After washing up, eating, and taking a look at myself in the mirror, I had the sudden urge to ‘find out’. Find out what? Why? I paused, staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I had obviously lost weight in my … how many day starvation binge? The orange in my hair had grown out, leaving my ‘do looking a bit funny. I’d have to do something. Something different, I decided.
In a wave, the urge to ‘find out’ returned. I brushed it aside. There was time for that later. Or maybe never. Life could return to normal now. Now about my hair-
A wave of panic rose in me, so acute that I felt nauseous. I gripped the edge of the bathroom sink. The world span. Clear as day, I knew that I had to ‘find out’.
Message sent, the sensation subsided. I breathed deeply, willing the nausea away.
Okay, maybe my hair could wait. Just maybe.
After grabbing another snack from our kitchen that we shared with another dead-ish family, I shrugged on a black jacket and donned my bracelets and necklaces, just in case. Then, wholly convinced that there was nothing to ‘find out’, I left the house.
I told myself that I was just on a little stroll. I was just following my instincts, I told myself.
But the truth was that my instincts had never manifested with anxiety disorders. I’d never felt all too anxious about anything in life, even when I should have. But I brushed it all aside. I was just out for a walk in the earth realm, otherwise known as ‘hell’.
In the earth realm, like the sky realm, there was quite a many different planes to enter. There was happy places, dark places, and so-so- pockets of minor doom. I told myself that I should just go for a grassy stroll, but found myself knowing that I should turn away from there.
By accident, I supposed, I found myself near the prison for uncooperative demons. It was where souls wen when they caused too much trouble, or acted unconsiderate towards the established structure of right and wrong, and how much of each there ought to be in the realms.
Doesn’t matter, I told myself. Because I’m going to keep on walking. I had no business in that realm, and was going my merry way on the starlight path when – barf.
Out of nowhere! I just had this wave of panic and nausea, so acute that I half sobbed and hiccuped in nausea all at the same time. Doubling over, I clapped a hand over my mouth, sure that I was about to heave something up. Panic filled me, my thoughts racing in horror, my stomach churning with dread at the idea that I might not ‘find out’.
Find out what? I thought irately just before the answer came to me in the shape of a vision. A vision of Bella, smiling down at me, her hand fisted in my hair.
I walked towards the doors of the realm of nasty things. Alright, I began to admit that things were going down a little strangely. But this could be just my imagination, right? I’d investigate a little, then be gone. That would satisfy my gut, right?
“Oh hey Chaos!” said a pot-bellied gnome that could have easily been mistaken for a demon. “You here for those buggers?”
“Uh,” I said, strolling up to the reception desk. There, several weird looking secretaries all nodded at me.
“We can look away as you land a punch or two,” added another in jovial terms.
“That’s against the regulations,” said one with badly applied lipstick and fake eyelashes. “but then again,” and they waved me on.
My mind reeled. I had business here? With whom? And then, as the pot-bellied one guided me forward, I realized with whom. The vampires, of course.
There was dozens in cells. Cells, cells, cells upon cells lined this part of this realm like holes in a honeycomb, stacked up and up until they seemed to drift away into darkness. As I stared, the pot-bellied gnome thumped me on the hip with a sort of good-bye pat.
“Give ya’ fifteen minutes, kid! Then you gotta scram!” and he pressed a something in my hands. I looked down, shocked to see the set of keys in my hand.
“Hey-” but he was walking away.
I gulped, the moment suddenly crushing me. I had never been despised in the underworld. Certainly, they had all heard a version of what happened to me, and they all now probably thought me a hapless victim.
And now I had the keys in my hands.
For a moment, I just stood there, fear overwhelming me. What would I do? Should I really have been left alone with these keys? What if I did something stupid?
But there was no ‘free them and break loose all the demons of the udnerworld!’ urge. Instead, I found myself calming down. Anxiety really wasn’t my thing.
With no strange urges overcoming me, I felt in control. So I strolled to the cells. I passed vampire after vampire, runnign my fingers over the iron bars. Some were curled on cots, others hunched over and clawing at their hair. Few looked up and saw me, their eyes hollow and empty. Just like I had been.
I was about to turn around and leave when I saw what I was looking for. Mister McBeefcake, who wasn’t all beef and no cake anymore.
He was wasting away like the rest of them. Curled on himself, there was a plate of uneaten food in the middle of his tiny cell.
“Hey,” I said, wondering who was the dummy who’d tried ot give vampires real food. Could they even digest it? “Hey?” I rapped my knuckles on the cage.
He didn’t look up. Just a groan came out, then a sigh. He shifted, and I saw how sunken in his cheeks were. How he was starving.
Somehow it struck me. My beloveds, I thought, and a sense of misery rushed up through me. I had the urge to do something, anything, to help them. They were suffering!
Pressing my palms against the cell’s bars, I knew there was nothing to do but I wanted to help them so badly. So much that I felt ready to cry, anxiety rising up through me in a fit that made me want to shred my own skin.
I pressed my forehead against the bars, closing my eyes. If only I could help!
Something gusted over my face. Warm air? I opened my eyes to see another pair of eyes right before mine, to feel hands closing over mine.
I startled, too late. McBurgerFace was crushing my fingers under his own, snarling so close he could almost bite me through the bars. I jerked back, but it was from the repulsive smell of his breath. Because in my mind, I was calm. This was my second in command, he would not hurt me.
“Release me,” I ordered, my voice now not my own. It was so strikingly Bella’s that it snapped across my mind – but I was now no longer in control of my limbs. Bella had come over me, and I hadn’t even noticed it.
“My- my Queen!” crowed the vampire.
“Shh,” I heard her say, saw my hand reach through the bars and caress his cheek. “You poor thing,” Bella murmured through me.
Sobbing, the vampire rested his forehead against the bars. Bella drew him as close as she could, pressing my forehead against his, just like she had once done to me.
Words flowed from her and I recognized them. It was those words she had always spoken to me, and now I knew some of them, could silently follow along the first few as the feeling of love and happiness rose up within me like a pool of warm water, drownign out my thoughts.
Dimly, I heard sighs from around. Creaking of bones as limbs straightened. Rustling of cloth. I felt hundreds of eyes upon my body, watching the source of the words.
As I succumbed to the waters, so to speak, I felt more than just an ecstasy. I felt myself connected with Bella, with these creatures, could feel their thoughts and wishes and anger.
I knew right then that they all saw Bella, felt her within me.
Footsteps rung out. The creaking of the door.
My body was jerked back from the cells and suddenly I was in control of it again. I nearly fell over is what happened.
“Whoah, kid!” and the gnome was by my side as I reeled, clutching at my head and body. “What’s the matter?”
No more Bella was the matter. The sense of union, the feeling of ecstasy, it was all gone and I was empty, reeling from the absence of so much. Struggling, I pulled myself together.
“Nothing,” I said weakly, shaking my head and brushing the hair from my eyes.
“Hey,” and the gnome looked to the cells. “They recognize you?”
Because no more were the vampires asleep and laying down. Now they were all standing at the doors, watching silently, still as statues. Their eyes gleamed like cats, throwing back the dim lights at us.
“They’re awake,” I mumbled, knowing with certainty that I had accomplished whatever it was that I had been sent out for.