Samantha did not dream. There were no memories-turned-nightmares as she slumbered. Well into the next day. She didn’t even notice her newest cuddle buddy once she fell into the umbral embrace, and it only let her go when her stomach was hollow.
Though her bladder was in more desperate, dire need of reprieve. And so she lurched out of bed, hissing, cursing the nightstand as she scraped by it, even more at the door that dared stand in her way. If it wasn’t for the fact her mind had some understanding that she was human, civilized, she would have done it right there and then, just to spite it, but she had a mite of class. The smallest speck of it.
The door flew into the bathroom, crashing into and becoming the wall. Her cell rang with its joining, celebrating its union, but she cared not how festive it desired to be. Her attention was on Jim and filling it with her truest opinion on everything that has transpired.
She slid right before the porcelain throne, and pulled her feet out of the molten metal as she took her place upon it. The room echoed with her sigh... and groan, realizing her mistake.
No use keeping them now, she thought, and placed her hands on the hems of her pants and panties, burned away. I’ll just throw on something new once I’m done.
As if she needed another reason.
The thought boiled to the surface soon after, realized by her rather holey shirt, scrapped and stained deep brown by her blood. The cuts, the scrapes, the abrasions could be seen through, catching her mind up again, to her most recent housemate. It seemed like a dream in itself, a mild terror that faded away, but now her heart skipped a beat, letting the true weight sink in. Sehmi was in her apartment. Sehmi, Cain’s prize... and the unwanted servant Lilith forced upon her. The mer-made-monster –Hey! That rhymed... How fucking fitting... Mermaid monster, too... Aren’t mermaids monsters, anyways? I never met one that didn’t want to rip my head off. ‘Beautiful babes’ my ass; all are filthy, scaly skanks! What do men see in them –aside the obvious- and not even in the right hole! Only blowjobs. Fuck sakes...
She sighed again... trying to think of any other way to continue that train of thought. But her rump was already becoming numb on the seat, Jim rippling one last time with her ridicule and vehemence. All that was left was to deposit it... bu... she didn’t want to flush the toilet. She really... really didn’t... She didn’t want to alert that... thing in any way... but, once more, she was a civilized individual. More a curse, at this rate, but the damage was probably already done with how she entered the bathroom... The fire didn’t help much.
Samantha finally fed Jim wholly her opinion, then rolled her wrist at the flames, sending the dragon off to put them out before she trudged after. The dragon snorted, ruffling its wings as it landed on her shoulder. It didn’t relax, though, preparing as every muscle in her tensed, approaching the main room. The door was remade behind her, floating, starting to shimmer as if water, ready to unleash its torrent of molten steel at what laid on her bed. If it came to that... For hers, Samantha’s sake... she prayed it didn’t.
The witch reached the doorway, shivering with the dragon’s growl, and leaned out to look around the lamp. At the bed.
Nobody laid in those torn sheets, on those tattered shams and the mangled pillows in them. Though it still held the scars of housing the creature, Sehmi was not there. Samantha cocked her head, looking around the room, and allowed the door to fit back into its frame as she did. The desk hadn’t been disturbed. The entrance and its door were untouched, clean of any cut or blemish. That only left, if the floor was to be believed (and who would believe that liar) the kitchen, open... with a scarred path to it.
Samantha approached it, peering ins-
“Mistress Sam!” Sehmi boomed, springing into view. She had Minos’- Samantha’s- both of their aprons on, though they were little more than ribbons now. They failed to endure hiding her razor-tipped breasts or rubbed against her thighs, now but fragments caught on those peerless scales. Sehmi didn’t seem to care though, beaming at Samantha, bouncing on her tip-toes as she clapped her hands. She gasped, worry flashing over her eyes, and took a step towards the flustered Witch –and her wide-eyed dragon. “Mistress Sam?”
“I’m... I’m okay,” she grumbled, patting her chest, and heaved a heavy sigh. As the dragon huffed, as well. “Morning... What were you doing in there?”
The worry left as quick as it came. Sehmi clapped her hands again- rather, her fingers. Right before her lips, then she turned around. Samantha followed the perky mer... thing –though only followed, unable to match that energy. It was far too early to have that much pep.
Sehmi stopped at the island and pulled out one of the stools. It scraped away, both on the ground and her palms, as she held it out for Samantha. She waited for the witch to sit, then bounded around to the other side, allowing Samantha to see the meal before them. There were three silver trays sat before two white plates. The first on the right was laden with sausage, both patty and link, kept at bay by bacon. Some of it was candied, some of it fried, and some was even of the Canadian kind. The center had waffles, pancakes, and French toast, surrounded by small, glass jars filled with different kinds of jams, preserves, and, of course, syrups. There was even a small, glass dish with squares of butter. The last was filled with different varieties of egg, with the most plentiful being scrambled. In fact, it was a challenge in itself to separate scrambled from the others, but she seemed to have gotten the hang of it. In time. Around its edges were cut halves of toasted wheat bread, ready to be jammed and/or buttered.
Sehmi grunted, smiling as she spread her arms to it.
“B... bre... brea fasting,” she said... but frowned at Samantha’s reaction. “Mistress Sam?”
“Uh- yeah! Yeah. It’s... it’s breakfast, all right.”
Sehmi huffed, rubbing her brow, and groaned.
“Brea. Fast. Breafast. O... One.”
“Yup. One word. You weren’t wrong, though. Breakfast is meant to break fasting... You understand what those words are, right? You can understand me?”
Sehmi nodded as she grabbed a bit of bacon.
“Yes.” She prodded her head with the bacon, twice, then that poor bit of pork met an unfortunate end. Her oily black tongue snaked out and tore it from her scaly clutch, pulling it into those rows of daggers, where it was gnashed it into oblivion. “Yum... But yes. N... kn... know words. Know l... lan... Enlish. All u... up here.” She rolled her wrist before her, starting to look annoyed. “S... spea... spea... runts. Sounds. Hard.”
“Well, American English is one helluva bastard child. Can’t imagine it’s easy for someone born from a tube to know it instantly.”
Samantha smacked her forehead... on the counter.
“Dammit... That was careless,” she grumbled into it.
“Mistress Sam? Why...”
“Because I said something I shouldn’t’ve –and there’s one of the many bastards of this lovely language.”
She stabbed a few waffles and reeled them onto her plate, flopping helplessly before her as she smothered them in strawberry preservers and syrup. They might have gave one last cry as she cut into them, but were silenced as she stuffed her mouth full. Stopping her from saying anything else stupid... However, once again, the damage was done. Samantha could see the gears working in the poor girl’s eyes, trembling under their great turns and creaks.
“Tube?” She repeated. Her face was scrunched, looking hard at something before her, putting the invisible pieces together before her on the table. “T... test tube? Test tube b... ba... I’m a lone?”
Sadly, she asked that just as Samantha swallowed... and right before she could cut up another piece.
“Huh? No. You aren’t alone, Sehmi-”
“Not alone. A s... a s...”
Once more those unholy growls started to bubble forth, and Samantha witnessed, first-hand, how her brow split apart to allow the blue flames to flicker forth. How they fell before her face, shrouding it, only allowing the ghastly green glow to pierce through them.
“Why is that sound so hard? Why an’t I mae it!”
She slammed the island, and marble chunks flewed from her ire, reduced to dust as she continued to bombard it. Samantha leaped to her feet and dashed around, grabbing and holding the poor... thing by the shoulders. Sehmi continued to thrash in her arms, flame and scale ripping and rending at her flesh, searing and desecrating what was left of the shirt she wore, but Samantha refused to let go. Metal screeched and sparked, keeping the mer’s wrath from her bare flesh, turned into choked sobs as Sehmi settled.
Samantha shushed her, holding her against her chest, caressing her face as the girl still shuddered with such... anger, such fury, fighting so hard to keep the flames in.
“I’m sorry, Mistress Sam,” she croaked. She sniffled, slumping in her seat, but Samantha still held her, rocking her gently. “I’m... I’m trying so hard.”
“I know. You’re trying, and you’ll get it. You just need a little time... okay?”
Sehmi... nodded, and Samantha heaved a weary sigh, lumbering back to her side of the island. She looked upon the food again, at the skill, the intelligence, the wisdom and finesse that was put into it all... as well as the desolation beyond, surprised that both could come from the same, scared, little girl, still holding herself... Samantha picked up a piece of sausage, biting into it.
“This... the food, I mean, all of it, was spectacular, Sehmi.”
Sehmi looked up, looking a bit brighter. “R-really? Th... than... THAN... I am humbled.”
“I didn’t know you could cook. How much is locked away in that noggin of yours?”
The girl blushed, giggling as she rubbed her head... before turning her attention on the food again. The two ate in “peace”, which Samantha was more than happy to simply sate her void. It was a wonder she could do as much as she did; she had, in a sense, brought back the dead... A wonder, though. Did Scarlette get out? Did she make it all the way to the top, or did Lilith find her along the way?
“Hope she’s all right,” she mumbled, finishing off the last piece of bacon. It was candied, coated in succulent brown sugar while still keeping its savory roots, both blended together in perfect harmony... and not burned in the slightest. No small feat.
“Who?” Sehmi mumbled through a mouthful of French toast.
“Oh... no one important. Just... a friend?”
“A fri...” she swallowed, coughing. “Sorry. A friend?”
“Yeah. Like the guy you scared off last night.”
A soft growl rolled forth, her yellow-tinted blue eyes flashing green.
“More lie him?”
“Not exactly like him, no- wait. Do you have a problem with Minos?”
“He rees of evil. He wanted to hurt Mistress Sam.”
I highly doubt that’s what he wanted to do, she smirked- groaned as someone knocked on her door. She stood from the stool and started towards it.
But was beaten there by Sehmi, opening it.
Peter was on the other side, and was a bit confused to see the corrupted mer there... Meanwhile, another growl started to surge forth, flames starting to rise.
“Peter,” Samantha said, chuckling as she hugged Sehmi again, grunting. “My friend. So happy to see you, a friend.”
“As I you,” he said, eyes darting between her and the mer. “May I come in?”
“This is Mistress Sam’s domain.” Sehmi stated.
“And I am allowing him permission to come in,” Samantha said. “Because he’s a friend. A good... good friend.”
Sehmi continued to glare at him... but allowed herself to be pulled back from the door. Peter stepped in and sniffed the air, each inhale making Sehmi tense, her flames spark.
“Someone made something good,” he said, and chortled as he beamed at Sehmi. “Now, I never knew Sam to make anything, so it must have been you.”
“Tempted to let her go,” Samantha grumbled, rolling her eyes as he lumbered into the kitchen. She, and Sehmi, watched him saunter over to the trays and pick up a pancake. He grabbed one of the butter knives, coating one edge in butter, then spooned on a medley of berries before wrapping it up, taking a big bite. He voiced his approval, and waved it towards Sehmi, still smiling as he tended to that morsel.
“Pancake was flavorful and heavy, but not too overpowering to allow the preserves and butter their turn,” he said, muffled by the morsel... then he swallowed. “Very good.”
“Should have tried the candied bacon,” Samantha added.
He wheeled back to the table, groaning. “It’s not here.”
“I know. I ate the last piece.”
He turned around again, giving her a dirty look, but continued to smile.
“Well, if it was anything like this pancake, it must have been divine.”
Sehmi... eased herself out of Samantha’s grasp, and walked up, with heavy steps, to Peter.
“I lie you,” she said, and hugged him, giggling. “I’m Sehmi.”
“Nice to meet you, Sehmi,” he said, fighting back his winces as he patted her back. “I’m Peter. Peter Fletcher.”
She backed away, cocking her head at him.
“Fletcher? You mae arrows?”
“Used to. Now I’m a literal renaissance man.” He cleared his throat, and rolled his pancake towards Samantha, still smiling. “If you don’t mind, Sehmi, I need a word with your mistress. In private.”
Sehmi... stepped aside, letting him pass. She plopped on Samantha’s stool, tearing into a pancake. Cold fire still lingered on her gaze as she watched after, making sure he didn’t do anything as he approached Samantha. Once more, they went into the restroom, where he finally heaved an exclamation. His hand and chest had healed, but there was still blots of blood on it, his black suede shirt torn by her embrace.
“Okay. Who, and what, the hell is she?” He hisse.
“That would be Sehmi Wilshire.”
“Lilith made it up on the spot.”
“That sort of answers what she is.”
“No. It really doesn’t. It’s a long... long... long... long story. All you need to know is she’s a mer that has had some kind of black magic fuckery done to her.”
“So does that explain her hyper aggressiveness and territoriality?”
“No freakin’ idea! What I do know is that she’s pretty much a newborn that has the strength of a fucking nuke behind her with no real understanding of how to control it. Oh, and she has a problem with G’s and K’s-”
“She has a problem with velar ejectives and voiced uvular stops.”
“I’ll... take your word for it.”
“No. That’s actually a good thing.”
“Both of those sounds rely on her throat. How she cuts off the airway, anyways.”
“Well, that makes too much sense.”
“Why? Did something happen?”
“Like I said. Long story. Anyways, what are you doing here?”
“I wanted to check on you. Make sure you were okay after your meeting with Lilith.”
“Oh, that? That was nothing... All the stressful stuff happened after.”
“Oh... and I take it that falls under-”
“Long story? Yes... but...”
“Peter... I have some bad news. I... I won’t be around much longer... but you guys will be able to leave. All of you can live better lives out there, outside of these walls and this hall and even away from VNA altogether. You and Lisa c-”
“You know damn well there is no life for me out there,” he cut her off. His voice turned hard, his eyes flashing a touch, shaking his head at her. “As long as Lucille is still alive, the world, itself, is my prison. At least down here, with you, with Lisa, with Jack and Peter and Norman and Ayn and... and the others, I had a taste of freedom. Now you’re telling me I can go, as if it’s no big deal?”
“What if I told you that Lucille’s time was limited?”
He was ready to retort... but stopped himself.
“I am so sick and tired of Lilith treating me like a lapdog... so I thought I would get rid of hers. I’m not stopping there, either. I’m going to make her rue the day she tricked me down here –to clarify, though. I don’t hate that I was down here, that I met you all. I hate the fact that she fucking lied to me to get me here.”
“Trust me. I understand. I wouldn’t be down here if I could help it.” He shook his head, knuckling his brow. “But now you know she knows you are going to try, right? She has telepathy? She can hear my th-”
Samantha knocked on the door. It and the wall buzzed, revealing a thin, purple veil, seeming to ripple like a pond from her blow, the stone that it was.
“Something I’ve been testing the last few weeks. I hadn’t let it cross my mind once outside of hoping or berating myself for thinking I could be heard. Considering she hasn’t busted in once, I think it has been a success.”
“And? Once we step out of here?”
“Well, that’s the beautiful part. It’s sort of... contagious.” She pointed up at the ceiling. The metal above him, its thin, purple veil, had drooped, a single, heavy drop hanging like a fruit, ready to be plucked.
It splashed on his head, but didn’t settle for simply soaking the top. It oozed down the sides, into his ears, melting onto his mind.
“There! Now any thought of the thought about being able to block thoughts has been blocked... I think.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” he said, picking at his ear, a bit discomforted by how he was... violated... but shook his head. He lumbered to the door, opening it again, and Samantha followed him out into the living room. Waiting out there wasn’t Sehmi and her glare, though, but the mer and Lisa, giggling, chatting rather pleasantly.
Sehmi hopped off the bed, tearing a long strip with her, and hugged Samantha, trilling.
“Mistress Sam,” she said, and bounced a little as she waved to Lisa. “Another friend ame by. She said her name was Lisa.”
“And that is her name, yes,” Samantha said, sitting on the bed. Sehmi nestled beside, all smiles and warmth towards the Fang sitting at the desk... but glowered as Peter leaned on her shoulder. “Lisa, this is Sehmi. Sehmi, you already said her name.”
“What is it that she called you though, Sam?” Lisa said, biting her lip. “Did she call you mistress?”
“Uh-huh!” Sehmi said, giggling as she scraped against Samantha, hugging her tight. “My mistress.”
“I didn’t realize you were keeping servants, Sam.”
“Not servant.... T... the w... parent? Mother.”
Samantha, as if struck by lightning, bolted to her feet.
“Whoa-whoawhoawhoawhoaw,” she sputtered, heart hammering away in its cage, rattling her to her very core. “I... I- aye yai yai. Let’s... I... I need a moment.”
She thundered to the door, throwing it open, and practically ran down the stairs. Her feet scraped at the metal, groaning up and after, seeming to leap in vain to catch up as she paced down the hall. The dragon on her shoulder yelped, crying out as it clung to it for dear life, bouncing and smacking against her back.
Me? She thought, starting to cackle a little, head throbbing. A mother? To that thing, no less! That was never part of the bargain! I was simply supposed to teach her, guide her, be a mentor, not a fucking p... Wait. Let’s run by that again. I was simply supposed to... babysit her! Yeah! We’ll go with that. I’m supposed to be babysitting her until the time Lilith decides to take her away.
She stopped at the entrance of the Hall, leaning on it.
Then again, that’s true for the clones as well, isn’t it? I’m to... indoctrinate them, propagate to them the ‘truth’, until the time comes she takes them away. She takes them... and uses them for her nefarious purposes. What was below was only a taste of that; she must have other venues. Plenty of others... I need to get to work. S-
The door shuddered, and started to slide away. Samantha saw that Lilith was on the other side. Her gun was already drawn, clashing so much against her yellow d-
“Don’t say a word,” Lilith grumbled, seeing Samantha look over her attire, at that bright, sunny, overwhelminingly yellow dress and its dark blue hem, ‘complementing’ her black boots so much. Stomping to Jack’s.
“I wasn’t going to,” Samantha said, though had even more a reason to giggle. Lilith shot her a dirty look, refocused towards Jack’s, where she hammered thrice. She cocked the gun, aiming it at the visor.
“Open!” She barked as Jack looked out. “Nice. And. Slow. Keep your hands where I can see them.
He did, his hands raised... though he, also, chuckled as he saw her dress. He took three steps out, waiting, staring forward as Lilith walked around. She prodded the gun against his head, dragging it around, scraping up skin until she was behind him. Then pushed him forward another step, slamming the door shut behind. Lilith dug the butt of the gun into his skull, forcing him to his knees, and had him put his hands on it as she prowled back in front, pushing it against his temple.
“Normally, I would have shot you through the slit and called it a day, but it has already been a long week. I need a little... catharsis... Besides, you’re technically a hero, as well. You killed her because of what she did to Norman, of what she did to Samantha. In many ways, I wish this would turn out differently, but...” She cocked the hammer. “I, Lilith Brimst, on the 16th of June-”
“Wait. It’s been that long?” Samantha said. “I thought it was still April!”
“You should pay more attention to your phone, then... I digress. On this day, I, Lilith Brimst, senior member of the Death Marshes, am authorized to execute you, Jack Bertrand, for murder. Any last words?”
“Yeah!” An unknown, squeaky voice called out. “Put the gun down.”
She blinked, and cocked her head at the entrance of the Black Halls. As Samantha watched her. The succubus’s pale face grew green, Jack chuckling more, and Samantha slid her vision to the door, following those rubies, where all saw a fair girl in bright, red cloth leaning against the doorway. Her blue eyes shined so bright, locked directly on Lilith. Samantha followed their “aim” back, and saw that the succubus’s once deep red eyes were now entrenched in darkness.
Lilith’s arm shuddered, squeezing the gun tight, stilling as soft feet pattered up the hall to meet them, and only then could Samantha move her head and see that the girl had walked up. She patted Samantha’s shoulder as she passed, and the girl finally broke her gaze from Lilith, glowering at Jack.
“Kaylee! Kaylee, Kaylee,” he said, fanning his arms. “You’re just in time. I was about to die, like you always wanted.”
“It’s Mina now.” She stated, flipping her mangled, black hair back. Her squeak had settled to a soft crackle, growling a touch as she continued to glare at Jack. “If I wanted you to die, I would have let Lucille find you originally.”
“Aww.... So you do care... but why did you change your name? I always liked that Kaylee.”
“As if you’re one to talk, Siegmund... I’ve found Him.”
His smile faded instantly. “Truly?”
“We’re going after him, once and for all.” She cocked her head to Lilith, and those blue eyes flashed, making sure to keep the darkness before the succubus’s... The one known as Kaylee-Mina? Minaylee cooed, clicking her tongue as she shook her head at the succubus. “Oh my... Aren’t you hiding a dirty little secret... I’ll be taking this one off your hands, if you don’t mind. For now... How about we put that gun to fair use.”
Minaylee rose her arm, only a touch, and aimed it down at her foot. As Lilith did the same. The girl snapped her fingers, thrice, and Lilith hissed as her gun matched that, too. Blood seeped out of the three half-dollar sized holes in her foot, her heel ruined, broken underneath, digging into the flesh even more.
The girl turned her hand sideways, and opened it, making Lilith drop her gun into the growing pool of blood... then gave the succubus a kiss on the cheek. She patted it, giggling as Lilith gave her a pained smile.
And, sadly, decided to turn her attention on Samantha.
She gave Samantha such a sad smile, but every fiber of her being started to feel... wrong under those bright eyes. The hair on her nape wanted nothing more than to simply leap off, tearing whatever skin it could along with it. It seemed to... crackle as Samantha peered into those blues, unable to look away. They seemed to shimmer, as if out of focus, as if she was not really looking at her but beyond. Nails seemed to scrape at her mind, digging, pulling, which made her unreasonably angry.
But the girl simply sighed, relenting at that sudden ire.
“I wish I had more time with you,” she said, and kissed Samantha’s cheek, as well, “but I’m afraid we shall not meet again. Farewell, Sam.”
Minaylee sauntered passed, waiting outside in the hall for Jack. He scratched his head, cleared his throat as he stood and lumbered towards Samantha.
“Well, looks like our time is at an end,” he said, and huffed, giving her a sad smile.” I thought for sure you would be the first out of here, but I finally get to take my revenge, all that fun stuff... It’s been a pleasure, Sam. Don’t ever change.”
She... kissed him- then slapped his cheek, pinching it. As both of them smiled.
“Take care of yourself. I don’t want to see your sorry ass down here again.”
“Can’t make any promises, but I’m planning on, as my man would say it-”
“Having a good time, having a good time!” The two sung, laughing. Minaylee tagged in where Samantha dropped out, and both continued to sing with out into the hall, their voices shredding at each other, at the metal until the door granted mercy, slammed shut.
Lilith, meanwhile, cleared her throat, trembling with her smile as she patted Samantha’s shoulder.
“Well, that was... unexpected,” she said. “Did not expect a matriarch to show. I... I think we’ll wait until Friday to go downstairs. I... I need a few days. And a stiff drink... Good day, Sammy- Sam... Sam.”
“Good day, Lil. Good day.”
She couldn’t help but smile after the succubus as she left, enjoying, savoring every moment of her limping. The blood left in her wake was like fireworks, fanfare playing through the revelry- even more when she had to trudge back for her gun. She almost fell into Samantha, whom had taken a step back in hopes... but, alas, she caught herself. She holstered her gun once more, and gave Samantha one last head bow before leaving... and then it finally dawned on the little witch.
“Wait. That was the power of a matriarch?” she mumbled, her chest hollow, and felt the first bead of cold sweat slink down her back, stealing with it all her warmth. She shivered, sliding down the wall, and shook her head. “Oh, God... and I want to voluntarily piss one off?”
… She couldn’t help but laugh a little, giggling softly as she slowly slid to her feet and lumbered to her room.
Look on the bright side, she thought, taking her sweet time on the steps. It’s still better than ye-
Peter and Lisa were still there, but her heart seemed to drop in her chest, seeing the cupcake in Lisa’s hands.
“Welcome back,” Lisa said, licking at the frosting. “You must have some special skill, like... PMS or something to know that Lilith was coming.”
“Mean Girls,” Samantha mumbled, raising a shaking finger to that cupcake. “Funny. Ha ha- where did you get that?”
“Oh. This... I don’t know now, really.”
“Peter? Did y-”
“I noticed,” he said, a bit cold, and squeezed Lisa’s shoulder tight. “I noticed.”
“Mistress Sam?” Sehmi said, whimpering, and held out her arms to her... trilling as Samantha allowed her to embrace, plopping on the bed with her. The witch’s gaze was still on the cupcake, though, on the candy heart at the top... Sehmi nuzzled her. “Mistress Sam?”
“I’m okay... I’m... I’m okay.”