The heat of the daylight, swelled in the room, wrapping her in a mind numbing lethargy. Like an over hot quilt in the middle of summer. She felt the sun sink below the horizon as her consciousness slowly surfaced. She should be used to the sensation, but she despised it. It wasn’t really sleep. It was a semi-aware state she couldn’t shake even if she needed to and so felt trapped.
Even though she dreamt, or remembered, she was always aware of her body and her environment. Aware of the heaviness in her limbs and the inability to move or speak. Aware she was dreaming and even the most vivid dream seemed to be wrong, a pervasive feeling of wrongness, until she pulled her mind away from it. The sensation of finally feeling her body loosen, of her mind sharpening and reality becoming firm again was always a profound relief.
During this time her mind curled into places she didn’t want to see, but kept coming back to. The years of blankness which taunted her and the years of agony that followed. She was born in the year of Creation; ground zero. Although others, more human others called it the Apocalypse or End Days.
It hadn’t been the end of the world, just the destruction of a civilization. Nothing new, it had happened many times before, or so she had learned during her United Council studies. Someone had told her once that technological societies crash the easiest, once a certain amount of the population was decimated. Although, really, the end of the world had to hurt any which way it came. Lee knew nothing of the Old World and so being born in that year meant very little. Less than that, since she remembered nothing from the age zero to eighteen. No matter how much her mind tried to pierce that emptiness, it remained blank.
Her first memories were of the asylum. The first ones of being in relative comfort; of mind numbing drugs and soft spoken nurses. As the world tumbled into darkness, so did those places where people such as her were kept. Even her half-awake mind immediately turned from the hellish life within that prison. Back then people needed to know. They needed to take things apart so they didn’t fear it. How terrified they must have been when their theories had been crushed and twisted.
When the sun finally settled her eyes snapped open and flung the blankets off. Her first movement was usually abrupt and sudden. The room was pitch black, as dark as she could make it, which was dark enough to process film if she wished. Her eyes saw everything with a slight aura to it, tinged in electrical blues and silver linings.
Sometimes she dreamed of colors not washed out by the night. Others said they dreamed of the sun, but she had always been prone to migraines. Something her demon rider had never cured her of, which she always had thought was a breach of contract really. The sun had never been her friend, but colors looked fresher and more vibrant in daylight as opposed to electrical light, or so she thought they must be when not washed out by moonlight. She couldn’t truly miss something she didn’t remember, but she could be curious about it. What it felt like to have the sun heat the skin, without the burning.
Lee smirked and stretched out for a moment, still shaking off sleep. People wondered why she named her enchanted blade ‘sunshine’. Cause the imaginary voice in her head called her that. Try explaining that. And she in turn called her demon rider, Charlie. Most of her kind didn’t have pet names for their demon rider. Not that she was on any sort of social list for her people. Rather hard to get the lowdown on the rules but, nevertheless, she learned early enough if she referred to her demon rider as ‘talking’ to her ‘literally’ she appeared crazy. Since she had begun her known existence in an insane asylum she didn’t refer to Charlie to others, at all, and gathering what little evidence she could gather from the rare contact from others of her breed about how they were ‘normally’ wasn’t getting her far.
She groaned, stood up, arching her back and scanning the floor for discarded clothing. No matter how much her wolf-kin roommate tried to keep the house clean, Lee’s section tended to look like a war zone. “Don’t start with me, Charlie. I‘ve decided to be in a mood.”
-Woke up on the wrong side of bitch this morning?-
“You make me fricken crazy. I thought riders were generally the silent type. You know, along for the ride?” she mumbled as she slipped into some doeskin pants, a T-shirt, knife holsters, sword belt and arm bracers. Her aura flexed, swirled through the basement, assuring her she was alone and nothing was tampered with. Finally she strapped Sunshine to her side. A blade designed to slice into vampires like butter. A blade designed to kill her own kind.
She felt her rider surface more in her mind, a tingling through her body and a sort of non-painful pressure in her head. A demonic parasite really. It was said it was a gift or rather ’the dark gift‘, to be more dramatic about it. She got a great boost to her strength, endurance and senses. She would live for an indeterminate amount of time, unless someone really put some effort into her demise. The rider needed to sustain itself on life energy, which was drained from another, via the bloodstream. It meant she was a vampire, but the myths were skewed by centuries of humanity and various cultures. She wasn’t undead and she still had her spirit, but she shared her body and mind with a demon. A rather hungry, annoying demon at that.
Lee was not positively sure about the demon part, since her reality was not it’s and how could she say what was evil or not when she was agnostic? It was the Orthodox humans who said she was a soulless demon. She didn’t give a damn about religion or primary good vs. evil. But if labels were going to be tossed around ‘demon’ was a damn good term for a being which possesses another, sucked blood, and the sun severely damages it and thus her. Evil was a bit harsh but it sure wasn’t neighborly either.
It was all mystical anyway. It had the power to change her physically, to give her retractable fang canines and to heal wounds quickly. Nothing normal could do that. It was like a spiritual mutation. Or infestation.
Lee had done her best to get rid of the thing. When she had believed in a higher power, she had tried praying and priests and nada. There had been a point where she had tried to kill herself to be rid of it, but Charlie wouldn’t allow that. Even a slow painful death in the sunlight would be deterred by her rider, well, overriding her, taking her body and making sure she didn’t go outside until she became ‘reasonable’.
-I’m quite hurt by your insistence on separating us, after so much time together.-
She went upstairs and hit the kitchen for some tea. She could eat; the body needed food, just as her rider needed its ‘food’. She just didn’t need to eat much. Mostly she craved, because the demon controlled her ID in a way Freud would have had a field day with. Although she had the blood thirst. Always in the morning. Since the United Council outlawed hunting, it wasn’t a need she could readily satisfy. It made her mood decidedly unpleasant when she first rose.
“Oh, so sorry. So very, very sorry to hurt your feelings. My mother thought I was a lunatic. Heard voices and crap, which I do. I was sent to a fricken asylum and you know what kind of hell they were back then. You put me in that hell hole. I was tied to a bed most of the time and the rest was in a frigid cell. Doped up on opium and other shit. And you, what did you care, the drugs made you quiet, just when I could have needed some help. I thought I was possessed.”
This all she had heard from doctors back in the height of the mutations purging. She didn’t remember her mother at all, but obviously she had been a person of her times and thought she had one of the mental diseases Lee read about, called schizophrenia. That had been one of many diagnoses, before the more predominant second generation Changed grew into power and they looked at her differently then.
-Always blaming me for that. All I hear is complaints. If you didn’t tell people you thought you were possessed by a demon and it talked to you in your head, maybe you wouldn’t have gone to that place. I recall I warned you.-
Maybe she had. Unfortunately, Charlie talked very little of the time before her imprisonment and Lee doubted at that point even she could recall much, after their more uncommon, forced binding, so little like how it was said to be done for her breed. Lee didn’t remember doing anything that would have caused her to end up there. She only remembered being there.
“So it is my fault that I didn’t know what the hell was going on, you parasitical demon spawn? I have met others you know. They all say there is a contract. In order for a host to be a host, you have to agree to the terms. I don’t recall any of that choosing on my part. You can’t just shove yourself into me and expect it to be all good.”
-Get over it, Raylee. The Contracts only hold for the Clans. Our situation is quite different. I only know what you know of it.-
“Yeah, I should just get over from being possessed by a demon and thrown in a hell hole for twenty years,” she grumbled, but what really ate at her was the loss of the memories prior to then. It was becoming an unhealthy obsession of hers. Trying to find out more about her kind and thereby more about what went wrong during her turning. It was an unhealthy fixation. After all, for all her years what did it matter how it began?
She started brewing some green tea using a small, portable gas stove and a kettle Richard had made. Richard was a wizard with metals, literally. She wasn’t sure what sort of incantation the kettle held, if any, and would be stupid to ask. Never ask a wizard to explain their spells. The response was always long and a mixture of mysticism and physics. Old technology with a new power source. They had a perfectly functioning wood stove, but the effort to get it going was beyond her first thing in the evening. Besides she liked the house chill.
-It was, what, two centuries ago? Besides what is twenty years in the scheme of things?-
“It was hell,” she muttered. She stared down at the countertop and her fingers grabbing the edge. Sometimes it was hard to shake the torment of memories in the morning. So easy to blame Charlie.
-I’m sorry I couldn’t ease you into it, so you wouldn’t freak out. There was no other way it could be done. And you spend all this time and research on how to get rid of me. We work well as a team. I cannot understand your reasoning.-
She let out a hiss of irritation. Charlie damn well knew her reasoning. Even if Lee had known what was to happen to her, she wouldn’t have chosen the bargain. Ever since she can remember she had wanted to be normal, to have a comfortable, stable life. To be free. There are many little tricks the mind works up to give you just one more day of survival.
“My reasoning? I don’t want you in my head like some annoying narrator. I know possession. It can be removed and I will do it. I blocked you for a while and can do so for years even.”
-Ah, that is why you are pissed. I am more talkative again. All your biofeedback, meditation… hadn’t silenced me long. It did better with the drugs.-
That is exactly why she was pissed. It was discomforting to have Charlie’s voice in her head again and also the intuition Charlie rose within Lee for a reason she was not divulging. Why now? Why at all?
Lee felt a sliver of energy crackle down her spine.
-Did you feel that? We got company.-
She grimaced and released the counter. The night was just getting better and better.