CHAPTER 0/24 

The Past Meets the Future’s Present 

 

The part-time convict, fulltime asshole, and sorry excuse for a father hung grievously over the tiny, newborn baby girl held securely in her mother’s arms, a venomous glare restraining his rage as the two lovely ladies slept exhausted in their hospital bed. The color of the baby’s skin alone mocked that of his own paler flesh while the poisoned words of his other lover echoed throughout facets of animosity in his mind.

“You know she’s not yours,” she’d told him. “You can see the hidden deceit in her mother’s eyes; feel the buried lies in her touch…” And flashes of that dishonesty rattled through his thoughts while the memory of her voice continued to fuel his anger. “Take this…”

He held the tiny vial of vibrant poison in his hands in the hospital room, its consistency dancing to the wrath of his sweaty palms.

“Inject it into her IV; pour it into her water… Whatever method makes you happy. It’s tasteless; untraceable. It doesn’t even really exist.” She smiled wickedly in his thoughts, placing the vial in his hands to carry out an end to her own means. “It’ll paralyze her just long enough for me to come have one last chat with my beloved big sister…before I let you kill her.” And he had asked her, “What about the baby?”

He unscrewed the top of the slender glass container while looming over his wife in the hospital room, extracting the poisoned liquid with a syringe.

“Killing her now wouldn’t further my cause. I can’t take the blood of my victims before they’ve matured. A child’s life is of no value to me.” She responded to his question in his mind while caressing her own belly – no doubt a sarcastic gesture, since really, she felt nothing for his seed growing inside. “After you kill her, I’ll only need the life of one other victim from my bloodline. Whether it’s her child or mine…we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Clear liquid laced with vivid swirls of mystic-red slithered into the syringe as though it had a mind of its own. He glanced behind him, inspecting the hallway through the room’s window to be sure no one was within eyeshot, then slyly pricked the plastic IV tube to covertly pollute his wife’s stream, her veins tainted by the venom given to him by none other than the aunt of his eight-year-old boy.

The young child, Marty, left unattended in the hall, clutched at the tightening of his gut while his mother was unknowingly drugged in her sleep. He quit fiddling with his NHL action figure to peek back into the room at his father stewing over her and his new baby sister. The sight of his back to him – his hands concealed by his big body and square shoulders – was an ominous one. Marty spun around, propping to his knees, and maneuvered his head across the bottom of the window to find an angle that’d uncover his father’s plot.

He hadn’t missed his father while he was gone. Him being locked away for a brief six months gave his mom her first taste of the freedom a life without him offered. And since he’d been back, the boy was just now getting old enough to realize how much happier she’d seemed when the lumbering blowhard wasn’t around. He’d blatantly told her he wished his father would just leave, but she’d hushed him with a loving embrace and promised things wouldn’t always be so bad.

His deep brown eyes peered through the window into the dimly lit room while resentment coiled in his belly. He didn’t know why, but he knew things would never be right between his mother and father, and that it’d be up to him to watch over the tiny baby girl, newly named Alexzandra. The thought of that responsibility turned his young stomach…but a more pressing sensation soon washed over him, diverting his thoughts and allowing him escape from his future woes—

A ghostly tingle electrified the air and buzzed through the hospital hallway, jumpstarting his pulse. Lights flickered and a static feedback hissed over the building’s intercom while he sat frozen, not sure if what he was feeling was real or just his imagination reacting to a headful of conflict. A presence suddenly graced the building that he could sense but couldn’t see, and that got closer with every deepening beat in his chest. The ground hummed under his feet, and the nurses and patients walking through the halls were brushed aside as if by some invisible force with no regard for order. The air then thickened with a stagnant, stale warmth, and the walls broke into a sweat.

His breaths shortened.

He dropped his toy and gripped the chair’s armrests, grounding his elevating angst. An arcane reverb smothered his ears and squeezed at his heart as the disorientation from the approach of something – or someone – he didn’t even know existed haunted his nerves. He tried swallowing the swollen egg in his throat to breathe… Whatever it was that walked in plain sight without being seen was so close now he could almost feel the heat radiating from her fiery soul…

Cloaked between seams of human awareness, an unseen thing weaved her way through reality to reach her hand toward him. Eyes rattling in his head, he tried desperately to spot what he knew was there… And with only the mere threat of her approaching touch, he was forced from consciousness into a dream, arms and legs draping loosely over his perch.

This obscure mistress gliding through halls – rose-colored, flowing dress pressing like silk against her curves – retracted her hand from above the boy and brushed her full-bodied, black hair over her shoulder (the resemblance between her and the young mother in the hospital bed not a coincidence). She moved her hand to the doorknob and her touch erased the entire room from the perception of any who might pass.

Even though the boy, Marty, was out cold, he could still sense what was happening in the room behind him. It was almost as if his mother’s awareness and his dreams were linked, and the amulet she’d given him, now clinging to his neck, glowed under his shirt with that connection as the aunt he never knew he had closed the door between them.

This young, brazenly arrogant woman strolled devilishly into the room and put her hand on her accomplice’s shoulder, dismissing him from her sister’s side. She was barely in her twenties, but her body language hinted at a much older soul that demanded his obedience. The conspiring father yielded to her touch and took a step back as she leaned over to lift the sleeping baby from her mother’s tender arms.

The mother’s eyes shot open at the absence of her child, and at the first sight of her younger sibling, her heart jumped against its cage. When she realized she couldn’t move or speak, her eyes shrieked in horror, and the young witch giggled, rocking her baby niece to the rhythm of her aunt’s betrayal.

“Do you like the poison I made for you?” She knew her sister couldn’t answer, but asked anyway just to tug at the loose threads scarcely holding together her composure. “It’s the same one I used to paralyze our parents before I slit their throats.” She petted the sleeping baby’s soft head, caressing her cheek with her finger. “But you already knew that, didn’t you? You’ve always known more than you’ve ever let on.”

It was all the young mother could do to follow her sister’s movements with her stare and hope she didn’t have the temerity to hurt her child. The fact that she couldn’t move would be infuriating if she wasn’t so terrified for her baby’s safety. She’d always been immune to her sister’s tricks in the past. How she’d gotten the best of her this night…she’d likely die without ever knowing.

“So…does that mean you know what I am?” She had a playfully curious look on her brow. “And what this is?” Her eyes gestured toward the infant she cradled. “Hmmmm…” she smirked teasingly. “So many questions and so little incentive for me to really care.” Her frown was overly sarcastic; antagonizing. She enjoyed tormenting her older kin.

“You know…you were supposed to be my equal.” A tsk escaped her tongue as she shook her head. “So disappointing.”

She glanced to her coconspirator, giving him the go-ahead nod to kill, and the young mother’s eyelids peeled back in her head.

“After you’re dead…”

As she spoke, he moved toward his victim with an insultingly apathetic stare, casually reaching for the pillow behind her head that would end her life.

“…there won’t be anyone left alive to protect sweet little Alexzandra.”

Her accomplice smothered the mother’s wide eyes while the red-dressed-terror continued mocking her elder sibling. Her triumph was almost too easy. And secretly, the murdering husband wished his cheating spouse had put up more of a fight.

“Have a sweet, sweet death, my dear sister.” She smiled softly. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep an eye on the little princess for you.” A chuckle bubbled from her throat like a burp at the thought of Marty lying unconscious outside the hospital room. “I’m not sure how much hope I’d hold out for the boy, though,” she warned, feigning a considerate tone.

Only seconds had passed after the mother’s life was snuffed away when the newborn baby peeked open her pretty dark eyes to cry in her auntie’s arms. She hushed the babe with a maternal bounce and gently set her in her mother’s expired bosom, quietly wondering if the child’s tiny weeps were the last thing her sister’s departing mind would perceive.

She strutted from the room the same way she came, unseen and unheard, deeply invigorated by the murder of her sister bringing her one step closer to her endgame. And as she left the room, she took a precautionary glance back toward the young boy lying unconscious behind her, a strange sensation picking at the back of her mind.

The amulet the boy wore was glowing in a soft green hue under his shirt, but it dimmed before she could glimpse its shine. His eyes fluttered beneath their lids, his body twitching uncomfortably in his sleep, but nothing she saw gave her any reason to harbor a doubt.

Slightly suspicious, she turned and left the hospital halls and the children’s lives as evasively as she’d entered…until the time would come when it’d suit her to reappear.

 

The entire hospital scene faded like a reflection in a pool as the undead, full-grown man named Marty began to recognize his surroundings. His dried skin hid behind long strands of hair curtaining his visage, and his fulgent green eyes regained their flare as he came to. He wasn’t sure where he was at first until the room took shape and a man’s voice from a face he knew called his name.

Marty… You in there, boy?”

His environment turned more familiar with every second, and he realized he was in his coach’s home, looking up at him and a few of his closest friends. He remembered he was dead – a towering corpse of a man – and that the world around him was no longer the one he remembered.

Pushing through the freshly instilled memory, probing for an understanding, he found another image overlying the entire experience: an image of the Spirit Fortress he’d seen in the center of the graveyard where he’d dug himself back into the world, but more solidified than before, like hardened, structured flames burning in the distance. He saw two lengthy rows of undead US veterans with their bristling red eyes and muddied flesh outlining a path to the burning citadel. And Alex, his younger sister, being escorted to its forty-foot door by a demon beast of a creature with piercing yellow irises and a ferocious wolf-like snout…

“Marty, God damn it, are you with us?” His coach’s aged face was one of strength, but the worry in his eyes was making itself known. “Marty! Come on back now, boy, we got work to do.” He gave him a good shake before calling to him again. “…Marty!!

“Yeah, Coach… I hear you…” His response was soft, but still boomed with the numinous strength that coursed his bloodline.

“Where the hell’d you go, boy? You find some happy place in oblivion to run off to on us?”

“I… I don’t know… I was…” The faint image of what he’d seen was still there in his mind, it just took a moment to realize they were more than just the fleeting frames of a dream. “Fuck…” He looked into his coach’s eyes, still sifting through the images, finally beginning to make sense of them. “Fuck! …She’s…she’s my aunt!”

“What? Who is?”

“The…the queen! The demon bitch who’s behind all this! She’s my fucking aunt!” The glowing green in his stare grew hot and every muscle in his mammoth body tensed. “And…and…I think…” His fists clinched at the thought of his endangered kin, his voice laced with enmity. “…I think the bitch has my sister…”