En Memoriam et Memento Mori. Requiescat en Pace. Vivas en La Petit Mort.
Hours lurched. Minutes heaved. Samantha paid her penance tenfold before the porcelain altar, praying that it would put her mind at ease. It took every ounce of her bile, of her anger. Her hatred. Her fear was the last to go, waves of it flushed down time and again, the pendulum for the seconds that her knees lamented. They cried out on the tile, crackling and were just as red as her eyes though far less bruised.
And in better shape than her pride.
Why did she think she was going to get away with this? Any of it! She should have known better by now. Whenever she tries to help, it always ends badly. Look at Buffy, Marcy, Junmei for recent examples! Yet her life was simply littered with them... But then when she decides to help them by helping herself, she’s called out as a bitch. A no-win situation across the board.
Just look at where I am, she thought. And finally stood, though wheezing, ready to make another offer. With whatever was left. She croaked and gagged as she took a step. And needed to brace on the sink. Jokes on her legs, though; that’s all the further she wanted to go. She only wanted a drink of water, so they could suck it. The witch leaned far over it, back aching, cracking as it was finally released from its lock, matching her hand as it creaked and turned the knob. The faucet hissed in her ear, splashing against her cheek as she took a deep drink, shuddering. I’m literally in jail for trying to want to teach people.
She hefted a weary sigh, and lumbered into the bedroom at long last. Lisa and Peter left, the rooms, the hall beyond spic und span. There was no sign of any whore to be seen, as if she never existed to begin with. Minos, Ayn, Jack... and Norman were still there, though. As if she needed another round of offerings for the throne of man and its hopes and dreams compounded.
Jack looked like he was ready to offer his own alms to Jim, since John was taken from her so long ago. His whole body was tense, as if ready to leap for the bathroom as Samantha plopped on the bed beside Ayn, but Minos moved in its way, glaring at him. Norman, meanwhile, blocked the entrance to the room. His eyes... they looked... haunted, hollow, bloodshot and marred from the thick tears that had spilled down them.
“So what did I miss?” Samantha grumbled.
“You missed healing this,” Ayn said, pointing at her cheek... and accidentally poked her tooth through the gap. She whimpered as it cracked from that graze. The gum ripped itself from the soft impact, splashing out yellowed blood... before it was closed and returned to its healthy hue then hidden behind fresh flesh and skin. The room pulsed with the green light emanating from Samantha’s hand, but it seems that her self-flagellation via botulism had given her some clarity, her mind some focus, forced upon Ayn and that hole in her face. Or, rather, what had caused it, and whom it didn’t effect.
“Why didn’t it work?” She mumbled, touching Ayn’s cheek. It was still a bit too soft, ripping at the small gesture, but she saw how that tincture, the smallest drop, had hit it. One drop, and it instantly started to melt her away. A single, solitary drop... yet Lilith took the full thing, point blank. Did it only affect certain succubus- succubi? Succubuses? Was it made wrong- “No. If it was, it wouldn’t have harmed Ayn-”
“Uh. Hi. Want to come back to this world, nigga?” Ayn grumbled.
Samantha shook her head. “Sorry. It’s... well, I have a lot on my plate.”
“No doubt. You never told me what that bitch threw.”
“It had an incredibly long name, but it was basically an acid made for Succubus –huh. Succubus works well for its own plural.”
“... Yeah. Yeah, it does... Are you sure you’re all right?”
“No. She’s not,” Norman said for her, his voice an ugly croak. “None of us are.”
“Norman,” Jack began, taking a step towards him.
He recoiled, holding himself, grimacing.
“You stay away from me.” He must have heard Samantha’s thoughts for he shut the door, still giving Jack such an evil look. “I know he wasn’t the one that killed her, but the point still stands that he had come here with the intention to do so. Even after Sam tried to talk sense. Even after she told you how it would hurt me!”
“I know, Norm, and I’m sorry. I really am... but I am also a man of my word. Do I break my word, have nothing left of myself, or do I break your heart... It was a tough decision, Norm, and, as much as I hated myself for it, I did not want to lose what little I had. I don’t want to be left with nothing to lose. I don’t want to become the monster Lilith wants to paint me as.”
“So why did she spare you, then?” Ayn said. “Why did she spare any of us? Hell, why was I the only one to get beaten while you crackas were locked away in the kitchen!”
“Jack,” Samantha said, “you said you felt you were compelled to go to the kitchen.”
“Are you really going to ignore my damn question?”
“Yeah,” Jack said. “So shut the fuck up.”
Samantha rolled her wrist, pressing on while Ayn gave them a smoldering glare. “Was it like, I don’t know, a voice in the back of your head? A presence? A sudden, friendly voice by your ear... even if it had a cruel undertone?”
“Y... yeah, actually.”
“Did it have a heavy, French accent?”
“No. It was far more... familiar. I have no idea who it was, th-”
“Don’t lie. Please,” Norman blurted, and sighed. “He thought it was Kaylee.”
“Your sister?” Samantha said.
“Yeah,” Jack grumbled, rubbing his head. “Again, I think it was only coincidence. I had it in my mind to incapacitate those in here first so there wouldn’t be much an issue-”
“How did you know we were here?” Minos said.
“Shit, when aren’t you here? It’s a wonder you get a break from pumping her full.”
“Please don’t remind me. I’m still in mourning for my dick.”
“That bad, huh?”
“No. THAT good.”
“I call bullshit. No woman is good in the sack. It’s usually better with the hand, but we feel less disgusting if we use their holes.”
“No, Jack. Trust me. She is that good... and magic is a bitch.”
“You like to lie a lot, don’t you?” Samantha exclaimed. “We aren’t doing i... fuck it. Why does it matter anymore... But how did you know Peter and Lisa were here?”
“They... were flirting this morning. Out in the hallway.”
“Yeah... was rather heavy, too. Romantic, sappy in Peter’s special way, but you could smell the lust rolling off Lisa. All he had to do at that moment was whip it out and she would have jumped right on top.”
“So much for being faithful for that husband,” Minos said, chortling... stopped seeing Norman’s sad expression. “What’s wrong?”
“She knew,” he said.
“She knew her husband left her to die... She knew he had left. With another woman, no less.”
“How did s-”
“He didn’t keep it a secret. He was a court magician, after all. An adviser to royalty... with all of the perks. He could weave his way through the higher echelon so sinfully well that even uttering his name meant either peace... or war.”
“I mean, what other extremes could be made?” Jack said, chuckling as he sat down in the desk chair. “Ultra peace? Mega orgy?”
“That... last one actually happened,” Norman said, but shook his head. “He was very good at what he did... but he also had a taste for younger women. Young even by medieval terms. Lisa... was one such girl. He had a fondness for her, always was around her, stayed near her kingdom... but then, one day, she got very sick. No one knew what it was at the time, but now we know it would be a form of small pox.”
“A form?” Samantha said.
“ It was... worse than the normal strain... He offered the king a deal: he would treat her, but, in return, she would be his bride. The king accepted; why wouldn’t he? In his eyes, he was getting the best adviser locked down in his court, to work for him and only him... Sadly, the king didn’t understand how bad the illness had spread across his kingdom. No one, not even him, survived it... but Lisa was spared. She was turned; he made her his.”
“But not sexually?”
“Not vaginal intercourse, no.”
“W... what does t-”
“You know very well what that means,” Ayn grumbled. “Hell, you once preached you were the same.”
“And she was turned... at a young a- oh... oh, gods-”
“What was the name of her husband?” Jack blurted, his face pale.
“I... I think you already know,” Norman said, greening.
“Oh, that... that bastard!”
“What?” Samantha said.
“Was that what he wanted with her? Is that why he saved her!”
“It’s a good thing I was there to watch over her. Because if he had laid one dirty fucking finger on her, I’d-”
“I think he had matured and wanted something new,” Norman cut in. “It seems, from Lisa’s memories, he had grown disgusted in himself and was looking for ways to make things right. It’s why he never had the heart to take her virginity; he believed she deserved better.”
“Because she did!” Jack gasped, covering his mouth, but was able to keep it under control. “Oh... oh, my... was that why he... was I-”
“Where is he now? Maybe you could a... oh. You don’t know.”
“Stay out of my head, Norman!” Jack winced at his own snap... and stood. He sauntered up to Minos, trying to look so casual as his face continued to turn a sickly shade of green, and nodded as he drew close. Minos stepped to the side. “Thanks, chap.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said, and sidled back in place as Jack closed the door. The bathroom rumbled with his newly found discovery, and Norman looked a bit happier with each thunderous, flushing revelry. Minos motioned to Samantha... then to Ayn, chuckling. “So what was that, anyways?”
“Bella’s way of trying to get revenge,” Samantha grumbled.
“For what? For locking her up down here?”
“For what she did to her cousin-sister.”
“She had a cousin- wait. Cousin-sister? What’s the suppose to- START MAKING SENSE, WOMAN.”
“It’s driders. Nothing makes sense with them.”
“Goddamn, you niggas love to talk in circles.” Ayn blurted, glaring at Minos. “Do you forget everything after a year? Scarlette. Bella posted about her to Hell and back on the chat room for the longest time. ‘My cousin Scarlette found love.’ ‘My cousin Scarlette found the perfect man.’ ‘#ScarxJohnny4evs.’”
“Oh yeah... I somewhat remember that cringe fest. How did that work out?”
“She supposedly disappeared, but it seems it’s not that simple. Sam?”
Samantha opened her mouth... but felt a pressure pushing on her, as if being thrust from her left. She looked to the door. To Norman. He was frowning, his lip quivering, wanting her to do something that she wasn’t sure any of them were ready for. It hadn’t done her any favors up to this point, after all –which meant they were perfectly safe! It’s only bad if it is good, so the obvious outcome of it simply being reversed is obvious... right?
“Scarlette went on a murderous rampage,” Samantha said. “From what Lilith had told me-”
“So take it with a fuckton of salt,” Ayn muttered.
“... she had killed at least a dozen in her attempt to make Johnny her own. However, Johnny was Lilith’s, so she... beheaded her.”
“And Bella knew about this,” Norman said. He probably meant it as a question, but his foresight was his comeuppance.
“I took Bella to see her and everything. They had a nice chat-”
“Whoa! Back the fuck up,” Ayn said “They... what? How could they talk if she was decapitated!”
“Well, I pushed air through the bottom of her neck, allowing the vocal cords to reverberate and-”
“Nigga, that is not what I meant! How the hell did she live with her head fucking lopped off?”
“‘Living’ is debatable... She had made a wish with a desire demon. So long as Johnny’s alive, she can’t die.”
“And what happened with the desire demon?” Norman said. That one actually did sound like a question; improvement- “Thank you- er.”
“No idea. Think Lilith said she killed them.”
“Every day that passes, I grow more and more certain that driders should simply be exterminated,” Ayn said. “Bitches are born in a death battle, and only get crazier from there.”
“And just think. Bella has another sister out there-”
“Who will most likely swear vengeance on Lilith for killing Bella after she tried to get her vengeance for what she did to Scarlette- yup! Just nuke the spider bitches.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to wish genocide on an entire race for the actions of a few,” Norman said, but Samantha covered Ayn’s mouth instead, shuddering, seeing the spark that played behind his eyes. Norman gasped, and slid down the wall, sobbing. “Thank you, Sam... that was too close.”
“What was? What did I miss?” Jack said, panting as he pushed by Minos, back to his chair.
“Oh, Norman’s other half almost tricked Ayn into wishing that an entire race of people died,” Minos said. “After she found out that Bella had another sister that would most likely want to try to kill Lilith for beheading Scarlette who couldn’t die because she wished that she was immortal until another person died and then killed that desire demon Oh, and drider’s are crazy.”
“... Seriously. What did I miss?”
“Never mind,” Samantha grumbled, pinching her brow. “This whole thing is a fucking mess. All centered around Monica.”
“Even in death, she’s a right pain in the ass,” Jack said.
… Minos clapped. “So Monday we have class?”
“Why bother?” Ayn said. “There’s only six of us left-”
“Five, if Lilith has her way,” Jack said. “After all, I’m charged with a crime I didn’t commit. I wanted to, though, last I checked, you can’t be killed for a thought crime. Does that matter to Lilith? No...”
“Don’t remind me.” Ayn growled as she punched Samantha’s shoulder. “Why did you have to tell her I was considering her offer, you fucking bitch? Now she’s going to look for ways to kill me.”
“You want to find your love?” Norman said, smiling at long last.
“Bitch, don’t act like you didn’t know! You can read everyone’s fucking mind on a whim.”
“Yes, but it’s nice to hear it actually spoke aloud. Everyone has thoughts they don’t want to be heard.”
“Yeah!” Jack said, burping as he sat again, groaning. “For instance, I don’t want people to hear that Lisa is my fucking sister!”
“But... you just did,” Ayn said... shaking her head. “Never mind. J... never freakin’ mind... So that means it’ll be down to four soon because there’s no way in Hell that Lilith is simply going to let me walk out of here.”
“Unless,” Norman blurted, his eyes twinkling again. “Unless... unless you make a wish with me.”
“What? Norman. No... I don’t want to use you like t-”
“I know you don’t. None of you do. None of you truly ever wanted to make a wish... not even Monica.” He stood again, standing tall as he took a step towards them. He raised his right hand, trying to keep it clenched into a fist, smiling, even as fresh tears washed down his face. “But it’s obvious that, no matter what I do, I will never have full control of this. It will always find a way, so... so... so the least I can do is offer my service, help you word it so it doesn’t screw anything up. At least, not fully.”
“I... just don’t feel comfortable doing so, Norman... Hell, even the thought gives me the willies-”
Minos and Jack snorted.
“Who says that anymore?” Minos said, chuckling as Jack slapped his knee. But Norman didn’t pay them any mind, continuing to march towards Ayn. Their laughter died down, seeing the true determination in his strides, the air of gravitas that seemed to hang from him as a cloak, a mantle, strengthening and emboldening his spirit. He finally made it to her, and sat on the bed, taking her hands.
“Tell me your wish, Ayn,” he said. “What is it that you truly desire?”
“I...” Ayn began, looking him in the eyes. Her own filled with fear and doubt, softening her usual rigid visage. “I... I want to be loved... and I want to be whole again. I want... I want to have a child, and name it after my ma.”
“Put it into a wish, then- don’t speak it aloud. Just... formulate it in your head.”
“I... I c... I can’t. Not right now.”
“But of course. You can stay with me for now, though. It’ll be safer.”
He stood once more, still holding her hands, and lead her to the door, out into the hall, and around the corner. .. Jack pulled the door shut, clearing his throat.
“Well, better go make my peace,” he grumbled. “Going to be dead soon, so... that’s going to be fun. The real question, though, is what you are going to do, Sam. What is Lilith’s plan for you?”
“She... has a job for me.”
“Another one?” Minos said, chuckling as he sat on the bed, sitting with her. “Isn’t teaching us enough?”
“I’m wondering if I’ll ever get back to even doing that.”
Minos continued to chortle, and pulled her back into his arms, kissing her neck.
“Well, there’s always more you can teach me.”
“And with that, I am out of here,” Jack said, opening the door again. “Still. What is your plan?”
“I’ll... give Lilith a call Monday,” Samantha said, squeaking as Minos pinched her breasts. “For n... now... I think I’ll... go to bed and- ah! Watch i... i...”
“As you can see, she’s still in mourning,” Minos said, nibbling her ear. “I’ll console her the rest of the weekend, then she’ll be back to her bitchy self come Monday.”
“Alrighty. You two have fun.”
“Oh, I will,” Samantha said, and giggled as she pushed Minos down on the bed. The door clacked shut behind, locked in place, and was closed just in time before Jack was scarred by Samantha lobbing off her dress, revealing she had nothing underneath... Though Minos made her keep the heels on. They both knew it’s what Monica would have wanted them to do.