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The Worst Punishment

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It was so dark, most would say it was a miracle that I found her at all, but I'd have known those red ringlets if we were in a black hole, I swear. I knelt down beside her, reaching for her hand, so freezing cold. I would have let go...but one bad move and she'd be lost forever, I knew that all too well, and frankly, after being frozen for all that time, I really don't think that would be preferable.

"So Chris...you actually showed up..." an icy cool voice that almost halted my pounding heart said from behind me. Frozen in place, I heard her light footsteps walking towards me. "Tell me Chris...you love Diana, is that right?" her voice whispered, crawling up my back like a spider.

"Of course I do" I replied, regretting it immediately. She...this woman, no...this monster was the only reason why Diana had been stuck in her room for the past century. Diana was always a social butterfly, hardly ever staying in her room even to sleep...and here Vanessa was, trapping Diana like a rat.

I saw her full pink lips frown out of the corner of my eye before she walked in front of me. "Oh really? Would you do anything for her?"

Without even giving it a full thought, I whispered "Yes," glaring at the woman who I once considered a friend.

This only made her angrier. I saw it in her glowing red eyes that revealed her for who she truly was. "Even die?" she asked cooly, even though her face was twisted with anger.

My jaw dropped..."Die? What...?" I was frozen again, as I had been for a full century...what was she talking about?

She smirked at my surprise. "So naive, even after all these years Chris?" She clicked her tongue, shaking her head so that her golden brown hair seemed to fly around her neck and shoulders. "Really, did you honestly think you were going to get her back without any consequences? After all...you turned the world against me...helped them in trying to get me killed..." A cold laugh pierced the air and my heart. "...did you not think that I'd go after both you and Diana, Chris? You actually thought that I'd help you after hurting me over and over?"

I stared at her with wide eyes, taking in this side of the story...it was my fault. Vanessa wasn't a traitor after all...I killed my own fiance.

She could tell what was on my mind, because she smirked and whispered "So much for Prince Charming..." bitterly, taking something out of her pocket. I expected a vial of poison, or a dagger...but it was a tube of lipstick. "What? Did you think I'd make it so easy?" she asked me. "Please...that would be merciful...and you should know by now that I don't show mercy. Do you even have any idea what this is?"

I shook my head slowly, feeling utterly confused.

"This is poisoned lipstick...made specially by yours truly...anyone who kisses the person wearing it will be dead within...hmm, I'd say forty five minutes...and guess who gets the first free sample?" Without another word, she swiped it across Diana's lips.

I blinked a bit...wait a minute. "Oh please tell me you're not doing what I think you're doing..." The whole scheme was starting to sound familiar.

Vanessa shrugged. "Well...Sleeping Beauty always was my favorite fairy tale...although the witch had absolutely no imagination..." she said almost as an after thought, her face glaring a bit. "Really...she couldn't even keep her own curse stable."

I felt my heart beating faster and faster. "You're telling me that the only way to wake her up is to kiss her? And you just..." OK...death or letting her die? Of course...she gave me my two worst fears for my conscience to fight over.

"Well...of course I could wake her up...but I'm not going to make it so easy for you..." She walks over to me, circling around me like the shark that she is. "Again...I don't show mercy..."

The next thing I knew was a horrible pain in my neck...then darkness and the feeling that I was floating away.

"That's what you get Chris..." Vanessa's voice rang in my head. My vision was returning...but something wasn't right...I definitely saw Vanessa standing over my dead body...She walked over to Diana's bed. "Now to wake up our little miss popular..." She muttered something I couldn't hear...I was still trying to figure out what was going on.

Diana lifted herself up and looked around wildly. "What happened...I..." she scootched away as soon as she saw Vanessa, hopping out of bed. "What are you doing here?"

Of course...those two hated each other, even before Vanessa got bitten, it was no secret. I wanted to walk over to Diana, hold her and tell her that I wouldn't let Vanessa hurt her...in fact, I tried. "Diana, darling...relax, I'm here..." But I couldn't even touch her...she just shuddered as my pale white hand went right through her.

My eyes widened...no...I was a ghost? But couldn't she hear me? "Diana..." After all of this...I was dead...and she couldn't hear me.

I saw her look towards my dead body and she gasped. "What? Chris..." She rushed over to where I lay and then shot a glare towards Vanessa. "You!"

"Me" Vanessa says cooly. "You didn't honestly think I would let him live, now did you?"

She looked from Vanessa to my body, wildly back and forth. "W-well....take me too! You hate us both, don't you?"

Vanessa let out another cold laugh. "Please...you're officially one hundred and sixteen years old...there was an immortality spell with that, don't you realize?"

Diana looked toward her with wide eyes. "But...I thought the whole point was for me to die..." She didn't even finish her sentence before something dawned on her. "Of course...you know, don't you? You know that it would only make things easier if I just died with him..."

"Well, well, well, you're smarter than you look Di" Vanessa said, her smirk never leaving her lips. "Just think...you'll never die...never see your beloved Chris again...and you can't even move on, because anyone who kisses you will be dead before an hour passed."

She was always clever, that Vanessa...I just never thought she'd cook up this sort of scheme. "Leave her alone!" I shouted, but I knew it was no use. I was completely separated from them. I could only sit and watch as Diana burst into tears before my eyes.

She never left that room again. She only stares at walls now, muttering to herself. And I'm forced to stand and watch my beautiful Diana go insane with her immortality. I always thought that death was the worst punishment out there...but Vanessa proved me wrong. She proved us both wrong. And her punishment for the both of us didn't end there...she often leads young boys to Diana's room...all wanting her like I always have. We're surrounded by their corpses...

If I could just talk to her...tell her that I'm still here...then this wouldn't be so painful. But that's exactly what Vanessa knew we'd want. That's why she snatched it away. Now there's no going back.





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