Chapter 23 What now
Elias might not have intended to come back with me but he did anyway. Of that I was glad because otherwise I don’t think I would have found my way home at all. I felt vacuous. I failed to see any reason for anything anymore. I followed my feet back to home, back to the club. I was numb, in shock and lost.
When I arrived back Violet, who had come to the foyer to meet me stopped in her tracks. She must have been hoping that I would come through. Her face fell.
“So that’s it then” she remarked. Violet stared at me stoically, but yet her body trembled. I closed my eyes trying to take it all in. There had been so much loss over the years. I had….we all had thought we were so close to solving everything.
I walked into the building and almost had a double take. It looked so different to what I remembered. Viktor walked out to greet me. He nodded towards Elias in acknowledgement before speaking to me.
“Cassie is in your old room, but I don't know that there is much we can do. If she doesn't eat soon, she will start to atrophy, decay... Did you try giving her your blood?"
I looked at him blankly. "I haven't tried anything yet. I honestly thought I could talk Michael in to giving me the cure." I tried to resume a sense of blind optimism. "I will just have to find another way."
"What happened to Michael?" asked Viktor. I looked at Elias.
"I got trigger happy." Viktor gave Elias a warning look so he clarified: "Not like he didn't have it coming. He probably wouldn't have had any real answers anyway."
"He knew something. But it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I try anything I can. I'm going to spend some time with her. I'll check in later." As I strode off I was aware of Viktor sizing up Elias.
"Supposed you need a place to stay too!" He remarked, and before he turned on his heel to walk down the other corridor.
"Don't hurt yourself being nice." Elias retorted following Viktor.
On entering our room, I dimmed the lights. Cassie lay on the bed, hair spread across the pillow. I sat next to her. Stroking her face before digging my nail in to my palm. I let my blood trickle in to her mouth, then waited. Nothing. What could I do. Her skin was already slightly greyish in tone. It had nearly been a week since she fed. Whatever it was, I had to do it quickly.
Michael had suggested using blood through a drip. Maybe that was a solution. Quantity. I shifted down to the basement where we kept all our supplies. Blood equipment was just part of the scenery. Back in bed, I quickly hooked myself up, and then Cassie. Time passed, but there was no change. No fluttering of her eyes, no curve of her lips as she woke to see me staring down at her. I started to feel dizzy and nausea swept over me when I heard familiar footsteps. I was hunched over and almost too weak to resist when Violet's hand pulled the needle from my arm.
"Matthias" her voice was welcomed comfort. She stood next to me and I leant my head into her stomach. She stroked my head in return.
"There has to be a way" I mumbled.
"There will be. But you aren't going to find it if you're so weak you can't think." She made unwelcome sense. I moved my head upright and drew in a breath. On exhaling Violet stroked her hand through my hair as she walked around me to sit on the other side of her sister. "She wouldn't want to be like this you know."
"I can't let her go Violet."
"Me neither. Whatever needs to be done. I won't have one sister returned to see another lost" Violet placed her hand on Cassie's. "So cold" she mused.
"How is Cam?"
"As best as can be expected. The rest of us had a chance to see how distant Myria became. She didn't. Killing Russell was a shock. I just hope it wasn't our lifestyle that made Myria disregard human life so"
"It wasn't" I assured her. "You don't kill."
"Not often" she clarified.
"Not on purpose" I stated. After a pause I had to ask. "What am I going to do?"
Violet thought for a moment. "What would you naturally do?"
"You mean after asking my father - which I can’t do; asking Cassie - which I can't do; or tracking down Michael because I was desperate, which failed miserably?" I could hear the exasperation in my voice.
"Why don't you feed, then decide. There’s no thinking straight when you are hungry. The supply fridge is fully stocked.." I nodded in understanding and stood to leave before she continued "Although, there is still one thing left on the list" Violet pointed out.
I looked back at her, then left with little else to say. I swept out of the room, then corridors, passing the first clubbers for the night. I couldn’t bear to stop and eat, so just left straight away. Viktor stood at the front guarding the door while his hired men and woman and interference with the crowd. Two rooms were going at once, with a mix of dance music coming from one entrance, and rock from another. They had done an amazing job on the place, but it was lost on me now.
Hungry as I was, I couldn't focus. I wandered around until I saw a man standing on the street. I recognised him after a moment as Armada. Moving towards him quickly, he must have become aware of me approaching. As he swung around his long purple coat swirled in response and his face lit up. On reaching him, Armada extended his hand and I took it willingly.
"You my friend ain't aged a bit!" He laughed with me freely. One thing I liked so much about this guy was that any exchange came easy. "What's your secret then?"
"Keeping out of trouble, away from the likes of you..." I joked, feeling plastic and fake as I did. Maybe a solution lay here, with him. He did have special....abilities after all.
"Smart man, but I think it's spending time away with your beautiful woman." came the response.
"Yeah well...." I was focusing on his pulse, I felt hunger beyond anything since my first night as a vampire.
"There's a problem?" He asked.
I swallowed hard and tried to focus on responding to his question. "Something strange happened to Cassie. Something scratched her and now she's asleep. I can't wake her."
"Living death." he stated nodding his head in understanding, plain as though I had just described the colour of the sky.
"This happened before?"
"Lots of times believe it or not, they can come out of it, but.... You have to keep her alive though until you can get the spell lifted, then she comes around." renewed hope rose inside me, and I momentarily forgot my hunger.
"How do I fix it?" I pushed. This was fate, running into Armada like this.
"Depends on the magic, got to find the witch who did it."
"I don't even know where to start."
"Hmmm. I might be able to help, but I have an appointment I can't miss. Not even for you." I nodded to indicate my understanding. "Where are you off to?" he asked next.
"I'm going to see my father."
"You look worried." Armada said, an unfitting smirk on his face.
"It's been a while." I replied.
"Since you were turned?" This I had not expected. I didn't think he knew what I was, so I hesitated before responding.
"I am in to magiks you know. Cant hide from me." I felt relief wash over me.
"Any chance you can help me track down who I need to find."
"Not me, but my guess is your witch can. She should be strong enough, if not now, soon. With practice, she might even be able to lift it."
I looked down at my feet. “That might be tricky. We’re barely on speaking terms.”
Armada oozed confidence "You'll find out who did this to Cassandra. Speaking of beautiful women, a guy I know brought in a lost soul. She's coming back to see me today, finish off her session. Rachel… something or another. Isn’t it crazy how the world works. She lost all her memories. She was kidnapped, came back with no memory, and now ends up seeing me to help bring it out. Now she has some power behind her."
"The appointment you cant miss." I offered by was of clarifying my understanding. Armada nodded "You need to get going. See your father, clear your mind, then beg for forgiveness
With renewed hope I continued on to see my father. It had been six years, but I knew every step back to my father's door. I slipped though the front door which was left ajar by people moving out of the building, and I made my way up. I tried the handle and the door opened. Stepping in, I was almost overwhelmed. Nothing had changed everything in the same place, as I remembered, except a few new photographs of my brother and his family. A hand drawn picture of something that may have been a dog, had 'Anton Jr' written under it. I looked at a close up of a baby, beside the little pink bundle, two boys stood side by side. He had two boys and a girl now. A little baby girl.... I chuckled inside. That will teach him. All that running around when he was young and now he had a daughter. I was holding a photo frame smiling when I heard a gasp behind me.
My father was there clutching on to the head of the recliner. "Matthias." tears welled in his eyes, but my only instinct was to run. I hadn't meant to make contact.
"Dad. I.... I...." he rushed at me, grabbing me in his arms.
"I knew... I knew you were not gone. I didn't listen to them. The police, the specialists. All full of lies. I knew you were alive. My boy... “ He choked. “....I missed you." He shook and I steadied him, leading him into the chair to sit.
We sat in momentary silence.
"How have you been? How are you?" the words were stammered, but I didn't know what else to say.
"I am okay, good. Better now I know you are alive and well. Are you well?"
"Yes I am fine."
"Where have you been?"
"Away. Europe, the Middle East." no sense lying.
"With Cassandra?" He prompted.
I made an affirmative sound, and eased a little. He missed me. He had missed me and wasn't surprised to see me. He looked worn, with extra wrinkles and a worry line appearing, but that should be expected.
"She's a nice girl." he diverted. "I liked her, but your brother didn't. Do you know he has a baby now?"
"Yes, but looks like more than one?"
"Oh yes. Yes- three now. That's right." My father affirmed for me before pausing to smile at me. He started to stand and I moved reactively to his motion, wanting to steady him, but not wanting to insult him by offering. He moved like an old man, and I had not been ready for that. "I have to tell your mother" he said as he moved towards the kitchen from the lounge. My heart and throat locked. My mother?! My mother had died the day I did. Was she somehow alright?. Was she human? She was buried. Her body had been found, unlike mine. I held my breath in anticipation.
"Manna!: He called my mother’s nickname. “Manna - you won't believe who is here. Matthias has come home. He is home! Come say hello." I stood there frozen, waiting, but my gut fell. I knew before he made it to the kitchen something else had happened that I was not prepared for. My father had lost his mind. I closed my eyes and tried not to let the tears welling in my eyes escape. I breathed deeply and then opened them. "I don't know where she is?" came his puzzled response as he wandered back from the kitchen. "I thought she was in the kitchen, but she is not there. I'll find her." More determined, he set off towards the back rooms.
"Dad. Stop. It's OK. We can surprise her later. I will come back later. I'll be back again." I assured him, keeping my voice steady.
"Good, good, come back. We can have dinner. All together again." he walked back to his chair and sank into it. "Will you bring Cassandra?"
"I hope so but she isn't doing so well. She's sick Dad."
"Sick!" It was as if he was shocked at the concept.
I probably shouldn't have shared so much but I didn't really have anyone else to share with. Besides, Violet had suggested coming here in the first place. "Someone hurt her, and now she won't wake up."
"Oh no. That's terrible. Terrible. She's so nice. Smart too. Not like that other bimbo. Your mother never did have the heart to tell you what she really thought of that girl. This one though. Cassandra. You know the story of Cassandra don't you." I didn't care what frame of mind he was in I just enjoyed his company after so long. I had loved my family so much when I was alive, it had taken it's toll when I realized I couldn't be with them after I was turned. I had missed so very much my father and his stories.
"No dad. I don't know the story of Cassandra. Tell me."
"She was a Greek prophetess" I shuddered thinking back to Greece and Michael. Maybe I didn't want to hear this story after all. "She was cursed with a gift from the gods. The ability to see into the future. She would see bad things, death, destruction, doom...."
"I hope this story is going to a nice place" I chuckled, willing the death destruction and doom to lessen.
"It's a Greek myth, Matthias." My father looked shocked at my comment. "They never end well."
"Great!" I looked at my hands in my lap. And my father reached over and put his hand on mine. I looked up at his reassuring face.
"Matthias. The greatest of stories have loss and hopelessness. At the end though, there is always a lesson, and a hero. But the story of Cassandra is about her curse, not her gift”.
“What do you mean?”
My father sat up. “Because she would not sleep with Apollo, Cassandra was cursed so that no matter what she saw, the people she told would never believe her. The point being that her gift was amazing – to be able to see the future, but her curse was one not only she bore, but everyone around her suffered because of it as well."
“So where is the hero? Where is the lesson?”
“Cassandra was the hero. Imagine living like that. Everyone around you doubting what you saw. Not being able to warn people how to save themselves. Imagine how strong she would have had to be to live like that. The lesson is that we should all be strong, because if someone can put up with being cursed like that, we can all put up with our lot in life as well. Your Cassandra is like that. Strong.” His lids grew heavy. I marveled at the lines drawn on his face.
“I know.” I looked up at him like I used to when I was a kid. “You always told us good stories Dad. I've missed you."
"And I missed you." He removed his hand and lay back in his chair. "The stories though are in the blood. The way you tell them, like ancient stories to be passed around the village fire" looking tired now, he started to drop off to sleep. "All in the blood. They live through the blood. Dead people don’t tell stories do they…" came the mutterings as he trailed into sleep. I suddenly had a thought.
"Wrong blood!" I had said it out loud, but didn't mean to.
"Hmm?" came the semi sleeping reply from the chair.
"Dead blood won't fix anything" I answered back knowing he wouldn't take it in. I needed regular blood. Before I had a chance to take anything more in, I heard a key in the lock.
I flung out the window but glanced inside as I hung from a railing. Evie was carrying in a shopping bag while an older boy pushed a pram in behind her and a middle child tottered in behind. They were taking care of him. At least there was that. My mind reeled. Focus. Focus on what's can be solved. One thing at a time. I repeated this to myself.
I ran, and I didn't care who saw what. I just ran. I needed the distance and got it.
What a night. A night of revelations and loss. Arriving back from Greece with no answers, finding no change at home with Cassie still lost in the darkness, finding my father bereft of sanity, fortunate enough to run into my old friend who had some answers at least, and needing to appeal to Myria’s kind streak to help me find the answers I otherwise couldn’t. I reached the club and let myself in. I crouched just inside the club door gathering my thoughts, then I stood to my feet a little worried that, like my father I had also lost my mind. On automatic pilot, I decided that if nothing else tonight I would get Cassie fed and stable.
Heading back to my room, I let myself in and again hooked Cassie to a drip leading to a blood bag. Nothing. A morbid thought occurred to me. More angered than I had ever felt before, I let the feeling consume me so that I couldn't
Matthias by Ariana Kenny / Fantasy have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on19 votes