I guess if I should start anywhere, it better be here.
“Leave me alone,” I whispered, though I knew it would never be that easy.
A dark chuckle filled my ears. Oh, don’t be so dull. I was looking forward to a good fight.
“You can go without-” Before I could continue, a scream filled my ears, and I felt all the blood rush from my face.
Another laugh. See? Not that simple this time, is it? he sneered.
Bathroom. The bloody one. You know exactly the one.
I did. I waited for everyone to focus on their work before quietly slipping away, and the minute I was out of the classroom, I sprinted to the meeting place.
There was no Daniel. Only him. “Should’ve guessed,” I murmured.
He merely laughed. “Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself. What if I was torturing your paramour, and you ignored it?”
“What do you want?” I snarled, wishing to god that I could burn him or tear him apart with my teeth.
“I grow weary of waiting,” he said simply. “How long has it been, three, four years? And Kaya owes me something.”
“You killed her.”
“At her own behest. Though…death isn’t really the correct way to put it, is it?” He raised an eyebrow.
I remained silent. “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not going to tattle on you,” he said cheerfully. “Besides, if they knew the truth, what could they do? Kill you again and again? Actually….”
“Your arm is back,” I interrupted.
“Ah, yes. I found a new one. Lovely girl. Very sweet, ’twas exactly what I needed,” he chuckled darkly.
I didn’t let up. “I destroyed your arm before as well.” I remembered the scent of burning flesh of that day. “How does that work?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said temptingly. “Now, are you coming with me?”
“Wh-” He lunged at me suddenly, pinning me against the wall. I drove my foot upward and pushed him away. “No,” I snarled. “Leave me!”
Delamore’s voice came from outside the door, and my involuntary glance towards it was enough. In less than a second, I felt my head smash onto the ground, his foot crushing my back. “Enough,” he purred. “Now, I’ll give you a minute.”
Fuck you… “Cat, I need you to open the door,” Delamore told me, as if it were that simple.
I inhaled a painful breath. “Delamore…” I croaked. “You need to get out of here.”
“Well, I’m not going anywhere,” she said stubbornly. “What’s going on?”
A bolt of pain shot through my brain. “Get out!” I shouted.
“I’m not going anywhere. I want you to open the door now,” she repeated.
“Stupid bitch,” he sneered. “Honestly, why do you keep them around?”
I was too agonised to speak now. They remind me that assholes like you aren’t real. Plus they keep me away from knives.
He laughed at that. “Oh really? How sweet.”
Now come along dear, his voice an echo in my brain. The pain followed shortly after, tearing me from the inside out, screaming not even beginning to numb this agony.
Death followed not long after.
This was not Delirium.
The grass was green and sweet smelling, and cool against my cheek. Not blue and likely to stain your skin. And there was sun. Was this heaven?
Not a chance.
I sat up. Yup. This was a human setting. But the question was, why was it a human setting? How did I end up here? Did Kaya walk me here? No, there’s no way that she’d go anywhere other the where she was meant to….unless someone else made her. Are you there Kaya?
No answer. No mistake about it; she had nothing to do with this. She’d be screaming at me for following him, for falling into that trap. And nothing had happened yet. Had it?
Immediately, I started checking for aches and pains. No, nothing. Whatever he had in store for me hadn’t come yet. My clothes were still intact, but it wasn’t the school uniform I had been wearing when I died. It was familiar though; it was Kaya’s skin suit. So what did that make this place? Reality? Delirium? Limbo? Neither?
There was a crack like a whip, and everything was black, as if that entire scene before me could be switched off like a light. “Where are you?” I murmured.
He simply laughed. I would’ve thought you’d want to know where you were, he purred.
“Yeah, well, you’re not gonna tell me that, are you?” I retorted. Anger was a distraction from how dreadfully afraid I was becoming; if I could cling to that, I’d be able to refrain from giving him what he wanted.
Well, no. But don’t you already know?
I flashed my head around. “No.”
Hmm….maybe if I switch on the light again…
Another crack, and I saw the grass sticking against my hip. Poison blue. This I recognised. “Why?”
You need to be here.
“No, I don’t.”
You do. I need you to start here.
“‘Need?’ I never knew you needed anything.”
In order for both of us to fulfil all the requirements of the bargain, I need you to start here.
Bargain? In my mind, Kaya falls beneath the ice again. “That deal was with you and Kaya only. It has nothing to do with me.”
Maybe so. But Kaya is no longer capable of carrying out her part. So you must do it.
“Oh really? Do tell me why I’m going to do it. Actually, tell me how you’re going to try to make me do it. That’s what I’m interested in.”
Flies are more attracted to sweet honey than with vinegar, my dear.
“You can get the same result with bullshit. Your point?”
I have no intention of forcing you to do anything. This is your decision.
My immediate instinct was to refuse flat out. This was a madman, a sadistic killer. I couldn’t trust his word. Didn’t Kaya make that mistake?
…no, she didn’t.
Everything was part of that deal with the devil, and Neekah had done nothing contrary to what was promised. Her life wasn’t as much stolen as…donated; he needed a body to shape, to mutate into something that would be able to carry out what Kaya couldn’t do, in exchange for his own freedom behind the scenes.
I had no words for how utterly pissed I was at Kaya Blackrim in that moment. But that wasn’t the issue right now.
“No matter what my choice, I still have to go through…this?” I murmured.
Well how else are you going to get out of here? he replied gleefully.
Next thing I knew, the floor had caved, and I was on my way down. It was about to begin.