorrow... I need to go find Lilith, to find out when I can ‘teach’ again.”

“Are you sure that’s wise? In your current state?”

“It’s better to keep moving forward than to dwell on it, and, because of you, it’s been set into overdrive.”

“I have your back, Sam.”

“I know... I know... Did you talk to Minos yesterday, by the way?”

“No. I checked on Lisa first, and... well... as you saw-”

There was a knock on the door.

“Is everything all right in there?” Lisa said.

“Yeah,” Samantha said. “Just needed a word with Peter.”

She opened the door, and saw that Monica was engorging herself on the bed, four of the blood bags already empty. If she treated them like she treated the fifth... Minos was really full of shit.

Samantha whistled, shaking her head.

“Man, you really were hungry, weren’t you?”

Monica gave her a dirty look, but it was forgotten as Lisa took her hands, beaming at her.

“So do you have an answer? I would love to get to know you,” she said.

“I mean... I guess? Sure. When?”

“How about now?”

“Now?”

“Yes.”

“Right now?”

“Is there a problem?”

“N-no. No. I mean, what about Monica-”

“I wouldn’t mind. Unlike the others, I always found her rather eccentric rather than annoying. She can join us; besides, it’d be nice to know another, female Fang.”

“Wait. Really?” Monica said.

“Aye. I didn’t want to say it to the others, but I could always tell there was more to you. You simply choose to be bombastic.”

“W-well... thank you. That’s... very nice- so of course I’ll be your friend! The bestest of one- hey! We could be like sisters!”

“That would be nice. It’s been ages since I saw my real sister.”

“You had one?” Samantha uttered.

“I did. She was married off to a neighboring kingdom when I was but six.”

“How old was she?”

“Four. Sweet Avacyn.”

“F-four? Isn’t that a bit... you know...”

“What?”

“... I don’t really-”

“She was married off, sure, but they didn’t consummate it then. The Castiels weren’t barbarians... Even then, I always had a fondness for Augustus.” She sighed, returned to her old self again as she stared off into space.

Samantha... cleared her throat. “Okay, then... so... what do you want to do? I mean, what are your hobbies?”

“Well, I used to like reading. Maybe we can read together? Oh, and I also loved looming, weaving, sewing-”

“Reading is fine. How about you, Monica?”

Monica gave a thumbs up- then jumped Lisa, squealing as she hugged her tight. Lisa, though sideways, squeezed Samantha’s hands, swinging them, giggling.

“Oh, joyous day. I’ve been wanting someone to join me. I was only starting on late-nineteenth century works. You know, I was an inspiration for a Mr... Stoker? I think that was his name, but he saw me out in the woods once, and thought me a truly awesome sight. Can you believe that? I was believed awe-inspiring, even in my hunger. I was still a thing of beauty-”

And she kept going on, even as they began to read. Peter remained silent, sitting on the other side of the bed, listening as the three did. Aloud, no less. Though she wanted to, though she tried, though she begged herself and wanted nothing more than the opposite, Samantha found herself... enjoying her time with Lisa. Reading aloud is for kids, she once thought, until it was her turn to read and was being mocked for her wooden delivery, for her literary butchery. To watch Lisa read was to watch an actor on the stage, her body moving with the words, the scenes, creating the tension, the world, life itself from her very lips. Monica was no slouch either, making Samantha look like Ayn.

They only read four chapters before Lisa yawned, and she gave Samantha a big hug, smiling so even as she began to slumber, the shield closed on her door. Peter had followed her to her room, waiting for her to get Monica settled in bed before stepping out, closing the door.

“So,” Samantha said.

“So... tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow... I hate to ask, but could you keep an eye on Monica a moment? I want to go see Minos.”

“I do not mind.”

She smiled at him, gave him a hug, and headed downstairs, to Minos’ room. She raised to knock.

And felt someone breathe down her neck.

“You really shouldn’t encourage him,” a familiar, French voice said. “This Lisa seems like a sweet lass with a dark past. And she and Monica need each other. I would rather their futures be bright than be a blight, hmm?”

The voice left as quickly as it came, and Samantha was simply frozen there, standing before Minos’... No. That was Jack’s door. When did s... A chill ran down her spine, and she took a step back from it, heart slamming against her chest.

Stilling as the door opened.

Jack blinked, just as surprised to see her there.

“H... hi,” Samantha said, breaking the tension –or, at least trying to. “How are you doing, Jack?”

“Good. Just getting my blades ready.”

“Blades, huh? Plural?”

“Yup. Starting with the dull ones then moving to the super sharp. I want her to feel it at first.”

“... Per chance, were you doing it the last few nights? Sharpening, I mean.”

“No. Why?”

“No reason... Is there any way I can change your mind?”

“Nope.”

“But it wasn’t her fault. Not entirely.”

“She still broke her promise. I warned her if she did, and I don’t back down from my word. Besides, I’m also doing it for you.”

“What about me?”

“She threatened to take your job if you didn’t have sex with her... Really, if you had told me that before, I would have done this a long time ago.”

Samantha sighed, heavily, creasing her brow.

“Look. I’m trying to get in touch with Lilith, to try to get her out of here. She’s going to be a tattoo artist; will you leave her alone?”

He scoffed, scowling at her. “Fuck no. That just means I have to speed things up.”

“But her life is ruined! She’ll never be able to live her original dream. She’ll forever be haunted by her slip-up because of those marks. Isn’t that a fate worse than death?”

“Have you ever been cut by a rusty blade, Sam? A spoon?”

“N-no?”

“Well, you at least know that the sharper a blade is the less it hurts, or, rather, the less you notice? The opposite of that is the more blunt an instrument, the more it hurts when it cuts. Because it has to work harder. Because it has to saw and tear and gnash its way through the flesh, the nerves... and they make the most heavenly screams when they do.” He chortled, his scowl twisted into a devious smirk. “Death isn’t the punishment, Sam. It’s the mercy, the gift at the end... What I am doing is getting justice for what she did to Norman.”

“But what about Norman, then? Don’t you think he’ll be torn up even more by this? He asked you, all of us, to let this go.”

“And I will. Once she’s dead.”

“You’re being an unbelievable ass right now!”

He chuckled, shaking his head. “Sorry. That sounds like something Kaylee would have said... Call me whatever, I’m not backing down from my word. For both yours, and Norman’s, sake.”

He turned around, starting to pull his door i-

“Wait,” Samantha said. He looked back at her, the pair sharing a glare. “Why did you take her food?”

“I did what now?”

“From her fridge. It was empty when we went to check.”

“Believe me or don’t, but I haven’t been out of this room. Now, if you will excuse me.”

He closed his door at last, and Samantha returned to Minos’, thundering on it. Minos was yawning as he eased it open... stuck as he saw it was Samantha on the other side... He slowly shut it again, but Samantha shoved her way in, making him recoil and cower... and cover his crotch.

“Please! I just needed a few days of rest,” he said.

“Fine, but we could have at least cuddled,” she grumbled, hugging herself. Fresh tears wavered in her eyes. “It’s been rough, and I haven’t had anyone to hold me... Then you just up and abandon me in the morning.”

“I feared for the bed. It didn’t deserve to die so young.”

She scoffed, and stomped up to him. He looked at her, tense, locked into her gaze... and she pounced on him, hugging him. She wrapped her legs around his middle as he was knocked back onto the bed. He chortled as she giggled, holding her tight, and Samantha sniffled, nuzzling into his chest.

“Take me back to my room,” she said, yawning. “Oh, but we’ll be having somebody for the night.”

“Oh, yeah. Who?”

“You’re not going to like it.”

She had to interfere with my plans, didn’t she? She had to change the narrative. Everything was going smoothly, all in place, but of course leave it to that fucking cunt to throw a fucking wrench into it. All she had to do was answer her phone! There’s only so much deviation I can do... If Monica dies because of this, if this keeps me locked down here, I swear I will make her rue the day I get out! Come on, Sam... Don’t fail me now. --Norman

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