Leaves shuffle along the sidewalk, pushing in front of me as I hurry along out of church. The bitter wind is ripping at my exposed face and hands. I push my hands into my jacket and try to scrunch my chin further into the top of the zipper, mulling over my conversation with the priest. I feel nauseous with myself after going there, the whole series of events eating at me. Actually, I’ve barely been eating for that matter. Possibly my entire recent decline in mental health is simply due to starvation and poor sleep. I would love to believe that is the case so that I could feel better about my sanity. I am extremely tired physically and spiritually, yet church didn’t improve my spiritual outlook as I’d planned. Why did I think it would honestly?
Biting my lower lip like usual when I’m concentrating on some idea, my teeth cut into the dried, cracked surface and draw blood. The stab of pain stops me for a moment. A trickle of blood runs down my chin, warming it. “Of course, nothing in my pocket to wipe it. Damn it,” I mutter. I use my right hand to wipe away the substance, then hold my left jacket cuff onto the wound, hoping it will quit bleeding soon. Glimpsing at my surroundings, I observe that I happen to be at the park four to five blocks from home. I walk over to the familiar merry-go-round, then rest on it, releasing a long pent up sigh. Funny, I remember playing on this when I was a kid, although it seems an eternity ago.
I’m so tired, drained of life. This whole situation has me down. My eyelids start to waver, wanting to close. I just do not have the energy to fight it anymore. ‘Let the nightmares come tonight. I’m going to take a nap here in the playground where I spent my childhood whether the demons like it or not,’ I think to myself. My mind starts shutting down, so drowsy, so very drowsy, so very sleepy…
And then, I’m floating on the chill wind, but I’m not cold anymore. I can’t see anything, but the wind and I are one, basking in the freedom to move anywhere. We spin and spiral as we push through the air, no longer bound to the burdens of the flesh. Suddenly, I feel something pull me back. I try to break free, but it won’t let go.
I open my eyes. I’m on my right side laying down on the merry-go-round, while a little girl with long, dusky and straggly hair is peering down at me. She has her right hand on my burgundy jacket cuff, tugging on it. “Are you okay?” she asks in a tiny, concerned voice. I am not even sure how old she happens to be. She could be eight or twelve for all I know. I’m no good with figuring out a kid’s age. I don’t even really feeling overly awake at this moment as my thoughts try to arrange themselves into some semblance of coherency. A trace of anger from being awakened from the wonderful dream is building up inside of me as well.
She’s dressed poorly and not very warmly at that, shivering too. Sitting up, I take off my jacket, “Here honey, you look cold. Take my jacket.” She doesn’t seem to understand, so I stand up and try to put it on her, but now she’s starting to act scared.
Not wanting to be pushy, I reason with her, although she’s making me angrier with her weird demeanor, “Hey, I’m not trying to hurt you kid. Just, you look like you need it more than I do.” Blinking, she backs away from me. I step forward and hold her shoulders when I notice the beating of her heart, very loud, so loud that I can hear it pumping for each beat. As I inspect her more closely, my eyes can trace the blue veins along her pale skin.
Yeah, I know I’m scaring the hell out of her, but as she struggles to break free, I hold onto her more and more tightly. Listening to her racing heart and feeling a heady fright rushing from her begin to heighten a strange sensation within me–stranger than the loathing sensation in church when I approached the communion altar, stranger than the horrid nightmares, stranger even than that drunken winter night when all the strangeness seemed to have started–I am hungry.
I smile sweetly at the girl, trying to calm her, “It’s going to be okay. I am not going to hurt you.” I’m not even sure what prompts these words as I suddenly sound so calm and sincere. The girl’s eyes glaze over a little. She quits fighting just a bit.
I touch my lip with my right index finger, releasing her left shoulder. I’ve bitten my lower lip again. Soft, hot blood is flowing down my chin like a burning candle melting wax. Broadening my smile to show just a hint of my teeth, I put the tip of my finger to my tongue to taste the blood, then I clasp the girl’s small, left hand and bring it up to my lip. “I cut myself see. I was resting cause I hurt my lip and got tired.”
Nodding, the girl just gazes at me almost blankly, a beautiful, porcelain doll. I kiss her hand and smile widely, showing two rows of pointed, gleaming teeth. Her expression doesn’t change as I take her wrist to feel the beating of her pulse against my cool cheek. The beats are still so fast when I turn the delicate pulse toward my mouth to bite into it. Her dark eyes widen, while her throat gurgles, but no sound is released. I drink thirstily from her wrist in waves gulping down the blood until she’s empty. I let her fall down onto the dying, brown grass, muted in the semi-darkness of the evening.
I walk back to the merry-go-round to lie down. Closing my eyes again, I feel myself fall into the wind.
Beginning: 1 – The First Sign
Previous Chapter: 2 – Swirling into Darkness