Sam had his eyes closed. It was one of the few rare moments he could almost rest; his mind wasn’t haunted by the visions. But the moment he heard the low creak of the door, he was alert. In the dark, he watched the familiar face coming inside the room and relaxed his fist. “Nothing,” Sam said before Nate could ask.
“Damn,” the Priest murmured, covering his face.
Sam couldn’t help but chuckle. Guess that’s the closest he can of swearing… even after everything, the young man thought. “I think someone took it.”
The Priest scowled and ran a hand over his exhausted face. “Who… would be crazy enough want that… that blasphemy?”
Sam scoffed. “We,” he answered curtly. The Priest stared him as the silence between the two men became awkward. “I’ll find it.”
Nate opened his mouth, but then closed it, along with his eyes. He took a deep breath and handed the usual plastic bag with milk and a bread before leaving Sam alone in the room.
Sam rested his back on the wall opposite to the door again and took a bite from the bread. Though it was fresh, it tastes worse than bland; he couldn’t feel any taste from it. All my other senses enhanced, but my palate is gone now… It’s that thing from movies, right? You lose one sense and the others get stronger, he thought and let out a weak laugh.
If all I had to sacrifice were my taste buds for this power… If I didn’t have to lose mom and dad… If Mirela was still alive… Before Sam noticed, warm tears came down his cheeks. He brought his hand closer to his face and felt it with a finger. If I can still cry, it means I’m still human… if barely. The thought made him cry more.
Why did it have to be me? Sam asked himself as he hugged his head. Why did I have to lose everything? Why did I turn into this monster? To save this city? To save those fuckers who want me dead? I should’ve let them die!
Images of what happened at the park happening in the entire city filled his head. He amused himself as the sea of fire spread across the city and the screams filled his ears. But then the images changed. Now Sam saw in his mind the people he knew his entire life covered in blood. He saw his friends from the gym and school dead; he saw the old couple who ran the market his mother went staring him with empty expression; he saw Thiago reaching out a hand to him before a white light chopped his head; he saw his sister crying over their parents’ bodies.
No! Sam screamed in his heart and shook his head to make the images go away. The images were gone, but his body trembled. Why it had to be me? Suddenly the face of the Priest appeared in his mind. He was the one who gave me the blood. He was the one who made me like this. It was his fault… Sam felt the blood boiling, his insides turning over as the rage fill him. But as soon as it appeared, the anger left him. No… I did this to myself… I drank the blood because I wanted revenge…
Nate had told him how he got the blood. A white version of me appeared out of thin air and said a bunch of crap about the one able to see those guys… That’s a load of crap. Anyone would be an idiot to believe it. But even so, Sam felt no need to doubt the Priest. Thiago couldn’t see them either. No one could there could… no one but me…
Then why me? Why I was the only one who could? I’m the chosen one? I always hated that crap in movies. Who the fuck goes around choosing people at random? God? The thought made a low and hollow laugh escape his lips. If it was, He will have to beg my forgiveness.
“Sam?” a faint and familiar voice reached his ears.
The young man looked up. Nate stared at him. I didn’t even hear him. The idea made him wary. Something’s wrong. Even in the dark, Sam could tell the Priest held his breath and sweated. He looked down and realized the reason. My hands… Instead of fingers, he had claws covered in fur. Even though I’m not using the blood… I don’t have much time, he realized, closing his hands slowly. I need to find it today.
“It’s… it’s time,” Nate said in the same faint voice.
Sam chuckled. So even he’s afraid of me now, he thought, standing up suddenly. He thought the Priest would tremble and take a step back, but Nate didn’t even flinch. He’s got more courage than it seems. Sam turned to the window, seeing the orange glow more and more faint.
When the sun finally set, Sam moved, faster than ever. He stood on the tallest building and observed the city. Half the town lied in the complete darkness; the other half had small orbs of light here and there.
Sam closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting his awareness grow. He could feel the people’s hate, sorrow and despair. But not what he wanted. Sam closed his left fist hard and grabbed the left elbow with his right hand.
There’ll be no going back after this. He stared at his arm, at his closed fist. I never wanted to punch someone. I always hated it. Oh yeah… that’s why I prefer Jujutsu, he realized with a smile on his lips. Thiago always made fun of me for that…
With another deep breath, he closed his eyes and let go his control over the blood.
The veins filled with dark blood and showed against his grey skin. In a heartbeat, he no longer had any fingers on his left hand, only bestial claws. Forever.
As his breathing became hard and irregular, and the pain threatened to overcome his mind, Sam gripped the left elbow with all his strength. Come on… come on! You’ll take it everything later, so let me do this now! He screamed at the blood. Sam had no idea if his thoughts reached the blood, but he managed to keep the transformation limited to his forearm.
The arm throbbed and burned, so heavy Sam had to with the other hand to support it. Just breathing pained him. Even so, there was a smile on his lips. I gave my old arm, so you’ll do this for me, he thought, commanding the blood. He lifted the arm the highest he could and concentrated. As he turned to all directions, Sam finally felt the blood pulsating, the same sensation he felt when it found something to kill. The reaction he was looking for.
The joy made Sam lose control and the beast inside him tried to take over everything. He had to clench his jaw to keep the scream inside his throat. The pain wasn’t gone, but at least he could move. In that direction, he thought, smiling and panted, his mind almost seeing the last piece he needed to end it all.
Sam jumped and ran between buildings and houses, always keeping to the shadows. The throbbing became stronger, and to stop the blood from taking over, he could no longer run. With almost all his concentration on suppressing the beast, Sam looked around. When his eyes fell at an old warehouse, he knew the bones were there. Who the fuck would bring it here? He asked himself as he dragged himself closer.
Through the open door, Sam heard noises, and when he peered inside, he could see a faint light in the back of the warehouse. As the shadows cast by it danced, he knew the source was a flame. As he got closer to the light, the noises grew louder.
I was right, he thought with a sneer. Only crazy people like me would want that. Sam knew the moment he saw the group near the single candle. Out of the five, three had tattoos covering their arms; the other had tattoos on his face as well, and even had sharp his teeth like an animal. Who’d make that kind of body modification?
As he stared the group, an old memory stirred inside him. Oh yeah, I know that idiot. He’s the owner of that tattoo parlor in the mall. Suddenly Sam chuckled. Mom yelled at me just because I said I was thinking about getting a tattoo with him. And she even took me to Nate just to hear something about god condemning altering the flesh or something.
Dismissing the memory, Sam stared the fifth person. That chick has a fucking Kung Fu sword! He had trouble suppressing his laugh. When the urge stopped, he sighed. In another life, I’d think they were cool.
The sudden pain in his arm brought his senses back. Biting his lips, Sam searched with one open eye, until he finally found the bones. Even if the skull had no skin, he recognized it. With his blood boiling, it took a moment for Sam to realize the skull was on top of an altar. Are they worshipping it? Idiots… fucking idiots! HAHAHAH!
With another burst of pain, Sam bit his lips and breathed hard through his nose to contain the blood, but it wasn’t enough. Not anymore. I’m losing my human mind, he knew at once. He let out the scream, a feral one that overpowered all the others sounds and made the walls tremble. As he ran for the skull with his blood fill vision, Sam saw the group quivering in fear.
The only one who wasn’t trembling was the chick with the sword. She stared him in the eyes, but even as she drew and swung her sword at him, she was slow to him. Sam avoided the blow as he closed his claws around the skull and ran through the wall.
The church, he said to himself over and over, all to keep his sanity for a few more hours. Nate… I need him… to end it… all…
“Here…” Sam said a rough grunt as he handed the skull to the Priest. Sam brought the hand to his throat; even if it felt normal, he could feel something had changed; his voice was barely human anymore. “Will it… take… time…?”
Nate took the skull with both hands, but never once glanced at it. All he did was stare into Sam’s eye and remained where he was. Before the Priest could say anything, Sam could no longer stand.
Using the Priest as support, Sam dragged himself to the room.
“Wait here,” Nate said and was gone, leaving the skull on a small table in the middle of the room.
As his breathing slowed down, Sam stared the skull, all the memories coming back. The blood raged inside him, but he became numb to the pain. Cold… I never thought I could feel this cold in this city, he thought vaguely, his eyes closing.
No… I can’t sleep… not yet… He forced himself to stare at the skull. Even numbed, he needed the pain to keep himself awake, to keep himself human for a little more. I can’t die… not yet… not so close…
The Priest came back with a book in hands. He rested it on the table beside the skull. As Nate picked the dark red stone and the heart from its hideout, Sam stared the book. I know that… Nate said it was a bible… but after it got drenched in blood, it changed… it’s a beast bible now, he thought, chuckling. I’m an idiot for thinking this stuff now…
“Padre… I can’t…” Sam grabbed Nate’s sleeve.
The Priest swallowed the saliva and nodded. He said nothing as he pushed the table and drew a circle with chalk on the floor. While staring the book, he drew another circle, then a star and then other complex patterns Sam had no idea.
Suddenly Sam heard something. It was faint at first, but soon the sound grew louder. He pricked his ears, but felt the anger before understanding any word. “They found me,” he mumbled.
Nate stopped drawing and looked at him. Then he looked at the door. He bit his lips and resumed the drawing, his face as pale as Sam’s.
Sam stared the skull again laughed. Crazy people indeed, he thought as he looked at the faint red light jammed on the jaw between the teeth. Sam reached out, took it and raised it against the light from the window.
Nate looked at it, but turned his attention back to the book without asking anything.
A tracker, Sam said, smashing it with his fingers. You better hurry up. We don’t have time, he meant to say, but only a low grunt came from his lips. With a strange indifferent sensation, Sam realized he no longer could speak.
The voices grew louder as crash sounds reached the room. As screams filled the church in the next second, Nate tried drawing, but his arm trembled so much he dropped the chalk, and then Sam saw it.
His arm… It wasn’t like Sam’s, but it was grey and with the veins black pulsating against the skin. Just like mine…
The priest pulled the sleeve down and noticed Sam staring it. Sam didn’t need to ask any further, nor he could. Nate’s dying because of the blood.
“It’s… done…” Nate said, his voice hoarse. He’s in pain, Sam realized it. “You know… what you need… to do…”
Sam dragged himself to the center of the room. With his consciousness drifting, he placed the hardened blood, the still beating heart and the skull on the circle. With his bestial arm, he smashed it all to a pulp. The red and white mixed and then filled the circle.
As he used all that was left of his human soul to stand, someone kicked the door open.
As he felt the air around him changing, Sam turned to the door. The chick with the sword… hey…I know her…
But before he could think, Sam saw a gun pointed to him. He heard the shot, but Nate jumped in front of the bullet aimed at him.
The Priest turned around to Sam with a hand on his chest. As the life left him, Nate’s hand fell pulling his clothes.
Sam stared the Priest as the light from his eyes faded. Sam took a deep breath, and before he realized it, tears fell from his good eye. So there’s still some human in me… Nate, I have no idea if I should thank you or not, but at least do me a favor. Tell my mom, dad and Mirela what happened when you find them up there.
The idea made him chuckled as he felt his body disappearing. So I still believe in things like heaven, huh? If I wasn’t going to hell, I’d like to meet God and ask why this had to happen, he thought, as the blood finally tainted his human mind.