Haunted by Time

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“Vampires, real vampires, didn’t nibble on the necks of nubile young virgins. They tore people to pieces and sucked the blood out of the chunks.” David Wellington

He watched his companion pace the room.

“Valentino, what are we going to do? They will not let us go; we are bound in this godforsaken place.”

The larger man crossed his ankles and rolled his eyes. “Enough, Esperanzo. There is nothing this woman can do that I cannot handle. You, on the other hand…”

The small man stopped to stare at him, black eyes glinting in the dim light given off by the dying torches. “You can’t possibly mean—”

Valentino smirked coldly. “I mean exactly what I said. She will come after you first, just to try and break me. It is what all intelligent leaders do.”

Esperanzo opened his mouth to speak but then closed it, at a loss for words as fear gripped his heart in its iron embrace. “She will kill me, won’t she?”

Valentino laughed. “There is no doubt about it.” He shifted, skin peeling beneath his rough and jagged metal manacles. “Now sit down. I cannot think with you pacing the room like a nervous wreck.”

Esperanzo hurriedly sat, aware of his leader’s darkening mood. “I cannot help it. I am nervous.”

Valentino sighed. “Do I look like I care?” Only you have things to be worrying about; I am perfectly fine.

“Sorry, sorry.” Instead of pacing, Esperanzo somehow found it in him to rock back in forth in his makeshift chair, the creaking reverberating throughout the room.

Footsteps sounded in the hall, and a deep voice rumbled throughout it. Both men stiffened, on high alert. As if on cue, the door to their shared cell creaked open. Arkady, Arsenio, and Aiath entered, Aiath in the lead. His golden eyes were narrow and his dark hair was spread in chaotic tangles; his dark and powerful presence filled the room. The two guards were silent, bodies protected by refined armor that were covered with long black cloaks. Their faces were slightly covered in the shadow of their hoods.

“Ah, finally someone shows. I was beginning to think you had forgotten us.” Valentino leaned back in the uncomfortable chair, an infuriating smirk appearing on his face when Aiath only continued to glare at him. “Well? Did you, at least, bring us food and drink?”

Aiath motioned silently with his metal hand, and Arkady set something on the floor and kicked it over. It happened to be a small bowl—perhaps a former container for dog food, one that even had the minutest traces of molded nourishment in it—filled with bits of stale bread and what looked like half a cup of unclean water that was more than likely from a well.

The leader of the Spasateli scowled. “This is what you have to offer us when you look like that? Clearly there must be some better form of food. We are being treated like prisoners!”

Aiath snarled, leaning forward on the table between them. The two restrained men could clearly see the veins and tendons that stood out in the large, long-fingered hands.

“You should be lucky we even feed you at all. Makilin would normally starve her prizes; she seems to have taken some sort strange of liking to you.” The golden man shifted. “I wouldn’t have given you a thing had I been in control.”

“And why are you not? You are more stable than your so-called leader.”

The man transferred his weight from one leg to the other; Valentino noticed the slight stiffness and made a mental note of it. It would be a vital piece of information if he chose to plan an escape.

The table groaned slightly at Aiath’s increased weight. “Stop distracting me; your efforts to make me spill our secrets will not work.”

Valentino’s smirk widened. “Oh? How sure of that are you?”

Aiath’s eyes blazed and suddenly his weapon was in his hand. “Keep talking and you’ll find out.” He stood abruptly, his aura almost too overwhelming in such close distance. His strange eyes darted between the two, lingering on Valentino the longest.

“Arkady, Arsenio, watch them. I need to find Makilin and bring her here to question them.” He headed to the doorway, only to stop and glance over his shoulder with his dark hair covering his eyes. “Pay no attention to what they say, even the little one. All of it is lies.”

With that, he was gone.

“I’ll tell you now. That silence almost beat me. It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.” Mark Lawrence.

Sleep could not claim him, no matter how hard it tried. It had tried to embrace him lovingly, it had tried to reason with him, and it had tried clawing at his skin in some desperate attempt to make him succumb to it. Yet he would not be swayed.

There were several reasons he did not let his body or his mind rest. The first was that he had to stay alert no matter what. Makilin was someone who found and exposed weaknesses; if she even detected the slightest hint of exhaustion she would croon and sneer and him until he finally gave in, which was something he would not do.

He also had to keep an eye on Esperanzo; the Hispanic man had been moved to a separate room for private investigation. He had always doubted the man’s loyalty to him, despite his infuriating pleas for mercy like the unfortunate wretch he was. If Valentino even rested for the slightest of moments, Esperanzo could use that small and measly moment to spill everything to Aiath and Makilin.

The faint thud of footsteps sounded, and he tore himself from his musings immediately, automatically tense and wary. Aiath seemed to be in a rapidly deteriorating mood and his companion seemed to lose her sanity a little more each day. Arkady and Arsenio, the two guards, had taken their commander’s advice and ignored every word he and Esperanzo said, only speaking to snarl at them in a foreign language that Valentino recognized as pure Esperanto. While he only spoke the tiniest bit of Spanish and Latin, it was all too clear that the two cloaked men were telling them to be quiet or suffer the consequences.

The footsteps were becoming nearer and nearer and he strained his hearing to pick up the slightest hint of who it might be. Failing rather miserably, all he could do was sit back and wait.

The large metal door creaked as it slid open, grinding and moaning against the thick layers of rust and dust that coated its hinges. A tall and dark figure crept into the room silently.

It was Makilin.

“What do you want now?” he sighed, forcing his fatigue away and replacing it with an air of ennui.

Makilin said nothing, her silence draped around her like a thick cloak of darkness. She shut the door behind her, enveloping them in cold shadows. The sound of a match lighting, and then a small lantern was lit, illuminating the woman’s face.

The sight was horrifying.

Her hair hung in tangles around her hollow cheeks. Thick cobwebs were embedded into the thick black forest, startlingly white against its darker background. Shadows flickered over her face, yet her dark crimson eyes blazed insanely bright. Her lips were as full and as red they had been, the only pure beautiful feature of her; pulled back slightly, they exposed her abnormally sharp teeth, her supposed fangs gleaming in the dim light.

Quashing his horror, he stared coldly at her. “What do you want?”

She said nothing, only continuing to stare.

Slightly unnerved, he continued, speaking in a voice stained with irritation. “Your methods will not make me tell my secrets. I have been through the harshest training with the Russian government.”

Thin tongue tracing razor teeth, Makilin only leaned forward. What was even stranger was that her eyes did not reflect the light; they seemed to absorb it, somehow making them even darker.

Finally, after silence screamed its wrath to the diseased world, she spoke three flat words.

“So have I.”

He was shocked. She could only be no younger than twenty, a few years older at the most. How could she have…?

“You used to work for the Russians?” He cursed himself for letting his shock and caution color his voice.

There was no verbal reply, only a low and rumbling snarl. There was nothing, only stillness, and for a moment he thought she had left without his knowing.

That is until he felt the ice-cold fingers trailing over his neck.

“What are you doing?” He tried to twist around to see her, but the grip tightened, long and manicured nails—how did she even acquire a manicure, after all, that had happened?—slashing into his skin.

“Get off of me!”

The snarl sounded again, startlingly close, and he dearly wished he could see. Being trapped in a barely lit room with a mentally unstable and sadistic woman was not something he favored. Fire tore through his veins as the sudden jab of an icy blade plunged into his arm. He clenched his teeth enough to make them protest, but he managed to hold back his screams. It only seemed to infuriate and interest the woman even more, and her wintry breaths chilled the heated skin of his neck as she leaned close as whispered one word.


She vanished before he could even think of forming a reply.

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