“Des, please, you really need to rest,” Mara begged, as she brought in a tray with three steaming mugs on it. She gave one to Des, who was pacing the small living room of her apartment. “I know it’s been an awful night, but you can’t do any good if you run yourself ragged.”
Des took the cup from Mara. Her shoulder-length, chestnut hair was damp from her recent shower and she had changed into a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. She had scrubbed herself clean, watching the blood flow down the shower drain. I’m washing him away and now he’s all gone, she had thought.
Mara placed herself on the love seat beside Garret and handed him his own mug. She snuggled into his large frame, as close as she possibly could, for comfort. Des could no longer pace with the cup of hot tea in her hands, resigned herself to sitting on the sofa across from the couple. A framed picture of Chase and herself, snuggled together, much like Mara and Garret, sat on an end table. It caught her eye, sending a shard of pain through her heart. She quickly dropped her eyes and studied the contents of her cup instead.
“I don’t understand what that was,” Mara mused. “What was that in the alley? What did it do to Chase?”
“It was probably some strung out junkie that mugged him,” Garret said confidently. “Knowing Chase, he resisted giving him his wallet and he stabbed him."
Those weren’t stab wounds on his neck, Des thought to herself. At least if they were, it wasn’t done with a knife. Two puncture wounds, spaced at either end of a crescent shaped indentation. It was almost like a –
“But that face, you should have seen that face,” Mara persisted. “It was so... unnatural.”
It wasn’t a mugging by some strung out crack head. It was something awful and terrible. The stuff nightmares are made out of. Des shook her head to clear the thoughts.
“Yeah, think about it, Mar. A drug addict is going to be pale and thin, sunken looking, just like you guys described. It was dark and raining, so everything’s distorted. Not to mention you were panicking. Panic plays tricks with the mind, you know.”
“It was just so horrible. Why would he have taken him? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
“Maybe he didn’t have time to get his wallet before the two of you interrupted him. So when you ran to get help, he knocked Des out so he could get it.”
“But if Des was unconscious, why wouldn’t he just take the wallet and go? Why would he take Chase too?” Mara asked, playing devil’s advocate.
“Maybe there wasn’t time, so he just dragged him off to a more secure location to go through his pockets thoroughly,” Garret speculated.
Chase’s body, Des thought dully, as she stared into the mug in her hands. You mean, he dragged off Chase’s body. She had seen how bad off he was. There was no way he would have made it without immediate medical attention. No one could lose that much blood and live.
They needed to get out of warehouse. The ones who were looking for him were dangerously close and he needed more help than she could provide for him there.
They were down the hall from the main part of the warehouse, tucked into a corner of one of the adjoining offices. There were no windows in the room itself, but the door was open and she could see the outside windows from her vantage point. She would know if anyone came around and would at least have a small head start if they were to come into the warehouse.
She had gone back and fixed the door as best as she could. At least at a cursory glance, it would appear untampered with. The desk Chase had lain on, was shoved underneath the window, so that it wasn’t visible from outside. She had found an unwanted, worn feather duster, left behind in the maintenance closet. She erased their footprints from the dust on the floor and did her best to restore it to its former, forsaken state. Once she had completed her tasks, she returned to her patient and sat down beside him to keep vigil. She strained to listen for any outside sounds. She was weakened herself, but she used her remaining strength to remain diligent.
She looked down at Chase, lying on the threadbare carpet of the old office. He was deathly pale, cold and clammy to the touch. She brushed a lock of his curly, sandy brown hair from his forehead. He stirred, but did not open his eyes. He should have been sleeping soundly. Instead, he was unsettled with the delirium of a flu-ridden victim. She had to get him help, but she could still sense the ones who were looking for him. They were closer than ever.
She looked into the main warehouse and froze. Moving light reflected through the windows. It hadn’t arrived yet, but its source would be there in a matter of seconds. The door knob to the warehouse door rattled. Lights shone inside, sweeping back and forth, through the entire room. She remained motionless, yet poised to take flight. Chase moaned and stirred. She put her hand protectively on his chest, as though it would keep him safe from what was coming. She looked at him briefly, then returned her focus to the windows. The lights paused for one awful, tense moment, then retracted and disappeared. She relaxed and removed her hand from Chase’s chest. She rested her head against the wall in relief and settled in to wait.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you, right now for what you’ve done,” Sierra hissed. She held her captive firmly by the neck, pressed against the wall with the grip of one hand. He dangled above the floor.
Her prisoner, Mestipen, laughed uncontrollably. He was unable to speak, the situation was so hysterically funny to him. His continued cackling only aggravated her further. She tightened her grip on him, pulled him forward and threw him up against the stone wall of the cellar, where she had caught him. Her threating action made the situation no less amusing to him.
Sierra had intended to return home, only briefly. She had come to pick up a car to transport Chase out of the warehouse. Time was running out for him and she couldn't afford to wait any longer. She had to risk leaving him by himself, while she travelled out of the city's core to the secluded location of the mansion. When she arrived, she had sensed that Mestipen was back in the house and had gone to search him out. She had found him in the basement, hidden in the labyrinth of hallways, leading to various cellars and storage rooms.
“Oh come on, Sierra,” he managed through his laughter. “Don’t be angry with me. I was giving you a gift.”
In her other hand, Sierra held a wooden stake. It was fashioned from a black ash tree, the deadliest and most effective type of wood for a stake to be made from. It would glide smoothly and efficiently into his chest, effectively ending the cause of her current dilemma. However, it would not solve her problem.
She loosened her grip on Mestipen’s throat and let him drop to the floor, but she held the stake firmly. He doubled over, trying to compose himself.
“A gift. You think what you’ve done is a gift?”
“Oh, my darling Sierra. I’ve watched you for so long. Wanting him. Aching for him. Your desire so powerful that it was an entity unto itself."
By this time he had composed himself. He circled slowly around her until he was behind her. She remained motionless, but turned her head ever so slightly, to keep track of him. He touched her, letting his fingers trail gently down her neck and across her shoulder. She didn’t move to stop him.
He whispered in her ear, “How long were you going to continue to watch him from afar? Dreaming of holding him in your arms, your jealousy of her so strong that it would make a grown man weep? Well, it was more than even I could bear.”
“You wanted to kill him.” Her soft brown eyes briefly flashed red with anger.
“Oh, no, no. Quite the contrary. I meant for him to live. For you. But, I was interrupted.”
“You still haven’t given me a reason to let you live.”
Mestipen turned her around to face him. She looked back at her friend with cold, dark eyes. His face was beautiful, flawless. A paradox of delicate porcelain skin over strong, chiseled cheek bones, framed by short, wavy, strawberry blond hair. His blueberry eyes danced brightly with mischief, a touch of amusement still on the edge of his mouth. His face softened. He dropped to his knees and took her hand with the stake into his own. He positioned the stake at the center of his chest and pressed it against the cage of bone that protected his most vulnerable spot.
“What I did, I did out of love for my dearest friend. You would never take him for yourself, so I did. To give you the companion you desired, so that the two of you may roam the Earth for the rest of days, together. If love is a crime, then stake me where I kneel.”
“It wasn’t for you to choose,” she said savagely.
“Tell me you don’t want him,” Mestipen taunted.
"You drained him and left him. You meant for him to die.”
“I had to flee. I was discovered.”
“Then you should have taken him with you and finished it!”
“I couldn’t have taken him. They would have followed. But you were there to save him. If you didn’t want it to happen, you could have stopped it," he countered.
Sierra was momentarily taken aback. He was right. She had arrived after Mestipen had started, but before he had gone too far. She could have stopped him. It was wrong, but she knew deep down that she wanted what Mestipen was willing to give her. What she never would have voluntarily taken for herself. But there was a greater issue at hand. Her fury returned.
“You had his blood. It had to be you! I didn’t have enough to give him and he didn’t get his own back,” she raged at him.
Realization crossed Mestipen’s face. The playfulness drained from him. He released her hand and slowly rose to his feet.
“What happens now?” he asked tentatively, with wide eyes.
“I don’t know. We watch. I watch. I’ll try to nurse him as best as I can and we’ll see what happens.”
"Where is he now?"
"He's in an abandoned warehouse. I couldn't manage him on my own, so I came back to the mansion to get a car. But I can't be gone for long, it's not safe. They are still actively looking for him and he could be discovered at any moment. I have to get back to him."
Mestipen was hesitant. "Should I come with you?"
"Quite frankly, I don't think I can stand to be around you, right now."
Mestipen was visibly hurt by her words. “Sierra, I never meant...”
“That’s the problem with you, isn’t it, Mestipen?” she shot at him. “You never mean anything. You never take anything seriously and you certainly never think things through. It’s all just a big game to you. Everyone and everything is here for your amusement. One day, you’ll cross someone who’s not as forgiving as I.”
Sierra left the room, her enraged heels, clacking sharply on the stone floor. Mestipen’s face clouded over as he watched her leave.
Why didn't anything ever go right? he thought, angrily to himself.