I could feel it when she left the room, and I could feel it when she left the cave. When Kenna left the room it was just awareness and I fell gently back to sleep, knowing she wasnít by my side any more. But when she left the cavern a deep pain in my stomach woke me with a start. The longer she was gone the worse it became, and I could do nothing but pray to who ever would listen for her return so the pain would be alleviated.
I really couldnít tell you how long it tookthe pain in my stomach to subside. All I could do was thank whoever heard me for the peace I now had. I was a little numb from the pain and my damn arm fell asleep from sleeping on it through the night. I noticed that my body ached, still, as I rolled over onto my left side, facing the doorway.
Before I saw who it was, I could feel her standing there just watching. I opened my eyes and studied her while she studied me. Something was wrong. Iím not sure how I knew, but she looked like she just recovered from being sick. Kenna’s hair was frizzier; curls no longer tamed, she had an almost crazed look; wide eyes searching, seeing me but not quite, her smooth skin was pale, and her hands were shaking...in anticipation?
My first instinct was to rush to her and comfort her pain; whatever that may be. Then I flinched remembering how the touch of another felt. Because I wanted to comfort her so quickly, I sat up and the sheet shifted as I thought about running to her. When I felt the silkiness of the sheets against my thighs I remembered it wouldn’t be the smartest idea to get up anyway.
Seeing that I couldn’t do much, I decided to use my voice instead. “Where’ve you been?” realizing that question was the wrong one; I asked a new one, a question that didn’t sound so demanding, “What’s wrong?” My new voice cracked, and I instinctively cleared my throat even though I knew it would be useless. I hope I didn’t sound like I was going to cry.
That would have been just great. I thought. If I broke down and cried in front of the sexiest ñ I mean the most gorgeous ñ women I’ve ever met.
I sighed for a totally different reason than Kenna not answering me, and she all of a sudden snapped out of whatever sickly state she was portraying. She stilled her agitated, pale hands and brought them up to her face. It was like she was feeling herself for a fever. Was she warm? She looked a little damp from perspiration now that I really look at her.
I thought again about telling her to come closer so I could feel her head ñ because that’s what you’re supposed to do with an ill person, right? ñ but again I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Just the feel of skin contact made me want to gag.
"I um," Kenna stuttered and then finally glued her eyes to me. She paused; it looked like she remembered what she was going to say. "I left to go find Camira. I figured you need some clothes. I was going to go to the village with her but -" Kenna had shifted her gaze over my shoulder at the candle, on the bedside table. When her eyes darted back to mine Kenna spoke with more confidence looking alarmed and maybe a little scared. "Are you okay?" She asked, directing the question at me instead.
Not having the will to fight for the answer I wanted from my question, I responded. "Um, well I am now." Why was I stuttering?
"Did you...feel something?" Now she sounded out of breath.
"Well... my stomach hurt for a while after you left. I felt...like I was...going to pass out." What the hell?! Every time she said something it was like I answered the same way. First she stuttered then I stuttered. Next Kenna was out of breath then I was out of breath.
Kenna gazed at me like she was trying to see through my skin. She could have been looking for a soul, as a matter of fact. Did I even have a soul? I'm not really sure, because I came back from the underworld, but I feel like pieces of me are missing.
All of a sudden something clicked, and Kenna looked like she had mixed feeling about it, like she finally realized something. I tried to read her, but the jigsaw of shadows across her face hid her thoughts from me.
The candle behind me flickered along the wall, and grew in size. I turned feeling the heat grow and my eyes widened. The flame was making the candlestick sweat, and as if it was a long neck the drops ran down, chasing after each other. The tinny flame grew bigger, and then decreased in size as if it had just taken a deep breath. Behind me I heard Kenna take a deep breath, and I turned with wide eyes.
"Did you...did the candle?" I was at a loss for words. What was going on?
Kenna straightened her back stubbornly and stared me down. I chose to forget what I asked, and brought the question back from a minute ago. “What’s wrong?”
Kenna shook her head as if she didn’t want to answer. “I had a long climb back up the mountain.” Then she looked at me, and then found another point in the room to become fascinated with.
I could tell she was lying to me, but all of a sudden it was like having the energy sucked right out of your skin. My eyelids drooped and me neck wanted to become slack, like a babies.
Before my eyes closed I saw Kenna do the same exact thing. She gasped in surprise and if you thought she was already pale, Kenna was like a white sheet of paper now. She slumped and her knees almost buckled out from underneath her. It was like I was on drugs. I couldn’t open my mouth, or make my larynx work, so to warn her about the hard surface she was about to hit uncontrollably.
All I could do was drop my head back against the pillow while I heard her limp body thump hard against the rock floor. Before I totally lost consciousness I heard the clear crack of a scull hitting the hard earth.
“Shit -” I muttered with panic, sucking in a breath, a rock lodged in my throat. I felt Kenna wrap around me before I was even conscious of it.
As I woke up I felt warmth around my arm, and I immediately thought I was still being tortured, and just maybe I passed out long enough to have a nice dream. For a few seconds...maybe minutes I was transported back in time. But of course I thought it was all real.
Ssssssthhhhh! I tensed at the sound of a demons tongue next to my ear. It was so forced...the sound, I could feel droplets of spit burn my ear.
A demon’s spit could burn severely enough to own a third degree burn. It was all over my body. At this point I was so used to the scorching pain, all I could do was flinch.
It was blazing hot everywhere and I was painted in my own blood. I didn’t have to look to confirm. I could feel the thick liquid slowly drain from my body. Dripping across the edges of the slab of boulder I was sprawled across. When you think you’re near death (because you’re already dead) your adrenaline kicks in, and you can feel every touch, every lick of a poisoned tongue.
When I was sentenced to this endless torture I fought for the life of me. Well...more like the death. There were enough demons to climb on top of me and weigh me down, and then they dragged me, paying no mind to my well being, to the boulder. At this point they didn’t even have to tie me down. What was the point? I knew this was my fate from the very first time I heard the sentence spoken out of the creature’s mouth.
Like a voice in the back of my head I heard him. He is to be labored until there is no will left in him.
At the time I didn’t quite know what he meant by labored, and then I saw the minions of a higher demon in the distance.
So apparently there are ranks of demons in the underworld. The higher demons are called Lords and they own minions. Then there’s everything in between that. A King being the top dog. That’s all I know, and that’s only because I had some knowledge of this before I died.
Oh god, how they used my body though. How they took my seed so that it would grow inside them... my manhood. How many times did I really try to stop the instinct to climax and then fail? Too many. How they tortured me with love. Love that was vicious. Love that hurt, pinched and stung my skin.
I could feel it now, and I couldn’t breath. With Kenna wrapped around my forearm it didn’t help my growing anxiety. I blew out a puff of air and it was hot in my face.
I couldn’t calm down, dammit! I didn’t know what to do! I knew if Kenna would just get off me, and I could have my arm to myself, I would probably calm down...maybe. I looked up at the rocky, jagged ceiling and tried to even out my breathing rhythm. But I couldn’t remember how to take a breath and then let it out. It was like taking your first breath after being born. It was almost forced, and then it would ease into a smooth regularity. But I couldn’t find my breath. It was just gone. What was I supposed to do now?
I opened my mouth to call for assistance, but a helpless grunt came forth instead. I told myself not to panic. It would only get worse.
I looked over at Kenna, who looked so pale she could have been dead, and she shifted. The red bloodstain that had rolled down the side of her face was now dried to a rusty red, and it stood out tremendously against her pale skin. Her breathing was deep and I listened to it realizing my chest started to loosen up, starting to breathe again. I took in a big gulps of air like I came up from a deep ocean of water, and my lungs seemed to sigh with relief.
Sitting there for minutes on end, I got comfortable with my breathing again. Then I listened to Kennaís breathing under mine, and we were practically in sync with each other. I don’t know about you but that was a little odd to me. It was hardly possible.
What did all this weird stuff mean? First it was the pain in my stomach that disappears when Kenna returns, next it’s the growing candle, then it’s the same reactions. What does this mean?
After sitting there long enough to have the sun go down, I started to feel a panic start to tighten my chest up all over again. I thought I could feel Kenna’s warmth spread up my arm, and my breath hitched. I clamped my eyes shut as tightly as possible and tried to pray that I would keep breathing.
It was no use. This time nobody listened to my prayer, and I began to wheeze as if I had asthma. I could feel the warmth start to spread through my muscles, and I didn’t know how to stop it. I was too paralyzed at this point to even try to wake Kenna up, and I really didn’t have the nerve too.
Then I heard a gasp come from my right side, and I could feel the breath against my skin. Hair on my arms stood on end.
Her touch was no longer there, and all of a sudden I could breathe again. A tear rolled down my cheek. Either from the relief of feeling no ones touch or the force of shutting my eyes so long, I didn’t know or care.
“I’m so sorry.” She sounded as if she was on the edge of the bed now, her voice weak.
I cracked my eyes open and studied her, now that we were at a safe distance. She looked so pale. Pale enough to be considered a ghost. She had light purple bruises under her eyes as if she hadn’t slept in three days. Kenna looked shaky and weak. Her vibrant, red hair hung there limp, and had no longer spring to it. Kenna looked like she could pass out again and sleep forever.
“Calder?” Kenna still spoke with a weak crack to her voice, but she started to sound worried.
Was I staring too long? I probably was, dammit.
Kenna started to become self-conscious and ran a hand through her messy, red curls. In doing that it just made them even frizzier. I studied the way the frizz now framed her face, and I couldn’t help but crack a smile...just for an instant.