“Here you are Mr. Hendricks” the small woman clad in blue scrubs slowly pushed the older man into his room. She let out a sigh once they got there and smiled down toward him as she placed the breaks on his wheelchair.
“Honestly, I’m more winded than usual lately.” She confessed and touched her stomach tenderly with a hand. He nodded in understanding and crossed his hands within his lap.
“Take care of yourself , Melony, don’t overwork yourself.” He instructed, but there was tenderness in his voice compared to when he spoke to Blake earlier. He sighed and motioned toward the blinds with his left hand and reached to grasp the coffee pot within his shaking hands. He slowly poured himself a cup of coffee and drank it black.
Melony furled the blinds for him and headed toward the door.
“Do you need anything else from me Sam?” She asked him. He shook his head but then glanced back at her. “That kid.” He mumbled.
“Pardon?” She asked him and neared his side once more. She lowered herself upon her knee and glanced up at him through her mousy brown locks. Mr. Hendricks appeared more tired than usual-to her anyways. His face was pale, and his neck flexed forwards as though bent over in thought. He was once the embodiment of a powerful man that held strings in many businesses on this side of town. But now, he thrived between his room and the dining hall. She was on the only one he would ever talk to (that she knew of).
“Blake Hazlren.” He stated and looked toward her. “Oh. . . the CNA?” She questioned and bit her lip.
“He quit not even a few hours ago, the front desk woman said he appeared very disgruntled.”
Mr. Hendricks snorted under his breath and nodded his head gently. A wisp of white hair trailed down the side of his head and lingered just above his ear with the motion.
“Say.” He ran a finger over the face of his golden watch and then took it off and handed it to Melony. She held it within her fingertips.
“Sir?” She questioned and seemed startled at the gesture. “Mr. Hendricks are you giving this to me?” She asked him, but he remained silent.
“Sam. . .I can’t-” She began to say, but he immediately cut her off. “I know you can’t accept gifts from the residents.” He finished her sentence and looked toward her.
“That watch is gold from 1942. It’s an heirloom. I don’t have any family left, you need it so just take it Melony. I won’t say a word.”
“Sir” she stated more stern this time but he glared toward her.
“Look, that baby of yours is going to need a crib. Buy her a nice one on me.” He stated and raised his cup of coffee to his lips.
She hesitated before nodding and slowly placed the watch within the pocket of her scrubs. She felt as though it was unethical.
“Why this now?” She asked quietly. He stared at the flowers atop of the table. Winter visited once a week to bring him white lilies. A lone red rose sat in the center of the white lilies with thick thorns. He eyed it wearily.
“A parting gift.” He whispered against the cup as he took another slow and shaky sip. He remained silent to any other questions and waited several minutes before she left the room.
Melony glanced once more at Mr. Hendricks who sat alone within his room staring at the flowers. She bit her lip and shook her head one more time before quietly closing the door.
Her manager glanced at her questioningly as she exited the room and noticed the peculiar look on Melony’s face. “What is it dear?” She questioned as she pulled a set of bubble packed meds from the container. Melony stood still for a moment and then continued down the hallway. “Keep an eye on him.” She managed to whisper and left.
“Say hi to the hubby for me.” The manager called out and pushed her cart further down the hallway to the next room.
“You’ve been hiding long enough.” Mr. Hendricks called out into the empty room. A soft crackling noise met his ears and he turned his head. He narrowed his eyes toward the slim figure that presented itself within the shadows of the room.
“If I’m going to die, I would appreciate seeing the face of my killer.” Mr. Hendricks tilted his head toward the foe. The dark figure approached after several moments, slowly but surely. And he was indeed very, very, tall. He hung over Mr. Hendricks like a cloud of death, prepared to engulf him within it’s storm.
Slowly his face appeared within the shadow and those haunting electric green eyes stood out in the darkness. "Asmodian. . ." Mr. Hendricks raised a brow. "I should have known you'd be back to try to take my grand daughter again."
"The last time was a failure I do admit, but this time I will be successful."
“You’ll never find her.” Mr. Hendricks smirked and uncrossed his hands. “I made sure she has someone to protect her, and her guardian is by her side as well.” The shadow hesitated for just a moment, and then drifted over to the flowers that rested upon his table.
“These are very beautiful.” His voice purred out like cat. The figure’s outstretched hand seemed to caress the petals before the creature lifted it’s head to the small photograph on the wall. It’s head tilted curiously as it observed a small clipping of a student at the University honored for outstanding grades and leadership. The figure recognized him as the boy from before.
"He was the one you spoke of. . .I've been trying to match his face to a name all week. "
“Blake Hazlren.” The figure moved hesitantly once more, and noticed Mr. Hendricks flinch at the name.
"He's the one." The voice scuffled and it turned toward Mr. Hendricks again. The dark figure seemed to hang around above him without touching the man. Within a few moments the old man began choking upon his own breath. He grasped for his throat as foam gurgled from his lips. His eyes lolled to the side, and with a final attempt at a scream...
He fell silent. The figure dropped the body and Mr. Hendricks fell back lifelessly in the wheelchair. The shadow drifted back toward the photo and ran a finger against the boy's face.
" I'm sure the mistress will be pleased to know you've been under our noses this whole time. . .Aion."
He ran his fingertips tenderly over the picture of Winter and dissipated.
After a long day, Blake knew that he was surely seeking a kiss from the devil if he was to go home to the dorms now. Just pulling up in his car; he could already hear the pulsing sound of music. With a sigh he let his neck fall slack and his head rested against the steering wheel with a slight feminine ‘honk’ from the Honda.
“Can’t a guy catch a break around here?” He raised his eyes up to notice a handful of girls standing on the sidewalk just a little ways away. They stared in his direction and laughed amongst themselves.
With a roll of his eyes he pulled his bag from the car and slammed his car door shut. He wasn’t in the mood.
“Gotta love a man in uniform” One of the girls with long red hair that was braided down her back snickered. Her eyes scanned up and down his light grey attire before winking an eye at him and turning about to continue talking to another girl near her. Her shorts hardly covered her rear end and she was barefooted. Obviously all three of the girls were drunk, and he could have had his way with any of them. He sighed and moved past them.
“I’m gonna kill them” he murmured under his breath as he took the stairs two at a time.
“The finals are tomorrow and they know this. ..” He grumbled and threw his hand out to the side quietly in frustration as he vented to himself. Another college student shrunk against the wall to avoid his swinging arms as they passed each other.
Once floor 2 room 28 was reached, he pushed the door open and could only stare directly at Simon from across the room with a flat expression. They somehow had wrangled a stereo into the center of the room that was almost hanging off the table because the cord was too short. He had to cover his ears because of the base that little device was letting off. Simon cowered under his gaze and seemed to be moving something out of his view by pressing it under the bed. Randy was on the opposite side of the room in a group of people that were too busy beginning to pile up red cups to stack a tower.
“Alright. . .” He marched to the center of the room and summoned Simon with a motion of his finger. “I thought we said no parties man.” He emphasized under his breath as someone yelled and beer sloshed onto the carpet followed by insane laughter from a few people.
“Finals are tomorrow!” Blake growled under his breath. “Man. .. man it’s not what you think! This was already here when we came!” Simon slurred and closed his eyes as he wobbled. Blake snorted and pushed past another drunk guy to maneuver his way into the half-filled room.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He sighed and reached down for a red cup and filled it to the brim with alcohol. “You’re screwed.” He whispered and shrugged his backpack further onto his shoulder as he exited the dorm room. With beer cup in hand he paraded down the hallway further to escape the noise to study. “Campus security!” a voice sounded behind him and several voices groaned in agony- he ditched the cup in the nearest garbage disposal. There was a study section that consisted of several chairs and a little fun room that the college had set up for inspiration to study.
He had never been there before but now was a prime time to check things out if ever. Curiously, he poked his head around the corner into the supposed ‘fun’ room. There was a few arcade games lit up and two pool tables. A bunch of chairs and some TV’s assembled around. It was full of people moving back and forth and one girl was pouring out soda on a counter top. A soft common music floated through the air, and Blake could have sworn he heard Bieber in the distance.
He slowly moved through the crowd of people to look for a place to sit. An open table caught his eye and he shuffled toward it. Just as he had set his backpack down upon the table the sounds of dice inside of a cup caught his ear. The shake was of a sore loser that laughed once the dice spiraled out of the cup and into perfect snake eyes on the table top.
“That’s it! I win the lot!” He would have known that black hair anywhere.
“So this is how you get your kicks huh Winter?” He smirked and rested his hand against the table as she looked up in surprise. “Swindling quarters out of poor college kids?”
“Blake!” her cheeks flushed and she immediately placed her hands behind her back and stepped away from the table. “It was just luck.” She murmured as he grew closer to their table. He motioned to the guys she was playing with.
“Yo did you check to see if the dice were loaded?” He joked and they laughed and began to clean up. Leaving behind a stock pile of quarters for her winnings. “See ya Whinny.” A tall blonde winked toward her and the other dude nudged him before urging him on. Blake felt a twang of jealousy before pushing it aside.
Winter tilted her head toward the man with a smile, she felt as though she had seen him before.
He raised a brow. “You really needed to do the laundry huh?”
“It’s not like that.” She tilted her head up to the air, defensive it seemed.
“I had no idea you even lived in the dorms Winter.” He chuckled and tilted his head curiously.
“I had no idea you were a nurse Blake Hazelton.” She shot back with a half smile. Motioning with her fingertip toward his clothing that hung loosely from his body. He flushed in embarrassment, forgetting that he was still in his scrubs. He had fled the nursing home after Mr. Hendricks had warned him.
“How are the plans for the Fling coming along?” He asked after a few moments of silence to avoid the conversation.
“Great, great. . .just have to map it all out. . it really is stressful, I don't have enough time.” She sighed and pressed her hands against the table behind her. She did seem tired the more he studied her. The rims of her eyes were highlighted with a faint red color. 21 Pilots hummed in the background as she stared off into space for a moment.
The second hand on the clock behind her froze in time for just a few seconds before it continued to move and caught up.
“Are you going Blake?” She asked with a tilt of her head. He glanced over his shoulder at a guy that had been staring the pair of them down for a while before looking back toward her. “Are you going to the fling?” she asked again.
“Huh. . .oh I don’t really dance.” He shrugged his shoulders in embarrassment but immediately regretted his answer when she looked downwards with a sad smile. “Oh well, a lot of people can’t.”
She smiled and moved to collect her spoils from the table top. “Wanna help me, my knight in clad scrubs?” She joked and he nudged her shoulder with his fist and began to pick up quarters.
“Remember Blake...” a mysterious voice chimed into his ears and he turned his head to look at Winter. She glanced toward him questioningly as his eyes darted about.
“Did you say something, Winter?” He asked quietly, and she shook her head.
“Are you alright Blake?” Winter reached out to touch the top of his hand. Her fingers seemed to pull him back down to the earth and he breathed deeply to steady himself. “I-I’m fine Winter.. . ” He glanced at her hand atop of his and smiled before lowering his hand to his side.
He lowered himself to a nearby chair and watched her as she finished collecting her change from the table. “Let’s go for a walk. . maybe the fresh air would be good for you.”
“Yeah. . .yeah that’s a good idea.”
A chill nipped at his face as he exited the warmth of the dormitories. He closed his eyes automatically when the wind brushed against them but soon he opened them once Winter’s voice met his ears. “It’s so nice out” she whispered.
His breath wandered from his lips as he stared at her for a few moments before shaking his head and walking past her. His heart beat heavily in his chest as he thought about her. Someone he could never get close to but someone he could never seem to escape.
He had the sense that he had known her for a while. For a long time. And she had such an impact on him, and she never even knew it.
“You’re awfully quiet. .. are you sure you’re alright?” She questioned him and turned about to face him. Her eyes displayed only worry as she observed him.
“No Winter I’m fine I swear.” He lowered his eyes down to look at her with a soft smile. “I’m fine, I promise.”
She studied him a bit longer before stepping back and avoiding his gaze. She suddenly snapped her finger out in front of him and glared at him. “Pinky promise.” She commanded.
He jolted in surprise but narrowed his eyes at her sudden seriousness. “Promise that I am fine?”
“Promise to not lie.” She stated and waved her finger once more. “Come on.”
Not lie. . .He pressed his lips together before reaching out his finger to encase hers. “Pinky promise.” He whispered and walked past her with their fingers still connected. He smirked as he tugged her along with just a finger.
“It would be much comfortable to just hold hands.” She sputtered but he merely laughed in response.
“What fun is that?”
"Then you must be crazy for hanging out with me!"
Winter leaned over the railing as Blake shrugged both straps of his backpack onto his shoulders and rolled them back. He rested his arms against the rail as a puff of air escaped his lips and floated up into the chilly night sky.
“So, tell me about yourself.” He murmured as they watched the forest down below shift within the wind.
“Me?” She seemed to think for a little while. “But I’m not all that interesting. Tell me about yourself?”
He smirked and shook his head. “I’m not very interesting either so let’s take turns.”
“Family?” She questioned him and he almost nearly winced.
“I. . don't have any.” He answered blankly before meeting her curious blue eyes once more. He frowned in confusion as foggy memories was all he could find within his mind.
“I never met my parents honestly and I have amnesia as to the rest- child hood accident." He spoke slowly and carefully. She pursed her lips almost as though she was thinking over the misfortune.
“I have family, but my parents died a while back.”
He tried to pretend to be surprised although he knew all these things about her already. “How did they die?”
“My family murdered them, for money of course.” She whispered and seemed to tune out of the conversation from any further questions he asked.
She watched him and smirked. "I used to be on the cheer leading team. . .but I never felt comfortable having people watch me." She sighed and rested her chin within her palm.
"I guess that's what happens when everyone knows who you are, they think you don't belong just because you come from a wealthy family."
"One of the girls dropped me on purpose while doing a trick and I ended up breaking my ankle. So I quit. I guess I couldn't handle pain or conflict so I just ran."
Blake frowned at her answer and rested an arm across her shoulder to pull her into a small half hug.
"People are jerks" he muttered. "I can second that." She laughed. She fell silent again and the conversation never arose.
She continued to stare blankly out into the darkness until he touched her shoulder and she nodded when he asked to bring them back to the dorms. His mind trailed off as she remained quiet on their way back; the only evidence of their conversation was the footprints they left behind in the gravel.
"I have to go study for a bit. . .want to get some coffee?" She nodded her head and smiled.
He glanced at her questioningly. "For what?"
"For not thinking I'm weird. . .and for listening" she met his eyes again and half smiled. He nodded again.
“Mannnn what happened Blake. . .you bailed on us!” Simon howled as they were returned back to the dorms the next morning. Blake, who had gotten a decent amount of sleep and studying in, merely smiled at them.
“For a good cause.” He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose to glance at the clock upon the wall that edged out a faint 8:02. He stretched and wiggled out of bed, ignoring Randy and Simon’s glares the whole way.
“I left because that party wasn’t a priority.”
“And I didn’t want to get in trouble.” He snorted and shuffled over to the mirror to reach for his contact lenses. “Well, you could have given us a heads up.” Randy sighed and tilted his head back. His eyes still red from the alcohol. “Either way, you were all too drunk to do anything.” Blake kicked a nearby can just to prove a point.
"This place is a mess."
“You’re not going to graduate Simon unless you study.” Blake warned and shook his eyes free of tears from his contacts. He blinked his eyes several times and looked in the mirror to see only a blurry reflection of himself.
“Weird. . these are new contacts.” Blake whispered and took each from his eye and placed them in the waste basket. He turned to glance at Randy and Simon and both of them were crystal clear. Blake looked around shocked and then double checked his eyes to make sure he didn’t have his contacts in. His vision was perfect.
“You never have any fun Blake.” Randy accused and pointed to the books. “All it ever is .. is study for you." Blake blinked before narrowing his eyes toward them.
A lot of strange things had been happening to him lately.
“And what do you suppose I do? I’m in school.” Blake stated and grabbed a towel from his bedside. He walked past the pair of them and toward the public bath for a breather. The pair started to follow before retreating back into the room to clean up the mess from the night before.
"Man. . .Blake's been acting weird." Simon snorted and grabbed a trash bag. He picked up several cans and threw them in angrily.
Randy frowned as he picked up a broom from the nearby closet.
"Oh. . ." She swallowed and took him by the hand to help him up. The man seemed equally embarrassed but tried to brush it off.
"Are you from around here?"