Blood stains my hands like red wine.
I stand where I’ve dropped my clothes, the bloodied fabric pooled by my feet. My body trembles as I try to grasp the magnitude of what I’ve done. It doesn’t feel real. It feels too easy. It feels like I’m just an innocent witness who has walked in on this gruesome scene. I don’t want to believe it’s true, that I have done this. But I have. I only have minutes to cope.
I expect Zacharias to wake up, to come back to life. He’s never been outwitted, but this defeat comes easy. Too easy. He feels immortal to me, someone too brawny and powerful to meet his end so quickly and so suddenly, carried through by someone as small as me. It feels like David and Goliath. The unlikely one is left standing.
But not for long.
I haven’t lied. Our story, the story of Zacharias and I, ends together. We will die together. We’ve reached our final chapter. I’ve finished my purpose—to kill him. Now I’m idle. I can only wait. The longer I wait the more nervous I become. By the time the wolves are done there will be nothing left of me. They will demolish and devour me.
The only proof that I had once existed will be in the way my blood mixes with Zacharias’. We will unite once again.
I stare at his cadaver, my eyes wide. He’s a mess—grotesque and unrecognizable. It looks like something had eaten its way through his chest. I’m unable to comprehend that it is I who has carved him this way, marred his body beyond healing. I know there’s no chance of resurrection but closure has not yet sought me. I’m not at peace.
The smell of his blood burns my nose. My eyes water from the pungency, my nasal cavities sting. I want to open the window but yet I cannot move. I’m rooted to my spot; the spot in which I will die. I know I won’t try to run from the wolves. I have no need. There is no need.
I don’t feel relieved that Zacharias is gone, my revenge fruitless and unrewarding. But I feel no regret, either. I feel nothing. It doesn’t feel empowering that I have stolen his power. Maybe its because I haven’t stolen it for myself, maybe it’s because it’s going to his Beta. I don’t know. Maybe there was never any real power. Maybe power is a made up concept.
My body begins to tingle, my nerves electrify. My skin feels hot. I have to look away from him.
It’s getting near.
My teeth clatter as I try to swallow my tears. My chin is wobbling. I’m scared, but I’m ready. I’ve accepted what’s going to happen. I accepted it when Zacharias was in my bed. It feels like I’ve accepted it for years. But even acceptance cannot curtain fear. I’m going to die afraid.
But I will not die a coward.
I killed as a coward. I refuse to die as one.
A spasm travels through my body and I whimper. I want to move from my spot, stretch my limbs, but I won’t. I know the pain indicates my other half, Zacharias, is dead. The part of me that belongs to him is dying, too. But I will always be his. He still runs in my veins. His deteriorating essence just reminds me that he is gone and I am alone.
But I will not be alone for long. I can hear the wolves. The earth seems to shake as all of them howl at once from outside. They know what I have done. They can smell my deterioration and they’re coming to kill me now. I have less than a minute. I have to make my amends. I know it won’t save my soul, it’s far too late for that, but it’s the closest I can get to clearing my conscience.
I look at his dead body once again, speaking to Zacharias as though he’s still alive. “I’m sorry,” I begin shakily. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t have just walked away.”
And it’s all I can muster myself to say. I want to say more but it feels inappropriate. I have already given Zacharias my monologue, it’s pointless to improvise another. He’s already dead. He doesn’t need to hear another one of my departing speeches.
I close my eyes. It’s hard to draw breaths. I’m so scared. My heart races and my fingers curl into one another. I try convincing myself that it will be quick but I know this isn’t true. It’s going to be excruciating. They’re going to make sure I suffer for killing their alpha. And I will.
The door from downstairs is slammed down by sheer force. I imagine the wolves all piling in, toppling over one another, each one competing to land the first strike onto me. I can smell their wild. It’s thick in the air immediately. I only have seconds until they’re here.
I catch a whiff of a familiar scent.
I can hear them racing up the stairs. My stomach rolls like waves as I try to regulate my breathing. In my final moments I do the sign of the cross, pressing my fingers to my forehead, chest and shoulders. I know this makes me hypocritical, but I’m not an honest person. I’m built from little white lies.
The first wolf runs through the threshold and the familiar whiff overcomes me. James is here, leading the pack. He will be the one to strike first. I’m glad it’s him that lands the first blow. I don’t want it any other way, even though it is more than I deserve. Now, truly, will be the last time he sees me.
I look at him over my shoulder and everything moves in slow motion. James is in the air mid-lunge, his jaws wide, dozens of wolves behind him. There’s no recognition, then. His eyes do not seem to identify who I am. I mean nothing to him—he’s as good as killing a stranger. He’s only fuelled by bloodlust. He wants me dead. I’m not even Edie anymore, just an enemy.
And that’s okay. I am an enemy. The punishment suits the crime.
I can’t stop myself from smiling as the tears roll down my cheeks. It all ends now. I feel tranquility in that moment, the final second before impact. It seems to stretch on forever, like time itself is moving through honey. I do not relive anything, I do not get any sudden epiphanies. I don’t even have the time to think.
But just as teeth sink into my flesh I see grey. And I feel it.
I’ve found the beauty of grey.
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