Saturday, 25 February 2012

Dead Night- A Preview

Prologue - Destination: Oblivion

On the 13th December 1879…I died. 
In all honesty, it was not how I had expected to die, if I ever had expected it at all; but perhaps it was a somewhat valiant death...well, I always hoped it was anyway. What a pity it would be for everything to have gone to waste. Tossed aside carelessly like the remnants of something that no longer has purpose in our twisted, heartless world.
But a puny sapling in this great, tangled forest.
He tilted my head up, just slightly, to meet his eyes. It was not force as such, for I wanted to look him in the eye, let him know exactly the consequences he would reap. My warning may have been false, but he didn’t have to know that. Though his cold, uncaring gaze was enough to stun, I only glared back. From my experiences, I had learned that things like this didn't normally get much worse; after all, it would all be over soon anyway, and the voices filling my head would finally be silenced. 
I liked the idea of that at the moment…silence.
“What a shame…” He muttered, as if to himself, although we both knew that he was mocking me; he just wanted to make the most of it. After all, it had taken him more years than any human’s life could even hold just to locate me…I can’t say as I blamed him for feeling so, “You have such a pretty face.”
His remark hit a nerve. I remembered dimly somewhere I had heard it before…somewhere I dared not think about. 
“Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth!” I spat back without any hesitation. If I actually managed to make this any worse, if such a thing were even possible, it did not make a lot of difference to either of us. It was over now…all I could do was try my absolute best to make him regret it, not let myself give in until my last breath. If I never did get to the other side, he’d be the first one I’d haunt.
“You know, Miss DeHamphir,” He said evenly, not even slightly deterred by my reaction, “I have never met anyone who wanted to die as much as you do.” He gave a short, cruel laugh. I know that he wanted me to die with a tear in my eye; to wave the thought of all I was about to lose in my face and let it linger before my eyes. It was working, but I wasn’t about to let him know that…the trick I needed here was illusion, the one leg I had left to stand upon.
I looked him straight in the eye, holding back the strong desire to give in and let him have the last word. I should know far better by now than to listen to desires.
“If there is one thing I stand for,” I scowled, persisting with a little difficulty, “It is life.”
“Ironic.” He smiled, thinking about it, and he was right, in a way, “It really is a shame.”
I hated him. He spoke in riddles and paradoxes, twisted my words whatever I said. He deceived me for all the time I knew him in the most disgusting, merciless manner in which anyone could be deceived…and then I realised that I hated myself. I was no better. This day was my judgement, this killer was my prosecutor. 
“Are you going to hurry the hell up and kill me?” I snapped, careful that I was not hinting at my inner thoughts, “I have an appointment with Hades down there and he does not like it when I’m late.” The usual sarcasm that I’d picked up over the years, apparently from James, found itself creeping into my voice for one last time. 
James…Gods, I didn’t want to think about him. I didn’t want to think about any of the others, they would never forgive me. Perhaps I was past the point of having a reason to live now.
“Yes.” He smiled once again and drew a familiar black and silver dagger from its sheath. It glinted beautifully; the moonlight from the window flashing on its perfect, deadly blade as sharp as a tiger’s claw, and lit up the deep blue starstones in its hilt. It was, if it weren’t about to contradict its very purpose, the perfect weapon. He knew this of course, and could not hide the pure satisfaction on his face…after all those years…this dark game of cat and mouse would finally come to an end. 
He wrapped his fist slowly around the hilt of the blade, obscuring the glittering stones as if putting out a candle at night, and made an aim for my heart. I expected him to do it then, but he decided to instead prolong the use of the ultimate torture weapon for a little while longer… 
Funny how something so little and harmless could make you laugh, cry, stay awake at night, paralysed with fear and a desperate anticipation. I did love those feelings once. 
He smiled, and addressed my earlier comment about hell with an air of superiority and the heartless, chilling detest that was his nature, “So do I.”
I did not look away but, even if I wanted mine to be a fast ending, I had to have the last word. I suppose I thought of it as a parting gift that I hoped would stay with him for a long time, at least in what little dreams or nagging thoughts he was still capable of having, “I expect we shall meet again, albeit in the underworld.”
I wanted so badly to close my eyes and wait, but I simply couldn’t, so I took my only resort and glowered on. No tears…no visible ones anyway; because inside I felt like I was already dead.
Still smiling, he allowed me that final request without another challenge and drew back the weapon that would deal my final fate. 
In those last few seconds, as they slipped slowly away from me, time seemed to stand still. One of the last things I cared to notice was that there wasn’t a single flicker resembling any kind of remorse in his eyes...only great, gloomy chasms full of hate…I knew then that it was time for me to be with them again… 
The ghosts of my purpose.

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