Cashew slowly woke up from his daze and found that he was still sprawled out and lying on the cold floor. His muscles had a ghostly ache to them and his damp clothes reminded him of the horrific images he had seen not long before. He slowly pushed himself up and noticed that Monsuta was nowhere to be found. Instead, he observed around him that the time machine was still broken and left where it was. There were two puddles on the floor- one obviously his own, and the other Monsuta’s, but the blonde’s was stretched and dragged across the floor, leaving a wet trail which ended at the foot of a large crate. Cashew’s head had a mild headache as his thoughts started up once more, and the sight of Shirley, who was working on something not far from the crate, triggered his usual annoyed state.
“Shirley, there you are! How could you just leave me here on the soaking floor and continue with your experiments?”
“Oh! Cashew!” She quickly looked up to greet him and then returned hastily to her work, “don’t make such a fuss now, ok? You were only asleep for a few minutes and anyway, I needed to get something done before he woke up!”
Cashew walked up to see what she was doing and recoiled suddenly with surprise. Shirley was attaching a few final wires together and turning some buttons, adjusting a monitor on a large box. It had two enormous wires sticking out from the top, which bent in various dynamic ways, and every now and then, a light would turn on and off in the top right corner. On the screen Cashew could see a person laying amidst a sandstorm of tiny yellow dots that were flying around him wildly, yet never too close to him.
“Is that Monsuta? And what are those things around - there’s so many! What are you going to do with him?”
“These little creatures are called Mirrowees. It’s a brand new species I’ve created which looks a little bit like a bee, except they are supposed to do exactly what I tell them to... for example, if I tell them to all hover in one place, then they will.” Shirley proceeded by flicking up a switch on the side, in which the light turned green and the monitor immediately showed that the little dots now stayed in one place. Pleased with herself, Shirley was about to flick another switch, but the mischievous twinkle in her eyes made Cashew feel mysteriously uneasy.
“And what is the reason for dragging Monsuta into this place?” Cashew hurriedly asked, a little more harshly than he had meant to.
“Well you wanted to kill him, didn’t you?”
The sudden question took Cashew by surprise, to which he could only flutter his eyes back to the monitor and see that Monsuta was beginning to stir. He still had so many questions for the man; so many things that remained a mystery for him, that he was certain would make his head hurt if he were never to find them out. But that wasn’t the main reason why Cashew took so long to reply, a feeling deep inside him, which he himself did not understand, made him waver and hesitate. Finally, he managed to answer in what he thought was a steady, level voice “yes... of course, but I will be the one to do that!”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry! I just want to see how my pets will react to a new human being, and if they were to prick him,” she said with eyes wild and too crazed with the excitement to be reasoned with, Cashew couldn’t move a single step before Shirley suddenly flicked the switch which her finger was hovering longingly over, “how would human blood react to their venom?”
“Are you out of your mind?” Cashew wanted to yell, but he saw that the Mirrowees pounce upon their pray, immediately stopped a few centimetres around Monsuta and flew as far back as they possibly could from him, desperately seeking a way out of the crate and clasping to the sides of the walls in panic. The green button on Shirley’s control pad started flashing and the monitor glitched momentarily, the frame it was stuck on for a few seconds was Monsuta’s distorted face as his fully black eyes stared up at the camera. The lights around them flickered off and on, and it was in the same moment that both Shirley and Cashew felt a wave of discomfort pass through them, where each of their hairs, in turn, rose and fell. They both looked at each other with shock, before Shirley started to spastically slam the machine, willing for it to work.
“It can’t have broken already, and it was working so well before! Why are they not responding to my commands? All the prototypes have been flawless before!” As Cashew kept on staring at her, the monitor went back to normal and the Mirrowees, keeping their distance from Monsuta, began to slowly revert to their previous actions. Shirley eventually calmed down and finally took hold of herself once more, level-headedly turning some buttons and again flicking the switch for the creatures inside the crate to hover in their place.
“I admit, I was a little too eager for that one, but my real reason for testing on him was because I was earlier agitated by the fact that I couldn’t take any blood from him. I wanted to make sure that there were no consequences to your bodily systems from experiencing the time machine. It was only thanks to your sample, Cashew, that I managed to get any answers at all. Meanwhile your friend, over there, had all the syringes I used on him brake as soon as they touched his skin! Imagine my surprise when the needles bent and snapped from just simple contact... Therefore, I wanted to use my pets to help me, as they are far better equipped at penetrating the skin than a flimsy needle, but even that failed! There must have been a fault in the system, but no matter, I still have one option I could try... you just stay there, Cashew dear, as I set up the next crate.”
With that, Shirley rushed busily around Cashew, attaching new wires to various places, and pushing boxes wildly across the room. All this time the raven-haired man stood and stared at the monitor where a blonde idiot was now dancing happily around, enjoying how the bee-looking creatures were trying desperately to stay in place and and not fly away from him.
“He’s not human, of course it didn’t work.” Cashew whispered.
“Huh? What did you say?” Shirley shouted without looking up from her work. Without waiting for a reply, she then took the control pad away from him and connected a final wire before she pressed a button which triggered a low, rumbling button to gently shake the ground. Cashew followed her and saw that the monitor now showed a new room, a tropical one with large winding vines, tall grasses and enormous, alien flowers which had a row of sharp spikes running down the sides of its petals. Then, to his surprise, Cashew saw Monsuta curiously enter a door in the side of the new room, probably the source of the previous rumbling, and along with him, before the door shut, followed one of the Mirrowees which had escaped Shirley’s control. Cashews eyes followed the little creature as it buzzed thirstily around the sweet petals of the toothy plants. Cashew didn’t even have time to blink before the closest plant quickly swerved around and snapped shut its flowers around the helpless Mirrowee, entrapping the poor thing in a tight bud.
“What on earth just happened?” Cashew stood, wide eyed at the scene before him.
“Exactly what you just saw. These are Venus Fly traps I had just genetically modified them to follow any moving objects they sense next to them and capture them as they walk past! A little side note is that I’ll have to re-program the Mirrowees so that they stay more compliant. Oh don’t look at me like that, he’ll be fine. Even though they’re extremely large, they don’t take well to people, and only favour the taste of bugs, I swear! Imagine how many bugs I need to feed them with, eh? Anyway, at worst they’ll catch hold of his arm and spit him out immediately, and by that time I’ll finally have a sample of his blood on their teeth! I have a reputation to keep, mind you, for everyone should know that no one is to get between me and my research!!”
Soon after saying this proud speech, Shirley’s face once again took the form of surprise and annoyance as Monsuta approached one of the Venus Fly traps, which in turn meekly turned away as far as its roots possessed it to.
“So plants which are able to move and hunt are scared of him too... What in the world are you?” Cashew walked closer to the monitor, slamming both palms on either side of the screen and focusing up close to the image projected inside. “You asked me to guess what you are, but I haven’t the slightest clue. Retched demon? Cursed spirit? What beast has the power to send fear through those around him and smell their blood from so far away? But even then, he holds human empathy and requires the basics of food and sleep to sustain him! No, no! I cannot be under the d’illusion that he is human at all, for he cannot taste food, his eyes constantly change to the colours of the moon, and every time I try to erase him of this earth, some unimaginable luck always saves him. Then there is the time I had a vision of your morphed hands, I am certain it was true. Death from rust? Glowing red eyes? The more I think about it, the more my head hurts on the topic. So many hints yet no answers are coming to mind -”
“A vampire?” Cashews blood cooled as Shirley’s stunned eyes met his. Her body began to shake slightly and she frighteningly took a few steps back from the monitor. “Your... your description of his abilities... I have once read it in a book so frightening, I disregarded it for myth and decided to focus on science, instead of magic, for the rest of my life... it was the reason I never taught you any magic myself! Nevertheless, my mind refuses to forget the horrors of which I had read, and I know for sure that that description is perfect for non other than a vampire.”
“We need to get him out of there!”
“Wait, what you said makes no sense...”
“We can talk about that later, but for now, if we don’t get him out of this measly crate he will butcher us both to death for our stupid acts! And why is he just standing there? Has he heard us speak? Has he already decided to end our lives for my idiotic experiments?
Shirley frantically unbolted one of the latches that opened the door to the crate and waited stiffly to see what would happen next. Cashew was still dazed when Monsuta walked out, and dazed still when the other started walking happily towards him.
“You put me in there to dry me off and make some new friends didn’t you? Well I can tell you it was very comfortable and smelled so flowery, thank you!”
“You are a vampire” Cashew finally muttered. The blonde stopped abruptly, and stared in disbelief at him. Long moments passed before the slightest movement was acted.
“Yes. I see you have finally figured it out. I suppose I have also figured out a secret during our parting when I was alone, and now know that you are Cashew Revanche. You are the boy who killed my relatives, and hold the name of the family whom I last murdered.”
“So it is true.” Cashew managed to utter out, “I changed my name from that moment to Cashew, truly as Kyushu- a term in another language I once heard with which I declared the rest of my life for the sole purpose of revenge. You are the lucky vampire who has survived my wrath from the moment our paths crossed ten years after.”