By Rachel Racette
I wish I’d never met her. Never followed that lady with dark hair and even darker eyes. Never let myself see –
Maybe if I hadn’t pointed out the blood or – or the twisting shadows – she’d have simply killed me. If – If I hadn’t screamed while she still had her hands on me, if I hadn’t pushed her away, would she have let me go? Would she have let me walk back out of that dark chamber where she – Would I have been able to go back to my life? Or would she have added me to it’s collection anyway?
Would it have left me alone if I’d pretended not to see? Would my thoughts, my memories not be slipping out my ears like water if I had been more careful? Would my mind still be my own if I hadn’t gone with her? Would it have been better if I had let her kill me? If I had struggled harder against those sharp tendrils of unnatural darkness that now writhe under my skin, slithering in my veins and filling up the cracks in my bones, the hollows of my muscles? Would I have even managed to get away, if I’d tried?
I’m not explaining this right. I don’t even know if there is a way to really explain what happened that night. Is there a way, even writing it down, to make you understand exactly what she’d done to me? Are there words to make you understand that despite how horrible and cruel her actions were, that she is not the monster in this story? That, like me, she is a victim. A puppet to this thing that is trying to wipe me away and take my place even now?
I’ll try to explain anyway. Someone needs to know. I know I’m putting so much pressure on you, but I have to tell someone before I’m gone. There’s not much time left for me, but for the moment, I am free enough to tell you. To warn you of them, of us. Even if I know you are unlikely to believe me.
I’m afraid of what I’m becoming, but I know now that no matter how hard I struggle, my fate will be the same as those before me, and those that will come after me. I know, even as my humanity screams, that even if I make you understand, if I could make everyone understand, there would be casualties anyway. You can prepare for the storm to the best of your abilities, perhaps even beyond, but there is always a chance for things to go wrong. There will always be those who strive off the safe path and are eaten by the wolves.
Still, what remains of me wants to try. I want to prepare you as much as I can. There’s a storm coming, and a part of me wants to save as many as I can. I will tell you my story to the best of my ability, and pray it’s enough.
My name is Eleanor Alisson. Everyone’s always called me Ellie though. I can’t remember if I had ever asked anyone too, but everyone I have ever met has always referred to me as Ellie. Even though I always introduce myself as Eleanor.
Everyone but her. She called me Eleanor, and maybe that was one of the reasons why I followed her, because she hadn’t just assumed I liked to be called Ellie. I don’t mind being called Ellie, it’s just. I like the name Eleanor. I want to be called Eleanor, and she had been the first person aside from my parents who called me Eleanor. And she was so beautiful. She still is, even though I’ve seen what writhes under her skin. Even though I know she’s not human, she’s still so beautiful.
I still don’t know her name. That woman with darker than dark eyes who led me to that place of twisting shadows and dried splattered blood. Who called me Eleanor and smiled like a predator and kissed me with such fire –
I wonder if she even remembers her name. I wonder if I’ll forget mine too.
We met at a bar. Or rather, outside a bar. I’d been leaning against the brick of the edge of the building, smoking by myself after a night of dancing. It was cold that night, and even colder after so long inside pressed against the stifling heat of a crowd. The few drinks I’d had sat warm in my belly though, just enough to take the edge off. I had intended to finish my cigarette and walk home when out of no-where, a damp bitter scent shoved it’s way past the smoke and into my noise. It was a scent that sent an unhappy shiver down my spine, though at the time I could not understand why. Before I could question the smell, there came a voice.
“Can I borrow a light?”
I turned my head and blinked up at the woman who now stood next to me. She was tall, at least 5’9, and she had dark hair that fell like a silken curtain around her pale face. I stared, drawn into her deep dark eyes, knowing I would stare into those eyes forever if she’d let me. The mystery woman stared back, those dark orbs shinning with something like amusement. She chuckled, and it was only at the sudden the loss of my lighter that drew me back to reality.
She raised her own cigarette and placed it between her lips, lighting it with my lighter. She took a deep breath, then exhaled the smoke. It smelled different than mine, like rain and something bitter that made me cough. Click, she held out the lighter. Her hands were warm when I took it from her, the brief contact sending a pleasant bolt of warm through my chest and lower.
I took another drag from my almost finished cigarette, pretending my hands weren’t trembling, and checked her over out the corner of my eye while we stood in the dim light of the streetlamp. Even under that ugly glow, she was beautiful. That kind of beautiful that came with unfairly good genetics and ridiculous fitness regimes. Plump lips, sharp cheekbones, sinful curves, defined arms, and sharp eyes.
God those eyes. Looking back, I think I may have been able to make an escape if I hadn’t looked into those eyes. Obsidian gems that beckoned me with a silent siren song. I hadn’t even considered asking her out. I mean, I know I’m pretty good looking. I have nice curves and I am very flexible, but even I knew when not to press my luck. I wanted to kiss her so bad it hurt, but I had been having a nice night and didn’t feel like ending it with what would surely be a painful rejection from this unfairly beautiful woman.
So you can imagine my surprise when she asked if I would like to come back to her place. Unprompted and with the kind of casual utterance people used when talking about the weather. I’ll spare you the details of my pathetic sputtering and repeatedly asking if she was sure. A question I remember repeating three separate times as she dragged me along.
Every time I asked, every time I even begun questioning whether to keep going instead of heading back home, she simply smiled this beautiful smile and squeezed my hand. Those dark eyes stopped any chance of rejection, any questioning I might have done otherwise. I held tight to that warm slender hand, and I let her lead me away into the night.
It didn’t take long to get to her door. That dark wooden door that opened with just a push of her hand. She never locks that door; I know that now. All of them leave their doors unlocked, and after this, I know I will never lock my door again. What is the point in locking yourself away from your prey?
It was dark inside; the only light the moonlight pouring in through the open windows. That bitter scent was thicker here, it filled my noise and burned my throat. She didn’t give me time to do more than scrunch my nose before she pressed her lips to mine. Her mouth burned against mine, and her hands left lines of tingling heat as she ran those slender fingers across my arms, my stomach, my spine, across the back of my neck. How could I have said no when she made everything feel so right?
We moved down a hall, bumping into the walls and giggling in the darkness as she pulled me deeper into her home. She only stopped when we reached the end of the hall to open another door, her smile blinding in the dim.
We stumbled – I stumbled – down both the too many and too few steps. I spun in the dark, reaching out for a handhold, even as my lover’s hands continued to roam across my trembling skin. My necks connected with something soft, and I fell back against what felt like a bed, blinking as those hands left me. Light burst a moment later, my new lover having turned on a lamp off to the side. I smiled, breathing deep as I watched her smile down at me. I coughed, choking on that heavy bitter scent. It was only when she was already straddling my waist and pressing her tongue against the roof of my mouth that I finally remembered what that scent was.
Nightshade. Her home was heavy with the scent of nightshade. A scent I had engraved in my memory after a stern scolding from my Aunt Lenore after I’d played a little too close to the small, netted enclosure filled with those deadly yet beautiful purple flowers.
I shoved her away and it was only then that it occurred to me I didn’t have a name to call my new lover. I pushed myself up, questions rising in my throat as my mind raced with the memories of self-defence lessons, and it was then that I noticed the shadows on the walls.
They were twisting gnarled things. Half-formed almost human shapes entwining with writhing tentacles and spirals – and then my eye caught the dark rusty splatters across the corners nearest to the steps leading out. Sitting up my eyes widened in horror as the dim light of the lamp highlighted the thick streaks of dark crimson swept across the concrete floor in swirls and jagged lines.
At the time I couldn’t tell if they had been made by strange accident, or if those rotten lines had been made with a purpose in mind. Now though, now that I am one of them, I know there is a purpose. I do not yet know that purpose, nor what those symbols mean, but I will. When my human mind is broken and remade like theirs, I will know. I think I am afraid to know. Not that it matters.
It was the woman’s laughter that brought me out of my spiraling horror. She hovered above me, dark eyes wide and sucking me in. She smiled with too many teeth, but even now I hesitate to call it a cruel smile. It was more like, something trying to echo a human smile, when they have no idea what emotion to fill it with.
Her flesh was hot where it met mine. I couldn’t remember when we had the time to discard most of our clothes, but here we were. In a bed in this hellish basement I was sure I’d never leave, in nothing but my underclothes. My captor wore no clothes, only shimmering, slithering dark tendrils that marked strange patters across her porcelain skin. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever met, and she was going to kill me.
I had been so sure. Anyone would have thought the same; horrific monsters, bloody basement, helpless woman led to a mysterious destination without anyone knowing her location. Death seemed so certain then. I wish she would have killed me. I wish she would have torn me apart and thrown the bits around like grotesque confetti. It would have been terrible, but not as terrible as the ‘life’ I will live.
I wish I could tell you exactly what happened next, in detail, but even now, with a clear head and two days to think about it, I still don’t have the right words. I don’t think I ever will.
I can tell you that those twisting shadows on the wall became real, became tangible. I can tell you I screamed into the mouth of the woman who led me to my death as she held me down while those shadows slipped under my skin.
Except slipped isn’t the right word. I don’t think there is a word to describe how they skipped past my skin without leaving a mark and filled my veins, my lungs. I can tell you it burned in a way that heat itself must envy. I can tell you I felt the prick of my captors teeth as she held her mouth to mine, swallowing my screams and sobs. I can tell you that she cried too, even as she helped unmake and remake me. Clicked shut the shackles to my new Master.
I wish I could make you understand what it had felt like to have that thing in my mind. What it had felt like to have it become me, and still be myself as it remade me on a level I don’t think I will ever understand. I can tell you that I fought it as best I could, even if the fight was like a newborn fighting back against the vast dark cosmos.
I know I can’t make you understand, not unless it takes you too. But that would defeat the purpose of my warning, wouldn’t it? This story I know won’t really save you. I don’t think there is a way to save someone once they’ve been caught. Maybe there is. Maybe you’ll find answers in my account. Or maybe one day you’ll know what I know.
I wish I had died in that room. I wish I had never followed that woman into the dark. I wish I could tell you what my new Master is, and what it plans to do, but I won’t. I can’t. It’s in my head you see. It fills my veins, the cracks in my bones, and the spaces in my muscles. It swells with a not-voice in my skull. It is so loud now. I wish it would kill me a little quieter.
I’m sorry. I’m loosing myself I think. I won’t be me soon. I can’t remember my Mother’s voice. I can’t remember my favorite food, what my childhood bedroom looked like, or my first kiss. I should be bothered by this, but I am only numb.
What lurks in the darkness is calling me again. It hurts to ignore it; I don’t think I’ll be able to ignore it’s call for much longer. I should be scared by that. I’m not. I think it stole my fear too. It has stolen almost all of me now.
She’s calling for me. My kin with the dark hair and even darker eyes. I think I will follow her again. Maybe she will kiss me once again before I go. But before I do, a warning for what too look for in us. Beware the sharp beautiful creatures with too dark eyes that smell like damp nightshade. Beware us, the hosts of something words fail to describe.
Don’t try to find me please, I will not be a person anymore, and I would be sad to have to kill you when you’ve listened so nicely to my story. I will leave now. Thank you for listening.
Yes. Eleanor is a nice name.
Is it yours?
Bio: Rachel Racette, born 1999, in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. Interested in creating her own world and characters and loves writing science-fiction and fantasy. She has always loved books of fantasy and science fiction and comics. Lives with her supportive family and cat, Cheshire. Published in the anthology; The Spelunkers: A Chipper Press Anthology, Arthropod Literary Journal Issue 1, Underwood Press, Ink Stains Anthology Volume 14.
Twitter: Rachel S Racette – Author
Her Website can be found HERE.
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