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Tracy sat on the chilled wooden bench, hunching up against the wind. The BART train was five minutes late, and the hunger in her stomach moaned in pain. She checked her watch. 9:05. Again, she lost track of time, but for once her worries of arriving last dulled. After all, her article on the Giants seemed great, and she figured that the editor’s usually gruff manner might relax once he read it.
Reaching over to pick up a section of the outdated newspaper that sprawled across the bench, she heard a loud, unsettling noise. Pausing, she turned around warily.
A sudden explosion knocked her to the cold cement, splintering the wooden frames of the station. Shards of broken glass flew in all directions, ricocheting against the walls, a stray one slicing her cheek. Frightened, she ducked underneath the oak bench, her hands protecting her head. The red blood dribbled to her mouth, a metallic saltiness tingling against her tastebuds. She watched, afraid, as dozens of people ran by. The room filled with smoke, and her breathing became more rapid. In a moment’s flash, the explosions stopped and the room stilled, the vibrations slowing steadily. Rubbing her eyes to protect them from the stinging smoke, she peered out into the dark room. She blinked, not believing what she saw.
A young teenage girl stood there, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Her hair was raven-black with green streaks, and she wore a green and black dress and black boots. Her skin was pale, as if she was sick, but she appeared otherwise completely healthy.
“Well, Zokin?” she said, giggling. A hissing voice came out of nowhere.
“Very good, Zetraina,” the voice said, echoing in the small room. “Now find any survivors, and dispose of them.”
Zetraina nodded slowly. “Yes, Zokin,” she said, almost in a trace-like state. Sniffing the air briefly, she announced. “There are two. One is bleeding. They are hiding in this room right now.” The girl flounced towards the bench, skipping joyfully, as if this was mere child’s play.
Tracy felt her heart stop in terror. This girl was insane, and apparently powerful. She struggled to keep calm and closed her eyes, counting to 100. When she opened them, she found herself staring right into a pair of mismatched eyes- one was green, the other was a blood red. Tracy shrank back, wiggling out from under the bench, and ran towards the exit.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Tracy turned slowly to see the girl, smirking, hold in her hands the neck of a small boy, who cringed in fear.
“Make one move, and the boy gets it.” Tracy froze, not taking her eyes off of the child.
She swallowed. “Let him go.”
The girl laughed, casting the boy to the floor. “There. I have let him go. But it is no use. We are more powerful than you could ever be, and this pitiful, sniveling little boy won’t go anywhere. I’ve saved him specially for Ellesmera, who needs some flesh to make it through the month… modern times call for desperate measures.” Suddenly gasping for breath, the girl transferred between two modes, partaking in a long monologue.
“Zokin, are you sure this is a good idea?”
“Of course it is, you fool. Do you dare doubt me? I, the one who protected you for all these years?”
“No, but what about the water on the floor? And the explosion wasn’t very smart, everyone knows that flesh-eaters despise intense heat…”
“Shut up, you airheaded ninny, shut up!”
“Ellesmera should do her own hunting for once, not just let us and Mycelic do all the hard work…”
“Ellesmera is young, she can’t hunt for herself!”
“Well, why do you care? You hate her guts just as much as you hate Jamentas! Or Fang’s!”
“I don’t hate- can you just shut up and do as you are told for once? I swear, out of all the hosts I could have wound up with, you are by far the most rebellious, egocentric, headstrong-“
“You’re the one that chose me, you know. And it’s not like I asked for you and Mycelic to do this to me. Thank goodness you decided to kill me off and get rid of those stitches, the pain was unbearable…”
“Focus, you bumbling fool, focus!”
She snapped back in control and took a step towards Tracy, grasping her by the neck, and arm, and relishing every moment, took a bite from the shoulder. Tracy cried out in pain, falling to her knees, and the boy burst into tears. Zokin licked the wound, absorbing Tracy’s strength into her own body. Blood flowed freely , dying the concrete rusty red.
With her last ounce of strength, Tracy grabbed the object nearest her- an open bottle of water, not yet emptied- and threw it at Zokin, who shuddered and rose. Her red eye faded to green, and she glanced around.
“Oh, not again,” she whispered. “Oh, please, no!” Inside her, Zokin, the flesh-eater, screamed, but possessed no power. Zetraina turned to the young boy.
“Get home as fast as you can. Never remember this. Forget it. I do not exist to you. Its likely to late, Zokin will find you and send Ellesmera to you. But go! Go!” she shouted, and the boy ran off into the morning fog.
Glancing pityingly at Tracy’s almost lifeless body, she sighed.
“There is nothing I can do for you now, and I am sorry. I can’t control Zokin- she is too strong.” With that, she turned on her heel and walked out.
Tracy’s last breath fluttered, and her expression grew peaceful. Beside her lay a sheet of paper, soaked in blood, reading, “Victory!”
The silver glint of the knife shone brightly through the heavy mist as it flashed quickly, cutting through the dense air. The wielder of the weapon, a young boy with intelligent, curious grey eyes and brown hair, watched in revolted fascination as the small squirrel’s muscles flexed, no longer covered by gray fur and soft skin. Helplessly, the creature squirmed. However, the boy held it firmly, engrossed in the small beast’s suffering. At last, the twitching ceased, and the animal grew still, its rapid chattering silenced forever.
Suddenly still, the boy stared, both disgusted and pleased, at the carcass. Then the guilt flowed over him, tears sliding down his face. Sickened by what he had done, he turned the knife- metallic blade still tinged with blood- towards his own quivering chest. Slowly, he took a prolonged breath and moved the knife closer, closer…
“Stop.” The voice was high and soft, definitely feminine, and almost childlike. The thin boy rose to his full height of 5’ 5”, clearly frightened.
“Who’s there?” he called out, gripping the knife’s handle with all his might, and again pulled it towards himself.
“I can help you,” the voice whispered, tantalizing and velvet-like. “I can make all the guilt, all the pain… disappear forever.”
Breathing heavily, the boy paused. Soon, he slightly relaxed his hold on the knife. “What do you mean?” he questioned simply, his voice pure curiosity. The fear was gone, now replaced with a want of knowing that etched its way across his features.
“Let me come into you,” it said knowingly, “I can make it all- your fears, your lies, your parents, the pain, everything you have hurt or has hurt you- it can all go away… become one with me, and it will all be gone.”
Hesitantly, he stared at the ground. “I-I don’t know…”
Sharp and cutting, the voice broke in. “Do you want the easy way out? Or do you want to suffer with these burdens forever?”
“I- They easy way,” the boy replied meekly. He took a breath, and the spirit came into him.
Five Years Later
A thin, pale face stared longingly out of the asylum window, miles away from trusting someone, far from giving up. The boy studied himself closely in the slight reflection- the grey eyes, now cold; the brown hair, now short and dull; the thin face, from years of malnutrition and lack of interest in anything, let alone eating. Why was he here? He wasn’t a loony, like the others here were.
“Ellesmera?” he asked quietly.
The childlike voice replied quickly. “What?” she asked irritably.
“It’s not gone… voices echo from the past… decisions they made for me… the fires… the squirrels… Tim Anstion… everything is still here. You said it would go away, Mera!”
“Don’t call me Mera!” she lashed out sharply.
“Go on, boy.”
“The voices,” he said, pained. “I hear them all the time… every time I get a glimpse of hope, those voices cry out...” He looked away from the window. “Why isn’t it gone? Why didn’t it work?”
The voice hesitated briefly, then told a lie as smooth as the silent black lake in the windless forest outside the asylum.
“Black magic. They must have it… they don’t want you to forget. They must know about me, and they are stopping you from forgetting your past,” she explained.
His eyes went wide. “They can do that?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
“Of course they can! They are vile, twisted, and disgusting!” Ellesmera spat out.
His grey eyes flashed. “How could they? They… I trusted them… well, not really, but… They must suffer. They must pay for their trespasses!”
“The only way to do that,” Ellesmera whispered, “is to kill them. All of them.”
Before he knew it, he was standing, his hands sliding around the warm, unsuspecting neck of the boy in the bed next to his own.
The monster inside him, his ‘savior,’ the innocent, childish Ellesmera, laughed cruelly, thinking to herself, from a song she once heard,
“Fate finds a cure,
It makes you feel better.
You thought you could change-