Chapter 21 "Who am I? Where are we?"
I’m in a bar, it’s a cool rainy night, the place is close to empty, and I see the current date on the calendar. It’s confusing to me; I hadn’t been to this place since the beginning of last month.
“We should have had more beers together, you and me Gabriel. It’s too bad.” I hear next to me. I glance over and see Jack sitting there staring at me. “Good, now I have your full attention. You must listen to me son, before you wake up.”
“Jack...” I shake my head slightly, “Why... why did you kill him? That was for me to do and you know it.”
He rests his arm on the counter, tilting his head at me, “No, son... Reuben is not dead. You need to be very cautious now. I am not able to reach you at the moment; when I injected him with my venom and the blood of my victims, it damaged him enough to leave and he took me with him. He trapped me between two dimensions. I don’t know where he went, but I sense he’s close. Very close. Be extremely cautious Gabriel. I’m sure he can still see you.” I look at him seriously, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Does this mean I will not find you in the physical world anytime soon? What must I do now?”
“You’re right. I’m stuck. My powers have returned to a degree, but I will not be able to interact with you in the same way. You will need to stay on your guard at all times. Stay away from the mirrors, keep your windows covered and shut, and never leave any doors unlocked or opened.”
I blink at him and scoff, “You think that’s going to stop him? I think he has tons of ways to get in. We’ve kicked the beehive, but it’s calm before the storm.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder, “Gabriel... do not harm Addison. Do you hear me? Resist your inner vampire. Resist. Everything. The moment you give in, it’s all over. If she means anything to you, you will keep her safe.” I look at his hand, then at him, and push it off. “Safety is not my strong-suit but we’ll see. As long as she gives me what I want, I don’t give two fucks about her s...” As I’m looking at him, his face begins to change. It’s changing from one person to another. I sit back a little, confused and stunned. I don’t recognize any of those faces.
“Oh no...” he says, watching my eyes, “He’s found you.” I blink a few times at him, becoming more and more confounded. I don’t understand what’s happening. His voice is changing. “J-... Wait... what’s your name?” ...I knew a second ago. I look down at my hands and I don’t even recognize them. The small scars - where did they come from?
“Gabriel...?” he says. I shoot my eyes up at him, concerned. “Gabriel? Who’s Gabriel?” He doesn’t say anything. I watch him sigh and stand up from the chair. He says, “I don’t know how to fix this... I will try to help you, but there’s not much I can do right now though. You and I are bound by blood; we are closer than I am to my maker-Reuben. Since that’s the case, there’s a possibility I can fix this.”
“How is this possible...? What are you?”
“I’m your father-Jack. What I am... well, that’s a long story that we don’t have time to discuss at the moment.”
I sit back in the chair, taken aback.
“Gabriel,” he says, “Please remember this; Reuben is coming. Be ready for him. Be cautious and be prepared. He is extremely dangerous. You have pissed him off and now he wants your ass. Keep that girl, Addison, safe.” I have a rotten taste in my mouth and sickening feeling churning in my gut.
“Will... I see you again?”
“I don’t know.” He says, and the room is starting to fade as we hear a woman’s muffled voice calling me. She’s getting louder, closer and closer. I cover my ears but the sound is intensifying. He pats my shoulder and shakes it. “Remember what I said.” I stare at him in pain.
“Gabriel? Gabriel! Wake up!” I squint agitatedly while opening my eyes and see a woman hovering over my face. I’m on the floor. She’s nervous yet relieved to see me awake. “Oh thank god!” she pulls my hand, “Come on, get up! We’re not in the hospital anymore- Well I don’t think we are! This could be another mind-game! Come on!” Who is this woman? What is she talking about? I’m looking at her and-suddenly horrifying images of hands-my hands-ripping and tearing arms, legs and heads off women!-they’re passing through my mind; I’m laughing, I’m having a great time, I don’t care about them, I love this... I need it-! How dare I have these disgusting thoughts! No! No no NO! I jump away from her and look around the room. This is a bedroom. I look at my shaking hands and these images won’t get out of my head. It feels like I really did all that! That couldn’t have been me! Who were these poor women and why do they all look like they’re from different times? Where am I? The weight of all this guilt is like a giant blanket of judgment has fallen on me, and it’s killing me slowly. It feels like punishment for all the crimes... someone committed. Please, it couldn’t have been me!
“Stop!” she holds her hand out to me, “Stop! I think we might know each other! It’s me-Addison!” I’m shaking as I look at her. Addison? “Addison?” I say, “Wait,” I wave my hand at her, “Give me a minute to gather my thoughts.” It feels like pins and needles jabbing me in the head. I crouch slightly, moaning. “Fuck, this hurts...”
“Are you ok?” she walks closer to me, placing her hand on my back. I wince at her and when I really look at her, her features immediately give me pause. She’s very familiar to me.
“I’m Addison...” she says, “You’re in my apartment. I woke up and you were on my floor next to me, holding my hand.” she says. I straighten my posture, narrowing my eyes at her. “Addison... I don’t think... you want to know me.” That face of hers is giving me thoughts I wish I wasn’t having. Why would I want to do such terrible things to such a beautiful woman? She’s... she’s angelic...
She takes my shoulders, “Listen to me, I just know before waking up, a man came to me in this... strangely realistic dream and told me everything was going to be ok and we need to stay together. He told me it’s real. He told me everything is real. He told me your name, about Reuben, and as long as you’re here, everything will be ok. I don’t know anything else about you.” I search her eyes and I can’t find the right words to say. I’m amazed at the fact she saw the same thing I did. It wasn’t just a dream. It really did happen.
“I think the same thing happened to me... He said his name is Jack... He’s- he’s my father.” I say. The images suddenly come back, haunting me, pestering me like a child with a stick poking me in the head. I breathe uncomfortably and look away. “...I think I... I think I had a family but I don’t know where they are. I’m here-I don’t know why.” My voice is trembling. I see another scene of myself standing in a room with a woman strapped to a chair and I’m holding her hand up to my mouth. There’s a quickly swaying light over her head. I’m staring at her with large insane, obsessive eyes, a fascinated grin flashing across my face every few seconds as she begs me for mercy. Then I place her hand in my mouth and bite down on one of her fingers; biting harder, harder, crunching, twisting, tearing and pulling. I just wanted to take my time with this one because she was prettier than the last girl. Her blood is flooding my mouth. I feel a sense of completeness when I hear how she cries. NO!!! NO I DON’T!!! I jerk back from Addison, hitting both sides of my head, “STOP IT! I need to be alone!”
“No! We need to stick together! Gabriel!”
“We can’t! You’ll only make things worse because every time I look at you, I have these horrible thoughts! I want to murder people! DO YOU SEE THE MONSTER I AM?! I’M A MONSTER! I’M TOTALLY FUCKED UP!” I start searching for the door.
“Gabriel, please,” she begs, “You’re not the only one who is having these unhealthy thoughts!”
I turn back around to her. “Really!”
She walks closer again, and her voice is just as shaken as mine. She’s very on edge and worried. “When I woke,” she says, “I thought for sure I was still in danger-trapped-in his realm. Reuben’s realm. We could still be in there! He’s toying with us. I’m afraid to look around, I’m afraid to touch you, I’m afraid to even move. But please listen, please listen to me-I feel I can trust you because Jack-” I stop her there.
Lowering my head and raising my hand, I ask, “What are you talking about - his realm? Are you seeing things...?” It takes a couple seconds for the question to sink in, and then she behaves as if she can’t believe I asked her that. “Wait...” she says, “You don’t... remember anything?”
“Remember anything...? All I know is that I think I dreamed of my father, Jack-and he warned me about Reuben. He said I need to keep you safe, but I think the only true way to do that... is for me to leave. I know he’s after me. I can’t stay here. You don’t understand...” She sees the tears forming in my eyes. I say, “With this I’m living through right now, the only way out is death. I should be dead. I’ve done some unspeakable things... some... inhumane things! And if I told you what I’m seeing right now, you would be too frightened to come near me ever again. I’m a murderer-a cold blooded killer. I want to kill you Addison. I want to torture you over... and over... again... until I tire of having you around. I can, and I will do that. Because that is who I am.” Her mouth falls open. Yes, she must believe me. I can see thoughts are running through her head 1000 miles an hour. Believe me Addison, push me away, let me go. Save yourself!
“No...” she says. “...this has to be what he wants you to think! He wants us to split up like before so he can play with us until we can’t hold on anymore! The moment we let go, he will own us. Please give this a chance Gabriel- Just-” She stops and takes my hand, looking around frantically as if she heard or saw something. She rushes me out of the room into the small kitchen, darting her eyes around as if she expects someone or something to jump out at us. I quickly ask, “What is it!” She pushes me up against the wall and whispers, “We need to talk this through right now.” I look at her in surprise.
She puts her finger over her lips, then checks the doors and windows again. I steady my breathing but having her so close, the warmth and scent radiating off her makes me want to grab her and punch my fingers through her body, ripping and tearing everything about her to pieces, gorging on her fluids, surrounding myself with all she has to offer. Ohh, yes... I raise my hand close to her neck and she looks at me. I close my mouth and clench my teeth to hold back this hunger. I don’t know how much longer I can manage this.
She eyes my face and quietly says, “I don’t know if we’re alone. I feel like someone is here.” I don’t speak right away. I look over at the doorway and then back to her. Slowly, I step away from her and go sit at the table. “I don’t feel anything different...” Lowering my gaze to my hands on the table, I hold my breath trying laboriously to keep my emotions and thoughts under control. Off and on, my hands appear to be ripped up and bloody. One moment, they’re normal and the next... it’s this. Again, I gulp uncomfortably; “Addison... what did you mean exactly? Where do you think we were? What did you mean by the hospital and ‘his’ realm?”
She stands there watching both the door and I. “The hospital is a platform set inside this realm; Reuben designed it all so he could place mentally unstable people in a place he can quietly study them; the platform recognizes the strongest negative emotions these people have and it uses that information to change them. It didn’t change me, but what I saw... I’m sure if I went back, I would surely be destroyed like those people were. He used me. I don’t want to talk about that right now.”
I frown at her. “...Why didn’t this realm change me?”
“I... don’t know.” She says. When she looks at me, I scrutinize her expression, and with more concentration, I’m able to hear her... thoughts. Reuben said you’re a human/vampire hybrid. Is that really true? She thinks that. How can I hear those thoughts? I know they’re not mine; it feels like I’ve opened a door in my mind and her voice came through. I gaze down at my hands again. What is she talking about...? How is that possible...?
“Gabriel, while I feel like we may still be at the hospital, there’s also a chance we’re home and something tells me... we haven’t been gone for long because everything just appears to be exactly how I left it, last time I was here.”
I peer up at her, raising an eyebrow, “Do you have a calendar on your phone or something?” She turns her head slightly. “Yes... as a matter of fact, I do.” She steps over to a cabinet drawer and takes a pistol out of there. Making sure it’s loaded, she breathes in anxiously and nods at me, then she walks out of the room. I blink down at the table and then slowly look over at the window. Those apartments across from here look so familiar... Did I live there?
She comes back into the room and sits down, putting the gun on the table and pulling two phones out of her pockets. I watch her curiously, waiting for her to talk as she turns them on and inspects them.
Finally, she looks at me. “I always have a backup phone; I keep the old one and the one I use now. They’re both never wrong.”
“Ok... So what does that mean?”
She turns them over and presses them down into the table, then she sits back fast and puts her hand over her forehead. “This could mean two things; either we’re home and have been given a second chance, or we’re still in his realm. I don’t think the time has changed. It’s the same day.” She says. I remain silent, speculating on her theory. Something is definitely not right.
There must be a way to find out which theory is true...