Chapter 1- The Twilight Hour
I had two minutes left. Two minutes before I changed. Two minutes before I entered the twilight zone and lost the thing I held dearest.
Hold on to your humanity, keep it close- I would tell them. I would warn them, if I could, I would save everyone, if I had the ability. I would keep them safe from the darkness that only corrupted and destroyed, I really would. But I did not have that power.
I stared blankly at the floor-length mirror in front of me, gazing at the man who impassively tried to discern himself and find the person he really was, whilst he became distant to the world he was supposed to be living in, until every waking hour felt like a dream as time and memory blurred and became distorted. I watched him glance at his surroundings, barely noticing the black marble floors of the hallway; the grand, ebony piano and the leather sofas of the living room; and the king-sized table and dark wooden cupboards of the kitchen and dining room. He didn’t even seem to care about the white, gauzy curtains swaying to the side of the gloriously large window that showed him the perfect view of one of the most renowned cities of the planet. After only a month of living here, the man in the mirror should have been spellbound by the beauty in front of him, should have been captivated by the wonders of the new world.
But he wasn’t. Because the only thing that filled his mind, was the dark and dense cloud of impending doom.
I only had two mirrors in my luxury, high-rise apartment on the top floor of the Penthouse Building in the City of Angels- known as Los Angeles to the common tongue. I didn’t like mirrors. They never showed a person’s true reflection. They were useful to people like me, however.
I was a big bloke. People who didn’t know me found me intimidating. People who did know me feared me. I wasn’t much of a talker, and I rarely smiled- so I couldn’t exactly blame them. My appearance didn’t help either. My arms and torso were thick with muscle; my skin was tanned with random scars from an origin I never talked about; my shoulders were broad and strong; and I stood at an impressive 6 foot 5. My hair was jet black; my mouth pouty and firmly sealed, jawline firm; and my eyes were a penetrating steel-grey that most could not look into.
I needed people to fear me. I couldn’t afford to get close to anyone. It was better that way. Better for the poor souls who had the terrible misfortune of having to deal with me, or anyone of my kind, for that matter. In my own way, maybe I was saving them.
Life was repetitive. I did this everyday. Stood for two minutes in front of my full-length mirror, regarding the reflection staring back at me that had lived for too long, and seen too much, only to come to the realisation every time that I had nothing, that I was empty. It was always sobering.
I knew that some people in my position would have regarded me a fool- a sentimental imbecile who took for granted the power that I was given and therefore I wasted my potential. But in reality they were the fools, because it was one thing to be powerful- but it was another thing entirely to be free. And I couldn’t even be free from myself.
I only had one minute now. Dread started to fill me like a bucket of ice being thrown over my entire body, chilling me to the bone. I held back a shiver. Now was not the time for fear.
I should’ve become use to this by now, but I hadn’t. I doubt I ever would.
I was like fire and water, really- two opposing forces that wanted something that the other loathed- and it was slowly tearing my soul apart.
But it didn’t matter. Because in a minute I wouldn’t be able to feel it at all.
I stepped quickly away from the mirror, sick of the blank, grey eyes that stared back at me, and made my way towards the perfect view of the setting sun sinking beneath the great, white mountains that towered over my penthouse flat. I took a deep breath and savoured the beauty of the human world: the blinking city lights of L.A, that dazzled like little diamonds bathed in the red glow of the setting sun- between the glorious Hollywood hills and the consistent lapping of the blue sea on the west coast, palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze.
I could see it all. The view was breathtaking. Some people would say I was lucky.
But they didn’t know me. It wasn’t like it didn’t come at a cost. I would give up everything, and I mean everything, if I could be free.
I didn’t have anything to give beyond vapid riches and power anyway.
They called this the Twilight hour: when day hadn’t quite become night, and the world was preparing to transition to the darkness that made the lights shine brighter, but also dowsed the land in a crushing and relentless shadow. They said the Twilight hour was, for a reason the humans could never put a finger on, bathed in melancholy and dwelling sadness.
I had learned a lot about the humans in my long and dark life, and one of my most important lessons was the fact that generally humans have incredible and extremely accurate instincts. Sometimes they didn’t understand their feelings, but nonetheless, they could be so sharply intelligent it stifled the likes of our kind. And then, of course, there were some who had no intelligence whatsoever.
Those ones never lasted long.
I had seen so much of the humans, so much that their lives had become normal to me. Their worlds were so different to ours: there wasn’t the simple moral colours that sides of the typical coin of good and bad stuck to. They lived in shades of grey- good and bad blurring like raindrops on a wet painting, so that in the end the answer to whether something was appeasing to the human soul, was deeply embedded in their torn and conflicting hearts- warring between the dark desires that sin brought temptation of; and the holy goodness that God made them with.
Their world was so much more interesting, had so much...more, than ours. There of course, was the darkness: the violence, the liquor, the drugs and the death; but there was also the light of love, companionship and happiness. And sometimes the darkness and the light combined, or got messily mixed together- and in the end most humans didn’t know what to make of their own lives.
But I understood. I got what the humans went through, because in the light of the day I went through it too. The conflict and the confusion of human life was something I, in all of my years of experience, could not solve and it continued to baffle me constantly. It was something my ‘colleagues’ wouldn’t understand. They had no empathy for the life of a human being.
Our kind didn’t care about that, of course. We didn’t see the messy and untidy beauty of the human life...we just cared about destruction, and pain, and suffering- because that was our purpose. I was alone in my observations, because I wasn’t like my kind- well, half of me wasn’t- and I would continue to be alone. I was always going to fight myself. I would never let him win.
And that was why chaos erupted in my soul at the same moment every day, when the setting sun disappeared behind the sea and day turned to night, when the melancholy of the Twilight hour finally resided- to be replaced by something so dark, even the shadows of night could not compare.
And my last thought, before my eyes began to darken and my mind began to fill with poison, and my heart began to freeze like polar ice, was my identity: the reason why this war, this internal conflict, would never be won.
I wasn’t human.
I wasn’t demon.
I was both.