Unbecoming

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Chapter 7: Jason

The silence of my apartment after Margo left was deafening. My mind was a hurricane of negative thoughts of a possible future, and a memories that I would have preferred not surface. They rose to the forefront of my mind any way, and I was swamped by them. Images of myself at thirteen, and my mother’s face as blood poured from it… My chest tightened as I allowed them to continue to flow, and I relived the night that changed everything.

I had been in bed, and my dreams had been filled with the dark haired girl I had passed by on the street in front of my middle school earlier that same day. Her eyes were striking, shades of blue and green and purple mixing and swirling in my mind. Her smile had been sweet, with a little hint of danger, and it made my teenage heart race with unfamiliar feelings. She was too far away for me to try and say hello, but our eyes had locked for a split second, before her mother gripped her arm and pulled her away, fear and loathing filling her mother’s face as she looked at me, as if she knew who I was. Or, maybe she knew who my father was.

The dream had shattered as I was yanked from my dream into reality by my father, who was pulling me from my bed. He smelled of blood, and when my eyes were finally able to focus I could see the streak of crimson that coated the hem of the robe he wore. I was instantly awake, knowing but dreading what my father wanted.

My power had spiked, and increased, and my father wanted me to contribute it to a powerful casting he was attempting tonight. My mother had told him no, to leave me be, but no one told my father no. I was scared as his grip on my arm tightened, and he dragged me down to the dreaded door of the alter room. The runes that framed it pulsed, as if they had already been activated, and knowing my father, they probably had been. The door opened and we stepped in, the darkness seeming almost solid until my eyes adjusted.

It wasn’t the dark that bothered me about my father’s alter room though, it was the smell. It was stale, because there was no ventilation and it always carried the scent of sickeningly sweet coppery blood. It made my stomach twist as we descended the stairs my bare feet slapping hard against the bare stone, sounding louder that it probably was. I tried to breathe through my mouth, but that was almost worse, as if I could taste the blood, and I gagged. My father scoffed at me and continued down into the depths of the earth where the air grew colder and mustier. My father love to tell me how weak he thought I was, that I didn’t have what it to took to take over the mantle he carried. If I was honest with myself, I didn’t want it.

We finally descended the last step of the stair case and the room opened up, reveling my mother, and three other coven members. She stood tall and elegant in her robe, her bare feet hidden by the long hem. Her sea green eyes that matched my own were filled with concern, she knew what my father wanted, and knew what it would cost. She nodded to me and I went to her as she reached her hand out for me. Her scent wafted around me as I grew closer, and it was like a breath of fresh air in this putrid room. Her midnight hair was in lose waves down her back and every time she shifted, it sent another wave of sweet peach blossom around us.

I took my mother’s hand and turned to face the rest of the room. I wished that I hadn’t. There was an alter and from where I stood, I could clearly see the body of a woman laying on it. She was dead. I don’t know how I knew at first glance, maybe it had been the lack of movement or the way she just stared up at the dirt ceiling, but I knew she was dead. My eyes traveled from the woman’s body to the trails of blood that dripped steadily from the alter that she lay upon, to the floor and the runes that had been carved there, collecting the trickling blood. I felt bile rising in my throat, this had been the first time I had ever seen a dead human body.

My mother watched me take in the sight and watched the disgust and horror fill my eyes. She turned to my father and her eyes hardened, anger making them glitter. He glared back at her in defiance, his eyes black as tar and unyielding, daring her to oppose him. He was going to do anything he though necessary, including using his own son, to gain as much power as he could. My mother was less interested in the consumption of power but did not have enough of her own to fight my father, so she lowered her angry eyes, giving my hand a gentle squeeze in attempt to comfort me.

My father took his place in front of the alter. Taking the knife he used on the woman into his hand, the blade against his left palm. he turned to face us, slicing the blade across his palm. His blood welled in his palm as I watched, and just as the first trickle started to leak over the edge, he started to chant. It was not a language I had ever heard before, the tones deep and guttural, like a growling beast.

As his voice filled the room I could feel my power being drawn out of me. It was an odd sensation, not really a bad one, but it was disconcerting. Mother stood straight beside me, body rigid and I risked a glance at her. Her eyes were glowing, and her skin had taken on a mild luminosity. She was beautiful but frightening at the same time, and I tried to let go of her hand, only for her to tighten her grip on mine.

Just as I was trying to pull free, the earth shook and a crack appeared in the dirt floor, splitting some of the runes that had been carefully drawn there. Smoke so black that it was the absence of light started to leak out the crack in the floor, and it moved like it was looking around the room. I was terrified, and my body froze as I looked upon a greater demon.

The smoke like body started to solidify, if you could call it that. It still moved and billowed like smoke, but it was dense and started to form a misshapen body. The head, if you could call it that, sported two holes, and they glowed with non-light, the way a solar eclipse would glow if you looked directly at it. My heart slowed in my chest and beat thickly and painfully in my chest when it’s eyes swept past me to land on my mother.

She stood her ground and looked back at it in defiance, her head held high. It continued to look at her and made a move forward. It was blocked by the runes, unable to complete the motion and go to my mother. I was glad it couldn’t move forward. The terror that filled me as I looked upon an agent of hell was monumental, I have not and would not ever fear something the way I feared that greater demon.

I could not tell you how it happened, maybe one of the others had let go of the circle, but the demon suddenly surged forward and gripped my mother, its hand like appendage wrapping around her waist and pulling her into the circle. I tried to hold on to her and drag her back, but the demon struck me down, and I was left crumpled to the floor, watching as the demon entered my mother’s body.

It was like time had slowed down, watching the black smoke of the demon pour into my mother filling her mouth and nose. Someone was screaming, and I thought it was my mother, but when I clamped my hand over my own mouth, the screaming stopped. It had been me, screaming for my mother as the demon took her over.

My father was still chanting in the bestial language, and the demon, wearing my mother’s body, turned to face him. It snarled at him, and the same language came out of my mother’s mouth. My father just raised his voice, talking over the demon. He was trying to gain control of it. My body shook with terror as I watched my father try to overpower the demon, and the demon fighting back. I stopped breathing when I saw the blood dripping from my mother’s ears, my lungs feeling like there were going to explode. My power pulsed through me and I knew what I had to do.

I started a chant of my own, pulling on the power around me as I grabbed a sharp stone from the dirt floor and started to carve banishment runes into the dirt in front of me. The demon must have heard me, because in jerking motions, it turned the body that was once my mother to face me. I wanted to throw up as I gazed upon her face. The power that raged through her body was too much for her, and it was eating her from the inside out. Blood was pouring out of every opening in her face, her eyes, ears, nose and her mouth. It was horrific to look at and I almost lost my place in my casting, but I looked away, focusing on finishing the banishment runes.

My father was screaming now, trying to drown me out, but I kept going, not faltering, as I finished the last stroke of the banishing. I gripped the stone in my hand and pressed the dirty point against my palm, and swiftly sliced my hand open, blood welling and dripping immediately. The demon exploded from my mother’s body, and I knew that it had killed her. My heart ached and I started sobbing, my tears mixing with the blood as it dripped from my hand onto the runes. The demon came for me, and without thinking I threw up a shield. It was thick and demon slammed into it. The smoke wafting around it, looking for entry.

It spoke to me then, coaxing me, trying to lure me out of my shield. It was seductive. It promised so many things if I would just let down my shield. They were all lies, and I slammed my palm filled with my blood and tears down against the banishment runes. The earth shook again, and I saw the smoke being pulled back into the earth, the depths of hell reclaiming its escaped prisoner.

The demon screamed, and it was unlike anything that I had ever heard, it was a combination of grinding stone and beast howls, and it chilled me to my bones. It stared at me in my eyes as it was drawn back into the earth, the non-light in its eyes burning into my skull. The demon screamed again, and this time, as the last bits of it were pulling away, it let out a burst of power so strong that it shattered my shield. The power hit me, and I was airborne, body sailing back to smash into the stone wall behind me. I heard the sickening thud of my head connecting with stone and then nothing. My world went black. No thoughts, no dreams, nothing.

I woke up to a bright white room. The smell of antiseptic was strong, which told me I was in a hospital room. I looked around, taking in the bare walls with the green border, the open door to a bathroom and the beeping machines next to me. The next thing that I noticed was that I was alone. No one sat at my beside.

It took a moment for my memories to come back, the alter room, the demon and my mother being torn apart from the inside by it. My heart rate accelerated to a frantic beat and a nurse suddenly appeared. She smiled weakly at me and checked my vitals.

“What happened? Where am I? Where’s my mom and dad?” The nurse turned sympathetic eyes to me and patted my hand gently.

“You are in the hospital, sweetie. You had taken a tumble down a very large flight of stairs and have been in a coma for a little over a month now.” She had kind eyes, and she smiled weakly at me, “I’ll go get the doctor,” and turned to leave.

I was speechless. My father lied to the hospital about what had happened to me, not like he could have told them the truth. They would have thought that he was crazy. I laid back against the pillows and closed my eyes.

I felt the tears tracking down my face as I relived one of my worst memories. My breath shook as it wheezed in and out of my throat with the force of my sobs. I drew my knees to my chest, scrunching up into the tightest ball I could, trying to clamp down on the pain that filled my chest. It was like feeling the loss of my mother all over again, and it was almost too much to bare. I had to pull myself together. My mother would not have wanted me to be wallowing in my sorrow like this. She taught me to be strong and I had to make sure that nothing like what happened to her ever happened to anyone else. Victoria was the priority. She was the one in the most danger.

As far as I had known my father had not tried to have my mother possessed, it had been a mistake, he had claimed. I had to take his word for it at the time because I had no way of proving it otherwise. I knew that he was going to do it intentionally to my Mate. I was not going to allow it. I would do anything to keep Victoria from the same fate as my mother. Even if it meant killing him with my own hands.

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