Chapter 1: The Watchers
‘Do cocaine with me?’
He looked up from his book with eyes so full of disbelief I was almost offended. Almost.
‘You mean the drug, I assume?’
Of course I meant the drug, what other type of cocaine was there?!
‘Yes. So, you up for that, macho?’
He pursed his lips in annoyance. Exactly what I was going for.
Our eyes met and I could tell he was considering by the shimmer in his blue ones. After about a minute of blue locked on blue, I gave up on the staring contest and got around to making a line for myself, leaving the blondie to fight with the taboo in his mind. He was going to say yes.
I looked at my bag of caine. Sigh. I usually did all of that myself, but since I opened my “exceptionally big mouth” (yeah, that’s direct quote from my ex; and he did not mean it as a compliment, if you know what I’m on about) and offered Luis some, I only poured 2/3 of it on the tea table. In the continuous silence I looked around for a knife of some sort. Of course, the most convenient way to crash caine was with an ID, but one of my foster mums had taught me that they actually scan your ID for drugs at some places. Most useful thing any of my foster parents has ever taught me, to be fair. So double-sided dagger it had to be.
I could physically sense the three pairs of eyes fixed on me. Luis was allowed to look, since he was going to do a line next, but the other two fuckers were doing my head in.
Carla was looking down on me with all the contempt she could muster without ruining her foundation. As if. Certainly, if I told her that doing drugs helped lose weight, she would jump right in. Carla stood for everything I hated about high school: she looked like a Barbie, only with black hair, and behaved as if everyone had to do her bidding. Worst part was, she could actually make most people do what she wanted. Not me and Luis, though.
And then there was the unmistakable stench of alcohol that always signified the presence of Mr. Christopher Oh-migod-I’m-so-fabulous. He wouldn’t allow for himself to be seen without a glass of boose in his hand. If I gave a single fuck for that bellend I would be concerned about his drinking problem. But I didn’t. So I took a 5 pound note out of my pocket and did my line.
Kept my eyes closed for a few minutes, knowing that everyone was watching me even more intensely. When I opened them, Luis was sat on the floor across from me.
‘So, what’s the worst that could happen?’ he wasn’t concerned, more like curious if anything.
‘We get horny and we shag?’ I smiled what I could only imagine was a wicked smile, judging by the look on his face.
‘And what’s the best that could happen?’ ‘We get horny and shag.’
A young boy wakes up from the sound streaming into his room from downstairs. It’s acompilation of abass shouting abuse in Italian, accompanied with the loud drum of his hands landing on tight skin, and high mezzo-soprano cries of an experienced tragic heroine. He gets out of bed, an insignificant harp of mattress strings making a smallbackground sound. A door violin and the repetitive tarambuka thuds as he races down the stairs to get a front row seat for the last movement of the symphony. The bass takes over, Italian flowing from his wide-open mouth and filling the whole room with sound. The mezzo-soprano dies down, substituted by the clinging of china cymbals. An exquisite opera with domestic setting. The boy in the audience remains unnoticed, even though he is basically on stage. The performers are oblivious. And then with an intensesurge of the contrabass of a turned table the hero approaches the heroine. The cymbals explode in a chaotic sequence, not a single one striking the right tone on his body, until the last sound is heard–a beautiful discord of china on marble, leaving in its wake only the shards of a broken love story and a cut just above the young boy’s eyebrow.
They say the path of a leader is a lonely one. Now imagine having to be the leader of a large group of Nephilim assassins with an attitude while at the same time trying not to let your bipolar depression get in the way of things. It doesn’t exactly set the scene for having many friends, but then again, I never minded being on my own.
It is a nice day, I observe, while I am sat on my windowsill with a large volume perched on my knees. I can see them training in the sun from here. At times it feels like I am promoting bullying, encouraging angel kids to practice their skills on the lesser Nephilim, but then again, that’s how the universe works, so might as well.
There’s a loud knock on my door. Not many people who live in the Crypt actually dare bother me, so I am almost certain it’s my possessive newly adopted younger sister.
‘Come in,’ I watch the door as it slowly opens and I try not to gasp as a petite redhead enters my lounge. ‘You are not Carla?’
‘How observant of you, Charming’ she mutters in a level voice, then goes to look around my room.
Her eyes move from the double bed covered in red sheets to the double wardrobe, then to my personal library which takes up an entire wall, just behind my mahogany table and faded leather armchair. Then her stunningly blue eyes meet mine with confidence I’ve never seen in a new Nephilim.
‘So, I take it you are new? I wasn’t expecting any…’
‘Neither was I, but I was told to find you by…well, I’d guess Carla, if Carla is the bad-tempered slag with dark complexion who likes bossing people around.’
I laugh. She doesn’t seem to care about Carla’s attitudinal issues, so that makes two of us. Maybe I could make one friend after all?
‘Akhm, yeah, that is Carla, by the sound of it. And I didn’t catch your name?’ I extend my hand for a handshake.
‘Vanessa Lilim’ she takes the hand offered and shakes with a strength I wouldn’t have guessed a 1.60-meter-tall girl is capable of.
‘Luis. And you are not supposed to shake hands with strangers like that. Here, let me show you.’
I move closer to her and take the small hand she’s left hanging by her side.
‘You don’t want to come across as too demanding, so don’t grip that tightly,’
She loosens her fingers around mine. ‘But you don’t want to appear weak either. Have a good, firm hold of my fingers without crashing them…There, you have it!’
Vanessa pulls her hand out of mine as soon as I confirm she’s done it right. Not much for physical contact, are we?
‘You seem to know a lot about social interactions. I would imagine that’s why they made you chief assassin.’
Again, her voice is so steady I can’t help but laugh. I have never met a girl who cares less.
‘Let’s see that new mark then’ I raise my eyebrows, ignoring the comment on my leadership.
She turns and lifts her wavy red hair to reveal the mark on the back of her neck.
‘Hm. That’s peculiar. It seems vaguely familiar, but I can’t identify it.’
‘Neither could I,’ she states casually, as if we are identifying ice-cream flavour.
I clear my throat, slightly overwhelmed by the coconut scent of her shampoo.
‘I’ll have a look in the library and get back to you. In the meantime, you can go two floors down and get settled into a free room.’ I smile in the most welcoming way I can, considering I am not having a very social day.
’Oh, no, I am good, thank you. I already put my stuff in the room next to this one.
See you in a bit.’
And she walks out of my room as if hierarchy doesn’t exist.
I killed my first person today. It was more than fun. It was exhilarating! I have never particularly liked people, but seeing someone hang themselves and then burn to death was like opening a Christmas present, only better, because the thing with me and my Christmas presents was, I always knew I would get exactly what I wanted. Looking back on that now, I am not that surprised really, since it turned out it’s my special gift and comes with the mark on my wrist. But enough about presents. Let me tell you more about how I killed that guy and how awesome my mentor is.
Since it’s still just the two of us in the Crypt, we were in Luis’study and he was showing me how to throw knives. Not that I am ever going to need it, since I can just manipulate everyone, but it was still sooo amazing to feel his arm wrapped around mine when he was teaching me how to properly hold the knife. And the smell of his cologne when he stands so close to me…sigh.
Anyhow, I am getting carried away again. So we were in his study, when a black feather appeared from nowhere and landed on his desk top. Before I even had time to get over my bewilderment, Luis was already on the move.
‘Come on, Carla, seems like we have our first assignment.’
He didn’t sound nervous or guilty. On the contrary, he was as ecstatic as a medically depressed person could get.
It turned out that the name on the feather was the name of some Italian bloke, who was living in this massive house all by himself. A bit weird if you ask me, since surely someone would have married him at least for his money if not for his charming personality, but oh well. Not my business really. He opened his door a bit suspiciously and did not seem very eager to let me in, but he was polite enough to shake my hand, and that’s all I really needed. After that he invited both me and Luis for a drink and behaved like the nicest host in the world. For all fifteen minutes that were left of his pathetic little life.
I was sipping on my Margarita as I was watching him fetch a rope from the garage like a well-trained dog and tie it around his neck, before he hanged himself from the chandelier in his living room. What a shame he was so shit at that he didn’t even manage to snap his neck properly. So, basically, he was still alive, as Luis downed his drink and began intently staring at him until his feet set on fire, and then slowly, the rest of his body. We stayed long alright, long enough to listen to every last scream of agony, before we set off for the Crypt.
I tried making small talk on the way back, about how awesome that was and how I couldn’t wait for the next assignment, and about the stupid guy in the big house. But everything that my mentor said was: ‘That guy was my step-father.’ How badass is that!
I think I might have a crush on him. Maybe I should try and make a move? Or just use my powers? I will let you know how that plays out next time.
I have less than six months left to live. I will die of the hand of my best friend. As friendly as dysfunctional people can get anyway. Quite ironically, It will involve a car. Not a crash though. It will be me and him, and that obnoxious slag Carla, out in the open.
They will try and lie to me about what we are doing there, not realising that I am already going to know it’s my time. Luis is going to be reluctant, and Carla bloodthirsty as always. I will pretend I don’t know what’s happening, not because I can’t try and fight them, but because I will know there will be no point.
The only think I will do while they are preparing to subjugate me and burn me to ashes is try and alleviate Luis’ pain. I’ve had it bad enough in my life alright, but he is not much better off. I will try and make it easier for him, killing one of his own team.
Carla would strike first, grabbing me by the arm and mercilessly getting me to ready my own ropes which will secure me to the back of a scarecrow so I don’t run away. As if I am going to even try…Then Luis will approach me, careful not to meet my eyes, afraid that he would see the pain of betrayal in mine. He will make it quick, not like his usual approach. I will burn for just about a few minutes before the burns become too much and I faint. And then I will never come around again.
I know how I am going to die. And I know when. But what difference does it make?