Matthias, p.18
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       Matthias, p.18
 

           Ariana Kenny

  Chapter 14 Getting to know you

  In my pseudo normal life set up with Cassie and her sisters back at my place we had played house quite nicely without me asking too many questions. I had not really thought about how nomadic a life they must live. Skipping from the hotel, to the house in the country, and on to a vacant, but fully furnished loft, I had to admire the adjustments they made, easily walking in the front door and slipping on to couches, picking up random scattered instruments, borrowing clothes. I found it unsettling at first, seeming to live a borrowed life, but I quickly lost my apprehension.

  Cassie and I started finding time alone again, and she glowed through the nights for me, showing me how to hunt quietly, efficiently and without killing. Looking back it really didn't take long to settle in to a routine of sorts, Cassie and I trawling alleys at first, then building towards more populated spots, most often the club scene. When I doubted my ability to keep my new found urges and instincts at bay, when the noises, and sounds became too much, she would find a way to center me. There were times we went hunting through the dancing masses that all I could imagine was pressing my teeth against hot flesh, digging in and drinking deep, regardless of the danger. It would overtake me, leave me feeling frozen for fear of following through on my desire to kill. Just as it would all be too much, Cassandra would lead me by the hand in to a throng of people to dance, and they would simply cease to exist for me. The burning would subside, the veins, throbbing for my attention would disappear for me. Even time seemed in suspense, every moment with her stretched out, allowing us our own little world, where we were king and queen. Invincible, incredible, immortal.

  When clubs became too routine, and we spent too much time and ran the risk of looking suspicious, we would hit arcades. At first I baulked imagining taking out some 14 year old barely able to see past the screen, but it turned out that a surprising amount of adults hung out there. Seemed odd and random, but, each to their own. It wasn't like I had become poster boy for normal as it was. When we were desperate, brothels and fetish clubs were always an available last resort. Violet didn't seem to mind them as much, but then, I wondered how much was just her liking to shock.

  As days disappeared and nights became strung together, I trawled the net and papers in my 'up' time while everyone bar Violet slept. I was trying to piece together what Michael was keeping himself busy with. Violet knew, of course. She would watch me silently from across the room as I tore through news reports, tabloids and scraps of random information like a hungry dog. Had to give it to her she never said anything, though I could never really be sure why. I would tear out articles, and pinpoint attacks, traumas, and outlandish stories of mad supersized creatures attacking people. I even set up a map, trying to find a pattern, but failing.

  Weeks passed and I thought I was doing well at hiding my growing obsession from Cassie and the others. The world was ours and I became adept at blending in with wherever we were. I missed my own family, but I quickly found that my new family offered amazing experiences. Sights from the top of city landmarks, experiences from the shadows of the 'civilized' world – watching the actions of those who were desperate, and equally as often, watching those who manipulated the desperate.

  I managed to develop an odd past time when I got frustrated and bored and would sneak into the rooms of people who had lost pretenses of being civil. Where parents beat their kids, or people hurt each other. Before they had a chance to strike, I would move, flashing past them, drawing a line of blood across a cheek, a chest, smacking lightly across their nose or kneecap. Enough to scare the living hell out of them, but only just enough, to give them the chance to try and get it right the next day. Cam loved that of course. She even found time to join in the play from time to time, the two of us stealing so fast through a home or room that we couldn't be detected, but undeniably leaving our mark behind.

  Even when I went it alone, Cassie would find me when she woke, had time to stretch and sense me out in the dark. Whenever I saw her I knew that if my heart still beat it would have stopped. I felt like we were two halves of the same person, existing, being, together in sync. Blood bond or not, it didn't matter. I was hers and she was mine.

  In spite of all this though, with everything on offer and more to me, there was that one loose end. That one thing I couldn't let go. Not really....

  Violet was a darker horse than I had imagined. She and Elias would disappear for stretches, coming back with tales of high ranking parties they crashed, beautiful people they influenced in to parting with their money, time, senses and of course blood (as needed) to keep things going. Still they always returned, Elias ever doting, stuck on Violet's power, strength and pull through her blood bond with him.

  Time with Elias was welcome, but finding time to spend one to one was rare. He had an incredible knack for games, almost predicting moves ahead of people knowing they were going to make them. That was one of his talents, much like Cassie, being able to sense peoples thoughts, values, intentions and wants though it was far from mind reading, it was just as useful. Cassie explained it as a general feeling, not a direct line into the person, and she used it to know when to approach them, identify a topic to strike up conversation over. Elias on the other hand, used his ability somewhat differently. The man loved gambling, games of chance of any kind, but in particular, Elias loved winning. He staked new poker games, casinos, clubs, and even street games when the mood took him, and that was at least weekly. It kept us in cash, not that we were ever short, and gave us the chance to do something different every once in a while, so everyone was happy to run with it.

  One night we hit up a casino, Elias cleaning up, me cheering him on, and the girls playing their part. It was there at the blackjack table that my first real lead to Michael presented itself. The crowd was enthused, probably catching on from Elias' mood, seeing as he was $100,000 up and counting. It was then I sensed it - that familiar smell of sulphur-infused wet dog. The scent of an Old One.

  Before anyone else, Violet and I knew. We looked out amongst the crowd to find it, with Cassie and Elias quickly coming around to understand our distraction. Cam, kept Elias on task to pull together his winnings as Cassie tried to direct me outside and away from the people I suddenly wanted to slaughter to get to my target. I broke free though and left them all as I followed the stench to a call girl dressed like an electric-blue haired Marylyn Munro. I followed her through the slot machines, to the back service area, and then towards her car. No one walked with her, and no one else hung in the shadows. All I knew was that I had to know where she had been so we she reached to place her car key in the lock of her Toyota I sprang at her, pinning her against the car, demanding and uncaring of her terror.

  "Where is he?"

  "Who" her teeth chattered, but I was past being polite or patient.

  "You know who. You know!" I was screaming by now. Tears streamed down her cheeks but I grabbed her by the throat. I felt Cassie's hand on mine, and I released my hold. The girl dropped to the ground sobbing and regret stung me. Cassie tried to offer reassurance.

  "It's alright, he just had too much to drink.” she lied. “He thought you were someone who ripped him off. He's sorry."

  "I just needed to find this guy, tall, dark, short hair. His name is Michael. He..." my voice darkened involuntarily "...owes me something."

  The girl stammered as she rose to her feet with Cassie’s support. "I don't know anyone special. I just serve tables. Get tips. I'm saving up for college. I just want to go home."

  "Home." I mused vehement. I had wanted to go home. She was staring at her feet in submission. Cassie's stern voice reached for reason with me.

  "She doesn't know Matt. She can't remember." I stepped back in frustration. If she had been influenced I had no chance of knowing how, or if, I could draw anything from her.

  "Let's not give up completely." Violet sounded from behind me.

  Barely moving in acknowledgement, Cassie snapped at her.

  "She'
s been through enough. Leave her be Violet. Just let it go!" it was the first time I heard her speak that way to Violet. Violet regarded me, knowing what I was hiding and yet still she didn't say a word about me.

  "You might be a fan of some psychopath hanging around with a death wish for the love of your life. What do you think is going to happen when Michael finds out Matt isn't exactly dead?" Cassie huffed and faced the other way.

  Violet moved closer to the girl, taking her face in a hand. Cam and Elias arrived outside and stood out of the way as Cassie approached them. I watched Violet put forward her influence, her intent, on the girl. "You don't have to worry sweetheart. I won't hurt you. I am going to ask you a favour though." The girl was mesmerised by now. She looked at Violet as though the rest of her world had just disappeared. I stole a glance at Cassie. She faced away in to the dark. I would have to sort things out later. For now I focused on Violet's efforts. I wished I had her talents. I would trade speed or strength for influence any night.

  "What favour?" the girl breathed.

  "When Michael contacts you again,” Violet said as she scribbled on a piece of paper. “You need to tell me straight away." She pressed the paper in to the girl's hand. "As soon as you can. Understand?" the girl nodded, wide eyed. Violet brushed the right temple of the girl with her lips, laying the lightest of kisses. The girl stood quietly compliant. She then snapped to, rustling her keys, getting into her car and driving away. For her it was as though nothing strange had happened. I wondered how many times something like this had happened to her already.

  Our awkward group stood silent for a moment in the casino neon lights. Elias was the first to take off. Violet followed him. Cam gave me an intent look. I was not sure what I saw in her eyes but she stroked Cassie's arm before she left, whipping out in to the dark. I moved over to Cassie. I reached out but she shrugged my hand way from her.

  "Don't be like that. What did you expect!" I asked her, exasperated now. "He killed me."

  "I just thought I would be enough." Her voice sounded strained and thought I moved to her, this time she didn't shrug me away.

  "You have to know this is nothing to do with you. I love you. I love us. I never thought things could be this way but I have to find him. He has to die." Cassie sighed raggedly before she faced me.

  "I'm not losing you again. I can't be without you" It was a warning she couldn't see through of course.

  "I know, Cassie. I need to take care of it or I won't be able to move on. He needs to go."

  "He used to be practically a part of your family. Do you think you can just walk up and take him out like that? And he had the Old Ones at his disposal. You’re just going to wipe them out? How easy do you think that's going to be?"

  "Wasn't so hard with Belil" I remarked. Cassie pressed her head into my chest.

  "That was different" she relaxed in to me. "Please just don't do anything crazy. Be careful?" I didn't reply. I couldn't promise anything. I held her close and tight. "I would never make you stay you know." Her comment surprised me.

  "What?!" I exclaimed back.

  "I just know when Violet finds something she is driven about, she doesn't let go easy."

  "It isn't like that Cass." I assured.

  "She can stay awake like you. She's strong like you....fast." she continued. “If you want to be with her….” I was horrified at where she was going, “I’m just saying, I’d understand.”

  "I love you. No one before. No one ever again." I kissed her and we melted in to each other. "Come home. We'll sleep today, together." She nodded and we left, and though I slept as I had promised, next to her, dreams interrupted me.

  In my dream I was standing, staring at the brute of a creature. It stood in shadow but it glowered at me with its eyes gleaming red in the dark. Something reached out from a corner behind me to grab me by the shoulder, long talons digging in to my bare flesh. My blood began to seep from the wound as I woke with a start. Violet held a hand to my shoulder, nails gently biting the flesh.

  I looked at her accusingly and she nodded towards the front room. I slipped out of bed and followed her out.

  “I got a call from the blue haired girl.” Violet said.

  “Already? She’s with Michael?” I asked, excited things had moved so quickly.

  “Sort of. She got a call from him asking her to pick up a package at WEHLEN. It’s a brokerage company. It’s only about 20 minutes from here. I thought we might investigate, see what it is that he might have to do with a place like that. Do some light B&E!” Violet had a glint in her eye.

  I glanced towards the bedroom. Sunlight still shone outside, cracking past the curtains at the window. “We should wait for Cassie and the others to wake – all go together.” I declared.

  “Why. Scared of me?” Violet taunted back.

  “Not scared… no. I just don’t want Cassie to get the wrong idea. Leaving her in the middle of the day like this.”

  “I know if we wait, we might miss our chance. It's easier to blend in during the day too." Violet seemed sincere.

  “Why are you helping me when no one else seems to think it’s a good idea?”

  “I’m not helping you Matthias. I’m helping myself. I spent years stuck in another dimension with those things. They saw to it I was stripped of flesh and tortured over and over. I want them dead for that. For that, and all the things I know they can do now Michael has let them out. It might be quiet now, but wait until the carnage flows. It’s only a matter of time before they start to show themselves on a larger scale. What we have seen so far is nothing.” Anger boiled in her features and her lip curled back in a snarl.

  “To WEHLEN then.” I confirmed to a satisfied looking Violet as I threw on a shirt, before leaving in a black tinted car that Elias had won at a card game the week before. Sunglasses on, Violet and I set out together, and I hoped it wasn’t a mistake.
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