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Death by Love
Hey, I’m a teen, okay? I want to wake up late every morning to see the bright smile of my mother waiting for me in the warm, cozy kitchen with a bowl of crisp Cheerios waiting for me, like magic. I want to sit down with a mom I can’t see everyday and catch up on our troubles. I want to sit at a small oak table in the middle of a tiny, tiled room, talking and smiling with a mom who beams at me like I was a ray of angel light. I didn’t want a freakin’ man to bust in on my happy morning, spilling a perfectly good bowl of Cheerios and turning my life upside-down.
He was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve seen a lot. He was completely bald, with an intricate silver mark above his right eye, curling over his trimmed eyebrows in a wide arc. A necklace, probably made of crystal, glistened under the fluorescent light of the lone light bulb, emitting a low, dark aura of power. Around his pudgy neck was a choker, studded with golden spikes. His shirt was ripped, showing muscles that twitched with the urge to clamp themselves around a human throat. His palm glowed with some sort of strange black fire, flickering with an ominous strength. That was probably how he blasted a hole in the side of the old brick walls of the house Mom and I worked so hard to support. The dark flames pulsed calmly, and I had a feeling water wasn’t going to cut it. For the first time in my fifteen years, fear finally took a solid hold on me.
Behind me, Mom started to tremble violently, like a falling leaf on a pretty autumn day. She started whispering words of a lost prayer, the hymn blurring by my ears so fast, I couldn’t understand a thing, but I hoped it would help.
“Bring… Talia…Rose…” he hissed, his throat convulsing with the strain of forming his sentence. My stomach curled in disgust, trying to dislodge the bowl of Cheerios I tried to have that morning. I attempted to swallow the growing distaste in my throat, but it was difficult; the way his chapped lips tried to frame my name properly made me want to curl up and die on the inside.
But what really scared me, what so easily dispersed my shield of false bravery, was his eyes. Blank, silvery-white eyes that glared down at Mom and me, eyes that gazed at me like I was some science experiment that he couldn’t wait to dissect.
“Souls… await… the death of… girl…”
Then he lunged at me, eyes burning white, black energy crackling in the palm of his hand, his feet barely touching the carpet as he raced over with the intent to kill me.
I’d like to say that I magically whipped out a sword, sliced his arm off with one swing and protected my mother, but it didn’t happen like that.
He slammed into me, his palm pressing into my abdomen slightly, willing the energy to seep into me and shock my insides relentlessly. I flew back into the wall, probably cracking my skull into two pieces. Red and black circled each other as my brain throbbed with overwhelming anguish, each pang leaving me gasping with its intensity. Think of the worst kind of pain ever. Now multiply that by about five hundred. That’s what it felt like, the flames eating away at my flesh, the blazing white-hot fire burning with agony. Crimson red blots tainted my vision, and I could feel the numbness of the dark as it crept up to overwhelm me. Everything began to fade, even Mom’s psychotic screaming was dimming, and I had to fight to keep my eyes open.
“This… is… not daughter… of King Demon… is… too weak…” he muttered quietly, his dry lips turning up into a gruesome smile as he watched me try to stand back up. Blood gushed from the open wound on my abdomen, staining the fabric of my shirt a cherry red. If I hadn’t been so scared, I would’ve killed that guy; he ruined my favorite outfit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the position to do the killing. Groaning, I forced myself to sit up and stare into the man’s eyes challengingly.
“Look, dude,” I growled, clutching the wound in my stomach, as if that was going to stop the bleeding, “I don’t know who you are or what you want. Just leave me and Mom alone.”
Fortunately, my voice didn’t betray the fear that made my legs weak and shaky. I sounded sure and powerful, which I wasn’t. In fact, I was feeling the complete opposite.
All I had to do was curl up and sleep, and never wake up again.
The idea itself was appealing. If I never woke up again, I would never have to see my cranky old boss again, or my snooty teacher and snobby classmates.
I could just… sleep myself away…
I shook my head angrily; of course I couldn’t do that. Mom needed me to get rid of this guy, just like she needed me to help pay the bills, and pass high school. I can’t just leave her like that; what kind of daughter would do something so crazy?
“Talia… going to… run… like coward…?” he asked, his blank eyes shimmering with glee, possibly at the thought of eating me for lunch. Mom stopped shaking, and stupidly ran towards me, wrapping her arms around my neck as she murmured words of comfort and love, as if words could soothe the pain and stop the rush of blood. It was okay, though. With Mom here, I could deal with the blood and pain. I shivered once, and made the mistake of glancing back at the man.
He rushed forward again, the already too-familiar black power sizzling dangerously in his hands. At the same time, Mom moved forward, turning her back against him and hugging me tightly. I sat still, confused for a second, but then it was too late.
Black fire blasted against us, burning away everything in its path. But… Mom… Mom blocked most of the attack from me, using her own body. My eyes widened as she started to disintegrate into nothingness.
All I could do was sit there, eyes wide like I was a little kid again, just watching Mom fade away into the air. Loving Mom, who raised me on her own when Dad walked out on her, tirelessly working two jobs to make sure I had a house to live in. Brave Mom, who woke up at 4 A.M. every day, ready to face the challenges, sending me off with a kiss to my forehead. Clever Mom, who was smart enough to keep her mouth shut when the man broke in while I provoked him more and more with my yap. My Mom, her pretty pale face wrenched in pain, her eyelids slowly closing, like a falling curtain, over her blank, brown eyes.
The eyes of the taken, not the dead, a feather of a voice whispered, brushing my thoughts with the lightest touch. I barely paid any attention to it.
“Talia…” she whispered, looking down at her fading hands, “whatever happens, honey, just know that I love you.”
And she disappeared completely.
“MOM!” I cried, sobbing as I clawed at empty air. My heart pounded swiftly, the beats resounding in my ear as I tried to slow my breathing. I couldn’t believe it. Mom was gone.
All of my childhood fears resurfaced, the exact ones I decided to bury when I realized Mom needed my help to support the house after she told me Dad wasn’t coming back. But now that she was gone it all came back again. Tears began to run down my cheeks like tiny rivers, the droplets stained with my fear. To those people who started the “rip my heart out” thing, you’re wrong. It’s worse. I’d rather have my heart ripped out then to feel this: this spring of pure sadness that started to build up in me and was now threatening to bubble over like an overheated sauna, crackling with fear and agony and sadness all rolled into one. And the worst part was that this man enjoyed my distress.
“Sad now…?” he muttered, a grin plastered on his doll-like face.
That’s what he was, a puppet. Someone sent him, my mental voice whispered. Too bad for me, I wasn’t in the mood to listen to imaginary voices that resounded in my head. I don’t want logic. I want Mom.
I shook my head, splaying my tears all over as I tried to clear my vision. This man took my mother. “I kill… girl…now…”
This man took my mother.
I started to shake violently, like Mom had when the man first broke into our home. Anger colored my vision a bright red, hotter than the heart of a star; I couldn’t control my thoughts. Images of his death flew by my mind. I saw his blood, a pool of black-gold dust, spilling out onto the floor, and my heart did a leap. Something stirred inside of me.
This man took my mother.
With a shrill shriek, I jumped up, my hands glowing with my own black electricity, charged with my fear and anger and sadness. I forgot the pain of the wound in my stomach. I forgot all of it. Somehow, I channeled all of my terror and pain to that one burst of energy. I felt something tugging at the back of my mind, my skin folding over the cut on my stomach, making it seem like I was never hurt, like I was revitalized, free from the restraints that life held me shackled under. Quietly, skeletal hands clawed up from under the tiled floor, heaving up with them boned warriors armed with swords and shields and guns. Soon enough, I had enough undead for my own army.
I stared at the warriors in awe as they all bowed down to me in a silent unison. If this was a movie or something, this would be a wicked cool scene. Soldiers filled in every space of my small kitchen, their bones scraping against each other, filling the room with a noisy rattle. Blades clanged against shields as they all patiently waited, their hollow skulls looking at me like I had something they wanted real bad.
Again, I’d like to say I confidently stood up on the old wooden stool and commanded my army to take down the man who took away my mother. And, again, it didn’t happen that way. What did happen, though, was the most embarrassing thing I ever did in my entire life so far.
My hand shakily reached up, my finger pointing at the man who cowered in the corner, shaking like a scared doe in a forest fire. My knees wobbled as the skeletons turned to “look” at their enemy. Their teeth clattered together, as if they were communicating with each other. Blades were drawn, and guns clicked. My heart pounded in my ears, the sound like a tidal wave crashing down onto the shore of a beach. Then, finally, darkness pounced, and took me down with it.
In simple words, I passed out.