36 Hailey Johnson
I jerk awake as an iron door pulls open. Keeping to the shadows, I clutch my stomach, trying to stay unnoticed. I feel her eyes watching me before I make out her shape in the darkness, her eyes creating a light glow. She’s holding something long in her hand as she approaches the metal bars keeping me in. I flinch as her gaze covers my body, her laugh slipping past my barrier.
“I’m surprised you’re still alive. It’s been what? Two months? Yet you seem healthy for a pregnant girl.”
Light floods the hallway, illuminating her form, as the torches light themselves. My stomach growls, knowing that food will be here soon. She’s beautiful, and I can’t stand it. She has that perfect, curvy, and toned body that every girl longs to have. And don’t get me started on her shiny ebony hair that seems to move on its own.
Tears prick my eyes as I think of the man she stole from me. Theo, I hope he hasn’t forgotten about me. The woman brings a large flask up to her voluptuous mouth, gulping down its contents as she stares at me. I bite my lip as hers pull into a devious smirk.
I shake my head but continue to stare at the bottle. For all I know, it could be poison for humans. Siethens, that’s what Theo told me they were. Mythical creatures.
“Don’t worry. I’m not allowed to kill or hurt you, courtesy of King.”
“So, why are you here? Plan to rub salt in my wounds?” My voice comes out hoarse from weeks of not using it. Someone calls down the hallway, distracting her from me. Her form blurs to the side, disappearing for a few moments. When she comes back, she’s holding a steaming hot plate of food. To my dismay, my stomach growls once more, leading her to laugh at my misery.
“You want this shit, don’t you? Come and get it. Crawl to the bars; let me see you in the light.”
I contemplate listening to her. That other woman, with long brown hair and blue eyes, told me I should eat if I want to survive long enough. The woman named Julie was the only one who visited me. Not this woman in front of me and certainly not Theo. Making a distressed noise, I shuffle closer to the door, stopping just outside the light. I reach out my hand for the plate, but she just shakes her head, beckoning me closer.
“I don’t trust you.”
“Just a few more steps,” She drawls at me. With my head hung low, I crawl out into the light and lean against the bars with my hand outstretched. To my surprise, the woman kneels and slides the plate through the bar. Her green cat-eyes watch me as I devour my food, but I don’t care. Not when I’m hungry.
“We’re releasing you soon. It’s no use killing you. Though, from what I’m sensing, only one of you will survive childbirth. My odds are on the babe.”
I look up, horrified at her strange words. They’re sending me back home, but if she’s right, when I give birth to this thing, I won’t survive. Why would you tell someone that? The woman smiles and looks down at me before lowering herself down to my level.
“Why won’t I survive?” I demand.
“Your baby isn’t human, girl. It’s a Siethen. Though, if it’s not King’s, I wonder who’s offspring it is.”
My cheeks begin to burn as the memories resurface. I spent weeks, blurring out everything except for Theo’s name. Even the woman in front of me, I can’t-- don’t want to recall her name. Nodding my head, I finish my food and place it in her outstretched hand. Something moves beneath her skin, pulsing as our fingers make contact.
I flinch and turn away to go back to my space, but the shadows begin to morph until there are no more lines on the floor. Turning around, I notice that the bars have disappeared, nothing separating me from this strange world. I watch in awe as the plate vanishes, too.
I instantly regret opening my mouth as the woman tilts her head to the side. Slowly, I manage to my feet wobbling on my weak knees. Amusement plagues her face as I stumble forward, tripping over my feet and falling forward. Her arm snakes around my growing stomach, spinning me so my back is flush against her body. My head rests back on her chest as I close my eyes, waiting for death.
Her tongue flicks over my burning skin as our forms merge. Once again I’m weightless, flying through a tunnel of colours until I land on the soft grass. My knees buckle, and this time I fall. I shudder as a large shadow covers my body. I take in her gentle facial features and muscled frame as she stares at me. Silently, she sprawls out next to me, resting her hands behind her head.
“Why’d you lick me?”
“Hmm? I could have bitten you.”
I smile, triggering her lips to quirk upward. Again, she offers me the bottle, her slitted pupils contracting. I shake my head, but she yanks me onto her lap, burying her fingers in my blonde hair. The brim of the flask presses against my mouth, so I part my lips to let the liquid inside. It’s thick and sweet, setting my body on fire like alcohol. My body relaxes against her as my fingers slip over hers to pour more in my mouth.
The woman’s body moves under me, her skin becoming warm with every second I stay on her lap. I watch her lips as she takes the bottle from me, drinking some more of the sweet concoction. Once the bottle was back in my possession, her fangs run over my skin. A shudder takes over my body as her sharp teeth dig deep into my skin, tasting my blood.
I moan as I open my eyes to see a newer, brighter, world around me. She runs her tongue over my fresh wound, and I gasp. I can see colours I never knew existed. With a low growl, the woman shifts me off her lap and lies back down. Her eyes close, her long tongue slipping between her blood-red lips. When she opens her eyes once more, her gaze slips over to me, and I remember her name.
“Tell me your story.”
“No one else is here, darling.” Aszurya drawls once more. Her brilliant eyes slip beneath her eyelids as she rolls over to face me. “ Tell me, or I’ll bite you again. I know you liked it.”
I blush and turn my gaze from the sharp teeth poking out her mouth. Looking up at the bright sky, I try not to feel her gaze as I begin a story even Theo doesn’t know about it.
“I lived in a penthouse in Albany while I was young before moving to New York City. My mother was an artist who sold for thousands of dollars. She loved to draw and paint anything she could. Nothing stopped her from pouring her heart out on the canvas--”
“You’re boring me with this shit about your mother. I didn’t ask about her. I asked about you.”
“Be quiet, and I’ll get there. My father works in the capital of New York under the governor. He was an abusive man in every way possible. When he got angry, he would take it out on my mother, leaving giant bruises on her body. But, my mom ended up the lucky one.
“Her parents still lived in Genoa, Italy. When I was 9, my grandmother got sick, so she paid for a flight home. I desperately wanted to go, but my mom told me school was more important. Before she left for the airport, I made her promise to send for me if anything else happened. That was the last time I saw my mother. Three days later my nursemaid told me that there was an accident with the plane. She told me the engines malfunctioned, and they crashed in the ocean. There were no survivors.”
I look over to see Aszurya’s gaze focused on my face. I try to smile but feel the waterworks flooding in. Someone touches me— the strange creature resting her hand on mine. She doesn’t strike me as the encouraging type, but her small gesture gets me to continue.
“I think he killed her. The plane was his, and he always said he was going to get rid of her. Why not kill her in an ‘accident’?”
“Who’s the main beneficiary of your father’s will?”
“I-I am. Why?”
The woman shakes her head, lying down once more. My body begins to shake as I sob out years of pent up fury. Wrapping my arms around my knees, I rest my forehead on my arms and curl into myself. I feel her slip behind me, her thighs show up in my peripheral vision as she kneels, her arms wrapping around my middle. It’s not a hug; it’s something else.
“You’re not very pretty when you cry.”
I laugh and whisper for her to shut up. Her fingers begin to rub my stomach, her body heat warming me up as I shiver furiously. Once I’m calm again, I continue the story of my life.
“I was numb for a year. I spent the entire time crying and blaming myself for her death. Even now, I wish I had stopped her from going or also gotten on the plane with her. We could’ve both been happy in heaven. A year passed by, and my father said nothing to me. One night he got drunk and started yelling. I was up in my room, clutching my stuffed teddy-bear when he shoved in the room.
“I remember him crawling into bed and pressing his lips against my body. I tried pulling away when he pressed his lips to mine, pushing his tongue into my mouth. My father ordered me to keep my mouth shut and take off my clothes. I was so scared; I didn’t know what would happen.
“I kept my eyes closed the entire time. My father had me do unimaginable things and told me I was just like my mother. When he finished, I vomited. I tore at myself and screamed until I had no voice left. I wanted to leave, but there was nowhere to go. So I had to endure the rape and abuse for seven years. When I was 17, I left and lived off of the money my mom had left me.”
I wipe my tears away from my face and shift to look at the woman holding me. Her lips twitch and pull into a snarl as she stares off into the distance. She snaps out of her daze, releasing me only to sprawl out on her stomach. Taking a deep breath, I cross my legs and watch the woman next to me.
“What’s your story?”
“It’s too long to tell in one sitting.”
“You can’t possibly be that old.”
“I’m only 25, but I’ve gone through plenty of things. We’re alike in our own ways. My father trained and tortured me from a very young age. By the time I turned 15, I had broken off and did some immoral things. I got addicted to sex, drugs, and alcohol. And, it led to me getting used and manipulated just like you.”
“Will you take it when I die, please?”
I pat my growing belly when Aszurya looks over to me with an eyebrow raised. She looks me over before closing her eyes and shrugging her shoulders. I take another deep breath, finally thinking about the beautiful city I lived in for a few weeks. Vistosa: the capital of art. I would love to go back there.
“Is there any chance I can go back to the city of art? It was stunning.”
“You like to paint like your mother.”
I nod my head with a small smile. Emerald eyes flash with something dark before meeting my gaze.
“You’re asking a lot from someone who doesn’t like you.”
“I think you like the way I taste,” I mutter underneath my breath. Her long, lifeless body tenses as if she heard me with those pointy ears of hers. “If I die, please take my child and raise it if you can. If I don’t die, I would like to come back here—”
“When you’re old, and about to die, I’ll bring you here, and let you paint until you die. Satisfied?”
“Good. Come here.”
Slowly, I crawl over to the dangerous woman and lean in close. Her movements are lightning fast as she pins me to the hard ground, kissing me hard. A strange sensation flow through my body. It’s like a swarm of butterflies are trying to escape. Her tongue slides into my mouth, planting something in the back of my throat, making me choke.
My throat and mouth begin to burn as I dig my fingers into her arms, trying to push her away. She lingers in my mouth before pulling away breathless. Her eyes look darker, but I don’t get to see much as she leans in close to me as I turn away.
“Don’t make me regret saving your life.”
I flinch at the harshness of her tone. Aszurya stands up, wiping her mouth and looking over to a large castle-like building. It’s the same place Theo and his friends took me for that party that ended everything. I stand up and take her hand, only to merge once more.
We appear back in my holding cell, the bars separating us once more. She opens her mouth to say something but thinks better of it, walking away in silence. Shaking my head, I sit down on the cold, hard floor and lean my head against the cold wall.
Maybe she wasn’t so bad at all.