Chapter 19

Chapter 19

A Chapter by Rocki-san

That night I found myself in the backyard of the cottage that had been rented out to us. Some would think that I was crazy for sitting out there in the snow as the rain pelted down to create ice. I wasn’t feeling too well in the middle of the night so I came out here to reflect but really, I was only depressing myself more. A lot had happened in the past week but it was only fully hitting me now as I looked up at the sky. I could hear the door open and shut in the distance as Keno came out to check on me.

"You okay, Ozzie?" he asked even though he already knew the answer. I wasn't okay, I probably would never be okay again but wasn't that life for you?

"I can't feel the rain as it hits my face," I said, my voice breaking again. Keno sat beside me for comfort and to hear me better. "I know it's hitting my face, I can see it but I... I can't feel it."

Keno said nothing because, for once, he was unsure of what to say. What could he possibly say that would make any of this okay? There was nothing I could think of at the moment as another water drop hit the tip of my nose.

"Things will turn out, Ozzie," he said quietly and though it didn't sound it, it was mechanical. He was saying it in sheer faith but the truth was that he didn't know. He didn’t know if he would be able to save me or not, he didn’t know what we could do. I’d told him about what Hiero had told me, that I was slowly turning into a demon. That I told him, but the fact that Hiero had grown up with our father? I didn’t think he was ready to hear that, not right now when he had so much else to think about.

We’d promised not to keep secrets from each other, but some things I couldn’t say. I couldn’t tell him about Hiero but I also couldn’t tell him the other aspect Hiero had told me. I knew Keno wouldn’t look at me like I was a monster if I’d told him that I would be an energy-sucking demon stealing souls from a graveyard. So why did I feel like he would? I was afraid to tell him but maybe I was just afraid that if I did, then it would be true.

I nodded but continued to sit in the rain I couldn't feel. Thinking the words I couldn't say and the things that had been and wouldn't be. Keno stood to give me time alone, something I'd never thought I would ever need and didn't realize I needed it until he'd gone.

"Go away," I said mutely but I knew the demon could hear.

"I can't," Hiero said and I glared up at him. “I have to watch you.”

"If Keno or Logan see you-" I started.

"They won't," he shrugged and sat beside me.

"How do you know what I'm saying? I can barely talk."

"Empathic abilities," he shrugged. "Every demon has enough to get by."

"Why can't I feel the rain?" I asked. "I can't feel anything, Hiero, all I feel is that I’m different.”

He didn’t say anything but stood up and started to walk away from me. He was definitely different than when I’d first met him. Now, rather than looking at me with cocky eyes or triumph, he looked at me with pain. The same pain I saw in Keno’s eyes, Logan’s eyes, even my father’s eyes. The pain of losing a loved one.

He’d known my father, grew up with him, hell I was named after him but to say that he was that long-lost uncle? I wasn’t ready for that and I wasn’t ready for his pity, I wasn’t sure if I ever would be.

"It's the demonization, it's making you inhuman, Oskar," he said quietly.

“How long,” I paused. “Until-?”

“Three months,” Hiero said. “Master should wait longer but he’s impatient. He’s been waiting for this for a long time.”

"Please," I watched the droplets hit my shaking fists. "Please make it stop.”

"Sorry," he said quietly and disappeared before I could say anything else.

I continued to watch the raindrops, the water glittering in the dim light on the porch which Keno had left on for me.

I remembered being a kid, even before mom had died, we'd pull on our rain gear and run up to the top of the hill to lay under the willow tree. Mom would tell us stories or we'd sit in silence to listen to the rain. We'd kept the tradition until we'd joined the CCOR, sitting in the rain and nostalgia. I could feel the rain then but I hadn't taken the chance to notice it, now I wish I had. All I had left was distant memory, a phantom sensation that I may never get back.

I sat up and shook the water from my hand. It was funny how I could be so afraid of water but could love the rain. It was revitalizing, calm and gentle but strong enough to wash away not just dirt but sometimes sorrows. In this case, however, it only washed away dreams.

 

I was still in my “Life has no meaning” mood the next morning and I could see how worried Keno was about my mental well-being but he tried not to push it. He’d been trying really hard lately to give me more responsibility and I appreciated it, but it also pained him to let go.

“Ready?” He asked me and I looked up at him. I shrugged which didn’t exactly make him feel any better. “Now you don’t want to talk?”

“Am I allowed to talk?”

“You didn’t follow the rule anyway,” he said.

“What do you want me to say, Keno?” I asked as I continued gathering weapons and getting ready to go into the cave.

“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” he said quietly and I was silent. “Are you?”

“Would you be?” I asked and left the room to meet Kotori and Logan outside before he could go any further.

“It is about time,” Kotori muttered, he was twirling a short sword in his hands, a feather dangling off the hilt. It was a better choice than his long bow or cross bow.

“Sorry,” I muttered and started off towards the path ignoring the look Keno and Logan exchanged.

“Great, he’s mopey again,” I heard Logan mumble but continued walking as if I hadn’t.

It took us half the day just to get to the right altitude in the rough terrain and then another few hours to find the entrance to the long, dark tunnel. It was set where the “path” met the wall of the mountain, a small drop off to a foul-smelling subterranean world. The rocky outcropping had prevented the rain from washing away the red stains at the tunnels entrance like it had on the path.

A shiver ran through me as I looked down into the tunnel. I could all but feel the light stroking of a long black claw against my skin, the hissing of a dark, sinister voice in my ear uttering a single word that seems so simple until it is directed towards you. “Mine.”

“Ozzie!” Keno pulled me out of my trance with a start by shaking my shoulder. How long he’d been doing it or calling my name I couldn’t be sure. I turned away from the sight of the tunnel, looking down at the ground to avoid eye contact. “Are you sure you can do this? You’re looking pale.”

“It’s the lack of oxygen, I’m okay,” I said and then took a deep breath, immediately disproving my claim, and then turned back to the tunnel. “Are we going in?”

“It’ll be awake,” Logan said as we stared down.

“Good,” Kotori grinned. “What’s the point of the fight if you kill it in its sleep?”

“Alright, Kotori,” Logan sighed, trying to be patient. “When you’re in the CCOR, which you’re not, you want to get jobs done quickly and efficiently not fight the thing to the death!”

“And that is the difference between your culture and mine,” Kotori nodded.

“I give up on him, I’m taking Ozzie, you can have the foreigner,” Logan said to Keno.

“We have to split up?” Keno quirked an eyebrow.

“I’m saying that if we do, I’m going with Ozzie,” Logan said. “Right Oz? Just you and me. Ozzie?”

“Hmm?” I’d started feeling a little dizzy and had discretely moved over to lean against a rock. “Are we going in or not?”

“Not tonight,” Keno said. We’ll stake out here to keep it from going down to the village and then go in tomorrow. As challenging as it would be, I prefer not to take risks.”

“Party pooper,” Kotori muttered before dropping his things on the ground.

“Is this okay with you, Oz?” Keno asked and I sighed.

“Why are you asking me?”

“Because I want to know what makes you more comfortable, you’ve been through a lot lately.” Keno said and I started picking up wood for a fire. “Okay, then.”

I wasn’t sure if I really needed the fire, the freezing-to-death that I’d felt before soon numbed away, just as the feeling of rain had. Keno said that I still felt frozen to the touch but I was no longer shivering from the cold.

Demonization, it was a tricky, tricky thing.

 

I hated nightmares.

Stating the obvious, I know, but I seemed to be having more and more nightmares these days. From Hayek to Master, it was a wonder how I didn’t have these nightmares in the day.

This particular nightmare was new, not one of the recurring sheet-tearers but a whole new ballgame. Every aspect was how I felt, what I feared. Staring that fear in the face, even in a nightmare, sucked.

“Mine,” the words just played over and over again like a broken record. I couldn’t see the demon, couldn’t feel it but the words were still hovering in my mind. “My pet.”

I was in a dark place, where exactly I didn’t know. It was a long dark corridor, only a few doors on each side of the hall. I was alone, as far as I could tell, it was just me, myself, and the eerie coo that followed me.

I tried a few of the doors but they all seemed to be locked. I knocked on several but received no answer. “Hello?”

“Mine.” The voice was louder, more demanding and I could finally pick up where it was coming from. The end of the corridor came up suddenly, one second it wasn’t there and the next it was. It had a large black door, much different than the white doors lining the hall. The voice had disappeared with the sudden presence of the door that emanated ill-feelings and sinister thoughts.

My mind was saying to turn away, leave the door behind and find another but the ominous atmosphere seemed to call to me. My hand moved towards the handle, despite what my mind was shouting. I touched the frozen knob and turned it slowly, the door was open.

I stepped inside to find myself in Hayek’s lab, or my nightmare version of it anyway. It was bigger and there were no hidden rooms, the operating table in the middle seemed to be bloodier and the shackles that had held me down during my stay there had multiplied, lining the walls on the far side.

There was a large, black mass, standing at that end. Long black claws clutching nothing but the air at its sides. Tall and wide. It was where all the malevolent feelings were coming from.

Mine,” the voice came from the demon and I was frozen in fear.

“Master!” I said through clenched teeth and the demon turned. My heart sank to my stomach quickly as I saw the figures hanging from those shackles.

Keno. Logan. Everyone I cared about hung on that wall but none of them were breathing. None of them were alive.

The floor turned to blood, their blood, blood that should have been mine. I looked back up at the black mass to see that it was no longer that.

For a minute, I thought I was looking in a mirror. It was me standing in front of me but at the same time, it wasn’t. I had a grotesque, sharp-toothed grin, my hands were crimson red. My eyes void and no longer purple but metallic silver. I had become Master.

The nightmare had made me wake with a pounding heart, cold sweat, and the feeling of paralysis despite already having sat up from the jolt. My breathing was heavy and I just sat there, allowing reality to set back in and mobility to return to my body. I found myself looking down at my hands, perfectly clean, before looking over to see Kotori and Keno fast asleep.

Logan was on watch, which he’d never been good at, my startled awakening had roused him and I found him staring at me.

“Nightmares again?” he yawned and I didn’t reply. “You can’t pretend you don’t have them, I can see their effect on you while you sleep.”

“I just want to find Master and end this,” I said quietly. “I don’t want to fight this freaking ogre, knowing full well that that… thing is out there waiting for me.”

“We all want to end it, Ozzie,” Logan sighed. “But we have no place to start. It’s not like any of the demons are going to help us. They’re all on his side.”

“Hiero wanted to help,” I said and Logan scoffed.

“That’s bull and you know it, whatever he was doing it was either for his master or for himself. Helping us had nothing to do with it.”

“I don’t want to turn into a demon, Logan,” I said quietly. He stood and walked over to sit beside me.

“We’ll find a way to stop it,” he said, staring into the fire. It was almost like he wasn’t giving the pep-talk, the reassurance, to me but to himself. “It’s not going to happen to you Ozzie.”

“Logan-“

“We won’t let it,” he turned to show the set-in-stone determination he had. “Not without one hell of a fight.”

I tried for a smile before standing up with a stretch. I was a bit feverish but I kept that to myself as I heard a small sound in the distance, so subtle, so quiet that only I had heard it. Only I had known someone was there.

“I’m going to use the little boy’s room,” I said and Logan rolled his eyes.

“You see, no grown man with pride says that!” he said and I looked down at him.

“So, why don’t you say it all the time?” I asked and quickly left the camp site before he could retaliate. I didn’t have to go far to find Hiero, leaning against the rock wall waiting for me. We were far enough away to not be heard but still close enough where Keno wouldn’t knock me flat for wandering off.

“Are you just watching, having a good time?” I asked and crossed my arms. “Or do you have something to say.”

Hiero shrugged indifferently before turned to watch the purpling swirl of the morning sunrise. The purple clouds were the only indication of a rising sun in a world we couldn’t see.

“Hiero,” I sighed, unsure of what I was really doing but with the feeling that I had to. “Why don’t you help us?”

“What?” That had caught him off guard but he appeared more irritated than touched.

“You can help us, Hiero,” I said. “We need your help.”

“I can’t,” he muttered, returning to his usual calm. I now realized what his deal was, why he’d shown one side of him when I first met him and then completely changed into the dark, cold side. He was distancing himself from me, from my father, from himself.

The first time I’d met the half demon he was pissed, pissed at Hayek but not for the reason I had thought. I’d thought that Hiero had been pissed off because it would ruin their plans, but now? Now I saw that the anger he’d shown was similar to the anger Keno had shown the doctor.

Hiero had a job to do, sure, but that didn’t mean that he had to like it. I was sure that Master had given him the job of watching me because Hiero didn’t want me hurt. Hiero didn’t want anyone hurt. He could protect me and that was all Master wanted him to do.

It was why Hiero had seemed so depressed on the train. I was willing to bet that he was much like me, he’d never really killed a person before and the fact that he had to kill his best friend’s son probably didn’t make him feel too great.

Hiero didn’t want anyone to die or get hurt. I could see that now. If he could fight enough to keep from killing my brothers, even after an order, then why couldn’t he fight now?

“Hiero, we need your help,” I repeated.

“I can’t help you,” he said. “I’m incapable.”

“But you’ve fought against killing Logan and Keno,” I said quietly. “You had several chances and I know Master wasn’t too pleased that you gave them up. He’s going to destroy us, Hiero, our whole race.”

“I’m not human anymore,” Hiero said quietly.

“You’re more human than demon to me,” I said but that didn’t seem to suede him in my favor.

“That doesn’t matter, kid,” Hiero stood and walked over to me. “Even if I could, it wouldn’t change anything. Master is more powerful and soon you will be too. I won’t be of any help.”

“If I’ll be stronger-“

“Don’t even think about it,” Hiero said. “You won’t be able to stop him either. Strength has nothing to do with it, Master is cunning. Impatient, but cunning, and I don’t think you’ll be in any condition to fight him.”

“Why not?”

“Ozzie?” I turned as Keno called me.

“Just a second!” I called back and turned to get the answer from Hiero but he’d already gone.




© 2010 Rocki-san



Author's Note

Rocki-san
Alright, so now I know that I should be posting with regularity as I have finished writing this (sniff, sniff) so if I go weeks without posting again, I give you all permission to cyber slap me to do so...

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Added on October 25, 2010
Last Updated on October 25, 2010


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Rocki-san
Rocki-san

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Hey, I'm Rocki! I live on a 14-mile long island where there isn't really anything to do so I write. I'm an Anthropology major and willing to read your stories or books if requested as long as you give.. more..

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