So, I’ve been posting chapters of my science fiction tale, Child of the Seraphim, for a while now. As I started writing the story my intentions were for it to be a shorter story, more of a novella really, that ended on what is now Chapter 15 : Contact. However, I’ve decided I wanted to keep writing the story. As a result I have this horrendous car wreck of ideas that I need to relentlessly beat with a large stick until they all begin to cooperate and make themselves orderly and neat. This leaves me with a bunch of content I don’t feel comfortable putting up for you all to read (yes, I know I’m posting completely unedited alpha content for Child of Seraphim, but this stuff is really just tons of ideas that have no structure to them at all…yet).
So, not wanting to leave those of you who have so kindly followed me and given me a bit of extra confidence and motivation, I’ve decided that I’ll post the first chapter from a short story I’m currently writing. It’s working title is The Magus Ascendant. Be sure to comment and let me know what you think, even if you hated it!. That being said I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter 1 : A Simple Request
Rhea stood frozen with a knife in her hand as Aurora, her father’s assistant and her friend, begged her to end her life. Rhea watched in abject terror as Aurora violently thrashed on the floor, her limbs contorting in gruesome and unnatural ways. And she screamed, her screams were horrible, they seemed to cut through the dark room like an ethereal blade. Rhea could only stand frozen, unable to react.
Aurora collapsed to the floor with a heavy thud, her body lay still like a limp rag doll. Rhea stood rigid and watched her for what seemed to be forever. She eventually convinced herself that she needed to do something, she should try to help Aurora. Slowly shuffling across the room Rhea made her way over to Aurora’s limp body. She softly whispered,
“Aurora…Aurora are you alright?”
She knelt down next to the prone body, and gently tugged at the hem of Aurora’s dress. She did not realize it, but the knife was still gripped tightly in her other hand.
“Aurora,” her pleas becoming more insistent as panic crept into her voice, “Aurora, please wake up!” Now she was shaking the bodies limp arm, pleading with the body to wake up.
“Please Aurora, just tell me how I can help you!” She screamed.
Aurora’s eyes fluttered opened, but they looked sick and hollow. She smiled weakly at Rhea, her hand timidly wiping a fresh tear off of Rhea’s face.
“Hey there cherry girl.” It was the nickname Aurora frequently used when she was talking to Rhea. Rhea never could figure out why Aurora called her that, but as long as she could remember Aurora had called her that. When she had asked Aurora about the nick name, she had always replied cryptically, explaining to Rhea that she simply thought cherries suited her.
Rhea smiled down, elated that her Aurora was conscious and talking. She began talking at a lightning pace, but Aurora shushed her. She turned her head to look up at Rhea, and when she opened her eyes fully Rhea thought she saw little gray wisps dancing across the whites of her eyes. She was once again sad and afraid when tears began welling up in the eyes of her friend.
“Rhea I’m sorry. I am so so sorry. I just wanted to prove to everyone that your father is a brilliant man. I’m so sorry.” Aurora began crying harder, the sobs causing her body to shake. Rhea held her, not knowing what to do or feel. The body in her arms jerked hard as a wheezing gasp clawed its way from Aurora’s throat.
“You can’t die on me.” She timidly commanded the woman that was the closest thing she had to a mother. “You just can’t die, ok? I’m going to go and get my dad. He can use alchemy to heal you, thats what he does, he fixes people.” Hope began to well from within her, if she could just get to her father and bring him back he could use medicinal alchemy to heal Aurora. He would have to, she was his assistant.
“No.” That word made Rhea’s hope wither. “There’s no time, I don’t know what is happening to me, but alchemy is what caused it.”
“So alchemy can fix it then.” The hope bled back into her voice as she pleaded with her dying friend.
“There’s no time!” It sounded as if a thousand voices had been stitched together and made one when Aurora screamed.
Rhea withdrew a little, finally noticing that the knife was still clenched within her fist so tightly that it drove all the blood from her knuckles. She was shaking now, the full moon glinting off the blade held tight in her hand. Aurora brought her arm up, laying her cold and clammy hand over the fist that held the knife. Slowly positioning the hand so that the tip of the knife was pressed against the flesh of her chest Aurora slowly spoke again.
“Rhea, I know this is an incredibly selfish thing of me to ask, but I need to you to end my life.”
The ludicrous statement hung in the air like a fetid stink. There was no possible way that Aurora was asking Rhea to to kill her, there was no way that was what she wanted. But this was the second time she had asked, and the way she had pressed the tip of the knife to her breast left little room for alternate interpretation. Still there was no way that Aurora would forfeit her life, her beliefs espoused life to be of the highest value, it was the greatest gift one could receive. Rhea’s mind vacillated, unable to discern the truth of the situation.As if she could clearly hear the workings of Rhea’s mind Aurora continued.
“I know I’m telling you to end my life, and by doing so I’m asking you to take away my most precious thing. But Rhea you don’t hear these whispers. They are telling me to to do awful things and…..and….and I’m starting to want to do them. The things they are saying sound good to me….”
Rhea shook violently, tears streaming down her cheeks and she gasped between sobs, but her the cold and boney hand wrapped around her wrist held the knife steady. She thought about plunging the knife into her mothers beating heart, about ending her life. She tensed the muscles in her arm, telling herself that she would just sink the blade into Aurora’s heart without thinking about what she was doing. She readied herself, telling herself she could do it.
Screaming she tried with all her might to push the blade forward.
Tears ran freely off her cheeks, “I can’t do it….I can’t just kill you, you’re like my mom.”
“I can’t do it.” She repeated, sounding broken and defeated.
The hand around her wrist tightened and the tip of the knife bit into flesh sending a small trickle of blood down to stain Aurora’s blouse.
“Please, please kill me. I can’t do it myself. Please cherry girl…”
Their eyes met and the sincerity and begging that oozed from Aurora’s gaze was almost painful. She did not have to endure the gaze for long, but what followed was far worse.
Aurora’s pleading gaze was twisted to reflect unimaginable torment. Her scream was deafening, it sounded as if an entire chorus of maimed people sung from her throat. Rhea felt her blood turn to ice as she saw an inky darkness snake through her friends brown eyes, devouring and trace of the warm and inviting qualities they once had and replacing them with dark void.
Aurora continued her chorus of moans and the room around her seemed to grow darker and colder. Something inside of her screamed at her to run and she snapped to attention. Immediately she tried to free her hand from the cold bony fingers that gripped it so tightly, but the fingers refused to loosen. Pull as she might Aurora’s iron grip would not loosen, she suddenly remembered a time when her hand was stuck in an alchemy jar. Her dad had shown her that if she only opened her fist and let go of the reagents she could get her hand out.
The knife clattered across the pock marked wooden floor, coming to a stop near the foot of the table. Making her hand as narrow as she could she managed to free herself from the vice like grip. Freeing herself however had the unfortunate side effect of throwing her off balance and sending her tumbling across the room. She landed squarely on her butt, her eyes immediately scouring the room for Aurora’s contorted form. Fortunately she was able to find her quickly, Aurora remained in the same spot, with the same ghastly moan pouring from her throat.
The horrid moaning suddenly ceased, and the thing-that-was-Aurora’s head turned, the dark and vacant orbs seemed to lock onto Rhea. Mocking laughter erupted from the things throat.
“Kill me cherry girl!” The thing looked like a slavering beast as howled at her. The voice that came from Aurora’s throat was not her own, it was much too deep and guttural.
“Kill me! Kill me! Kill me!” it demanded as it pulled itself from the ground.
All Rhea could do was tremble and stare.
The thing looked like a wicked marionette as it rose, its movements jerky and stilted. It turned to face her again, and a wicked grin spread across the things face. Rhea watched as wisps of dark mist wicked off of the thing’s exposed flesh.
“Come on and kill me cherry girl.” She growled as she moved, it was noticeably more fluid. She began approaching Rhea. Her movements became natural, almost graceful in a predatory way. Something inside of Rhea screamed at her to take action and shook her from her paralyzed state. She rammed her hand into her pocket and took a handful of dandelion seeds, far more than she actually needed, but she hoped that would amplify the effect. Thrusting her hand out she evoked as concentrated a wind as she could. The dandelion seed offering briefly glimmered, and she felt her fingertips tingle with power. As the exchange was made a howling blast of wind ripped forth from her hand, sending the thing that was Aurora tumbling backwards into the wall.
Rhea stared at her hand in confusion and mild fear, she had no idea the blast would have been that powerful. She had expected it to knock the evil thing off its feet, not send it flying. Noticing movement beyond her hand her mild fear grew into horror as she watched the broken body of Aurora begin to right itself. Quickly looking around the room she tried to find any available escape. Her friend-turned-monster blocked the front door and the large open window next to it, that left Rhea with a few room downstairs that did not lock, or a locking bedroom upstairs.
She spun around in a flash and ran for the stairs, listening to the monster thing bellow in rage again.
Reaching the top of the stairs Rhea quickly dove into Aurora’s bedroom, slamming the door shut behind her she engaged the cross bar she knew Aurora kept. Only seconds later the door shook as the thing outside pounded on it, screaming in frustration. If Rhea listened to it she could pick out different individual voices in the the moans. She tried not to listen.
Rhea ran to the window, confident the barred door would keep that thing out. Looking down on the street she saw Mr. Yulett walking down the cobbled street in front of the house. She struggled with the window so she could yell for help, but it refused to budge, uncaring of her plight. She banged her palms against the window pane and screamed for helped. Mr. Yulett must have heard her because he paused in front of the house and looked up at the window. But Aurora had heard her too, and knew what her screaming meant. She leapt from the shadows around the door frame taking Mr. Yulett by surprise. Blood foamed from her mouth as she wrapped her legs around Mr. Yulett, driving him to the ground while gripping his shoulder with her one good arm. Holding Mr. Yulett down, foamy blood dribbled off her chin and onto his face. Aurora leaned in, her face hovering next to Yulett’s head. At first Rhea thought Aurora was kissing his neck, but she quickly realized that Aurora was whispering something to Mr. Yulett.
And as quickly as she had pinned him she was off of him. Looking up at the window a wicked grin spread across Aurora’s face, and she ran off down the street. Rhea watched Mr. Yulett begin convulsing the way Aurora had and turned away from the window. She had failed to stop it from happening like Aurora had asked, and did not want to witness the results of her failure.