“Big bad wolves love it.”
Continuing to lurk in the far shadows, his silhouette had uttered the sentence from quite a distance yet the wind carrying his words to me made it appear like a hushed whisper teasing the skin behind my earlobe, resembling that of a lover’s chaste kiss.
Placing my hand behind the wall I had been leaning against, I hurriedly stood up. My legs felt weak, refusing to support my weight completely. It had gotten difficult to breathe normally, causing me to resort towards my gaping mouth for assistance,
Slumped against the brick wall, panting heavily as my breasts heaved up and down rapidly, repeating the same word again and again like some broken record, I appeared as a total wreck.
“Yes, darling. Yes.”
My lips contorted into a disgusted grimace, hearing the abhorring endearment coming out of the vile creature’s mouth.
“Don’t look at me like that, darling. Didn’t you miss hearing my voice?”
“I-I hate you.”
Having been trapped inside my squirming insides for more than a decade, the sentence, although whispered out in a much less than compressed manner, had finally found a way out. I had wanted to say it out loud sooner but he had never given me the chance. He never interacted with me apart from when he had tied my shoelaces and took me back home which seemed to be the only exception to his ‘no talking’ rule.
“Now, now, you’re making my heart ache, darling. Is this how you talk to someone who never left your side through all these difficult years?”
I could hear a tinge of mischief in his teasing tone causing my blood to boil despite the constant shivers of fear that were washing all over my body,
“W-Who made these years difficult in the first place?”
Maybe the years of emotional torture had finally gotten to my head. Him materializing in front of me in a normal approachable form had definitely played a big role in turning me this bold. I felt less scared, or maybe I had just become crazier than before.
“Oh, my little darling has finally found a spine,”
Before I could even bat an eyelash, he had crossed the distance between us; his hazy outline transforming into a full built man right before my eyes. I didn’t even have the time to step away until it was too late. My feeble face was already clutched in his powerful grasp. I closed my eyes immediately, awaiting an unnatural blow to land and destroy my already wrecked body but it never came.
My eyes opened on their own accord when I felt him squishing my cheeks with his big hands,
“Want me to take it out for you?”
He was talking about my spine.
Clenching my teeth, I tried to give him the best look of hatred that I could muster, but the second my eyes locked onto his, a trance resembling a slithering serpent rapidly crawled over my frozen body, curling around it in mere seconds, until there was no hope left for me; the serpent was hissing this reality in my ears.
He had returned, and he was close, too close for my liking.
In spite of my will, my eyes started traveling over his features, drinking the sharp edges of his jawline, lingering over his plump pale lips nestled perfectly under a straight nose. His face was yet again covered in a beautifully drawn skull makeup. Similar to how a mural added more charm to a wall, the paint only made his beautiful features pop out more. Especially his eyes, his eyes seemed like a pair of burning embers buried deep under a coal mine, pulling me with a magnetic force, drawing me in like the teasing twirls of fire inciting the defenseless moth towards it demise.
“Don’t stare too much, darling. You’re making me all shy.”
His teasing voice suddenly broke through the trance surrounding my mind in a hazy mess, causing me to hurriedly avert my gaze from his face.
“Isn’t my darling going to greet me with a sweet kiss?”
I had let the words out without fully processing them, much like a reflex action. Only after it was said out loud did I realize my mistake. All the ways he could torture me through the night started playing before my eyes, stopping only when I heard him let out a little chuckle,
“Yeah, that too, but let’s start with a kiss.”
I could feel myself nearing a mental breakdown. His sudden friendliness was messing with my judgment, clouding my better senses yet nothing seemed to be enough to erase the damage his presence had inflicted upon my memories. He had scarred me for life.
Not being able to handle his games, I shoved his hands away from my face, taking several steps away from him.
A sudden blank look washed over his face, wiping every trace of emotion off of it. I couldn’t judge what was going through his head. His eyes looked dead.
I opened my mouth to say something but nothing except for air came out. I was afraid, afraid of him turning back into the monster from my deepest darkest nightmares.
Impulsively, I cowered back in fear as I watched the skull-painted face lowering down in front of me, staring me dead in the eye before peeling back his lips to let out a loud booming laughter, eventually breaking into a fit of hysterics.
His emotional instability was puzzling me.
“W-Why a-are you d-doing t-this?”
Not paying any heed to my question, he continued laughing like a madman, clutching his sides as if they were going to burst open any moment,
In the matter of a blink, his tall figure was looming over me, gripping my throat in a grasp that didn’t seem to cut my oxygen supply but at the same time, it rendered me unable to pry myself out of it,
“That’s how I like your eyes, filled with fear.”
I glared at him with contempt as a lone tear betrayed me, finding an opening to hurriedly slide out of the cage of my eyes. His eyes seemed to be following it closely.
“Just kidding! Did I scare you for real?”
In a swift motion, he had let go of my throat.
I had no idea how I had become so bold to keep pushing his buttons, hoping for him to give in, one way or another, but I knew one thing for sure; I was not going down without getting the truth out of him. I needed to know, I deserved to know.
“Why, because I love you, Gia.”
My eyes were about to pop out of my skull and fall onto the ground as I continued staring dumbfounded at the man in front of me. Hearing him say my name after so long, especially in such a sentence had knocked the breath out of me. He, on the other hand, seemed quite normal. His lips were stretched into a sweet grin as he peered down at me with a soft look in his eyes which only lingered there for a mere second before disappearing altogether,
“Did you believe me? Poor soul, must be starving for love after all these tough years,”
The sweet smile had wasted no moment in turning into a cynical grin.
‘How could I believe him for even a second?’
Tears collecting in my brimming eyes were threatening to spill as I glared up at him through the shadow of my eyelashes, watching his grin slowly falter until it was reduced to a straight line,
“I want my soul back.”
A frown formed across my forehead following his uncanny reply, deepening more as I saw him raising a hand to my face. Flinching, I tried to move back but he had already sensed my intention as he gave me a warning look, daring me to move away from him. I knew what that look meant. I had seen it all too many times, tried rebelling against it more so and I had failed miserably every single time.
Hysteria always got what he wanted.
He was smoothing the ridges formed between my brows with the pad of his thumb. Unlike him, his skin felt like a warm ray of sun on a cold winter morning.
I hated feeling this way. I hated that in many years the first hand raised to genuinely comfort me was his.
“You remember meeting me when you were six, darling?”
I had no idea why my voice had come out in a breathless pant,
“Well, that was not the first time we met. Our first encounter happened when you were three. You had just arrived in Delights with your parents,”
His fingers continued stroking the skin underneath my brows despite the fact that my frowns had long disappeared. It was now replaced by a surprised look,
“They were busy renovating the house, leaving you to play all alone in the backyard. Do you remember finding a red object there; glinting under the root of a tree? Of course you don’t. You were a stupid baby busy doing stupid stuff,”
Pausing for a small moment, he diverted the conversation to slip in another one of his silly remarks,
“What’s with the obsession with red color by the way? Red crystals, red candies, red lingerie…”
A lopsided smile was pulling at one corner of his chalk white lips while my own jaw was close to hitting the floor,
“Back to the point, do you know what you did? You put the damn thing in your mouth. Do you know what it was? It was the last part of my soul that I had been searching for a long, long time,”
The series of asking rhetorical questions and answering them himself went on for a little while before the smile gracing his lips suddenly dropped from his lips; his fingers stopped their mindless caressing as well.
He was slowly leaning into me and he continued to do so until the tip of our noses were touching,
“Do you have any idea how long it took me to find all scattered pieces of my soul? Centuries! The old coot who had did this to me in order to suppress my rising powers had long died by then,”
His constant switching between playful and intimidating tones was unnerving me,
“There was no way of obtaining the crystal except for tearing it out of your body which I should gladly mention that I was about to do until a very daring three year old asked me to be her companion as her dad was accompanying her mother and she had no one to play. Innocent child didn’t know he was probably busy banging her against every piece of furniture he could find.”
“Shhh, it is rude interrupting someone when they’re talking.”
His rigid fingers had found life again as they traveled down towards my lips, covering them with their burning tips,
“Surprisingly, my greedy little darling here wasn’t full even after eating part of my soul. She wanted more. Precisely, she wanted to keep poking my eyes until one of them eventually fell out of its socket, just because they were such a prettier hue of sunlight.”
‘Is he telling the truth?’
One thing about Hysteria was that you could never completely trust him. Never.
“I found you interesting so I decided to keep you. Eighteen years, darling. Eighteen years. It took a period of whole eighteen years for my soul to become a part of your body and in spite of being the owner, I guarded your petty existence for these eighteen years just so another creature won’t end up claiming my powers hidden inside of you.”
“Y-You’re lying… You tormented me. You scared me for your personal amusement. You turned me into the crazy girl who returns to the town every Halloween!”
“It’s better than becoming the dead girl whose body was found on Halloween, no?”
Pushing his hands away from my face, I stared at him with contempt pouring out of every single word of mine,
“Everything is just a joke for you, my life being the same. Isn’t it?”
“I’d have killed you if that had been the case, darling.”
His nonchalant tone was driving me insane, much more insane than the people around me already claimed me to be. Digging my nails inside the skin of my arm, I tried my best to avoid making eye contact with him. I had no idea how long I stayed there trying to tear my skin off only stopping when I felt a pair of arms wrap around my stiff shoulders. I would’ve jumped out with surprise if it hadn’t been for the ironclad grip keeping me rigid in my place.
“It wasn’t me.”
My squirming toned down when the familiar voice blew a few strands of hair away from my cheek as his warm breath caressed the exposed skin of my neck,
“The scary figures, it wasn’t me. It was the other creatures trying to obtain my soul out of you.”
“Liar, I saw your eyes. They were everywhere.”
His hold on me tightened as I felt his rugged cheek coming into contact with my own soft one, rubbing them ever so lightly against each other,
“I was protecting you from them.”
“Then why didn’t you say so?”
Turning my head away from his touch, I kept my eyes glued to the dimly lit lamppost standing tall at some distance away from us,
“Because I couldn’t afford you running over to some church. Couldn’t have another show-down with a priest. Now, could we? They’d have killed you first.”
His sudden disclosure had caused to whirl around in his arms,
“Why me? What did I do?”
I watched as he lifted his long slender fingers, tracing my cheekbone with the back of his hand, before slowly tucking some of the loose strands of hair behind my ear,
“You have my soul inside you, darling. You are tainted in their eyes, an abomination.”
Tears started gathering once again into the reddened rims of my gray eyes as his words finally registered inside my mind. There was no escape for me. I could never ever escape this cycle. I could never escape... Hysteria.
“I didn’t ask for this.”
“Did you see me rooting for it? Yet here I am, stuck helping the little crazy girl who returns to the town every Halloween.”
He was mocking me with my own words,
“Leave me, I don’t want your help.”
Placing my hands on his chest, I applied as much pressure as I could, but I failed to even make him move an inch.
“You can’t survive without my help darling, especially on Halloween when their strength is at its peak,”
His large hands had engulfed my small ones resting on top of his rock hard chest,
“Trying to sneak some feel, darling?”
‘Oh, shut up!’ is what I wanted to say but the fear lessened due to his amiable interaction hadn’t taken me so high where I would end up forgetting my place. I was a human, after all. I knew I couldn’t win against him in matters of power. And mind games, I didn’t stand a chance there either.
He was Hysteria, the king of deception.
“How about making a deal with me, Gia?”
The serious tone his bemused voice had suddenly taken caused me to peer up at him with furrowed eyebrows,
“Yes, a deal.”
Gulping inaudibly, I continued staring up at him, motioning with him my desperate gaze to continue speaking,
“For the whole night, I wouldn’t protect you. If you’re able to protect yourself from the numerous entities lurking in every corner of the town, ready to pounce on you any moment, I’ll leave you alone. But, if you fail in doing so, you’ll have to pay for it with your life,”
The serious air surrounding abruptly disappeared as he gave me a big grin, showing me a set of perfectly aligned pearly white teeth,
“Unless, of course, you ask for my help. Three helplines you have. If you ask me to help you for the third time,”
He paused for a mere moment, reducing the grin to a small tilted smirk as he stared at me with a set of glimmering amber eyes,
“You’ll be mine.”
With that, his body turned into a big cluster of several black butterflies, causing me to let out a loud scream from the sudden shock,
“Run, darling. Run.”
He had disappeared from my sight yet his booming voice continued echoing around the deathly still surroundings, making my blood turn cold.