The next day I arrived at their house, near dinnertime, as promised. The residence was completely silent when I stepped in. Marie appeared seconds later, ushering me into the dining room. I sat beside Elizabeth, her spine was straight and her eyes glued to the table. “Eat.” Damien’s voice was nearly a growl. I tucked in, ignoring the thick blanket of silence surrounding the table. Once he had finished with his meal, he shoved his plate away and focused on me.
“You have missed all three days of school and holed up inside that house. You’ve repeatedly disobeyed my commands.” His voice was calm, but heavy undertones made it threatening.
“If I cared, then I would listen.” He slammed his fist on the table, shaking the dishes and making the other two flinch back. I locked eyes with him.
“You live in my house, under my rules. My word is law and you will obey me.” Crimson misted my vision, a metallic taste flooded my mouth.
“You can’t control me.” He shot up, his chair clattering loudly against the hardwood floor. His face was flushed and the muscles in his neck bulged. I had successfully pushed him into a state of pure rage. He leaned forward, his hands fisted on the smooth tabletop.
“Watch your mouth, girl.”
“I don’t think I will.” I rose to my feet, looking over at Elizabeth. She met my gaze, frightened. “I will take my leave now, if you want to talk to me, you know where I’ll be.” A quiet gasp came from Elizabeth.
“Christy, please…” Elizabeth knew what I was going to do, somehow I couldn’t even conjure the will to care.
“What’s done is done.” I stepped around the table and slipped out the back door.
’Damien must die tonight; we cannot put this off any longer.’ I could hear the heavy pounding of his feet on pavement behind me. He didn’t call out to me and didn’t catch up. I picked up the pace until I was jogging through the streets. We reached my house far quicker than normal. I slammed the door shut and flung myself on the loveseat. It was flung open moments later.
“Christy!” His face was distorted with anger, hands curled into tight fists.
“Welcome to my home.”
“Enough of the bullshit, what the hell is going on? We opened our home to you and all I get is attitude and disobedience!” Ignoring his tirade, I made my way over to the door and closed it. I touched the dent he had made in the wall and frowned. I swiveled back to face him. His eyes were burning pools of blue.
“You wouldn’t understand, no one would.” His anger tinted with confusion. I went back to my previous spot on the loveseat.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Your boss said it best, ‘they always slip up, just takes time.’ My parents, grandparents… three teens who went missing just a couple of nights ago.” His eyes narrowed, awareness dawning on his face.
“No one else knows about those three yet.”
“Kevin, Kara and Darius.” I leaned back, crossing my ankles and laying my arms over my stomach. “How does it feel to know you’ve failed? That more people died because of your incompetence? You had me in your hands the entire time and yet you did nothing.” His spine was rigid, his lip curled in a slight snarl, his fists trembling with rage. I rose and padded closer. “You want to know how it felt when I took their lives from them. Showed them the play’s finale?”
“You…” His voice sounded strangled.
“Wave goodbye Damien and say your ending lines.” Daeori’s voice blended with mine, creating a sound close to a demon’s snarl. A massive explosion of pain ripped through my body, centering in the middle of my skull. I gripped my head, trying to make the pain stop. I dropped to my knees. My insides felt like they were boiling. Invisible flames licked up my flesh, vision pulsating in varying shades of red and black. I fell into the void’s welcoming arms.
A noise woke me from an endless drift in a dark tunnel. So much sadness filled that single sound. I struggled to open my eyes; but was just too tired to open them completely. I drifted off again only to to be brought to the surface by that sound. Opening my eyelids with great effort, I tried to look through the blurriness. I slowly turned my throbbing head to the side. A dark blob was pressed up close to my right side. I slowly sat up, my body screaming in protest.
’I didn’t stop until my anger waned.’ He sounded small, weak. ’Moving helps the recovery process.’ He faded off with a quiet whimper, his exhaustion dragged him down. I squinted, trying to remember what had happened last night, only to come up blank. What I knew was that I had been forced out of consciousness. Had he taken me over? Did the dream have something to do with this? I moved my hands to my legs to massage the soreness out, stopping when my fingertips brushed against a hardened crust. I glanced down, squinting to see through the veil over my eyes. My pants were stiff with dried blood. My hands and, by extension, the couch were also covered in it.
“Wasn’t expecting it to hurt this bad.” I looked at her, now that the blurriness had subsided; I could see her staring, horrified, at the bloody couch. My eyes flicked around the room, observing the carnage Daeori had wreaked. There was no sign of Damien’s body, only blood. Slashes of crimson broke the monotony of ivory walls, puddles soaked into the hardwood floor and formerly snow white carpet. The furniture was streaked with the fluid.
Images raced far too quickly through my mind. The stream of pictures slowing. A mangled corpse was resting against the back of a dumpster, the upper body slumped over. Streetlights just barely missing the still form. The pictures zoomed in. Large pieces of flesh and muscle had been ripped away, revealing stark white bone underneath. Entire, jagged shafts of bone pierced through flesh. The slideshow focused on eerie grey eyes before cutting off. Daeori retreated once more. I looked over when Elizabeth whimpered.
“It wouldn’t have happened if he would have stopped pushing.” She wiped ever flowing tears away with the back of her hands.
“How long have you planned this?” Her voice was hoarse, trembling with every syllable. I shook my head.
“I hadn’t. He just got in my way one too many times.” Her sobs grew in volume. I swallowed through the tightness in my throat and reached out to her, pulling back at the last second.
“The worst part is, you have no remorse about this.”
“Not about his death. Your pain, however, kills me. I hate seeing you like this.” She scooted closer, her delicate body trembling. I pulled her closer. “Don’t cry, Elizabeth, my love. Everything will be okay, it’ll work out.” I nuzzled the top of her head. I slowly stood from the couch, dizziness swamping me. “Let’s clean up and head back, we both need to rest.” I gathered the cleaning supplies and started scrubbing.
Hours of hard, monotonous cleaning passed. Each one seemingly harder than the last to get through. Finally; every bit that we could see had been scrubbed clean. The living room looked as good as new… except for the carpet, which was stained pink. Elizabeth hadn’t said a single word during it. She hadn’t even glanced my way. I studied her profile, tears still ran down her cheek staining the pale flesh an irritated red. Every tear sent another needle into my heart.
“Elizabeth.” She stiffened and turned her face even further away from me. “I know this hurts and I can’t even imagine how much pain you’re in. I just want you to know that I’m sorry.”
’I’m not.’ She sniffled, wiped her tears and stood.
“What do we tell mother?” She swallowed, a shudder moving through her.
“I just tell her he never came over. They will find his body soon enough and she’ll know the mysterious killer caught him.” I went upstairs, showered and dressed. I rejoined her by the door. Her tears were now dried, but her face was still blotchy and red. She walked out without saying a word to me, I followed.
’She should be happy that it wasn’t her.’ Daeori groused. I stayed quiet, unwilling to encourage another ‘she will die’ rant. She stopped on the porch of her home, refusing to move any further. I pushed the door open and padded in. Marie rushed out to greet us.
“I’m so glad you’re both back!” She looked behind us, a frown marring her features. “Where’s Damien?” I shrugged.
“He followed me for a little while, then he just disappeared. I thought he went to get some fresh air and calm himself before talking to me again. I waited for hours after that and he just never showed up.” She sighed, seeming to accept my ridiculous lie.
“Go upstairs, I don’t want you in his way when he comes home.” I retreated to my room.
’I can’t wait to see her face when his corpse is all over the news.’ I rolled my eyes and laid down, too tired to share Daeori’s happiness.
“Christy, wake up.” Someone was shaking me awake, their shoves hard and persistent. I lashed out, my hand connecting with their forearm. The owner yelped. “Quit that!” Now thoroughly annoyed, and fully awake, I opened my eyes. Marie was standing above me, arms crossed and face set in a stern expression.
“What was so important that you had to wake me?”
“There’s something that we need to talk about.”
’Something doesn’t seem quite right.’ At least I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.
“The chief of police called me a few minutes ago.” I stiffened and met her eyes. “They were able to get ahold of your cousin Stacy and her husband. They’ve taken the condemned status off your home and you’ll be moving back in with them.” My blood was boiling. I couldn’t stand those two on a good day. How was I going to live with them?
“Why?” She looked at me, her head tilted slightly in confusion.
“Why did they just hand everything over to her? How was she able to…” My mind shot off in a different direction. Fresh anger at Diane welling inside me. I remember hearing that the house would be left to rot unless the beneficiary said otherwise. The beneficiary being Stacy. “Diane gave the house to her in the will.” Marie nodded.
“Your grandmother is dead, so it went to the secondary beneficiary.” I ground my teeth together, Stacy and her little toy were going to pay.
“Can you leave me alone now?” She rolled her eyes but left, closing the door softly behind her retreating form.
’Have you decided what we’re going to do?’
We’ll move in with them and then wait. He made a harsh sound of protest, wanting to get rid of them immediately. We will get rid of them, just not for a while. He sighed, accepting my words. I grabbed my borrowed cellphone from the nightstand and texted Elizabeth. A few moments later the door opened, and she slipped in, her head lowered and posture stiff.
“What is it?” Her voice sounded drained, completely devoid of life. I motioned her to come nearer. She obeyed without a fuss. I sat up and took her face in my hands. The crystalline orbs were overflowing with turmoil and angst. My heart became a leaden ball in my chest, weighing me down.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” I pulled her into me, clutching her tightly. She buried her face in my neck and sobbed. I held her until she quieted. Her body slumped against me and soft snores came from the exhausted figure. I laid back and relaxed, dozing off beside my injured beloved.
“I apologize for interrupting, again, but I have a question.” I glowered at the man. Couldn’t he have waited until the end? “For most of your story, you’ve mentioned Daeori as if he is a living being. You have entire conversations with him. Do you believe he is real or just a small fragmented shard of a diseased psyche?”
“He was real! I know he was… is.” I slumped forward, defeat flowing through me. “He was very real. At least I keep telling myself that.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you again, I apologize.” He paused for a moment, gauging my temperament. “Could I ask another question? It’s nothing offensive, I promise.” I shrugged. “Can you still communicate with the daeminion?” My eyes burned with tears for my lost companion. It may have not turned out well between us; but he’d been there for a big part of my life and felt like another part of me. I missed him dearly.
“No, I haven’t been to speak with him since I got here. Sometimes I think I can feel him, but then that feeling is gone and I’m left alone again. I wonder if he misses me as much as I miss him.”
A soft hand brought me back to the waking world. I opened my eyes to Elizabeth’s red, puffy face hovering over mine. “Mom wants us to go to church.” I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and yawned.
“What time is it?”
“7:00 am.” Damn, I’d slept through all of yesterday. I sighed and slid off the bed. As soon as I was dressed, we headed out. Church dragged by tortuously slowly. Daeori was writhing in pain on the inside. It took all of my willpower to act like nothing was wrong. The relief was immense once we escape the religious sanctum. Something wasn’t right with Marie. She was trembling and muttering to herself the entire way back to the car. She rested her head on the steering wheel once she had climbed in.
“Are you okay, mom?”
“I had hoped that I would see your father there. He’s never been gone this long.” Elizabeth glanced at me from the corner of her eye. I shot her a glare, making her look away.
“Maybe he just needs more time.” She murmured. Marie didn’t appear to have heard. The ride back was filled with a thick, uncomfortable silence. Once the car had been parked and Marie was safely inside; I dragged Elizabeth outside, she couldn’t look me in the eye. Before I could speak to her, someone approached us. She froze at the sight of the tall man, her eyes fixed with fear. I vaguely remember seeing the man. He had been at the ruins of my grandparent’s home, digging through soot. His name badge held the name Cory.
’That little bitch!’ Daeori roared. Anger broiled inside of me. I glared at the conniving little vixen, making her flinch away.
“Christy, Elizabeth, it’s good to see you two.” He turned his attention to Elizabeth. “What did you want to talk about Liz?” My vision tinted, she would have told him everything if I hadn’t been here. How dare she. I wanted to reach over and snap her neck, but rage froze me to the spot.
“I just… I wanted to… Dad headed out of town for some needed relaxation. He was going to call you but forgot, so I figured I’d let you know.” He seemed a bit taken back.
“Are you sure that’s all?” She gave him a quick nod. “I’ll tell the boss then, you two behave while he’s gone.” He smiled and walked off. I ground my teeth together. I stalked off toward my home.
“Christy!” She cried out, desperation filtering through her call. I ignored her. How much would she have told him? Would she have single-handedly started a hunt against me? Hint at looking for Damien’s corpse or show them Kevin’s makeshift grave? Shove me into their waiting hands with a ‘here she is, the murderer you’ve been looking for?’ Daeori had been right this whole time, and I kept shoving his concerns and warnings off. I had been so caught up in what I thought was love to care.
’What she would have done isn’t important. Think ahead to what we must do now.’ It left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth to think of what had to happen. My angel had to die. ’You’re welcome, by the way.’ Hissing through my teeth, I ran the rest of the way. I shoved the front door open, making it bang loudly against the wall. My head was spinning and my stomach churned. There were so many thoughts racing through my head. I didn’t want to dispose of her, but I needed to. I stopped in the middle of the living room. A heavy, frigid presence came up beside me. My breath came out in a cloud of fog. Something pitch black flickered in my peripheral. Elizabeth skidded to a halt.
“Christy,” she panted, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking clearly I just-“ She dropped off. “I’m still your angel, aren’t I?” I growled low in my throat.
“Don’t you dare use that against me! I loved you, I trusted you. You are nothing but a traitor.” The girl was trembling, her unearthly eyes wide and glassy with tears. I pulled her close, cupping her face in my palms. “You can never be trusted again.” I swallowed back tears. “You’ve given me no other choice, no other options. I’m sorry, I don’t want to do this.”
“I’ll do anything to make you forgive me!” I pulled her tight to me, slowly walking us back toward the fireplace. The entire time I was whispering how much I loved and needed her. “It won’t happen again, I promise.” She sounded breathless, relief flowing through each word. I reached up, gently lifting an antique Katana from its ornate stand on the fireplace mantel. I moved my other hand up to her shoulder.
“Just remember, I don’t hate you. I really don’t, this is just a necessity.”
“What-“ I slammed the handle of the weapon into her temple. She crumpled to the floor, unconscious.