A silence stretched across the master bedroom after I’d unloaded my bitterly heartfelt apology, only punctuated by the grumbling of my tortured stomach. For a while after, I simply sat with the ruddy crystal in my hands, awaiting whatever judgement was forthcoming.
But time continued to span on for so long that I’d rather started to wonder if she’d actually heard me. I was soon rocking on the bed with impatience, as my hands fidgeted and traced the arcane symbols that had been scrawled across the gem’s otherwise smooth surface, and I’d even begun to doubt in myself.
I patiently suffered through her silence for still a while longer, but it was ever so vexing for me, and I was rapidly losing whatever patience I’d been holding onto! Eventually, my vexation peaked, and I’d grown so sour of waiting that I let out a rageful shout that rang across the room,
“After all your badgering and insults! All the chattering you inflicted upon me, and you dare to keep your silence now!?”
A yelp sounded out from somewhere within me as a frightful feeling surged alongside it. Her stammered response came fast, as if it were chased out of her by some terrible beast,
“S-Sorry!! I just didn’t know what to say! Um, forgive me? Please? Don’t be… mad?”
I felt a relieved chuckle growing in my throat, and the tightening around my heart was fast loosening. Yes, this was the Arianna I knew; always something to say in every situation, and usually so confident and cool about it, but if one could push aside her ‘collected’ veneer and catch her unexpecting: she’d go all abashed, and her blushes were just the sweetest reward!
We were quiet after that exchange, but I didn’t mind it at all, for unlike the suffocating silence of before: this was a comfortable, even almost cozy quiet. The terrible tension that had tormented me before was good and well broken, but unfortunately… we could not stay so forever.
My stomach was absolutely seizing on me, and it had become rather impossible to ignore, and my mind began to drift towards the unpleasant. I was hurting to even think at this point, but although I was ready enough to accept the truth: I was still not ready to accept what I was compelled to do.
It didn’t care that I wasn’t ready for what it wanted, and although I would have liked to have rejected it until the end of my days: I wasn’t at my strongest on an empty stomach. Quite the opposite actually, in fact: if there was one thing which could be said to have driven me through those awful days I’d spent on the street, it was my hunger.
Those who’d never known starvation might not understand, but I was not so lucky an individual as they. The Mother once withheld food from me for weeks at a time, and so I was forced onto the street, with a thousand other emaciated creatures!
The things I saw people eat… leather, and garbage, and I had myself almost been reduced to such questionable materials for consumption! Only my forbearance saved me, then… for I chose theft over such things, and it rather worked in my favor!
Food is important to a person, and it was already wretched enough that I would have to give it up! This horrid hunger would not allow my abstinence from this monstrous new diet of mine, and it had a tremendous appetite. No, I would not tolerate my own denial of this meal — though it was far from the ordinary foodstuffs I’d been fond of for all my life — for my hunger might not be restrained for much longer!
“Rianna,” I carefully began, and I only continued after I’d thought my way around asking that first horrible question that had come to mind, “Where did the medical kit come from?”
A panicked squeak came out from inside me, and I could tell that she was embarrassed that ‘she’d messed up so dreadfully’, but since my vision was shading over with the red haze despite myself: I rather didn’t think that I had time enough for her to sort through the matter,
“You can be ashamed later, Rianna. We’ll talk it through together then, but right now I need you to tell me, please.”
Back when I’d awoken to those strange circumstances — where I’d been previously surrounded by the dead and the dying — I’d been so surprised to be alone in that suddenly empty space that I’d accused some unknown personage of hiding them all away from me, and I wasn’t wrong to have thought like that.
I’d eventually suspected myself of having stolen all the bodies away inside me, but although I was not at all willing to face it at the time: in a sense, I wasn’t truly mistaken, as my better half was infact responsible, and was guilty of doing that very thing!
But I heard her whimper with insecurity, and despite my ever-growing need for an answer: I couldn’t force one from her disembodied voice, not for the question of ‘Did you consume most everyone we knew last night, as well as every mortal possession they’d ever had?’
All the more since I was coming down with a bad case of something equally as terrible as what I’d practically accused her of… Mercy but I wished it wasn’t true: I could feel it growing inside me as it reached out with ever more insolence! It stretched through my limbs until it could move my fingers all with its own intent, and it would shift with such a terrible lurching that I felt utterly unbalanced even as I sat upon the bed!
Even as I rocked there not entirely of my own accord, I was lost in the contemplation of my own regretful decision not to force her compliance with my depraved request. Her own body was gone, missing like the rest of them, and I knew for certain that hadn’t at all been her intent.
She’d told me time and again about every small intricate element that the ascension process involved; I’d been informed of every possible element a thousand times more than was necessary, and then a thousand times more just in case she hadn’t told me before!
She would ramble in a meandering manner about every one of her discoveries — new and old — to me as I’d tried to shush her to sleep at night, and she would be so entirely enthused with the matters of the arcane that I often had to remind her of the matters of the flesh before she’d fall to sleep beside me!
Arianna honestly never wanted to hurt anyone; she’d meant so strongly to never so much as chance such an outcome that she’d designed a thousand additional safeties and auxiliary protections into the process! Her modifications were such that despite the ritual’s often evil invocation: it could no longer have been called unholy, for in no way could it possibly discolour the soul!
My beloved had missed a phenomenon somewhere, though… and all the more reason that she’d intended to continue testing it for long enough that Luca’s children would be having children! We simply weren’t ready for those awful circumstances!
How could we have been ready? We were so very far away, and had seen no sign of pursuit for so very long! We might as well have anticipated an attack by vampires in the daylight, it was so unlikely that we were still being sought for. Arianna was near enough to the point that women stopped having children, so they can’t have still wanted her for something as crass as a legacy, surely?
Why should they have come so far for us? The Vatican may well be made of gold, but it wasn’t made of food! I could certainly attest to that much… and they’d traveled here just before winter of all times. What could have caused such insanity in the Cardinal that he convinced so many to march here under his cause? How much gold had he spent to employ so many soldiers? These questions ate at my mind like my hunger ate at my body: with so terrible a strength as to drive me to despair!
How could she have known that those terrible magisters would blunder such that they accidentally sealed up many of the safety mechanisms she’d made to prevent any one of the horrid possibilities that plagued such intricate aetherial endeavors?! She was dying, and it wasn’t as if she’d had time to run through her safety checklist before attempting ascension!
The buildings which were cut away in an exact circle around the two of us? That could have been a coincident occurrence with the spellcast; an accidental discharge that ate away at inanimate matter, which was not too uncommon when practicing with aether. Although it usually wouldn’t have made for such a grand scale: it was a difficult magical spell being cast by a veritable genius, with the aether of fifteen years stored inside it!
That all life within said circle seemed to have vanished, though; even the bugs from the grass, and the birds from the bushes — which were themselves were all gone as well! — and the sheep who should never have been so much as hurt were also gone from their pen? That left an uncomfortable question to hang in the air, and I knew I wouldn’t have my answer in short order, for how could she even speak of life’s absence in the area when so much had already gone so horribly wrong?
Whatever mysterious existence she’d accidentally become, I couldn’t say, but of myself the same was not true. There were three strong possibilities which stood out to me now, though I was not hastily moving to pick any one of them!
Had I become a disgusting ghoul, for I longed greatly to devour my own son while he was still beside me; or had I become a dreadful vampire, for I longed all the more to drain all the children of that wonderful sweetness their bodies yet held; or to judge by how I was feeling: was I both, and a still more terrible creature besides?
“Rian… Rianna please, I must know,” the question escaped through my perseverance as I was overcome with that fearful attraction, and I knew from the sobbing she’d returned that she was well aware of what I needed from her, but I couldn’t hold the question back any longer, for the hunger was overwhelming my weakening restraint,
“You… you have them, don’t you?”
Her answer was absent besides the weeping, and it made me sad to hear her struggling so with the horrible thing I needed her to do. I clung to the gem that housed her body with all of my care for her, though I did not yet know if she could feel it. I would have held her forever if I could've, but my ability to comfort her was receding with a rapidity that was shocking to experience!
Whether I liked it or not, and I did greatly despise it: my body was beginning to realize its final truth. Although my ghoulish inhumanity was rather frightful to be faced with, I wasn’t struggling so much anymore with what form the monster I’d become had taken.
No, I didn’t have any more room in my heart left to care about that. Instead, I was dwelling hard upon the sorrow of what all I would be robbed of by my very own continued existence! — of what had in truth already been stolen away from me: that I should lose my Luca to myself of all things, and this I simply couldn’t stand… for I had only just come to know what he was to me!
The whiplash of my changing emotions struck me, and I was broken down between the hunger and the sadness such that I was left reeling. To realize the loss of family I was to suffer after having only just started to recover from that first unimaginable bereavement… was leaving me staggered. So many sentiments swirled to life in the gaps these greater emotions had rent within me, and they gathered all together in uproar! In discordant harmony they chanted for my surrender, and I was feeble enough then that I might've given in to any of them, if I could have just seen one for the other!
All as one they rose up and fought with each other, and there was no telling which of them would reign in the end. I was greatly confused by how they rapidly they shifted for supremacy; I was so hungry, and so terribly thirsty, and so woefully needy, and so unspeakably angry! I was so overfull of feelings that they overflowed, and I shortly lost track of them all amidst the maelstrom of primal emotion that now ran in my mind!
Amongst them all, hunger ate up all the rest, and as I couldn’t keep up my resilience in such overwhelming circumstance: the red haze soon settled over my mind in full. I was at once alarmed out of that strange stupor, and so I strove to fight it away again, but I was far too late to have tried, as it was persistent, and it was powerful, and so weakened as I was: I could not stand against it for long! The hunger had a life and body it could call its own, and I was made feeble before it!
It picked me up off the bed, and I flung myself to the floor in my desperate need to put any more distance between myself and that awful feeling. I crawled hard against the forces which drove me to eat, to devour, to bleed them all dry and suck the marrow from their bones!
The hunger was demanding too much from me, though: I was a doctor, and I swore to do no harm! So self-encouraged, I would pull myself towards the corner of the room, but my momentary victories only allowed it purchase upon me once more! It would take control of my own feet as it lifted me back up, only for me to fling myself back to the floor again in defiance of that abominable hunger!
Never would I allow it to leave this room… and I rather meant to never tolerate its mere attempt at the door! But the red haze thickened in response, and that terrible hunger made such wolfish growls from my own throat as it fought my every leftover scrap of willpower!
Hunger seized my feet from me, and so I forced myself down to my knees as I dragged my body back to the corner with my hands! Then it arrested my hands from me, and so I pulled myself along with my elbows instead! Not content to leave me my limbs, the hunger stole both sets from me at once, and I could only throw my weight around like a worm to keep it away from that door!
That abominable hunger had soon taken my whole body from me, but I still had my teeth, and although it held my throat: they came open, and I sank them into the mattress and bedsheet with my last desperate motion! They tasted of ash such that I nearly recoiled from it, but my teeth held tight despite the fiery sensation that engulfed them, and there they stayed all through the ripping and tearing motions that Hunger made with my neck! I held on for so very long it seemed, but there could only be one conclusion to this battle.
Red was soon all I could see, and even if I’d still wanted to further defy it: I no longer could rightly orient myself away from Hunger’s desires… my desires. I’d fought them, and I’d lost, oh I’d lost so devastatingly as to call it a complete victory for Hunger! I heard Rianna speak even then, but I knew not what she’d said, for I couldn’t understand anymore than my Hunger, as that revolting need to fill the emptiness within me took over my very mind.
What happened next I knew only in snippets of memory. I’d felt myself slam against the door, and my hands were fast upon the handle, fervorously shaking it such to make it open up. I was glad then for Bart’s strange bashfulness, for if he were any bit less paranoid that one of his children would've walked in on him and Lisset: I might have done something truly terrible.
I’d bitten at the door in ravenous hunger such that my teeth ached, and I’d opened up a gash in my lip for the trouble. I’d clawed at the wood with my fingers as if to find some secret purchase, but that only made them sore and brittle-feeling, and I tore a nail clear away from my hand! I’d even kicked at the door and banged my knees against it, as if my abysmal strength was enough to simply knock it down and to pieces!
It was true, I thought as I came back to myself here and again, my life as a mother, and a doctor, and even as a human had fully come to an end. Utterly animalistic growls and vicious-sounding snarls came from my person, and although I could also hear Arianna from somewhere very far away crying out; screaming at times with horror, and imploring me otherwise to stop: I could not bear to, for my need was so immense, and it was ever-expanding.
Never was I so glad for my body’s relative weakness as I was that day, as my frenzied form was not so intelligent as to try for the privacy window — the fragile wooden shutters through which I could surely have fit if I’d tried. I knew later that I’d been instinctively avoiding the noontime sun, but at the time: I was only infinitely grateful that Luca had barricaded the door, for I would endlessly regret how desperately necessary it might have been!
Luca’s face came to me unbidden with those thoughts, and again I tried and failed to seize control of my own Godforsaken body, as it hungered for his flesh from toe to top, as if the thought of harming another human being wasn’t enough: he was my son! Tears flowed from me as my stomach roared with want, and I was ever so bitter that in the end I should have become so evil that even family meant nothing before my Hunger!
I called myself a fiend, and a devil, and a monster, and I deserved all of these titles and more as I damned myself in all manner of ways; curses of all kinds flowed from me, for they are made necessary when beastly intentions overcome us from within, such that we would harm our very own loved ones, and even knowingly!
A darkness then spread about, and it broke my short introspection. I was confused by it as it congealed again a small distance away, until a soldier from that night appeared suddenly beside me, and I attacked him before he could hurt me, or anyone else again!
He was on the floor, so if I’d still had my sanity, I might have kicked him while he was down… but instead: I came down after him, biting at him and tearing away at his skin and his flesh, which came out in chunks, and I ripped off the clothes and armor which hid his body from me like wax hides a cheese wheel!
That so much of that gruesome event escaped me is something to be endlessly relieved of. The memory of his flesh’s texture in my teeth as I tore into him unfortunately lingered, but as it was so delicious, if a bit… stringy, in a chewy sort of way… I suppose it was so heavenly in taste that I could almost stomach what I’d done, though my morality still made itself known with horrified affect!
I was ashamed, more than anything… not as sorry for what I’d done as I was for having done it! If only that were the only thing I remembered, for the rest came with more clarity than could have possibly wanted, and they were worse to remember by far.
It was those other memories that really found me disgusted, and which eat at me still, as I’d gnawed at his very bones, and they’d eventually given way with a sickening snap, and the marrow inside him was so incredibly savoury as to revolt me of myself ever since!
As if that terrible feeling with every snap weren’t enough for me to despise myself for all time: there were his organs; tough meats for sure, but packed full of precious flavour, and I gorged on them until only his stomach and the lowest part of his intestines remained, and even his skull was not spared as I broke it apart and ate at the matter within!
I was so relieved to not be hungry anymore that I made the mistake of looking at the few remains I’d left behind. Words… words fail me, for the image of my handiwork was so depraved and ghastly that it sent me into an almost catatonic shock, and I could not force my eyes away from those absolutely dehumanized remains!
What I’d done set my heart to race; in overwhelming dread, and in a sick nauseous delight, and in a terrible desire to re-engage in that savagery while still conscious of it! Indeed, I greatly feared that although I wasn’t starving anymore: I might’ve still continued through want alone, as if his bloodied bits were little snacks to be snapped up, and I felt my control fluctuate there for far longer than I appreciated.
We were silent for a very long while, long enough for the sun to have greatly lowered in the sky, but Arianna finally awoke us both from the horror of what I’d done, and she shuddered so as she spoke from within me,
“Well, that was… gruesome.”
- Typing Back At Carpal Tunnel
Loving a medium unfortunately doesn’t make a person necessarily talented within it, and I have no expectations for being the next best most famous new author going boldly into the future.
That said, I'm still gonna try my best! ^__^
My updates won’t have a set schedule until September 2020 in all likelihood. Thanks for reading! ^__^