Shadows Love Chapter 9 : Tortured

Lastor lay there with Audrey wrapped around him, lost in the past as she dozed. He stroked her hair and she shifted, drawing closer to him, soft sounds coming from whatever dreamland she was inhabiting. 

Lastor remembered the tears she had cried, telling him things she had never been able to confide in anyone else. He remembered how she clutched him to her as she sobbed, desperate to know someone else was there for her, someone who would never hurt her, always protect her. He remembered her cries of fear in her sleep, her fitful whimpers as she tossed and turned, tortured by unknown demons.

Many had tried to “fix” her with counseling, medications, and therapy, but everyone knew there had to be something wrong. In looking, Lastor could not see anything amiss but unhappiness and unnecessary medications clouding her mind. 

She had been off the meds and unhappiness merely a day before the change was noticeable. Lastor had not been surprised. She was giddy, bubbly, and full of life, giggling like a schoolgirl as silly jokes rolled off her tongue. 

Lastor knew his life was nothing special. Spending most of every day in solitude, locked inside his own head, being forced to look in the workings of his mind for entertainment was his choice. Having never been impressed with the intelligence of most of humanity and not enjoying the company of most other vampires left him with little option but to become self-reliant. The numerous times he had associated with others of his kind had led him to the conclusion that excluding him, vampires lorded their status over others, and that biologic superiority demanded respect beyond their years. Disagreeing with the estimations of his kind’s worth and living inside his head sometimes for days on end without speaking a word had left its mark. Lastor had developed very little patience with others, abhorring crowds and keeping his back to the wall at all times. Indeed, it was common for him to be seen in a public setting only as long as it took him to be seen. 

Lastor had more or less resigned himself to being alone for eternity, before happening upon Audrey. All the humans with whom he had attempted to forge any relationship had not lasted longer than a weekend before infuriating him and forcing him to end them. The female vampires he chanced to meet and bring back may have been initially enamored of him, but when they saw the extent of introspection in his life, they left him, talking amongst themselves of how strange he was, even for a vampire. Lastor for his part watched them go, sighing inwardly as his opinion of his own kind was lowered once again, and once again he was left alone, sitting in the dark, chasing his thoughts one by one around his head until they vanished into the nothingness that was there. 

Someone had finally smiled on him. He had simply catered to a whim and indulged in a night of innocent blood, and he had found someone who loved and accepted him for who he was, who he wanted to be, without attempting to change him to fit their notions of what someone should be. This was the sort of thing that happened in bad fiction. Occasionally one might hear of someone taking a chance and having it pay off, but that’s all it ever is, just hearing of another’s luck. Lastor kept expecting the worst, having been bitten enough times to question luck. The surrealism of the nights kept mystifying him. The way time ceased to exist, how the night would fly by until the sun chased them into the dark recesses of the mansion, the hours they spent wrapped in each other’s minds through their eyes, unwilling to look away. When things seem too good to be true, they usually are. 

It came to pass that this was one of those times.

“AARRGH!!!” 

Lastor jerked awake as if trying to stop himself from falling. Breathing hard, he stared unblinkingly at the ceiling, willing the image in his mind to fade. His pulse began to drop, and his breathing slowed. Looking down at the silver ring he still wore on his right hand, he saw his fingers unconsciously curled up into fists. Opening them hurt; the long nails had dug into his palms. Trickles of blood ran down his forearms. 

Reaching for the bottle beside the bed, he squinted at the clock and it’s winking red light. Nine in the fucking morning. Why did the dreams have to wake him so early? Now it was another day of forcing himself to sleep through the world’s waking life from behind shades that only marginally succeeded in blocking out the sun. The residual glow gave him a headache, which another mouthful of brandy did nothing to fix. His unfocused vision lit upon the corpse on the couch, her eyes staring in horror out through her bloody face. He had met her last night, in hopes that she would be capable of taking Audrey’s place. She proved…unworthy.

Standing unsteadily, Lastor moved along the wall clutching the bottle, making his way toward the windowless bathroom, avoiding the blocked portal of light. Locking the door and staunching the gap between the bottom of the bathroom door and the floor exhausted him, and he slumped over once it was done, his heart racing again. Scrabbling weakly across the floor for the bottle, he took a deep drink and exhaled shakily as the warm liquid crept down his throat. Curling up against the glow that remained, he fell into a fitful sleep, haunted by nightmares of memories.

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