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The Immortality Game
Author's note: I really love the name Luna, it means moon.
“Next week rehearsals will get even more hectic than they already have been. I expect all of you to try your hardest, and even then that will not be enough to create the performance of a lifetime. Dismissed!” yelled the theatrical director Mrs. Valermo. My concentration at the moment was not on the upcoming school play. I needed a ride home from rehearsals and my parents were a no-show. “Great, after talking and walking like a freaking fair maiden for six hours I have to walk home,” I muttered to myself.
The walk home was uncomfortable, my aching feet throbbed with every step I took. I wondered what they were going to look like by the time I had gotten home. After all, a lovely dinner would fix me right up. Well, at least that’s my mom’s philosophy. I stifled a laugh as I thought about it while crossing over to my house, with a ridiculous grin settled on my face. As I approached the row of old Victorian homes that sat on my block an array of lights flashed on the side of them, towards the direction I lived. Anxious to find out what the cop lights were about I broke into a slow jog, then a full on run. The feeling of wind in my hair widened my grin some more. Catching my breath, I stared at my house. The outside was blue and white. The door knob was made from antique glass, fashioned in 1931. It was huge, 7 bedrooms and caught everybody in amazement. Even the paint looked majestic, so glossy on the 4 story structure. Though over 100 years old, my family kept it shiny and new looking. Once a month my father George, a well known lawyer in our huge town of Relthill, Virginia, paid painters to touch it up. He never had time to do it; he never had time to do anything but work in his law firm. He never had time for me either, or my mom. Wow, sounds like the beginning of a divorce story, doesn’t it?
Snapping out of my daydream I walked until I got right in front of my house, which was the source of the police lights, and now sirens. I thought aloud, “Ok, what idiot robs an old blue house? Look what the world has come to.”
“Excuse me, are you Ms. Luna?” Taking my eyes off the indefinable sight, I turned to the source of the voice. It belonged to one of the officers that serenaded my huge, green yard with their presence.
“Um, yeah. What’s going on? Were we robbed?!” He was frightening, an unsightly thing to behold. His face was beet red, as well as his bald sun-blotched head. ‘Red Neck’ indeed, I thought to myself.
“Please come inside with me, you need to sit down for this.” His grubby, oiled fingers found their way to my back. Uncomfortable as I was, I followed where he maneuvered me, towards the front door of my house. I couldn’t help but to feel panic edging my insides, twisting and violently turning itself round and round. There were more cops in my house when we entered. “Come this way.” Mr. Grubby fingers turned me towards my living room. There, my uncle and more officers sat talking at a table. Instantly I had a horrid feeling about everything that was happening. The panic I felt sunk even deeper inside my stomach, becoming unbearable and overwhelming.
I turned towards my uncle John. His hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in days. His eyes were red and noticeably overrun with tears. Uncle John was a complete wreckage, looking and acting far from his neat and tidy doctor attitude. He jumped out of his seat when he saw me. “Luna, I’m so sorry, I don’t know how to tell you…” his voice trailed off and he sat back down, still looking depressed and sullen. The officer across the table from him stood up. “Your parents George Duran and Isabelle Duran have both died in a car accident that happened at approximately 7:39 pm today. A head on collision with the truck killed your mother instantly. Your father died later on in an ambulance on his way to Relthill Hospital. He wanted you to have this.” In his hand laid my father’s necklace that he had always wore. “He said you must live on forever since he could not.” I carefully took the necklace from his hand. It was black, with a red stone in the middle. He had never ever taken off, not even when I was a little girl. Now he had, permanently. The world suddenly became dark, the blackness closed in and I lost consciousness.
My eyes opened to a deep darkness. Recent memories of what happened flooded my mind. No, it can’t be, I thought to myself. I couldn’t take it any longer, tears began to burst from my eyes. I only thought, why? Why me?! I did best to sit up, I was in the living room, on the antique couch. Some one had laid me down there. There was something in my hand too, my dad’s necklace. It was as if the red stone in the middle fueled the heat that came with my anger. The ornate black part around it cooled me off. Taking a closer look, I was able to see that there was some kind of unusual writing there.
“Are you up now?” It was uncle John’s voice.
“Um...yeah,” I answered, clutching the necklace into my hands...my necklace. “Listen, I can’t deal with all this right now.” I grabbed a jacket and blew through the front door. For a second I wanted to smash my face through the glass, just from pure rage. Instead, I decided to run as fast as I could.
I stopped three blocks later and took gulps of cold, frosty air. I want to be numb, I thought to myself. More images flooded my mind, memories of my parents, uncle John’s face, and the creepy officer. “Stop!” I screamed into the night.
Cold fingers reached my mouth. I was startled but I stood still.
“Don’t struggle,” whispered the voice. The person was probably male, or a manly female. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
At the moment I wasn’t fighting for my life. I didn’t care what happened to me. The people I loved most in this world were dead. The hands released their grip and I found myself being turned around. It was dark but I was able to see his face. His eyes were an intense green in the moonlight. His hair was a very silky and shiny brown in the moon. My attention drew immediately to his neck after checking out his facial features. There, nestled upon his neck, was a necklace identical to mine. Where we related? I pondered.
I wanted to speak but I sucked in mostly air. Then, a struggle for words, “You have...y-y-you have. How? That necklace!”
He grinned at me and cocked his head.
“Who are you?”
“You’re wanted by the council.” He sounded British.
A new voice was heard. “Leo, what are you doing with the girl? I’m terribly cold!” There was a slight British accent that I detected in his voice too. This apparently was the guy’s twin.
“Can someone tell me what the hell is going on here?!” I screamed.
“Alexander, doesn’t she have a potty mouth?” said Leo.
Alexander, moving towards me, said, “You want to live forever, correct? You’re parents are dead, correct? You have something we want, we have something you want. We work for the counsel, we carry out deeds and we gain our immortality until we’re unneeded. Your fate was preordained. Your great-grandfather made a deal ... in blood. Oh, that necklace, it’s supposed to unleash your inner power. Select few have the ability to harvest it, and you have that ability.”
My head started to pound. There was just too much stuff going on. I hoped I was dreaming. This couldn’t have happened just within the last 24 hours. My parents died, I have a creepy necklace with powers, and random twins who came from nowhere are trying to take me to the “counsel”. What’s going on with my life?! I wondered. It happened again, I became enclosed in blackness, this feeling was becoming a little too familiar.
“Wake up,” a voice said in my ear, with a slight British accent. It sounded like Leo. My eyes adjusted slowly to the light. I looked up and saw their faces. Their eyes, which were green in the moonlight, were now red, like the red horizon. I looked around to see where I was. I was on a bed in a room that resembled the ones seen in old
movies about Queen Elizabeth. Oh no, is this what I get for watching “The Other Boleyn Girl” four times in a row when it first came out? I asked myself exposing the crude humor I could harvest in my little head. The smell of apple spice filled my nose, it smelled just like the candles my mom used to burn when I was a child. Then it hit me-my parents were dead. The tears tried to pour from my eyelids but by this time I had finished all the tears I had to spare. Rage followed.
“Are you all right?” said Leo.
“She looks set to kill,” remarked Alexander.
He was right. I wanted to kill, to take a life, just to avenge my parents in any way possible. I rose up from the bed and pushed my way past them.
Leo followed me, “Where ever are you going?”
“She can’t just leave!” yelled Alexander.
“Watch me, you sick son-of-a-bitches!” The jig was up. I knew I was being kidnapped, just in the non-traditional way. After all, they didn’t seem like the normal kidnappers.
Alexander ran towards me, grabbed my hand and put it towards his lips. I thought he planned on kissing it but instead deeply bit into my flesh. I didn’t scream. I couldn’t, it was as if all the energy in my body had been drained out of me. I started to fall, but was caught by the gentle but strong hands of Alexander. I was still aware of my surroundings, but I couldn’t move at all. He laid me back on the bed and stared at me. “Beauty of a goddess, temperament of a rabid wolf,” he commented. The counsel won’t physically see you at the moment, you will see them in your dream. You don’t yet have the privilege to see them in person.
“Eh...,” I tried to talk but couldn’t even open my mouth.
“Shh,” Leo tried to comfort me. He placed his hand on my cheek and said, “Good luck, you’ll sadly need it.”
“Life and death,” Alexander joined.
“Tragedy,” Leo added.
“And sadness,” continued Alexander”
“The beauty becomes the beast,” they ended together. As it stopped, I fell asleep.
“Awake,” a deep voice boomed into my ears. My eyes opened but nothing came to view but ice cold darkness.
“Luna Duran, we the counsel have made the decision to allow you to earn your immortality. No objections can be made. Don not underestimated our intelligence, you will not defeat our power, resist us or take us down. Your actions will be closely watched. Leonardo and Alexanderian will head your trainings. That is all. Dismissed!”
“Wait!” I yelled. “Why did my grandfather set me up with this… this thing?! What did Leo and Alexander mean by powers?! I want to go home!” I was fed up with all the bullshit I had been through.
I grew even more frustrated when the voice said, “You are not authorized to ask such questions.”
Soon after that I could feel the presence leave and I began to somehow slip away again…
“How did it feel?” It was Leo.
I opened my eyes and sat up. This time I didn’t run or fight, I decided to stay and play along with their game. After all, how hard could this be? I wondered. Just some housework, right? That’s what I hoped, but I somehow knew that there was more to it.
I told Leo, “Like an ice cold hell. Anyway, what do I have to do? No questions asked, well-for now at least.”
Alexander came right up to my face and said, “Nothing major, just some ‘loose ends’ that need tying up.” A sinister smile formed, he cocked his head sideways, “We’ll have a lot of fun with this, won’t we Leo?”
Alexander reminded me of an evil angel, a cuddly teddy bear that kills your child in your sleep, or a poisonous lollipop. His entire being was like a colossal contradiction, maybe the biggest one known to man, or just me. His facial features were not just delicate and princely, but also a queer aura lurked behind it. He was really something I had never seen before. He scared me, and he smelled the fear on me like a shark smells the fear of the diver swimming near. I was the gazelle, being played with by the lion. All these thoughts came pouring into my mind. I grimaced from my own thoughts.
“Have you had enough?” he laughed.
“Wait, you did that? You put the thoughts in my head?” I was shocked, but secretly he did seem like the culprit. This dude seriously just broke out of ‘Hogwarts’ jail, my thought made me laugh.
Leo chimed in, “We have to test your abilities. We don’t know what you’re capable of. Here…” he handed me the necklace I had inherited from my now dead father. “You can’t do anything without it. It harnesses your energies and evenly distributes it into your soul points. I know, it’s a lot to take in”
“You said it,” I mumbled.
Trying to console me he said, “I know you’ve been through a lot, I apologize for your losses.”
Alexander stepped back. “Hmmmm” he was thinking of something.
“Alexander,” said Leo. “Shall we begin training?”
He responded, “Leo, How rude of us!” He turned towards me.
“Yes.” I rushed.
“You sure?” he said.
I took a depth breath; I wasn’t one for dramatics but I needed it. “Like riding a bike, right?”
“Depends on your level of skill,” muttered Alexander. He took my hand and pulled me out the gold doors of the room. The hallway was freezing cold. My eyes drew to the beautiful works of art as I was being pulled towards the left. There was a portrait of an old man with a twinkle in his eye. The creases in his head seemed to be from deep thought. Beside him sat monstrous dogs, even while sitting they were taller than the huge chair the elderly man sat in. Their eyes glowed crimson, like precious gems. I imagined they were watching me, or anything that might threaten their master. I was no threat to anyone, well, maybe myself, I thought. Was the old man in the portrait Leo and Alexander’s grandfather? Where was I? What about my old life, what had I gotten myself into? All these thoughts clogged my mind but I held my tongue.
I was still thinking when we came to two huge doors, they looked too immense to open, like Hercules in the flesh had to force them to let us go. Leo stepped from behind us and stood in front of it. Alexander pushed me to the farthest wall, carefully doing so to prevent any harm to me. With my back to the wall he hugged me, pressing his body so close to mine that we became one. His scent reminded me of fresh snow for some reason and his body was incredibly warm, like a human heating blanket. I suddenly heard a weird sound from Leo, like a soft grunt, and then I heard a loud thud. Peeking from under Alexander’s arm, (the position didn’t freak me out, surprisingly even with the angelic evil he seemed to have) I saw what was happening. Leo’s hand was into a form that would have meant stop to most people and he was using some sort of…of…power, to force the door open. Did that mean we broke into this place and we have to break out? Even under the circumstances of late I was definitely not going to become an accessory to crime.
Wind rushed into my face, I could feel the force of the blow. Alexander moved closer to me, I recognized he was protecting me from any injuries I would surely have as the door cracked into pieces and blew towards us. When everything stopped he moved back and asked, “Are you okay? You haven’t sustained any injuries have you?”
I said no and told him thank you. We walked into daylight. After everything I had lost track of time. Had it been one day, or a week? I couldn’t imagine myself sleeping that long. I had the urge to ask questions, I couldn’t hold them any longer. “Where am I?” I burst out.
“Near your house,” said Alexander. He had been walking closer to me, like he was my protector now. I didn’t mind, I felt that maybe after all I needed protecting.
“How?” I pushed for more information.
“Power” he answered.
“I’m serious!” I yelled.
“So am I,” he returned.
“Did you break into that place?” I asked him.
“What place?” came the reply.
“Right there, where we just came from. That castle or something.” I pushed.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he didn’t budge and made me feel like the insane one.
“How am I still near my house, this place can’t be…” my mouth stopped moving as I looked to where I was pointing. It was just trees and grass, a forest. “But!” I was confused.
“Power” was the answer he gave me.
Leo, who had been quiet said, “You have much to learn.”
“Much,” agreed Alexander. “Close your eyes and breathe deeply.” I did what I was told. It almost felt relaxing and I needed to relax, big time. “Open!” he instructed. “Time to catch a Bakeneko,” he said with a devilishly handsome grin.
“Wait, a what?!” I speak English, a little Japanese and French but do you have a translation button?”
Alexander burst out laughing and held his stomach as if the laughter was violently taking over him. “Some Japanese?! Ba-ke-ne-ko! Doesn’t sound French, does it? Or maybe German…”
I felt my cheeks getting hot. “FYI, if you knew how to pronounce the word right, there wouldn’t be a problem, would there?! Baka! I turned my face away, his presence was suffocated me.
“What ever does that mean?” He stopped laughing and apologized.
“Anyway, since we’ve established this thing is Japanese, just what exactly is it?” I grew more curious by the second.
“It’s a legendary creature that looks like a cat but has two tails in some forms. It can also take the form of a human by consuming its victim. The thing that confuses me is its presence in America. Someone must have brought it here, but for what purpose?” Leo explained.
Discovery channel, much? I thought. “Wait, I know it sounds totally stupid but, shouldn’t we stop by Petco or something? I mean it is a cat, or at least seems like one. You know, catnip, laser chaser, a carrier…” I waited for a reply.
“You really are clueless,” Alexander commented.
Leo, who had been quiet said, “No, we do things a little, well, differently.”
Alexander piped up, “We do have power, you know. With great power comes great responsibility, no joke intended.”
“Well, then how do we… catch it?” I needed an answer.
“You’ll see. We do have many tricks up our sleeves. Don’t worry. Leo and I have been doing this since we were nine,” Alexander said.
“Wait, nine?! You didn’t even hit puberty? That doesn’t sound much like a childhood to me.” I was shocked.
Leo answered, “Our father trained us for the life we were destined to have. Our family has had great power for ages. There was no need for childish games. In our world we have no time to waste such as careless humans do.”
“What exactly are you?”
“In ancient Europe we were called dragon-slayers.”
“Oh right, no childhood. Does that mean I’m a dragon-slayer too?”
“Technically speaking, we aren’t known as that anymore. Yes…if you would consider that.”
“So, my parents were these too? And my grandfather? Why didn’t they tell me? I didn’t see them do what you guys did and all that. Why didn’t they-” Alexander cut me off.
“We have work to do.”
“Why won’t anyone ever listen to me, much less tell me anything?!” I ran off angered by Alexander, Leo, my family, and the whole world. I hated my parents for leaving me, and Alexander and Leo for kidnapping me, because that’s just this was. A kidnapping.
After what seemed like an hour I admitted to myself that I was hopelessly lost in some unknown forest. I heard the bushes rustling behind me. Oh great, I thought. Come to reclaim the “lost item”?
I turned around and saw a girl standing behind me.
“Who the fu....?!” I shouted. “I mean, who are you? Am I being followed? Did Leo and Alexander send you, because if they did I’m not going back till they tell me what I need to know. Who do they think they are?! Just shutting me down like that…” The girl had cat-like eyes and stared at me like I was an interesting toy. She moved towards me and hugged me.
I freaked out. “Wooooah, this is not the Oprah show. I know I’m totally having a mental breakdown and everything, but who are you again?!”
The girl didn’t budge but stumbled to say, “Ti-ti-tired. I nee… need en-ner-geee”. It sounded like she had a speaking problem. For a second I thought she was a mental institution escapee, but she was dressed regularly. If she wasn’t acting so weird I would’ve thought she was a regular kid in my high school.
“Do you need to go to a hospital? I don’t even know where we are!” I looked around for any signs of a road, or civilization in general. “Here, you should…lay…down.” It suddenly became a struggle to talk. I felt really tired.
The girl stepped away from me and grabbed my hand and let go, making me fall to the ground.
“Watashi wa ima anata o korosu tsumoridesu,” the girl said. I realized that she had a different voice than before. There was also something else strange too, she was morphing into what looked like a cat.
Wait, she speaks Japanese? “Watashi wa ima anata o korosu tsumoridesu.” That means I am going to kill you. I was collecting my thoughts. So she’s the Bakeneko? I suddenly missed Leo and Alexander. I was stupid, running off without them.
The Bakeneko was frightening, but intensely full of weird
beauty. Its black white and orange fur flowed down the creatures body, its tail was as if it was split in two. The eyes were entirely white, no pupils or anything.