Categories > Original > Horror0 Reviews
A girl with dark memories awakes in a stranger's home. But can her savior be saved from her? Or, of greater pith, from her past?
The flowers were brown with age, their delicate vase cracked with time and bone dry. They had been red roses. He loved roses, and always kept a fresh bouquet. Even though the whole house had fallen into disrepair, the things that told me he was really gone, that he'd not come back here, were the withered petals on the floor. Dry and crumbling, they were slowly adding to the layer of dust that was quickly mounting atop all things in the tiny home. Another chapter in my life was closed. If they were dead, he must be too. Yet another nightmare turned memory. No one should ever love roses. They are symbols or death, more so than love. Or is love another form of death? If love even exists.
Those flowers had been my first experience in this new life. When I opened my eyes for the first time since. . . well, since another dream- filled night, I saw those ruby shavings. Their scent had guided me back to reality. He had just come in the door with a handful of fresh roses to put in the olive vase on the table, having, I suppose, just taken out the old ones. I should have felt afraid, waking in a strange house, sunlight pouring into my murky delusions, birds singing noisily, something I'd rarely heard before. But I didn't really notice any of it, not even the large, creme room about me or the huge, old fashioned bed, complete with oak banisters, long canopy, and off-white down comforter. All I saw, all I knew, were those sanguine roses. They were blood-red, bloody, pouring their infernal color into my eyes, streams of it! A tiny, scarlet trickle dyed the creme carpet where a petal had fallen. It all came back in a rush. I remembered who I was, what I was. . . I was thrown back into that cursed room, and He was before me. My mentor, my trainer, my betrayer. All the old feelings, the old blood lust returned in an instant. I wanted to see him die! I wanted to feel his blood as I had my own, I wanted to kill! I wanted revenge! I remembered the bitter fight, no holds bar, this would kill one of us. I disarmed him, I had him down, and then he begged me to end it. He'd lost on purpose! I remembered all I'd been taught about killing, by experience, not by him, and I faltered. The revenge I'd thought would be so sweet would destroy me if I took it now. I'd become him. I couldn't do it. My sword slipped from my hand, falling to the floor with that sickening, final "clang". I saw again the little stream of blood on his neck where I hadn't stopped in time. It made me sick. I stepped back, looking at his eyes, a moment ago pleading, but now hard and sneering. The pain! He had turned so quickly, I was just paralyzed. I saw only a flicker before his dagger, searing into me, sputtered out. I heard that harsh, raspy whisper in my ear.
"You are weak. You always were. It's what made you so perfect. Weak of mind and spirit, but strong of body. Such power should not be allowed those who cannot use it right. You lost because you couldn't find the strength to finish this, proving me right. I do deserve to die, and you of all people should kill me. But not because I have done evil. It is because I failed to do the good that I intended from the start. My rule over this world and all others would have been glorious, but having failed in that endeavor, one so great as me shouldn't be allowed to suffer among the lowly. I was too compassionate to the weak, like you. It was my greatest downfall. Now I have once again saved you from yourself. Upon losing my guidance you would have realized your insignificance and done the same sooner or later. So you die before you suffer. Once again you owe me, my little Rose. I'm amazed by my own magnanimity, sometimes." He slowly removed the blade, my eyes were still wide with surprise. I looked once more into those dun eyes, and all fear, all pain, all confusion left me.
"I pity you."
"I pity you because you are so far gone. But, on the other hand, it is kinder. Then, perhaps, you will not realize your humiliation, or just how far you've sunk. You were a great man, once. But now. . . You're funny. You call me weak of mind, you think I can't live without you?!" I smiled, my eyes glinting, and my hands released the wound as if of their own accord. I wiped the blood from them and reached for him. Before he could recoil, I had a grip on each shoulder and was thus forcing him to look me in the eye. "I fought for you and died for you the moment I made my first kill. I have been dying since the moment you promised me strength. You have killed me. But I ended your life a long time ago. When you took me on to train me for these ambitions, when I accepted, the man you should have been was lost." The horrified look on his face lingered in my blurring vision as I felt the cool, black metal warm with blood. I felt a hard drop of something warm on my cheek as rosy liquid filled my eyes. Tears of blood. I imagined I saw his lips form something, a name, my name, just as my vermillion world faded into dusky chimeras and then complete, liberating obscurity.
"Rose. . ."
But why did I survive? How did I come to be here? It all should have ended that night. Why was I alive?
As the questions and memories threw themselves into my consciousness, I was given reprieve as instantly as the torture had begun. I saw his eyes. They were a shadowed green; pure, deep, sparkling, and full of life. They reminded me of sitting under a tree on a hot day, and looking up at the sun through the branches, seeing only an illuminated myriad of emerald hues, all seeming to posses a light that they owe to nothing but their inner life, yet drawing further brilliance from the heavenly radiance. That was what I saw when I looked past the crimson petals, two gems peeking out from sandy hair and tanned skin. Everything about my young savior reminded me of the earth, kind and nurturing. All the horror and surprise melted with his warm gaze and voice. There were my answers.
"So, you're awake." The voice was gentle and musical. Like a shallow stream warmed by the sun, it was inviting and refreshing. "Nice to see your pretty eyes. Don't worry, you're safe here. I'm a healer, I've been caring for you for almost a month, now. I was starting to think you'd never wake up. Well, there I go rambling and I haven't even introduced myself! My name is . . ."
"Don't! I don't need you're name, that way you don't need mine. Names have power, and I want none of that. Nor do I want to give it!" This came out harsher than I intended, almost desperate.
"You are quite the mystery." He stated, scratching his head.
"You have no idea. I don't even know myself. Those around me are in danger, you know."
"I'll take my chances." He smiled disarmingly.
"You shouldn't." It was a clear warning. Which he completely ignored.
"Even with giving you the power you claim names have. Mine is Terre Veda. Consider it a gift, so you don't owe me yours. In fact, I'll give you one myself. You certainly are pretty enough to be a flower, so how about Rose." His lightly lilting voice was the song of the breeze in a field, a butterfly in a garden. It was. . . playful. I'd rarely heard such tones. But they sent shivers down my spine. Why that name, of all the things he could call me! My mind raced as he gently pressed me down onto the bed. "You've been through a lot, take it easy. Lie down. You don't want to overdue it." His tone now was controlled and controlling. I obeyed unthinkingly, unwillingly. What hold did this stranger have over me? Why had he called me that?!
"Rest. Sleep. You need it." He murmured softly.
"Take those flowers out first."
"Huh? How 'bout that, my precious Rose doesn't like her namesake?"
"I don't. Please take them away." I was almost pleading, like a child who didn't want the lights turned off. I didn't need them taunting me. My dreams managed to conjure memories I didn't want all by themselves. I didn't need those wretched things helping me there.
"All right, if they upset you, of course I'll take them out." The melody of his voice came from far away now. I slipped once more into obscurity as his warm expression filled my vision.
Time had passed. I turned my hand to helping things live and grow. I'd come to like this new life, and Terre. He was so different from anyone I'd met. But that name. . . despite how much I loved to hear his voice, each time he called me that a chill ran through me. But, then, it was my own fault for not telling him. Perhaps I thought I deserved some punishment for my past. Or, perhaps, it was some part of me that knew I just wasn't meant to be happy.
I'd been feeling ill again, that day. I went to lie down in what had become my room. My dreams had been violent, more so than they had for some time. It was a fitful sleep, and I awoke sweating, despite the cool breeze in the house from the almost perpetually open windows. The first thing I noticed was the quiet, the awful stillness that had fallen over the world. Not the peaceful quiet that had reigned over each night since my reawakening to reality. A foreboding quiet, like that of a battlefield when the blood has dried. What I knew for certain was that something was very wrong. Why had I slept so long? It was almost dawn; the darkest hour, between Helios and Hecate. A limbo time when the stars alone ruled the sky. But even they were hiding this night, as if taunting me. Or seeking refuge from those ill deeds best left far from even that darkness made by the light.
I still can't tell you how I came to be sitting against the wall of the guest room, across the hall from Terre's. My legs wobbled a little beneath me as I tried to rise. The door was slightly ajar, and I eased my way over to it. I slipped across the hall and found that door open as well. Silently I entered, old instincts taking over. Now, of all times, I found I could be a living shade of night. I couldn't, however, focus on what was going on. I felt lightheaded and detached. Something in the back of my mind screamed at me to run and not look back. I was so preoccupied, I didn't even recognize the all too familiar smell that filled the room. Or, did I just not want to?
I didn't need my eyes to find anything in the house, so making my way to his bed was easy. I reached out carefully to touch the sheets with my right hand, and they were warm and damp. I pulled back the healer's covers as the sun's first ray at last peeked above the distant mountains. It was just a pale light, barely enough to make a shadow, but it revealed plainly the black thorn embedded in his chest, soaking the sheets with liquid petals that lay scattered and dripping all around his bed. As I was thrown back by the bright, laughing crimson of his precious roses, my vision was overcome once more by the color as it corrupted my face, streaking down instead of tears; hot, salty, and metallic. As I raised my hands to my face in a vain attempt to block out the accursed red, I noticed for the first time that my left hand, too, was stained by the blasted petals, even though it hadn't touched them! His precious Rose was a Thorn all along. . .